A Few Minutes with the Mayor

a few minutes with the mayor

8/7/2020

Hello Community Members,

Madera County Public Health will have another COVID-19 Mobile Testing site in Chowchilla on August 18, 2020, from 8 - 11 am.  The location is on 4th and Orange, at the Northwest corner. Please remember appointments are required, contact Madera County Public Health for more information.

This week a new Small Business Pandemic Assistance Grant Program launched through Madera County.  This is open to both Madera and Chowchilla businesses.  Those who have already received disaster relief funding are not eligible.  Grants do not have to be repaid, and I encourage all businesses to take advantage of any help you can get. The deadline is August 14, 2020, by 5 pm. 

Businesses, please remember you can now contact the City of Chowchilla to get a Temporary Use Permit if you wish to conduct business outdoors.  Please contact Mark Hamilton at 559.665.8615, ext. 400. 

Our August 11th City Council Meeting has been canceled. Please join us through Web-Ex on our next scheduled meeting on August 25, 2020. Directions to utilize Web-ex can be found on our website cityofchowchilla.org. 

Lastly, I want to thank our hard-working Chowchilla Volunteer Firefighters. They have been continually busy putting out several fires and keeping the community safe. We appreciate every one of you. 

Until Next Week,

 Waseem Ahmed
 Mayor, City of Chowchilla

                                              

7/30/2020

 Hello Community Members,

Madera County remains on the statewide monitoring list for COVID cases. A statewide order is still in place restricting the operation of businesses with no specified end date. The statewide order supersedes the local Public Health order, which was put in place on July 7th for a minimum of 3 weeks and was dependent upon our ability to get off of the monitoring list. I hope all of the community continues to support our local businesses the best you can. 

Caltrans has approved the blanket Encroachment Permit to the City, which allows businesses located in the Caltrans right-of-way to conduct business outdoors if they choose to.  Businesses who will need to contact the City staff to get a Temporary Use Permit.  Please contact Mark Hamilton at 559.665.8615, ext. 400.  

In other news, the City has entered into an agreement with a consulting firm to assist us in the Community Development Block Grant Program.   A portion of the program will be used to assist businesses that have suffered from the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.   We will release more information as the program is ready to launch.

Today, the Madera County Department of Agriculture released information on Unsolicited Seed Shipments from China and parts of Asia.   Please heed their warning and do not open, plant, or dispose of any unsolicited seed packets, and contact their office to report it.  You can read more about this on the media release posted on the City’s social media platforms. 

Lastly, I would like to congratulate Rachel Beaird, who is the new Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce. The City and the Chamber of Commerce work closely in a partnership, and I look forward to working with her soon.

I hope you all are staying safe and enjoy your weekend. 

Until Next Week,

 Waseem Ahmed
 Mayor, City of Chowchilla

                                                              

7/24/2020

Hello Community Members,

I am pleased to report that today, a new order was signed so the City can assist business establishment’s to temporarily make available the option of using outdoor public and private areas for their activities and services.  As well as temporarily waive regulations that

prohibit business establishments in public and private common area.  Businesses located in Caltrans right-of-way will have to obtain additional permits from Caltrans in order to comply with State requirements, which the City will help with facilitation. For further information, please visit our website www.CityofChowchilla.org.

I would like to congratulate the new Madera Community College Campus in its win in receiving accreditation.  California Community Colleges Board of Governors voted unanimously to recognize Madera Community College (MCC) as the 116th campus of the state’s community college system. With the new designation, Madera Community College is no longer a satellite campus, and will now receive funding for additional programs and staffing. It is also eligible for athletic competition within the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA). This accreditation is a huge accomplishment and great news for the entire county of Madera. Congratulations to all who were involved with this endeavor.

In Chowchilla’s latest economic development news, Orchard Bar & Grill will be opening soon and is located in the Save Mart Shopping Center.  They have chosen to expand their restaurant seating by constructing an outdoor patio area in front of their business. Togo’s Sandwiches is also expanding its operation to the suite located next to its current establishment.

