Summer storm brings dangerous flash flood, turning streets into rivers
By Vicky Rinek
Around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 3, 2017 the Tri-Community felt the boom of thunder overhead as a severe weather cell was nearing the area. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for the Angeles National Forest and San Bernardino County including Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinon Hills, and West Cajon Valley. The storm didn’t announce its presence quietly. Lighting and thunder were striking overhead as a warning sign. At 4:30 p.m. the strong storm hit the area and was short-lived but volatile. The storm drenched the area with pounding rain and strong winds. Reports on social media showed 1.5 to 3 inches of rain in some parts of the Tri-Community. Radar showed that the area got almost 2 inches of rain in just an hour. One cell kept rotating above Wrightwood for 45 minutes then moved north into Phelan dropping more rain in a very short period of time. Pinon Hills didn’t receive any rain from this storm. In Phelan roads were turned into rivers of mud and rain. Mud and debris and boulders covered Phelan Roadways, and many dirt roads were washed out. Wind gusts were especially strong in the high desert. In Wrightwood, boulders the size of VWs were rolling down Hwy 2. Several roads were impassable, including stretches of Lone Pine Canyon Road, Desert Front Road, Thrush Road and Sheep Creek Road. Both Heath Creek and Sheep Creep washes were overflowing with debris of mud, rock and boulders. Broken tree branches lined many streets. Other spots got a fewer then tenths of an inch rain. As of 5:45 p.m. Thursday, the storm dissipated. Caltrans quickly brought up tucks with plows in front to clear the roads. There were no reports of injuries. Humidity will lower Friday through the weekend said an analyst.Phelan woman’s show horse mauled in rare mountain lion attack
By Vicky Rinek
A show horse owned by a resident of rural Phelan was recently attacked by a mountain lion, and the owner hopes to bring attention to the problem. On August 6, the owner, who chose to remain anonymous, came home to her property, near Baldy Market at Wilson Ranch Road, and discovered one of her horses had been attacked. The woman said the mountain lions jumped on the back of the 1200-pound horse, which was corralled with three other horses. The horse survived a very unusual mauling. Teeth and claw marks indicated the attacker was a mountain lion. The owner moved the horse to another location, in case the lion should return. Other neighbors reported seeing large paw prints around their property and one reported their small dog is missing. Neighbor Victoria Hardisty wants to warn others in the area of the attack. She says she wants riders to be aware so they can stay alert and watch out for their children and pets. Victoria said there are known mountain lions in the area, but horses are not their usual food source. She added such encounters are just part of living the rural foothills. “Mountain lions do attack livestock,” said an information officer with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It is statistically rare for a mountain lion to attack a horse, but it does occur on occasion, and it is usually a smaller horse.” He suspected fires in the region had displaced the animal. As for concern that the mountain lion could be a threat to people, he said, “Attacking a human is abnormal behavior – and extremely rare.” He recommended residents of Phelan redouble their efforts to make sure livestock is penned and secure. In general, he said, the primary prey of mountain lions is deer. Public is heard, at WCSD By Terri Hill
A Public hearing was held by the Wrightwood Community Services District (WCSD) August 3rd, to hear comments about the Solid Waste fee as it pertains to residents in both San Bernardino (SBC) and Los Angeles (LAC) counties. The $85.14 fee is currently collected from SBC residents through their property taxes. Providing access to the landfill station in Phelan, the money pays for “dump cards” for property owners. The cards allow 13 loads per year to be brought to the landfill. When cards have leftover punches at the end of the year, the monetary difference has, thus far, been incorporated into the county’s general fund. Within the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO) agreement to form the WCSD, is the direction to the new District, to assume the imposition of that fee, and administer the funds accordingly. Also in the LAFCO agreement, is the direction to fix and collect the same fee from the LAC residents on the east side of town. Comments made during the hearing reflected the irritation those residents feel at the idea of being taxed for the same service in both counties. Presently, LAC supervisors expressed no interest in handing the fee to the WCSD, so that the residents would have access to the local landfill. Approximately 100 property owners are affected by the imposition of the fee in LAC. Facing threats of legal action and wanting to get clarification on the obligations to LAFCO’s agreement, the board tabled the discussion, and scheduled the continuation of the hearing for Monday night, August 7th. During the hearing, four LAC residents reiterated their objections to the fee, which they see as an unfair tax and as a duplicate charge they already pay to LAC in their property taxes. Director Lopiccolo explained the tax paid for solid waste by LAC residents. In researching the tax, Lopiccolo found it to be dedicated to special waste disposal programs, such as electronic, and hazardous waste collection events. It does not pay for access to a county landfill. After the close of the public hearing, the board voted to adopt Resolution No. 2017-2 Authorizing the Establishment and Collection of Solid Waste Management Disposal Facility Fees on Certain Real Properties within Los Angeles County for 2017-18. In another matter before the board, the General Manager was given a $3oo Spending Authority for repairs and incidentals regarding WCSD properties and management.
