Volume 49 | April 2021
Mayor Pro Tem
Dear Neighbors,

This will be my last column as Indio City Manager. I will be in the office through April, but next month I hope we will be able to introduce the lucky person the City Council chooses to be the next City Manager.  After that, I plan to stay reasonably active as a resident and City volunteer. Working for the City of Indio during these last four years of my 45+ year local government career has been both a privilege and inspiration. I am grateful for the chance to be part of this caring community. We don’t aspire to be like other cities. We aspire to be the best Indio and that is very special.

I have been proud to be part of the team at City Hall. That is the only legacy I claim. Good people in all the City departments, City Commissions, City volunteers and a great City Council. I thank them all for their support and for their work for the community.

And thank you to the community — our residents, our business partners, our great nonprofit citizen-servants — you all invest in this community’s future. This is a community that can make its own happiness. Not every town even knows its own identity. Indio does. And we believe in our future. May we all continue to work together as neighbors to create it.  

I see that future! I have so much enjoyed being part of the journey.

If you see me at the grocery store, please say hello.

All the best,

Mark Scott
Proud to be......City Manager

Almost one year to the day after COVID-19 shut down schools, students in Indio returned to in-classroom learning. Approximately 60 percent of students attending Desert Sands Unified School District (DSUSD) are in-classroom hybrid-learning, with 40 percent choosing to remain in distance-learning for the rest of this school year.
Children in Pre-K through 5th grade wore their new sneakers and backpacks to schools on Monday, March 15, 2021. Middle and high school students returned to partial on-campus instruction on Monday, March 29, 2021.
Students are divided into two groups for in-person learning, with Cohort A in class on Mondays and Tuesdays, and Cohort B taking their seats on Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays provide the opportunity to work with students via distance learning. 
Safety measures are in place at the schools, including plexiglass shields, air filters, handwashing stations, and the repositioning of desks to the required distance. Hand sanitizer has been placed throughout the campuses, and signs and posters remind students to wear a mask, wash their hands, and watch their distance. 
The complete DSUSD safety plan and a video for elementary students returning to in-classroom learning can be found here.

The Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) and elected officials kicked off the next phase of CV Link construction by officially breaking ground at the new Promontory Point access point on March 29, 2021. This access point includes the construction of a bridge to connect the Cities of La Quinta and Indio. 

CV Link is a multi-modal pathway that can accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and low-speed electric vehicles such as golf carts. CV Link will ultimately span more than 40 miles across the Coachella Valley. In October, CVAG authorized contracts worth $52.733 million to fund this stage of construction, which includes approximately 13.5 miles in the Cities of Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella as well as unincorporated Riverside County. The authorization which allows the CVAG Executive Director to add almost 3.5 additional miles as right-of-way is now finalized.

An estimated 3.5 miles of CV Link is nearing completion in the City of Palm Desert, which is being constructed under a cooperative agreement with the City and CVAG. Another 3.5 miles of the project are completed and open for use in the Cities of Cathedral City and Palm Springs.

Additional project information can be found online at www.coachellavalleylink.com.

The Indio Teen Center was thrilled to reopen on Monday, March 29, 2021, even with a limited capacity of 50 teens at one time. Tennis, giant chess, and tie-dye are all on the agenda for April!

Participation is free to students in 8th to 12th grade, and open to all students in the 'hybrid model' attending school in-person, only on their assigned cohort days (either Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday).

All participants must have both ITC Registration Forms and JPIA waivers completed. In addition to both forms, school enrollment will be verified via current school ID and/or screenshot/printed copy of StudentVUE portal that shows student name, grade and assigned cohort.

The Indio Teen Center will be open Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Programming will take place outdoors. No in/out privileges. If a teen leaves the center, they are not permitted to return for the day. No food/drinks will be allowed to be consumed on site. Drinking fountains will not be in use. Temporary water stations will be available.

The following recommended safety precautions will be followed:

·     A 50-teen at one-time limit will be enforced
·     Temperature checks upon arrival
·     Six foot social distancing will be practiced
·     Masks must be worn at all times
·     Hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout 
·     Tables/equipment will be cleaned/disinfected after each use

For teens continuing on distance learning, we will continue to offer virtual programming. To sign up for our virtual programs and receive contactless program supplies delivered to your door, sign up on Instagram before 10:00 a.m. on the day of the program. 

