Looking back at 2014’s top stories – Southwest Riverside County experienced growth, conflict and changes during past year

The opening of Temecula Valley Hospital last spring, immigration protests in Murrieta during the summer and elections of new city officials in the fall, were events that made 2014 a year of growth, conflict and changes for Southwest Riverside County.

“As we begin a new year, it’s important to look back and see how our communities have grown and changed,” said Valley News Publisher Julie Reeder. “We should be encouraged. A lot of positive things have happened in 2014. Even negative events can be used to help direct a path toward a stronger community for everyone.”

Following is a review of some top stories covered by the Valley News in 2014.

January 3 – 9

The ever evolving landscape of Temecula’s Old Town is set to change again in 2014, as a number of new projects reach their completion. One of those projects, Temecula’s Main Street Bridge, has been another example of how the city frequently updates its look as a larger number of individuals come to call it home. The project is slated for completion in late March after many months of work and its estimated final cost is going to be more than $7 million. It will be marked by rustic steel trusses, planters, ornate lighting, and pillars that match those at the entrances to the main street drag in Old Town. Lookout points at the midpoint of the bridge will provide a view of the Temecula Creek and sidewalks will facilitate an easier route for pedestrian traffic.

In a head-butting battle between residents and business owners regarding the Wong property, Menifee City Council members made a modification to their general plan, voting for less density on the property, reducing it to 8.1 to 14 dwelling units per acre on Dec.18, 2013. It was Council Members Tom Fuhrman and John Denver voting against the reduction of the density. Higher density results in more homes on a property, and business owners want more customers, according to Fuhrman, and residents want less density.

Two young, high profile Taekwondo competitors hung up their medals in honor of helping mothers with breast cancer. They’re known as the “Wishing Warriors” and both are San Diego residents. Channah Zeitung, 5, and Rayna Vallandingham, 10, decided they wanted to perform at different schools wearing their pink belts to raise money for mothers with breast cancer. The girls have gone on a Pink Belt Tour around the nation to grant wishes. Although the girls have traded in their medals, the girls love to compete; this is what they want to do. Through the help of Wishing for Mommy, a nonprofit organization for providing grants of $500 to mothers fighting cancer, the girls will grant wishes to the mothers. Mother of Zeitung, Gloria Zeitung’s friend started the organization. Her mother also helps the girls raise money. So far the girls have granted 11 wishes.

January 10 – 16

Temecula City Clerk Susan Jones, who logged more than 600 council meetings during her 24-year career, is moving to Florida to help a daughter with a potentially difficult birth. “It’s an adventure,” Jones said as her city tenure was winding down. “That’s how we’re looking at it.” Jones, 55, said she had planned to work for Temecula at least two more years, but the need to help her daughter, whose husband is in the military, was a higher priority. Harrington was the 10th employee hired by Temecula after incorporation. Some other longtime city employees were hired months after Jones and Harrington.

Michele McLeod, who lived in Temecula from 1993 to 2005, qualified for the National Finals Rodeo for the first time in 2013 and finished fifth in the final 2013 world standings. “I’m happy with it,” she said. “Overall it was a tough, tough barrel race and I’m happy to be in the top five.” The 2013 National Finals Rodeo took place Dec. 5-14, 2013 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. The top 15 barrel racers in earnings for the regular season which runs from October 1 to September 30 qualify for NFR. McLeod earned $109,591 during 78 regular-season rodeos and entered NFR third in the world standings.

For the second – and what he says will be his final – time since being elected to the Board of Supervisors a decade ago, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone was seated as chairman of the board on Jan. 7. “It’s hard to believe this is my 10th year as a supervisor,” Stone said. “It seems like just yesterday that I was sworn in.” Stone, who last served as chair in 2009, followed Supervisor John Benoit, who served as chairman throughout 2013. The chairmanship is a yearlong term, and each supervisor is given an opportunity to take the center seat by way of regular rotation that the board affirms with a vote at the start of the first meeting of the year. Supervisor Marion Ashley was installed as vice chair.

January 17 – 23

The Temecula City Council skipped a large presentation and went straight to business after former Temecula Mayor Mike Naggar gave his gavel to fellow Council Member Maryann Edwards announcing her as the city’s mayor for the new year. She presented former Mayor Naggar with a plaque for his service as mayor before giving Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Comerchero a plaque for his work as a community services district president for 2013.

Madison “Maddi” Olson, 15, a Murrieta resident is in critical condition from a skateboarding accident that took place on Jan. 5. She is “still stable and everything has been consistent and calm,” posted Maddi’s mother, Autumn Olson, on her blog Jan 12.

Payden Ackerman, 26, a well-trained playwright who decided to return to his hometown of Menifee to help enrich the growing presence of the theater arts. That was after receiving his bachelor’s degree in theater arts from Cal State Fullerton and master of arts in theater studies from Central Washington University. As a student at Paloma Valley High School, Ackerman had a strong interest in musical theater. The teacher that inspired him to take theater seriously was the well-respected long time drama teacher at Heritage High School, Greg Newman.

One year into her first term, state Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez discussed her efforts to pass new legislation for area residents and meet those same residents’ concerns head on during a session with a small group of reporters on Jan. 11. Melendez, a Republican and former Lake Elsinore city council member, represents California’s 67th district. Melendez is a pro-business politician who has frequently stressed the importance of working across party lines with Democrats to draw up important legislation and facilitate positive change.

January 24 – 30

Old Town’s newest residential structure, Front Street Plaza, is on its way to completion with move-in for various individuals and businesses slated for April of this year. The development marks the first time that the City of Temecula has brought in a mixed use project. In addition to moderate-income and low-income housing options, the 38,000 square foot facility will feature restaurants and business suites on some of its other floors, according to Property Manager Lauren Correia. She said that nearly every component of the mixed use apartment building was built in consideration of a younger generation of individuals from its modern use of space to its unique concept for executive suites. Hunter Jones, developer of the project, said that these new suites will be because of their unique approach to space. The relatively small suites, located back-to-back from one another, will contain separate businesses but all those businesses will share a common meeting room that can be rented for particular times. The developer said that the office suites embrace a changing world.

Southern California may be one or more time zones away from freezing conditions that blanket much of the country, but catastrophic weather elsewhere is having a negative effect on local blood supply. LifeStream, as a member of America’s Blood Centers (ABC), participates with fellow blood banks in a shared-resources program whereby members can assist with blood needs of other members. But due to horrific weather conditions, many ABC banks are closed, and LifeStream cannot turn to them for assistance for critical local needs. The only way to ensure local hospitals and their patients are provided needed blood products was for members of the community to come forward and donate.

