Monday, April 27, 2015 • 09:07
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Proposed Mendenhall Highway appears back on track


About six miles of Highway 76 to be named after late rancher



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The Joel Mendenhall family at Palomar Mountain. A proposed stretch of local highway is set to be named after Joel, the local rancher who lost his life in a 2013 accident. photo by Courtesy image.
April 22, 2015
First, the bad news: For want of a correct one-word directional description, the bill designating part of Highway 76 at Palomar Mountain "The Joel Mendenhall Memorial Highway" stalled last year in the California Legislature.

Ah, but the good news: The bill is back with a new name and appears good to go.

Assemblywoman Marie Waldron (R-75th District) was the driving force behind the attempt to name about six miles of Highway 76 between River Ranch Road and County S6 after Mendenhall. She introduced ACR-165 in June 2014. The state Assembly passed the bill 77-0 on Aug. 21, 2014.

A funny thing happened on the way to safe passage. A detour occurred via the state Senate. The bill was amended in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. Members removed part of the road description and changed the "western" intersection of State Highway Route 76 and County Road S6 to "eastern."

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Joel Mendenhall with the slow Food San Diego group at Mendenhall Ranch. photo by Courtesy image.
That was on Aug. 30, 2014. And there it stayed put until Nov. 30. Then, the Senate adjourned. Oops, no law.

Joel Mendenhall and his road

Mendenhall, 30, died of a tragic heavy-equipment accident at his family's Mesa Grande ranch on Labor Day 2013. He left his wife, Jenna, and three young daughters. His was the sixth generation with his family history dating back to the first homesteaders on the big, long hill in the mid-1800s.

The young rancher owned Homegrown Cattle Company with a group of investors, Homegrown Meats, My Country Club hunting ranch, and co-owned Homegrown Meats/La Jolla butcher shop in La Jolla.

Homegrown Cattle supplied grass-fed beef to Whole Foods Markets in San Diego and Orange counties, The company ran around 300 cattle who grazed near Camp Pendleton and on 7,000 leased acres near Lake Henshaw.

Waldron re-introduced the bill on Dec. 9 for the current legislative session as ACR-4. It passed 15-0 on April 6 in the Assembly Transportation Committee and was referred to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations before hitting the House floor.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employee, AFL-CIO, California Cattlemen's Association and Vista Irrigation District have registered support for the bill. The Vista Irrigation District owned the acreage near Lake Henshaw where the cattle roamed.

Don Smith, Vista director of water resources called Mendenhall "a great, guy, very solid."

Waldron legislative aide Tom Stinson this week said the bill "is likely to progress without a hitch." The Appropriations Committee report said the fiscal effect would be "minor State Highway Account costs to Caltrans to make and erect appropriate signs; these costs are fully covered by donations."

The committee was scheduled to pass along the bill to the Assembly floor this week.

For the record, the bill concluded:

Whereas, Joel Mendenhall is survived by his wife, Jenna, his three young daughters, and his parents, Frank and Janice Mendenhall, and will be missed by his family, and many friends, outdoorsmen, ranchers, business partners, and the community of which he was a treasured part; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the assembly of the state of California, the senate thereof concurring, that the legislature hereby designates the portion of state Highway Route 76 from the intersection of Rey River Ranch Road at post mile 44.0 post mile 43.25 to the western eastern intersection of State Highway Route 76 and county road S6, also called Palomar Mountain Road, at post mile 38.25, in the county of San Diego, as the Joel Mendenhall Memorial Highway.

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