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Students Learn Ropes Of City Government
Shadowing city staff in the morning and reassembling to hold a mock city council meeting at lunchtime, 14 Riverbank High students got a glimpse of what it takes to provide services to a city of 22,000 and direct administration from the council dais.

"He showed me a lot of buildings. We looked at the wastewater treatment plant (WTP) and the corporation yard," said student Armando Manriquez of his morning trip with WTP worker Carl Peterson.

"I was working with interim city clerk Katie Lemons who deals with personnel and risk management matters," said Sophia Haro. "I will be commissioner of school spirit on the student council next year and this position seemed the closest fit for my interests."

Also getting a look at daily tasks was Tristin Rodgers.

"He told me he has to check for graffiti first thing every morning and on Tuesdays ensure the lawns are mowed at Jacob Myers and other parks," Rodgers said of his guide, Parks & Recreation Maintenance Supervisor Tim Dowdy.

"I saw all the parks and learned just how much effort it takes to keep them clean," added Daniel Palomino.

Student Erika Cisneros said, "I visited the LRA's (Local Redevelopment Agency's) industrial center (the former ammo plant) and learned the Army still has a lot of stuff out there and won't let the city remove it."

"I learned they are building apartments in Riverbank and saw the process of preparing papers to build a house," noted Andrea Harvey, who visited the Development Services Department overseen by Director J.D. Hightower.

Several students got a look at the Riverbank Teen Center during their tours and enjoyed dancing to the Wii interactive television game.

Back at City Hall for lunch and the mock city council meeting, Parks & Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick noted the center was built for teens but few visit and she wanted to know what activities would attract them and what operating hours, maybe in the evening, would suit them.

Riverbank High teacher and student activities director Christine Perez, who accompanied the students, asked whether the teens perhaps could rent the center for a dance or similar event to try it out. Fitzpatrick said she would look into that possibility.

For the concluding mock city council meeting, Tristin Rodgers was named mayor, Erika Cisneros vice mayor and Margarita Manriquez, Daniel Palomino and Toni Adams as council members.

Assistant City Clerk Annabelle Aguilar had prepared an agenda that even included several citizens presenting comments from the floor.

One agenda item announced a state grant to install lighting at the skate park with a proposal it be approved so youth could use the facility later into the evening.

One resident who lives nearby complained he is already disturbed by the noise in the evening and fears that lights would make it worse. The agenda item was approved anyway.

Two more citizens groused about graffiti on their garden fences and walls. A city representative said it has insufficient staff to remove graffiti but can provide residents with free paint and suggested they cover graffiti as soon as possible after it appears.

Other students who attended Government Day besides those previously named included Rickey Hernandez, Rocio Guzman, Vanessa Ramos, Kory Gilbert, Antonio Perez and Nestor Montoya.

Other city department directors involved were city manager Jill Anderson, administrative assistant Luanne Bain, financial director Marisela Hernandez, LRA director Debbie Olson, economic specialist Melissa Holdaway, human resources specialist Norma Torres Manriquez, code enforcement officer Michele Garcia, park maintenance worker David McDaniel, recreation supervisor Kerrie Webb, building inspector Peter Lolonis, public works director Michael Riddell and city mechanic Curtis Myer.