Feb. 28, 2023 — Tulare County Board of Supervisors

Documented by Dani Huerta

Here’s what you need to know

  • The Feb. 28 Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting took place in the Porterville Council Chambers at 6 p.m., allowing more members of the public to attend than usual. Mayor of Porterville Martha Flores gave an opening message thanking the Tulare County Board of Supervisors for having their meeting in Porterville. 
  • A Financial Assistance Application for the Matheny Tract Wastewater Project was approved. Plans for this project could take 18-24 months and construction could take 36-48 months after the design is complete.
  • A proposal by Chair Townsend was approved (4-1) which will allow for future board meetings to begin with prayer. Prayer will be led by a member of the public selected from a first-come first-serve waitlist. Many members of the public spoke in support of this item and two people opposed. Rules for the waitlist will be decided upon at a later date. This item was also listed for discussion during closed session as “anticipated litigation.” Supervisor Amy Shuklian was the lone vote against this item.

Follow up Questions

  • Which public meetings have begun with prayer and what are their protocols? 
  • Does the board plan to implement a sales tax initiative and parcel tax to help Kaweah Health and how would this affect citizens of Tulare?

Board of Supervisors

  • Larry Micari – Vice Chair, District One
  • Pete Vander Poel III, District Two
  • Amy Shuklian, District Three
  • Eddie Valero, District Four
  • Dennis Townsend – Chair, District Five
  • Jason T. Britt, County Administrative Officer
  • Jennifer M. Flores, County Council
  • Melinda Benton, Chief Clerk

The Scene

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting was held simultaneously both in-person and streamed via YouTube and Zoom at 6 p.m. on Feb. 28, 2023. The meeting began with the pledge of allegiance and a moment of silence. This meeting took place in Porterville Council Chambers.


