By Chris Trout
SJMCC spokesperson

On Feb. 11, a new San Jacinto Mountain Community Center board was elected. Officers were nominated and unanimously elected to take over the governance, management and adminstration of the SJMCC and its two standing committees: the building, fundraising and capital improvement committee and the programs and activities committee.

You may be wondering, and rightfully so, just who are these folks. What qualifies them to be responsible for funding, building and managing a project as important and far-reaching as the Idyllwild Community Center? Where do you find citizens who are willing to give up hours of their own time, to meet on Sundays and holidays or whenever needed and to spend time making sure that every aspect of the project meets the criteria of transparency, accountability and authenticity?

Bill Sanborn

Where do you find someone who has demonstrated for more than 25 years that he is committed to our community, someone who raised four children in Idyllwild, who has been involved in recreation with Town Hall and the Idyllwild 5K and 10K and who, with his family, has housed Idyllwild Arts students for 27 years? You find that person in Bill Sanborn whose commitment to our youth extends to his service as Idyllwild’s trustee on the Hemet Unified School District’s Board for 22 years, serving either as president or vice president 10 times.
Dawn Sonnier

Even though Sanborn’s children are now grown, he believes that the Idyllwild Community Center will give families an opportunity that his never had, access to a facility for community and family events. According to Sanborn, “the opening of the community center will elevate community cohesiveness to a level that has never existed.”

Where do you find someone whose indefatigable spirit sets a stellar example of commitment to a vision? You find that person in Dawn Sonnier, this year’s recipient of the Ernie Maxwell Award for her leadership in making the Idyllwild playground a reality for our children by raising $120,000 and then organizing 700 volunteers to build the facility. By her own admission, Sonnier brings “a vivacious, hard-working attitude as well as creative ideas to meet the needs of young families, adolescents and children.”

Robert Priefer

When it comes to tireless persistence, you cannot help but recognize the efforts of Robert Priefer, a member of this community since 1974. With more than 40 years of experience designing and building numerous projects, Priefer states that he will “coordinate the design and construction of the facility, including monitioring and managing the myriad of permit and approval cycles required by the regulations of Riverside County.”

With 35 years of leadership and participation in Town Hall recreation, and as the father of four boys, Priefer has a current and timely view of how the community center must be designed as a multi-use facility to have a positive impact on the fitness and well-being of citizens of all ages.

Where do you find a citizen with a proven passion for our community that goes far beyond volunteering in the traditional Idyllwild way? You look to Lois Butterfield, whose education and early career experience was in teaching. Butterfield’s commitment has included a generous financial gift to the project that will help build the center. It will also ensure the sustainability of the facility for ten years. Her extensive experience in a widely diverse series of construction projects makes her addition to the SJMCC board essential. In her words, “the Idyllwild Community Center will give pride and unity to the community with an emphasis on a facility for teens.”

Janice Lyle

The same edition of the Town Crier introduced us to Janice Lyle, whose proven leadership and management experience along with unparalleled resourcefulness ensures she will leave no stone unturned in fulfilling her role as chairperson of the SJMCC board. As Lyle says, “We are at a very special moment in the history of the ICC project. So much work has been done by so many people since the land was gifted. Now the time is right to structure the governance of the board so that it can be responsible for financial oversight of larger donations, efficient in its infrastructure, and effective in the work of its committees.”
Pete Capparelli

And in the role of liaison to the Butterfields, the group has selected Pete Capparelli, whose 35-year association with and support of countless groups and organizations in Idyllwild is invaluable as the board begins its journey to build the community center and develop the programs and activities that will meet the needs of every citizen. Together with his wife Suzon, the Capparellis recently received the Joni Award for all they contribute to the community. As Capparelli tells us, “I envision my wife and I attending plays, concerts, lectures and benefit dinners at this wonderful facility.”

We have an impressive group of citizens who are able to visualize, shape, convey, inspire and do whatever it takes to make history, to enhance our community experience, to change the landscape, and in so doing change the lives of the people who live here.

To share your ideas, questions and inquiries, contact [email protected].