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Other news from this meeting

$2 million technology plan is well received

Board votes to keep Joint Security Committee open

CSD wants value for park acreage




Former Security Chief Jim Noller, left, pinned the badge on his successor, Greg Remson.

CSD names security chief, unveils technology plan

Published Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Community Services District attracted an audience at its April meeting to witness the appointment of a new security chief, the unveiling of a $2 million communications technology plan, and the restructuring of a community security committee.

Greg Remson officially became the head of Security after serving as the interim chief since former Security Chief Jim Noller retired in late October.
It seemed fitting that the man who hired Remson in 1982 would return to the CSD Wednesday to pin the gold badge on his successor and shake his hand.

As Remson's wife, Sheri, took photos and his mother-in-law, Peggy Clauss, looked on from the audience, Noller offered words of advice to his successor. "If you treat this community and all the people who work and live within these 3,500 acres with honesty and respect, they will stand behind you 100 percent. Wear this badge with honor as the guy before you did."

In an interview the following day, Remson talked about Security's role in the community. The goal is "to make (Rancho Murieta) a safe and a comfortable place" to live, to work, or to visit, he explained.

The reality is "any time you're in an enforcement job, you're not going to make everybody happy. And you're not going to do it the way some people think you should do it. You're either too hard on people or too soft on people. Some people think you're not fair or you're playing favorites. … It's hard to keep people happy when you have to try to get them to obey the rules and the laws."

When Remson began his career, Murieta Parkway extended as far as the second turn on Guadalupe Drive, which defined the boundaries of the community. Despite the demands growth has placed on Security, "we try to do now what we did then – provide all the services within reason. We're not going to take your garbage out for you, but we'll certainly check to see if you left your stove on or left your garage door open."

Remson said one of the nice things about being here as long as he has is seeing kids grow up and come back to raise their own children here. It's not commonplace, but when it happens, it becomes a source of job satisfaction. "I really like that. … We want to hear that people are comfortable here."

The district plans to use technology to accommodate future growth. "The goal is to use what we have more efficiently," Remson said. A wireless network and laptop computers will enable security officers to use patrol cars as mobile field offices and remain visible in the community. "Visibility is a big deterrent," he observed.

For some, a security position is a stepping stone to other law enforcement jobs, Remson acknowledged.

"Then there are people like me who will be here forever. … You do get some enforcement activity – a little bit of excitement — but the majority of the people are good people and that makes a big difference," he said. "Not everybody who gets into law enforcement wants to work in high-crime areas… A community like this is perfect for those people. … The crew that we have now is one of the best all-around groups that we've ever had here."

The job can offer unexpected benefits. It provided Remson with the opportunity to meet his future wife. Sheri Remson moved to Rancho Murieta with her family in 1980 and her mother still resides here. Her late father, John Clauss, was a member of the Rancho Murieta Association board.

Sheri and Greg Remson have been married 20 years and have an 18-year-old son, Jack, a student at Sacramento City College. The family lives in Sacramento.

$2 million technology plan is well-received

A $2 million master technology plan phased in over five years could meet the CSD's goal of using technology instead of additional staff to meet its future needs, a consultant told the board last week.

The plan was well-received by the board, although no action was taken beyond accepting the report and filing it.

The plan, developed by COMSYS (formerly Venturi Technology Partners) at a cost of $33,615, recommends using computer applications and a wireless network to make CSD services, facilities, and field operations run more efficiently.

The plan evaluates the district's current use of technology and recommends improvements. The board was graded A for its use of laptop computers while the dated system used for utility operations barely passed.

The presentation made by COMSYS managers Brian T. Melville and Jim Swartzlander addressed the needs of the CSD's operations and offered specific solutions to problems like tracking maintenance schedules and retrieving data. Both speakers emphasized the importance of having tools and information available where employees need them.

The plan proposes installing a wireless network and using laptop computers to allow maintenance staff to access work requests and maintenance data in the field, to put incident reports and resident data online for Security patrol officers, to centralize water meter reading, and to monitor and direct utility plant operations.

Greg Hall, director of administrative services, said most of funding for the plan would come from developers. "We'll be adjusting those hook-up fees for the developers to pay for this infrastructure," he said, and noted other fees are already in place.

