Last Wednesday, Transition Habitat Conservancy (THC) held an open house for its newest acquisition in their Puma Canyon Ecological Reserve of Pinon Hills. The 20-acre land parcel includes a modern concrete slumpstone block, timber and glass cabin, with a soaring roofline, which has been named the Dewey Discovery Center to honor THC founding board member Roberta Dewey, who passed away recently.
Inside, hanging below a clerestory window, Dewey’s hat collection serves as a remembrance for the land conservation visionary who inspired the birth of THC. It was more than 10 years ago when this journalist had the pleasure to accompany Jill & Bert Bays and Roberta Dewey up Puma Canyon on horseback. Along the way Dewey exclaimed, “Wow! Don’t you think this would be a wonderful park?” And so it has become with more than 350 acres acquired to date.
The Discovery Center will be used as a meeting place for wildlife awareness education and art classes, land trust workshops, and as a staging area for hikes and trail work. It is also being made available to community minded groups for class meetings and training events. Situated at the top of Wintergreen Road on a well-maintained gravel road, the view of the San Gabriel Mountains with the desert below is breathtaking.
Outdoors, THC Programs and Office Administration Manager Wendy Walker explained plans to transform the grounds surrounding the building into a Monarch Butterfly way station. A variety of California native milkweed bushes, which provide plenty of nectar for adult monarchs and is the only food monarch caterpillars can eat, will be planted to encourage a visit to Pinon Hills from the elegant butterflies on their migratory flights.
The acquisition of the 20-acre parcel was crucial in providing THC with contiguous land ownership from Pine Tree Road on the west to Silver Rock Road on the east, and beyond that across Sheep Creek Wash. During an interview, THC President Jill Bays explained the land and cabin were purchased for $196,000 with THC paying one half and a grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board providing the remainder.
Improvements accomplished so far for the 350 acres include an outdoor amphitheater, learning center and trailhead off Silver Rock Road, the Discovery Center on Wintergreen Road, and a picnic area with shade structure and trailhead located at the top of Pine Tree Road. Additionally, most of the Puma Canyon Ecological Reserve has been secured with wire-strand fencing and stepover entrances for hikers and those on horseback. In total, there are eight miles of riding and hiking trails.
This Saturday on November 5 at 2:00 p.m., THC will host their annual Garden Party and fundraising auction at the home of Bert & Jill Bays located at 8860 Shadow Mountain Road in Pinon Hills. Luncheon, bluegrass music, and an opportunity to connect with those who are saving one land parcel at a time for future generations are included. Call Wendy Walker for a ticket at (760) 868-1400 (office) or (760) 220-6141 (cell).
SJUSD schools facilitate positive connections between students, parents, and community
By Donna Alvarez
Students of Wrightwood Elementary School opened up the Snowline Joint Unified School District (SJUSD) Board Meeting with examples of community oriented outreach programs. Wrightwood Elementary School has been actively providing multiple school related programs that continuously bring students, parents, and the community together. Principal John Garner stated that students are participating in the Veteran’s Day Celebration at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Wrightwood by singing patriotic songs. Another activity for students is to learn about local businesses. This will be a “Walking Field Trip,” during which students walk from the elementary school to the activity and back. Local businesses teach the students, third through fifth grades, about various business practices necessary for success.
Also popular, the “Walking School Bus” is an innovative program involving 30 students who meet with community senior citizens and parent volunteers who act as guides as they walk the students to school. During the walk the students learn about nature and natural science. Students say they really like the walk because they can be with friends and according to student, Brandon Jones, “they help prepare us for a great day at school.” Volunteer Sandra Romeo stated that these walks encourage students to communicate, use time management (they have to get to school on time) and learn science. Nearly 100 students, and some parents, participate in the Raccoon Running Club at Wrightwood Elementary. They begin their runs as early as 7:30 a.m. This is helping the fifth graders to prepare for their Mount Sac Run later this school year.
Furthering the connection between the students and the community is the 5th grade participation in the Senior Citizen Luncheon. Students help out once a month, acting as hosts/hostesses and servers. Students state that they love to bond with the older people and to share stories. The seniors hope they fill in a gap where some students may not have a grandparent.
Teachers at the school have earned grants for $5,000, which in the past helped to renovate the school’s library. This year the grant will go to the 70 fifth graders’ trip to Malibu for a three day Science Fair.
At Serrano High School, Red Ribbon was is in high gear, according to students Alexis De La Cruz and Daisy Gutierrez. The theme this year was, “YOLO (You Only Live Once). Be Drug Free!”® The Friday Night Live Club (FNL) programs emphasized the “Teen-to-Teen Safe Driving Campaign.” This included students riding an adult tri-cycle using impaired, distortion goggles, which simulate the effects of driving while intoxicated. Loma Linda University gave a presentation with crash dummies, and AT&T, provided driving simulators. FNL presents the program “Every 15 Minutes,” which is an interactive melodrama on drinking and driving, in the spring, before Prom. These activities promote a drug free life, and distraction free driving.
Comments from the floor included those of the SJUSD Classified Staff. The issue raised was the difference in pay raises between the certificated employees and administration, versus the classified. This is part of the “Me, Too” clause which is an equalization of pay to personnel across the board. Also, classified stated that they gave up 10 furlough days, which were to be reimbursed but as yet have not. Classified personnel say they feel de-valued.
Other items of interest presented by the school board where: the “Change for Change Program,” along with Keenan and Associates, which donated a $1,000 for the Blue Cut Fire Victims; the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools credited SJUSD as a leader in student literacy and activities connecting students with the community; the “Scholarships for Athletes” emphasize education not sports; the district is looking into the adoption of new English Language Texts as the last rotation cycle for adoption was 18 years ago; and the 2016-2017 school year is the pilot for new science texts.
A new tradition to be unveiled Veterans Day
At Wrightwood Veterans Memorial
Veterans, family members, and the community will gather Friday, November 11th at 11 a.m. for the now annual Veterans Day Ceremony at the Wrightwood Veterans Memorial in the Village Center of Wrightwood. New this year will be the Missing Man Table and Honors Ceremony, paying tribute and respect to those military members who have not returned, still listed missing in action.
A table setting that awaits the return of the Veteran(s) will be placed near the Memorial and Harlan Lassiter, a member of the Veterans Committee, will present its meaning and background. The tribute will be a recurring part of Veteran events at the hallowed ground that has become the Wrightwood Veterans Memorial.
Master of Ceremonies Carl Smith will introduce the Wrightwood School singers prior to the 11 a.m. start, and their wonderful songs will kick off an hour of paying tribute to Veterans of the military who have served this nation in peace and war, along with the men and women who are presently serving.
Michele Kraenkel will be the featured speaker, discussing the role of women in our Armed Forces. Michele served in the US Army, with a tour of duty in Germany with the Military Police.
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will be involved in the ceremony, and Claudia Campbell has again come forward to sing the National Anthem.
Sunshine or snow, all are invited to attend this meaningful event on Friday, November 11th. The Wrightwood Veterans Memorial is located on Evergreen Road, between Park Drive and Pine Street.