Monday, January 25, 2010

Idyllwild Arts Honor Society students have strong backs will shovel

Idyllwild Arts National Honor Society (IANHS) students are lending strong backs and snow shoveling prowess to special needs Idyllwild residents in an outreach program designed to bring town and gown communities closer together.

“I feel like a lot of the town’s people feel that we [IA students] are in our own world, and we feel that it’s time for that to change — for us to give back,” said IANHS President Sheila Bernhoft. “We have pretty good backs and elderly town residents could use our help.”

Bernhoft, an IA senior viola major, spearheaded the project along with 13 IANHS colleagues, Luke Sherman, Jamie Cahill, Everett Ford, Will Springer, Karina Li, Brent Terry, Yoo Bin Cha, Jordan Bonner, ShiShi Zhou, Geneva Winters, Esther Chung, Bella Oh, Kitty Honma and Ned Lee. The IANHS members will man shovels and manage the project.

The first IA snow brigade turned out Sunday, Jan. 24. One happy homeowner, eighty two year old Leigh Humphrey was surprised and delighted. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this,” she said. Humphrey said a group of 4 female students and IANHS advisor and math/science teacher Chris Wegemer spent over an hour shoveling her deck, a walkway to her car, and removing snow from the car. “I can’t get out and dig snow,” said Humphrey. She noted the students lacked some shoveling expertise but compensated with dedicated effort. “Chris had to take them back to campus, but he came back later to fine tune what they’d done.” Humphrey said she had 17 inches of snow on her property and the assistance couldn’t have been timelier.

Prior to leaving on Friday for an audition at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Bernhoft said the Honor Society planned to open the project to the entire school. “I’m really happy about this connection with the town,” she said. “We have weekends [to volunteer]. We spend a lot of weekends in town anyway. We need to make it so that students and people in town have a relationship of mutual support. We’re thrilled that townsfolk come to our shows and events but it’s pretty much a one-way relationship. This is our opportunity to change that.”

In addition to the IANHS core group, thirty-eight additional students signed up to volunteer — dancers, actors, musicians, filmmakers, writers and visual artists enlisted in the outreach project. They are: Khalid Wardag, Sorrelle McGill, Adrianna Adoma, Georgina Bertheau, Ali Timmons, Hailey Mora, Paulina Kurtz, Andie Huebsch, Dakota Bailey, Gina Galetto, DJ Strong, Ari Howell, Brooke Hebert, Cathy Velarde, Miracle Chance, Haley Kuhlmann, Becca Goldberg, Jing Li, Kathryn Schmidt, Hanna Anderson, Scarlett Urbano, Laura Holliday, Juwan Lockett, Ryu Yanagita, Anna Liem, Nina Brett, Madison Marlow, Scarlett McCarthy, Samantha Jungheim, Yoobin Cha, Amelia Bushell, Helena Walker, Whitney Aviles Low, Amber Morrell, Becky Hirsch, Morgan Unsworth, Kira Hamilton and Emilio Lazcano.

Mountain Disaster Preparedness (MDP) Vice President Dora Dillman is coordinating the project with IA students. “For anyone who wants to be on the [snow shoveling] list, they should go to and click on ‘Forms,” then click ‘Special Needs List,’” said Dillman. “Then fill out an application and fax it to 659-0180 or scan and e mail to Those needing assistance can also call Dillman at (951) 288-5604 or IANHS advisor Wegemer at (951) 659-2171 ext. 2509.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cedar Glen planned power outage rescheduled

Mary Ann Miller, one of the residents affected by the previously scheduled Jan. 20 Cedar Glenn planned power outage, reports that the outage and concomitant pole repair have been reset for Tuesday Feb. 2 from 7 a.m. till 5 p.m.

This all day outage was to have affected 85 households. But consistent with previous Southern California Edison announcements, were the weather bad enough, the Jan. 20 outage would be rescheduled, as it has been.

