Our speaker this day was Tom Kirk… not only a past member of our Rotary Club, but also a Past President of our Club.  Tom has been the Executive Officer of The Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) for the last 10 years.  Prior to our hiatus in August we were fortunate to have Erica Felci the Governmental Projects Manager for CVAG who made an excellent presentation on the CV Link project.  Sitting atop the CVAG hierarchy Tom was able to give us an overview and slightly different perspective of all that CVAG is involved in and the various projects that are currently in progress.
Tom is an excellent public speaker, never referring to notes and always connecting with his audience as he entertains and enlightens.  He began his presentation by sharing with us that a primary function of CVAG was transportation related.  Their primary funding mechanism for their participation in coordinating such major transportation projects as the Jefferson/I-10 interchange (that was recently completed) was local sales tax and impact fees.  By the way, the Jefferson Interchange was to date their largest project with a price tag of $80,000,000.00!  Over the next ten years CVAG will be involved with new transportation construction projects at 50th and I-10, 50th and Highway 86 and the Monroe interchange. 
 
Knowing that Erica had recently spoken to us about the CV Link Tom reviewed just a few of the highlights with us and then went on to describe the Regional Traffic Signal Synchronization Program.  The planning and design for the Highway 111 corridor through 9 cities is nearing completion and will be the first of 10 to 12 corridors in the program to have the traffic signals synchronized.  The budget to accomplish this is $30,000,000.00!  When completed the synchronized traffic signals will save time, energy and frustration for drivers traveling throughout the Coachella Valley.  Not transportation related but also a priority for CVAG is the Valley’s homeless problem.  CVAG has been working on this problem for the past 10 years and have implemented their “Housing First Program”.  The Valley’s Homeless Shelters do an admirable job but more often than not they prevent individuals who are convicted felons, have drug/alcohol problems or mental disorders from admission.   With an annual budget of $1,000,000.00 CVAG’s Housing First program focuses on reaching out to the homeless with different assistance programs that last year increased the average income of 400 homeless people from $422.00 a month to over $1,600.00 per month by increasing benefits and jobs for these individuals!  Tom ended his presentation by sharing that another duty of CVAG was to buy land and provide habitat as part of the Coachella Valley’s Multi-Species Plan.  This has been a very successful program throughout the Coachella Valley that has allowed measured growth and development to take place while at the same time enhancing and preserving habitat for our local flora and fauna.
 
It is always a pleasure to hear Tom speak and his presentation this day was outstanding!  Thank you Tom for your past service to our Rotary Club and for your continued Service above Self in our community!