Thursday, December 17, 2009

H1N1 flu shots

Restrictions on the availability of the H1N1 (swine) flu vaccinations are being lifted Monday. Riverside Coiunty departmant of Public Helath distributed a press release yesterday making that announcement.

Dr. Richard Goldberg, who gratefully also thanked, "This happened through the efforts of Cassandra Lynch and Britta Barton at the Rivirside County Dept. of Health.", also said they would vaccinate whomever comes into Town Hall Saturday.

He will have 500 vaccines. Young people and pregnant women are the highest priorities, please encourge any of those sorts whom you know to come.

the county release follows:

December 16, 2009

Press Release

Media Contact: Sean Nealon, Public Information Officer

951-358-7193 (work) or 951-712-3382 (cell)

Public Contact: 2-1-1 or 1-800-464-1123

All Riverside County Residents Can Now Get H1N1 Flu Vaccine

Starting Monday (Dec. 21), all Riverside County residents can walk into 10 county family care centers without an appointment and get the H1N1 flu vaccine.

Riverside County public health officials are no longer limiting doses to people in priority groups because vaccine shipments continues to arrive and officials are confident there is enough to vaccinate anyone who wants a dose.

*We want to get the H1N1 vaccine out as fast as possible,* said Dr. Eric Frykman, Riverside County's public health officer.

Public health officials strongly encourage everyone, especially those in priority groups, to get vaccinated. The priority groups are: anyone 6 months to 24 years old, caregivers of infants less than six months old, pregnant women, health care and emergency service workers and adults age 25 to 64 with chronic medical conditions.

At the family care centers, additional nurses have been brought in to provide the H1N1 shot and nasal spray vaccinations. County residents who recently received the shot at the Corona Family Care Center appreciated the express-lane-type experience.

"It was cool," said Cody Dunn, 24, of Norco. "Real quick. Simple. Go in. Sign the paperwork. I was in and out in five minutes."

The family care centers are offering the vaccine from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The centers will be closed Christmas Day and New Years Day.

Centers are located in Corona, Banning, Jurupa, Perris, Indio, Palm Springs, Rubidoux, Lake Elsinore, Hemet and Riverside. For locations visit or call 2-1-1. Residents with cell phones with area codes not in Riverside County can call 1-800-464-1123.

Individuals with a cough or fever should wait until the symptoms are gone before being vaccinated. To slow the spread of illness, residents with flu-like symptoms are encouraged to stay home from work or school. Everyone should wash their hands regularly and cover their coughs and sneezes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bye Bye VHS

In a low turnout election, Measure P collected nearly 88 percent of the vote. Underwhelming turnout, reflected int he lack of much debate. Mail-in ballots decided the hospitals disposition.

Votes were posted at the Riverside County Registrar of Voter's site shortly after polls closed at 8 p.m. At that time, those in favor of the sale of Hemet Valley and Menifee Valley medical centers to a group of doctors — Physicians for Healthy Hospitals — out number oppenents nearly seven to one.

Here the final results (not official yet) as of 11:22 p.m. and 100 percent of the precincts reporting.

P-Valley Health System
184/184 100.00%
Vote Count Percent
YES 22,866 87.17%
NO 3,364 12.83%
Total 26,230 100.00%

At 10:35 p.m., the following totals were released

P-Valley Health System
145/184 78.80%
Vote Count Percent
YES 21,182 87.68%
NO 2,977 12.32%
Total 24,159 100.00%

initial results from 8:04 p.m
P-Valley Health System
119/184 64.67%
Vote Count Percent
YES 20,482 87.66%
NO 2,884 12.34%
Total 23,366 100.00%

Bogh announces for SD 37

Former Assemblyman, now businessman, Russ Bogh is officially running for the State Senate seat of Riverside County Supervisor John J. Benoit.

Bogh confirmed his intentions to file for Benoit's former seat in a phone call earlier today. Yesterday, he wrote a piece for FlashReport explaining his intent to be the conservative in the race.

The primary is April 13, 2010 and the general election will be June 8, 2010. Bogh and Benoit faced off in a competitive Republican primary during 2008. Benoit's victory was larger than expected. But Bogh is still well known through the senate district. The first announced candidate to replace Benoit, Assemblyman Bill Emmerson, has just moved to the district in order to qualify for eleccion.

Benoit resigned from the St. Senate on Dec. 1, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to replace former 4th District Supervisor Roy Wilson, who died in August.

RMRU team leads in finding missing Germans

Eight Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit (RMRU) volunteers played a lead role in discovering what are likely the remains of three Germans missing in Death Valley since 1996. Multi-agency search teams including RMRU, Inyo County Search and Rescue, China Lake Mountain Rescue Group, San Bernardino Desert Search and Rescue, Calaveras County Search and Rescue, National Park Service, and U.S. Customs conducted an expanded search on Saturday Dec. 5 in a remote area of the vast national park. Thirty searchers and 3 dog teams participated in the mission.

