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9/13/2013 6:00:00 AM
Blythe Community Center repairs discussed at council meeting
Times file photoBlythe City Council discussed the Community Centerís plight during Tuesday nightís city council meeting.
Times file photo

Blythe City Council discussed the Community Centerís plight during Tuesday nightís city council meeting.

Jaclyn Randall
Former Times Editor

BLYTHE - The Blythe Community Center "should be the jewel of the city," Councilman Wayne Cusick said at Tuesday night's Blythe City Council meeting in response to Agenda Item number 17 - Community Center Repairs - and a report by Mallory Sutterfield, City Manager assistant/city clerk, on problems at the center.

Sutterfield reported that the repairs at the center were under discussion with Supervisor John J. Benoit's office, with a possible meeting to take place in late September or early October.

"Prior to Aug. 30, I had already been in contact with Supevisor Benoit's office about the repairs," said Sutterfield. "We want to set up a meeting with Office on Aging about what repairs are needed and to discuss the community center."

On August 30 Riverside Office on Aging Contracts and Services Officer Jeff T. Meyers and Deputy Director Administration/Fiscal led a tour of the community center for two city council members, a representative from Supervisor John J. Benoit's office, and other constituents, to bring attention to issues brought up by the county Department of Environmental Health on Feb. 5 when the health department found the center operating with several hazards.

They included:

• The city removed eaves more than a year ago, thus exposing the building's insulation, wiring, and light fixtures, and giving access to nesting birds.

• Storage room vents on the inside were deemed inadequate by the Health Department which also noted that the cabinets are old and chipping away.

• Formica countertops in the kitchen need replacing with stainless steel and a prep sink needs to be installed.

The Health Department also noted that the ceiling tiles need to be replaced with a non-porous material.

The current ceiling tile is a porous material and has soaked up the steam and grease causing it to buckle in places.

On a June 26 follow-up visit, the health department requested that the Office on Aging have a plan for repairs and show progress or the program would face possible closure.

As Meyers explained, the Office on Aging operates the Senior Nutrition Program with federal money, and because of this, it can't use any of the Senior Nutrition Program money for any improvements or upgrades on a building it doesn't own.

The city owns the Community Center that has been situated at Todd Park since 1986. It also is leasing the Community Center to the Office on Aging month-by-month since the original contract expired in August of 2012 with both sides unable to agree on a new contract. Meyers says parties are unable to agree to a new contract without the city affirming they will make the repairs, and the city says it has tried several times to renew the lease to no avail due the county's reluctance.

The city does agree it is responsible for maintaining the building, including air conditioning, plumbing, and any electrical repairs. Previously, the city also agreed it was responsible for fixtures, windows, and structural parts. As of Wednesday, Sutterfield stated in an e-mail that the Office on Aging is responsible for whatever is necessary to make its program work including stainless steel cabinets and cleanable ceiling tiles.

"The county's program is regulated by Environmental Health," wrote Sutterfield. "The city's uses of the facility are not."

Sutterfield also said at the meeting that the city does not need to do the repairs and the health department does not require the city to make the repairs, just the Office on Aging.

"The city doesn't use the kitchen. We don't need to do any of the repairs," said Sutterfield.

Sutterfield also said that if the kitchen closes down because of the Senior Nutrition Program it would not affect the city's ability to use the kitchen.

Cusick requested that they get past the blame and he hopes with the support of Supervisor Benoit's office, Sutterfield, and staff, they come up with a solution to fix the Community Center.

"I believe we can come up with an equitable solution," said Cusick. "The Community Center should be the jewel and pride of the city."

Cusick admitted that the needed repairs at the Community Center are extensive and the city can come up with some money to make the repairs.

"There are some times that you have to rob Peter to pay Paul but it has to be done," said Cusick.

He also offered that the city should consider in the future to use TOT tax for continuous upkeep of both the Community Center and the Joe Wine Blythe Recreation Center on South Main Street.

"A certain percentage could go to the Rec center and Community Center to provide for consistent funding," said Cusick. "I think we can get there."

Vice Mayor Sam Patel said the city should try to do everything locally to fix the Community Center.

"Let's make a schedule and we could do it during the Blythe Clean-up Day," said Patel. "The county is not going to help you."

Patel also said that given three months, the Community Center will look good.

"I'm sure we can handle it," said Patel.

Councilman Joey DeConinck contends that the county has been a great partner in the past and he is confident it will help.

"I am leaving at 6 a.m. in the morning for a meeting with Benoit and I guarantee that it will be done," said DeConinck. "Even if I have to pay for it myself."

