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2013: A year in review


January 02, 2014
The year 2013 was filled with loss, excitement and outstanding achievements for Valley Center and its residents. The following is a wrap-up of Valley Center happenings of 2013. We at the Valley Roadrunner hope you enjoy this look back and reminiscing over the year's occurrences.

January

Valley Center High School presented Legally Blonde, the Musical at the Maxine Theater. The show, directed by Laraless Beck and Alex Bezdeka, follwed the zany antices of a UCLA sorority president and fashion design major as she tackled Harvary Law School, played by Taylor West and Elizabeth Gordon.

More than 200 people flocked to Valley Center Library to celebrate the life of one of the community's most remarkable librarians, Sandy Puccio. Puccio was a loving spirit who worked at the library for 16 years and impacted countless lives. She passed away in October of 2012.

Former Miss Valley Center Kelsey Schwarz won the Miss San Diego pageant on Jan. 6. "It feels amazing and it is such an honor," Schwarz said.

Valley Center resident Bill Horn announced he will be running for re-election to the county Board of Supervisors. After 18 years on the Board, this would be Horn's final possible term representing District 5 of San Diego County.

The Valley Center Parks and Recreation District began the year with some serious money problems. The Board considered commissioning a study to bring in more revenue to cover their debts. Larry Glavinic was sworn in as a new member of the Parks and Rec. Board and vowed that the district's financials would be a central focus for him.

WaterDistrict
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The Metropolitan Water District and the San Diego County Water Authority shutdown the 1st Aqueduct, Valley Center Municipal Water District's main supply line from Jan. 26 until Feb. 7, 2013. File photo
Valley Center Planning Group Chairman Oliver Smith was reelected to a sixth term as "herder of cats," as he has described himself. Ann Quinley was reelected vice chairman and Steve Hutchison was reelected secretary — all three unanimously.

The Department of Public Works presented plans for another traffic signal in front of Harrah's Rincon Hotel and Casino. The need for the second signal arose from the changed traffic patterns during the construction of the casino expansion and the additional traffic resulting from that expansion.

February

Preparations for the Valley Center Stampede Rodeo were already in full swing as the rodeo committee announced what was planned for the Memorial Day. The annual festival expected to offer some new aspects in 2013, such as nighttime dancing in the middle of the dirt arena, and V.I.P. dinner seating.

In other preparations for a springtime competition amongst Valley Center teenage girls, 10 contestants for the Miss Valley Center Pageant made front-page news with their glamour shots.

Love wasn't in the air at a special Parks and Rec board meeting Feb. 5, when the financial health of the district was to be addressed.

The topic of the board's president became the focus as name-calling and accusations by directors over whom to elect as board leader broke out and resulted in a deadlock.

Cheer was elsewhere, however, after the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians celebrated a victory in federal court after seven years of litigation with the state over some issues involving renegotiations in its gaming compact.

The VC Municipal Water District took action on implementing the South Village Wastewater Expansion Project, which would allow sewer to properties in the South Village.

A local group of history buffs asked the Valley Center Pauma Unified School District if they could put a plaque on the property of the former Civilian Conservation Corps. Camp, which is a cluster of Depression-era buildings that are now owned by the school district.

As Betsy Adams-Sanchez made headlines for the last time, the lifelong Pauma resident since1938 accomplished much before dying on Feb. 17.

Continuing along the circle of recognized accolades, Sue Richmond was honored as Citizen of the Year and spoke about the rewards of volunteering at the 2013 Chamber of Commerce installation party.

The Valley Center Fire Protection District was reminded it wasn't protected forever from their 1979 "gentlemen's agreement" that allows them to pay only $1 a year rent to the Park and Rec District; the matter was approached for discussion.

March

The former building known as Wallace Hardware became the home to a produce market that has operated family-owned roadside stands in Escondido for many years: El Valle Produce.

The announcement of the development of Liberty Bell Plaza in the South Village rang a message to residents that it wants its shops to "reflect the flavor and needs of the community," according to Bill Lewis, architect of the project.

A preview of another Valley Center traditional event was featured, and included a behind-the-scenes look at the Irish women of the Serendipity Hair and Nail Salon who contribute to the Irish Stew Cook-off.

The coveted crown of Miss Valley Center went to Taylor Yates, 19, who loves motocross, snowboarding and soccer, and aims to become a firefighter and paramedic. Victoria Laird, 17, was named Junior Miss at the ceremony that was held at the Maxine Theater. Victoria is a self-described county girl who raises pygmy goats and aspires to restore an old pickup truck.

