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Su n d ay, A p r i l 28 , 20 1 3



2013 H I G H D E S E RT R E G I O N C O U L D S E E



oward the end of the 1800s, new railroads brought an influx of settlers to a tiny village called Victor. By 1913, apple orchards had sprung up in the surrounding desert valley. A chamber of commerce was established; railways were expanded; water and power projects were planned. It was a boom town. Or so the settlers thought. Then World War I came and thwarted the boom. Progress slowed in the region, which became known as the Victor Valley, but explosive growth came at the turn of the next century. Now, as local residents and businesses shake off the cobwebs of the Great Recession,

the Victor Valley could be on the verge of another major boom. And as the population grows, the economy is sure to grow with it. The village, now a city called Victorville, could nearly quadruple in population over the next 17 years if the city’s projections are correct. Victorville expects to grow from its current population of 113,057 to a population of 407,534 by 2030. That’s about equal to the current size of Miami and larger than the current populations of Oakland, Cleveland, Minneapolis and New Orleans. As Victorville grows, it’s likely the neighboring cities will, too: Adelanto, Apple Valley, Barstow, Hesperia and the unincorporated areas surrounding them. According to multiple sources, the Victor Valley-Barstow region could be home to upwards of 700,000 people by 2030. SEE EXPANSION • PAG E 6



Sunday, April 28, 2013


Press Dispatch

Moving forward


Adelanto looks toward future with focus on development BY RENE DE LA CRUZ STAFF WRITER


ince its founding in 1915, Adelanto has tried to live up to the Spanish meaning of its name as it attempts “to advance” in the areas of business, jobs and economic development. City Manager Jim Hart said the city’s strength lies in its industrial park, the only one in the High Desert, reduced development fees and plenty of low cost vacant land. “Having the Southern C a l i fo r n i a L o g i s t i c s Airport as your neighbor and having Highway 395 running straight through the city is also a huge strength and draw to Adelanto,” Mayor Cari Thomas said. Both Hart and Thomas agreed that the City Council is pro-growth and pro-business, which could lead to success in the city’s future. But a slow-rebounding economy and budget woes are stalling the city’s efforts to get back on track. The city of Adelanto laid off 13 employees as part of an effort to reduce the city’s $5.4 million deficit, according to Hart during a March interview. Cuts were made due to a deficit, which came mostly from increases in police and fire costs of $2 million over the years. During the 1980s and 90s, Adelanto’s population grew almost 300 percent, with much of that growth coming from the availability of low-cost housing, reasonable land costs, economic development and rural living.

Mavericks make improvements for fans BY MARK A. PEINADO STAFF WRITER

32,560 Estimated 2013 population

ADELANTO • The High Desert Mavericks have been owned by Main Street Baseball for twoplus years and there appears to be no indication that will change in the foreseeable future. The Mavericks and the city of Adelanto recently teamed up on $100,000 worth of improvements to Stater Bros. Stadium. “We signed a three-year lease with the city of Adelanto and extended our contract with the Seattle Mariners,” High Desert General Manager Cory John said. “We’re excited about the partnership. We’ve done a lot of hard work with the stadium. There’s grown to be a good relationship with the Mavericks and the city.” Over the off-season, the 22-year old stadium was given a major face-lift. The fences were repainted, the clubhouses were refurbished, the field was given new grass and the parking lot was resealed and repainted. There is now a game-day rental suite in the press box, and the team

The city’s current population comes in at 32,560 residents, and has grown by nearly 1,000 in each of the past five years, with the same number expected in 2013, Hart said. The population increases are vital as the city rebounds from the closure of George Air Force Base in 1993, which saw the 1991 medianhome price of $108,384 drop to $80,598 seven years later, according to John Husing, an Inland Empire economist. Median gross rent in Adelanto for 2009 came in at just under $900 and

Quick Facts: Adelanto

$42,208 Median household income 2007-11

62.4% Home ownership rate 2007-11

$118,500 Median value of owner-occupied homes 2007-11 Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and the city of Adelanto


Stater Bros. Stadium, home of the High Desert Mavericks, now has a freshly recoated and painted parking lot as part of its makeover.

