Heritage Teacher Wendi Rodriguez to fly into space with NASA
By Terri Hill
As the culmination of more than a year’s worth of applications, projects, and classes, The Heritage School’s Wendi Rodriguez will be flying into space in the fall of this year.
Mrs. Rodriguez is an Airborne Astronomy Ambassador for NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). In the fall, she and teammate Marie Thornsberry of Hughbanks Elementary, Rialto, California will spend two nighttime flights aboard the modified Boeing 747SP jetliner, observing activities by physicists, engineers, and astronomers. A week-long training at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale precedes the flights. Knowledge derived from the experience will be the subject matter for speaking engagements, classes, and star party events during and beyond the following year, making the team true Ambassadors of SOFIA.
“NASA’s SOFIA observatory provides a fantastic opportunity for educators to witness scientific observations being conducted first-hand so they can better understand and appreciate the research process,” said Hashima Hasan, SOFIA program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, in a press release. “SOFIA presents a unique opportunity for educators to interact with researchers making observations on board the SOFIA airborne observatory. The educators can then take what they learn back into their classrooms and communities to convey the value of scientific research as well as the wide variety of science, technology, engineering, and math career paths available to students.”
Eleven teams of two were chosen as Ambassadors this year from an extremely large draw of educators internationally. Rodriguez and Thornsberry applied together as a team last February. Their friendship began years ago, as Thornsberry had gone to school with Rodriguez’ husband Mario. The bid for nomination entailed monthly online meetings and a project, part of the Earth Partner Program. Rodriguez’ project was the planning and carrying out of a Star Party for the Gate children and their families at Thornberry’s school, Hughbanks Elementary. Over the course of the year, the team completed the necessary assignments to become eligible for the program.
Last year Wendi Rodriguez was chosen California’s Science Teacher of the Year. She was nominated by her students, who had won their fair share of awards at STEM programs. She thanked others for their support then, as now. “I’m really excited!” It wouldn’t have happened without the continuing support of my husband Mario, my students, my school and fellow faculty members, Snowline District, and NASA.” Rodriguez went on to say that NASA will continue to support the Ambassadors’ teaching efforts over the next year. “NASA is sending an online graduate credit astronomy course to all of the Ambassadors. It will help me review and increase my own knowledge to share with my students.”
Rodriguez will also match findings from NASA infrared studies in astronomy with current Science Standards, to ensure the programs are up to date. As a member of Next Generation Science Standards, she instructs other educators from the District, County, and State on teaching methods for the classroom.
According to NASA, “SOFIA is a highly modified Boeing 747SP jetliner fitted with a 2.5-meter (100-inch) telescope that uses a suite of seven instruments to study celestial objects at infrared wavelengths during 10-hour overnight science missions. SOFIA flies at altitudes between 39,000 and 45,000 feet (12-14 kilometers) above more than 99 percent of the water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere that blocks infrared energy from reaching ground-based observatories.” SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, manages the SOFIA program. The aircraft is based at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California.
Jeff Birchfield promotes within SBC Fire
By Terri Hill
Battalion Chief Jeff Birchfield is moving up in San Bernardino County Fire and out of the Tri-Community area. He has been promoted to Division Chief assigned to Valley, Division 1, which includes Fontana, Grand Terrace, San Antonio Heights, Muscoy, Bloomington, Devore, Lytle Creek, and Mentone. As Division Chief, Birchfield will take responsibility for rescue operations, fire and emergency medical response in that region.
Birchfield grew up in the High Desert and, as a Captain then Battalion Chief with SBC Fire, spent five and half years calling Wrightwood Station 14 and Division 2 home. A frequent visitor to WW MAC and Fire Safe Council meetings, Birchfield kept the community apprised of happenings in and out of Station 14, including call reports as well as updates on the new kitchen. On the phone Birchfield commented that something he’ll miss when he goes to his new assignment at Headquarters in Fontana is the familiarity with the people as well as the landscape. “I grew up looking at the mountains from that side (High Desert).” Birchfield added, “In the Tri-Community, everybody waves at us. They don’t wave to you down here!”
Still, Birchfield is very excited to begin this new chapter in his career as a firefighter. His career in fire service began in1991 as a paid-call firefighter for Station 37 in Mountain View Acres; in 1992 he worked as a seasonal firefighter for the Bureau of Land Management on helicopter crew 554. He then worked at Ft. Irwin Fire Department as a firefighter prior to coming to County Fire as an Engineer.
Birchfield accepted a position with Redondo Beach Fire Department in 2000, as a firefighter/paramedic. In 2005 he returned to San Bernardino County Fire where he spent the next eight years as a Captain assigned to various stations throughout the county, including the Training Division. Birchfield promoted to Battalion Chief in 2013, and was assigned to Division 2, where he has helped secure additional grant funds for the department, performed as an expert witness on multiple cases involving vehicle collisions, and sits as Vice Chair on the FIRESCOPE Task Force.
Division Chief Birchfield graduated from the County’s Management Leadership Academy in 2012 and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Management from Azusa Pacific University as he actively pursued higher education and training throughout his career.