Fury was growing last week as more parents learned about the allegations made by Advocates for Faith and Freedom, where they asserted first-grader Brynn Williams was denied the right to free expression in the classroom on Dec. 18, 2013, when she gave a presentation about the Star of Bethlehem and what it meant to her family at Christmastime. The Temecula Valley Unified School District refused to comment on the situation prior to the meeting. During the Public Comment section, Ami Paradise, principal at Jackson Elementary, and Tammy Williams, the first-grade teacher, spoke to school board members and the public about the claims being made by the group. As of Jan. 29, TVUSD will not offer any more information and an investigation into the situation remains open.

January 31 – February 6

Rancho Christian Schools made an announcement to the community during the school’s annual Vision Night on Jan. 27 that the school is ready to break ground on phase three of their expansion. “We have full entitlements from the city, so we’re ready to go,” said President and Lead Pastor of Rancho Community Church Scott Treadway. He anticipates a groundbreaking sometime next year. Part of the expansion includes a multi-use gym, a new high school and middle school campus, four science labs and two art rooms. There will also be elementary school enrichment facilities, meaning that there will be separate rooms for art, science, and band – they will not be flipped for each class as previously done. Each of the campuses will be technology infused.

Tagging, transients and an increasing homeless population were the major issues of concern during a special Temecula city meeting that addressed crime and took place on Jan. 25 in a room of the City Hall building. A group of mostly business owners expressed their concern with various crimes, many of which appeared to be associated with groups of people who circulate the area that runs from the main drag of Old Town to the malls adjacent to the Quaid Harley Davidson dealership on Front Street. Two specific crime concerns addressed during the meeting were vandalism and trespassing. Many business owners cited encounters with individuals they were not familiar with and others mentioned coming across instances of tagging and graffiti around town.

February 7 – 13

Compassion is what drives Murrieta ear, nose, and throat surgeon Dr. John McGuire to help local residents find solutions to better health and it is that same, deep-seated quality that inspires him to foster better nutrition in the homeless in North San Diego County. A year ago, in addition to his busy medical practice, McGuire began developing Project Raw, a social venture that takes on the twin problems of food waste and food insecurity. McGuire enlisted the help of his brother, entrepreneur and medical device distributor Brian McGuire, and friend and former Major League Baseball Player Cole Liniak. During Project Raw’s one-year start-up phase, the trio “rescued” 6.5 tons of food and re-purposed it into 22,000 highly nutritional green smoothies served to homeless in area shelters.

Temecula Police officials arrested Stephanie Frederico, 23, of Murrieta for attempted murder after she repeatedly stabbed an acquaintance shortly before 9 p.m. Thursday evening, Jan. 30 at the Shogun Restaurant in the 41500 block of Margarita Road in Temecula. After Frederico stabbed her acquaintance twice, she fled the scene but was stopped and detained by officers arriving to the emergency without incident, according to Wade. The female victim’s stab-wounds were non-life-threatening and she was expected to survive after being transported to a local hospital for emergency medical treatment.

Lauren Matheney, 23, of Perris, was booked on suspicion of sex with a minor and child annoyance/molestation, Murrieta police said. Matheny was formerly employed as a basketball coach at Menifee High School and was currently working as the girls’ junior varsity basketball coach at Paloma Valley High School. She was immediately terminated from her position at the school.

February 14 – 20

The Valley News unveiled a new look moving from a tall tab size to a broadsheet publication. “While I have always been a fan of the tall, tabloid size we’ve had since 1997, it just made sense to jump to broadsheet,” said publisher Julie Reeder. “In addition to immediate economic advantages, it allows us greater creativity with layout, the use of standard advertising sizes for the agencies we work with, and the ability to accept inserts that didn’t fit into our tab format. We also now have the ability to do more sections, which makes it nice.”

Hundreds of Great Oak High School students lined up each day from 12 to 1 p.m. to learn basic CPR skills during a one week event from February 3-7 that was facilitated by the school’s brand new CPR club. The “Sidewalk CPR Event” was attended by two different fire agencies as well as officials from Inland Valley Medical Center who helped students practice proper compression techniques on dummies, according to CPR club parent Dawnelle Anderson. Anderson is the mother of 14-year-old high school freshman Dawson Anderson, who founded the club along with three other friends (Jake Gambino, Brenden Jensen, and Jayson Palmer) after he became inspired to learn CPR.

Football and soccer players who play at Los Alamos Hills Sports Park in Murrieta could be playing on the same turf as NFL players. The current turf at the sports park will soon be removed from the football and soccer fields and replaced with synthetic fields. Construction will be done by Sprinturf, whom have experience in placing synthetic turf in an NFL field, a Murrieta city requirement.

February 21 – 27

The Great Bull Run, an event styled after Spain’s yearly “Running of the Bulls,” may have trouble coming to Southwest Riverside due to safety concerns and a lack of necessary documentation, according to county officials. All of the decadence and wildness of the event proved to be too much for the City of Lake Elsinore, which declined to hold the event due to safety concerns after receiving a large number of emails from concerned residents. Event organizers brought it to the Temecula Downs Event Center, which is located outside of city limits in an attempt to keep the event within the region. But the event still may not happen as Riverside County has voiced hesitation over holding it. The event would be difficult to facilitate due to planning issues and safety issues, according to a press release from Riverside County Public Information Officer Ray Smith.

After a long hiatus, the Lake Elsinore Public Safety Advisory Commission reconvened. Myles Ross, Valerie Sand and Stephen Gregory were all appointed to full terms on the commission. Christine Hyland was appointed as short term. A lack of quorum for the past year was to blame for the commission’s interruption.

A red carpet was rolled out in Murrieta’s Community Center, which was transformed by the sound of music and cheery people shortly before 6:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 for a dance scheduled for adult members of the special needs community. The event was organized by Murrieta’s Rotary Club and chapters of Murrieta Valley Unified School District’s Interact Club, and was aimed at providing a space for special needs individuals to get out and have some fun with one another on a dance floor.

February 28 – March 6

The City of Murrieta announced the hiring of Pat Thomas as its development services director. Prior to this position, Thomas was the deputy director of public works and city engineer for Newport Beach.