store was expanded. John said fans have definitely noticed the changes. “I’ve had fans come up to me and say the field hasn’t looked this good in 10 years,” John said. “They are so ecstatic with what we’ve done with the stadium. They’re pretty impressed.” That’s the kind of reaction John said he was hoping for, and he said there’s more to come. The Mavericks just had their first seven-game home stand of

unemployment in August 2012 was at 18.2 percent compared to California’s 10.4 percent figure. Hart said D.R. Horton is constructing 83 homes, but there are no new housing projects in the works after the final stages of the development is completed. But Hart and Thomas are hopeful that the recent groundbreaking for the Cactus Plaza project, which will include a Circle K, a Shell gas station and Southern California’s first Steak ‘n Shake restaurant, will get the economic ball rolling again. And more develop-

the 2013 season. The first few days had plenty of fans but the last two saw cold, windy weather and there was a steep drop in attendance. John said he doesn’t expect the trend to continue, as the weather starts to warm up and the number of giveaways the Mavericks have planned over the rest of the season. On Sundays, two lucky fans SEE MAVERICKS • PAG E 6

ment is potentially on the way. “We are currently in discussion with both Family Dollar and Dollar General for locations in the city,” Hart said. “Also in the works is a gasoline station and convenience store at the northwest corner of Palmdale and Bellflower.” The GEO Group Inc., a private prison operator, is also working to add a new 650-bed prison facility that could create 170 jobs. Hart said that although the Wal-Mart project on Highway 395 and Palmdale Road is in Victorville, it could stimulate activ-

ity on the Adelanto side of Highway 395. The city was awarded a $990,000 state grant to develop the Adelanto North 2035 Sustainable Community Plan, which would develop 27 square miles of city and San Bernardino County prop-

erty into a sustainable development model. The project is located between Holly and Sierra roads, and Lessing Avenue and the Southern California Logistics Airport. The Sustainable Community Plan will be based on the concept of activity centers surrounded by residential neighborhoods linked to the adjacent business centers, according to a city report. “It’s just something that’s going to set a blueprint for us to look into the future and what that looks like,” Thomas said. “We have the growth that I think is going to shape up on its own in the south end, but we really have to have a sustainable plan for the north end.” The city expects to co m p l e t e t h e No r t h Adelanto planning stage by 2014.

PROGRESS 2013 A special section of the Press Dispatch.

INDEX Adelanto • A2 Apple Valley • A3 Barstow and vicinity • A4 Helendale, Oro Grande • A5 New Design • B1 Hesperia, Oak Hills • B2 Lucerne Valley • B3 Phelan and vicinity • B4 Victorville • B5-B6

STAFF Publisher Al Frattura Editor David Keck City Editor Kris Reilly

Advertising Director Angie Callahan Operations Manager Harry Pontius Business Director Robert FitzSimmons Circulation Director Todd Bradshaw Online Coordinator Sarah Batcha Chief Photographer James Quigg Page design and layout: Copy Editor Amber Gillies Cover design: Graphic Artist Ivan Hundric Cover photo: Freelance photographer Sarah Alvarado

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Press Dispatch

Sunday, April 28, 2013



Silver anniversary


Apple Valley’s 25 years of incorporation highlighted by growth, development BY MARTIAL HAPROV STAFF WRITER

rom a trailer on the corner of Highway 18 and Central Road set up to sell land to a population of nearly 71,000, the town of Apple Valley has grown by leaps and bounds in the past several decades. The town once was a stop along the trail for miners and ranchers, then a point of relaxation for movie stars and notable politicians. Now it boasts 15 parks and facilities, 17 schools, two golf courses, a stateof-the-art medical center, a 1,400acre retirement community and a museum, among other features. But the progress doesn’t stop there. In 2011, the town reaffirmed the goals on its “Vision 2020” plan and adopted it in April 2012. The strategic plan has eight goals: maintaining and enhanc-


ing public Quick Facts: safety; proApple Valley viding infrastructure necessary for Estimated 2013 population t h e t o w n’s residents and businesses to live and grow; Median household income 2007-11 enhancing and expandHome ownership rate 2007-11 ing the town’s economic base; develo p i n g a n d Median value of owner-occupied homes 2007-11 maintaining Sources: U.S. Census a comprehenBureau and sive transportown of Apple Valley tation system; maintaining the town’s network of parks and recreational opportunities; retaining the highest quality town staff; developing partnerships in public and private sectors; and





