Volume 45 | December 2020
Mayor Pro Tem
Dear Indio Neighbors,

On December 3, 2015, I showed up at San Bernardino City Hall to interview for their open City Manager position. No one wanted the job back then because the City had been mired in four years of bankruptcy and beset by years of unethical political behavior. I was 66 and ready for a new challenge, so I had volunteered a week earlier. They said, “Quick, come interview before you change your mind!” 
So December 3, 2015 was set as the day of my interview. But much more significantly, it turned out to be the day AFTER the San Bernardino terrorist attack where 14 innocent County Health Department employees were gunned down while celebrating an early Christmas party. Countless others were wounded and scarred emotionally for the rest of their lives. We all remember the story!

Thanks to courage, remarkably quick response and training, lives were saved that day, although nothing could compensate for the tragedy of those lost.
Having seen all this on TV, I was very surprised on December 3, 2015 when the Mayor and two Councilmembers actually showed up to interview me, totally exhausted from 30 hours of what started as terror and evolved into a dizzying media blitz. I had expected to find City Hall closed and in mourning. But they needed a City Manager, so duty compelled them to show up. I offered to spend the next year helping this city that had suffered from such poor leadership that they were broke, disorganized and now in pain. 
San Bernardino will come together December 2, 2020 to commemorate five years since the attack on the community’s heart and soul. I was there to experience the emotion and strength on the first anniversary. Overall, I ended up staying 19 months with San Bernardino. We got out of bankruptcy and we reset the City’s governance structure. I have great affection for the people of San Bernardino, but the long commute from the Desert eventually got the best of me. 
I was fortunate to be offered the City Manager job in Indio when I left. It has been my privilege to work side-by-side with the staff and elected officials in this very solid, functional city. And, it has been my joy to write my thoughts about our city every month in this column. I am not sure if I sacrifice much in saying this, but I truly love this community and my job.
So as I remember from afar the San Bernardino tragedy and commemorate the heroic deeds of December 2, 2015, I find myself feeling deep, deep appreciation for my Indio community. The pandemic has exhausted us all, including our officers, who still do their inherently dangerous jobs in spite of, or in addition to that.
— I know that every Police Officer... every first responder stands well prepared and ready to put their lives on the line for us.
— I am confident that the Indio community is also caring and attentive to the needs of all of our citizens. That is important because we have work to do in some of our neighborhoods.
— I am buoyed by the long tradition of good government in Indio.
— And I am so proud of my City teammates.
Just a little postscript showing the allure of Indio. Not only was I attracted here from San Bernardino, but a year later, Chief Washburn recruited Assistant Chief Brian Tully, one of the best from the San Bernardino PD. And just last month, retired San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan and his wife bought a second home here. I welcome Jarrod, who was widely acclaimed for his leadership on and after the terror attacks on December 2, 2015. He deserved the praise.
Chief Mike Washburn and the Indio PD also deserve our praise and admiration. Recognized by the White House as a model 21st Century Policing Agency, our Police Officers and support staff are as good as it gets. They have worked the streets every day of this pandemic. And for their constant courage and competence, I dedicate this column.
I wish you the healthiest possible holidays in this crazy year. Please be safe!

Mark Scott
City Manager

From new housing, to new retail, restaurants and office buildings, the city's Community Development department is busier than ever. Driving around the city, as ground gets graded and walls go up, you might be curious about the final products.

Here is a look at what is opening In(dio):
  • Ave. 44 and Golf Center (Monte Vina development by DR Horton - model homes to be completed by end of 2020)
  • Ave. 42 north of Monroe St. (Arby's - now open)
  • Hwy. 111 and Las Palmas Rd. (Dunn Edwards - opening early 2021)
  • Civic Center Mall and Smurr St. (Loma Linda University Children's Hospital Pediatric Urgent Care - now open)
  • Ave. 44 and Golf Center (Starbucks Coffee - groundbreaking in December 2020)


