From the daily archives: Tuesday, April 24, 2012

By Mario Conde

The County Board of Supervisors approved a letter opposing the elimination of the Colorado River Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The Governor’s recent budget proposal calls of the elimination of the Colorado River Regional Water Quality Control Board and the merger of the Colorado Basin with the San Diego RWQCB.

This proposed action would create undue hardship on many business, and government agencies that deals with the RWQCB of many water quality and permitting issues in Imperial County. The matter is scheduled to be heard before the California State Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee this week.

The County of Riverside, Coachella Valley Water District, Imperial Irrigation District and Western Growers Association, among many others, have submitted comments opposing this proposal.

The letter approved by the Board of Supervisors recognizes the intent of the Governor to consolidate and reduce government, but argues that this elimination will not provide any savings to the general fund of efficiencies to the State.

“The elimination of local representation will not only be detrimental to important water quality standards and decision-making, but it will reduce the oversight provided by this board to uniquely arid region that borders Arizona and the Republic of Mexico, serves over 700,000 acres of active productive farmland, and involves major hydrologic features such as the Colorado River and the State’s largest inland body of water, the Salton Sea.” Supervisor Mike Kelley said in the letter.

In other news, the County approved a one year agreement with Womanheaven, Inc., to provide domestic violence prevention classes for Imperial County Jail inmates through its Center for Family Solutions. Through their Center for Family Solutions, Womanhaven, Inc. would provide anger management programming that meet Title 15 and court ordered courses for offenders.


It was an evening of “Faith, Fashion, and Flair” as the Women of Virtue Empowerment Network (WOVEN) hosted the 2nd Annual Purse Auction Gala.  This spectacular event was held at the Old Eucalyptus Schoolhouse in El Centro, and included a delicious dinner, two heart-touching testimonies of WOVEN clients, and a live purse auction where 29 purses were auctioned off to the highest bidder.

With retail values ranging from $60 to over $1300, there was something for everyone to choose from.  Each purse was bid upon based on the purse itself.  For a little added excitement, each purse was filled with contents which were not revealed until the winning bidder opened the purse.  Creative auctioneer Alexis Brown did a great job in her descriptions to give the ladies a clue of what might be inside.  The highlight of the evening was a $1000 Louis Vuitton bag which was auctioned off for $1600.

The purses were modeled for the ladies by 2012 Holtville Carrot Princess Emily Acosta, who sashayed through the crowd, showing off each purse without revealing the contents.  Spotters were positioned throughout the room to keep up with the frenzy of bidding that went on throughout the evening.

Betty Predmore, Co-director, Co-founder, and facilitator of WOVEN, had this to say about the evening:  “We are so blessed to have so many wonderful ladies come out and support WOVEN and our mission of inspiring women to be their best!  It is humbling to see how many of them care about our ministry and the work we are doing.  This event will just continue to grow each year and we are already looking forward to next year!”

Betty, along with co-director & co-founder Stacie Chandler, and board members Debbie Cameron and Sara Hilfiker wish to thank all those who donated purses, bought tickets, and supported this event in any way.


By Mario Conde

The Calexico City Council voted to recertify the Gran Plaza Outlet Center project and had its ground breaking ceremony.

This project came back to the City Council for recertification of the final environmental impact report and re-approval of the general plan amendment, zone change, tentative tract map, design map, design review and variance first heard on December 20, 2011.

Within hours of the December 20, 2011 Council meeting, the City received objections for the first time from the County of Imperial, the Briggs Law Corporation representing CREED-21 and Citizens for Honesty and Integrity in Calexico, and from El Remate, Inc., through Brenda Martinez. Following the hearing, the City deciding to have the matter reheard on January 10, 2012; however, on January 9, 2012, the City was sued by the Briggs Law firm’s clients, and a decision was made to delay the hearing. The purpose of the hearing was to reaffirm and clarify the prior approvals in light of the City’s review of the project, its consideration of the late comments, and the substantial evidence in the record to support all of the finding necessary for the approvals.

The project applicant’s traffic engineer, John Boarman, met with the County to address the County’s concern, which it raised. The County’s concerns have been largely addressed in the conditions of approval, he said. Malissa McKeith, an attorney representing Gran Plaza, said this project will have great benefits for the City since the market in Mexicali will benefit the project.

Objections were made by Martinez on behalf of the El Remate swap meet concerning the failure of the FEIR to include the swap meet in the analysis of potential urban decay impacts which may result from the Project. Although El Remate also mentions the Santo Tomas swap meet, the City has not received any communication from Santo Tomas.

Unlike the project, the El Remate swap meet is an outdoor facility that primarily operates three days a week. It claim that the construction of the Gran Plaza will adversely affect its business and lead to blight. El Remate has an office associated with the swap meet operation on the property; however, the shopping area and temporary stalls are located outdoors.

The staff report says that even with the opening of Walmart and Imperial Valley Mall the swap meet business has not been affected. The proposed $94 million dollar Gran Plaza Project is expected to bring $140 million dollars in annual sales tax revenue to the City of Calexico and provide 268 full time jobs and 617 part-time jobs

The Council approved the Gran Plaza project by a vote of 4-0 having Mayor Pro Tem Maritza Hurtado being absent from the meeting. The Council had the ground breaking ceremony for the Gran Plaza afterwards.

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