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Summer 2018


Summer 2018

Publishers' Message Summer cool Words affect us profoundly. Consider the lure of a headline proclaiming “hot new property.” Or think about how the words “cool ride” can make a car guy stop in his tracks to take a look. The dichotomy of language can be so much fun. The psychology of language is important in creating a magazine. That is why our writers artfully craft enticing images with their prose. As editors, we exhort writers to show, not tell, the story. And in this magazine, good writing is essential to keep up with the compelling photos and graphics. With the advent of summer, we think it is a good time to drop the desk-bound editorial standpoint and play with words. Think about this: some say the Valley is too hot; others think it is a cool place to be. What do you say? Go ahead and mull that conundrum. In the meantime, let us welcome you to what we are calling “the cool edition” of Imperial Valley Alive! In the articles, photos and ideas of things to do you will discover that the Valley is a hot property and a cool place to be. Now you curmudgeons may grouse that the weather is too hot, there is a lot of sweating, the steering wheel gets hot and so on. All of that is true. The weather must be respected and we all need to use sunscreen, drink lots of water, stay in the shade and be safe But not so fast, to the naysayers out there. We’ll take your proverbial glass and raise it. The Valley’s glass really is half full — and more. Think of all the good stuff here: like eating locally-grown, iced melons and drinking margaritas; like fishing and catching a whopper; pool parties and barbecues with fresh tortillas; and the list goes on and on. Now here’s a magazine flush with examples of what makes the Valley so cool. We are now finishing our second year of publishing Imperial Valley Alive! Thanks to the enthusiasm of readers and a growing legion of amazing advertisers, this is our largest edition to date at 52 pages. From this vantage point, we can honestly say there is a boatload of evidence that this region is a hot commodity and a very cool place to be. We have to give a shout-out to our readers and Facebook friends for helping prove just how cool Valley summers really are. You responded when we gave a call-out for photos and ideas of Valley summer fun. And wow!

William A. Gay

Sue Gay

Your ideas, photos and feedback matter. So be like Nancy Rood and the Jacumba Hikers at the peak of Carrizo Mountain and take a photo of Alive! on your next trek, adventure or trip. And share it on our Facebook page. It, too, may make the future edition livelier.

So many sweet sights of summer poured in on image after incredible image that we were both overwhelmed and inspired. Now, you can see some of the images that motivated us on pages throughout this magazine. Others can be viewed on the magazine website, www. You also can also read about what a fishing mecca the Imperial Valley is and how much fun the Colorado River offers here. Or take a trip into the past and learn about how an El Centro company helped develop the parachute system that saved the Apollo space program 50 years ago. And for another tasty side trip, join us on a rare behind the sceens tour of Fiesta Mexican Foods in Brawley, home of the only regionally distributed local tortilla manufacturing plant. There are articles that will make you want to cuddle up and consider quilting or read a leather-bound Bible created by a local artisan and many more things. But don’t get too cozy because the magazine includes a robust calendar of events that may have you itching to get involved. As you jump into summer we think you, too, will agree that there is good reason to call this edition cool. 

Susan Giller

Peggy Dale Summer 2018



Volume 2, Number 4 EDITORS & PUBLISHERS Bill Gay Sue Gay Susan Giller P eggy D ale

CONTRIBUTORS Celeste Alvarez Stefanie Campos Sarah Malan Gary Redfern

COVER PHOTO J oselito Villero

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Alejandra Noriega

Christian Moreno carries his fishing gear near a canal in Heber. - Photo by Joselito N. Villero

WEB DESIGNERS J esus U riarte Sergio U riarte

SALES Bill Amidon Sue Gay Mark Gran J ohn L ovecchio

SOCIAL MEDIA Marissa Bowers

ADVERTISING bill.amidon@ 7 6 0-6 9 3 -53 3 0

SUBSCRIPTIONS Send name, address and email address along with $ 20.00 ( plus tax) for annual subscription to:

EAT | CONQUER | Memories made with rod and reel, Page 6 P arachute testing part of Valley’s fabric, Page 12

FLOW | River is cool place to be year-round, Page 8

RENEW | Necessity behind Bible rebinding skill, Page 18

Reliance Public Relations, Inc. P.O. Box 1944 • El Centro, CA 92244 IMPERIAL VALLEY ALIVE! is published quarterly by Reliance Public Relations, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical for any purpose without the written permission of Reliance Public Relations, Inc.


Summer 2018

ON THE COVER: Robert Tapia smiles after catching an 11pound flathead catfish at the Alamo River in Holtville. - Photo by Joselito N. Villero

Tasty tortillas a family tradition, Page 10 Experience the magic of melons, Page 22


CONNECT | Q uilters piece together sisterhood,

Page 14 Surviving summer, Imperial Valley style, Page 16 Crafting helps connect motherdaughter duo, Page 20

A child is taught the early essentials of swimming at the Imperial pool. - Photo courtesy of City of Imperial

INSIDE | P ublishers’ Message,

Page 3 Map, Pages 26-27 K idwise, Page 33 Calendar, Pages 36-39

Bibles with new leather covers. - Photo by Joselito N. Villero

Favorite Ride, Page 40

Summer 2018



Fishing Tales

Making memories to last a lifetime

shares his passion for fishing and lessons learned with his 7 -year-old son, Nicholas. The grid-like canals designed and built by Urrutia caught the fishing bug about 10 Imperial County’s forefathers bring life to its years ago after catching a small flathead human population, but the waterways teem catfish in a canal off Forrester Road. “I caught the fever after fighting the first with life of another kind, luring anglers from one,” an 8 -pounder, U rrutia said. “I didn’t all walks of life to their banks. know what it was, so I Googled it and As temperatures warm in summertime found out it was a and bug life flathead,” Urrutia resurfaces with a said. “I came across "Look for structure, rocks, vengeance, so do the West Coast Cat the fish beneath the fallen trees, areas that don't Masters site run by murky, seemingly Cummings look too well-fished or well- Brian calm surfaces and learned they of local canals, used. I've caught fish in slow did tournaments rivers and lakes. So I started current to fast.¨ – Ernie Urrutia Jr. here. Those, in turn, bring networking with out anglers like people like Morgan Christian Moreno and Ernie U rrutia, J r., Blake and Anthony Cardenas of the and their families. Borderline Catfishing Facebook page, who Moreno has been fishing for as long as both served as mentors for me and who he can remember. H is earliest memories are respected catfish anglers in their own are of fishing with his grandfather and right.” These days U rrutia’s catches are an uncle, now deceased. These days he

By Peggy Dale


Summer 2018

TOP: Christian Moreno casts a lure with his fishing rod at a canal in Heber. CENTER: Alma Moreno catches a bass at the All-American Canal Hydro-Electric Plant, Drop 4, east of Holtville. BOTTOM: Christian Moreno uses a small bluegill bait to catch bass at the All American Canal Hydro-Electric Plant, Drop 4 east of Holtville. -Photos by Joselito N. Villero See more on pages 26-27

significantly larger -- up to 40 pounds -but, instead of winding up in a cool chest, destined for the dinner plate, these catfish are released back into the water. “I’m a big advocate of catch and release,” said Urrutia, who within five minutes of catching the catfish, weighs, documents and releases them into slow-moving water to regain their strength. Then he watches to make sure they are moving. “I like the thought that one day my son (age 3), that the 10-pounder I let go today may be the 40-pounder he catches down the road,” he said. “For me, the chase, the fight, the adrenalin rush are the draws. It’s a lot harder work than people realize. “It’s the best stress reliever,” U rrutia added. “J ust me and the water, the adrenalin rush -- knowing what I have but not how big.” Moreno, too, turned to the Internet, but for a different kind of fishing fix. When a work-related injury a few years ago sidelined him, he realized he had caught the “fishing fever.” “That’s when you want to, need to go fishing, and you just can’t,” Moreno said. So Moreno, who by day is a custodian for the El Centro Elementary School D istrict, turned to social media in an attempt to fill the void.

Ernie Urrutia Jr. holds a catfish he caught. - Photo provided by Ernie Urrutia Jr.

“The only way I could communicate with other people who like to fish was on Facebook,” Moreno said. H e found a couple of fishing pages from out of the area but that wasn’t enough. “Once I looked at those, I thought that we needed something more friendly, more Imperial Valley, that shows people catching fish in the Valley out of local canals,” he said. H e started the Imperial Valley D esert Fishing Club Facebook page and soon, as page creators often do, found himself moderating a community of like-minded folks hooked on fishing. While the Imperial Valley D esert Fishing Club isn’t really a club, Moreno said, it is a way to share photos of fish caught in local lakes and canals or pick up tips on catching different species of fish. “P eople can be private about where they go, what they catch,” Moreno said, but he has no problem sharing his personal fishing experiences. The page helps new anglers, he said, and that’s what he’s trying CONTINUED | PAGE 42

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Recreation Destination By Gary Redfern


Meandering on the Mighty Colorado

of Cortez in northern Mexico. “Everybody migrates toward the river,” said L ong, a visitor for 3 0plus years. Twice a month in the summer Anthony Spillers of Imperial About her favorite spot in the P icacho State Recreational Area, gathers his wife and their seven children together and takes a she said. “It’s just a magical place. You see a lot of wildlife — jaunt about 6 0 miles to a remote spot on the Colorado River near bighorn sheep, deer, bobcat, coyotes and many birds. It’s clearing Yuma. There they inflate several tubes, link them together and your head and getting some fresh air.” begin a leisurely five-mile journey in the Long is president of Friends4Picacho, a cool, flowing water. "It´s just a magical place. You group she said formed several years ago Miles upriver at P icacho State P ark, L orie L ong of San D iego spends many nights see a lot of wildlife - bighorn when California was considering closing the park. That threat amped up support and from October to May camping, boating, sheep, deer, bobcat, coyotes showed the state just how much the park is fishing, swimming and wildlife watching. While most Imperial County residents and many birds. It´s clearing valued, L ong added. 2012 the state was going to close know the Colorado as the source for its your head and getting some 7 0“Inparks. P icacho was one of them. We lifeblood — water -- they may not realize fresh air.¨ banded together as a group and the state the stretch along the county’s border with -Lorie Long of San Diego took us off the closure list once they looked Arizona has international acclaim as a at it ( how popular the park is) ,” she recalled. leading recreation spot. Today Friends4Picacho remains active Bodies of water are scarce in the arid with nearly 400 members, sometimes putting in up to 500 hours in desert Southwest and when it comes to big rivers, the mighty a weekend helping with park maintenance. Colorado stands alone. With its headwaters high in the Rocky “We have members from all over California, Arizona, even Mountains of its namesake state, it draws in massive precipitation — much in the form of snowmelt — from the higher elevations and Europe,” L ong boasted. H owever, she said there is no membership that she is aware of literally sustains the lives of millions. from Imperial County. By the time the Colorado reaches Imperial County it is near the “I think we could reach them better. We don’t do any outreach in end of its 1,400-mile journey that ends where it drains into the Sea Summer 2018

Imperial County,” she admitted. While L ong enjoys the solitude, the Colorado River is many things to many people from quiet mornings duck hunting and fishing to raucous stretches where whizzing personal watercraft and speedboats hold sway. Spillers recalls his family’s regular sojourns began just two years ago with a “tubing” trip with a friend. H e was hooked on the combination of relaxation and a bit of adventure being out on the water. “All of our friends and family go just to get away. It’s the place to go,” he said. There is a bit of logistics involved, however. Tubing groups must leave some vehicles near Yuma so they have transportation at the end of the float, then drive other vehicles up to the launch spot. L ater, those vehicles must be retrieved. Spillers said the launch spot is very popular. “There’s tons of people barbecuing and drinking beer.” H e said his group has a halfway point to their float where they get off their tubes and spend some time on the shore before Photo on page 8: Recreational boating on the lower Colorado River, Picacho State Park returning to the water. The trip takes three Recreation Area. to five hours.

TOP: A heron fishes near a boater on the lower Colorado River..


- Photos by Lorie Long

Summer 2018



Tortilla Flats

Food for the soul

By Susan Giller At Fiesta Mexican Foods in Brawley tortillas are still made the traditional way, with corn heated and ground onsite and flour tortillas hand-stretched to perfection. And Fiesta P resident Ray Armenta is committed to preserving the quality of tortillas and the time-honored culture of the 6 0-year old organization even as he plans to modernize, diversify and grow the organization into the future. “You have to operate with integrity to make a premium product,” Armenta said. “We have to work as a team. We do what we say we will and people trust us.” Apparently that business philosophy works. Fiesta is the only regionally distributed tortilla manufactured in the Valley. Its tortillas, tostadas and other products now stock in about 8 0 percent of the restaurants and most of the grocery stores in the Imperial Valley and the surrounding region. Fiesta tortillas also are a big favorite of local crowds eager to catch sample packages distributed during seasonal parades. Armenta’s commitment to the community goes beyond festive events. Among other things, Fiesta is a member of the Brawley Chamber of Commerce as well as the El Centro Chamber of Commerce.


Summer 2018

TOP: Raymond Armenta, president of Fiesta Mexican Foods, Inc., at Fiesta Mexican Foods in Brawley. BOTTOM: Nora Cruz stretches tortillas at Fiesta Mexican Foods in Brawley. - Photos by Joselito N. Villero And the product gets rave reviews online. One Google review stated, “Love the tortillas! Super friendly ladies in office and owner is a Great guy. See them at many local events giving away free samples. Since trying them they are only ones I buy.” Armenta said Fiesta builds its business by listening to customers and modifying the product or packaging sizes CONTINUED | PAGE 48

Yolanda Perez (left) and Rosa Sierra package tortillas in plastic bags at Fiesta Mexican Foods in Brawley. - Joselito N. Villero label as the tortillas he always ate as a child growing up in Blythe. H e and his wife, Tradition Sarah, though happy living in the city, had often talked about raising their children in a comes full smaller community. circle Though he had never made a tortilla or run a manufacturing facility, the couple had the financial acumen, business experience employees. and the capital to consider the challenge. Carmelita MacP herson-H altom inherited After researching the company and the the facility from her father in 2001 and sold market and doing some soul searching, it four years later. they made an offer to buy Fiesta. “It’s tough running a small operation like “In the end everything seemed to be a Fiesta,” she said. “I prayed every day for a good fit,” Armenta said. “The deal kept buyer to keep it going. … Ray ( Armenta) getting better for everyone. ” was my business banker and I confided in Today, the Armenta family has grown him a lot. So it was perfect for him to buy to include four children and they consider the plant.” Brawley to be home. U ntil approached about the tortilla facility, Yet they are far from the only individuals Armenta had been happily moving up the to lead the Fiesta family who joined corporate ladder after completing his MBA without tortilla manufacturing experience. at U niversity of Southern California. H e To fully appreciate the complexity of the was a business banker with Wells Fargo relationships behind the Fiesta, it helps to in the L os Angeles area and he routinely go back to the beginning. Fiesta Foods was assisted MacP herson-H altom and her started in the mid 1950s as a small general husband with their auto-body business store on Ninth Street in Brawley. The in Alhambra. When approached about founders, Manuela and Vincente Araiza, the Brawley tortilla manufacturing facility, also sold burritos wrapped in tortillas Armenta asked for a sample of the product, Manuela made. thinking he was offering some advice. As the popularity of the tortillas grew, But the sample with the Fiesta label Araiza built the tortilla manufacturing facility arrived with a sense of dé jà vu too powerful CONTINUED | PAGE 49 to ignore. H e instantly recognized the

Fiesta Family By Susan Giller When Ray Armenta decided to leave the corporate world 12 years ago to buy Fiesta Mexican Foods in Brawley he got far than more a tortilla factory. H e became the leader of an eclectic family tradition that for more than 6 0 years has been feeding people in the Imperial Valley. The Fiesta tortilla manufacturing facility Armenta now runs brought him back to his tortilla roots. The story of Fiesta tortilla is a convoluted, twisted tale, populated by a multicultural, often larger-than-life, cast of characters whose lives are interconnected more by love, loyalty and laughter than by blood. It is the kind of tale best recounted leisurely over a cup (or several cups) of coffee and a plateful of warm tortillas. And as the story unfolds it’s hard not to wonder if Fiesta chose the rising star banker to guide its future as much as Armenta decided to leave the corporate world to take over the tortilla manufacturing facility and its close-knit team of

Summer 2018



LEFT: The Apollo parachute tester developed by Wymore Machine and Welding stands outside the company's Dogwood Road headquarters. - Photo by Dane Knight ABOVE: Dick Wymore and Orville Reed are shown at a retirement event for Marvin Munson -Photo courtesy of Marvin Munson. base had seen testing of ejection seats for jets, recovery systems for NASA’s Mercury and Gemini space programs and other major military parachute-related projects. Two tenant commands at NAF El Centro were responsible for the testing: the Air Force’s 6511th Parachute Test Group and the Naval Aerospace Recovery Facility. The base later became the National P arachute Test Range and continued parachute testing until the function was moved to China L ake in 1979. In May 1963, a desert range near the base Out of was the test site of the first three-parachute this world Apollo “earth landing system.” But NASA was sent back to the drawing machinery boards in January 1967 when a flash fire swept through the Apollo 1 command By Bill Gay module during a rehearsal at Cape "We built the first (test vehicle) model Canaveral, killing astronauts Roger Near the intersection of D ogwood Chaffee, Ed White and Virgil "Gus" and took it out to the base,¨ Marvin Road and East H eil Avenue in El Grissom. Munson said. Shortly after, Wymore Centro, in front of Wymore Machine Over the next 18 months, the and Welding, is a piece of American capsule went through extensive got a phone call. They were told "the space-age history that looks like a redesign, including modifications to welds had broken and the machine huge “plumb bob.” escape systems that added weight to To traffic passing by it could easily the command module. had fallen apart and was scattered be mistaken for a large pump or other And that is where Wymore and over a large part of the desert.¨ piece of machinery. A closer look, the artifact in front of the company’s though, reveals a NASA logo, an D ogwood Road shop came in. the re-entry forces on command module American flag decal and the words “Apollo Wymore Machine and Welding was parachutes. P arachute Tester.” founded in 1947 by World War II Navy In 1968, Naval Air Facility El Centro and Fifty years ago, the lives of Apollo veteran Dick Wymore. His first shop behind its surrounding ranges were the home of astronauts and perhaps the future of the D outhitt Steel on Main Street in El Centro, parachute testing for the military. Testing space program itself, depended upon according to Marvin Munson, who in 1953 there had begun in the early 1950s and by how well this piece of equipment — became Wymore’s first full-time employee. manufactured at Wymore — could replicate the time of the Apollo program, the Valley’s Munson would spend 45 years with

Parachute Testing


Summer 2018

Wymore. “We started to get work ( on the space program recovery systems) at the end of the Mercury or early Gemini programs,” said Munson. H e noted that Northrop Ventura Corp., the NASA contractor developing the recovery systems at the base, opted for the El Centro business because its response was faster. Before using Wymore, “it would take two weeks for them to get a part fixed.” Wymore’s current location was under construction in early 1967 when the Apollo 1 fire occurred. In the wake of the fire and resulting capsule modifications, Wymore’s work with Northrop suddenly intensified. In fact, they needed the new building quickly. “We didn’t have an occupancy permit yet and they took care of that,” said Munson. Because of added weight, the existing parachute recovery systems had to be modified and retested. Orville Reed, Northrop’s local project manager, wanted Wymore to build a new boilerplate capsule that matched the weight of the heavier Apollo Command Module. Before modifications were made, the module had weighed 6 .5 tons. It was now seven tons. “We knew the current parachutes wouldn’t work,” said Munson. Northrop wanted to move quickly –

An Apollo command module descends onto a Naval Air Facility El Centro test range June 16, 1968, in one of the final tests of the parachute system after modifications caused by the fatal 1967 Apollo 1 fire. In October 1968 the system was used for an actual reentry when the manned space shots resumed with Apollo 7. - NASA PHOTO company officials did not want to wait for engineering designs of a new test vehicle. They told the El Centro machine shop to “build first and they would design it later.” H e noted “that in those days, everyone was more casual” and deals were made with a “handshake.” Munson said they had general specs. “We knew what the weight had to be,” which

matched the newly redesigned command module and it had to be slid out of a C-130 transport. The length and diameter were variable. Munson said that built into the planning was the expectation that the first parachutes would fail. CONTINUED | PAGE 44

Summer 2018





Shared love of quilting pieces group together

By Stefanie Campos


Tucked away in the side room of the Brawley Teen Center on a recent balmy evening, 23 women suspiciously eye one another as the conversation turned to U FOs. Some are cautious to begin their tales while others proudly stand to declare theirs. This sisterhood, made up of various ages and ethnicities, is gathered to celebrate individuals’ trials and tribulations, joys and disappointments … and a shared love of quilting. The D esert Q uilters of Imperial Valley gathered to convene a meeting of members and to celebrate individual’s accomplishments and encourage one another. Whether it’s about a UFO — unfinished object — or a show and tell, it’s clear there’s more to quilting than piecing squares of fabric together. Around the room some of the women have quilts folded in front of them, others are folded on the ground beneath. The women laugh and tease in friendly camaraderie. “Finished is better than perfect,” said one guild member to encourage those with U FOs. It’s a friendly push for some, a chance to finally finish one of what is probably many projects and reap not only bragging rights at the next meeting, but potentially a Summer 2018

TOP: Members of the Desert Quilters Guild display their quilts at Lions Center in Brawley. ABOVE: Quilters Van Fried (left) and Carole Drewry show a quilt at Fried´s home. - Photos by Joselito Villero small gift in the raffle for all those who participate that month. The meeting turned somber with the discussion of “Feel Good Q uilts,” formerly “Comfort Q uilts,” projects the group organizes for individuals in the midst of chemo or radiation therapy or who recently suffered a major personal loss. It’s clear the women are tied together through this art form that Mary Fitzurka, president of D esert Q uilters, said is often regarded as a pastime reserved for retirement. While there are many in the guild who qualify, she mentioned that some are busy moms as well.

One such quilter is J ennifer Nunez an which completes a quilted project. Imperial mother of four ranging in age from She also can stitch custom designs, or 10 to 2. She presented a quilt that night to a “pantographs,” or pattern like hearts or fellow guild member — adorable pink and music notes across a quilt. From afar it’s a white squares pieced in a simple grid and subtle touch to the finished product. Close topped with white bunnies, ears flopping up, it’s a work of art. by pink bows. Nunez is a quilter herself, “They put a lot but also earns extra of work into the income as a “long "You take a perfectly good ( quilt) , too. You don’t arm quilter.” to disappoint piece of material and you cut want Nunez began somebody,” said quilting at age it up. And you sew it back Nunez. “it’s my 16. She and her creative outlet, together.¨ husband took drawing with thread -Van Fried a “leap of faith” basically.” in purchasing As a busy mom a special quilting sewing machine as Nunez cannot always attend guild investment in a business she could pursue workshops, but she enjoys D esert Q uilters. as a stay-at-home mom. That investment “You really get to know the people,” she — about $18,000 —allows Nunez to work said. “Those ladies, their wit is so on point.” around her kids’ schedules. H er business Not everyone in the guild quilts the same thrives on word-of-mouth referrals and way. Van Fried and Carole D rewry, both some of her clients continue to mail her Imperial residents, are hooked on what work when they leave the Valley. they call “rearranging their fabric.” “It’s worked out well,” said Nunez. “It’s “There’s a lot of steps to it … the been fun.” planning, the cutting, the putting it While some quilters enjoy the piecing together,” D rewry said noting there are of the quilt, Nunez said her work is her many decisions to be made along the way. favorite part of the quilting process. The “It just is a long process,” she said, “but sewing machine binds the pieced top ( and CONTINUED | PAGE 45 sometimes pieced bottom) to the batting,

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Summer 2018



Summer Fun By Celeste Alvarez


It’s summertime and the possibilities are plentiful. L ong, lazy days of summer coupled with an energetic community of shared interests help amp up the Imperial Valley’s options for endless safe activities. “It is so warm here in the Valley, summer programs are essential,” said L inda S. Self, Brawley’s parks and recreation coordinator. “Whether it’s having the public pool open to cool off or for children participating in Summer D ay Camp programs, it gives the children options to keep active and cool.” Self is among several city officials throughout the Imperial Valley who work daily to provide and maintain viable summer activities. “We strive to make summer a wonderful experience for all,” Self said. With a lot of community support and participation, the variety of summer events helps build memories, friendships and special moments during Summer 2018

Valley community works together for safe summer fun

the Valley’s sunniest days. “They keep the community active, both physically and mentally,” said D olores Estrada, the recreation coordinator the City of El Centro. “Our summer programs are for participants ranging from infants to seniors, so there is something for everyone.” Summer is a great time to try something new. “Summer programs allow youth and their families to explore new interests,” said Alexis Chalupnik, the management analyst and public information officer for the city of Imperial. “Environments are ever changing and to allow people to fully develop their passions we think it is important to offer a variety of programs.” Chalupnik said the city is always looking for suggestions on ways to better its services. Summer heat calls for some safety precautions. All Valley cities list program schedules on their websites. In addition, Imperial County posts a list of 31 Cool Centers throughout the region that provide, at no charge, a

TOP: Mommy & Me swimming is offered by the City of Imperial. - Photo courtesy of the City of Imperial ABOVE.: Women participate in Zumba Fitness Gold, a low-impact workout for older adults, at the El Centro Adult Center. - Photo by Joselito N. Villero respite for anyone who stops in during the hottest part of the day. The list can be found online at http:/ / www.icphd. org/ health-information-and-resources/ health-& -wellness/ summer-safety/ coolcenters/ Imperial County’s website recommended several steps to take

to avoid heat-related illness when temperatures soar. They include: - Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing - D rink plenty of water - Check on neighbors, especially seniors, children and neighbors who live alone - Minimize physical activity, and stay indoors, when it is hottest. The Red Cross offers tips to ensure water sports are a safe way to cool off. According to the Red Cross, people should only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards and no one should ever swim alone. P ets need protection as much as people when temperatures soar, according to Imperial Valley H umane Society director, D evon Apodaca. “P et owners should be mindful of their animals and check on them regularly maybe every other hour to make sure they have fresh, clean water and are not showing signs of heat exhaustion,” Apodaca said. When possible, he recommends keeping pets indoors during the summer. If not, he suggested shaded shelter be provided for outdoor animals. “There are fans that you can buy and place outside for your pets; even a kiddy pool outside with shallow water and ice cubes will give them a place to drink water from and cool them off,” said Apodaca. P et owners should board their fourlegged friends, hire a pet sitter or entrust their care to a friend before leaving on vacation.

ABOVE: Virginia Gutierrez and other women follow the lead of their instructor during a Zumba Fitness Gold at the El Centro Adult Center. - Photo by Joselito N. Villero A young swimmer gets lessons at the Imperial pool. - Photo courtesy of City of Imperial “It is never OK to just leave your pet alone for extended days with a big bowl of water and food just left out,” Apodaca said. “It’s not safe.” Moreover, some breeds of dogs are especially vulnerable to the heat. And he recommended contacting local animal control or the police if an animal appears to be suffering heat distress. “P eople believe animals can handle the heat, but cat and dogs are

domesticated,” Apodaca said. “They can’t stand the heat the way, say, a desert tortoise could.” That is why it takes a village to keep Valley people and pets safe and happy all summer. 

Summer 2018



On the

Rebound By Peggy Dale


There’s no shortage of Bibles in the home Francisco Guerrero shares with his wife, Amanda, and daughter Madeline. Some are like new. Others are tattered from use, the bindings torn and covers well-worn. Those Guerrero will painstakingly transform into leatherbound works of art for clients he may never meet face to face. H e also has rebound Bibles for family and friends. What drives this newfound passion? “K nowing I’m sending the Bible back in better condition,” said Guerrero, a softspoken 28 -year-old. “H opefully it will be passed down from parent to child.” Rebinding the sacred writ is a skill he learned out of necessity. About three years ago, unable to afford having his own Bible rebound professionally, he began researching how-to instructions Summer 2018

Bringing new life to tattered Bibles

online. It took some trial and error, investment in supplies, and patience. The first attempt, he said, was “really ugly. … It wasn’t finished right on edges. I didn’t know how to do it professionally.” So he turned to the Internet again, researching how to remove and replace materials covering the spine, how to add new head and tail bands, and to strengthen the spine and inside pages so they can better withstand repeated use. H e hammers the places the leather pieces meet, creating a fine edging with tiny pleats around corners. Then he reattaches the book to the cover. P utting new pieces in place is not an exact science, he said, but it helps that he’s good at math in determining dimensions. The results are striking. Some things he does his own way to set his work apart, but driven by principles, he sets his fees lower. “I don’t feel right about charging as

TOP: Francisco Guerrero rebinds Bibles in Imperial. ABOVE: Guerrero binds a book block with the leather that will become the cover. - Photos by Joselito N. Villero

much as people who have been doing this longer,” he said. Guerrero, who also is employed at Wal-Mart Supercenter in Brawley, toils alone in his home office. Surrounded by pieces of hide — he prefers cowhide but has also used calfskin and goatskin — and other apparatus, he often listens to sermons and debates on various topics to learn theology while he works.

H is Christian faith drives much of what he does. H e also is driven to excel at things he doesn’t know, like rebinding Bibles, or becoming a better photographer, or mastering the guitar while attending Imperial H igh School. H is love for playing the guitar and singing led him to change original plans to study art at Imperial Valley College. H e transferred to San D iego Christian College in El Cajon, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in professional music studies, focusing on guitar. It was at SD CC that he met Amanda, also a music major. They married after graduating and Guerrero became a security guard in San D iego. Even after leaving that career he stays up-to-date on licensing. About three years ago, the young family moved close to his parents and siblings in Imperial, and Guerrero began researching “a lot of theology, searching for answers.” H e joined some Facebook groups where people were discussing premium Bibles. New premium Bibles are longer-lasting and sell for upwards of $200 each. They are bound in fine leather and feature quality paper, with thought given to paper opacity and line matching to prevent “ghosting” of print. While he can’t do much about the paper and print quality, Guerrero can produce long-lasting quality of the covers. The supple leather that will bind the books is top-notch and comes from U .S. and Italian suppliers. H is is a craft that sees increasing demand. H e has clients across the U nited States and in Canada, some of them regular customers. One client is in Singapore. Some are professors at seminaries, like The Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, Calif., which his brother-in-law attends. One professor sent a Greek and H ebrew Bible to be recovered. Other clients are people with regular jobs who like finer-quality Bibles, Guerrero said. Many of his clients find him by word of mouth, and through his Facebook page – Guerrero L eather Rebinds. H is work has also gained the attention of a California company that specializes in Bible publication. Guerrero’s hope is that by giving beloved but aging Bibles new life, they will continue to be used and will be longer-lived, their owners able to pass them from one generation to the next. 

Francisco Guerrero, a Bible rebinder, uses construction paper to make a "yapp¨ — the folded edge of the Bible cover.

Bibles, with new leather covers, are displayed against a sheet of leather used as a background. - Photos by: Joselito N. Villero

Summer 2018



Sweet P Designs By Sarah Malan “Every cloud has a silver lining” is a saying that might easily be found painted on a decorative item for sale in P atsy and Megan

Flourishes with whimsical works

Robinson’s booth at an Imperial Valley farmers’ market. Or, it might be the expression of working through the loss of a loved one. For the Robinsons, it is both. The Robinsons are a Brawley-based

mother and daughter who combined their talents to form Sweet P D esigns, a home decor business that has a growing following. By day, P atsy is a permit technician for the city of El Centro and Megan is studying to be a teacher, with her sights set on third grade or younger. They started crafting after P atsy’s mother passed away 28 years ago. A friend of hers convinced her to go to a tole painting class. P atsy doubted she’d be able to paint but went anyway and had fun. “It was the distraction I needed to heal from losing my mom,” she said. Tole painting, as the Robinsons use it, is tracing a stencil onto a medium like wood, glass or even cookie sheets and painting over it. The results are lighthearted designs that play with fonts and fun, inspirational phrases. In Sweet P D esigns’ early days, P atsy and Megan would sell their wares at shows with other crafters selling handmade products. Now they sell at Imperial’s annual Christmas in a Small Town and as many Imperial Market D ays as they can. They do designs geared toward family, beverages, Christmas and more, but P atsy often sells out of her pieces with scripture on them. “It’s funny, people think this is such a WAFFLE SANDWICH






Summer 2018

godless world but it really isn’t,” she said. “P eople come in and they read my signs and say, ‘ That’s my favorite scripture, I need that one.’” Holidays are their No. 1 shopping season, and pieces are frequently bought as gifts. Tole painting lends itself to personalization, so they’ll often get requests such as, “I like that design, can you put my mother’s name on it?” P atsy enjoys personalized crafts but it isn’t feasible to create them on the spot at craft shows. To help her with that, she would like to get a website to help streamline the process. Also on the horizon for Sweet P D esigns are painting classes the pair recently started teaching at Odds and Ends Creative Studio in Imperial. And keep an eye out for sweets; Megan, known among her friends and colleagues as an expert baker, would like to get a cottage food license so the team can sell baked goods. It isn’t hard to find Sweet P Designs. In addition to markets, they are on Facebook as well: sweetP designsIV Winding up in their booth won’t break the bank. Most items run from $ 5 to $ 20. On occasion, larger or personalized projects may have a $40 price tag, but Patsy tries to keep it affordable. They set aside their

Crafts made by Megan and Patsy Robinson (right) are sold under the Sweet P Designs label. - Photos courtesy of the Robinsons profits to take a vacation to Australia to visit family. But that’s not the only reason they put their heart into Sweet P D esigns. “I like to make people happy and it makes me happy when people see my stuff and say, ’Oh, look that’s so cute,’ or ‘ I really like that saying,’” P atsy said. “You don’t get rich doing crafts, but it’s very rewarding.” 

Summer 2018



Watermelons are packed in the Mainas Farms packing and cooling shed in El Centro. - Photo by Susan Giller

Melons By Susan Giller You don’t have to be a sorcerer to experience the magic in the cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon being harvested right now in the Imperial Valley. J ust chill, cut and bite into one of those sweet, juicy globes and -- no wand or hocus pocus about it -- a hot, hectic summer day turns into a tropical taste paradise. The real alchemy happens when melons carefully planted and cultivated in fields around the Valley are pushed to the peak of perfection by the warm, dry summer temperatures needed to anoint them. A lot of hard work and a little luck helps the process, too. J immy Mainas, who runs the Mainas Farms packing and cooling shed in El Centro, oversees a swarm of activity as melons are brought in from the field, chilled, packed in cartons and shipped out to market within a day. As the harvest was starting to ramp up in mid-J une, Mainas was quick to point out that everything


Summer 2018

hinges on nature’s schedule. “This is a weird year,” Mainas said. “We normally start harvesting in May, but then every year is different. It usually lasts about six weeks going pretty fast and furious.” Because of the cooler than normal spring, Mainas said, he expects this year’s harvest will continue into J uly. Mainas said his family’s farm grows and ships both conventional and organic cantaloupes, full-size watermelons, mini or personal size watermelons and yellow flesh watermelon under the Desert Treat and Goldie labels. Elsewhere in the facility onions were being packed for shipping. D espite the numerous varieties, sizes and shapes of melons moving through the Mainas facility, the overarching priority for Valley vegetable and melon growers is food safety. In fact, all cantaloupe shippers in California are part of the state Cantaloupe Advisory board, which maintains a mandatory food safety program that invites government auditors to inspect all aspects of cantaloupe operations. Mainas Farms

ROASTED CANTALOUPE The cantaloupe preparation method you’ve never tried, but should. INGREDIENTS  1 California cantaloupe, washed, peeled, seeded and cut into one-inch cubes  whipped cream for topping  cinnamon for dusting  fresh mint for garnish Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place cantaloupe cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until cubes begin to brown around the corners. Remove from oven and let cool. Top with whipped cream, sprinkle with cinnamon, and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

also is a member of the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association ( IVVGA) , which calls food safety the top priority of the local growing industry it represents. And, J immy Mainas serves on the IVVGA Board of D irectors. California’s importance as a cantaloupe producer cannot be overestimated. The state produces about 7 5 percent of the nation’s cantaloupes and Imperial County was the state’s second largest cantaloupe-producing county, based on the more recent figures. The county is also one of California’s top five watermelon-producing regions. In addition to being sweet delicacies, melons pack a powerful nutritional punch. A six-ounce serving, about a quarter of a cantaloupe, provides 100 percent, or more, of the U.S. recommended daily allowances of vitamin A and C. They are also high in fiber and folacin, a nutrient needed for growth and the development of hemoglobin. Watermelon contains higher levels of lycopene, an important antioxidant, than any other fresh fruit or vegetable. It also contains healthy doses of vitamin A, C, B6 and potassium. CONTINUED | PAGE 24

CANTALOUPE WATERMELON SALADTRELIO A refreshing medley of flavors join together for this delightfully balanced sweet and salty salad.


 1 medium cantaloupe, rind removed and cut into 1″ cubes  1 small, seedless watermelon, rid removed and cut into 1″ cubes  1 small red onion, shaved into paper thin rings  1 cup cilantro leaves, picked from stems  1 cup Feta, crumbled (preferably from sheep milk from Greece)  4 cloves garlic, roasted to golden brown  1 teaspoon Key lime zest  1/2 cup Key lime juice  1/2 cup lightly flavored olive oil  1/4 cup agave syrup  1 teaspoon powdered mustard  1/4 teaspoon ground cumin sea salt and fresh ground black pepper In blender, blend lime juice, lime zest, roasted garlic, agave syrup, mustard, and cumin. With the blender on low, slowly emulsify the oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper, to taste. Toss the cubed cantaloupe, cubed watermelon, red onion and cilantro in a bowl with a small amount of the vinaigrette. Divide the salad mixture between four plates. Sprinkle Feta over each and dress with more vinaigrette. Finish with fresh ground pepper.

Serves 4.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Chris Shackelford of Trelio

Recipe photos courtesy of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board Summer 2018



Jimmy Mainas talks about melon production at the packing plant. - Photo by Susan Giller When it comes to melons, the Valley has a lot going for it. Both cantaloupe and watermelon originated in Africa and they thrive on hot, dry weather. Thanks to the Valley’s year-round growing season, melons are usually planted here in about February after the lettuce, broccoli and other vegetable crop harvests. That has the melon crop maturing as temperatures rising in time to ripen fully. The other thing that benefits melons is that Valley growers have perfected a carefully choreographed planting, cultivation and harvesting process for the crop. And, they keep honing the art and science of agriculture to increase water efficiency, enhance yields and improve the product that goes to market. That may be why so many varieties of melons are being

grown, including some new long shelf-life varieties. Mainas said, “You’re always looking at what’s new. There are tons of varieties and it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what’s best. When you find a winner you don’t want to change.” Yet the process of improving is never-ending. At the cooling and packing plant, Mainas points out processes used to maintain the melons’ perfection. Cantaloupes are pre-cooled to 34 degrees in a quick-cooling tunnel prior to being packed in cartons. Watermelon, thanks to its thicker rind, does not need pre-cooling. But cartons of both cantaloupes and watermelons rest in a chilly shed awaiting trucks that will deliver them to stores and distribution centers throughout the U nited States. Mainas Farms started by Jimmy’s father, George, in 1985. Today the whole family is involved in the operation. “My dad started me on a tractor when I was 13,” said Jimmy. “I’ve pretty much stayed with it since then.” Family and tradition are important to the Mainas family. One of the affiliates that markets the Desert Treat label is Pappas Family Farms, which is based in Mendota. Interestingly, both Mainas and P appas families are Greek and come from the same region in Greece. While customs and tradition are important to the Mainas family, Jimmy is skeptical about the merit of thumping, sniffing or checking a melon’s skin for markings to see if it’s ripe. He said the only real way to tell if a field is ready to harvest, or if a melon is ripe, is to cut one open, drop some juice on a device that measures the sugar content and check to make sure the reading exceeds the industry standard. With that kind of care and attention involved, it is no wonder that you, too, can taste the magic in an Imperial Valley-grown melon. 

For cool summer fun, visit


Summer 2018


the summer. K eep this space cool by installing a portable room air conditioner. These can be relatively inexpensive and easy to install on your own. They come in various sizes At home and are specifically made to cool off small rooms. For a more this summer permanent solution, consider a ductless mini-split system. Your central air conditioner is the key to keeping your home cool. It’s vital to keep your AC well maintained to ensure it can keep up with the heavy demands you will put on it over the Imperial Valley summers are scorchers. Though the Valley offers a variety of ways to keep cool, including various summer summer. While you need to have your system serviced by a professional annually, there are things you can do yourself to programs through the region, it’s important to consider home maintenance to ensure your home is a safe, efficient and cool maintain it. Check and change your air filters regularly. A dirty filter can drastically affect your AC’s performance. Check the place to be. There are a number of things you can do to keep AC vents and make sure they are clean and free of anything your family comfortable this summer. that may impact air flow. Lastly, check any fan belts for cracks You can do a lot to your home to help cool down. Outside or wear that may cause problems in the future. your home, consider adding shade trees. While this is a longThe obvious way to keep cool and enjoy the summer at term plan, the benefits will last for years. Strategically placed, home involves a swimming pool. If you have one at home you trees can protect your home from the sun’s blaring rays and know it can make life in the Imperial Valley heat much more also improve your home’s landscape. Outdoor shades can pleasant. The secret to pool maintenance is routine care. also be added, providing relief from the sun for a multitude of Ensure you keep your pool clean by skimming for debris, outdoor activities. Inside your home, consider adding ceiling fans to rooms and cleaning out the baskets, and vacuuming and brushing the walls and sides. K eeping the pool clean and free of debris set them to rotate counter-clockwise. The reverse rotation helps circulation and lowers chlorine demands. As you use of the blades will push the warmth upward to the ceiling. your pool the water level will start to go down. This is due to Floor fans can also be added to rooms for extra comfort. normal wear and natural evaporation. You’ll want to make sure Additionally, remember to turn off the lights. Light bulbs produce heat, especially the incandescent ones. Try replacing to keep water levels maintained too as this will ensure your pump performs its job for many years. older traditional bulbs with more energy efficient LEDs. This With perpetual triple digit weather in summer, staying cool will not only save you money in the long run, they also don’t can be difficult in the Imperial Valley. But that doesn’t mean we emit as much unwanted heat. can’t enjoy our summers in the comfort of our homes… inside Garages, workshops and sheds can be hot, but if you are or out.  a D IYer you likely spend a lot of time in there, even during


prepare YOUR HOME for the

summer heat

Keep your pool maintained and

“Get it done, with a little help from Imperial Hardware Company”

Brawley | El Centro | Holtville

STAY cool this summer

Summer 2018


Fishing Spots

We asked for readers' favorite places. Here are some of their responses.

Jose Antonio Sandoval said Sunbeam Lake is his favorite place to fish.

Linda Dollente shared photos of her favorite fishing spot (left and below), the Highline Canal.


"The possibilities could be endless at the Salton Sea," Velma Ruiz Pacrem told us when she sent the photo at right. Summer 2018

"I can still remember when our next door neighbors (brought) us corvina from the Salton Sea," Velma Ruiz Pacrem wrote. "It was the best and we loved cleaning it. This was their favorite spot, which made (it) ours too because they gave us their catch of the day." Joel, 4, and Jovan Romero, 6, seem pleased with their catch in this photo provided by their mother, Sylvia Romero.

"My angler," wrote Lisa Hurtado, who provided the photo at right.

