A lot of changes and happenings came about in 2018 in the city of Galt. Here’s a look back on some of the news The Galt Herald reported on for another year that is now in the record books.
On Jan. 5, the New Year started on a sad note when Galt’s “Concerned Citizen” Al Baldwin passed away quietly in the home he shared with his wife Judie.
He was a volunteer with the Galt Area Historical Society, Santa during the holiday seasons, a strong advocate for causes he believed in, a button maker, a yard supervisor at Greer Elementary, the “concerned citizen” at nearly every city board meeting and school trustee meetings, an unofficial and dependable photographer for The Galt Herald – to name just a few. Perhaps more than that, he was a friend to nearly everyone he met. The Sacramento County Supervisors honored him with the 2011 “Hero of Human Services Award”. His death hit especially hard the students at Greer Elementary, of whom he said taught him something new every day.
Sacramento County Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday, Jan. 23, to reduce the speed limit of four county roads that lead into Galt, and authorized a stop sign for another intersection.
Sargent and Pringle avenues, and Orr and New Hope roads were reduced from 55 mph to 45 mph. Supervisors also approved a four-way stop to be added to the intersection of New Hope Road and Sargent Avenue.
On Feb. 11, the city of Galt notified the owners of the Galt Plaza and the Stop and Shop that they would have 30 days to correct 88 code violations. Code violations include trash and debris in the back of buildings, along the sidewalks and in landscape planters. Owners were to repair fencing, roofing, storm drains and exposed high voltage wiring. Landscaping problems included dead plants, which are fire hazards and, in some places, planters are totally empty of plants.
Since being issued the list of violations, Galt Plaza and Stop and Shop are in compliance with the Notice and Order to Repair or Abate, according to Community Development Director Chris Erias.
“The property owner hired a new property manager and maintenance crew,” Erias said. “Regular maintenance has been increased from once every other week to once a week.”
Erias said that the regular maintenance includes power washing, emptying of trashcans, litter pickup and landscaping care. The city’s code enforcement work plan includes weekly visits to the Galt Plaza to make sure the center stays in compliance.
On Feb. 24, the Galt Beautification Committee held its first “Galt Looking Good” cleanup day, which was designed to create an awareness of how trash tossed on the streets reflects on the pride of the community, the state and the earth. Nearly 30 volunteers showed up and put on orange vests, carried litter picker-uppers and large trash bags to pick up what others had left behind. The group has grown and repeated their trash pickups numerous times over the year, choosing a part of Galt that needs tidying up.
On Feb. 26, Galt Cemetery employees were jolted during a hailstorm when lightning struck a tree near one of the office buildings. No graves were damaged but the tree had to be removed. Galt Arno Cemetery District Administrator Belinda Ellis said it was the “most horrific explosion” she had ever heard.
On March 4, Roy Herburger, the heartbeat of The Galt Herald since 1959, passed away. His presence touched both communities of Galt and Elk Grove with his generosity and caring nature. Elizabeth Pinkerton, Citizen columnist wrote, “Roy Herburger has been a legend in Elk Grove (and Galt) for the past 59 years – ever since 1959, almost six decades. His community involvement and support cannot be matched by anyone for he has been active in all local groups and organizations. The Elk Grove Citizen newspaper that Roy has led the way on all these years continues to be a special treat for all of us in the city of Elk Grove and our surrounding communities. It is our treasure and a Herburger gift to us all.”
On March 14, Galt students from Liberty Ranch High School, Galt High School and McCaffery Middle School “walked out” to bring awareness to school safety and gun control. It was exactly one month to the day of the shootings at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people. Being forewarned, Principal Ron Rammer prepared the cafeteria for students planning to walk out. About 500 McCaffery students participated. It was estimated that 200 Galt High students walked out and 400 students from Liberty Ranch High School.
On May 3, Lt. Dedriksen of the Galt Police Department retired. Over his 29 years with the department, Dedriksen held several key roles, including serving as a member of the department’s former SWAT team and as Patrol Sergeant. For the last two and a half years of his service, Dedriksen was the Operations Commander, one of two lieutenants at Galt PD. In this role, he was responsible for overseeing Patrol, Traffic and K9 units, and School Resource Officers, in addition to serving as the C.S.O. Crime Prevention Coordinator. Chief Tod Sockman praised Dedriksen for his service.
