WESTMORLAND — The Northend Action Council held its monthly town hall meeting at the Community Presbyterian Church Fellowship hall in Westmorland to discuss issues on the Northend side of Imperial County Monday, November 25. Council and board members mentioned upcoming projects concerning the Westmorland Community Food Pantry, Memory Gardens Cemetery, Niland Park project, Westmorland Park potential, and traffic calming solutions on Highway 86 through Westmorland.
“Lots of things have gotten in motion as a result to these community issues. A lot of people have felt they have been neglected,” said Northend Action Council Secretary John Brooks Hamby. “So this is an opportunity to discuss any item in the agenda.”
Traffic safety through Highway 98 was discussed as residents voiced their concern about children crossing to school, suggesting more warning signs and possible flashing signs for drivers to slow down.
Cari Augusta, founder of the Westmorland Community Food Pantry, an outreach project for children and senior citizens in need. She discussed the upcoming projects for the food pantry.
“The greatest need we saw was food insecurity. We have a lot of hungry kids at school, and a lot of seniors mention their social security check do not meet ends,” said Augusta. “This is what inspired us to start the food pantry and we have been working with the IV Food Bank.”
Issues at Memory Gardens Cemetery were brought up regarding its neglect and future projects to help the abandoned cemetery. Cruz Abarca has been caring for the cemetery, despite its state of neglect.
“About 65 veterans are buried in that cemetery. If you go out there, you can see it’s not taken care of at all. The cemetery has no access to water so [Abarca] has made his own labor cleaning the cemetery,” said Hamby.
“Abarca is a Brawley resident and Vietnam Veteran who has taken the time to work on the cemetery. He saw the need to help out the home of many soldiers, dating back to the Spanish-American war,” said Hamby. “He has made a big effort to water the cemetery.”
“As a county we have been abandoning the cemetery,” said County CEO Tony Rouhotas. “Abarca is a wonderful man who has been filling up tanks at his house. He takes over 200 gallons just to water the trees.”
Rouhotas shared the efforts being made to restore the cemetery, saying the County continues to work with IID to fix cracks in the pond. He also said the County is partnering with the Veterans Council to fix headstones and plaques.
The council also discussed Niland and Westmorland’s water issues and how the County is coming together to work on expenses.
“The board voted to donate land, 80 acres donated to county,” said County Supervisor Ryan Kelley. “We are negotiating terms and provide water delivery. The next step is asking local health authority. Eventually, we would like to put lights and restrooms but for now we are working towards the green space.”