New businesses that have recently opened in Chowchilla is Wisdom’s Royal Polishing & Tint, located on the corner of 15th street and Robertson Boulevard, as well as The Pretty Little Flower Shop, located at 129 N. 3rd Street, and lastly Chowchilla Small Engine & Repair, located at 235 Robertson Boulevard. I wish you all success in your new adventures and thank you for opening a business in our community.

Lastly, the City of Chowchilla and Mid Valley Disposal has announced September 21st, 2020, is the new date for the Chowchilla Curbside Clean-up.  More information will be posted to our social media, as well as August’s Utility Bill.

 Until Next Week,

Waseem Ahmed
Mayor, City of Chowchilla

                             

7/16/2020

Hello Community Members,

This last week the California State Governor, Gavin Newsom, imposed further restrictions on our businesses, leaving them to close if they cannot make modifications to conduct business in an outside environment.  As the City has to abide by these guidelines, we try to figure ways we can assist the businesses to enable them to keep their doors open.  As discussed at our last City Council Meeting, City staff is working with Caltrans to approve a blanket Encroachment Permit for the City.  This action will then allow the City to issue Temporary Use Permits, so the businesses are able to use their storefront sidewalks to conduct business if they choose to. City staff is still working on this process, but we should be able to release information to the businesses soon. Please be assured the City of Chowchilla does not want to see our businesses close, and we are trying to do everything we can to help.

Also discussed at the last City Council Meeting, through the states Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Chowchilla’s allocation is approximately $225,000, which will provide funds for COVID-19 related expenditures only. 

In community news, the Chowchilla-Madera County Fairgrounds released information on a fundraiser they will be having.  On July 25 and 26, 2020, from 10 am – 6 pm, they will host the Fair Food Drive-Thru. This fundraiser will allow the community to enjoy some of the fair food vendors, being they were not able to host the fair this year. It also provides the community with a chance to support the Chowchilla-Madera County Fairgrounds in its efforts to raise funds. Our fairgrounds depend heavily on fundraising to sustain operations.  I would love to see all of the community to support them if they can.

Information and the latest updates are continually distributed via social media to the community.  Please follow the City’s page’s if you participate in social media. Also, you may call the City Hall with any questions you have.

Until Next Week,


Waseem Ahmed
Mayor, City of Chowchilla

                                                                        

7/9/2020

Hello Community Members,

As you may already know, Governor Newsom has rolled back closures for some businesses. Businesses that are affected in Chowchilla is the limitations on the restaurants as well as the bars closing. Dine-in restaurants must close indoor seating to customers. During this closure, all dine-in restaurants may continue to utilize outdoor seating and must comply with the guidance for dine-in restaurants and should continue to encourage takeout and delivery service whenever possible. Bars must close ALL operations. We have been informed that the State Licensing Boards, such as ABC, will be visiting businesses in the Chowchilla area; be sure you are complying with the order appropriately. These closures shall remain in effect until directed otherwise by the Madera County Public Health Officer, which will be no earlier than July 28, 2020.

In our Economic Development Department, we have a lot working behind the scenes. Although the economy took a downturn due to COVID-19, it hasn’t stopped the progress of bringing new businesses to Chowchilla. Information cannot be released to the public until a business is at a particular stage. What I can let you know is construction for Burger King is almost completed, O’Rileys Auto Parts is in the construction bid process, and we have had discussions with multiple franchise’s regarding site selection as they are interested in coming to Chowchilla. We also have interest in the Industrial sites as well, which is very exciting.

In other news, have you been counted yet in the 2020 Census? The Census is very important; your response helps guide the planning for the future of our community. It will help inform decisions on how billions of dollars are allocated annually for critical public services, as well as representation. You can quickly complete the Census online, by phone or by mail. Currently, Madera County has only a 60% response rate. We need to get this number higher for the benefit of our community. The easiest way to complete the survey is to go to www.2020census.gov > Click on “Respond” > and begin the questionnaire. It’s that easy.

Please continue to stay safe and remember to support our local businesses in this challenging time.

