Serving the community since 1922

City makes progress with Wasco Police Department

Up to 12 vehicles are set to be the first fleet for the new Wasco Police Department.

At the regular City Council meeting on Tuesday, a resolution was passed to authorize the city manager to approve a purchase order for six new police vehicles and up to six used vehicles, a move toward establishing a Wasco police department.

"With this, we have a variety of fleets we can phase in over time. It's a step forward with the essential logistics to make the Police department come together. It's absolutely exciting," said Chief of Police Charlie Fivecoat.

The council also approved the appointment of three candidates to fill open seats on the Planning Commission. Jeremiah Skillswas reappoointed; Marcos Torres and former Mayor Pro Tem John P. Pallares was added for the full-term seats expiring on Dec. 31, 2026.

The commission is a five-member body appointed as a policy advisor for the council. The commission has jurisdiction over various land use matters, including considering conditional use permits, subdivision maps and certain design review matters.

"I've been on the planning commission before, and I thought it was really great," Pallares said. "A highlight was just being here to learn new projects and zoning changes, for example."

Of his appointment, he said, "I feel grateful and eager to serve, as always."

The council also approved a contract with Amerivet Contracting Incorporated for the interior demolition of the Sheriff's Activity League building for $13,800, and allowed the city manager authority to execute change orders up to $10,000.

On Dec. 28, the city received an executed agreement from the Housing and Community Development Department approving an amendment of funds totaling $511,964 for the remodeling of the SAL building.

Phase one of the project will be the demolition of the interior walls and insulation to allow staff and potential bidders to see the current condition of the building.

Next, a contractor/designer combination will be chosen to complete the design and construction of the facility.

City staff contacted four contractors for bids on the demolition phase of the work and received responses from two.

After reviewing the provided quotes for the interior demolition, staff determined that Amerivet Contracting is the most cost-effective qualified contractor.

"This is something we've been working on for a while. Our goal is to get the building back open, so we can start running after-school programs there again. Before covid, we had over 70 kids active in our SAL," Mayor Vincent Martinez said.

A resolution was passed authorizing the city manager to execute a franchise agreement with American Refuse for the collection and handling of residential recyclable materials and a franchise agreement with American Refuse for the collection and handling of commercial organics, recyclable materials and roll-off services.

City Manager Scott Hurlbert said, "As a commercial refuse service provider, American Refuse is already performing the services in other communities and has the equipment, personnel and expertise."

Councilmember Gilberto Reyna said, "By implementing these services, the city will comply with California recycle's state-mandated recycling laws requiring municipalities to reduce materials going to landfills. All residential households will receive a blue container for depositing approved recyclables, which American Refuse will pick up weekly. The cost to residential customers will be $10.55, which includes a $1.05 franchise fee. Commercial customers will pay different rates depending on the container size and pickup frequency."

The council approved a proclamation making February Safety Surrendered Baby Awareness Month.

Through the Safely Surrendered Baby law, a distressed parent unable or unwilling to care for an infant can legally, confidentially and safely surrender their baby within three days of birth. All that is required is that the baby be brought to any fire station or emergency room.

The purpose of the law is to protect babies from being hurt or killed because they were abandoned.

Since 2006, 95 babies have been safely surrendered in Kern County.

Miguel Salazar, social services supervisor with the Kern County Department of Human Services, said, "It's just a way to offer a service for something that's really delicate when it comes to the safety of babies and truly a safe way to provide an avenue to surrender a child without the person or mother feeling scared to do the right thing."

Of the recognition, he said, "I feel honored not only to be asked to represent the organization but also as a fellow Wasconian."


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