Thursday, July 30, 2009

Steve Kepler enters IFPD commissioner race

Steve Kepler, another paid-call member of the Idyllwild Fire Department, has decided to run for a commission seat. Kepler filed papers this week with the Riverside County Registrar of Voters’ Office to as an official write-in candidate in the Aug. 25 vote.

Residents will receive their ballots shortly. Six names will be on the ballot, but Kepler is asking voters to make the effort to write his name on one of the blank lines of the ballot.

Three full-term or four-year seats are up for election. The three incumbents – Glen McWilliams, Earl Parker and Lloyd Vaught— are all running for re-election.

The three challengers are Ben Killingsworth, currently a board commissioner who could have run for election to finish the term to which he was appointed, Jeannine Charles-Stigall and Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly.

Now Kepler enters the race as the fourth challenger, but the third non-commissioner seeking one of the three openings.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

VHS for sale again

Almost two years after agreeing to sell the Valley Health System (VHS), Tuesday night its board of directors voted to negotiate confidentially and exclusively the sale of the both Hemet Valley (HVMC) and Menifee Valley (MVMC) medical centers with a group of local physicians.

The board ignored representatives of two other private groups interested in exploring bids for the system and the comments of many citizens recommending an open bidding process.

“Our charge is to the community not necessarily to [obtain] the highest deal,” replied Director Vinay Rao. “It is not whoever can give the most money, important part of the community are the physicians.”

In exchange to taking hospitals off the market, PHH will put $1 million in an escrow account. If a sale is consummated the money will become part of the purchase price. VHS does not receive any money for closing its eyes and ears to other potential buyers over the next 90 days.

Apparently some negotiations have already occurred as both VHS chair Dr. William Cherry and other directors said that the Physicians for a Healthy Hospital (PHH) was willing to bring a “top-tier management team”. Cherry later said this would be a firm with a national reputation such as Catholic Charities West, UCLA or Loma Linda.

Cherry did confirm that the Board’s other sale criteria would eventually be shared with the public, but only after the negotiation process had progressed further. While new Director Madaliene Dreier asserted “transparency” would be more than a “buzz word”, none of the directors volunteered to provide as much information as they have already given PHH.

During the public comment period, both Michael J. Sarrao, vice president and general counsel for Prime Healthcare Management, Inc., and Bob DeGour, executive vice president and general manager of ADR Associates, both said separately their firms would be interested in submitting a bid for part of all of the VHS.

[more will be in the print issue version]

Sunday, July 26, 2009

New Hospital being planned

Plans for a medical office building and 50-room hospital in San Jacinto were unveiled Friday night. The Development Advisory Group, headed by William C. Arsenault, made the announcement to a group of more than 100 people.

The San Jacinto Physicians’ Hospital will be part of the city Gateway project and located near the intersections of Sanderson Road, the Ramona Expressway and Highway 74 exiting Lamb’s Canyon.

The first phase will be a medical office building and hospital. The medical office building will be compleed first since it requires less state compliance and ovesight.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

VHS director

Last night, the Valley Health System directors appointed Madaleine Dreier, MSN, FNP,as the new Zone 4 director to replace Darren Magness, who resigned last month.

The name may sound familar to Idyllwild residents. Ms. Dreier's husband is Dr. Ralph Dreier, a general surgeon at Hemet Valley Medical Center and former VHS director.

State Budget

As I learn about the state budget issues affecting Idyllwild, I'll share them on this site. All will be combined into one news story for the print edition next Wednesday and later if necessary.

Local Government revenue
As of now, I understand that local jurisdictions, including water and fire districts, will have about 8 percent of their 2008-09 property tax revenue withheld to be used for other purposes such as funding education.

The last time the state "borrowed' local district money, fire districts were exempt. if they are this year, I haven't found anyone that can confirm it or seen it in any of the draft bills.

Districts have until Oct. 15, 2009 to appeal and try to have the withholding reduced or eliminated. Otherwise the state will repay, the "borrowing" in 3 years with interest.

Eight percent for Hill agencies will range from about $20,000 to $80,000.

CAL FIRE and OES emergency fund
Most commentators say the surcharge on residential and commercial property insurance policies was removed from the table. But Dan Berlant, CAL FIRE public information officer in Sacramento, was not able to confirm that it has been deleted or whether a parcel fee might have been substituted. More next week.

Mt San Jacinto State Park
Every thing is normal at least through Labor Day. After that, park officials don't have answer yet. The "compromise" eliminated $70 million of General Fund money from park operations, but found ways to shift $62 million back to the state park agency. The net cut is suppose to be $8 million.

The Assembly's draft budget report thinks the result could cause the closure of about 50 parks. The State Parks department can not confirm that estimate yet.

The Inland Empire District Superintendent, Ron Krueper, said that most parks operate with a 50 percent deficit or need General Fund money equal to fee collections to remain open. He is not sure how the cuts will be allocated and couldn't promise anything more for Mt San Jacinto than he could for his other areas such as Chino Hills. More to come.

No information yet on the effects on HUSD, but the legislation does permit districts to reduce the school year to 175 days. I bet that helps the kids math.

Open Meetings
Apparently some public entities argued that money could be saved by suspending the state mandate for open meetings. I guess it was cost of sweeping up all the rubble the masses left behind. While the our Solemn "Big Five" rejected that savings.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Karl Reiss leaves Idyllwild Arts

According to Diane Miller, office of Bill Lowman, CEO of Idyllwild Arts, as of July 6 the position of vice president and president of the Academy, previously held by Karl Reiss, has been eliminated. According to Miller, Reiss has chosen to "seek other employment opportunities."

Further details regarding Reiss' departure may be available in the print edition July 16. Bill Lowman, current CEO, will now also become head of school, although the title may change slightly, according to Miller. Lowman, who is not back on campus until Monday, July 13, is the only one authorized to speak on the background about this event.

Posted by Marshall Smith