From the daily archives: Thursday, August 25, 2011

To The Editor:
I would like to thank Mr. Luke Phillips for his editorial on the City’s Animal Care Program (Holtville Tribune, Aug. 19, 2011). This editorial provides an opportunity to increase public awareness by reviewing the history, fiscal limitations and key provisions of Holtville’s animal care program.
Holtville’s animal care program dates back nearly a century. City of Holtville Ordinance No.58 was enacted on January 3, 1913. Drafted in direct response to public health concerns about rabies, the Ordinance ordained the “Muzzling of Dogs Within the City of Holtville and Providing for the Disposal of all Dogs Not so Muzzled.” The law stated that “the Marshall of the City of Holtville was hereby authorized to kill and dispose of all dogs running at large without muzzles, where in his judgment the same would appear to be for the immediate safety of the public…”. While this may seem harsh given today’s standards, this Ordinance indicates that dogs have been a public health issue in the city since the city was incorporated.
Animal control regulations were last updated by Ordinance No. 267, which was enacted on November 13, 1961. Provisions of this ordinance which remain in effect today required the annual vaccination, and annual licensing, and strictly limited the maximum number of animals per household. The ordinance also provided for the impounding of loose dogs (those found running at large) and their destruction, after a period of 72 hours, if not redeemed by their owner.
Ordinance No. 267 included an annual quarantine of dogs and cats, between January 16 and March 1 of each year, for the express purpose of containing rabies. Strict penalties for violating this ordinance included a $500 fine or imprisonment in the City Jail for a period not to exceed six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. The Ordinance also referenced an agreement between the City and the County of Imperial under which the County of Imperial Animal Control Office enforced the animal code.
So where does that leave Holtville today? Contrary to popular opinion, the City does not have a full time employee devoted animal care.  The City has historically been reactive with regards to animal care. One staff member from the City’s streets and water division performs animal care on a part-time, on-call basis, in addition to their regular assigned duties.
Fiscal Impacts
For Fiscal Year 2011-12, the City has allocated $7,800 for its animal care program. The salary is paid equally from water and sewer revenues. Of this $7,800, a total of $4,800 is allocated to the Humane Society for long term care, adoption and disposal of unclaimed animals. The City further allocated $6,000 in Fiscal Year 2011-12 to participate in a study of regional animal care needs.
As of August 2011, seventy (70) dog licenses have been issued to date. Licenses are issued for $5 per dog generating $350 in annual revenue.
Therefore, in the area of Animal Care, expenditures exceed revenue. While it would be desirable to have a full time City employee devoted solely to animal care, the City lacks the financial resources to do so at this time.
So what are Holtville’s animal care laws and how do they affect me? Many Holtville residents are unaware of the laws pertaining to animal care.
1.    There is a strict limitation on the number of dogs and cats allowed per household.  A maximum of three (3) dogs over age of four months of age are permitted in any one residence. Similarly, a maximum of three (3) cats over the age of four months of age are allowed in any one residence.
2.    Licenses are required for all dogs. It is against the law for any person to have a dog without first having obtained a license.
3.    Rabies vaccinations are required. Before obtaining a dog license, a certificate of rabies vaccination is required.
4.    Loose dogs are prohibited. Dogs found running at large may be impounded.
5.    Noisy animals are a public nuisance. Habitually Barking dogs are prohibited.
6.    Dogs must be kept on leash and under control.
7.    Additional regulations pertain to the keeping of animals, rabbits, hamsters and fowl.
To report a loose, abandoned or dangerous animal, noisy animals or habitual barking dog, or any other potential animal nuisance issues please call 760-356-2991. Your confidentiality will be respected.
To learn more about the City’s regulations governing animal care, please consult the Holtville Municipal Code online at
If you would like to speak to me directly regarding this or any issue, please feel free to contact me directly at 760.356.4574.
Alex Meyerhoff, City Manager


By Gene Carl
  The premier of the 2011 Score Baja 500 race video was shown Saturday night, August 20th, at Hot Rods & Beer in Holtville.
Several hundred people attended the event including many who took part in the race. Trucks that take part in desert racing were on display in the parking as well as vendors selling Holtville t-shirts, off-road truck accessories and South African wine. John Prock, owner of Hot Rods & Beer, said, “What we’re trying to do is bring what goes on down south of the border up north a little and motivate people to go to the races.” People at the event bought raffle tickets to raise money for Emanuel Lucero, a popular Holtville student. The money went to help pay for his hospitalization and chemotherapy. Robert Caloca was at the event representing Grupo Rescate Aguiluchos, a non-profit search and rescue organization that patrols from the border to San Felipe helping people who are lost or involved in off-road accidents. They work for free and depend on donations to survive. Sergio Soto from Imperial Dunes was there to promote Rider ID’s. These are emergency kits which go on the handlebars of bikes. In case of an emergency, the Rider ID has emergency information to help first responders. If a rider is hurt and unconscious, the Rider ID shows their full name, their GPS location where they’re camping, if they have any allergies, etc. Several Tecate girls were also there including Belinda Montoyo and Denice Lopez. They posed for pictures with many people who came out to see the movie.

