Chrissie Teeling, formerly of San Diego, is the newest Fern Valley Water District (FVWD) director. Teeling and her husband have only recently moved to the Hill full-time in June. But they have been coming on weekends for more than a year and have been part-time residents since fall.
Very enthusiastic and with a lifetime of offering aid and help through church and school, her energy and interest in helping has already drawn her into several local groups, such as food distribution and church.
Now she has been attracted to the water district and its human-friendly contrast with many larger and urban organizations — public or private.
After a whirlwind three-day search, they bought their home last fall and visited nearly every weekend, but a water bill caught Teeling’s attention. Curious to understand, she asked about a comparison with a neighbor. For weekenders, she discovered their bill was about double the full-time neighbor’s bill.
Needing an explanation, Teeling called the district office, which resulted in her first surprise — another human answered. There was no robotic message telling her to push “1, if” or “2, if”. She was startled to be speaking to a live individual.
“Jessica [Priefer, FVWD assistant general manager] was so helpful explaining the bill and suggesting plumbers to fix the problem. I was truly impressed,” Teeling said, describing her initial contact with the water district.
Now here a month, Teeling learned of the board vacancy and thought filling the position would be “… a way to get to know more people and how the district works.”
Although her background does not include engineering or water science, she describes herself as a “task doer.”
“I’ll be involved and want to help,” she promised.
Born in Encino, Teeling grew up in Newbury Park. She graduated from Long Beach State University. While planning a teaching career, she chose to marry and have a family. With their two sons, the Teelings have been longtime San Diego residents.
During the initial COVID lockdown, Teeling’s husband began discussing retirement and the possibility of finding a home elsewhere than San Diego. This was a surprise to her and not necessarily welcome at first. But after discussions, she opened to the idea that San Diego was not a forever home and they began looking for locations.
Her criteria were to stay in California and be close to family. Big Bear, Arrowhead and other towns were not satisfying. Eventually, a friend suggested Idyllwild. Although the Teelings had heard of Idyllwild, she admitted they had never been here.
But in early 2021, they made their first visit.
“I loved it! Although I had never been here before, immediately I clearly could picture myself here,” she said enthusiastically. “And we kept coming on weekends.” By October 2021, they were homeowners and by spring 2022, the Teelings were residents.
Teaching and nursing are where she spent workdays before raising her family. After her children left elementary school, she worked mostly at schools and with special education students.
Now she is ready to devote time to public service at the FVWD.
She is well aware of the current drought conditions and is planning to learn about FVWD’s situation and water sources. “I feel we need different ways to conserve and to help people to cut back and still get done what they need.”
When asked what her focus on the board might be, she replied, “I don’t know yet. It depends on where they need me. I’m looking forward to a tour of the facilities next week and learning to work with the other directors.”
Teeling replaces former director Walter Bonneau Jr., who was appointed in October 2019 to replace former Director Trisha Clark who moved away, which is what Bonneau has done. Clark’s term was to expire in December 2023. So, Teeling will be up for reelection next year.
“I find it all very interesting and I would like to continue,” she added.