Wrightwood Musical Tributes
Story and photos by Michael Palecki
Last weekend, the Village Grind in the Wrightwood hosted two intimate dinner parties featuring an array of local musicians who have performed there over the years. On Friday, “An Evening With George “Coyote” Keene” found the country western singer/songwriter performing some of his original tunes as well as many of his favorite songs written by other musicians. On Sunday, the Wrightwood Blues Society with the Greg Jones & Friends Band orchestrated a gala sendoff for Annie Fleming, daughter of Village Grind proprietors Greg and Linda, who will be traveling to Florence Italy for a 12- week Math and Technology study program. Beginning the musical set on Friday, Coyote Keene sang lead vocals and played acoustic guitar, while John Skillman also sang and played mandolin and guitar, with Rob Hazard playing upright bass and Dave Cimino performing on snare drum. In a story telling mode, the song “These Bars Don’t Look Too Friendly” set the tone for 18 songs about places and circumstances where the cowboy’s life was sometimes melancholy and didn’t always turn out to be so romantic. Notable covers included Slaid Cleaves’ “Horses And Divorces,” with Keene singing a rambling dialogue of romantic misfortunes, yodeling and confiding, “My third wife’s coming today to take my TV set.” After that, “Brahmas And Mustangs,” by Ian Tyson, played with a mandolin flourish, finds winter approaching, and “Please try your call later” means a cowboy goodbye. Following the same tone but more so, Keene sang the ultimate McClinton & Nicolson dirge, “When Rita Leaves,” with a strong voice. And then when it seemed that all was lost, the rock me momma chorus of “Wagon Wheel” had audience members tapping their feet to a staccato mandolin for a joyous finale. On Sunday, Annie Fleming the young lady who for years has been serving Wrightwood musicians, residents and visitors with a friendly smile, was given a royal sendoff. Surrounded by well-wishers, Wrightwood Blues Society (WBS) President Greg Jones commented, “The WBS honors musicians and in doing so pays tribute to those community members who support the arts. We wish Annie Fleming a wonderful semester in Italy for her Riverside City College studies.” Following that acknowledgement, Greg Jones on keyboards, Walter Foley on lead electric guitar, Dave Pruitt playing rhythm guitar, Irwin Williams on electric bass guitar and Toby Williams playing drums formed the core band for the evening’s entertainment. Along the way, guest performers Dave Leicht on harmonica, Gail Mahler on flute, and Tyrone Merriner on keyboards joined in. Additionally, guest vocalists Gayle Dowling, Brittan Egnozzi and Claudia Campbell rounded out the all-star cast. After a thunderous round of applause for Annie, the set began with Greg Jones and Irwin Williams singing “Always There” and concluded with Toby Williams singing “It’s A Family Affair.” After that Gayle and Brittan sang Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” and Claudia Campbell sang “Rock Me Baby” by B.B. King and “Give Me One Reason” by Tracey Chapman. On that song, the guitars were crying and the harmonica was wailing as Campbell delivered the romantic ultimatum. Slowing things down a bit, Brittan and Greg then sang his song entitled “Milwaukee Steps.” After a rousing version of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy,” Merriner and Mahler joined the band to conclude the blues, jazz, and rock-infused send-off.
