The community bids a fond farewell to Janice Rutherford
By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
The members of the Crest Forest Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) thought that many community members would like to have the opportunity to thank Janice Rutherford for her dedicated 12 years of service as the 2nd District County Supervisor. They were correct – the dining room of the San Moritz Lodge was filled with more than 100 of her constituents on Tuesday night, Oct. 11.
All who attended were afforded the opportunity to personally speak with her and, afterwards, she got the opportunity to tell the community exactly what she thought of them. She told the story of her first encounters with the mountain characters she had met with. Several of them, she said, informed her that this was just not any “down the hill” city and that the mountains and its residents were different and needed to be listened to and respected. They told her that Lake Gregory was the key and lifeblood of Crestline. She listened and learned that, although the dam was problematic, it was essential to the community.
After she was elected with the promise to address the dam problem, she appointed local residents – including Mick Hill and Rick Dinon, Kyle Schulty, Aaron Creighton and others – to the Lake Gregory Improvement Committee (LGIC). They listened to experts who explained the multitude of problems, offering 11 solutions to the problem dam; however, nine of those solutions involved draining the lake, plus all the solutions cost millions of dollars, said Rick Dinon.
The 1938 dam was considered by the state to be dangerous and about to fail with defective construction; plus, why keep the lake, since the county regional park was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Yet Rutherford persisted, believing that Lake Gregory was the heart of the community and, through the LGIC, found a way to get a buttress installed to support the old dam, installed new drains required by the state and got the lake dredged. Then, they hired a management company to run the lake and have the bark beetle ravaged dead trees removed from the regional park. Her preservation of the lake and its new position as the economic engine for the community brought her many accolades that evening.
As Bill Mellinger stated, “Because of Janice’s desire to put a dream into a reality, she was able to put our community back into action.” Lake Gregory Company’s Steve Garcia said she came to see where the county’s investment went and rode on a Duffy boat last year, asking “what do you as a community need?” As a result, the community restrooms are coming soon.
Rutherford named several men – Mick Hill, Dennis Labadie and Mike Chilson – who gave her insight into the history and complexities of Crestline and its residents and, through their love of the community, showed her how to steer around the potholes of weather and mountain living and by listening to the old timers to solve its problems as they arose. She learned to make Lake Gregory a priority.
Rutherford commented that she discovered that the residents love Crestline and all seem to be involved and volunteer to help others on the mountain; many give more than 100 percent to more than one group, which is why the mountain communities thrive through volunteerism. “Volunteers are the heart of your community,” she acknowledged.
Dinon was on the Lake Gregory Improvement Committee, appointed to the Crest Forest MAC and was one of the organizers of this farewell reception, along with Kyle Schulty and other MAC members. The MAC members also presented her with a hand-carved bear with a plaque for her home to remind her always of Crestline. Rutherford’s vote to return the Transit Occupancy Tax funds to the communities through the chambers in 2017 is enabling the mountain communities to thrive.
Robin Bull, from the Lake Arrowhead Communities Chamber of Commerce, introduced Josh Martin, the general manager of Lake Arrowhead Village, and Tricia DuFour, who thanked Rutherford for the tourism dollars, which brought forth their theme of “Escape, Relax, Enjoy.”
Crestline Chamber President Michelle Hake said that, due to the improvements at Lake Gregory, it was at full capacity this summer, so she thanked Rutherford for her commitment to making Lake Gregory a priority, “since I can’t imagine Crestline without Lake Gregory. The TOT funds made our Corks & Hops successful; before, we’d have 70 attend, this last one had 550. She was intentional about listening doing what she could about the flight path, the roads and more. You have made a difference and positioned us for success,” Hake added.
Garcia added the volunteers work together to build the community and the visitors are coming to build the economy. “There was a lot of blood sweat and tears, but without your support, Janice, it would have been in vain. Thank you for renewing and remembering our mountains and keeping Lewis Murray as your field representative; it made all the difference.”
Dinon commented, “Janice has a winning personality and a beautiful smile, but she is a work horse. The sediment that had flowed into the lake over the years made it almost possible to walk across it; it needed dredging. The lake was operating at a million-dollar deficit and now six-and-a-half years later, it is in the black with good management and Janice was there every step of the way. It cost $26 million, but it has revitalized the community and made the lake and community into a destination. The Lake Gregory Improvement Committee thanks you.”
As the people entered the room, they signed a memory book for Rutherford and Marlyn Dinon presented it to her. Rutherford said she will enjoy reading all the comments and will keep it forever, as her memories of working on the mountain are profound.
“When I began to work for the state assembly in 1987 and saw how government worked, I decided to make ethics my number one priority. I was told the dam could be fixed for $4 million dollars, but 11 years later, when it was finally done, it had cost $26 million, but there were many infrastructure costs for the community involved in that figure, including widening roads and more. I thank you for embracing me and my family. The boys are looking forward to going out onto those inflatables next season.
“I enjoyed all the parades and accolades. I have great gratitude for all the assistance of Lewis Murray; choosing him was the best decision of my career, as he was a tremendous asset. I will miss working with Lewis, but you are fortunate as he is staying to work with 3rd District Supervisor Dawn Rowe. His knowledge of this area will assist her greatly as she transitions into representing this area. Lewis is a great advocate for this area. Rowe already likes this area but be sure your voice is heard; this community is worth fighting for. I leave here with excellent memories, souvenirs and this memory book, too. Thank you all for your kind words,” Rutherford added.
Steve Garcia presents a carved wooden bear to County Supervisor Janice Rutherford for her outstanding service to the Rim communities. The pair are flanked (L-R) by Crest Forest MAC member Gilbert Flores, former Crest Forest Senior Citizens Club President Penny Shubnell, Lake Gregory Improvement Committee member Rick Dinon and Crest Forest MAC member Kyle Schulty. (Photos by Douglas W. Motley)
Second District County Supervisor Janice Rutherford was always willing and eager to listen to the concerns of her constituents like Lake Arrowhead resident John Moore.
More than 100 well-wishers showed up at soon-to-be-retired County Supervisor Janice Rutherford’s farewell reception at Crestline’s San Moritz Lodge.