I’m Supervisor John Benoit and it’s great to be here with Mary Perry on opening day at Sunnylands. The Annenberg Retreat is known as “Camp David of the West,” a retreat for U.S. presidents and world leaders. Mary, tell us about this gift to the nation from the Annenbergs, and the famous leaders who have stayed here and what brought them to Sunnylands: Congratulations on a remarkable summit, I’m sure we will continue to see Sunnylands making news for years to come.
China is an increasingly important partner for Riverside County and a growing contributor to our local economy. Chinese consumers now buy a third of our exported agricultural products, especially the grapes and dates abundant to my district.
China also buys hay grown, harvested and compressed in Blythe. HayDay Farms exports 20-50 trucks of locally grown hay per day through the ports. These trucks operate on CNG, not diesel, creating less pollution throughout the I-10 corridor in Riverside County. With their extensive knowledge of overseas markets, HayDay Farms crosses land and sea supplying the “Feed to Feed the World.”
We’re now at the Sentinel Energy Project with asset manager Mark McDaniels. Within minutes, this natural gas-fired peaker plant can power 640,000 homes, backing up the solar and wind farms that surround Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs. $900 million was invested to build this plant which utilizes the most modern power generation technology available.
I coauthored legislation to allow construction of this plant. In order to build this plant, CPV Sentinel set aside $53 million to offset emissions. As a member of the South Air Quality Management District board, I led the charge to keep the money here when it could have gone elsewhere. The most ambitious of these projects is CV Link. This one-of-a-kind green parkway will connect the cities, from Palm Springs to Indio, with a trail for neighborhood electric vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Dr. Nicole Ortiz is co-founder of the Live Well Clinic health center in La Quinta.
CV Link will be a “game changer” for the economy and will position our area as the leader in green transportation infrastructure. 25 more projects will bring long-term air quality, public health and economic benefits: More than 8 miles of unpaved roads leading into 31 mobile home parks in the eastern Coachella Valley will be paved by the Riverside County Transportation Department, improving the air for thousands of children and migrant workers who inhale dust clouds kicked up by vehicles. Solar power systems will power 17 government facilities, from Palm Springs to Coachella, saving taxpayers more than $1 million each year in reduced energy bills. Significant clean fuel upgrades to fleets, with the construction of 3 new CNG fueling stations and upgrades to 2 others. Fuel-efficient vehicles for FIND Food Bank will help them feed the hungry and save on fuel expenses. The entire Coachella Valley will benefit from the economic stimulus of these Sentinel mitigation funds.
Now we’re checking on the construction of the Eastern Riverside County Emergency Operations Center in Indio. The existing EOC was designed as a Cold War bomb shelter and has long needed to be replaced.
We are converting the former Sheriff’s Station in Indio into a state-of-the-art emergency center. It will have the most up-to-date communications equipment to help eastern Riverside County during an emergency. We will add nearly 1,300 badly needed detention center beds with the construction of the new East County Detention Center. A new County Law Building will provide offices for the District Attorney, Public Defender, County Counsel and Law LibraryI’m standing at what used to be Duroville. For years, residents lived in hazardous, substandard conditions that we said were unacceptable. The county stepped up to the plate to build replacement homes. Against many challenges, Riverside County prevailed and completed Mountain View Estates this year, moving all the families into modern, safe, comfortable mobile homes and finally closing the chapter on Duroville.
A mile south of the Jacqueline Cochran Airport, 62nd and Polk, is The Thermal Club which has been described as the ultimate private country club for high performance cars. Members here will enjoy three world-class racetracks with a multitude of challenging turns and configurations. They’ll be able to watch the races from the comfort of luxury suites overlooking the tracks.
This year we welcome Skip Paige with Goldenvoice to the State of the County. Goldenvoice produces the Coachella festival and Stagecoach at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio. Riverside County has turned the corner, and as we look around, economic revival is happening with new businesses, new technologies, a lot of investment and interest from the world over. It has been my great pleasure showing you around.
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