A Temecula woman won big at an international bicycling competition. Sarah Hammer won the final two events and took the lead on the first day of the women’s omnium at the 2014 UCI Track World Championships in Cali, Colombia. At the time of the race, Hammer was the reigning world champion.

March 7 – 13

More than 20 years after the land was purchased for its construction, initial development began on a 24-mile stretch of railway that will connect Perris to Riverside. The project took a long time to get underway because of various challenges such as funding and litigation. The project is estimated to create 4,000 jobs during construction time and should be completed at the end of 2015.

A Starbucks located at 40695 Winchester Rd. closed its doors for a big move in April, but before that, area residents were in a state of consternation. Its move to a parking lot near the Northbound Interstate 15 onramp was criticized because of the new lot’s inaccessibility and limited number of parking spaces.

A woman accused of shooting her lover at a hotel room at Pechanga Resort and Casino in February pled not guilty during her arraignment in March. Marie Santos Vihnanek, 32, stood accused of killing Keith Rodman, 49, of Los Angeles, who had fathered her 6-month-old child.

March 14 – 20

The Rod Run, a popular Temecula car show, fell under city control for the first time. The city introduced new family-friendly elements like an air-filled jump house, face painting and derby races. However, the city also implemented changes that received a lukewarm reception. They limited parking in their civic center to Old Town residents, business owners and employees, which left parking options scarce. Some Old Town merchants also complained about a lack of communication between themselves and city officials.

The Temecula DMV office closed its doors for more than six months in mid-March in order to facilitate renovations. The office encouraged its regular Temecula patrons to consider locations in Poway or Hemet while it was completing the fixes. A Wildomar business, SGB Insurance Services, offered to handle things like renewals, transfers, VIN verification and other services.

Two Marine Corps Officers were dismissed following the death of four men who worked in the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Community at Camp Pendleton. The four men were killed in an explosion when M430/A1 40 mm High Explosive Dual Purpose round was kicked, dropped or bumped, according to the investigation. However, an exact cause for the explosion wasn’t determined. The two men dismissed oversaw the explosive disposal operation at the camp.

March 21 – 27

The City of Menifee completed a major road project as it faced continued growth. The project, a thoroughfare linking two different portions of road, was completed March 19 and was intended to give area residents an easier way of getting about. The two sections of road that were connected were Aldergate Drive and Simpson Road.

A Temecula man who perpetrated an online scheme to get women to give him naked pictures of themselves was sentenced to 18 months behind bars. Jared James Abrahams, 20, had a number of victims who he threatened by saying he would post naked pictures he had attained of them by breaking into their webcams, unless they gave him additional naked pictures. One of Abrahams’ victims was his former classmate and Miss Teen U.S.A Cassidy Wolf.

An altercation on the Temecula Freeway turned violent on March 24. Multiple motorcyclists appeared to be in a tense altercation with one another, when several of them pulled out unspecified weapons. Two of the motorcyclists were apparently stabbed in an ensuing fight, one of whom was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The other biker was treated on scene.

March 28 – April 3

Dozens marched through Old Town Temecula on March 23 in support of musician Larry Robinson, who died after being bound and badly beaten at the Old Town Front Street Music store a year prior to the march. The event was designed to spread awareness of the reward being offered for information that would solve Robinson’s case, but it was also a time to reflect. A prayer vigil was held at 10 a.m. that day in front of city hall in Old Town Temecula, shortly before the march began.

Seventeen-year-old Josiah Bierle earned a distinction that not many people his age could boast; he earned a private pilot’s license. He spent hours at the Executive Flight institute, training and making sure he knew what to do for his test. According to 2011 data from the Federal Aviation Administration, only 194,441 people out of 300 million had such a license. Members of the Lake Elsinore Police Department made an arrest in connection with the murder of a 76-year-old man. Police had found the victim, George Alongi, with traumatic injuries after receiving a call about a dead body in the 1000 block of Dolly Drive in Lake Elsinore. They found evidence that linked Alongi’s death to 40-year-old Simon Cortez during the course of their investigation. Cortez was already in state prison on unrelated charges and was awaiting arraignment for the murder of Alongi.

April 4 – 10

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and several other agencies seized more than $150,000-worth of counterfeit goods and arrested seven people at a Winchester swap meet as part of an intellectual property rights enforcement operation. The counterfeit items included fake handbags, belts, sports jerseys and electronics, in addition to more than 4,000 DVDs and CDs.

The Oak Grove Center for Education Treatment and the Arts held a gala in order to raise funds for its operation. At the time of the gala, the center touted the accomplishment of helping more than 3,000 children suffering from psychological, emotional and social issues. The event included dinner, a silent auction and live auction.

Kids from all over Southwest Riverside County rode their BMX bikes, ate pizza and listened to music at Rock the Ramp, an event held at the McVicker Skate Park in Lake Elsinore. The park is frequented by residents and non-residents because there are few parks in the area and non-residents are usually charged an entry fee. However, everyone got in for free at the event.

April 11 – 17

The City of Temecula once again held a Reality Rally, an event that allowed people to get up close and personal with their favorite celebrities while also raising funds for Michelle’s Place, a local organization that seeks to provide resources for people struggling with breast cancer. The event, started by three-time “Survivor” contestant Gillian Larson, featured about 120 television reality stars from more than 39 reality TV shows.

The City of Temecula held its second annual Light It Up Blue event at city hall. Councilman Mike Naggar, who had earmarked more than $150,000 in funds to benefit individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, led the event and boasted about the city’s efforts to be provide more resources to special needs people and their families.

Temecula Valley High School students got a lesson on the dangers of drinking and driving on April 16 when their school held an Every 15 Minutes event with a simulated car crash and a visit from the Grim Reaper. The event was intended to educate students and deter them from drinking and driving.

April 18 – 24

Members of the Kiwanis of Temecula Valley banded together to make improvements at the Ronald Reagan Sports Park in Temecula. They replaced a vandalized park bench and made improvements to the walking paths beneath trees at the park. The park was started by Temecula residents without outside funding and many of the initial founders are in the Kiwanis club.

The City of Temecula teamed up with Rancho Community Church to create a program to help homeless individuals. The program was part of a three-pronged plan enacted by the council aimed at providing long-term aid to those who need it without giving temporary handouts. The city made clear its commitment to asking those who did not want long-term solutions or help, to leave. Police were ready to take a more aggressive stance in enforcing trespassing laws as well.

