Sunday, October 29, 2017

• Vaya con Dios Wildomar Chamber of Commerce

The Wildomar Chamber of Commerce has merged with the Murrieta Chamber of Commerce to now be known as The Murrieta/Wildomar Chamber of Commerce.
This building will still be active under the new combined chamber of commerce.
Q: Why might this matter to the average Wildomartini?
A: It really doesn't matter to the residents here. 

How do I know it? 

I've been a member of the Chamber for the better part of the last three years, and sadly, there hasn't been the type of grassroots participation that I'd expect to see if I had a brick & mortar type of business looking to expand its bottom line.

The yearly dues were reasonable, but I didn't really see any advantages from belonging to the Chamber (from a business perspective) as the years have gone by. 

Don't get me wrong, the handful of regulars that did attend the monthly breakfasts, mixers and ribbon cuttings are great people and fun to chat up.

Thing is, a high percentage of those people are the ones that are seen doing the heavy lifting in other organizations throughout the city too, and it's been quite obvious while I've been around that the load had been taking its toll.

In other words, more locals need to start stepping up into leadership positions if they want this community to thrive.

Looks like it'll be time to roll out some new promotional videos shortly.
The video below was produced in Spring of 2015.

A Chamber of Commerce is first and foremost an institution that allows for networking among local businesses. 

Second, it's part of the face of the community it serves. 

If membership isn't high enough, it's reasonable for a local business to forego joining, which only lends to the downward spiral that convinces others to not join or re-sign when their dues are up.

This baby is going to be a collectors item in 50 years.
In the short time I've been a member I've seen the monthly Wake Up Wildomar breakfasts go from Denny's to The Landing Zone over to Tacos Tijuana then to The Corporate Room and now... I don't know where they are. Last I heard, they were going to be at the VFW.

With each move that was made, the number of the usual attendees continued to diminish. At one point breakfast at Denny's would bring in more than 30 people, sometimes closer to 50 and the breakfast at that time cost $12 for members.

By the time it was being held at The Corporate Room, the usual attendance didn't even hit 20 people, even though the cost of breakfast had been reduced down to $10 for members.

How can you switch venues, arguably to a better meeting place with a lower cost, and STILL see attendance flagging?

I'm sure that there could be many opinions regarding the whys of it all, and the Chamber has long sought ways to bring back interest, but obviously to no avail.
As an example, the chamber was in charge of ticket sales to the yearly Wildomar Night at the Storm Game

With a chamber that was at or around 200 members, I always found it pretty lackluster that 100 tickets couldn't be sold. That includes tickets to friends, family and the general community.

It was a fundraiser, and a robust chamber would have found creative ways (strong arming if necessary) to get the totals closer to 500. 

Whereas, a large chunk of the tickets that were in the Wildomar section seemed to have as many people on the city staff present, as from local businesses that were chamber members.
When the final decision was made

The chatter about a possible merger had been swirling around for many months. In fact, I thought it had already been decided upon back in Summer, but it hadn't until the last board of directors meeting, which was Monday, October 23rd.

I was one of three non board members to attend. The other two were former city councilmember Bob Cashman, and long time resident Casey (not sure of his last name). 

We all made our opinions known during the public comments portion of the meeting. Essentially there were two prevailing points of view that I observed.

The first was from the "Wildomar is its own community" contingent. The other "Yeah, but this is about building business networks" side of things.

If the chamber were just another social/service club then I'd completely side with group A. However, the premise of a Chamber of Commerce is to find ways for its members' businesses to grow... not just have breakfast together once a month.

Had the chamber stood pat, and not done something to show its business members that they are trying to fulfill their mission, I'd have not re-signed as a member. It just didn't make business sense trying to justify the dues that didn't increase the flow of traffic.

The only real issue I had with the meeting was that it was a closed door meeting once the public comments were taken.

Not open to the public, and not open to general members either. Often times a closed session makes sense, but what was going to come of allowing the three old guys to stay and watch? 

However, since there was the threat of litigation, from more than one person, I can see why the board would seek to make that effort a little more obstacle laden.

After the meeting I was apprised that the vote was 6-2 in favor of the merge with George Cambero and Tim Underdown voting in the minority.

The merge will take place November 1st.

I started this blog by asking, "Why might this matter to the average Wildotuckian?" and the answer is still the same. It really doesn't unless you are directly connected to it.

A handout entitled EXHIBIT "A" was given to those in attendance of the board of directors meeting. I found several parts worth highlighting.
4) Actions shall be taken to reserve and hold the name "Wildomar Chamber of Commerce".

