By Douglas W. Motley
As we ring in a new year, staff members of The Alpine Mountaineer have carefully considered and then selected a handful of articles from the past year that we feel have had a significant impact on the lives and lifestyles of our readers.
The year 2021 will be remembered by many as a year that began and then ended with tumultuous and destructive storms.
Jan. 7 – Winter storm wreaks havoc on mountain: A snowstorm that began on Dec. 28, 2020, resulted in scattered power outages, as well as two or more feet of snow dumped on the mountaintop communities. This was not exactly a record-setting storm, but it was one that lured thousands of Southland residents to celebrate the New Year’s holiday weekend.
Meanwhile, hundreds of motorists, both with and without tire chains, spun out of control, slamming into hillsides, guardrails and one another on snow and ice-packed roadways clogged with bumper-to-bumper traffic and collisions involving as many as 13 vehicles at a time.
The combination of clogged roadways with stalled vehicles and others stopping in the middle of the road to install chains and driving times of four to five hours to reach the mountain communities made it difficult for the drivers of box trucks and big rigs to make timely deliveries of supplies needed by retailers. These conditions also impacted local residents commuting up and down the mountain.
Feb. 4 – Local hospital meets COVID challenge: Mountains Community Hospital’s Director of Community Development Kim McGuire, who was speaking to the Mountain Sunrise Rotary Club, described how the hospital’s ER and acute care departments had more than double the number of patients in December 2020 as compared to December 2019. She added that many staff members had been sleeping at the hospital to ensure patient care around the clock.
“Our nurses are becoming true ICU nurses in a facility that doesn’t have an ICU,” she said. To isolate COVID patients from others, MCH installed plastic barriers that could be lowered and zipped shut in the hall of the Med-Surg Department. The back barrier gave MCH four rooms for COVID patients, explained the hospital’s Disaster Coordinator Renee Limpus.
In talking about COVID-19 vaccinations, Limpus said MCH had gotten 20 doses in the first batch. Those went to frontline doctors and nurses, she said, adding that MCH had received 280 more doses shortly afterward. Close to 6,000 people had signed up for vaccinations. “This is amazing news. People in the community want to help us get life back to normal.”
Feb. 11 – New Lake Gregory operator named: A new chapter in Lake Gregory’s rich and colorful history was about to be written as county supervisors unanimously approved Lake Gregory Community Recreation Company to operate Lake Gregory Regional Park. “We have a real desire to hit the ground running,” said Steve Garcia, who will be one of the corporate managers for Lake Gregory Community Recreation Company to operate Lake Gregory Regional Park.
The new company, which will operate as a California limited liability company, will have a 15-year contract with the county to operate Lake Gregory Regional Park, with two additional five-year options, for a total of 25 years. The new company promises to bring local control back to Lake Gregory, which has struggled under a couple of private companies to operate what some consider as the county’s crown jewel regional park.
March 11 – Rim adopts three-tiered school reopening plan: If San Bernardino moves into the red tier of COVID-19 restrictions soon, as predicted by Supervisor Janice Rutherford and other officials, all of the students in the Rim of the World Unified School District will be back in the classroom by mid-April. A three-tiered plan, spurred on by AB (Assembly Bill) 86, was approved unanimously by the five Rim trustees at a special meeting on March 2.
Outlining AB 86 for the trustees, Chief Business Officer Jenny Haberlin said $2 billion will be available to school districts in proportional amounts. Half of the allocation will be distributed in May, the other half in August. To get those funds, school districts must provide in-person instruction by April 1. If they do not, their allocation will be reduced by 1 percent per day in-person instruction is not provided between April 1 and May 15.
March 18 – San Bernardino County has moved into the red tier: With vaccination rates rising and COVID-19 cases declining, San Bernardino County transitioned to the less restrictive re tier on Sunday, March 14. The county had been in the state’s most restrictive tier since last August.
“People throughout our county have worked relentlessly over the past year to protect each other’s health and safety,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman, who added, “This has been a community-wide effort involving everyone from healthcare professionals and essential workers to businesses and residents following strict public health protocols. Our diligence is now beginning to pay off.”
July 8 – Celebrating America’s birthday with a parade: A selection of 15 colorful photos on pages 1 and 4 captured the spirit of Crestline’s annual Jamboree Days parade, which had been canceled the previous year due to the COVID epidemic. This year, there were 49 entries, ranging from single vehicles to elaborate floats.