SBC Fire Engineer/PIO Jell Allen stated in a press release, “He (Birchfield) has been instrumental in the development of the Emergency Vehicle Operations program that is now in place here at County Fire. One component of EVOC is the mobile driving simulation trailer which was purchased on an AFG Homeland Security Grant. The driving simulator offers video based simulations in a controlled environment and County Fire has seen a reduction in emergency vehicle collisions by 50% since the inception of the towable driving simulator.” In addition, Birchfield has secured grant monies that will fund new Mobile Data Computers for Division 2 apparatus in the coming months.
Until a new Chief is chosen for Division 2, station Captains from the area will take extra shifts to cover the position.
Birchfield and his family live in Upland. He enjoys watching his two children at their various events, and boating, golf, and traveling. Asked what he sees as his future with SBC Fire he stated, “I want to keep the department moving forward with new programs. I’ve always pushed for better technology.”
Pizza Factory Celebrates 30 Years in the Tri-Community
By Al Morrissette
When Brian and Kim Lombardi moved from their Central California home, they brought a Pizza Factory franchise with them. Settling in Phelan because of the demographics and the feeling that it was home, the Lombardi family created a connection with the community that was celebrated last Sunday, March 13 as they opened their doors to the 30th Anniversary of their business. Hundreds of people, families and individuals, arrived from 11am to 9pm bringing best wishes, sharing in games and prizes and buying pizza at the 1986 prices.
Well-wishers shared many stories about birthday parties and other family/community events at this location, and participated in spinning the Wheel of Fortune to see what they may have won. Was it free bread sticks, or salad, or such as Bill Cummings and Andrean Marcil discovered “Free Pizza for a year?”
The restaurant’s first location was just east of Sheep Creek Road at the Town Square on Phelan Road. The location was small, but still enabled them to have a backroom for storage, front display of the kitchen, service counter and salad bar along with a few tables and chairs. It offered easy access and was across the street from Phelan Elementary School and near the old post office.
Then when the Anderson family built their shopping center with the Anderson True Value Hardware Store as the anchor, the Lombardi family moved their restaurant to the east corner. The new location was much larger enabling them to have a large dining area, expand the salad bar, and add Brian’s favorite part, video games. The new facility also provided small and large meeting rooms offered to the community free of charge.
Their business strategy aligns with their personal lives as Christians; Fiscal Conservatives giving hand ups to charities, non-profits and local residents. Time and time again, you will find that part of the daily proceeds go to a local fundraiser, whether it be a booster club of a local school, a church event, helping a youth sports group or outreaching to a family in distress. The meeting rooms are regularly booked for the Phelan Chamber meetings, Kiwanis meetings, Sunset Little League and other organizations that need a place to meet publically.
Brian and Kim are active in community events, sponsoring Phelan Phun Days, Angel Tree and more. You can’t go to a hometown Serrano Football game without the smell of Pizza Factory Pizza coming from the concession stand and every classroom of every Snowline school has held a Pizza Factory Pizza Party. The Lombardi family embraced the rural lifestyle including horses and livestock at their homes, and their children went to local schools and were active in after school events. The Pizza Factory staff is graced with familiar faces, because for the past 30 years, the staff has been local residents, mostly students that sought their first jobs. For years the Lombardis have catered local weddings and other events.
Robert Tolliver stated, “Brian, I just wanted to say thank you for all you and your family have done, and do for the community. From helping us out at the VFW to allowing various groups to do fundraisers. You, your family and your employee’s are the best.”
Charlie Johnson commented. “We just finished, and it was worth the wait! Thanks, Brian, Kim, and your whole team. You all did a great job tonight! Thanks for all that you do for our community.”
Use EBT/CalFresh benefits at Phelan Certified Farmers Market
The Market Match grant supported by The Ecology Center of Berkley, California and funded by Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive funds has exceeded expectations at the Phelan Certified Farmers Market, and is continuing to grow. The Market Match program matches EBT/CalFresh customer expenditures up to $10.00 providing another $10.00 for farm fresh fruits and vegetable purchases. The Phelan Certified Farmers Market, Market Match redemptions, have grown more than 400% on average since the inception of the grant in June 2015, yet have not even begun to tap the funds available to our community. The market award amount has not been reached yet, and if the funds are not redeemed, they will be transferred to another farmers market partner in need of the funds. The Phelan Certified Farmers Market would like to see these funds go to our community creating a healthier, more vibrant High Desert community. The market will be entering its second grant year in April 2016 and is looking forward to continued growth in providing locally farm fresh fruits and vegetables to its community in need. For more information come to the Phelan Certified Farmers Market running every Monday 2 pm to 6 pm at 4128 Warbler Road in Phelan. See manager Rowena McDermott for more information and she will guide all those eligible through the easy process of obtaining farm fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Millennial Generation self-sufficient through local farming
By Al Morrissette
A rural lifestyle belongs as much to the Millennial Generation as to the older generation of days past.
When Brett and Jake Stanton moved back to the Phelan area it was because they wanted to raise their three daughters, RoweMance, Benji and Lacey it the same rural environment that they grew up in. Snowline School District was the learning environment for them as they grew up, and their research showed that the district is still one of the highest rated in the county.
