July 2015

July 1

Big Bear offers up heaps of gratitude

Residents show appreciation

Firefighters waved to residents who stood at Hatchery and Highway 38 thanking the firefighters as they drove by at shift change from the Lake Fire June 28.

Jerry Jamriska stood along Highway 38 June 21 with a cardboard sign reading “God Bless Firemen.” He was alone cheering the firefighters as they traveled to and from the Lake Fire.

On June 28, Jamriska had company—a lot of company. About 60 people lined Highway 38 between Hatchery Drive and State Lane. They waved flags, rattled cowbells, held signs and cheered for the firefighters as they drove by.

Coach supporters speak at meeting

On June 10, the Grizzly reported on a school board meeting where community members alleged that two Big Bear High School volleyball coaches had been bullying and harassing players, and that the district hadn’t moved quickly enough to investigate the allegations. School board members heard another side of the story June 24, when an even larger group showed up at their meeting to speak in support of the two coaches in question, Susan Oberneder and Patricia Barr.

Gaining upper hand Cause of Lake Fire remains under investigation

What a difference a week makes.

On June 17, the Lake Fire began, growing to 10,000 acres within 24 hours. By June 24, the fire was nearing 38 percent containment. That was in the morning.

On the afternoon of June 24, Camp Oakes in Lake William was evacuated and by June 25, trigger points were established for potential evacuations of several East Valley communities. 

Solar project safety questioned

As Bear Valley Unified School District awaits completion of a long-overdue project to install solar panels at district sites, board members heard a presentation June 24 from representatives of Siemens, the contractor for the project. The board questioned the project’s safety following the latest round of unforeseen complications.

“At Baldwin Lane on Monday, June 8, we had one panel that fell from the structure,” said Steve Cacace, project manager for Siemens’ Big Bear solar project. “That structure was a fully-installed structure with all the panels installed.”

July 8

Response team analyzes damage caused by Lake Fire

Rob Taylor, a scientist with the Burned Area Emergency Response team assigned to the Lake Fire can’t stress it enough. “The danger of fire doesn’t end when the flame goes out and firefighters move to the next thing,” Taylor said.

Big Bear pulling out all stops as Host Town

Big Bear Lake is a host town, and proud of it. Big Bear Lake is a 2015 Special Olympics World Games Host Town, and plans to deliver small town hospitality with wide open arms for Special Olympics athletes from three different countries.

July 15

The road out of nowhere Residents question the legality of new dirt road

The sound of a bulldozer on the hillside near the Hamilton Ranch Estates July 9 raised an alarm for local residents. The possibility existed that it could be work on the Lake Fire perimeter. But it wasn’t.

Instead, the single bulldozer was cutting a dirt road through a pebble plain area of the San Bernardino National Forest creating access to private property owned by the nonprofit Eagle Ridge Camps and Conference Center. Nearby, a pine tree lay on the ground, uprooted by the work.

July 22

Weather sends Big Bear scrambling

Wild weather over the weekend in Big Bear Valley brought a mixed bag of emotions with it. The rain is a welcome sight during what has been a long California drought. But for many who visit Big Bear in the summer, the accompanying lightning had them scrambling to change their plans.

Hurricane Dolores off the coast of the Baja peninsula spawned record rain and thunderstorms for much of the Southwest including Southern California. Flash flood warnings were issued for the desert and mountain areas of Southern California. According to the National Weather Service, Big Bear Lake received a little over 1.4 inches of rain during a two-day span. The Big Bear City Community Services District recorded 0.48 and 0.45 inches of rainfall in the East Valley July 18 and 19 respectively.

Rehabilitation begins for Lake Fire burn area

The next two years are critical in the rehabilitation of San Bernardino National Forest land within the Lake Fire burned area.

The Lake Fire Burned Area Emergency Response team finalized its soil burn severity findings on July 8. The Lake Fire began June 17 off of Highway 38 near Heart Bar. A map of the Lake Fire burned area shows that the majority of the land within the burn area escaped severe damage. About 30 percent of the burned area is either moderately or severely burned, equal to about 9,000 acres of forest land.

Fulmer appointed Fallsvale principal

Tina Fulmer, who has worked for Bear Valley Unified School District in a variety of positions over the years, was appointed principal of Fallsvale School at the July 15 district board meeting.

Most recently, Fulmer has held the position of director of personnel and educational services. That position was eliminated for the upcoming school year at the June 3 board meeting and replaced with two new positions: executive director of personnel, and executive director of educational services.

Fulmer will continue in the executive director of personnel position, along with her new Fallsvale principal duties, while the executive director of educational services position will be filled by Lisa Waner.

Marina owners go with the flow

John Saunders has been in this position before. The owner of Captain John’s Fawn Harbor and Marina in Fawnskin barely survived the last big California drought. This time around, Saunders was prepared.

“I put away some money the last few years, and we are doing fine,” Saunders said about how the marina is weathering the drought. “We had a record Fourth of July on the day itself, but were down a bit for the weekend. But we’re doing well.”

Saunders is only one of many Big Bear Lake marina owners who have been able to adapt to the lower lake level. Big Bear Lake is down 12 feet 5 inches from full at last count, but that’s still a long way from the 17-plus feet it was down in 2003.

Mother nature rules Weather turns Big Bear PaddleFest into Puddle Fest

Big Bear PaddleFest storm July 18, 2015

Paddlers competing in the Big Bear PaddleFest 5K race head back to the shore after organizers called the event because of lightning strikes July 18. For the first time in the eight-year history of the event, races could not be completed because of inclement weather.

A little rain never hurt the Big Bear PaddleFest, but lightning and thunder are another story.

The eighth annual Big Bear PaddleFest was forced to an early end July 18 when a thunderstorm complete with a light show from Mother Nature inundated the Big Bear sky.

July 29

Healthcare district leadership shake up

As of July 24, Bear Valley Community Healthcare District is without its top two administrators. Interim replacements for the CEO and CFO/COO are on their way.

A special board meeting July 24 included a closed session item related to discipline or termination action regarding an employee, but didn’t name the position. 

“It has been determined that the CFO has violated a significant district policy and the board has authorized administration and counsel to take appropriate disciplinary action,” was the statement read by board president Donna Nicely reporting on action taken in the closed session portion of the meeting. Nicely’s statement continued, “The board is supportive of Quorum’s recommendation to make changes in the interim CEO position.”

Forest Service investigates road creation

Questions continue regarding work being done on Eagle Ridge Camp property between Baldwin Lake and Erwin Lake. So far what answers have been provided have not resolved the main question Hamilton Ranch Estates property owners are asking—is the work legal?


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