Blighted apartment complex in San Bernardino receives $2 million makeover

An apartment complex riddled with blight and woefully located near an elementary school underwent a $2 million transformation after the city of San Berardino shut it down last March for posing a public health hazard. Berto Ramos and Manuel Ramirez of HomeVestors franchise located in San Bernardino took on the task with their “We Buy Ugly Houses” mentality. Before and after of the interior. Built in the 1960s, the complex spent years in a state of disrepair as one of the area’s most troublesome residential properties. So far beyond code that apartments were left with no running water, windows or electricity, the City had forced the mostly absentee previous owner to surrender the property. Ramos and Ramirez purchased it and completely renovated it to not only meet code but to also reach the highest level of quality in local rentals. In addition to a new water and sewer system and heating and cooling upgrades, each unit now has its own heating and air conditioning system, water source, and shutoff valve. Before and after photos of the courtyard. “This property had been a challenge for the City on…

Tony Campos, activist and second Latino elected to San Bernardino City Council, dies at 85

San Bernardino social justice advocate, Tony Campos, passed away at the age of 85, on April 27, 2021. Campos (who was born in Arizona) was most notably known as the second Latino, behind Mexican-American Councilman Jesse Arias Jr., to be elected to San Bernardino City Council in 1972; as well as a proponent of the Chicano Movement in the 1960s and 1970s. He was known as a man of the people, often advocating on behalf of Latinos to garner social services, job skills, and higher educational opportunities. “My dad’s strongest contribution to this world was ensuring everyone had the opportunity to attain an education; it was a big part of his childhood that his parents instilled into him, as they immigrated from Mexico and didn’t have the opportunity to attain a higher education,” said Veronica Campos, daughter. With the goal of obtaining a higher education during an era where it was not as common for Latinos to do so, Campos beat the odds as he earned an associates degree in business from San Bernardino Valley College, a bachelors degree in Sociology, and a masters degree…

Operation New Hope offers programing to transform lives of at-risk youth in San Bernardino County

In April 2021, California State Representative Pete Aguilar announced $145,000 in federal grant funding to Operation New Hope, a non-profit in San Bernardino that specializes in connecting at-risk and underserved youth with social services to succeed in life. The organization, which services well over 600 youth per year, will now have the ability to strengthen its current programming and continue the rollout of its latest initiative undertaking Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which fosters leadership, partnerships, prevention and accountability. “PSN is a nationwide initiative that brings together a coalition of federal, state, and local community leaders, prosecutors and law enforcement officials to find solutions to the most pressing crimes in the most violent areas of the county. One component of the PSN programming that makes it effective for our communities is that it’s coming from a place of prevention and intervention, opposed to targeting already gang-infested areas,” said Operation New Hope CEO Russell Degnan. The program is targeting high-risk youth between the ages of 15-24 years old who have high absences in school, are identified as a truant, and/or previous problems with the law. “We have…

San Manuel purchases Palms Casino in Las Vegas for $650 million

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians (“San Manuel” or the “Tribe”) and the San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority (“SMGHA”) today announced a definitive agreement for a subsidiary of SMGHA to acquire the Palms Casino Resort (the “Palms”) in Las Vegas, Nevada from Red Rock Resorts, Inc. The transaction is expected to close later in 2021, subject to the receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.   After 35 years of operating San Manuel Casino in Highland, CA, this announcement reflects a milestone for San Manuel.  “Today represents an important step for the Tribe and its long-term economic diversification strategy,” said San Manuel Chairman Ken Ramirez. “On behalf of the Tribe, we are thankful for the opportunity to join a community that we have come to know and appreciate.” For years, the Tribe has demonstrated an interest in and supported the Las Vegas community through contributions to non-profits and Las Vegas institutions including UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hospitality and William S. Boyd School of Law, the Public Education Foundation and Shade Tree Shelter, plus partnerships with the Las Vegas Raiders and…

