NEW VALLEY 202
A Tale of Two Valleys

 

New Valley is brought to you by Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo: the next stage.

We respect and protect our region's natural beauty and precious resources through responsible community planning and development. Del Webb: the nation's leading developer of resort-lifestyle communities, home to more than 11,000 active adult in Northern California

New Valley is also made possible in part by the Great Valley Center.

 

It was the best of times.

The stock market was defying gravity...unemployment hit a 30 year low...and millions realized the dream of owning their own home. You could stick a "dot-com" after just about anything, and strike it rich.

But for much of the Valley, the boom...was a bust. It wasn't the worst of times...just business as usual. Double-digit unemployment. Insufficient services. Aging infrastructures. And a nagging sense that the "Breadbasket of the World" was getting stale.

After the bubble burst, towns up and down the Valley realized they can't afford to miss out on the next "Next Big Thing." In this New Valley, we visit two cities, similar in size and age - but little else. One has turned its economic challenges into opportunities. The other hopes to lure new businesses to employ and support its surging population. Tonight the people who live and work in these cities will tell their tale in their own words. It's a "Tale of Two Valleys."


Graham Mitchell, Farmersville City Manager: "This is sort of our…the main road between Visalia, which is the largest city in the county, and Exeter. So there's a lot of traffic on this street. This is our busiest intersection. The City of Farmersville is about 9,000 people. We are one of the fastest growing communities in the South Valley. Housing is moving very quickly. We're in the process of doing a lot of development in the downtown to attract growth."

Patti Ingram, Grass Valley Mayor: "We're a very thriving community. We have a very vibrant and active downtown. And it's really encouraging to see how this community reinvents itself on a daily basis as well as in cyclical terms."


Darrell McGill, Farmersville Farmer: "You've got people are saying, 'Well, that's not the way we used to do it .' I say, Hey man! Yesterday's past, forget it! Let's move on."

Graham Mitchell: "There's a lot of farm laborers in Farmersville. But in terms of actual farm owners, not a lot, not many at all."

Darrell McGill: "Oh, I grow watermelons, corn, tomatoes, okra, onions, you name it we just about grow it. Pumpkins! It's the greatest growing soil in the world right here."

Betty Haywood, Farmersville Historian: "Farmersville was a veritable garden. They said the plums grew sweeter, and the prunes grew sweeter."

Darrell McGill: "All those Oakies, Arkies, and Missourans, and Texans built this thing from sweat off their backs."

Bobby Goldsmith, Farmersville Resident: "I moved into the government camp in 1941."

Anna Souza, Farmersville Historian: "My brother, my sister and I saw ATU people come in as you came in with their cars all up and down."

Bobby Goldsmith: "We all lived in one little tin cabin."

Anna Souza: "And my dad worked for a dollar a day, and then it got to the point where he didn't even get a dollar a day."

Jay W. Kemp, Former Mayor of Farmersville: "I never really had a sense of being deprived. Never, never at all."

Betty Haywood: "Today Farmersville has a civic center here. There are five parks, two elementary schools, one junior and one high school, and in three Farmersville can celebrate their sesquecentennial, hundred and fiftieth year."

Paston Jim Wiley: "I think it's a great place to live."

Jay W. Kemp: "Probably the biggest challenge anyone would have would be overcoming a perceived image the surrounding area has of them."

Anna Souza: "The town is changing. They're beautifying the town."

Bobby Goldsmith: "The beautified... A town's not necessarily supposed to be beautiful. Beauty in the town is businesses one after another, operating. That's the beauty of a town."


Glenn Jones, Grass Valley Historian: "By 1850 quartz gold was discovered. Every place that there looked like there possibly could be gold somebody dug a hole there. They worked 24 hours a day with three shifts and that was an ideal situation for a town to start to grow. So by the early 1900s the town would double or triple almost single year. As the inflation continued throughout the 40's and 50;'s and 60's there's no way that the mines could stay open."

Patti Ingram: "When those mills stopped grinding the rock and pounding, people couldn't sleep for weeks because they had grown up listening to it."

Dan Castles, President and CEO of Telestream: "Grass Valley Group started in the early 60's."

