After the Christmas tree lighting ceremonies in Idyllwild, I was thinking how lucky we are to live on this island in the middle of the sea of humanity known as Southern California.

In some ways we have it better than most. If you’ve lived in a major city (or commute to one now), you know what I mean. After I go to one of the seemingly endless meetings off the Hill, it’s great to drive back up here to less people, cleaner air and no traffic lights!

We do pay a price for this privilege however. We pay more for propane than our friends down the Hill pay for natural gas. We buy or cut firewood which helps offset this cost but is hard work.

Snow chains, snow shovels, snow blowers and snow plows are usually not found in garages down the Hill. Off-Hill folks don’t have to buy or operate any of that stuff!

Fire abatement and the threat of wildfire? Not a big deal in the urban environment.

They have more government down there too! Economy of scale means more homes and more businesses equal more property tax and more sales tax revenues. Those revenues buy street lights, stop lights, parks and recreation, fire departments and police departments. More population means more hospitals, clinics and ambulance services are available and that‘s a good thing.

Our mountain has unparalleled natural beauty and the government entities are few. Because of that, people volunteer their time to fill in the gaps of what might be provided in an incorporated city. I have been going to meetings of different Hill organizations since 1996 and I am impressed with the people that commit their time, energy, intelligence and experience to make the mountain communities a better place to live.

I believe we all deserve a piece of the American dream. We have a place to live where our health is protected, we have clean water to drink, and there is good fire protection and law enforcement. We also have good schools with dedicated educators and churches representing most faiths.
As a career civil servant and now a local government employee, I can tell you it’s an honor to serve. We all complain about our jobs now and again; but in these tough economic times, it’s good just to have a job and we should remember to support those who are in need all year and not just during the holidays.

So, as we celebrate the holidays according to our individual beliefs, let’s take a few minutes to remember our teachers, clergy, sheriffs, firefighters, and water district employees.

But most of all, let’s remember to thank those volunteers in all of our organizations and committees that give freely of their time to protect and serve the greatest number of people on the Hill.

On behalf of Idyllwild Fire Protection District, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.