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Lemoore makes changes with several employee associations

LEMOORE — The Lemoore City Council met Tuesday and approved tentative agreements with several associations, including salary and health benefit increases.

On the council’s agenda were memorandums of understanding with the Lemoore General Association of Service Employees Unit, the Lemoore Police Officers Association and the Lemoore Police Sergeants Association.

Assistant City manager Michelle Speer outlined the proposed changes that City staff worked on with the associations for Council.

First up was the Service Employees Unit, which proposed the following changes:

  • 8 percent salary increase
  • Change from monthly to bi-weekly pay
  • Uniform allowance increases and boot allowance increase
  • Up to $1,350 per month for health benefits paid for by the City
  • Home buyer’s assistance up to $10,000

All the changes for the Service Employees Unit are estimated to cost the City about $436,700.

Next up were the Police Officers Association and Police Sergeants Association, which both proposed the following changes:

  • 8 percent salary increase
  • Change from monthly to bi-weekly pay
  • Problem Oriented Police officers will receive premium pay equal to 2.5 percent of their base pay for specific assignments
  • The uniform allowance will increase to $1,200, to be paid once a year in January
  • Up to $1,350 per month for health benefits paid for by the City
  • One holiday and two half-day holidays will be added as paid holidays
  • Home buyer’s assistance up to $15,000

All the changes for the Police Officers Association are estimated to cost the City about $420,000 and changes for the Police Sergeants Association are estimated to cost about $55,000.

Lastly was a discussion about changes for unrepresented employees, which Speer said are not represented by a bargaining unit, including mid- and executive-level managers.

Changes proposed for unrepresented employees included:

  • 8 percent salary increase
  • Up to $1,350 per month for health benefits paid for by the City
  • Increase in administrative leave
  • Home buyer’s assistance up to $10,000

Council members were receptive to the changes and voted unanimously to approve all the agreements with the various associations and employees.

Speer said the agreements will start Jan. 1, 2018, and end June 30, 2020.

Rally for DACA in Hanford

HANFORD — Marco Reyes, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) student, stood in front of Congressman David Valadao’s (R-Hanford) office Thursday and read a letter addressed to the congressman aloud.

“[My family] came to America for a better home, and you want to take that away from me?,” Reyes asked Valadao aloud. The congressman was not at his Hanford office at the time.

Thursday was considered the National Day of Action for the DREAM Act across the country. Thousands of students flooded both Sacramento and the Senate building in Washington, D.C.

Around 30 people gathered in front of Valadao’s office on Irwin Street in Hanford as well to advocate for DACA and the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

Pedro Elias, the director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, said thousands of DACA students are carrying a weight around on their shoulders because they don’t know what their fate is.

“They’re going to school, they’re working, they’re being productive citizens,” Elias said. “And yet, they’re still waiting for a decision.”

Daniel Penaloza, the Central Valley organizer for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, challenged Valadao to stand up for immigrant students.

“We need you [Valadao] to work tirelessly with your colleagues and members of Congress to ensure the passage of the DREAM Act,” Penaloza said, adding the future of the immigrant youth are in jeopardy.

Reyes implored Valadao to stand up for DACA students and the DREAM Act because he said immigrants are no different than other citizens.

“Just because I’m an immigrant doesn’t make me less than you,” Reyes said. “It just means I don’t have the rights you are given so freely.”

Reyes said many of the immigrant students come from hardworking families and are thankful to get the opportunity to get an education, a job, and help their communities.

“Last I checked, people live here, people pay rent, people actually buy stuff and help keep this economy going,” Reyes said of immigrants. “Don’t make us your problem, make us your solution. We have something greater to offer. Don’t take us for granted.”

The rally also included speeches from representatives of Health Access California and Mi Familia Vota.

Two arrested after semi-automatic rifle found in car

LEMOORE — A man and woman were arrested Thursday after Lemoore officers found a semi-automatic rifle in the backseat of their car during a traffic stop, police said.

The department said an officer made a traffic stop on a vehicle that was swerving and crossing over the median in the area of South Lemoore Avenue and Highway 198.

Police said the vehicle was being driven by 23-year-old Vanessa Garcia from Lemoore while 29-year-old Vernon Lewis from Lemoore was in the passenger seat.

While speaking to Garcia and Lewis during the stop, officials said officers saw a black .308 caliber semi-automatic rifle in plain view on the back seat. They said the semi-automatic rifle had a high capacity magazine affixed to it.

Because Lewis is a convicted felon restricted from being in possession of a firearm or ammunition, police said they arrested and transported him to Kings County Jail.

While inside Kings County Jail, authorities said Lewis was found to have brought in cocaine and also had a .308 caliber bullet in his possession.

Authorities said Lewis was booked on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm, being a felon in possession of ammunition, possession of a high-capacity magazine and bringing a controlled substance into a jail facility. His bail was set at $55,000.

Police said Garcia was arrested and booked on suspicion of driving under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bail was set at $10,000.