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Glitz and lots of glamour at Carnival hospital gala

Bright flowing feathers, long colorful tassels and glittering jewels decorated samba dancers as they entertained donors at this year’s San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital Foundation gala.

The Rio Carnival-themed event held at Casino Morongo Resort and Spa was saturated with vibrant colors and drumbeats, Brazilian tacos and sangria, but was ultimately focused on the generosity of the participating donors.

The annual event is held to recognize money donated by sponsors as well as to raise additional funds for the San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital.

In its 35 years holding the gala, the San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital Foundation has raised over $14.5 million.

Mayda Cox, president of the San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital Foundation, presented this year’s Perfect Partner award to the San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.

The recognition is meant to show a special appreciation to sponsors and was given to the San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital Auxiliary based on their nearly 70 years of dedicated service.

Countless volunteer hours, financial support and other campaigns provided in that time have contributed to the over $1.5 million donated by the auxiliary.

Special thanks were given to Mary Bass, recognizing her 26 years of service and over 18,000 hours of volunteering.

A silent auction was held as well as a raffle to raise money for fetal monitors for the hospital.

According to foundation director Siobhan Lopez, 275 people attended the gala this year.

In 2018 $202,000 was raised and went back to the community to provide healthcare resources, and equipment.

For seniors’ moment, reminders to drive safely

More than 200 seniors brushed up on their driving knowledge Friday morning during a Senior Driver Safety seminar at the Beaumont Civic Center.

The seminar was sponsored by Sen. Mike Morrell (R-Inland Empire), Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt, California Highway Patrol and the city of Beaumont.

The one-hour class, “Age Well, Drive Smart,” was given by CHP Public Information Officer Darren Meyer of the San Gorgonio Pass area office.

It is designed for seniors 65 and older.

“The goal today is to become a safer driver,” Meyer said.

He started off the program with the fact that 4.4. million licensed drivers are over age 65. In the age category of 80 to 89, there are 663,000 drivers and 101,000 drivers over age 90.

The oldest driver in the U.S. was 107 when she died in 2015.

Meyer said that senior drivers share similar behaviors when it comes to driving: they take fewer risks, are more patient, and are more compliant with the law.

But there are health impacts that seniors face as they age such as: impaired vision, cognitive impairment, decreased strength and mobility, and medical conditions.

Meyer said that two-thirds of drivers over 65 take five or more medications that can affect their driving.

Meyer said that one in three traffic fatalities involves alcohol. Older adults process alcohol more slowly and alcohol intensifies the effects of medication.

Marijuana use by seniors over 60 is 20 times more likely than 30 years ago. It can be difficult to predict the effects on seniors, Meyer said.

Senior drivers need to consult their physicians about any health changes they are experiencing and it also is a time to review their medications. They also can share any driving concerns they may have with their doctor.

Seniors face collision factors including speed, not paying attention, weather and other distractions, he said.

Older drivers fail to yield the right-of-way and make unsafe turns. They misjudge time and distance and fail to see other vehicles.

Meyer said it’s important to remember the three-second rule: stop, perception time, and reaction time. The latter two take 1.5 seconds each.

When entering the freeway, enter at the speed of traffic, Meyer said.

In parking lots, look for people walking around and backing up your car.

Distracted driving involves reading, talking, texting, eating, disciplining children, smoking and other things that take one’s mind off the road.

Meyer said that driving takes 100 percent of our attention. People ask if hands-free driving is safer. Not necessarily, he said.

The only way that hand held is acceptable is when you have to call 911 in an emergency. You may see someone weaving in and out of their lane; if that happens, it’s OK to call police.

If you need to talk, you can pull over to the side of the road and make a phone call.

Seniors also need to be on the lookout for road rage resulting from people who speed slow, then fast, or make unsafe lane changes. They also follow too closely or they lack driving courtesy.

When planning a trip, get directions beforehand; know alternate routes to get to your destination. Check traffic and let family and friends know your plans.

Seniors need to be alert for blind spots by turning their head and looking in the mirror.

Meyer said that senior drivers should place the steering wheel 10 to 12 inches from their chest.

The seniors also were interested in renewing their drivers licenses after age 70.

Meyer said the DMV driver handbook is invaluable.

“Every year, there are new laws added to the vehicle code,” he said.

Meyer said that senior drivers need to be concerned if they have other drivers honking or gesturing at them, or family and friends are upset about your driving habits.

Meyer said to keep an eye out for the red and blue lights on top of the CHP car. “If I’m behind you, then we’re going to have good chat,” he said.

After the program, several seniors talked about what they thought was interesting and why attended the class.

Helgie Mulkey, 77, of Banning, has been driving since 1963. She had a specific reason for attending the class. “For one thing, are they going to get my insurance down?’’ Mulkey asked.

Banning residents Dona and Richard Amos, 79 and 84 respectively, also had questions. “For insurance and to learn to get up to speed with what’s going on,” said Amos, who has been driving since he was 15.

Beaumont Library director advocates for district bond

The Beaumont Library District will place a bond issue totaling $15 to $25 million on the March 2020 ballot, seeking funds for a library expansion including collections, a history room and a new entrance on the south side of the building.

