Documented by Artemes Gidram
What happened: At Thursday’s Sanger City Council meeting, state Sen. Melissa Hurtado presented the city with a check for $5 million to fund a communications center for the Sanger Police Department.
Hurtado, D-Hanford, said the money is the largest grant Sanger has ever received, and the funding is coming from the state Legislature.
“It is my honor to have been able to deliver that for this community that means so much to me, ” she said. “And it’s going to be my hometown forever in my heart and in my mind.”
Hurtado served on the Sanger City Council prior to being elected to the California State Senate in 2018. Hurtado’s sister, Esmeralda Hurtado, succeeded her on the council and currently holds the District 1 seat.
Southern annexation: In a 3-2 vote, the council moved forward the development of 490 homes by approving the annexation of 28 acres into the city and rezoning the land from exclusively agricultural use.
The Somerset residential community will be located on the southern edge of town, south of North Avenue between Bethel and Greenwood avenues. It will also include a 10-acre park.
Council members Esmeralda Hurtado and Dolores Melendes voted against the annexation.
Hurtado requested the item be pulled from the consent calendar and expressed her concerns about water for the project, when some residents are already experiencing water issues in the area.
“We are in a drought and things will only get more severe,” she said.
According to agenda reports, the annexation was brought before the council on July 6, but they could not reach a majority vote since a council member was absent.
The council also approved the design option for the new 10-acre park located in the development, which includes three softball/baseball fields and a tot lot. Hurtado voted no.
Boxing gym closure: Several coaches, parents and fighters in the local boxing community spoke at the meeting to urge the council to reopen the Sanger Boxing Club after it was closed due to an investigation and suspension of one of the coaches by USA Boxing.
The events that led up to the suspension and closure of the Sanger Youth Center, which is used as the boxing gym, remain unclear, but Mayor Frank Gonzalez said the closure is temporary.
He said the city is looking into “personnel matters,” and there are some corrective measures that must be taken in line with state and national laws in order to reopen the gym.
Sanger Boxing Coach Mario Garcia attended the meeting and asked the council to reopen the gym for Sanger youth.
He said that his suspension is through USA Boxing only and that he can still teach and coach, but that he can’t participate in any tournaments for 60 days.
“There’s a lot of families that really need that program running; there’s a lot of kids that need that program,” he said.
A parent spoke and said that she felt the city is not taking responsibility for the reasons they closed the gym, creating speculation that something happened with the kids, but that is not the case and kids are “fine and unharmed.”
Acting City Manager and Police Chief Greg Garner said that he couldn’t comment on the situation except to highlight that the children did nothing wrong to lead to the decision to close the facility.
Up next: The Sanger City Council is scheduled to meet again on Sept. 7.