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San Bernardino County High Desert 2016 Year in Review

SAN BERNARDINO – Recently re-elected Supervisor Lovingood shared the progress within the community he serves in a news release. Although our community has faced several incidents of devastation including the mental recover after the December 2, 2015, terror attack at a San Bernardino County office party, the Pilot party which burned 12 square miles, to potentially the most devastating; the Blue Cut Fire. The Blue Cut Fire began on August 17th and burned out of; or with little control for nearly a week. The fire left 100 home destroyed, caused evacuations of 82,000 residents and burned 56 square miles. Although there was no human lives lost or even serious injuries, hundreds of animals perished in the fire.

The courageous efforts of the 2600 firefighters, law enforcement, and volunteers kept the devastation to a minimum and saved lives that may have otherwise been lost in the fast moving blaze.”Amid tragedy and suffering, they are beacons of courage, kindness, and service,” said Supervisor Lovingood in the release.  “They exemplify the best in the human spirit and the command to love thy neighbor.”

Although there is a long road in all aspects of public safety, the economy, veterans, senior, environment, and homelessness; there have been some advances. Supervisor Lovingood said that Operation Desert Guardian, the three-month crime sweeps funded by the County ended in 376 arrested in the City of Hesperia, Adelanto, Victorville, the Town of Apple Valley, and the unincorporated Victor Valley areas.

Welfare fraud sweeps have been conducted throughout the county and new reforms have been implemented. “The Board of Supervisors added two additional investigators to strengthen the District Attorney’s Cold Case Prosecution Unit,” said Supervisor Lovingood. The Board of Supervisors approved an $8.2 million for immediate improvements to county facilities to provide security. These funds will be used to expand security guard services upgraded security cameras and key card access installations plus $2 million to conduct a security assessment of all county facilities.

An improved economy and job growth have been seen through new, large companies coming to the High Desert. Stirling Capital Investments completed the fully-leased 447,740-square foot industrial facility in the City of Victorville. Arden Companies announced their relocation, also to the City of Victorville, offering 100 jobs. A 1.3 million-square-foot distribution center, is in the works and is expected to create 400-500 long-term jobs in North Apple Valley. Also Clark Pacific broke ground on its new precast concrete manufacturing plant in the City of Adelanto. “Regionally, the Inland Empire continues to expand,” said Supervisor Lovingood.  “Not only has the region reached new records in employment, its job quality is as good as it was before the recession. And as of mid-year, Victor Valley home values had increased 84 percent since 2012. In the High Desert, the average home price at mid-year was $119 per square foot.”

The third annual Veterans Resource Fair helped link hundreds of Veterans to jobs and benefits that they may have otherwise been unaware of. Supervisor Lovingood said that the San Bernardino County has the highest amount of new veteran cash benefits in the entire State of California. Senior programs and senior clubs, health fairs and the Meals on Wheels program had special discretionary funds allocated to them. “We also assisted the High Desert Regional Council on Aging with outreach to the First District Senior Centers, providing them with information on available resources,” Supervisor Lovingood said.

A major and heart-wrenching issue in the First District area is homelessness. Although there is much to be done, the county has made progress in 2016. A 12 percent decline was noted between January of 2015 to January of  2016. Lovingood attributes this partially to investments in permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing, and workforce investment programs.Homelessness among veterans has nearly diminished with the County and its partners housing 862 homeless veterans in 2016 alone. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald congratulated the County on its impressive inroads in eliminating homelessness among veterans. These programs do not only provide housing but follow up with wrap-around social services including social workers, health care, mental health assistance, employment and drug/alcohol services, if needed.

Jail inmates have been utilized in the cleanup efforts of illegal dump sites and have cleared over 578 tons of trash.  In the trash, there was 7922 tires and 68 tons of cement. The cement was recycled and the tires were used as fuel at local cement plants.    In August, the Board of Supervisors rejected the controversial Soda Mountain solar project that gained national attention because of its impacts on sensitive areas of the Mojave Desert. The project, I believe, was ill-suited for the location near Joshua Tree National Park.

Supervisor Lovingood was sworn in for his second term and is asking for guidance in the form of ideas and suggestions from the community. He is directing questions and concerns to his office at (760) 995-8100 or email SupervisorLovingood@SBCounty.gov.

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Staff Writer

This article was written by a staff member of the 24/7 Headline News Organization