A previous private search conducted by RMRU volunteers Tom Mahood and Les Walker on Nov. 12 triggered the expanded mission. Mahood and Walker, employing a search theory developed by Mahood, found what are believed to be the remains of the fourth member of the party, Cornelia Meyer. Positive identification of all remains awaits forensic confirmation by the Inyo County Coroner’s office.

Two U.S. Customs Homeland Security helicopters flew teams in early morning Saturday, Dec. 5. Teams were at the seach site by 8 a.m. The mission used Mahood’s search theory to canvas an expanded area centered on the site where Mahood and Walker found Meyer’s remains. Teams fanned out in half -mile radii from the site of the initial discovery. The RMRU team consisted of Les Walker, Lee Arnson, Tom Mahood, Tom Marshall, Lew Kingman, Nick Nickson, Chad Marler, and Pete Carlson.

According to RMRU President Lee Arnson and Walker, the combined teams found what are believed to be remains of the missing three by end of day Saturday, Dec. 5. Conditions on the day of the search were difficult, with winds gusting to 40 M.P.H. and nighttime temperatures dropping into the teens. Search teams camped overnight on the 5th, worked the site on the morning of the 6th, and hiked 19 miles out.

According to an account from Arnson and Walker, the search area was rugged high desert, remote and pristine. “It’s the most remote place I’ve ever been,” said RMRU team member Carlson. “Other than the four Germans, I don’t think anyone has ever seen this area before we did,” said Walker. “We spent the night at the site. I hiked up on a knoll and looked out over miles and miles of nothing — never a light and not a sound but the wind.” Arnson, remembering the desolation of the search area, wondered, “How in the world did they [the Germans] get here?” Walker observed that the Germans, as Europeans, probably had no comprehension of the vastness, desolation and danger of the American west, especially Death Valley in the summer. As to why they had taken the road they did, before getting stuck in a wash, Walker said, “They may have been intrigued to see this secret military base [China Lake Naval Weapons Testing Center].” Both noted the Germans couldn’t have made worse choices.

Arnson said teams tagged and secured the remains of the additional three. But authorities are keeping the exact location under wraps to prevent any unauthorized interference at the site. “We don’t even know the exact location,” said Walker. “We had to turn over all our GPS information coordinates to the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department.”

Once back at base camp, Arnson and Walker had to go back to perform another rescue, this time of a very sick member of another rescue team who had participated in the search and could not hike out on his own. They recruited a Park Service Humvee to bring the sick man in.

At the conclusion of the rescue, “All the other team members were shaking our hands,” said Walker.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

IFPD meeting Dec 14 or wait Dec 15 or …

I received the agenda for the IFPD special meeting this week. At the Dec. 8 meeting, the commissioners said the meeting would be 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 15. However, the agenda I received said the meeting would be Monday, Dec. 14.

I have asked three different commissioners who confirm it is Dec. 15, but I have not received a revised agenda and don't know what's posted at the station.

As of 2 p.m., IFPD has the agenda posted and dated for Dec. 14. I guess that's when the meeting is despite what the commissioners say or said. Since it is a special meeting, they only need 24 hours to post the agenda, so we might see the posted one taken down Monday and a new one up that afternoon.

Fortunately I work close to station and can show up on both days, sorry for those of you who don't, may a call to 659-2153 will help.

Anyways, here the proposed agenda:



December 14, 2009. (5:30 p.m.)

The meeting is held at the Idyllwild Fire Station, 54160 Maranatha Dr. The Board may approve or take action on items contained in the discussion Calendar.

Call to Order:

Roll Call:

1. Riggi – Killingsworth –Schelly – Capparelli – Charles Stigall - Kunkle – Coopersmith

Pledge of Allegiance:

Consent Calendar:

1. None


1. Presidents

2. Vice Presidents

3. Chief


As Included

Action Items:

  1. 2009 / 2010 Budget Review
  2. Zoll Information Update

Discussion Items:

1. None.

Citizen Comments:

Citizens may comment on any matter as contained on the special meeting agenda.

Executive / Closed Session:

  1. None Scheduled.


If you challenge any decision in court, you may be limited to raising only those issues you or someone else raised at the public meeting described in this notice, or in written correspondence delivered to this agency at, or prior to, the public meeting.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Week end weather

I don't want to clog up the "Breaking News" blog with mundane weather reports or photographs, but living in Idyllwild creates a special sensation when there's moisture in the air! So check our my blog (JP's Blog, just look to your right for a list of all the blogs, under the Newsroom group, select the third one down) for the weather updates through Monday morning.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

St. Senate District 37

The special election to fill the St. Senate seat with John J. Benoit left for the County Board of Supervisors will be June 8, 2010. The party primaries are April 13, 2010.

More remains discovered in Death Valley

According to a press release released by the Inyo County Sheriff's Department, a multi-agency search mission took place Dec. 5 and 6 to discover remains of the three missing members of a party of German tourists lost in July 1996 in Death Valley.

