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Initial Thoughts: What attracts volunteers? …

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Two weeks ago in this column, I encouraged you to consider getting involved with one of the many local organizations. As I have written in the past, volunteerism not only helps the community, but most individuals benefit from the participation.

They might make new friends, find a reason to become more active or another of many possibilities than could improve their lives as well as the organization’s customers or clients.

I anticipated that my list would unintentionally omit one of these valuable groups and within the week, good friend and very active local volunteer Ron Perry sent a message identifying the omission of the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council.

Mortification and embarrassment were how I felt. I’m very much aware of the good work the FSC and its Woodies accomplish every month. How could I have forgotten them?

Mike Esnard, FSC president, writes a monthly column for the paper.

Mea culpa. I don’t have an acceptable answer. They and you will just have to accept my apology, “I’m sorry.”

Nevertheless, my mistake doesn’t explain some apparent apathy within our community. Two important groups have failed to attract sufficient interest for more than a year. I wonder why and hope some readers will provide us with reasonable answers.

The Historic Preservation District Local Review Board remains dormant, despite the county board of supervisors approving Ordinance 578 in July 2011. The board is constituted for five members and we’re aware that at least four have submitted applications. A fifth, unless one of the original four withdrew, was submitted a few months ago, but the staff for Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone has not been able to get the names from his office to full board’s agenda.

Despite the staff’s lack of alacrity, one wonders why residents seem uninterested in helping organize and create the board’s initial voyage. The ordinance originated after a San Diego attorney began suing Julian businesses for failing to comply with federal and state disability laws.

Despite some recent state legislation, the possibility still exists and the establishment of the district might ameliorate those conditions. It would not abrogate them. But the initial actions will set a tone and direction for years.

The County Service Area 36 (Idyllwild) Advisory committee is another malfunctioning board. They haven’t met since September and that was only meeting since April. Chair Bob Schraff has already canceled this month’s scheduled meeting.

Several years ago, first the Chamber of Commerce, then the Idyllwild Community Recreation Council, had the recreation provision contract with the county, which is funded from the CSA 36 revenues. Consequently, the CSA 36 Advisory Committee was simply in the middle between the county and the implementing organization.

With only a review responsibility that overlapped the county’s, I understand the lack of interest from bona-fide activists in the community. But the situation has changed.

Since August 2011, when the county revoked the recreation contract, the advisory committee has direct oversight of the local recreation activities. One would think that would be a significant attraction for committee vacancies. But the advisory committee has been seeking two new members for more than year. No one seems to have volunteered to take this responsibility.

So while I rave and proudly tout how many water boards, fire commission and festivals are organized and produced through the time and efforts of local residents, I wonder why these two boards have been essentially inoperable for more than 18 months.

And compare these formal, county entities with the recent efforts to address pests and interlopers to our community. Next Saturday, the FSC, mentioned earlier, is sponsoring an afternoon meeting about the recent identification of the Goldspotted oak borer in our community.

While its attack on a single tree may be the extent of its local foray, that’s unlikely and the risk is too great to make that assumption. Experts won’t be able to verify whether other trees have been attacked until late spring or early summer. Nevertheless, the FSC is trying to spread the warning and educate residents of the potential danger and advise us of possible actions.

Similarly a group of local business people have begun discussing what they can do to thwart the recent spate of burglaries. The number of Sheriff’s deputies has fallen in the unincorporated areas because of county budget decreases. And the county can’t afford to finance a new group of deputies. The Board of Supervisors has already authorized Sheriff Stan Sniff to re-staff. But finding the right people and training them takes more than a year.

Until then, we are mostly dependent upon our own resources and some business folks are talking about the options.

Obviously when pests, such as the oak borer or burglars, threaten our domestic tranquility, we respond. But for some reason, protecting our historic resources or overseeing our recreational opportunities draws little interest.

Come on, we need volunteers for everything!

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Category: Initial Thoughts

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About the Author: J.P. Crumrine is editor of the Town Crier. He can be reached at jp@towncrier.com.

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