Carolyn Tillman: Reflections on 25 years of service, family history, and dreams for the future

By Cynthia Mendoza Pandemic restrictions aside, Carolyn Tillman began 2021 with nothing to do so to speak; no checking emails, no ringing phones, and no jam packed calendar. Welcome to retirement. At the end of 2020, Tillman retired from San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (SBCSS) after nearly 25 years of service as Special Assistant to the Superintendent. Tillman, who holds a degree in speech pathology/audiology from Loma Linda University, joined SBCSS in the fall of 1996 and served as Special Assistant to the Superintendent overseeing various programs throughout the years, including SBCSS Wellness Strategic Plan, the state funded Nutrition Education Program, a regional coordinator for the California Department of Education’s Safe Schools Program, and a manager in the Foster Youth Services initiative.  In her role as Special Assistant to the Superintendent, Tillman did what she most loves – working with people. The role was one of serving as a connection between the various sectors of community such as businesses, chambers of commerce, law enforcement, and others, and as a liaison that brought community concerns and feedback directly to the superintendent, and then relaying responses…

San Bernardino City Council approves Eviction Prevention Program

On February 3, 2021, San Bernardino City’s Eviction Prevention Program motion passed in a 7-0 vote. This new initiative states that a renter of an apartment or house within the city may be eligible to receive one-time rental assistance under the city’s Eviction Prevention Program. “Eligible households can receive assistance to cover past due rents and funds are paid directly to the landlord. To receive eligibility, you’ll need a form of identification, a copy of the lease agreement, proof of income for all household members (to ensure low-income assistance), documentation demonstrating a COVID-19 related impact through work layoffs or health concerns, and a notice of rent arrears or invoice from your landlord,” said Maria Gallegos, City of San Bernardino administrative analyst. Eligible households may receive assistance for payment of up to six consecutive months of rent arrears. “After checking eligibility, fill out the application online at sbcity.org/evictionprotection. Once filled out you’ll upload eligibility documentation and attach them with your application. Information contained in this application will be provided to the housing authority of the County of San Bernardino for processing,” continued Gallegos. To date, the…

Community grieves sudden loss of Michelle Hernandez – doting mother, devoted daughter, fierce women’s advocate

Michelle Hernandez of San Bernardino, a beloved mother, daughter, friend, and community member who dedicated herself to helping those most vulnerable, died unexpectedly at the age of 41 from COVID-19 on January 12, leaving behind two adult daughters, two tween/teenage sons, and her mother, Joann Lopez. Michelle worked tirelessly alongside Melinda Cuellar, CEO and founder of nonprofit organization Divine Connections HOPE that provides support and resources to victims of domestic violence, as the administrative director. Michelle advocated for abused women as a certified Domestic Violence Advocate, Facilitator for Batterers Prevention, self-esteem coach, designed a curriculum for and taught a teen domestic violence class. “She loved to teach, she had a knack for it,” Melinda shared. “She was so down to earth and connected with people, she established relationships.” Michelle provided comfort and support to struggling women. Michelle gained employment at the nonprofit organization Option House as a Domestic Violence Advocate in 2019 after she volunteered for three years, taking the lead in case management and support who became a key trainer. According to Option House Executive Director Heather Stevning, Michelle also created and headed a…

CSUSB’s First Peoples Coyote Rising program wins ISAN award

The First Peoples Coyote Rising program at Cal State San Bernardino was selected as one of this year’s recipients of the Indigenous Student Affairs Network’s (ISAN) Innovative Practice Award. The ISAN Innovative Practice Award is given to an individual or program for creating and/or implementing an original or highly effective Indigenous Student Affairs program or practice on their campus or in their local community. “It is an honor to be recognized by Indigenous Student Affairs Network (ISAN) for the ISAN Innovative Practice Award for work that our CSUSB’s Native American Outreach team has done in the execution of successful programming for incoming Native American students,” said Tiffany Bonner, director of the CSUSB Office of Outreach and Student Recruitment. “Our First Peoples Coyote Rising program was created to develop a sense of community and strengthen student engagement. The success of this program is in part from the support and generosity of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, as well as support from our on-campus partners, such as faculty, peer mentors, and our First Peoples’ Center.” “The program’s contributions listed in the nomination are clearly innovative,” said Cori Bazemore-James (Seneca), chair of…

