Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sad news at HUSD

We just received the following email about the passing of Hemet Unified School District trustee, Gregg Figgins.

Hi Folks-

I just received a phone call from Bonnie Figgins. Gregg passed away at about 3:30 AM last night. She said it was a peaceful passing and she sends her thanks to all for the cards, calls, and expressions of support they received during this difficult time.

With Sadness,

Phil (Dr. Philip O. Pendley, HUSD superintendent)

Mr. Figgins was career educator. His illness was diagnosed within the past several weeks. He was elected to the HUSD board in the November 2006 election and served as District president from December 2008 to December 2009.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

IFPD special meeting Friday, April 23 at 7 pm




wild Fire Protection District Board of Commissioners


The meeting is held at the Idyllwild Fire Station, 54160 Maranantha Drive, Idyllwild, Ca

Call to order

Roll call: Capparelli – Killingsworth – Schelly – Stigall – Riggi – Coopersmith(s)

Pledge of Allegiance

Citizens’ Comments

Action items

~ The Board may approve or take action on any items contained in the agenda.

1. Captain Alan Lott: Capt Lott to be represented by Chief Mulhall. Presentation to the Board of a letter drafted in Dec. 2009 from THEN-CHIEF Steve Kunkle to Captain Alan Lott reflecting a promised 5% increase in pay due to increase in responsibilities. Pay increase to be retroactive to initial date of increase of responsibilities (2007?) AS THIS IS NOT A PERFORMANCE REVIEW IT DOES NOT QUALIFY FOR CLOSED SESSION.

2. Paid Call: The Board will discuss issues regarding IFPD’s Paid Call’s training requirements.

3. Staffing Issues: Chief Mulhall to discuss staffing options to cover FF/EMT Carlson’s unanticipated medical leave.

4. Interim-Chief Mike Mulhall: “Turn Outs” were approved by the Board at the April 13, 2010 Board meeting. However, since this item was not on the agenda, it must be properly posted before approval. Interim-Chief Mulhall will also update the Commission on any additional protective equipment/gear that is urgently needed.


Interim-Chief Mike Mulhall: Evaluation of Interim-Chief Mike Mulhall.


~ Announcement of actions taken during closed session ~

Adjournment: Meeting adjourned at ____ Next regularly scheduled meeting will be on May 11, 2010

Spring snow

It's April 22 — a month after the spring equinox! Outside this morning there were more than 5 inches of SNOW on the car and ground. yes we need moisture, but shouldn't it be liquid at this time of year.

This is a light dusting on Mother's Day or Father's Day, this is five inches of snow. See the photos Shane Fender took outside the office just about an hour ago:

Here's the latest National Weather Service forecast for Idyllwild:

722 AM PDT THU APR 22 2010

722 AM PDT THU APR 22 2010


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Recreation contract to be decided

The Thursday April 15 meeting of the County Service Area Advisory Committee focused on a discussion of options for recreation management in the 2010-2011 fiscal year. The Committee and attendees, including four Idyllwild Community Recreation Council (ICRC) board members, discussed two primary options — that ICRC’s current contract would be renewed, either for a full or more limited term; or that the county would assume control over recreation, with increased CSA 36 Advisory Committee supervision.

Following over 3 hours of discussion and by a provisional and “non-binding” vote of two "for" and one abstention, the current three member County Service Area Advisory Committee may be set to recommend to Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone a contract transfer from ICRC to county control.

Voting to make that change, contingent upon a special meeting presentation from ICRC at 9:30 a.m. on Monday April 19 at the Idyllwild Fire Protection District conference room, were Vice Chair Steve Kunkle and committee member Mike Frietas. Chair Holly Maag abstained, pending review of ICRC bylaw revisions, and resolution of other concerns.

The ICRC contract is due to expire on June 30. Maag deftly facilitated a marathon meeting in which she noted a history of ICRC contractual failings, requests for reimbursement submitted in error, and ICRC board conflicts with the county. She
sought assurances from attending ICRC board members Chris Singer, Linda McCaughin, Dick Goldberg and John Simpson that, should Stone decide to renew ICRC’s contract, ICRC’s management stumbles would not be repeated. “I want assurances that any past negative actions directed to or lack of cooperation with the county will not be an issue,” she said. “We all need to cooperate better to see that recreation management is in the community’s best interest. If issues of animosity come before this board again, we don’t want to hear it.” “The relationship with the county must be better,” said Kunkle. “I don’t want to see tension,” said Frietas.

All three Advisory Committee members wanted to see a final draft of ICRC bylaws, incorporating promised Brown Act open meeting language and clear separation between ICRC’s public and private interests and duties on or before the April 19. meeting. The Committee also expressed a desire that, should Stone renew ICRC’s contract, it be for only one year, with subsequent term renewals contingent upon levels of performance. The Advisory Committee’s final recommendation about what recreation management options could best serve recreation district residents must be provided to county representatives on Tuesday April 20.

One of the county’s and the Advisory Committee’s areas of interest in ICRC bylaw revisions is whether they make meetings subject to Brown Act open meeting provisions. It is an inclusion that Director Goldberg suggested in September last year, but to date, no such revisions have been made. Goldberg stated at the meeting, “The [draft] revision contains language that makes us totally Brown Act compliant.” Singer countered, “I can’t guarantee that the [ICRC] board will vote to approve full Brown Act compliance.”

CSA Operations Manager Bill Brown noted that ICRC bylaw revisions had been promised the county in September 2009 and remain undelivered. “It does concern me that by law revision is not in place and was not in place from the beginning,” said Maag. “I would like to see the anticipated revisions now.”

Bill Brown discussed option two, county control, noting that a menu of county recreation options, already in place in other CSA’s, could be available to Hill recreation within current budgetary guidelines while retaining all existing Town Hall recreation programs. “There are programs being developed off the Hill and that are currently in existence that might be made available,” said Brown. “It would be the community’s and Advisory Committee’s decision if those programs were right for the Hill.”

Brown assured the Committee and attendees that the current menu of recreation offerings, directed primarily toward children and adults who play sports, would be preserved. Brown discussed expanded kinds of recreational opportunities, available in other recreation CSA’s that serve a broader demographic — seniors and young people who do not play sports. He made clear that those kinds of expanded opportunities could be made available here. All it takes is vision and will since expanding those programs need not, he said, cause additional expense to the CSA budget. Pilot programs could be instituted, as are being premiered in other CSA’s, that, if locally embraced and successful, would not negatively impact the recreation budget, and if successful, could actually contribute to revenues – cooking classes, Wii bowling, Wii tennis, mountain bike classes, organized dances for adults, not just teens — a menu of possibilities that had some in the audience excited at the “outside the box” thinking connected with an expanded program.

Brown also cautioned that CSA 36 reserves should be used primarily for capital expenses that serve Hill recreation in the long run — a van to transport kids on field trips, development of new programs when and if the new community center is built, but not used for salary increases in a time of financial crisis when even county employees are forced to take mandatory furloughs. He stressed that even under county management, local control would be maintained through Advisory Committee oversight and public attendance at open CSA meetings.

Town Hall employees, including the recreation director, would become county employees with full county benefits, after an open hiring period, in which existing employees would be part of the hiring pool. The Advisory Committee expressed repeated concerns that existing employees either be retained or given priority in the hiring process. Brown explained that although the Advisory Committee cannot hire or fire, their duty is to make recommendations regarding recreation employees.

ICRC board members repeated previous complaints that any contract failings on their part were in part due to lack of guidance from the county. Brown pointed out that no ICRC board members had ever come to Riverside, a common course of action for a contract holder, for a meeting or to ask questions. “Bill [Brown] and Mike [Franklin] have been up here for these meetings [CSA 36] and opportunities for interaction have been there,” said Maag. ICRC members, until recently, did not attend CSA 36 meetings.

At the special April 19 meeting, ICRC is expected to present a list of pilot programs to expand recreation as well as a final draft of bylaw revisions. That is the only purpose of the meeting — to hear what, after holding the contract for over 2 and a half years, ICRC plans to do to offer to a wider audience the same kind of expanded opportunities that would be available through county management.

The final decision regarding the contract will be made by the Board of Supervisors.

Congratulations Jim Crandall

Jim Crandall, chief operations officer, for the Idyllwild Town Crier, and occassional jim-of-all-trades, for capturing the Best Breaking New Photo in the California for the period April 2008 through October 2009.

In the category of weekly papers under 4,300 paper circulation, Crandall's photograph (above) of Barbara Farrar trying to park her car in the Idyllwild Water District building on Sept. 11, 2008 was selected as the best breaking news photo across the state. Crandall grabbed his camera and was right on scene while Farrar was still in her vehicle and iWD office manager, Kelly Clark, was still trying to regain composure while determining how to handle the new drive-in facility.

