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Powered by article titled “MH17 tragedy reflected in the faces of schoolchildren at condolence ceremony” was written by Gabrielle Chan, for on Tuesday 22nd July 2014 07.43 UTC

A condolence book ceremony usually focuses on dignitaries, but in the public hall of the federal parliament on Tuesday the tragedy of the MH17 air disaster was best reflected in the faces of the schoolchildren watching.

They were more touching than the official party with their sombre suits, bowed heads and low tones. More stirring than the choir singing The Lord is My Shepherd. More moving than the music – Albinoni’s adagio in G minor, also the soundtrack for Peter Weir’s movie of the much bigger disaster that was Gallipoli.

Some 115,000 children file into our federal parliament every year. They represent schools from all over the country. They turn up with their backpacks, their fidgeting excitement, their wide-eyed stares watching some famous person they know from the television. These are the faces of every city, town and back block of Australia and the world, a lovely rainbow of skin and school uniforms of every shade. In that crowd could have easily been the faces of Mo, Evie and Otis Maslin. Or Piers, Marnix and Margaux van den Hende. Craning their necks around the adults. Hanging their heads for a minute of silence for some other tragedy.

The children who were there just happened to have a school excursion on 22 July 2014, and they managed to see an unusual ceremony that will probably stay with them for life. Likewise, the children and their families like the Maslins and the van den Hendes who died on the plane just happened to take MH17. It was as random as that.

It is the childrens’ tragedy that has twisted the knife in people around the world as they process the reality of the murder of 298 people. Away from the politics and the United Nations with its resolutions, it is the mundane moments like the sight of a wellworn stuffed toy flung into a field that bring many of us undone.

Mo Maslin, 12, his brother Otis, eight, and sister Evie Maslin, 10, who were killed on MH17 along with their grandfather Nick Morris.
Mo Maslin, 12, his brother Otis, eight, and sister Evie Maslin, 10, who were killed on MH17 along with their grandfather Nick Morris. Photograph: AAP

There has already been a snap memorial at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney days after the crash. There will be another formal memorial service organised by the government after consultation with the families of victims.

On Tuesday, the marble hall of parliament hosted this condolence ceremony, where a book was signed by the governor-general, Peter Cosgrove, Tony Abbott and the entire cabinet – minus the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, who was still in New York after her success with the United Nations resolution. There were also opposition members, ambassadors, high commissioners and representatives of all the countries that lost their citizens. They all wrote their names. And the children watched on.

The ceremony began with the Lord’s prayer. The children were allowed as close as they could be. They lined the white marble stairs and the mezzanine level balconies for the best vantage point as the (mostly) men in suits and uniforms signed in front of a shower of wattle and flags.

Speaker Bronwyn Bishop led the ceremony to share condolences with the families of the victims and again call for justice. She read the government’s official message.

“In coming weeks, Australians will stand with the families, friends, neighbours and colleagues who have lost people they cherish,” she said. “Twenty three million Australians share the sadness of those who mourn. We are united in grief and in our determination to ensure that justice is done.”

It takes a while for 30-something people to sign a book and write a message. Eventually the children sat down to wait like any other school assembly on the polished marble floors and white steps that bring a sense of grandeur to the nation’s parliament.

But they knew the gravity of situation. You could see it in their faces. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Powered by article titled “MH17 black box handover set to delay escalation of sanctions against Russia” was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for on Monday 21st July 2014 17.59 UTC

The belated handover of the black box from the destroyed MH17 as well as the bodies of Dutch citizens killed in the plane crash is likely to ensure that the special meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers on Tuesday will not press ahead with generalised economic sanctions against Russia.

Mediterranean countries – mainly Spain and Italy – have been opposing sanctions and can now point to the benign Russian influence over the separatists.

There has also been awareness in Whitehall that the Dutch government is concerned that an immediate escalation of sanctions could be counterproductive at a highly sensitive time in its negotiations over the bodies and the form of a crash inquiry.

