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Banning Public Library honoring vets

The Banning Public Library will be honoring veterans throughout the month of November with several displays featuring memorabilia from the WWII and Vietnam War eras.

The library will also be highlighting its latest acquisition of books relating to veteran’s histories and the resources currently available for veterans. The Veteran’s Collection was made possible with grant funds from the State of California Library “Initiatives Book Project.” With these funds, $3,000 was utilized specifically to purchase books for the Veterans Collection.

Library Assistant III, Darnise Wiggins, selected the books for the Veterans Collection. “This project was a labor of love for me knowing that we needed more information here at the library to bring into focus not only our veterans but their families as well,” says Darnise. “It was an honor to purchase informational books on entering the service (exam books) and leaving the service and returning to civilian life. The collection includes fiction and nonfiction books as well as dvds.”

Some of the books in the collection include, “Touching the Dragon,” by James Hatch, “After the War Zone,” by Laurie B. Stone, and “Worth the Fighting For,” by John McCain. All of the books in the Veterans Collection can be checked out by anyone with a Banning Public Library card. For more information contact Darnise Wiggins at the Banning Public Library at 951-849-3192 or

Meet the Candidates for the San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital Healthcare District Board

Voters have the option to vote for three candidates to represent the region on the San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital Healthcare District board of directors, a five-member body that oversees the district’s property, fixed assets and equipment, and are part of the 13-member hospital board of directors that oversees the institution’s operations.

There are nine candidates: appointed incumbents Bakhtiar Ahmed and Georgia Sobiech and incumbent Lynn Baldi; candidates Phillip Capobianco, John Kalani, Lyndon Taylor, Lanny Swerdlow, Andrew Gardner and Sandra Gutknecht.

Bakhtiar and Gutknecht have both opted to not run for office, though they qualified for the ballot.

Here are a summary of the remaining candidates, and their statements, based on information they provided to the Record Gazette.

(Capobianco and Kalani did not respond to media requests.)

Lyndon Taylor

Nine members of Lyndon Taylor’s family are physicians, and his sister and her husband owned and operated a hospital; Taylor’s mother, as well as his son and his son’s wife, are hospital administrators.

His pedigree offers him perspective when it comes to organizational management and master planning, he points out.

He is a businessman who has owned real estate investment firms and child development centers, an audio visual firm, and computer learning centers.

Taylor, if elected, would want to review on-call contracts and terminate the anesthesia on-call contract; terminate or renegotiate sub-lease facilities agreements and closely examine the soon-to-expire lease contract between the healthcare district and the hospital.

Taylor, a 20-year resident of the Pass area who resides in Banning, believes that he understands the region’s demographics, has paid close attention to the issues the hospital faces, and has perspective of hospital operations and oversight based on his family’s and his own personal experiences involving working at and around hospitals.

“I have studied the issues facing the hospital for over a year, and have developed a strategy that will solve these problems,” he says. And, with a master’s degree in biological sciences and a doctorate in human feedback systems, as well as two years in law school and extensive experience in journalism and broadcast media production, “I have the confidence, support and endorsements of the concerned citizens of the area, and the Beaver physicians.”

Lanny Swerdlow

Registered nurse Lanny Swerdlow of Whitewater is concerned with the financial issues San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital has been facing, pointing out that the hospital has experienced “losses of over $13 million,” with problems that have “recently been compounded” when $117 million hospital bond issue was downgraded from an A3 rating to Baaa3, and explaining that Moody’s Investment Services anticipate solvency for the hospital’s bonds to be negative.

Swerdlow is a legal nurse consultant who believes that he has “the professional competency and understanding of the hospital’s health care services, and the complicated fiscal and administrative problems in managing them.”

He has been a registered nurse for 12 years; has worked in the cardiac and medical-surgery units at Desert Regional Hospital, and for private clinics.”

Georgia Sobiech

Last spring Georgia Sobiech, a retired registered nurse, was appointed to her first-ever term in office as a member of the healthcare district’s board.

“After only six months, I realize things are moving in a good direction,” she says, “and I want to be a part of that.”

