Even the smallest incorporated city in Stanislaus County is beginning to see some big changes, including holding its first-ever State of the City Address since being incorporated in 1972.
The City of Hughson's historic event on Monday, May 5, drew in approximately 50 individuals comprised of city staff, elected officials, partners, residents and Jean Henley-Hatfield, an original member of the first Hughson City Council in 1972.
Although Hughson has grown over the past 42 years, Mayor Matt Beekman says the city is continuing to make significant efforts in the area of economic development, offering an array of programs available to existing and new businesses such as the city's Business Incentive Program, and the Business Incubator and Small Business Development centers. Additionally, Beekman says the city has been actively working alongside the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance on several fronts to market their programs to help bring exciting new business opportunities to the Hughson community.
Despite the economic decline that took a toll on the city's property and sales tax revenue, staffing levels and delivery of public services, Beekman praised the successful efforts made by the city to remain fiscally prudent throughout the nation's hard-hitting recession and maintain an open and transparent local government.
Another recent Hughson highlight noted by Beekman included the city's Pavement Condition Index rating of 82 on a scale of 100 - the highest achieved PCI rating in Stanislaus County. With the city's successful road maintenance program, their PCI rating of 82 was unmatched by other cities throughout the County with PCI's ranging from the low 60s to low 70s.
Also speaking during the event was Hughson City Manager Raul Mendez as he reviewed the status of the Hughson Municipal Water System, discussing both the ongoing challenges and the strategic approach for developing a responsible plan of action. Currently working with the State of California Department of Public Health, the city is looking to secure funding to make the needed improvements to its water system that will provide a treatment facility that ensures the city's drinking water supply complies with State standards. Additionally, Mendez said the city will continue to explore several other avenues for obtaining the funding, including a portion in the form of a grant to minimize the impact to ratepayers.
As the city of Hughson prepares for the new changes to take place over the coming years, Mendez took an opportunity during the State of the City address to announce the city's most recent addition, the newly hired Community Development Director Jaylen French, who was selected by Mendez to succeed former director Thom Clark after an extensive recruitment process.
Having worked previously with the Stanislaus Council of Governments since 2009, in addition to J.B. Anderson where he provided oversight to consultants while managing development projects, French's area of expertise lies in land use and transportation planning - a trait that Mendez believes will help benefit the city greatly.
"Mr. French exhibited the planning expertise and professional leadership skills that the city of Hughson was looking for," said Mendez. "He is well respected in the field for his attention to detail and will bring fresh and exciting approaches to advancing the City Council's initiatives in the areas of planning and economic development."
Set to begin with city of Hughson next Monday, French will lead and oversee key functional areas of the city including planning, public works and parks and recreation. He will also work closely with the mayor, City Council, city manager, city attorney and city engineer as needed on a variety of city projects and initiatives.
The first "State of the City" address wasn't the only recent bearer of good news for Hughson residents. A recent announcement from the California Department of Parks and Recreation included the city of Hughson on its list of 16 projects throughout the state recommended to receive over $6 million in federal funding through the National Park Service.
Alongside four other projects in Stanislaus County, Hughson has been recommended to receive $550,000 in funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase approximately 29 acres for the city's new Seventh Street Park that has been planned for development across the street from Hughson High School. Although the proposed funding for Hughson's community park is currently only a recommendation from the state Department of Parks and Recreation, a final list of the projects selected to receive funding is expected to be released in the coming months.
Hughson City Council meetings are held on the second and fourth Monday of each month at City Hall located at 7018 Pine Street, Hughson.
For more information, visit the city website at www.hughson.org.