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KINGSBURG – Kingsburg’s new city council members hit the ground running after being sworn in at the Dec. 5 meeting.

Vince Palomar will represent District 5 and Jewel Hurtado will represent District 1. Mayor Michelle Roman was unopposed and will continue to represent District 4. Roman was also voted to continue as mayor by her fellow councilmembers while Councilwoman Laura North was voted to serve as mayor pro tem. It’s the first time in Kingsburg’s history that two women at been at the helm of the Council.

Outgoing councilmembers Bruce Blayney and Staci Smith were thanked for their service and Blayney shared some words of advice as he stepped down.

It’s been an interesting ride. I’ve served through some of the good times and the bad times, but the City of Kingsburg and all its citizens knew we were in this together. You, as new councilmembers, you’ve got a great management team. Trust them. They will do well for you. Remember, we’re all in this together, all of us. Thank you very much.”

Blayney’s served for 16 years on the Council sitting on numerous committees and commissions during that time. He’s credited with bringing a common sense approach to the decision-making process over the years.

Since it took years of negotiations with the local railroad, he’s glad that a sidewalk was finally installed at Sierra Street and Golden State Boulevard to provide a safe crossing. He also served as a volunteer with Kingsburg’s Fire Department and drove the ambulance for 12 years.

“Bruce worked to bring responsible development to Kingsburg with low-income senior housing, Community Facilities Districts for new developments and successfully passing a public safety sales tax measure,” Roman said.

Smith served for four years and was credited for having a “great vision for economic development, public safety and responsible development throughout her tenure including her support of the Measure E Public Safety Sales Tax,” Roman said.

Smith described her time on the council as an honor.

“It’s really been an honor to serve this community. I’ve enjoyed my time doing what I can for the City and its residents. It really has been an honor.”

Before heading into a closed session to discuss the city’s fire and police department contracts, Palomar and Hurtado said they were both excited for this new opportunity.

“I see I have a lot to learn but I’m looking forward to serving the City and its citizens,” Palomar said. “I’ll be learning as much as I can from the other council members as quick as possible. I know a little bit about Kingsburg so I feel confident I can do a good job as a councilmember. It’s a new experience but a great experience.”

Hurtado said she, too, was eager to start serving the City.

“I’m just excited to finally start getting to work. It’s been a lot of talk and a lot of waiting around so finally be sitting here and be going into closed sessions. It’s all just really exciting. It’s time to get to work.”

During the meeting, the Council also approved a 59-single family housing development to be built on 80 acres on the northeast corner of Kamm and Mendocino streets. Dave Crinklaw of West Star is developing the subdivision. The houses were proposed so as to avoid monotonous style with garages dominating the streetscape and meet standards required under the North Kingsburg Specific Plan. The lots will be between 7,000 and more than 10,000 square feet.

In an update on the Swedish Mill, local contractor Josh O’Bannon spoke about ongoing improvements being made at the building. While Councilmembers said they’re concerned about how the owners, Joseph and Elizabeth Ghazale, will finance all the needed renovations, they’re also eager to see work continue so it can be reopened as soon as possible. Another update was proposed for an upcoming meeting.

Council also adopted a resolution about requirements for short-term housing rentals for those interested in hosting guests and travelers through such programs as Airbnb. Currently, there are three homes registered under the program.

The new rules require homeowners to pay Transit Occupancy Tax to the City, have a local person as a point of contact, rent homes for less than 30 days and notify neighbors of their rental arrangements. Other rules regulate noise limits, parking requirements, trash disposal, the number of occupants and restrict trailers or RVs from being used for such purposes.

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

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