It’s Coming……………..Big, Cold Storm on its Way: News from Caltrans: Read This!

I just received a news release about the upcoming storm in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties…..PLEASE PAY ATTENTION. I rarely receive such strongly-worded press information from Caltrans so they mean business. Pay attention and pay heed to this information and take precautions to be safe. This is definitely one of those cases of “better safe than sorry” so be smart and accept this information from the state.

The National Weather Service has advised that a strong winter storm is anticipated to reach Southern California tomorrow (Thursday, January 10). Low snow levels, coldest temperatures of the winter so far, and freezing conditions and wind.

Summary: A strong, fast-moving cold front is expected to arrive in southern California early Thursday. This will bring a period of precipitation and rapidly falling snow levels on Thursday. Due to the fast movement, the precipitation amounts will likely be limited but a quick burst of snow should impact mountain passes again and a couple of hours of steady rain and then taper off to scattered showers Thursday afternoon. North winds will follow the storm and be gusty at times Thursday into Friday. THE SNOW LEVEL MAY REACH DOWN AS FAR AS 2,500 FEET.

The lighter cold air mass and lighter winds will create cold overnight temperatures Thursday and Friday nights. Coldest low temperatures for coastal areas and inland valleys/deserts will be Friday night. Wind sheltered areas and mountains will see their coldest temperatures Thursday night and Friday morning.

Snow levels are anticipated to reach down to 2,500 feet in elevation. Low snow levels on passes, windy conditions. The elevation of the Cajon Pass is 3,777 feet. The Big Bear area is at an elevation of 6,743 feet. Wrightwood has an elevation of 5,935 feet. Be prepared! Bring chains with you to the mountains,. It’s a good idea to travel with an emergency kit that includes a sleeping bag or blankets, food, water and medication.

For more information visit: http://www.caltrans8.info to view the Quick Map or dial 511 from your phone.

Driving in the Snow? Caltrans Offers Tips for Safe Driving!

Winter is definitely here.Caltrans logoand for all the fun it can provide it also means slippery, sometimes foggy roads and a lot more accidents. Caltrans is happy to offer several tips to help winter drivers cope better with often changing road conditions. While some of them may be really obvious it doesn’t hurt to repeat them. Remember, it is Caltrans that sets the chain requirements, not the California Highway Patrol. The CHP is in charge of enforcing Caltrans’ chain enforcement regulations so being angry at CHP officers is (a) useless, (b) stupid and (c) makes them mad. Not a good idea at anytime!

As a reminder there are three levels of chain control requirements that Caltrans sets and the CHP enforces:

1. R-1-Chains or snow tread tires required. Snow tires must have a tread depth of 6/32″ with a M&S imprint on the tire’s sidewall. Most tires sold today meet this qualification.

2. R-2-Chains required on all vehicles except four-wheel or all-wheel drives with snow tread tires on all four wheels. Four wheel drives must carry chains. If you have four-wheel drive, engage it. Use the “4-high” range only. Use “4-low” only if your vehicle becomes stuck.

R-3- CHAINS REQUIRED ON ALL VEHICLES. NO EXCEPTIONS!

For the most recent information use the Caltrans “Quick Map” for road conditions, road work, chain control, cameras and CHP information at: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/. If you’re traveling in the Inland Empire you can also log onto: http://ie511.org/or call “511”  from the Inland Empire before you leave.

IF SNOW IS ON THE GROUND……

* Drive slower, brake slower and accelerate slower;

* Leave more room between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

* If your visibility disappears due to fog do not stop in a traffic lane; look for the closest turnout.

* If chains are required you may install your own or pay one of the Caltrans permitted chain installers.

* Do not put chains on in the roadway (you’d be surprised how many people do this) and stay well off the road in a turnout or other chain control area. Do not put chains on next to the road or on the shoulder of the road, you’re too close to traffic and if they slide you may be in real danger.

* If you decide to pay to have a chain installer put the chains on your car be sure to use someone who has a Caltrans permit. They will have on a yellow bib with the official Caltrans Encroachment Permit.

* Never, ever get out to play in the snow next to traffic lanes. Because drivers can hit icy patches and slide if you are too close to the highway drivers out of control may not be able to stop in time to keep from hitting you or your passengers.

* Do not snow play in the turnouts.