Hybrid car race through Idyllwild

Hybrid vehicle owners are invited to compete in a fuel economy rally Saturday. Jan. 23. Phil Fournier, co-owner of the Phil’s Auto Clinic repair shop in Hemet is organizing the event to test hybrid car gas mileage.

Check-in starts at 9:45 a.m., Saturday. The rally begins 45 minutes later at 10:30 a.m., from the Clinic, 111 North Soboba Street.

Fournier has mapped a 112-mile loop from Hemet to Hemet, climbing mountain roads, through Idyllwild, down to the desert and ending in Hemet

Fournier said that he presently has 10 hybrids registered for the rally and is still hoping someone with a 2010 Honda Insight registers to compete against a 2010 Toyota Prius entry. The Insight, the first hybrid available in the U.S. in 1999, is presently billed as the least expensive gas-electric hybrid available in America and, according to Fournier, is capable of getting up to 70 miles per gallon of gasoline.

Along the route, competitors will stop for a picnic lunch of homemade corn chowder, pumpkin soup and gaufrette cookies (a French waffle-cookie treat) prepared by Fournier’s wife, Karen. Winners of the competition will receive $50 Visa gift cards.

To register as a competitor, call Fournier at (951) 927-2102. For more information about the rally, go to

Beth Nottley can be reached at

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Idyllwild Water District

The Idyllwild Water District board met last night. In the absence of President Allan Morphett, the board decided to increase the funding for drilling two new test wells.

General manager Terry Lyons has selected two sites along Strawberry Creek. When drilling commences, he wants to drill a larger and deeper hole. The proposed cost for drilling two larger well holes exceeds the existing $57,000 budget.

However when asked if drilling both holes might yield a discount from the driller, Lyons agreed. With an expected 10 percent discount, the estimated total would be $70,000 to $75,000. The board felt the savings were worth the additional costs and authorized the full increase in the budget.

Lyons’ operational report drew attention to the trend of increasing unaccounted for water. Staff has repaired one major leak and is investigating whether another exists. Current wet conditions are not very conducive for finding the leak, Lyons explained.

However vice President Warren Monroe estimated that the market value of the possibly lost water was only $50 per day. Consequently he advised Lyons against investing huge sums looking for a few dollars.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Capparelli asked to step down from CSA 36 Advisory Committee

In a surprise announcement at the Thursday Jan. 14 Idyllwild Community Recreation Council's meeting, ICRC Director Vic Sirkin stated that Riverside County 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone’s office asked longtime County Service Area (CSA) 36 member Pete Capparelli to step down from the CSA 36 Advisory Committee. Opal Hellweg of Stone’s staff confirmed Sirkin’s announcement, citing Board of Supervisor board policy A-21 that appears to limit board service to 8 years. Section 5f of A-21 states: “To encourage varied citizen participation in advisory groups, the Board of Supervisors shall generally seek new appointees to replace individuals who have served for eight consecutive years. Board members retain the discretion to reappoint individuals regardless of the length of time served on any advisory group.”

CSA committee members are appointed by the Board of Supervisors to be the “eyes and ears” of the district supervisor and have no policy-making authority. CSA 36 is responsible for supervising recreation and street lighting. ICRC is the independent recreation contractor, over which CSA 36 conducts ongoing review.

In a statement released to the Crier, Capparelli,said, “Over the last nine years it has been gratifying and a pleasure to work with CSA board members to help with recreation on the Hill. I have been recently disappointed with the county administrator’s [Bill Brown, CSA operations manager] lack of responsiveness to the Idyllwild Community Recreation Council’s attempts to get clarification on many questions in order to improve their organization in the manner required by the County. When I was first appointed to CSA 36, the county administrator at that time could not do enough to help us. Recently, it’s felt like an uphill battle to make any progress in achieving a better quality of recreation for the community. This is very unfortunate for all of us. I hope better relations can be achieved in the near future.”

Capparelli’s departure is effective immediately leaving two current board vacancies. Interested applicants can contact Opal Hellweg at (951) 955-1030.

