From the monthly archives: March 2011

Girl Scouts in Imperial Valley, their leaders and parents will enjoy a day of hands-on outdoor fun and exploration at High Adventure 2011 on Saturday, March 26, at Sunbeam Lake in Seeley. Adventure activities include archery, rock climbing, outdoor cooking and fishing.
“High Adventure 2011 will help girls gain confidence by challenging themselves both mentally and physically as they conquer each activity,” said Kay Ann Fagan-Hodges, Imperial Valley Girl Scouts volunteer event coordinator.
After a day of high adventure, the girls will pledge to be “forever green,” part of their 100th anniversary campaign. Part of their pledge will be to respect the natural resources they spent the day enjoying. They will also pledge to go home and replace an incandescent light bulb with an energy-efficient one. To help kick-off her pledge, IID will give each girl a compact fluorescent light bulb.
According to Girl Scouts of the USA, if three million Girl Scouts replaced an incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR® qualified light bulb, more than 1.3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide would be saved each year.
“It’s important we empower our youth to grow up with respect and appreciation for our natural resources,” said Sabrina Barber, IID assistant energy manager. “Events such as these encourage conservation habits and sustainable practices.”
For more information about Girl Scouts San Diego, please visit www.sdgirlscouts.org.
About IID: As the third largest public power provider in California, IID reliably serves energy to approximately 146,000 customers in Imperial County and parts of Riverside and San Diego counties. Controlling over 1,000 megawatts of energy, IID’s diverse portfolio includes hydro, nuclear, natural gas, coal solar and biomass resources.
About Girl Scouts: Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts USA is the world’s premiere leadership organization for girls. It provides an accepting, nurturing environment where girls can develop leadership skills, cultivate lifelong friendships, serve their communities and grow through new and exciting experiences. All girls ages 5-17 of every racial, ethnic, socioeconomic or religious background are welcome. Girl Scouts is a non-profit organization that serves more than 3.8 million members.

 

IMPERIAL, Calif. – U.S. Border Patrol agents from the El Centro Sector recently rescued a distressed man in the desert and seized more than $1.5 million in narcotics.

The rescue occurred Friday at approximately 5:40 a.m., when Border Patrol agents assigned to the El Centro station located an injured man approximately 20 miles west of Calexico, Calif. The 39-year-old Mexican citizen claimed to have been stranded in the desert with a broken leg for several days. Border Patrol agents provided immediate care for the individual and contacted Emergency Medical Services. The man was transported to the El Centro Regional Medical Center for further treatment of his injuries. Agents later determined that the man had injured himself while making an illegal entry into the United States from Mexico.

Later that night at approximately 9:30 p.m., agents assigned to the Indio station encountered a red Toyota 4-Runner alongside the road near the Highway 86 Checkpoint. Agents became suspicious after interviewing the driver and requested that a canine team conduct a cursory inspection of the vehicle. The canine team alerted to the 4-runner and a thorough search resulted in the discovery of over 149 pounds of marijuana concealed within several non-factory compartments. The value of the marijuana is estimated at almost $120,000. The driver — a 20-year-old male U.S. citizen — was arrested and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration along with the vehicle and narcotics.

The following day, at approximately 5:40 a.m., Border Patrol agents encountered a white Ford Windstar at the Highway 86 Checkpoint. While in secondary inspection, a canine team performed a cursory inspection of the vehicle which resulted in a canine alert. After a thorough search of the vehicle, agents discovered over 42 pounds of cocaine hidden inside several non-factory compartments. The value of cocaine is estimated at nearly $1.4 million. The driver – a 28-year-old male U.S. citizen — was arrested and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration along with the vehicle and narcotics.

 

IMPERIAL VALLEY – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced  the addition of four Department of Justice special agents to a multi-agency task force in Imperial County that targets the activities of transnational gangs, from street level crime to major international conspiracies.

“Violent gangs don’t respect borders any more than they respect the law,” Attorney General Harris said, “but the collaborative efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have already made great strides in combating gang-related crimes along the border. My office is committed to doing whatever it takes to protect the citizens of California from gang violence and drug-running.”

Organized gangs represent a serious public safety threat in California and their crimes – from drug dealing to gun violence to premeditated murder – reverberate throughout the state.

Attorney General Harris and more than 20 other state leaders came together last week to discuss border violence and new opportunities to collaborate in the fight against drug gangs. The group included members of the law enforcement community, federal and state legislators, elected district attorneys, a US attorney, and a representative from the California Department of Corrections.

Along with a tour of the California-Mexico border and a drug smuggling tunnel, the group convened at the Law Enforcement Coordination Center in the town of Imperial. Founded in 1994 in a mobile home trailer, the Center today occupies a 20,000-square-foot facility staffed by more than 100 representatives of local, state and federal agencies.

The chair of the task force, Imperial County District Attorney Gilbert Otero, hosted the tour and roundtable discussion.

