San Bernardino County: 2013 in Review

sbcounty

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)— The County of San Bernardino has provided a review of the year 2013.

JANUARY

NEW CHAIR AND VICE CHAIR ELECTED

The Board of Supervisors unanimously elected Supervisor Janice Rutherford to serve as Board Chair and Supervisor Gary Ovitt to serve as Vice Chair. Rutherford succeeded Supervisor Josie Gonzales who was chair for two years.

“It is a privilege to be selected to serve as Chair,” Chair Rutherford said. “The Board has made tremendous strides over the past two years to focus on the County Vision and to restore public faith in

County Government. I pledge to continue those efforts with the help and support of my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors. I also look forward to reaching out to County employees and listening to their ideas for further progress in the services we provide to residents and taxpayers.”

Vice Chair Ovitt said , “I am honored in the trust my colleagues have placed in me, and I look forward to assisting Chair Rutherford and working with my colleagues on the Board, our county staff, and the public to achieve our goals and continue to make the county a great place to live, work, and play,” Vice Chair Ovitt said.

PROBATION UPGRADES SERVICES AT DAY REPORTING CENTERS

Offenders who reported to the County’s day reporting centers in San Bernardino, Victorville and Rancho Cucamonga were offered services varying from job readiness skills to health screenings. The Probation Department provided these rehabilitative services in partnership with other county departments and community-based organizations. Since opening the day reporting centers, 59 percent of all offenders released in the county under AB 109 realignment have received some form of post-release assistance. In April, the Rancho Cucamonga Day Reporting Center became state-certified as a mental health services clinic and outpatient drug and alcohol clinic. In September, the San Bernardino and Victorville day reporting centers were state-certified as outpatient mental health services clinics.

JOHN MCMAHON SWORN IN AS NEW COUNTY SHERIFF

John McMahon was sworn in as the 35th Sheriff of San Bernardino County. He is a 27-year veteran of the department and was appointed by the Board of Supervisors following the retirement of Sheriff Rod Hoops.

The Sheriff began his career as a patrol deputy at the Needles Police/Sheriff’s Station, after which he was assigned to the Victorville and Hesperia Patrol stations. Once promoted to sergeant, he worked supervisory positions at the West Valley Detention Center and Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center, the Victorville City Station, and Employee Resources. At the rank of lieutenant, he was second in command of the Sheriff’s Academy and the Fontana Station. As Captain, he was commander of the Central Detention Center, the Apple Valley Station, and West Valley Detention Center. As deputy chief, John oversaw the Detentions and Corrections Bureau followed by an assignment to manage the Desert Patrol Bureau. John was then promoted to assistant sheriff, overseeing Operations.

OFFICE OF HOMELESS SERVICES COORDINATES POINT-IN-TIME COUNT FOR COUNTY

Hundreds of volunteers gathered information on the County’s homeless population during the Point-in-Time Count and Subpopulation Survey. The event happens every two years. Results from the January 24 count showed a 19% decrease from the 2011 count with 2,321 persons counted, compared to 2,876 in 2011.

JPA DECLINES TO CONSIDER EMINENT DOMAIN

The Homeownership Protection Program Joint Powers Authority board voted unanimously to issue a Request for Qualifications seeking plans to address the mortgage crisis in the County. But the board decided against considering proposals that would include the use of eminent domain.

Experts warned the use of eminent domain would destabilize an already weak local housing market and even worsen the mortgage crisis. At the same time, very few local homeowners and other stakeholders expressed support for the use of eminent domain.

FEBRUARY

BOARD ADOPTS COUNTY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES FOR 2013-14

Helping county residents achieve self-sufficiency and creating a business-friendly environment are the common themes of the county’s goals and objectives for 2013-14 as defined by the Board of Supervisors.

The 35 goals and objectives, organized under eight categories, were developed during the board’s January 22 closed-session annual evaluation of CEO Gregory C. Devereaux’s performance, which he requested as part of his contract with the county.

The county ensured the goals and objectives would be met by incorporating them into the county’s 2013-14 budget and providing the Board of Supervisors with quarterly updates.

COUNTY BATTLES STATE EFFORT TO STALL CEDAR GLEN RECOVERY

The County began fighting on two fronts against the state’s efforts to grab funding meant to rebuild fire-ravaged Cedar Glen.

