Editor’s note: This is the final of a two-part series that began last week.
Community center concept alive and progressing
An Idyllwild Community Center has been discussed for years, even before 2006 when the David Butterfield family bought the acreage along Highway 243, which is where the facility will be located.
Following a thoughtful and reflective period, David and Lois Butterfield knew they had “the same vision and the same passion” they had seven years ago when they donated property for a community center.
In 2012, the new community playground was completed through the time and donations of hundreds of community members. The Butterfields were impressed with the community’s response and contributions to the construction of the new playground on the site. “We were absolutely blown away and gratified that 700 people and local businesses joined together to provide tools, food and time” to build the playground.
In 2013, the group overseeing the future community center reorganized with a greater determination to see the facility constructed.
Now, Janet Lyle heads the Mount San Jacinto Community Center board. Lyle is the former director of the Palm Springs Art Museum and has led the California Association of Museums.
This year, the group has been sharing its plans and progress with the community, beginning with an on-site briefing and slide show in September and smaller presentations for business leaders in December.
Next year, the committee expects to get the county involved in reviewing plans and obtaining permits necessary to break ground within 18 months.
Originally, the Butterfields had offered to match whatever funding the Idyllwild Community Center Committee raised by the end of Dec. 2012. Now they have reaffirmed that decision and agreed to donate the money for the construction of what may be the first community center facility on the property between Pine Dell and Ridgeview on Highway 243.
But the Butterfields are not simply erecting a building to be named the Butterfield Family Center. For several years, they had attempted to gain access to the ICC property from below Strawberry Plaza, along the creek.
Last year, they purchased that property. The principal entrance to the center will be from Village Center Drive, although another exit will be on Ridgeview Drive, adjacent to the Verizon property. Highway 243 will not be used for access to the future center.
Taken by the community’s love of music, the Butterfields’ gift also will include an amphitheater on the slope facing Strawberry Creek.
The future community center will have separate activity rooms for seniors and teens. David grew up in a small town and has experienced the lack of opportunities for teens to assemble. Consequently, he hopes a fully developed teen center will be one of the early additions to the Butterfield Family Center.
“What it won’t include will be a gymnasium and swimming pool,” he said. If the community wants those facilities, they will have to raise the money for them.”
But their generosity will continue beyond the opening ribbon cutting. The couple plans to endow a trust fund to ensure the center’s operation for the first 10 years,
“We want the community to know there will be support to operate this facility after it’s built,” David said. ICC committee member Bill Sanborn had said the lack of a definitive plan for operating the facility had an effect on prospective donors.
Town Crier returns to local hands
“I’m back —and boy, do I know it. More than three-and-a-half years ago, I ‘retired’ from this job and pursued a few other projects,” wrote Becky Clark in her first “Out Loud” column since 2009.
“But nothing called to me as much as the TC where I spent 23-plus years. So when the opportunity to purchase it arose, Jack and I hardly hesitated,” she continued. “All the support we’ve received touches me and I’m having fun being back.”
On June 28, Becky and Jack Clark became the new owners of the Idyllwild Town Crier, and Becky resumed her former role as publisher-editor. Following in the footsteps of the Town Crier’s founder, Ernie Maxwell, the Clarks are bringing a local, family owned paper back to Idyllwild. Maxwell published the first edition of the Town Crier in November 1946.
For nearly 19 years, Tindle Newspapers Ltd., a private British company, had owned the Town Crier.
“This is my dream. I missed it,” Becky said. “This business has challenges I missed. I don’t think I ever wanted to leave.”
Besides new ownership, the paper also has a new location. Tindle, which owned the building on Village Center Drive where the Town Crier was located, also put the building on the market and asked all the tenants, including the paper, to vacate by July 1.
The new Town Crier offices are on North Circle Drive and also serve as a visitors center, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.
To enhance this role and maintain the relationship, which the defunct Idyllwild Chamber had with visitors, the Chamber agreed to transfer its phone number, 951-659-3259, to the paper.