Until Next Week,

Waseem Ahmed Mayor, City of Chowchilla

                                                          

07/02/2020

Hello Community Members,

The COVID-19 cases have continually risen, bringing an average of around 25 cases per day in Madera County. The more testing and increase in gatherings will continue to raise the numbers as we have seen. We have begun to see Governor Newsom shutting down businesses once again and rolling back restrictions in selected counties. Thankfully, Madera County has not yet been affected by this new three-week order; we are still open for business. However, we must all continue to take the necessary safety precautions when out in public.

Having said that, a topic that has been brought up recently on social media is the annual Chowchilla Volunteer Fire Department’s BBQ celebration.  Every year the Chowchilla Volunteer Fire Department holds a gathering in observance of Independence Day, along with the celebration of their close bond with their brother/sisterhood. It is usually a large gathering with all the volunteers and their families attending. It saddens me greatly that due to the COVID-19 gathering restrictions the annual BBQ had to be altered to allow only the volunteers to attend.  This gathering would be the same scenario as when they gather for their weekly meetings.

Please know that we would have liked to host all the events that were planned annually as usual, but we have to think of the overall safety of our community, and mass gatherings are not allowed right now. These are the same reasons we had to cancel the City’s Movies and Music in the Park, and our local Chamber of Commerce, non-profit organizations, and VFW all had to cancel their events as well. Everyone has had to sacrifice in order to follow the State and County guidelines for everyone’s safety.  

Our Volunteer Fire Department is essential, and we cannot risk a gathering exposing them to the virus, nor can the city risk losing funding from the State because we allowed gatherings. The entire community of Chowchilla appreciates the service of these volunteers and knows their value and sacrifice made to our community.  Once the restrictions are lifted, the city staff will be happy to put on a large BBQ for our Volunteer Fire Department and their families to gather together once again.  

In closing, as we approach the Fourth of July holiday, please remember to safely dispose of your fireworks, and be a considerate neighbor, only lighting fireworks on the 4th. I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday weekend, please continue to practice social distancing and safety measures.

Until Next Week,

Waseem Ahmed Mayor, City of Chowchilla

                                                   

6/25/2020 - Hello Community Members, 

Since last week, we have not had any new restrictions lifted from the Madera County Public Health Department. Because of the increase in COVID-19 cases, we have been told the projection to lift any more restrictions will not happen for a while. Unfortunately, we will not be able to gather together in any celebrations, but we must think of the safety of our community. The city staff has made the difficult decision to cancel the summer series events with the Music and Movies in the Park. As we stated, when we announced the events, there was always a possibility we would not be able to host them, and unfortunately, the time has come to make this difficult decision. The Chowchilla Chamber of Commerce has also had to make the difficult decision to cancel its annual Classic Car & Custom Bike Show this year. We look forward to planning an eventful year in 2021 for our community.

Some good news is coming from the City’s Public Works Department. The new Well, Tanks, Booster Stations, and Pressure Sustaining Valves Project has won another award for the Outstanding Water Project.  This award is given by the American Society of Civil Engineers, San Francisco Section.  The award recognizes projects where the primary purpose is the supply, storage, and conveyance of potable and / or recycled water, and which demonstrate innovation and improved the state of the practice for water supply and delivery projects. This includes the implementation of new methods, improvements on existing methods, and/or incorporation of emerging technology. Congratulations to our Director of Public Works, Jason Rogers, and his entire team on this accomplishment.

For those who have been asking, we have a secured date for the City’s Clean-Up Event. Monday, September 21st, 2020 has been selected as the new event date. More information will be sent out soon regarding the process and procedures. Thank you for being patient with us as we had to reschedule due to COVID-19.

Lastly, I’d like to remind everyone of the summer season outdoor landscape watering schedule.  Even-numbered addresses for residential dwellings and businesses ending in 0,2,4,6,8 water only on Tuesdays and/or Saturdays. Odd-numbered addresses for residential dwellings and businesses ending in 1,3,5,7,9 water only on Wednesdays and/or Sundays. No watering is allowed on Mondays, Thursdays, or Fridays for residential dwellings and businesses. Public parks, schools, and common areas water only on Mondays and/or Fridays. Watering is prohibited every day between 10 am and 7 pm.

Everyone, please stay safe and practice cautious measures when you are conducting business in the public. As always, stay safe and take care.