Additional remains were found and, as with the remains discovered by Les Walker and Tom Mahood believed to be those of Cornelia Meyer, they will be turned over to the Inyo County Coroner's office for forensic identification.

Agencies identified as participating in the search are Inyo County Search and Rescue, Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit (RMRU), China Lake Mountain Rescue Group, San Bernardino Desert Search and Rescue, Calaveras County Search and Rescue, National Park Service and U.S. Customs.

Unofficial reports indicate that enough remains were discovered to identify the remaining three, Max Meyer, 4, Connie's son, her boyfriend Egbert Rimkus, 33, and his son Georg Weber, 10.

Eight RMRU personnel participated in the search including Walker.

The remains were all in a location about 9 miles from the Germans' rental van and about 3 miles from the boundary of the China Lake Naval Weapons Testing Center, the destination the Germans were apparently trying to reach.

Further updates and information will be posted when made available.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

IFPD meeting Dec. 8, 2009

From the left, Jeannine Charles-Stigall, Dr. Charles "Chip" Schelly, Peter Capparelli and Ben Killingsworth.

At the beginning of last night’s Idyllwild Fire Protection District meeting, the new commissioners were sworn into office.

Commissioner and Treasurer Killingsworth has been serving, but he begins a new elected four-year term now. (He began his service through appointment to replace former commissioner Dr. Emily Shaw.)

The meeting began at 5:30 p.m. and ended shortly after 8 p.m., It was raucous, funny, amiable, angry, long, sometimes tedious, informative and all in a good spirit. Quite a humbling and startling IFPD meeting, but an impressive start.

A new era seems to be dawning on IFPD. All five commissioners spoke out and frequently during the meeting. The President’s voice was not the only one the public heard.

Secondly, the commission seems quite willing and capable of working in front of the public and, most importantly, comfortable doing so without unanimity.

Thirdly, they are already taking steps to establish their open personality and commitment to the Brown Act procedures.

The commission scheduled a special meeting for 5:30 p.m., next Tuesday, Dec. 15. Killingsworth urged this upon his colleagues to get better acquainted with the agency’s budget and prepare for possible budget problems in the last half of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.

In addition, the commission appointed an ad hoc committee to investigate the situation with Zoll Medical over the attempted purchase of $100,000 of equipment. In August, the commission recommended keeping the Autopulse untis and returning the rest of the equipment.

Zoll has requested full payment and IFPD still lacks authority to use the Autopulse equipment.

Commissioners Charles-Stigall and Schelly volunteered to pursue the issue and may have an interim report for the special meeting.

Schelly proposed to open up information for t he public through the use of IFPD’s Web site for posting agenda, minutes and commissioner packages. As an example of the commission’s receptivity of the Brown Act and open government, the majority supported Schelly’s reforms, but voted 3-2 to put them on the genda for the January meeting so the public would be aware of them in advance of adoption.

Although long, it was a good meeting. More details will be in the story for the print edition. Have to prepare for the Editor’s meeting at 8:30 a.m., Please come if you have time, see ya at Café Aroma.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

School Open

In case you're just getting up or started, Idyllwild School is open today. Most roads are very icey and driving is dicey in many locations.

be careful and, this morning, use chains if you have them (Cal Trans advises them on Hwy 74 from Valle Vista to Pinyon and Hwy 243.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Idyllwild School

Just in from Cal Trans, chain requirements!

Chains are required on all commercial vehicles (trucks or buses). All other vehicles

(cars, pick-ups, vans, etc.) must have either snow tread tires or chains on the drive axle.

This applies to following highway sections:

SR-74 from Mountain Center to Pinyon Dr.

SR-243 from SR-74 to Idyllwild

SR-371 from Anza to SR-74

School was out early — 1 p.m. guess all you parents are excited to welcome home the kids. Drive safely.

It's still snowing here, I think, but could be wrong, but we've exceeded the 1 inch limit the national Weather Service promised this morning.

Not many stores open today. Idyllwild Pharmacy is and the Chamber of Commerce is open. Call and ask for Andrea Cunningham, she has weather reports. 659-3259!

Oh yes, we're celebrities, Channel 2 from the desert was here today, they want to compare the snowfall to a sand storm. Huh?

Meetings and other notices — IFPD, Hist Pres, school

See JP's blog for tomorrow's agenda.

Historic preservation meeting postponed, don't know new date yet, but most likely after the holidays. (see marshall's note below.)

Idyllwild School still open, (see photos below).

Snow cancels Dec. 7 Historic Preservation District Town Hall meeting

Jerry Jolliffe, Riverside County Deputy Planning Director, confirmed this morning that the Dec. 7 Town Hall meeting scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. is postponed due to snow in Idyllwild. "Unfortunately, due to snow, the meeting to discuss the historic resources survey and the potential for Idyllwild to become a Historic Preservation District must be postponed," said Jolliffe. "It will be rescheduled as soon as feasible." With no way to ensure optimal weather conditions and the Christmas holiday approaching, the meeting may have to wait until January.

