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The Feik family

In May 2017, City Manager Dylan Feik, second from right, takes a selfie with his family, wife Kira, second from left, sons Gabe, 5, on right, and Benson, 2, on left.

Dylan Feik photo

Calistoga City Manager releases 2017 ‘End-of-Year Recap’

Each year around this time, I personally reflect back on the year and think about accomplishments, challenges and of course, new friends and stories. In my role as a city manager, I have the wonderful opportunity to be a cheerleader for an extraordinary community which accomplishes so much. It’s an exciting time to be a Calistogan and I’m so proud of the many accomplishments in 2017. I sure wish I could remember them all!

The year 2017 began and ended with catastrophic events. In January and February, California was pummeled with significant rain events and we received our fair share. City crews addressed flooded properties, blocked storm drains and sinkholes. Six years of drought seemed so distant when we received over 50 inches of rain in several months, certainly more than our annual average rainfall.

Ironically, wet weather is what we needed in October when the Tubbs Fire broke out near Bennett Lane and Highway 128. The memory of wildfire, community evacuations, and loss of property and life is all so fresh, still, in our minds. For me, 2017 will always be a year of catastrophic disaster and even the smell of a campfire should bring back difficult memories and feelings. Still, I’ll always be proud of how our community came together both during and after these events to take care of our own. The Calistoga Firefighters Association raised over $370,000 when this community came together to help one another. Calistoga Rotary continues raising money and investing it right back into our community, as do the Soroptimists, Sharpsteen Museum volunteers, and many, many others.

By March, our school board sought a new superintendent to replace Esmeralda Mondragon. I am so grateful the district invited our input during its recruitment and when they found Erin Smith-Hagberg of Lakeport Unified, I felt like they hired “our” superintendent. Erin has been wonderful to work with and I personally look forward to years of partnership with the district. And only this past week did Erin help the district refinance existing debt and save Calistogans more than $2.4 million. That’s an immediate impact on our community and I’m confident there will be more to come.

“Cannabis, anyone?” When Proposition 64 was approved by California voters, including Calistogans, the city held several community forums and public meetings concerning the desires of residents. We amended our municipal code to allow for personal outdoor cultivation of cannabis. In addition, the city has been researching and considering whether a cannabis dispensary will be a part of our community in the future. Whatever the topics will be in 2018 and beyond, I am so grateful when Calistogans engage in these important issues, share their comments and help guide the community into the future. One of the very reasons I chose local government as a profession is that passionate people can and do make a difference.

Of all the accomplishments in 2017, none is more important than the grand opening of the Boys & Girls Clubhouse. I was a new manager in early 2016 when the project broke ground and in a short time, a beautiful facility was constructed which now serves Calistoga youth. As staff learns the “ins and outs” of managing their new facility, our youth are eager to play games, participate in sports in the new gymnasium, and learn in their excellent new classroom areas. We will be making memories in that wonderful building for years to come. And although we were saddened to send the wonderful Jay Templeton back to Washington for his retirement, we’re also lucky to have Trent Yaconelli as the new executive director who I’ve already had the pleasure of working with many times.

As I reflect back on the year, I am so optimistic about our community’s future. Sure we have difficult challenges ahead and important decisions to make but “who knows” what the future holds? When I arrive at work each day, I have a little bounce in my step and smirk on my face because I’m excited and proud to walk into this community and roll up my sleeves.

Years ago, I drafted a personal statement I call, “My Values Statement.” It’s an important document about me, who I am, and what makes me tick. I’d like to share a few values I hold near and dear to my heart. Happy New Year and here’s to a wonderful and bright future together!

- Whatever you are, be a good one (Abraham Lincoln)

- Failure is an event – never a person

- I strive to save the city a minimum of my salary annually

- I know who I am and the purpose of my life. I do not sacrifice ethics for anyone, under any circumstance

- Taking offense is a personal choice and I rarely choose to be offended

- As a young man, I learned to own my mistakes. I do. Failing is part of life and by showing integrity and learning, we can move onward and upward

- I picked the right career. If I don’t have a bounce in my step and smile on my face, ask me what’s wrong!

- Trust is the foundation of every relationship. When in doubt, be honest.

Editor’s Note: Dylan Feik is the city manager for the City of Calistoga.