Police departments in Lake Elsinore and Temecula cracked down on individuals who were using their cell phones while driving as part of April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign. The departments joined 200 other local law enforcement agencies and the California Highway Patrol in a month-long “zero tolerance” enforcement campaign intended to curb the practice of texting while driving.

April 25 – May 1

The fourth annual Taste of Temecula Valley event set up shop outside city hall on April 26 and boasted more than two dozen restaurants, six wineries and 10 microbreweries. Many of the business booths set up at the event were giving out samples of their culinary creations. In addition to food, there was also music and guests could enjoy a wide variety of hits from the ‘70s and ‘80s throughout the course of the day as local bands performed.

Animator and filmmaker Oliver Daly from the Los Angeles area brought the concept for his science fiction film to life when he came to Lake Elsinore and other areas of the Inland Empire to shoot it. Daly’s film is about a boy who discovers a top-secret military experiment. Since the boy is a motocross rider, Daly felt Southwest Riverside County would be a great location for the film.

Temecula got another luxury car dealership when Fletcher Jones Motorcar Group started a location in the Valley. The 50,000-square-foot facility opened to the public on April 19 and boasted accoutrements like a 5,000-square-foot detail and dry vacuum area, which can service up to eight cars at one time. Garth Blumenthal, general manager for Fletcher Jones, said he expected to have an inventory of 600 new and pre-owned by the end of 2015.

May 2 – 8

The initial phase of the Temecula Valley interchange – the first of its kind to be built in western Riverside County in years – formally opened with a quiet ceremony on April 24. The event showcased the latest in a string of major improvements along Interstate 15 since Temecula became a city nearly 25 years ago.

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a funding agreement that would allow for a budget adjustment to improve the sewers in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. The total cost of the improvements was estimated at $28.8 million, and the county was expected to contribute $2 million to phase one of the project. The project received criticism, especially from community activist Paul Jacobs. Jacobs said there was a lack of clarity about the sources of funding for a project that could amount to more than $30 million to facilitate.

Temecula experienced a day of volunteerism on April 26, when 500 Temecula Valley Helping Hands volunteers participated in an annual day of community service. The volunteers devoted approximately 1,977 hours of service to cleaning and beautifying portions of the city while also donating 538 pounds of food to the St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish and the Temecula Community Pantry.

May 9 – 15

In an effort to bring national businesses to Old Town, the Truax building offered office space. “It was a long time coming…a lifetime dream for me,” said Bernie Truax II, building owner and developer. “It has been in my brain for 40 years and we stayed true to the dream. We bought the property eight years ago and it has been in construction for two years. Now the building will be our headquarters.”

Lake Elsinore’s Clean Extreme community service project helped to beautify the city’s downtown area. More than 600 volunteers, sponsors, church leaders and work crews gathered together shortly before 7 a.m. on April 26 to tackle more than 50 pre-determined projects. Projects included painting, flower planting, weed trimming, window washing and more.

Hines Mazda/Subaru held its third annual Recycled Art and Fashion Show on April 26 at Monte De Oro Winery in Temecula. The art show was a project held in honor of Earth Day 2014 and aimed to raise awareness about environmental issues. It also raised $500 in funds to benefit the art program at Mt. San Jacinto College.

May 16 – 22

Old Town Temecula’s Main Street Bridge opened for traffic for the first time during a ceremony on May 8, after a year of construction. Officials associated with the project first started to tear down the seven panel concrete bridge that was there since 1945 in April of 2013 to put up the current bridge, a 155-foot steel truss structure that cost more than $7 million to build.

The Board of Supervisors helped inmates released from the Southwest Detention Center get a ride to their destination. The one-year pilot program provides taxi vouchers to inmates released between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. if they are in need of transportation.

A 16-year-old Canadian boy was arrested in connection with phoning in false bomb threats, reports of hostage situations and other emergencies that resulted in lockdowns at schools in Riverside and other cities, according to federal officials. The boy was arrested in Canada on Thursday, May 8, and his name was not released because of his age.

May 23 – 29

Bill Metcalf, chief of North County Fire, called May’s firestorms that threatened Fallbrook “worse than 2007.” Metcalf has overseen local firefighting efforts in three critical times for Fallbrook; 2003, 2007 and 2014.

“We didn’t have the sheer acreage that burned in 2007, but having nine simultaneous events going on at once made it worse than 2007,” said Metcalf. “It was a challenge sending resources to help at other locations, while keeping enough to protect what’s at home. In a normal fire situation, with all of our North County resources, we can usually overwhelm a fire pretty quickly.”

Temecula restaurants were on the cusp of starting something new in late May, when they held their second car show of the year. The Mad Lil’s car show has taken place nearly every two months in Old Town and the proceeds from these car shows have benefited local charities. Sid Hamilton, owner of Mad Madeline’s grill, said many merchants were in favor of having a car show on a regular basis because they wanted to attract people to shop at local businesses.

Police arrested a 23-year-old man in connection with the fatal stabbing of a 21-year-old woman in late March. Jonathan Kim was booked for the murder of Wilysha Gardner, who police discovered deceased shortly before 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 15 when responding to a report of an assault with a deadly weapon at a home in the 27000 block of Nellie Ct. in Temecula.

May 30 – June 5

Many WWII POWs buried painful memories of captivity. Orville “Bud” Rathbun served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Like many veterans, Bud didn’t like to discuss his wartime experiences. Valley News writer Laura Rathbun shared her father-in-law’s story of how he went off to war and fought in the Battle of Normandy and Battle of the Bulge before he was captured by German forces and became a POW in Germany.

Menifee’s residents flocked to the brand new Audie Murphy Sportspark on the day of its grand unveiling. The park offered a brand new skate area, where residents could ride their scooters and skateboards. The park’s opening day’s events gave visitors the opportunity to become more familiar with it. The park’s baseball field held its inaugural game between two little league teams, and city officials made speeches during a formal presentation.

Wildomar resident Bruce Moore routinely assists patients with health emergencies in his work, but on Oct. 10, 2013, the 46-year-old father of two experienced a health emergency of his own when he went into cardiac arrest. Valley News Writer and Editor Debbie Ramsey told a story of how Moore was able to get quick medical treatment as a result of the Murrieta Loma Linda Hospital’s designated cardiovascular catheterization laboratory, or STEMI receiving center.

June 6 – 11

Colorful balloons lit up the night sky over Lake Skinner as individuals from all over Riverside County and elsewhere enjoyed some of the Temecula Valley’s finest vintages. The park surrounding the lake hosted the 31st Annual Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival; the event saw more than 40,000 people who were interested in enjoying wine, food and live entertainment from May 30-June 1.