In a statement to MPs, the British prime minister, David Cameron, said the EU would at least agree to an extension of individuals and entities subject to sanctions such as asset freezes, and would also agree the legal basis for further sanctions to be widened to include those who are close to Vladimir Putin's regime rather than specifically involved in the support for Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Cameron said he wanted to target the cronies and oligarchs around Putin, and invoked the memory of second world war appeasement if the EU failed to show sufficient resolve.

These sanctions would stop short of "tier-3" sanctions that would go across economic areas such as energy, defence, and financial services.

But Cameron said such sanctions should come soon, adding that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, François Hollande, "had shown a willingness now to look at a package of sanctions that includes tier-3 sanctions".

Cameron said: "It is not going to be easy because we have to agree everything together on this in the EU council, but the whole world can see what happens when we have a Russian leader fomenting this unrest in another country potentially supplying the weapons that could have brought down this plane. It is a toxic mixture."

Describing the situation as a test of Europe's moral fibre, he said he found it "unthinkable" that France should fulfil the completion of a £1.2bn export order of Mistral amphibious weapons to Russia. Britain has already imposed an arms export ban to Russia.

The prime minister argued: "Those of us in Europe should not need to be reminded of the consequences of turning a blind eye when big countries bully smaller countries.

"For too long there has been reluctance on the part of too many European countries to face up to the implications of what is happening in eastern Ukraine.

"Russia cannot expect to continue enjoying access to European markets, European capital, European knowledge and technical expertise while she fuels conflict in one of Europe's neighbours."

He said: "Those who argue that effect of sanctions will be to damage our own economy are missing the bigger point, which is that our economic future is bound up with our economic security."

But Cameron is coming under increasing pressure from his own backbenchers to go further on sanctions and even form "a coalition of the willing" prepared to adopt unilateral sanctions against Russia, even if they cannot be agreed by the whole of the EU.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former foreign secretary, said the existing sanctions were useless and called for the west to hit Russia's widespread general financial and economic sanctions.

The former cabinet minister Ken Clarke warned that unless the EU agreed burden-sharing on sanctions, there would be a serious danger that Russia might threaten the Baltic and Balkan foreign states in the near future.

The former defence secretary Liam Fox attacked the west's lack of morale fibre and urged Cameron to press Hollande to stop the export of the £1.2bn Mistral order.

Cameron said it was unlikely that MH17 was shot at deliberately, adding that there was anger at what had happened and urged Moscow to halt training and supplies of weapons to the separatists.

He called on Putin to use his apparent influence over pro-Russia separatists in east Ukraine "to halt supplies and training", and urged him to secure "proper access" to the crash site for international investigators.

"If that does not happen, Europe and the west must fundamentally change our approach to Russia," he said.

"There is rightly anger that a conflict that could have been curtailed by Moscow has instead been fomented by Moscow. We expect him to help right now by using his influence with the pro-Russian separatists to secure full access for international investigators and to support the repatriation of the bodies, by handing them over to the appropriate authorities and ensuring they are treated with dignity.

"The context for this tragedy is Russia's attempt to destabilise a sovereign state, violate its territorial integrity and arm and train thuggish militias.

"Over the past month there has been an increasing amount of heavy weaponry crossing the border from Russia to separatist fighters in Ukraine.

"And there is evidence that Russia has been providing training to separatist fighters at a facility in south-west Russia – including training on air defence systems.

"Seconds before flight MH17 dropped out of contact, a surface-to-air missile launch was detected from a separatist-controlled area in south-eastern Ukraine. According to expert analysis, an SA-11 is the most likely missile type. The picture is becoming clearer and the weight of evidence is pointing in one direction: MH17 was shot down by a SA-11 missile fired by separatists." © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Powered by article titled “Government agents ‘directly involved’ in most high-profile US terror plots” was written by Spencer Ackerman in New York, for The Guardian on Monday 21st July 2014 13.30 UTC

Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the "direct involvement" of government agents or informants, a new report says.

