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SELMA – Local youth were the main beneficiaries after the latest round of grants were awarded by the Selma Health Care District at the April 4 meeting. The board approved funds for supplies and services that will prevent concussions, drownings and drug or gang activity.

A fourth grant for $15,000 was approved to sponsor the patient lobby of United Health Centers’ newest facility in Selma by outfitting the area with 60 chairs, end tables, 10 lobby picture frames and two monitors.

Selma Health Care District Board President Rose Robertson is a sibling of one of UHC’s board members, Sarah Guerra, but did not recuse herself from this vote. Lorane Avalos sits on both the board of the United Health Center and the Selma Health Care District and thus she did recuse herself and left the room during this vote. Board member Colleen Nelson was absent at this meeting.

No representative from United Health Centers was present at the meeting so SHCD administrative secretary Mateo Rodriguez read from their application.

“[The patient lobby sponsorship] allows the District to put a picture frame inside the waiting room and also on the door saying they sponsored it. It’s like a lot of advertising and benefits the community that way,” he read.

SHCD Vice President Anthony Herrera said one way UHC raises funds through their foundation was through sponsorship of either an exam room, dental suite or the lobby area.

“They’re looking at ways to help fund what they do,” Herrera said. “Basically, you check the boxes if you want to sponsor those areas. They put your name for a year that you’re the sponsor of that. They’d also put you on their website, [and] a link to our website from their website. They’d create a video of our organization and the partnership.”

Board member Leticia Gallardo hesitated before hearing the matter.

“If they want a donation, then they need to be here to represent themselves.”

Robertson however said no one had to be present for the grant application to be heard.

“No, they don’t. It’s not in the policy.”

Robertson touted United Health Center’s medical operations and new facility on Highland Avenue as a worthwhile partnership.

“I think it’s a great thing for us to partnership and get our name out there on patients that are going to be going through the brand-new facility. The ribbon-cutting was just a month ago and they do a lot of good for our community.”

The grant was unanimously approved.

The Selma Health Care District receives funds from taxpayers in their District, which includes Selma and portions of Kingsburg and Parlier. Treasurer Leticia Gallardo reported that a Feb. 1 deposit from property taxes was made for $92,890.97. Deposits are typically received every six months.

The SHCD Board also approved:

  • Selma End Zone: $11,423.44

End Zone President Chris Ambrose said the safety equipment they would buy with the funds for the Selma High football team - sleds, a mobility shoot and helmet padding - would help prevent injuries.

“All this equipment we’re asking for is to reduce the amount of impact we have on our players,” he said of the goal pf preventing head, back and neck injuries. “A really big emphasis has been place on that over the past four or five years.”

The board voted three to one to approve the grant, with Herrera declining.

  • Selma Recreation Swim: $7,100

Mikhal Kirchner said Selma Recreation Director would use these funds to hire lifeguards which are required while Swim America gives swim lessons at Selma High to teach local youth how to swim correctly and to do so in a supervised area. Lifeguards must be on duty during the summer sessions from June 8 to Aug. 11.

“The more structured a program, the safer it is. This is going to be a tough year. The rivers are going to be faster and higher and kids will be curious,” he said of the potential danger from the heavy rainy season that's filled Rockwell Pond.

The grant was unanimously approved.

  • Boys & Girls Club: $24,973

Unit Director Mark Armenta and President/CEO Diane Carbray detailed how the after-school programs teach character and leadership, education and career development, health and lifestyle skills, the arts, sports and fitness. They’ve also recently attended volleyball, basketball and flag football tournaments, Armenta said focusing on their health-related activities.

Carbray said their annual budget is $78,000 and the grant covers a portion of staff salaries to operate the programs and help pay for program, janitorial and office supplies.

“Even though it says ‘salaries,’ it’s like having a school without teachers. It only goes for the direct services to the kids. You have to have people to run the programs,” Carbray said.

Kirchner spoke up in behalf of the Club stating it deters children from getting involved in criminal activity and gangs after school.

