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Looking behind the scenes: Expect bigger things of the Amgen Tour

By: Jim Ruffalo
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Bomb-proofing the notebook while wondering how long will we have to depend mostly on good luck to prevent terrorists from blowing up part of our country. ... Meanwhile, while we celebrate the internationally flavored party that Amgen and the Tour de California bring to our little corner of the world, some of us are waiting for an announcement from those very same folks that perhaps as early as next year, the event will be even larger. Can’t tell you where I got this (because that person would love to remain employed), but efforts have begun to make the Tour greater in distance and longer in time. My source says this year’s Tour picked up a lot of international riders because of the new dates, “but next year many of those same riders will be in Europe for the Tour of Italy.” The source said that the nearly three-week-long Italian event helps prepare those riders for the famed Tour de France, “so if California could lengthen its Tour, I’m sure we could outdraw Italy.” There are two schools of thought on how to make the local event bigger. One says to make it a statewide race, while the other contingent favors adding more mileage — especially at Lake Tahoe — to the basically Northern California route. “That second idea would require California to be a minimum of 16 days long,” the source added. Tour d’Auburn: Speaking of streets and tours, Harvey Roper and some other members of Streetscape’s History and Arts Committee visited the Meddlers, alerting the group to the latest idea for adding art and information sources to that yet-to-be completed viaway. Originally, the concept was to make the route’s exhibits sort of a historical time line, “but we found there were times where many things happened in the same year, or decades would go by without anything notable,” Roper said. He added that the committee decided “the goal is to try to tell the story of Auburn in an entertaining way.” So the latest idea involves categories being represented in appropriate areas, such as veterans being honored where Streetscape runs in front of the Veterans Center, or highlighting the railroads in a special area on Lincoln Way. Roper said the Old Town area is also included in the concept even though it isn’t officially part of Streetscape, which is ideal, seeing as how the committee has opted for the rather wordy slogan, “Discover your own gold in the unique Auburn experience.” Committee member Mike Emmert also talked about using interactive skins to convey stories of particular areas. One of his examples would be the old Opera House, which burned down in 1957, “but where John Philip Sousa brought his band in about 1907,” Emmert said. Several problems remain to be solved, including funding sources and what sort of “interpretive art” will be used. Also, several Meddlers asked as to how the State Theater would be used, a most pertinent question, seeing as how Streetscape’s second phase will start in front of that very same site. Still, Roper and the committee should be lauded for not only coming up with excellent ideas, but also for continually seeking public input for the project ... Learning experience: Congrats to Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez. She’s the daughter of Auburn City Council member Dr. William Kirby, and was recently selected as the Folsom-Cordova School District’s Teacher of the Year. Such an award is nothing new for the Placer High grad. Three years ago she was the Cordova School’s Teacher of the Year, and this year won a similar award for her work at Navigator School (Rancho Cordova). Then there’s the Sacramento County annual award for her work in teaching history ... Legalized theft: Thanks to the latest dumb judicial decision, a good-sized chunk of Auburn’s tax dollars will be purloined to help the state balance its crimson-soaked books. That decision allows the state to appropriate a percentage of local Redevelopment District Authority funds, thus allowing the legislature to appear to actually solve the budget crises. According to Auburn City Manager Bob Richardson, Auburn will lose about $276,000 which rightfully belongs here. “We had an idea that this would happen, so we already budgeted for it,” Councilman Kirby said, saying that City Manager “Bob Richardson and the whole budget team should be congratulated for their foresight.” Kirby insists that “Auburn is in the best fiscal position of just about any city in the state and a lot of that is due to the hard work of our employees. They keep doing more with fewer and fewer resources.” Jim Ruffalo’s column runs Sundays in the Journal. Reach him at jimruffalo@yahoo.com.