Luren Dickinson, director of the Beaumont Library District, spoke Monday about the bond issue at the California Retired Teachers Association (CRTA) monthly meeting at The Farm House in Banning.

Approximately 30 members attended the lunch meeting, said Diana Lachappa, president of the CRTA chapter.

Dickinson, who joined the library district in 2016, said the bond issue will go on the March 3, 2020 ballot.

He said the library district is working with Isom Advisors, which also works with school districts on elections.

A telephone survey is being conducted with residents and Dickinson said the library hopes to have the results in April so they can move ahead with the bond.

The election is scheduled for the same days known as Super Tuesday. That is the Presidential Primary election, said Dickinson.

The library will need two-thirds vote to pass the bond issue.

Beaumont secured its library in 1911 with 68 percent of the vote. Fifty-nine people voted yes; 27 voted no.

The Beaumont library opened its doors Oct. 1, 1911. It began as two rooms in a Beaumont bank building at Fifth and Grace streets. The Beaumont Womans’ Club donated 80 books to start the collection.

Dickinson said that the library district is a special district and is independent of the city of Beaumont and the county of Riverside. It serves 60 square miles, including Beaumont, Cherry Valley and unincorporated areas of Riverside County.

Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie gave a $10,000 grant to build the original part of the library in 1914.

“Construction started in January and it opened to the public in June,” Dickinson said.

The last major addition to the library was in 1965, when the population of Beaumont was 5,000. A small meeting room was added in 1981 and an elevator was added in 2008-09.

Dickinson said that the current population of Beaumont and Cherry Valley is 55,000.

Dickinson said that all but one of the houses on that block have been bought so they can be torn down to make room for the expansion.

There are 17,500 public libraries in the United States and 94 percent of people surveyed believe that a library enhances the quality of life in a community.

Dickinson said that there are more libraries than there are McDonalds or Starbucks.

Plans are to expand the Carnegie Library portion and to have a facility to house the Bookmobile. There also will be private tutor rooms and larger modern restrooms.

The south side of the building will be the main entrance and there will be an enclosed reading garden.

The library has so much to offer now — there is WIFI, which is 1 gigabyte connection. Books can be checked out and then there are DVDs and audiobooks. Dickinson said that book check-outs have increased 5 percent.

The library is partnering with the Beaumont Unified School District with a program called “1-2-3.” Every first grader gets to take a field trip and tour the library before they get a library card.

“They can check out three items of childrens’ books from the childrens collection.

Dickinson said that this is a three-year pilot program and next year, they will do the same program with new first-graders.

There are no fines or fees during the program, Dickinson said.

The library also received a $3,000 state grant for acting classes for teens. A fee will be paid to the acting coach and the grant provides the funding. The acting classes are held from March to the fall.

The library also has a new website and software, Dickinson said.

French fries, ferret are left behind at Banning City Hall

A Riverside County Animal Services officer retrieved an abandoned ferret today at Banning City Hall.

Officer Eric Mangum responded to the call and spoke with city employees about the dumped critter.

He reviewed video surveillance footage to see if the person or their vehicle could be identified.

He did not state whether or not they saw the culprit.

Abandoning an animal is a misdemeanor offense.

Apparently, someone left a crate of some type at Banning City Hall sometime in the early morning hours Tuesday.

A city employee told Officer Mangum that the crate was left around 2:30 a.m.

Employees later discovered the crate contained a ferret.

Ferrets are illegal to own in California. Officer Mangum is working with a warden with the state Department of Fish & Wildlife to find a suitable rescue organization to care for the animal.

“Apparently, the ferret loves french fries,” Officer Mangum said. “Whoever abandoned the animal left bunches of fries. They look like McDonald’s french fries.”

For a couple of months, free fare on Pass Transit

Residents in the San Gorgonio Pass can ride for free on Pass Transit through May 31, thanks to a grant from the state’s Low Carbon Transit Operations Program and a partnership between the cities of Beaumont and Banning.

The free fare program promotes exploring the transportation possibilities in the Pass area via fixed routes and a commuter link.

It is being administered through the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) in coordination with the Air Resource Board and the State Controller’s Office in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The grant totals $63,619 and was secured during the 2015/16 fiscal year by the city of Beaumont.

It was initially intended for the expansion of the Commuter Link 120. The grant was supposed to be used on a low emission vehicle on one of the bus routes, but Beaumont could not consistently use a CNG bus due to lack of fueling options, according to a staff report.

Beaumont Pass Transit offers six local fixed routes and two commuter links, which connect with the Pass area to Redlands and San Bernardino.

“Our intent of the program is to increase awareness of public transportation offered in and around the Pass area. We are excited to extend this promotion to the entire passenger base of residents to #TryTransit,’’ said Celina Cabrera, Beaumont Pass Transit Management Analyst.

The city of Banning offers three local fixed routes.

The grant money had to be used by June 30, 2019, or return the unexpended funds to LCTOP.

Administrators for the grant talked with Caltrans and decided to reallocate the funding to the Free Fare Project, which was approved in the fiscal year 2017/18 and offers free rides to veterans and college students.

Caltrans decided to add the city of Banning to the revised project so that Banning and Beaumont residents could participate in the program.