exploring options for departments to provide revenue-generating services. “We want to continue to build goals for our policies,” Town Manager Frank Robinson said. “We’re working toward a good, broad picture that will keep our community thinking and focused.” The growth of retail, such as in the Jess Ranch Marketplace, was key to the town’s overall growth, according to spokeswoman Kathie Martin. As the economy neared rock bottom over the past several years, Apple Valley’s retail sector grew, which kept the town afloat through the storm, Martin said. “Before the local economy took a nose dive, we didn’t really have much sales tax income to speak of,” Martin said. “When our retail started growing, it was very new to us.” Robinson said before the economic growth, the town had a 70 percent sales tax leakage — consumers who

went to other cities and regions to shop instead of spending their money in Apple Valley. But as stores and shops continued to sprout up over the past five years, the town saw its sales tax income increase from 30 percent to about 60 percent, Robinson said. The increase helped to offset the loss in property tax revenue as banks foreclosed on homes and residents left the town. “We saw a decline in our population,” Robinson said. “Construction jobs went away and people left. Now we’re seeing that turn around.” Robinson said the town’s commitment to its motto, “A Better Way of Life,” is the broad picture of its mission. Planning for growth is part of that mission. Robinson said town staff spends ample time working to keep and bring SEE APPLE VALLEY • PAG E 6

Village revival effort continues Special business district presses on despite challenges

Recognizing Shining Stars


The b r i g h t o r a n ge b a n ners and new landscaping along Highway 18 welcome visitors to the Village of Apple Valley on the east side of town. The new touches are part of the Property Business Improvement District’s move to revitalize the once-blighted neighborhood and bring businesses and customers to the area. As businesses began to develop around areas near Dale Evans Parkway and Jess Ranch, and Village businesses began to feel the recent economic pinch, property owners formed the special tax district to bring life back to the area, which was once considered the heart of Apple Valley. In 2007, the PBID was born and the group collected approximately $288,000 during its first full year, with the town pledging to match grant funds when available until the district expired in 2012. Even through economic hard times, property owners voted to renew the PBID for another five years in August, with 5 3.9 p e rce n t o f t h e weighted vote. Only 72 ballots, representing 33 percent of the 218 property owners, were submitted to the town by deadline. As PBID members, Village property owners pay an annual $230 fee on their taxes along with assessments as high APPLE VALLEY •

The City of Hesperia would like to recognize the 2013 Volunteer Network Volunteers of the Year.


Hesperia CERT

The new landscaped medians along Highway 18 in the Village are part of Apple Valley’s property improvement project to revitalize the once-blighted neighborhood.

as $2.10 per square foot in order to fund improvements such as landscaping, signage, added security and online marketing efforts. M i c h e l l e Vo ge l e r, manager of Michelle’s Pampered Pets, said the Village’s aggressive online and print advertising has helped. “We get most of our business through wordof-mouth, but the Village’s Daily Press ad has added to our average pet count,” said Vogeler, whose been with the shop since its opening three years ago. “We’re seeing 500 to 600 pets a month and we’re always busy.” Despite the closing of Barr Lumber and Angel’s Roadhouse over the past year, businesses such as Dollar G e n e ra l , Wa l g re e n s , Kelley’s Underground Construction Inc. and Diamond Collision have quickly replaced the lost revenue. During the final quarter of 2012, the San Bernardino County Sheriff ’s Apple Valley Station reported that there were no significant criminal cases reported and only six arrests in 107 investigated contacts.

“Things used to be really scary around the Village, but with all the extra police we’re not afraid to go for walks anymore,” said Marica McCall, 28, as she headed toward James Woody Park with her two young children. “There’s still some creepy people, but that’s just the High Desert.” Facilities owned by the town and several other agencies are also located in the Village area. The town’s Municipal Animal Shelter and Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center, along with the Apple Valley Fire Protection District’s headquarters and the Mojave Water Agency have also contributed to the Village’s traffic count. “The presence of municipal facilities increases property values in an area,” said Kathie Martin, the town’s spokeswoman. “They are attractive, well maintained buildings and, in the case of the animal shelter, even help bring people to the area.” Rene De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227 or at

Angela & Chris Stangle Hesperia Recreation & Park District

Heidi Schmidt Hesperia Animal Shelter As with volunteering, it is only through the generosity of this community that we have been able to reach our full potential. We would like to recognize the generosity of our event sponsors:

Presented by:

For more info about the Volunteer Network call (760) 947-1367 or visit the City’s website at



