I know you’ve been waiting for the rest of my interview with Ron Phillips, so here goes. Remember I wrote in my column two weeks ago (“Fair offers time to get to know movers, shakers,” Aug. 5) about his work as director of the farmers market at the fairgrounds every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Ron is also the special projects coordinator at Rural Human Services. The farmers market is a project of RHS. They’ve been a sponsor of it for 10 years. In addition, Ron coordinates the food bank program at RHS, a very time-consuming project. He coordinates getting the food in.
According to Ron, “We get grants to buy food. I buy most of my food through Redwood Empire, which is connected with Pro-First, a national program. We get federal food, which comes in from Sacramento, and that comes in once a month. It’s all canned. It comes in cases. We don’t get cheese. That’s another program. We have the senior program, which we distribute at the Senior Center. That’s for anybody 60 and over who qualifies for low-income. That program has cheese. The other programs used to have cheese, but not anymore.”
Next, Ron is a representative for District 5 of the Del Norte County Republican Party and is director of their fundraiser being held Sept. 6 at Alexandre Kids Egg Ranch, 8260 Bailey Rd., cross street Moseley Road, Crescent City (487-1000). Attendees will mix and mingle with the candidates at 6 p.m. and have a “Farm Fresh Dinner” at 7 p.m. Twelve featured candidates are listed on the program. Tickets are $50 and are available at Del Norte Office Supply, Java Hut Express (Walmart) or online at www.delnorterepublicans.org.
Ron is also on the Harbor Commission. He explained, “I was appointed to the Harbor Commission in 2007. Someone left, and five of us applied. I don’t know why they picked me, but they did. It’s an elected position. You’ll see my name on the ballot in November. I’ve been there seven years. This will be my last term. After 11 years, if I haven’t gotten the harbor completed, I don’t need to be there.
“We’ve got the inner harbor done. Now we need to get business down there. Richard Young was CEO/harbormaster for eight years. He was an ex-fisherman, businessman and a professor of economics. Now we have a CEO/harbormaster, Charlie Helms, whose profession is more in the non-profit world. He’s learning really quickly how government doesn’t work. Charlie’s job right now is to bring in business. It’s not easy to find businesses to come to the harbor in this economy.”
After my interview with Ron, I went over to the harbor to talk with the very gracious Charlie Helms in the harbormaster’s office upstairs, which has a beautiful panoramic view. Charlie said he’s trying to get the word out, describing our great harbor and letting people know where we are. He said, “Right now, even though we’re all aware of what’s good about Crescent City, not many other people are. Also, what we have to do is to get the rest of the harbor cleaned up. We’re paying our maintenance crew to do a lot of that work.
“I’ve written articles and/or story ideas for Northwest Yachting, Sunset Magazine, Coastal Living,, Travel and Leisure, etc. It’s really just a big marketing and press campaign. And if we want to make the harbor economically viable, we have to build up the land-based side of it. We need to get vendors in here to rent bicycles, stand-up paddle boards, etc. We need to contact bankers to see who their clients are, who have development experience and would be a good fit for here. I’m talking to some of them right now to work their client list.
“And we’re going to a CFCC Funding Fair (www.cfcc.ca.gov), a no-cost event put on by the California Financing Coordinating Committee, Aug. 20 in Redding. Ron Phillips and Wes White are going too. The event is a collection of funders who tell you what they’re funding, and we try to match up with them after their presentations. I’m preparing prospectus pieces for them. We found out about them through the California Special District Association, i.e. government districts like water districts, cemetery districts, harbor districts, etc., that are divisions of California government.
“We got the bulk of the reconstruction funding for the harbor because of the 2011 tsunami, which was a federal disaster. Monies for that came from the California Office of Emergency Services and FEMA. We had a portion to pay for each of those; i.e. 6.25 percent on some of the work, 12 percent for other parts of the work. The Community Development Block Grant, $5 million, was used for those percentages and to get the ball rolling, such as job retention. All the fishermen we have in the harbor represent big business. Each of those boats is worth a number of jobs, which are an economic boon to the community. We also had to borrow money from the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and the Rural Community Assistance Corporation, headquartered in Sacramento.
“The new steel pilings in the harbor are 30 inches across with 4 inches of high-density polymer wrapped around them, driven from 21 to 35 feet down into bedrock. That’s what makes it a 50-year tsunami-resistant harbor. It’s also ADA (Americans with Disability Act) compliant, which has to do with the width of docks, width of walkways, stability and lighting. Most marinas and harbors are going to be forced to comply with that in retrofit. It’s unbelievably expensive. I don’t know how a lot of other harbors are going to do it.
“The Wildlife Conservation Board gave the grant for the bathroom on the docks, which is ADA compliant. It has two shower roams and a laundry room. Ernie Perry, the harbor planner, wrote that grant. He’s a super asset to the harbor. He’s very effective and has a great background. He was the head of the community development department for the county before he retired. “
Finally, Charlie said, “We’re working on the walkways and putting in a promenade. It’s really going to be nice. There’ll be sitting areas and walkways; signage identifying the types of boats, such as trawlers, crab boats, etc., and a hand-crank tape in English, German, Spanish, and Japanese about the harbor and the tsunamis. We’re tying it into the Coastal Trail. By the end of summer, hopefully, it’ll all be done. The dedication ceremony will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, to thank the funders, the Coastal Conservancy.”
Everybody, put it on your calendar.