State

Riverbank loans Hughson a city clerk for 3 months

HUGHSON -- Once again, the city is getting by with a little help from its friends.

Annabelle Aguilar, one of two deputy city clerks in Riverbank, this week started a three-month stint as Hughson's interim city clerk. Hughson has been without a city clerk since Mary Heminger resigned from the position earlier this year.

City Manager Joe Donabed said the idea came from Thom Clark, the city's planning and community development director. Clark served as interim city manager when the Hughson City Council instigated termination proceedings against Donabed. Those proceedings have since been halted.

Aguilar said Riverbank is plenty busy, but when Hughson called, the city wanted to help.

"I got a very warm welcome here," she said. "I am the kind of person who just wants you to show me to my seat and let me go at it."

The Turlock resident is an Ohio native who has worked in the federal government and for a nonprofit agency before returning to municipalities. She has a bachelor of science degree in business administration and is completing a master's degree at California State University, Stanislaus.

She said she spent her first week learning how the Hughson city staff does business.

Aguilar will work in Hughson for 90 days under a contract with Riverbank. An item on Monday's City Council agenda called for reconsideration of the agreement. But Councilman Thom Crowder, who placed the item on the agenda, did not attend the meeting, so the item was pulled.

It's not the first time Hughson has reached out to another city for services.

In August, the city contracted with Ripon for inspection services on its downtown streetscape project. Hughson doesn't have staff inspectors, and Ripon's inspectors had seen a drop in business with the economic downturn.

In other action, the council held a special meeting to get an update on the city's emergency operations plan, required every four years.

Chief Gary Hinshaw of the Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services outlined the county's system of communication and its plans in case of emergencies. Although it is designed to deal with any kind of threat, the H1N1 virus has refocused the agency on health matters in recent months.

Some emergencies, he pointed out, are harder for the agency to handle than others.

"Floods, fires and earthquakes -- those are easy," Hinshaw said. "A pandemic has no geographic boundary."

Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or 578-2343.

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