Sunday, April 28, 2013

Press Dispatch



to its


Barstow’s growth plan targets travelers; could revive Main Street BY SHEA JOHNSON STAFF WRITER


n a three-pronged plan expected to stimulate sustained growth in a city starving for it, Barstow planners are hoping to literally drive visitors through the less tourist-accessible heart of Main Street. Officials have pledged to provide a visible boost to the city in three key areas: economic development, industry and infrastructure, according to Assistant City Manager Oliver Chi. “The next 18 months will be very busy,” Chi said. The city is actively involved in three major development projects — two which could possibly anchor a Main Street revival. On the city’s west end, a Wal-Mart Supercenter and adjacent 255,000square -foot shopping center outfitted with six retail stores could begin construction as early as this year, pending possible litigation, which would likely delay the project six months to a year, according to Chi. Moving east, the zone near the Interstate 15 exit at L Street has been deemed “the next best location for developing a large scale entertainment power shopping center,” Chi said. P l a n s c a l l fo r a n approximately 50,000square-foot shopping center to be ultimately developed in that area in several phases throughout the next couple of years, Chi said, and a development agreement with a firm recently approved by the City Council will begin the rehab of the old Valero truck stop and turn it into an Arco and travel center. More immediately, two new restaurants will be installed in that location this year, according to Chi. The thought is increased interest at these ends of Main Street might naturally draw travelers through the traditional downtown, which

Telescope machinist works discreetly in Barstow



Estimated 2011 population


In a lime green building off of Old Highway 58 a world-renowned telescope machinist works masterfully at his craft. Edward Byers, 85, has been in the telescope industry for more than 50 years specializing in telescope mountings, gears and driving systems. He holds four patents and his past clientele are a lengthy list including the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, MIT, Lockheed Martin, the National Security Agency, U.S. Bureau of Standards and the Royal College Observatory in England. He boasts creating the largest heliostat in Canada and the largest refractor telescope in the state of Florida. “Astronomy is the oldest science,” he explains. “People have been looking at the stars before they did anything else.” One of his current projects includes a pair of binoculars that span about 6 feet in length and will be the only giant pair of binoculars designed for the human eye, he said. On this particular day he is building a 48inch cassegrain telescope. Like all big telescopes, it’s a mirror



would be the connecting route. Outside of the city, officials are looking at the Tanger Outlet Center and capitalizing on its continued success. “ I t ’s b e e n d o i n g quite well from a sales perspective,” Chi said. Within the next six months, the city will be able to make an announcement of a couple of new uses (at the Outlet Center location) we’re really excited about, Chi noted. Creating jobs with career-potential, however, is as important as creating minimum-wage gigs, Chi said. “We’re not just focused on having entry-level retail positions, but that we have solid career and work opportunities,” he explained. One opportunity is the potential that a new casino project could be

Quick Facts: Barstow

Median household income 2007-11

51.1% Home ownership rate 2007-11

$123,300 Median value of owner-occupied homes 2007-11 Source: U.S. Census Bureau

ABOVE: Edward Byers stands in front of a 48-inch Cassegrain telescope he is building. RIGHT: Byers is shown with a telescope mirror at his shop. STAFF PHOTOS BY BROOKE SELF

telescope, he explains. Recently he completed a unique piece for a solar astronomer based in Santa Cruz that is five telescopes-in-one, he said. He’s created four instruments for the doctor who studies

approved within the next year, another is the possible growth in industrial business. At an Optimist Club meeting on April 19, Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Carol Randall told the crowd industrial business is where the future of the city’s economic growth lies. Chi agrees. “The city’s best opportunity right now is going to be out in the Barstow Industrial Park area,” he said. And though development there has been in discussions for over a decade, Chi said to expect tangible results within the next year — a time frame he called “reasonable” for creating a specific plan of action at the location. Sewer and water lines will be extended to the industrial park this year,

the sun. “Go to the astronomy department of any university in North America, Europe and Latin America, and they will know SEE BYE R S • PAG E 6

he explained, overcoming one challenge of having no utility connections previously existing in the area. The $31.5 million L enwood Grade Separation project is expected to finally get under way at the tail-end of summer, and there have been talks with Burlington North Sante Fe railroad to extend a rail spur to the park. In a 2012 Year in Review Market Report presented by L ee & Associates’ Inland Empire North division, Barstow had nearly 40 percent vacant industrial, retail and office buildings during the fourth quarter last year — the most of any High Desert city. Chi believes adding industrial jobs would help to mitigate that problem. “The more growth we have, the more you need the support services that

