BARSTOW HEIGHTS COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT
Monday, August 25th, 2014
President Jacobs called the meeting to order at 6:05 PM and Director Stapp led the group in the flag salute. Directors Jacobs, Stapp, Wilkey, and Hayhurst were present. Director Schendel was absent; out of town due to his employment. There were a great number of guests in attendance (26 people counted, not including the Directors and the Secretary). Most of the guests were Barstow Heights residents that were affected by the flash flooding that occurred on Sunday, August 3rd. These guests had come with questions and concerns about the unexpected damages to their homes and properties and what could be done to prevent future flood damages. Bill Little, Public Works Operations Supervisor with the County Roads Department, had been invited and was there to update everyone on the Road conditions and recovery efforts. Newspaper reporter, Mike Lamb, with the Desert Dispatch, and Michael Cint, Information Officer for the Barstow area CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), were also in attendance.
President Jacobs introduced each of the members of the Board of Directors to the public and welcomed all of the guests. He directed that the order of items listed on the Agenda be changed to address items #7 (Road Conditions) and #8 (Flood Damage Surveys) first, before moving on to item #3 (Public Comments/Questions). He introduced Bill Little, and gave him the floor to update everyone about the condition of the Roads, including what specific work had been done so far, and what strategies were planned to continue recovering. Guests were given the chance to ask questions. Resident Dave Solano spoke up first to let Mr. Little know that his Road crews were doing an excellent job, and that his update and efforts were very much appreciated. One of the guests asked if the Road crews could assist them with moving dirt around their home in Lenwood, where they reside outside of the city limits on a Non-County-maintained road. Mr. Little responded that unfortunately, there would be nothing his department could do because his equipment and crews are not permitted to work on private property or on any Non-County-maintained roads. His funding is given only to maintain and repair streets within the County and overstepping those boundaries to help residents (as much as he wanted to) would be considered a “misappropriation of public funds that is punishable by law.” He stated that he continues to receive requests from residents for excess dirt to help them fill in holes on their properties, and while his crews can dump some additional dirt along public roadway easements that also need filling in, homeowners would be responsible for moving any extra dirt they request be left there, because he has to keep his trucks off of their private property. Guests continued to share their stories about how and where the flooding impacted them, what kinds of damages they have been dealing with, as well as asking questions about whether or not specific Roads and flood channels near their homes are County-maintained. Director Wilkey suggested to Mr. Little that the Non-County-maintained dirt road at the top of Linda Vista between I and J Street is in need of a sign posted to notify the public that it is not a maintained road.
Michael Cint introduced himself and explained that he and his CERT team are looking over the entirety of the disaster and creating a plan for area residents to seek out preventative solutions. Beverly Lowry also introduced herself as a concerned resident and representative of Supervisor Ramos, and that she would be reporting to him what she learned at the meeting. She also asked about the Flood Damage Survey Forms and the Secretary explained that she had given out approximately 45 forms, had collected 20 forms thus far, and expected to still receive more from affected residents, even though the initial reports are now past due to the County OES (Office of Emergency Services). The Secretary explained that some of the requirements that needed to be met in order to qualify for assistance from the County OES were not very encouraging. She was told that damages needed to affect at least 25 homes and that those damages needed to total at least 40 percent of each homes value in order to qualify for funds. Director Hayhurst stated that the Board needs to be completely honest and realistic in helping residents understand that just because there is a state of emergency declared, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be a pot of money coming from the County. The assistance may come in the form of low-interest loans, or may not come at all, and she didn’t want anyone to leave the meeting with the false hope that they would be reimbursed for all or even some of their damages. President Jacobs also reminded the group that the Community Services District does have limited powers; that the CSD does care and feels it their duty to do what they can in assisting residents, but that ultimately the County will be the entity responsible to make the solutions happen. A few more guests shared their stories and concerns. Michael Cint was asked more questions about the role of CERT and how it is intended to function. Bill Little was asked a few more questions pertaining to the clearing of the Roads and where to obtain more sand bags (from the local Fire Stations). President Jacobs thanked everyone for attending and participating. Director Hayhurst thanked both Mr. Bill Little and Mr. Michael Cint for coming to share information and insights that were so helpful. Director Wilkey gave the guests a little bit of background information on flood insurance for homeowners through FEMA and warned that rates (currently starting at about $1500 a year and up) are likely to go up even more in our area now due to the flood. President Jacobs thanked the guests again and invited them to stay for the remainder of the meeting, but dismissed those who needed to leave at 6:55PM.
The Board re-adjourned the meeting at 7:03PM to continue with the rest of the Agenda and one guest stayed to listen in. President Jacobs moved on to address the Consent Items. Director Wilkey motioned to accept the Minutes of the July 28th, 2014 Meeting, along with the Financial Reports for July of 2014 as presented. Director Stapp seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
The Correspondence file was offered for review.
Barstow Heights Park was addressed. The Safety Check List from the City was reviewed. It reported that the parking lot was covered in dirt from the flooding and still needed to be swept, but fortunately that was the only minor flood damage at Barstow Heights Park. President Jacobs reported that he continues to set off more gas cartridges to control the ground squirrel population, and had just found four new holes again that evening. The Secretary informed the Board that no progress had yet been made on the plaque to honor Barbara Kelley, but that she would work on getting an estimate soon. President Jacobs complimented the Secretary for doing a good job over the past few weeks as she had dealt with so many things. Director Hayhurst added that she had heard some requests that there be some kind of dedication ceremony when the Plaque is ready to be installed, and that there are people interested in attending that.