The County filed a lawsuit to prevent the state Department of Finance from dispersing $9 million in County General Fund money loaned to the Cedar Glen revitalization effort to various government agencies.

The County also sponsored a bill authored by State Sen. Bill Emmerson, SB 409, which would block the Department of Finance money grab and ensure these local dollars are used to help Cedar Glen recover from the 2003 Old Fire.

SHERIFF’S DETECTIVE KILLED, DEPUTY WOUNDED DURING MANHUNT FOR CHRISTOPHER DORNER

Sheriff’s Detective Jeremiah McKay lost his life and Deputy Alex Collins was injured during a shootout with former LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner, who had gone on a multi-jurisdictional crime spree targeting police officers and their families. Dorner died in the shootout in a cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains.

MARCH

COUNTY STUDIES IMPACTS OF IMPLEMENTING AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

The Board of Supervisors held a workshop examining the local impacts of the Affordable Care Act as part of the County’s larger preparation for the launch of the ACA, which occurred on October 1. Following the staff presentations, the Board of Supervisors unanimously directed staff to work with state and federal officials to implement the act with as little adverse impact to county residents and resources as possible.

PROM BOUTIQUE HELD FOR THE COUNTY’S FOSTER AND PROBATION YOUTH

Children and Family Services Independent Living Program hosted Prom Extravaganzas for the County’s foster and probation youth at Abundant Living Family Church in Rancho Cucamonga (attended by 50) and First Baptist Church in Hesperia (attended by 34). The ladies attending the events received free hairstyles and makeup by Marinello’s School of Beauty and Victor Valley Beauty College. The young men selected shirts, ties, socks, belts, and slacks or a tuxedo voucher for their prom night.

WALKER ANNOUNCES $5.4 MILLION DISTRIBUTION TO CITIES AND DISTRICTS

San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector Larry Walker announced the distribution of $5.4 million in unclaimed excess tax sales proceeds to cities, districts, and redevelopment successor agencies.

Walker stated, “The one-time funding should be a pleasant surprise to cash-strapped cities and districts throughout San Bernardino County.” The money had been held in trust accounts by the San Bernardino County Tax Collector’s Office dating back to 1997. The trust accounts came to Walker’s attention after the Board of Supervisors consolidated the offices of the Auditor-Controller/Recorder and the Treasurer/Tax Collector in January of 2010. In May of 2010 Walker ordered the Internal Audits Section of his office to conduct an immediate review of the unclaimed excess tax sale proceeds trust accounts in the newly acquired Tax Collection function.

Auditors determined that there were approximately 25 trust funds established in which unclaimed excess tax sale proceeds had been deposited since 1997.

APRIL

PUBLIC WORKS LAUNCHES NEW INTERACTIVE MAPS WEBSITE

The Department of Public Works launched a new website with various interactive maps for the public to view where county roads, flood control and solid waste facilities are located.

The maps include Transportation Road Yards, the County Maintained Road System, Temporary Road Closures, Waste Disposal Site Locations, Flood Control Facilities, Flood Control Right-of-Way and

Capital Improvement Project locations. Additional interactive maps will be released over time.

The website can be found at http://sbcountydpw.maps.arcgis.com.

HIGH DESERT VIDEOCONFERENCING MOVES TO HESPERIA; JOSHUA TREE LOCATION ANNOUNCED

The County moved its High Desert videoconferencing site from Victorville to Hesperia in an effort to increase participation in board meetings. The county also established a videoconferencing location in Joshua Tree.

Through videoconferencing, the public can either testify before or make presentations to the Board of Supervisors or simply watch the meeting without having to travel to San Bernardino. Live and archived meetings can be viewed through CountyDirect at http://www.sbcounty.gov/main/countydirect.asp.

VOLUNTEER INCOME TAX ASSISTANCE (VITA) PROGRAM SERVES MORE THAN 7,700 TAXPAYERS

The County’s local economy saw a boost from the Transitional Assistance Department (TAD) with the completion of its annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) campaign. VITA is a program that provides quality, free tax preparation services for all eligible taxpayers throughout the county in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service. VITA brings awareness of the Earned Income Tax Credit available to eligible households that earned less than $49,078 in 2011. TAD VITA staff and Work Experience workers processed $15,291,205 in federal and state refunds through nine TAD offices.