Loma Linda University Children’s Health –Indio Pediatric Urgent Care is now open and offering dedicated care for children from newborn to 17 years old in the Coachella Valley. This expansion of service marks the first pediatric-dedicated urgent care in the region. Further expanded hours of operation and services will be coming soon, which will include service seven days a week and X-ray service.
“We are excited to be offering families in the Coachella Valley expanded options for their child’s urgent healthcare needs after hours and on weekends,” said Alexandra Clark, MD, Division Chief of General Pediatrics at Loma Linda University Children’s Health. “No family should have to wait excessive amounts of time when they are worried about their child. We are here to help.”
Located at 82-934 Civic Center Dr. in downtown Indio, the pediatric urgent care will be staffed with pediatricians during open hours offering a variety of services, including cold and flu care; cough and congestion care; sprains and strains care; well visits; wound and injury care; sports physicals; immunizations and sick visits. 
Walk-in services, same-day appointments and virtual visits are available six days a week Monday thru Friday from 1 to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
“Loma Linda University Children’s Health – Indio launched pediatric-focused services several years ago, and adding a pediatric-focused urgent care deepens our commitment to supporting the community’s care needs as well as our area general pediatrician partners,” said Brett Walls, Assistant Vice President for Ambulatory Services at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. “It’s one more expression of our desire to support the Coachella Valley when and where the community needs us.”
Learn more or make an appointment by calling 760-477-0737.

Former College of the Desert students with 30 credits or more are eligible for a new program that provides a tuition- and fee-free path to graduation with a degree or certificate. The plEDGE to Complete program is open to Coachella Valley residents who have attended College of the Desert in the past, but are not currently enrolled. Former students who have 45 units from a college or university with regional accreditation may also apply. Participants receive a number of benefits, including free enrollment, academic counseling, educational planning sessions and support services.
The plEDGE to Complete sign-up deadline for the Spring 2021 semester ends December 11, 2020. The sign-up form and program details are available online. Students who participate in plEDGE to Complete will enroll full-time, although exceptions can be made for those who work full-time or have approval from their counselor. Participants will also meet with a counselor to create a comprehensive student educational plan and have a completed financial aid file by January 15, 2021. plEDGE to Complete is an expansion of the award-winning plEDGE program. The plEDGE program provides free tuition at College of the Desert for recent graduates of local high schools.
Just in time for winter break, Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control is offering free educational materials and activities for kids in Indio and around the Coachella Valley.

Here in the desert, mosquitoes look for man-made water sources to lay their eggs. Just a bottle cap of water is all they need. Mosquito bites are annoying and sometimes carry diseases. To prevent mosquitoes and the diseases they can carry, dump, refresh, or cover anything that can hold water. Wipe clean water-holding containers, like pet dishes, weekly.

Fill out a request form online to receive a Vector Inspector Activity kit in the mail. Your child will learn about where mosquitoes live, why they bite, and what they can do to stop them to keep your family safe from biting mosquitoes. 

Learn more about this program and request your FREE Vector Inspector Activity Kit today! 
With the holiday season upon us, many families will celebrate with special foods. Whether this includes full meals or delicious treats, there are a number of ways to enjoy this wonderful time of year while reducing water use.
Water savings begin at your sink. When preparing meals, remember to turn off the faucet when you are not actively using it. If you are rinsing fruits and vegetables before preparing them, use a pan to collect the water instead of letting it run down the drain. This water can then be recycled to water plants inside or outside your home. Water used for boiling can also be recycled and used to water plants. Remember to let it cool down first to avoid burns.
After enjoying a meal, you can also conserve water while cleaning up. Instead of rinsing dishes clean, scrape any leftovers into the trash. This can save several gallons of water from being wasted after each meal. Fats, oils and greases should also be place in the trash instead of rinsing them down drains. They can be poured into old bottles or cans to solidify first. This avoids clogged drains and creates less of a mess. It also prevents these substances from eventually seeping into our water supply, thereby avoiding long term plumbing problems.
When it comes time to clean dirty dishes and pans, use a dishwasher. Today’s models actually use less water than hand washing. For the maximum benefit, fill the dishwasher before running a cleaning cycle.
These small adjustments can help you reduce water use around the holidays and year-round. They are a great way to sustain our water supply and save money on your water bills. For more information visit www.IndioWater.org or call 760-391-4038.