The campus’s hospitalists are Beaver Medical Group doctors who have stabilized the flow of patients to Beaver facilities outside of Banning, an issue that caused uproar in the past couple of years.

According to Sobiech, “There needs to be an amalgamation with a larger service,” or an affiliation with a larger hospital or medical group, because “most small hospitals like ours can’t survive on our own,” she says.

Sobiech has spent 38 years as a registered nurse, and also worked in management overseeing regulatory compliance.

She resides at Sun Lakes Country Club, and has been endorsed for the healthcare district board by the Record Gazette.

Andrew Gardner

Andrew Gardner has spent nearly half of his life working for family and business clients to adopt sound financial practices, representing clients before the IRS and state tax agencies to advocate for less government overreach, and conducting audits for businesses, nonprofits and churches.

He is a unit commissioner for a Beaumont Boy Scout troop.

“In recent years there were elements operating within the hospital system who were under the influence of self-interests,” he says, resulting in contracts that have left the hospital in “a precarious position.”

He believes that his understanding and experience in dealing with finance will allow him to ask questions that could be useful to a hospital district.

He favors pursuing an outside affiliation to gain access to additional resources that would bring expanded care management, IT solutions, and health analytics capabilities that could reduce costs by sharing services.

Gardner, of Beaumont, has been endorsed by the Record Gazette.

Lynn Baldi

Incumbent Lynn Baldi of Beaumont was appointed to the healthcare district board in 2010 to fill a vacated seat.

This is her third run for office.

She served as chairwoman of the district board for five years.

She has been a member of several governing boards, from the Beaumont Education Support Team and the Crafton College Foundation, to the Arc of Riverside and Soroptimist International of Banning-Beaumont. She was a charter member of San Gorgonio Pass Habitat For Humanity, and is active with the PassEDA.

While serving on the healthcare district’s board, she oversaw the final year of construction for the hospital’s emergency department and intensive care unit facility.

“I believe in our hospital,” she says. “A stand-alone district hospital is unusual in this day and age, and our board has been actively working to not only find the right affiliation partner, but to see what other services the district can provide” for the local community.

Baldi, who has been endorsed by the Record Gazette, feels that she has “the experience to keep moving forward for our community’s healthcare needs.”

Dia de Los Muertos altar on display at the Banning Art Gallery

In preparation for the Day of the Dead celebration, the Advanced Spanish Class from Sun Lakes met at the Banning Art Gallery for a workshop to make colorful paper flowers to decorate the Day of the Dead altar. 

The public is cordially invited to see this display free of charge from now until Nov. 5 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 139 North San Gorgonio St., Ste. 101. Also, the community is invited to bring a small picture of your love ones that have departed to put in the altar.  

Dia de Los Muertos began about 3,000 years ago, an Aztec tradition that gradually emerged with Catholicism.  At midnight on Oct. 31 the gates of heaven open and the spirits of the deceased children are released for 24 hours on Nov. 1 to reunite with their families. Then, on Nov. 2, the spirits of the adults are allowed to come to earth and participate in the celebration prepared for them with a display of the food that they loved the most in life. 

Dia de Los Muertos is the time to remember and honor the loved ones who have passed away.

Sleek Morongo renovations will include more slots, parking and ambience

More than 35 years have passed since gaming started on the Morongo reservation in Cabazon, with a bingo hall and bowling alley.

The Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa opened in December 2004, towering 27 stories high with 310 hotel rooms and 3,100 slots, providing 2,500 jobs and pumping nearly $3 billion annually into the region’s economy.

By the end of November, they will have broken ground on expansion plans that will add 30 percent additional slots and table games, renovate and “reactivate” the original Casino Morongo (currently the Morongo Bingo Hall) to house slots that will be displaced during renovation efforts at the resort, and build a three-story, 750-space free valet parking structure that will provide easier traffic flow at the main entrance.

The 65,000 square-foot expansion will include renovation of existing restaurants at the resort, including what has been called the Vibe night club, which has not been used as a regular night club in a few years, according to Executive Director of Marketing Simon Farmer, who provided an overview to a dozen visitors that watched a presentation in one of the resort’s ballrooms Tuesday evening.