5) The board of directors of the [new chamber] shall consist of [at least] 20% representation from Wildomar (defined in the bylaws of a resident or business of Wildomar).

6) The [new chamber] shall maintain the offices at 33751 Mission Trail. Hours shall be Monday thru Friday 10am to 3pm [with some fluctuation of an hour earlier or later depending on circumstances]. 

An area in the lobby of the Wildomar Chamber offices shall be set aside for the history of Wildomar and the Wildomar Chamber.

7) The programs of the [new chamber] shall combine mixers and breakfasts [into one] and include the following events:
    •  Coffee with the city
    •  Lunch with Friends
    •  Power Partners
    •  New Member Orientation
    •  Walk Abouts
    •  Economic Development

I sure hope that many of those events are actually in Wildomar... I'm not sure how enthused I'll be if I'm expected to drive 20 to 30 minutes (considering traffic) for breakfast, lunch or a mixer.
The one that really gets me is being protective of the name "Wildomar Chamber of Commerce". 

Apparently there was chatter among some that were ardently opposed to this merger, proposing to start another Wildomar Chamber of Commerce. 

I get why the merged chamber wouldn't want that, but let's look at that closer for a second. The existing chamber all but failed, and was on its way to completely failing (that's the only legitimate reason to merge in my view... which happens to feel more like being swallowed up by a larger group to me... but I digress), and without intervention, it was going to go down the tubes.

Imagine the undertaking necessary to create a new Wildomar Chamber of Commerce, and without any of the existing businesses or executive board members. Who would run it? Who would join it? The answer is NO ONE.

Certainly no where close to the current number of members, which isn't all that impressive if you're expecting excellence from your business dollars.

If it had been up to me, I would have allowed the name to be used by the hangers on that wanted to dig in their heels as a realities title wave crested overhead.

What's the worst that would have happened? 

I see two eventualities. 

A) They would bomb out (100% chance) or B) they would be successful (0% chance). I guess there is room for some middle ground here, but a new chamber run by the old guard would have been about as viable an organization as the Historical Society or the group that claims leadership over the trails in this town.

•                •                •

What used to be known as The Wildomar Chamber of Commerce was really just a private organization, not unlike the Elks, the VFW or Little League. 

Though the aforementioned organizations serve Wildomar in their own ways, they don't levy taxes on us, and if you're not an active part of them they could completely go away and most people wouldn't notice. 

They aren't on the same plane as the city council, the school board, the water board (or the like) that actually do affect all the people in their areas. 

It'll be interesting to see how many current members are maintained by the new super chamber and if they can grow their Wildomar based numbers beyond what they've been. I'm still on the fence about it. 

The costs to be a member of the Murrieta Chamber are more than double what they are in the old Wildomar Chamber so an increase in business would be a must to be part of it. 

Below are some links with differing POVs on the value of a Chamber of Commerce in today's world.
American Express article: Have Chambers of Commerce Jumped the Shark?
Daily Herald article: 6 reasons why businesses should join a local chamber of commerce
•                •                •

A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling to do the unnecessary.

– Fred Allen

Wildomar Rap is the epitome of the unnecessary, but isn't a committee and was self appointed.

• Trunk or Treat 2017

The 4th annual Trunk or Treat at Marna O'Brien park was a busy event, where kids of all ages came together for some fun, frivolity, candy and a chance to test out their 2017 costumes.
A look at the sea of people after the Sun had gone down.
Over 30 "trunks" were prepped and decorated for the event. 
The city of Wildomar booth where councilmember Bridgette Moore snaps a picture of
Janet Morales and (what appears to be) KISS guitarist Paul Stanley.
A haunted house that had longs lines of costumed kids waiting to take a look inside.
It's always fun to see a family all dress up, and this family is that of
city councilmember Dustin Nigg (Uncle Sam) and his wife Desiree (Lady Liberty)
and their three daughters;  a lamb, a ninja and Dorothy (sans Toto).
Brother and sister Daniel and Sarah pose for quick pic.
A princess poses with a transformer while being photographed by her mom.

Boy Scout Troop 332 were represented at the snack bar where they were selling
pulled pork sandwiches, and with the Doug Ames Deuce and a Half  handing out candy.
The crowd as it anticipated the first of several costume contests. On the stage were Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, Councilmembers Dustin Nigg and Bridgette Moore and in the middle with the microphone, Mayor Tim Walker. 
If there were a category of best costume theme by a group, it would have gone to the group from Living Hope Lutheran Church who dressed as characters from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Last year they were all dressed as Waldo (from Where's Waldo fame).
Last on the city park's 2017 calendar of events is Breakfast With Santa, which is slated for December 16th at the Fire Station on Gruwell St. 