Click here for the ITC Registration and JPIA waiver forms.

The Indio Police Department is pleased to congratulate Police Dispatch Supervisor Lori Brown on successfully graduating from the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute (SLI) on March 26, 2021. 
Historically, SLI was only available to sworn staff with a rank of Sergeant or higher. But a pilot program was launched at the end of 2019 to include applications from civilian Dispatch Supervisors to attend the class. This change was made in order to help facilitate teamwork and communication between cross-functional teams in law enforcement.
Brown was selected out of several candidates to attend the pilot program and became one of the first civilians to attend and graduate from the leadership course.

“It has been a long journey, but well worth the time and effort,” Brown commented. “The concepts reviewed can only help to increase communication and elevate my skills as a leader.”
The Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute is a program developed by the California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) to stimulate personal growth, leadership, and ethical decision-making in California law enforcement front-line supervisors. Participants attend the SLI course over a span of eight months and spend 24 hours per month in a classroom setting. The course is conducted in multiple forms of media including books, videos, topic-specific movies, case studies, leadership styles, and more. Participants read, review, and assess the materials and respond with several written projects, class presentations, and a final paper on an adaptive leadership issue specific to their agency.
Congratulations, Dispatch Supervisor Brown on this incredible accomplishment.

As part of Indio’s commitment to help residents financially impacted by COVID-19, the City officially entered into an agreement with the Coachella Valley nonprofit Lift to Rise to provide much-needed rental assistance.
Nearly 350 Indio households are currently on the waitlist for the United Lift Rental Assistance Program, a countywide aid program administered by Lift to Rise for the eastern half of Riverside County. It is estimated that the Indio City Council’s allocation of $645,754 in Community Development Block Grant Funding (CDBG-CV) to Lift to Rise will serve 286 of those households.
“The United Lift program is intended for immediate help in paying past-due rent,” added Lift to Rise Founder and CEO Heather Vaikona. “We see the need every day, and are grateful to the City of Indio for recognizing the importance of housing stability.”
Lift to Rise has assisted more than 3,000 households representing more than 12,000 people in securing United Lift rental assistance. Initially funded through the federal CARES Act and CDBG funds, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors recently voted to allocate federal funds for the program to reopen this spring. 
Indio renters who have not previously applied for funding through United Lift will be able to submit an application for the next round of assistance in the coming weeks at unitedlift.org

The Desert is hopeful for a full recovery from COVID-19 thanks to promises of reopening, and the tireless work of a community dedicated to aiding their neighbors in need. Still, after months of experiencing financial and food insecurity, people rely on support to continue meeting basic needs like housing, medicine, and a full stomach.

To ensure every Indio resident impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic had necessary vital resources, the City of Indio lent its support to FIND Food Bank through the Community Development Block Grant program. This fund supports FIND’s four community mobile markets located in Indio, including the opening of FIND’s supersite at Mathis Brothers, that serves on average over 1,000 households twice a month. Through the pandemic, FIND distributed 5 million pounds of food, equivalent to approximately 4.5 million meals to the city of Indio alone. FIND continues to serve 60 percent more people each month than prior to the pandemic. Ninety percent of the region’s food pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters rely on food from FIND to feed their unique corners of the valley. 

Nothing is more important than our community's health and welfare, and FIND is on the frontlines caring for those who fall on hard times with food and resources to help them recover. FIND is raising funds to maintain its rapid response measures from 2020 through 2021. FIND Food Bank’s 11th Annual Telethon will raise funds to sustain their essential services as the largest hunger relief organization in the Desert Region.

This fundraising and awareness-building event will bring together FIND's supporters and the community-at-large to reflect and share stories of resilience and triumph over an unprecedented year of hunger.

Tune-in to learn more about food insecurity in the Desert Region and get involved in the fight to end hunger. Every $1 donated to FIND Food Bank provides 5 meals for neighbors in need. 

The telethon airs on Friday, April 9, 7:00-8:00 pm on KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2.