use office locations,” he said. Lastly, an overhaul to the city’s infrastructure — in many ways, tied to the city’s economic development initiatives — is expected over the next 18 months. Five large infrastructure projects aimed at improving traffic flow will take place this year in the Outlet Center area. Poor traffic circulation has made continued expansion there “challenging,” Chi said. The city also plans this year to reconstruct all of Rimrock Road and undertake a large drainage improvement project intended to “alleviate a lot of flooding” from Rimrock to Montara Road. There is also a $6 million wastewater treatment plant improvement project in the works and a needed upgrade to

city sewer lines — most of which haven’t been touched since installation 50 or 60 years ago, Chi said. And 95 percent of the 30 miles of roads identified to be failing throughout all of Barstow will be reconstructed within the next four years, according to Chi. Looking ahead to the next five years, a reliance on strengths unique to Barstow is seemingly integral to the city if it is to create attractive jobs, be it entry-level or career. An estimated 60 million people per year drive through town, according to Chi, and almost 60,000 people call the area home if accounting for unincorporated areas, the two nearby military bases and those within a 20-minute drive — factors weighed heavily by retailers when looking at the economic potential of the city. Also, the Barstow area provides logistics companies an ability to easily access markets in Nevada, Arizona and Ca l i fo r n i a f ro m o n e central location. Still, there was only a 1.7 percent population growth in the area between 2000 and 2010, according to data provided by Nielsen Solution Center. Growth was even slower between 2010 and 2013 at 1.67 percent, the data shows. However, the same data projects a more sizable 3.02 percent growth through 2018. T h at g row t h m ay be contingent on how well the city plays to its strengths.


Press Dispatch

Route 66 region looks toward future BY JIM E. WINBURN STAFF WRITER


elendale b e ga n a s a watering stop for locomotives pushing across the High Desert along the Santa Fe Railroad in the 1880s. Water plays no less a role today in the unincorporated Helendale area between Barstow and Victorville, where the planned community of Silver Lakes is built around two man-made lakes. Silver Lakes is a census-designated place, and the 2010 U.S. Census put its population at 5,623. This community is served by the Silver Lakes Association as well as the Helendale Community S ervices District, which provides water and sewer services for the community. According to Kimberly Cox, general manager of the Helendale CSD, the most recent “monumental event” for the town was when the CSD was formed by a vote of the residents in 2006. “We’re really excited about the progress we’ve made,” said Cox, explaining that the district agency has since provided the community with curbside trash pick-up for bulky items and a community center. Calling Helendale a “hidden jewel in the desert,” Cox believes that the economy is showing signs of picking up. “If it was a year and a half ago, a lot of homes appeared to be foreclosed out here,” she said. “Now, I don’t see as many.” Another vital service to the community is

Sunday, April 28, 2013



Sparkling with promise

Quick Facts: Silver Lakes

5,623 Estimated 2010 population

$64,058 Median household income 2007-11

81.8% Home ownership rate 2007-11

$233,200 Median value of owner-occupied homes 2007-11 Source: U.S. Census Bureau

KQTE 1450 AM, www., the local radio station managed by the popular Chuck Love. The station has chosen an oldies format that includes country and rock ‘n’ roll — even playing a hymn every hour — that caters to a local demographics, which is 50 percent retired, Love said. “We researched it and found that an oldies format would be very well received — and it has been,” said Love, noting the station’s motto is “God, Country and Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Noting that Silver Lakes has numerous amenities — a 27-hole golf course, tennis club, boating and fishing, equestrian activities and more — Love said the area is all primed and ready to be taken to the next level, “once the economy comes back.”

ORO GRANDE LOOKING BEYOND SHADOW OF GOLDRUSH DAYS The desert community of Oro Grande continues to keep a tradition


Enchanted Treasures finds success in Oro Grande BY REBECCA HOWES STAFF WRITER



Turning trash into treasure has become profitable for one Oro Grande antique picker and her vendors. Linda Marie Pereira makes her living through recycling, reinventing, salvaging and repurposing treasures she finds alongside the road, at garage sales, estate sales and through customers who bring items to her antique store located on Historic Route 66. “People come here to get junk drunk,” Pereira joked. Her antique store, Linda Marie’s Enchanted Treasures, was formerly a U-Haul truck rental truck location. It was in shambles when she decided to set up shop. “The windows were broken and the one that wasn’t opened the wrong way,” Pereira said. “You had to go outside the building to


