New Year’s always triggers consideration of resolutions or life goals.  Pregnant teens and teen parents can find help for setting goals and for learning coping skills  at Camarena Memorial Library and two Imperial County Free Library branches (Heber and Holtville) come January 2016.  “ Skills for Teen Parents (STeP),”  a series of ten programs will be offered at the three sites between January and May, 2016.  Camarena will offer the programs in the late afternoon of the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month, the Heber Branch of the Imperial County Free Library will have its programs on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month at 4:30 p.m. and the Holtville Meyer Memorial ICFL branch will have them starting Wednesday the 13 of the month at 4:30 p.m. also.  All programs are free, childcare, refreshments and possibly transportation are provided.

 

“STEP is a great opportunity for our resident teen parents.  It really can give them important life skills and we are happy to be part of this State Library initiative,” states County Librarian Connie Barrington.  “It is so indicative of the wealth of resources public libraries can provide to all age groups today.“   Programs are geared toward very specific help with different areas, such as setting and reaching goals, child literacy development, healthy children and healthy parents; finances, getting into college and filling out forms, safety – CPR and child seats –, and how to seek jobs, write a resume and successfully interview.  Interested teens are invited to sign up by calling Camarena Memorial at 760-768-2170, the Heber Branch of the Imperial County Free Library at 442-265-7131 or Holtville Meyer Memorial Library at 760-356-2385.

 

Both library systems are part of the STEP (Skills Training for Teen Parents) program, funded in part by Library Services and Technology Act monies from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, administered in California by the State Librarian.

 

The Superior Court of California, County of Imperial is pleased to introduce a new 24-hour-aday telephone and web access payment option for those wishing to pay fines and/or fees owed to the Court. The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Interactive Web Response Systems (IWR), available in English and Spanish, provide a convenient and direct method for court users to locate their court case, understand their options, and immediately pay monies onto their case. The impact of this innovative service to the public is expected to be profound, given that currently eight full-time staff persons take money payments over the phone during the hours of 8-4 Monday-Friday only. “This new bilingual system puts innovative tools and current technology directly in the hands of court users to pay their fines and fees at any time of the day or night,” Court Executive Officer Tammy L. Grimm stated. “These straightforward, uncomplicated options for 24/7 payments require nothing more than a telephone, smart phone, or access to a computer to enter basic information to find and retrieve their case. We think the public will be thrilled that they can now make payments on their cell phones and smart phones.” Grimm continued, “In an era where dwindling public resources often results in reduced public services, I am pleased we are able to create increased accessibility to the Court now with these options.” The IVR/IWR systems will give the public information and specify whether or not the person is eligible for proof of correction, or traffic school, or a 30 day extension. It will provide general court information, education on the options available, and calculate the fine based upon the option that is selected. For people making payments on their fine, it will provide the fine balance. The system streamlines processes in accounting, cashiering, and operations. It will reduce manual processes, giving the Court added resources to support the various work of the Court. The system, which is smart phone compatible, was first proposed by Ralph Meza, Technology Manager and Terri Darr, Court Finance Manager in 2014. Betsy Ordonez, Accounting Supervisor, has worked tirelessly over the last 18 months absorbing most of the testing responsibility. Says Ordonez, “It is exciting to see all the hard work come to fruition. The Call Center staff is pleased with the enhancement as it allows them to process incoming calls more efficiently. This bilingual tool is a nice improvement.” On January 4, the IVR/IWR system will go live for traffic and infraction cases. The system should be live for criminal cases by the end of January 2016. To access the system, the person will need their case number, citation number, or driver’s license number. To view/access the Court’s IWR (web system): http://www.imperial.courts.ca.gov/index.htm. There will be a link at the top of the page on Monday, January 4, 2016. To use/access the Court’s IVR (phone system): call (760) 336-3570.

 

El Centro, California – Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51) is pleased to welcome, Tomás Oliva, Senior Field Representative, to his team. Tomás will lead Representative Vargas’ Imperial County Office, located at 380 North 8th Street, El Centro, California 92243. On the Congressman’s behalf, Tomás will aid constituents as well as represent the office at official meetings and events.

Tomás joins Congressman Vargas’s office after four years as Regional Affairs Officer at the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). There, he worked with organizations and interest groups in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys to maintain active communication with SCAG. Prior to his last position, Tomás worked for the Superior Court of California in Imperial County and spent two years working for the California State Assembly.

“I’m excited to have Tomás join our team,” said Vargas.  “His skills and experience make him a great resource for the communities I represent.”

Tomás obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, San Diego and a master’s degree in public administration from San Diego State University. He is currently a member of the Imperial Valley Young Professional Organization, where he practices his passion for empowering the youth of Imperial County. He was previously a member of the UC San Diego Young Alumni Council and served as a mentor in the California Latino Capitol Association.

 
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Imperial County Fire Department Helps Holtville Fire in knocking down the flames of a house fire Sunday.

By Jim Predmore:

A fire broke out at the residence located at 225 7th Street in Holtville on Sunday morning. The Holtville Fire Department received the call around 9:00 a.m. and responded to the location. Upon arrival, the Holtville Fire Department could see the flames coming through the attic over the patio. Chief Silva arrived shortly after and made the initial inspection to make sure everyone was out of the residence. A family of 7, including a newborn, had been notified of the fire by a neighbor and vacated the structure.  After vacating, they could hear a dog barking from inside the burning house.