Kicking off and leading the parade was the Mountain Fifes & Drums Corps. Other floats were sponsored by local businesses, the Crestline Lions Club and others, including the Lake Gregory Community Recreation Company, which featured one of its Duffy boats. Midway through the parade, Grand Marshal Mick Hill came rolling down the parade route, waving to the crowds lined up on both sides of Lake Drive from the Rim of the World Historical Society’s historic Crestline bus. Several floats later, this year’s Crestline Citizen of the Year, local historian Rhea-Frances Tetley, waved to a cheering crowd from back seat of a red convertible.
Following the end of the nearly two-hour-long parade, hundreds of parade goers mingled in the street while visiting local vendors’ booths featuring food and beverages, ice cream and hand-crafted goods.
July 29 and Aug. 12 – Mountain Top Days return in all their glory: While a scaled-down version of Mountain Top Days was held last year, this year the event was back with all the festivities. New this year was the theme – “Logging” – to honor the industry that dominated the mountain years ago.
Michael Lee, the event coordinator, commissioned local artist Sabro Foster to create a mascot, a “Lumberbot.” On Saturday, Aug. 7, folks were able to visit with him up close and personal at the farmers market and even had the opportunity to bid on him and take him home.
The parade stepped off at 6:15 p.m. on Friday. Participants marched from City Creek Road along Hilltop Boulevard and ended at the intersection with Highway 330. At press time, some of the expected participants included Golden Oaks, Riordan’s MMA Club, Mountain Transit, Snow Valley, Rustic Arts, Sugar Mountain, Boy Scouts, U.S. Forest Service, Rim Family Services, Hilltop Chinese Restaurant, Outdoor Essentials,, Mountain Rim Fire Safe Council, Action Auto, Pali Adventures, First Foundation Bank, Rim of the World Community Church, CHP, Running Springs Fire Department, Arrowbear Fire Department, Gregory Wadsworth Family and Mt Calvary Church.
Grand Marshal Laura Dyberg waved to the crowd from a Cal Fire engine. Of course, everyone was delighted to see Smokey Bear riding in an antique Forest Service car.
The parade concluded with a line of first responders, all with their lights blazing and their sirens blaring.
Nov. 11 – The saga of the Goodwins’ 75 years: Goodwin and Son’s Market is the largest year-round employer in the Crestline community. Over the past 75 years, although they started with family members as employees and then friends, they have now hired thousands of employees, often being the first job for many residents as they grow up.
They teach and expect good employees’ skills of honesty, being dependable by being on time and working during the hours scheduled.
Some employees have happily dedicated the majority of their work careers to Goodwin’s Market. Larry Macias was asked by George Goodwin to work at what was then the new Crestline store location store in 1985. George needed more employees in his new store. Over the years, Macias has done many jobs, including driving the forklift, doing office work, being on the sales floor working with and training employees. “I still have variety in my job, and I enjoy it. An employee here can learn to know our customers.” He is currently in management but can be seen on the sales floor almost any day.
He explained that Goodwin’s is a great, small corporation to work for, run by a great family from top to bottom. They have family values and their structure makes it a pretty good place to work, with a feeling of family. “I think working with good people helps make the business work well.”
Mark Greene, who is a grocery manager, just celebrated his 20th anniversary with Goodwin’s. “I see my future at Goodwin’s. The family are go-getters and support the community. Goodwin’s supports families and respects having time with your family. I wouldn’t want to raise my kids anywhere else in California, the mountains call me.”
Greene continued, “Mike Johnstone reminds me of George Goodwin, ‘go-go-go’ all the time and getting things accomplished. Plus, Mike smiles while he gets things done. Smiles around here come natural to us as employees, too; it is good to be up here. Goodwin’s is all about their employees and customers. This next generation of Goodwin family members are supportive and looking towards the future. They have opened other locations in Riverside and are on the cutting edge, poised for the future, even doing local deliveries. “So, I intend to still be here for their 100th anniversary.”
Nov. 25 – SkyPark to purchase district office building: The last item on the action calendar at the Nov. 18 meeting of the Rim of the World Unified School District’s board of trustees was “Approval of Resolution #21/22-04 for the sale and negotiation of a purchase and sale agreement for district surplus property located at 27315 North Bay Road in Blue Jay.” That property is the district office building. The fiscal impact is $2,448,500.
According to the resolution, the purchaser is SkyPark at Santa’s Village, deemed to be “the most desirable proposal because of the terms, price and community benefit.”
The district office was declared surplus property in May 2020 after Measure A – a $51.5 million bond measure – did not pass. Under state law, the property had to first be offered to other government agencies. When none stepped forward, the district was able to go out for public bidding. Because the terms of the proposal were discussed in closed session, the trustees were not able to discuss its contents – those terms, the community benefit and SkyPark’s intended use of the space. Those intentions, the trustees acknowledged, were outlined in the park’s proposal.
