Documenter: Hannah Galindo

Summary

  • The Board unanimously approved a contract with the City of Madera to remove trash out of the Fresno River.

  • Director of Public Health Services Sarah Vos gave a Covid-19 update, discussing event guidelines, vaccine status, and why case counts are still going up (there are some outbreaks at churches, a Fresno Amazon warehouse, and in mountain communities.)

The Scene

This meeting of the Madera Board of Supervisors was called into order on April 13, 2021 at 10 a.m at the Council Chambers (200 W. 4th Street, 4th Floor, Madera, CA 93637) and was streamed live via their public website to allow a greater portion of the public to participate. Meetings of the Madera Board of Supervisors take place on the first, second, and third Tuesdays of each month at 9am, with the next meeting occurring on April 27, 2021. All Supervisors were in attendance — with the exclusion of Supervisor Rogers, who participated through an online video calling service — and largely observed pandemic-related social distancing requirements; the Board did, however, allow members of the audience to remove their masks for the sake of participation/public. Preceding the meeting’s opening, a prayer and pledge of allegiance was led by Believers’ Church member, Pastor Parcel .

County Officials

District #1 – Brett Frazier

District #2 – David Rogers

District #3 – Robert L. Poythress

District #4 – Leticia Gonzalez

District #5 – Tom Wheeler

County Clerk – Karen Pogue

Agenda

http://maderacountyca.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=1&ID=2794&Inline=True

Public Comment

  • Following the beginning of each council meeting, the Madera Board of Supervisors opens the floor for 15 minutes to members of the public who wish to address the Council on matters not set to appear on the agenda. It is recommended by the Board that speakers limit their comments to three minutes each and that speakers do not make comments regarding items appearing on the agenda. While the Board, by law, cannot take action on matters not appearing on the agenda, concerns raised during this portion of the meeting may be subject for consideration on a later agenda.

  • Given the opportunity to speak, only one member of the public chose to address the Board with the following:

    • A representative  with the Public Works department announced that his department has begun working with Valley Hall at Redrock to launch an electronic waste recycling/document shredding event at Lincoln High School, which is scheduled to take place May 15 from 8am-12pm.

Consent Calendar

  • Wheeler: corrections and/or clarifications to be made to items D, J, N,O, and maybe R

    • Item D: “take out Max’s name and put Letty’s name in.”

    • Item J: after reading the contract, Wheeler requested to know why, since Ray Santos had been used as a contractor before, a new company was chosen to lead the project? Answer: Ray Santos is a fairly popular attorney to use amongst the county’s projects, and he moved to a new firm — the same firm that Wheeler saw was being used for this project. 

    • Item N: Wheeler requested to know if the road on Sumner Hill was already being maintained by the county on a mileage system? Answer, provided by Matt Treeber, Chief of Development Services: While most of the land on Sumner Hill is managed by the City, there exists a portion of road outside of a privately owned gate. Because this portion of land touches property, it is automatically removed from the public sector and must be managed by a community service area or the greater Sumner Homeowners Association. Item N thus proposes that said small portion of the land be incorporated into the public domain so it can be maintained like any other public road way, by the City.

    • Item O: Regarding this item, Wheeler only wished to note that this was “very important” legislation. Given his 40+ years of experience with reviewing rain data, Supervisor Wheeler predicted this drought will be particularly worse than others we have had in the past, and expressed a wish for everyone to be prepared for this year.

    • Item E: Here, Wheeler requested to know how much of the money was spent to serve qualified members of the public. Answer: This funding served 3 members of East Madera county.

  • Following Wheeler’s notes, Christina Beckstead of the Madera County Farm Bureau spoke to thank the Board for including Item F on last week’s agenda (regarding a resolution on sheep herders’ pay). In addition, Beckstead asked that if the resolution were ultimately approved, that an executed copy of the pay be sent to her department so they could send it to the various parties it would affect.

  • Following the discussion and consideration by the Board and members of the public, the Consent calendar was unanimously approved by the Board.