Spring is here and that means more people are spending time enjoying the outdoors. It is also the perfect time of year to work on your landscape, and make sure your irrigation system is working efficiently.
If you have a sprinkler system, take a few minutes to check for leaks. Turn the water on for each zone, and check each sprinkler head to make sure it is aimed properly, so the water goes to landscaping instead of on driveways or patios. Replace any broken sprinkler heads and leaking pipes. These fixes will reduce your water use and create a healthier garden.
Spring is also a great time to convert your lawn into a desert friendly landscape, which will reduce your water use. Replacing traditional sprinklers with a drip irrigation system is another way to conserve water. These systems work especially well with desert friendly landscapes, as they deliver water directly to plants where it is needed.
Indio Water Authority provides a number of rebates for turf conversion and irrigation system upgrades. For applications and additional details on these programs, visit www.IndioWater.org

The Valley Sanitary District Board of Directors will be holding a public hearing to discuss proposed sewer rate increases for the next five years. The rate increases are needed to fund infrastructure improvements, cover ongoing operating and maintenance costs, and to construct a recycled water facility. 

“VSD is committed to managing its facilities and finances to meet long-term needs while maintaining affordability for its customers,” says Beverli A. Marshall, General Manager at VSD. “We are also committed to partnering with the City of Indio and the Indio Water Authority to implement a recycled water program that will benefit Indio and the Coachella Valley."

Residents and property owners in the VSD service area can submit written protests on the rate increases before the public hearing date or attend the public hearing at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at the Valley Sanitary District office located at 45-500 Van Buren Street, Indio, CA 92201. Zoom information will also be provided on the Valley Sanitary District Website for those who do not wish to provide comment in person. For more information about the proposed rate increases, please contact Beverli A. Marshall, General Manager, at bmarshall@valley-sanitary.org or 760-238-5400. 

The Indio Senior Center continues to reach out to the community virtually everyday! Check out their weekly schedule:

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. - Exercise with Art via Facebook Live
One hour of head to toe exercises, fun music, and great people! Art Preciado has taught “Exercise with Art” for more than 15 years! 
Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. - Tai Chi via Facebook Live
Tai Chi is a mind-body practice that involves a series of slow, flowing exercises that combine movement, meditation, and rhythmic breathing. Although it was initially developed as a martial art, it is commonly practiced as a form of "moving meditation.” 
Wednesday at 1 p.m. - Loteria via Facebook Live
If you would like to pick up a Loteria card, please give the ISC a call at (760) 391-4170. 
Thursday at 9:30 a.m. - Yoga with Leslie via Facebook Live
“Dynamic Gentle Yoga” is a slow moving yoga session that helps to stretch and strengthen your body and mind! 
Thursday at 11:15 a.m. - Groovin’ with Dolores via Facebook Live 
Join Dolores for one hour of Sweatin’ to the Oldies or Zumba Gold DVD packed with head to toe exercises, fun music, and great people! It’s time to stretch, dance and move to the beat of the oldies or Zumba!
Thursday at 1 p.m. - Virtual Trip via Facebook Live
Friday at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. - Virtual Bingo via Facebook Live
Visit our Facebook page every Friday at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and click on the live video to join the fun. Use a Bingo card you already have at home, or stop by the ISC to pick a bingo card. For help, contact us at seniorcenter@indio.org or (760) 391-4170.

Visit the Indio Senior Center's Facebook page here. The center is also looking forward to reopening and is currently creating a waitlist for their gardening program. Email seniorcenter@indio.org for more information.

The Government Finance Officers Association recently announced that the City of Indio received GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. The award represents a significant achievement by the City. It reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting. 

In order to receive the budget award, the City of Indio had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well a city's budget serves as:
  • a policy document 
  • a financial plan 
  • an operations guide 
  • a communications device 

Budget documents must be rated "proficient" in all four categories, and in the fourteen mandatory criteria within those categories, to receive the award. When a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award is granted to a city, a Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation is also presented to the individual(s) or department designated as being primarily responsible for having achieved the award. This has been presented to the City of Indio's Finance Department. There are over 1,600 participants in the Budget Awards Program. The most recent Budget Award recipients, along with their corresponding budget documents, are posted quarterly on GFOA's website. Award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America. Congratulations to the City's Finance team!