Until Next Week,

Waseem Ahmed
Mayor, City of Chowchilla

WASEEM                                                                       

6/19/2020

Hello Community Members,

As the Madera County Public Health Department has moved into stage 3 to allow expanded personal care services, please remember, we must do our part by staying 6 ft. apart, wear masks, and always wash or sanitize your hands.  The Public Health Department has made hand sanitizer available for distribution to non-profit organizations, government agencies, healthcare providers and facilities, and now small businesses.  Please contact them if you qualify to receive some. The number of COVID-19 cases has risen dramatically as most businesses reopen, and an increase in testing.  We are monitoring our progress with the county and will continue to keep you updated.  I understand there are a lot of questions as to how some restrictions are lifted, and others are not; the city follows the State and County guidelines as to what is allowed to open. As soon as we get any updates, we will inform the community. 

I would also like to remind our community our city staff is currently in the middle of planning the Movies and Music in the Park for you all to enjoy.  However, as it states in the social media post, the city is not sure yet if the restrictions will be lifted in time.  We are trying to prepare and be ready to host the event if we are allowed to do so.

City Hall opens again to the public on Monday, June 22, at its regular business hours.  Thank you for being patient with us during the time of our closure.  We have taken all precautionary measures to be sure you are safe when visiting City Hall. Our Council chambers will be open to the public for the upcoming City Council meeting. Still, we will be implementing social distancing policies and will limit the number of people who may be in the Council chambers. We are encouraging residents to participate virtually following on Webex; directions are located on the city webpage. We are asking no one who is sick to attend the council meeting.

In the Community Economic Development Department, we received two award letters executing the agreements for Emergency Solutions Grant of $127,000, as well as the Home Grant Award of $500,000 which relates to first time buyers and homeowner rehabilitation programs.  Please contact our Community Economic Development Department for more information.

In other news, I would like to congratulate our new Madera County Sheriff, Tyson Pouge, who was sworn in for duty last Tuesday.  He served as the Under-Sheriff and took over after Jay Varney left to pursue a new career with Madera County. I welcome him in his new position, and I am glad to have him serve the community in this capacity.

Please remember to continue to shop locally and help support our restaurants and small businesses in these difficult times.

Until Next Week, Waseem Ahmed
Mayor, City of Chowchilla

                                                                                 

6/12/2020

Hello Community Members,

Madera County Public Health Department has added a new dashboard to its website that gives more detailed information regarding the local COVID-19 cases. The information provided gives you a general location of the cases within the county.  I know many of you in our community has asked for this specific information, I am glad the county can now provide you with that. Please remember as we open back up, we need to be wise about reducing the risk of spreading the virus. Also, keep in mind that an increase in testing may produce a higher number of positive test results. 

Good news, we are moving into Phase 3 of the guidelines for reopening our businesses on 6/12/2020. We are beginning to get back to some form of normalcy, and we encourage our community to continue to support our local businesses. Not all sectors are open yet, but we are hopeful they will be soon. For more information on the guidelines, please visit the Madera County Public Health’s website.  The Housing and Community Development (HCD) has issued its COVID 19 CDBG grant, and city staff is currently working on the application process. Potentially, it could provide roughly $100k that can be used to help local businesses and supplement our Save Our Community Businesses Program.

In other news, the City has seen an increase in building permits as construction activity has now resumed.  Recently, Caltrans and the City of Chowchilla partnered in repairing some major sidewalk hazards along Robertson Boulevard.  Caltrans supplied the material, and the City’s Public Works Department completed the repairs. If you see a safety hazard on the City sidewalks, please call city hall to notify us.

The City staff is proceeding to work on the summer series events with Movies in the Park on Friday Nights, as well as Music in the Park on Saturday Nights. We are hoping these events will be able to take place for our community to enjoy. It will be nice for the community to be able to gather safely once again. 

Until Next Week,

Waseem Ahmed
Mayor, City of Chowchilla

                                                                                       

06/05/2020

Hello Community Members,

Last week, May 26th, at the city council meeting, the city staff presented the second reading of the proposed amendment of section 18.60.180 – shipping containers. After much deliberation, the city council decided it was best to wait to act on this amendment until the public can attend the council meetings and appropriately express their concerns. It is understood that this subject is important to our community, and all of our community member’s opinions must be heard. The city council will revisit this once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, and all are welcome to attend the city council meetings.

