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Public safety staff grows
To provide a visual picture of what Ceres voters "bought" when they passed Measure H - the half-cent sales tax measure - Director of Public Safety Art deWerk introduced new hires to the City Council last week.

De Werk presented the four police officers and five firefighters hired under Measure H since its passage in November 2007. An additional police officer will be added soon, for a total of 10 new hires attributed to Measure H.

Measure H passed by a margin of 75.13 percent to 24.87 percent. The measure raised the sales tax rate in Ceres from 7.375 percent to 7.875 percent and is expected to raise $2 million to $2.5 million annually solely to augment public safety.

The measure allowed for the formation of a new Street Crimes Unit, which has already been making a dent in drug trafficking and gangs. The unit consists of Sgt. Pat Sullivan, Lt. Rick Collins, and officers Jeremy Caron, Travis Hudson and Carlos Quiroz.

New fire personnel are firefighters Dominic Magagnini, Joseph Spani and Bret Presson and batallion chiefs Michael Lillie and Randy Wheeler.

At the Sept. 22 Ceres City Council meeting, Measure H Committee members Kathi Foster and Kim Chapman offered praise to Bertolotti Disposal for financial contributions and support of the Measure H. Company representatives Bert Bertolotti and Steve Holloway were given a plaque of appreciation. Mayor Anthony Cannella offered his thanks to Bertolotti, saying the company's support "helped ensure the measure's passage. We are very grateful to them for that."

Cannella said that prior to the passage of Measure H, Ceres had an insufficient number of police officers patrolling the streets and that fire service was limited to just 24 firefighters with only eight on duty at any one time to protect the community of 42,000 residents.

"With these new revenues, the city has already hired four police officers with one additional police office to be hired within a few weeks and the Street Crimes Unit is now operational," said Cannella. "The fire service with its five new positions is now able to respond more effectively to fires, traffic collisions and medical emergencies with its increased staffing. Now especially in light of the economic problems facing this state, we are fortunate to have Measure H. While many other communities are laying-off and freezing public safety positions, we are actually hiring additional firefighters and police officers. We are fortunate to have Measure H in place for the protection of this community."