From Sept. 20, 2001-Great Local History

man working late cartoonHello, out there. In pursuing through my old newspapers I came upon the September 20, 2001 issue. Actually, by that time I had sold it to a friend because my (now late) husband and I had to move from the mountains after he was totally paralyzed in a horrible accident.

Anyway, I have this issue (among many more) and I thought you’d enjoy this………………I still wrote news stories for what had been “my baby” so here’s some tidbits from that issue.

* The Running Springs Chamber of Commerce had selected their citizens of the year and they had a big celebration (that was wayyyyy too much fun) on the Sierra Belle boat that traveled around Big Bear Lake. It was a great fun event and something different than we had ever done. The honorees included Dee Balletti of Running Springs, the Arrrowbear Lake Lions Club and Green Valley Lake resident Bob Becker. Dee Balletti was praised for the many years she and her late husband, Charlie, gave to making sure the huge pine tree outside the Fireside Lounge was lit every Christmas season. They first started lighting the tree in 1972 or 1973 with the help of longtime friend, Neil Palsgrove, who owned Sleigh Belles clothing store on Hilltop Blvd.  They collected donations and with the  help of many people each Christmas season the lights continued to shine. In 1980 Balletti took over the project with the help of several Fireside patrons and community merchants. Eventually the task was taken over by the Running Springs RV Club which offered the tree and  major assistance with the huge task of getting the tree ready for each new season. The lights on  the tree are lit the evening before Thanksgiving.

In the early 1980s Santa became part of the festivities. Not only did he stop at the tree and visit with children, he stays around to have his photo taken with them. The excited children’s squeals of delight (or their looks of uncertainty) makes all the work worthwhile.

“Dee would never take any credit or ask for attention to be paid for her for her service to the community but she surely deserves the whole community’s “thank you” for her longtime efforts to make sure the tree is a special part of our holiday season,” said chamber vice-president Mike Scullin.

The Arrowbear Lake Lion’s Club was first formed in October 1980 with founding members Richard Wymer, Tony Grabow, Curt Bachelder, Ed Perry, Lou Zenier, Vern Purdy, Ed Wolfrank, David Smith, Carl Groth, Norm Taylor, Ray Lowden, Harold Baer, Bill Correy, Carl Nelson, Roger Dodge, Clarence Mack, Dennis Dockstader and Francisco Horner. Through the years the group has raised thousands of dollars which have been donated back to the community in various ways: food and economic help for those in need; eyeglasses for children who need them at Hoffman Elementary School; and events such s the fishing derby at Arrowbear Lake which has become part of Mountain Top Days. Current President Pete Olsen says that during Thanksgiving they donated 70 hams and 100 boxes of food at Christmas. “I have been in three lions clubs and this club by far, exceeds the love and commitment to the community of the others,” he said.

Bob Becker was honored for organizing the mountain’s first Red Cross unit, his involvement with the Rim Fire Safe Advisory Council, the Rim of the World Mountains Mutual Aid Association and most particularly, organizing the Green Valley Lake Citizens for Disaster Preparedness Committee and serving as its chairman. Becker moved to the mountains in 1990 and he formed the latter group in 1994. In 1998 he established the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Community Emergency Response Team, the first CERT team in the mountain area and one of only 400 teams across the country.

“His efforts to promote the disaster group and to make our community safer have been tireless. He’s still the coordinator and chairs all the meetings and he also volunteered to work the auction for the Lilleberg Museum where we made $7,000. He got his friends to make posters and he even bartended that night. He’s a very community-minded kind of guy,” said longtime Green Valley Lake resident Katherine Peake.

JM: Since this issue was printed just a few days after 9/11 there waws an ad from a local resident who wanted to help however she could. Her add stated that to help victims of the terrorist attack she was doing any sewing work and alterations free if customers would donate what they would have spent for her services, to the American Red Cross National Disaster Fund to help victims of the September 11 tragedy. This unbelievable disastrous event brought out the best in so many people, like this woman, who couldn’t change what happened but she could do, and did, what she could toward the effort to help the victims.

JM: Isn’t looking back fun? I love it, and hope you do too! Our communities have changed so much in the past few decades but the Arrowbear Lions Club is still going strong to support our communities. The Lilleberg Museum is still up and running in Green Valley Lake, the CERT teams are still working and since the 1970s more local groups and residents have become involved.

JM: This story, as stated above, ran in an issue in 2001 so please realize that it’s great history of some very special people in our community, whether they’re still here or not.I know a lot of “old timers” (and I include myself in that) will recognize the names.








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