Rialto

During unprecedented crisis, Water District budget proposal protects ratepayers, commits to fiscal responsibility

In the wake of an unprecedented global health and economic crisis, West Valley Water District (WVWD) staff introduced a proposed fiscal year (FY) 2020-2021 operating budget that maintains water safety, protects ratepayers and reflects the need for fiscal responsibility and accountability.   The proposed WVWD FY2020-2021 budget prepares for revenue decline due to the negative economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data presented by Governor Gavin Newsom, initial unemployment claims show that 4 million Californians, or one in five workers, applied for unemployment insurance in mid-March through early May. These economic issues have grossly affected government revenues and are reflected in a nearly 25 percent anticipated drop in overall state tax revenues. Public utilities, like WVWD, are hit especially hard as they must continue to provide essential services even when many ratepayers may not be able to make payments. Anticipating this decline, WVWD staff conducted an unparalleled organization-wide, collaborative effort to prepare the proposed FY2020-2021 operating budget. The budget maintains critical infrastructure while considering several workforce reductions and applies a 10 percent reduction to operation expenditures. Staff is currently considering other measures to improve efficiencies and reduce expenses. Thanks to the foresight of staff, just a few…

Rialto High School senior, Kenny Hua, accepted to Stanford University

Rialto High School (RHS) senior and soon to be valedictorian, Kenny Hua, has been accepted to Stanford University. Hua, whose current weighted grade point average sits at a strong 4.71, will be studying environmental science and humanities this fall. Kenny Hua pictured at a Mock Trial competition, facing Los Osos High School on November 6, 2019. “It’s likely that I became interested in the environment when I was just a child. My family has a big back yard filled with fruit trees, flowers, and cacti and I have been gardening with my mother and grandma since I was a baby, which could possibly be where my interest began,” said Hua. In the meantime, between gardening and being ranked number one out of about 670 seniors at RHS, Hua managed to excel in advanced placement courses all four years of high school. “Throughout high school I chose the most challenging course set that I could take, because I always liked to challenge myself and get as much out of my education as I possibly can. Most students begin taking AP courses in their sophomore year, I…

Inland Empire residents form COVID Mask Force, donate over 7,000 3-ply face masks

Zomy Hernandez of Rialto and Jacqueline Friedel of Covina have found much success within their selflessness, as they have formed the Inland Empire’s first COVID Mask Force and donated over 7,000 3-ply facemasks, thus far. Hernandez, a stay-at-home mother, was in a local grocery store on March 20 and recounts breaking down in tears after witnessing the lack of facemasks present. “I broke down in tears and when I went home I asked myself, ‘What can I do to help?’ I know that I can sew,” said Hernandez. She then logged into neighborhood social media platform NextDoor and asked if any healthcare professionals, front line employees, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems were in need of a facemask. “I sent out that message on NextDoor and I was instantly flooded with messages. It got to the point that I had to create a spreadsheet to track and log how many masks were needed, just to stay organized,” continued Hernandez. On March 21, Hernandez received a message from another community advocate, Friedel, who inquired about assisting in the operations of the initiative. “I just…

Rialto Police Chief advises public to utilize Nixle for timely, accurate updates

During the virtual Rialto City Council meeting on April 14, Mayor Deborah Robertson and other members of the council discussed which tools and resources are best to keep the community informed during the COVID-19 public health crisis. “Can I get an answer in regard to whether or not there is anyone monitoring Rialto’s social media for those of us who do try to keep up with the dialogue in our community,” asked Robertson. The mayor’s question was in regard to the high volume of Rialto residents utilizing the neighborhood social media application Nextdoor, and not always spreading the correct information to other users. “As far as monitoring Nextdoor, we do not monitor it; we occasionally look at it when someone forwards us a notification of a conversation on that platform. The Rialto Police Department is utilizing Nixle and RialtoPolice.com to provide timely information to the community. At the police department’s website, you can find all of our platforms that we utilize, including Instagram and Twitter,” said Mark P. Kling, Chief of Police. “I am a little hesitant to begin monitoring Nextdoor because some of the…

