Thursday, August 31, 2017

• City Council Meeting August 2017 2.0

I wasn't really sure why there was a need for a second city council meeting in the month of August before the meeting, and after it was concluded, in under an hour, I still can't figure out why the agenda couldn't have been included in the prior or next meeting(s).

At that, I did find a few nuggets of info worth sharing that I gleaned from the meeting.

Public Comments on Non Agenda Items.

On behalf of Wildomar Little League, Mason Ballard presented a plaque of appreciation to the City Council. He and his family are relatively new to Wildomar, but he has shown outstanding levels of alacrity when it comes to The W. 

We need more people like him, and his wife Lisa, stepping up and helping out. In the short video you'll get a feel of his infectious good will as he recites the Little League pledge.

Let's segue to a prediction of the end of the world.

Miss Miller informed us that, according to a youtube video, the world is coming to an end during the month of September... at least that's what I got out of her sermon like comment. 

She also was plugging a demonstration she has planned in Temecula. If you are looking to tap into your inner SJW (Social Justice Warrior), then you'll want to be at Butterfield Square this Saturday night. By the by, she actually walked away from the microphone with 30 seconds left on the clock.

I guess that means she won't be attending the free concert in the park at Marna O'Brien that is slated for the same day and time. D'oh!
If you haven't been on Youtube lately, we have the phenomenal [sic] of the events of Revelations, perhaps culminating September 23rd, 2017. Supposedly the Sun turns black for three hours, the battle of Armageddon as the woman flees into the wilderness begins the tribulation.

I know some of you read the holy book and Revelations, and so the woman in the desert in the prophesy is symbolic of the nations fleeing from the wrath of armed and violent nations, America being the worst.  —Miss Miller, August 30, 2017
Her speech, which had NOTHING to do with the city of Wildomar, went on for another minute but I lost interest after her verbose anti-American barrage (It's an easy bet that Colin Kaepernick is her favorite football player).

I don't like to get religious, because we all have different beliefs, but you opened the door Miss Miller, so I'll walk through it. I was raised with the bible as the center of the family, and I guarantee you that you are NOT Christlike on any level. Give your lame attempts at preaching a rest... or save them for the snakes you've seen "slither from one hole to another hole across the street."  (an actual quote of hers from January 2017, link to blog covering it)

If you'd like to see her dire predictions, as the rest of us did, watch the video below. Always entertaining, and always for the wrong reasons.

Now for something of substance:

The Grand Avenue Multi-Purpose Trail Project is on target to begin in September and be completed by March. The funding for the entire project ($1,080,050.00 was procured through various grants).

However, my favorite part of the project, the proposed roundabout at Sheila and Grand, is now on the shelf. Lack of funding is what nixed it. Thing is, now that it's off the table, don't look for it to ever come back to the drawing board.
Who doesn't hate the stop sign that is currently at this intersection?
The only other item of merit that I found interesting is that the State has changed the official term from "Second Unit" to "Accessory Dwelling Unit" (ADU) for something the rest of us call a "Granny Flat" or Casita.

Earlier in the year, the State of California passed a bill aiming to curb unnecessary burdens that local municipalities put in the way of people trying to build such a structure. 

Most of it is laudatory, but the part I couldn't help but get floored by is that the DIF fee (development impact fee) is $12K. 

That's even if the ADU is inside your home. I can picture a lot of people risking a code violation in order to save $12,001 if they're building this within the walls of their home.

I've included the three minute video of Planning Director Matt Bassi's presentation. 
A couple of screen captures stitched together in photoshop.

Now for an "Oh Geesh" moment

During the consent calendar portion of the meeting, agenda items that generally don't need rehashing, five people pulled items. Most were talking about the Grand Avenue Multi-Purpose Trail that will be coming our way.

They all seemed to favor it, but still wanted to kvetch about apparent imperfections in the plans. In my former life I washed windows and there are few things less fresh than the comedian that comes up from the other side of the glass, points to the window and uncorks the very worn out, "Hey, you missed a spot!"