JoAnn Chartier, Reporter KNCO Radio: "Grass Valley Group is absolutely a key component to the kind of technological growth that spurred the economic development in this area."

Dan Castles: "For years they've been known for their products to help switch live video feeds. They do video effects."

Howard Levine, President, Grass Valley Downtown Association: "We were one of the first outside of Silicon Valley to have an electronics industry."

JoAnn Chartier: "And from Grass Valley Group, a number of other high tech kind of groups developed."

Glenn Jones: "As fast as these people could think of something to do in the electronic field, they would come up here, rent a house or garage and they would go into business."

Dan Castles: "There were many of those that were ideas that Grass Valley Group was not going to pursue. Those were spun off and people started those up."

Dolores Eldridge, Grass Valley Businesswoman: "One of our members one time did a survey and there was like 50 or 60 different electronic companies."

Dan Castles: "We're a video company. We deal with how our customers can use high-speed networks to shift video all over the world. There's a wealth of ideas up here and there's a wealth of technical people. We had no problems starting a company up here, or attracting people."

Patti Ingram: "They came here I do believe because of our beautiful quality of life. I think they were young adults looking for that perfect place to raise their children and to live and work."


Paul Boyer, Farmersville Mayor: "Well, you know I think we've been left out. We desperately need jobs for our people here. We have 20-25% unemployment rate."

Graham Mitchell: "You know when I came on in the city of Farmersville about 3 years ago, that's when the economy was doing the greatest. Farmersville unemployment rate was I think 18 or 19% at the time. Now that we're sort of in a downturn, we're at 22%."

Paul Boyer: "We have a lot of hardworking people who just can't find year round employment."

Graham Mitchell: "I think it's not just a Farmersville problem; it's a Valley problem."

Linda Douglass, Vice President, Tulare County Economic Development Corp.: "Tulare County and its eight incorporated cities decided to take some action to address our high unemployment in this area. And in 1998, we were designated as the only targeted tax area in California."

Darrell McGill: "You have to give a business incentives to come into the town. Right? Give them a tax break for 5 or 6 years. Ten. It's going to pay you back double."

Linda Douglass: "So we offer state tax credits for local businesses, for equipment investment, and hiring."

Paul Boyer: "We'd like to have industries that would really … our labor force, our residents would be suited for. That's not necessarily high-tech industries."

Linda Douglass: "Many companies look at this because land costs are lower."

Graham Mitchell: "But if you can't hire skilled workers, then what good is cheaper land?"

 

Dolores Eldridge: "Well, for many years most of the economy was people worked elsewhere and lived here."

Patti Ingram: "Today a lot of our young people don't even live in this community, because they can't afford to."

Dan Castles: "I think our housing prices certainly don't help, and so we have to attract a certain kind of business that needs to employ people that have incomes in a certain range."

Patti Ingram: "Mostly if people are coming to this area they are going to be blue-collar workers. They're going to be either in the school district; my police department, our fire department."

Howard Levine: "We have serious problem providing affordable workforce housing for our community."

Dan Castles: "The median price of homes just crested $300,000 here. And when you do the math on what income it takes to support that, then look at the job base, there are some disconnects."

JoAnn Chartier: "So housing is a huge concern, because you can't have a really vigorous economy if you can't afford to house your workers."


Don Mason, Owner of Mason Tire: "The last biggest change we've seen probably in the last 5 years is the growth of the city to the freeway, which is highway 198."

Graham Mitchell: "This is some area that the city recently annexed that's about 55 acres. Its frontage is Hwy 198 -- the 'Window to the World' we call it."

 

Dolores Eldridge: "When they first started talking about putting that freeway in, nobody could figure out why."

Patti Ingram: "The leaders of our community knew that there was a bottleneck just trying to get from one town to the other."

Dolores Eldridge: "At the time, a lot of people didn't like it."

Patti Ingram: "There are those that look at that today and think that was the wrong place to put a freeway."

Dolores Eldridge: "They would have had a big problem between Grass Valley and Nevada City on the old highway."

Patti Ingram: "It's very difficult to apply today's standards to something that happened 35 or 40 years ago."