Bid 13-03, the new Covered Picnic Areas, were addressed next. President Jacobs reported that Wade Harris does have the building permit now in his hands, that Merrell Johnson Engineering is ready to begin the staking next week (once approved), and that Mr. Harris does have all of the construction materials in storage, so he’s ready to begin the work. He expects to have the entire project done within 30-45 days. Director Wilkey asked about whether or not plans had been made to close the park during Construction. He suggested that some plastic construction fencing be used to secure the area and keep the public out. The Construction Staking proposal from the engineer was addressed. Director Hayhurst motioned to accept the engineering proposal to do the Construction Staking of new sidewalks and two shade canopy slabs for $1800. Director Wilkey seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Venner Park was addressed. The Safety Check List from the City was reviewed. The Flood Damage at Venner park was discussed. President Jacobs reported that the General Manager had hired JDR Construction to do emergency mud and debris clean-up of the parking lot for $1000. Director Wilkey explained that the yellow caution tape had not been preventing the public from entering and using the parking lot and park grounds, so he felt it was urgent that some clean-up be done quickly to ensure public safety. He had contacted Mark Gerardi to get a specific list of the items the City would be able to handle and talked with Bill Little about what the County Roads crews could do. Within two hours of talking with Mr. Little, the deep holes on the Southeast side of the park next to the roadway had been filled with dirt and leveled. Director Wilkey then stopped by the office to check in with the Secretary and after a phone call to the County, they felt assured that the clearing of the parking lot needed to be done right away. Director Wilkey contacted John Rowe of JDR Construction, as well as a few other contractors to request bids. The General Manager hired John Rowe that day since he could do all the work that same evening. With his tractor, he cleared the parking lot of mud and debris that was caked on several inches thick, but did not have the equipment to brush the parking completely clean. Mark Gerardi told Director Wilkey that he thought he would be able to sweep the parking lot with a sweeper, not right away, but fairly soon. Mr. Gerardi also made sure that all of the entrances were shoveled clean by his City park maintenance crew and hired Ellis Fence Co. to repair some chain-link fencing quickly as well. Director Hayhurst suggested that the Secretary write a letter of appreciation to Mr. Bill Little and his boss to thank them for their quick response, including the filling in and cleaning up of the easement alongside Venner Park and for attending our meeting to answer so many questions that evening as well.
The items at Venner Park that were still left to be done included the need to excavate the fitness area that was filled with 10-12 inches of mud so that new wood chips could be replaced, backfilling and repacking of the dirt on the slopes near the stairs leading up to the basketball court, and removing the thick dried mud and rocks under the picnic tables located just West of the basketball court. Director Hayhurst motioned to authorize the General Manager to make the emergency expenditures necessary to hire someone to complete the remaining jobs quickly and order the replacement wood chips. Director Wilkey seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Director Stapp asked about whether or not there were enough immediate funds available to complete everything. The Secretary indicated that there was for now. President Jacobs suggested that the Board will need to review the accounts at next month’s meeting however, since the Secretary will need to pay a large sum of the balance that will be due when the big Construction project is completed in September.
The Conflict of Interest Code was addressed next. Director Hayhurst expressed her thanks to Kimberly Cox from the Helendale Community Services District who sent her a copy of their Conflict of Interest Code to assist us in writing our own. The Helendale CSD had given their permission to copy and use their code as a basis for our own. Director Hayhurst will work with the Secretary to come up with a final copy that can be reviewed for approval next month.
The General Manager reported that Sanchez Roofing would be coming in the next week to repair the leaking roof. She had also contacted BEST Opportunities to request a quote for them to come and clear the weeds and trim the shrubs around the Office Compound. Due to the extra workload caused by the flood emergency, she had to use up her limit of 16 additional paid hours per month. She was hopeful that a reduced workload would allow her to go back to her normal “part time” hours once the Audit is completed in a few weeks. She admitted that knocking on the doors of strangers to distribute the Flood Damage Survey Forms was a little bit scary at first and was completely exhausting for a few days, but that she did really enjoy getting to reach out to meet and help the community in this way. She had received a lot of phone calls and visitors at the office in recent weeks. Many residents had invited her into their homes to see the damages the flood had caused. She really was surprised to discover that the devastation was so much more extensive than had originally been reported in the newspaper.
President Jacobs requested the Directors’ reports. There were none, but President Jacobs asked the Secretary to please make a note in the minutes that the Board really appreciated her extra hard work this month, that she had represented the District well, and that they were very proud of her job performance.
President Jacobs asked the Secretary if there were any additional bills to be paid. She indicated that there were none. Director Stapp motioned to pay the bills as presented. Director Hayhurst seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously. There was no New Business to address.
The next Regular Meeting was scheduled for Monday, September 22nd, 2014 at 6:00 PM. The meeting adjourned at 8:04 PM.
Jen Rubio - Secretary/General Manager