It would be difficult to be more “Idyllwild” than Dave Hunt. The newly appointed County Service Area 36 Advisory Council member was born and raised in Idyllwild, with a long family history here.
His grandparents came here in the early 1930s from Hemet. His grandfather managed Camp Maranatha, and the family swam there. Then his grandfather managed the Rustic, and the family worked there. Then an uncle managed the Chart House, and the whole family later worked there.
His father, Bud Hunt, was the local fire chief and was a vice president of the Riverside County Fire Chief’s Association. Dave Hunt grew up with the Johnson boys, Jay and Steve, racing them in homemade soap-box-derby cars down River Road.
His eighth-grade teacher, Doris Lombard, told him he could do whatever he wanted for a project as long as he learned something. Hunt, who liked taking things apart and putting them back together, took an old bicycle apart, reconditioned it and put it back together. At 15, as a result of his eighth-grade project, he founded the Bike Route bicycle shop his father still maintains. As a young man, he worked in a variety of capacities in industrial management.
Hunt received a Bachelor of Arts in industrial education from Humboldt State University, multiple subject teaching credentials from U.C. Riverside and a master’s degree in vocational education from Cal State University, San Bernardino. He later earned an administrative-services credential from the same university.
Hunt has taught within the Hemet and Temecula Valley unified school districts, at Palomar College and at Mt. San Jacinto College. Of his teaching and life philosophy, Hunt said, “I believe that the educational process is ongoing throughout life and can occur in a wide variety of settings and conditions. Educators must teach by example in everything that they do.”
Hunt has clear ideas of what his personal history, as well as his educational and work experience, can bring to the CSA 36 Advisory Council. “One of my priorities is to keep Town Hall up and running,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of grant writing, so I think I could get some grants for its rehabilitation.”
Hunt explained why it’s important. “It’s because it really does belong to the community,” he said. “The community built it and the Johnson family has made it available for community recreation. I’d like to see Town Hall working hand in hand with the Idyllwild Community Center, and have its public recreation integrated with the ICC. I’d also like to see if there would be some way for the county to donate the old county library to a local nonprofit so that it could become an educational resource center — maybe to accommodate on-Hill general education and specialty classes in conjunction with MSJC.”
Hunt feels strongly that community recreation programs should benefit all community demographics, not just youth recreation. “My goal is to see that recreation addresses all age groups,” he said.
As an Idyllwild-raised “Hillbilly,” Hunt believes the forest is a major recreational resource that, as part of the Wilderness Act, should be taken care of. “I’d like to see more hiking for kids, tied in to trail maintenance and teaching young people to respect the forest. That respect for the forest is what differentiates us from Big Bear.”
After his wife’s death from cancer, Hunt, whose children are grown, resolved to spend more time volunteering in Idyllwild. He recently became a Forest Service Lookout Tower volunteer. “I’ve always wanted to do it since I was a kid,” said Hunt.
When he noticed an article in the Town Crier noting the lack of volunteers for the CSA 36 Advisory Council, he jumped at the chance. “One of my first questions at the interview was, ‘What is your definition of recreation?’” He believes recreation should be broadly defined — to include life-learning opportunities, not just traditional sports.
“I hope all people attend meetings so we understand why we are there and get to know what the community wants,” said Hunt.
Of why Idyllwild seems so right for many, Hunt said, “The mountain accepts you and breathes you in, and it works.”