Wildomar resident and Army veteran Denver Sayre, 96, shared his memories of D-Day, June 6, 1944 on its 70th anniversary. He still remembers the invasion on the beaches of Normandy, France as a member of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division. He scouted for Germans with two other soldiers and directed artillery fire at them.

Dozens of area residents came to Shamrock Irish Pub in Murrieta on May 22 to celebrate and enjoy free food as they supported the efforts of a local nonprofit to curtail the number of drunken drivers on the roadway. Tiffany’s Gift, an organization started by Mike and Debbie Breslin, seeks to inform members of the public of the dangers of driving any vehicle or vessel while under the influence of alcohol. A new program that they started with the pub allows a person who agrees to be a non-drinking designated driver to receive a free appetizer. Debbie Breslin said she would like the program to spread to other restaurants.

June 13 – 19

Rallies spurred as teachers protested retroactive salary pay and class size increase. Teachers from schools all over Temecula Valley Unified School District rallied with picket signs in hand before discussing their specific concerns with a proposed pay raise with TVUSD’s board members during a school board meeting that took place on June 3.

Border patrol agents made two large drug busts within a day of each other on Interstate 15 near Temecula. The first bust happened shortly after 11:30 a.m. on June 8 when officers stopped the driver of a 2010 Chevy Malibu and discovered 10.03 pounds of narcotics with a value at $130,390 inside the vehicle. Officers stopped the driver of a 2003 Ford Ranger on June 9 and discovered 23.07 pounds of narcotics worth approximately $230,700 inside that vehicle. Both parties were arrested and turned over to Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

June 20 – 26

Work began on Temecula’s special needs playground that focuses on children with autism. When finished, the park will have specialized fencing and play equipment. It’s intended to be a place of fun and learning for special needs youth and a place where parents can feel relaxed because their children are safe, enclosed and entertained.

The Bank Mexican Restaurant & Bar in Old Town Temecula hosted the 100th anniversary of the historical building that houses it. A plaque on the outside of the building that used to be the Temecula First National Bank attributes the establishment of the bank in 1912 the Barnett Family. However, construction didn’t begin until about 1913, and took about a year to complete, according to menus at the Bank Restaurant.

Residents of the community of De Luz voiced concerns over Sheriff’s Department policies regarding sex offenders after learning a convicted rapist had moved to their area. Barrett Littleton, who served 24 years for raping a 25-year-old Pacific Beach woman twice, moved to the community and caused residents to begin alerting their neighbors as well as local law enforcement.

June 27 – July 3

The blast of art bathed several Old Town streets and a cluster of civic buildings in a sea of color. The colors were cast in chalk, charcoal, ink, yarn, watercolors, oil and acrylics by artists and amateurs from 15-months-old to 87 years. With city support, Melody Brunsting, a Temecula special events contractor launched the Annual Street Painting Festival 14 years ago. This year, more than 100 art pieces by youth and adult participants splashed the pavement. A city count noted that about 1,200 visitors per hour were weaving their way through the event as the Sunday afternoon deadline approached in the chalk art competition.

Menifee held its 6th annual State of the City address on Thursday, June 19. The address was geared at discussing Menifee’s rapid growth and all the things associated with that growth; Mayor Scott Mann said Menifee is the second fastest growing city in the state and that growth is indicative of Menifee’s value as a place to live. He also spoke on the need to invest in public safety, business, economic development, infrastructure, residential housing, the rural community and quality of life for the residents of Menifee.

Temecula Valley Educators Association (TVEA) and members of the Temecula Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees faced off during a school board meeting on Tuesday, June 17. The two remain at odds over a proposed retroactive salary increase of one percent for teachers through the end of 2014 and an increase of three percent through the end of the school year. Many teachers deemed the proposed settlement unfair and were frustrated with a clause connecting salary increases to class size.

July 4 – 10

As Murrieta celebrated its 23rd anniversary with a gathering of over 12,000 people, tensions rose for those opposed to the immigration crisis.

Murrieta Mayor Alan Long stood in solidarity with other city and local officials at a press conference addressing the impending arrival of undocumented immigrants into the Murrieta Border Patrol Station. Murrieta was told to expect 140 immigrants, primarily from Central America, every 72 hours for a period of time that could last several weeks. Long said at the press conference that the city will be safe and remains firmly against the processing of illegal detainees in their community.

Murrieta Valley High School celebrated graduates Shyah Ghaseminia and Quentin Montoya for never missing a day of school from kindergarten through the end of high school. The students’ effort to not miss a single day began as friendly competition at the end of elementary school. Now, both college bound, both plan to never miss a day of college.

July 11 – 17

Murrieta’s immigration woes continued on Independence Day, where lines were drawn in a western-style showdown. Hundreds of protestors from both sides of the immigration issue squared off outside the U.S. Border Patrol Station in Murrieta on July 4. With chanting and flag waving on both sides of the issue, no end was in sight for the opposing sides of the heated debate.

The City of Temecula celebrated freedom at its Fourth of July parade, where city officials, local talent gathered to march in the annual Old Town event. A strong showing by the Daughters of the American Revolution had members dressed as soldiers from the Revolutionary War.

Jack and Linda Williams of Richie’s Real American Diner received a Silver Plate Award at the 2014 National Restaurant Show and Convention, which is held annually at the Great Hall at Union Station in Chicago, Ill. Richie’s won the food service’s equivalent of the Academy Awards in the category of Independent Restaurants.

July 18 – 24

The City of Temecula regained control of the popular Rod Run event. The March 7-8 event marked the first time that city officials have been in the drivers’ seat at the vintage car show. Even as planning wrapped up it remained uncertain if the city would sponsor the event in the future. Though questions arose about the city’s ability to solicit and accept event-related sponsorship fees, the council voted to sponsor the 2015 event.

The 19th annual Pechanga Pow Wow drew thousands to partake in native foods and culture in the three-day festival. With fireworks, drumming, and brightly dressed native dancers, many residents now make this unique look into Pechanga Luiseno culture a regular tradition.

Discussions of Temecula’s beleaguered water park resurfaced as Temecula City Council agreed to grant exclusive rights to the possible purchase of a city site that water park developers have been eyeing since 2009. In what was cited as a capable and committed project, the council agreed to proceed with negotiations.