Indio Water Authority has partnered with the Woman’s Club of Indio for their “Yard of the Month” honor, which showcases beautiful landscapes throughout the City of Indio. For November and December, John F. Kennedy Elementary School and the Eisenhower Community Education Center were awarded the honor of “Yard of the Month.”
Traditionally, residential homes are chosen for the award, but both schools underwent significant landscape renovations in their efforts to conserve water. In addition to the appeal of the landscape at the schools, the designation comes as part of a school district effort to remove grass and replace it with the more ecologically sound decomposed granite. John F. Kennedy school removed a total of 8,410 square feet of turf, and received conservation rebates of more than $25,000 from Indio Water Authority, while the Eisenhower Community Learning Center removed a total of 9,630 square feet of turf, getting nearly $29,000 in rebates back. According to DSUSD’s Grounds Manager Enrique Leon, “We are so excited to have lowered our irrigation water usage.” 

Approved conversions from IWA receive $2 per square foot of grass removed - up to $20,000 for residential properties, and up to $60,000 for commercial accounts.

The "Yard of the Month" award includes a front yard sign to showcase the beautiful landscape, a certificate from Indio Water Authority, tickets to the Coachella Valley History Museum, and an IWA water conservation kit. To nominate a home (or business) for Yard of the Month honors, email recognition@womansclubofindio.org

The expression on Jasmine Khaligov's face was priceless when the Sunline Transit bus bearing the artwork she created, rolled up in front of her.

"We thought it was beautiful, and we were so excited," Jasmine recounted. The 11 year old from Indio, who is now a 6th grade student at John Glenn Middle School, is passionate about art. She channeled her enthusiasm for color and the environment into the drawing which will flank the hydrogen fuel bus for the next year. It is an enormous showcase for her talent, and just one of the rewards of winning the elementary school category for Sunline Transit Agency's 5th annual Student Art Contest.

"At the (Desert Sands Unified) School Board Meeting, they also mentioned my name, and my teachers have also said 'Congratulations,'" said Jasmine.

In the last year, Jasmine has entered several art contests, including one to show how recycling oil helps the environment, and another showing how wearing a mask helps the community. She won them all!

"Her grandfather draws very well," Jasmine's mother, Victoria said. "We all just encourage her to do her art, and learn how to do what she enjoys." 

Because of COVID, her family has not spent a lot of time out and about, and she has not seen "her bus" again. But Jasmine and her family are very proud, and hope her artwork makes other people feel good too.

Follow Jasmine and her artistic journey on Instagram @jasmines.creation

Lyndon B. Johnson Elementary School, Indio Middle School, and Shadow Hills High School, all located in Indio, are three of only eight schools across the country selected for the Sandy Hook Promise Start With Hello Week Awards.
Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national nonprofit organization with a mission to end school shootings and create a culture change that prevents violence and other harmful acts that hurt children. Through its life-saving, evidence-informed "Know the Signs" prevention programs, SHP educates and empowers youth and adults to recognize, intervene, and get help for individuals who may be socially isolated and/or at risk of hurting themselves or others. SHP launched the awards in tandem with the larger Start with Hello Week national campaign to recognize school efforts to prevent bullying and violence. 
To qualify for the awards, each school and district must demonstrate active student leadership, creativity of expression in programmatic activities, broad community reach, and concrete plans and commitment to sustaining the Start with Hello program long-term. Each winner received an award plaque, cash prize, and free admission to the Annual SAVE Summit to share their stories and activities with SAVE Promise Club students from across the country.

There is a new club in town! General Federation of Women's Club HOPE (which stands for Helping Other People Everyday) is an official federated GFWC junior club for middle school and high school students. Indio High School freshmen twins, Brianna (center below) and Natalie Fabian (second from right) are the originating founders and have brought along some friends from other schools, such as Palm Desert High School, Rancho Mirage High School, and Shadow Hills High School. 

"We started the nonprofit club GFWC HOPE because we wanted to turn our ideas in helping the people of our community into a reality and really wanted to specifically have the community youth involved to make the community around them a better place," Brianna Fabian said. "As a club, we focus our attention and participate in fundraisers and charities."