Monday, January 18, 2010

2010 Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema awards ceremony

2010 IIFC first annual awards ceremony winners

No film festival is complete without an awards ceremony. And the 2010 Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema (IIFC) is no exception. Awards presenters at the 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16 gala included Festival Director Stephen Savage, local celebrity/actor Conor O’Farrell, Hollywood actor Wolfgang Bodison, Renate and Geoffrey Caine, and Riverside County Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone. “The envelope please:”

Selected based on the largest audience for a festival screening

Best of Festival – “Legacy”, Stephen Savage, director

The Tahquitz Awards (audience vote)

Best Feature Film – “Rock Slyde”, Chris Dowling, director
Best Feature Director – Chris Dowling, “Rock Slyde”
Best Feature Screenplay – Chris Dowling, “Rock Slyde”
Best Female Actor, Feature or Short – Kyrie Maezumi, “Legacy”
Best Male Actor, Feature or Short – Rob Evens, “Around”
Best Cinematography, Feature or Short – Thomas L. Callaway, “Broke Sky”
Best Documentary – Cassie Jaye, “Daddy, I Do”
Best Featurette (over 15 less than 60 minutes) – “Dead Cat Bounce”, Daric Gates, director
Best Short (under 15 minutes) – “Wrong Way Up”, Gabriel Hardman, director
Best Director, short film under 15 minutes – “The Hit”, Abazar Khayami, director
Best Screenplay, Short – Tommy Smeltzer, “The Deposition of Lou Bagetta”

Awards chosen by the Geoffrey and Renate Caine

The Renate (best documentary made by an educator) – Jim Rizor, “Ketch My Drift”
The Geoffrey Caine Trophy – (best student film made by a director under 18 years of age) – Rob Miller, “From Page to Stage: The Journey of ‘Heartland’”

Award chosen by Stephen Savage and musician brother Tucker

Marshall Hawkins Award for best original soundtrack – Greg Stitt, “Manhater”

Award chosen by Stephen Savage

The Lily Rock Lifetime Achievement Award – Stephan Gierasch, actor in over 100 films including “Jeremiah Johnson,” “The Hustler,” “Dave,” “What’s Up Doc,” “High Plains Drifter,” “Carrie,” “Silver Streak,” and veteran of some of the best television series ever to air including “M.A.S.H.”, “Cheers,” “Murder She Wrote,” “Studio One,” “Ironside,” “The Mod Squad,” “The Jeffersons,” and “The Twilight Zone.” Eighty Three year old Idyllwild resident Gierasch’s IMDb resume takes up 5 pages, truly a lifetime of achievement which began in 1951 with “The Goodyear Television Playhouse.”

Photos from the Saturday Jan. 16 Rustic Theatre IIFC Awards Ceremony and from Friday night's, Jan. 15 sellout World Premiere of Stephan Savage's "Legacy" are posted on the Town Crier's IIFC blog.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week end events

This weekend’s, Town Hall Loutzie Volleyball tournament was canceled. Volleyball coordinator, Brian Wilson, had to make this decision because of the lack of teams. He thought the holiday weekend may have been a conflict.

Secondly, there was medical incident at Strawberry plaza, this morning about 10 a.m., Sheriff’s deputies said no arrests were needed and Idyllwild Fire Department emergency medical technicians evaluated the situation and no transport was needed.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Power Outage near Cedar Glen, Wednesday, Jan. 20

by Beth Nottley

News Assistant

Southern California Edison has planned power outages in Idyllwild between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20. According to Edison media representative Louis Davis, 81 local customers received notification yesterday that power may be off for the whole period or may be turned off more than once throughout the day in the neighborhood of Cedar Glen Drive and Highway 243.

Davis said that extensive work is planned in the area involving electrical poles that need to be changed out “before the winter storms because they are in pretty bad shape.”

However, weather forecasts show a storm front coming in with the possibility of heavy snow in Idyllwild on Wednesday.