The Valley Center Planning group strongly opposed a county-approved project of homes, shops, parks and a school set to sprout on more than 600 acres near the I-15 on the west side of town. The group said the project had "lack of clarity" and "misleading claims."

Details for city's upcoming largest fundraiser were printed in the March 14 edition of the Valley Roadrunner. The VHCS Jaguar Auction hosted a live, silent auction, and raised money for various VCHS clubs and teams, including the VCHS Foundation Endowment.

Seven depression-era buildings recently acquired by the VCPUSD were demolished after an engineer said they were hazardous and beyond saving. A local group of history buffs, known as the CCC Interest Group, had been vying with the school district to preserve the old barracks.

Local fire officials protested a government plan that would shutter the Ramona Airport traffic control tower due to sequestration.

"Prosperity on Purpose" and economic growth was the theme of the annual State of North County address given by Fifth District Supervisor Bill Horn.

Cal Trans representatives updated residents on March 20 about the intersection options for Highway 76 and Valley Center Road; either a roundabout or a signal would realign the road into an X intersection.

The CCC Interest Group retained an attorney after the depression-era buildings of Camp Roe were turned into rubble after members of the school board ordered the demolition. The group believes the school board violated the Brown Act and voted ahead of time for the demolition of the buildings the group had tried to preserve.

April

Mona Smith's campaign for honorary mayor's Race is featured, and the local actress and president of the Valley Center Community Theatre said she would host such a large play that everyone in town could act in it.

A one-woman show portraying a visit with Anne Frank's mother titled Edith Frank Remembers was set to take place April 5 and April 6 at Valley Center Community Church.

The State of California honored school administrator Mary Gorsuch. She is the assistant superintendent of education services for the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District.

Another Honorary Mayor's Race 2013 candidate is publicized, and this representative of GOP women wants to be seen as 'ornery:' Marcia Townsend.

On April 8 a piece of history was created as land owners in the South Village voted to tax themselves to pay for sewer service to be brought in by the Valley Center Municipal Water District.

The Valley Center Planning Group voted to support the tentative plans for the Butterfield Trails concept, which aims to develop into 71 residences that sit atop half-acre lots.

The 2013 rodeo queen and jr. rodeo queen are Allie McCall and Renee Terbush. Allie attends Palomar College and works with special needs children. Renee, a junior at Valley Center High School, is part of the Vaqueros Young Riders.

Francis the mule for VC honorary mayor is selected by the Valley Center Vaqueros as their mayoral candidate.

VCHS takes the title of a state recognized Distinguished School for the second time since 2007.

Local dentist Greg Carlson promises to replace fluoride with corn syrup in order to benefit farmers in his campaign for honorary mayor's race 2013.

A group of about 100 Casino Pauma employees voted to unionize with Unite Here Local 30, in hopes to be the third of San Diego County's nine casinos that have so far unionized.

May

Martina Day is a self-employed stylist who is involved with numerous projects at TPC, and the VC Middle School honorary mayor candidate plans to raise money for the school if she wins the 2013 honorary mayor's race.

A cross-country cowboy, Doc Mishler, stopped in Valley Center for the second time since 2003, as he made his second journey across the nation on horseback in an attempt to raise awareness for hungry children.

Alex Bezdeka is featured for her work as a director at the Old Globe Theatre while also directing the musical The Pajama Game for Valley Center Community Theater.

Bobbie Weiss, president of the Valley Center Women's Club and also its candidate for honorary mayor, said she will push for free parking in Valley Center, if elected.

Eric Jockinsen represents Optimists in his race for honorary mayor, and promises to make Valley Center more fun if he is chosen as honorary mayor 2013.

Palomar Mountain Volunteer Fire Dept. disagrees with the service the County of San Diego's Fire Authority wants to impose, and asked for more time to negotiate.

In wrapping up introductions of the honorary mayor's Race 2013, headlines highlight Jim Dorschel's candidacy for Kiwanis Club, of which he is set to be the president of next year.

Alan Armstrong is representing the Valley Center Chamber of Commerce in this year's honorary mayor's Race, and owns chicken ranches in Valley Center, and remembers riding a tractor through town when he was eight. He also owns Armstrong Feed and Supply, and tries to support the 4-H kids.