Some of the controversial "sting" operations "were proposed or led by informants", bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist.

The lengthy report, released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, raises questions about the US criminal justice system's ability to respect civil rights and due process in post-9/11 terrorism cases. It portrays a system that features not just the sting operations but secret evidence, anonymous juries, extensive pretrial detentions and convictions significantly removed from actual plots.

"In some cases the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act," the report alleges.

Out of the 494 cases related to terrorism the US has tried since 9/11, the plurality of convictions – 18% overall – are not for thwarted plots but for "material support" charges, a broad category expanded further by the 2001 Patriot Act that permits prosecutors to pursue charges with tenuous connections to a terrorist act or group.

In one such incident, the initial basis for a material-support case alleging a man provided "military gear" to al-Qaida turned out to be waterproof socks in his luggage.

Several cases featured years-long solitary confinement for accused terrorists before their trials. Some defendants displayed signs of mental incapacity. Jurors for the 2007 plot to attack the Fort Dix army base, itself influenced by government informants, were anonymous, limiting defense counsel's ability to screen out bias.

Human Rights Watch’s findings call into question the post-9/11 shift taken by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies toward stopping terrorist plots before they occur. While the vast majority of counterterrorism tactics involved are legally authorized, particularly after Congress and successive administrations relaxed restrictions on law enforcement and intelligence agencies for counterterrorism, they suggest that the government’s zeal to protect Americans has in some cases morphed into manufacturing threats.

The report focuses primarily on 27 cases and accordingly stops short of drawing systemic conclusions. It also finds several trials and convictions for "deliberate attempts at terrorism or terrorism financing" that it does not challenge.

The four high-profile domestic plots it found free of government involvement were the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing; Najibullah Zazi's 2009 plot to bomb the New York subway; the attempted Times Square carbombing of 2010; and the 2002 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport's El Al counter.

But the report is a rare attempt at a critical overview of a system often touted by the Obama administration and civil libertarian groups as a rigorous, capable and just alternative to the military tribunals and indefinite detention advocated by conservative critics. It comes as new pressure mounts on a variety of counterterrorism practices, from the courtroom use of warrantless surveillance to the no-fly list and law enforcement's "suspicious activity reports" database.

In particular, Human Rights Watch examines the extent and impact of law enforcement's use of terrorism informants, who can both steer people into attempted acts of violence and chill religious or civic behaviour in the communities they penetrate.

Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, a social services agency, told the Guardian she almost has a "radar for informants" sent to infiltrate her Brooklyn community.

While the FBI has long relied on confidential informants to alert them to criminal activity, for terrorism cases informants insert themselves into Muslim mosques, businesses and community gatherings and can cajole people toward a plot “who perhaps would never have participated in a terrorist act on their own initiative”, the study found.

Many trade information for cash. The FBI in 2008 estimated it had 15,000 paid informants. About 30% of post-9/11 terrorism cases are considered sting operations in which informants played an “active role” in incubating plots leading to arrest, according to studies cited in the Human Rights Watch report. Among those roles are making comments “that appeared designed to inflame the targets” on “politically sensitive” subjects, and pushing operations forward if a target’s “opinions were deemed sufficiently troubling”.

Entrapment, the subject of much FBI criticism over the years, is difficult to prove in court. The burden is on a defendant to show he or she was not “predisposed” to commit a violent act, even if induced by a government agent. Human Rights Watch observes that standard focuses attention “not on the crime, but on the nature of the subject”, often against a backdrop where “inflammatory stereotypes and highly charged characterizations of Islam and foreigners often prevail”.

Among the informants themselves there is less ambiguity. “It is all about entrapment,” Craig Monteilh, one such former FBI informant tasked with mosque infiltration, told the Guardian in 2012.

