City recognizes man’s heroic New Year’s Eve efforts

Robert Bentson received a standing ovation Monday night at City

The Gilroy City Council and other officials honored one man’s
heroics Monday night before attempting to get the root of a local
weed abatement problem. The city officially recognized Robert
Bentson, the son of a former Gilroy firefighter, who entered a
burning mobile home this past New Year’s Eve to rescue its
resident.
The Gilroy City Council and other officials honored one man’s heroics Monday night before attempting to get the root of a local weed problem.

The city officially recognized Robert Bentson, the son of a former Gilroy firefighter, who entered a burning mobile home this past New Year’s Eve to rescue its resident.

Bentson, who lived in the same mobile home park as the man he pulled from the flaming residence, was on his way to celebrating the holiday when he heard a loud boom and screams, and saw a trailer engulfed in flames.

He and another man entered the mobile home, found a man in his 50s on the living room floor and carried him to safety. The victim was treated for burns, according to the Gilroy Fire Department.

Bentson received a standing ovation from the Council, city staff, audience members and about a dozen Gilroy firefighters at City Hall. He thanked those in attendance for their support, but said a second man, named James Carrillo, should also receive recognition for saving the man’s life.

“I’d like to get him some recognition,” Bentson said.

Council approves weed abatement properties

The Council also approved a list of properties subject to a weed abatement program, intended to make properties more fire safe by mandating their owners keep weeds clear of streets and buildings.

Property owners on the list must keep weeds 10 feet from roadsides and 30 feet from structures or face a written warning and, eventually, paying the county to remove the weeds through a fine, said Ray Moreno, inspector for Santa Clara County’s Agriculture and Environmental Management Weed Abatement Divison.

Properties were placed on this most recent abatement list either if they appeared on a previous list and were not remedied or they physically observed as having excess or dangerously positioned weeds, Gilroy Fire Marshal Jacqueline Bretscheinder said.

The deadline to clear the weeds is May 15. Property owners will receive a letter by April 15,

Properties were eligible to be on the list either because they were on a previous list or the property was reported as having excess weeds, Bretscheinder said.

In some cases, current property owners do maintain their land, while past owners didn’t. Those properties will still appear on this for now because the program runs in three-year cycles, Bretscheinder said.

Jim Sullivan, who said he’s lived in Gilroy for a year and a half, was “baffled” by the weed abatement program. Sullivan’s property appeared on the list, but he said it shouldn’t because he has a small vineyard and maintains the property as best he can.

“Clearly you’re going to have weeds every once in a while,” he said.

Bretscheinder said she would look into taking Sullivan’s property off the list if it was in fact in line with county weed abatement standards.

Moreno said he encouraged property owners who appeared on the list to call if they had crops or livestock on their properties.

Other notes from Monday:

– Tom Haglund announced that the “acting” tags of three city administrators’ titles, which were added during uncertain economic times two years ago, had been officially dropped. Kristi Abrams was recognized as community development director, Rick Smelser was announced as public works director and Maria DeLeon was given the full title of recreation director. The Council thanked each of them for their efforts during the past two years.

– Mayor Al Pinheiro and Councilman Perry Woodward were absent Monday night. Pinheiro was on vacation in Australia, and Woodward was also out of the country, city clerk Shawna Freels said.

– While most Council meetings can run in excess of three or four hours, Monday’s meeting was completed in one hour, 47 minutes.

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