Middle College named a California Distinguished School

San Bernardino City Unified School District’s Middle College High School (MCHS) has been named a California Distinguished School. “What an honor to be selected as a California Distinguished School for 2021,” MCHS Principal James Espinoza said. “We couldn’t have achieved this level of distinction nor been able to sustain and expand successes for our MCHS community scholars without leadership from the top and support for our learning model. We are also so appreciative of the commitment of our scholars, their families, and our selfless and talented teachers and staff, not to mention our amazing partners from San Bernardino Valley College.” MCHS previously earned a Distinguished School Award in 2007. The school is also a National Blue Ribbon School honoree, an AVID Schoolwide Site of Distinction, and a California Coalition of Early and Middle Colleges (CCEMC) Signature Practice School of Distinction. Since opening in 2001, Middle College has offered SBCUSD high school students a chance to take both high school and community college courses at the same time, with the potential to earn an associate’s degree by the time they graduate high school. Unlike most of…

Restaurant owners can apply for COVID-19 federal relief funding

Rep. Pete Aguilar announced today that San Bernardino County restaurants are now able to apply for direct federal relief through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, the $28.6 billion relief fund created by the passage of the American Rescue Plan. Eligible Inland Empire small businesses are encouraged to submit their applications through this link as soon as possible. “Independent restaurants, breweries, wineries and other similar small businesses are essential to the fabric of the Inland Empire’s economy. These small businesses are job creators and hubs for our community, and we need to do all we can to support them. I was proud to help pass the American Rescue Plan and push for this funding, and I’m confident that with these resources our region’s small businesses can come out of this pandemic stronger than ever,” said Aguilar. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund will provide restaurants and other eligible businesses with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business. The relief does not have to be repaid, provided that the funds are put toward eligible uses by March 11, 2023. Visit SBA.gov/restaurants for more information. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund application…

My journey at SBVC

August 2015 to March 2021 was the time duration of my journey at San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC). For most students, community college is a two-year gig, but for me, it went a little differently and I wouldn’t change it for anything. As an 18-year-old attending SBVC full time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do academically or professionally. Instead of attending class, I would work or just do something that was not school-related. I literally only passed one class out of five during my first semester. After taking a year off, I was placed on academic probation due to my grade point average. I eased my way back into college, taking one class in the evening of spring of 2017. At this point, I still didn’t have an idea of what I wanted to do in life, but I knew college was going to be the route I would take. I quit my full-time job and took a class over the summer, I was still easing my way in. In the fall of 2017, I made the baseball team and took three classes…

Board of Supervisors appoints Thomas Sone as Public Defender

On Tuesday, Apr. 20, the Board of Supervisors appointed interim Public Defender Thomas Sone to serve as the county’s new Public Defender. “We are very fortunate to have someone with Tom’s credentials, experience, and dedication on our team,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. Sone has served as interim Public Defender since December and previously served as Assistant Public Defender. He joined the Public Defender’s Office in 2001 after briefly working for a private law firm in Los Angeles. Sone began with the County as a Deputy Public Defender I and worked his way up to the position of Lead Deputy Public Defender V before being named Chief Deputy Public Defender in 2013 and Assistant Public Defender in 2018. Along the way, Sone litigated serious and complex felony cases, trained and mentored newer attorneys, assigned cases, participated in community programs, and collaborated with various agencies to develop programs that better deliver services to our community. “The Public Defender’s Office and this county hold a very special place in my heart,” Sone said. “For the past 20 years within the department, I’ve grown not just…

Symphony’s May concert digitally highlights classics

The San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra is preparing for the third concert in their hybrid 92nd season. “Mozart and Beethoven” will premier digitally Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. on the Symphony’s new SBSOtv platform accessible from their website, www.sanbernardinosymphony.org. A second matinee airing will follow on Sunday, May 16 at 3 p.m. Celebrating the iconic music of Mozart and Beethoven, the first half of the program includes the famous Overture from Mozart’s wildly successful opera from 1791, The Magic Flute. While this dramatic music is written for a full opera orchestra, in this concert, Symphony Music Director and Conductor Maestro Anthony Parnther has condensed the responsibility to only eight instruments; a pair of oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and horns. This, explained Parnther, will direct the artistic focus toward the rich and warm sound of the Symphony’s principal winds. Following, the Symphony will perform the expressive Larghetto movement from Mozart’s evocative Piano Quintet in E-flat with piano soloist, David Kaplan.  Then closing this program will be Beethoven’s exuberant Second Piano Concerto, also featuring Kaplan. In 1787, Beethoven came to Vienna to meet Mozart and hopefully study with him. Beethoven’s…

