Cynthia Tonkin, with help from Mark Salvaggio, has secured funding to staff it

A Maricopa city councilwoman's request for help from Kern County to establish a cooling center in her community was taken up by Supervisor David Couch's office.

Now, with help from the the county, this city could operate a cooling center in this community of 1100 people.

Kern County operates cooling centers in several Kern County communities, including Taft, but none in the city of Maricopa.

The request went through channels and this week City Councilwoman Cynthia Tonkin got her answer answer:

If the city has a location and the council approves, Maricopa can have its own cooling center

Tonkin sent a request to Couch's office on Monday, three weeks after bringing the issue up at a council meeting.

With help from Couch's office, and, in particular Mark Salvaggio, Tonkin found out Maricopa can have a cooling center of its own with reimbursement from a county department to pay the cost of a person to operate it.

The Maricopa City Council just needs to approve the idea and a site.

The Kern County Department of Aging and Adult Services has offered to reimburse the city for the $10 per hour cost of having someone open, close and supervise the center.

“Maricopa needs a Cooling Center, “ Tonkin wrote. “Some years ago Maricopa Community

Center was used for that purpose. It is time to act on that and make the Community Center available for the citizens of Maricopa.”

Couch aide Mark Salvaggio forwarded the request to Lito Morillo, director of Aging and Adult Services for the county.

Morillo took it to the Kern County Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees the cooling centers, which are funded by PG&E.

“I spoke with Bob Lerude (head of the Kern County Parks and Recreation Department ) about the possibility,” Morillo told Salvaggio in an email reply.  “He's going to ask his staff to look into it.  The funding is not an issue since it can be paid out of the PG&E grant, however, the question of which building to use, and who will open and close the facility will need to be worked out.”

Lerude's staff looked into it and an email reply was sent out from John Cove, who administers the cooling center program.
The ball is in Maricopa's court, Cove said in the email.

“The first thing would be to have the city approve participation in the cooling center Program,” Cove wrote. “Then, select a facility which would serve as the cooling center.  Provide me with the name of the facility, the address, and the phone number so that I could add to our cooling center list.”

The city would have take care of running the center, Cove said.

“You would have to agree to operate the Cooling Center on any day, weekday or weekend, holiday, any day, that the National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts the temperature to be 105 degrees or higher.  That forecast would be 24 hours in advance.  In other words, for Tuesday's Cooling Centers we look at the forecast on Monday before 11 a.m. for Tuesday.  For the weekend's announcements (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday), we send that announcement out before 11 a.m. on Friday.”