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Calipatria council opts for public forum on Turning Point issue

November 28, 2001|By MARIO RENTERIA, Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — The City Council here heard more comments Tuesday night regarding the prospect of Turning Point opening a home in 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 has been looking at 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.

At the meeting Tuesday the council considered a resolution that either would allow the program to move into the home or, if the council found it inconsistent with the permitted land use, reject it.


Before discussion began on the issue, City Councilman Leonard Vasquez expressed concerns about the program. He said he supports the program but not if it brings concern to residents.

He also offered to help the program find a home outside the city.

Joe Finnell, pastor of Calipatria Community Church, then told the council his side of the story.

"A lot of the people that come to a faith-based program like Turning Point not only don't use again (drugs) but they become a testimony in the city," said Finnell.

"They help your kids, grandchildren and help them understand the problems of alcohol and drug use," he said.

Councilman Robert Nakadaira asked Finnell how the "students" are screened for the program.

Finnell said the participants who would come to the Calipatria home would have already spent five or six months in the Holtville home, so new "students" would not be coming into the city.

Councilman Royal Sage said such information was not provided at the previous council meeting.

Some council members made it clear they support the program but not if residents do not support it.

The council decided to conduct a public forum at which residents could meet with Turning Point staff and participants to discuss the program.

At the previous council meeting a petition signed by 40 residents against the program was turned into City Clerk Cathy Hoff. Councilwoman Thelma Baker said she would like to see those 40 people attend that public forum.

The council did not set a date for the meeting but it will be sometime in December at the Carmichael Center across from City Hall.

The resolution will be brought back to the council in February.

In other city business:

>>The council rejected a resolution that would have changed the four-day work week schedule for City Hall employees to a five-day work week. Vasquez and Beltran voted in favor while Nakadaira, Sage and Baker voted against.

>>The council passed a resolution that will not allow the work-week schedule question to be brought back to council until it is time to begin the process of preparing for the fiscal 2003 budget. Nakadaira, Sage and Baker voted in favor while Beltran and Vasquez dissented.

>>The council unanimously passed a resolution to oppose fallowing of farmland in connection with efforts to restore the Salton Sea. Imperial Irrigation District Director Bruce Kuhn appeared before the council to recommend opposition to fallowing projects connected to saving the Salton Sea.

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

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