* If you’re going to the snowy mountains here are some suggestions of what to bring…..read these, they could save your life.  Take water, food, warm clothing, sturdy shoes or boots and necessary medications. While this may seem like a lot of “baloney” if you’re just going on a “quick trip” to the mountains this is one of those “better safe than sorry” things. People who get stuck sometimes, or even go over the side of the road, never think that’s going to happen but it does, especially on black ice or “plain old white ice.” Keep blankets in your car and have a flashlight in the glove compartment with working batteries. You might even keep an extra set of batteries in the glove compartment.  If you have a cell phone make sure it’s charged before setting off for the snow and if you have a car charger make sure you have that in your vehicle.

*If your tires are bald or almost bald, stay home! Unsafe tires are an accident waiting to happen. Wait until you’ve got good tires before hitting the ski slopes or it is entirely possible that you could slip on the ice and hit another vehicle or worse yet, people.

* Black ice is particularly hard to see, especially at night, so slow down if it has just snowed because that is when black ice is most likely to form. Driving on any kind of ice is difficult and dangerous so the slower you want to go, the better.

* In the mountains snow is a challenge in and of itself but when its combined with fog it presents more issues. If you encounter fog reduce your speed, drive with your low beams only and never drive with just your fog or parking lights.

* Lower your window to listen for traffic you can’t see. You might get cold but it’s better than having a potential accident.

* Use extreme caution when crossing traffic and/or a busy intersection.

* Use your windshield wipers and defroster to help improve your visibility.

* One of the most important things is to be patient. Trying to pass other vehicles is an “accident waiting to happen.” It’s not worth the risk that another car is coming from the opposite direction that you can’t see until the accident occurs.

* If  your visibility decreases to the point you can’t see, don’t stop in a traffic lane. Drive slowly until can find a turnout if you need to calm down.

* If you’re going slow but you’re holding up other traffic turn out in a turnout and wait until the vehicles have passed.

Local Rotarians Raise 105,500 Meals to Help Mtn. Residents

Ever wonder what Rotary does for people on a local level. One of the greatest pleasures I recently had was posting most of the organizations that mountain Rotary clubs support. It was lengthy and it included many, many “on the mountain” organizations, our schools, etc. etc. Rotary is amazing! Not only do they support organizations “on the mountain” and in their own district but they also contribute to Rotary’s worldwide programs.

Two months ago our local Rotary clubs took part in the organizations’ Million Meals Program. The goal was to raise funds and/or donate items to be able to feed one million people within the organization’s large district boundaries.

According to information from Mountain Sunrise Rotary Publicity Chair, Jerry Savage, they made a huge stab at getting one million meals because the 60 clubs that comprise the district raised 740,000 meals. Out of the total, 100,500 meals will go to residents “on the mountain.” This is an incredible success and the mountain residents who receive the meals will be, I’m sure, thrilled and grateful.

“This was a good first year,” said Savage. The district is anticipating participating in the program again, where, having had such a successful first “go round” they are bound to collect even more items and be able to feed even more residents.

While Rotary is composed of members of the business community philanthropic work is an enormous part of their program. Rotary clubs are found around the world and in all clubs their philosophy is the same: to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service; high ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society; the application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal,, business and community life and advancing international understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professionals united in the ideal of service.

At the “core” of Rotary philosophy  are four questions each member needs to ask themselves in respect to their thinking as well as what they say and do.  The “Four Way Test” is an integral part of the program and it asks each member to consider the following questions before making decisions: Is it the Truth? It is fair to all concerned? “Will it build goodwill and better friendships?” and “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”

From my vantage point and looking at the unbelievable support that comes to the mountain communities by Rotary they don’t get “two thumbs up. I”d give them four thumbs up, one for each of the questions in the Four Way Test.

FireTaxProtest.org Recommendations

If you, as a mountain homeowner, have decided to protest the new fire tax fee (oops, I mean fee) on your property you can log onto FireTaxProtest.org which is a project of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association for some advice.

According to information from the group once you have submitted your Petition for Redetermination, do not be surprised if you receive a response from CDF (California Department of Forestry) denying your petition on the grounds that it lacks a “statutory basis” for exemption from the fee. According to FireTaxProtest.org that simply means that CDF has no authority to evaluate legal theories or pass judgment on them because only a court can do that. If you receive a denial, you do not need to take any action because the Howard Jarvis association has filed a lawsuit claiming the “fee” is unconstitutional. “Our lawsuit anticipates that everyone’s petition will be denied and asks the court to step in and grant relief,” said the most recent Nov. 19 press release. Earlier this month the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association filed suit against the state on the grounds that it is unconstitutional because they believe it is a tax that is illegal under Prop. 13.

For information or to keep up on the taxpayer association’s efforts to have the tax repealed log onto: firetaxrprotest.org, follow them on Twitter or “like” them on Facebook.