Jolliffe regrets the cancellation since he believes the formation of a Historic District could help business owners by providing Idyllwild a tourist niche and cache as the county's sole Historic District in addition to protecting historic resources largely absent in the much of the rest of the county.

We will announce the date of the rescheduled meeting as soon as it is set. Information regarding the meeting and any questions about Historic District formation can be found at and directed to the county planning website at

School & Snow

The word of the day for the Idyllwild School is "open". School as normal during a snow storm.Drive safely.

About 2 inches here at the Town Crier, but Hwy 243 has been plowed. We'll keep you posted on events during the day. Seen any missing snowmen or snowgirls, if so please report them to the Town Crier.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Esperanza Fire USDA OIG investigation

Today, more than three years after the Esperanza Fire of October 2006, the U.S Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General has released its investigation of the fire, the conduct of personnel and circumstances of the deaths of five U.S. Forest Service firefighters — Captain Mark Loutzenhiser, Fire Engine Operator Jess McClean, Assistant Fire Engine Operator Jason McKay and firefighters Daniel Hoover-Najera, and Pablo Cerda.

The OIG conclusion expressed in its transmittal letter to Agricultural Secretary Vilasak and Congression officials simply states "OIG investigative findings are consistent with the primary findings of the Forest Service and Cal Fire as presented in the Serious Accident Investigation Team report [of June 2007]. Our investigation raised no issues related to potential misconduct or unauthorized actions by FS personnel involved in the Esperanza Fire."

I'll have more details from the report and possible reactions later.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Snow — day 2

It's Sunday. The weather service says its warmer today, so I went out and took some photos of "Day 2" of the Snowstorm no. 1.

With an El Niño winter weather pattern forecast, I'm sure this is just the beginning.

So you can see Tahquitz to the right – grey and snowy. that's taken looking east.

Now this shot is looking south across Garner Valley. The sky looks greyer to me. These mountains are an even lower elevation than Idyllwild and they are clearly snow covered.

Now this is a panoramic of the Saddle and the San Jacintos above Fern Valley. Be patient and look at one more photo below.

This is looking west over the Hemet Valley. this is our expected afternoon weather unless the air and ground are too cold to move the clouds.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Let it snow

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

In case you haven't noticed, it's snowing Idyllwild. The tree lighting ceremony is still scheduled for this afternoon. the snow will heighten the Christmas atmosphere. Come on up!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shh! VHS has another bid, don't tell anyone!

What maybe the most important news about Valley Health System (VHS) was not mentioned at Monday evening’s meeting. In a Nov. 19 letter, Prime Healthcare Services Foundation has submitted an offer to purchase substantially all of VHS’s assets.

In his letter to VHS Chairman, Dr. William Cherry, Michael Sarrao, secretary and treasurer of the Foundation, describes the offer as “… a structure which is similar in many respects to the proposal submitted by Physicians for Healthy Hospitals (PHH) … there are several important differences which make [the Foundation’s] offer far superior to PHH’s proposal for the District, its residents, and its creditors.”

Not only was the new proposal omitted from the agenda, which was prepared on Nov. 20, none of the directors urged consideration of the offer, refuted its value or even mentioned its existence during their individual comments.

VHS’s legal counsel, John Marshall said the letter arrived too late to be printed in the agenda documentation. In addition, he linked the offer to the pending litigation to explain why the board would not discuss it in open session.

“…[I]t was not appropriate to discuss this in open session. While the pending litigation was properly agendized and discussed in Executive Closed Session, the specific terms of Prime's proposal were not discussed,” he said in an e-mail. “In addition, VHS is contractually bound by the terms of the Asset Sale Agreement with PHH approved by the Board in September and which is the subject of the December 15 election. Thus, VHS would be in breach of the agreement with PHH if it entered into negotiations with another party at this time.”

Sarrao also reported that the State Superior court had ordered VHS to release material regarding the sale. VHS had withheld this information (such as their consultant’s(the Piera Group) report on PHH) as privileged information.

Subsequently, Marshall said VHS is trying to overturn this ruling with respect to the evaluation materials, but has provided Prime with more than 12,000 pages of information — just what PHH requested and received.

Sarrao claims, “[Dr. Kali] Chaudhuri has an ownership interest in PHH and is the managing member of the Physicians for Healthy Hospitals, LLC, the sole shareholder of PHH. We suspect (based on, among other things, the efforts by VHS to shield these reports from disclosure by trying to create a ‘privilege’) the Peira Group reports may include a much more information about the process or lack thereof employed by VHS and PHH.”

Since the board had no new business for action, most the meeting was occupied with a dismal financial report from Interim Chief Financial Officer, Michael Bernstein, who is leaving VHS within weeks.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Death Valley search postponed

Citing wind conditions and logistical concerns, Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and National Park Service authorities postponed a scheduled Nov. 20 through 22 search to locate remains of three German tourists missing in Death Valley since 1996.