Following the meeting, Bill Johnson, general manager of SkyPark, said, “Yes, we are looking into a possible purchase of the district office building. However, we do have a non-disclosure agreement that we will be honoring at this time. As we are able, I can get you more information.
As for the district office, Superintendent Michelle Murphy said, “We will be moving to one of our closed schools at the Lake Gregory Education and Community Center.”
Dec. 9 – Blue Jay Christmas parade enthralls spectators: Since “The Grinch” (and COVID) stole last year’s Christmas parade, there was none. However, for this year’s 42nd annual Blue Jay Christmas parade, things picked up and the 40 businesses and organizations that sponsored it were only too glad to reinstate what has been said to be the nation’s shortest Christmas parade (about one-quarter mile long).
Unlike other years, when there was frigid, or even snowy, weather, this year’s moderate temperatures and blue sky were very accommodating.
There were groups of veterans from American Legion Post 360 and the VFW Post 9624. The Rim Blue Star Moms marched in honor of their sons and daughters who are currently serving in the military.
Local organizations like the Rim of the World Historical Society, the Rim of the World Educational Foundation, the Lake Arrowhead Rotary Club, the Mountain Sunrise Rotary Club and the sheriff’s Search and Rescue team participated.
Music was provided by the Mountain Fifes & Drums Corps as well as a band comprised of both Rim High’s marching band and Mary Putnam Henck Intermediate School’s band, marching together in the parade for the first time.
The Grinch put in an appearance, of course, as did both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Students from Victory Tae Kwan Do stopped in front of the judges and performed amazing feats of physical agility.
The high school’s cheerleaders marched with the football team and then performed cheers and stacked 13 cheerleaders three levels high.
At last the crowd was able to greet this year’s grand marshals – Bill and Michelle Johnson of SkyPark at Santa’s Village – riding in a car that had been part of an original ride at the park. They were accompanied by many of the Northwoods characters from SkyPark.
Next, the moment everyone was waiting for: That jolly old elf, Santa Claus, rolled past the crowd in a carriage pulled by two white horses. They were followed by Smoky Bear, Sparky the Fire Dog, Captain Cal from Cal Fire and Rim Special Athletes.
Several engines from the San Bernardino County Fire Department brought the parade to an end.
Following the parade, awards were given out by the judges in several categories. Best Theme was awarded to “King Elvis the Santa Grinch,” Best Performance to Victory Tae Kwon Do, Most Humorous to Bill’s Villager and the DJ’s Choice was awarded to the “drill team” from Rebuilding Together Mountain Communities and the Association of Building Contractors of the San Bernardino Mountains.
Dec. 30 – Winter storm unleashes its fury on mountain communities: Last week’s winter storm literally wreaked havoc upon the mountaintop communities, with hard rain falling and wind gusts estimated at up to 40 miles per hour, which resulted in many large limbs and branches falling into streets and homeowners’ yards.
On Highway 18, from Crestline all the way up to Big Bear, rocks and boulders were strewn across traffic lanes, as well as mud flows, resulting in severe damage, such as bent rims, broken axels and smashed fenders, to unsuspecting motorists as they rounded blind curves. All of this was especially prominent in the Arctic Circle area just south of Big Bear Lake, where these occurrences happen frequently during storms of last week’s magnitude.
Caltrans and California Highway Patrol units had their hands full on the evening of Dec. 22, when the outer downbound lane of Highway 18 collapsed just above the upper entrance and exit to Old Waterman Canyon Road.
The incident resulted in the full closure of the heavily traveled mountain highway from 40th Street to the Crestline bridge.
Caltrans Public Information Officer Emily Leinen told The Alpine Mountaineer on Dec. 24 that Caltrans is looking for a contractor that can get the road, which is closed to all traffic in both directions, opened as soon as possible.
“Residents only of Upper Waterman Canyon can get to their homes at this time,” added Leinen. She suggested that motorists traveling to the mountain communities can still get to Crestline, Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs by coming up the backside of Highway 138 which exits from the I-15 Freeway in the Cajon Pass and travels past Silverwood Lake until it comes into Crestline.
She said other routes still open include Highway 330, from Highland to Running Springs, as well as Highway 18 from Lucerne Valley to Big Bear and Highway 38, from Mentone to Big Bear.
Leinen said drivers coming up by way of Highway 330 will encounter a chain control check point in the lower passing lane. “Motorists with all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicles shouldn’t have any trouble taking this route, but they are required to have chains available in their vehicle, because they may encounter some icy spots.”