Summer’s Last Roar at Forever Wild
Story and photos by Michael Palecki
Last Saturday in the golden light of sunset, hundreds of visitors converged at Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Phelan to say goodbye to summer in a special evening event. That was when an array of tigers, panthers, servals, leopards, bobcats and lions who had been napping during the daytime started to become active in cooler temperatures, and the anticipation of feeding time. Since the sanctuary was renovated in the 2009 Extreme Makeover coordinated by Hesperia architect Thomas Steeno, the Learning Center & Gift Shop lobby has become the entrance to the expanded home of more than 30 large cats and hundreds of smaller animals. Specializing in providing a happy home for captive-bred animals that zoos will not take in, enclosures are clean and spacious with walkways affording visitors an opportunity to view the animals up close and magical, in a safe setting for all. Cofounder Joel, with Chemaine, Almquist was on hand to place a 17-year old African serval named Eureka on leash and walk the cat outside the enclosure much to the amazement of visitors. As Almquist explained, in the wild servals are the second fastest cats, reaching speeds of 45 mph. They have big ears they use to detect small rodents in the distance, and can leap 12 feet into the air to snag birds flying past. Eureka was found in an abandoned Norco house, and as is often the case, the small kitten that purred so softly grew up to hiss and snap and was left behind. Another great camera opportunity was six raccoons basking in the golden sunlight on an elevated platform grooming one another and frolicking about, not at all fearful of visitors or nearby cats. Many captive animals have grown accustomed to humans, and as this journalist approached the enclosure of Charlie, a Great Horned Owl, with him nowhere to be seen, just a greeting “Hello Charlie, I’ve come to see you” had the bird flying up to a perch to roost for an amazing up-close photo. The cats however, tolerate humans while remaining quite regal and imposing. For the most part, they appeared comfortable under a sunscreen with misting system while pacing up to the fencing with a wary eye to visitors, and then casually circling around the enclosure. It was the tiger Jade that seemed most relaxed, having just emerged from the pool and leaping onto a platform to show off his dazzling fur bespectacled with water droplets. In contrast, the white tiger Princess Diana was regal and reclining and did not choose to stand up for a photo. For everyone involved especially children, Summer’s Last Roar was a unique opportunity to view exotic animals they may have never seen, except on TV or in movies. Forever Wild is located at 8545 Buttemere Road in Phelan 92371and is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. For additional information call (760) 868-2755 or go to www.foreverwildexotics.org.
Sheriff Logs 8/1 Fraud by false pretense, 4000 blk Phelan Rd., Phelan 8/1 Grand theft auto- auto, 6900 blk Snow Line Rd., Phelan 8/2 Grand theft auto- auto, 4000 blk Phelan Rd., Phelan 8/2 Burglary, commercial-day, entry by force, 9800 blk Valle Vista Rd., Phelan 8/2 Drunk in public, disturbing the peace, 4000 blk Phelan Rd., Phelan 8/3 Vandalism, less then $400, 8700 blk Nevada Rd., Phelan 8/4 Vehicle Break-In, Theft, Duncan Rd /Monte Vista Rd., Phelan 8/5 ehicle Break-In, Theft, 11800 blk Bolinas St., Phelan 8/6 Burglary, residential-night, entry by force, 800 blk Hwy 138 Pinon Hills 8/7 Fraud, identity theft, 9600 blk Burbank Rd., Phelan 8/7 Vandalism, felony over $400, 9000 blk Mira Mar Rd., Phelan
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