At the beginning of the Los Banos City Council meeting Aug. 2, eight individuals spoke at the public forum. Kathy Ballard, a resident of Los Banos and current Measure H Committee member, started the forum by asking for more Measure H Oversight Committee meetings “as soon as possible.” Measure H is a ½ cent sales tax approved on Nov. 6, 2018, which funds “public safety, recreation, and administration,” according to the city’s website. Afterwards, Rhonda Lowe spoke as a representative of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). SBDC, according to Lowe, has three new businesses ready to launch because of their free in-person workshop. She stated that the next workshop will be on Aug. 12 at the Community Center and thanked the city for its support of the SBDC. Following Lowe, Christian Santos, a representative of Congressman John Duarte spoke. Santos highlighted the federal PACT Act, which expands care for veterans exposed to toxic substances. He also highlighted the proposed federal GATES Act which intends to expand access to agricultural conservation programs for farms making over $900,000. Santos said there will be a Merced County Townhall featuring Congressman Duarte on Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. in the Atwater Memorial building. During the public forum other individuals expressed concerns about the homeless on the Rail Trail and transparency issues, mostly related to expenditures within the Small Business Assistance Grant Program. Near the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Paul Llanez read a proclamation recognizing Brenda Geary’s retirement after 25 years of dedicated and loyal service to the community of Los Banos, with eight years as the Police Services Manager. He also recognized the city’s June Employee of the Month, Finance Manager Kim Tomas, for her “outstanding performance.”

The Westside Express