A Nov. 12 discovery by off-duty Riverside County Mountain Rescue Unit (RMRU) volunteers Les Walker and Tom Mahood of remains likely those of Cornelia Meyer, 27, one of four missing Germans, precipitated the official search. One hundred personnel from participating agencies had been scheduled to participate. Inyo County Sheriff's Spokesperson Carma Roper said formal identification of Meyer would be a long process and that the case is currently being handled as a criminal investigation. "But there is no evidence of foul play at this point," she said.

Meyer, her son Max, 4, her boyfriend Egbert Rimkus, 33, and his son Georg Weber, 10 disappeared in July 1996 after their vehicle became stranded in rugged country two hours’ drive southwest of Furnace Creek Visitors Center near the Panamint Mountains.

Walker said RMRU would be significantly involved when the official search takes place. Mahood, an engineer, had formulated a search theory that led him and Walker to search an area overlooked by previous missions. They discovered Meyer’s remains several miles from the boundary of the China Lake Naval Weapons Testing Area – the destination Mahood theorized the party would have walked toward to seek help. Walker and Mahood hope to find the remains of the missing three as part of the official search team.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Idyllwild Historic Preservation District public meeting Dec. 7

Jerry Jolliffe, Riverside County Deputy Planning Director, confirmed county officials will present findings from the Historic Resources Survey (HRS) at a public meeting Monday, Dec. 7, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Idyllwild's Town Hall. The HRS document, available online at, finds sufficient historical and architectural bases within the surveyed corridor to justify Idyllwild's designation as the county's sole Historic Preservation District.

The purpose of the meeting is to summarize the findings in the survey and to answer questions from townspeople about Historic Preservation District classification, what that means for property owners within the surveyed corridor, and what it could mean for the town as a whole.

Should you have questions about the HRS document prior to the Dec. 7 public meeting, particularly if you wamt to know whether property you own is included in the proposed District, contact Leslie Mouriquand at (760) 393-3411 or e mail her from the Planning homepage.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Col. Lewis L. Millett passed away

Col Lewis L. Millett died Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009. He was an Idyllwild resident and Medal of Honor recipient.

Col. Millett will be interned at Riverside National Cemetery. Plans are still being arranged. He was born in Mechanic Falls, Maine, Dec. 15, 1920

His military career spanned three decades and three wars — WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

President Harry Truman bestorwed the Medal of Honor on Col. Millett for his heroic action during the Korean War. At that time he was a captain.

His citation reads, “Capt. Millett distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action. While personally leading his company in an attack against a strongly held position … Capt. Millett ordered the 3d Platoon forward, placed himself at the head of the 2 platoons, and, with fixed bayonet, led the assault up the fire-swept hill. In the fierce charge … his dauntless leadership and personal courage so inspired his men that they stormed into the hostile position and used their bayonets with such lethal effect that the enemy fled in wild disorder. During this fierce onslaught Capt. Millett was wounded by grenade fragments but refused evacuation until the objective was taken and firmly secured. The superb leadership, conspicuous courage, and consummate devotion to duty demonstrated by Capt. Millett were directly responsible for the successful accomplishment of a hazardous mission and reflect the highest credit on himself and the heroic traditions of the military service.”

Upon learning of Col. Millett’s death, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) today issued the following statement on his passing:

"COL Millett went far above and beyond the call of duty both in his military career and in life, putting the needs and lives of others before his own.… COL Millett stood tall as a man of character and strength, and while he will be sorely missed by us all, his memory will live on in the hearts and minds of a grateful nation."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

BC's night

Thank you Becky,

Keep on dancin'!!

Off duty RMRU pair find remains likely those of missing German tourists

On Thursday, Nov. 12, off-duty Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit (RMRU) members Les Walker and Tom Mahood found skeletal remains likely those of at least one of four German tourists missing in Death Valley since 1996. Walker and Mahood organized the trip specifically to search for the missing Germans. They discovered remains in a remote area 2 hours southwest of Furnace Creek Visitors Center near the Panamint Mountains.

Inyo County Sheriff's Spokesperson Carma Roper said formal identification of the remains would be a long process and that the case is currently being handled as a criminal investigation. "But there is no evidence of foul play at this point," she said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Interpol are also involved in the investigation.

Mahood, a retired engineer, had formulated a search theory based on a U.S. Park Ranger map probably used by the tourists that led him and Walker to concentrate on a previously unsearched area about 2500 feet elevation between a saddle that looks out over China Lake and the intervening area leading to a map-marked boundary of the China Lake Naval Weapons Testing Center. The area was eight to 11 miles from the tourist's abandoned vehicle. "Tom put this whole plan together to look in an area where no other teams had looked before," said RMRU President Lee Arnson. "All previous teams had GPS'd their search routes.

