From the daily archives: Wednesday, July 7, 2010

By Chris Furguson
The Brawley City Council heard alternatives to the proposed Brawley Fire Substation #2 from Chief Frank Contreras at their meeting on July 6, 2010.
The council also repeated their pledge to build something at the Jones and Eastern location near the Brawley Municipal Airport whether or not a grant filed in June was approved or not.
Contreras’s presentation gave several alternatives and issues surrounding most of those alternatives.
Previous ideas included an ambulance stationed near the Clinicas office on Main street, asking Union Pacific for advanced notice, renting a hangar at the airport and renting and renovating an existing building
Other issues involve recent renovations that Union Pacific made to the railway in town which allow the trains to speed at close to 50 mph instead of the former 10 mph.
Contreras also said that when the Brawley Bypass was completed, the fastest way to reach the east side of Brawley would be to access the bypass and exit onto Best Road.  This would turn a possible 3-4 minute response into one reaching nine minutes or more.
The chief recommended that the council build the proposed building, but that an alternative would be a temporary metal structure.
“We’ve been talking about this for years,” said Contreras.  “This is the closest we’ve ever come to getting something built”
Currently, the city has close to $1.9 million set aside for the project.  The grant application in June would, on September 1, provide an additional $650,000 to the project.
If the grant is not approved, then a $1 million pre-fabricated metal building would be the most likely alternative to the designed project.


By Luke Phillips
Holtville resident Mary Kiser wants to light up Holt Park and the lives of local cancer patients at the same time.
Kiser is on a personal mission to sell enough luminarias (a candle inside a paper bag) to completely surround the park, with all the proceeds going to the Cancer Resource Center of the Desert, a local non-profit that provides resources for cancer patients.
Kiser says she got the idea after seeing luminarias at Calexico’s Relay for Life event.
“There’s something about having a name on a white paper bag with a candle lit that says this is in memory or in honor that does something special to your heart,” Kiser said. “It’s very special.”
If everything goes as planned, the luminarias surrounding Holt Park will be lit on the evening of October 8th to coincide with Holtville High School’s first home football game of the season.
Kiser says she will be out on the town selling luminarias starting this week.
“I’m already out recruiting people,” Kiser said. “I think once we do it, a lot of people from Holtville will come out. I’m really hoping to do the whole park, that’s my main goal.”
Diana Peacher, CEO of the Cancer Resource Center of the Desert, Inc., says that the organization depends upon donations from the public to keep their doors open.
“We’re a unique service,” Peacher said. “We’re not supported by federal funds. Support comes almost entirely from the Imperial Valley community. It’s how we keep our doors open.”
Peacher says that the organization has helped more than 1,000 cancer patients in the Imperial Valley so far, providing resources such as social services, information, and education about diagnosis, treatment and more.
“We look at what other issues or barriers these people might be facing and how we can mitigate that for them,” she said.
Peacher says the organization has also helped patients with their monetary needs by providing gas cards, hotel stays and money to help pay for treatments that insurance doesn’t totally cover.
“Some of these people are paying up to $10,000 a month just for chemo,” she said. “If you can’t afford that, what are you going to do? Our goal is to find the resources for these people.”
The luminarias, which can be a tribute to a loved one with cancer, or just a show of support, can be purchased for a $5 donation by calling Mary Kiser at (760) 356-2959, or (760) 791-5306.
“I want to try to light up Holt Park,” Kiser said. “And all this money is going to stay right here in the Imperial Valley.”


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today issued the following statement in response to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) decision on the Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing (PACE) program.

“I am deeply disappointed that the Federal Housing Finance Agency has chosen not to support a federal stimulus program that would make it cheaper for Californians to invest in energy efficiency. This decision not only puts at risk millions of dollars of Recovery Act funds but sends a message to local governments and private businesses that energy independence is not a priority. I have directed the California Energy Commission to do everything possible so that we do not miss out on an opportunity to invest in home energy retrofits, which will create jobs, provide energy savings and benefit the environment.”

