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4 Valley PAL groups get $52,200 each for operations

August 16, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

The Police Athletic Leagues in El Centro, Calexico and Brawley and the county Sheriff's Office Sheriff's Athletic League have each been awarded a grant of $52,200 for this year to continue to provide services to their communities.

"It's outstanding, it's great, it's unbelievable. Now we are going to be able to accomplish so much stuff we wanted to do," said El Centro PAL Director Eric Scoville.

The grant comes from Assembly Bill 1913, the Cardenas Juvenile Crime Prevention Act of 2000. The bill was created by Assemblyman Tony Cardenas (D-Los Angeles), said Imperial County Probation Department Supervising Probation Officer Suzanne Howard.

"It was enacted to provide money for law enforcement to combat juvenile crime," said Howard.

Imperial County will receive $513,00 each year for five years. Of the money this year, $208,800 will be given to the PALs and SAL. The rest will be used to place probation officers on high school and middle school campuses in El Centro, Calexico and Brawley.

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El Centro Police Chief Raymond Loera said, "We're always looking for funding because we have so many kids we try to help and the grant is a really big help."

"Businesses and the community have always helped us," he added.

Loera praised county Probation Chief Mike Kelley for helping in acquiring the grant.

Scoville said El Centro PAL will use the money to finish renovating the Ryerson Youth Center at 1100 N. 4th St. in El Centro.

The program also will use the money to buy equipment and continue to run their programs.

Scoville said PAL officials thought they only were going to receive $25,000 and were surprised when they heard it would be twice that amount.

"We've been doing great with the community's support," said Scoville.

He also praised Kelley for the help in acquiring the grant.

Brawley PAL Director Chris Eaton said the program is planning on hiring a full-time program director to help reach out to more kids in the community.

"We're excited. That's a lot of money for us and it will enable us to do things we haven't done before," said Eaton.

He said the money also will be used to refurbish some basketball courts at Gonzalez Park in Brawley. The rest of the money will go for programs.

He also praised Kelley.

"We owe him and the Probation Department a great deal of thanks for including us in this grant and we look forward to working with them again in the future," said Eaton.

County SAL Director Ed Preciado said the county program is planning on hiring another person to help with the program.

"With this person we can help reach the areas that we couldn't reach before," said Preciado.

"We're trying to reach other parts that PAL doesn't cover like Winterhaven, Heber, Seeley, Niland and the outskirts of Brawley and El Centro," said Preciado.

He said several individuals have been interviewed for the job and background checks are being done.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

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