ASSESSOR-RECORDER SAYS COUNTY SHOWING A RECOVERY IN REAL ESTATE MARKET VALUE

In 2008, the Assessor’s office began reviewing thousands of declines in market value requests and also reviewed assessed values countywide. Overall, more than 200,000 property values were temporarily reduced under these provisions of the law.

For the 2013 assessment year, Assessor Dennis Draeger projected that the 2013 assessment roll will reflect a slight increase due to signs that the real estate market is recovering in some areas of the County.

STATE OF THE COUNTY EVENT HELD IN ONTARIO

Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Rutherford gave an inspiring speech about the progress of the County. She touched on the improving economy and the rebuilding of public trust in the county to a packed Citizens Business Bank Arena. The theme of the event was “Vision in Action” and focused on the goals of the Countywide Vision adopted by the Board in 2011.

MAY

COUNTY CEO GREGORY C. DEVEREAUX’S CONTRACT EXTENDED THROUGH 2017

The Board of Supervisors unanimously extended Chief Executive Officer Gregory C. Devereaux’s contract until March 2017. Mr. Devereaux was originally contracted to serve as chief executive for five years, until 2015. The two-year extension includes an “evergreen” clause keeping Mr. Devereaux in the chief executive position after 2017 until either the board or Mr. Devereaux take alternative action.

The board met several times to evaluate Mr. Devereaux’s performance and concluded the county would benefit from having him remain as chief executive beyond 2015. Mr. Devereaux was hired as the county’s top executive in January 2010.

PUBLIC SAFETY OPERATIONS CENTER OPENS IN HESPERIA

County, state, federal and local dignitaries and scores of public safety personnel and community members ushered in a new era in public safety for the Victor Valley and the County with the dedication of the High Desert Public Safety Operations Center.

The 30,000-square-foot complex is located within the Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center in Hesperia, which was built not only to the highest environmental standards but also to survive an extreme disaster. The PSOC houses an updated and expanded Sheriff and Fire 911 call and dispatch center and an emergency operations center.

BAKER FAMILY LEARNING CENTER OPENS IN MUSCOY

The Baker Family Learning Center opened its doors on May 18. The 11,000 square foot building houses a preschool, a branch library, a community meeting room, computers and more for the community to enjoy. It is the first capital improvement investment of its kind in Muscoy.

The Learning Center was initiated when the Neal T. Baker family donated

land in the Muscoy area for the purpose of developing services for the community.

The building houses a Head Start preschool operated by the San Bernardino County Preschool Services Department and a branch library operated by the San Bernardino County Library system. This unique blend of services allows both children and parents to learn together as they access resources, programs, classes, and computers.

JUNE

ANIMAL CARE AND CONTROL HELPS RESCUE AND ADOPT OUT ABUSED DOGS

More than 100 dogs were removed from Rainbow’s End Animal Sanctuary, a non-profit facility located in an unincorporated area near Apple Valley in June when Animal Care and Control was conducting an animal cruelty investigation. The dogs had ongoing health and behavioral issues and were only available for adoption to rescues. In July, when the dogs became available, ACC staff worked closely with the rescue community to adopt these dogs.

BOARD APPROVES 2013-14 COUNTY BUDGET

The Board of Supervisors approved a budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which began on July 1.

The $4.4 billion budget was built to fulfill the goals of the Countywide Vision – a “complete county” that capitalizes on its many assets to collaboratively establish a sustainable system of economic opportunity, education, well-being and amenities. The budget is available for public view at www.sbcounty.gov.

The budget reflects the County’s efforts to cope with the ongoing impact of the downturn in the economy. It also addresses future needs in infrastructure by investing in the repair and maintenance of roads, buildings and essential systems to avoid higher costs in the future.

PROGRESS CONTINUES AT LAKE GREGORY

The County completed removing 13,000 cubic yards of dirt dredged from the north parking lot of the Lake Gregory Swim Beach just in time for the Fourth of July weekend. The dredging project improved the water quality for local residents and visitors. In July, divers found the inlet valve that allowed state-mandated seismic improvements to continue.