RAFFMA celebrates African American artists of Paulson Fontaine Press in virtual exhibit

In celebration of Black History Month, the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art (RAFFMA) at Cal State San Bernardino presents “Personal to Political: Celebrating the African American Artists of Paulson Fontaine Press.” The exhibition will be on display virtually starting Saturday, Feb. 6, and will run until Saturday, April 10. A formal online reception will take place on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 4 p.m. This exciting exhibition features works by African American artists who have helped to shape the contemporary art conversation in the Bay Area and beyond. The show covers a wide range of prints, paintings, quilts and sculptures, and includes an array of abstract and formal imagery. Narratives that speak to personal experiences and political perspectives are woven throughout. At the heart of this show is a Berkeley-based fine art print studio – Paulson Fontaine Press – who over the past two decades has developed an unparalleled roster of internationally celebrated artists, such as Martin Puryear, Kerry James Marshall, and the Gee’s Bend Quilters, who characterize the fresh perspectives that are today’s avant-garde. This exhibition is organized by the Bedford Gallery and…

Both SBVC and Crafton Hills College receive full seven-year accreditation renewal

Crafton Hills College and San Bernardino Valley College are among four colleges in California to receive a full seven-year reaccreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). This is a vote of full confidence from education experts about the quality of the education provided by both campuses part of the San Bernardino Community College District. The good news arrived on Monday to Interim Chancellor Jose F. Torres, and he immediately sent his thanks to the campuses. “Our momentum keeps growing and today is proof of just that,” Torres wrote in an email. “We are poised to continue learning from each other, continue leading innovative practices to help students succeed, and continue making a difference in our communities.” The accreditation process has many steps, including a complete self-review and site visits, and interviews conducted by educators from around the western United States. The site visits, conducted in October, had to be completely virtual because of the ongoing pandemic. “Just as our classes have moved online, some of our accreditation processes were done that way as well, and our teams did a truly exemplary job adapting to this…

Board invites residents to serve on county redistricting commission

County residents have an opportunity to assist the Board of Supervisors in redrawing supervisorial district boundaries that will be in place for the next 10 years. The board is inviting county residents who meet certain qualifications to serve on a first-of-its-kind county redistricting commission. Every ten years following each U.S. Census the county must redraw the boundaries of each of the five districts that elect members of the Board of Supervisors to ensure they have nearly the same number of residents and meet other criteria. Historically this task has been undertaken solely by the Board of Supervisors. A new County Charter approved by voters in November 2020 requires the board to appoint a redistricting commission to participate in the process. The board this week approved an ordinance to establish the commission, which will recommend two possible redistricting plans in time for the board to enact a final plan in time to meet a Dec. 15 state deadline, which means the board must consider redistricting proposals in October and November. The census data needed to create the plans is not expected to be available until July…

Dignity Health-Inland Empire Hospitals awards over $250,000 to local nonprofits

Community Hospital of San Bernardino (CHSB) and St. Bernardine Medical Center (SBMC) granted a total of $254,727 to four, non-profit organizations who are making a difference for the local, underserved communities by addressing human trafficking, housing, legal services, and general health care offerings. CHSB Hospital President, June Collison and SBMC Hospital President, Doug Kleam hosted a virtual awards celebration for the grantees. The Family Assistance Program received funding for its efforts towards aiding victims of human trafficking. The second grantee, the Legal Aid Foundation, provides legal services that help facilitate safety, stability, healthy home life, and access to health care. The Lestonnac Clinic was granted essential funds to increase the number of community members seen at the free clinic who are currently uninsured. Lastly, Mary’s Mercy Center – Veronica’s Home of Mercy, received funds for its housing programs to aid abused women, with or without children. “Through our Community Health Grant Program, we are able to work collaboratively to improve the well-being of the communities we serve,” shared Linda McDonald, Vice President of Mission Services, Dignity Health Southern California. “This year, the Inland Empire hospitals…

San Bernardino Valley College partners with Siembra Mobile to broaden communication with local high school students