"We tried to put ourselves in their [the tourists'] shoes," said Walker, "using the U.S. Park Service map they probably used as a guide." Mahood's theory focused on a military base (China Lake Weapons Testing Area) marked on the Park Service map. He theorized that the Germans, lost, on foot and contending with temperatures near 110 degrees, might have decided to walk toward the military base thinking there would be people there. That logic paid off for Walker and Mahood. Walker found remains about two to four miles from the Weapons Center boundary. "We found them right where we suspected we might find them," he said.

"I first came across a wine bottle, something that was not in their van's inventory. Death Valley is a pristine area. I was not on any regular hiking route. The wine bottle seemed definitely out of place. This was not an old mining area. There was no reason for anyone to have been there. As I was looking at the bottom of the bottle to see if there were identifying numbers on it, I looked down and saw I was standing in an area of white-flecked bits - a bone yard. I was standing among bone fragments. I picked up a potential clue not knowing that I was standing in the answer. Had I missed the wine bottle, I might have walked on. I next found partial vertebrae in a nearby bush. Then I saw a wallet. I picked out a German photo ID of the missing woman. Nearby there was a human skull. A distance away was a daytimer and a small shoe. I couldn't tell if it was the woman's shoe or a child's shoe. I used my two-way radio to call Tom who was about a mile away. When he reached me we fanned out separately and conducted a larger search, a complete circle 100 yards around the remains."

The four Germans, Cornelia Meyer, 27, her son Max, 4, her boyfriend, architect Egbert Rimkus, 33, and his son Georg Weber, 10, disappeared in July 1996. Although numerous search teams, both public and private, had attempted to find the four over the last 13 years, none had succeeded until Thursday.

"They [official investigation coordinators] will fly us out there Friday [Nov. 20] for a Saturday and Sunday search to locate the rest of the remains," said Walker. "They want to talk to us about our way of looking at the search. About 100 people will be involved in the search - FBI, Inyo County, and the National Park Service." The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Interpol and Inyo County Sheriff's Department are securing the area.

Records indicated the German tourists checked out of a Las Vegas hotel room on July 22, 1996 and arrived in Death Valley the same day. Temperatures in the park had topped 120 degrees. Their last entry was on July 23, 1996 left in a guest book kept in a box on a metal pole in an abandoned mining camp, indicating the visitors were going through a pass, probably Mengel Pass. The entry was signed "Conny, Egbert, Georg, Max."

A team of 45 searchers, eight horses and four helicopters from California and Nevada law enforcement agencies mounted the initial search for the missing tourists. From 1996 until the present, over 200 searchers have looked for the Germans.

We will post updates as they become available.

Friday, November 13, 2009

DOW up up and away

The Dow Jones average closed at 10,270 today, up 264 points this week and more than 500 since Nov 1.

Word is Wall Street likes the changes at the Town Crier.

Our holiday gift enjoy it. and remember the danger inherent in the billions of low interest loans.


The VHS story below is a good one to read, I'm sure more will be coming. I don't think the sale opponents have depleted their ammunition yet. I'll try to find out what you can expect. After you have studied that blog, I suggest you shift over to my blog — JP's blog.

There you'll learn something about the local weather and see snow photos. also the Hemet High School girls volleyball team is propelled with several girls who went to Idyllwild School. Only Gina's and Taylor's families still reside here; but two other key players have a connection, including family to Idyllwild.

Oh yea, don't forget the IFPD meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17. Workshop starts at 5 p.m. and meeting officially begins at 5:30. Agenda follows:

1. McWilliams – Vaught – Parker – Riggi – Killingsworth -Kunkle - Coopersmith(s)
1. Review & Approve October 17, 2009 Meeting Minutes
2. Review and Acknowledge Payment of Bills
1. Presidents
2. Vice-President
3. Chief
4. Idyllwild Firefighters’ Association
5. Idyllwild Career Firefighters’ Association
6. Financial Officer/Secretary Treasurer
7. Safety Director (Covered in Chiefs Report)

1. Auto Aid Agreement - Hemet
2. General Rules and Regulations Policy - IFPD #110
3. Disciplinary Policy – IFPD #112
4. Probationary Periods Policy – IFPD #113
5. Schedule of Offenses & Penalties Policy – IFPD #114
6. Net Assets Audit Question – Mr. Smith Pine Cove
7. Approve Audits

1. Next Meeting Date

CITIZENS COMMENTS: Citizens may comment on any matter as contained on the Regular Meeting Agenda. Please state name and address before making comment.

1. None Scheduled

The next regularly scheduled Meeting is December 8, 2009.

Judge keeps VHS out of state court — for now

Bankruptcy Judge Peter Carroll sympathized with the parties seeking to file a state court suit to stop the sale of Valley Health System (VHS) , but he ruled for the hospital district.

Although he ruled that there was essentially no evidentiary basis to permit lifting a stay that blocks litigation based on action before the bankruptcy filing, he left the door slightly ajar by ruling without prejudice.

