From the daily archives: Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell announced today that the Forest Service will offer two fee waiver weekends during the summer of 2010, in addition to other annual fee waiver events at standard amenity fee sites. The first fee waiver weekend will be June 5-6. These fee waivers will be offered in cooperation with other federal agencies under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA).
“The Forest Service is working to ensure as many visitors as possible have the opportunity to experience the great outdoors and take advantage of the many recreational activities national forests have to offer,” said Tidwell.  “By waiving fees, everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy the wonder and rejuvenation of recreation on national forests.”

The Fee Waiver dates for 2010 are as follows:
National Trails Day – June 5-6, – fees will be waived for Saturday and Sunday.

Back-to-School Season – Aug.14-15, – fees will be waived for Saturday and Sunday.

National Public Lands Day – Sept 25, 2010 -This fee waiver is offered every year.

Veterans’ Day – Nov. 11, 2010 – This fee waiver is offered every year.

The Fee Waiver weekends supports the goals of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Conference  and First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative by actively supporting and promoting programs, projects and initiatives that encourage the use of outdoor spaces by the public. The waiver will allow people to explore our nation’s forests, which offer a wide range of recreation and educational benefits such as:  improved physical and mental health, emotional well being, a concern for nature, and a conservation ethic.
Traditionally, fees are not charged on 98 percent of national forests and grasslands and over two-thirds of developed recreation sites can be used for free.  Many recreation opportunities such as camping, sightseeing and hiking can be enjoyed throughout the year at no cost.  The Forest Service is glad that we can help Americans  better afford recreational  opportunities, and we hope this will encourage people to get outside and reconnect with those special places we call National Forests.
The Forest Service operates about 17,000 recreation sites.  Of those sites, approximately 6,000 require a fee at recreation sites which provide visitor services, needed maintenance/repairs, and recreational facilities and services.
The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Agency manages 193 million acres of public land and is the largest forestry research organization in the world.


By Mario Conde

After twelve years as public administrator, Norma Saikhon wants to continue in this position to continue providing services for the most needed in the Imperial Valley.

This year Saikhon was challenged by Attorney at Law Christian Legaspi and it’s the first time the County Public Administrator has been challenged since being elected three terms ago. Saikhon says that her experience and accomplishments during these years are what motivate her to continue in her position.

When she took over she brought new software to the office and brought new technology to her department. The duty of the public administrator is to probate the states of the people that die without a will and to marshal assets. In addition, Siakhon manages the Area Agency on Aging, indigent burial program, and representative payee program, among other several duties.

Saikhon said that one of the reasons she ran for this office is because clients were not treated with dignity and respect and need to change that. She said that there were many changes made when she came in and one of her changes was to add three case managers since when she took over there was only one case manager that was limited as to how many visits he could make to a client. “There is always a case manager at the office so that no one ever comes here and is told that can’t be helped.”

Saikhon said that her department works with seniors and representative payees and were able to find funding outside the general fund and increase the case managers to one to three and said that is a big accomplishment for a general fund department, she said.

“Clients that are the most impaired we put them on a weekly check, now what we do is pay the rent directly to the landlord and the client receives a check every week. For those that can’t survive with the weekly paycheck we arrange with restaurants near that neighborhood and eat. That eliminated a lot of crisis situation of people that didn’t have funds would get confrontational or in a crisis of behavioral health and we been able to stabilize that clientele.” She said.

Saikhon said that her department works closely with the Mexican consulate when it comes to migrant deaths. Saikhon said that when someone dies and if the coroner does not find family in California they turn the case to them and notify the consulate. The public administrator works with the migrant protection department and has an excellent relationship that allows locating families or burying the remains if they cannot find family.

With the Senior Citizens in Calexico Saikhon has contract with all of the meals that are served in Calexico with the dining rooms and home delivered meals to senior’s citizens. They also have group that investigate with seniors citizens are being mistreated and if they do they send it to the State.

Saikhon said that people need to vote for someone with experience and that is what she brings to the table in these twelve years as Public Adminstrator.

“You need someone who understands the issues of life and death and the responsibilities that go with that. The process for making that decision comes from experience. I know more about this job year after year with different cases. You need to know who the players are and who to bring in, we don’t do anything in a vacuum we work with the various agencies and we built a relationship and that were experience counts.” Saikhon said.


If you think the year is going by too fast, you’re probably right.

