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California

Governor Appoints First African-American Woman as General of National Guard

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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the appointment of Brigadier General Mary J. Kight as the first female adjutant general of the California National Guard and first African-American female National Guard adjutant general in the nation. He also thanked General William H. Wade II for his years of dedicated service.

“Brigadier General Mary Kight is a proven courageous, loyal and honorable leader. She has a long and distinguished history of service to our state and nation and I am proud to have her as the first female adjutant general of our military forces here in California,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I am confident that with General Kight's leadership, the California National Guard will continue to be fully prepared, standing ready and able to assist our local communities and our country when called upon in times of emergency.”

General Kight has served the California National Guard for nearly 25 years. She has been assistant adjutant general since 2006 and previously held the positions of assistant adjutant general, air for the California National Guard Headquarters from 2004 to 2006, 201st Mission Support Squadron detach commander for all members on Title 10 from 2001 to 2004, 144th Mission Support Group commander in Fresno from 1999 to 2004 and first aircraft generation squadron commander for the 144th Fighter Wing from 1994 to 1998. Prior to that, Kight was an aircraft maintenance officer from 1990 to 1994, a field maintenance officer from 1987 to 1990 and an avionics maintenance officer from 1984 to 1987. She was a wing executive officer for the Nebraska Air National Guard from 1981 to 1984 and served the U.S. Air Force from 1974 to 1981.

“I whole-heartedly share in the Governor’s commitment to public safety and ensuring that our armed forces are well-trained and equipped to provide support and assistance here in California and abroad at a moment’s notice,” said General Kight. “I am honored to take on this new position serving the California National Guard as adjutant general and I look forward to using my knowledge and experience to uphold California’s military forces’ outstanding legacy of service.”

General Kight, 59, of Sacramento, earned a Master of Strategic Studies from Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, a Master of Science degree in human resources management from Gonzaga University, a Bachelor of Arts degree in social welfare from California State University, Chico and an Associate of Arts degree in general studies from Monterey Peninsula College. She also graduated from Squadron Officers School, Air Command and Staff College and Air War College. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $180,201. Kight is a Republican.

The Governor also thanked General William H. Wade II for his years of dedicated service to the California National Guard as he transitions to his newly selected position as deputy chief of staff for operations, Joint Forces Command-Naples, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Response Force, Naples, Italy.

“Major General Wade has been an exceptional leader of the California National Guard, working to keep our state and nation safe and our men and women in uniform trained for success,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “On behalf of all Californians, I thank Major General Wade for his service to our state and extend my best wishes for an exciting and fulfilling future as he represents and serves our country with NATO.”

The Military Department is responsible for the command, leadership and management of the California Army and Air National Guard whose purpose is to provide military service support to California as well as the nation. The California National Guard protects the public safety of the people of California by providing military support to civil authorities during natural disasters and other emergencies, and provides support to the local communities. These services are provided through 118 armories, four Air National Guard air bases and four Army Aviation flight facilities located throughout California. The California National Guard is the largest National Guard force in the United States, with an assigned strength of approximately 16,606 Army National Guard and 4,757 Air National Guard members. Of these 21,363 men and women, 1,975 are currently deployed and since September 11, 2001, more than 32,449 California National Guard personnel have been deployed both at home and abroad.

Gas Company Offers Help With Post-Holiday Utility Bills

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As post-holiday bills arrive in mailboxes this month, some families will be faced with tough financial decisions, struggling to make payments in a difficult economy. Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) urges customers to take advantage of the utility’s assistance programs -- programs that can help reduce winter heating bills and increase energy efficiency.

“We are trying to help our customers in need, including those who are unemployed and those having difficulty paying their bills,” said Hal D. Snyder, vice president of customer solutions for The Gas Company.

Customers are encouraged to call The Gas Company before their account is overdue and learn about the available assistance programs. A Gas Company representative will work with customers to set up a payment plan that meets their needs.

The Gas Company offers a wide range of assistance programs for qualifying customers on a limited income or with special medical needs.

• The California Alternate Rate for Energy (CARE) program provides a 20- percent rate discount on the monthly natural gas bill.

Customers may be eligible automatically if they currently receive benefits from the Women, Infants and Children, Healthy Families, Medi- Cal/Medicaid, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or LIHEAP programs.

• The Direct Assistance Program (DAP) provides energy- saving home improvements to income-qualified renters and homeowners. Free services include: door weather-stripping and caulking to keep out drafts; ceiling insulation to keep the home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter; low-flow showerheads that can save energy used to heat water; furnace replacement (owner-occupied homes only) and other minor home repairs.

• People who require additional heating for health reasons may qualify for additional natural gas service at the lowest rate through the Medical Baseline Allowance program.