On Monday, March 22, 2021, Indio welcomed new Human Resources Director, Andrew Ansoorian. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Andrew completed his undergraduate studies in Virginia at James Madison University and continued his higher education at CSU, San Bernardino, where he obtained his Master's degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. After living in Virginia for the past 15 years, he is returning home to Southern California to be closer to his family. 
Andrew has over 25 years of experience as an HR practitioner in the public sector serving multiple roles ranging from analyst to executive director and is considered a Senior Certified Professional by the Society for Human Resource Management. In addition, he has experience as a small business owner, consultant and has served on multiple non-profit executive boards. 
Andrew believes an employer's success is directly determined by its people's performance, and has devoted his career to delivering strategic solutions to attract, retain, and engage talent who possess the right skills and quality character. He is excited to work collaboratively with City staff, leaders, and organizations to provide outstanding municipal services to enhance the quality of life for residents, visitors, and the business community.

Indio Business is a new feature of Indio Live, showcasing the stories that make our City's small business owners so special. To nominate a business, email news@indio.org

Who: El Mexicali Café, a decades-old Indio dining establishment where everything is made fresh from scratch every day.

What: El Mexicali Café’s iconic location on Indio Boulevard (since 1981) features a rumbling railroad soundtrack plus memorable dishes such as chiles gueritos (served with mayo and soy sauce), Chile Verde and Chile Colorado.
Before and After: El Mexicali Café was started by current owner Monica Murguia’s mother, Carmen. The business now has two locations, including one on Monroe Street, which is run by Monica’s sister Laura.

Behind the scenes: Monica Murguia's support system includes a group of "master chefs" who have been with her for many years and are responsible for preparing the daily food. "The recipes have not changed over 40 years," says Murguia. "We have used the same meat and seafood companies for the last 30 years because of the quality of the product."

Advice to others: Maintain consistency. Murguia says predicting the needs for ingredients and staffing was incredibly difficult during COVID, but consistency in service and product helped El Mexicali Café survive. "Regardless of what happened, we did not cut corners. We maintained our product and our food in the same manner that we would have had to do without COVID. We had some hits and misses, where maybe we ordered too much, and other times when we didn't order enough, but we were always consistent with our customers."

Speaking personally: "When the closure happened in March, I decided to close and gave my employees a week off. I regrouped, opened up, going from 20 employees down to six. I spent months without leaving that kitchen. I worked really hard. We all did!" Despite all the challenges, Murguia says the increased health protocols have strengthened her business, and building the new patio outside was a blessing. She says more improvements will take place on the patio this summer.
Right now: “On behalf of the Murguia family at El Mexicali Café, we are truly honored and thankful to have been part of this community for the past 40 years - especially this past year which has been a challenge. The local support we have received from the City of Indio has helped El Mexicali Café grow and stay in business. We are grateful for the opportunity to have shared our 40th anniversary and hope to share many more."

Two Locations:
82720 Indio Blvd.
(760) 347-1280

43-430 Monroe St.

Facebook: @elmexicalicafe
Instagram: @elmexicalicafe

Often women have had to fight against the social norms of the day to dream the impossible. Through their grit, they have made things happen. These are the women we honor.

Dr. Priscilla Porter will highlight the women who have braved the heat and dust in the forlorn desert outpost, right up to the women of today who continue to brave the unknown in their pursuit of a better life for all who live here.
This presentation honors pioneer women, entrepreneurs, aviators, and elected officials. The women featured are but a few of the multitudes of women who could have been included.
This lecture is based on the Coachella Valley History Museum’s exhibit and publication by the same name, Women Behaving Badly…for Good. Join this Zoom lecture on Thursday, April 15 at 1 p.m.

Dr. Priscilla H. Porter is Professor Emeritus of California State University, Dominguez Hills. The senior author of Reflections, a Kindergarten to Grade 6 social studies textbook series published by Harcourt School Publishers, Dr. Porter is a recipient of the California Council for the Social Studies prestigious Hilda Taba Award.
Click here to register for the Zoom lecture.

