From the monthly archives: April 2011

By Chris Furguson
A viewing for Anthony Garcia will be held at Brawley Union High School on May 3 from 6 pm to 9 pm.  This will be followed by funeral services the next day at St. Margaret Mary’s Church in Brawley at 10 am.
The son of Lupe and Rusty Garcia, Anthony was a senior at Brawley Union High School. Anthony was diagnosed with cancer in January of this year after a visit to Pioneers Memorial Hospital and was quickly sent to Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where he stayed until his passing on Sunday.
Tests at the time showed Anthony had cancer in several places, including his stomach, spine and liver.
Soon after his diagnosis, a BBQ fundraiser was held in his name that drew several thousand dollars for his treatment.
More than 40 people were at Anthony’s bedside when he passed on April 24th.  He was scheduled to have a procedure done the previous week, but tests showed that some of his organs had failed.  Two entire waiting rooms were also filled with friends, family and other wellwishers.
Anthony had been part of the 2010 Bell Game winning Brawley Wildcats, earning Imperial Valley League second team honors for the year as an offensive lineman.
In addition to his parents, Anthony leaves behind an older sister and a younger brother and younger sister.

 

Dear Royal Red Cross Revelers:

In the event your Royal Wedding Invitation got lost in the mail and/or your name was not on the list of invited guests that was recently released to the news media please know that you can still have a royal grand time on the morning of the much awaited nuptials …
As I’m most positive that you all have the necessary pedigree, good standing and refined traits that the royals command for this grand occasion … we’re hoping you join us and still help with a worthy cause to keep in step with Kate and Wills bridal registry that will help the many charities they’ve selected …
A royal call down of sorts is being sent out once again to request your help with the icing down and loading of the water for the IV Law Enforcement Memorial that will take place later that the evening …
If you have a free spot of time please do join us ~ Keep in mind this is a work detail and not a ‘watch party’ though I’m sure the News Channels will conveniently be running the entire nuptials and all the related royal fan-faire … black tie and formal duds are not needed ~ leave the tiaras at home!
The Patriculars for both the Water Brigade and the Ceremony follow:
Royal Water Brigade: Location IVSC Training Room Area
Report for duty at 8:30 am ~ bring your work gloves if needed
Grand Favor Request:  If you have an ice chest we can borrow for the evening please bring it along – ensure that it is properly id’d with your information – I will personally ensure it is returned back to you before noon the following day …
I will be bringing Tea & Scones and of course Donuts & Coffee will be available for those of you who prefer the choice of “beef”  =)
IV Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony: Location IC Courthouse ~ if you will be reporting to help with our water stations … Please report to the IVSC @ 4pm … Ceremony begins at 7pm – though we will be staging at 5pm – just before the Private Reception that will be held for the Survivors …

Royal Wedding Trivia and the Red Cross

When the future Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were wed in 1947, the Queensland government sent them 500 cases of tinned pineapples.

 

A gift of canned fruit may seem ridiculous these days, but it was well received in a Britain still struggling from food shortages after World War II.

The United States sent 50,000 parcels, each containing 10 kilograms of food, for the princess to distribute among British families, while the Canadian city of Toronto sent 804 tonnes of food.

 

The Australia Junior Red Cross provided more than 900 kilograms of sweets for children in London.

Hope to see you tomorrow!
 

By
Chris Furguson

Photo by Chris Furguson

The Brawley Parks & Recreation Department held their annual Easter Egg Hunt at Pat Williams Park on the morning of Saturday, April 23, 2011, one day before the traditional holiday.
Hundreds of children, parents, grandparents and other friends and relatives descended onto the park that was used the previous night for a United States Marine Corps training exercise.
As with previous Easter Egg Hunts, the park was split between three areas.  One area was for three and under, one was for ages four and five and the final portion was for ages six through eight.
“It’s the fastest event we have,” said Brawley Parks & Rec. Director Karin Morgan.  “It’s over in five minutes, but it’s one of our most popular events.”
A special appearance by the Easter Bunny also brought many cheers from the children in attendance.
This year’s event was supposed to begin at the signal of a Brawley Fire Truck.  However, when the driver accidentally honked his horn in response to another driver blocking his turn, the hunt was on, albeit a few minutes early.
“This happens so all the time,” said Morgan. “If we start a few minutes late, people are still coming into the park.  We’ll tell them to be here before 10 am, but they still show up as we’re leaving.”
Hard boiled eggs, plastic eggs and candies were strewn around the three areas of the park.  Twelve lucky winners received special Easter baskets from the Parks & Rec Department while a dozen others received a free Happy Meal, which were donated by an unidentified citizen.
Sodas were also available for thirsty parents and children as they were leaving.
Additional egg hunts took place all over the Imperial Valley, including El Centro and Holtville, as well as around the state and country.  This year’s White House Egg Roll in Washington DC featured 14,500 eggs for a record 30,000 parents and children.

 

 

Mike Johnson talks to Dr Gostich at last years Turning Point Thanksgiving Dinner. One of Mike Johnson's Last public appearances, Mike Johnson passed less then a month later.