Yes, the dude was very clever and original with that remark (insert eye roll here)... as were the other five guys that had said it earlier that day. 

Hey, we all can find faults in nearly everything if that was our purpose in life, but what the hell benefit would there be in that course of action? 

Thinking outside of the box... if the goal is to repel people, then it's a terrific plan of attack.

The person that I always enjoy watching as she speaks during public comments is WIN Committee original, Gina Castanon. I can't figure her out. Is she nervous or actually as surly as she comes off?

She is also a prime influence in Wildomar's Historical Society, and when I went to one of their events (the yearly ringing of the bell at Wildomar Elementary in 2016) I was threatened with a lawsuit. LOL... but seriously, I just wanted to buy one of those root beer floats y'all were selling. 

After that, I better understood Stan Smith's nickname for that group: 
The Hysterical Society

I've had a few other encounters with her, and each have been almost as inexplicably negative as that one was. 

Which brings us to the point from the meeting. She got borrowed time, for a total of 6 minutes (points to her for only using four and a fraction of them), to complain about parts of the trail that must narrow to 8 feet in certain spots (also known as pinch points) where there just is no wiggle room.

Lo and behold I have video of the July 2016 Trails Meeting that she alluded to and was able to pull out Tim Walker's quote... so there wouldn't be any confusion as to what he actually said.

The long and the short of it was that a trails subcommittee meeting, that should have taken 30 minutes lasted more than 90 minutes... (what's new, right?).

Nearing the end of a tediously long meeting Tim Walker said, "If it comes down to people suing I'll tell you one thing right now, the city council —at least I will vote— to close some of the trails that are pinch points. If I'm afraid that people are going to sue me on a pinch point [...] I'll vote to close the thing."

Tell me again how that isn't reasonable, and the correct way to take care of the city's interests, if unavoidable litigation is hanging in the balance?

I've made two videos on the topic. 

The first has just the salient parts of the issue. Starting with Castanon's claims that Walker's comments were "inappropriate" at last year's subcommittee meeting, and that he "would rather see the trails closed down and avoid litigation if that's going to be a liability issue" (again, as if that would be a bad move if it came down to it). 

Then Tim Walker's response, and a snippet from Mayor Walker dating back to last Summer's meeting. All a bunch of needlessly wasted time, but the types of nonsense that is the usual board of fare at Wildomar city meetings.

Just in case someone wants to accuse W'Rap of giving misleading reports, the second video includes Gina Castanon's entire comment from last night, Tim Walker's response and a response from City Engineer Dan York without edits. You watch, you decide.

The rumor mill has long had it that she is planning on running for city council next year. Could you even imagine it? 

Our city council has been so boring over the years that I've been attending city meetings that I'd find it to be hilariously awesome if she were to run, and exponentially more so if she were to win.
•          •          •

What is the future? Isn't the future, after all, the fabric we weave out of the strands of the present? So, if you know all the strands, all the threads, and all the stitches, why isn't it possible to foresee the design? 
– EG Marshall (CBSRMT 1974)

Wildomar Rap reminds you that if you knew the future, such as who was going to run for city council next year, life would be pretty boring.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

• Vet Expo 2017

The Wildomar Elks Lodge hosted Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez's Vet Expo, this was the 4th annual.

Once the key figures arrived, it started off with a prayer, the presentation of colors by Boy Scout Troop 332, The Pledge of Allegiance, then the National Anthem sung by Wildomar city clerk Debbie Lee. 

From there Wildomar city council member Bridgette Moore introduced Lake Elsinore council member Brian Tisdale, and the Assemblywoman.

