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Shafter recognizes retired Captain Jeff Bell, new Learning Center employees

The City Council recognized Captain Jeff Bell of the Shafter Police Department for his 23 years of service Tuesday evening. Bell retired recently, starting a new chapter in his life and career.

Bell began with the city 23 years ago, after serving as a law enforcement officer in the Los Angeles County area, where he was involved in tactical teams during the Rodney King riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Bell became the first Shafter police officer to attend the FBI Academy. He also received the first Kern County Law Enforcement "Administrator of the Year" award in 2006.

Bell was dedicated to helping the victims of domestic violence and bringing awareness to the issue of domestic violence. He was a court-certified expert witness, established the Shafter Police DART team, and presented numerous domestic violence presentations to the public and was a member of the Kern County Domestic Violence Advisory Committee.

He also was instrumental in several projects at the Shafter Police Department, the remodeling of the Police Department facility and the construction of the animal control facility.

The council also welcomed five new employees to the Shafter Learning Center, including Brenda Lopez, a Shafter High graduate who is a tutor for the facility. Another was Estrella Ramirez, who will be a Spanish teacher for the center. Another tutor is Dania Rubio, a Wasco High School graduate. Two Shafter High graduates were recognized: Lizbeth Becerra and Nancy Becerra are both teachers at the center.

In other council action, the assessment rates and fees structure was set for Gossamer Grove. Residents in the development will be paying a monthly rate of $29.50 for their solid waste service per container.

The Council also approved the consolidation of California Block Grants totaling about $400,000 to be used for several projects, including a lighting project that will be for the Rodriguez Park site, in addition to the placement of a multiuse field and court on the site.

Public Works Director Michael James also gave an update on the progress and expectations of the Shafter Aquatic Center Project. James said that approximately $2 million from the Clean California Grant would be used for the exterior of the center. James estimated the pool could be in use in January of 2024, due to the process of submitting plans and reports before the renovation can take place

The delay could delay Shafter High's use of the pool, which was expected by the 2023 season. In answer to Mayor Cathy Prout's query, James said that this would be looked into further.


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