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Judge rules against release of sexually violent predator into Joshua Tree

Ventura County Judge Nancy Ayers ruled today against the release of Sexually Violent Predator Ross Wollschlager into the unincorporated community of Joshua Tree. Last month, Judge Ayers proposed releasing Ventura County resident Wollschlager into San Bernardino County, sparking massive opposition from the community and elected officials. San Bernardino County Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe attended the hearing and spoke in opposition to Wollschlager’s proposed placement.

“I must commend Judge Ayers for listening to my concerns and those of the local residents who would’ve been impacted by this predator’s release,” said Rowe. “Because of the efforts of Sheriff John McMahon, District Attorney Jason Anderson, and the hundreds of residents who attended the community meeting last month, we were able to stand against this injustice. I’m proud of what we accomplished here today,” added Rowe.

The Board of Supervisors on Oct. 22 unanimously adopted a resolution opposing Wollschlager’s release into San Bernardino County.

Wollschlager, a convicted rapist and child molester, was scheduled to be released from the custody of the State Department of Hospitals under a program known as Conditional Release. Unable to find a landlord willing to house him in Ventura County, Judge Ayers ordered the state to look at other housing options, which included San Bernardino County.

However, following public comment at the hearing on Thursday, Judge Ayers reversed her decision citing concerns with the threat Wollschlager would pose to Joshua Tree National Park’s three million annual visitors, the number of vulnerable residents living in close proximity, and the long response times for law enforcement calls for service in the Morongo Basin.

“The judge’s ruling demonstrates that when a community bands together over a common cause, we can make a difference. Because we had so many community members and elected leaders who were willing to stand up and fight for what is right, Joshua Tree residents won’t have to live in fear for their safety. I’d also like to highlight the efforts of Deputy District Attorneys Maureen O’Connell and Dan Ross, and the deputies from the Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Station for their work to make the public aware of Wollschlager’s proposed placement,” state Rowe.

Grand Jury embarks on education campaign

Would you or your group like to know more about the grand jury process?

The San Bernardino County Civil Grand Jury has produced a brief PowerPoint presentation to educate the public on its responsibilities and duties concerning local and county governments. Members of the current Grand Jury are available to present the program.

The presentation includes:

  • An overview of the responsibilities of the Civil Grand Jury
  • How to file a Citizen Complaint
  • How to apply for the Civil Grand Jury

Members of the Grand Jury are also available to staff a booth at civic events.

If your organization would be interested in scheduling a presentation or having a Civil Grand Jury booth at an event, please contact Norma Grosjean, Grand Jury Assistant at Norma.Grosjean@gj.sbcounty.gov or call (909) 387-9120.

Urgent community meeting Oct. 21 on possible release of sexual predator in Joshua Tree

Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe, Sheriff John McMahon and District Attorney Jason Anderson will conduct an urgent community meeting in Joshua Tree on Oct. 21 regarding plans by the state to release sexually violent predator Ross Wollschlager into Joshua Tree.

District Attorney Jason Anderson

Sheriff John McMahon

Supervisor Dawn Rowe

The purpose of the meeting is to “present information to concerned community members and voice our collective opposition of Wollschlager’s placement within San Bernardino County, for the specific purpose of public safety and awareness,” Supervisor Rowe said.

Today, Oct. 17, the District Attorney’s Office announced it had received a letter from the State of California Department of Hospitals concerning a residential placement recommendation made to the Ventura County Superior Court for the community placement of Wollschlager, who was committed as a sexually violent predator, into the community of Joshua Tree.

Under Welfare & Institutions Code §6609.2, the sheriff has authority to give notice of any impending release of a sexually violent predator. During Monday’s meeting, the Sheriff’s Department will summarize the court proceedings to date, as well as those subsequently scheduled, while informing the public regarding options available to the community.

The meeting will take place on Monday, Oct. 21, at 5:30 p.m. at the Sportsman’s Club, 6225 Sunburst St. in Joshua Tree.

 

African American experience subject at Victor Valley Museum

Hardy Brown II

The Victor Valley Museum is proud to host a remarkable conversation featuring Richard Allen Collins Diggs and Hardy Brown II, two historians with powerful stories about different aspects of the African American experience. The presentation takes place this Saturday, Oct. 19, 3 to 5 p.m. at the Victor Valley Museum, 11873 Apple Valley Rd, Apple Valley.

The emergence of a family bible in 1985 led Richard Diggs to the discovery of 150 years of documents — birth, marriage and death records — to piece together the pre- and post-slave experiences of the Collins family, from Africa to the Americas. Beginning in 1618, Diggs recounts the remarkable family trajectory including the first people to be taken as indentured servants until 1720 when they were forced into chattel slavery. The Collins family bible is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.