Dolores Eledridge: "It didn't ruin the town, which a lot of times when you put a freeway through a town, it's, you know, they're gone."

Patti Ingram: "And if you lived here then, you can appreciate the fact that there were bottlenecks and some difficulties getting through town."

Dolores Eldridge: "Now I don't think we could live without it."

 

Graham Mitchell: "You hate to cite a fast food chain as a big economic achievement, but in Farmersville it really was. It was our first national chain restaurant. Actually, our first national chain business."

Don Mason: "We've got half a dozen businesses out there that have really put some people to work and I know probably 15 to 20 people that's working in the businesses out there, which has helped our tax base."

Graham Mitchell: "That single McDonalds has really had a huge impact on that whole region, that whole northern part of the city. It facilitated that installation of a sewer line that will take care of connections along our entire100 acres of vacant industrial land."

Paul Boyer: "If we could bring in industry in that area, also where there's highway commercial zoning, possibly a motel."

Don Mason: "I've always said and wanted to see here for years a motel. I'd like to see a 15, 20 unit little motel on the side of the road."

 

Dolores Eledrige: "We're finally getting a major hotel, which a lot of us have felt we needed for a long time."

Patti Ingram: "Why didn't we have one sooner? Because we wanted to have the right one."

 

Paul Boyer: "Things that would attract people as they go by on their way to Sequoia National Park, that would really help our community."

Don Mason: "Any kind of business that would…come in. That would put anywhere from 5 to 50 people to work, anything that we know is going to stay."


Howard Levine, Owner, Swan Levine House B&B: "We moved into the Swan Levine House, formerly the Old Jones Hospital -- March 13th, 1975. I've been the executive director of the downtown association for three years and it's been a very rewarding job."

Dolores Eldridge: "Still a lot of old buildings that have been remodeled but they still have the character."

Howard Levine: "Approximately 1986 a lot of development happened right outside the downtown area. We lost our major chain stores, couple of smaller stores. Left with us with about a 26% vacancy rate downtown, that's one out of every four square feet. It was a time when people really banded together and decided that they were going to form an alliance."

Patti Ingram: "Each time there is an empty storefront in town there is another business waiting in line to take that place over."

 

Paul Boyer: "We got approved for a grant to improve our downtown area. We have a commercial area that is somewhat blighted, and we really want to make it look better - bring the businesses up that are there, encourage more businesses to come in. So the construction that's underway right now is to put in landscaping, also streetlights which we desperately need in that area. It's really dark at night."

 

Howard Levine: "The arts are a needed part of what makes a quality community. They provide recreation; they provide a very strong business base. They bring in tourism dollars. They're very clean. It creates a magnet for Grass Valley, to have the Center of the Arts open, which has a 300-seat theater, a 100-seat black box. Sierra Dance Institute: that brings in 100,000 people a year just to downtown! And that's a big economic base."


Raquel Quintanar-Ramirez, President of Proyecto Farmersville: "Proyecto Farmersville was founded in 1997. Our purpose for this organization is to help out our community. It could be health, it could be education, it could be anything that has to do with the law."

Raquel Quintanar-Ramirez: "We got $5000 from the Irvine foundation. We are hoping to apply for another grant, hopefully get between $5000 and $10000 again."

Graham Mitchell: "We have mixed racial demographics. About 80% of the community is Hispanic, about 20% Caucasian."

Raquel Quintanar-Ramirez: "Most of the community is made of farm workers. Mostly Hispanic families that migrate from Mexico that come to here."

Paul Boyer: "Younger families that you see moving into houses are usually Hispanic. And you know, I see that it's a good mix in our community, and I also see that businesses have learned to cater to the clientele that's here in town."

Raquel Quintanar-Ramirez: "When I grew up here there was no place for me either if I wanted to use a computer or wanted do something there was nowhere to go. I was very fortunate that in my parent's eyes education was a priority for them. So that's why I was able to go off to college and come back and become a teacher and serve my community. I'm a kindergarten teacher, I work for J. Hester School. Youth involvement is something that lacks in this community, so we formed PRIDE. Our goal is to involve the students in the community, and become aware of, you know, how can they help their community?"