In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd, community members of Chowchilla organized a Memorial March in his name this last Tuesday.  To those of you that participated, thank you for keeping it peaceful and respectful while expressing your freedoms.  I would also like to thank all the agencies, especially the Chowchilla Police Department for working with the organizers of the memorial march and ensuring the safety of all community members.
In other news, there is an exciting progression in our city’s economic development. Flight Craft Boats, a custom ski boat manufacturer, opened for business behind Bravo Auto Sales, 1677 Robertson Boulevard. They come to Chowchilla from Merced, seeking a facility with a showroom in hopes to increase their clientele.  Also, Burger King began renovations on their facility located at the old Jack in the Box building off Avenue 24.  Burger King is anticipating opening soon. We are excited to have both businesses here in Chowchilla.

Lastly, City Hall is hoping to open to the public soon.  We are taking all precautionary measures such as hanging plexiglass to help eliminate exposure. The city wants to ensure the safety of staff and those of the community who visit City Hall.  Until then, city staff is still available for any questions or concerns you may have by phone or email.

Until Next Week,

Waseem Ahmed
Mayor, City of Chowchilla

                                                                                        

5/29/2020

Hello Community Members,

This week we were happy to announce the opening of places of worship as well as salons and barbershops.  We know how important these services are to our community, and we are thankful they are now opened. We still have a ways to go, we have seen a steady increase in daily cases; however, testing has also increased.  The good news is the Madera Community Hospital has only three patients at this time, which is manageable. As we re-open our places of business, it is still imperative to continue to social distance and follow the guidelines that are recommended.

Yesterday, 5/28/20, Madera County Department of Public Health hosted its second mobile drive-through testing in Chowchilla.  They conducted 72 COVID-19 tests; if you weren’t able to get tested, visit their testing webpage for options around the County. www.maderacounty.com/covid19testing

Chowchilla Union High School hosted its Class of 2020 graduation this week.  Although the ceremony was not as usual, the high school did a wonderful job allowing the students to experience a graduation ceremony and celebrate their accomplishments.  Over the course of three days, the entire class was broken up into thirds, then groups of ten students were gathered to walk at their ceremony to receive their diploma. It was 20-minute increments per group.   Each student was limited to two guests, and everyone was spread out six feet apart.  I would like to congratulate each and every CUHS graduate, and I wish you all the best of luck in your future. I would also like to thank Chowchilla Union High School for working hard to make this possible in these unprecedented times.

Until Next Week,

Waseem Ahmed
Mayor, City of Chowchilla

                                                                                        

05/22/2020

Hello Community Members,

This week was packed full of information regarding the COVID-19 restrictions and procedures.  I am happy to announce Madera County has obtained approval from the state to move into "Stage 2.5." I understand the community’s feelings of wanting to open quickly as we relay this information to county and state officials. Rest assured, I would like to see our city open and productive once again. As I get continued updates, the city staff will let you all know as soon as they receive them. We all need to continue to take proactive precautions.  In the meantime, please keep your neighborly spirits helping one another, as you all have done. Your acts of kindness make me proud to be your Mayor.

In other exciting news this week, Madera County Board of Supervisors made an announcement; they extended an offer to Jay Varney, Sherriff of Madera County, for the position of Madera County’s Chief Administrative Officer. Before Varney was elected as sheriff, he was Chowchilla’s Police Chief and served two years as the city manager.  We wish him all the best at his new position; we know he will serve the county well as he has always done.  

Lastly, I’d like to acknowledge Wilson School’s Broadcast team, who produced a commercial for a local restaurant in Chowchilla, and is up for the "Best Commercial in the Valley" award through the Slick Rock Student Film Festival.  The show airs May 24th, at 6:30 PM on ABC30, and will be streamed live on ABC30.com.  Good luck to the Wilson Broadcasting Team!

Until Next Week,

Waseem Ahmed
Mayor, City of Chowchilla