Informants, the study found, sometimes overcome their targets’ stated objections to engage in terrorism. A man convicted in 2006 of attempting to bomb the Herald Square subway station in Manhattan told an informant who concocted the plot he would have to check with his mother and was uncomfortable planting the bombs himself. One member of the "Newburgh Four" plot to attack synagogues and military planes – whose case is the subject of an HBO documentary airing on Monday – told his informant “maybe my mission hasn’t come yet”.

Once in court, terrorism cases receive evidentiary and pre-trial leeway rarely afforded to non-terrorism cases. A federal judge in Virginia permitted into evidence statements made by a defendant while in a Saudi jail in which the defendant, Amed Omar Abu Ali, alleged torture, a longstanding practice in Saudi Arabia. The evidence formed the basis for a conviction, and eventually a life sentence, for conspiracy to assassinate George W Bush. Mohammed Warsame, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, was held in solitary confinement for five years before his trial.

Another implication of the law-enforcement tactics cited the report is a deepening alienation of American Muslims from a government that publicly insists it needs their support to head off extremism but secretly deploys informants to infiltrate mosques and community centers.

“The best way to prevent violent extremism inspired by violent jihadists is to work with the Muslim American community – which has consistently rejected terrorism – to identify signs of radicalization and partner with law enforcement when an individual is drifting towards violence. And these partnerships can only work when we recognize that Muslims are a fundamental part of the American family,” Obama said in a high-profile 2013 speech.

Yet the Obama administration has needed to purge Islamophobic training materials from FBI counterterrorism, which sparked deep suspicion in US Muslim communities. It is now conducting a review of similar material in the intelligence community after a document leaked by Edward Snowden used the slur “Mohammed Raghead” as a placeholder for Muslims. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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The Spirit Begins!

 If you haven’t kept up with Holtville’s Green and Gold Hall of Fame these past six years, keep reading this weekly column and you will learn all there is to know about the organization.  I plan to highlight the organization’s past and present deeds in the coming weeks and explain its broad objective of promoting the high school’s future academic and athletic excellence.  Much has already been done and more is already planned; but it’s become important for the community to note the Hall of Fame’s purpose.  That is why it was decided to create this “Green and Gold Spirit” column.
        The idea of serving Holtville High School this way actually started in 2006, when former educator Marv Wood and yours truly sat down together and discussed the need for a community organization in Holtville to foster additional resources and opportunities for high school student-athletes to achieve excellence, and above all to cultivate continued pride and spirit in being a Holtville Viking.  With the help of numerous people, but especially the work of committee president, Marv Wood, and secretary, Arleta Aguirre, the dream of such an organization became a reality; and for the past six years the Green and Gold Hall of Fame has honored some fifty individuals (students, alumni, educators and community members) who demonstrated the kind of exceptional pride and spirit that directly produced either academic or athletic success at Holtville High School
        At its annual Hall of Fame Banquet presented each November, the public is invited to come and honor these individuals as a way to express appreciation for this kind of excellence.  However, the real purpose in honoring them this way is that we want to inspire current students to intensify their efforts in school activities, as well as to stir community members, teachers and alumni. to all increase their concern and support for excellence at Holtville High School.
        There is much more that the Green and Gold Hall of Fame and its sponsors have done in the way of scholarships, sports camps, and financial support for constructing the John A. Kirchenbauer Sports Complex and the new Hall of Fame Walk of Honor on the high school campus.  However, they and many other future projects are the topics for the coming weeks; and from time to time I will provide some perspectives and discussions of events and news concerning the high school itself.  So look for this column every week to keep you informed of the Green and Gold Hall of Fame proceedings.  Perhaps you’ll even catch the Green and Gold Spirit.

By Chris Furguson
More than three hundred people filled Brawley’s Stockmen’s Club last Saturday, but most weren’t in search of a meal.  Most of the people at the club were looking to spend a night seeking the thrill of winning a big pot or hitting the big numbers at the annual DOVES Monte Carlo Night.

