Calipatrians voice concern, support for Turning Point's plan to locate in city

November 15, 2001|By MARIO RENTERIA, Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — Residents here filled the City Council chambers Tuesday to express their concerns about and support for the prospect of Turning Point moving into the city.

Turning Point is a Christian program dedicated to helping individuals with "life-controlling" problems. The program has been operating in Holtville for seven years, where it has two homes.

Turning Point director Mike Johnson said the group has been talking about opening a home in the Northend to extend its service. The home it is seeking is on the corner of Park Avenue and Church Street and belongs to Calipatria Community Church.

Last month the item went before the city Planning Commission for it to examine whether the area is zoned for such a purpose.


George Galvan of The Holt Group, which provides planning services to the city, told the council the Planning Commission agreed it was zoned for that purpose.

The area is zoned residential and the home that would house the Turning Point program is a four-bedroom house.

The item will be brought to the next City Council meeting Nov. 27 as an action item. The council will decide whether to override the Planning Commission's finding.

Johnson, under the information items section of a council meeting, spoke to the council and told it about the benefits of bringing the program to the city.

He talked about the outline of the program, stressing it has strict rules and high standards.

"These guys have a strict structure and have a regimen they must follow," he said. "It's not an open-door policy."

Johnson talked a little about himself. He showed the council and residents a police mug shot of himself nine years ago.

"Nine years ago I was hopeless," he said. "You couldn't help me."

Johnson turned around his life after joining a similar program.

"This is an opportunity for them to turn their life around," he said of program participants.

While most residents at the meeting conceded they think the program is helpful and needed, some readily admitted they would be uncomfortable having the home in their neighborhood.

Blanca Canales told the council she is concerned because her children play in a park near the home.

Michael Hurtado said he was a participant of the program and has since changed his life. He also said the city and residents should not fear the home.

He said, "All you have to do is walk down Main Street and you'll see drug dealers.

"There are people selling heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana," he said.

That statement brought a reaction of confirmation from some people at the meeting.

Mike Ascudo said he remembers being arrested by Mayor Fred Beltran several times when he was 10 years old. Beltran, now the police chief in Westmorland, was a police officer in Calipatria at that time.

Ascudo said he changed his life when he joined such a program and is now a productive member of society.

In other city business, the council appointed Marcia Carter to fill a vacancy on the Planning Commission.

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

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