Rialto City Council extends citywide local emergency, plans to reopen June 1

During a virtual meeting on April 14, Rialto City Council extended its citywide local emergency until at least May 31. “City of Rialto’s public counters will be closed through May 31, God willing we will have a reopening date on June 1,” said City Manager Rod Foster. Between now and the next council meeting on April 28, city staff will generate a progress edition magazine, which will possess COVID-19 information for city staff and residents. “At our next meeting, we will work towards coordinating some type of Fourth of July event, we will report back in two weeks on the feasibility of this item,” continued Foster. Also, in the meantime, city staff will be coordinating a plan and utilize resources to protect the safety and health of its grocers,” Foster said. When Foster mentioned the full functionality and staffing of the city manager’s office, police and fire department, Mayor Deborah Robertson said, “First off I would like to thank all of our city employees who are working through this public health crisis. I would like to send a special thank you to our fire, police…

Water District continues to end shutoffs, adjusts hiring freeze to improve services

Following Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order April 3 that restricts water shutoffs to homes and small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Valley Water District (WVWD) Board of Directors approved a measure that temporarily lifts the hiring freeze for critical vacant positions that will help improve operations and ensure ratepayers continue to have access to safe drinking water. WVWD Board President Channing Hawkins said, “Water is a critical public resource, which means we have to stay vigilant and operational during the coronavirus pandemic to protect West Valley ratepayers, residents and families. This also means filling water operations positions that are essential to delivering safe drinking water.” Governor Newsom signed an executive order that restricts water shutoffs to homes and small businesses while the State of California responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. The executive order also restores water for occupied residences that may have had their water shut off as of March 4, 2020 when the Governor proclaimed a state of emergency. However, WVWD is one of over 100 public and private water systems across California that already voluntarily suspended water shutoffs for non-payment as…

Aguilar announces over $13 million for Inland Empire Coronavirus response

On April 2, Congressman Pete Aguilar announced that five Inland Empire cities and the County of San Bernardino received a total of $13,133,589 in federal grant funding to begin responding to the financial crisis created by the spread of coronavirus. The new funding comes in the form of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program funds, which allow city and county governments to invest in programs to support economic growth, spur job creation, address homelessness and provide affordable housing. These funds were made available by the CARES Act, the third federal coronavirus response bill, which Congressman Aguilar helped pass on March 27, 2020. The breakdown of funding is as follows: County of San Bernardino: $6,560,515 City of San Bernardino: $3,023,526 City of Fontana: $1,854,673 City of Rialto: $714,324 City of Rancho Cucamonga: $604,816 City of Upland: $375,735 “These funds empower our communities to mitigate the economic damage COVID-19 is causing. From support for affordable housing programs to direct investment in economic recovery, the CARES Act provides Inland Empire residents with the resources they need to make it through this crisis. I…

Boyd Elementary teachers, staff reconnect with students during parade in Rialto neighborhood

Over two dozen vehicles meandered through a Rialto neighborhood Friday morning, April 3, steered by Boyd Elementary School teachers and staff in a spirited show of love to their students, waving and sounding the horn as they drove past. “When we found out we wouldn’t see our kiddos again for the rest of the school year we wanted to let them know that we miss them and that we love them and we’re thinking about them,” said Boyd Principal Kaynee Correoso. Boyd Elementary School Strategist Sasha Lindblom who has worked at the school site for 22 years came up with the idea for the parade. “We want to let the kids know how much love we have,” she said emotionally. “This is a Bulldog family here… and this is my second family.” Photo Rialto Unified: Myra Vera-Rizo and her children Adan and Bella Vera showing support to Boyd Elementary teachers and staff. Myra Vera-Rizo brought her son Adan Vera (5th grade) and daughter Bella Vera (kinder) to greet teachers as they exited the school parking lot in a caravan. “They’re here to support us, and…