This year, as the event was held on St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish spirit was in the Brawley Air as they celebrated the theme of “Emerald Isle.”  Irish folk music played in the background along with a leprechaun played by Michael Remington wishing people luck with their evening’s activities.
An expansive buffet, laid out on several tables, was prepared by DOVES members.
Each $75 ticket provided a number of chips which could be used at any of the gaming tables set up and run by the Casino Del Sol entertainment group.  Sponsors, ranging in size from Queens to Aces, also contributed to the total raised.
At the end of the four hour event, chips were exchanged for raffle tickets and more than 120 donated prizes were given away, including baseball and National Finals Rodeo tickets, various electronics, a diamond & emerald necklace and an eight-pound “investment bar” of .999 silver worth over $4,000.
Additionally, there were a number of items available in a silent auction to those who wanted to donate more.
“It’s so wonderful to see so many people give so much,” said one DOVES member.
The money generated, an exact amount was not known as of press time, will go towards several organizations.  Those organizations include Amaris Ministries, Between Women, Inc., Birth Choice of Imperial Valley, Boys & Girls Club of Imperial Valley, Cancer Resource Center of the Desert, CHARLEE Family Care, Court Appointed Special Advocates of I.V., Girl Scouts of Imperial Valley, Imperial Valley Child Abuse Prevention Council, Real Hope Center, The Sister Evelyn Mourey Center, Sure Helpline Crisis Center, Westmorland Community Presbyterian Church Library Project, WomanHaven (Center for Family Solutions), and WOVEN (Women of Virtue Empowerment Network).
DOVES, or Donors Of Valley EndeavorS, was founded in 1985 by thirty Imperial Valley women seeking to raise money for the Children’s Home Society.  In the past 26 years, the group has raised and donated more than $650,000 to various charities, specifically targeting women and children.

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At IID, one of our main objectives
is safety-for our employees and our
customers. We realize that properly
functioning street lights provide an
added level of safety and security for our neighborhoods and families.
It’s important to note that street light maintenance is a shared
responsibility of city, county and state agencies, but most importantly to
IID. To report a damaged or inoperable street light, or a street light that
stays on during the day, please call Customer Service at 1-800-303-7756 or
go to Please be prepared to provide the street
light’s location and any identifying markings on the pole. One of our
representatives will either schedule a service call, or contact the
appropriate service agency responsible for that particular street light.
IID fully supports your concern for
safety and security. Together, we can make our streets and neighborhoods
safer for all of us.

By Mario Conde

The County Board of Supervisors approved the 101 Ranch Specific Plan EIR project at their regular meeting Tuesday.

The proposed project would span approximately 1,895 acres and would include 73 residential neighborhoods or planning areas. The proposed land uses would consist of a maximum total of 7,174 homes on lots ranging from 4,000 to 8,000 square feet; up to four elementary schools distributed among approximately 48 acres; a 20-acre junior high school site; 13.1 acres of community shopping center, which might develop alternatively with mixed commercial/institutional/residential uses; 183.5 acres of parks, recreation center, paseos, trails, and landscaped open bugger; 11.9 acres for recreational vehicle storage; 155.8 acres of storm-water retention facilities and irrigation easements; and 159.4 acres of major roads. These uses would occur in various combinations and quantities within the three separate communities: West, Central and East. The project will take 20 years to complete.

101 Ranch lies in the middle of the Valley along Highway 86 between the Cities of Imperial and Brawley. Its northern border is bounded by agricultural and the proposed Rancho Los Lagos Specific Plan and its southern border adjoin the Mesquite Lake Specific Plan and expansion area for future commercial and industrial development.

The County Planning Commission held a public hearing on February 8, 2012 to consider the 101 Ranch project and associated application. After considerable discussion over the perceived potential impact to adjacent agricultural/agribusinesses, the Planning Commission cased a majority vote to recommend denial to the Board of Supervisors. The Planning Commission argued that the project would conflict with the agricultural area in which the project was proposed.

