Lewis Griswold

Visalia, California Water Service agree to collaborate

California Water Services well installation in Visalia.
California Water Services well installation in Visalia. lgriswold@fresnobee.com

The city of Visalia and California Water Service, which supplies water to homes and businesses in Visalia, issued a joint news release Feb. 19 signaling a truce in their war of words from last year.

Last year, the City Council ordered an appraisal of the value of the privately owned waterworks in Visalia, which Cal Water said meant the city wanted to acquire the system using its governmental powers of eminent domain.

The company fought back, hard and publicly, against the threat to its business.

The city said it had concerns about a rate-increase proposal and water-conservation efforts in the drought that failed to reach state water-cutback mandates, but the City Council dialed back on the dispute by saying that the city had no plans to take over the system at this time.

The joint news release seems to seek peace and quotes Mayor Steve Nelsen.

“While the City Council appreciates hearing from citizens about affordability and conservation, we have concluded that acquiring the water system will not help us further our current goals,” Nelsen said.

“Instead, we believe they can be best achieved now through improved collaboration with Cal Water,” he said.

He also said, “We concur that ongoing, genuine cooperation between the two will best ensure that residents have safe, reliable and high-quality water service for decades to come.”

Nelsen also praised Cal Water employees in Visalia for their excellent customer service.

Martin A. Kropelnicki, Cal Water’s president and chief executive officer, said the city’s decision to order an appraisal “provided Cal Water with a valuable opportunity to communicate with both the city and the community” and vowed to “collaborate with the city of Visalia in achieving mutual goals.”

Cal Water serves about 132,200 people through 43,400 service connections in Visalia. The company has provided water service in the area since 1926.

GIRLS WRESTLING: The 2016 California Interscholastic Federation Girls State Wrestling Championship will take place Friday and Saturday at the Visalia Convention Center.

About 340 girls will participate.

Volunteers are needed in three-hour shifts, and high school students are welcome to volunteer. Sign up online here or at bit.ly/1QR6WGV.

Information: 559-334-0141. Volunteers get a free T-shirt.

JIM MANGIS: Visalia residents of the 1980s and 1990s involved in the nonprofit world may remember Jim Mangis, who managed a recycling center before recycling went mainstream, and helped launch a job-training program for young people that is still in operation.

Mangis died Feb. 14 at his home in Ventura. He was 62 and died of an apparent heart attack, the Ventura County Star reported.

In Ventura, he directed food banks.

A memorial service is scheduled at 10 a.m. Saturday at Poinsettia Pavilion in Ventura.

Lewis Griswold covers the news of the South Valley for The Fresno Bee: 559-441-6104, lgriswold@fresnobee.com, @fb_LewGriswold