“So, in honor of Independence Day, I pick up the cause once again of open government and transparency, something so lacking in small towns such as ours. And so the Ralph M. Brown Act was created specifically for local governments,” Becky wrote.
“Our job in the press is to be public watchdogs for government agencies. Our job is not to be cops or therapists. ... Criticism is a mainstay of freedom of the press.
“... Our little town needs to hold local government accountable. That won’t change. Other things with the TC will. I will keep you informed ...” Becky wrote.
The Town Crier office has also begun to re-stock several locally favorite books, such as Luther Weare’s “Essence of Idyllwild,” which has been out of print, and also will re-print “Trees of the San Jacintos.”
They will be missed
One remarkable attribute of 2013 was the apparent large number of community leaders who chose to vacate their positions. Some, such as Bill Sanborn, former Hemet Unified School District trustee from Idyllwild, have plans to move away from Idyllwild. Sanborn is headed to the northern frontier — Minnesota; others simply retired.
The departures began in January, when former San Jacinto District Ranger Laurie Rosenthal retired. Shortly after, former Idyllwild Fire Capt. Mike Mulhall announced his retirement.
Former executive director at Spirit Mountain Retreat Ethel Kennedy retired to Michigan.
Others may not be moving away, but they also have left important local positions.
Bill Baker, who led the local Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services chapter, unplugged this year. Shelley Kibby retired as the park interpreter at the Nature Center.
Gina Moran-McGough was promoted at Riverside County’s Office of Emergency Services, consequently she will no longer be leading the local Mountain Emergency Service Committee sessions. And U.S. Forest Service Battalion Chief Greg Ross retired in November.
The Mt. San Jacinto State Park Superintendent Garratt Atchison was replaced with Paul Reisman.
Their contributions and ideas will be missed although others, such as new HUSD Trustee Vic Scavarda, have already begun to fill the vacancies.
IFPD reaches out to Pine Cove
In June, the Idyllwild Fire Protection District commissioners unexpectedly amended their enacted ambulance fees to lower the cost for Pine Cove residents. If transported, Pine Cove residents will be charged the same rate as Idyllwild residents.
The decision lowered the cost of an advanced life support incident by about $300, from $1,438.14 to $1,134.92.
Former Fire Commissioner Pete Capparelli led the effort. At the June 11 meeting, he requested that the new rates be reconsidered at the next meeting. But the decision was not unanimous.
Then-commission Treasurer Jerry Buchanan argued that the County Service Area 38 (Pine Cove) payments to IFPD — negotiated between the county’s Emergency Medical Services Agency and IFPD — are needed to ensure two fully staffed ambulance staffs at all times. Therefore, they are not related to the actual cost of transport or any medical service. Also, individuals on Medicare or Medi-Cal, regardless of residence, do not pay the full transport cost.
Nevertheless, then-commission President Jeannine Charles-Stigall and Capparelli said they had spoken to many local residents who supported the idea.
“I look around and see friends and neighbors who need to work together,” Capparelli said. “You can’t tell me you’re not happy with the ambulance,” he said to the Pine Cove residents. “After hearing the concerns and soul-searching, you should be charged the same as Idyllwild.”
When asked how much the change might cost IFPD, Fire Chief Patrick Reitz said there had been 36 medical transports from Pine Cove between August 2012 and June 2013. Only six of those patients actually paid the $300 difference.
Several Pine Cove residents spoke passionately about their desire to see the fee modified.
“[Pine Cove] residents pay more than people who pass through [Idyllwild], but don’t contribute anything to you,” said Marge Muir, Pine Cove resident and CSA 38 Committee member. “The supervisor [Jeff Stone, 3rd District] has the county pay for Zone 3 [an area north of Pine Cove.] Those residents don’t. Don’t treat us as non-residents. We’re part of the mountain,” she implored the commission.