The board heard this matter for two hours at their Tuesday meeting and voted unanimously for the project. Supervisor Jack Terrazas, however, voted against the General Plan Amendment  section of the project.

The proposed Residential Development Agreement is an agreement between the County of Imperial and the applicant which will allow the developer to retain a vesting rights and the County of Imperial to obtain a number of public benefit. Planning Director Armando Villa said that the development agreement is consistent with the objectives, policies, general land uses and programs specified in the general plan and the 101 Specific Plan.

“Overall, the Development Agreement provides Mutual Economic benefits to both the County and the developer.” Villa said.

IVEDC CEO Tim Kelley

The Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation held a press conference at the Barbara Worth Resort on Monday evening to preview their 6th annual Renewable Energy Summit.

Mr. Tim Kelley the IVEDC, CEO addressed the media and some of the developers by announcing that the Hudson Ranch Power I geothermal power plant started operating on Friday March 9th at noon. The Hudson Ranch Power plant (a $350,000,000 project) created 350 jobs during the construction process and used a contractor from Holtville, Performance Mechanical Contractors, (PMC). Mr. Kelley also gave a brief update of all of the other projects that have been constructed or about to begin construction.

There are currently 34 Solar-PV, 1 wind, and 3 geothermal projects that are either up and running or in final planning stages through out the Imperial Valley.

The three day event starts out on Tuesday with their first Golf Tournament at 8:00 am and then a Bus Tour to view the projects in the Imperial Valley.  The Exhibit Hall Opens at 4:30 pm and the program start at 5:30 pm, followed by two more days filled with information on renewable energy. The spotlight will be on Wednesday with the Networking Mixer at 5:00 pm followed by the Banquet featuring the Keynote Speaker at 7:00 pm.

For more information you can visit the IVEDC website at

By Chris Furguson
Visitors to the 2012 California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta may meet a young man in a ringmaster outfit as soon as they enter the fairgounds.
The ringmaster, Caton Hegwer, is looking for children to be part of one of the new  daily attractions to the 2012 California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta, the “Circus Imagination.”
Circus Imagination, which Hegwer runs with his wife Carolina, is a traveling children’s circus act the encourages the participants to use their imaginations.
“Parents state being more than pleased with the idea of some face-to-face fun that regenerates the notion of educational and safe enjoyment away from screens and remote controls.,” said a release by the couple.  “Aiming to maximize their full creative potential by strengthening their confidences, the major triumph of Circus Imagination is still the fact that it does not end when the show is over.”
“Its inspiration to play outside and use your inventiveness is taken home by every child.”
Up to thirty kids may participate in the act, all featuring colorful costumes that fit over the kids’ regular clothes.  All the costumes are designed and by Carolina.
While the volunteers are dressing, Hegwer tells a story about his father, who went to a big circus and was inspired to create a circus in his backyard using some friends and some old Halloween costumes.
The 100% safe show also encourages the audience to participate by applause and vocalizing gasps, oohs and aahs.
Acts within the Circus Imagination include Tina the Tightrope Walker, Sandow The Strongman, Clarence the Clown, Marco the Lion Tamer and his Ferocious Animals, “Believe It Or Not,” The Butterfly Ballet, Champagne Sisters, Dead Eye McBang the cowboy or Calamity Oakley the cowgirl, The Amazing Animal Parade and Zazelle, The Human Cannonball.
All acts feature the children pretending to do circus acts, so safety isn’t a concern.
At the end of the show, Caton encourages the children who participated and the ones who watched to not watch television or play video games when bored.
“They waste your time and your brain,” added Hegwer.
DVDs of the show are available for participants and parents are encouraged to film their kids’ performances.
At the Circus Imagination is located near the North entrance behind the pony rides.  They perform throughout each day at various listed times