Congratulations to Jim and thank you to Ms. Farrar and Ms. Clark for helping create the award winning photograph.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog returns (maybe)

(See photos below story. The adult frog photo is courtesy of the USGS, Town Crier staff took the other photos.)

The mountain yellow-legged frog eggs were planted in a local stream yesterday. If nature cooperates a new population of the indigenous endangered frog will be established in its native habitat.

A multi-agency team planted three clutches, about 500 to 600 eggs in the stream. Adam Backlin and Liz Gallegos, both the of U.S. Geological Survey, carefully removed the clutches from their Tupperware home in a plastic bucket and placed them in a screened box in a larger screened box to protect the eggs as much as possible from natural predators.

Several mountain yellow-legged frogs were collected from the wild. Scientists have been trying to breed this population since 2006. This winter, they hibernated 31 of the frogs. This mimicked the frog’s natural mountain winters, according to Becca Fenwick, director of the James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve.

“A group of us came up with the idea to duplicate their winter,” Backlin said. The scientists will keep a close eye on the egg clutches.

Tadpoles should develop and begin swimming about the pools in early summer. Their natural predators are raccoons, hawks and especially garter snakes. The tadpole stage will last through next summer. Just before winter the tadpoles will metamorphosize into small frogs.

“Then they are immediately punished with their first winter,” Backline added.

In addition, the research team will reintroduce a large number of tadpoles about the same time as these eggs transform to tadpoles. One reason for testing both frog stages is determining whether the egg release or waiting until the tadpole stage would be the more successful reintroduction technique.

“This is an amazing first step in the recovery program for this wonderful frog, and we are looking forward to having the frogs here for a long time to come,” Fenwick said.

The team works at the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research. Besides the U.S.G.S. biologists, other participating agencies included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service, the state Fish and Game Department and the University of California James Reserve.

Adam Backlin and Liz Gallegos, U.S. Geological Survey biologists transfer the egg clutches to a smaller container.

Backlin begins the entry process. He dips the water from the stream into the eggs compartments.

Notice the highly specialized and expensive scientific equipment used during the placement of the eggs into the stream compartments.

To assure that the eggs are placed properly and with delicacy, the entire re-introduction event is recorded.

Ken Bohn and Shea Johnson of the San Diego Zoo cover every action, while Stan (right) for a local daily paper waits for the right moment.

A happy adult frog, wait patiently for two years.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

SD 37 results

Assemblyman Bill Emmerson lead six other candidates for the opportunity to replace for St. Sen John Benoit in Sacramento. Unfortunately, his 41.6 percent was not sufficient to nullify the requirement for a general election between candidates representing the major parties.

Emmerson will confront Democrat Justin Blake and American Independent candidate Matt Monica on June 8. In that election, the winner only needs a plurality of the total vote to earn victory.

On Wednesday,if one candidate collected more than 50 percent of the total vote, the seat would have been filled. While Emmerson had nearly twice the number of votes as Russ Bogh, it was less than the 50 percent threshold; consequently the campaign continues for another two months.

Emmerson with the help of nearly $730,000 for independent expenditures reaped nearly 42 percent of the vote.. More than 90 percent bankrolled by California Dental Association Political Action Committees Combined with Bogh's 22 percent, the two Republicans collected nearly 64 percent (or two-thirds) of the total vote.

Turnout of 90,000 voters was just more than 20 percent of the district's registered voters. In the 2008 presidential election, more than 70 percent of voters cast a ballot. But compared to recent special elections, the SD 37 voters were active. In two 2009 special elections, turnout was less than 8 percent.

Although Emmerson outpolled all candidates. The combined voted of the next three highest candidates would barely equal Emmerson’s total.

Nevertheless, the candidate that was originally labeled a carpetbagger, one who rented a room from a friend, can now settle comfortably into the 37th District. While Republicans hold a slim 4 percent lead in registration, people willing to cast a ballot yesterday were more than three times likely to connect the arrow of a Republican candidate.

Even Bogh who lagged far behind Emmerson in fund raising was significantly more successful than Blake who starts the general election as a significant underdog.

