The Wasco Rotary Club played host this last month to an old friend, when former a finance director for Wasco and Shafter, Jim Zervis, came to talk about the proposed one cent tax that is on the ballot for November.
Zervis was the finance director for the City of Wasco years ago, and ended up as the city manager. He then went to work for the City of Shafter as its finance director. Kern County grabbed him up a couple of years ago to work for them in their finance department.
Zervis spoke to the group about the importance of the proposed tax when it comes to much needed help in maintaining our public safety services. "The Sheriff's and Fire Departments are having a difficult time. With the tax increase, it would help alleviate some of the problem. A priority of the money raised would go to maintaining public safety, retaining and attracting local businesses and jobs, helping address mental health and addiction challenges, homelessness, and repairing roads."
The county is conducting a series of workshops between now and the election to educate residents with answers to any questions they may have about how the money will be used.
Larry Pennell, former Wasco city manager for Wasco, said that he is proud of his role in getting Zervis into local government. "I appointed him to be finance director in Wasco many years ago and got him involved in local government. I am proud of that;" Pennell said.
In another presentation, the club learned that Kern County has some of the highest obesity rates, diabetes and heart disease in the state. Michelle Corson, program manager with the Kern County Public Health Services Department, and Arlene Carrillo, marketing and promotions coordinator, described what their organization is doing to address this problem and shared their initiatives geared at improving the overall health here in Kern County.
One of the key programs, said Corson, is "Know Your Numbers," a traveling six-week program offering free health screening and fitness and nutrition coaching. Their "Certified Healthy" program empowers residents to choose local restaurants that offer nutritious food that has been certified healthy by meeting their ten nutrition criteria.
"Our "Waste Hunger, Not Food" program, rescues wholesome food from schools, restaurants and markets that would have been wasted and distributes it to those in need throughout the community," said Carrillo.