July 25 – 31

Congressman Ken Calvert introduced a bill to close an immigration loophole, contributing to the immigration crisis on the Rio Grande Valley and Texas border. The proposed legislation was an attempt to amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which left an opening allowing unaccompanied children from Central America to remain on American soil for up to 578 days.

Local hiker Bill Plummer, a 29-year resident of Temecula, backpacked 160 miles of the John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevadas, including climbing up to the top of Mt. Whitney.

August 1 – 7

Temecula’s Assistance League announced another season of Operation School Bell, to dress and prepare hundreds of children in Temecula, Murrieta, Menifee and Lake Elsinore school districts for the fall season.

The growing drought forced mandatory water restrictions by the State Water Resources Conservation Board. According to Kevin Pearson, spokesman for the Eastern Municipal Water District, conservation efforts already in place could help lessen the effect new regulations have on those living in Temecula Valley and surrounding areas.

Following recovery from an injury accident by a then-suicidal teen, Temecula resident Lenny Ross began a nonprofit support group and scholarship fund for teens suffering from depression. Teens with Esteem meets the first Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. at St. Martha Catholic Church in Murrieta.

August 8 – 14

Rancho Community Church in Temecula broke ground on their 80,000-square foot expansion campus. Located off Temecula Parkway, the Generations Building will provide world-class facilities for every age and is expected to open in August of 2015.

Congress passed an immigration bill on Friday, August 1. If passed by the Senate, this bill would close the loophole to amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008.

A new ordinance that sets rules on where sex offenders can live or visit was introduced by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Under the new ordinance, 902.2 would repeal the loitering provisions set forth in ordinance 902, however, residency prohibitions will remain in place.

August 15 – 21

Temecula Off Road Nights returned to Old Town Temecula. A dirt lifestyle festival that showcased all aspects of action sport as a way of life, this festival catered to a full day of fun. Local vendors such as Zevo Motorsports, Baja Designs, and PRP seats were found on the festival grounds. Visitors saw dune buggies, jeeps, and motorcycles lining Old Town.

Valley News took home six awards from the Society of Professional Journalism, including Staff Photographer Shane Gibson, who won two awards at the event.

Ben Drake, President of Drake Enterprises, was named distinguished Citizen of the Year by the Boy Scouts of America. Drake, president of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association, has been a resident of the Temecula Area since 1973. The Distinguished Citizen award is presented to individuals whose personal ethics and family values are representative of the Scout Oath and Law.

August 22 – 28

A group of mothers and children marched through Murrieta to raise awareness of the border crisis. Known as the Trail for Humanity, they began their march in Merced, Calif., and planned their journey to the U.S. border. When they reached Murrieta, they had already walked 325 miles of their journey. Their hope was that the group’s efforts would lead to real immigration reform.

World War II Navy Fighter Pilot, Commander John McCue, spoke about his experiences, from training to strike missions at the West Coast Ammo Shop in Temecula. Discussing the long road to fighter pilot, McCue told a rapt audience of his memories of the Pacific Theater.

August 29 – September 4

When readers look back to the end of August, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenges ruled social media. One local Murrieta man, wedding photographer and ALS sufferer Anthony Carbajal’s Ice Bucket video went viral. Carbajal’s video caught the attention of the nation, and of Ellen DeGeneres, whom he challenged. Carbajal and other ALS sufferers hope and pray that the millions raised will lead to a cure, or at the very least, better quality of life while managing the disease.

A rare feat will occur in Temecula in November, when at least one political newcomer will be elected to city council. A narrow field of five candidates will compete for three council seats, though vast name recognition and political strength of two longtime incumbents—Maryann Edwards and Jeff Comerchero—may keep two of the three open seats out of reach.

September 5 – 11

Residents of Temecula Valley have the opportunity to experience the Vietnam Memorial without having to travel to Washington, D.C. The Moving Wall arrived in Temecula thanks to the efforts of Johnny Roberts, director of Manzanita Ranch. He applied to have the half-scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial come to Temecula three years earlier.

Cal Fire rescue boat promises to keep swimmers and boaters safe in Lake Elsinore. Patrolling Lake Elsinore on busy holiday weekends, the boat tows broken watercraft, warns boating and swimming enthusiasts about proper procedure and provides emergency medical aid to injured individuals.

September 12 – 18

The sale of the historic Temecula Hotel sets a stage for new generations of guests and partygoers. Two couples with longtime roots in the area have purchased the hotel, founded in 1882. The one-acre property in the heart of Old Town will have careful stewardship, according to the new owners. The new owners are hoping to win approval to run the facility as an historic hotel.

Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival returns to the Valley, after a two and a half year hiatus. A plethora of entrants, over 2,700 entries, the TVIFF has put Temecula on the map.

9/11 is remembered in the Fallbrook Memorial Hill Climb. Over 260 registered to make the trek, following fully dressed out firefighters carrying the flag up the Monserate Mountain.

September 19 – 25

September 11 was further remembered at Veterans Memorial Site at the Temecula Duck Pond. City officials and members of the community gathered to share their thoughts, memories, and insights on the tragic event, now 13 years past. Similarly, Murrieta held a candlelight vigil to remember victims.

Temecula Valley Unified School District sent its Because Nice Matters bus to area schools. The Because Nice Matters movement encourages students to be nice and prevent bullying.

September 26 – October 2

One Temecula family’s dreams came true when local businesses and residents gathered to throw a “prom” for 3-year-old Kyndall Grace Sibell, suffering from a genetic disease. Business owners from Stampede to party planners stepped in to create a magical experience, thanks to the Temecula Talk Facebook group who coordinated the event.

Severe flooding hit Lake Elsinore High School, damaging the gymnasium floor and destroying multiple structures near the athletic areas with tornado-like winds, heavy rain, and hail. The administration offices and counselors’ rooms were also flooded. District officials and the County of Riverside Flood Control are working together to avoid future flooding of the school property.

A murder victim, found dead at the scene at the Portofino Apartments in Temecula, was identified as 24-year-old Justin Triplett. Riverside County Sheriff’s Office identified a person of interest, though no arrests had yet been made. The shooting incident led to the lockdown of three area schools.

October 3 – 9

Wildomar resident Ashley Fox, 14, worked to raise money for a “freedom swing” for disabled children. The swing was installed at Marna O’Brien Park in Wildomar. Fox, who is wheelchair bound because of spinal muscular atrophy raised nearly $4,000 for the swing.

