San Bernardino County: 2015 in Review

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By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– The County of San Bernardino accomplished many great things during the past 12 months, but we will forever look back on 2015 with sadness over the loss of 13 County employees during the Dec. 2 tragedy in San Bernardino.

Our thoughts continue to be with the members of our County family, who are still grieving and still healing from physical and emotional wounds.

“The year 2015 will forever be in our hearts,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos. “We suffered a tremendous loss but we are stronger as a County and as a community because of it. The year 2016 will be a year dedicated to those we lost, to those who continue to recover from their wounds, and to all of our County employees who help make San Bernardino County better every day.”

As we move into 2016, we will remember, honor and support each other through this tragic time in our organization’s history. We are San Bernardino County strong.

JANUARY

New Board Chairman and Vice Chairman elected

The Board of Supervisors unanimously elected Third District Supervisor James Ramos to serve as Board Chairman and First District Supervisor Robert A. Lovingood to serve as Vice Chairman for the next two years.

Board adopts plan to revitalize County Museum

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to direct staff to begin implementing a series of recommendations made by a consultant, including filling the vacant director position with someone adept at business and management, and forging a more productive relationship with the independent nonprofit Museum Association.

County portion of Santa Ana River Trail receives $3.4 million in funding

The California Coastal Conservancy Board on Thursday approved $3.4 million for construction of a portion of the Santa Ana River Trail in San Bernardino County. Once completed, the Santa Ana River Trail will be about 100 miles long and will connect the Inland Empire from the crest of the San Bernardino Mountains to the Pacific Ocean near Huntington Beach. Once complete, it will be one of the longest urban recreation river parkways in the United States.

FEBRUARY

Museum brings artifacts online at the Google Cultural Institute

The San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands added high resolution images to the Google Cultural Institute allowing people across the United States to explore its collections online. The images may be viewed here. Native American baskets and pottery from the museum’s ethnology collections were selected to become part of the Google Cultural Institute. The resolution of these images, combined with a custom built zoom viewer, allows everyone from art-lovers anthropologists to discover details of objects they may never have seen up close before.

Supervisors weigh in on renewable energy plan

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved a report outlining concerns over a state and federal plan for renewable energy projects in Southern California. The County has numerous concerns about the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, a document prepared by four state and federal agencies. County concerns range from limiting access to mineral resources, recreational use as well as community and environmental impacts.

More than half of the acreage in the draft DRECP is in San Bernardino County.

MAY

Virtual inspections are the County’s next innovation

The County became perhaps the first western U.S. jurisdiction to launch a virtual inspection program that will allow county building inspectors to review projects over the internet. By downloading a special application, permit applicants will be able to show county inspectors their projects and exchange information using their smartphones or tablets. Traditionally, applicants have had to wait at their project sites for a building inspector to arrive during a window of time. Virtual inspections will take place at a precise time, eliminating the wait.

County embarks on first-of-its-kind Countywide Plan

San Bernardino County launched an effort to go further than any county or city has ever gone with a general plan by creating a web-based comprehensive “complete county” plan. General plans are almost always strictly rule books for guiding development and growth. San Bernardino County’s General Plan, last updated in 2007, will go well beyond a traditional general plan to become a comprehensive Countywide Plan that complements and informs the Countywide Vision by taking into account all services – not just land-use planning – provided by County Government, and the unique values and priorities of each community. It will serve as a guide for all County decision-making, financial planning, and communications.

JUNE

County CEO receives regional leadership award

County Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux received a regional honor for his work with the Board of Supervisors and other county leaders on the Countywide Vision, as well as his 19 years of service as an executive with the County and the cities of Ontario and Fontana.Mr. Devereaux became the 59th recipient of the Clarence A. Dykstra Award for Excellence in Government from the Southern California Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration during ceremonies in Los Angeles.

Frank Guevara appointed new director of Veterans Affairs

Frank Guevara, a retired colonel with more than 36 years in the United States Army was appointed as San Bernardino County’s Veterans Affairs Director. Guevara was an application development manager for San Bernardino County’s Information Services Department since 1989. He has a BS in Computer Information Systems from Cal Poly Pomona and an MBA from the University of La Verne.

