Documenter: Olivia Muñoz

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The council authorized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Plug Power for the “Heartland Hydrogen Project,” a wastewater treatment facility planned near Mendota for 2023.

  • Statistics released by police show a 400% increase in calls about “Other Sex Offense” (incidents that were not reported as “Rape”), from one incident per month for most of the year to five in June 2021. 

  • The city will host a dog vaccination clinic, offering $5 shots (rabies and others) and donation-based flea dips. The event is on Aug. 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Rojas Pierce Park, 297 San Pedro St, Mendota, CA



Mayor Rolando Castro

Mayor Pro Tempore Jesus Mendoza

Council Member Jose Alonso

Council Member Joseph R. Riofrio

Council Member Oscar Rosales


Cristian Gonzalez, City Manager

Celeste Cabrera-Garcia, City Clerk

Jennifer Lekumberry, Director of Administrative Services

John Kinsey, City Attorney 

Michael Osburn, City Engineer 


Brenor Brophy, Vice President of Project Development at Plug Power

The Scene

The meeting was held in person at the council chambers at 643 Quince Street in Mendota and virtually on Zoom. The meeting was brought to order at 6:03 p.m. and then the council recited the Pledge of Allegiance. An invocation followed that included a prayer.

The council recognized the retirement of Mendota City Finance Director/Assistant City Manager Rudy Marquez. He served in various positions with the city for more than 20 years. 

“Rudy has played an important role in bringing vitality to Mendota,” said Mayor Rolando Castro. “He has seen us all grow.”

Marquez said, “Things are looking up for the City of Mendota. It’s been a pleasure to serve here for the past 21 years.” 

At 6:28 p.m., the council took a quick recess to take photos and returned to the meeting at 6:35 p.m.


No one from the public came forward with comments. 

Consent Items

The following were considered to be routine by the council and voted on in one vote with no discussion. 

Minutes of the July 13, 2021, regular meeting and a July 15, 2021 special meeting were approved unanimously.

The board voted unanimously to approve the following consent items:

  • Payments totaling $553,883.03 for warrant check numbers 50522 through 50583, dated July 7, 2021 through July 20, 2021.

  • Awarding the construction contract for the Mendota Automatic Meter Reading project to West Valley Construction Company, Inc. in the amount of $2,337,042.

  • Approved the purchase of a sewer unit, two trucks and related loans with United Security Bank.

  • An amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget to incorporate the American Rescue Plan funding allocation.

  • Approval of a Commercial Property Land Use Agreement between the City of Mendota and American Paving Co.

  • Revisions to the city’s administrative policies related to Public Records Act requests.

The motion to approve the Consent Agenda was by Council Member Oscar Rosales and seconded by Council Member Joseph R. Riofrio.

One item on the Consent Agenda was identified for discussion:

Number 4 on the agenda or Resolution No. 21-57, approving the removal of the Finance Director/Assistant City Manager position formerly held by Marquez and instead creating the separate positions of Finance Director, Director of Administrative Services/Assistant City Manager, and City Clerk/Events Coordinator, as well as approving their respective salary schedules. The council asked current Director of Administrative Services Jennifer Lekumberry if the reorganization had increased her workload, and she responded that, No, she has worked more to accommodate new duties and feels like her workload is adequate. The resolution passed unanimously after it was motioned by Mayor Pro Tempore Jesus Mendoza and seconded by Council Member Jose Alonso.


The council authorized the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the “Heartland Hydrogen Project,” the potential building of a wastewater treatment facility and water supply agreement with Latham, N.Y.-based Plug Power. The company is seeking to build a hydrogen and solar power facility in an unincorporated area of Fresno County near Mendota, as well as a water treatment facility on the east side of the city. The estimated timeline would be to have it open in late 2023 or early 2024, said Brenor Brophy, vice president of project development at Plug Power.

The MOU is not a legal agreement but a good faith understanding of the plan. Brophy was present via Zoom for the city council meeting. He said that the plant could potentially process 1.2 million gallons of water per day but that the project would start smaller with 200,000 gallons of water daily. The water would then be sent on via trucks for distribution. 

Council members and staff had questions about the number of trucks (about one an hour leaving the facility to begin with) and impact on wildlife. Brophy said the land, about 2000 acres, was within the Westlands Water District and was land removed from agriculture that already had some solar fields out there. “It’s the least conflicted land,” Brophy said. He added that the development would add about 40-50 jobs in the area with about half of the positions being truck drivers, and the other half as operators and technicians.

Public comment was opened but there were no comments. Rosales motioned to authorize the signing and Riofrio seconded. It passed unanimously. 

Reports and Informational Items

Animal Control assessed $200 in fines in June 2021. Workers also impounded 10 animals.

The city fined residents $6,975 total in June for code violations including unlawful parking, abandoned items, public urination, and excessive trash, among other offenses. More than 80 citations were issued in June. 

Police said they have seen a trend in the increase of catalytic converter thefts from vehicles. Additionally, the police statistics report attached to the meeting agenda showed that there was an increase in “Other Sex Offense” (incidents that were not reported as Rape) from one per month for most of the year to five in June 2021. 

Staff announced the following community events:

  • A dog vaccination clinic offering $5 shots (rabies, other) and donation-based flea dips. There will also be music, food, and a bounce house for children. The event is on Aug. 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Rojas Pierce Park, 297 San Pedro St, Mendota, CA 

  • The Mendota Police department is hosting an event for National Night Out, a national police community outreach effort. There will be activities for families and information for the community. The Mendota Night Out event is Aug. 3 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Rojas Pierce Park. 

Closed Session 

The public portion of the meeting was closed at 7:39 p.m. and moved to Closed Session where the council were to conference with labor negotiators regarding unpresented city management employees. City Manager Cristian Gonzalez was to represent Mendota.

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at Documenters-admin@thefresnoland.comwith “Correction Request” in the subject line.

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