Boyd Elementary teachers, staff reconnect with students during parade

Over two dozen vehicles meandered through a Rialto neighborhood Friday morning, April 3, steered by Boyd Elementary School teachers and staff in a spirited show of love to their students, waving and sounding the horn as they drove past. Photo MJ Duncan: A family waits eagerly as the sound of honking cars gets louder. From left: Toddler unidentified, Anna Salguero, Nathaniel Gutierrez (5th grade), Nicole Gutierrez (kinder), and Amanda Fernandez. “When we found out we wouldn’t see our kiddos again for the rest of the school year we wanted to let them know that we miss them and that we love them and we’re thinking about them,” said Boyd Principal Kaynee Correoso. Boyd Elementary School Strategist Sasha Lindblom who has worked at the school site for 22 years came up with the idea for the parade. “We want to let the kids know how much love we have,” she said emotionally. “This is a Bulldog family here… and this is my second family.” Myra Vera-Rizo brought her son Adan Vera (5th grade) and daughter Bella Vera (kinder) to greet teachers as they exited the school…

County COVID-19 dashboard now includes confirmed cases by city

The County COVID-19 dashboard now includes confirmed cases of COVID-19 by city. The dashboard can be viewed on wp.sbcounty.gov/dph/coronavirus. “The number of cases by city provides a picture of community spread within our county,” stated County Acting Health Officer Dr. Erin Gustafson. “However, residents of cities not listed or with low case numbers should assume and behave as if there are cases within their communities and comply with the statewide stay-at-home order. Residents of cities that are listed should not panic and feel the need to go somewhere else. I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of staying at home and practicing good hygiene to reduce further community spread.” The city data added today is intended to represent the places of residence for each confirmed case within the county, regardless of where they were tested or where they might be hospitalized. Cities and communities not listed have zero confirmed cases.Those who view the data should also keep in mind that residence data is based on information contained on lab slips that accompany test results. In some cases, that information might pertain the hospital where a…

San Bernardino County school districts extend school closures through May 1

In a unified effort to protect the health of students, staff and school communities, San Bernardino County Superintendent Ted Alejandre and school district superintendents countywide, in collaboration with the County Department of Public Health, made the collective decision to extend public school closures at least through May 1. “Because of the increasing spread of the novel coronavirus in our region and across the state, we are taking a proactive and aggressive approach to maintain the health, safety and well-being of our schools and communities,” County Superintendent Alejandre said. “These are very difficult circumstances for our education leaders, since developments with this virus are happening so quickly,” he added. “I fully support our district superintendents’ collective decision to do what is best for our students, employees and families across our county.” Most districts in the county decided on March 13 to close schools as a preventative measure to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Since the closures, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in San Bernardino County continue to rise. On March 17, the Board of Supervisors issued a countywide order to help stop the spread of…

Board of Education votes to shut down Rialto School District, breakfast, lunch provided to students via “Grab & Go” bags

The Rialto Unified School District Board of Education held an emergency meeting on Monday morning, March 16, to consider adopting a resolution that would allow RUSD Superintendent Dr. Cuauhtémoc Avila the authority to close the district to ensure and protect the welfare and safety of the community in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Board members voted unanimously in favor of the motion; non-essential personnel will not be required to report to work and placed on paid leave. Prior to board members going into closed session, Lisa Lindberg, president of Rialto Education Association, and RUSD educator Tobin Brinker expressed concerns about teachers reporting to school sites during the closure. “During this crisis you must also consider your employees and their families, our members have legitimate concerns about their loved ones and personal circumstances,” Lindberg noted. “Just as (RUSD Board Clerk) Mr. Martinez has chosen to self-quarantine himself from this meeting this morning, our members have the exact same concern.” Martinez participated in the meeting remotely. According to statements read by Brinker teachers were concerned about their safety and that of their families for fear of exposure…