Davis said that crews are prepared to do the work as scheduled, “unless the weather is severe and unsafe for our guys to work.” When asked about the fact that residents could be left without heat during a winter storm, Davis said, “I’ll be keeping an eye on the entire region, especially Idyllwild.” He said he would contact the Town Crier on Tuesday, to confirm if the power outages would occur as planned.

Stormy Weather Ahead

In case you don't know, Southern California is about to enjoy a series of very strong Pacific storms. The National Weather Service predictions verge on alarming. Make sure your pantry is stocked, your wood covered and you have plenty of DVDs.

I've posted the specifics of the storm predictions on the "Breaking News" blog. It's there because as the fronts, and I do mean plural, pass through, there will be more news and information on the amount of rain or snowfall on our little hamlet.

We are trying to contact Riverside County Office of Emergency Services and Southern California Edison to learn what advice they have to offer and what preparations they have taken in case the worse case happens.

Remember to be aware of neighbors and others who may need help getting through these fronts.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CSA 38

Cunty Service Area 38 (Pine Cove) met last night (Wednesday, Jan. 13). They re-elected officers for the new year:

Jerry Holldber -- Chair
Marge Muir -- Vice president
Lou Padula -- Secretary

and in the wings if needed is Thomas McCullough as Treasurer.

The Advisory Committee did a preliminary review of the 2010-2011 budget. They did leave the $300,000 for a new engine in the future budget.

Other discussions included the ambulance contract with Idyllwild Fire Protection District and the prospective sale of the old engine.

IFPD, the times, they are a changin'

Change can occur quickly, sometimes almost instantly and sometimes slower. The Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) is embracing change at a pace between revolutionary and evolutionary.

In August, three incumbent commissioners were defeated for re-election. In Decmber, the new commissioners took officer. Last night, at their second regular, but fourth meeting, since begin sworn into office, the commission took and deferred several actions that continue their journey down the change path.

Without opposition, Jeannine Charles-Stigall, elected as a fire commissioner in August, was chosen as the new commission president. Pete Capparelli, also a new commissioner will be her vice president and Commissioner Ben Killingsworth was unanimously re-elected as the commission secretary and treasurer.

The election of officers was delayed from the first action item on the agenda to the last item. Former President Paul Riggi was delayed until almost 8 p.m.

Riggi discussed the merit of rotating the officer positions so that all the commissioners understood the responsibilities and significance of the jobs.

Stigall’s first official action was closing the marathon meeting — almost four hours.

Another action, or perhaps, non-action may portend a more significant change in the future. Killingsworth made a motion to renew Fire Chief Steve Kunkle’s contract through the remainder of this fiscal year, ending June 30. None of the three other commissioners (this occurred before Riggi arrived) made a second and the motion died with no action.

Kunkle’s most recent contract expired June 30, 2009. Since then he has been serving without any signed contract. Killingsworth wanted to extend the current contract until the commission could formally evaluate Kunkle’s performance and make a decision on renewing it for a longer term.

The commission now seems to be in the situation where it can reconsider Killingsworth’s plan, continue with no action or meet and try to negotiate something else including no renewal.

The commission also established an ad Hoc committee, composed of Killingsworth and Capparelli, to review the financial officer’s contract and activities. This could lead to recommendations to revise the current relationship between IFPD and The Family Business.

Killingsworth will also lead an evaluation of IFPD’s management and supervision practices.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Banning quakes, Idyllwild shakes

Several earthquakes that occurred near Banning were felt in the Idyllwild area on Monday, Dec. 11. The strongest, registering 4.3 local magnitude, occurred at 6:36 p.m. Its epicenter was 3 miles north-northeast of Banning, with a depth of 7.1 kilometers (4.4 miles). Two others, originating from the same location, occurred earlier in the day — a 3.1-magnitude quake at 3:24 p.m. and a 3.2-magnitude quake at 3:33 p.m.