Paul Boyer: "There's really a lot of concerns about what can be done to give children, give teenagers something else to get involved with, to better their lives, give them hope."


Christina Guerland, Bear River High School Student: "We're really good academically here, and it's definitely prepared you for any avenue you're going to take, whether it's vocational school or like me you're going to go to a four-year university."

Dave Morehouse, Bear River High School Teacher: "I've got kids, boy, this year: Berkeley, Stanford…"

Christina Guerland: "I decided to go to Yale University. I was accepted early decision, went back there two times and just fell in love with it."

Dave Morehouse: "Yale, UC San Diego…"

 

Nancy Ramos, Farmersville High School Student: "I just wanted to go somewhere else though, like be able to live somewhere else for a while and experience that. But the majority I know are going to COS, College of Sequoias here, and then from there they're looking to transfer out."

Don Mason: "Our high school -- that brought our community together because it keeps all the kids at home. We're not seeing kids going to high schools 5 or 10 miles east and west; they're right here at home and that has really brought the town together more than anything."

 

Dan Castles: "The schools are a huge priority because so many of the people that moved here moved for a reason, and the schools often were at the core of that."

Dave Morehouse: "Parents here are very, very involved, which is good for the kids."

Christina Guerland: "The only thing I felt like I've missed out on: you don't know a lot of kids that have different backgrounds, different cultures, that sort of thing."

 

Nancy Ramos: "I mean, I like it. I know a lot of people who don't. I guess they don't like how it's so small, and they want to go where there's a lot more people where they think they can have more fun. I think it's too quiet for them."

Don Mason: "What I want to see, I want to see education at the top of the list for everybody."

 

Dave Morehouse: "When I hear politicians say that you can't throw money at the problem, they're wrong. They're plain wrong."

 

Don Mason: "I'd like to see that 120 million dollars the government wants to spend on the prisons spent in the schools."


Dave Morehouse: "We've been stuck at about 1100 students, and we've been stuck here for a while."

Dan Castles: "With businesses here and the schools, you're either growing or you're shrinking. There is no status quo."

Dave Morehouse: "The worst place for a school to be is in declining enrollment, because if you're not growing, you have to cut programs, personnel, and whatever."

Patti Ingram: "Grass Valley isn't growing as quickly as the projections were for our previous general plan. Possibly we might get to 2% a year but it has not reached that peak."

 

Graham Mitchell: "This is sort of my pride and joy -- this is our newest residential neighborhood. It's something that I worked really hard with the developer on. This is a park we're actually developing. Rather than hire a consultant, we actually designed this park on our own, with a committee. It was kind of a fun venture."

Graham Mitchell: "From the 1990 census to the 2000 census we grew at a rate of a little over 3%."

Darrell McGill: "I say another ten years you'll be looking at 25,000 in his town. I have no doubt."

 

Dan Castles: "I think we have some people who move in here and then want to slam the door behind them and say, 'Okay, phew, I made it on the train. I don't want somebody else coming on board.'"

Howard Levine: "We are in an environment that is a good place for people to live. We can accept housing; we can accept new people coming in.

JoAnn Chartier: "Some people say it's actually better to see the foothills grow, because that way perhaps we can save more of our prime farmland in the Valley. That's a really very important debate to engage in."

 

Paul Boyer: "Our surrounding area here as you can see is all farmland."

Darrell McGill: "West, there's plenty of land that way, plenty of land east. And south!"

Paul Boyer: "One thing that we want to see is a greenbelt between Farmersville and Visalia and Exeter on the other side, so that you know we keep our identity in the future and also so we don't eat up that farmland."

 

Howard Levine: "My biggest concern for Grass Valley in the next decade would be to allow strong development outside the core of downtown. But the balance of that is to provide strong housing on the immediate edge of downtown."

Dolores Eldridge: "I really like people who move here and move to agree with what's here and not try to really radically change it. Yes, we've got to have change. That's life. But I think we need to be careful how we do it."

JoAnn Chartier: "Nobody up here allows Grass Valley, Nevada City, or the county of Nevada, to get away with wholesale development without regard to what people really want. They bend over backward to listen to people."