The Collins Bible

Hardy Brown II is the Executive Director of the Black Voice Foundation and Curator of Footsteps to You: Chattel Slavery, Objects from the Gore Collection. This award-winning exhibit tells the story of chattel slavery in America through the objects collected by Jerry Gore, a historian whose lifelong goal was to expose the horrors of slavery so that visitors to his hometown of Maysville, Kentucky could appreciate the daily perils experienced by enslaved people as well as the strength it required to fight for their freedom. The collection is now owned and stewarded by the Black Voice Foundation, and will be exhibited at Victor Valley Museum thought December 22.

Event ticket includes a reception of light hors d’oeuvres and tour of the exhibit Footsteps to You: Chattel Slavery.

The Victor Valley Museum and the County Museum’s other exciting events and exhibits reflect the effort by the Board of Supervisors to achieve the Countywide Vision by celebrating the arts, culture, and education in the county, creating quality of life for residents and visitors.

The Victor Valley Museum is a branch of the San Bernardino County Museum located at 11873 Apple Valley Road in Apple Valley. Regular museum days and hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the talk is included with general admission: $5 (adult), $4 (senior or military), and $2.50 (student), EBT cardholders are $1. Children under 5 and the San Bernardino County Museum Association members are free. Parking is free. For more information, visit www.sbcounty.gov/museum. The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities.

County Health Officer issues smoke advisory for Sandalwood Fire

San Bernardino County Health Officer Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare advises county residents with sensitive health conditions who live near areas affected by the Sandalwood Fire to stay alert to changing smoke levels.

“Because of the uncertainty of fire conditions, residents near the fires need to be prepared,” said Dr. Ohikhuare.

Smoky conditions can be hazardous for young children, the elderly, individuals with heart conditions or chronic lung disease such as asthma and bronchitis and individuals with other respiratory ailments. Older adults and children should remain indoors, keep windows and doors closed or seek alternate shelter.

Individuals with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other lung or heart diseases should make sure they have at least a five-day supply of medication on hand. Individuals with asthma should consult their physician about an asthma management plan and stick to it during unusually smoky conditions. Listen for radio and television messages about fires in your area.

It is recommended that air-conditioning be run on a “recirculation” function. If smoke is present, it will be easier to breathe indoors if air is recirculating instead of drawing smoky air from outdoors. Individuals should contact their doctor if they have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue. This is important for not only individuals with chronic lung or heart disease, but also for individuals who have not been previously diagnosed with such illnesses. Smoke can “unmask” or produce symptoms of such diseases.

For more information regarding the Sandalwood Fire, visit the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection at fire.ca.gov.  For questions related to smoke and health, residents are urged to contact their primary care provider or the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health’s health centers at 1-800-722-4777.

Regional Parks volunteer group kicks off Calico wagon restoration project, seeks donations

County Regional Parks along with Friends of Regional Parks (F.O.R. Parks) will begin the first phase of the Calico Wagon Restoration project on Sunday, Oct. 13. As part of its goal, F.O.R. Parks is seeking donations to help ensure the project receives the added support it needs to preserve these vintage wagons and buggies of early settlers.

Due to the extreme 24/7 weather conditions at Calico Ghost Town, these once-prominent modes of transportation that still line the 1880s Old West mining town are in dire need of restoration. Over time, the harsh sun, rain and wind conditions dries, cracks and rots the wood-framed vehicles.

“We would like to extend an invitation to all to come out and witness the job it took to care for wagons when they were the main source of transportation,” said Director of San Bernardino County Regional Parks Beahta Davis.

There is a growing interest among local groups to preserve Calico history. Getting involved with the restoration project are San Bernardino County Regional Parks, Calico concessioners, and volunteers from Equestrian Trails Incorporated (ETI), Corral 14 (Palmdale), Corral 66 (Barstow), and F.O.R. Parks.

“Regional Parks is excited to work in partnership with F.O.R. Parks, ETI, Calico concessioners, Corral 14, and Corral 66 to complete the first step in preserving wagons at Calico,” Davis said.

On Sunday, a small group of volunteers will be at Calico oiling down the salvageable wood with ETI volunteers generously donating their knowledge, time, and all necessary supplies to make the project happen.

Lori Ciabattini of F.O.R. Parks says the importance of this project is historical. “We want visitors at Calico to experience firsthand what it was like to live and work in an Old West mining town and by preserving these wagons, we are preserving history.”

F.O.R. Parks is a 100-percent volunteer organization and all funds donated to this project will go directly to this vehicle restoration and preservation project. The group has been working with County Regional Parks, Calico concessioners, and the public to raise funds to restore these vintage vehicles.

For more information on donating or volunteering for this project, email friendsofregionalparks@for-parks.org.

Grizzly Bear exhibit opens at the County Museum

Grizzly specimen, collection of the San Bernardino County Museum. Donor: John C. Belcher

Over the centuries, the relationship that Californians have had with the grizzly bear is one of dualities – expressed in fear and fascination. Although extinct in the state since the early 20th century, the grizzly has long been a central character in California’s history. Illuminating the story of the grizzly is the exhibition “Bear In Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly” which is open at the San Bernardino County Museum through Nov 24.