As with all of Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez's public appearances, lighthearted moments were a key factor. Also on stage are Brian Tisdale, Bridgette Moore and Debbie Lee.
The Assemblywoman spoke for a few moments, thanking the Elks Lodge, the council members from Wildomar and Lake Elsinore, Debbie Lee for singing the anthem, Helene Fowler for the prayer, Larry Ryan and the boy scouts, Gary Welsh and the Rough Riders, Mike Sheehan of the VFW for their work in making the event happen.

The point of the expo is to help returning veterans, or veterans that have been out of the service for many decades, with a variety of issues. 

There were several long tables of non profit organizations ready to help, with programs geared to helping vets reintegrate into our oft chaotic world of 21st century living.
The Assemblywoman poses with Boy Scout Troop 332. On the far left is Bridgette Moore.
On a personal note:
I find it a blessing to have been introduced to so many local vets living in and around Wildomar. Such an outstanding collection of community minded people. 
Fellow Rotarians Paul Bakeman, Joseph Morabito and Bridgette Moore pose for a pic.

Only after seeing the photo did I realize that I'd lost a golden opportunity to give out two pairs of rabbit ears. Then I remembered that I know how to use Photoshop and solved that problem. ☺
To read the blogs covering the 2015 and 2016 Vet Expos, click the following links. 

Contact info for the Assemblywoman

41391 Kalmia St #220, Murrieta, CA 92562

(951) 894-1232

•          •          •

Since coming back from overseas, this is more of a foreign country than the places overseas. I don't understand it. It's like America has lost faith in rational thought. 
James Mattis

Wildomar Rap can attest to the good general's observations. One need not look any further than how dysfunctional California has become over the years to understand it.

Friday, August 25, 2017

• Wildomar Residents Give Back

It's always nice to hear about community involvement on a local level. 
The bench was built by Ed Munguia who is a longtime woodworking hobbyist.
Wildomar resident David Masters, and his second grader grandson Nathan Merritt, were some of the keys behind the donation of a "Buddy Bench" at Nathan's school, Withrow Elementary.
Withrow's principal, Mr. Baskent, started their usual Friday morning assembly where they had the pledge of allegiance, and a couple of songs before he told them about the new bench. 
Detail of the artwork done by Michelle Blair.
At which point he handed the microphone over to David Masters to say a few words about it.

This project was started by my grandson Nathan Merritt. He approached me last year —he wanted to have more friends here at this school. We talked a little bit about different ways how he could make some friends. I'm not sure how he [came up with the idea of a bench] but he said, "maybe we could have a bench or special lunch table to meet some friends."
Nathan Merritt and his grandfather David Masters.
Photo courtesy of Mark Dennis, LEUSD.
We talked with Mrs. Conkright and we came up with this idea. I didn't make this bench myself, Ed [Munguia] built this bench for us, and his friend (Michelle Blair) put the stenciling on it, and I hope you guys like it. [We're] hoping that all of the students will be able to use this bench as a way to promote friendships and make new friends."
After the assembly was over, I had a chance to ask Ed how he got involved with the project.

"I started making these [types] of benches back in April, and I started selling them online. Mr. Masters contacted me [and asked], "Would you be willing to donate one of these to a school?""

He's made thirteen of these types of benches so far, and his method involves re-purposing old headboards that people no longer want. He has made some with new headboards too.
Assistant principal Mrs. Conkright, David Masters, Nathan Merritt, Ed Munguia, Kaitlyn Munguia, Michelle Blair and Carmen Munguia.
The bench will be placed on the primary playground once the professionals have a chance to secure it appropriately. Mr. Baskent also mentioned the possibility of getting a similar bench for the upper playground too.
Nathan, Mrs. Conkright, Michelle Blair and Ed Munguia.
Photo courtesy of Mark Dennis, LEUSD.
Way to go Nathan, it's always uplifting to read about young people taking an active part in their communities. Keep up the good work. ☺
•          •          •

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”
– Oscar Wilde

With  Wildomar Rap you get both "the smallest acts of kindness" and delivered with the "grandest intentions".

errr... that sounded better in my head than it does written out. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

• Solar Eclipse, Wildo-style

A fun morning at Marna O'Brien park as the onlookers shared the partial eclipse together. Here are some pics to get a feel of the day.