Linda Marie’s Enchanted Treasures in Oro Grande is booming, but that wasn’t always the case. It took nearly three years to make a profit.

open it.” The color of the building was orange. It would have been hard for some to see beyond the neglect. “It was ugly and a junk mess,” Pereira said. “I could see the potential even with the U-Haul orange paint.” Business is boomi n g n ow, b u t t h at wa s n’ t a l way s t h e case for Linda Marie’s Enchanted Treasures. It took her nearly three years to turn a profit. One way to boost business is to carry

the widest array of a n t i q u e s p o s s i b l e, and to do that Pereira brought in other vendors. “In this industry it’s hard,” Pereira said. “I asked myself, ‘How can I make it work?’ ” Three years later more than 20 vendors now call Pereira’s store home. One of those vendors is Tammie Espey, of Phelan, a former customer of Pereira’s, who opened a booth two months ago. Espey’s booth is a lit-

tle pink and white travel trailer in the backyard of the business known as Tammies Traveled Treasures. Espey sells vintage collectibles and housewares. “It’s wonderful to have a booth out here,” Espey said. “All of the people who come out here are kind. It’s good karma.” Other unique booths include Jesse McKinley’s Deadwood Mercantile and Cindy’s Primitive Heart. Pereira says the location at 19222 National Trails Highway, along the Historic Route 66 corridor, is also responsible for her success. “We have visitors from all over the world,” Pereira said. “We’ve had people from Australia, Fi n l a n d , G e r m a ny, Japan and Spain. ... The history and beauty of Route 66 needs to be remembered. The tourists are more interested in our history. We need to be interested in our own history and preserve it.”


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Sunday, April 28, 2013


Press Dispatch

EXPANSION: Listed in 2010 as one of fastest-growing regions in state FROM PAG E 1

I n 2 0 1 0, d e s p i t e the recession, San Bernardino Associated Governments listed the High Desert as one of the fastest-growing regions in California. What does this mean for the economy? In the simplest terms, more people means more business. Victor Valley Chamber of Commerce Chairman David Greiner says that while there are other elements needed for economic growth — such as reasonable costs of doing business and educated


of independence alive along Route 66 just north of Victorville. Situated along National Trails Highway, the community exhibits a sense of progress characterized by the passion of its local stakeholders. Wi t h fe w e r t h a n 1,000 residents living in the unincorporated area, according to 2010 Census data, Oro Grande has been known for its mining operations since its beginnings in 1861. “Oro Grande just kind of inches along, slowly taking back a purpose from before its days as a ghost town,� said Jim Granger, who, along with his wife, Donna, owns and operates Cross Eyed Cow Pizza at 19242 National Trails Highway. He’s only made pizza for five months, yet Granger is already serving customers traveling from Barstow and Hesperia. “We’re definitely seeing a positive impact

workers — the sheer number of people is key. “You have to have the population base before you have professional-level jobs,� Greiner said. “You have to have the people to serve. ... You have to build the population and then the engineers, doctors and lawyers will follow.� Greiner believes one indicator of local economic recovery is an uptick in membership at the chamber, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Greiner said he watched memberhere,� Granger said, noting that TXI Riverside Cement orders “quite a bit of food� from his new restaurant — the only one in town. TXI/RCC mines limestone for the cement manufacturing facility, serving as a reminder to the mining origins behind Oro Grande’s name, which means "big gold" in Spanish. “The community has had its gold rush, its silver rush, and limestone has been a staple of this area for about 120 years,� Granger said. Joe Manners, self-proclaimed honorary mayor and “local hellraiser� of Oro Grande, believes progress for the community has been seriously impeded by high county fees for water and sewer services. “Oro Grande was a gold- and silver-mining town when Victorville was just a ranch,� the 67year resident said with a touch of pride. “We’re in hopes that a new county supervisor may pay attention to us and keep the county from stealing any more of our money.�

ship drop from more than 700 to about 400 in a four-year span during the recession. But lately he’s seen a spike, with more than 30 members added in just the first quarter of this year. “We’re knocking on the door of 500 members again,� said Greiner, adding that about 35 percent of the chamber’s members are outside of Victorville. All three of the region’s major cities have seen major retail development in recent years, including the area’s first upscale department

