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Andy's Updates is the city of Anaheim's monthly email newsletter, bringing the latest Anaheim news right to your inbox.

See the news for August below, and scroll to the bottom to subscribe to the newsletter email alert to make sure you don't miss out! 

Pat Russell

Anaheim Fire & Rescue, our city’s fire, paramedic and emergency response agency, has a new chief.

Pat Russell, a 35-year fire service veteran, including eight years as Anaheim’s deputy chief, was named chief in July.

Russell is the 18th chief in Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s 136-year history. As chief, he will lead Orange County’s largest city fire department.

He’ll oversee 276 employees, including 210 sworn firefighters.

Russell has served as the department’s interim chief since December 2018, taking over for retired Chief Randy Bruegman. Before that, Russell served eight years as deputy chief in Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s operations division.

As deputy chief, Russell oversaw the largest division in Anaheim Fire & Rescue, which handles more than 40,000 emergency calls for service each year with 12 fire stations, 11 engines and six truck companies.

Russell has spent the majority of his career with Anaheim Fire & Rescue, joining the department as a firefighter and paramedic in 1990.

During his time in Anaheim, Russell has been an integral part of major firefighting efforts in our city, including serving as incident commander during Canyon Fire 2 in October 2017 and as operations chief on Canyon Fire 1 in September 2017.

A leader in the wildfire response efforts in California, Russell also served on the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara.

He also has managed Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s budget, secured millions of dollars in federal grants and negotiated a new contract for emergency medical services that will save the department money and resources.

Under his leadership, Anaheim Fire & Rescue achieved a Class 1 certification, the highest grade given by the Insurance Services Office, an organization that independently evaluates municipal fire protection efforts for insurers.

Wagon

There’s a new show in town.

Show wagon that is.

This summer Anaheim rolled out a new mobile stage, which made its debut at the Concerts in the Canyon free summer concert series at Ronald Reagan Park.

The stage, affectionately called the Show Wagon, is state of the art, with new features such as professional lighting, an extendable canopy for shade, catwalk extension, sound system, dropdown movie screen, power generator, hydraulic system, easier-to-operate system and a beautiful new wrap featuring Anaheim landmarks.

We’ll use the stage for everything from community concerts and dance performances to movies and more.

It helps us provide great entertainment for the community without the hassle of having to rent a stage or pay for a production company to come in.

The much-needed new wagon replaces the old mobile stage, which had been with us since the 1980s.

Catch the Show Wagon next at the city’s Día de los Muertos Festival this fall in downtown Anaheim.

Barton

Earlier this year, Barton Park got a snazzy new playground thanks to KaBOOM!

But we’re not finished yet.

Anaheim is making big improvements to this west Anaheim park.

We broke ground last month on a major renovation that will include:

  • Restroom
  • Additional security lights
  • Drinking fountains
  • Gazebo
  • Walking/running path around the park
  • Exercise station
  • Improvements to the soccer and softball fields
  • Picnic tables
  • Trash cans
  • Pet waste stations

The project should be completed by the spring.

Econo

An old Econo Lodge motel on La Palma is on its way to becoming a fresh start for those living in homelessness in Anaheim.

It’s all thanks to a new program approved by the City Council in June that allows for motel, commercial and office space to be converted to affordable housing.

Jamboree Housing, an Irvine-based nonprofit that has built several other affordable housing projects in Anaheim, is the first to come forward with a project under the new program.

The project would transform the 70-room motel into 69 affordable studio apartments, plus one one-bedroom for an on-site manager.

The plans call for on-site supportive services, such as mental health counseling, job training and medical services, plus amenities including a community garden and an outdoor barbecue area.

The project is awaiting final funding approvals, but is expected to be open to residents in 2021.

Anaheim has been a leader in addressing homelessness, helping more than 2,000 people off the streets since 2014. We built and opened three homeless shelters in the past six months.

But shelters are just a first step. We support a housing-first model, and building more affordable, transitional and supportive housing in our city is the next stage in our efforts.

This new ordinance, and the Econo Lodge project, is part of that initiative.

Learn more at Anaheim.net/homeless.

