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City Council admonishes Aguilar (again)

Sunnyside City Councilwoman Bengie Aguilar didn't leave the first Council meeting of the year unscathed.

For the second consecutive meeting, Aguilar was chastised by her peers for her efforts in the community.

At Monday's Council meeting, Aguilar was admonished for her representation of the Council with the Lower Yakima Valley Rural Enterprise Community (REC). The Council is seeking all the money the REC group has available, to help operate SunnyView Park.

At the last meeting of 2003, Aguilar was scolded for her efforts perceived in forming an Hispanic chamber of commerce in Sunnyside, by Councilmen Bruce Ricks and Don Vlieger.

At this past Monday's meeting, Ricks brought forth some concerns he has in regards to the Council's request from REC for all of its remaining funds to help in the operation of SunnyView Park.

REC board members are currently reviewing applications from those seeking the nearly $150,000 the agency has left. Some of that money has already been allocated for other projects, such as community outreach programs in Sunnyside and Grandview, explained Aguilar, who is involved with the outreach efforts.

Ricks reiterated the Council had requested all of the remaining money the REC has available, and that it was Aguilar's job to relay that to the REC board, which she also sits on.

Sunnyside Parks and Recreation Director Tom Byers said the SunnyView Park project was one of the projects the REC board approved looking at in late November. The REC board is looking to fund the proposal for SunnyView Park in the amount of $100,000. Byers said he will be making the city's presentation for funding to the REC board this weekend.

Ricks, though, wanted to know why the REC board wasn't making available all of its remaining money.

"It doesn't seem we were represented fairly," said Ricks, who also made a motion to remove Aguilar as the city representative on the REC board, and nominated Mayor Pro-tem Mike Farmer.

Aguilar explained that the city's proposal was a one-page letter, highlighting its request. Aguilar said she brought forth the issue of SunnyView Park to Yakima County grant programs director Steve Hill, who helps oversee the REC program. Hill told Aguilar that the city would have to make its request for available REC money known in its proposal.

Aguilar told the Council that only the money the REC was putting out for proposals, $100,000, would be made available. She said the board's remaining dollars are already allocated for other programs, such as community outreach.

Juan Aguilar, past president of the REC board, confirmed what Councilwoman Aguilar was saying. He said he spoke with Hill, who said only $100,000 was available to fund projects.

Councilman Don Vlieger said he remembers asking Aguilar to relay the Council's wishes for all of the remaining REC money.

"Our representative is representing the Council, not an individual," said Vlieger.

Aguilar, though, said she couldn't understand the strategy in the Council wanting all of the REC's remaining money, which includes $15,000 set aside for outreach efforts in the community of Grandview.

. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at mkantman@eaglenewspapers.com

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