To keep informed about various city events, be sure to sign up for the email reminders at the following address. 
Link to the city's stay connected options.
•                •                •

I'll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.
– Charles S. Swartz

If Wildomar Rap were a nudist colony, it would require all those present to be either blind, invisible or both.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

• Art Contest Winners

In this blog I'll share a bit of the 2017 Reflections Art Contest at Donald Graham Elementary. 

Let me start off with, if you entered this contest, you are already a winner. Art is all about being creative, not about winning ribbons.
A group photo of the winners... though some of the winners had returned to their classes and a few winners in other categories took their places ☺. It's almost like herding cats trying to take a group shot during an outdoor assembly at an elementary school  ☺.
The theme for this year was Within Reach and winners have the potential of competing on the district level, county level, state level and even the national level if they their artwork is chosen to go to the next level.
The themes are usually general in nature, and wide latitude is given to the participants.
Hey, they're kids, and in art, who says what is what anyway... right? ☺
The various entries took up the south wall in the multipurpose room (MPR).
There were only two 6th students that chose to enter, which are on the far left. The 3rd through 5th go from the left to the middle part of the banner. K through 2nd are from the middle to the last electrical outlet, and special abilities are on the right.
The impossible task for the three judges were to determine who would win, place and show (come in first, second and third) in each of the categories. The judges were Mayor Tim Walker, Councilmember Bridgette Moore and Wildomar Blogger Joseph Morabito (me).
Mayor Tim Walker and Councilmember Bridgette Moore discuss the detail in this entry.
We enjoyed the work of all the students, but still were charged with making choices; not an easy task. Where it was possible, we tried to see how well the theme was represented when choosing.
Principal Laura Konecni, PTA President Jamie Sundahl, Councilmember Bridgette Moore, Mayor Tim Walker, Joseph Morabito, Contest Coordinator Vitalia Gonzalo.
The contest had four categories
     • Special abilities students
     • Kindergarten through second grade
     • Third through fifth grade 
     • Middle school

The first three winners are in the Special Abilities category.
This rainbow was chosen for first place, created by Torin S.
Torin wasn't at the assembly to have a photo taken.
The judges referred to this as "Graduation" and thought it represented the theme well.
Especially with the contest being in the same month as Halloween,
we really liked what we saw as Jack O'Lanterns.
Kindergarten Through Second Grade

The judges loved the mixed media in this work and how it captured
the endless possibilities a young student has in their future. 
The judges liked the ambition of this student's desire to be on America's Got Talent.
I remember the Mayor remarking about this piece and surfing the top of the wave.
Third Through Fifth Grade

This was one of the favorites among the judges.
We all admired the future ideas that this young artist aspires to.
We all were impressed with the way the lines bowed out when they got to the hand.
The judges enjoyed reading about "Miss Saunders'" 
and the classroom she hopes to have someday.
Middle School Category
Character drawing isn't easy, and the judges appreciated the skill necessary to create this.
I remember the Mayor being particularly impressed with the detail in this drawing.
What a great honor it was to help judge the contest and to then be at the assembly to take these photos. Good luck in the contest, and in your future endeavors. 

A quick note to those that entered the contest but didn't win. Keep creating art for the love of art itself, don't be discouraged if your art doesn't win in a contest... it's happened to me many times, and I keep creating just the same. 

•                •                •

Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.
– Pablo Picasso

The artist in Wildomar Rap has often been accused of needing to grow up.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

• Wildfire in Hills Above Wildomar

UPDATE 2:20 P.M. 10/27/2017: 

Cleveland National Forest: road at the Tenaja Junction and Los Alamos near La Cuesta.

La Cresta Road Closures: Avenida La Cresta X Clinton Keith Rd., Calle Centro X Avenida La Cresta, Avenida Bonita X Avenida La Cresta, Calle De Campanero X Avenida La Cresta, Calle Bandido X Avenida La Cresta, Calle Bandido X Hombre Lane

UPDATE 10/27/17 @ 8:30 a.m.- Fire is 700 acres 15% containment. 200 residences have evacuated. No structures damaged at this time.
Former Wildomar Fire Chief Steve Beach, incident commander, at the map.
From the command center at The Diamond in Lake Elsinore, Friday 7:00am.
Photo courtesy of Bridgette Moore
From the command center at The Diamond in Lake Elsinore, Friday 7:00am.
Photo courtesy of Bridgette Moore
UPDATE 10/27/17 @ 12:54 a.m. - The gated community of Bear Creek is under an Evacuation WARNINGAn Evacuation ORDER has been issued. The area involved is west of Grand Avenue, north of Avenida La Cresta, and south of Calle De Lobo in the La Cresta Community.  