Discussion Items

6a. 7123: Board of Supervisors Department — Presentation

  • Item 6 requires no action by the Board, and instead is a presentation by Supervisor Poythress of the 2021 semiannual Madera County Award of Excellence. The awards are delivered in April and again in October of every year; started by supervisor Frazier several years ago, the award recognizes service that is “very very excellent” and goes “above and beyond” the various departments’ missions. On this occasion, the Madera County Award of Excellence was presented by 4 different departments and awarded to various members of their staff. The following were the departments/awardees:

    • Sheriff’s Office, presented by Patrick McGesky and Lieutenant Rod Blem , and awarded to Detective Bavenau: According to McGesky, Detective Bavenau has been a member of the detective unit since January 2020. In that small time, Detective Bavenau has done “absolutely amazing” work including the writing of around 100 search warrants in just over a year, and the recovery of about 7.000 images in regards to internet crimes against children since January of just this year. According to his peers, Detective Bavenau is “the definition of having a tireless work ethic” and, with this award, the Department expressed their great appreciation to have him in their department. 

    • Veteran’s Service Office, presented by Josh Christopherson, and awarded to Jeseña Sarantes and Anna Valesquez: According to Christopherson, Saranted and Valesquez display the “qualities and values that all employees should strive for”, including being “incredibly proactive” to ensures vets in Madera County received the services they needed. Their work was so thorough, impressive, and effective, in fact, that Christopherson contended it yielded the “most impressive results” he had ever seen in his department’s audit. The presentation of this award to Sarantes and Valesquez, to Christopherson, is a testament to the hope, comfort, and life-changing work that these individuals have provided to the community.

    • Animal Services office — presented by Cindy Avila, awarded to the entire department: Avila spoke on behalf of her team at this time to highlight the truly “astronomical” work being done to get through not only the pandemic but the Dry Creek fire as well. In a tear-jerking speech, Avila noted that her team’s tireless work has “completely revamped the way animal sheltering is done” — including raising enough money to create a medical fund to fund the vet expenditures ( treats around 3-4 animals a week) at no cost to the county.

      • Names of those awarded: Cindy Avila, Crystle Wiggins, Bonnie Hill, Shane Gray, Collin Birdthorn, Karie Perez, Churnell Thompson, Stacy Birkholter, Teresa Harring, Tina Kasterino, Robin Burgess, Chris Huerta, Brittney Robins, Francisco Padilla, Ludwig Castillas.

    • District Attorney’s office — presented by Sally Moreno, awarded to two separate groups, all individuals listed below:

      • Filing prosecutors: Ben Levy, Brook Birdman, Chris Brooke, Sharol Goner, Dan Martin, Dave Preston, Esol Leemes, James Costello, Costella Williamson, Eric Duetemple, Jeff Duprah, Noah Marshall, Kia Anrig, Rachel Cardea, Patricia Zigler-Lopez, Spencer Wagner, Teju Alebeco, Tim Huyenga, Tracy Wise, Todd Spangler. Each of the awarded, according to Moreno, received thousands of filing while their process was expanding and changing, and their teamwork was what made it all possible to work through. The work of filing prosecutors is critical in allowing the prosecutor to quickly review and move forward with a case. At this point, no attorney has more than 20 filings and, according to Moreno, it is the first time in the history of mad county that the DA office can say they are caught up in their filings.

      • DA support staff/administrative team: Members of the team include: Lisa Childers, Brianne Noblok, Lisa Olson, Angela Kieling, Morgan Chaveera, Brianna Beaver, Laura Flores. The DA’s support staff conducts critical work in preparing and finalizing the reports used by prosecutors throughout the course of their cases. According to Moreno, these individuals have been a key part of evolving and streamlining the new processes the DA’s office has had to face during COVID-19 operations. 

