The Morongo Valley Community Services District Board of Directors held its regular monthly meeting last night. Reporter Andrew Dieleman has the details…
At last night’s meeting, the Morongo Valley CSD Board of Directors heard a presentation from resident Christina Gorke on several possible COVID-19 compliant events the CSD could host this Halloween, including an art walk through trails around Covington Park and a drive-thru trick-or-treat event at the Morongo Valley Fire Station. After lengthy discussion and with great sadness, the board voted 4-1 (Director Christina Brook voting yes) to hold no community Halloween event this year due primarily to concerns over liability. Gorke and resident Sue Lefevre stated they would instead investigate the possibility of creating a community Halloween event held on private property.
The board also took no action regarding Covington Park, choosing to leave the park closed to the public until further notice.
Additionally, the board discussed the donation of a $5,000 commercial freezer to the Morongo Valley Fire Department; Morongo Valley Deputy Fire Chief Jim Brakebill discussed fire department activity over the past month, including assistance in battling the recent EL Dorado Fire; and the board discussed holding future meetings with CalTrans and County representatives over traffic safety issues on Highway 62 and on Morongo Valley residential streets.
The Morongo Valley Community Services District Board of Directors will hold its regular board meeting tonight, October 21. Reporter Andrew Dieleman has the agenda…
At tonight’s meeting, the Morongo Valley CSD Board of Directors will begin with discussing whether or not it is safe to reopen Covington Park to the public and approve a COVID-19 compliant method to distribute candy during their trunk-or-treat event. Morongo Valley Fire Chief Gary Yearsley will also give an update on the fire department’s involvement in the recent El Dorado fire. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. via Zoom phone conference.
The Morongo Valley Community Services District will have two seats to fill on its board of directors during the upcoming November election. Reporter Andrew Dieleman introduces us to incumbent Johnny Tolbert and challengers Sue Lefevre and Christina Gorke…
Candidate Christina Gorke is an executive assistant for the non-profit organization “Dogs Playing for Life,” and is a 4-year resident of Morongo Valley.
“[If elected], I would really love to take advantage of the CSD [community] building and hopefully generate some kind of fundraising for the [Morongo Valley] fire department…and some improvements to the [Covington Park] play areas for the kids.”
Candidate Sue Lefevre is a retired senior citizen, avid equestrian, rural lifestyle advocate, and 9-year resident of Morongo Valley.
“[If elected], my goal as a CSD board member will be to listen to the community,…more community engagement,…getting [meeting]information out to the community,…and a lot more [district] representation by young families.”
Incumbent Johnny Tolbert is a retired Marine Corp veteran, active member of Morongo Valley Firefighters Auxiliary, and 14-year resident of Morongo Valley.
“[If reelected], my goal is to keep the control of the Morongo Valley Fire Department local…and to make sure that the people of this district are heard, showing them how we are spending their [tax] money the best way we possibly can.”
The following information was provided by the candidates via phone interviews, district bios, and a recent candidate forum through the Morongo Valley CSD. Statements have been summarized for clarity.
Candidate Christina Gorke:
I currently work as an executive assistant for a non-profit organization called Dogs Playing for Life based out of Colorado. I’ve been with them for the past five years. I previously worked as a dental assistant and office manager for about ten years.
I’ve lived in Morongo Valley since 2015, so I’m a bit of a ‘newbie.’ I fell in love with the area, I love the small town, I have great neighbors, and I really enjoy the space. I live with my husband and four-year-old son (who keeps me very busy) on a one-acre property. We have chickens, dogs, and cats. I’m not the best at it yet, but I’m currently working on my gardening skills. I love going to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve and visiting Covington Park with my son, although I believe the playground and skatepark are ‘not so great looking’ right now. I often clean up trash in the park by myself while my kid is running around having a blast.
I’m hoping to get a little bit more involved in the area so that Morongo Valley can have a positive place for more families to come and stay and grow. Based on my review of the District budget, the CSD does not have a very robust fundraising department. If elected, I would love to be able to take more advantage of the CSD community building by having community events including fundraising for the Morongo Valley Fire Department. I believe working with the community to raise funds would provide a financial cushion for the budget by funding things such as Covington park improvements, fire department equipment, and community safety events with members of the fire department.
Candidate Sue Lefevre:
I am a retired senior citizen and have been a resident of Morongo Valley for the past 9 years. I moved to Morongo Valley because I believe in a rural residential lifestyle. I am an avid equestrian who believes in non-motorized trails. My personal goal is to ensure that Morongo Valley continues to be a safe, peaceful, quiet, family community that remains protective of the natural environment.