SPORTS FAIRE HELD FOR NEARLY 400 FOSTER, KINSHIP AND AT-RISK YOUTH

Nearly 400 youth learned about sports and life from professional athletes during the Annual Foster and Kinship Youth Sports Faire at San Bernardino Valley College. Former Los Angeles Raider Tyrone Montgomery encouraged the foster youth to stay in school. Youth attended football, basketball, softball, baseball, soccer, track and field, cheerleading/dance and volleyball clinics. Professional, semi-professional and local athletes and mentors volunteered their time to mentor the youth at each sports clinic. The annual faire is designed to provide youth with an opportunity to learn the fundamental skills of team sports, sportsmanship and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

COUNTY FLEET MANAGEMENT RANKED ONE OF THE NATION’S BEST

County Fleet Management was ranked 15th in the nation by the 100 Best Fleets program, a government fleet industry group. The ranking marks the fourth time the Fleet Management Department reached the top 20. The department has ranked in the Top 100 fleets with every submission. There are more than 38,000 public fleets in North America and this year 1,900 fleets were invited to apply.

In addition, the Fleet Management Department completed the Certified Fleet Management Operation certification program conducted by the Government Fleet Management Alliance. On June 12, the department was awarded its certification, making it one of only 13 fleets in the nation certified.

JULY

CITIES AND SCHOOL DISTRICT WIN FIRST COUNTYWIDE VISION AWARDS

The Colton Joint Unified School District and the cities of Chino, Adelanto, Barstow, Hesperia, Victorville, and the Town of Apple Valley were the recipients of the first Vision in Action Awards for their efforts to accomplish the goals of the Countywide Vision.

The awards were presented to the groups by Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Rutherford during the San Bernardino Associated Governments General Assembly.

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY LIBRARY CELEBRATES 100 YEARS OF SERVICE

Established in 1913, the San Bernardino County Library system is stronger than it has ever been.

This year, the system opened its 32nd branch, the Baker Family Learning Center in the Muscoy area. SBCL has grown from a few small libraries stored away in post offices and backrooms to a dynamic network of state-of-the-art library facilities that are among the best in the state and nation.

COUNTY FIRE AND SHERIFF JOIN FORCES TO FORM INMATE HAND CREW

County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig and Sheriff John McMahon announced the first County Inmate Hand Crew Program. The 15-member inmate hand crew began its training in May and was ready to respond by July. The program teaches the crew members skills that they can use to gain future employment. The hand crew’s main objective is to respond to fire suppression incidents, but it also responds to other emergency operations such as sand bagging, as well as assists with local fuels reduction programs and chipping operations.

CREST FOREST FPD JOINS COUNTY FIRE

The Crest Forest Fire Protection District Board voted to contract with County Fire for fire and emergency medical services. This was another step towards regionalized fire protection between Crest Forest Fire and County Fire; a partnership that dates back to the 1920s. The goal is to provide the responsiveness of a small-town fire department with the resources of a larger agency. The CFFPD operates two full-time stations and several paid-call stations, covering 23 square miles and serving the communities of Agua Fria, Blue Jay, Cedar Pines Park, Crestline, Rim Forest, Twin Peaks and Valley of Enchantment. The district serves a population of about 25,000, with seasonal population doubling at times.

COUNTY INVESTMENT POOL EARNS HIGHEST RATINGS FROM TOP RATING AGENCY

Expert management and conservative policies earned the County’s $4 billion investment pool AAA/V1 ratings from independent credit-rating firm, Fitch Ratings.

The County’s rating is the highest possible rating for an investment pool of this type. San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector Larry Walker attributes the strength of the Pool to his office’s investment management oversight, operational controls, and conservative investment policies.

The Fitch report noted, “Pools with ‘AAA’ fund credit ratings meet specific credit quality standards for portfolio assets while maintaining appropriate portfolio diversification and demonstrating appropriate investment management and operational capabilities. The ‘AAA’ fund credit rating indicates the lowest vulnerability to losses as a result of asset defaults and is based on the actual and prospective average credit quality of the pool’s investment portfolio. As such, the pool is expected to maintain a weighted average portfolio rating of ‘AAA’, taking into account certain adjustments for the reduced credit risk of short-term securities. The ‘V1’ fund volatility rating reflects the sensitivity of the fund’s net asset value (NAV) to changes in broad market risk factors, including spreads, interest rates and certain other parameters. ‘V1’ fund volatility ratings are considered to have low sensitivity to market risk.”

