From the daily archives: Monday, April 12, 2010

Cal EMA Secretary Urges Residents of Imperial County To Be Wary of Phony Safety Assessment Evaluators SACRAMENTO – In response to reports that people posing as safety assessment evaluators are advising business owners in Calexico that they cannot operate without a safety assessment and then charging the businesses for the service, the Secretary of the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA), Matthew Bettenhausen, today cautioned residents of Imperial County to exercise caution in dealing with people offering services.   “It’s unfortunate that people who have seen their lives and businesses turned upside down by last Sunday’s earthquake now have to worry about people taking advantage of their situation,” said Bettenhausen.    “Because safety assessments are one of the most essential services provided by government after a disaster, they are conducted without charge.”   Bettenhausen urged homeowners, renters and business owners throughout Imperial County to ask to see a picture ID of anyone offering to conduct a safety assessment and to immediately report to their local building officials anyone who does not have an ID similar to the ones issued by Cal EMA and pictured below.
Usually, conducting safety assessments after an emergency is the responsibility of the affected cities and counties. If needed, additional help is available from approximately 6,500 building officials, architects and engineers from local government and the private sector who comprise the state’s Safety Assessment Program, which is coordinated by Cal EMA.   To support ongoing safety assessments in the wake of the earthquake, Cal EMA has deployed two SAP coordinators to the Imperial County Emergency Operations Center and four evaluators to support field operations within the county.   While they are deployed, members of the Safety Assessment Program will help local officials determine whether buildings in the affected area are safe for immediate occupancy and whether lawful entry should be allowed, restricted or prohibited.   The program, which was initiated after the 1971 San Fernando earthquake as part of a cooperative effort between the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the Structural Engineers Association of California, has since become a model for other states.   Bettenhausen also encouraged homeowners, renters and business owners affected by the earthquake to report any damages they have sustained to their insurance carriers, local building departments and offices of emergency services.


By Mario Conde

In the mist of the recovery of the huge earthquake the hit last week here in Calexico, good news for Calexico happened Saturday as Calexico native, Issac Acuña Acuña, made his professional soccer debut at Mexico’s first division soccer league.

Twenty-year old Issac Acuña made his professional soccer debut this Saturday in the victory of his team, Club America, 3-1 against Jaguares of Chiapas. Acuña entered the games at minute thirty-five of the second half of the game. The Calexico athlete was part of the former Calexico Police Athletic League where he played basketball and soccer for five years.

Acuña later joined Club America’s affiliate in Mexicali after graduating from Aurora High School in 2007. Talent scouts from the main team invited him to join their third division team, America Cuapa. After a year with the third division team he was elevated to the second division team called, Socio Aguila. Issac was featured on the Calexico Chronicle on January 2009.

Club America is one of the most important and historic teams in Mexico with 10 championships in their storied history.

“We are very proud of him and we are certainly proud that he is a talent from the Calexico PAL.” Carmen Estrada, Athletic director of CPAL. Estrada shared how Acuña was very dedicated with the program and said that he was one of the best athletes when he was on PAL. “This is an example that we need more support for the youth of the Calexico. Issac is an example for the community.” She said.

Club America had a very irregular season this year compromising its chances to qualify to the post season this year. Club America officials gave an ultimatum to the player and the coach that if they didn’t win the Coach, Jesus Ramirez, would be fired from the team. The team is obligated to win the next four games if they want to make it to the playoffs. Club America’s coach made history in 2005 by having the under 17 Mexican National team win its first FIFA World Cup title in history.


By Mario Conde

The last candidate for SDSU Dean came to Calexico as David Pearson spoke to students and staff about his vision for the Imperial Valley Campus.

David Pearson holds a Ph.D. in sociology, has been a radio host for the local PBS Radio in Texas. The candidate for dean took a different approach from the other candidates as he gave a power point presentation about his work and accomplishments as Vice-president for partnership affairs, University of Brownsville.

As Vice-president of partnership affairs, Pearson created a partnership between the University of Brownsville and the community college and worked together to pass a bond to create new state-of-the-art modern educational buildings. UT Brownsville and the community college were able to unite the community in passing the bond and were able to create new facilities and expand the campus. Pearson was said that their business plan to create a college society between UT Brownsville and Texas South College has been good for the community.

Currently UT Brownsville embraces its Mexican American culture and has taken advantage of it because since they offer classes in English and Spanish that help their curriculum, Pearson said.

Pearson said that he is interested in SDSU because it’s a border community and could not work in other places that are not near the Mexican border.

The Candidate for SDSU Dean said in the questions and answers portion that the Imperial Valley campus should become a four year institution in the future and collaborate more with Imperial Valley College. He proposed to have a REC Center at SDSU and also a day care center for students that go to school and are parents at the same time. He also stressed the importance of making it clear to the main campus in San Diego about needed programs in Calexico for the benefit of the valley.

The interview process is now over for the aspiring candidates for SDSU Dean and now the evaluation made by students and staff will be taken by the search committee to pick the new Dean that will replace Dr. Stephen Roeder.


By Mario Conde

Calexico City Council candidate Bill Hodge believes that people who are elected to office need to be someone with strong moral character and have a governing style that is close to the people and that is what separates him from other candidates, according to him.

Hodge said that he has a strong work ethic and because of his academic background, he has a strong faith in research because he believes that decisions should be done with facts and not on hearsay. “I think what people want in government is someone with character is someone that acts, someone that is proactive and that is who I am. When I believe in something I’m very proactive, I act on it. People are tired of political posturing, sound bites, and not going out  into the community and not working hard for the people. I am the opposite, I will work hard for the people” Hodge said.

