Reedley officials talk public works, community trust

Reedley officials talk public works, community trust at After Hours with the City, hosted by the Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce

Reedley Public Works Director Russ Robertson shares fun facts about the public works department, which manages the city's water and sewer systems along with other maintenance needs, during the quarterly After Hours with the City event hosted by the Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce at the chamber office in Reedley May 23, 2024. (Serena Bettis)
Serena Bettis
Published May 24, 2024  • 
4:00 pm

REEDLEY – Continuing their efforts to better communicate with residents and business owners in the community, Reedley city officials joined the Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce for an installment of the “After Hours with the City” event. 

Hosted at the chamber office on May 23, After Hours with the City allowed members of the public to meet with and learn from department leaders within Reedley’s city government. The chamber puts on these events, and their morning alternatives dubbed “Coffee with the City,” quarterly with a rotating lineup of city department heads to ensure the public can stay up to date with what’s going on in Reedley.

“We really appreciate having this collaboration with the city of Reedley,” Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce CEO Erik Valencia said. “I think it’s so important to connect with the city and know what’s going on with different projects, because they do a lot of great work.” 

The most recent event saw reports from Assistant City Manager Paul Melikian, Public Works Director Russ Robertson and Chief of Police Joe Garza. They each shared brief updates on what their respective departments and the city as a whole are currently focused on and answered questions about the overall purpose of the work they each do. 

Senor Beef co-owner Krystal Ortega Ramos speaks about the restaurant she owns with her husband, Alexis Ortega, at the After Hours with the City event hosted by the Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce May 23, 2024. Senor Beef, which has a location in Parlier, catered the event from their new food truck and said they are hoping to expand into Reedley one day. (Serena Bettis)

Melikian shared that the city is currently in the middle of its annual budgeting process, with the next budget workshop scheduled for 6 p.m. May 28 before the regular city council meeting. He spoke about how neighboring cities, like Clovis and Fresno, are experiencing budget deficits this year and said Reedley’s long-term planning efforts have helped the city avoid being in that position. 

“This year is really the first year we’re having to deal with the impact of those (inflation) increases, and thankfully our city council and our administration has been very diligent about not overextending the city into hiring a bunch of new people and extending or increasing services beyond what’s sustainable in the long run,” Melikian said.

In addition to the annual budget, the city is also working on finishing up construction on the bridge at Olson Avenue, which has been closed for the last few months while the city has worked to replace and upgrade the sewer line that runs across it and brings nearly 90% of the city’s sewage to its wastewater treatment plant. Melikian said the city is currently estimating the bridge will reopen on June 7.  

Robertson provided the event attendees with fun facts about what the public works department entails, which includes the operation of the city’s water and sewer systems, as well as parks, streets and fleet maintenance. He said that if anyone is ever interested in learning more about the city’s wastewater treatment plant, they can contact the public works department to set up a tour. 

Wrapping up department updates, Garza used his time to talk about how thankful he is for the trust that Reedley residents put into the police department, which he said makes the job of law enforcement in the city much easier. 

“Not only the police department, but obviously our public works, our fire department, anyone within the city, we all work together to be able to make Reedley a great, great place to live and work and go to school,” Garza said. 

Garza also spoke about the Community Member’s Academy that kicked off at the beginning of May and said that while not as many people signed up as he was hoping for, it has been a good opportunity for residents to learn more about the inner workings of law enforcement.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter