Hispanic Advisory Committee - Minutes

Tue., Feb. 21, 2017

Chairman Jose Garcia called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm. Committee members present were Mark Gomolski, Jesus Rome, Roy Nayar Barron (arrived at 7:08pm), and Hector Ramirez. Council Representatives Manuel Gutierrez and Clara Beas-Fitzgerald were present, as well as City Representative Lilly Alarcon-Strong. The Pledge of Allegiance was given.

Jose stated it is very nice to see everyone as there has not been a meeting in two months due to inclement weather. Jose stated although he was excited to hold the December and January meetings he is grateful the meetings were cancelled as safety is, and should be, everyone’s number one priority. Jose stated this winter’s weather was exceptionally severe and many people were injured and lost their lives in accidents. Jose asked that people be safe, slow down, or don’t go out when weather and road conditions are dangerous.


Manuel moved and Hector seconded to approve the minutes of the November meeting. Motion carried unanimously.

New HAC Member Mark Gomolski

Jose and the Committee welcomed Mark to the Committee.

Mark stated before retiring, he worked in government for over 20 years in Chicago, specifically dealing with cultural outreach. Mark stated although he is not fluent in Spanish, he is passionate about the community and doing anything he can to help do outreach for the Hispanic community and is very grateful for the opportunity to serve on the Committee.

Lost Valley Ranch

Clara stated representatives from Lost Valley Ranch have asked to be rescheduled for the meeting in April.

(Roy arrived at 7:08 pm)

Community Agricultural Workers and Employers Resource Fair

Jose stated he met with Debbie Pedro at the Chamber who is concerned there are not enough vendors to hold the 4th Annual Community Agricultural Workers and Employers Resource Fair, and has considered cancelling the event.  Jose stated as of right now, there are only 12 vendors. Jose encouraged people to spread the word about the event, getting vendors to sign up, and having people attend. The event is March 8th from 5:00pm to 7:30pm; dinner and music will be provided. Jose stated he also wants to challenge the men in the community to attend the Hispanic Business Network Meetings at the Chamber as he was the only male in the room.

Clara stated last year it was completely filled with lots of vendors and information, and even free haircuts. It was a great event with a great turnout. Clara stated she will announce the event on the radio.

The Committee and audience recommended that meetings possibly be changed to another time frame to accommodate people who do not get out of work until after 4:30pm. And if the Chamber cannot accommodate a new time frame maybe the group could move the meetings to EOTEC.

Hispanic Grief Support Group

Jose stated he has been contacted by a group that is trying to help establish a Hispanic Grief Support Group as there is nothing available in the area.

Manuel stated he knows of a facilitator from Pendleton who travels to Tri-Cities for a Grief Support Group there, and if Hermiston is going to start a Grief Support Group in Spanish, they needs to find someone well trained in this field, as there is a lot of stages of grief.

Clara recommended the Committee reach out to the City’s Faith-Based Advisory Committee as they have formed a program to help at risk families; this program is called Family Promise. Clara stated she believes the Faith-Based Advisory Committee would be a great resource to help form some sort of Hispanic Grief Support Group.

The Committee agreed they need to follow up with community organizations to help form this Group as there are many different types of grief: loss of life, divorce, loss of home, etc.

Moda and the Trail Blazers Assist Program for Sunset Park

Jose and Clara stated Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter is asking for the community’s help to win a $20,000 play ground to install at Sunset Park. All we need to do is go to http://www.nba.com/blazers/assist/ and click on Hermiston’s Sunset Park to vote; the park with the most votes on March 20th will win. Jose encouraged everyone to vote and spread the word about helping our Parks and Recreation Department, our City, and this very deserving community that the playground would be installed at.

Kayak Free Bus System

Lilly stated the City launched it’s free bus system on January 2nd. The bus operates M-F 9:00am to 4:00pm and makes loops around the City. Lilly encouraged the community to ride the bus and spread the word about the free new service.

An audience member stated it would be beneficial to change the hours of operation to accommodate to people who have to be at work earlier in the morning.

Lilly stated the City did a community survey asking what days and time frames people would like to use the free service the most. The survey showed community members wanted transportation services M-F 9am to 4pm, so that is how the bus route was formed, eventually this route will change. Manuel has been a great advocate to extend hours or have service during weekends to make the service available to farm workers who work long hours 6 days a week.

Closing Comments-Public

Pregnancy Crisis Center

Members from the Hermiston Pregnancy Crisis Center stated they will have a bilingual speaker presenting “Right to Life” on March 6, 7, 8, and 9. The Speaker will be presenting at La Palma and the Catholic Church but has openings on these days. Please contact them if you are interested in hosting a presentation, they have just moved to the Granary Square Building on Hermiston Ave.

They also stated they give free pregnancy test, counseling, parenting classes, have bilingual services, and give new and gentle used items to help care for the baby. Hermiston Pregnancy Crisis Center is pro-baby, pro-women, and pro-family. They are currently looking for bilingual volunteers and male mentors to help fathers.

Immigration Issues

Members of the audience stated they have heard a lot of stories related to Immigration issues; specifically Immigration Officials setting out road blocks, entering businesses, homes and schools, detaining adults, etc.

Jose stated a lot of the stories being generated are not true, have not been confirmed, and are only meant to create fear.

Manuel stated families should have an emergency plan that everyone in the family knows. That plan should include    memorizing important phone numbers and not depending on electronic devices that may get taken away or can get lost or stolen, and developing guardianship for children. These plans should also be shared with emergency contacts/people that would be taking guardianship of children and/or taking care of any and all financial matters for the family.

Roy stated the Committee should get more information about these issues to be able to accurately inform the community.  

Manuel stated he has requested that Catholic Charities present to the Committee, they will be on the April agenda.

There was some discussion regarding a teacher at Desert View Elementary School who may, or may not have said some racially bias things regarding the students who missed school on Thursday, February 16th.

Committee Comments

Hector stated the Parks and Recreation department will hold its annual Spring Cleaning Event on Saturday, April 8th at the UEC parking lot. Larry has also formed a group of four churches called “We Love Our Community” who will clean up properties around the City.

Manuel stated Good Shepherd Heath Foundation has $500,000 in scholarship funds for students who would like to further their education in the medical field. Those interested in applying please contact Bob Green at the Hospital for an application.

Next Scheduled Meeting

The next scheduled meeting will be Monday, March 20th at 7:00 pm.

Meeting Adjourned at 8:25pm.

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