Local astronomy buff John Garrett starting setting up his solar-safe telescopes around 8:00 in the morning for the long anticipated astronomical event. 

Reminder: on September 23rd John will be hosting Astronomy Night at Marna O'Brien park. They're always fun events so be sure to add it to your calendar now.
John Garret addressing the crowd as Daniel Torres (L) and Richard Deskin (R) look on.
Periodically he'd address the crowd, reminding them to be safe and the best ways to view the eclipse.
This family came with eclipse shirts.

The lines were constant, but moved quickly.
This mom is helping her son see the eclipse.

The crowd was estimated to be between 100 and 140 people there. Pretty impressive number considering it was a Monday morning while school was in session.
A look at part of the crowd from about 60 feet in the air and 100 feet away.
People of all ages took turns looking through special glasses or telescopes equipped with the proper filters to allow for safe viewing.
Wildomar Mayor Tim Walker gets a gander of the eclipse through special glasses.
Seeing is believing.
Oohs and ahhs.
Many people tried to take photos with their phones through the filters. 
One of several telescopes that were set up for the public to look through.
The one I took wasn't all that impressive.
There were other ways to view the moon passing in front of the Sun besides the special glasses or the telescopes. Such devices ranged from store bought items, homemade viewers, all the way down to your own hands.
This is my favorite photo of the day.

I wasn't sure what was happening here, but know it was another viewing strategy. ☺
Mayor Tim Walker thanked the crowd for coming out and invited them all back to the park on Saturday, September 9th, for a free concert in the park. 

Come on out for the last hurrah of Summer 2017, before the holiday season starts up.
 •          •          •

Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.
– Samuel Smiles

Burden or no burden, Wildomar Rap isn't like the sun, so don't expect assistance in photosynthesis just because you read it.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

• Memorial Service for Stan Smith

The morning of Saturday, August 19th, 2017 was picture perfect with unseasonably moderate temperatures for the middle of Summer in the IE. 

It also was the day that family and friends of Stan Smith, about 150 people, said their goodbyes to him.

Wildomar's Cornerstone Community Church hosted the viewing, service and reception. It began with a couple of songs accompanied by acoustic guitar.
One of several tables in the foyer that displayed remembrances of Stan.

There were three eulogies

First by longtime friend of Stan Smith, Rick Estes. Below are some highlights.
• He was my first boss. [...] In those days we didn't have so much formal education [In the real estate business], it had to be done by learning on the job. So he would correct my contracts, he would correct everybody's contracts in the office, he was the general manager. He'd take us out, and if necessary show us how to do the things that you do when you're selling land. 

He taught by example, so I learned how to locate corners and fill out a contract properly, and find flood plains [...] but more important than anything else he taught me, by example, the integrity that is necessary to sell. The honesty. When you told somebody something, it was your word, that was the end of it. The paper was important, but it was your word that was most important thing.

• Stan was a 'people oriented person'. He never talked about money or commissions, it was people that mattered. That was consistent through his entire life. 

• I think it's probably pretty obvious by the crowd you see here, the family that is involved. He was very proud of his sons and his grand kids. As they were growing he would talk about them, brag on them like dads/grandpas are supposed to. If you wanted to get Stan going, to get him talking, wanted to spend some time... ask him about how his grand kids are doing and out would come his telephone and you'd get a chance to see and hear what was [what]. 

• Stan was involved in the planning of [the city of] Wildomar, the community of Wildomar.  I can't tell you all the organizations he was involved in. Obviously he was involved in the Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Realtors, he was involved in the Southwest Area Plan, and it goes on and on. 

