From the daily archives: Wednesday, April 11, 2012

By Mario Conde

The County Board of Supervisors approved the revised CDBG Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program Guidelines.

The State Department of Housing and Community Development awards funding allocation to Imperial County so that its residents may participate in a County Housing Rehabilitation Program. Units to rehabilitate must be located within the unincorporated County. However, some funds are further restricted to targeted areas, which may include but are not limited to Seeley, Winterhaven, Niland, Bombay Beach, Heber, Ocotillo, Palo Verde, Salton Sea and Poe Colina.

Under the new guidelines, an eligible owner may qualify for the full cost of the rehabilitation work needed to comply with Uniform Building Code standards. The loan portion of the Housing Rehabilitation assistance may not exceed $75,000. Total amortized loan against the property will not exceed 100% of after-rehabilitation value.

The County will provide a loan up to the appraised value of the property any remainder rehab cost will be in the form of a grant to the homeowner.

“For example, if a property is assessed at $40,000 and rehabilitation cost total $70,000.00, the amortized loan will be set at $40,000 and the $30,000 remaining funds will set at grant funds.” said Esperanza Colio, Economic Development Director.

Supervisor Gary Wyatt express his concern about these new guidelines since he believed that people are having are hard time to pay for their homes right now and this new guidelines make it to rigid for people to apply. Colio mentioned that the State is willing to make some changes to the guidelines in the near future.

Calexico resident Oscar Gonzalez agreed that the guidelines are to strict and that the State bureaucracy should be more flexible in these hard economic times.

Supervisor Jack Terrazas asked if there is an urgency to approve the item and if they could wait a little longer. Colio responded that they have $2 million that they need to use by the end of the year for housing rehabilitation.

The Board approved the new Housing Guidelines unanimously.


By Mario Conde

The County Board of Supervisors approved funding to implement a Home Visiting Program in Imperial County. Imperial County is one of 21 counties in California selected to participate in the California Home Visiting Program which is a five year initiative designed to implement evidence-based programs that have demonstrated ability to improve maternal and child health. Funding for Year 1, which began February 1, 2012 and runs through June 20, 2012, is $320,427. Funding for Fiscal Year 2012-12, which will be the first full year of the project, is $652,792. Funding for years 3-5 is anticipated to remain at 4;652,792 for each of the remaining there years. “Participation in the California Home Visiting Program requires the Public Health Department to adhere to both California’s standards for home visiting programs and the national HFA standards and guidelines” Said Robin Hodgkin, Director of Public Health. Because of the intensive nature of the HFA program, Imperial County was funded to serve a total of 100 families.  Hodgkin said that the County needed to identify a high risk community and a target population to be served in that geographically defined community. The target population for the Imperial County HFA Program is contained within the incorporated cities of El Centro, Imperial, and Holtville, and the unincorporated communities of Seeley and Heber. These cities and communities represent the greatest number of families living in poverty, high rates of unemployment, and the highest number of births to women under 20 year of age. El Centro, the largest City in the area, has the highest percentage (32%) of referrals for investigation of allegations of abuse and/or neglect.   Priority will be given to pregnant females under 21, families with a history of child abuse or neglect, or who have had interactions with Child Welfare Services, families with a history of domestic violence, non-English speaking and low-income first time mothers. “Our goal is to initiate service prenatally or at birth. For eligible families, the first home visit will ideally occur in the prenatal period but definitely within three months of the infant’s birth.” Hodgkin said.  The Board approved this funding with a 5-0 vote.


By Mario Conde

The County Board of Supervisors approved an application packet to the Imperial County Transportation Commission for congestion mitigation and air quality projects in Imperial County.

The application that County Public Works is applying up to $7.61 million in project and has the purpose of the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program is to fund transportation projects or programs that will contribute to attainment or maintenance of the national ambient air quality standards. Funding can be expended on projects to reduce ozone precursor emission and volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter emissions.

In 1991, Congress adopted the Intermodel Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. This law authorized the CMAQ program to provide funding for surface transportation and related projects that contribute to air quality improvements and congestion mitigation. The CAA amendments, ISTEA and CMAQ program were intended to focus transportation planning toward a more inclusive, environmentally-sensitive, and multimodal approach to addressing transportation problems.

CMAQ funds consist of a total availability of $7.3 Million for FY 2012-2013 to 2015-2016. There is $1.825 million available per fiscal year. Imperial County Department of Public Works intends to apply for an estimated $7 million in projects. The projected $7 million in projects the Department will be requesting is more than the funds that are available.

However, ICTC will make the final decision and if there are any remainder funds within the grant term, it would be easier to allocate fund to the projects that have already been reviewed.

The Department will also be submitting an application for the purchase of a CMAQ complaints water truck for dust mitigation at the Imperial County Solid Waste Sites. The truck will be used regularly for normal operating procedures as well as special landfill maintenance projects.


CALEXICO, Calif. – Monday afternoon, U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Calexico station arrested two suspected smugglers and five illegal aliens after they transported more than 190 pounds of marijuana across the U.S.-Mexico Border.

The incident occurred at approximately 4:30 p.m., after Border Patrol agents operating a remote video surveillance system detected a group of suspected illegal aliens swimming north across the All American Canal.  After the individuals exited the canal, Border Patrol agents observed the group carrying four large bundles on their backs.  The group was then seen loading the bundles onto a Nissan Versa located on highway 98 near the border.  Nearby agents were notified and immediately responded to the incident as the driver of the vehicle left the area.


Border Patrol Agents conducted a vehicle stop and noticed bundles wrapped with duct tape in the vehicle.  Other Agents in the immediate area located an additional bundle and apprehended the five remaining suspected illegal aliens.  The sedan was subsequently searched and agents discovered 191 pounds of marijuana valued at an estimated $150,360.00.


The driver was identified as a male United States Citizen.  The passenger and the five individuals were identified as Mexican citizens without legal immigration documents.  They were all arrested and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration along with the sedan and marijuana.


The El Centro Sector’s Community Awareness Campaign is a simple and effective program to raise public awareness on the indicators of crime and other threats.  We encourage public and private sector employees to remain vigilant and play a key role in keeping our country safe.  Please report any suspicious activity to the Border Community Threat Hotline at 1-800-901-2003

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