Empire KVCR allocated $377,000 in COVID-19 relief

Rep. Pete Aguilar announced today that Empire KVCR, a public radio and television station operated by the San Bernardino Community College District, has received $377,529 in federal funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a congressionally-chartered nonprofit agency. The funding was made available through the American Rescue Plan, President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ landmark COVID-19 relief package. “I helped pass the American Rescue Plan because every corner of our community has felt the effects of this crisis, and we need real relief. Inland Empire residents deserve to have access to local public news sources like the ones KVCR provides, and I’m proud to have supported this funding to help them maintain their operation and offset lost revenues as a result of the pandemic,” said Aguilar. “Like so many in our community, KVCR has had a very challenging year, and these funds will help us tremendously in getting through it. We are grateful to Congressman Aguilar and our federal policymakers for making these funds possible, so the San Bernardino Community College District’s KVCR station continues providing daily local news, information, and educational radio and TV programming…

Athletes for Life transforms San Bernardino youth into masters of their own craft

Athletes for Life teamed up with the San Bernardino YMCA in February 2020 to provide youth in the city an opportunity gain equitable educational opportunities through Masterclass. “Our students now have access to a program that energizes, motivates, and inspires today’s high school students with Athletes for Life After School Academy in partnership with the San Bernardino YMCA, though our AFL MasterClass and MasterAchieve Programs,” said Founder and CEO Greg Bell. The newly implemented programming was made possible due to a generous grant from the online education platform MasterClass. “This program provides students in the city with an opportunity to expose the schools and communities to today’s leading industry influencers. We’ve been providing an exciting 11-week program to assist our students and parents who may be disengaged with the online routine by providing them with tools, tips, and strategies they can utilize in the real world and become the influencers of the future,” continued Bell. Another exciting component of this innovative programming is that Athletes for Life has also forged a leadership program, called the PASS Program for students that would like to attend the…

Music Changing Lives promotes equity in outdoor spaces, celebrates 23rd anniversary

Music Changing Lives is celebrating its historic 23rd anniversary on Sunday, April 18 with a milkweed planting event at the Music Changing Lives Resource Center, located at 301 W. 40th St., San Bernardino, from 9 a.m. to noon. This planting event is part of a larger initiative that will strengthen the equity regarding outdoor spaces in the city, as a forthcoming urban plant and butterfly garden is on its way. “Attendees will have an opportunity to plant milkweed and participate in a six-week project, where families will grow caterpillars into butterflies. They’ll feed the caterpillars, look after them, and once they turn into butterflies, release them into the garden,” said Josiah Bruny, Music Changing Lives founder and CEO. The organization is in its first phase of the community garden, in which milkweed (a plant butterflies are attracted to) will be planted on April 18 at its 23rd anniversary celebration. Bruny shared that with social media applications such as Tik Tok’s five- to10-second videos being consumed every day, decreasing people’s attention span, along with the notion of instant gratification…having the ability to watch plants and caterpillars…

DREAMer student credits SBVC as crucial step in journey to UC Berkeley

Rialto resident Vanessa Mendoza, 26, wanted to study literature, write novels, and possibly even become an English professor, but that all changed after her first cultural anthropology class. At the end of her first year at San Bernardino Valley College, Mendoza began experiencing vertigo spells and migraines. They became chronic, and for almost a year, she was unable to attend classes on campus. During this time, Mendoza says she “began to question and think about the social circumstances that made it difficult for me to obtain a proper diagnosis and treatment.” Mendoza signed up for an online cultural anthropology course, and upon its conclusion, “felt that I had finally found a lens through which I could understand myself and my experiences related to culture and health.” When she was well enough to return to campus, she enrolled in more anthropology classes, and Professor Melissa King introduced her to other branches of study. “Through her classes and mentorship, I came across something called medical anthropology, which further confirmed that this was the major I wished to pursue,” Mendoza said. “This branch of anthropology deals with the…

County residents can apply now for emergency rent relief

San Bernardino County has established the San Bernardino County Rent Relief Partnership which residents can begin applying for starting Monday, Apr. 12. This emergency rental assistance program will leverage more than $46.8 million in federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 funds to provide rental and utility assistance to county residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The County has teamed up with Inland SoCal 211+ (ISC211) to administer the San Bernardino County RRP, which will provide up to 12 months of rental arrears and/or prospective rent payments, as well as utility arrears and prospective assistance. “This program will bring much-needed relief to tenants trying desperately to stay in their homes and, in turn, landlords who have been hard-hit by the economic effects of the pandemic,” said County Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “The county’s partnership with Inland SoCal 211+ is a key step toward economic recovery for our region.” The county’s program will target its efforts to the most vulnerable individuals/households that have experienced the greatest impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Households must meet the following criteria to receive assistance: Household Eligibility Household must…