The Brawley Chamber of Commerce announced today named Kathryn C. “Katie” Figari of Yuma, AZ, as its new Executive Director.
The former owner of a mortgage and real estate business, Figari currently teaches third grade. She also has experience running a nonprofit organization. Her first day as Brawley Chamber Executive Director will be March 19.
“Our Board was very impressed with the level of private business experience and non-profit organization management experience Katie has,” said Brawley Chamber Board President Denise Smith. “We all felt she would provide great service to the Chamber and be a great fit with the Brawley business community.”
Figari’s resume lists her major strengths as: team building/leadership; staff training and development; grants management; operation management; budget/cost control and business planning.
She went back to school to earn her master’s degree in education and teaching credential after a career in various business including sales and grant development and administration. For 15 years, she and her husband owned a mortgage and real estate business in Yuma. As a business owner, she was a longtime member of the Chamber in Yuma.
She also was the president of a Yuma adult literacy organization that was in financial crisis and without an Executive Director when she led an effort to restructure the organization, correct deficiencies and get it back in compliance with state and federal guidelines.

The Imperial County Planning & Development Services has retracted the below mentioned notice due to being published inadvertently.   The Notice of Availability of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Travertine Point Project was originally published in the Weekly-Chronicle on March 08, 2012 by Tribune Publishing.
Availability of this Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be published at a later date.

Any questions regarding the retraction or the project, please direct to Sean M. Moore, AICP, Planning Division Manager at (760) 482-4236 or by email at

Recreational Vehicle Owners traveling near El Centro will be

happy to note that the RV Stations at the Sunbeam rest areas on both

directions of Interstate 8 are now open, according to the California

Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

The stations had been closed since October 2009 when construction began to

upgrade the rest areas to Americans with Disabilities Act standards. The

rest areas opened last May while work continued on the RV stations.

Crews replaced the septic system and installed an evaporation pond to meet

requirements set by the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The new

system allows treated recycled water to irrigate the lawn from beneath the


Contact the Caltrans Public Information Office at (619) 688-6670 or visit

the website at for more information.

Recreational Vehicle Owners traveling near El Centro will be

happy to note that the RV Stations at the Sunbeam rest areas on both

directions of Interstate 8 are now open, according to the California

Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

The stations had been closed since October 2009 when construction began to

upgrade the rest areas to Americans with Disabilities Act standards. The

rest areas opened last May while work continued on the RV stations.

Crews replaced the septic system and installed an evaporation pond to meet

requirements set by the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The new

system allows treated recycled water to irrigate the lawn from beneath the


Contact the Caltrans Public Information Office at (619) 688-6670 or visit

the website at for more information.

WOVEN Board of Directors Debbie Cameron Betty Predmore Stacie Chandler and Sara Hilfiker

The Women of Virtue Empowerment Network (WOVEN) held an Open House last Thursday at their center at 235 Main Street in Brawley.  Guests were treated to a delicious buffet courtesy of Lori Young, Debbie Cameron, and Leslie Mamer.  After touring the WOVEN Center, guests were able to get a first look at the new Boutique at WOVEN.  Boutique organizers Judy Tagg and Brenda Scaroni were on hand to show off the Boutique and explain its purpose.  The Boutique was created for the purpose of providing free professional clothing to women in need.  Individuals have been donating their gently worn business clothing to the cause.  This clothing will be available to women seeking outfits for job interviews, court dates, etc.  This is just another way that WOVEN is reaching out to help the women of the Imperial Valley.  To find out more about the services available at WOVEN, visit the website at or call (760) 344-0411.