The FHFA’s bureaucratic breakdown threatens one of California’s most promising new engines of job creation in this struggling economy.  Statewide, approximately $50 million in America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) funds could leverage more than $400 million in both local and private funds.  FHFA’s action threatens thousands of new sustainable jobs in California, especially in the hard-hit construction industry, while denying homeowners the opportunity to reduce monthly energy costs and add equity to their homes.

PACE is not a loan, but instead is built on traditional tax assessments, which have been managed by local governments for over 100 years. PACE was not designed to increase the risk to homeowners, lenders or the financial system, but instead was created with stringent operating rules, as well as with conservative and rigorous financial criteria, to ensure a net positive benefit to all parties. PACE has clear benefits to the community and the public at large. Energy savings of 40 percent or more are possible, and, as California has demonstrated, reducing energy consumption leads to real savings for all energy consumers and clear benefits to our environment and energy security.

Governor Schwarzenegger created the California Recovery Task Force to track the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding coming into the state; work with President Barack Obama’s administration; help cities, counties, non-profits, and others access the available funding; ensure that the funding funneled through the state is spent efficiently and effectively; and maintain a Web site ( that is frequently and thoroughly updated for Californians to be able to track the stimulus dollars.


CBP officers in El Paso Discover Drugs Hidden in Washing Machine;Overall Holiday Weekend Enforcement Activity Heavy

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas, and New Mexico identified and stopped more than 150 violations during the holiday weekend. CBP officers seized drugs, identified immigration violations, apprehended fugitives, and confiscated prohibited agriculture items between Friday and Monday.

On of the more unusual seizures occurred Friday at the Bridge of the Americas when CBP officers discovered 66 pounds of marijuana hidden in a washing machine. The seizure began while CBP officers were examining vehicles that were waiting to approach the primary inspection station at the busy border crossing. CBP officers began inspecting a 1984 Ford Ranger that was transporting a new washer in a cardboard box and decided the vehicle needed additional scrutiny. CBP officers initiated an intensive exam of the washer and found that numerous marijuana-filled bundles were concealed inside the appliance.

CBP officers discovered bundles of marijuana hidden inside a new  clothes washer. The bust was made at the El Paso port of entry on July  2, 2010.

“Drug smugglers are constantly changing their methods and practices. What doesn’t change is the vigilance of the CBP officer safeguarding our border,” said William Molaski, CBP El Paso port director. “While much of the nation was celebrating the nation’s independence CBP officers were hard at work making sure the American public could do so safely and without concern.”

CBP officers removed a total of 66 bundles from the washer. The marijuana weighed 66 pounds. CBP officers arrested the driver of the truck, 50-year-old Sergio Soriano Dominguez of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He was turned over to the custody of the El Paso Police Department and booked into the El Paso County jail where he is currently detained. Area CBP officers made a total of six drug seizures during the holiday weekend seizing 427 pounds of marijuana in the process.

During the previous four days, area CBP officers uncovered 121 immigration violations. Intended immigrants made up the largest group of violators. A total of 48 were identified through thorough document exams. In these cases, individuals will use a legally issued border-crossing card (laser visa) to live or work in the U.S., which is not authorized. Violators generally lose their documents and are returned to Mexico.

CBP officers this week also identified 14 imposters while performing inspections at area ports. Imposters generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it as their own. An additional 15 people attempted to make illegal entry at area crossing points by making false claims to U.S. citizenship. CBP officers also recorded 44 cases of people attempting to enter with counterfeit or altered documents, visa overstay violations and people who had entered the country without inspection.

Area CBP officers made eight seizures of prohibited food and agricultural items this weekend, resulting in $2,150 in fines being assessed. Prohibited items seized this week included pork lard, apples, oranges, avocados, mangoes, plums, apricots, guavas, and live plants.

CBP officers this weekend also identified 15 people who were being sought by various law enforcement agencies, recorded two export violations, seized smuggled ammunition, and recovered one stolen vehicle. While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.

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.