The attorney general tapped four Department of Justice agents to join the task force, including Special Agent Supervisor Javier Salaiz. Special Agent Salaiz, an expert on border and transnational gang issues, led the recent investigation into a murder-for-hire plot orchestrated by a Tijuana drug cartel. The would-be victims – five family members – were said to have owed money to the drug cartel. The individuals who arranged the foiled murder-for-hire plot were arrested last month in Palmdale.

 

 

Counselors in the Calexico Unified School District received walking papers (pink slips) this past week. Of the eleven district funded counselors, seven are slated to be terminated at the end of the school year. This will have immediate and long range effects on students, families, teachers, school administration and district income.

            Many have expressed concerns about the looming layoffs. Jim Shinn, president of the local counselor association, Imperial Valley Counselor’s Roundtable (IVCR) , shared at a recent board meeting and IVCR meetings, not only concerns about Calexico cuts, but those that were slated to occur in the Central Union High School District. Mr. Shinn is also the director of the Son-Shine Counseling Center, in El Centro, which has four part-time therapists. He has done private counseling for the past 23 years in Imperial Valley. He stated that most families have no health insurance or funds  to pay for  counseling. With the high unemployment and levels of poverty, even less families these days can afford to pay for outpatient counseling for school-agechildren.

            The immediate result of cutting counselors is that most students in Imperial Valley will not be able to see a counselor. At one Calexico school site, there are over 900 students and if the two counselors are cut to one, there will not be enough time to see all students. The recommendation of the American School Counseling Association and professional standards is a ratio of one counselor to 300 students. Less students will be getting help, even at a time when family and environmental stressors are increasing.

            Less counseling and large class sizes are a formula for student problems in discipline. Mr. Shinn shared data that group counseling, just one service that will be reduced, has been shown to increase test scores and decrease aggressive behavior among the highest risk students. Schools will become less safe as a result of a reduction in counselors. Most parents are aware that counselors make class schedules and help students get ready for graduation. Parents and the community are not aware of all the personal counseling that helps students cope with divorce, substance abuse, depression and peer difficulties. Reducing counselors increases student suffering.

            Another immediate impact will be a decrease in student attendance. School districts are reimbursed by the state based on student attendance. If there is less caring at school, students will care less about coming to school. It is difficult for a teacher with 30-35 students in the class to give adequate attention to student under stress. “Students don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” stated Shinn. Cutbacks impact the students with weak academic skills more since the classroom experience is more challenging and frustrating for them.

            Schools will soon be less safe and lose much needed revenues. There will be later societal costs with increases in the drop-out rate, teen pregnancy and academic under-achievement. Education, with its instability, and less stable students, will become even less attractive for gifted college graduates embarking on careers.

            There may be some budget improvements, but until then, it is important for parents and other school stakeholders to express their concerns about the staff changes affecting student’s academic and mental health. Counselors perform unique roles in schools. It was stated “In the discussion of reducing health care costs, no one is suggesting taking doctors out of hospital emergency rooms. When students are in crisis, no one else has the training to help with these critical student needs.

 

By Mario Conde

The County Board of Supervisors welcomed Congressman Bob Filner this past Tuesday where he gave a report on the status of the budget and the port of entry.

U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, D-Chula Vista, announced last week in a press release that the Senate voted 87-13 to approve a bill that cuts $84 million in funding for Calexico Land Port-of-Entry improvements. The legislation was signed by the President.

“While we continue to lose an estimated billion dollars in commerce due to inefficiency at our borders, this short-sighted budget undermines the progress we were making to create jobs and shorten wait times. The House Republicans’ no-jobs agenda takes us back to square-one,” Congressman Bob Filner said.

The 16 lane new port-of-entry was going to be built in order to diminish border waits times entering the U.S. According to Filner, the port of entry funding will have to be fought for next budget cycle and will have to compete against other projects. County Board Chairman Jack Terrazas asked Filner if there was still a chance to save funding for the new port-of-entry. The Congressman said that the funding is dead since the cuts have been signed by the president in order to save $2 billion a week. Terrazas said that cutting funding was a mistake since a new modern port-of-entry will improve security at the border and improve the local economy.

Filner said he will continue to fight for the GSA funding and for its completion.

In other items, the board approved an agreement with Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Programs for the provisions of Transitional Housing Placement-Plus Program in the amount not to exceed of $102,387. James Semmes, Director of Social Services, said that his department has been allocated funding to provide transitional housing and supportive services to former probation/foster youth who are actively participating in the independent living program services. The Transitional housing placement-Plus was established by the state legislature. Each year in California 4, 200 young adults are supported by this program to find affordable housing and comprehensive support services for up to 24 months help former foster care youth ages 18 to 24.

The Board also approved the formation of the 2011 redistricting Advisory Committee Nominations per district and the members are Roberto Moreno, Jose Landeros, Geoff Dale, Sal Ortiz, and Gustavo Galindo. The advisory board will conduct public hearings in each Supervisorial District and solicit public input. The advisory board will give the final recommendations to the board in July so that the County can approve the final map by November 2011.

 
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