6B 7257: Social Services Department — Child Abuse Proclamation Presentation

  • As April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, item 6B grants the Board to honor this important occassion with Deputy Director of the Child Services Department, Dani Morris, presenting the following:

    • Dani Morris began his presentation with an explanation of his casual attire: “Normally I would dress at least in a jacket, shirt and a tie,” Morris explained, but he allowed his daughter to dress him to serve as a reminder to the Board and the public that we should all be able to live “carefree” and ensure that children live a carefree lifestyle free of abuse or neglect.

    • With this in mind, Morris began by sharing that Madera county has seen a decline of abuse and neglect during 2019-2020. Unfortunately, Morris explained, this trend is mainly due to COVID; we see this decline“not because it wasn’t happening”, but because children were not being seen by teachers or other adults which resulted in a low number of referrals. For instance, Morris reported that last April saw 142 referrals of abuse and neglect, but as of yesterday the Department has already received 205 referrals — and the month has not even ended yet. Morris attributes this general increase in referrals to the return of kids to school, more children “are being seen” so the numbers naturally will begin going up again.

    • Also shared that 145 child deaths occured statewide last calendar year, an “astronomical” increase that indicates everyone is “watching and having eyes on children ”. Morris brought special attention to an incident in southern California in which three children were killed by their mother who was suffering from postpartum depression. In light of this, Morris confirmed that this mental illness is a serious, and valid illness that hundreds of mothers suffer from which can occasionally create circumstances that lead to child deaths, and informed the Board that because of this mental health services (ie: hospitals and medical providers) should be provided to help address the issue and “protect our children”.

    • Morris then announced that April 23 will be a day of silence for the children who lost their lives due to child abuse and/or neglect in the past year. A flag will be flown (screenshot from 47:01) until April 30; Morris asks that the county observe a moment of silence at 10am to honor and respect these children. 

  • Maria Salazar, who works on the prevention team within the Child Services department, also spoke to the Board at this time in regards to the increase in child abuse and neglect in 2020, and where this leaves the work that her team does:

    • Salazar spoke of the many stressors that families are experiencing at this time including mental health issues that come from isolation, parental stress that comes from loss of income or a loved one, on top of adapting to homeschooling. To Salazar, each of these stressors pose a very real concern for her team; and as children start going back to school, Salazar has begun to wonder how her team can begin to prepare to provide preventative resources for the families. 

    • Salazar also highlighted the great work her team is doing during this month of child abuse prevention. Child abuse prevention, Salazar contended, does not just look like observing one beaten or murdered child and figuring out how to keep other children from ever ending up in that situation — it mainly looks like “how we can build more nurturing and loving parents so that their children…grow to become nurturing and loving parents, beginning a new cycle of nurturing and loving families”. This primary prevention, Salazar confirmed, is the focus of her team and what she wants the focus of the public to be going forward. 

    • Salazar also requested that the Board wear masks with the day-of-silence logo on the commemorative occasion to demonstrate an even greater sense of solidarity with these children — a request which was happily met by the Board, with one member even asking if he could wear it at that very moment.

  • Following the discussion, the Board commended the team for their great work — especially the work they do to keep children safe in the midst of a pandemic — and proceeded to move on to item 6C.

6C 7279: Board of Supervisors Department — Victims’ Rights Proclamation

  • Item 6C does not require the Board take any action/vote on an agenda item. Rather, the item allows the Board to honor National Crime Victims week, with Supervisor Gonzalez presenting the following:

    • Regarding item 6C, Supervisor Gonzalez introduced National Crime Victims Rights week to the Board. Since the early 1980s, Gonzalez contended, this occasion has been recognized as an effort to highlight the effects that victimization has on victims, families, communities, workplaces, schools, and all other aspects of our lives. According to Gonzalez, 1.2 million individuals became the victims of violent crimes excluding assault in 2019. As this is just a small glance into the many crimes that produce victims in our world, this week works to promote victims rights for the millions of people who have suffered at the hands of such crimes, as well as to contribute to communities and victims during the healing journey 

    • Gonzalez then took the time to commend the Victim Services center for all that they do in working to provide “some type of justice and peace to the victims, the families, and to survivors”, and to let them address the Board.