A new partnership between the Valley Center Fire Protection District and the San Pasqual Tribe Fire Dept. was announced at a press briefing by the VCFPD.

Jim Dorschel of the Kiwanis Club was named honorary mayor at the Western Days kick-off, and the event also revealed Valley Center's Best Little Cowboy and Cowgirl contest winners Abigail Gilmore and Sebastian Reveles.

Ninety-nine year old Amelia Villalobos from the San Pasqual Band of Indians is set to lead the Western Days Parade as grand marshal.

The latest fire contract discussion drew a large crowd of opponents to VCFPD's decision to cut ties with Cal Fire and partner with San Pasqual. The fireboard postponed its decision, at the community's request to delay it until the June 20 meeting.

A local dad asks the community for sponsors and support to build a skate park in Valley Center.

Western Days 2013 brought in several thousand people who lined up along a two-mile stretch for its parade.

Local historian Bob Lerner fascinated Paumans with stories of their past at the annual meeting of the Pauma Valley Community Association. Lerner was the keynote speaker.

June

The annual July 4 firework show organized by Kelly Crews is set to light up the skies again this year, and so far $34,000 has been raised for the event that can be viewed from the Valley Center ballfields on the Park and Recreation District property.

More than $1 million in checks by developers were given to the South Village sewer treatment plant expansion project, which aims to extend service from the Woods Valley Ranch Water Reclamation Facility to the North and South Villages.

In other areas of growth for Valley Center, the manager of the proposed Lilac Hills Ranch announced that the nearly 1,800 unit community of mixed-use buildings could be selling homes by 2014.

Beloved artist Howard "Kim" Weed died at age 92. He was a VC resident since 1984, and his work appeared in well-known productions, such as Fantasia.

Valley Center High School prepares for its June 13 graduation ceremony when 307 seniors will toss their hats and enter the next stage of their lives.

The non-profit Palomar Mountain Volunteer Fire Department adopted a one-year contract with the County Fire Authority, and is looking into options that include becoming an independent district or merging with the Valley Center Fire protection District.

A last-minute protest to the annual fireworks show almost stopped the sparks from flying after a resident filed a concern about the endangered Arroyo Toad that might suffer from possible contamination to soil. But the show is expected to go on pending review by the county and a biologist.

The public will have a chance to comment and review the draft of the Environmental Impact Report for the Lila Hills Ranch project that is proposed for development on the land in the Lilac Triangle of valley Center and eastern Bonsall.

The Fireboard voted to end its 30-year contract with Cal Fire and contracted with San Pasqual to staff Station 73.

Local architect Will Rogers presents his "green" vision of a plan to create a 40-acre park to include a two-story community center/senior center, amphitheater, boys and girls club, fitness center, ball fields, dog park, and more, on the property known as the Berkel property.

July

Seven VC residents brought home championship ribbons from the San Diego County Fair's Junior Livestock Auction.

It's time for a budget makeover for the finances of the Valley Center Parks & Rec, said parks director Larry Glavinic at the June 19 meeting.

The recognizable redhead Ronald McDonald, the mascot of McDonalds, is set to visit the Valley Center Library on July 12 to promote summer reading.

A loving elderly couple, the Ackermann's, both died when they were hit by a drunk driver while walking hand-in-hand along Old Castle Road, which was during the daily walk they had strolled together for at least 25 years.

More than two years after a fire destroyed St Stephen Catholic Church in March 2011, the Parish hall was finally restored and opened again May 26.

A discussion took place by the VC Planning Group when it announced San Pasqual band of Mission Indians' application to turn 29 acres near Woods Valley Road into a reservation offering tribal offices, a fire station, medical clinic and a sports complex.

More business growth is pitched to Valley Center officials, after a developer tore down a dilapidated house and hopes to turn the few acres, which front Banbury, into Hatfield Plaza.

Help with computer work, bookkeeping and securing grants are some of the open positions available to volunteers, announced the Valley Center Fire Safe Council in its search for new members to join the non-profit organization that works with the fire department.

Chamber of Commerce business members are invited to sign up now to be part of the Chamber's second annual block party set for October.

In other Chamber news, San Diego County granted the Valley Canter Chamber of Commerce $10,500 to fund a visitor's center. The grant is from the Community Enhancement Program.

The Park and Recs Board is making plans to seek financial help from the community, and hired a consultant to gather data and report ways the District can sustain its needs.