Mike Evans, the councilman who asked to place the item on the agenda, said that the condition of the building should not have been allowed to get to its current state.

"However, it is also important for the citizens of the town to know that their voices of concern have been heard," said Evans.

"It is a valid asset to the senior citizens and the community as a whole," said Evans. "We will look into future allocations in the budget to make sure that the center and the program remain open."

"Our motto is 'the right to age with dignity'," said Meyers. "Our goal is to keep seniors independent and healthy and that is a benefit to all taxpayers."

The city council directed Sutterfield to come up with a plan of action for the next city council meet Oct. 26 in City Hall at 235 N. Broadway, at 6 p.m.

Related Stories:
• Blythe Community/Senior Center reopens remodeled and improved
• City council agrees to accept $300,000 for Community Center
• Senior Nutrition Program in danger of being lost due to deterioration of community center

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Article comment by: Name Them

DeConick will make sure it will happen if he has to pay for it??? What a joke. Where have you been for the past year that the eaves were exposed? Why didn't you know about this after having lunch with Lane at the college every day? Why is it now that election is coming up that you decide to step up??? Nice one Joey, but I still won't vote for you and hopefully others won't either.

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: @El Pica

By George, you've got a clear picture of the whole mess! I'm not too sure, though, who is the head of the octopus. There are several way to accomplish it. Take off the "head" and all the tentacles will dry up, or, one by one cut off the tentacles, and the head will implode. I say go for the head, as it is so hard for us not to get tentacles that we can trust. Well, let's work on it. Maybe just take them all down at once. I feel better just thinking of it.

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

@ Home Owner. You have made a point here.
Lane will take care of only his,and his friends agendas. You know that, I know it too, and the whole town knows that also.

So we have to ask, why does the Mayor, and the City Council not know this?

Is this a case of boys will be boys? And he caters to the boys of the Good ole boy's club? So why has the Mayor, or any council Member not taken Lane out to the woodshed?

It appears that Blythe is being run by an Octopus. You have one head and a body, and each hand is reaching out to fulfill each owns agenda. So the only way Blythe will survive will be to get these people to work as one entity. If not then we must replace them.

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

@el pica. This the problem here in Blythe. We keep choosing, or electing the same people over, and over again. If not them, their family members, or their friends. We keep voting from that same DNA pile.

So we must get behind some honest people. Local people that have no agenda. We have lot of retired people, teachers, and regular people that care about living here in Blythe.

Just because they are people of many means that own a business, a farm, ranch, a doctor, or they are already serving on a board at a hospital or college. This does not qualify them as the best for Blythe.

You know what they say you can't kiss two people at once. The same as you can't serve in any capacity on any other seat, if you are already serving. This would cut down on conflict of interest.

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: home owner

David Lane will only look at his own agenda and nothing else. Rivera Drive and their sewer is a mess. Mesa Bluffs villas are about to become inhabitable as we speak ! Our road up Defrain to the homes haven't been paved or repaired in over 15 YEARS!
Then the good Ole Sign that was bought from the Deken's, after they filed for Bankruptcy. Don't tell me there aren't any back door deals or Joey doing anyone favors! BS.
Everyone at City Hall has a foul odor to them!

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: @ Concerned Citizen

The paper reported the meeting - their job. The "other" stuff was not, as I understand it, fairly irrelevant, as the good doc's lengthy and oft-repeated tirades are. Why is he now so "concerned" about city matters? And how come he can talk as many times as he sees fit? That happens at hospital meetings, I know, but has he extended that privilege to city council meetings? Are we going to expect his ramblings at Library meetings, or Chamber, or School Board meetings? OMG

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: @El Pica

So we "get rid of" council members? Who you going to replace them with- another DeConinck? Another Cusick? Or how about Dale Reynolds?? Oh, boy, that would be a step up, couldn't it? Maybe Lane's wife? She'd be a real addition, and there is still Smith's wife? We need people who have a modicum of reality, honesty, and not given to political ways of "taking" care of things, or "grandstanding before election? (Obvious, DeConinck), That's not what we need in Blythe, that is for sure. Been there, done that. Remember, now, it may be dove season, but it is also the season for B.S. shooting. We'll hear about all the wonderful stuff they have accomplished. Ask them about the things they don't want you to remember. Ask them why Lane and Smith are still sucking the blood out of Blythe. Don't be fooled by their intimidation tactics. That's a clear indication of their intentions.

