Last year, after extensive inquiries and negotiation, an agreement was concluded between the Community Action Partnership (CAP) of Riverside County and Idyllwild’s American Legion Post 800 to have the Legion facility serve as an Idyllwild warming center during the winter months. Although the agreement was in place last year, the center was never activated.

Legion Post Commander Ron Draper confirmed that the agreement is again in place for this year. He noted that CAP had recently delivered hot chocolate and bottled water to help stock the center. Legion member Danny Richardson cited an impressive warming center inventory including eight cots, 76 blankets and many food items, with some of the contributions having come from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ monthly food distribution and the balance from CAP.

Draper also confirmed that four members of the post have keys and are on standby, once they receive an activation notice, to open the the post on a 24/7-notice basis. Richardson said a Legion member has pledged to donate a cord of wood for heating during a cold emergency but that another cord is needed, and donations would be gladly accepted. Wood would be set aside for warming center use.

Mountain Disaster Preparedness has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Legion to use its email, radio and phone system to alert residents of the availability of the center once it is opened.

A separate committee has drafted an activation protocol based on cold temperature and power outage data. Committee members are located in a variety of greater Idyllwild neighborhoods and climate zones and are tasked with monitoring temperatures and power outages that, based on protocol standards, would be sufficient to warrant opening the warming center. As part of the protocol, there is a list of questions to be asked anyone calling in for cold weather emergency assistance, designed to distinguish whether the emergency is neighborhood or community wide, and if not, whether the caller can be individually assisted.

Both Danny Richardson and Rick Foster are primary Legion contacts tasked with opening the center. Richardson can be reached at 659-8286 and (951) 205-1627 and Foster at 659-3522 and (951) 249-4702. Both are on the activation committee.