Board of Supervisors Watch

By unanimous vote, Stanislaus County supervisors Tuesday:

Heard an annual report on the Modesto City-County Airport, including efforts to bring passenger flights to Salt Lake City or Phoenix as well as reinstate flights to Los Angeles. Also, federal aviation officials will allow the airport to raise fees from $3 to $4.50 per passenger starting Aug. 1 to help fund future airport projects, raising about $395,000 in two years.

Agreed to seek $40 million in federal stimulus money meant to shore up areas in foreclosure crisis. Some of the money would rescue 180 bank-owned, abandoned homes in Empire, Keyes, Denair, Salida, Ceres, Oakdale, Waterford, Patterson, Newman and unincorporated pockets of Modesto, housing officials said. The rest would make them energy-efficient through solar panels and new appliances, and would provide down payment help to first-time home buyers and demolish homes that are beyond saving.

Lowered home garbage rates from 54 cents to $1.89 per month for a 90-gallon container, depending on the unincorporated area. Drop boxes, typically ordered for remodeling jobs, jumped as much as 93 percent.

Awarded a $1.48 million contract to install new traffic signals and widen the intersection of Ladd Road and McHenry Avenue, northeast of Modesto. Declining prices for road construction material and increased competition will save the county $947,541 from an engineer's previous estimate. Granite Construction of Stockton is expected to finish the work before December.

Used eminent domain to seize two easements needed for widening and adding left-turn lanes on Hatch Road near Ceres. Ronald and Lisa Borges must sell 11,081 square feet of right of way at Clinton Road, but have not signed a $30,410 agreement. The amount was increased from the county's initial offer of $22,000, a report says. The county also took a 20,485-square-foot easement northeast of Hatch and Faith Home roads owned by partners Harold O. Miller and Sons. The owners had agreed to sell for $35,000, but a partner has since died and an escrow agent canceled the deal.

Added "Eddie Best Hall" to the title of the Keyes Community Center and scheduled an Aug. 15 rededication ceremony on the one-year anniversary of Best's death. He helped raise money to build the center, started a neighborhood patrol and helped create the Keyes Police Activities League, friend Davie Landers said. Best also was a volunteer firefighter and one year captured 396 animals as unofficial dog catcher.

Received $8.9 million in Workforce Investment Act money. It's $600,000 more than last year because of "a significant increase in the number of dislocated workers in Stanislaus County," a report says. The Alliance Worknet serves more than 13,000 people at six locations.

Gave permission for the use of downtown Modesto's courthouse lawn for the 135th annual Fourth of July parade and for the 10th annual Xclamation Fest on July 17-19.

Sold a sheriff's K-9 for $1 to its handler, Deputy Lloyd MacKinnon. Eight years ago, the county bought Fons, a Belgian Malinois who now suffers from a knee injury. The Sheriff's Department paid $10,344 in March to Adlerhorts International Inc. for a new dog, Blade, to replace Fons, who retired May 26.

Assigned sheriff's deputies to patrol this summer's Stanislaus County Fair. The fair board has agreed to pay $140,000 for 3,000 hours of security. Supervisor Vito Chiesa, who previously served on the fair board, abstained from the vote.

Applied for a joint $263,334 federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant. Proceeds would be split among the Sheriff's Department, which would receive $73,209; Modesto police, $157,972; and the Probation Department, $32,153.

Agreed with a first reading on Riverbank's plan to expand its redevelopment area to include the former Army ammunition plant and a nearby neighborhood. The city wants to redevelop 320 acres, of which 175 acres are unincorporated. The area suffers from hazardous material contamination, and homes are deteriorating and subject to street flooding, according to a report.

Signed off on paying Zero One Networks $110,516 for mobile computer devices to be installed in vehicles owned by various ambulance companies. The county in November accepted a $147,000 Homeland Security grant to cover the cost. Since 2003, the county has received $7.2 million in Homeland Security money.

— Garth Stapley