Some don't know that he was actually involved, back around '75, when we were lobbying for the off ramp at Baxter because Caltrans didn't have that in the plan. So it goes right back to the very beginning, the Baxter off ramp and how it goes down to the center of Wildomar, was part of his doing. 

• Stan got me involved in the WIN committee, he recruited me. I came to the first meeting at his request. One of the things about him in the WIN committee was such a source of detailed knowledge, he had an ability to remember details. If you needed to know almost anything, he was there. He knew all the boundaries of the old land grants. He knew the streets, he knew the subdivisions, and it went on and on and on. 

I don't think it would be possible for the city of Wildomar to be incorporated without Stan's help. 

• The picture you see up here, the picture you saw on the flyer, is the same Stan, the same smile that he had 42 years ago when I met him.
A memorial resolution from the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

Mayor Pro-Tem Ben Benoit spoke for about five minutes about Stan. Selected highlights below.
• For those of you that don't know me, I'm Ben Benoit Mayor Pro-Tem for the city of Wildomar. I wouldn't be in that position today if it wasn't for Stan. 

When I met Stan I had just been talked into running for city council by Scott Farnam, and Scott told me "There's someone you've got to meet right away." It only took me a few minutes to realize that everything I needed to know I could learn from Stan.

• Just like Rick [Estes] said, there wasn't a map at city hall, there's not a map in this community, and there's not a map in the communities around us that Stan didn't know what was there, why it was there, how it got there. And I'm not [just] talking about the current place, but [what] was there before it, and before that.

• As I look around this room of the great friends of Stan, I'm envious. I'm envious that all of you have had decades with him, as I only had one decade with him. That decade was filled with so many smiles, so many helpful moments. 

• Matt Bassi, our planning director, (after he was first hired) came to me and said, "Ben, I just had lunch with Stan, the planning commissioner, and I now understand the layout, the plan, the organization, every detail of our city's general plan." 

So we can keep calling it "the general plan", which is the plan that our city goes by when we look at development in our city, but to me, it's "Stan's plan" and it's a wonderful plan. 

• When I got on city council in 2010 I asked for applications for planning commission, and I was so honored when he put his application in. I was so happy to make him my planning commissioner. 

• Thank you Stan. Thank you for all your hard work in the community, the communities around us, and thank you for giving us all the great plans to go forward with. 

• To Stan's family, there wasn't a time that I could be with him where I couldn't hear all the wonderful things about all of you. He loved all of you so much. 

Thank you for letting us have our time with him, and thank you for all the time you were able to support him [allowing] him to go out into the community, because we know that it takes a lot of good family time to do that. Thank you.
The flag draped coffin sat at the front of the stage
as Ben Benoit delivered some heartfelt words.
For the next 8 minutes there was a charming slide show that had photos of Stan from his earliest years, right through his last birthday party. I'll post the pics I took of his 78th birthday here.
Stan shakes hands with Michael Sheehan as he accepts the anchor clock birthday gift from the VFW. Looking on is Bridgette Moore (standing on the left) and Tim Walker (standing on the right).
Stan showing off his new clock.
Stan enjoys the moment with his granddaughters.

Kevin Smith regales the crowd with stories of his dad.

Marsha Swanson talking about how many years she'd known Stan.

Members of the WIN committee in attendance: Rick Estes, Bob Cashman, 
Stan Smith, Geri Stevenson, Tim Underdown and Bridgette Moore.

Joseph Morabito poses with the birthday boy.
(Can there be a higher privilege than having the guest of honor give you rabbit ears?)

Staff pastor Tyler Moore gave an uplifting talk that weaved together stories about Stan regarding his family, friends and involvement in the community and some scriptures too over the course of fifteen minutes. The entire address was well crafted, and it was difficult to choose which passages were to be shared. Below are just a few of the gems I paid special attention too.

• I listened to Kevin [Smith] as he told me about his father, as Kevin told me about Stan the man, the oldest of seven children, growing up, working before school and after school in the orange groves. Growing up with a mindset, a mentality that there's always something to be done. A work ethic that served him well, especially in the navy. 