Officials of San Pasqual Tribal Fire Department have until September 1 to familiarize themselves with the engines of two fire stations, which is when they will take over day-to-day operations that were formerly staffed by Cal Fire.

August

A young couple visiting Valley Center from Russia became lost in the Hellhole Canyon preserve the couple was rescued the next day.

A legendary singer-songwriter and longtime Valley Center resident died at the age of 77. J.J. Cale had collaborated with Eric Clapton, and in 2006 the artists won a Grammy Award for their album The Road to Escondido.

Ashley Jenkins was welcomed as the new crime specialist at the Valley Center Sheriff's substation.

Another longtime Valley Center resident with accolades passed away. Gerald H. Slusser, 93, was an author, theologian and philosopher.

A judge dismissed a lawsuit against the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District after a local group sued the District for violating the Brown Act in destroying depression-era CCC barracks.

Palomar fireboard learns of the difficult path ahead in in its quest to separate itself from the County Fire Authority, which, for starters, requires collecting enough signatures to bring the issue to a vote.

City planners criticized the draft of the environmental impact report of the proposed Lilac Hills Ranch for having "gaps" but voted to forward it to the county.

In other news this week, Palomar Fire Chief George Lucia announced his retirement from the Palomar Mountain Volunteer Fire Department.

Valley Center's expanding community doesn't include only new infrastructure; about an acre of land is being purchased by the Valley Center Cemetery District to extend the current cemetery of 2.5 acres.

Delores Chavez of Valley Center was a speaker at a rally in downtown San Diego, held to support recalling Mayor Bob Filner over inappropriate sexual advances that that 16 women claim he made toward them.

The new Common Core State Standards debuted in schools this week, and Superintendent Lou Obermeyer explained to parents and students the new assessment test standards that raise the bar a notch from past requirements.

Another Valley Center icon passed away this week at the age of 89; Margaret Bates was co-owner of Bates Nut Farm.

Pala held its 6th annual Pow Wow, which included 317 dancers from tribes from around the nation, including Canada.

An equine ordinance placed before the Board of Supervisors last September has gained some critics who say not enough non-horse owners have participated in the proposed changes to the ordinance, which focuses on whether or not to allow commercial boarding and riding on residential land.

September

A Valley Center corporation is revolutionizing water conservation by implementing the HydraMeter, which offers many possibilities for customization.

Board members at the Valley Center Municipal Water District's latest board meeting approved plans for new solar projects at two pump stations.

Valley Roadrunner applauded David Ross for his 28 years of service to its publication in a publisher's note by Eric Buskirk.

Just before Fire Stations 72 and 73 changed hands from Cal Fire to the San Pasqual Tribal Fire Department, representatives from Cal Fire removed a high-speed Internet access system from Station 73.

The placement of signs for directions, community events and such was the topic of concern at the Valley Center Community Planning Group's September 9 meeting.

Ladder Fire truck 152 passed through the Deer Springs Fire Station 12 on Sept. 12. The truck was used by the New York Fire Department on Sept. 11, 2001.

Three squirrels found trapped near Palomar Mountain tested positive for plague, which can cause serious illness or even death in humans who become infected with the disease.

The Water Board proposed to install a new cover on the roof of the Country Club Reservoir, and also to split the existing 10 million-gallon (MG) reservoir into 2 separate 5 MG reservoirs.

The 130-year-old Valley Center Cemetery has been the target of vandals in a recent string of events where flowers and artifacts have been removed from graves and tossed into the trash.

Valley Center took another step toward making the 43-acre proposed park a reality in its 3-1 vote by the Parks & Rec District on September 18 with negotiations to secure the large chunk of land.

In other Parks and Rec news at the September 18 meeting, Valley Center rolled plans to get its first skate park, which is a local dad's mission: Mark Hertenstein built a wooden skate ramp that is used by the town's youth, and hopes to fundraise and make the park part of the District's property.

The inaugural annual Bark For Life dog walk was held at Bates Nut Farm to benefit the American Cancer Society. The event rose close to $10,000.

October

A local Navy sailor, Ruben Loya, walked up old Highway 395 with a heavy wooden cross on his back in his quest to bring attention to childhood cancer. The father returned from a tour in Iraq when his daughter was diagnosed with the deadly disease.

The San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians neared the end of its course in its deal to purchase of the troubled Woods Valley Golf Course.

The historic Melrose Ranch to opened to the pubic Nov. 2 and hosted a dinner and dance party to benefit local charities.

