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KINGSBURG – They’ve already been working to protect Kingsburg and the surrounding areas from fires, and after the July 18 Kingsburg City Council meeting, it’s now official.

Fire Chief Tim Ray said the reserve firefighters who were sworn in and pinned in an official ceremony at the latest council meeting have already been hard at work with the department already. The department hosted this pinning ceremony to recognize them and their families.

“These reserves have actually been working for us for a little while now,” Chief Ray said. “This is the first opportunity we’ve had to get them altogether to be able to do a pinning ceremony.”

City Clerk Abigail Palsgaard administered the Oath of Office to Jonathan Sardisco, Sergio Gonzales, William Olivo, Jason Andaya, Diego Rodriguez and Dominic Smith. Here is some information on each new department member:

  • Smith is a reserve firefighter/EMT and currently works full time for American Ambulance. He works as an EMT for the Island Water Park. He graduated from Fresno City Fire Academy. His fiancé, Raylene Nunez, pinned him for the ceremony.
  • Rodriguez is also a reserve firefighter/EMT. He graduated from the Fresno City Fire Academy. He’s been listed on the Fresno City College’s Dean’s List and works full time at American Ambulance. His father, Jose Rodriguez, pinned him during the ceremony.
  • Andaya is a reserve firefighter/medic. He works at American Ambulance and is currently attending the Fresno City Fire Academy. His father, Freddy Andaya, pinned him at the ceremony.
  • Olivo is a reserve firefighter/medic who works full-time for American Ambulance. He’s on the STAR rescue team and is a S.W.A.T. medic. He currently attends the Fresno City Fire Academy. His father, Carlos Olivo, pinned him for the ceremony.
  • Gonzales is a reserve firefighter/EMT. He works at Cold Stone Creamery. His mother, Melissa Gonzales, pinned him for the ceremony.
  • Sardisco is a reserve firefighter/EMT. He graduated from the Fresno City College Academy and just passed his national registry as a certified EMT. His father, Edward Sardisco, pinned him for this ceremony.

Crime report

In his monthly crime report, Police Chief Neil Dadian reported that even though the more serious part 1 crimes are down from 40 to 32 over the previous month, the number of burglaries is up from 13 to 17. July statistics will be reported next month, but Dadian said he’s aware that there’s been a notable increase in auto thefts and vehicle burglaries so far in July.

“Several victims left credit cards, wallets and purses in their vehicles,” Dadian said. “That’s probably one of the reasons they were stolen. We’re following up but it compounds the problem. There’s the vehicle theft, then the burglary and their credit cards are being used right away. It just adds a lot of complexities to the case.”

Dadian cautioned residents to not leave valuables in plain view, even if their cars are locked.

“Leaving things out in the open, purses, cell phones or wallets is just an easy opportunity. It comes down to some common sense. I’ve heard comments from officers taking the reports that the victims say, ‘This is Kingsburg. I didn’t think I had to do that here.’ That’s nice to hear but it doesn’t really apply anymore.”

Dadian also gave updates on follow-through efforts regarding apartment complex robberies, arrests from a May 2018 shooting and a multi-agency operation involving area police departments and Fresno County policing agencies which took place July 12.

“Us chiefs got together and decided we needed to do some enforcement actions in our cities. It was Selma for half a shift and Kingsburg for half a shift. That was a very productive force. We garnered a handful of arrests and citations. We conducted parole and probation checks as well as some high-profile enforcement. We just want to let the criminals know we’re here.”

Councilwoman Laura North said she noticed the number of reported rapes have increased. There were three in 2016, two in 2017 and five so far this year.

Dadian said he would look into the individual cases to see what proactive steps could be taken regarding prevention.

New police officers

Dadian also reported that two police officers - Joshua Carey and Charles Underwood - have already been hired using Measure E funds. They served as reserved officers with the department beforehand and have already undergone 400 hours of training, he said.

“They volunteered their time for the training so I wanted to reward them by offering them a job. They were already working for us part time and we made an easy transition to full time,” he said. The officers were introduced briefly and later will be officially sworn in at a future meeting.

Measure E

Although revenue from Measure E will not be collected until November, the Council had earlier approved using general fund dollars to hire the officers immediately. Those funds will be paid back to the Measure E account.

Measure E is the one percent sales tax that was passed with 66 percent voter approval in the June 5 statewide primary election. A committee will be formed to ensure those Measure E dollars are being spent on public safety expenses. In discussing how to form that committee, Council weighed whether each council member should appoint a representative from their district, or have applicants apply city wide.

Mayor Roman said she’d like to see equal representation from throughout the city, but she’d rather have citizens who are genuinely interested serving on the committee.

“I do like the idea of having all the districts represented because it is public funds,” Roman said. “But now that we’re talking about it, I don’t want to rush out there and have to find somebody and say ‘please apply’ even though they’re not interested.”

The matter will be discussed more at the Aug. 1 meeting. Committee members will be selected after the Nov. 6 election.

In other matters, the Council heard an update from Economic Development Consultant Jolene Polyack regarding ongoing building projects around town and City Manager Alex Henderson gave a general fund balance report.

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

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