There are no income requirements for the Medical Baseline program; however, doctor certification is required.

• The Gas Assistance Fund provides a one-time grant to customers during the winter who are income-qualified and unable to pay their bill. The program, which is available until funds are depleted, is administered by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and is funded by donations from customers and employees of The Gas Company, as well as shareholders of Sempra Energy, The Gas Company’s parent company.

For all customers, The Gas Company also offers hundreds of dollars in rebates for the purchase of energy-efficient appliances and can provide customers with a free energy- and watersaving kit. The kit includes three faucet aerators and a lowflow showerhead to help customers save energy and water.

These devices allow air to enter into the water stream, maintaining a high-pressure flow while reducing water usage – ultimately saving money.

SCE Works Overnight to Restore Power After Storm Outages

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Southern California Edison (SCE) crews worked overnight to restore service to customers throughout its 50,000-square mile service territory affected by weather-related outages.

The utility had 18,204 customers without service. SCE is prioritizing repairs so that customers who have been without power the longest will have service restored first.

Forecasters are predicting the next storm will hit later today, and SCE is ready to dispatch crews as needed when outages occur.

The total number of customers affected since the storm began on Sunday is 206,454. Some customers experienced flickering lights, while others had longer outages.

SCE preparation steps The National Weather Service is predicting more winter storms this week, bringing heavy rain, high wind conditions, flooding in the burn areas and snow. SCE took following precautionary steps to prepare for possible outages:

· SCE and contract crews have mobilized as outages occurred and will continue working around-the-clock to restore power in areas that might be affected.

· SCE storm response personnel are supporting service restoration, ensuring that the utility has available inventories of material and equipment for repair work.

· SCE is prioritizing repairs so that customers who have been without power the longest will have service restored first.

· Additional SCE customer call center representatives will be activated to help answer customer calls in the event of increased outages.

· Customers can report outages by calling (800) 611-1911.

Safety reminders: With high winds, heavy rain and snow forecast, SCE wants to remind its customers to be prepared in case of weather-related outages and suggests: If you know someone who is dependent on electrically operated medical equipment, make back-up power arrangements in case a power outage affects that equipment.

· Watch for traffic signals that may be out. Approach those intersections as four-way stops.

· If you see a power line on the ground, stay away. Do not touch it or try to remove it. Call SCE or local law enforcement.

· Make sure you have a battery-operated radio and flashlights. Check the batteries to make sure they are fresh. Use flashlights for lighting during a power outage; do not use candles because they pose a significant fire hazard.

· Do not use equipment designed for outdoor cooking indoors. Such equipment can emit carbon monoxide and other toxic gases.

· If you use a generator, place it outdoors and plug individual appliances directly into the generator, using a heavyduty extension cord.

Connecting generators directly to household circuits creates “backfeed,” which is dangerous to repair crews.

Christ Our Redeemer Hosts 11th Annual MLK Gospel Concert

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The 11th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Gospel Concert will be held on Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 5:00 pm, on the campus of the University of California, Irvine inside the Barclay Theatre. The event is co-hosted by Christ Our Redeemer AME Church (COR), the Black Chamber of Commerce of Orange County, 100 Black Men of Orange County, and the Orange County Ministerial Alliance.

Every year, the event is designed to raise funds for deserving college students and to honor two individuals who embody the character and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“This event is intended to provide worthy students an opportunity to achieve a higher level of education, and to pay homage to a true American icon,” said Reverend Mark Whitlock II. COR’s objective is to award deserving students with financial support toward achieving their academic and professional dreams. One scholarship recipient will receive $5,000, while the other winners receive scholarships between $1,000 and $3,000.

The honorees that will receive the Woman and Man of the Year Awards are Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications at Edison International Barbara Parsky, and President of California State University at Fullerton Milton Gordon. “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision was undeniable, as well as everlasting. I am grateful for the recognition during such a symbolic event,” said Parsky. The CORale Choir, who was most recently featured in “How Sweet the Sound” is scheduled to perform, as well as a surprise gospel-recording artist. Dr. King’s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, has also planned an electrifying step show performance. “I am honored to be recognized at such a prestigious event, and greatly anticipate being in attendance,” said Gordon. Under the leadership of Reverend Whitlock, Christ Our Redeemer AME Church has hosted the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Scholarship Gospel Concert for the past 10 years. All funds raised are for minority students attending a college or university in Orange County.

More than $125,000 in scholarships have been awarded to minority students attending Orange County colleges and universities.

Students interested in applying for scholarships must submit a detailed application including a personal statement and an essay, which is reviewed and evaluated by a scholarship committee.

The cost to attend the 11th annual fundraising event is $25. For more information, visit www.corchurch.org or call 877-426-7263.

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.

 

 

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