“Lt. Dedriksen … has had a tremendous amount of influence on the shaping and the mentoring of the men and women of the Galt Police Department,” Sockman said. “Chuck has dedicated nearly three decades of public service to this community and is retiring with honor and distinction.”
May 2 was the week that Galt police officers started carrying Naloxone, also known as Narcan, while in the field, thanks to a grant from Sacramento County. After required training, officers began carrying the opioid blocker. Officers can administer a dose, should they encounter a subject who is experiencing an opioid overdose in the field without having to wait for medical help to arrive. The doses, when administered, remove and block the effects of opioids. On Aug. 18, Galt Police Officer Franklin was first on scene, using his skills and training to determine a male was in distress from an overdose, so he quickly administered the Naloxone nasal spray which saved the man’s life.
On May 10, Galt Police Department, Evidence and Property Technician Lynn Hutchinson retired after 29 years of service. Hutchinson was responsible for the formation of the Citizens Assisting in Police Services (CAPS) program she organized in 1994. Volunteers are members of the community who are over 50 years old, are able to commit 16 hours a month, and wish to have a positive impact on the local community. Hutchinson said that CAPS volunteers are able to “do jobs that don’t require an officer and provide extra services to our community that would not exist if not for the volunteers,” including school patrol, traffic control and office duties.
On May 8, the new Hawk Stadium was toured by Galt Joint Union High School District (GJUHSD) trustees and district administration staff members. Construction began in early October 2017 and includes the turf field, complete with the Hawk mascot in the center and “Hawks” across each end zone, all-weather track, lighting, public address system, and home and visiting bleachers. The home side bleachers accommodate approximately 1,700 fans, including seating for those with disabilities. Guest bleachers accommodate up to 500 people. The field was built with funds acquired through Measure E, which was passed November 2016. The district budgeted $6.7 million of the $36 million bond for the project.
Also on May 8, the Galt Joint Union High School District Trustees voted to hire William (Bill) Spalding as the new superintendent for the district. Spalding makes an annual salary of $175,000, $600 a month for car and travel expenses, plus a cell phone and laptop computer. Spalding and the district agreed to a three-year contract.
At the May 15 City Council meeting, raises for employees were announced, including that of City Manager Eugene Palazzo and Clerk Administrator Donna Settles, but not for police officers. All employees, except police officers, received a 3 percent raise on July 2018; however, some employees received more. The additional raises some employees received were retroactive from Jan. 1, 2018 and designed to bring employees within 5 percent of the median pay based on a study of 12 cities, according to the city’s Human Resource Director Cora Hall.
A resolution was finally reached between the city and Galt Police officers in September.
On April 3 and 4, federal authorities seized Galt, Wilton and Herald houses that reportedly contained illegal marijuana growing operations. They were among 100 houses targeted in a sweep operation across the Sacramento region. Although not in Galt proper, a Galt addressed home located at 13390 Ivie Road was searched on March 13. Law enforcement found an active marijuana grow with 812 marijuana plants. Law enforcement officials also located approximately 381 grams of processed marijuana, light/ballast combos, large stand-alone grow lights, oscillating fans and electrical timers. According to SMUD, that property consumed an unusually large amount of electricity, an indicator that the interior of the property was being used to cultivate marijuana. The defendant property was owned by Yong Qiang Chen, a resident of the state of New York since September 2017. Officials also raided a property located at 11709 Colony Road, also a Galt address, where officers found another active grow with 791 marijuana plants, $22,685 in cash and marijuana grow equipment.
On June 13, another illegal marijuana raid netted approximately 17,000 to 19,000 marijuana plants and 13 firearms after Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department investigators, along with the help of various other agencies, issued warrants at the nursery located in the 12000 block of East Stockton Boulevard just north of Galt, and a property in the 10000 block of Arno Road. According to Sacramento County Sheriff Public Information Officer Shaun Hampton, the plants had a street value of over $4 million.
On June 21, Galt police officers arrested three male juveniles after they allegedly attacked another minor attending summer school at Liberty Ranch High School. The attack happened when the male victim left his classroom to use the restroom. Officials believe the three suspects jumped the fence along Marengo Road and waited for the victim.
“The three juvenile suspects entered the campus by jumping the fence and appeared to specifically target the student that was attacked,” Galt Police Chief Tod Sockman said.
