About happenings in the City
David Caretto, March 26, 2014 _____ I hope you are enjoying the early part of spring here in the Big Bear Valley. The weather this year has certainly been interesting to say the least; very challenging for our snow-impacted and tourist-related businesses. Let's hope that the spring and summer are great for our valley's economy and that we can look back on this last winter as an anomaly which will not occur again anytime soon.
Baldwin Lake Fire Department Issue
The County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) has essentially turned down the request from folks in the Baldwin Lake area to create their own Fire District. Instead LAFCO has indicated that it would be appropriate for Baldwin Lake to join the Big Bear City CSD for fire purposes only.
The Community Services District Board is currently considering the issue. Neither the CSD, nor the City of Big Bear Lake, nor the Big Bear Fire Authority is responsible for this decision by LAFCO, nor took any position on it formally. The Fire Chief and the Authority Board felt it was appropriate for LAFCO to make its own decision without interference or influence from the Fire Authority. The CSD Board has a difficult decision to make, and is giving this issue full consideration, including all of the pertinent issues involved while doing what they feel is best for the entire Valley.
Personally, I do think that it may be advantageous for the entire Valley to be served by a single fire department and ambulance service; however, removing the Baldwin Lake area from the County service area could impact finances and service in the Fawnskin area and other more remote parts of the mountains (as pointed out by the County Fire Chief). So, significant negotiations will need to take place before the best plan for Valley fire service is proposed.
This may take some time, but I have every confidence in our Fire Chief Jeff Willis, as these discussions move forward. In the meantime, the Big Bear Fire Authority continues to make strides toward an essentially total consolidation of the Big Bear City and Big Bear Fire District departments. Salary negotiations have been concluded successfully with both agencies and much work toward integration and improved efficiency of the department has been completed or is underway. When I served as Chair of the Fire Authority during its first 1 1/2 years, much progress was made and I feel the Authority is in good hands with new Chairman John Green of the CSD.
June Primary Election
As you may know, June 3, 2014 is the primary election date in California this year. I hope you will take the time to study the issues and vote either by absentee ballot or at the polls. This year community has a unique opportunity, as one of our own, Mayor Jay Obernolte, is running for the open 33rd Assembly District seat, which is currently occupied by Tim Donnelly who is running for California governor.
Obernolte is one of a number of candidates (Republican, Democrat and perhaps others) who are seeking this seat to represent the mountain area and much of the high desert. To win the seat, he needs to finish either first or second in this open primary in order to move on to the general election in November. It has been my pleasure to serve with Jay Obernolte on the City of Big Bear Lake Council during the last three years.
While the Councilmen don't always agree on every issue before us (that is healthy I believe!), I think it would be absolutely terrific if one of our own Valley residents was elected to serve in the California State Assembly. Obernolte is a local businessman who has developed and run a very successful company designing video games here in the Valley. He has served on both the Big Bear City Airport Board and now on the City Council.
Obernolte’s business skills, conservative approach to budget and finance, superior intelligence and keen intellect, and willingness to work toward equitable solutions to problems, will serve well in the dysfunctional Sacramento. He and his wife Heather are parents of two young sons, who are encouraged to be achievers.
I am supporting Jay Obernolte, and I hope you will consider voting for him, too.
For more information, visit http://www.bigbearlake.net/ETNews/City-Mayor-to-Sacramento.
Hospital Parcel Tax Election
The June 3rd primary election is also important for the valley residents, because the Bear Valley Community Healthcare District is placing on the ballot a proposal to continue the parcel tax which supports the hospital and its operations. This parcel tax, which has been on property tax bills for 20 years, would be renewed for another 10 years at the current rate of $45 per improved parcel and $20 for unimproved parcels.
The parcel tax generates about $1.1 million dollars for the hospital and is critical to its continued operation. I am actively supporting this parcel tax measure, as I believe it is essential for our community's health to have a functioning hospital and emergency room. Imagine what it would be like if residents and visitors did not have the ability to be treated or triaged here on the mountain. I believe it would have a very negative impact on our community and its economic health and potential for growth and development long term.
Both my wife Cindy and I have had the need to use the emergency room, and we received excellent care there. I recently had to be treated just a couple days before Valentine's Day because of a freak accident, and while I was there many patients from the Valley were being successfully and carefully treated. One was transported by ambulance to a facility down the hill for further treatment; another was flown out by helicopter to Loma Linda; another was a local high school student being treated for a sports injury; and still others were small children experiencing a variety of treatable ailments. Each was provided with excellent care by the emergency room staff.
It is important to point out that this parcel tax is not being raised, as it is merely continuing something which has been on the property tax bill for many years. It is also very low compared to the parcel taxes supporting other hospitals. I know Ray Hino, the CEO of the hospital. Hino and the hospital staff are doing an excellent job of finding ways to become more efficient and to provide more and better services to the community. The current Board of directors are doing everything that they can to make this hospital a successful and viable venture for now and into the future. Please join me in supporting our hospital for the future of our Valley. This measure needs a 66 2/3 favorable vote, so every vote counts!