Turning Point Ministries will be having its Annual Banquet and silent auction fundraiser on Friday May 6 at 6:00 p.m.  at the Old Eucalyptus Schoolhouse in El Centro.  Turning Point Ministries has been helping men and their families overcome life controlling problems for over 17 years here in the Imperial Valley. To date, the ministry has seen over 1000 men come through their doors. This year’s banquet will be a tribute to the late Pastor Mike Johnson, Turning Point’s founder and former director.  The focus will be on the impact he made to so many families in the Imperial Valley and his home city of Holtville. Pastor Mike passed away on December 18, 2010 after battling cancer. Mike always put others ahead of himself and was always willing to help someone in need.  No matter what time it was or how difficult the situation was, he always found a way to help. Mike was bold when it came to asking for donations to help the ministry and did so right up to his passing. Turning Point will continue to make a difference in the lives of so many and needs the support of the community to continue Mike’s legacy. Turning Point’s new Director and Pastor Norm Chandler, who has served as the Men’s Home Supervisor since 2007, has taken over for Mike and is determined to keep this ministry strong. This year’s banquet will feature guest speakers including Gilbert Otero, Imperial County District Attorney, Pamela Littrell, Imperial Valley Probation Department, testimonies from former students from Turning Point and others. The banquet and silent auction tickets are $35.00 and can be purchased by calling the Men’s Home at 356-4307.

 

By Luke Phillips
Holtville’s Community Development Block Grant programs have come  under scrutiny by state auditors, who are looking for a return of funds in some cases. It also points our some discrepancies in city management regarding the Holt Group and its handling of CDBG loans as well as city engineering contracts.
Because of this  Holtville City Manager Laura Fischer  asked the city council Monday to approve a response to the state regarding several findings of an audit performed last year of the city’s  CDBG  programs and to put a moratorium on further CDBG projects, until the matters in question are resolved.
A state auditing team released several findings having to do with the CDBG programs,  including allegations that the city spent grant money on unqualified projects and programs, gave loans to unqualified applicants  and did not keep proper records or consistently monitor CDBG loans.
The city’s response to the findings refutes almost all of the claims.
“Nearly every one of these findings states that we followed our existing procedures, but our procedures and policies and guidelines need to be updated for their program requirements,”

Fischer told the council. “That takes staff time, or consultant time and money that we don’t have for this year’s budget.”
One of the findings listed in the audit summary alleges that $16,026 in CDBG funds were spent on unapproved city projects. Fischer says the money was spent on improvements to the city pool and Samaha Park and that the city isn’t refuting the claim, but doesn’t necessarily agree with it.
“It’s something that we’re not going to spend the time and energy refuting,” Fischer said. “But it’s questionable.”
Two of the findings had to do with the city’s HOME loan program for low-income families. The state alleges that one recipient of loan money was not eligible because they didn’t meet the low-income requirements and wants the city to repay the loan in the amount of $91,749. The city is refuting the claim and Fischer maintains that income calculations performed by city staff are accurate.
“We do not believe there is a reason for us to repay that money,” Fischer said. “We believe that they have not completed their audit appropriately and that the question that they have on the income for this family is incomplete. Our Calculations are correct.”
The city is also accused of not properly verifying the low-income status of another loan recipient, which they are also refuting.
“We believe that we have verified income appropriately,” Fischer said.
A conflict of interest was cited due to the fact that the grandmother of former Holtville mayor Bianca Padilla was approved for a loan from the city.
Fischer says state rules on conflict of interest were followed and don’t mention family members of elected officials.
“This is a finding that we’re adamant about refuting,” Fischer said and City Attorney Steve Walker agreed.
Several of the findings also had to do with conflicts of interest with the Holt Group, an engineering firm contracted by the city for various services, and City Engineer Jack Holt. The audit claims an organizational conflict of interest exists  because the city pays the Holt Group for both contract services and also to oversee CDGB projects. The city also refutes this claim.
“As our city engineer, the Holt Group takes care of engineering and planning services and they do not sit on the loan committee,” Fischer said. “They provide the material to the committee, but they are not a voting member on this loan committee and although they do the monitoring for our CDBG and HOME loans, they do not take any action or give any direction to city staff or to city council regarding any of your decision making process.”
Another finding states that when the city requested bids for someone to oversee the CDBG programs, the Holt Group were the only bidders to reply. State rules say that if only one bidder responds, the city must get approval from the state before moving forward with the contract, something that Fischer says she wasn’t aware of.
“Frankly I did not realize that if I only have one respondent that I have to have state approval to do that,” she said. “So that’s an oversight on my part. Now we know.”
The state is also alleging that there were not adequate safeguards in place to make sure grant funds paid to the Holt Group were paid at the contract rate and used for authorized purposes. Fischer says her department went back and performed an audit of funds paid to the Holt Group, and found some mistakes, but she says they came out in the city’s favor.
“Our financial management can and should be improved and we don’t have resources to improve the policies, but we realize that we need to do a better job of reviewing the hourly rates per contract, ” Fischer said.
The city’s senior and youth programs were also cited for not being at least 50 percent low-income, something that Fischer says the programs were never meant to be.
“The programs were not intended to be income-restrictive,” she said. “It’s not a part of the way the program was written and approved by the state. So they approved the program and then they’re holding us to different standards during the audit.”
The city will also be paying back $700 in administrative costs that were billed after one of the CDBG programs ended, which Fischer said was “simply a timing error”.
Most of the findings in the audit summary were labeled as Irresolvable Monitoring Findings, which means that the state is not asking for any further action from the city.
Fischer says the audit findings are likely the result of shoddy record-keeping in the past.
“It came from the fact that for many years we did not monitor our loans at all and now that we’ve started monitoring our loans and we started reporting our findings we’re drawing a lot of attention to our past mistakes by correcting them,” she said. “This is one of the repercussions of doing that.”
The city council voted unanimously to approve the response to the state audit and will be awaiting response from the state regarding the items they are refuting.
“When they ask us to return the money and we say no, they’ll probably respond to that and then it will be brought back before you again,” Fischer said.

 
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