Patti Ingram: "We really care about what things are going to look like. And we have the opportunity to dictate to those that want to come and build in our community what we want to see, and how we want to see it, and when we want to see it."


Graham Mitchell: "This is sort of our local greasy spoon: Boss Hogg's…"

Darrell Kyle, Owner, Boss Hogg's: "I don't know, we just wanted to open a restaurant. Well, I guess I wanted to open a restaurant, she didn't… People bring stuff in and give it to us. You know, we bought 90% of this stuff over the Internet, even from foreign countries."

Ronnie Martin, Farmersville Resident: "You want be in business and you want to make money and you do your job right, you're going to make it here. This is a shining example right here. A lot of times you've got to wait out in the cold there to get a seat."

 

Donna Weaver, Owner, Holbrooke Hotel: "I have been up in Grass Valley about 5 years, and we've actually owned the hotel here the past year. It's a great community. The culture is very good, the school s are very good for kids, so it's a great place to live."

Kevin Casey, Grass Valley Resident: "When the sawmills and the mines went away, there was a great opportunity for the town to die, and it didn't."

 

Farmersville Resident: "Everybody knows everybody, everybody waves… It's like Mayberry in Farmersville! I'm here for good. You know, we're thinking about buying a house and this is probably where we'll be."

Darrell Kyle, Owner, Boss Hogg's: "We went places for two or three weeks and say, 'We can't wait to get home.'"

Sheri Bollinger, Owner, Boss Hogg's: "Yeah, home."

Paul McAllister, Farmersville Resident: "Well, I think it's progressing just perfect right now, because there was such a long time where there wasn't any progress. But now with the new people we have on the city council in the different areas and such, it's beginning to move along and I'm very pleased with what I see."

 

Jerry Weidler, Grass Valley Resident: "The growth has been constant since I've been in business, since 1990. Every year it just goes up."

John Spencer, Grass Valley Resident: "I don't think you need to stifle the growth, but I think managing it properly so that it doesn't out of control is good."

Kevin Casey: "It's important that other people get to move here and experience what we all did. We can't close our gates, so we just have to grow smart."


Darrell McGill: "I don't really know. It's always been a mystery to me, why we landed here and stuck here. It's something about it that just held us here."

JoAnn Chartier: "It's like the perfect place for me right now at this period of my life. It is absolutely a wonderful place to live."

Paul Boyer: "I know I live here because this is where I want to live, and I think that's the case for a lot of people here in town."

Patti Ingram: "They love this community. They will do almost anything to stay here. If it is working two jobs, if it's commuting, if it's telecommuting, they want to be here."

Jay W. Kemp: "I'd ask you, 'Why would you live anywhere else than this general area?' It's a wonderful area."

Betty Hayword: "It is!"

Jay W. Kemp: "It's spectacular…"

Pastor Jim Wiley: "Mediterranean environment…"

Christina Guerland: "It's a nice, clean environment. It's very safe. I think it's a really good place to bring up a family -- probably why my parents moved here!"

Darrell McGill: "And as far as I'm concerned is one the best places in the whole Valley to live. You're three hours from the coast and the same to the mountains; you're in the best place there is."

Glenn Jones: "I've traveled all over the world and I never find any place that would be better, on a year round basis, than what I find right here."


There are far, far better things we can do to make sure the next wave of prosperity reaches all corners of the Valley. Some regions are already hitching their hopes to new industries like bio-tech and med-tech; others, to tourism and the arts.

But there is also a growing sprit of innovation within the Valley's oldest industry: agriculture. While some farmers are throwing in the towel, others have dug in their heels, finding novel methods and strategies to keep them competitive and prosperous in the new Global Market.

Join us on the next New Valley, as we dig beneath the surface to find out what makes "The Green Machine" tick.


To order a copy of this program for $14.95 plus shipping and handling, call (888) 814-3923. Or visit us online at www.kvie.org.

New Valley is brought to you by Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo: the next stage.

We respect and protect our region's natural beauty and precious resources through responsible community planning and development. Del Webb: the nation's leading developer of resort-lifestyle communities, home to more than 11,000 active adult in Northern California

New Valley is also made possible in part by the Great Valley Center.