For Fiscal Year 2012-2013, the Pool yielded just over $21 million in investment earnings. San Bernardino’s Investment Pool is made up of property tax dollars and local government agency funds. Together, they constitute the treasury for all of the County’s school districts, community college districts, departments and many special districts. Additional County investment information can be found at www.sbcounty.gov/atc.

AUGUST

VISION GROUP REVEALS PROGRESS IN LONG-RANGE PLANNING FOR COUNTY’S WATER SUPPLY

The Countywide Vision Water Element Group presented progress made toward a comprehensive water management plan that ensures sustainable water supplies in the County for future population and economic growth at the 7th Annual San Bernardino County Water Conference.

The plan aims to enhance the County’s water portfolio through greater conservation efforts; investment in improved infrastructure for local, imported and recycled water supplies; and environmental stewardship. The Water Element Group is comprised of public and private water agencies, regulators, planners, educators and business people who are working together on solutions to a potential imbalance between population growth and water supply.

COMMUNITY VITAL SIGNS COMPLETES SUMMER OF ENGAGEMENT

Community Vital Signs completed its Summer of Engagement, holding more than 23 regional and community-based meetings in July and August. More than 1,000 stakeholders participated from all sectors of the community, including local businesses, education, planning and transportation, health/human services, public safety, elected officials, and community and faith-based organizations.

“We brought together wonderful people and organizations working to improve health in our communities to discuss and develop effective strategies to meet our shared goals,” said Janice Rutherford, chair of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. Community Vital Signs is a community partnership with county government to assess and address the health of the county in support of the Countywide Vision Project.

BOARD SEEKS TO MODERNIZE 101-YEAR-OLD COUNTY CHARTER

The Board voted to direct the County Administrative Office and County Counsel to research ways to modernize the century-old County Charter and to recommend amendments that may be presented to voters for approval.

The County Charter was adopted in April 1913 and has been amended 40 times. However, it still contains language and provisions that are outdated or no longer applicable. For example, Charter Article III outlines how the Board of Supervisors establishes compensation for judges. But legislation has since transferred responsibility for court functions from the counties to the State, so county supervisors no longer have a role in establishing compensation for judges.

SEPTEMBER

COUNTY WINS 17 ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS FROM THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES

Counties from 25 states were recognized nationally with only nine California counties receiving top honors along with San Bernardino County. Children and Family Services, Preschool Services, the Transitional Assistance Department, the Probation Department, Environmental Health Services, and Information Services were among the departments recognized for their innovative programs.

EMERGENCY DISPATCH CENTER ACHIEVES ACCREDITATION

CONFIRE (Consolidated Fire Agencies of San Bernardino County), also known as CommCenter, was presented with an accreditation as an Accredited Center of Excellence by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch. This certification attests to the specific and highly specialized knowledge, skills, and attributes of dispatchers.

An important function of emergency medical dispatch is pre-arrival instructions. The CommCenter uses the ProQA Emergency Medical Dispatch System, an internationally recognized triage system, which guides call takers through a scripted interview to reach a determinant code that is standardized worldwide. This system prioritizes equipment and crews to be dispatched to medical emergencies that precisely meet the victim’s medical needs. The reporting party is given physician-approved first aid instructions over the phone to provide immediate aid until emergency personnel arrive. These instructions range from keeping the patient calm to assisting child-birth or performing CPR.

LAND USE SERVICES MEETS WITH CITIZENS IN JOSHUA TREE TO HEAR DEVELOPMENT CONCERNS

More than 100 people turned out for a lively discussion about the future of Joshua Tree at a special planning workshop held the County’s Land Use Services Department.

Residents and stakeholders discussed a number of topics including transportation, pollution, desert views, a plan for the downtown corridor, stoplights, tourism and maintaining the unique characteristics of Joshua Tree. Many of the speakers at the meeting discussed economic development, including what kind of businesses Joshua Tree should welcome or exclude such as mom and pop stores or big box retail. Maintaining wildlife corridors, deciding what kind of solar projects to allow and the design standards for new businesses were also issues of concern.