Ben Abatti III and Branden Abatti talked about the famous Abatti “Hay Hauler” off-road truck. The Hay Hauler was originally a farm truck that hauled hay. It was turned into a racer and became Robbie Gordon’s first race truck. It has competed in the Baja 500 and Baja 1000. Ed Bevins, an importer of exquisite wines from South Africa introduced their De Zoeteinbal, Chase and Pinotage wines which will soon be available in the area. He explained the temperature that wines should be stored out as well as the advantage of storing wine in oak barrels versus stainless steel. Oak barrels can only be used three or four times by a vineyard but gives the wine more flavor and body. The local band Stiletto, a classic 80’s rock band, provided entertainment after the Baja 500 movie was shown.

The 43rd Tecate Score Baja 500 was the first week of June this year and over 250 entries competed in pro and sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and atvs. Most of the world’s best desert racers take part in the event each year. The race is actually 454 miles long. All vehicles had a 23 hour time limit from the time each start to become an official finisher, but the fastest vehicles finished in about 9 hours. Some of the trucks had over 800 horsepower engines. In addition to season class point championships, the racers also compete for part of the nearly $400,000 in cash purse and contingency postings each race.
Entry fees varied between $600 and $900 per vehicle. Entries from 30 US states, from Hawaii to New York as well as the Territory of Guam competed this year.


By Luke Phillips
   From Kindergarteners to High School students, young people in Holtville will be headed back to school next week and they’ll have a couple of big changes waiting for them.
According to a press release from the Holtville Unified School District there are a few changes that students need to be aware of this year including new graduation requirements, several construction projects and campus upgrades and changes to the schools’ food service programs.
The school board has voted this year to add community service to the list of graduation requirements.
“We believe that our students must be well-rounded when they leave our high school and being involved in the community is of vital importance,” reads the press release.
Students will have an opportunity to complete the requirement on campus, but also have the option of serving off campus. The school will be working with local service clubs to create opportunities for students.
Students will be required to complete community service or a service project of 45 hours. Up to 20 per year can be applied to the requirement and a minimum of 15 hours is encouraged. Credit will not be applied unless the service project is approved by the principal and paid positions can’t be counted as credit.
The graduating class of 2012 will be exempt from the new requirements. The class of 2013 will be required to complete 15 hours of service, the class of 2014 will be required to complete 30 hours of service and the classes of 2015 and beyond will be required to complete the full 45 hours of service.
The school district was recently awarded a $1,500,000 bond from the Quality School Construction Bond program which will be used to fund four new campus upgrades this year.
First the school’s football, softball and baseball fields will all get new lighting. School officials expected the project to be finished by the beginning of the school year, but they have pushed that date back and now say the lights will be ready for the second game of football season on September 9th.  The lights are expected to cost an estimated $180,000, not including a reimbursement from FEMA due to the lights being damaged in last year’s 7.2 earthquake.
The school is also busy raising funds for a new scoreboard. So far the Holtville Athletic Club and other private donors have raised $12,000 for the scoreboard which will cost an estimated $20K to $26K. They hope to purchase the new scoreboard some time this year.
Another $575K will go toward the construction of new physical education facilities at the high school including 40 to 50K square-feet of new volleyball, basketball and tennis courts. The project would include new asphalt surfacing and new fencing.
$250K will be used to upgrade the school’s food service facilities which are 50 years old and in need of new equipment. The high school’s Home-Economics room will also be converted to a new food service facility and new tables, shades and landscaping will be added to the lunch area.
Each school in the district will also receive funds for new shade covers, tables, benches and physical education equipment.
Management of the district’s food service program will also be seeing some changes.
The position of Food Services Director, a job previously held by Isabel Jesse who retired this year, will be split into two different positions: Director of Food Services/Executive Chef and Food Services Operations Manager.
Travis Jennings has been hired as the district’s new Director of Food Services/Executive Chef and will be working to offer more of a variety for students with a focus on taste, quality and nutrition. He will be adding more fresh foods to the school menu and will be working with students and parents to make sure they have a say in what’s being served.
Long-time district employee Erika Allen has been promoted to Food Servies Operations Manager. She will be in charge of making sure that all state and federal regulations are being met by the department.

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