Last Updated: April 13, 2010 11:42 PM
Registration & Turnout
468,233 Voters
Vote Count Percent
Vote by Mail Reporting Turnout 68,953 14.73%
Precincts Reporting Turnout 21,141 4.52%
Total 90,094 19.24%

State Senator 37th District
527/527 100.00%
Vote Count Percent
REP - BILL EMMERSON 36,507 41.61%
REP - RUSS BOGH 19,247 21.94%
DEM - JUSTIN BLAKE 12,253 13.97%
DEM - ANNA NEVENIC 7,524 8.58%
AIP - MATT MONICA 3,884 4.43%
REP - DAVID W. PETERS 2,036 2.32%

Monday, April 12, 2010

Treacherous RMRU rescue of lost hiker

Early Monday morning, April 12, Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit (RMRU) volunteers retrieved Air Force Major Robert Wilson, 44, from the west side of Black Mountain, in what RMRU volunteer Les Walker describes as “probably the most harrowing and challenging rescue I’ve been involved in.”

Four RMRU Idyllwild residents — Walker, RMRU President Lee Arnson, Chad Marler and Chuck Springer responded to a call at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, April 11 to locate a lost day hiker. “We were not able to get him out until 6:30 a.m. Monday morning,” said Walker. “He had gotten off trail and weather conditions had badly deteriorated. We had 40 M.P.H. wind gusts and sideways sleet and hail sticking to us. Because of weather conditions, with wind and fog, it wasn’t possible to get a helicopter in [for rescue assist].” A helicopter had, prior to conditions deteriorating, spotted Wilson.

Arnson echoed Walker’s impression of the mission. “It was the hardest physical mission I’ve ever been on in my life,” he said. “It took us 10 hours to go three miles. It was the worst terrain and the worst weather, an absolute nightmare of a mission. I firmly believe he would have died had we not gotten him out. We and the subject were all hypothermic at the end. They wanted us to go to the hospital as well, but we refused. It was a great mission, hard, strenuous, dangerous. I’ll never forget this one.”

After rescue, Wilson was transported to a local hospital for treatment of exposure.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

SD 37 candidate Justin Blake campaigns in Idyllwild

Of seven candidates for Senate District 37 in the April 13 primary election, only two have come to Idyllwild to campaign, Republican Russ Bogh and on April 10 Democrat Justin Blake.

Blake, an elected school board member (Palm Springs Unified School District), professional actor, and small business owner, greeted Idyllwild voters at Cafe Aroma late afternoon on Saturday the 10th.

"Aroma Cafe was great," said Blake after the meet and greet. "Frank [Ferro] is a truly nice guy and they made me feel very welcome. I set up a table on the northside patio and greeted people as they came in for dinner. Very receptive and friendly crowd. I think I got some votes, and even registered seven people to vote!"

Although the Hill has nowhere the numbers of voters at the mountain's base, Hill voters routinely turn out in far greater numbers than in areas below. Two candidates thought our small town worthy of a visit and that is noteworthy.

Voting is a privilege and an honorable obligation. Voting in the April 13 primary is one of the those opportunities that comes with responsible citizenship.

Remember to vote.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

More on Summer Work Experience Program

In addition to JP's recent post, what's pressing now, for the next two to three weeks, is for potential employers to contact Bill Brown. The list will be compiled first come first served according to Brown.

Brown explained that the county, using federal stimulus funds, will cover all expenses including salary and workman's comp insurance for the employed youth. The employer expends nothing out of pocket but must be willing to mentor their young employee and provide them a meaningful work experience. As an example, Brown explained that a young person, part of this program, working in a restaurant, should not be consigned to washing dishes, but should have some meaningful interaction with customers - experience that grows their preparation for and chances of finding good employment in the future. Both employers and potential young employees will be interviewed for appropriateness of fit - the right employee for the right job.

Businesses named by the county as potential employers include: newspaper, fire department, water district, automotive shop, retail store, restaurant, coffee shop, art gallery, museum, bakery, candy shop, gift shop, hardware store, grocery store, medical office,law office, music store, movie theater, sporting goods store, office/clerical, computer related, senior services, youth/family camp, arts and crafts, and inns and motels.

Brown hopes for 20 Idyllwild youth to be hired meaning that a wider group of applicants is needed to arrive at the 20 selected. Some may not be eligible if their family or their own income levels are too high. This program is targeted at lower income youth. The county encourages interested young people age 14 to 24 to apply. The county will provide transportation for Idyllwild youth to be interviewed in Hemet or see that the interviews are conducted locally.