“The judge's ‘without prejudice’ statement means that the moving parties can bring the same motion at a later date, although they would have to demonstrate that something has changed, for example, new facts or new law since the court's ruling,” explained Gary Klausner, VHS’ bankruptcy attorney, on Friday morning “The moving parties may not go to state court; the judge expressly found that the "automatic stay" applies to the proposed new law suit, so, absent the court's permission — the relief from stay — they may not proceed in state court.”

Basically, Carroll felt the arguments presented to him did not satisfy any of the normal 12 criteria bankruptcy courts in this district apply in order to lift the stay and permit litigation to proceed.

Marc Rappel, attorney representing the parties requesting relief from the stay, had argued that case law supported this action, but Carroll was not sufficiently convinced.

The hearing opened with brief arguments from both sides before Judge Carroll began dissecting Nathan Smith’s declaration in support of the motion for relief from the stay.

Carroll threw out many of Smith’s statements and comments about VHS board members concealing possible conflicts of interest. Carroll felt most were made without any personal knowledge or were simply unfounded assumptions that Smith’s clients believed.

After listening to both sides for nearly an hour, Smith took a recess to consider the cases both sides referenced and then returned with his ruling.

“When the judge stated talking and said he sympathized with the movant's position, I had a feeling he was going to say ‘but’,” Klausner said. “But until he did, I was holding my breath.”

Rappel was not happy with the decision and replied, “We have other options,” when asked if the ruling precluded a state court filing on Friday.

“We were very please with the decision. We're not sure what to expect regarding any further litigation,” Klausner added.

Monday, November 9, 2009

IFPD meeting rescheduled

The Nov. 10 Idyllwild Fire Protection District meeting has been moved to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 17.

No reason was provided for the change.

For you citizens who are actively involved in public meetings, the new time is 90 minutes prior to the Idyllwild Water District November meeting.

See ya there!

copy of notice follows:


The Regular November 10th, 2009 IFPD Board Meeting has been cancelled. A special meeting has been scheduled November 17th, 2009. The special meeting will have all items that would be normally agenized in the regular meeting.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Steve Kunkle Fire Chief

County cancels flu vaccine clinics

Riverside County Department of Public Health (DPH) just announced the cancelation of six clinics where the seasonal flu shot was to be administered. In an effort to expedite the deliverly of the swine flu (H1N1) vaccines, the seasonal flu vaccine delivers have been disrupted.

Riverside County has chosen to cancel clinics through t he end of November. The DPH continues to work with state and federal health officials to get additional supplies of both H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccine. Supplies of the seasonal vaccine are expected in late November.

The H1N1 flu vaccine continues to arrive at county clinics in limited supplies.

The following seasonal flu clinics will be postponed until additional vaccine is available:

November 10, 9 a.m. - 11a.m.
Indio Fashion Mall
82-227 Hwy 111, Ste A-2

November 12, 9 a.m. - 12p.m.
Simpson Senior Center
305 E. Devonshire

Moreno Valley
November 16, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Riverside Regional Medical Center
26520 Cactus Room #D18

November 16, 9 a.m. - 11a.m.
Villegas Community Center
7240 Marguerita Ave

November 18, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Bordwell Park
2008 martin Luther King Blvd

November 18, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Mead Valley Community Center
21021 Rider St

Benoit delays senate resignation

St. Sen John J. Benoit will delay his resignation from the California senate until Nov. 30. He plans on being sworn in as the Riverside County 4th District Supervisor on Dec. 1. Waiting two weeks, means the election for his successor will be part of the already scheduled June primary. This saves the county more than a $1 million which is the cost of conducting a special election.

This press release just arrived from Ray Smith, Riverside County's public information officer.

Benoit postpones resignation to save special-elections costs

Sen. John J. Benoit on Sunday rescinded his letter resigning from the Senate and submitted a revised letter with an effective date of Nov. 30. He will now be sworn in on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at the start of the regularly scheduled Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Benoit will hold a news conference today at 11 a.m., the previously scheduled time for his swearing-in, to answer questions about the cost-cutting decision. The news conference will be held in the Board of Supervisors chambers, 4080 Lemon St. in Riverside.

“After consulting with members of the Board, Senate leadership, the governor’s office and others, it became clear that a short postponement just made good sense,” Benoit said.

In a letter dated Sunday (Dec. 8) and faxed to the office of Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, Benoit wrote:

“I am very honored by the governor’s appointment; however, I have been advised that a short deferral of my resignation may result in a significant savings to taxpayers. A slightly later date would potentially allow the consolidation of the senate special election with the statewide June primary.

“Therefore, I hereby request that you disregard my previous letter of resignation. With your concurrence, I will resign my seat as a California State Senator for the 37th Senate District effective Monday, November 30, 2009. I will be sworn in on Tuesday, December 1, 2009.”