GFWC HOPE is currently participating with the Women’s Club of Indio in the toy drive for the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission. They are also advocates of the White Ribbon Project which is the symbol of anti-violence against women, sexual assault and safe motherhood.
GFWC HOPE is sponsored and mentored by the Woman’s Club of Indio. The City of Indio is so proud of our youth who are working hard to serve their community. If you are a middle school or high school student and you are interested in bettering your community, learning new leadership skills and making like-minded friends, send a message to gfwchope@gmail.com.  

The City of Indio is committed to improving active transportation and “Safe Routes to School” throughout the community. In 2019, the City constructed over four miles of sidewalk in the neighborhood surrounding Andrew Jackson Elementary School by leveraging State and Federal funds.

Continuing these investments in our neighborhoods, the City is once again drawing from these funding sources to construct over five miles of new sidewalk on 13 streets surrounding Herbert Hoover Elementary School. As a result, more than 300 homes in the area will receive new sidewalks. The project will also upgrade pedestrian access ramps and driveway approaches to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, along with minor signing and striping. 

The City is holding two virtual webinars on Zoom to present the proposed project and get feedback from the neighboring community. The webinars are scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on December 9 and 10, 2020. Both webinars will have the same presentation in English and Spanish.

The public is encouraged to attend one of these meetings to learn more about the project and ask questions about potential construction impacts.

For more details, maps and other opportunities to connect with the City about this project, please visit the Herbert Hoover Pedestrian Improvement Project website.

Coachella Valley based artist Keith Blum is bringing more color to the walls of Indio schools this month! Blum's work can already be seen at nearly a dozen locations within the Desert Sands Unified School District, including the "Founding Fathers" mural at James Madison Elementary on Ave. 46 and the space mural at Dr. Carreon Academy.

Now parents, educators and students who drive-by the main gate at Lyndon B. Johnson Elementary School can take a look at Blum's most recent mural, which he says took less than two weeks to paint. The artwork shows several children in the forefront, with shadows of them as adults in the background. Blum says the children were inspired by photos of local students. The adult on the far right is Allison Cyr, a third grade teacher at LBJ, who was just named one of five California Teachers of the Year. She posed for Blum to create the likeness, and would come by the school as he was painting to check on his progress.

"It was fun to see Allison every day," Blum said. "She was the perfect person for this mural, which was designed to send a message that the future is one of unlimited possibilities for our kids."

Blum will begin another mural at Andrew Jackson Elementary School in early December.

Although they cannot safely perform live at the Indio Performing Arts Center during the pandemic, Desert Theatreworks wishes everyone a joyous holiday season. DTW is busy working on plans to re-open when allowed to do so. In the meantime, they have put together virtual programming for the community to enjoy, including streaming performances and classes via zoom.  
REUNITED: Steel Magnolias  
The cast and crew of DTW’s award-winning production of the southern dramady reunited for a special performance and interview. Friendship never goes out of style! Make an appointment at Truvy’s beauty salon where the ladies of Chinquapin meet to get their hair done and let their hair down! Through the clouds of hairspray and the buzz of blow-dryers, six Southern spitfires swap gossip, wisecracks, and wisdom in this hilarious and heartwarming comedy that explores the bonds of friendship and the strength of women. Full of sass, style and sisterhood, Steel Magnolias will make you laugh ‘til you cry with its big characters, big hair, and even bigger heart. 
Available to stream December 5-10, 2020, visit www.dtworks.org
Twas the Night Before Christmas: a DTW Radio Christmas Show 
Desert Theatreworks takes you back to a post-war radio studio on a holiday evening. The show features the classic holiday story Twas the Night Before Christmas and several other holiday classic stories.  Featuring some of DTW’s most popular talent, performing old fashioned radio advertisements and musical performances. Don’t miss this Holiday treat. 
Available to stream at December 15-31, 2020, visit www.dtworks.org.
Virtual Classes for January and February 
Improv for Kids ages 8-12 
Improv for Teens ages 13-17 
Improv for Adults ages 18+ 
Join DTW’s talented instructors via zoom for Improv Games and fun in this bi-weekly class. Limited space available, no cost for class, must pre-register. 
Registration begins December 5 at www.dtworks.org
Play Readers Club ages 18+ 
This bi-weekly group will read, discuss, and make new discoveries by reading aloud theatre classics. This is the perfect class for avid readers who enjoy performing. 
Limited space available, no cost for the class, must pre-register. 
Registration begins December 5 at www.dtworks.org. 