“We’ve got to keep these kids busy from three o’clock to seven o’clock. These are good kids but they follow and they listen. I’m a big supporter of the Boys and Girls Club because of the hours they serve. Let’s keep these kids busy.”

The grant was unanimously approved.

District elections

Demographer Doug Johnson gave an update on how the District will meet California Voting Rights Act requirements that were first enacted 15 years ago. This will affect the 2020 elections and all elections in the future. In the 2020 election, Robertson and Avalos’ seats are up for re-election. The District will change from at-large elections to district elections where voters only vote for candidates in their area. Candidates are required to live in the area they wish to represent.

Even though the Board does reflect Selma’s population, there’s a low threshold for lawsuits to be won against districts that use at-large elections, Johnson said. Fighting the requirement has cost other cities and special districts millions of dollars in legal fees, he added.

“There are a couple of jurisdictions that fought - Palmdale, Santa Clara and Santa Monica. They’ve all spent millions of dollars on their defense. So far, nobody has won. That’s why all these jurisdictions are switching.”

Johnson used a Powerpoint to show how Selma’s population, registered voters, demographics and natural boundaries will play a part in forming the five new districts. Each zone must contain an estimated 5,834 residents.

Johnson will return to a future meeting and bring draft maps for public input. The public will be allowed to draw up their own suggested zone areas.

Community outreach

The SHCD Board approved putting $3,000 into a community outreach budget so they can attend local events and publicize their functions.

“What we’re trying to do is reach out to the community and get the information out on what we’re doing so you’re up-to-date on some of the things we’re going to do and what we have planned,” Herrera said.

Robertson said they would use the money to pay for banners, tents, booth fees, and to purchase promotional items such as water bottles and brochures with their website on it.

“Like my mom, she doesn’t have a website or a computer, but she could read something,” she said of the promotional items booth visitors could take with them.

Social media budget

The board considered hiring a social media manager to publicize their events on three social media platforms. The proposed manager was not present, so the item was postponed.

The District has a website, but it cannot be updated often, Robertson said. It contains the members' emails, grant application forms and links to meetings from 2014 to 2018. There are no agendas for the 2019 board meetings, however. The bylaws are listed, however there is no information under the Selma Healthcare District History link.

The social media manager would take pictures and videos of SHCD activities and post those to the social media sites.

“This is another thing Anthony [Herrera] and I spoke about when we had a conversation about being out with the community and informing them,” Robertson said. The exact amount to pay whoever is hired has not yet been decided, but the amount of $1,000 to $2,000 was listed on the agenda.

“Whatever it is that somebody would charge us on something like this,” Robertson said. “This is new to us, too. I know on a certain video to do that explains everything, something like that could be $250 for a video on expanding on something. A 20- to 30-second video that visually gives a lot of information on what we’re doing, what this board is about, what functions we’re getting out there. It’ll be something.”

Board counsel Kenneth Price said they would need to decide a social media policy, however, to make sure they don’t violate the Brown Act by having multiple board members responding to questions posed on those social media platforms.

“Only to the extent the three [board members] are coordinating in the message privately. Then you might have an issue there, like a serial meeting issue,” he said.

Treasurer’s report

In a treasurer’s report, Gallardo shared that the District’s current balance is $244,927.90 as of April 4.

December expenses included $65 to Vanilla Bean Bakery, $2,437.48 to Leon’s Computers and $860.76 to Exceptional Sports for Youth with Needs. February bills included attorney’s fees of $2,726. Among January expenses was a grant for $10,669.84 for Selma High Basketball. A Feb. 1 deposit from property taxes was made for $92,890.97 and deposits are typically received twice each year.

Girls basketball

During the meeting, the SHCD Board also heard from Selma High’s girls basketball coach Paul Romig who brought basketball players Zoe Gonzalez and Rachel Vieira to the meeting. Vieira is the team’s all-time leading scorer with more than 1,400 points, he said.

“And maybe not a coincidence, in those uniforms they won the first ever section title,” he said of the girls winning the CIF Central Section Division III Championship. “We wanted to express our gratitude,” he said of a previously approved grant used to purchase those uniforms.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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