  • Welcome Message from Martha Flores, Mayor of the City of Porterville.
    • Flores thanked the board for having the meeting in Porterville Council Chambers.
  • Presentation of Certificates of Recognition for the City of Porterville’s newly elected Councilmembers, Raymond Beltran, Greg Meister, and Donald Weyhrauch.
    • Chair Townsend thanked each of the new council members and presented their certificates.
  • Closed session announcement
    • Item E: The board accepted and ratified a settlement with the opposing party in the case of David Barber v. County of Tulare. The case involves a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Board of Supervisors matters
    • Supervisor Micari
    • Supervisor Valero
      • He thanked first responders, law enforcement, and county staff for their help with the rain this weekend.
      • Last week was the Kaweah Health Hospice event, Young Lives banquet, COS ground breaking, Care Portal luncheon, TCAG, Yosemite Sequoia RCDC meeting, and Dr. Seuss Read Across America Week at Ivanhoe Elementary.
      • Upcoming is the CNG station groundbreaking, Latino Caucus of California Counties meeting, Ace hardware ribbon cutting, Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks update meeting, Woodlake awards night, and Woodlake clean up day.
    • Supervisor Shuklian
      • Earlier was the International AG Expo.
      • Upcoming is the Agricultural Women’s Commonthread lunch and a California State Association Counties Board meeting. 
    • Supervisor Vander Poel
      • Upcoming is the Commonthread luncheon, LAFCO meeting, meeting with a constituent of a water company, and he will be MCing the VTEC Denim & Diamonds event.
    • Supervisor Townsend
      • Earlier was a Sustainable Corridors Committee meeting, National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington D.C., a meeting with the House Natural Resource Committee, a call with RCRC, Tulare County Forest Health Task Force meeting, Government Affairs committee, Tulare County Association of Governments meeting, and a meeting with HHSA Directors.
      • Upcoming is a meeting with the Governor’s External Affairs, LAFCO, Eastern Tule GSA, First Friday coffee, and the Monache High School Hall of Fame awards.
  • Presentation by Gary Herbst, CEO of Kaweah Health, and Donna Hefner, President/CEO of Sierra View Medical Center regarding the status of local hospitals.
    • Donna Hefner was not able to attend. The presentation was given by Gary Herbst.
    • Kaweah Health lost $12 million dollars in April 2020. The hospital was mostly empty in April-June 2020 because of an executive order by the governor. There are currently 23 patients with COVID-19 in the hospital. Herbst said “Hospitals are literally on the brink of collapse”.
    • Hospitals are losing money due to inflation and many patients who use Medicare and Medi-Cal. Hospitals in the Valley have fewer resources making it cost more to operate.
    • Currently Kaweah Health has laid off over 130 employees, has closed a 22-bed skilled nursing unit, and has limited some Medi-Cal surgeries.
    • To support health care in Tulare County people can contact their federal and state representatives. The county could provide funds or consider a sales tax initiative and parcel tax.
  • (Approved) Consent Calendar (Items 6-40)
    • Some of the approved items included the approval of an agreement with UC Davis for a training program in Tulare County’s Health and Human Services Agency’s Public Health Branch (Item 18), an agreement with California State Water Resources Control Board to provide the County as Administrator for the East Orosi Community Services District Water System additional funding for the operation and maintenance of the water system (Item 33), and the purchase of a fume extractor for the Sheriff’s Office Inmate Program Division (Item 38).
    • Approved
  • (Approved) Request from the Resource Management Agency (RMA) to authorize the Chair of the Board to sign and file a Financial Assistance Application for a financing agreement from the State Water Resources Control Board for the planning, design, and construction of the Matheny Tract Wastewater Project (the “Project”). The Board of Supervisors has reviewed and considered the information contained in Mitigated Negative Declaration is applicable to the Matheny Tract Wastewater System Project Feasibility Report and determined that the proposed project would result in “Less Than Significant Impacts” on the environment. Certify and adopt the Mitigated Negative Declaration as being in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the State CEQA Guidelines. Direct the Environmental Assessment Officer to file the Notice of Determination with the Clerk-Recorder. Receive the Technical Memorandum Addendum 2 to the Matheny Tract Wastewater System Feasibility Report. Adopt the Resolution designating and directing an authorized representative to apply for, make certain representations regarding, and accept financial assistance from the State Water Resources Control Board for the Matheny Tract Wastewater Project.
    • Aaron Bock explained the project. Many parcels have septic issues. This item updates plans from 2017. Currently rates are $54 per month. Plans could take 18-24 months and construction could take 36-48 months after the design is complete.
    • Public Comment
      • Elvia Olea on behalf of Leadership Counsel and residents of Matheny submitted a letter in support of this item. Rosemary Wade and Leonard Wilkins were also in support.
    • Approved
  • (Approved) Request from the Board of Supervisors’ Staff to receive input and provide direction regarding the 2023 Tulare County Federal and State Legislative Platforms. Approve amendments to the platforms and select priority issues for future advocacy trips.
    • Israel Suttel explained the item. Common changes were updated numbers and statistics, a shortened preamble, and more concise sentence structure. Other changes include rearranged items. 
    • Federal changes are that the COVID-19 item was removed. An addition was asking for funding for dry wells.
    • Some State items removed were about county veterans service officers, affordable housing was included in homelessness, UC Davis shelter medicine program, tobacco,and the definition of gravely disabled person.
    • Supervisor Shuklian asked about adding an item about hospital support. Israel said they can add an item if they need to.
    • Chair Townsend asked that the bond part be removed from the State legislation about broadband for all to allow them to be more flexible. He also wanted to add to the infrastructure item a consideration about the number of miles in a County.
    • Approved
  • (Option C rewording Approved) Request from the Board of Supervisors’ Staff to consider a proposal by Chairman Townsend to institute a legislative prayer program for public prayer at the board of supervisors meetings. Direct staff to develop the process and procedure that implements the selected legislative prayer program.
    • The Chief of Staff introduced the item. This item would open the meetings with a prayer and flag salute, or a moment of silence and flag salute. The supervisor opening a meeting will rotate each meeting. The Supervisor will have three options.
      • Option A: The Supervisor who opens the meeting can open with a moment of silence, a prayer, or ask another supervisor to pray.
      • Option B: The supervisor who opens the meeting can open with a moment of silence, a prayer, or ask another supervisor to pray, or ask an individual/organization from an approved waitlist to pray.
      • Option C: The supervisor who opens the meeting can ask an individual/organization from an approved waitlist to pray. If the individual/organization is not present, a moment of silence will be observed.
    • Four emails were received about this item. Three were in opposition and one was a general comment. Copies of the emails were handed out to the board. 
    • Public Comment
      • Ryan Ruckman, Bob Ruckman, Jimmy Malloy, Ed McCurvy, Josh Flowers, David Harris, Reina Rodriguez, Randy Goings, Cory Wells, and Steve Flowers were in support of the item. Some were concerned about the waitlist. Chair Townsend said the waitlist rules will be discussed at a later date if this item is approved. 
      • Katherine Hall and Jim Reeves were against the item. Hall says it is unconstitutional. Reeves believes a moment of silence works just as good.
    • Supervisor Vander Poel said he prays during every moment of silence but it is up to each individual how they spend their moment of silence. He is religious and believes Option C is the closest to what is acceptable. He does not want supervisors to lead prayer. He either wants to keep it how it is or approve Option C.
    • Supervisor Shuklian said she has attended public meetings with prayer, but only twice has the prayer been non-Christian. She uses the moment of silence as prayer as well. She is for the moment of silence and wants everyone who attends meetings to be comfortable.
    • Supervisor Valero also prays during the moment of silence. He believes prayer during meetings works. He is fine with keeping the moment of silence but if the item does pass they should choose Option C.
    • Supervisor Micari is concerned that not everyone will be represented. He does not want to choose anyone to pray. He agrees with Supervisor Vander Poel’s proposed structure.
    • Chair Townsend proposed this item because the country was founded on prayer. He is fine with any of the options.
    • Supervisor Micari requested this item go to closed session.
    • Supervisor Micari proposed Option D: Staff creates a first-come first-serve list open to everybody.
      • Chair Townsend this is Option C with waitlist rules. Staff says this is a rewording of Option C to change selecting an individual to choosing the next on the first-come first-serve list.
    • Approved Option C rewording, Supervisor Shuklian voted no. 
  • There were no board matter requests

Public Comment

  • Daniel Iniguez, Regional Director for Global Medical Response, announced their intent to open a helicopter air base in March 2023 in Porterville. Their mission is to offer 24/7 care.
  • Brian Thoburn with Southern California Edison, thanked the county for their partnership and support from their first responders. He also thanked the City of Porterville.

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at fresnodocs@fresnoland.org with “Correction Request” in the subject line.

Support our nonprofit journalism.


Your contribution is appreciated.

The Fresno Documenters are a group of local residents who are trained and paid to attend and take notes at local public meetings where officials decide how to spend public money and make important decisions...

One reply on “Meeting notes from the Tulare County Board of Supervisors (2/28/23)”

Comments are closed.