• Kevin told me of a fierce love that Stan had for his wife. A love that would wait during his times serving our country. A love that would not only span those short years, but a love that would span the entire test of time —forty-six years, married to the love of his life.

• Kevin told me about the love his father had for his boys, a love that wouldn't spoil his two boys rotten but a deeper love. A love that would teach them discipline and the blessing of hard work. The love of a father that would not spare his children, but would cultivate that hard work in him and [his brother] Mark throughout their development.

• I want to encourage you today, whatever lesson, whatever value, whatever ethic, whatever principle, [however] Stan impacted your life; I want to encourage you today — don't let it end here, don't let it end now. Take it with you out those doors. Share it with others. Demonstrate it. Live it out. The lessons, the memories, the love from Stan, share it with your friends and your family as well. 
The service was concluded by the singing of Amazing Grace by the same duo that had sung at the opening of the service. 

Afterward his family escorted the coffin through the hall to the hearse that was taking him to his final resting place, the Riverside National Cemetery. 

Personal note

I don't know how it happened, but I became friends with Stan Smith sometime over last three plus years. I can come off as aloof, but his friendly nature blasted right through that facade. 

I first saw him in action in 2013 when I went to my first planning commission meeting. I remember wanting him to be more forceful with the gavel at times, but that wasn't his way. He was always more than willing to hear all sides of the issue, even the rude people that couldn't care less about decency and decorum.

I had the opportunity to have a one on one breakfast with him a couple of years back at OMG (Old Market Grill). It was one of those meetings that you hoped could continue well beyond the appointed time. Quite the story teller he was. 

He also entrusted me with some historic photos of Wildomar. He allowed me to scan them in before returning them. 
Wildomar Elementary: Class of 1928.
David A. Bown is standing, top row on the right.
I used to see him at the Wildomar Chamber monthly breakfasts. More than a couple times he would come over and sit at the same table I was at. 

I remember more than one bus trip to Harrah's that we both were on. The first one was a couple of years back. I just remember that he and Gary Brown were joking with my wife Grace the whole ride home... while I was taking a hops driven siesta.
An example of his sense of humor. 
He delivered the above with a perfect straight-man look on his face.
The 2017 Harrah's bus ride had us changing our usual eating plans. In the past we'd headed straight for the Mexican restaurant, but this time we went to the buffet. As it turned out, veterans could eat free that day, and that covered a friend too. 

With some quick calculating by Bridgette Moore, we paired up all the vets with non vets and we all ate for free. That night I was Stan's date, though we sat at different tables.☺

Grace and I would see him at park events, where he'd often be with his granddaughters. Even though they weren't little, they'd be there for the movies in the park.

I also had the opportunity to meet him over at the VFW, usually for their renowned steak nights. The last time was just a couple of months ago, and though my wife wasn't feeling well that night, she suggested I take Stan up on his invitation.

It was Stan, Cheri and Rod Zamora and me. Not the usual crowd, but a great evening just the same.

That occurred a couple of months before he was diagnosed with cancer. At that time, he was hoping to qualify for a knee replacement surgery. Life throws curve balls and who knew that would be the last steak night I'd be able to hang out with him.

The last time I saw him was at the Riverside Kaiser hospital about a week before he passed away. All things considered, he looked pretty good that day, and was up to his usual gregarious self. We didn't stay too long, but I'm glad I had a chance to give him a hug before saying goodbye.
Below is a brief video of Stan leading the planning commission meeting in the pledge of allegiance.
•          •          •

“Immortality is to live your life doing good things, and leaving your mark behind.” 

—Brandon Lee (1965-1993)

Wildomar Rap isn't concerned with immortality, or leaving a mark behind, but does enjoy doing good things when the opportunity arises. Goodbye dear friend Stan, you'll truly be missed and will continue to serve as a role model, even in your absence.

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