From the daily archives: Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tribune-Weekly-Chronicle 07-18-13


By Chris Furguson
The following are highlights from the Brawley City Council meeting on July 16, 2013.
* The Brawley Council discussed at length the idea of allowing residents to continue using credit and debit cards to pay bills. The item was an informational update
According to Finance Director Ruby Walla, the city was expected to incur around $23,000 in merchant fees thanks to the convenience of card use. The program rolled out in April of last year and was centered around the Parks & Recreation department, the Police station and Utility Billing.
Utility billing currently sees the most use and, correspondingly, sees the most fees generated. Suggestions on mitigating the costs to the city included setting a maximum dollar limit on bills to be paid and excluding “high dollar” transactions, such as Permits and Transient Occupancy Tax payments.
All other cities who allow for the use of credit and debit cards absorb the costs.
* The Brawley council looked at a pair of grant proposals by the Brawley Library and Parks & Rec. Department that would provide new computers for the Library and the Senior Center.
The grant applications will be part of the recent Local Entity Grant program that is currently being run by the Imperial Irrigation District. If approved, the funds will come from a “Special Programs” budget and not affect any businesses trying for their own grants.
The two departments are asking for enough money to replace a series of public use computers at the Library that are between five and eight years old and to install three new computers at the Senior Center.
* The Imperial Valley Food Bank and the Imperial County Film Commission gave short presentations to the city council at the meeting.
The IV Food Bank will be holding their “Imperial Valley Harrvest Bowl” at 5 Crowns Cooling on October 12, 2013. Sponsors can spend up to $5,000 on special seats and other bonuses, the proceeds of which will help families and individuals with meals.
The Film Commission will be having their 3rd annual Film Festival on August 2-3 this year. In addition to showcasing films that were shot in the County, 22 local entries will be showing during the festival.
This year’s festival will have the name “The World’s Hottest Film Festival.”
By Chris Furguson
At their July 16th meeting, the Brawley City Council approved a map for an incoming city-centered bus route that is expected to begin servicing public transportation users in September.
The proposed route, which is centered around the new transit center on South Plaza and its North Plaza counterpart, includes a total of 29 stops that hits parts of the city not being serviced by the current routes, including much of the city north of Main street and areas near the shopping centers in the southwest portion of town.
This will make Brawley the second city in Imperial County to have a city-centered route. El Centro currently has two routes, the Blue and Green Lines, that reach areas of that city not touched by the main routes.
The new route also makes a stop near the shopping center located near the southwest portion of the city that includes the Wal-Mart SuperCenter and the incoming Starbucks Coffee shop.
The route will be serviced with a 16-seat shuttle similar to the ones used in El Centro for their Green and Blue lines. The entire loop will run around 65 minutes and will join up with the main routes at the Plaza.
Brawley Public Works will paint red no-parking zones at all of the proposed new stops and add signs where needed. The cost to the city will be $5,000 in the Streets Budget.
The speed of the incoming route is thanks to a successful grant application by the Imperial County Transportation Commission.
Resident concerns also included a lack of stops on Main Street east of Palm Avenue, where an incoming Family Dollar is set to open in the near future, and possible routes to the SDSU Campus east of town.
The City Council also approved a final order adjustment to the incoming Transit Center located at the corner of South Plaza and G Street. The center is expected to be completed later this month for a ribbon cutting soon afterwards.

By Mario Conde

The Calexico City Council voted Tuesday to begin the search to hire a grant writer for the City of Calexico.

The item was brought up by Calexico Mayor Bill Hodge who said that the City was behind and not being aggressive enough in pursuing a grant writer for the city and get funds for city needs. Hodge has proposed in the past to bring a grant writer to the City and help the city get funding for parks, public safety, among other things. The agenda item called for direction or consideration for an interim 6 month fund developer assistant to the City Manager position.

Mayor Pro Tem John Moreno said that the idea was good but had too many concerns about the proposal since there is not plan in place.

“We don’t have a scope of work that would allow us to make a decision.” Moreno said.

Councilwoman Maritza Hurtado also had concerns about the hiring of an assistant to the City Manager/grant writers since there is a hiring freeze in place due to the financial constrains and a limited budget the City has right now.

City Manager Oscar Rodriquez said that department heads assist the City Manager in several areas and that a grant writer in budget in the city’s books.

Mayor Pro Tem Moreno suggested waiting on this and forming a subcommittee and possibly workshops to work on this and create a plan that can be presented to the Council later on. Councilman Luis Castro responded that there are a lot of subcommittees right now in the City and agreed that action needed to be taken.

Castro was forceful in saying the city is still complaining and discussing the situation of the parks five years after he was first elected to city council and nothing has been accomplished as of yet. He said the city should just move forward and give direction to hire a grant writer.

Councilman Joong Kim agreed with Castro and said that there is a lot of talk and no action when it comes to services in the city. He suggested the City Manager work on a salary schedule and work description for the grant writer.

Mayor Hodge mentioned that he had listened to the valid points, pros and cons, from all the councilmember’s but decided to move forward with this plan. Hodge said the proposed this at the January’s team building workshop and he had grown tired of waiting for the City to take action and said it would be better to move on.

The Council voted 3-2 to approve this item and give direction to the City Manager to see how they will hire a grant writer for the city. Mayor Hodge and Councilman Kim will work together in developing a business plan for grant for several areas of the city.

By Chris Furguson


For Brawley youth, there is very little to do during the hot summer months outside of staying indoors or the occasional swim at the Lions Center pool. However, for a significant number of kids, one way to beat the summer heat and doldrums is to spend your days at the Summer Day Camp, currently being held at the Brawley Lions Center.

The Summer Day Camp consists of a series of activities that encourage movement and physical activity. This year’s theme is “Let’s Get Physical,” which continues the program’s desire to promote physical movement during the summer months.


“We’ve done away with movie night,” explained Rachel Zepeda, the camp’s director. “Instead, we’re having the kids do move more while they’re here.”


Each session begins at 10 am with check-in followed by a half hour of Kids’ Zumba, led by local dance instructors. After the group dance is a smaller group exercise, which is proceeded by lunchtime.


After lunch, the kids do some arts and crafts projects followed by two more hours of exercise. Early camp attendees are also able to use the city’s open gym program which starts at 8 am.


Kids are also able to go swimming within their age groups on certain days.


While there is a $75 fee for children attending the Summer Day Camp, space is still available for late attendees until the closing date of August 2.


“We never turn anyone away,” said Zepeda. “If anyone wants to bring their kid, we’ll take them.


Starting on August 5, the Summer Day Camp gives way to Open Gym, which costs attendees $5 per day. Children are also required to bring their own lunch.


The Summer Day Camp is one of many activities available for youth and teens through the Brawley Parks & Recreation program. For more information, contact the department at (760) 344-5675.
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