Craving outdoor adventure and alfresco eats? With the Trailicious Pass, it is easy to plan a day in our sunny Southern California oasis.

With hundreds of miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding paths, the Coachella Valley is a haven for hungry thrill-seekers.

The Trailicious Pass features over 30 trails and helps you find one based on experience level or location. One trail included in the adventure is the Indio Hills Trail located in North Indio at Golf Center Parkway and Avenue 42. The hike is described as moderate because there are a handful of steeper climbs, but they're mostly short and eased by switchbacks. It's commonly referred to as Indio Hills Badlands Trail, the East Indio Hills Trail, and the Golf Center Trail. Dogs and non-motorized bikes are allowed.

The pass is loaded with tasty discounts, deals, and specials from local restaurants. Pick up a snack, pack a takeout picnic, or refuel after your hike by dining alfresco on one of our perfect patios. After your hike, enjoy fresh, made from scratch Mexican food at Pueblo Viejo located on Highway 111 in Indio.

The sweetest part? Check in to your hike or redeem one of the special restaurant deals featured on the pass for a chance to win a $50 gift card from a Greater Palm Springs eatery!

Sign up for your pass here!

In their continuing effort to support the residents and staff of the Indio Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, GFWC Woman’s Club of Indio is hosting a Springtime Pet Parade at the Center, located at 47763 Monroe Street, Indio, CA on Saturday, April 10, 2021 at 10:00 am. 

"Both residents and staff have been basically shut off from the world for the last year and the parade is meant to provide some entertainment and cheer," said Woman's Club President Mickie Reed. The last pet parade was this past Halloween, and it was a smashing success. The residents and participants had a great time. 

This event is open to the public and you are invited to bring a live pet (on a leash of course), a stuffed animal or just yourself! You can wear your Springtime best, dress in a costume, or come just as you are. The residents are happy to see anybody who comes by. If you have any questions, please contact Marcia at health@womansclubofindio.org.

Since COVID-19 hit one year ago, the Coachella Valley History Museum is happy to announce it will reopen to the public on Saturday, April 17, 2021 with refreshed and updated exhibits.

"Come see our newly painted schoolhouse," said Maureen Boren, volunteer and Board Trustee. "We updated this exhibit, depicting the history of our schoolhouses in the Coachella Valley."

The history museum also updated the on-site blacksmith shop and the Corazón de Mexico exhibit, which had just opened before the COVID pandemic. Corazón de Mexico features Mexican folk art, textiles, pottery, costumes and wooden toys displayed in the 1926 Smiley-Tyler adobe house. 

The CVHM is a historical campus which also contains the 1909 Indio Schoolhouse, the world's only Date Museum, a variety of gardens, a blacksmith's shop, and a "Desert Submarine."

COVID-19 protocols, including wearing masks, will be required.

The museum, which is primarily run by volunteers, will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors 55 and up, and is free for active duty military and those under the age of 18. If you would like to volunteer at CVHM, contact Maureen Boren at archives@cvhm.org or Donna Rose at treasurer@cvhm.org.

Private group tours are also available by appointment only. 

As public health directives allow, the CVHM will also resume hosting gatherings such as fundraising events, weddings and corporate celebrations. Call (760) 342-6652 for more information.

The museum is located at 82616 Miles Avenue. Visit cvhm.org for more information and current exhibits.
The City of Indio is the largest and fastest growing city in the Coachella Valley with more than 90,000 residents. Nearly 1.4 million people visit Indio every year to attend its world famous arts, food, and music festivals. With nationally recognized public safety services, exceptional schools, great parks and senior and teen centers, no wonder more than 2,700 new housing units are in construction or being planned throughout the city in addition to new hotels, restaurants and retailers. Indio was the first city incorporated in the Coachella Valley on May 16, 1930, and is governed by an elected City Council that employs a City Manager. The City of Indio embraces its diversity and provides outstanding municipal services to enhance the quality of life for its residents, visitors and business community.
City of Indio |100 Civic Center Drive | (760) 391-4000
information@indio.org | www.indio.org