AVMAC meets Hamilton school principals, sees cemetery plans

The board members prepare to open the Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting Wednesday, Sept. 11. Diane Sieker photo

The Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council conducted their bimonthly meeting at the Community Hall Wednesday, Sept. 11.

Hamilton K-8 Principal Mark Delano, Hamilton High Principal Jeff Franks, the Revs. Bob Reece and Matt Nevills of Anza First Southern Baptist Church, Mike Machado and Ken Yoder were guest speakers.

AVMAC board members Secretary Allison Renck, Treasurer Sharon Evans, Megan Haley, Vice Chair Edison Gomez-Krauss and new appointee Birdie Kopp were in attendance. About 10 members of the public were present.

Opal Hellweg from Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington’s office was not able to attend the meeting.

After the opening Pledge of Allegiance, Gomez-Krauss read an essay by poet laureate Billy Collins. The poem was about the names of the victims of 9/11 and was first read in 2002, before a special joint session of Congress.

Haley presented an update on the Anza sign, stating that progress has been made and local designers and contractors were on board with the project.

Gomez-Krauss reported that the AVMAC’s website and social media efforts were smooth and productive.

Kopp made her introduction, stating that she has been a resident of Lake Riverside Estates in Aguanga for three years. She said she is anxious to bring her CPA and accounting talents to the board. Kopp is a member of the LRE board of directors and community-oriented.

“I am looking forward to participating,” she said.

Kopp will be sworn in at the next meeting in November.

Evans gave an update on the Project 371, saying that she has not heard any further developments from Bud Elmore or Gary Worobec. The AVMAC ad hoc committee that includes Evans and Haley has been working with Elmore regarding the issues of increased traffic and perceived increased accidents on Highway 371.

Additional patrols by CHP, marquee signs announcing the CHP presence and other improvements seem to be getting the message out to motorists to drive safely, she said.

“The communication has worked,” she said.

Previous efforts from the Project 371 members have made an impact, and she said she would like to see recent CHP statistics, to compare to past results.

Gomez-Krauss asked of the committee needed to be dissolved, but it was agreed to continue the effort.

Principal Mark Delano from Hamilton K-8 and Dr. Jeff Franks from Hamilton High School, both new to the Anza Valley this year, introduced themselves and made short statements.

“Our goals at K-8 are ‘Embrace, Educate and Empower,’” Delano said.

Both men spent several minutes interacting with the audience, answering questions and elaborating on the coming 2019-2020 school year.

Representatives from the Anza First Southern Baptist Church made an informative presentation, describing their yearslong efforts to provide the Anza Valley with its own cemetery.

Bob Reece, a retired pastor, spoke about his vision for the Anza Valley. He said he regretted the fact that over his many years, he conducted funerals and memorials for Anza pioneers off the hill. These people should have had the opportunity to be laid to rest near their home in Anza, he said.

“Anza is a big enough community for a cemetery,” he said. “Before I need one, I would love to be able to get one.”

The plan is already in motion to provide the Anza Valley with its own community church cemetery.

In 2015, church representatives met with Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington and his staff for the start of a 3 1/2 year long journey to bring the plan into reality.

Meetings with the county planning department outlined what the church needed to do. To assist, they called in Ken Yoder and Mike Machado. Twenty acres due west of the church was purchased with the help of donors.

“We are pretty close to getting our permits,” Yoder said.

He said he hopes to see the permits being approved before the end of the year.

Machado of Hydroscope Engineering has been instrumental in executing the plan. His knowledge and relationship with county officials have proven to be priceless.

“Mike has been a great help to us,” Reece said.

The project’s objectives are manifold: to establish a church cemetery to serve the Anza Valley and surrounding mountain communities; provide a chapel for memorial services; provide reasonably-priced burial packages and roughly half the present cost elsewhere; provide burial services for individuals that cannot afford it; minister to the families and financially support the cemetery through the sale of products such as plots, services and donations.

A 20-acre parcel, is located across the street from the church and was purchased for the project. The cemetery will be a nonprofit entity, doing business as Rolling Hills Memorial Park.

The park will be designed to fit the native landscaping. Yoder presented the landscape elevation that showed the placement of trees and shrubs on a detailed map.

The property will be developed in phases, starting with the southeast corner of the parcel.

Burials of full sized caskets and cremated remains will be allowed. Approximately 12,000 individuals may be interred in the park.

The AVMAC voted to support the effort of the church, and audience approval was enthusiastic. Reece, Yoder and Machado all answered questions from the public.

The meeting concluded with a discussion of items for the next AVMAC meeting slated for Nov. 13.

The AVMAC meeting is held every other month and the council seeks input from the community on subjects that they believe need to be addressed by local government officials. to submit a subject for discussion, contact the AVMAC by visiting their website at http://avmac.000webhostapp.com .

To reach the Anza First Southern Baptist Church, visit them online at https://anzabaptistchurch.com.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at dsieker@reedermedia.com.