With phone-in, online and drop-off activities, you can still enjoy some holiday cheer with the Desert Recreation District! 
Kids have your wish list ready and talk to Santa, Mrs. Claus, Frosty, one of the reindeer or maybe even an elf. Santa’s Hotline will be open 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 15 to 17, 2020. Call 1-855-SANTA-4-KIDS (1-855-726-8245). Kids can also drop off their letters to Santa from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 12, 2020 at the Palm Desert Community Center (43900 San Pablo Ave, Palm Desert). Guests are encouraged to donate a gift card or a new unwrapped blanket when dropping off their letters to Santa at the community center.
DRD is also offering many online contests that Indio families can take part in this season, including a Christmas stocking decorating contest, a Gingerbread house contest, a holiday recipe contest, a Zoom Christmas party with games, dancing, and a holiday craft and more!
Visit MyRecreationDistrict.com for more information on these activities and events, or call 760-347-3484.

Looking for a fun and festive way to encourage and inspire your neighborhood this winter?

The City of Indio, in partnership with the Indio Chamber of Commerce, is proud to announce the 2020 Indio Celebration of Lights contest, spreading holiday cheer through lighting displays at homes and businesses. 

All City of Indio residents and businesses are encouraged to participate with unique and personalized holiday lighting displays. Participating homes and commercial properties will be eligible for cash prizes totaling $8,000. Trophies and $2,000 in prize money will be awarded to a winner in each of the following categories:

  • Mayor’s Award – Best Residential Holiday Lighting Display
  • Indio Chamber of Commerce Award – Most Creative Residential Holiday Lighting Display
  • People’s Choice Award – Best Residential Holiday Lighting Display
  • Commercial Holiday Award – Best Commercial Holiday Lighting Display

Contestants must submit a video (no longer than two minutes) of their lighting display for review and public sharing, along with an online entry form by Friday, December 11, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. Contest winners will be notified via email on December 21, 2020. Public announcements will be made via digital and social media outlets on December 22, 2020. Entry is free.

Participants will have their videos displayed across social media and digital platforms. For complete rules and details, and to enter your home or business, visit IndioHolidays.com.

Seven-year-old Juliette Orduño of Indio is starting the holiday season in a very special way. With a national commercial! 

Through some good timing, and lots of talent, Juliette scored her first modeling gig just over a year ago with the clothing company Matilda Jane, which advertised on Instagram for a child with special needs for their spring campaign.

"We didn't know what we were doing when we went to that first shoot," laughed Juliette's mother Mayra Avila-Orduño. "I submitted a photo of her from my phone! We didn't even have headshots."

A few months ago the family got a call from casting agents from Walmart, who wanted to cast Juliette in a holiday shopping commercial. Because of health concerns brought on by the pandemic, Walmart was also interested in including Juliette's immediate family. After a series of virtual auditions, the Orduños were booked, and Juliette, her mother, father, sister and grandpa traveled to Los Angeles to film the commercial.

"She loved it!" exclaimed Mayra. "At first, the cameras were a little odd to her, but what kid doesn't love opening gifts? It was just so cute. Her favorite people in the world are her grandma and grandpa, so running up to her grandpa in the commercial and giving him a hug felt so natural to her."

The Orduños feel incredibly blessed to see this door open for Juliette.

"All I want for my little one is to feel like she is limitless, like anything she wants to do, with the support of her family, she can do it," added Mayra. She also thanks companies like Matilda Jane and Walmart for "making an effort in giving kids with special needs an opportunity to shine in the spotlight.

Juliette is involved with Ezekiel's Gift of Love Coachella Valley Down Syndrome Foundation, and loves to swim and fish. Her family recently started volunteering for the Coachella nonprofit We Can Fish, which provides special needs families with the opportunity to experience nature and go on boat rides.

Check out Juliette's commercial here!
The City of Indio is the largest and fastest growing city in the Coachella Valley with more than 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