“I feel comfortable that my daughter’s kindergarten teacher at Baldy Mesa Elementary was my fourth grade teacher when I attended the school,” said Jake, “and she remembered me as a student and now is my daughter’s teacher.”
When they married soon out of high school, they sought new adventure and through family contacts moved to Hawaii. Hawaii didn’t accept them very well and life was tough especially raising their first daughter, so they gathered their belongings and moved to North Las Vegas. But Vegas proved to have a poor environment for raising a family, thus they reconsidered the rural lifestyle they grew up in and found a home in Little Rock, CA. Jake stated, “Too much crime and violence spewed into Little Rock from Palmdale and after a few years of that we sought to return to our home town.”
They found a home with enough bedrooms for their family and 2 ½ acres of land and on a dirt road. “We had great feelings finding out that several of our old friends also ventured away but returned to home because we want the rural environment for our families, our friendship reunited and we help each other accomplish our goals.”
Brett and Jake converted an old out building into a chicken coop, built a perimeter fence around the coop enabling the 15 chickens and a few ducks to have a yard and security from predators. That area also holds 20 rabbits within their cages. “We are self-contained and our goal is to be totally away from processed foods,” said Jake, “everything has a purpose and we don’t want any waste.” The chickens and ducks provide eggs and fertilizer, and the feathers and meat are used after butchering. They also want to raise their own chicks. They raise two pigs each year for meat and the processed bones and hides are used for the dogs as chew items. They also have two horses that Jake is teaching her kids to ride as she did in her childhood. And of course the horses provide fertilizer for the garden.
The 3,000sq-ft garden has a perimeter fence and is set up using boxed areas and line crops. They grow a wide array of vegetables such as corn, squash, radishes, onions and beets. They also grow a variety of berries and have five fruit trees, all of which provide for canned goods used for bartering and consumption.
The Stantons are installing a wood burning stove to heat the home and have already started to cut their own firewood. This Millennial family is an example of the rapidly growing new rural lifestyle family.
3/9 Possition, selling Marijuana, Hashish, 7400 blk Cedar St., Phelan
3/10 Vandalism, felony over $400, 5700 blk Lodgepole Rd., Wrightwood
3/15 Grand Theft Auto, Sheep Creek /Palmdale, Phelan
These reports are from San Bernardino County Sheriff media call summary log.
Information may be subject to changed.
Man killed in Hwy 138 collision on Friday
On March 11, 2016, at 12:21a.m. CHP responded to the area of State Highway 138 and Kruse Road in West Cajon Valley in reference to a three-car traffic collision involving one deceased male on-scene.
CHP investigation revealed a 32-year-old Lancaster woman, driving a Saturn Aura traveling westbound crossed over the double yellow lines to pass a westbound Mack tractor-trailer and collided head-on with a 1969 Ford Mustang driven by Justin Edwards Tissot, a 32 year-old male resident of Fontana. Officials reported that while Tissot was blacked out from the collision the Ford Mustang came to rest in the westbound lanes of Highway 138 and was struck by a Ford F-150 when its driver failed to notice the disabled Mustang in the roadway. Tissot suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased on scene, authorities said.
The driver of the Saturn Aura, a woman not identified, suffered minor injuries. The Driver and passenger of the F-150 suffered minor to moderate injuries from the crash and were taken to a San Bernardino hospital.
The California Highway Patrol office is investigating the incident.
Juveniles Arrested for throwing rocks
Three additional juveniles arrested for throwing large rocks at moving vehicles/Placing objects in roadway.
The Phelan Sheriff’s Station has arrested three more juveniles related to the arrest last week involving large rocks being thrown at vehicles traveling on Highway 138 near Phelan Road. On March 2, 2016 a 16-year-old male was interviewed and arrested. On Thursday, March 10, 2016 three additional suspects were interviewed, arrested and booked at the San Bernardino County Juvenile Facility in the city of San Bernardino.
The arrests are related to the incidents that occurred between July 2015 and February 27, 2016, where several vehicles, including a marked Sheriff’s Department vehicle, sustained damage from the thrown rocks. The suspects are also involved with placing objects in the roadway of Highway 138 near the Big Rock Inn.
Several more people have come forward since the first press release and it is believed there are many more incidents that went unreported. The investigation is ongoing and victims are encouraged to make a report with the Phelan Sheriff’s Station. (760) 868-1006
Collision involving big rig closes Hwy 138
By Terri Hill
Wednesday morning, March 16, at approximately 6:15 am, a semi collided with an SUV and compact car four miles east of I-15 on Hwy 138.
The semi was on its side, with damage to the tractor; the trailer was observed intact. A marked LA County Coroner vehicle performed traffic control until all lanes were shut down to clean up the approximately 90 gallons of fuel that leaked from the semi.
Traffic remained stopped in both directions of the highway until just before 9 am, when Caltrans had cleaned up the fuel.
No reports of injuries were made. The Highway Patrol record cited reckless driving as the cause, but did not indicate the responsible party.
Serving Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinon HIlls and West Cajon Valley Since 1961