I have been attending Morongo Valley CSD Board meeting for the past 8-9 years. I have always participated locally no matter where I have lived, so I was dismayed and disturbed by the lack of community involvement in Morongo Valley meetings when I first arrived. I believe that the CSD has missed the boat in community engagement. If elected, I would like to work to close the disconnect between Morongo Valley citizens and the CSD board. Morongo Valley needs a lot more representation from young families, they are the future of Morongo Valley. My goal would be to find way to help these young families participate in community meetings despite their difficult work and family responsibilities. There is also room for improvement in getting CSD information out to the community.
I am a registered Republican, however my job as a CSD board member would remain completely bipartisan. My goal as a CSD board member would be to listen to the community and develop policies and procedures that are consistent with majority interests and desires regardless of my personal opinions on the matters.
Incumbent Johnny Tolbert:
I am a retired Marine Corp veteran and active member of the Morongo Valley Firefighters Auxiliary. I have lived in Morongo Valley for the past 14 years and have spent the last nine of those years on the CSD Board. I also volunteer with the Morongo Valley Youth Softball League, Tri Valley Little League, and am a certified member of the Morongo Basin CERT team.
The CSD has a limited amount of funding to work with, despite repeated fundraising efforts in the past. Additionally, a tax proposal years ago was voted down because citizens did not want to spend more money. In short, there is very little funding available in the district budget for things we would like to do, such as improving Covington Park and the community building. Most worrisome to me is keeping our fire department local. The County of San Bernardino is doing everything it can to try to bring the Morongo Valley Fire Department under its control. If this happens, the CSD would lose control of the fire department and subsequently all tax dollars related to it.
If re-elected, my goal will be to keep control of the Morongo Valley Fire Department local. I will also ensure that the citizens of this district are heard. Citizen complaints in the past have gone unheard, or they feel that they have been unheard, and that cannot happen. The board is elected by the people to serve the people, and that is exactly what I’m going to do: listen to the public and show them that the CSD is spending their tax dollars the best way we possibly can.
After months of planning and an unexpected rescheduling, the Morongo Valley Community Services District Board of Directors finally held its public hearing on the district’s 2020-2021 budget. After additional discussion on a split decision to combine the district’s fire chief and general manager positions into one director of operations position, the board voted 3-2 (Directors Matthew Campos and Johnny Tolbert voting no) to officially adopt the 2020-2021 district budget with the combined position unchanged. Reporter Andrew Dieleman has more…
At last night’s meeting, the board also held a forum to meet the candidates running for one of two seats on the board during the upcoming November election. Incumbent Johnny Tolbert and candidates Sue Lefevre and Christina Gorke will appear on the ballot. A full Morongo Valley CSD “meet the candidates” story is coming soon. The board then heard a report from Fire Chief Gary Yearsley discussing the Morongo Valley Fire Department’s assistance in fighting the Apple Fire, Lake Fire, and SCU Lightning Complex Fire. Members of the Morongo Valley Fire Department are currently fighting the EL Dorado fire.
The board then discussed possible ways to safely hold the district’s annual Halloween Trunk-or-Treat event. After several unique ideas were shared, the board tabled the topic until the October board meeting pending input from the county health department on safety and district liability for the event.
Director Christina Brook presented extensive figures and numerous possible schedules to the board on having volunteer firefighters work as duty officers for the Morongo Valley Fire Department. The board agreed to begin reviewing the logistics of staffing the position with the volunteers. Finally, the board expressed gratitude towards a Morongo Valley citizen who secured the donation of a large commercial freezer from Home Depot for the Morongo Valley Fire Department for food storage.
During its August meeting, the Morongo Valley Community Services District Board of Directors discovered that its open public hearing for the district’s 2020-2021 budget had not been correctly placed on the agenda. The board reluctantly rescheduled the public hearing for tonight’s board meeting and will approve the district’s finalized $800,000 budget. Reporter Andrew Dieleman has the rest of the meeting agenda…
At tonight’s meeting, the board will also hold a 2020 election forum to meet the candidates running for two seats on the board. The board will also continue discussions on compensation for fire department duty officers, review a COVID-19 compliant method for holding the district’s annual trunk-or-treat event, and recognize members of the Morongo Valley Fire Department returning from battling California wildfires. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and will be held via phone conference.