By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
Westminster is taking big steps to protect, house and educate its own children. And if the city can’t do everything, there’s a number to find out who else in Orange County can help.
The Westminster City Council accepted a $375,000 grant from the California Emergency Management Agency during the council’s Jan. 27 meeting. The grant helps fund a joint human trafficking task force and will be paid out in three annual increments of $125,000.
The Westminster Police Department has collaborated with Community Services Programs, or CSP Inc., to form the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) and will be the primary grant recipient.
“This is an opportunity to add additional services at no additional cost to the city’s general fund,” Westminster Police Chief Mitch Waller said.
According to the department’s grant proposal, “human trafficking in California is an unsavory reality.”
Part of the task force’s objective is to catch more of the criminals that are already committing human trafficking crimes while also decreasing the demand for human trafficking.
According to staff reports, the grant allows the department to create overtime for officers, establish investigative funds, and provide travel costs for collaboration with other state task forces.
The council also moved the city one step closer to having more affordable housing by approving an amendment to the city’s agreement with AMCAL Royale Fund for the development of a 36-unit affordable workforce housing project at 280 Hospital Circle.
Construction should begin at the end of February with units open for occupancy by May 2011.
“The project will provide large three and four bedroom apartments for families in need,” city manager Donald Lamm said.
Steve Lemler of Orange County 2-1-1 presented on Orange County’s 211 service. 211 is a toll-free, confidential number that provide access to over 5000 government and non-profit services in Orange County. Those services range from healthcare, basic needs help, legal services, child care and consumer services.
“Callers to 211 speak with trained specialists who provide information and referrals to agencies and programs serving Orange County,” Lemler said.
The number also serves as a disaster response partner that takes pressure off of 911 services. 211 operators handle calls for issues such as road and school closures, evacuation sites and non-emergency medical care. 211 operators are available 24 hours a day in 150 languages.
211 is a FCC mandated number for information services, but each community handles its own 211 service.
The council also held the first of two public hearings regarding the “needs of the community.” But no one from the public spoke. The hearing was in preparation of Westminster’s 2010-11 Consolidated Annual Action Plan.
According to staff reports, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires two public hearings for the preparation of the city’s Consolidated Annual Action Plan. The first is a “needs assessment” public hearing. The second public hearing is tentatively scheduled for March 24.
In other matters, the council granted a conditional special events permit to the Midway of Fun company for a carnival at Westminster Mall. The permit allows Midway of Fun to operate in the northern-most area of the mall’s northwest parking lot. The carnival will run Feb. 19 to 28 between 12 p.m. and 10 p.m. on weekends and 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on weekdays.
A group of local Boeing employees donated $2000 to the city’s Project S.H.U.E. Program. Project S.H.U.E. is an after-school program based at the Westminster Senior Center that pairs children between first and third grade with volunteer senior citizens for mentoring and tutoring. For further information call (714) 895-2878.
“It’s really a worthwhile project,” said Mayor Margie Rice.
The council meets again on Wednesday Feb. 10 at 7 p.m.