Make the developer, not taxpayers pay for Oxbow concrete pile cleanup

By San Bernardino City Mayor John Valdivia San Bernardino needs a fiscally and environmentally responsible solution to eliminate the unsightly pile of concrete that’s impacting the quality of life for 5th Ward residents. That’s why I vetoed the City Council’s ill-advised decision to use $2 million dollars in city funds to pay for the cleanup. As your Mayor, I believe that the developer – not city residents – should pay the cleanup costs. My solution will save city taxpayers an immediate $2 million and require the developer to pay the costs for on-site grinding and grading. It holds the developer accountable to safe building standards which are included in the original intent of the local development plan. In the long-term, my plan would help our City to avoid a costly lawsuit – providing an additional $5 million dollars in budget savings that can be used for future community improvements. On-site grinding will better protect local residents by avoiding the significant street damage that would be caused if large trucks were used to haul the existing heavy blocks of concrete through their neighborhoods. By reducing truck…

Community Health centers receive over $10.2 million in American Rescue Plan funding

Rep. Pete Aguilar announced that three San Bernardino County community health centers and health care providers will receive a total of $10,210,625 in American Rescue Plan funds to expand COVID-19 vaccination access and care. This round of funding is targeted to provide relief to lower-income communities and ensure health equity. The resources stem from the American Rescue Plan, President Biden’s landmark law to help American communities beat the coronavirus crisis. Aguilar helped pass the American Rescue Plan on March 10, 2021. As a result of the American Rescue Plan becoming law, the following Inland Empire Community Health centers and providers will receive funding: • SAC Health System: $5,526,125 • Inland Behavioral and Health Services: $1,822,750 • County of San Bernardino: $2,861,750 “I was proud to help pass the American Rescue Plan because it delivers this type of direct relief to communities like ours. Throughout this crisis, community health centers have taken the lead to ensure every Inland Empire resident has access to high quality care. Now, they’ll have the funding they need to continue expanding health care services and vaccination access to help us stamp…

San Bernardino City allocated $84 million in American Rescue Plan funding

The City of San Bernardino will receive $84.89 million in pandemic relief under the American Rescue Plan (ARP), half of which is accessible within 60 days of President Joe Biden signing the bill on March 11, and the other half 12 months later. “We welcome the dollars coming that is appropriated to the city; I’m very excited and elated,” San Bernardino City Mayor John Valdivia expressed. “We’re $85 million richer as a community, so I want to put these dollars to work for our community.” Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) provided information on what that funding would entail for the City of San Bernardino during a recent city council meeting, noting over a million state and local employees were laid off during the pandemic, and the legislation secured $350 billion to state and local government. “The goal is to help bridge some of the economic issues that resulted from the pandemic,” Aguilar explained. “Cities rely heavily on sales tax revenue, and the bill recognizes declining city sales tax revenue due to declining economic activity.” As a measure in terms of equity, the cities of Fontana and…

Inaugural Black Innovation in STEAM Awards presents nonprofits $1,000 grant to enhance diversity, equity, inclusion

San Bernardino’s Arrowhead United Way hosted its Inaugural Black Innovation in Science, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Art and Math (STEAM) Awards on Friday, March 26. Five local non-profit organizations were surprised with a $1,000 check via a Zoom celebration and each had the opportunity to express how the grant will further enhance the programing of their organization. All five organizations underwent a vetting process, and maintain a mission and vision that aligns with United Way’s initiative of enhancing opportunity and resources for the youth in the San Bernardino community and beyond. “The five representatives from each organization were caught off-guard and surprised by the grant from Arrowhead United Way. We are proud to announce that we awarded Never Stop Grinding Impact, YouthBuild Inland Empire, Young Visionaries, Project Fighting Chance, and Akoma Unity Center with a $1,000 grant to elevate their programming,” said Arrowhead United Way President/CEO Gwen Rodgers. Arrowhead United Way President/CEO Gwen Rodgers presents a check to Never Stop Grinding Impact Founder/CEO Darious Harris. Rodgers shared that Arrowhead United Way was recently critically thinking about innovative ways to recognize and enhance the black community in and…

California Dolphin