The wireless network that's proposed would use access point devices mounted on roofs, utility poles or vehicles. According to the report, the CSD would be able to offer broadband service to its customers, but the option was not viewed as a high priority. There would be additional costs for adding bandwidth and customer support would be an issue, the COMSYS managers said.

Total annual operating expenses for the fully implemented plan were estimated at $261,000.

Although the plan is aimed at increasing the efficiency of CSD operations and reducing the need for additional staff, Director Mary Brennan noted that between two and four additional employees are called for in the plan -- including a network security manager and IT manager. She was told some of the personnel cost was included in the plan.

President John Merchant said he wanted to find a system that "can accommodate virtually any application because, if we can do that, there no end to what we can do on a day-to-day basis using the system. … If we can satisfy the district's operational requirements with a wireless network and we can cost-justify it … and we can do it well … the opportunities in the future are limitless. … If we can do this in an operational environment, there's no reason we can't ultimately do it in a commercial environment."

Resident John Weatherford, an outspoken critic of the Rancho Murieta Association's technology plans and operations, complimented the CSD board for demonstrating "the right way to do it." Ryan Fogleman, a resident referred to in the technology plan as a vendor the CSD increasingly depends on to provide networking services and support through his company, the Murieta Group, also addressed the board as a member of the public. He thanked everyone present "for being very forward-minded in their approach for service to the community."

Weatherford and Fogleman are partners in FastKat Wireless of Roseville, which provides wireless Internet service. The company installed a wireless network linking the CSD Building and the district's warehouse last year.

Board votes to keep Joint Security Committee open

The board approved a proposal to restructure the Joint Security Committee with the provision that the meetings would remain open to the public.

The proposal, which was developed at a recent meeting of RMA and CSD directors and general managers, called for allowing the meetings to be closed to the public as a way to encourage frank discussion of the security issues that have caused conflict between the two boards.

CSD General Manager Ed Crouse said it was agreed on at the meeting with the RMA that conducting the dialogue "behind closed doors without the public is best."

Last Tuesday, the RMA board approved the restructuring plan, including the closed meeting option.

The following day, at the CSD meeting, resident Bobbi Belton objected to excluding the public, citing what she referred to as a history of secret meetings in the community that went against the CSD's "spirit and intent" toward openness.

Dick Brandt, the CSD's legal counsel, told the board it would have more latitude if the meetings were open. He said a committee established on the basis of holding closed meetings was "problematic" for the CSD as a public agency operating under the Brown Act.

Director Dick Taylor said he thought restructuring the committee would accomplish nothing and maintained that he would vote against the proposal. He characterized it as an effort by RMA President Paul Gumbinger to deal with "a couple of his snitty board members that continue to throw darts (at the CSD) ..."

President John Merchant responded that only good could come out of bringing the two groups together to begin a dialogue. "You gotta take the personalities out of it … the idea is to bring two warring nations to the table," he said.

Although he said the "occasional" closed-door meeting was acceptable to him, Merchant voted with Directors Bill White and Wayne Kuntz to restructure the committee, keeping it open to the public.

Director Mary Brennan joined Taylor in voting against the proposal. Brennan focused on the opportunity for participation the present committee structure offers individual residents and other governing organizations besides the RMA and the CSD -- Murieta Village, the Villas, and the Country Club. Taylor favored expanding the present committee to include business entities in the community.

Brennan mentioned the RMA Compliance Committee and the CSD Security Committee as alternative opportunities for public participation.

The Joint Security Committee scheduled for May 3 at the RMA Building at 8:15 a.m. is expected to be the last one in the present format. The restructured committee is expected to meet in June.

CSD wants value for park acreage

The CSD board suggested that a developer figure out a way to make giving up a four-acre park site financially worthwhile to the community. This approach could prepare the way for the park site acreage to be used for larger, privately owned lots, an outcome advocated by the Rancho Murieta Association.

Brett Hogge, land development manager for River West Investments, the firm that's creating the map for a subdivision on a 14-acre Escuela Drive site, has been working with the RMA in recent months to eliminate a four-acre park site in order to enlarge the 39 lots proposed for the site. River West donated the property to a nonprofit charitable organization in 2003 for a tax break but continues to guide the project through the county planning process.

After the North and South developer representatives and the CSD representative on the Parks Committee outvoted the RMA to keep the park site, the RMA board requested that Hogge approach the CSD in hopes of changing its vote.

CSD President John Merchant tabled the matter until Hogge returns to the CSD board with a proposal.