Gipner says goodbye

At Wednesday’s Martinez City Council meeting, outgoing Councilmember Noralea Gipner gave a farewell address. Gipner was elected in 2016 but lost to Brianne Zorn in the 2020 District 3 contest. After Gipner’s goodbye remarks, Zorn was sworn in as the newest Councilmember.

Here is the text of Gipner’s remarks :

This will be the last time I get to talk for more than three  minutes at a time in City Hall, so here goes. 

I would like to congratulate Brianne for her win of the District  3 City Council seat. I look forward to watching your  achievements during your tenure and I wish you much luck  with the bucket list that you hope to achieve. 

Thank you to the citizens of Martinez for trusting and electing  me 4 years ago to the City Council and giving me the  opportunity to learn so much about how City Hall works and  how the government operates. I came in thinking I could  actually get more done than reality would ever let me. But  probably the hardest thing was to accept that things just  don’t move quickly in government. Then if issues arise, it  stops everything that you and everyone else have worked on.  Now that takes patience…and I did develop some.  

I would also like to thank staff at our Corporation Yard, Public  Works, Water Treatment Plant, Building, Engineering,  Community and Economic Development, Finance, Human  Resources, Recreation, IT, Administrative Services, and the  Police Department for learning to trust my FAMOUS direct  personality, and one who asks hundreds of questions. I  know I scared a whole lot of you at first (as I scare myself  sometimes too), and actually had to apologize a few times for  hurting some feelings, but we all adjusted to each other,  being very productive and things ran smoothly. I think we  developed a very nice relationship in the four years I’ve been  here. I will miss you all.

Martinez is very fortunate to have a staff that is dedicated to  improving our city no matter how few in number they may be,  they work their buns off around the clock. And really all they  asked for is to be treated with respect and patience,  especially during this pandemic. Thank you all for what you  do for our city. 

Now, I’d like to talk about some of my projects and  accomplishments before I say goodbye as they all feel like  my babies and I am most proud of them. 

-The red zones on the corners of Alhambra Avenue and  Brown Street were extended and accidents, which were  happening weekly, very seldom happen now.  

-Yield signs and stop signs were placed on Castro Street  from Jones to Brown Street. Before that it was like a  speedway and many accidents happened in that area on a  regular basis. 

-I was able to help so many individuals with problems. That  was very rewarding. 

-Established the styrofoam recycling program in Martinez that  in just a couple of years grew beyond belief. 

-Established a bi-weekly City Council booth at farmers  market that is on a break until covid is gone. 

-Successfully ran Measure X and was able to keep our city  services level and address a lot of our police shortfalls  because of it.

-I was on the baseball adhoc committee that brought a great  sport to our community. It was Covid that stopped the  season from happening for our Sturgeons. I pray they return  next year. 

-Being the City liaison for Main Street and Chamber of  Commerce was very rewarding – helping to make an impact  when they were in need. I am proud that they are surviving  the hardships of the pandemic with very little fundraising  means. They are the backbone of our current economic  development department. In fact, they are all we have,  literally. 

There are many more things I could talk about. But instead I’ll  talk about my last and most important accomplishments and  those are the weekly showers we have for our homeless  population and the amphitheater encampment for our  homeless population during the pandemic. These  accomplishments are the result of the partnerships between  our Police Department, this City Council, non-profits and  faith-based groups in Martinez, and other kind folks. 

The weekly showers are held at the parking lot next to Norcal  Sports. Bay Church provides the showers, Passion to the  Street provides food, my non-profit, Homeless Action  Coalition, provides the clothing exchange program, County  Health service provider for medical needs, and our County  CORE team provide direction to services. Our police  department is there every week supervising. Sometimes we  have other services that show up. It truly has changed the  appearance of our homeless population and how they feel 

about themselves. Also they have learned to trust us and  build relationships. Many have gotten help from our core  team that shows up every week. It also gives our police dept.  time to build relationships with our homeless population, as  they are part of our community too. You get more  cooperation being kind. 

My last accomplishment I will talk about is the amphitheater.  A Shelter-in-Place encampment has been there since the  middle of March, and it is very much a work in progress,  being built with blood, sweat and tears. We are up to an  average of 30 people. We’ve grown to something rather  sophisticated. We won a grant this summer for the  encampment and recently received a certificate of  recognition from our CC Homeless Council.  

We have two areas that I call the kitchen. We’re able to cook  very basic stuff. And we have refrigeration and a coffee area  and a clean-up area. We have tents for everybody that they  

can actually stand up in. And we now have built platforms out  of wood so they’re not sitting in the rain during winter. the  tents are attached to the platforms so they will not blow  away. We have weekly meetings and talk about issues, new  happenings, and open comment. The residents do chores.  There are porta-potties with wash stations, and a dumpster.  There are rules and there are consequences for breaking the  rules too many times. 

The folks here receive services from CORE on a regular  basis. Consequently, we are able to move people out into  hotels, shared housing, rehab programs and other services.  We are building a community who watch over each other and 

help each other. Certainly they’re not perfect, but the change  in each person has been amazing to watch. They all have  safe shelter for the first time in a very long time and have  stayed COVID FREE. 

For the last few months we have been working very hard to  become the poster child for the fire department. We have put  in fire extinguishers every 75 feet throughout the  encampment, smoke detectors in everybody’s tents and a  whole lot of other safety measures. The fire department is  happy. In fact, they would like to showcase the amphitheater  to other communities and show what an encampment should  look like, one that follows safety guidelines from the  department. 

We also work with the police department; they have regular  walk-throughs. We also keep the inside and the outside of  the amphitheater clean of yard debris. To satisfy the fire  department, we pruned trees away from the tents and  cleaned up years of pine needles that built up on the outside.  We also maintain the shrubbery on the inside.  

You can see from my list that I’m good at getting things done;  that has always been my forte. And it has been my pleasure  to do that for my community at a level of volunteering I never  thought was possible. I have often dreamed of being on  council and trying to help out, but never really thought it was  possible. So I CAN check that off my bucket list. THANK  YOU ALL. 

I will now focus more on our homeless population here in  Martinez and try and make an impact in their lives and ours. 

Also, I’ll go back to having a life with my husband and  friends. Get back to my hobbies of sewing, cooking,  gardening and traveling someday when COVID IS  THROUGH.  

Thank you for all the love and support I received during my  term. Peace, Love, and Puka Shells to all.  

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

3 Replies to “Gipner says goodbye

  1. Through her grit and determination, Noralea proved herself a vital civic voice during her tenure on Council. Any of us who ever encountered Noralea and chatted with her know we won’t forget her.

  2. I agree with the above. Your service was and is above and beyond. We need action in our leadership and you set a GREAT example and so many others are better for it. In spite of those who dont appreciate it, your service will never be erased!

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