From the daily archives: Wednesday, January 27, 2010

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…


Pictured from the Right: Griselda Gonzalez, Chairman Louis Fuentes, Gregg Wislon CA PAL, Jim Neujahr, Carmen Estrada,Jesus Serrano, Diego Romero Asst. Vice Principal CHS Photo by Angel Ezparza Envision Media & Design

One of the best run and most successful programs in the State of California was the host for a visit by the California Police Activities League and it’s Executive Director Gregg Wilson this week. After a lunch with the active PAL’s from Imperial County, Gregg Wilson and his staff met with Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and District 1 – Calexico Representative Louis Fuentes at the PAL office in Calexico.
“We are impressed with the amount of commitment and dedication shown by the Board of Directors and the Athletic Director Carmen Estrada…”said Gregg Wilson. “The success is very tangible, the trophies on the wall are impressive, we want to take some back to our headquarters there are so many.”
Carmen Estrada commented “This program had only 68 kids in 2004 when I took over as Athletic Director and now has over 2,800 kids in Calexico.” (It should be noted that this is an completely voluntary unpaid position.) “I cannot express the gratitude that we feel towards Chief Neujahr. He has been a great supporter of PAL and I know this dear to him.”
Starting in 1991, California PAL expanded its mission to engage youth by bringing together youth teams from local member PAL’s throughout the state. California PAL continues to serve youth from many backgrounds and locations throughout the state.
Chairman Fuentes has been a supporter of the Police Activities League in Calexico since 2006 his first year elected. “It is important to have an avenue for our youth to play sports, exercise and stay out of trouble. The work that Mrs. Estrada and the Parents on the Board engage in is so important and admirable. They have done wonders with very little financial support.”
Gregg Wilson shared with PAL representatives and parents some suggestions for working with the City of Calexico to enhance it’s cooperation. The program has been in danger of closing in recent weeks due to the staff person acting as the liaison between the Calexico Police Department being reassigned to other duties. The city’s budget constraints and staff limitations have left no room for traditional support.
“I think we have an opportunity to think outside traditional ways the City of Calexico has supported this large group of parents and young citizens. The Council and Administration need to be brought into this discussion so that the kids are not left without a program.“ commented Chairman Fuentes.
The Police Activities League has traditionally relied on parents, donations and the support of the community to run its programs. Typically Recreational Programs run by cities have a fee to enroll and participate, this fee is higher than what most families can
California Police Activities League Visits Imperial County
TODAY’S DATE: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 TIME: 1 p.m.
TEL: (760) 482-4200 E-mail:
afford given the Valley’s demographics. PAL’s provide a venue for those that can’t pay the fee because they have the ability to fund raise to offset the costs. This is where an opportunity exists to work together with the City’s department and staff.
Gregg Wilson further shared his thoughts, “In the era of budget shortfalls, there are examples of Communities across the State coming together to devise a structure where parents, volunteers and City staff work together to man the programs and provide the supervision to the athletic programs. Oxnard is a good example of this. Ultimately the community needs to come together so that the kids don’t go down the wrong path with nothing to do.” Gregg Wilson commented as he was greeted with over 50 kids and parents outside PAL’s offices in Calexico for photo opps with him.
The California Police Activities League (PAL) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded over 35 years ago by a group of police officers, spearheaded by a San Francisco Police Detective, Charles Ellis. The California PAL office is located in San Leandro, California. As a working collaboration of staff, Board of Directors, and member chapters, California PAL provides services and support to over 100 local Police, Sheriff’s, and Youth Activity Leagues from throughout the State of California.


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.

They were then escorted to the parking lot where there was a great deal of excitement.  Sgt. Erro and Deputies Ramirez, Benavidez, Quesada, and Madad had several patrol cars for the children to explore and a few trucks as well.  The K-9 unit was a great hit, as were the lights and sirens.  Definitely the most popular vehicle on display was the offroad buggy that is used for search and rescue.  Every child was given the opportunity to sit behind the wheel of that buggy, and there were smiles all around.

Sgt. Erro concluded the tour by having the Crime Prevention unit come in to fingerprint and ID each child, which they were able to take home to their parents.  Before leaving, they were all given Sheriff’s badges of their own, which were worn proudly for the rest of the day.

Miss Betty and all the parents of Miss Betty’s Preschool would like to thank Sgt. Erro and the crew for taking time to create such a wonderful experience for the children.  It was a morning they will not forget and will be talking about for quite some time.


El Centro, CA – The City of El Centro Parks and Recreation Department was notified recently that they have been chosen to receive the 2009 California Park & Recreation Society (CPRS) Award of Excellence for the category of Agency Showcase for their summer brochure.  The awards raise awareness for work well done among cities and communities throughout the state of California.

Kristie Riester, Director of Parks and Recreation stated “Our department is so excited to receive this award! We feel honored that we were selected from many cities that have also been doing great things across the State! For us, it means so much to receive recognition from CPRS as well as from our peers!”

