WHS annual downtown rally fizzles

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ur decades Winters High School has held their downtown rallies at the Main and First Street intersection. The popular high school and community event typically coincides with homecoming and Youth Day but had been suspended due to COVID-19 gathering guidelines.

Now, it appears it has been cancelled because the special event permit wasn’t submitted with enough lead time for the city to process it for the April 29 date.

Winters Joint Unified School District Superintendent Diana Jiménez and Winters High School Principal John Barsotti did not return multiple Express requests for comment, clarification and rescheduling plans.

Review of the high school’s special event application submitted to the city and dated March 25 proclaimed, “This is one of the most popular events the Student Government class puts on and our Seniors are very much looking forward to it.”

A special event permit requires city approval and depending on the nature of the event is issued with specific conditions and requirements — some which may not have been required under the past city manager’s administration.

“Our policies, process and fees haven’t changed … what is different for some folks is having to fill out an application for the first time or having to pay a fee,” said City Manager Kathleen Salguera Trepa.

“We are now consistently applying them (policies, process and fees) to all applicants and events so that we as staff have all the information we need to document and approve the event — with whatever conditions of approval would be required (i.e. traffic control for street closures), applications are signed for insurance and risk transfer, and documentation is provided for fees collected,” Trepa said.

The high school’s March 25 special event application estimated attendance of 400 plus 25 volunteers, requested closure of the intersection of First and Main Streets from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. and the use of a public address system. Twelve businesses in the vicinity of First and Main Streets signed off in agreement to the street closure and amplified sound request.

“Unfortunately, the application has been submitted without enough time to work with the applicant to address safety concerns. Road closures require a traffic control plan that shows the placement of barricades, which applicants submit and then modify based on staff review. We also require water barricades for major events in high traffic areas, which the City does not deploy … There simply isn’t enough time given the April 29 rally date.” Trepa said.

“We are more than happy to work with the (school) District staff in the future to support their special event needs and just need more time for that collaborative effort,” Trepa concluded.

Special event applications with general conditions and requirements are available at City Hall and on the City’s website under heading “Administrative Services.”

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