Earthquakes of this size, while a little unnerving, are quite common. Quakes measuring 3.0 to 3.9 on the Richter scale are often felt, but rarely cause damage. There are about 49,000 earthquakes of this magnitude every year. Quakes measuring 4.0 to 4.9, of which there are about 6,200 each year, usually cause noticeable shaking of indoor items, but significant damage is unlikely. No immediate damage or injuries were reported as a result of Monday’s quakes.

Beth Nottley wrote this story and she can be reached at

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shannon Ortiz suffers from fall

Near noon on Saturday, Shannon Ortiz fell down the embankment behind the Harvest Market building. She may have been at the bottom of the embankment for a while before help was summoned. After arriving and administering initial emergency medical aid, IFPD requested help from Mercy Air to transport her to a nearby hospital.

Shannon had lost feeling in her arms and legs and suffered some memory lost. By Saturday afternoon, she had recovered some movement in her legs. Doctors were very pleased and satisfied with the CAT scans and MRI, according to her mother, Kathy Sacher Wilson.

Shannon is improving and cards can be sent to P.O. Box 3578.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Question for readers

Until we can transfer our daily news article to our website front page, we will be running daily articles in the daily news blog. Would readers prefer we delete prior daily articles, leaving only the current one, or have instead a cumulative posting, with the latest article on top?

Idyllwild grows a new festival

Once a village of numerous festivals, Idyllwild is growing another — the Lemon Lily Festival, to be held in Idyllwild Friday July 16 through Sunday July 18, 2010.

The idea of U.S. Forest Service botanist Kate Kramer, the festival’s stated purpose is to provide education about, celebrate and restore what was once a major Idyllwild tourist attraction — the Lemon Lily (Lilium parryii) named in honor of Dr. Charles C. Parry, a renowned British-American botanist who was among the first to collect it in the summer of 1876.

Many thousands used to grow on the Hill along perennial streams and in wet meadows, canyon bottoms, seeps, and springs at elevations between four to nine thousand feet. A striking plant that can grow to over five feet with up to thirty flowers on a stalk, it is known for its strong lemon vanilla scent.

Owing to over zealous bulb collectors in the early 20th century, and to environmental changes (less water, taller trees, and more shade), the once populous local lily declined dramatically until the present time when it is largely unknown to most Idyllwild residents.

At a 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 7 meeting at the Idyllwild Nature Center held to introduce the festival concept to the community, Idyllwild Business Roundtable (IBRT) member Bryan Tallent, speaking on behalf of an already formidable committee that includes representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, the Idyllwild Garden Club, The Friends of the Mount San Jacinto County Parks, IBRT, and a professional events planner, said the festival will be an annual event designed to bring the Lemon Lily back to what it once was. He said organizers hope to generate funds and enthusiasm for propagation and planting of the Lemon Lily, create public enthusiasm for visiting the Hill to see it in bloom and for visitors and residents alike to become stewards of its restoration, growth, and continued survival. “I can’t imagine that anyone in Idyllwild who is civic minded would not want to be involved,” he said, “even if you just want to plant lily bulbs. The festival is not about making money, it’s about planting lilies.”

Committee member, pharmacist, and self-styled naturalist and amateur botanist, Dave Stith outlined how community members can “Adopt a Lily,” by purchasing bulbs which volunteers will take to scouted locations and plant, as part of the propagation program. Last summer, Stith counted 2,662 Lemon Lilies on Willow and Tahquitz creeks from the end of July through September. Stith accompanied Dr. Tom Chester, self-taught botanist, astrophysicist and renaissance man on the search along Tahquitz and Willow Creeks. Chester, whose website, contains a wealth of information about plants to be found along our local mountain trails, estimates that at its height, prior to removal of bulbs and weather condition changes, the Hill hosted over 33,000 Lemon Lilies.

The festival will have a major educational outreach component — to teach local and visiting children the importance of conservation and stewardship of prized natural resources. And organizers intend it to be fun for children, with festival events that are designed to be family friendly, with children at the center of the 3-day party.