Zine

From short stories and poetry to photography and illustrations, you can find all kinds of creativity blooming at Orange County Zine Fest.

And we’re lucky enough to host the event at our own Central Library.

The annual OC Zine Fest, now in its sixth year, showcases local authors and artists and their published work, while also inspiring future zinesters.

While you’re there, you can also enjoy more than 150 vendors, speakers, panels, workshops and more.

This year’s keynote speaker is Sarah Rafael Garcia, author of Las Niñas, A Collection of Childhood Memories. She writes poetry, creative non-fiction and fiction and is founder of LibroMobile and Barrio Writers. Her work has appeared in Latino magazine among other publications.

A zine, short for magazine, is any kind of printed writing, photography or artwork that is independently constructed and self-published. There’s no limit to what content zines can include, and they’re a great form of self-exploration and self-expression.

In Anaheim, we’re fortunate to host this annual festival for the third time. The festival not only brings artists and authors from all over, it also is a great chance to highlight local talent.

And the fest also helps highlight our library’s unique collection of zines — in fact, we have the only library zine collection in the county! They’re available for anyone with a library card to check out.

The sixth annual Orange County Zine Fest will be at Anaheim Central Library from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24.

Can’t wait for your fill of zines? Come to our OC Zine Pre-fest: The power of stories on Aug. 10.

Author Stacy Russo will lead a discussion on the power of storytelling to build communities and create a better and more peaceful world. The event goes from 11 a.m. to noon.

For more, visit Anahiem.net/library or call (714) 765-1880.

Alert

There’s nothing worse than trying to get to your child’s baseball game after work only to find that the streets are closed because of a major car accident.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to get a heads up and avoid the delay altogether?

You’re in luck. We can keep you in the know with our emergency notification system: Anaheim Alert.

We send out information in any major incident, including a significant car crash, emergency street repairs, evacuations or police activity.

Our most recent Anaheim Alert shared an announcement from the Anaheim Police Department’s helicopter about a suspect who ran from police. In the end, we caught the suspect.

Another recent alert was about a missing person who was also later found.

Not only does Anaheim Alert help residents and visitors know what’s going on in our city, it also gives you information to play a vital role, such as reuniting a family with a lost loved one.

Signing up is easy. Visit Anaheim.net/Alert to get started.

Alerts can be sent to your cell phone, home phone or email. You pick where, you pick how.

Learn more at Anaheim.net/Alert.

Goats

We’ve had some familiar faces in the hills of east Anaheim this summer.

You might have seen them … or heard them.

That’s right, our fan-favorite brush-clearing goats have been hard at work munching on weeds that returned after a rainy winter.

As we head into the peak of fire season, the goats are critical to helping us in our wildfire prevention efforts.

Once the goats’ work is done, we’ll move on to clearing large brush that the goats don’t have a taste for.

These include live tree limbs, dead trees and larger invasive plants.

We’ve partnered with the Orange County Conservation Corps in the past to remove healthy tree limbs lower than 10 feet from the ground, dead trees and invasive trees and plants.

We’re looking to do the same again this year.

What’s more, next Tuesday, the City Council will consider an agreement that would keep the goats here in Anaheim for nine months out of the year.

That would go a long way in helping us move beyond clearing new hillside weeds and into a maintenance mode.

The goats will focus mostly on our high priority open space areas, such as Deer Canyon, Pelanconi Park, Oak Canyon Nature Center and Olive Hills Reservoir.

It’s not uncommon to spot the herd of 250 goats munching their way through the hills.

If you stop to see them and take a selfie, please don’t get too close to the white tape fence, as it is electric.

Other than that, enjoy the goats knowing their hard work is paying off in our wildfire prevention efforts.

utilities 2

Getting information about your utilities account just got even easier.

We’ve launched a new text service, giving you the ability to get alerts about your account right to your cell phone.

You can get alerts when your bill becomes available, without waiting for it to arrive in the mail. If you accidentally miss a payment, the text alerts can remind you that your bill is past due — before service gets interrupted.

Want to sign up? Just log into “My Account” at Anaheim.net/utilities and update your communication preferences. It’s that easy.

Questions? Email us at customerservice@anaheim.net.


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