Council Recognizes Winners of Student Art Contest

Citrus Heights, CA  |  Story and photo by Shaunna Boyd
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Members of Citrus Heights City Council stand with the 13 student winners of Republic Services’ annual Poster Contest.

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Citrus Heights Mayor Jeannie Bruins congratulated third-grader Bethany Morales, the grand prize winner of Republic Services’ annual Poster Contest, as her winning entry was projected on the screen.

Approves Grant Funding for Tactical Police Gear

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - Republic Services, which provides residential garbage and recycling services to Citrus Heights, recently held their annual Poster Contest in partnership with the San Juan Unified School District (SJUSD) and Citrus Heights schools, teachers, and students. This year’s contest prompt was “Put Plastics in Their Place,” and was intended to promote recent changes to recycling guidelines. Students in grades K-8 were eligible to participate in the contest, and members of the Citrus Heights City Council and city staff members helped choose the winning entries.

The contest winners were recognized at the January 24 City Council meeting. Twelve student winners received certificates and $25 gift cards to Barnes & Noble. The grand prize winner, third-grader Bethany Morales, was presented with a certificate and a $50 gift card. Arlington Elementary had the most participation and received $500 to spend on art-related school activities.

Dignity Health representative Dr. Jill Walsh, who will be the site medical director of the new Mercy Medical Group Citrus Heights Medical Office Building, updated the Council on the progress of the state-of-art medical center located at 7115 Greenback Lane in Citrus Heights. The expansion will include 50 physicians providing a wide range of primary care, family medicine, and specialty care services for patients. Dr. Walsh explained that they have planned a staggered approach to moving in to the new building, with the first wave planned for June 2019, and then second and third waves in July and August 2019.

The new medical center will serve the growing medical needs of the community and improve access to quality care for residents. Michael Korpiel, president of Mercy San Juan Medical Center, said, “We are a proud member of this community for over 50 years, and we are excited about the future.”

Councilmember Bret Daniels expressed his appreciation for the care provided by Mercy San Juan, saying that over the years many of his family members have been cared for by the dedicated staff.  He also wanted to bring up a concern about the “unintended consequences” of a new California law that says hospitals can’t discharge patients unless they have somewhere to go. Daniels is worried that the issue of homelessness in the community will impact the level of care. He said that if the beds are taken up by homeless persons, then there won’t be room to admit other citizens in need of medical attention. He asked, “What is Mercy San Juan doing to ensure that there is going to be room for the citizens of Citrus Heights?”

Korpiel replied, “The simple answer is that the law that was passed was the right thing to do. And we’ve been practicing the right thing to do already…We actively work with social workers and community partners to ensure people can be placed somewhere safe when they’re discharged…It’s the right thing to do and we’ve been doing it for a long time.”

During public comment, local resident David Warren stated that he believed “the Dignity Health representative gave an overly rosy view” of the homelessness issue. Warren said, “My experience at Mercy San Juan was very different from what was presented.” Warren claimed he saw many mentally ill or homeless people in the hospital and he believes that caused a delay in his own treatment and that of other citizens. He suggested that the Council ask Mercy San Juan to present a detailed plan for how they will deal with the homeless issue.

Chris Ryan with the Citrus Heights Police Department gave a presentation about the department’s request for Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Funding. Under this program, federal funds are allocated to augment public safety expenditures, which must be spent on law enforcement activities. The JAG funding available to Citrus Heights is $27,961 for fiscal year 2017 and $29,157 for fiscal year 2018; the funds must be expended by September 30, 2020 and September 30, 2021, respectively.

The 2017 funds will be used to purchase Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) cameras, the total cost of which will be $48,000. The Department intends to use special monies from the Citizen’s Option for Public Safety (COPS) fund for costs exceeding the grant amount. The closed-circuit SWAT camera systems will give officers access to vital and time-sensitive information in high-risk situations, including the layout of structures, potential barricades, and the location of the suspect and victims.

The 2018 funding will be used to purchase approximately 30 riot gear suits in various sizes, which will cost around $40,000. To cover the costs over the grant amount, COPS funds and/or the department’s budgeted general fund will be expended. The suits will allow officers to safely respond to partner agencies in need of mutual aid, and to engage effectively in crowd control events when necessary.

Officer Ryan stated that the purchase of both the tactical cameras and the riot suits will assist officers in responding to high-risk calls while increasing officer and citizen safety. The Council voted unanimously to approve the grant funding for the requested expenditures.