More meetings with citizens are anticipated as the County seeks input while working on updating its General Plan.

OCTOBER

TRANSITIONAL ASSISTANCE PREPARED FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

TAD began enrollment efforts for the Affordable Care Act on October 1. There are an estimated 95,000 additional eligible County residents to the Covered California Health Insurance Plan options. TAD got ready to serve this new population of customers and moved forward with plans for training and certifying staff in August and September on both the new policies as well as using the California Healthcare Eligibility, Enrollment and Retention System (CalHEERS).

COUNTY PARTICIPATES IN GREAT CALIFORNIA SHAKEOUT

The Great California ShakeOut Earthquake Drill is an annual opportunity for people in homes, schools, and organizations to practice what to do during earthquakes and to improve preparedness. Under the leadership of the County Fire Department, Office of Emergency Services, the County ShakeOut Committee coordinated the participation of all County Departments in multiple earthquake, evacuation and communication exercises. All over the County, the Drop, Cover and Hold On message was conveyed in schools, businesses and multiple public outreach events the day of the ShakeOut. The County continued to be recognized as a leader in annual ShakeOut participation with more than 620,000 people in San Bernardino County committing to Drop, Cover and Hold On during the 2013 ShakeOut.

NOVEMBER

CALIFORNIA STATE ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES HONORS SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY WITH 5 AWARDS

County programs aimed at reducing truancy, preventing the spread of West Nile Virus, providing preschool services to foster children, improving customer service and shortening the time to obtain search warrants were honored today as among the best in the state.

2013 CSAC Challenge Awards were received by the Public Defender’s Office, Environmental Health, Transitional Assistance, Children and Family Services, Preschool Services, and Information Services.

HORSESHOE LAKE REOPENED AT MOJAVE NARROWS

Regional Parks celebrated the reopening of Horseshoe Lake at Mojave Narrows Regional Park in Victorville on November 9. Regional Parks hosted a day of fun and activities including a trout derby, farmer’s market, kite flying area and demos for kids.

RECORD NUMBER OF SIBLINGS ADOPTED AT ADOPTION FINALIZATION CEREMONIES

One hundred children and their families celebrated their adoptions at the Children and Family Services Adoption Finalization event on Nov. 21. This year’s event was distinguished by a record number of brothers and sisters who were among nearly 100 children who celebrated their adoptions. The adoptions of the 22 sets of siblings marked the most sets of siblings adopted at the annual event.  The families legally united in ceremonies performed by County judges.

NEW FIRE STATION IN ANGELES OAKS

More than 100 community members and dignitaries attended the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the new County Fire Station 98 in Angelus Oaks.

Fire Station 98 serves more than 400 residents of Angelus Oaks, Barton Flats, and Seven Oaks, along with State

Highway 38 from Valley of the Falls Drive to Onyx Summit. On average, Station 98 firefighters respond to 175 calls a year, mainly medical calls and traffic collisions. They actively assist the Sheriff’s Department with search and rescues, as well as the U.S. Forest Service. Funding for this $2,275,000 project came from the County general fund.

COLLABORATION HIGHLIGHTED COMMUNITY VITAL SIGNS SUMMIT

Education, economy and access to healthcare hold the key to a healthier future for the County, according to a report from Community Vital Signs released at its “Live Well, Age Well” Summit.

More than 200 community leaders attended the summit where community feedback and priorities established from Community Vital Signs’ 23 community engagement meetings during July and August were unveiled. Attendees were given copies of “San Bernardino County: Our Community Vital Signs,” a report based on the community meetings. The report, expected to generate a framework for sustainable health improvement in communities, will be available online at communityvitalsigns.org and will be available in County of San Bernardino libraries.

VETERANS AFFAIRS HOLD FIRST WORLD OF ART VETERANS ART SHOW

“World of Art: Honoring our Men and Women in Uniform” celebrated the service and sacrifice of military veterans and provided a showcase for local artists who displayed their art. The San Bernardino Community College District and San Bernardino County Veterans Affairs teamed up with other local schools, veteran’s service organizations and the VA Loma Linda Healthcare System to host the veteran-centered art show at the San Bernardino Hilton Hotel.  Event planners considered submissions from artists throughout the Inland Empire and nearby Desert and Mountain communities for display at this first annual art show.  One hundred artists participated.

