Hot Rods & Beer To Host First Annual Music Festival in Holtville

By Luke Phillips
After a slight hiccup, Holtville’s first annual Music Festival will take place this Saturday at Hot Rods & Beer as part of the Carrot Festival.
Hot Rods & Beer, owned by John Prock, has been operating in Holtville on a Conditional Use Permit since opening last July. Since the permit restricts several of the activities planned for the music festival, the city determined that Mr. Prock would need to obtain a special license from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Department to hold the event, which would also have to be approved by city officials.
The Holtville Planning Commission added an emergency item to their Jan. 19 agenda to consider a one-day exception to Hot Rods & Beer’s Conditional Use Permit, but the exception was unanimously denied due to the fact that the special ABC license and detailed plans for the event had not been submitted.
Mr. Prock submitted the plans and his special license to the city on Monday, Jan. 25, and after city attorney Steve Walker determined that the Holtville City Council was the final authority in the matter, and an item was added to the council agenda to consider an appeal of the planning commission decision.
“I think there was a lack of communication between Mr. Prock, the chamber and the city,” Holtville City Manager Laura Fischer told the council at their Jan. 25 meeting.
Fischer advised the council that Mr Prock had met the conditions of the Conditional Use Permit – he agreed to move live music performances indoors after 9:30 p.m., to install a temporary 6-foot privacy fence around the Hot Rods & Beer parking lot where alcohol will be served, and to restrict access to the area from minors. Parking concerns were also addressed and Mr. Prock stated that Mi Casita restaurant has agreed to provide parking for the event.
“I believe that (fire) chief Silva and (police) chief Erro have had all of their concerns addressed,” Fischer told the council.
The council voted unanimously to approve the appeal of the Planning Commission decision.
“I don’t normally like overturning Planning Commission decisions,” said council member Richard Layton. “But in this case, I do believe if they had all this information in front of them, and they had our fire chief and police chief sign off on it, they would be okay with it.”
Holtville Planning Commission member Jim Predmore was present at the city council meeting and explained the decision to deny the permit.
“With it being somewhat of a city event, we just felt that it was actually putting the city in a predicament as far as sponsoring an event that had not met the conditional use permit,” Predmore told the council. “We didn’t have anything to go by and if nothing was done we don’t know what the outcome would have been. We thought that it (Hot Rods & Beer) wasn’t a real positive atmosphere. So I think that’s what we based our decision on.”

Holtville Mulls Over New Trash Services Contract

By Luke Phillips
The Holtville City Council is asking for more information before deciding on the future of the city’s trash disposal contract.
The city’s 7-year contract with Allied Waste Services expires in April of this year. The city has the option of negotiating a new contract exclusively with Allied Waste Services, or of preparing a Request for Proposals and putting the contract out to bid.
At a meeting Monday, Jan. 25, the council voted 4-1, with council member David Bradshaw dissenting,  to table the matter of Holtville’s trash contract after council member Bianca Padilla said that she would like to have more information before making a decision. Padilla said that she would like to see more information and comparisons on other cities in the Imperial Valley that have switched from Allied Waste Services to the valley’s other two waste service providers – CR&R and Palo Verde Disposal.
“I’d like to get, if we can, some more figures,” Padilla said. “For example, I heard the city of Imperial did negotiate with Allied, and I’d like to get some kind of comparison figures. And maybe some other comparisons, like El Centro, who didn’t go with Allied. That’s what I’d like to see.”
If the council decides to put the contract out for bid, it runs the risk of changing revenue generated by the 12 percent Franchise Tax agreement with Allied Waste. A new contract would mean that the city would have to negotiate new terms for tax revenues.
According to a report to the council from city manager Laura Fischer, each option has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Negotiating exclusively with Allied would mean less staff hours and resources would be required, but putting the contract out to bid would mean a more transparent hauler selection process and more competition.