If 20 local youth positions can be allocated, Brown said that could allow for the hiring of a local supervisor. Youth will be paid $8.00 and hour with no taxes taken out. A supervisor would be paid $16.00 and hour.

We will post when it is time for youth to apply.

Now is the time for employers to indicate interest, first come, first served.

Bill Brown may be reached at (951) 955-3212 (800) 984-1000 or by e mail at

IWD special meeting

Just received an email from the Idyllwild Water district. they have scheduled a special meeting for next Tuesday, April 13. The next regualr meeting will be a week later on April 20.

At the special meeting, they will setting a public hearing for May 18, the regular meeting date, to discuss a possible rate increase for next fiscal year.



APRIL 13, 2010 - 6:00 P.M.





1. SET PUBLIC HEARING DATE OF MAY 18TH FOR A PROPOSED WATER & SEWER RATE INCREASE – Staff and the Budget Committee will discuss proposed increases for water & sewer rates and related service charges and set a Public Hearing date.

summer employment in Idyllwild

Bill Brown, CSA operations manager, was in Idyllwild this morning. Don’t panic, you didn’t miss a County Service Area 36 or 38 meeting nor an Idyllwild community Recreation Council meeting.

No, Brown was invited to speak about the Business Improvement District and the Summer Work experience Program (SWEP) to the Idyllwild Business Roundtable this morning.

Marshall will be reporting more on the BID issue in next week (April 15) edition. This posting is about the SWEP. Marshall also wrote a story about it for today’s edition. But Brown mentioned some information this morning that I didn’t want to wait a week to disseminate and to share.

Riverside County will work with several non-profit groups to prepare and to place the participants. The program closest to Idyllwild is the California Family Life Center in Hemet. The county has allocated enough money to them to support about 100 participants.

The County encourages interested young people from age 14-24 to apply for the program. It may take several dozen applicants to achieve a 20 hires.

Right now, the county is developing a list of prospective employers. Some of the criteria include committed to mentoring, comply with OSHA and labor regulations and offer meaningful work opportunities to the kids.

If it doesn’t work out you can withdraw. You can use anywhere from ½ to 2 or more participants per business. A half person might work only 4 hours per day or work another 4 hours at a different establishment.

According to Brown, three or four Idyllwild residents participated last year, but had to work in Hemet.

“My goal is they don’t drive off the Hill this year,” he said. The participants will earn $8 per hour but not pay taxes.

Cost: No cost to employer except the time to mentor, train and teach work skills to the employee.

How to begin: Indicate your interest in participating to Bill Brown at (951) 955-3212 or email him at . If you change your mind after learning more, you can withdraw.

If Idyllwild can employee a significant contingent, the program may continue next year. Also with enough participants, the county could justify hiring a program manager to be located here.

That person would spend time with the participants and the businesses and try to ensure that both parties find the program useful and beneficially.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Valley Health attorney change sides

May be I don't understand the "adversarial" process very. As some have noted, I am not a law school graduate.

but what's you opinion of the following.

the firm Stutman, Treister and Glatt represents Valley Health System in its bankruptcy proceedings. They guided VHS through the process that resulted in the sale of the hospital system to Physicians for Healthy Hospitals.

In order to secure the sale, PHH had to use Dr. kali P. Chaudhuri's funds and guarantees to obtain the financing.

On Thursday, and perhaps this is the legal system's idea of an April Fool's joke, STG approached Judge Peter Carroll and said they were now "engaged by KPC Resolution company, LLC, to represent Resolution as a purchaser in the connection with a receivership proceeding in the U.S. District Court Central Cal.

"Dr. Kali P. Chadhuri is the manager and sole member of Resolution. [He] is also one of the investors in PHH, LLC which owns or will own all or substantially all of the stodck of PHH, Inc."

The law firm has no second thoughts about representing the purchaser of VHS since the VHS board consented! I don't remember that coming up in a board meeting.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring is here, Vi says

Vi Hallacy called today. A grosbeak (probably a blackheaded variety) was at her bird feeder this morning. This species summers in the area and Vi delcared, "Spring is officially here."

Well, Vi, not to argue, you close, but opening day is Sunday, April 4, that's the official arrival of Spring. You were seeing a scout here early.

Here's a photo of the grosbeak that Vi spied this week.