The Parks and recreation Department staff has been invited to attend the awards banquet in Palm Springs in March. A formal presentation will also be made at an upcoming City Council meeting.


TORRANCE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Honda today began operation of a next generation solar hydrogen station prototype at the Los Angeles Center of Honda R&D Americas, Inc., intended for ultimate use as a home refueling appliance capable of an overnight refill of fuel cell electric vehicles.

Designed as a single, integrated unit to fit in the user’s garage, Honda’s next generation Solar Hydrogen Station reduces the size of the system, while producing enough hydrogen (0.5kg) via an 8-hour overnight fill for daily commuting (10,000 miles per year) for a fuel cell electric vehicle.

The previous solar hydrogen station system required both an electrolyzer and a separate compressor unit to create high pressure hydrogen. The compressor was the largest and most expensive component and reduced system efficiency. By creating a new high differential pressure electrolyzer, Honda engineers were able to eliminate the compressor entirely – a world’s first for a home use system. This innovation also reduces the size of other key components to make the new station the world’s most compact system, while improving system efficiency by more than 25% (value calculated based on simulations) compared to the solar hydrogen station system it replaces.

Compatible with a “Smart Grid” energy system, the Honda Solar Hydrogen Station would enable users to refill their vehicle overnight without the requirement of hydrogen storage, which would lower CO2 emissions by using less expensive off-peak electrical power. During daytime peak power times, the Solar Hydrogen Station can export renewable electricity to the grid, providing a cost benefit to the customer, while remaining energy neutral.

Designed for simple, user-friendly operation, the intuitive system layout enables the user to easily lift and remove the fuel hose, with no hose coiling when the hose is returned to the dispenser unit.

Engineered for an 8-hour, slow fill for overnight refilling of a fuel cell electric vehicle, the home-use Solar Hydrogen Station would replenish the hydrogen for a typical daily driving, meeting the commuting requirements of many drivers. As with the previous generation system, the hydrogen purity from the new station meets the highest SAE (J2719) and ISO (14687) specifications.

Installed at the Los Angeles Center of Honda R&D Americas, the new Solar Hydrogen Station will employ the same 48-panel, 6.0kW solar array that powered the previous system. The array utilizes thin film solar cells composed of copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS) produced by Honda Soltec Co., Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Honda that was established for the mass production and sales of solar cells capable of efficient renewable electricity generation. Honda’s unique solar cells reduce the amount of CO2 generated during production as compared to conventional solar cells.

Designed to support the needs of the future owners of fuel cell electric vehicles, the Honda Solar Hydrogen Station was also designed to complement a public network of fast fill hydrogen stations. The Honda FCX Clarity electric vehicle is fast fill capable and offers an EPA-estimated driving range of 240 miles. With fast fill public stations providing 5-minute fueling time for longer trips, and the opportunity of convenient nighttime slow filling at home using a solar station with a Smart Grid connection, the Honda FCX Clarity can cover a wide range of driving demands from the daily commute to weekend trips.

A key strategy in creating a solar hydrogen station for home-use was to create a new lifestyle with convenient, clean, energy-efficient and sustainable home refueling, by addressing the need for refueling infrastructure that can advance the wider use of fuel cell electric vehicles by consumers.

The combination of a fuel cell electric vehicle and the solar hydrogen station could help lead to the establishment of a hydrogen society based on renewable energy, resulting in a major reduction of CO2 emissions and greater energy sustainability.

Honda began operation of its first Solar Hydrogen Station at the Los Angeles Center of Honda R&D Americas in 2001:

  • July 2001: 3-unit system with hydrogen storage begins operation.
  • October 2003: new 2-unit system with an original Honda electrolyzer and a new solar array utilizing prototype Honda CIGS solar cells offers improved system efficiency.
  • August 2008: solar array fitted with mass production CIGS cells from Honda Soltec Co., reducing the size of the array by 20% and further improving photo voltaic (PV) energy efficiency.
  • January 2010: new single-unit station begins operation, improving to world’s best system efficiency – increasing the efficiency by more than 25% (value calculated based on simulations) compared to the previous solar hydrogen station system, for a world’s highest system efficiency.

About Honda R&D Americas, Inc.

Honda R&D Americas, Inc. (HRA) is responsible for creating advanced technologies and products in the U.S. that provide new value to Honda and Acura customers. HRA began R&D operations in the U.S. in 1975 with market research activities in California, and has steadily grown its capabilities over the past 35 years to include all aspects of new vehicle design and development, as well as taking a leading role in the advancement of leading-edge safety and environmental technologies.

Today, Honda operates 15 major R&D facilities in the U.S. with more than 1,300 designers, engineers and support personnel engaged in the development of automobiles, motorcycles and power equipment products for North America and global markets.

HRA’s major centers include the Los Angeles Center (Torrance, CA), responsible for market research, concept development and styling design; the Ohio Center (Raymond, OH) responsible for complete product development, testing and support of North American supplier development; and a dynamic test facility in Ohio; and the North Carolina Center (Swepsonville, NC) responsible for power equipment R&D.

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