Graffiti Requires An Active Approach & Get Off Your Knees

At the end of december, I considered my resolutions carefully.  At the end, a resolution to not hold back my feelings concerning this column space was appropriate for the direction I plan on going.
So, without further adieu…
With plenty of talk being devoted to the “Downtown” area of Brawley in the past few years, I’m not seeing a whole lot done.
Sure, five events a year at Brawley’s Plaza Park organized by the Brawley Main Street Association is nice, and I can’t say I don’t enjoy myself at them.
However, do those events really raise awareness of the downtown area at this point or are they now something the public expects?
Right now, Downtown Brawley is doing okay but it could be much better.  However, the responsibility should not be put on the City itself.
There are eyesores in the area that need to be dealt with, including defunct buildings, unusable lots and other problems.
What Downtown Brawley needs is a makeover, and it needs to be done by the businesses and building owners in the area.  Parts like the old Texaco station and the Brawley Theatre need to be torn down and rebuilt as something else.  Historic is one thing, useless is quite another.
The City, the Chamber and the businesses in the area can talk about revitalizing the downtown area all they want, but something needs to be done before people will even consider doing business in that area.
And no, the economy is no excuse for not making the necessary changes.  When times are bad, nothing gets done out of necessity, but when times are good, nothing is done out of greed.
For all the talk about graffiti, and how big a problem it is in Brawley, there isn’t much done to discourage it.
I’m not talking about The City of Brawley, who spent over $100,000 of taxpayer money fighting graffiti last year and the money isn’t there to pay the graffiti crews.
Also not to blame are the Brawley Police Department, who have done everything humanly possible to discourage tagging.
However, it’s difficult to arrest a tagger as they need to be caught in the act and there needs to be a good witness to the crime.
While irresponsible parents are mostly to blame, some of the responsibility for tagging falls on businesses that do not paint over their buildings and walls as quickly as possible.
Those who “tag” buildings want their stuff on display, and business owners who don’t cover the graffiti immediately are only encouraging more in their area.
The solution is quite simple:  When graffiti is seen, paint over it as soon as possible.  A few dollars in paint and brushes will go a long way in discouraging taggers.
Graffiti may never go away completely, but if businesses take a pro-active approach and not a reactive one, it might be controlled.
For those who believe that prayer will help the victims of the recent Haiti earthquake need to look at situation on YouTube or on the news, get off your knees, and do something.
The only thing prayer does is make the person praying feel like he’s doing something when, in the most undisputable of facts, they are doing nothing.
What the people Haiti need is tangible, temporal help in the form of food, medical assistance and other aid.
Prayer alone will not help rescue workers find survivors or to account for the dead and missing.
Prayer alone will not feed , clothe or shelter Hatians who have lost their homes, families and social order.
Prayer alone will not do anything for the Hatian people.  What you should do is find a reputable charity and donate what you can afford.
As we approach February, we find ourselves gearing up for another California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta.
This year, in lieu of a main attraction act, the Fair Board is giving us another series of tribute band concerts like last year.
This year, expect bands paying homage to The Eagles, Van Halen, The Beatles as well as tributes to country music, and music from the 1960s.
The Fair Board is doing this in order to save money as hiring mainstream musicians is expensive and it should be applauded.
Last year’s concerts were entertaining and this year’s acts will generate the same excitement.
Of course, improvements to the general area, including the pavement and a reconstruction of the Grandstand and racetrack area would be applauded as well.
Perhaps it’s time to move the race track to another part of the facility and create a real area for a concert stage at the fairgrounds.
Since the racetrack is dirt and not concrete or asphalt, moving the track area shouldn’t be as difficult as some might imagine.  Also, this would clear up much needed space for large concerts  and other outdoor events.
It would also create an impetus to reconstruct the Grandstand itself, something that’s long overdue.
Until next time…

Holtville Sheriff’s Have Some Special Visitors

Sheriff’s Office Has a Heart for Community

The Holtville station of the Imperial County Sheriff’s Department is making a great effort to become a vital part of the community of Holtville.  On Wednesday, Sgt. Erro and his deputies pulled out all the stops to make a wonderful presentation to the children at Miss Betty’s Preschool.  The children were welcomed by the staff and Deputy Benavidez took them on a tour of the building to give them an idea of how the office operates.