According to Chief Silva, the building was constructed with lath and plaster with chicken wire.  The walls were thick, which provided a lot of fuel for the fire. Chief Silva called for backup from Imperial County.

As the firefighters began to fight the fire, a little girl came up to Chief Silva and said that her dog was inside and could he please have someone try to go in and get it. So Chief Silva had one of the firefighters put on oxygen and go into the building. There was so much smoke by this time the firefighter was unable to locate the animal.

The fire continued to increase and was difficult to battle, so Chief Silva requested a ladder truck from the County.

After a little while the barks from the dog could no longer be heard. Chief Silva also learned that the little girl that owned the dog had also just lost her father within the last couple of weeks. Chief Silva shared that the little girl would come up to him about every 15 minutes to ask about her dog.  Says Chief Silva, “I was struggling in letting her know that her dog didn’t make it, but after a while I went up to her and explained to her that her father would now need to take care of her dog”.

The ladder truck from the Imperial County Fire Department arrived and was able to make progress in knocking out the fire from the top.

The fire took about three hours to extinguish and when it was safe, Chief Silva sent in Holtville Fire Fighter Bradley Kaufman to retrieve the remains of the animal.  Firefighter Kaufman was inside for quite some time, then finally exited the burnt structure holding a blanket in his arms. He had a huge smile on his face. The dog had survived the fire.

Kaufman presented the dog to the little girl.

Chief Silva was concerned on the condition of the dog due to all of the smoke and heat from the fire, so he wanted to get the dog checked out by a veterinarian.  He called the emergency number for Valley Veterinarian in El Centro.

Chief Silva, the girl, and her mother drove to El Centro to have the dog examined. Chief Silva explained the girl’s situation. The veterinarian, Dr. Garry Nagra, drew blood, performed x-rays and performed a complete exam and gave the dog a shot. He gave the dog back to its owner with a diagnosis of being okay and said that there was no charge for his services.

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Holtville Firefighter Bradley Kaufman reunited the young girl with her dog after Kaufman retrieved the animal from her burned home.

The dog apparently had made its way to the kitchen portion of the house, which was the least affected by the fire, and hunkered down until it could be rescued.

It was determined that the fire was caused by an electrical source that was identified at the location.

In Holtville fashion Chief Silva treated Dr. Nagra to some Georges Pizza for lunch on Tuesday to thank him for his services.

 

A delegation of members of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors and the Imperial County Board of Supervisors will appear before the State Water Resources Control Board at a public workshop during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 5, where the water board will receive updates regarding the status of actions identified by the Salton Sea Task Force.

IID General Manager Kevin Kelley and Imperial County Chief Executive Officer Ralph Cordova Jr. will present at the workshop, providing an update on the IID/Imperial County Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative, as well as seek information from the Salton Sea Task Force about what its next steps and plans are.

In a joint letter to the Water Resources Control Board, IID and the county recognize that successfully addressing the challenges at the Salton Sea will not be completed in 2016 and, therefore, suggest that the protection of public health and the environment in Imperial and Riverside counties “should be a long-term commitment by the state of California, working with our agencies and other regional partners.”

The immediate task for 2016, the Imperial delegation suggests, is to develop a long-term plan and transparent partnership.

“IID and the county of Imperial propose that the State Water Board require the four agencies that have been invited to present at the Jan. 5, 2016, workshop to collaborate – in an open and transparent process – with key stakeholders to develop and present a long-term management and restoration plan for the Salton Sea to the board and the California Air Resources Board no later thanDec. 15, 2016,” the letter states.

To review the full letter, visit: http://www.iid.com/Home/ShowDocument?id=11449

IID General Manager Kevin Kelley said he is pleased the State Water Board has decided to hold this follow-up workshop and is encouraged by the water board’s continued involvement. “We’re looking forward to providing an update on action’s related to the Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative and, from IID’s standpoint, find out what has been done and where we can see more state involvement related to overall restoration.”

The Imperial delegation further encourages the State Water Board to remain involved as it should play a key role in ensuring milestones and real progress are achieved.

Imperial County Chief Executive Officer Ralph Cordova Jr. said that, while good steps have been taken, there are things the delegation intends to “bring to light.” The joint presentation “will put a strong emphasis on the consequences if the state doesn’t step up their efforts to fulfill its promise of restoring the sea,” Cordova said. “We will touch on the expectations of what the sea would look like if the playa continues to recede.”  The board “will be able to learn about the potential negative impacts to the area if no action is taken to restore the Salton Sea.”

Tuesday’s Salton Sea workshop by the State Water Board is the first since last March.

In addition to hearing from the Imperial delegation, the State Water Board expects updates from the following agencies:

  • California Natural Resources Agency regarding efforts to improve public outreach and local partnerships and implement habitat creation and dust suppression projects;
  • Colorado River Regional Water Quality Control Board regarding efforts to improve water quality in major tributaries to the Salton Sea;
  • California Air Resources Control Board regarding efforts to address air quality impacts from the Salton Sea; and,
  • California Energy Commission regarding consideration of renewable energy opportunities at and around the Salton Sea and the region.

A broadcast of the meeting will be available at: http://www.calepa.ca.gov/broadcast/.

 
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