Eastern Murrieta Water Districted hosted a community town hall meeting for residents of French Valley to discuss the state’s drought. During the meeting residents were provided with an update on local water supply conditions and the drought. Resources intended to help residents become more water efficient were offered.

Two men were arrested in connection with a marijuana grow house in Murrieta. Zi Ye Wen, 38, and Wei Ming Li, 30, were taken into custody after a water leak at a home led authorities to discover 950 marijuana plants and other evidence. Both men were released on bail.

October 10 – 16

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Neel Kashkari toured Murrieta Valley High School following an invitation issued by Murrieta Valley Unified School District Board President Kris Thomasian. While on campus, Kashkari visited the school’s robotics program, band and choir programs, an Advanced International Baccalaureate English class and a forensic science class.

Elijah Belden of Temecula was electrocuted in a freak accident during his 10th birthday party. He was life flighted to Rady Children’s hospital in San Diego and placed in a medically induced coma. He woke from the coma a week later and was released.

Assistance League of Temecula Valley celebrated its 25th anniversary with the Temecula, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake, Murrieta and Menifee chambers of commerce. The chambers were on hand for a celebratory ribbon cutting for the anniversary.

October 17 – 23

Thousands came to visit “The Moving Wall” a traveling, half-scale replica of the popular monument located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The nearly 252-foot long wall was set up in Sam Hicks Monument Park in Temecula for five days.

A suspect was placed in custody after a SWAT standoff in Murrieta. Kenneth Paul Haley, 33, was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, robbery, vehicle theft and probation violations in connection with an attack in the 23800 block of Corinth Drive. Following an alleged assault on his girlfriend, Haley fled the scene. Police believed he had barricaded himself in his residence and utilized SWAT to enter the home after nearly seven hours. Upon entry, SWAT determined the home was unoccupied. Several hours later, Haley returned home and contacted police by phone. He voluntarily exited the residence and was taken into police custody without incident.

October 24 – 30

Murrieta Mayor Alan Long announced his resignation from the city council in a press conference citing distractions from a recent car accident and DUI allegation. Long, who said he believed he would be exonerated of all charges, stepped down to prevent any improprieties in the investigation. During the press conference, he announced he would continue with his bid for re-election to the city council.

Award-winning musician and actress Olivia Newton-John led a crowd of more than 10,000 people in Temecula’s 16th annual Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure in Temecula. Newton-John, along with her husband and daughter, participated in the race. “We are survivors,” she said before he race began.

Tovashal Elementary School in Murrieta celebrated receiving a national Red Ribbon Certification with an event attended by more than 1,000 people. The school is now one of 73 across the nation, and the first in California, to be awarded with the certification. The honor recognizes schools that improved academic performance by keeping students drug and alcohol free and involving parents and the community in the effort to do so.

The City of Murrieta hosted its second annual Rod Run. Organizers estimated 20,000 visitors flocked to downtown Murrieta for the two-day event.

October 31 – November 6

Menifee Councilman Tom Fuhrman, 70, continued his bid for re-election after being arrested and having criminal corruption charges filed against him by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. Fuhrman was charged with eight counts; one felony conflict of interest count and seven misdemeanor counts of using his official position to influence a governmental decision in which he had a financial interest. Court records also showed three counts of not having a business license.

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors created a commission to work on strategies to fend off federal spending cuts that could threaten the existence of the county’s remaining military installations. The new 11-member Commission on Defense and Military Services will lead efforts to keep all military installations in the county fully equipped and operational while serving as the focal point for defense and military policy for the Board of Supervisors.

November 7 – 13

Former Murrieta Mayor was re-elected to the city council in the Nov. 4 election. Long was arrested and charged with DUI following a car accident in October. Temecula Mayor Maryann Edwards and Menifee Mayor Scott Mann also won their re-election bids. Embattled Menifee council member Tom Fuhrman lost his bid for reelection to Matthew Liesenmeyer after criminal corruption charges were filed against him.

Christina Lagman, 39, was charged with felony theft by false pretenses after she claimed to have been diagnosed with cancer. According to posts over the past year on her Facebook page, Lagman claimed to be poor, had her house burned down more than once and was dying of cancer. Various posts on her Facebook page by others now claim that Lagman received gifts, including a free spray tan, a makeover and a photo shoot. A GoFundMe page was established and fundraisers were held in Temecula and Murrieta to help raise money for her treatment costs.

Felony DUI charges were filed against former Murrieta Mayor Alan Long, 44, by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. Stemming for a car accident in October, Long was charged with one count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury. Four sentencing enhancements to that count – one for each of the victims – have also been alleged.

November 14 – 20

Josh Madrid, a junior at Paloma Valley High School in Menifee raised the bar for meeting high school community service hours. The 16-year-old, along with his friend and classmate, Isaiah Valdez, created and kicked off the Cruise for Kids fundraiser. More than 200 cars participated in the cruise, raising close to $1,000 with more donations still arriving daily. “Helping foster children is close to my heart,” said Madrid.

A trio of city founders recently told of Temecula’s bumpy path to incorporation nearly 25 years ago and the role that prolonged effort played in shaping the future of the city. Peg and Jimmy Moore and Perry Peters spoke at the Temecula Valley Historical Society’s annual dinner sharing stories of Temecula’s journey to becoming a city.

Murrieta’s Field of Honor expressed thanks to those who have served and those who continue to serve. Sponsored by Murrieta Rotary, the display consisted of more than 2,000 flags displayed in perfect rows and columns. The city also held a parade on Veterans Day honoring those who have served.

November 21 – 27

Galway Downs was crowded with participants for the Rugged Maniac 5K obstacle filled race. Twenty-five obstacles had racers dragging themselves over walls, under ropes and into the mud and muck. “It’s like being a kid again,” said race organizer Rob Dickens.

A broken water main caused a sink hole in Temecula. Rancho Water District crewmen fixed the broken water line on the southwest corner of Margarita Road and Date Street in Temecula.

A Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy and a 23-year-old skateboarder were injured in Menifee when the two collided. The deputy was responding to a call at about 2:37 a.m. when he struck the skateboarder, who was allegedly skating in southbound traffic lanes. The skateboarder was thrown on impact and sustained multiple fractures and head trauma while the deputy sustained minor injuries. Both were transported to Inland Valley Hospital, according to a police report.

November 28 – December 4

The ACLU of Southern California issued a new guide designed to assist parents with children enrolled in the Temecula Valley Unified School District. “In Plain English” will help parents understand the rights of English learner students under state and federal law. The move came about following complaints from parents that programming for English learner students was being cut by the district.