San Bernardino Valley College has partnered with Siembra Mobile to expand its lines of communication with local high school students and their parents. Siembra’s digital communication platform, accessible via computer or smartphone, directly links SBVC to prospective students and their parents in the local school districts of San Bernardino, Colton, and Rialto. The platform streamlines contact between students, parents and college recruiters, and provides a means of tracking individual high school student preparedness for college. SBVC administrators hope that this partnership with Siembra will both help to expand the number of high school graduates entering higher education in the region and help the college to develop stronger relationships with future students before they even step foot on campus. Dr. Scott Thayer, Vice President of Student Services at SBVC, recently described the growing necessity of a messaging platform like Siembra during the global COVID-19 pandemic. “At a time where it’s difficult to connect with students and parents, this platform is a valuable tool in maintaining that consistent communication and investing in students’ education early on,” he said. Starting in the ninth grade, students using Siembra can…

County hosts first mass vaccination event

San Bernardino County completed its first mass vaccination event on Tuesday, delivering initial doses to 3,235 people — primarily residents aged 65 and over — and successfully signing them up for a follow-up shot on March 2. The vaccination event was held at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. The speedway is also where people will return for their second dose. County officials, who are expecting to receive another 21,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines next week, confirmed that their top priority now is administering the vaccines to residents aged 65 and over. “The data are clear: the elderly are much more likely to require hospitalization and not survive COVID-19, so our focus now is on getting them inoculated as quickly as possible,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “Tuesday’s event at the speedway not only resulted in more than 3,200 people getting vaccinated, it also served as a valuable learning experience for all of us.” Hagman noted that while the event triggered considerable traffic congestion around midday, the County was able to work with the Highway Patrol to make necessary adjustments. “Though we…

San Manuel Band of Mission Indians suprises local businesses with $1 million donation

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians surprised 50 local business owners with a $20,000 grant from its Small Business Relief Fund on Friday, Jan. 29. Business owners gathered virtually and in-person for the announcement of the grant amount not previously revealed. Confetti cannons popped to celebrate San Manuel Chairman Ken Ramirez’s announcement that each of the 50 selected local businesses would receive $20,000. Jovanna Rodriguez, the owner of Jovi’s Diner in San Bernardino, joined Ramirez on stage, representing business owners. “It gives me great pleasure to announce that 50 small businesses are receiving a grant for $20,000 each for a total of one million dollars from San Manuel Cares,” San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chairman Ken Ramirez announced as confetti cannons popped overhead. “We hope that we have found the best way to assist you and I hope that what we do here today prompts others to do the same, which is support our local businesses, to give as much as you can to keep the communities thriving,”  According to San Manuel Business Committee Member Audrey Martinez, the tribe demonstrates their call to…

Emergency evacuations declared due to storms, families return home

On Thursday morning, January 28th, San Bernardino County declared emergency evacuations of the recent burn areas surrounding the cities of Yucaipa, Forest Falls, Oak Glen, Mountain Home Village, and Mentone. Several displaced households were directed to the American Red Cross Temporary Evacuation Point (TEP) setup at Redlands East Valley High School in the City of Redlands. Heavy rains and mudslides were expected to cause dangerous life-threatening conditions in the recent mountain burn areas. All residents in the affected areas were ordered to evacuate before the storm descended upon their communities. Savannah Davis, her five kids, and her mother found out about the evacuation on Thursday night and the Red Cross placed them at the DoubleTree. The kids were excited about being away from home, but Savannah and her mom Shawn Baker were very concerned about damage to their home and/or if there would be a way to get back home if roads were affected. Red Cross volunteers established a 24/7 TEP for affected residents to register for hotel rooms. Snacks and hydration were also available at the TEP location. Red Cross volunteers were there to…

Cajon High takes first place in County Mock Trial finals

The Cajon High School Cowboys took first place in the 39th Annual San Bernardino County Mock Trial finals when it defeated Los Osos High School in the event finals held virtually on Jan. 23.. Cajon now advances to the California Mock Trial Finals scheduled for March 18–21, 2021. “Mock Trial was an adventure that turned into a joy ride of growth and camaraderie,” said head coach Robert Grande. “The students did this for the City of San Bernardino, the local community, and most importantly for Cajon High School.” The victory marked the second title in three years for Cajon as it advances to the state competition in March. The team from San Bernardino City Unified won their first County title at the 2018-2019 competition. “We are excited for another opportunity to participate in the state Mock Trial competition. It is a great honor because we know we have competed against several phenomenal teams, such as Los Osos,” said Cajon Principal Teenya Bishop. “Our hopes are that we can continue to represent our school, District, and county well.” Los Osos High of the Chaffey Joint Union…

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