Love Quilitng? Here’s a Mtn. Group for You!

Do you love to quilt? Did you know there’s an active quilt group in the mountains? Well, if you answered “yes” to the first question but “no” to the second let me enlighten you.

The Willow Woods Quilters are active and they hold meetings on the second Saturday of each month. The meetings are held at 10 a.m. at Mountain Cottage Quilters in Skyforest, on Kuffel Canyon Road.

According to member Vicky “quilting has health benefits because the calming rhythms allows the quilter to process whatever challenges she/he is facing and to listen for that still quiet voice that brings compassion and guidance.

The group is actively involved in many different events in the mountains including the always popular “Blue Jay Quilt Walk” that is coming up on October 6. This fun event allows people to enjoy quilts that have been hung up throughout Blue Jay. The hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. so feel free to find a parking space and start walking and enjoying all the quits on display.

The quilters are also involved in making comfort quilts, “Quilts Among the Pines,” they participate along with the Rim of the World Soroptimists in their “Artful Bra Challenge”, they give quilting demonstrations and they hold a winter retreat in December.One of the most wonderful projects is making “comfort quilts” for people who are hospitalized. Last but certainly not lease the group holds a quilt auction that benefits Camp Paivika in Crestline which has programs for children and adults with developmental and/or physical issues. It is truly a wonderful place where “campers” feel safe and enjoy the outdoors. No wonder the /Willow Woods Quilt Guild’s  motto is that they are the “little guild with the big heart.”

The Willow Woods Quilt Guild’s mission is to promote the art of quilting through education, sharing and learning. The group was formed in 1998 and they strive to benefit the community through annual contributions and to help mountain residents in times of need. The meetings are held the second Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. at the Mountain Cottage Quilts in Skyforest. If you enjoy quilting go check it out because this group is open to young quilters as well as the “older, more experienced crowd.”

Willow Woods is such a delightful place. For more information on the local  mountain Quilting Guild log onto wwwg.org.

CHP Plans Saturday “Sobriety/Driver License Checkpoint”

Arrowhead Area CHP plans DUI/Driver’s License checkpoint Sept. 22.

The Arrowhead Area office of the California Highway Patrol will conduct a sobriety/driver license checkpoint on Saturday, Sept. 22 in the unincorporated mountain areas of San Bernardino County.

The CHP’s goal is to ensure the safe passage of each and every motorist. A sobriety checkpoint is a proven effective tool for achieving this goal and is designated to augment existing patrol operations, said  Arrowhead Area CHP Public Information Officer, Ben Baker, in a recent press release.

Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs can expect to be arrested. “Our objective is a proven effective tool for achieving this goal and is designated to augment existing patrol operation,” the officer said.

Assemblyman Cook: Misleading Fire Tax Notices Sent

The controversial rural fire tax that will add $150 a year to many mountain and other rural homeowners throughout California were recently sent to property owners. According to Assemblyman Paul Cook rural residents began receiving “advanced notices” last week informing them that they are required to pay the additional free for fire prevention.

In a  recent editorial the assemblyman said the new fire tax, which he fought to eliminated, was implemented as part of the Governor’s Budget this year. The tax requires residents in rural areas to pay an addition fee due to where they live. The money generated from this unfair double taxation will not even go toward additional fire protection, he said in his recent newsletter to constituents.

The “advanced notice” contains a graphic of a firefighter suppressing a blazing brushfire.  This implies that the fee will go toward protecting and aiding rural residents from a fire, when in fact, the fee will not be used for firefighting, only so-called “fire prevention.” It is estimated that 20,000 of these misleading notices have been sent so far, the assemblyman said.

“This tax is unfair and unconstitutional. The Governor is forcing rural residents to pay for the state’s spending. Residents paying this fee will receive no additional service despite misleading assertions from the creators and supporters of this tax,” he said.

Ever since the tax was proposed and then approved, Assemblyman Cook has remained outspoken in his opposition to the fee and he has remained a vocal opponent.

Like all assembly members Paul Cook has a varied area to cover, from Running Springs and Big Bear Lake in the mountains to Banning, Beaumont, Hemet, Joshua Tree, Morongo Valley, Sun City, Yucaipa and many other communities.

Immediately following the Hwy. 330 cave in due to torrential rains in December 2010 Assemblyman Cook was involved. He toured the damaged areas with (then) Caltrans District 8 Director Ray Wolfe as well as a representatives from the state transportation commission as well as Caltrans and other officials. He remained adament that the road be repaired as quickly as possible and was instrumental in funneling funds to the area as quickly as possible to begin the re-construction of the damaged areas of the highway.