DECEMBER

SOLAR MORATORIUM LIFTED, CITIZENS LAUD COUNTY’S WORK ON SOLAR ORDINANCE

Citizens thanked the Board of Supervisors and the Land Use Services Department for working with the community on developing a solar energy ordinance which balances the preservation of the environment and desert landscape with the demands of a burgeoning new energy industry.

The Board of Supervisors voted to approve the new ordinance, effectively lifting a temporary moratorium imposed in June.

A special workshop to discuss and obtain public input on possible amendments to County regulations for solar energy development was held by the County Land Use Services Department earlier in the year. Citizens who had an interest in solar energy development participated and voiced their ideas and concerns.

In June, the County was awarded a $700,000 grant from the California Energy Commission to incorporate renewable energy development policies into its general plan.

NEW FIRE STATION IN SPRING VALLEY LAKE

Community members and dignitaries attended the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the new San Bernardino County Fire Station 22 in Spring Valley Lake.

The new facility replaces the temporary fire station that has been serving the community of Spring Valley Lake and surrounding area for the past 21 years out of an aged and substandard single-wide trailer, with its apparatus stored in an adjacent butler building. The former station was located at the north end of Victor Valley College near the Fish Hatchery. California Construction started on the fire station in November of 2012 and completed the station right on schedule and within budget. The 6,300 square foot facility includes an apparatus bay for two engines, living quarters, and an approximate 600 square-foot equipment storage building.

BOARD SUPPORTS UPGRADED PUBLIC SAFETY RADIO SYSTEM

Buying some replacement parts on eBay and raiding refuse piles for others, San Bernardino County definitely got its money’s worth out of its woefully obsolete, decades-old 800 MHz public safety radio system.

The Board of Supervisors acted to update the system, which serves all police and firefighting agencies, into a state-of-the-art Motorola Project 25 communications system compatible with systems in all neighboring counties and states as well as military bases within the county. The system will also allow the county and its 24 cities and towns to use their existing radios, saving millions in scarce local taxpayer dollars.

FINAL PLANS APPROVED FOR BLOOMINGTON AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Final plans to construct a 190-unit affordable housing community that will include a new Bloomington Branch Library and community center were approved by the Board of Supervisors. The 13,993 square-foot development, located near the corner of Valley Boulevard and Locust Avenue, will be built in two phases.

Phase 1, projected to begin construction in fall 2014, will consist of 70-units for seniors, public library, and 2,200 square foot senior community space. It will also include 36 family units, 2,625 square foot community center and classroom facility. Phase 2 will consist of the remaining 84 family units. The housing project will lease one, two, and three-bedroom units.

LAKE GREGORY TO IMPROVE, DEVELOP ACTIVITIES UNDER NEW AGREEMENT

An expanded summer water play area, a new fishing program and a renovation of the San Moritz Lodge are among improvements to take place at Lake Gregory Regional Park under a new contract approved by the Board of Supervisors. The Board voted to allow Urban Parks Concessionaires, also known as the California Parks Company, to take over the day-to-day operations at Lake Gregory and upgrade the park on behalf of San Bernardino County Regional Parks.

The company will operate the park beginning January 1 through December 31, 2016 and has the option of entering into a long-term lease agreement with the County before the contract ends. The company has nearly 40 years of experience operating a number of resorts, parks and lakes throughout California, including Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet.

The company will not only manage the park, but will provide food and beverage concessions, special event and wedding services, inspection of invasive aquatic species, and recreation and fee collection.

AGREEMENT REACHED ON THE JOHNSON VALLEY OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLE AREA

The House and Senate reached an agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act that included a compromise on the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) area. The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms had proposed taking over a majority of Johnson Valley for expanded training. The OHV community and local communities, including Lucerne Valley and the Morongo Basin communities, were concerned about the economic and recreational impacts from losing the largest OHV area in the state.

Under the agreement, of the 188,000 acres in Johnson Valley, 100,000 acres will be officially designated as the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area, the first time Congress has made such a designation. Of that, 50,000 acres would be made available to the Marines for up to two months a year for major training exercises. The other 88,000 acres would be permanently transferred to the Marines.

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