Brenda Scaroni and Judy Tagg talk to some visitors about The Boutique at WOVEN


Some of the items available at the new boutique

By Luke Phillips
This past weekend as Holtville held it’s biggest celebration of the year, the annual Carrot Festival, it also lost one of it’s greatest champions.
Those who knew former Holtville Tribune editor Quentin Burke, who died Sunday, say he will be remembered for his dedication to the city that he loved and the residents that he called friends, colleagues and family.
One of Burke’s best friends, Holtville City Treasurer Pete Mellinger, called him one of the city’s biggest supporters.
“He was always trying to do things for the community,” Mellinger said. “It’s hard to lose such a good friend.”
Mellinger says he met Burke in 1964, shortly after he came to Holtville to take over as the new editor of the Holtville Tribune, a position he would retain for nearly 30 years. Burke and Mellinger became friends after serving together on the Holtville Planning Commission and remained close friends until Burke’s death Sunday.
“We found out that we were mutually interested in a lot of things going on around the valley so we became very good friends,” Mellinger said.
According to Mellinger he and Burke shared a common interest in many topics including the local agricultural industry.
“He was interested in crops we grew here and how we grew them,” Mellinger said. “He was fascinated by the major changes happening in the harvesting of our vegetable crops here when things  where changing from hand harvesting to machine harvesting.”
Mellinger says Burke was interested in water issues in the valley from the very beginning and would take frequent trips to the desert, Imperial Dam and Yuma to see some of the infrastructure for himself.
“It was a hot topic,” Mellinger said. “We went through a period when water was becoming so valuable that all of the cities in the valley were after it. The L.A. water district was after our water and so was San Diego.”
Mellinger says Burke followed water issues until he died and would take trips to see the newly constructed reservoir built at the site of the old Brock Research Station on Interstate 8.
Burke also had an interest in the author Harold Belll Wright and his book The Winning of Barbara Worth which took place in a fictionalized version of the Imperial Valley and had much to do with the early struggles over water rights.
Mellinger says that Burke was one of the main people that helped set up the Harold Bell Wright Gallery at the Pioneers Museum and was also instrumental in obtaining an original manuscript of ‘The Winning of Barbara Worth’ that’s on display at the museum.
Burke was also an avid photographer and documented Holtville throughout the years by taking hundreds, if not thousands,  of photos of the city and its residents.
“He was always taking pictures,” Mellinger said. “He’d take pictures of anything he see and everything he saw.”
Burke also organized a photography group that would take trips to the Rocky Mountain states once a year to photograph the wilderness.
“He was very active in pursuing his interest in photography,” Mellinger said.
Besides collecting photos, Mellinger says that Burke had also been amassing research on Holtville for a book that he planned to write on the town’s history. Unfortunately, Mellinger says that Burke was never able to begin work on the book.
“When he retired he had time to do some of the things that he wanted to do his whole life, but he was so active right up until the end that he didn’t have time to achieve much of what he wanted to do.”
Among other things Burke was also very active in The Friends of The Holtville Library, the Episcopal Church and the Holtville Unified School District’s Foreign Exchange program. He was also a member of the board that first put in place Holtville’s utility tax which Mellinger says has allowed the city to flourish.
“He was an active member when we passed the utility tax and he was still active on the committee to retain it here last year.”

Presale tickets and family value packs are now on sale throughout the Valley for the 2012 California Mid-Winter Fair, which kicks off March 2 with a theme of “Tropical Nights and Carnival Delights.”
They are available at Sonic Burger in El Centro and Calexico; Goyal’s Shell, Brawley; the fair box office and all Rabobank locations in the Valley. Family Value Packs are available at the Mall and the fair box office.
There are several different ways to buy presale fair tickets. The $56 Family Value Packs, a package that consists of two adult and two children’s fair tickets as well as food coupons and 2 carnival WOW wristband coupons, are on sale at the Imperial Valley Mall and fair box office. The actual value of the package is more than $160.
Additionally, Individual presale tickets ($6 adult, $4 child 6-12 and $5 senior 60+) as well as $18 carnival WOW coupons redeemable for carnival wristbands are currently on sale.  All presales, which are savings of up to 25 percent off regular ticket purchase prices and up to 40 percent off carnival coupons, will end March 1.
In addition to the concerts, displays and competitive activities throughout the 10 day run, the year’s fair will feature an expanded carnival and a special “Tropical Wildlife Adventure” in the Preble Building. 

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