Transition Habitat Garden Party By Michael Palecki
Last Saturday was a perfect autumn day for the annual garden party of Transition Habitat Conservancy (THC). There were blue skies and wispy white clouds and plenty of fall colors on nearby trees and chaparral. Motoring from the east or west was somewhat of a meaningful prelude to the event as 50 guests passed THC land acquisitions in the Puma Canyon Ecological Reserve on their way to the home of Bert & Jill Bays, nestled in the North Slope foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Girl Scouts from troops #1304 and #1101 assisted THC board members and staff with seating the guests at tables in the garden. Shortly afterward, THC President Jill Bays welcomed everyone, then lead singer Jim Olesh, of the band Bluegrass and Stuff, sang the National Anthem. After that, the band powered into the traditional song “Freight Train.” With Olesh singing lead vocals and playing acoustic guitar, additional musicians included Bill Darnell on electric guitar, Tommy Fitzgerald on Banjo, Bob Applebaum on Mandolin and Dave Wilson playing an unusual upright bass. The instrument was an innovative combination of a bass drum for a body with a more typical neck, fingerboard, and strings attached, making the sitting down position ideal for Wilson’s energetic blue grass picking. Notable songs from the first set included Gram Parsons’ “Hickory Wind” and a raucous jam for the traditional song “Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms.” Meanwhile, at an indoor table where guests were dining, THC Hydrogeologist Andy Zdon was explaining his water spring survey for the entire Mojave Desert, which will be finalized this week. During the past five months, Zdon visited 300 springs, out of 437 that existed at one time based on historic maps, including Smithson Springs in Pinon Hills. Interesting enough, at locales where hillside springs had been bored into, to install pipes to feed water troughs for domestic livestock, the spring dried up without the symbiotic relationship of saturated soil and riparian vegetation. An example in contrast, Smithson Springs, flowing out of the hillside at the top of a box canyon, remained undisturbed and healthy and produced an abundance of water supporting the growth of large trees, bushes and water plants. As Zdon further remarked, in the field of modern day hydrogeology, boring into hillsides abutting roads or development and installing drain pipes, actually dries up the slope and prevents landsides. However, early settlers did not know that the convenience of a water trough would eventually dry up the source. Steve Shaw demonstrated the attributes of a peregrine falcon and a Harris’ hawk. The discussion was fascinating as Shaw explained the raptors’ technique for hunting and how their body weight, measured on a perch-like scale, indicates how hungry they are before they expend the tremendous energy needed for a hunt. After a meal flight, the birds can spot Shaw, as he swings a lure in a circle, with their keen vision; they then return for a special dessert. In the wild, raptors present a balance of nature and play an important role in land conservation. Renowned wildlife photographer David Jesse McChesney presented books, three lines of nature and wildlife note cards, and matted photo images that were for sale. Several items were displayed to guests by the Girl Scouts, and then auctioned as a fundraiser for THC. Go to: http://milesofwonder.com/ to view a dazzling array of McChesney’s artwork. It was a wonderful afternoon shared by those who know future generations will appreciate the Puma Canyon Ecological Reserve. For additional information Go To: www.transitionhabitat.org
WeTip CEO visits Wrightwood By Terri Hill
Anonymous tip organization WeTip CEO Susan Aguilar, M.A., spoke to Wrightwood Neighborhood Watch and Crime Prevention at the November 2nd meeting. Neighborhood Watch celebrated its 5-year anniversary of monthly (now quarterly) meetings offering speakers on a variety of crime related topics. At last week’s meeting, John Aziz reported 32 events hosted in that time. Santa’s annual visit through the streets of Wrightwood is a popular special event sponsored by Neighborhood Watch and the San Bernardino County Sheriff. Forty-four Crime Prevention signs are posted throughout the community, offering a phone number for reporting non-emergency crime and suspicious activity. (SB County: 760.956.5001 and LA County: 661.272.2400) The graffiti resistant signs were financed by the Wrightwood Property Owners Association, and Neighborhood Watch. As Aguilar discussed, tips and information can also be reported to WeTip. According to the WeTip website, WeTip was founded in 1972 as an anonymous