Sean Duncan, district director of educational services, said that after a brief exchange of words, the victim was punched and kicked repeatedly, and suffered a severe laceration just below his right eye. The victim was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he was treated for a laceration, concussion and possible fracture.
On July 27, city of Galt Finance Director Emily Boyd resigned. Boyd was hired at the recommendation of then-new City Manager Eugene Palazzo who was hired early in 2016. Boyd left with a four-month severance package, which came with a $50,000 price tag.
Boyd gave a full presentation on the budget in June 2018, saying there would be $4.4 million in unassigned funds available to start savings for maintenance. Palazzo was also present at the June meeting when the budget was presented and did not correct the presentation. No reason was given for her resignation but, after the Aug. 9 City Council meeting when Palazzo announced that $4.4 million would not be available for renovations and maintenance on aging facilities and parks, there were speculations that Boyd’s resignation was tied to the shortfall.
On Aug. 1, 25 Galt area residents met at the Galt Police Department Community Room to discuss the problem of homeless people in the vicinity. Chief Sockman, then-Planning Commissioner Sherry Daley and then-City Councilman Tom Malson were some of those concerned with the homeless that live in or near the city of Galt. Sockman said that nearly all the homeless people suffer from addiction or mental illness, or both. He believes the long-term answer for those who will accept help is to have both drug counseling and mental health services here in Galt. Sockman also said that there were about 15 homeless people who sleep outside city limits but frequently come into Galt.
On Aug. 11 and 12, hot air balloons filled the sky for the first Galt Balloon Festival held at the McFarland Living History Ranch sponsored by the Galt District Chamber of Commerce. Toni Gerling coordinated the event with a lot of help from Gale Webber. Part of the show, balloon pilots and their ground crews arrived and started to spread out the balloon envelope, attached rigging to the baskets and started filling the balloons with air. As some guests watched the balloon unveiling from their seats while they enjoyed food from the various food trucks onsite, others roamed around the launch field snapping photos and selfies.
A total of eight balloons took flight on Saturday; six lifted off, caught the wind current and were carried northeast. The other two were tethered to heavy equipment at the ranch and offered tethered rides to lucky event guests.
“Attendance exceeded expectations and, being a first year event, we had a few glitches on the first day,” Gerling said. “Adjustments in transportation, traffic control and parking were made, and Sunday’s event ran much smoother and more efficiently.”
On Oct. 16, the Galt City Council unanimously approved a Senior Resource Center to be located in the Chabolla Center. Then-Mayor Lori Heuer helped the resource center get off to a good start. She said she would allocate her discretionary funds to help with a printer and other needs. Bob Balliet, chairman of the Commission on Aging, thanked everyone for helping him achieve a long awaited dream.
“We have some work to do and we can start out small,” Balliet said. “Elk Grove’s started in a garage and we’re starting out, well, in what is a storage area. This (service) will be available to all the people of Galt.”
On Nov. 14 and 15, in an effort to enhance safety, SMUD removed six redwood trees from SMUD Park on the corner of Lincoln Way and A Street. The six trees lined A Street and included four large and two small trees. Planted in the early 60s, SMUD officials determined that the redwoods posed a safety threat to power lines running to the substation at the west end of the park.
On Wednesday, Nov. 21, Shirley Turner, 84, was killed in a single car accident on Boessow Road just east of Galt. Turner was a volunteer with the Citizens Assisting Patrol Services (CAPS) since 2013 but was better known to the children of Galt as a Grandma Cop. She was well known at all the Galt elementary school campuses and at many of the events sponsored by the city. She was at the schools to help with loading and unloading of students, and also taught bike and water safety. She was a resident of Galt since 1946.
“She was a staple in this community her whole life,” Sockman said. “It’s a horrible tragedy. We miss her. We lost part of our family.”
According to Lt. Brian Kalinowski, the Galt Police Department gained two patrol officers this year.
“Officer Hart was sworn in on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018,” said Kalinowski. “He graduated from the Stanislaus County Law Enforcement Academy. He successfully completed his field training and has been working on patrol. Officer Juan was sworn in on June 11, 2018. He completed the field-training program and has been working on patrol. In addition, we have two new ‘recruits’. One, Recruit Nicholas Mello, is in the Delta Academy scheduled to graduate in February. The second (is) Andrew Siliezar who starts the Sacramento Police Academy in January.”
Two four-legged officers also joined Galt Police Department – K-9 officers Kane and Copper.