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Black Heritage Day Celebration

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The Banning Cultural Alliance will host its second Black Heritage Day Celebration, on February 27.

It is a Pass area event that is open free to the public. They are looking for talented individuals and groups: singers, dancers, artists that would like to display their talents and perform.

They are also interested in people and families with local Black history, photos and information to be on display at the event along with guest speakers.

Monetary contributions and supporters for the event are gratefully accepted. For more information please contact us at (909) 645-6545 or leave your info and mention Black Heritage Day at (951) 922-0500. This program is brought to you by the Banning Cultural Alliance.

Pastor Bennett Impacting Youth and Community

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By James Shanklin –

The Faithful Covenant Baptist Church is located in the city of Colton with a ministry that just started in March. As the church begins to grow, and the number of members becomes larger, Pastor Cleo Bennett watches as the church he started begins to expand with love and trust in the Lord.

Originally from Arkansas, yet raised in California, Pastor Bennett, now at the age of 46, began his career in preaching on Thanksgiving of 1999. He was inspired by other members of his family who preached, and realized that Christ had been calling him to conduct sermons of his own and speak the word that people needed to hear in order to move their lives forward.

After spending years at a church in San Bernardino, Pastor Bennett decided to move on to a church where he could have more of an impact on his community.

“This is a church where we want to go out into the community and we want to try and fulfill the needs of the community from a spiritual standpoint,” said Bennett.

The Faithful Covenant is doing all it can as it is still in its beginning stages, but it is already on track to creating a daycare and after school programs for the youth. The church is also interested in making sure the young people come to hear the word as around 65% of the church is from ages 10 to 30.

“There are a lot of young kids dying in the streets because nobody has made an effort to impact their lives.

And that’s the thing we are trying to do, we want to reach people,” Bennett said.

The church gives kids a chance to worship God in their own way, with instruments, singing and rapping, just as long as they understand the difference between performing and praising.

As society today has been uplifted and brought together by the idea that it is time for change, Pastor Bennett has been touching on the topic for years in his sermons, where his major theme is the Power of Change, and that Christ can change your circumstances and he can change you as long as your heart is open.

“I preach to empower people, because many of us struggle through life because we do not realize that God has empowered us to be able to live beyond our circumstances,” said Bennett.

Pastor Cleo Bennett saw the power of change firsthand, after going through the loss of his father, Bennett himself became a cancer victim and went through chemo therapy, he has gone through surgeries and has had half his liver removed, all this just in the last year.

But now after the struggles, Pastor Bennett is still preaching, working out and can still get in a game of full court basketball from time to time.

He knows the power of God and takes with pride the job he has been called to do.

The Faithful Covenant Baptist Church is open to all races, and nationalities, and to people from all backgrounds.

Pastor Bennett, with the love of his wife and 3 sons, continues and will continue to speak the word and keep the doors of his church open for those who are willing to listen.

“It’s a ministry of freedom, and love, and it’s non-traditional, we don’t have all the Baptist rules,” Bennett said, “We want people to come as they are.”

State Gets High Marks for Emergency Health Preparedness

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The seventh annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report, released today by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), found that the H1N1 flu outbreak has exposed serious underlying gaps in the nation’s ability to respond to public health emergencies and that the economic crisis is straining an already fragile public health system.

California achieved 8 out of 10 key indicators of public health emergency preparedness. Overall, the report found that 20 states scored six or less out of 10 key indicators of public health emergency preparedness. Nearly two-thirds of states scored seven or less. Seven states tied for the highest score of nine out of 10: Arkansas, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Vermont. Montana had the lowest score at three out of 10. The preparedness indicators are developed in consultation with leading public health experts based on data from publicly available sources or information provided by public officials.

“The H1N1 outbreak has vividly revealed existing gaps in public health emergency preparedness,” said Richard Hamburg, Deputy Director of TFAH. “The Ready or Not? report shows that a band-aid approach to public health is inadequate. As the second wave of H1N1 starts to dissipate, it doesn’t mean we can let down our defenses. In fact, it’s time to double down and provide a sustained investment in the underlying infrastructure, so we will be prepared for the next emergency and the one after that.”

Overall, the report found that the investments made in pandemic and public health preparedness over the past several years dramatically improved U.S. readiness for the H1N1 outbreak. But it also found that decades of chronic underfunding meant that many core systems were not at-the-ready. Some key infrastructure concerns were a lack of real-time coordinated disease surveillance and laboratory testing, outdated vaccine production capabilities, limited hospital surge capacity, and a shrinking public health workforce. In addition, the report found that more than half of states experienced cuts to their public health funding and federal preparedness funds have been cut by 27 percent since fiscal year (FY) 2005, which puts improvements that have been made since the September 11, 2001 tragedies at risk.

“State and local health departments around the country are being asked to do more with less during the H1N1 outbreak as budgets continue to be stretched beyond their limits,” said Michelle Larkin, J.D., Public Health Team Director and Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Public health provides essential prevention and preparedness services that help us lead healthier lives -- without sustained and stable funding, Americans will continue to be needlessly at risk from the next public health threat.”