IBRT member and lily festival website manager Doug Yagaloff asks those interested to visit the site and sign up to receive a regular newsletter about festival developments, schedule, volunteer and sponsor opportunities. “I’m hoping the newsletter has 1,000 people signed up by beginning of spring,” said Yagaloff. “Our intent is to have a great presence at every event leading up to the festival. We’ll have posters up at both venues of the Idyllwild [International Festival of Cinema] film festival, and representation at all festivals prior to July 16.

Although event planning is just beginning, what has already been talked about are: an opening evening reception; a juried art show (Lemon Lily inspired art) with awards; organized hikes to see the lily in its natural habitats; a square dance, hoedown and chuckwagon with Dennis Riley of the Oak Glenn Riley Ranch and his late 19th century period costumed players; children’s crafts and face painting; a village wide scavenger hunt for kids; and similar to the Art Walk’s yearly wine glass, this festival will have a yearly Jan Jaspers Fayer custom designed plate that participants can carry to participating businesses to receive treats or little gifts (lemon themed of course).

An ecologically themed, family centric festival with a major education component, that draws on Idyllwild’s past and repopulates the Hill with a once plentiful beautiful and fragrant natural resource, the Lemon Lily ¬— what’s not to like about that?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

IFPD budget debate continues

The special meeting of the Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) commission resulted in no action and a continuation of the budget watching until next week’s meeting at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 12.

“I thought we’re here to address the budget,” said Commissioner Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly. “I am quite frustrated to come to meeting and just go over the budget and don’t do anything.”

Schelly expressed this concern after Chairman Paul Riggi announced that the session would be only a budget review and without any action requiring a vote.

Despite the absence of Commissioner and Treasurer Ben Killingsworth, who has expressed strong concern about the district’s budget strength, Fire Chief Steve Kunkle said, “We’re [the budget] spot on.”

His current budget recommendations project a positive $1,400 balance on June 30, 2010, at the end of the current fiscal year. However, Kunkle admitted that good fortune had smiled on the district.

As a result of joining the county’s Teeter Plan which will provide some protection for future tax revenues, the county reviewed past years and discovered $138,000 of past due tax receipts.

“I was quite surprised,” Kunkle noted. “I’m gratified, but it is one time only.”

This unplanned windfall substantially insures the budget for the remainder of the year, according to Kunkle. He also recommended budget adjustments of about $14,000. The largest was a $30,000 reduction in the career salaries account due to former Capt. James Manietta’s retirement. He also recommended reducing his Contingency Account by $10,000 from $28,250 to $18,250, and paramedic training from $7,500 to $4,500.

His $14,000 in adjustments plus the unexpected $138,000 creates a budget projected to have $1,400 surplus. But, Kunkle’s proposal makes no provision for paying for the Zoll Medical equipment, if it is kept, or any other costs that may occur as a result of returning the equipment, such as a restocking fee or legal costs.

Since the commission did not yet know the final resolution and its concomitant cost, these funds could not yet be included in the budget process.

Questions were also raised about the status of the agency’s reserves. Since Dec. 2008, IFPD’s reserves have fallen almost $225,000 (or 40 percent). Much of that money, according to the Craig Coopersmith, IFPD’s financial officer, was used for cash until the property tax revenues were received last month. Those deposits will restore the previous levels.

But $170,000 has been “borrowed” from the Benefits and Capital Reserve Accounts without any prior discussion with the commission. In addition, nearly $32,000 of Benefit reserves was used to pay for unused vacation.

Earlier in the meeting, Schelly expressed his concern about the continuing growth of IFPD’s budget. He expressed doubt that tax revenues would continue to grow at the same rate as in the past three to five years.

“If we keep that projection, we won’t have revenues to meet the budget,” he warned. We can’t keep setting the budget higher and higher. We won’t have the revenues.”

In response, Kunkle said he felt very comfortable wit his current five-year projections and recommendations for additional staff.