Henry Halcon assumes reins as Westmorland mayor

March 22, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

WESTMORLAND — A new mayor took command of this city after a divided vote by the City Council.

Henry Halcon is now Westmorland's mayor, replacing Thomas Marquez, whose one-year term expired.

Marquez nominated Halcon to be mayor. Councilman John Makin nominated Romualdo Marquez but Romualdo Marquez declined, saying he was too busy with his job and other activities.

So Romualdo Marquez seconded Thomas Marquez's nomination of Halcon and Romualdo and Thomas Marquez and Halcon voted for the motion while councilman Lawrence Ritchie voted against the motion. Councilman John Makin didn't vote but it didn't matter as Halcon had the three votes needed.

Halcon appointed Thomas Marquez as mayor pro tem.

The council, acting as the city Redevelopment Agency, will send out a request for proposals to firms interested in building a drug and alcohol treatment facility for non-violent women.


RDA Executive Director Mike Gaston of the Holt Group of El Centro was given the go-ahead to send out the requests. The Holt Group provides consulting and engineering services to Westmorland.

Council members had been concerned about some questions the community had about the facility's affect on the city police force.

Police Chief Fred Beltran spoke with the Desert Hot Springs Police Department about incidents where that force was called to the Hacienda Valdez drug treatment facility. The Westmorland facility would be much like the Desert Hot Springs center.

According to a letter from the Desert Hot Springs P.D., there has been only one police-involved incident since May 1998. The one incident was a resident walking away from the facility. There have been 10 medical aid calls to the facility during that span.

The letter also states, "The community has no complaints about the rehabilitation center being within the neighborhood. They have been low-key, like if it did not exist."

It also states, "The rehabilitation center is not impacting their (police) work load and the neighborhood is peaceful and calm."

Another concern of the council was residents were confused about the source of the money for the facility.

Thomas Marquez said the council must educate the community about the money the city is going to spend on the project, which basically is nothing.

The facility will be built through the city Redevelopment Agency. The RDA will purchase a property site from the city and then provide it to the private firm that will build the facility.

The facility will be run by that same firm. The city will not run or build the facility.

In other city business, Lee Hindman, community relations manager at Valley Environmental Services, told the council of the city's scheduled cleanup days of April 21 and 22.

More information on the cleanup days will be posted on residents' water bills.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 370-8549.

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