By law, the governor has 14 days after a legislative seat becomes vacant to call for a special election. Based on the new effective date of Benoit’s resignation, Gov. Schwarzenegger could declare the need for the special election as late as Dec. 14. An election must be scheduled no more that 135 days later, unless it falls within 180 days of a regularly scheduled statewide election. The deferred resignation date will allow for the special election to be consolidated with the June 8, 2010, statewide primary election.

“We had expressed to the governor the urgency of filling this seat as quickly as possible. However, there did not appear to be anything so urgent pending that would justify expending up to $1.3 million in extra taxpayer funded special election costs,” said Board Chairman Jeff Stone. “I appreciate Sen. Benoit’s offer to delay being sworn in to avoid this extra expense.”

Sunday, November 8, 2009

St. Sen. Benoit becomes Supervisor tomorrow

On Monday morning, Nov. 9, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors will welcome its fifth member. On Wednesday, Nov. 4, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his decision to appoint St. Sen. John J. Benoit (R 37th disrict) to fill the remaining term of former 4th District Supervisor Roy Wilson.

Chairman of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors Jeff Stone, and 3rd District Supervisor, said Monday’s swearing in will be a small private affair. A public ceremony will be held at the next scheduled board meeting 9 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 24.

Benoit’s resignation is effective Sunday, Nov. 8.

“It is not an easy thing to do, sign the letter resigning from the state senate,” he said. ‘But it’s right for me and good for Riverside County and the fourth district.”

The election to choose Benoit’s successor has not been scheduled, but Riverside County Registrar of Voters, Barbara Dunmore, has posted several possibilities. The primary would likely be in January and the general election in March 2010.

Wilson resigned on Aug. 21 and passed on only five days later. The governor has the authority to appoint a county supervisor’s replacement.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Health Fair

Good Job Idyllwild!! More than 70 people were standing at the entrance to the Idyllwild School gym at 9:45 a.m., this morning.

They were all waiting for the Idyllwild Health Fair to open and to get their seasonal flu shot.

Thanks to Karen Patterson, Colleen Manchee, Dr. Richard Goldberg, 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone, the California Wellness Foundation, the HELP Center and all those whom I don't know for the 9th Health Fair.

by 10:45 a.m, Karen told me that 140 doses of the vaccine had already been administered. Supervisor Stone did quite a few himself, including mine.

As soon as we learn of the availability of the Swine flu (H1N1) vaccines, we'll post that information.

For some real news on fellow blogger "Conor", photography tidbits and other scintillating news visit my blog
• JP's Blog

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Benoit joins Riverside Board of Supervisors

The following press release was just received from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office:

Governor Schwarzenegger Appoints John J. Benoit District IV Riverside County Supervisor

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the appointment of John J. Benoit to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, representing District IV.

"As an experienced elected official and former public safety officer, John J. Benoit has a proven history of dedicated public service and is absolutely the best person to fill this important position," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "I have no doubt that John will continue to promote the interests of the people in Riverside County to the best of his ability in this new role."

Benoit has served as a member of the California State Senate, representing the 37th District, since 2008. Previously, he served in the California State Assembly, representing the 64th District from 2002 to 2008.

"I'm honored to take on this role on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors," said Senator John J. Benoit. "I will use the experience I've gained through years of public service, including serving in the California State Senate and Assembly, to solve key issues facing our region."

Friday, October 30, 2009

IFPD special assessments and letter

At today's (Oct. 30) 9 a..m. meeting, the Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) commission approved a motion to use Riverside County’s tax collector to bill and collect its $65 per parcel special assessment.

The district delayed its approval of resolution authorizing the fee for this year; consequently, IFPD’s special assessment was omitted from the original set of bills distributed to Idyllwild property owners.

Without the special assessment the fire department would be short more than $200,000 this year.

After preliminary discussions, Don Kent, the county tax collector, agreed to issue corrected bill for only $1 per parcel. This is about 10 percent of the county legally authorized fee.

Kent imposed only one condition — a letter to local property owners, especially for off-the-Hill residents, explaining why a second or corrected bill had to be mailed.

The board approved Fire Chief Steve Kunkle’s recommendation to use the county’s capabilities. The vote was 3-0, with commissioners Ben Killingsworth and Glen McWilliams absent.

By early Friday afternoon, residents were calling and visiting the Town Crier and asking how the letter had arrived so quickly after its morning approval.

“Let’s be honest. We had a problem and had to move quickly,” President Paul Riggi said at the meeting. “This solution works out for everyone.”

Below is the body of Kunkle's letter:

"On behalf of the Idyllwild Board of Fire Commissioners the District would convey our apologies that you are receiving your assessment fee on a corrected tax bill instead of your normal tax bill. This is due to a timing issue by the Board in approving a required Resolution. The Board sought legal council opinion to re-confirm that taxpayer’s rights were not being violated before approving the Resolution. The assessment remains the same as the last three years as well as council’s opinion."

for informaion on the audit meeting see JP's blog.