Twelve very special girls were given the chance to shine during the Miss Marvelous Pageant held at Temecula Valley High School. The event was organized by HUGS (Helping Unite Growing Students) clubs from Great Oak, Temecula Valley and Chaparral high schools. The event recognized young women with physical and mental disabilities to showcase the contestants’ inner and outer beauty.

A nearly six-hour long police standoff in Murrieta ended with the arrest of Adam Gadbois, who allegedly threatened to harm his wife and deputies. SWAT units were able to get Gadbois to step out of the house and surrender without incident. He was booked into the Southwest Detention Center for making criminal threats.

December 5 – 11

An overflow crowd helped the City of Temecula to celebrate its 25th anniversary at the Civic Center Complex. “This is a wonderful way to celebrate 25 years,” said Mayor Maryann Edwards. The nearly two-hour long program featured speeches, presentations, photographs and videos that looked back at a quarter of a century and forward into the future. The celebration closed with the cutting of a cake, tours of the civic center and an outdoor light and music show.

A strong Pacific storm that hit Southwest Riverside County caused power outages to almost 7,000 homes in Menifee, Canyon Lake and Lake Elsinore as well as other surrounding cities in Riverside County.

Courtney Lynn Stewart, 24 of Murrieta was arrested and charged with two felony counts of child abuse following a nearly month-long investigation. Stewart allegedly starved and inflicted injuries on her 3-year-old twin sons. The investigation was launched after the defendant took one of the boys to Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta. Hospital staff became alarmed by the child’s emancipated condition and several bruises uncovered during an examination, according to Sgt. Phil Gomez with the Murrieta Police Department. Upon a visit to Stewart’s home, police found the other twin “suffering from the same malnutrition,” as well as a broken jaw. Riverside County Child protective services took custody of the boy and transported him for medical treatment.

December 12 – 18

The City of Murrieta was named the second safest city in America for the second year in a row. The rankings, by 24/7 Wall Street, is based on the FBI’s 2013 Uniform Crime report and includes cities with a population of 100,000 or more. Temecula was ranked sixth in the report. Murrieta Police Chief Sean Hadden said it’s unfair to compare cities since each one is different. “I always tell people it’s not fair to compare us with Temecula. Temecula is a total different city than we are,” he said.

Former Murrieta Mayor and newly re-elected council member Alan Long entered a plea of “not guilty” during his arraignment held at the Southwest Justice Center. Long was charged with felony DUI in early November following an accident in October that injured four students from Murrieta Valley High School. He pleaded not guilty on all charges including one allegation of causing great bodily injury and three allegations of causing bodily injury. A settlement conference has been scheduled for Jan. 23 at 8:30 a.m.

The spirit of Christmas is alive and glowing in the Valley. An increasing number of homeowners are decking the halls with boughs of holly and thousands of LED lights and displays. Many residents in French Valley have decorated their homes this year in support of the children at Rancho Damacitas, a residential program in Temecula that helps children who have been abused or neglected.

December 19 – 25

“Temecula on Ice” is open every day including Christmas and New Year’s Day. Sessions are 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. with a teen and young adult session on Friday and Saturday nights, 10 – 11:30 p.m.

Salvation Army Major Marcelino “Butch” Soriano attempted – and achieved – his goal to set a new world record for the longest continuous hand bell-ringing by an individual when he reached 150 hours. Soriano began at 4:00 a.m. Monday, December 8 and finished Sunday, December 14 not long after 10:00 a.m at Murrieta’s Walmart store at 41200 Murrieta Hot Springs Road. He said he set out to accomplish the new record in the hopes of raising awareness for The Salvation Army’s 124th Red Kettle Campaign and kick off a historic new year for the Army.

Murrieta’s Holiday Magic program continues to delight children and adults alike this holiday season. From the city’s annual Festival of Trees and Push Cart Parade to Letters from Santa, residents are taking advantage of everything the program offers not only to celebrate the season, but to support those in need as well. The city’s Santa Stop events, which finished up earlier this week, has brought in a plethora of non-perishable food items and new, unwrapped toys that will be distributed to needy families by Temecula Valley People Helping People, according to recreation director Laura Frasso.

December 26 – January 1

The City of Murrieta’s Fire Chief Matt Shobert, 52, is officially stepping down on Dec.31 to continue his recovery from a freak accident he suffered on July 2. “My team of doctors came to the conclusion that due to the severity of my injury, suffering a mild traumatic brain injury, short term memory loss, and post-traumatic stress due to self-rescue, it’s time to retire,” he said. “If it were up to me, I’d never leave.” Shobert has at least six surgeries remaining and the next one will be to reconstruct his jaw. The accident occurred when maintenance crews were clearing brush around Murrieta’s exclusive Bear Creek community. “We are very sad to see him go,” stated Murrieta Mayor Pro Tem Rick Gibbs. “It is in his best interest to concentrate on getting better.”

New members Kevin Hill, Sandy Hinkson, and Julie Farnbach joined current Temecula Valley Unified School Board President Allen Pulsipher and Clerk, Dr. Kristi Rutz-Robbins. The three new members’ term of office will run until December 2018. In a ceremony for family and friends, Superintendant Tim Ritter swore in the three new school board members on Dec. 9. “It will be an adjustment,” stated Farnbach of the job ahead of her.

Government officials in Wildomar, Menifee, Eastvale and Jurupa Valley were disappointed in September when Governor Jerry Brown vetoed Senate Bill 69, which would have restored millions of dollars in Vehicle License Fees to their cities. If passed the bill would have returned close to $14 million to the cities. Despite the veto, Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside) hasn’t given up and introduced Senate Bill 25 in another attempt to restore VLFs to the cities. If the revenue isn’t restored, Jurupa Valley faces a possible disincorporation and returning control to Riverside County.

Valley News writers Kim Harris, Alex Groves, Michelle Mears-Gerst and Ashley Ludwig contributed to this article.

3 Responses to "Looking back at 2014’s top stories – Southwest Riverside County experienced growth, conflict and changes during past year"

  1. Recall Alan Long   December 31, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Great article! This had to have taken awhile to compile and gives a great snapshot of the year. Thank you!

  2. Lee Chew   January 7, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Nice work Valley News. Thanks for keeping us folks here in Temecula informed and hope 2015 is better than ever.

  3. shannon   January 13, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    What happened in the Sewart case


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