Scientists estimate that 10,000 grizzlies once lived in California, perhaps the densest population of brown bears on the continent. The California grizzly possessed characteristics that we hold dear: independence, adaptability, resourcefulness, intelligence, and strong maternal care. However, through increased human settlement, loss of habitat, and hunting, nature and development clashed, and the seeming incompatibility resulted in misguided, intolerant, and violent means of eradicating the animal in the state. By the early 1900s the California grizzly had vanished and could only be seen on the state flag. Although the loss of the California grizzly was a tragic lesson, we are not too late to save other threatened and endangered species.

Today, California grizzly bears only exist in our imaginations as symbols of things desired and things lost.  Since the mid-1800s, the grizzly has been used as an icon, advertiser and entertainer, making the image of the bear a familiar one to most people. Little physical evidence remains of the grizzly bears that once roamed California. It is through stories, artifacts, striking images, and hands-on activities that the “Bear In Mind” exhibition provides an in-depth look at the history and science of one of California’s most revered and feared animals.

After viewing this special exhibit, viewers are invited to visit the museum’s permanent Hall of Biodiversity, which includes other animals that are endangered, now extinct, or thrive in our region. Many of the museum’s mammal collection were a donation from John C. Belcher, and a beautifully preserved, significant grizzly specimen from that collection of North American mammals is prominently featured at the entry to the Bear in Mind exhibit.

The “Bear In Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly” exhibition is based on the Heyday Books publication, Bear in Mind: The California Grizzly by Susan Snyder, as well as The Bancroft Library exhibition of the same name.

The “Bear In Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly” exhibition is produced and toured by Exhibit Envoy. The exhibition was developed in concert with The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley and Heyday Books. Exhibit Envoy collaborates with California institutions to create and tour smaller, affordable, high quality exhibitions that enhance civic engagement and human understanding. This exhibition was supported by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation with additional funds from the Bank of the West.

The San Bernardino County Museum’s exhibits of regional cultural and natural history and the Museum’s other exciting events and programs reflect the effort by the Board of Supervisors to achieve the Countywide Vision by celebrating arts, culture, and education in the county, creating quality of life for residents and visitors.

The San Bernardino County Museum is at 2024 Orange Tree Lane, at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $10 (adult), $8 (military or senior), $7 (student), and $5 (child aged 5 to 12). Children under five and Museum Association members are admitted free. Parking is free. For more information, visit http://www.sbcounty.gov/museum. The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities.

Statement regarding Inland Empire United vs. Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Dawn Rowe’s status as a member of the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors has not changed as a result of Wednesday’s lower court decision. The County appealed the decision this morning and maintains the judge’s decision was in error. The appeal stays the ruling until it can be scrutinized by a higher court.

The Dec. 18 appointment of Supervisor Rowe was legal, proper, and conducted with full transparency and multiple opportunities for full public participation, including public testimony, opportunities for all applicants to publicly address the Board of Supervisors, public interviews, and the inclusion of a seemingly endless amount of mail and email correspondence from residents. The County considers Wednesday’s action as the latest step in a lengthy legal process.

“Our appointment of Dawn Rowe to the Board of Supervisors was conducted openly and honestly, and for the past nine months she has served the people of this county very well,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “Supervisor Rowe represents the Third District with integrity, intelligence, compassion and fairness. We should not have to defend the appointment, but we will do so every step of the way.”

San Bernardino County has a longstanding tradition of serving as perhaps the most open and transparent local government agency in California. For example:

  • The County was the first in the state to post Board of Supervisors agendas and all supporting materials, including contracts, on the Internet.
  • San Bernardino County was among the first to require the online posting of statements of economic interests by its elected and appointed officials.
  • The County was the first, and is perhaps the only, county to establish Board of Supervisors meeting videoconferencing to allow people in remote locations to participate in meetings and address the board.

The County has won more than 300 state and national awards for innovation and efficiency since 2010 – more than any other county in the nation.

Census address canvassing has started in county neighborhoods

You may have noticed or will soon see U.S. Census employees in your neighborhood. It’s not 2020 yet, but in preparation for the 2020 U.S. Census, these locally hired workers are on foot throughout San Bernardino County and the nation checking addresses to help ensure next year’s decennial count is as accurate and as complete as possible.

Funding to support and improve our communities depends on a successful census, so please cooperate with anyone carrying a Census I.D. badge as they might have some very simple questions for you. For more information and a helpful video, please click here.

The San Bernardino County and Riverside County boards of supervisors have joined forces to create the Inland Empire Complete Count Committee, a leadership body that draws on representatives from the nonprofit, government, education, business and philanthropic sectors to focus energy and leverage various resources toward ensuring a complete and accurate count in our region. Why? Because, Together, We Count.

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