The darker Vibe club will look vastly different: much brighter and lighter, that can have multiple uses for meeting space and performances.

“A lot of work brought us to this point. It’s been a long time coming,” Farmer said. “These are beautiful, dynamic changes that are coming, and we’re very excited to share this with you.”

The goal for the renovation projects, the costs of which Morongo declined to disclose, “is to create a comfortable gaming experience for guests.”

The project will generate more than 400 new full-time jobs, with completion of all projects expected to be done by the end of 2020.

The resort is not adding new hotel rooms, and the resort’s pool area will not be changed.

Renovations include revamping and replacing first floor restaurants; new paint, carpeting and lighting; widening of aisles and creating a more feng shui feel.

“There will be cleaned up lines of sight, more bars and lounges, and space for guests to mingle and socialize and have a good time,” Farmer said.

The tribe worked with agencies such as Cal-Trans and Riverside County to ensure regional approval, and assures the public that it has taken the appropriate steps to mitigate any issues related to the environment, traffic, noise and air quality, for instance, and has set aside $15 million contingency for any off-reservation mitigation that may arise during construction efforts.

To learn more, visit

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at, or by calling (951) 849-4586, ext. 114.

Liberty Village provides affordable and comfortable apartments for veterans

Liberty Village, a new apartment complex for homeless veterans and their families, welcomed its new residents with a grand opening celebration Wednesday Oct. 24 at its Illinois Avenue location.

The residents began moving in at the beginning of August. There are 38 apartments -21 for veterans and 17 for veterans experiencing homelessness.

J.R. Silva, 76, loves his new one-bedroom, 698 square foot apartment. Silva had been living with his sister and brother-in-law, Irene and Douglas Duncan.

The Duncans moved to Beaumont four years ago and Irene Duncan has been her brother’s caregiver for 18 years since their mother Carmen Silva died.

The Silva family, which included their dad Nesario and four more siblings, lived in San Bernardino. J.R. graduated from San Bernardino High School and enlisted in the Army at 19. He served for two years and then worked in various jobs until age 50.

Silva admitted that post-traumatic stress syndrome took a toll on his life. His two marriages failed, he drank a lot, and Irene said he had health issues that they were not aware of, but now they are dealing with them.

Duncan, who is 58, said her brother has been a fantastic uncle to her children, Jessica and Douglas, and still spends every day with her and her husband, who only live five minutes from the apartments. She is so glad that these apartments became available and that her brother could move into one of them.

“The Vietnam vets didn’t have a lot of people who care for them,” she said.

Silva said he likes his new apartment. “I’m comfortable,” he said.

The grand opening celebration featured a variety of speakers. Rebecca Clark is the president and CEO of LINC Housing, based in Long Beach.

Her 98-year-old father, a World War II veteran, attended the ceremony.

Clark said her brother and brother-in-law served in the Vietnam and Korean wars, so she feels a personal connection with veterans.

“I have not served personally, but I have an appreciation of the sacrifices veterans made for us,” she said.

Beaumont Mayor Nancy Carroll said that the city worked with LINC Housing to that veterans would have a place to live in Beaumont.

“Liberty Village was a real opportunity for us to do more,” she said.

The project cost $16.4 milion. it was funded by the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Veterans Housing and Homelessness Program, the County of Riverside Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a construction loan from BBVA Compass, and a tax credit equity from Raymond James Tax Credit Funds Inc.

Most of the apartments have been filled. There is one family, with six children, in a three-bedroom apartment.

There are stairs and elevators for access to the apartments, which are fenced in and have a security guard on-site.

Maj. Cpl. Pat Chandler was living in Hemet when he was told about Liberty Village. Chandler said that when he was told the apartments were located in Beaumont. he misunderstood.

“I said, “’I’m not going to Texas,” he said.

Well, he did not have to go to Texas, but he did move into Liberty Village, where he has planted a garden and is happy as an elephant in a “peanut factory.”

There are two three-bedroom units available and veterans can apply with the property manager directly at (951) 481-4976.