Looks like Ben Benoit was working this late into the night.

UPDATE 10/26/17 @ 8:22 p.m. - The fire remains at 350 acres and is 15% contained. This will be the last update of the night, unless any significant activity occurs. The next update will be tomorrow morning.

UPDATE 10/26/17 @ 6:50 p.m. - CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department is in unified command with Cleveland National Forest.  CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department is the official source for information for the Wildomar Fire. The fire is 350 acres and 0% contained. An EVACUATION ORDER  in place for five residences on Hixson Truck Trail above the warning area. An EVACUATION WARNING has been issued for the Lakeland Village Community area west of Grand Avenue and north of McVicar Street and south of Akley Street in the Cites of Lake Elsinore and Wildomar due to the Wildomar Fire. Avoid Grand Avenue due to traffic and emergency vehicles.


If you're a user of hashtags and or Twitter,  is the one created for this issue.
Update as of 8:34pm
From Ben Benoit's Facebook page around 9:15pm
The command center for the fire is being moved to Storm Stadium. Dozens of fire trucks are out doing structure protection along the hill. Two night operation attack helicopters and multiple bulldozers will be working into the night. Big thanks to Chief Hawkins and all of our CalFire apparatus out there tonight.
Original Blog Post
Around 1:00pm smoke was being noticed coming from the hills above Wildomar and the fire has since been dubbed, The Wildomar Fire.
This was an early shot of the fire. Taken just a little after 1pm From across the street from the Elks Lodge.
Take before 1:30pm from the dirt lot just north of IMM Auto Repair.
not all are in chronological order
From Cleveland National Forest Twitter Account. Click to follow.
This photo was time stamped at about 2:50pm.
Video of the smoke at 3:30pm from the corner near the fire station.
The same video sped up, interesting to see it in fast motion.
Link to Twitter account of Cleveland National Forrest 

As seen from across the street from Fire Station 51.
A shot from ABC's helicopter.

Live audio is at this link. Click the image.
Link to official audio, live feed.

DC10 dropping fire retardant, from the parking lot of Marna O'Brien park around 4:22pm.
Mayor Pro-Tem Ben Benoit and Councilmember Bridgette Moore using the facebook live feature to share with the people of Wildomar in real time.
As the DC10 takes a practice run.
Close up as the DC10 banks left.
A look at the smoke in real time with an additional video of the same scene sped up.
Below is a second video taken as the smoke billowed. It was sped up about 10 times.
Below is an image captured by Bridgette Moore while at Marna O'Brien park around 4:15pm.
Photo courtesy of Bridgette Moore.
The fire was very visible while driving north on the 15 freeway around 8pm. I went back over to Marna O'Brien park and the fire wasn't easy to see since the ball field lights were on. We drove over to McVicar and the fire was very easy to see from there... just not easy to get images of that were all that clear.
Even with a tripod, it wasn't easy to get a clean shot.
Below is a video of the fire at about 8pm.

Photo courtesy Ben Benoit.

Shared from Ben Benoit's facebook page.
Shared from Ben Benoit's facebook page.
As the fire looked from above Windsong Valley at 7:15am, Friday October 27th.
Resources Assigned:
    • Firefighters: 959
    • Helicopters: 5
    • Law Enforcement: Yes
    • Engine Companies: 118
    • Air Attack: Yes
    • EMD: Yes
    • Overhead Personnel: 35
    • Fire Investigator: Yes
    • American Red Cross: Yes
    • Public Information Officer: Yes
    • Displaced Persons: No
    • Specialized Equipment: Helitender
    • Utilities: No       
    • Air Tankers: 5      
    • Fire Crews: 43    
    • Water Tenders: 7
    • Bulldozers: 6

Cooperating Agencies:
    • CAL FIRE/Riverside
    • CAL FIRE/San Diego
    • Idyllwild Fire Protection District
    • March ARB
    • Morongo Fire Department
    • Murrieta Fire Protection District
    • Riverside City FD
    • Riverside County Fire Department
    • USFS 
    • USFS – Cleveland

Subscribe by Email