Happy Fourth of July, Be Counted For Upcoming Vote

I’m just getting over an excellent Fourth of July weekend that was spent with family and friends. It was as all American as you could get. there was baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and even Chevrolet in the mix. My ball team lost, but I still had a good time with my daughter and her friend. Something we don’t get to do very often. Then there was the fireworks after the game that filled the sky for all of 20 minutes with booms, crackles, pops, lightning bolts and bombs. It was enough to make the quietest among us stand up and cheer. We hope you had a chance to take in a fireworks show in the Valley or elsewhere around the country. It’s the best and only way to bring Independence Day to close.
I EVEN GOT TO TRY OUT MY NEW BARBECUE  that my wife of 43 years gave me on out anniversary. Everything tastes better on the grill, including bratwurst and steak, of course.
There’s a magazine from Rachel  Ray that’s devoted exclusively to grilling. I learned that grilling is more than tossing a piece of meat on a grill. You have to have marinade and the right meat and the right fire and all the things I didn’t have.
Seems you can use anything you want for marinade, wheat beer to apple sauce. They’re all designed to bring out more flavor  in the meat. After reading through these recipes and finding some tips on how to get the best cuts of meat at a reasonable price, I may be mixing and stirring before I start grilling. And maybe I can flip burgers with the best of them. There’s even a suggestion on how to flip burgers over your shoulder and have them land on the grill. I can hardly wait to try that one. It’s summer time and it’s going to be a great year for eating!
(The following is pulled from our special vault of columns from the year 2007.)
WE READ WITH  INTEREST A PIECE ON CALIFORNIA  MOTOR LAWS that points up the fault of government and the Big Brother mentality that goes along with it.
It concerned people smoking in their cars with children in the vehicle. Really!!
Now California wants to tell smokers they can’t smoke in their own cars!! Who thought this lame-brained idea for a law up? Probably a legislator with too much time on his hands who wanted some free publicity.
What better way to get it than to bash smokers once again. After all, smoker bashing is a national pastime for politicians. It’s a class of people who don’t fight back and it makes the politician look as though he is actually doing something to benefit someone other than large corporations. (I think big tobacco is a large corporation, isn’t it?
I quit smoking a long time ago, so it doesn’t affect me. But what bothers me is the casualness that the people in power use to dig into our personal lives. Where in any constitution does it say they can tell us where to smoke?
Politicians like to bully people, especially those who can’t, or don’t, fight back. That’s been smokers for the last couple of decades.
Other countries have smokers. They smoke wherever they want. In Mexico, they smoke on street corners, smoke in public buildings, even smoke in their own cars!  These are the people that the pools are trying to keep out of this country. I guess they have too many  freedoms and they are afraid they may spread their subversive ideas to the American people.
MY POINT IN ALL THIS is to tell you your government continues to bully you if you let it, no matter what their surface intentions are. The only way to stop a bully is to stand up to him and fight back.
That’s why it is imperative that people keep an eye on their leaders and question what it is they are doing. Otherwise, you could easily find yourself without the least bit of freedom and the government telling you that you have it.
I say fight back smokers. Fight back free speech users. Fight back fireworks exploders. Fight back when you are treated unfairly. It’s the only way government gets the message. Sometimes they don’t like it, but they do eventually get it.
IS IT MY IMAGINATION OR is there a definite lack of leadership on city councils of late? Where are the orators and chest thumpers of days gone by? Are all council members content to sit back and let the city manager and city staff dictate what the city does?
Bring back a little of the give and take that government is supposed to be about. Having spelled out in cut and dried fashion may be efficient, but it defeats the purpose of free and open government.
Insist that your leaders let  you know what they are thinking, even if it is a controversial issue.
If you aren’t getting that, then vote them out the next time they are up for election. It’s your government, not there’s and not the city staff members’ either. Somebody has  to answer. Make them hear you.
A final note from 2010: Holtville will have an election in November and the filing for that election opens soon. Currently, we have three council members who weren’t elected by anybody. Don’t add to that total. Stand up and be counted.

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