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Selma City Council: Use of CARES Act funding discussed

Selma City Council: Use of CARES Act funding discussed

Selma City Council: Use of CARES Act funding discussed

In their first meeting of the month on Sept. 8, the Selma City Council discussed seven items including the city's utilization of CARES Act funding. 

SELMA — The Selma City Council held a lengthy meeting last week on Tuesday, Sept. 8 and here are some highlights of what was discussed.

Coronavirus Relief funding

The council discussed the city’s potential use of funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which $301,715 will be allocated to Selma.

The relief funds is set to be distributed in four ways:

  • $60,000 to COVID-19 related expenses including personal protective equipment (PPE). telework expenses, facility modifications, marketing/outreach materials and training
  • $60,000 for business relief grant funds
  • $30,000 for senior meals
  • $151,715 for budget contingency in the event revenue projections fall short due to impacts of COVID-19 on the economy

The City will receive CARES Act funding in six disbursements with the first two already received on July 30 and Aug. 24. Selma received $50,286 in each disbursement. Funds from the CARES Act must be utilized by Dec. 30.

There was discussion on whether funds in certain categories will increase including the money toward small business relief.

The council approved the categories in a 5-0 vote and will discuss the allocations for the categories at its Sept. 21 meeting.

Lincoln Park project

The council unanimously passed to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Selma and American Legion Post No. 12 to allocate changes to Lincoln Park’s Veterans Plaza.

The changes to Veterans Plaza include four statues, four cement benches to replace the existing benches, replacement of the existing flagpole, raising the height and replacing of the outer masonry wall to the height of the inner masonry wall. The plaza will also have installation of new landscaping with bushes, trees and plants.

The goal of the project is to have a dedication on Nov. 11 (Veteran’s Day) if COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. If the dedication can’t be held, the city and American Legion will determine a future date.

“We’re very excited to get this project going,” American Legion Commander Eliseo Zuniga said. “I’ll like to thank Mayor [Louis] Franco, the city council members, Scott [Robertson], Sarah [Guerra], Jim [Avalos], and John Trujillo for giving us this opportunity to get our vision from American Legion to get this dedication for the veterans that’s deserved.”

The masonry improvements are estimated to not exceed $10,000 in which the American Legion will cover the costs, as well as covering costs related to the statues, park benches and lighting. The American Legion will contribute $500.00 annually to Selma for improvements and maintenance. The city will continue its responsibility of keeping up with the plaza including day-to-day sprinklers and plants. American Legion agreed to assist the city with repairs and/or damages to the statues, wall and lighting if needed.

During the holidays, the annual Christmas tree location will remain at the center of the plaza, but the Santa house will be moved outside of the plaza due to its size and appearance.

Veterans Plaza was established on July 6, 1999 as a dedication to veteran and honoring them for their service to the United States military. Lincoln Park was established in 1912.

On Memorial Day last year (May 25, 2019), a ceremony was held in which a monument was constructed and placed within the plaza by American Legion Post 12.

COVID-19 update

There was a COVID-19 update presentation by Tracy Tosta, Selma’s economic development administrative analyst, and she highlighted many things including California’s color coded four-tier system and updated statistics.

As of Sept. 8, Selma has 1,428 total cases with 213 of them active and the other 1,215 cases closed. The city has 20 deaths, 532 of Selma’s cases have come from close contact, 631 are from community spread/unknown, 26 are travel related and 239 are under investigation. Selma has the third most cases in the county.

From the week ending on Aug. 18, the county has a 16.5% adjusted case rate while the county’s positivity rate is at 11%.

Fresno County is in the purple tier, which is the widespread category. The county would need to lower the positivity rate to 8% to enter the red category. Once the county moves to the red category, the county must have an 8% positivity rate or lower for two weeks and stay in a one week holding period. Schools would be able to reopen and more businesses could operate indoors if the county maintains a positivity rate of 8% or lower for two weeks. Businesses would be able to operate in a limited capacity indoors including places of worship (25% or 100 or fewer people), movie theaters (25%), restaurants (25% or 100 or fewer people), personal care services and gyms (10%).

Businesses that are currently able to operate outdoors in the county are places of worship, wineries (not breweries), gyms and fitness centers, offices for non-essential sectors, personal care services (nail salons, body waxing), cardrooms/racetracks, zoos and museums, movie theaters and family entertainment centers. Tattoo parlors bars/breweries, nightclubs, concert venues, festivals and theme parks are businesses that are supposed to remain closed.

Proclamation declaring Jaswant Singh Khalra Day

The council began the meeting with a proclamation declaring Sept. 6, 2020 as Jaswant Singh Khalra Day in the City of Selma.

Singh Khalra was a human rights activist and a respected leader within the Sikh community and beyond from Punjab, India. Sept. 6 is already recognized by the Sikh community and human rights supporters across the world as the date of the kidnapping and murder of Singh Khalra in 1995.

“Jaswant Singh Khalra is a hero and a role model to not only to the Sikh community, but to anyone who advocates for justice and accountability,” Harman Singh, program associate of the Jakara Movement, said during the presentation. “It was due to Jaswant Singh Khalra’s fierce advocacy for justice that the doors were open for many Sikhs to find asylum throughout many cities in California including the large population here in Selma.

“Once again, proclamation of Jaswant Singh Khalra Day by the City of Selma, by the city council at Selma is much appreciated and should be celebrated by all. On behalf of the Jakara Movement, the Sikh community of Selma and beyond, we thank the City of Selma for this important proclamation.”

The Jakara Movement is a non-profit community organization that works with the youth throughout the region.

Following Singh’s presentation, Mayor Franco told him that the council is glad to recognize a figure such as Singh Khalra.

“I know that I speak for all of the council that we’re happy and that we embrace our Sikh community here in Selma and we feel that diversity makes us a better community,” Franco said. “We’re more than happy to recognize this important date in your culture and your history.”

Jeremiah Martinez can be reached at (559) 583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com. Follow Jeremiah on Twitter at @TheJerryMartin. 

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