  • Following Supervisor Gonzalez’s comments, a representative of the Victim Services department addressed the Board, thanking them for recognizing this week and working to support her department to bring this week, and the struggles of victims, to light:

    • The representative also informed the Board that there will soon be an event via WebEx — victims rights awards ceremony, celebrating those who go above and beyond to provide assistance. Namely, the Victims Rights Award will be presented to the following individuals: Detective Ervey — Madera Police Dept; Dave Peterson — prosecutor with DA office; Yvette Paul — Investigator with DA office; and WestAmerica Bank for their extensive financial support. 

  • Following the representative’s comments, Supervisor Poythress spoke briefly to not only recognize those who work with the Victim Services Department to bring justice to the community, but also to acknowledge grievances with the state:

    • Supervisor Poythress at this point mentioned that, in a recent conversation with the DA, it was brought to his attention that there are bills being “introduced and passed in Sacramento” that remove justice from victims lessening the severity with which criminals are charged. “There is work always being done to reduce violent crimes to lesser sentences…and when people serve half-time… we should think about the victim knowing that the perpetrator..is back on the streets.”. Poythress concluded: “there is a whole host of things that go into protecting crime victims… As a Board, our job is to not only support the efforts of our local community in terms of helping out crime victims, but also letting Sacramento know what we think of some of this legislation that is actually doing the opposite and making things worse for the victims. The idea is to lower the number of victims through the lower number of crimes, but if there are no cons for committing some of these crimes, then what will stop these things from occurring?”. Supervisor Poythress at this time did not mention any particular bill being passed by the California state government that supports these notions.

6D. Update on COVID-19 — Public Health Department

  • Item 6D does not require that the Board take action/vote on an item, rather, the purpose of the item is to allow a representative of the Public Health department inform the Board on the status of COVID-19 cases in Madera County. When given the chance to speak, Sarah Vos, Director of the Public Health Services department introduced the following updates to the Board:

    • COVID-19 “Tier” status in Madera County: According to Vos, Madera County will be staying in the “red” tier for at least the next two weeks, despite hopes that they would move up. This update comes after two weeks of orange-tier eligible data, which means that Madera county is seeing an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases. According to Voz, the current case rate in Madera county is 8.7, largely because testing rates have gone down: the County is displaying a positivity rate of 4.4 (orange-tier eligible, which requires 5.9 or less) and a health equity positivity rate of 6.0 (orange tier requires 5.2 or less). To advance to orange-tier status, Madera County must have orange-tier results for two consecutive weeks at the least, placing the earliest date that the County would be able to advance in status on May 4. Hospitalization rate, however, has thankfully remained low — a trend that, to Vos, is reflected in Fresno County, as well.

    • Why are cases going up? According to Vos, the increase in positive COVID-19 cases can likely be attributed to an increase in public activities, relaxed attitudes toward COVID safety protocols, as well as to those who are “gathering a bit too soon”. Vos encourages residents to continue to reach out and work with the Public Health department on contact tracing — a line of communication that Vos reports appears to be in decline. Vos also took the time to highlight the importance of individuals realizing that they have symptoms: an individual is contagious for around 3-4 days before having symptoms. Therefore, Vos affirmed, if anyone around you has reported having symptoms, it is pertinent that you and all members of your household stay at home. Regarding general testing, however, Vos reported that Madera county has dropped below the state’s average, rendering it harder for the Public Health department to keep track of where COVID-19 has begun to spread. To combat this, Vos informed the Board that her department has begun efforts to make testing easier and more accessible for all residents

    • Outbreaks: Vos reports that there have been a number of outbreaks in Madera county, including multiple stemming from church-related activities as well as an outbreak that took place at an Amazon warehouse in Fresno. There was also a general, and unexpected, increase in cases amongst Madera county’s mountain communities — a community which, according to Vos, has historically seen the lowest amount of positive COVID-19 cases in Madera county. Finally, while there have been some youth infections, the Public Health department has not seen significant virus spread at school sites.

