Holtville (formerly, Holton) is a city in Imperial County, California. Holtville is located 10.5 miles east of El Centro. It has a population of 6,000.

The city was founded by Swiss-German settlers in the 1880s, who often entered through the border from Mexico. The construction of railroads in the 1890s, the All-American Canal in the late 1940s, U.S. Route 80 in the 1920s later converted to Interstate 8 in the 1970s and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) economic boom in the 1990s brought more people to Holtville and the Imperial Valley.

The city of Holtville was founded in 1903 by W.F. Holt, and incorporated on June 20, 1908. The name was changed to Holtville due to a request by the U. S. Postal Service because the name Holton sounded too much like Colton, (in San Bernardino County), the regional headquarters of the Southern Pacific Railroad at the time. The name honors W.F. Holt, founder of the community.

The city lies on the northeast bank of the Alamo River formed by the floods of 1905-07 when the Colorado River break made the river’s course turn west and filled the low-lying depression of water now known as the Salton Sea.

This area has a large amount of sunshine year round due to its stable descending air and high pressure. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Holtville has a mild desert climate.

The city’s major civic event is the annual Carrot Festival, held in late January or early February. It usually features a parade, a carnival and other activities over a 10-day period. Holtville was famous in the mid-20th century with having the Holtville “Carrot Festival” but was confused with the “Coachella Valley” name from Bugs Bunny animated shorts in the 1940s when he reads the map seeking a “Carrot Festival”.

The old U.S. Route 80 once ran along Fifth Street through the center of town. A small obelisk in Holt Park, just north of Fifth Street, gives the distances to various points to the north, east and west. U.S. Route 80 has been decommissioned and made as County Route S80 in California. The portion in and near Holtville is now part of State Route 115.

Much of the east-west automobile traffic has been diverted to Interstate 8, about 2.5 miles to the south. Holtville is easily accessible through the Orchard Road interchange. The newly constructed State Route 7 connects Holtville with the factories and industrial areas of Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico.

The city was once joined by railroad to El Centro, but this line (nicknamed the “Holton Interurban”), and another railroad line going to the north, have been abandoned. The closure of the railroad station brought on economic decline to the town in the late 20th century.

The city was featured in Milton J. Silverman’s bestselling novel “Open and Shut,” which chronicled the true crime story of Norma Winters, a Holtville resident who contracted for the death of her husband during the summer of 1974.

Substance Abuse in Imperial County

In the mid-1990s, the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, in collaboration with the Center for Applied Research Solutions (CARS), Inc. began to work toward improving the state’s prevention information system. A key component of this information system was the continuous collection, monitoring and reporting of selected community‐level indicators that would serve as direct and indirect measures of alcohol and other drug use prevalence and related problems. This information system was designed to assist with state and local prevention planning and policy‐making by providing useful, systematic data about prevention and treatment needs and outcomes throughout the state.

Sadly, these reports have shown increasing rates of alcohol abuse, including binge drinking. In addition, the use of methamphetamines has been steadily rising; meth abuse accounted for 24% of admission to substance abuse treatment programs at the time of the report.

Binge drinking and continued alcohol use in large amounts are associated with many health problems, including: unintentional injuries such as car crash, falls, burns, drowning; intentional injuries such as firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence; increased on-the-job injuries and loss of productivity; family problems and broken relationships; alcohol poisoning; high blood pressure, stroke, and other heart-related diseases; liver disease; nerve damage; sexual problems; permanent brain damage; vitamin B1 deficiency, which can lead to a disorder characterized by amnesia, apathy and disorientation; ulcers; gastritis (inflammation of stomach walls); malnutrition; cancer of the mouth and throat.

Thousands of people have suffered from these effects, and the number is increasing. One of the toughest challenges in preventing such damage to lives, is the insidiousness of the addiction. Fear and denial are powerful preventers in seeking help. It’s essential that one be aware of the warning signs, and seek help before permanent damage is done. Holtville and surrounds offers a number of options for those seeking to make a new start, free of addiction.

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