The candidate said he has strong values in advocating for socio economic justice. As former vice-president of the Teachers Union, Hodge said that his main area was to do grievances and advocate and defend on behalf of teachers and students and was able to facilitate, negotiate, and had important successes. “Being vice-president also forced me to work on the school budget so I have hands on experience working with the budget, dealing with the budget, I had training in budget, and also, to enhance that academically, I have a degree in social science and I teach economics, and teach government. I have a deeper insightful vision of what the big picture is. I will fight for equity and fairness for all the people.”

Hodge believes that the bloodline for the community is business specially in allowing small businesses to prosper. “I am someone that is not only business oriented but I consider myself as community oriented. Not all comes to the bottom line of profit or money. As a city official who is going to govern, there are moral and human imperatives that have to be acted upon or decided upon for our community. My governing style will be to work hard and care for all of Calexicans especially the vulnerable, the seniors and the youth. My City Council position that I will occupy is the people’s seat and I will never forget that. I will represent and serve all of the people.”

Hodge said that he will not alienate himself from the people and will work for stronger relationships with the people and will be accessible and visible to the people and organize frequent Town Hall meetings. He said that people can contact him at any day, anytime, and if invited he would go to their homes and talk to them I their neighborhoods and solve problems together.

“I want people to participate in their government and hold government accountable. He said. Hodge said that the City Council should go to the people and City officials  should  put their arrogance and egos to the side and learn to be humble and listen to the people.” He said.

“People are frustrated, cynical, and rightfully so about a wall that has existed between City Government and meeting the needs of the people.” Hodge said.

“I will be a dissenting voice, I will expose areas that are wrong that need to be corrected like backroom deals, or covering up. If we make mistakes let’s be honest, let’s be straightforward. I will work very hard to bring more integrity, accountability and transparency to our City. I will denounced any possible wrong dealing and I am no exception. If I do something wrong I expect to held me accountable by the people.

“I don’t own a private business but my businesses is the people of Calexico.”


Imperial County Announces Preliminary Estimates from Sunday’s Earthquake

IMPERIAL COUNTY – Imperial County Officials have been working closely with local and state officials in response to the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that shook Imperial Valley on Sunday afternoon.
“Our thoughts are with the families and individuals that have been affected by the earthquake,” stated Louis Fuentes, Chairman for the Imperial County Board of Supervisors. “As we are assessing the damage we are finding that we were fortunate that the earthquake that hit Imperial County occurred on a day that children were not in school and many individuals were not at work.”
Following the proclamation of a local emergency by Imperial County and a State of Emergency by California Governor Schwarzenegger, local agencies are working with representatives of the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) to determine what type of assistance may be available to affected residents and government agencies. “Responders and staff have been concentrating efforts in those areas of the County that were most heavily impacted”, stated Tony Rouhotas, Director of the Imperial County Office of Emergency Services.
To date damage estimates for the cities and unincorporated areas of Imperial County exceeds $70 million. These are preliminary estimates and are expected to increase as assessments continue.
Preliminary reports and assessments indicate the following in damages: A number of mobile homes have been affected in the El Centro, Calexico and Seeley areas. Several buildings in Calexico have been red tagged due to structural damage. Structures that are red-tagged are considered extremely hazardous and may collapse.
Thursday April 8, 2010
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The City of El Centro is assessing damages to local businesses. There have been interruptions to local businesses due to closures. Downtown Calexico businesses located in the areas of First to Third Streets, from Paulin Ave to Heber Ave continue to be closed and will be reopened as soon as safely possible. Imperial Valley and Calexico Transit Systems have been rerouted to Fourth and Paulin Ave. The County as a whole is seeing damages to water and waste water treatment plants in El Centro, Holtville, Imperial, Calexico and those under County jurisdiction. Calexico residents continue to be encouraged to conserve water. Residents are being asked to not wash their cars, use their sprinklers, fill their pools or otherwise use water unnecessarily. Nine County buildings and facilities have been affected. Damages range from moderate to major.
Inspectors with the Division of State Architects arrived in Imperial County on Monday of this week and have been working with local schools to assess for damages.
Calexico Elementary School District officials announced that all K-12 public schools in Calexico will not be in session the week of April 12th to allow for the relocation of students and staff due to the closure of Jefferson Elementary School. Our Lady of Guadalupe and Vincent Memorial Schools in Calexico will be closed April 12 and 13th, and anticipate reopening on April 14th. St. Mary’s School in El Centro will also be closed on April 12th and 13th, and anticipate reopening on April 14th. All other schools in Imperial County will open on Monday as previously scheduled.
The Office of Emergency Services are working with local agencies to establish public assistance centers where individuals can go if they need federal, state or local assistance. Families and individuals affected by the earthquake will be able to get additional information and access resources. The location and the hours for the assistance center will be released as soon as it becomes available.
Shelter Services are being provided by American Red Cross for residents whose housing is unsafe or who do not feel comfortable staying in their own home. Services available include food, shelter and showers. Imperial County Animal Control will provide shelter services for the animals of residents housed in the American Red Cross Shelter. The shelter is located at Ryerson Hall/Desert Trails RV Park, 225 Wake Ave, El Centro, CA. For more information please call (760) 482-4968.
The Imperial County Imperial County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has established the Imperial County Assistance Hotline to provide assistance to local residents. Residents are encouraged to contact the hotline with questions or concerns following the recent earthquake activity in Imperial County. The hotline can be reached by dialing 760-482-4968. Residents should continue to call 911 for emergencies. Hotline staff is available 24 hours to answer non-emergency questions.

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