    • Vaccination: At present, Vos reported, 38% of Madera county’s population has received at least one dose — with “a significant number of the most vulnerable population” being fully vaccinated (ages 75+ : 89% vaccinated; ages 65-73: 73%; ages 55-64: 50%), an update that Vos confirmed is “excellent” in light of the Public Health department’s primary goal of preventing people from becoming hospitalized. While some (~21) individuals have contracted COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine, Vos affirmed that given the large amount of people that have been vaccinated” this still renders the vaccine around 90-95% efficacy — an update that is “exactly” in line with what the Public Health department was expecting. Finally, with the state of California recently making the vaccine more readily available to all residents, Vos contended that there are “plenty of vaccines” available for all who wish to receive it (ages 16 and older).

    • Guidance for private events and/or venues: Vos concluded her report with general guidelines for socializing while in the red tier. According to Vos, while in this stage members of the public are able to host private events so long as there are under 50 people in attendance — unless the event requires proof of a negative test or full-vaccination, in which case there is a 200 person limit for a private event. Past these restrictions, the State of California is still on course to reopen on June 15th — so long as hospitalization rates do not significantly increase — with residents still being required to wear their masks and distance appropriately following the reopening.

  • For more information regarding COVID-19 guidelines for safe gatherings, see https://covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs/ .

6E. 7245: Board of Supervisors — District No. 3

  • Item 6E requires that the Board consider and vote on the entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Madera to implement a Fresno River Trash Removal Project. To discuss and consider the implementation of such a project, Nick Salinas with the City of Madera presented the following:

    • Background context: Due to the onset of the pandemic, Salinas reported, the river in question has not been properly maintained. To address the build up of waste and litter in the river, it was initially proposed that a “community effort” be launched; but after reviewing the severity of the issue, the City of Madera found this option simply “unfeasible”. To find other solutions, representatives for the City of Madera met with the current acting Public Works director, Dan Foss, who had engaged with a third-party contractor to remove this waste in a small portion of the river — an initiative that proved largely successful in removing 16 tons of waste from the location at no disturbance to the local vegetation or population. Consequently, the City of Madera is proposing hiring a third-party contractor/vendor (Haul-R-Us) to launch a wide-scale effort to remove and dispose of all refuse. According to Salinas, Haul-R-Us is a trusted vendor that has been used in past clean-up projects for the City of Madera (see before-and-after of a past project below) ***insert picture)

    • Target area: This project would mainly concern land that is within the City of Madera’s boundaries; beginning at Raymond Rd and ending West of W. Barry. 

    • Funding: The MOU would cover around $25,000 contribution for each jurisdiction (a 50/50 match up to add up to a $50k fund with the County). While this would be a one-time expense due to the magnitude of debris present in the river, additional funding could be pulled from a DWR grant, provided through the Flood Maintenance Assistance Program (FMAP). Given the nature of the MOU, the City of Madera was able to reduce Caglia Environmental (county-wide garbage dump)’s fees from $61.86 to $22 per ton with the condition that the City itself would largely be facilitating the project with the vendors.

  • In light of the presentation, Supervisor Gonzalez requested to know what potential disturbances could be posed to the population in the midst of this project. Salinas answered that, while minimal disturbance would be posed to the general population, such  a project could pose some disturbance to those experiencing homelessness should no proper precautions be taken ahead of time. To address these concerns, Salinas informed the Board that the City of Madera will be storing any items of “perceived value” for up to 30 days so that residents can have a means to prevent their belongings from being improperly discarded.

  • Following this discussion, the Board voted unanimously to approve and enter into this MOU with the City of Madera.

Pending Legislation

None.

Staff Report and/or Comments

None.

Adjournment

Following the consideration and discussion of items 6-8, the Madera county Board of Supervisors adjourned the open session of their April 20, 2021 meeting at 11:40pm.

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