The report also offers a series of recommendations for improving preparedness, including:

  • Ensure Stable and Sufficient Funding. The 27 percent cut to federal support for public health preparedness since FY 2005 must be restored, and funding must be stabilized at a sufficient level to support core activities and emergency planning. Increased funding must also be provided to modernize flu vaccine production, improve vaccine and antiviral research and development, and fully support the Hospital Preparedness Program.
  • Conduct an H1N1 After-Action Report and Update Preparedness Plans with Lessons Learned. Strengths and weaknesses of the H1N1 response should be evaluated and used to revise and strengthen federal, state, and local preparedness planning, including assessing what additional resources are needed to be sufficiently prepared. Identified gaps in core systems, including communications, surveillance, and laboratories much be addressed. In addition, continued surge capacity concerns, including establishing crisis standards of care, must be addressed.
  • Increase Accountability and Transparency. Federal and state health departments should regularly make updates on progress made on benchmarks and deliverables identified in the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act available to the public so they can see how tax dollars are being used and how well protected their communities are from health threats.
  • Improve Community Preparedness. Additional measures must be taken to reach out quickly and effectively to high-risk populations, including strengthening culturally competent communications around the safety of vaccines. Health disparities among low-income and racial/ethnic minorities, who are often at higher risk during emergencies, must also be addressed.

Score Summary:

A full list of all of the indicators and scores and the full report are available on TFAH’s web site at www.healthyamericans.org and RWJF’s Web site at www.rwjf.org. For the state-by-state scoring, states received one point for achieving an indicator or zero points if they did not achieve the indicator. Zero is the lowest possible overall score, 10 is the highest. The data for the indicators are from publicly available sources or were provided from public officials.

9 out of 10: Arkansas, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont

8 out of 10: Alabama, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Wisconsin

7 out of 10: Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia

6 out of 10: Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming

5 out of 10: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Washington

3 out of 10: Montana

Trust for America’s Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. www.healthyamericans.org

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. Helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need—the Foundation expects to make a difference in our lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.



RPU Begins 2010 With Free Cost-Cutting Business Programs

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Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) is beginning the new year with two free cost-saving, energy-efficient programs for qualified Riverside business customers: the Programmable Thermostat Direct Installation Program and the VendingMiser® Direct Installation Program.

The programmable thermostats provide businesses a way to cut facility heating and cooling costs by programming different settings for weekdays and weekends; setting multiple daily settings; and customizing heating and cooling only for the hours needed. RPU will arrange for the installation of more than 2,000 thermostats, which saves about 4.7 million kilowatt-hours or approximately $610,000 annually.

Vending machines and glass door coolers have long been a source of energy waste.

VendingMiser® and CoolerMiser® system sensors monitor the ambient temperature and foot traffic in the immediate area and adjusts power inside to keep the product cool without wasting energy. Even the advertising lights on vending machines will be lowered when customers are not nearby.

Businesses will see an immediate 46 percent drop in energy used by vending machines or coolers. The annual estimated savings to customers and RPU is about 3.2 million kwh or a savings of $450,000.

RPU will install both the thermostats and the vending machine units without cost to the customer.

“We realize many of our business customers could use some cost-saving measures for 2010,” said RPU General Manager David Wright. “By directly installing these units, not only do our customers save money, but the city becomes more energy-efficient and greener.”

RPU business customers can call 951.826.5485 for more information about this and other RPU energy-saving programs.

Horton: Gasoline Demand Up 1% in 3rd Quarter, Diesel Down 10.6%

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Jerome E. Horton, Vice Chairman of the California State Board of Equalization (BOE), today released gasoline and diesel consumption figures for September and total figures for the third quarter of 2009.

Gas consumption increased for the second consecutive quarter since early 2006.

In September 2009, gasoline demand rose 0.05 percent when Californians used 1.219 billion gallons of gasoline compared to just under 1.219 billion gallons the same month last year. The average California gasoline price at the pump in September was $3.17 per gallon compared to $3.84 in September 2008, a 17.4 percent decrease.

In the third quarter of 2009, gasoline consumption increased one percent when Californians used 3.772 billion gallons of gasoline compared to 3.736 billion gallons the third quarter last year.

Gasoline sold in September generated approximately $322 million in sales tax during that month, an estimated $23 million less than generated last year. September sales and use tax revenues from gasoline would have been about $59 million less had the state portion of the sales and use tax not increased by one percent on April 1, 2009.

Diesel fuel sold in California during September totaled 244 million gallons compared to September’s last year total of 254 million gallons, which is a decline of 3.9 percent. California diesel prices were $2.84 per gallon in September 2009 down 30.6 percent compared to September 2008 when the average diesel price was $4.09 per gallon.

Diesel consumption in California declined 10.6 percent in the third quarter of 2009 when Californians used a total of just over 654 million gallons of diesel compared to the third quarter of 2008 total of 732 million gallons. This decline is similar to those seen since early 2008. Diesel consumption generally follows economic activity and is especially closely related to construction and transportation of goods. These sectors were particularly hard hit during the recession, and have yet to start to increase.

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BVN National News Wire