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New briefs from week one of the new year

The city of Claremont recently stated its intention to participate in the 2013 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count in partnership with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.  The count will be held on Tuesday, January 29, 2013.  The City is currently recruiting volunteers to assist with this important community effort.  Volunteers will meet at the Joslyn Center at 8:00 p.m. the evening of the count to receive training, maps and materials, and their assignments.  Teams of two to four volunteers will then be deployed to count specific blocks within Claremont.  All Claremont routes will be counted from a private vehicle; therefore, no walking is required.

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The City Council will hold its annual Priority Workshop on Saturday, January 12 beginning at 8:00 a.m. The workshop is an open public meeting in the City Council Chamber. Council will discuss work items and goals for the coming year.

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Increased prices for Claremont’s Dial-A-Ride transportation service officially went into effect yesterday, January 1, bringing prices with the nonprofit to double its previous fares.

Dial-a-Rides are now $1.50 for seniors, $2.50 for the general public, $4 for outside the city or after hours, $1 for a second rider and $1 for group service. The Claremont City Council approved the increased fees in September in order to be able to continue to provide the community with the increasingly popular program. Dial-A-Ride Claremont has provided inexpensive cab services to locals without transportation since 1985. An estimated 78,000 cab rides were expected in 2012 alone, according to Interim Assistant City Manager Colin Tudor last April. At the current rate, the city’s funds for keeping Dial-A-Ride operating in the city would be exhausted in a little over 2 years, he continued.

By raising the fees, the city believes it will be able to see the program continue for years to come. City council members and administration will continue to monitor the effects of raising the cab fares with a review to be held September 2013 and another in January 2014, a year after implementation of the increase. In the meantime, the city will look to host information sessions and other forms of education about the program to encourage proper usage and hopefully curb overusage.

“As the council’s appointee to the PVTA (Pomona Valley Transportation Association), I can attest to the fact that they have really done their best to deal with the issue and be sensitive to the needs of our ridership,” Councilmember Joe Lyons said. “This is a good educational opportunity.”

While the old $0.75 and $1.25 Dial-A-Ride tickets will still be accepted, each one-way ride will require 2 old tickets, according to the city. In the same fashion, those using Get About tickets will be required to use 2 of those tickets for a one-way Dial-A-Ride. Get About’s pink “nutrition” tickets will no longer be accepted by Dial-A-Ride.

Those who wish to use either the Dial-A-Ride or Get About transportation service may purchase ticket books at city hall, the Joslyn Center, Alexander Hughes Center or Blaisdell Community Building. Any questions about Dial-A-Ride or the fare increases should be directed to the Pomona Valley Transportation Authority at 596-7664 or Claremont Management Analyst Cari Sneed at 399-5306.

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The Claremont University Consortium (CUC) was chosen charged by the Council of Presidents of The Claremont Colleges to oversee a one year business case and engineering feasibility study focused on access to capture, store and reutilize water from internal and public sources. The $250,000 study will examine the costs of building and operating a water recycling and treatment micro-plant resulting in usable water that will enable the colleges to reduce potable water use for landscaping needs.

The feasibility study is being partially funded with a $125,000 grant from the California Water Foundation program of the Resources Legacy Fund. The remaining $125,000 cost will be provided through CUC funding. Atwater Consulting Group was selected to provide project management, water engineering, water policy and costing analysis advisory services.  It is anticipated the feasibility study will be concluded before the end of 2013.

"The funding and authorization of this feasibility study was based on recommendations from student and faculty research at Harvey Mudd College that projected a 20-year net savings in water costs between $8 million and $28 million, as well as a significant lowering of the environmental footprint for The Claremont Colleges," said Robert A. Walton, the consortium’s chief executive officer.  This type of project aligns with the sustainability initiatives at The Claremont Colleges, where a number of green buildings have been constructed during the last few years that achieved LEED Silver, Gold and Platinum recognition.

The study will also explore what is required for a "purple pipe" delivery system for distribution of the reclaimed wastewater on the Claremont Colleges’ campuses. In addition, the study will document an economic model presenting the business case, including the financial return on investment for all capital and operational costs, of the proposed sustainable water system.

The initial research project, completed in February 2012 by Harvey Mudd College (HMC) senior Dustin Zubke (HMC '13) and his adviser, HMC Biophysics Professor Richard Haskell, noted that the 5 undergraduate institutions of The Claremont Colleges use approximately 740,000 gallons of water per day at an annual cost of $1 million. Nearly half of the water is imported by the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, an area that faces reduced water levels due to recent droughts, affecting rising water costs, according to the study.

"If an annual increase of 10 percent is used to extrapolate the cost of water to the year 2030, the current cost per year for The Claremont Colleges will rise to $6.6 million," Zubke noted in the initial study.

After an initial investment of approximately $5.4 million, the implementation of a micro-plant facility and reclamation system could supply 72 percent of landscape irrigation water (100 percent if combined with appropriate landscaping), and potentially save The Claremont Colleges up to $28 million over the next 20 years.  In addition, the project will enhance the sustainability of the campuses, and embrace the missions of these leading higher educational institutions, Zubke concluded by recommending a follow-up, professional study.

The CUC study is already gaining media attention for its potential as a larger test-case, as The Sacramento Bee noted in a July 29, 2012 article, "In Southern California, The Claremont Colleges are studying the feasibility of using recycled water for campus irrigation. This project will help determine if large-scale developments can go 'off the grid' for their landscape water uses."

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Pomona College Graduate and Hawaii’s lieutenant governor Brian Schatz will make his way to the nation’s capitol this year as a newly appointed member of the US Senate. Hawaiian Governor Neil Abercrombie made the announcement late last month.  

Mr. Schatz, elected as Hawaii’s lieutenant governor in 2010, will fill the US senate seat left vacant by the death of Senator Daniel K. Inouye on December 17. Mr. Schatz, sworn into office on December 27, began duties with his fellow legislators on Thursday.

"I can assure you this: I will give every fiber of my being to doing a good job for the state of Hawaii," Mr. Schatz said at a news conference. "We have a long and perhaps difficult road ahead of us, but we can succeed if we work together. I understand the magnitude of this obligation and this honor, and I won't let you down."

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