store, Macy’s, in the Mall of Victor Valley. Greiner said the presence of Macy’s could be a harbinger of further growth because of something he called “the Macy’s effect.� The company’s extensive market research virtually assures that a Macy’s won’t fail, Greiner said, and therefore other retailers become more confident in the area. To support its expanding commerce, the area will soon see infrastructure upgrades, including the La Mesa/Nisqualli a n d Ra n c h e ro Ro ad

interchange projects on Interstate 15. Many of the current population projections came in light of the rapid growth that occurred after the turn of the century. Between 2000 and 2007, an over saturation of surrounding urban areas, along with affordable local homes, led to 48.7 percent growth — roughly 120,000 new residents. Now that the housing market has stabilized, migration rates could pick up where they left off. But not every local official is convinced that the

area will undergo quite such a rapid change. “Most of those studies were done before the economic crisis and need to be redone,� said Apple Valley Town Manager Frank Robinson, who believes growth will occur at a much slower rate. There may be some disagreement about just how fast the Victor Valley will grow, but no one disputes that growth is coming and that the economy should be better for it. As Robinson put it: “Population is an economic engine in itself.�

MAVERICKS: Fans can win 32-inch TVs on Sundays FROM PAG E 2

can win 32-inch flatscreen televisions and on Monday, one fan has a chance at winning a 2013 Dodge Dart in cooperation with Victorville Motors. “The fans that (won the TVs) were super excited,� John said. “It’s

always good to give back to your fans. We’re also trying to do that with specials for food and drinks. We’ve had lot of good feedback from the fans. They’re happy we’ve taken the time to give the field back to the fans.� Also, John said the first fireworks show —

they’re planned at each Saturday home game — was a success. John said fans should expect the shows to be even bigger and better the rest of the year. Along with giving back to the fans at the stadium, the Mavericks also want people in the High Desert

to know that they’re a community-oriented team. In the home opener, the Mavericks gave $5,000 to the Prem Reddy Family Foundation at Desert Valley Hospital. “We’re always looking for opportunities to get into the community,� John said.

APPLE VALLEY: Building relationships with businesses FROM PAG E 3

businesses to Apple Valley through building relationships with owners — and streamlining the process of opening up shop.


Edward R. Byers Co.,� Byers said. “A s t r o n o m e r s a r e constantly running into problems and they come to people like me and say

“With what we’ve done in our planning department, people who want to build here can be turning dirt in as little as 120 days,� Robinson said. “We have a higher quality of people who

want to live here with a higher end of development,� Robinson said. Part of that higher quality includes education opportunities through the Apple Valley Unified S chool District, the

Academy for Academic Excellence and private schools in the town. “The better educated our residents are, the better workforce and job opportunities will be here,� he said.

‘can you help me solve my problem?’ � he said. “And that’s what I do.� In a photo on his computer of a large telescope mounting he designed and constructed, he signals to the “BYERS CO.� label on the side. “That’s me,� he points out with

pride. “It’s a very sophisticated machine and engineered quite well if I do say so myself,� he said. “Of course, 100 years from now it will be completely obsolete.� While his name may be known around the world,

“hardly anybody knows who I am or what I do in Barstow,� he said. Despite his age and long career he said, “I’ll retire when I go 6 feet under. I’m going to work as long as I’m physically able. I’ll be 86 in September.�

Great things are happening in the Adelanto Elementary School District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delanto Elementary School District 11824 Air Expressway, Adelanto, CA 92301 760-246-8691 Superintendent Dr. Lily Matos DeBlieux

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Future of the Daily Press has a new look BY DAVID KECK EDITOR


t started as these kinds of things often do. Someone gets an epiphany to change the look of one element of a newspaper and next thing you know others around the newsroom start throwing around ideas to modify other parts. So by the time staffer Martial Haprov finished David Keck some conceptual changes to the newspaperâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Daily Pressâ&#x20AC;? nameplate, making it a bit lighter and brighter, calls were rolling in from across the

newsroom for other alterations. Changing a newspaperâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s look should never be taken lightly. We respect our longtime readers greatly. For them we sincerely hope that having the Daily Press delivered every morning is like inviting a trusted friend over for coffee at the kitchen table. At the same time we wanted to update our look to draw new readers. We formed a redesign committee headed up by News Editor Mike Lamb, a longtime journalist responsible for the newspaperâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s appearance and content. The committee included page designers and copy editors along with representatives from our sports and photo departments.

