I wanted to take this time to reflect on 2016 and make some predictions on 2017. The Board of Supervisors met for the first time this week to selected a new Chairman Mike Kelley, Vice Chairman Ray Castillo and newly elected Supervisor Luis Plancarte. I am pleased to be a part of a progressive, dynamic board who represent the interests of the entire county. The Board promises to be a big part of the future growth of Imperial County.
The past several years has seen the birth and growth of the renewable energy industry employing hundreds of local residents in good paying jobs. Although these jobs were temporary, the unemployment percentage has gone down. Our job is not done. By focusing on the restoration of the Salton Sea and the geothermal resources that exist, Imperial County is on the cusp of a renewable energy surge. It is in our best interests to work with the Imperial Irrigation District to save the sea and work towards the mitigation of the air quality impacts. We promise to work together for the betterment of our quality of life.
Regarding the new downtown Port of Entry in Calexico, the first phase will be completed in March of 2018. We are hopeful that our lobbying efforts on the federal level will result in receiving second phase funding shortly thereafter. We will continue to push this on the federal level. The other issues will be to ensure the State and Federal governments live up to their commitment to restoring the Salton Sea.
I will also be working with the State Water Resources Control Board and Executive Officer Jose Angel to bring to fruition the project that will beautify the banks of the New River with the parkland project that has been funded. This project should begin this year and include a green beltway along the river banks and a diversion of water for partial processing. All this will occur within the Calexico City limits.
For the past four years, I have been pushing the establishment of a Call Center in Imperial Valley where hundreds of our residents could be employed. I will work feverishly with IVEDC and our own Economic Development Department to offer proper incentives for such a project.
The County of Imperial will expand Behavioral Health Services in the City of Calexico. Due to our increasing population and expanded need of additional services, the County is locating in the old Rabobank building on Third Street. Look for that opening in the near future. We are also looking at expanding our Social Services and Workforce Development Department in Calexico.
The Board of Supervisors will formally meet with Mexicali Mayor Gustavo Sanchez later this month to establish formal ties and begin the process of coordinating efforts regarding border issues. We will also be meeting with U.S. and Mexican Customs officials.
In closing, the Board allocated over $90,000.00 dollars in public benefit monies to support local youth, homeless, and sports programs in the City of Calexico. I thank my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors for supporting these programs.
These are just a few examples of how your Board of Supervisors is looking at expanding services countywide. If there is anything we can assist in, contact our office anytime.