Danny Richardson, American Legion Post 800 commander, signs the agreement with Community Action Partnership on Friday, Dec. 9, to host the Idyllwild Warming Center. The Legion had previously hosted the center from 2010 through 2015.
Photo by Marshall Smith

In January 2016, the Community Action Partnership and County Health Department moved the Idyllwild Warming Center from the American Legion to Town Hall. 

On Friday, Dec. 9, Danny Richardson, Legion Post 800 commander, signed an agreement with CAP and the county to return the center to the Legion. In its most recent press release, CAP lists the Legion, along with “Idyllwild Town Center” (Town Hall), as Hill warming centers. But Town Hall status as a warming center after the first of the year is uncertain because of a new County Service Area 36 recreation manager and the possible sale of Town Hall.

Under the agreement, the Legion can self-activate the warming center based on specific temperature parameters and needs. Notification of the center’s activation would be distributed by the Legion, Mountain Disaster Preparedness and CAP. CAP also will provide signs indicating “Warming Center.” Richardson and the Legion board also suggested attaching a “Warming Center Open” notification to be attached to the Legion banner over North Circle, and on Legion signs and marquees throughout the village.

Mary Morse, Hill resident and 3rd District CAP commissioner, suggested also notifying the Idyllwild HELP Center of warming center activation. Legion Board Member Barney Brause suggested WNKI could also be used to notify of warming center activation.

One of the advantages of having the Legion host the warming center is that it could be open at night, which Town Hall could not be. “One of the officers of the post would stay here all night if necessary,” said Richardson. 

As is the case with all CAP-supported warming centers, the Legion will determine the hours it will be open to the public. CAP’s intention, according to its announcement, is “to help sustain warming centers as drop-in sites for vulnerable individuals, seniors, the disabled and others in need of temporary relief from extreme weather.”

Under the agreement, much as it was from 2011 to 2015, the Legion would provide space and monitor the center during activation, provide sign-in sheets for each day the center would be open, distribute information regarding available community resources, distribute snacks and water to center participants, network with CAP for any needed assistance and share warming center “impact stories and photos.” Richardson also noted that the door to the bar area that adjoins the designated warming center area would be locked during activation.

CAP would provide training on warming center criteria, activation notifications, and snacks, water and all materials needed to run a warming center and provide technical assistance, as needed.

Richardson signed on Dec. 9. CAP Executive Director Brenda Salas Freeman signed for CAP.

Jose Arballo Jr., senior public information officer for Riverside Health System, noted having more than one warming center in Idyllwild is good for residents.

Legion board members aired their frustration with Arballo and CAP representative Olga Sanchez about the way the warming center was moved from the Legion to Town Hall in January 2016. It was unclear at the meeting what had prompted the move. Arballo said one person objected or requested it be moved. Richardson said that no one at the Legion had said that. 

Said Morse in her capacity as CAP commissioner, “I want to make sure that this kind of disconnect does not occur again and that communication between CAP and the community is better.” Morse suggested she could act as official liaison.