From the daily archives: Thursday, December 10, 2009

By Mario Conde
The County Board of Supervisors decided to table the item that would have the Sheriff’s Office provide Law Enforcement Services in Holtville at its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 8th.
Holtville had  requested the Board of Supervisors provide interim Police Chief Services for the City of Holtville in 2006.
The board approved the continued services of an interim Police Chief  as well as the Deputy Sheriffs
Holtville  also requested a  contract with the County for them to provide all law enforcement service for the City for a period of five years.
The proposal  calls for the Sheriff’s Office to provide one  administrative sergeant, five  Sheriff’s deputies and dispatch services for both law enforcement and fire protection.
Sheriff Ray Loera said his department  had a good working relationship with  Holtville and had  been negotiating with City Manager Laura Fischer to take over law enforcement duties.
Board Chairman Wally Leimgruber said that he has heard positive comments about the services the Sheriff’s Office provides there.
County Executive Officer Ralph Cordova said that the original agreement for services between the County and Holtville had a price tag of $955,198.00. That, he said, was based on the salary/benefits schedule and hourly rates,  but did not include the expenses for equipment that the Sheriff would use.
Cordova said he made one last analysis of the contract yesterday (Monday, Dec. 7th) and was told by the County Auditor that the first draft did not include the equipment expenses  that elevates the cost  to a $1 million.
Cordova that if this item passes as its requested then it would not be cost neutral for either party.
Holtville City Manager Laura Fischer, who attended the meeting,  said she was surprised by the new number,  but asked the Board to approve the contract with the original amount of $955,198.00. She said the city would track those costs annually and modify the contract cost, if needed.
Holtville Mayor Blanca Padilla, also at the meeting,  said during the three years she has been on the City Council, law enforcement has been a big issue.
She said that for them the details of the contract have been discussed and  they have considered the possible costs that have been quantified.
Holtville Councilman Jerry Bristten said he was  surprised too,  by the last minute change, but asked the Supervisors to approve the contract in order to provide public safety to the people of  Holtville.
Holtville Police Officer Barry Forny  spoke to the Board and said that the City Manager didn’t come to them to keep the department. “They don’t hire new officers just to get us out. The City will have to provide  new cars because the current cars are old  break down a lot.” Forny  said.  He added that the local police officers do not get proper training to be more efficient. He said that the people of Holtville want the Police Department to continue operating.
The County Board decided to table the item in order to have staff meet with the Holtville City Manager and possibly take action next week after the Holtville Council discusses  the changes Monday.


Border Patrol Gives Cattle Call Winnings To The Boys & Girls Club

Brawley Christmas On Main 2009 (2)The spirit of giving and the holidays kicked off during the Fifth Annual Christmas on Main Street celebration located at the Plaza Park in Brawley, Calif., on Sunday Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. George Wetjen, Assistant Patrol Agent in Charge of the United States Border Patrol Indio Station, attended representing the U.S. Border Patrol during a special presentation to the Brawley Boys and Girls Club from the Brawley Chamber of Commerce.
The Brawley Boys and Girls Club were presented a check for $1,000, the Sweepstakes prize money from Brawley Cattle Call Parade Float Contest which was won by the El Centro Sector Border Patrol. Due to federal regulations the Border Patrol is unable to accept the prize money and therefore requested the Brawley Chamber of Commerce to donate it to a charity organization of its choice.
On Oct. 13, 2009, the Brawley Boys and Girls Club was burglarized and $2,600 worth of items were stolen. The club provides a physically and emotionally safe environment that enables youth to build solid, healthy relationships within the club.
According to Wetjen, a Brawley native who once frequented the Boys and Girls Club as a child, it is an honor to be part of something that gives back to a place that provided a safe refuge for him when he was younger.
“I am saddened to hear about the misfortune they suffered a while back,” he said. “I am proud to be part of an event which will help an organization that helped so many kids including myself over the years.”
El Centro Sector Chief Patrol Agent Jeffrey A. Calhoon said Wetjen’s participation is an example of how important it is to establish a relationship with the community.
“Assistant Patrol Agent in Charge Wetjen illustrates how Border Patrol Agents are integral parts of the community,” he said. “Not only does he serve the community he lives in, he is a product of it as well.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.


