EL CENTRO – The Board of Supervisors officially proclaimed the week of October 7 – 13th as Fire Prevention Week. Tony Rouhotas, Imperial County Fire Chief, reported the events they planned to reach the public concerning fire safety and prevention. Children are a major part of their outreach which is accomplished visiting schools accompanied by their mascot, Sparky, the fire dog.
Rouhotas explained, amidst chuckles in the boardroom, that the rookie of the group has the pleasure of donning the mascot uniform. “But, we’ve all had to wear it at one time or another, even me.”
Board votes to support Imperial County Desert Museum
The board also voted to support the Imperial County Desert Museum by sending a letter to the Bureau of Land Management to urge their granting the museum curator status. Without that status, federal and state dollars are lost, but more importantly, local artifacts of the valley’s first inhabitants are taken out of the county and they do not return.
The museum did something Neal Hitch, current director, has never seen before. With local donations, the community raised a museum from square one, including a curation laboratory. Between visitors and donors, the museum enjoys an annual income of $120,000. The BLM stated they require, among other things, twice those funds to be able to designate the facility a curation museum, a title that enables the 20,000 plus artifacts to remain in the valley.
Interest in Imperial Valley archeology began with Malcolm Rogers of San Diego. He did field work out in the desert in the 1920’s and ’30’s. He found ancient Indian trails and the ancient Lake Cahuilla shoreline. He established a chronology of the ancient cultures and described their tools. He was also the first to describe their pottery types.
In 1970 Imperial Valley College created an archaeology program. Jan von Werlhof was responsible for the program. His classes recorded more than 6,000 of the 9,000 sites recorded in the county.
The board agreed to become a squeaky wheel and to continue to push for the museum’s upgrade in status.