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

@ Concerned Citizen. We have to ask ourselves that question. Who did it? Lane can write himself a nice contract. So who are the people, or persons that signs off on it? You, me or the community? No the City Council, and the Mayor, that's who. So if people want to get rid of Lane, then you have to get rid of the people that hired him.

Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Article comment by: Concerned Citizen

@ @ Concerned Citizen, the only way you will ever get the full story, is to actually get out from behind that screen, and go to a meeting. PVVT, and Weete don't give a full accounting what goes on at the Council meeting, it seems their point of view always makes the Council and City looking good. and just FYI, the only ones that according to the PVVT that made comments, was the Council or staff.
@ El Pica, this is what I heard, the City Manager when he was first hired, he was hired to a 3 year contract, and in 2009, a year later, was given a 2 year contract extension, which if you count your number, his contract actually ended the last Aug. of 2013, so, how was he given another year on his contract? according to his paperwork, it say's on the contract, the one year, and then 5 years, so, who changed the paperwork? that wasn't what the Council agreed upon.
@ Find A solution, the Girl scout house was not owned by the City, it is not a rented facility, there is a BIG difference. People don't like to Volunteer for things that should be paid for by our tax dollars, simply because the City mishandles the money.

Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Article comment by: Find A. Solution

Someone at city hall should step up and take responsibility for building maintainance but, this isn't happening. Oh well. Let's move on. The repairs need to be done. We have on the payroll a building inspector, who, should have construction experience. Have him list all repairs needed, create a materials list, (which councilman "D" can take to ACE), formulate an orderly plan for repairs to be done. Blythe is very well know for volunteers. I'm sure there are many willing to swing hammers and paint brushes to get this done just as there were for the girlscout house. Lets pull ourselves together and get it done. It's not rocket science.

Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

people why are most of asking about the City Manger? What has he done for Blythe? Other than helping himself to, an extension on his contract, and a hefty pay raise, with a clause in the contract that if he is fired he gets X amount of money.

He is irrelevant here. So place the fault, where it should be. With the people that gave it all to him The City Council, and the Mayor. If these people can't even manage one person, how do you expect them to help Blythe. When all they do is help themselves, and the rest of the good ole boys.

Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Article comment by: Phantom Nose

To repeat myself. Where is the City Manager? Isn't he paid a lot by the Council to take care of the City's property, like the Community Center, and to advise the Council on matters such as this. Why is he so conveniently out of the picture when something like this happens? According to something I read, the City opened up the building to the elements a year ago. Why wasn't there a plan at that time to finish the job. Instead, like everything else, Lane just let it continue to deteriorate.

Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Article comment by: @@ to councilman cusick

Tot is a tax it doesn't matter how or when its collected and cusick wants to use it, then you want to decide what comments are allowed but you are right there is the problem with this town, people like you who are so arrogant as to think they can tell everyone else what to do.

Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Article comment by: Sorry I Missed The Meeting

quote:"Prior to Aug. 30, I had already been in contact with Supevisor Benoit's office about the repairs," said Sutterfield. "We want to set up a meeting with Office on Aging about what repairs are needed and to discuss the community center."unquote.
Questions: Who are"We?" Malory are you working outside of you job description? Was Dave Lane absent?
At Joey: It is nice that you volunteered to pay for the fixings. It's a great way to get votes and possibly be able to write it off in your taxes. One can't write off campaigns. Why waste your money? You have 2700 votes locked in as it is. It's a arrogance behavior towards your fellow canditates. I will not vote for you either way. Not because I don't like you, but because you seem to be guided by the socialites who are taking advantage of you. Go golfing instead.
To Councilman: It's the City's responsiblity to fix the building. If you rent it, then it must be safe to the renter.
What happen to the State Prison agreement to upkeep our parks and alleys? This could free up some time for city workers to provide operation and maintenance adequately.

Chief Smith: Take the cell phones away from your officers on duty. I have seen too many driving and talking on the phone.

Marty: Sorry to see you are no longer with PVT. I certainly hope that they continue to keep our community on the alert.

Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Article comment by: @ to councilman cusick

Try reading again what the article says. The TOT tax is a tax that is in place paid by occupants at our local hotels. Councilman Cusick is not asking for any new tax just for some of the money already being collected to be used for upkeep of city buildings. This is the whole problem with people in this town anymore. People are on such a witch hunt that they do not listen or read carefully to what is being said. I do not know why the Times even allowed a statement from you that was clearly false. People really need to calm down and start thinking rationally without hate and anger on their mind. All this ridiculous bickering is not getting u anywhere!

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