crime reporting resource for citizens, and a tool to aid law enforcement. The highly successful program has had a dramatic impact on crime and has significantly reduced incidents of crime in participating communities and schools nationwide. WeTip promises and ensures absolute anonymity. Callers to WeTip are assured their identities will not even be known by WeTip. Support of a WeTip program can be provided by a city, school, or organization. Wrightwood Property Owners Association contributes to WeTip, covering the additional support available to the community. This support includes signs, pamphlets, reward funds, programs, and an app for use on smart phones. Anyone can call the WeTip Hotline, but the additional services come with membership to the program. At a time when everyone has Caller-ID, the question needing an answer was, “Can you truly remain anonymous?” Aguilar explained, “When an informant calls the WeTip Hotline, all calls are anonymous, as opposed to just confidential.” Confidential means that someone knows your name and promises not to tell, but if they are subpoenaed, they must divulge your identity in court. “Anonymous,” however, means nobody knows your identity and there is absolutely no way to find out. “We have an agreement with the phone company,” Aguilar continued, “no taping, tracing or Caller ID. We have no way of knowing who the caller is. A WeTip caller is greeted with, “This is the WeTip Crime Hotline, do not give your name or identify yourself in any way.” If at any time the caller starts to identify him or herself, the operator will interrupt telling the caller “I have to disconnect this call, please call back and speak to another operator.” WeTip wants the information, but they absolutely must not be aware of the caller’s identity. Once anonymity has been established, the operator asks the caller a series of up to 65 questions. Often, a witness will assume he or she does not have enough information to be of any real help. The series of questions were developed with the aid of law enforcement for the purpose of eliciting as much information as possible. Callers may actually have more information than they realize. Aguilar cited a few of the countless cases that have won convictions as the end result of just two or three key pieces of information from WeTip calls. WeTip numbers include, (800) 47-ARSON, (800) 47-DRUGS, (800) US-FRAUD, and (800) 78-CRIME. Witnesses to drug crimes, vandalism, abuse, bullying, vehicle theft, robbery, or any other crime can call “24/7/365.” Download the WeTip app, or get more information from www.wetip.com. Helping Hands Plans on providing Thanksgiving to 100 local families By Vicky Rinek Wrightwood Helping Hands organization has been providing Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for the past 26 years. They provide food and other services to individuals and families, throughout the Tri-Community area, year-round. Bob and Shari Hedden have been spearheading the organization for many years and have combined their efforts with a staff of volunteers, which is especially noticed at Thanksgiving. Each year they gather donations to make food baskets for local families in need. This year’s food distribution will be held at the Community United Methodist Church on November 21 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. where assembled baskets will be given to families who are registered. The family names are provided through local churches and reviewed to help eliminate duplications. An annual contributor to the Thanksgiving baskets is the Golden State Water Company. Last year they donated 80 mid-size frozen turkeys. “This is the time of year when employees of Golden State Water Company provide food and some joy to those most in need,” said Jim Cowen, Golden State’s Wrightwood Superintendent. Golden State, California’s largest water provider, distributes approximately 8,500 turkeys through their annual ‘Operation Gobble.’ Operation Gobble is a non-denominational effort to distribute turkeys to charitable organizations, food banks and churches. Helping Hands provides basic support for families year round and can be an essential asset when fire or other disaster befall a family. This Thanksgiving additional turkeys are needed as their family list continues to grow. Helping Hands also needs can vegetables, and fruit, boxed stuffing, dry bread mix, etc. Please make sure the expiration date is good. Donations will be accepted at the Community United Methodist Church on Barbara Street. If you want to make a donation, or have questions, contact the Heddens through: P.O.Box 546, Wrightwood, Calif. 92397-0546 or by contacting local churches.
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