"My future bass master grandson Wyatt at Sunbeam," said Lynette Lussier Reed. Summer 2018


Dr. Philame "Sam" Oronan is a radiologist at El Centro Regional Medical Center. - Photo courtesy of ECRMC

3-D Mammography By Susan Giller


Radiologist D r. P hilame “Sam” Oronan’s sunny personality practically bounces off the dark walls of the narrow room he works in at El Centro Regional Medical Center, which he fondly calls “the dungeon.” The dimly lighted space and the illumination of the large, high-definition computer screens that rim the room are designed and carefully calibrated to maximize radiologists’ ability to accurately read imaging tests used to screen and diagnose diseases. Yet, today D r. Oronan’s enthusiasm lights up the room as he talks about the new breast tomosynthesis, also called 3 -D mammography, which will soon be part of ECRMC’s state-ofthe-art Outpatient Imaging Services. “Tomosynthesis, 3 -D mammography, is a real advance,” he said. “It is actually more accurate and offers many other advantages as well,” he said. The computer-aided technology helps doctors identify breast cancer at an earlier stage, he said. Since the advanced imaging actually shows more layers of the internal tissue structure, it helps reduce the number of patients who are back for more testing following an abnormal screening mammography. The National Cancer Institute’s website explains how 3 -D mammography works. “( It) is a type of digital mammography in which X -ray machines are used to take pictures of thin “slices” of the breast from different angles and computer software is used to reconstruct an image. This process is similar to how a computed tomography ( CT) scanner produces images of structures inside of the body.” Summer 2018

The difference is profound. Instead of working on just four images from a standard mammography, a radiologist sees 15-20 images per plane, or “slice,” provided with a 3-D mammography, D r. Oronan said. That makes the technology beneficial for screening and diagnostic mammograms, and breast intervention such as breast biopsies. Moreover, 3-D mammography software’s artificial intelligence aids in the detection of abnormalities. “In modern medicine information technology is an increasingly important part of the practice,” D r. Oronan said. The technology produces images that allow radiologists to detect cancer at earlier stages. The clarity of the images can make visible structural changes in breast tissue that often precede cancer development so they can be monitored. And, the new technology helps reduce the number of patients who need follow-up procedures. On average, out of every 1,000 women who have a standard screening mammography, about 100 are called back for additional testing. Tomosynthesis reduces that average callback rate by about 40 percent, he said. “Reducing the anxiety for patients who used to be called back is really important,” D r. Oronan said. D r. Oronan has been reading mammograms for more than 30 years, but his enthusiasm about the benefits the new technology offers patients is as fresh as that of a new med school graduate. “I am very excited to get started,” he said after recently completing a weeklong seminar on the subject. Dr. Oronan has practiced medicine for nearly 40 years. H e started his training as a surgeon, and early in his career he worked as a family practitioner. H e decided to switch to radiology and got his board certification in 1986. He came to work at ECRMC in 2011 after retiring from a 23year career with Kaiser Permanente, first in Los Angeles and then in San D iego. H e said after retirement, he and his wife planned to travel. He wanted to work in different areas of the world and in the U .S. to experience other lifestyles and work environments. He first worked overseas teaching at a medical school in New Z ealand for a year. One of his first assignments in the U.S. was at ECRMC. “I wasn’t planning to be here more than two to three months,” D r. Oronan said. But when his wife was sidelined temporarily with a medical issue, he stayed longer. H e added, “I realized I liked it here, and I stayed.” And ECRMC was eager to keep an experienced radiologist on board. Originally, from Soledad, Calif., he said he likes the smalltown feel of the Imperial Valley. H e added, “It is a great place. The patients are very appreciative and I like the staff here. It can be challenging, but we are getting things done.” Those things include the new 3 -D mammography that will join the ECRMC’s Outpatient Imaging Services in a new stateof-the-art facility opening soon on the hospital campus. What won’t change with the new facility is the dedication to patient care to heighten radiologists’ ability to read imaging tests. 

Dr. Siman Dr. Siman

Designing the Future of Smiles

Cosmetic dentist Dr. Eddie Siman has offices in both El Centro and Brawley as well as in Sherman Oaks and Beverly Hills. He has authored two books and has been featured in various media, most recently on “The D octors” show. Here, he discusses his unique approach to dentistry by responding to a series of questions posed by I.V. Alive.

Did you always aspire to be a dentist? Dr. Siman: Actually, no. When I was a kid I was more interested in

becoming an architect. I always liked to envision and design things.

Do you find that your early aspirations somehow connected to what What drives you to gain more knowledge and expertise year after year? you do now? Dr. Siman: Absolutely! There are many elements of construction, design Dr. Siman: At the beginning of my career I was taught to restore just a

and architecture in what I do. Creating a natural smile and a longlasting, stable set of teeth that is going to feel good, requires a solid foundation.

section of the mouth. This limited approach didn’t even begin to address the extensive and complicated needs of my patients. Now I can restore someone with no teeth to a full set of 28 teeth in one day while the patient sleeps.

Do you suffer from any of the following?

You have studied the "psychology¨ of smiles. How does changing the shape of a patient's teeth affect the "psychology¨ of their smile? Dr. Siman: Your smile is your introduction to the world. Often, we look

Head Pain, Headache • Forehead • Temples • “Migraine” type • Sinus type • Shooting pain up back of head • Hair and/or scalp painful to touch

Ear Problems • Hissing, buzzing or ringing • Decreased hearing • Ear pain, earache, no infection • Clogged, “itchy” ears • Vertigo, dizziness

Eyes • Pain behind eyes • Bloodshot eyes • May bulge • Sensitive to sunlight Mouth • Discomfort • Limited opening of mouth • Inability to open smoothly • Locks shut or open Can t find bite • Jaw deviates to one side when opening Teeth • Clenching, grinding at night • Looseness or soreness of back teeth Throat • Swallowing difficulties • Laryngitis • Sore throat with no infection • Frequent coughing or constant clearing of throat • Feeling of foreign object in throat constantly

Jaw • Clicking, popping jaw joints • Grating sound • Pain in cheek muscles • Uncontrollable jaw and/or tongue movements

at someone and perceive them to be assertive if their front teeth have square edges and their canine teeth are pointed. By simply rounding or sharpening the edges of a smile, I am able to soften or harden its appearance in a matter of minutes.

What is TMJ and why is it the source of pain and discomfort for so many of people? Dr. Siman: Along with full-mouth reconstruction, diagnosing and treating

TMJ disorders is the primary focus of our practice. TMJ is an acronym for temporomandibular joint. It is located near your ears where your jaw connects with your skull. This joint is necessary for nearly all of the activities that involve your mouth. If these muscles come under pressure due to misalignment, the result can be spasms that travel to the temples, causing headaches or pain around the face or jaw joint (and) limiting one’s ability to open the mouth.

Let's list some of the symptoms of TMJ. Dr. Siman: They include migraines, headaches, facial pain, shoulder

Neck • Lack of mobility, stiffness • Neck pain • Tired, sore muscles • Shoulder aches, backache • Arm, numbness or pain

pain, neck pain, teeth grinding, ringing in the ears and ear congestion. The problem is that most practitioners, including dentists, doctors and chiropractors, address the symptoms because they don’t have the training and technology to diagnose and address TMJ, the root cause of all these issues.

Who is responsible for correctly diagnosing TMJ? Dr. Siman: That’s another problem. TMJ problems should be treated as

multi-disciplinary, meaning they are dental as well as medical issues. Unfortunately, as many TMJ sufferers learn only after seeing multiple specialists, TMJ falls into a gap between the two professions. D entists who truly want to be well-versed in other modalities need to study for years, continuing their education, which is what I chose to do. On the other hand, medical doctors rarely have any training in this field. I have dedicated 30 years of my career to expanding my knowledge in the field of diagnosing and curing TMJ.  Summer Summer 2018 2018


Imperial County Behavioral Health Services


hether it involves pills or pot, alcohol or inhalants, meth or heroin or opiates, substance use disorder wrecks lives, tears families apart, costs communities millions and can even lead to death. However, substance use disorder is treatable. That is why Imperial County Behavioral Health Services is dramatically expanding the spectrum of services it will offer to individuals with substance use issues through what is called the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System Program. “We are excited about the array of services we will have and the ability to have services available where and when people need them,” Andrea Kuhlen, Director of Behavioral Health Service, said. “For far too long the continuum of care needed just wasn’t available.” Kuhlen said Imperial County recently became one of California’s first smaller counties to opt into the comprehensive state Substance Use Disorder (SUD) program that will include family therapy, case management, medication services and other crucial services not previously available. The goal of the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System Program is to both improve health outcomes and decrease costs to the healthcare system. The services will be available to qualifying adult and adolescent Medi-Cal beneficiaries in Imperial County. The expanded program is based on the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Criteria, which is the gold standard for treatment in the field of addiction and substance use disorder. The

approach is grounded in evidence-based practices and the understanding that substance use disorder is a chronic and relapsing brain disease in which the individual compulsively seeks drug use. “Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death,” the ASAM website states. With the new program, Kuhlen said, Behavioral Health Services will shift the focus from the substance to the whole person; and the goal grows from detox to ongoing recovery. Treatment plans will be based on the individual’s needs, not on a limited one-size-fits all approach that was further restricted by lack of available treatment options. At the heart of the approach is the ASAM Criteria, a set of guidelines developed through best practice approaches to help make decisions about an individual’s treatment needs based on various dimensions of the person’s life, for instance, his or her goals, risks, needs, strengths and resources. “The individual seeking treatment becomes an active partner in the treatment and treatment planning process,” Kuhlen said. “It isn’t just about getting the person sober, but helping them understand triggers, face relapse and live in recovery.” Because the new treatment approach is based on the many dimensions of an individual, rather than

the drug of choice, it allows the county to add family therapy, case management, group therapy and peer counseling to the spectrum of services it will provide. The Behavioral Health Services will be able to add or enhance substance use inpatient and outpatient care, crisis intervention and medication services it now offers. It has taken more than two years of hard work by the Behavioral Health Services staff to meet the state requirements for the program and develop the protocols and guidelines, start training and hiring of additional staff to get the program off the ground.

“For so long we had such a restricted list of services,” Kuhlen said. “It has been difficult and frustrating to get sorely needed treatment for clients.” “To see this program together, to know this is going to help so many people is exciting.”

