Relying on the time-worn adage of an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure, the Holtville Fire Department organized multiple agencies in an active shooter drill during Easter break at Holtville High School.
It was good preparation, explained Fire
Chief Alex Silva. He invited 79 staff from El Centro Police, Imperial County
Sheriff’s Office, Naval Air Station El Centro Fire Department, Red Cross and
Sheriff’s Explorers to a rescue drill on April 22. Two blocks surrounding the
school were blocked off and residents were informed by fliers.
“The high school is a great venue
because there’s so many buildings and it adds authenticity,” emphasized Sheriff’s
Sgt. Jorge Cabanillas.
Travis Layton, an Olive Street neighbor,
said he was O.K. with the exercise and if the drill saves one life, it is all
for the best.
Giselle Anguiano, a Central Union High
School Explorer who plans to train as a police dispatcher, noted the palpable
realism when SWAT teams barked out orders. It made her admire them more, she
said, because they move so fast and made sure everybody is safe.
Det. Adrian Chilpa, Explorers trainer,
cautioned emergency outcomes may be far worse if the multiple agencies did not
“We need as much experience as
possible,” he stressed.
4. Holtville Fire Department Revives Explorers
Alerted to interest among high school
students about becoming a firefighter or an emergency medical technician, yet
finding youth lack knowledge on the process, Fire Chief Silva decided to
relaunch the Fire Explorers in the summer. Silva placed Raylene Tapiceria, a
firefighter for just a year, in charge of guiding new recruits.
Tapiceria grew up in Niland across from
the fire station where she observed firefighters doing agility training and
wondered if she would have the skills to meet fire department standards.
“I always wanted to give back to
community and help others,” she admitted.
A first meeting was held on July 27 at
Holtville fire’s station at 549 Fern Ave. Six candidates between 14 and 18
attended with parents. The aim was get students at least 18 years old into the
Imperial Valley College Fire Academy.
The focus is teaching young adults fire
science technique along with emergency medical services. Cadets also acquire
discipline, self esteem and community involvement. High school students can earn
credit for community-service hours, required in order to graduate.
Assisting Tapiceria were American Medical
Response personnel offering emergency medical service training when paramedics
are not on call. The recruits were to be instructed in hands-on firefighting
tasks and rescue procedures.
“All of us at the fire department are
so excited to see to Explorers get going again,” said Tapiceria.
3. Holtville American Legion Post 138 Recognizes Auxiliary Milestone
The 100th anniversary is a proud milestone
to achieve and there is probably no more deserving organization worthy of
recognition than the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary Unit 138 of Holtville.
One of the world’s largest patriotic organizations, pointed out Karen Gibbs,
president of Unit 138, the Auxiliary has 600,000 members while its affiliate,
the American Legion, has two million.
“Celebrate 100 years with ice cream,
cake and punch,” said Gibbs, as she invited the public to the Nov. 16
extravaganza at the American Legion hall, 275 W. Sixth Street. “American
Legion members will bring memorabilia from all different units they served
Basilio Castro, a former sergeant in an Army
medical battalion, served from 1956-1970. Castro is known as one of the Castro
brothers, eight siblings, five whom remain, who all served in the military.
Castro noted the Auxiliary is very active in the community and engaged with military
members currently serving by mailing “care packages” to military
bases, especially at holidays.
“We have a wonderful relationship
with the auxiliary,” said Castro. “They are dedicated to helping
service personnel down on their luck, sometimes pitching in for medical
The Auxiliary is an advocate for veteran’s
rights, and advocated for legislation on upgrading benefits and fighting
homelessness among veterans.
“We improve the lives of veterans,
active military personnel, their families, at home and abroad,” stressed
2. Enhancements Planned for Holtville’s Mac Park
Holtville City Council took a proactive stance to improve recreation options at
the end of July, passing Resolution 19-28 to approve a grant application from
the California Statewide Park and Development program with $255 million
available. Awards are aimed at communities lacking parks, explained Jeorge
Galvin, Holtville city planner.
Galvan pointed out Mac Park is an ideal
grant candidate, bordering the middle school and close to the elementary
school. The park is four and a half acres with 3,000 people within a half mile
and 1,200 living in poverty as median family income is under $26,000.
The idea is building a second baseball
field with lighting and bleachers, a playground, walking trail with trees, a
shaded picnic area with disabled-accessible areas, snack bar and restrooms for
A factor in favor of Holtville was seven
open meetings held across town soliciting input from a cross section of
residents contributing to final plans. Esteban Pacheco, an Ash Street resident,
lives in back of Mac Park.
“Hopefully it brings revenue to
Holtville,” he said. “My dad is an umpire so we’re always watching
from my house. I hope they let the neighbors in to toss or bat a ball
The park originally had four baseball
diamonds and was known as Angel Town, and was a spring training facility for
the Los Angeles Angels. The park was named for Don McDougal, a San Diego
developer who built the facility and leased it to the city who leased to the
Pushing forward to improve housing accommodations,
the Holtville City Council unanimously passed Resolution 19-04 in May that
approved 123 units of one- and two-bedroom apartments developed by Mellon
Properties, LLC. The project helps fulfill the state’s Regional Housing Needs
Allocation under the California Housing Element Law.
“It’s a process where each city is
required to build a certain amount of housing for each income level,” said
city planner Galvan. “This proposal is mostly affordable units, but the
developer is keeping options open for a mix of market rates.”
Another apartment complex, the Fern
Crossing Apartments, is planned for Fern Street and Holt Avenue. It comprises
44 units of which some would be two bedrooms
and others three bedrooms with a community room, playground, barbecue area and
“It’s an affordable housing project
with 70 parking spaces,” said Galvan. “Section 8 vouchers are O.K.
and children are welcome.”
Mellon expects to get a building permit
and break ground by early 2020.
As for commercial projects, Holtville is
expected to add a Cuchi’s Raspados. It is a 1,294 square foot ice cream and
shaved ice parlor planned for Holt Avenue. There would be two attached
Another retailer, Dollar General is nearly
ready to break ground once the building inspector completes a review. NNN
Retail development will manage the 7,225-square-foot general merchandise store at
where State Route 115 enters the city from the west. City Manager Nick Wells
expressed optimism about Holtville’s development growth.
“I’m excited about the template of
these projects because some are located on the downtown square,” said
Wells. “Altogether it’s a good harbinger of increased activity in