Graduation week is next week. It hardly seems like we got through celebrating Memorial Day and the end of the school year is here.
Beginning Tuesday, June 8th there will be graduation exercises throughout the Imperial Valley for the next four days.
Two private schools have already had their graduation exercises. Calexico’s Vincent Memorial High School graduated its class of 2010 May 29th and Calexico Mission School will have graduation exercises this evening, June 3rd.
But the remainder will be in caps and gowns beginning June 8th. That’s when the 500 members of the class of 2010 in Calexico will receive their diploma’s on the football field beginning at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, June 9th  will see two schools take to the graduation platform. Calipatria High School will hold commencement exercises beginning at 8 p.m.  Holtville High  School will don its caps and gowns for the big night at 7 p.m. On Thursday June 10th  Brawley Union High School’s  will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Friday is reserved for Imperial High School  which will use its football field beginning at 7 p.m.
Several junior high schools and other grades will also be having graduation exercises throughout the week. Please check with your school office for details.
Pick up a copy of the Imperial Valley Weekly-Chronicle for photos and details Thursday, June 17, 2010.


By Mario Conde

CLAUDIO SUAREZ addresses the crowd at Gutierrez Field last week. A star player of the Mexican National team, he played several World Cup tournaments. He and Ramon Ramirez were in town to promote soccer and talk to members of the PAL. Mario Conde photo.

Calexico was fortunate last week to have two legendary soccer players visiting our border town and supporting the Calexico PAL.
Former Mexican soccer players Ramon Ramirez and “El Emperador” Claudio Suarez visited Calexico for a few hours before going to Mexicali for an exhibition game between America and Chivas de Guadalajara played by retired soccer players for each team. Ramon Ramirez and Claudio Suarez were key players in their time and represented Mexico in many FIFA World Cup tournaments.
Soccer fans in Calexico met at Gutierrez Field to take pictures and meet the legendary players that made a rare visit to Calexico.
Recently, Calexico native Issac Acuna made his professional debut with Club America in the first division of Mexico. Issac started as an athlete with the Calexico PAL and now is a pro soccer player with one of the biggest teams in Mexico. The Calexico Chronicle asked Ramon Ramirez what advice he would give Issac now that he debuted with Club America.
“I think Calexico PAL is a well organized league here in Calexico and now that you have Issac Acuna completing the first step of debuting with the first teams now he has to continue working on consolidating himself with the team and accomplish what every players wants to be one day and that is to play the World Cup representing Mexico.” Ramirez said.
When asked what he thinks about the current national soccer team, Ramirez said that the team has good players and there are high expectations that Mexico gives one of its best performances in World Cup history and make it to the semi-finals.
Also present was “El Emperador” Claudio Suarez who has the record of playing the biggest number of international games with the Mexican team in history.  Suarez said that Issac has a challenge ahead of him since Club America has big starts and has to work to find a place among them.
CPAL Athletic Director Carmen Estrada said to be proud of Issac Acuna and said he is the pride of Calexico and hopes his career takes him the Mexican National Soccer Team one day. She stated that the program is stronger than ever and will continue to work for Calexico. CPAL has a second soccer player in Queretaro waiting to debut in the first division and could do so later this year.


U.S. Border Patrol agents stationed throughout Yuma, Ariz., Sector arrested 14 suspected drug smugglers in three separate incidents over Memorial Day weekend and seized more than $1,000,000 worth of drugs. On Friday evening, Border Patrol agents working at the Highway 78 checkpoint south of Blythe, Calif. referred a 2003 Nissan 350Z for secondary inspection after a Border Patrol canine team alerted to the vehicle. Agents inspected the vehicle and found six plastic bags of methamphetamines hidden throughout the passenger compartment. The methamphetamines weighed nearly three pounds and are valued at approximately $55,000. The driver and contraband were taken into custody and subsequently turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration. On Saturday, Border Patrol agents assigned to the Yuma Station detected the illegal entry of a vehicle about 20 miles east of San Luis, Ariz. As agents responded to the area, the driver of the vehicle turned around and drove back toward the border to avoid arrest. The driver stopped just north of the border and he and three other occupants fled back into Mexico.

Yuma Station agents seized a 2009 Jeep Wrangler loaded with 524  pounds of marijuana on Saturday.
Yuma Station agents seized a 2009 Jeep Wrangler loaded with 524 pounds of marijuana on Saturday.

Agents secured the vehicle and discovered 23 bundles of marijuana. The marijuana weighed 524 pounds with an estimated street value of $419,200. The marijuana was turned over to DEA and the vehicle, a 2009 Jeep, was seized by the Border Patrol.

Late Sunday night, Border Patrol agents assigned to the Wellton Station arrested eight suspected smugglers near mile marker 97 on Interstate 8. Agents seized 12 large backpack-style bundles with a combined weight of 283 pounds. The drugs have an estimated street value of $226,400. Border Patrol agents turned the marijuana and drug smugglers over to the Maricopa County Narcotics Taskforce.

Early Monday morning, Wellton Border Patrol agents arrested five more smugglers near the same area where the group of eight was arrested the night before. Agents seized nine bundles of marijuana weighing 431 pounds with an estimated street value of $344,000. Agents turned the marijuana and smugglers over to the Maricopa Country Sheriff’s Office.

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.

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