Rialto City Council declares local emergency in response to COVID-19

An emergency meeting was held in Rialto on March 12 when Rialto City Council announced a local emergency in response to the coronavirus. Although at the time of the meeting no residents within city limits had contracted the virus, City Council was adamant towards being proactive in protecting constituents in the community and beyond. “Let’s all be very diligent, helpful and observant in this space. This is the time for us to look at each other, be kind and understand that we are all in this together. Do not racial profile or give anyone a sense of not being wanted or belonging,” said Mayor Deborah Robertson. During discussion, council recommended residents utilize air purifiers in their home. “This is an unfortunate local and international issue. We need to take action on these items today. I’m proud that we were able to secure some supplies from the Office of Emergency Services from the County of San Bernardino so our police and fire fighters have proper equipment while they’re out in the field,” said Councilman Andy Carrizales. Some of the action taken in the city is the…

Rialto approves funding from San Bernardino County to conduct Census 2020

On February 25, Rialto City Council approved $45,000 in funding from San Bernardino County to provide outreach services and conduct the 2020 Census. The census is performed every 10 years and in 2010, over 95,000 California residents were undercounted. “Obtaining an accurate and complete count poses challenges due to several factors. The housing affordability crisis has forced more Californians to move into hard-to-count unconventional housing and overcrowded dwellings or to become homeless,” said City Administrator Rod Foster. At the meeting, Foster stressed the importance of counting accuracy in order to garner an adequate amount of resources for Rialto residents. “The 2020 Census is important because it advocates more resources for community members. The Census helps plan new communities and schools and creates jobs for the community. It is about redistricting, fair representation and fair shares of funding,” continued Foster. In order to garner an accurate count of residents, Rialto has created its own complete count committee to inform the public on the importance of completing the Census 2020 questionnaire. “San Bernardino County Administrative Office has been allocated funds by California Complete Count Census 2020 to…

West Valley Water District hires firm to rewrite HR policies, procedures

On February 24, 2020, West Valley Water District (WVWD) Board President Channing Hawkins announced that the Water District selected a firm to rewrite the Human Resources: Policies and Procedures Manual, which is a critical step towards increase accountability, improving hiring procedures and ensuring the Water District maintains a healthy working environment and efficient operations for ratepayers. President Channing Hawkins stated, “It is inexcusable that we’ve been operating on an outdated policies and procedures for the Water District. I am confident the new policies and procedures will help end dysfunction and address ongoing personnel issues that need to be corrected. With these changes, employees can expect a better organization and ratepayers can expect a better, more efficient public resource.” Beyond written company culture, values and mission statement, the new manual will contain human resource and legal information as well as rights and obligations to employment. It will also contain organization expectations for employees and employee expectations for the company. Other items may include job descriptions, compensation, vacation time, sick days and other medical and family leave information. The new manual will help to fill knowledge gaps for…

City of Rialto submits state budget request to California State Assembly

On February 11, Rialto City Council approved state budget requests that will be sent to the office of Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes. “On Jan 14, a member of Assemblymember Reyes’s district office addressed the city office regarding a request for a potential budget request that the city could submit to the assembly member as part of the normal state budget process,” said Stephen Erlandson, deputy city manager. Since January, city staff, including public safety, public works, community services and community development, generated a potential budget request list of $70 million in funding. Public safety asked for $5.6 million to cover firefighter rehabilitation and breathing support, vehicle interoperable emergency radios, emergency operations center, and citywide license plate reader systems. In a $63.9 million request, Public Works and Community Services asked for state assistance for projects such as a traffic management center upgrade, Riverside at Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) Bridge Widening SR-210 at Alder Avenue Interchange Improvements, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Improvements. As for economic development, $625,000 is being requested to improve the city’s mobile home repair program and to generate a civic center place…

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