New Rule Before School! Whooping Cough Vaccine Now Required for 7th-12th Grade Students

[El Centro/Imperial County] –  The Imperial County Public Health Department reminded the community of the California Department of Public Health’s requirement that beginning July 1, 2011, all students entering grades 7-12 must provide proof of having immunization against whooping cough (‘Tdap’) before starting school. In light of California’s recent whooping cough (also known as pertussis) epidemic, there is no reason to wait for the new school year.

Special Weather Statement for Imperial County, CA

Issued by The National Weather Service
Phoenix, AZ
2:25 am PST, Wed., Feb. 16, 2011

… A MAJOR CHANGE TOWARD COOL AND UNSETTLED WEATHER THIS WEEKEND…

A STRONG PACIFIC STORM IS FORECAST TO MOVE INTO THE REGION THIS WEEKEND. A COLD FRONT WILL APPROACH LATE FRIDAY NIGHT… WITH THE BEST CHANCE RAIN FORECAST TO DEVELOP ACROSS MUCH OF SOUTHEAST CALIFORNIA SATURDAY MORNING. UP TO AN INCH OF RAIN IS POSSIBLE OVER THE HIGHER TERRAIN OF JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK… WITH BETWEEN 1/4 AND 1/2 INCH POSSIBLE ON THE DESERTS. A CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS WITH STRONG WINDS ARE POSSIBLE SATURDAY.

Dust Storm Warning for Imperial County, CA

Issued by The National Weather Service
Phoenix, AZ
10:27 am PST, Wed., Feb. 16, 2011

… DUST STORM WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 3 PM PST THIS AFTERNOON… … WIND ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM PST THIS EVENING…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PHOENIX HAS ISSUED A DUST STORM WARNING… WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 3 PM PST THIS AFTERNOON. A WIND ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM PST THIS EVENING.

Hostile Crowd Demands Holtville Utility Tax Withdrawal

By Luke Phillips
At the Holtville City Council’s meeting Monday, a group of local residents gathered for the third meeting in a row to demand the elimination of the city’s 5 percent utility user tax.
Holtville resident and former police chief Clifford King returned to the podium once again to ask why the issue of the utility tax was not on the agenda.
“You better start working with the public to end this,” King told the council. “You better work with us to end it or you’re going to lose it all at one time. If you want an election then let’s do it, but quit trying to ignore it.”
After several calls from the public at a meeting last month, the council directed City Manager Laura Fischer to organize a finance committee meeting to look at the issue, but some on the council felt that the meeting, which also took place Monday night, was not open enough and shouldn’t have been held behind closed doors.
“It was not a public meeting and I was pretty troubled by that,” council member Mike Goodsell said. “I think the finance committee meeting would have gone a lot differently if the public had been allowed to attend. We need to make every effort to be transparent on this issue.”
After the finance committee meeting Goodsell also said that he’d be open to lower the tax by very small increments.
Jerry Brittsan, who has been working to repeal the utility tax, and Mayor David Bradshaw both said that they agree with Goodsell that the process should be transparent and the tax should be lowered incrementally. Council member Colleen Ludwig said that the council doesn’t “have any desire to hide anything. We need to review it and see what can be done.”
Local business owner Shayne Brady who has expressed his opinion on the tax at several past council meetings returned Monday with a question for city attorney Steve Walker. Brady has accused the city of being unfriendly to businesses in Holtville and asked Walker if the city had ever been sued by the state for not following mandates that require businesses to make expensive improvements.
Walker told Brady that he couldn’t remember if this had ever happened in the city.
“My memory is not what it once was,” Walker said. “My recollection is kind of hazy.”
Brady went on to blast the council once again for their direction of the city manager and planner.
“We have an antagonistic business attitude here,” Brady said. “You guys just don’t understand business friendly. I’m going to get re-zoned because these two don’t like their toes stepped on.”
Brady pointed out Fischer and City Planner Justina Arce and was called out by the mayor for making a personal attack, something that is not allowed at council meetings.
“You guys are going to get the utility tax taken away,” Brady said. “Fire, police, sewer and water, that’s all you guys should be responsible for. You’re building all these new parks with this grant money, but the city doesn’t have the money to pay for the maintenance. It’s going to be on the back of the residents.”
Brady once again received a round of applause from those in attendance, but council member Ludwig took the comments personally.
“I’m not even going to respond to you allegations,” Ludwig said. “They’re so far out there. You need to do some research.”

64th Annual Carrot Festival Ends With A Flourish

By
Luke Phillips
The 64th Annual Holtville Carrot Festival has come and gone and local business Highline Cooling, along with newcomers Imagine Schools of Imperial Valley came out the big winners.
Holtville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dana Gularte said that the festival was one of the best yet.
“It was awesome,” Gularte said. “Our vendors in the park were very happy. People were actually buying. So I’m happy that they’re happy. And we had one of the best parades we’ve ever had.”
Highline Cooling took home two trophies for their entry in the Carrot Parade which included a tractor packed with produce arranged in colorful patterns, complete with a working Ferris Wheel with stuffed bunny riders. The judges awarded the entry the Best Commercial Float trophy as well as the Best Use of Theme trophy.
The Highline Cooling float is a long-time tradition in the Carrot Parade as is created each year by Highline Cooling employee Rusty Payne.  At the end of the parade each year the float is disassembled and festival-goers are allowed to take home as much fresh produce as they want.
The parade’s big winner this year was first-time parade entry Imagine Schools of Imperial Valley. The school won for Best Youth Float and the school’s drill team not only won the trophy for Best Elementary School Drill Team, but also took home the parade’s coveted Sweepstakes Trophy.
The Southwest Eagles won first place for High School Drill Team and JFK Middle School won second place.
The Southwest High School Eagles Marching band won the first place trophy in the bands category and also the Band Sweepstakes Trophy with their performance of the song ‘Rock and Roll,’ also known as ‘The Hey Song’. The Eagles wowed the judges with their colorful costumes and jazzy dance moves. The Pride of Imperial Tiger Marching Band and the Calexico High School Mighty Bulldog band took second and third place respectively.