202 N. Eighth St. • El Centro, CA 92243 For an appointment or assessment please call:

800.817.5292 • 442.265.1525




It is the approach to education that distinguishes Ballington Academy for the Arts and Science from other schools. Ballington, a charter school in El Centro, has a Common Corebased curriculum but has adopted a teaching methodology focused upon a project-based learning where students engage in real-life situations. As stated by the Buck Institute for Education, “P roject Based L earning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.” According to Ballington P rincipal William Anderson, “We believe in a student-centered classroom environment that allows a child to become actively involved in learning. When undertaking a project, teachers will focus on the relevant standards-based content and skills like critical thinking, problem-solving or a host of other important skills aimed at both the academic and social emotional development of the child.” P roject-based learning begins with a question or a real-life problem. Students are given the opportunity to ask their own questions, find the resources to answer these questions, and apply their learning in a way that lets them present an authentic representation of their learning, Anderson said. “There is time for student reflection and dialogue which extends their learning and allows for development of important speaking and listening skills,” he added. The school also offers a wide array of specialty classes in music, visual art, technology and science/ engineering. “I cannot stress enough the importance of arts in education. It is an integral part of the development of each human being,” said Anderson. H e said data exists to overwhelmingly support the belief that study and participation in the arts are key components in improving learning throughout all academic areas. Evidence of its effectiveness is found in reducing student dropout rates, raising student attendance, developing better team players, fostering a love for learning, improving greater student dignity, enhancing student creativity, and producing a more prepared citizen for the workplace for tomorrow can be found documented in many studies. “In such a rapidly changing world we have come to realize we really do not know what kinds of jobs will be available in the future but what has been identified are needed skills that will and do lead to success,” he said. Those skills include creativity and imagination, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Ballington is a kindergarten through sixth grade charter school authorized by the El Centro School D istrict. Students do not need to be residents of El Centro. Teachers are fully credentialed in the State of California and consistently attend professional development to stay current on educational issues, said Anderson. Class sizes are capped at 25 students, allowing Ballington “to build a strong school community where caring relationships are fostered on a daily basis,” said Anderson. Ballington Academy is enrolling for the upcoming 201 8 -201 9 school year. Additional information may be found online at or by calling the school at 7 6 0-3 53 -01 4 0.  Summer 2018

Summer 2018


Kumon Center


A parent’s love for his child and desire to help him reach new academic heights inspired the creation of the K umon Method nearly 6 5 years ago. Those same motivations drove Artemisa Z apata to open a franchise of the internationally acclaimed K umon math and reading tutoring program in El Centro shortly after moving there 12 years ago. The K umon Method was created in 1954 by Toru Kumon, a math teacher, to help his then-8 -year-old son. Today there are 25,100 Kumon centers serving 4.3 million students worldwide; 1,494 of those are in the U nited States, helping more than a quarter-million children master math and reading skills. “We are trying to raise the bar on the expectations we have for our children,” Z apata said. “Our main goal is to help children become self-learners” and excel in both subjects by the time they Summer 2018

Raising the bar on learning expectations

reach high school. Many of the El Centro center’s children are in grade school, but the center accepts children as young as 3 years old. New students work in groups of two with one of Zapata’s 10 assistants. As the children master those early skills, they move into another part of the center where they work on their own, with assistants checking their progress and grading their work. On a recent afternoon, one young girl, a third-grader, was working unassisted solving an advanced algebra equation. That student came into the program as a preschooler four years ago, already working at an advanced level. But many other students have come to K umon because they need help in one or both subject matters. K umon is mostly about teaching perseverance, Z apata said, a message

emphasized in K umon’s printed materials. “K umon is designed to help students reach high math and reading ability through independent study,” K umon P resident Mino Tanabe states in his message in the K umon Inspirations publication. While students improve their math and reading skills, Tanabe’s message continues, “however, superior academic abilities are not developed overnight. The only way to develop these skills is through the tenacious process of daily study.” “We work from teaching a child how to count to doing calculus and beyond,” Z apata said. “We teach from how to read to understanding critical reading and Shakespeare.” The El Centro center is open two days a week, but children take home work for the remaining five days of the week. “They come to the center twice a week

but work daily, like brushing their teeth, every day,” Z apata said. “They spend no more than 20 minutes per day per subject.” D uring students’ two days at the center, “We keep track of their work, how much time it takes per page, how many mistakes.” “We do not over-help them,” Z apata said. “L et them learn from their mistakes. L et them learn from the examples. When they’ve mastered it, that’s when they move to next step.” That advice is also given to parents, who receive instruction on how to grade the homework. Z apata, a 20-year journalist originally from Tijuana, learned about K umon while living in San D iego and opened a franchise in El Centro after moving there with her husband and children, who then were in the third, fourth and sixth grades. “I wanted to give my children the best education possible,” she said, and that came with help from the K umon Center. All three children are now grown and either in or have graduated from college. Their mother, however, continues to work with other children determined to learn how to learn.

LEFT PAGE: Artemisa Zapata works with a student at the Kumon Center in El Centro, which she opened about 12 years ago. ABOVE: Students work independently with several of Zapata's assistants observing. - Photos by Peggy Dale Most of them are at the center through word of mouth. Others come at the recommendations of teachers who have seen improvement in other students. Z apata describes the K umon Method as “very fair. Sometimes children are born with this amazing ability and it’s not hard for them.” Others struggle academically, but “with K umon, if you’re willing to work hard, eventually you will

be very advanced at it. It gives you the right skills.” The Kumon Center is at 1560 Ocotillo D rive, Suite D , El Centro. The cost to attend is $125 per subject per month. For information, visit the website https:/ / www. EL -CENTRO, email Z apata at artemisazapata@, or call the center at 7 6 0-3 52-7 050. 

Enroll them in Kumon today! Enrolling your kids at a Kumon Center allows them to gain the full benefits of the Kumon Math and Reading Program, including having an instructor there to guide, motivate, and encourage them.

Start giving your kids all the advantages of Kumon. To learn more, we invite you to schedule a Free Placement Test.


Kumon Math & Reading Center of El Centro Ocotillo Plaza 1560 Ocotillo Dr., Ste. D, El Centro, CA 92243 760-352-7050 •

Where Smart Kids Get Smarter. ©2018 Kumon North America, Inc. All rights reserved.

Summer 2018


Calendar of Events Local Calendar July 11 Budget Management Workshop 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., El Centro Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, 1095 S. 4th St., El Centro. Hosted by Calexico Neighborhood House and the El Centro Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau. Learn to keep a written budget, calculate the profit of your business, pay yourself first, and create a savings plan for your business. To register, call Juan Diaz at 760-472-6807 or email him at

July 14 I.V. Model Railroaders 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Imperial Valley Research Center Building 10, 4151 Highway 86, Brawley. The Imperial Valley Model Railroaders is open to anyone of any age who is interested in model trains. We meet the second Saturday of every month. For more information call Joel Shank at 760-801-8300.

July 21


City of El Centro Clean-Up Event City of El Centro Clean-up event from 7 a.m. to noon, CR&R, 599 E. Main St., El Centro. Summer 2018

The information included in the print version of Imperial Valley Alive! is what was available by publication deadline. Visit our calendar online at and submit your event information.

This event is provided for El Centro residents only who must show proof of residency and a water bill. Waste will not be accepted from businesses. No commercial dumping is allowed. Types of items that may be dropped off: furniture; yard waste; large appliances; e-waste. For information, call CR&R at 760-482-5655.

July 21 Ocotillo Water Days 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Imperial Valley Desert Museum, 11 Frontage Rd, Ocotillo. Free event. Swimwear and water guns encouraged. For more information call the Museum at (760) 358-7016.

July 21 Summer Nights - Movies and Markets Under The Stars 8 p.m. to 12 a.m., Odds and Ends, 260 S. Imperial Ave., Suite A, Imperial.

July 21

Lil Davincis – Butterfly 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Odds and Ends Creative Studio, 260 S. Imperial Ave., Suite A, Imperial. Cost is $20. Materials will be provided.

July 21 3rd annual Carpet Classic 8 a.m., Ricochet R/C Raceway, 450 W. Aten Road, Imperial.

July 28 Lil Davincis - Lil Frida 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. , Odds and Ends Creative Studio, 260 S. Imperial Ave., Suite A, Imperial. Cost is $20. Materials will be provided.

July 28 Imperial Valley Cruise Nights 6:30 p.m., Aug. 25 and Sept. 29 at Rally’s, 1820 N. Imperial Ave., El Centro. Bring what you roll. Rat rod, hot rod, import, mopar, classic, 4x4, lowrider or motorcycle.

July 30 Free Financial Literacy Classes 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Imperial Public Library, 200 W. 9th St., Imperial. Free monthly financial classes are available at the library. Each month will emphasize a different aspect of managing your money.

Aug. 1

Aug. 17

Breastfeeding Resource Fair 10 a.m. to noon, El Centro Regional Medical Center, 1415 Ross Ave, El Centro. Discover local breastfeeding support and family health resources. This event is open to the public. For more information, call (760) 370-8526 or email us at

Summer Palooza 7 p.m., Naval Air Facility El Centro. End of summer pool party for the whole family. Open to all MWR patrons. For information call 760-339-2475 or visit our website at elcentro

Aug. 3

Aug. 17

Desert Pro Wrestling 7 p.m., Ricochet Sports Center, Imperial. Presale ringside tickets are $15 each; $20 at the door. Ringside tickets include backstage photo. General seating is $5 for children ages 5-12 and $10 for adults. Meet and greet is at 6 p.m. with bell time at 7 p.m.

Aug. 4 Lil Davincis - Smart Kitty 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Odds and Ends Creative Studio, 260 S. Imperial Ave., Suite A, Imperial. Cost is $20. Materials will be provided.

Aug. 4 Corazon de MANA 10 p.m., Hot Rods & Beer, 235 W. 5th St., Holtville. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For tickets, call 760-356-9900.

Aug. 11

Open Mic Night 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Music & Arts, 1470 W. State St., El Centro.

Aug. 18 Traditional Crafts Day: Pendant Weaving 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Imperial Valley Desert Museum, 11 Frontage Road, Ocotillo. Free event. For more information call the Museum at (760) 358-7016.

Aug. 27 Free Financial Literacy Classes 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Imperial Public Library, 200 W. 9th St., Imperial. Free monthly financial classes are available at the library. Each month will emphasize a different aspect of managing your money.

Sept. 8 9/11 Stairclimb 8 p.m., California Mid-Winter Fairgrounds, 200 E. 2nd St., Imperial.

I.V. Model Railroaders 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Imperial Valley Research Center Building 10, 4151 Highway 86, Sept. 8 Brawley. The Imperial Valley Model Railroaders is open to anyone of any age who is inter- I.V. Model Railroaders ested in model trains. We meet the second Saturday of every month. For more 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Imperial Valley Research Center Building 10, 4151 Highway 86, Brawley. information call Joel Shank at 760-801-8300. The Imperial Valley Model Railroaders is open to anyone of any age who is interested in model trains. We meet the second Saturday of every month. For more information call Joel Shank at 760-801-8300.

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Summer 2018


Sept. 8 9th Annual Gold Ribbon Dinner Dance 7 p.m. Sept. 8 to 1 a.m., Club Lohoo, 1111 Yourman Road, Heber. Annual fundraiser to benefit children with cancer is hosted by Club Lohoo and Amigos de Alejandro. Presale tickets are $50 per person or $90 per couple. Tickets will be $55 per person at the door. Tickets may be purchased by calling 760-222-6132 or 760-909-0879. For more information, visit

Sept. 8 Canal Expeditions Fishing Tournament 6 a.m. through 8 a.m. Sept. 9, Wiest Lake, Brawley. All state Department of Fish and Game regulations apply. Tournaments are open to the public. Entry fees are $40. Visit WCCM Catfishing Organization on Facebook for more details and event pages.

Oct. 6 - 7 WCCM Finale 6 a.m. Oct. 6 through 8 a.m. Oct. 7, Mac’s Bait and Tackle in Palo Verde. All state Department of Fish and Game regulations apply. Tournaments are open to the public. Entry fees are $40. Visit WCCM Catfishing Organization on Facebook for more details and event pages.

Yuma July 28

Sept. 22 Desert Photography 2:30 to 7:30 p.m., Imperial Valley Desert Museum, 11 Frontage Road, Ocotillo. Cost is $25 per person. Hosted by Robert Marcos. For more information call the Museum at (760) 358-7016.

Craig Wayne Boyd Live in Concert 6:30 p.m., Yuma Civic Center. Boyd is the season 7 winner of NBC's The Voice and is currently on tour across the country.