County hires new ARMC director

William L. Gilbert was named director of Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. Gilbert worked with Deaconess Hospital in Spokane, Washington and Foundation Surgical Affiliates in San Antonio, Texas. Gilbert has a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of La Verne and a Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University. He has also been a board member for the Washington State Hospital Association, the California Hospital Association and several other healthcare associations throughout his career.

JULY

Supervisors offer $75,000 bounty for drone operators

Drone operators have been asked repeatedly not to fly their aircraft during wildfires. But at crucial moments in wildfires that have broken out in San Bernardino County in 2015, fire-fighting air tankers had to be diverted away from their targets because of the presence of small airborne hobby drones.

The Board of Supervisors decided asking is no longer enough and created a $75,000 reward fund for the arrest and conviction of anyone who flew any remote control-operated aircraft and interfered with fire-fighting aircraft during the summer’s Lake, Mill 2, and North fires.

AUGUST

Board applauds deal to bring ONT under local control

The Board of Supervisors celebrated the agreement announced that would return Ontario International Airport to local control. Ontario International Airport is one of the most powerful components of the region’s economy and the deal reached between the City of Los Angeles and the Ontario International Airport Authority means the airport can be rehabilitated, marketed and managed to the advantage of San Bernardino County and all of Southern California.

SEPTEMBER

Board endorses Vision2Read literacy campaign

Vision2Read, a year-long campaign designed to help improve literacy throughout San Bernardino County by connecting people to literacy programs – whether they need help or are able to help – was endorsed by the Board as part of its recognition of National Literacy Month.  Vision2Read.com will serve as a reading and literacy portal to include literacy facts, resources and services, event information and volunteer opportunities in partnership with the United Ways of San Bernardino County and its 2-1-1 San Bernardino County and HandsOn Inland Empire programs. Vision2Read helps achieve both regional goals of the Countywide Vision – supporting the success of every child from cradle to career and establishing the county as a model in the state where local government, regulatory agencies and communities are truly business-friendly.

Skilled, experienced executive tapped to lead County Museum

Melissa A. Russo was selected to become the County’s museum director. Russo, the County Museum’s first female director, has spent the past six years as Director of Institutional Advancement at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland and previously served for 10 years as executive director of the Western Museums Association. She brings to San Bernardino County 23 years of experience as a high-achieving museum executive.

OCTOBER

County breaks own records winning national and state awards

Innovative and money-saving programs instituted by the County of San Bernardino won 46 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo) and three prestigious awards from the California State Association of Counties (CSAC). In 2015, the County broke its own record of 31 NACo Achievement Awards set in 2014. In 2013, the County won 18 NACo awards and has won an average of 14 NACo awards during the last 10 years.

NOVEMBER

County preparing for El Niño storms

Clearing flood control channels, stockpiling sandbags and holding public outreach meetings in flood-prone areas are just a few things County departments are doing to prepare for El Niño storms. The County Office of Emergency Services is working in conjunction with the Department of Public Works, the Sheriff’s Department, County Fire, and Special Districts – along with local, regional and state partners – to make sure all safety issues throughout the county are being addressed. Risks of flooding and mudslides are higher in areas that have recently experienced wildfires. An El Niño resource web page was established for residents to obtain information on storm preparation.

DECEMBER

Supervisors, Community Foundation launch Give BIG 2015 campaign

More than $250,000 was raised for nonprofits in the county during the Dec. 1 Give BIG San Bernardino County 24-hour web-a-thon. Give BIG is an online fundraising campaign led by the Community Foundation  designed to raise money for nonprofits while building a culture of philanthropy and giving throughout the community.

San Bernardino United Relief Fund established for victims

The Board of Supervisors and the Arrowhead United Way jointly established the San Bernardino United Relief Fund for the victims of the Dec. 2 tragedy. Donors may text SBUNITED to 71777 and will be provided with a link to donate. More information may be found at www.arrowheadunitedway.org.

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