Strange Doings In Holtville Again; Saying Goodbye to Some Good Guys In Brawley

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WE’RE NOT SURE WHY HOLTVILLE HAS such a difficult time accepting new ideas and people. But it does.
You’d think a city would want to encourage people to come there, work there and spend money there. But it is still very difficult for anyone to get established in this little community and even more difficult to run a successful business out of it.
As a business owner in that community for the last 19 years, I’ve seen it time and again where someone has a good idea for a business, but gets little or no support from those who live there.
We, of course,  have a newspaper. And we try to report on events that occur there. Some folks don’t like those events and blame the messenger for the message.
Others want to force their own political agendas on the public and will go to some extreme lengths to keep news they don’t like from reaching the light of day.
Against this rather gloomy background, I have to report that we have been banned from the Chamber of Commerce electronic marquee.
We started putting our name and a lead story headline on the marquee as a way of letting the public know what was in our paper, hoping they would pick up a copy and use it. It’s a good way for people to find out what’s going on in their town.
But, I guess we ran a headline that was offensive to someone.
The headline reads: “Council Votes Out Police Department, Sheriff To Take Over in January.”
Chamber Secretary Dana Hawk decided this was too controversial and took it to her Board of Directors. They, in turn, banned the offensive material to the rubbish heap and gave us the boot without even a fair-thee-well.
I’m not sure who voted it out since the Chamber board has so many members and alternate members that you need a scorecard to tell who’s attending a meeting.
Well folks, we’re off marquee and if you want to know what’s going on in your little city, you will just have to pick up a copy at your favorite store or subscribe and we will send one to your house.
But don’t look for us on the marquee. We’ve been deemed unworthy.
That’s rather hard to swallow, especially since the marquee was funded with taxpayer dollars from the city. That makes it public property and it has to be made available to anyone.
State discrimination laws would apply in this case if anybody wants to take the time to look them up.
A list of criteria for sign use should also be provided. None is available, as far as we know. At least we weren’t given one.
WITH SUCH DISCOURAGING ACTIONS FLOATING AROUND is it any wonder that businesses don’t last very long here?
Somebody should wake up and smell the coffee. When the city can’t even pass a skateboard park proposal without years of huffing and puffing about it, is there any wonder that there are lots of empty buildings here?   Well, we do have a new water tank anyway.
But only select people can use the chamber marquee. Perhaps we can get our message on the water tank.
UP IN BRAWLEY A COUPLE OF OLD PROS are retiring from the public ranks after many years of service.
Steve Vasquez and John Benson have worked hard for many years to keep their city on a steady course upward. They’ve helped meet the needs of new businesses such as Wal-Mart, as well as educational facilities such as SDSU’s north campus and saw housing developments begin to bloom in the desert. They’ve worked for progress while keeping in mind the traditions established during the last century on the northend. They will get a pat on the back that is much deserved this Friday. Show up and wish them well. There is a story on the front page of this paper which will give you the details.
DON’T FORGET THE CHRISTMAS PARADE IN CALEXICO. It takes place this Saturday through downtown, beginning at 10 a.m.
You’ll get a chance to see some acts from the other side of the border as well as some of the traditional parade entries.
There’s always several floats with religious themes if you want to get into the true meaning of the season.
And don’t forget those fantastic bands. At least a dozen bands will be playing, including some from Mexicali. Bring the whole family and stay for the day if you wish.
Peace and freedom of speech to all.


Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Grants $30,000 To
MANA de Imperial Valley and Comite Civico del Valle

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage announced this week  that MANA de Imperial Valley and Comité Civico del Valle are the recipients of the 2009 Homeownership Grant program.  MANA de Imperial Valley will use the grant to provide financial literacy training to low-to-moderate-income families and scholarships in Imperial County.  Comité Civico del Valle will be using the grant to host a series of workshops under the Housing Opportunity Mortgage Education (HOME) Program.   Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has a mission to provide sustainable homeownership opportunities for low  to moderate income individuals by providing 100% financing as a direct lender through Rural Guarantee Housing for moderate income families, FHA with down payment assistance programs, FHA 203K Rehabilitation, VA 30yr Fixed, Conventional Owner  & Non-Owner Programs.  Veronica Platero, Branch Manager at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, stated, “In today’s market, it’s an uphill battle for entry-level buyers to compete with cash-carrying investors.  Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is extremely excited about the activities that this year’s awardees will be implementing in Imperial Valley.  This is an opportunity for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage to partner with local agencies to make a real difference in assisting those populations that are having challenges with housing and financial issues.”  MANA de Imperial Valley members will be providing financial literacy workshops in the community throughout the year in addition to a workshop from the Washington D.C., based Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), an organization dedicated to improving the long-term financial security of all women through education and advocacy.  The Workshop from WISER was held on  Thursday November 5th at the IID Board Room in El Centro.
Luis Olmedo, Executive Director of Comité Civico del Valle stated, “There is no question that Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is investing in our local communities.  It is with such dynamic partnerships that are clear indicators when in tough times our communities will work together to rebuild and reinvent ourselves to overcome a crisis.”
For more information regarding MANA’s financial literacy trainings please contact Alicia Armenta at (760) 353-0234 or for information on Comité Civico del Valle please call (760) 351-8761 or Wells Fargo Home Mortgage at 760-482-0080.


Thousands Raised For Arthritis Foundation At IV Mall Jingle Walk

Santa Claus joins about a hundred walkers and runners during the early morning warm-up.  The warm up was led by a personal trainer from the Jacques & Jill’s fitness club in El Centro.

Santa Claus joins about a hundred walkers and runners during the early morning warm-up. The warm up was led by a personal trainer from the Jacques & Jill’s fitness club in El Centro.

By Chris Furguson
Dozens of walkers, runners and dog owners descended on the Imperial Valley Mall on December 5, 2009 for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk benefitting the Arthritis Foundation.
As of press time, over seven thousand dollars was raised or pledged during the event.
The event was designed to raise funds for an future arthritis clinic to be located in the Imperial Valley.  “The money we raise today will remain in the community,” said  Melanie Cruz-Walsh, a member of the Arthritis Foundation board.
Walsh, who lives with a form of psoriatic arthritis, attended Brawley Union High School and graduated in 1994.
Saturday’s event was the third hosted by the Arthritis Foundation in the Imperial Valley.
The event itself consisted of three parts, a 5k run and a dog walk around the south parking lot, near the food court, and a mile walk inside the mall itself.
Teams attending the Jingle Walk included a group from Brawley’s City staff and All-Star Seed, among others.
Also, a first for the Imperial Valley, was a dog walk that took place at the same time as the 5k run, where local and visiting dog owners walked their animals around the same course as the runners.
The City of Brawley’s team, including Public Works Director Yasmin Arrellano and Interim Brawley Chamber of Commerce CEO Sheila Reily, raised over $1,700 prior to the event.  All-Star Seed generated over $700 for their team.
All participants attending the 2009 Jingle Bell Run/Walk received a free t-shirt, antlers and bells and were treated to free water, snacks and coffee.
A group warm-up was led by members of the Jacques and Jills fitness club.
Overall, more than $50,000 has been raised within the Imperial Valley

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