Aug. 17

Free Financial Literacy Classes 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Imperial Public Library, 200 W. 9th St., Imperial. Free monthly financial classes are available at the library. Each month will emphasize a different aspect of managing your money.

Celebrate the Heat 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Main Street in Historic Downtown Yuma. Free block party featuring live music and entertainment, food, and fun for the family. For information or to become a vendor, contact Perlita Wicks at 928-373-5028 or perlita.wicks@

Sept. 29

Sept. 8

Sept. 24

Imperial Valley Summit featuring Google for Education


8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Southwest High School, El Centro. Sponsored by EdTechTeam Summits in partnership with Central Union High School District and El Centro Elementary School District. Register at https://

Summer 2018

Yuma FitXpo United 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Yuma County Fairgrounds.

More than 100 athletes will compete in a variety of different sporting events. The expo is open to the general public. Fitness/sports enthusiasts, athletes, health conscious consumers and even people just wanting to learn more about living a healthier lifestyle are encouraged to attend. Live sporting events include grappling tournaments, bodybuilding, bikini competitions, powerlifting and Crossfit tournaments. Email for more information.

Sept. 22 Battle of the Bands 7 p.m. , Historic Yuma Theatre. This one night only concert will feature the best of the best who will compete for a winner takes all cash prize of $5,000. The concert will be hosted by Mark Flint and will feature performances by Yuma's own Checker'd Past! Tickets on sale soon at

San Diego July 13 The Blue Creek Band 6 p.m. at the Alpine Community Center Park, 1830 Alpine Blvd. behind the library. Presented by the Alpine Community Center and Alpine Library, the concerts provide live music for all ages. Bring a picnic dinner or you can buy food from local vendors.

July 20 Little River Band 8 p.m., Viejas Resort & Casino in Alpine. Tickets are available online at at the Viejas Gift Shop. For more information, visit http://viejas. com/concertsinthepark.

July 27 and 28 Pine Valley Days in Pine Valley, sponsored by the Mountain Empire Men’s Club. Parade begins at 9 a.m. July 28. Event features a music festival, craft fair, barbecue, kids’ zone and other activities. Visit for more information.

July 27 Zydeco Patrol 6 p.m. at the Alpine Community Center Park, 1830 Alpine Blvd. behind the library. Presented by the Alpine Community Center and Alpine Library, the concerts provide live music for all ages. Bring a picnic dinner or you can buy food from local vendors.

July 28 Loverboy in concert 8 p.m., Viejas Resort & Casino in Alpine. Tickets are available online at at the Viejas Gift Shop. For more information, visit http://viejas. com/concertsinthepark.

Aug. 10 Eddie Money in concert 8 p.m., Viejas Resort & Casino in Alpine. Tickets are available online at at the Viejas Gift Shop. For more information, visit http://viejas. com/concertsinthepark.

Aug. 10 Highland Way 6 p.m. at the Alpine Community Center Park, 1830 Alpine Blvd. behind the library.

Presented by the Alpine Community Center and Alpine Library, the concerts provide live music for all ages. Bring a picnic dinner or you can buy food from local vendors.

Aug. 11 Julian Natural Wonderfest 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Jess Martin Park in Julian. Free shuttle between town and park. Free event for all ages. Wildlife encounters, music, art and star party.

Aug. 17 Jeff Foxworthy 8 p.m., Viejas Resort & Casino in Alpine. Tickets are available online at at the Viejas Gift Shop. For more information, visit http://viejas. com/concertsinthepark.

Aug. 18 Three Dog Night 8 p.m., Viejas Resort & Casino in Alpine. Tickets are available online at at the Viejas Gift Shop. For more information, visit http://viejas. com/concertsinthepark.

Aug. 24 Classic Buzz 6 p.m. at the Alpine Community Center Park, 1830 Alpine Blvd. behind the library. Presented by the Alpine Community Center and Alpine Library, the concerts provide live music for all ages. Bring a picnic dinner or you can buy food from local vendors.

Sept. 1 Julian Grape Stomp Festa 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Menghini Winery, 1150 Julian Orchards Drive, Julian. Ten local wineries will have sips to sample, there are food and shopping opportunities, Italian music and dancing. Regular admission tickets are $15 for adults, children ages 6 and up are $5, and under age 5 are free. (Children must be accompanied by an adult.)

Treat yourself to a VIP experience that includes convenient reserved parking, event admission, a fast-pass to the stomping vat, comfortable seating under the VIP tent in the shade, a free wine glass, two free cocktails and snacks . . . All this for only $50. Contact the Julian Chamber of Commerce at 760765-1857.

Sept. 2 Los Tigres del Norte 8 p.m., Viejas Resort & Casino in Alpine. Tickets are available online at at the Viejas Gift Shop. For more information, visit http://viejas. com/concertsinthepark.

Sept. 7 Whiskey Ridge country and classics 6 p.m. at the Alpine Community Center Park, 1830 Alpine Blvd. behind the library. Presented by the Alpine Community Center and Alpine Library, the concerts provide live music for all ages. Bring a picnic dinner or you can buy food from local vendors.

Sept. 21 Hank Williams 8 p.m., Viejas Resort & Casino in Alpine. Tickets are available online at at the Viejas Gift Shop. For more information, visit http://viejas. com/concertsinthepark.

Sept. 29 38 Special 8 p.m., Viejas Resort & Casino in Alpine. Tickets are available online at at the Viejas Gift Shop. For more information, visit http://viejas. com/concertsinthepark. 

Summer 2018


Amy Volmer |

Favorite Ride We asked readers for photos of their favorite rides. Their responses and pictures tell a story of their own. The Imperial Valley is full of people from all walks of life who find common ground -- like sharing their favorite rides.


Summer 2018

"My favorite Jeep. Brought a whole new meaning to MFT (Mandatory Family Time). Building confidence one obstacle at a time.¨

Elias Miramontes | "1987 Chevy Blaze k5 4x4. Love the body style and like the way it pulls! ¨

Chuck Putnam | "This is my toy to tinker with. It is a '68 VW Baja Bug with an engine from a '72 Porsche 914 hooked to a transmission from a '76 VW Bus. Keeps me busy and it is a blast to drive.¨

Joel Gonzalez |

Glenn Crowson |

"Building custom vehicles.¨

"One of our restoration projects.¨

David Byrum | Byrum's truck travels to many off-road events.

Harold Moore | "I have a 1953 Ford pickup I play around with a bit.¨

Summer 2018



Christian Moreno retrieves an 11-pound flathead catfish caught by Robert Tapia at the Alamo River in Holtville. - Photo by Joselito N. Villero


Summer 2018

to promote. “I have a soft spot for helping kids learn to fish,” said Moreno. He has done local presentations through Fishing L eague Worldwide to encourage people to fish. A recent presentation at the El Centro Wal-Mart Supercenter was “very successful,” he said. “I got to talk to a lot of people, got to help some new anglers who are trying to learn to fish but don’t know what to buy.” Anglers come in all shapes and sizes, ages and backgrounds, and their pastime can be easy on the wallet. “Really, with fishing you don’t need a lot of money,” Moreno said. “It’s just a fishing pole with string and live bait like nightcrawlers, and some hooks and weights. And a license. You can get that at Wal-Mart or Big 5.” In the Imperial Valley, one can fish just about anywhere there’s water, unless it’s posted “no trespassing” or “private property,” Moreno said. The main canals local anglers prefer are the All-American Canal, where bass, bluegill and catfish are plentiful, the East H ighline and the Central and West Main canals. Urrutia, a correctional officer at Calipatria State Prison, elects for fishing with his wife

and son on the All-American Canal or the Alamo River that runs to the Salton Sea. On his days off, he said, he’ll hit several spots, ranging from the Calexico area to up near the Salton Sea. But the deceptively swift waters of the canal system can be treacherous, so caution is urged for anyone venturing onto the banks. The Valley offers much safer options for children learning to fish. “Kids are better off at Sunbeam Lake,” Moreno said. The lake is located near Seeley and overseen by the County of Imperial. It plays host each year to tournaments such as the Imperial Valley J unior Trout Fishing D erby in J anuary and WCT Townsel Memorial Family Fishin’ Fun D ay held in late spring. “There’s a lot of bluegill right now there,” Moreno said. “If you want to get kids interested, that’s the perfect spot. U se a small hook … with a piece of nightcrawler and they’ll be pulling bluegills all day.” The memories made in Moreno’s childhood are with him today. “I fish in the same canals I did growing up,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll pass by and I’ll remember fishing a certain spot with my grandpa or my uncle. That’s the nice thing about the Imperial Valley. It’s so family.” 


Busier areas of the Colorado River running through Imperial County can resemble the off-roading madness in the Imperial Sand D unes Recreation Area near Glamis, according to Imperial County Sheriff’s Office Senior Deputy Kevin Bachant. H e is part of the agency’s fourmember Boating Enforcement and Safety Team that patrols the river in the summer and the dunes in the winter. “We’re out there making sure people are being safe and not consuming alcohol” while driving a boat, Bachant said. “We make sure people follow the rules of the river. Every time we do a vessel stop we do an inspection to make sure they have all the safety equipment.” Many of the recreational boaters are from the San D iego area, he noted, though the traffic volume seems to have subsided over the years, as has the number of violators as boaters became accustomed to laws being enforced. “The major holidays are still very busy with a lot of traffic from the San Diego area. They like that hot weather they don’t get over there,” Bachant said. L ong said the personality of the P icacho area of the river changes from fall and winter with nature lovers, hunters and

TOP: Floating the lower Colorado River at Picacho State Recreational Area. RIGHT: Kayaking the lower Colorado River. Photos courtesy of Sue Barney fishers to summer with boaters and tubers. The allure, however, remains. “It’s a one-of-kind place in this day and age,” L ong said. 

