Published in the July 5 – July 18, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Mike Wasserman

Mike Wasserman

Santa Clara County provides the services that hold the fabric of our society together but are often invisible to the majority of our 1.9 million residents. My colleagues and I on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors recently approved the Fiscal Year 2017-’18 $6.5 billion budget.

For South County, I’m pleased to announce that we are funding some key projects including a new Urgent Care Center, a new Animal Shelter, funding for services provided by the South County Youth Task Force and the Fire Safe Council, as well as expansion of the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail.

The county’s $6.5 billion budget provides residents with vital medical services, public health protection, behavioral health care, food safety, environmental protection, child and adult protective services, senior services, family reunification, assistance to those in need, homelessness prevention and treatment, transportation, park and recreation, libraries, emergency response to disasters, the criminal justice system, and scores of other services. Many of those services are expected by our residents and taken for granted. However, they require a lot of work from a committed workforce of 20,000 county employees including social workers, doctors, nurses, park rangers, engineers, firefighters, accountants, librarians, deputy sheriffs, IT specialists, and so many more.

A new 12,000-square-foot Urgent Care Center will soon be built within recently-vacated space in the existing Gilroy Valley Health Center, located at 7475 Camino Arroyo in Gilroy. The center will offer walk-in style urgent care including night and weekend hours and will serve up to 20,000 patients annually. The Urgent Care Center will include seven exam rooms, care team work areas, and full ancillary support services. Construction will begin later this year with plans to open doors in summer 2018. The project is estimated to cost $5 million and will be funded with existing 2012 Measure A revenue.

As an animal lover, I’m especially excited to announce that a new County Animal Shelter is on the way, to be located at the Sig Sanchez County Government Center at Highland Avenue in San Martin.

The new shelter will be about 34,600 square feet and will feature multiple kennel and cage animal holding spaces, as well as spaces for administration, veterinary medicine, adoption, food preparation, laundry and storage. It will be able to house up to 90 cats, 70 dogs and multiple livestock on a daily basis. Funding of $26 million has been allocated for building the shelter, which is anticipated to open in late 2020.

Public safety has always been my top priority. I’m a big believer in Benjamin Franklin’s assessment that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” To that end, I was able to secure $266,000 of funding for the South County Youth Task Force after state budget cuts eliminated their funding. In just four years, the Task Force has been credited with helping to reduce juvenile arrests by an amazing 46 percent through reducing juvenile delinquent behaviors, reducing recruitment of youth into gangs, and they have successfully reduced gang violence overall in Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin.

The recent Loma fire gave many of us a renewed appreciation for fire services. And here again, we know prevention is key.

The Santa Clara County Fire Safe Council is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities at risk from wildfire and is funded by private donations as well as local government agencies. The county is funding a new fully equipped tool trailer to perform hazardous fuel reduction and evacuation route clearing.

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Since we helped launch the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail in 2013, it has been enormously popular with residents and visitors alike. The Wineries of Santa Clara Valley recently asked for my help after they identified the need to expand the Wine Trail (with increased signage) to provide better access to the wineries located inside the 29-mile Wine Trail loop.

I am happy to report the new signs are scheduled to be installed in time for California Wine Month in September as well as Fall Passport Weekend Oct. 13, 14 and 15, 2017.

These new projects and services are just a few of the many ways that Santa Clara County government is providing what I like to call “Real Life Help” to South County residents every day.

Supervisor Mike Wasserman was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in November 2010, and re-elected in 2014. He represents District 1 which includes Gilroy, San Martin, Morgan Hill, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and portions of San Jose. Visit www.supervisorwasserman.org.