Professional skaters and more than 300 people showed up for an all day skate park event fundraiser, which brought in more than $3,200 for the future skate park.

A man was sentenced to 8 years in prison after attacking his girlfriend and badly beating her before he took his 5-month old son and fled the scene. Kenneth Wayne Welch was spotted and arrested in Vista by a deputy after an Amber Alert was issued.

A 1953 court decision regarding water rights is still a wet matter between Rancho Pauma Mutual Water Company and the Yuima Mutual Water District after a recent court ruling favored Rancho Pauma in upholding the old deal.

A Navy Sailor entered a guilty plea in court for manslaughter DUI charges that he was involved in the deaths of Carl and Eunice Ackermann who were struck and killed by a vehicle while walking along Old Castle Road.

A local educator made headlines after world traveler and local Democratic Club president Anne Quinley visited six of the seven continents with her husband, Hal.

The County's decision to support drone testing raised the concerns of local citizens. Back Country Voices held a meeting to talk about the Sept. 24 decision that allows drones to fly over Southern California skies.

The decade-ago Paradise Fire was reflected upon when part of the community gathered to remember the lives of Ashleigh Roach and Nancy Morphew who lost their lives in the blaze.

November

A 28-year-old entrepreneur provides wholesome canine food and runs her own organic pet food company, Foxy treats.

Two informational meetings were provided to parents to explain the transition to the new Common Core state standards required in schools after many families are still unsure of what the new concept means.

An arrest was made on a VC resident in connection with a string of burglaries in North County.

Coach Jerry Fenton was honored with a plaque in a presentation at a freshman football game. Fenton is set to retire at the end of the school year after 41 years of teaching and coaching.

A local cancer survivor, Emily Mazzetti is modeling for a cancer awareness campaign by showing her scars in "Colondar," a calendar created by the Colon Club.

The Valley Center High School Marching Band was selected to perform at Disneyland.

A residential fire claimed the life of longtime Valley Center resident Penny Holland on Nov. 19

The Valley Center Planning Group said no to a higher speed limit on Valley Center Road at the Nov. 18 meeting.

Crystal Rienick was awarded San Diego County Teacher of the year at a ceremony presented by Cox Communications.

The location for 2014's firework show may be moving from a park to a school, and the non-profit in charge of the show is seeking community input.

An early morning blaze Nov. 22 on Lilac Ridge Road sparked action from Valley Center's Station 72, and firefighters fought the blaze that resulted in no injuries.

The Valley Center Firefighter's Association came together to seek help for the family of Chris Douglas, a Riverside County Cal Firefighter who lost his life July 5 in the line of duty. Douglas formerly served as a reserve firefighter in Valley Center.

December

VCMWD announced South Village Wastewater Expansion Project is moving forward at an increasingly affordable rate after over 900 people sought to participate in the project.

The much anticipated Lilac Foods, located in the Harvest Farms shopping area on Lilac Road, opened its doors for business on Dec. 1. The grocery store's hours are daily from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Amid pressure from developer Herb Schaffer, the Valley Center Planning Group agreed to endorse the latest concept for the Weston Town Center Project by unanimous vote. After years of planning and re-planning, Schaffer told the group that this will be his final attempt at this location. "You're dealing with the opportunity of a lifetime," said Schaffer. "If we're unable to get this approved, I pass."

The Valley Center Municipal Water District announced a 13 percent increase in revenues compared to 2012.

Five VC firefighters advanced from probationary status to join the ranks of the Reserves. The five worked hard over the last year to achieve the distinction, VCFD Chief Harold Rodriguez said.

Earl Smith Jr., was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the deaths of Carl and Eunice Ackerman. In October, the Navy Sailor pled guilty to a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter.

For the first time since 1999 a black bear could be roaming on Palomar Mountain. A San Diego County sheriff's deputy swore on his badge he saw a bear while on duty at the state park. There is currently no photographic or other evidence of the bear.

While still operating at a loss things are looking up for the Valley Center Parks and Recreation District. VCPRD is only about $5,000 in the hole compared to the previous two years when the group had consecutive losses of well over $40,000 each.

The Valley Center Pop Warner Midget Cheer team, coached by Jeanna Slattery, placed 5th in the nation at the Pop Warner Cheer and Dance National Championships on Dec. 13 at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The team will also compete in the upcoming JAMZ National Championship in Las Vegas at the end of January.

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