Summer 2018



Today, the Navy's Leap Frogs parachute exhibition team is a frequent sight at Superbowl games and other major events. The team had its origins in 1961 at Naval Air Facility El Centro to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Naval aviation. Members of the "Chuting Stars" were selected from members of the Navy Test Parachute Unit at NAFEC. - Photo by: U.S. Navy

The test vehicle Wymore came up with looked like a “plumb bob,” he said. It was compartmentalized with the top configured to hold cameras and electronic test monitoring devices. The “plumb bob” would be dropped from an aircraft at 50,000 feet. It needed to pick up speed evenly and replicate the forces on parachutes that would occur when the actual module was nearing its ocean splashdown. The Apollo parachute deployment was in two phases with two large drogue chutes deploying first at about 25,000


Summer 2018

feet to slow down the module. The main parachute system of three chutes would open at about 10,000 feet. “We built the first (test vehicle) model and took it out to the base,” Munson said. Shortly after, Wymore got a phone call. They were told “the welds had broken and the machine had fallen apart and was scattered over a large part of the desert.” As expected, the parachute system had failed. Munson said the tip of the test “plumb bob” had been driven 50 feet into the desert floor. “We had already started on the second vehicle,” he said. “We divided our crew in half and worked round the clock to get the second one ready.” P arachutes on the second test vehicle partially failed but the vehicle was still usable. “They knew where the failures were” and modified the parachute systems accordingly, he said. The test vehicle on display today at Wymore’s is the third version that, through multiple tests, finally helped prove that the redesigned recovery system was safe enough to get the Apollo astronauts back to earth. Wymore Machine and Welding also did other work for the base’s parachute tests including work on giant sleds that would be deployed from transport aircraft. Sleds were used to drop tanks and heavy equipment. “A C-130 would come in over the field and drop the sled out of the cargo bay,” Munson said. One time, he said, Wymore got a call that one of the sleds had been “bent” and was needed to repair it. Their caller said to bypass the front gate and get on the base through a side access road. “We worked all night long and the next morning helped load the sled onto the aircraft.” As the Wymore team was leaving they were stopped by base security officers unaware of what they had been doing. “We had to talk our way off the base.” Wymore also provided support in the development of parachute mechanisms used in escape systems for helicopters, B-1 Bombers and parachute test vehicle mechanisms on Cruise Missiles that would allow missiles to be recovered for reuse after a test flight. Meanwhile, that “plumb bob” piece of equipment at D ogwood and H eil is a testament to local ingenuity and harkens back to a simpler time when man was seeking to place footprints on the moon. 


it’s fun.” Fried said quilting was once described to her as, “You take a perfectly good piece of material and you cut it up. And you sew it back together.” She was 64 when she began learning the craft and now considers herself hooked. “The hunt for the fabric. That’s exciting, thrilling, and it might take you one day, one week, a month. You might collect fabric for a year or two,” said Fried. D rewry said by necessity early quilters had to save every scrap of fabric to stitch together their projects “You can imagine people up in the hills of Tennessee and up in the backcountry,” she said. In a speech at a D aughters of the American Revolution function D rewry referred to a quote on the front of a book that said, “I would rather quilt than eat on the hungriest day of my life.” D rewry recounts learning about men saving tobacco sacks and bringing them home for their wives to use for quilts. “We’re spoiled,” she said of modern quilters. “We can go anywhere, get any color, any hue, any design and we can put it together. It makes our work simple.” There’s a quilted footstool close to a rack

(From left) Margie Bunch, Amelia Gerber and Judy Jordan hold a quilt made by Gerber prior to their Desert Quilters Guild business meeting in June at Lions Center in Brawley. - Photo by Joselito N. Villero of vibrant, multicolored quilts inside Fried’s home. There is more of Fried’s handiwork on her couch. She made a T-shirt quilt recently for her grandson and now she’s adding purses to her handiwork. There’s something special that is created beyond the quilt itself. Whether it’s through a guild or a couple friends, quilting unites

those for whom it is a hobby, an art form, a passion. “I’ve always noticed that it’s an activity that brings people together,” said Nunez. “Women coming together and having that social connection but also that sisterhood bond.” 

Summer 2018




Author & Books By Bill Gay

The cover of "Almost Eleven¨ by Harrell Glenn Crowson is shown above.

It is an understatement to note that H arrell Glenn Crowson’s “Almost Eleven” Crowson is a difficult read. Crowson’s meticulous research and compelling detail bring back to life the anguish of a Brawley family and their community after the 1965 kidnapping and murder of young Brenda Sue Sayers, who was “almost eleven.” After school one afternoon, just days before her 11th birthday, Brenda Sue dropped off her school books and clarinet at home and got

Have Imperial Valley Alive! delivered to your home Quarterly magazine $20. 00/annual



Almost Eleven

her mom’s permission to try out her new roller skates at nearby J .W. Oakley School. She was not seen alive again. On January 10, three days after she went missing and after an extensive house-to-house and community search, Brenda Sue’s body was discovered in an irrigation culvert near Mecca in Riverside County. Crowson also chronicles in detail the manhunt, capture and confession of her killer, Robert Eugene P ennington. And in a very effective side story, he also captures the atmosphere of Brawley in the mid-1960s. The book, published in 2013, has 9 2 customer reviews on Amazion.

Name: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Email: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Address: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ City: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ State: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Fill out the information and mail it and your check to:

Reliance Public Relations, Inc., P.O. Box 1944, El Centro, CA 92244


Summer 2018

Z ip: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Country: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

com and has earned a 4-star rating. “Almost Eleven-the Murder of Brenda Sue Sayers” is available on, Barnes and Noble and

Brenda Sue Sayers is shown in this image provided by the Sayers family for the book "Almost Eleven."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR H arrell Glenn Crowson is a native of Brawley. H e graduated Brawley Union High School in 1966, Imperial Valley College in 1970 and San Diego State University in 1979. He is a member of the IVC H all of Fame. Crowson first served on the Brawley P olice D epartment for three years, then became the founding executive director of the Brawley Boys Club — now the Imperial Valley Boys & Girls Clubs — in 1972. He became a department head for the City of Brawley in 1974, serving as its P arks and Recreation D irector. In 1982, Crowson left Brawley to become the city manager of Evans, Colo. H e then spent the next 11 years as a city manager. In

addition to Evans, he was city manager of Needles and D esert H ot Springs. H e then spent nine years as general manager of the Southern Coachella Valley Community Services D istrict. Crowson and his wife, L inda, currently reside in D esert H ot Springs 

Summer 2018



Noe Alvarez places masa (corn dough) in the bin where it will be cut into circles at Fiesta Mexican Foods in Brawley. - Photo by Joselito N. Villero


to meet needs. For instance, Fiesta developed a corn tortilla with modified ingredients to help restaurants that fry lots of tortilla chips. H e plans to build on the company’s successes by adding a bakery with a drive-through window in Imperial that will feature freshly made premium Mexican pastries, breads and teas. While the Flamenco-dancing lady on the Fiesta Tortilla label is widely recognized in stores throughout the region, not many get to see how the staple of many memorable meals is manufactured here. That magic takes place in a nondescript building on Ninth Street in Brawley. Inside, a beehive of activity takes place along two assembly lines, one for corn tortilla, the other for flour. Altogether the 30-year-old plant produces about 2 million tortillas a year. The recipe for the tortillas is proprietary. One feature Fiesta proudly proclaims is that it uses very little preservatives, which enhances the aroma and taste of the tortilla. Fiesta is one of fewer than six regional tortilla plants in Southern California that have not been gobbled up by mass producers. And Armenta is proud that Summer 2018

Fiesta’s process embraces both the historic and modern aspects of the industry. “Making tortillas is an art,” Armenta said. “Fiesta uses a semi-automated process. But the human touch is still important.” Many of Fiesta’s 23 employees have been with the company for 20 or more years, keeping the tradition alive. Fiesta actually heats and grinds its own corn flour for tortillas. The factory regularly receives shipments of white corn, which it stores in a 10,000-pound silo behind the plant until needed. The corn is heated with small amounts of calcium lime and water before being ground. Ground corn is mixed with more water in a machine similar to a small cement mixer. The dough is moved to a mechanism that squeezes sheets of dough through molds. The raw corn tortillas drop onto a conveyor that moves through an oven. Once baked, the hot tortillas move through a series of cooling racks. Finally a conveyor moves them to a station where workers place the corn tortillas in the iconic Fiesta packages. The still warm tortillas are moved into cartons separated by the routes that will

drive the fresh product to market. On the flour tortilla assembly line special tortilla flour is mixed with oil, water, salt and a few other ingredients before being pressed into molds. The molded dough drops into a hot conveyor where two workers hand stretch the tortilla into its traditional shape and size. “This process is so hot, the women can only stay on the line 10 or 15 minutes at a time, before rotating somewhere else,” Armenta said. After stretching, the flour tortillas continue down the assembly line to eventually be packed and sorted for delivery. Armenta is proud of Fiesta’s employees. “We really are in this together. I could not do this without everyone. I have learned when hiring the first thing to look for is character.” In addition to tortillas of all sizes, packaged in various amounts, Fiesta also distributes tostadas, chips and breads to restaurants, schools and other institutional customers. In the winter, Fiesta also sells the prepared masa to those who make their own tamales at Christmas-time. It’s just another way to keep the tradition alive and well at a fiesta. 


across the street, where it still operates today. Their little store is no longer in operation. In the early ‘ 7 0s, the Araizas retired and sold the tortilla facility to Manuela’s daughter, Marina Mireles-Rodriguez, and her husband, Vern MacP herson, a fair-haired Montana native with much experience eating, but much less making tortillas. They were both journalists with luminary careers. She had been a Mexico City correspondent for the L os Angeles H erald Examiner and had covered numerous political upheavals in South America. MacPherson was a public information officer for the military in Pearl Harbor in 1944, according to his daughter. Later he worked for several L os Angeles area newspapers before being the managing editor of the Times Mirror. Once the couple took over Fiesta, they began building the business and extending the market to cover more of the region. MacP herson-H altom said she helped with the marketing for a time during the mid ‘ 7 0s when she visited her father. In 1986 Marina died and MacPherson was left to run the Fiesta plant and cope with mounting competition from large L os Angelesbased tortilla factories as well as rising costs. The difference with the mass-produced product, MacP herson-H altom said, is they are loaded with preservatives, which affects the taste. When MacPherson was diagnosed with leukemia in 1997, his daughter said she became increasingly involved with Fiesta’s operation, though she was living and raising her own family in the L os Angeles area. MacPherson died in 2001 and left the tortilla making plant to his daughter. “H e loved the people who worked for him and did not want to see Fiesta close,” MacP herson-H altom said. She said running the facility from Los Angeles was difficult, but, she, too, was committed to keeping the brand alive.



Raymond Armenta, president of Fiesta Mexican Foods, Inc., stands next to a sign at Fiesta Mexican Foods in Brawley. - Photos by Joselito N. Villero

That commitment to building and improving Fiesta into the future is what drives Armenta today. H e considers the Fiesta employees, many there more than 20 years, an essential part of the team that makes the future bright. “P eople look for Fiesta because they trust us to provide a premium product,” Armenta said. “We are in this together to make sure we provide it.” MacP herson-H altom, though now retired and living near Reno, Nev., remains friendly and connected with Armenta and Fiesta. “Ray is a good guy,” she said. “ I get Fiesta tortillas for life. It was part of the sale.” 



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Alive! Going places

Sarah Mata at the Exchange on Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

Imperial Valley Alive! visits Kramer Junction, Calif., with Mickey Dale. Kramer Antiques & Darr Military Rentals sits near the intersection of U.S. Route 395 and State Route 58 at the edge of Edwards Air Force Base.

Nancy Rood is with Jacumba Hikers at the peak of Carrizo Mountain, the highest peak (2,408 feet) in the Coyote Mountains near Ocotillo. With Rhonda Chandler Burt, Nancy Barclay Rood, Karen Jones Love, Charles Jellison and DeeAnn Kirk Goudie.


Summer 2018

Take a copy of Imperial Valley Alive! on your journeys and share your photos with us and our readers

Dane Knight and his family took Imperial Valley Alive! to the South Point Casino in Las Vegas with the FLIPZ cheer teams.

Imperial Valley Alive! visited Austria, thanks to reader Danny Shaw, who lives with his wife in Austria, and his family visiting from the U.S.

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08/ Imperial Valley Alive! / Summer 2018  

08/ Imperial Valley Alive! / Summer 2018