They researched designs of other papers and came up with ideas of their own. After months of discussions, mock-ups, test press runs, reviews from Publisher Al Frattura and managers from other departments, they finalized the design that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re presenting to readers in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Press Dispatch. Our other publications will follow the same new design. The goal of the new design was to eliminate clutter for a cleaner look, something newspapers across the country are doing. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s focused on making it easier for readers to navigate the front page of each section. At the same time we wanted to give page designers the flexibility to bring bigger photos, graphics and teasers to

our pages, things readership surveys indicate newspaper audiences want. None of the content will change. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re dedicated to bringing High Desert residents the best in local news, sports and features coverage and are continually improving our efforts to do it. As members of the High Desert community, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re proud of the result. We hope you like it, too. In the coming months we plan to meet with community members to get input on what they want to see in our newspapers and on our websites. Until then, please let us know what you think of the new look.



Sunday, April 28, 2013

Press Dispatch



Development on the rise in Hesperia, Oak Hills BY RENE DE LA CRUZ STAFF WRITER


ith a healthy general f u n d a n d plenty of business coming to Hesperia, 2012 was a year of growth and prosperity for the city that dubs itself The Gateway to the High Desert. The three-phase Ranchero Road project made headlines for the city for most of the year, and continued in 2013 as the Ranchero freeway interchange broke ground in January. The interchange will allow commuters to proceed to and from Ranchero Road, which will be widened to five lanes, and should attract more business closer to the freeway and in the Oak Hills area once the project is complete. T h i s s u m m e r, t h e scheduled completion of the Ranchero Road underpass at the railroad tracks will connect Hesperia and help alleviate traffic in other parts of the desert. M a y o r P r o Te m Thurston “Smitty” Smith said the use of the underpass may also be a benefit to Bear Valley Road commuters as it lessens traffic there. “Once the infrastructure is in place, we’ll see new business, new jobs, new homes, and an increase in sales and property tax revenue,” Smith said. Part of that growth is highlighted by the city’s Planning Division, which projects the population of Hesperia to increase from 94,000 to 119,000 by 2030. Realizing that water is a vital component of business and residential growth, the city voted to purchase the permanent water rights held by Rancho Las Flores LLC, for $30 million in February. The city, which now owns 5,971 acre-feet of base annual production rights once held by Rancho in Summit Valley, had leased water from Rancho since 1994 and began moving on the water rights out of financial concern after Rancho filed for bankruptcy in January. Councilman Russ Blewett said that if the city had not moved on the deal, someone else would have purchased the water rights, which

Quick Facts: Hesperia

94,000 Estimated 2013 population

$48,624 Median household income 2007-11

68.7% Home ownership rate 2007-11

$193,700 Median value of owner-occupied homes 2007-11 Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and city of Hesperia

would have left the city at the mercy of the new owner. In a related note, The Terra Verde Group, a Texas-based real estate investment firm, bought a 10,000-acre property from Rancho Las Flores for $10 million in November according to city staff. During a March council meeting, Mayor Bill Holland said after three years without anyone pulling a permit to build a residential structure, one gentleman told him that he was ready to proceed with two homes. Holland said the reduction of development impact fees prompted the builder to move toward building. Twenty-five years ago, a lone gas station and In-N-Out Burger were the only businesses near Interstate 15 and Main Street. Currently, both sides of the freeway have become major sources of business tax revenue for the city, with major retailers such as Super Target, Wal-Mart. Pier 1 Imports and a slew of restaurants and smaller shops moving into the area. In December, City Hall welcomed its newest addition, the 12-screen Civic Plaza 12, which sits alongside Civic Plaza Park. The 37,000-square-foot movie theater, with two 60-foot-wide screens, some of the largest screens in California, brought 40 new jobs to the area. C i n e m a We s t , a Petaluma-based company with 11 other theaters in Northern California and Idaho, made Hesperia its first Southern California appearance. “We have a great council and city staff,” Blewett said. “We also have citizens that trust u s a n d a l l ow u s t o lead.” Rene De La Cruz may be reached at (760) 951-6227 or at


An early dinner crowd packs the house at Hesperia’s La Casita Cafe.

La Casita Cafe values community, family, faith BY AMY ZILLNER FOR THE PRESS DISPATCH

After 30 years, the owners of La Casita Cafe in Hesperia continue to make good food to value God, family and their community. Dolores Compean’s parents, Carmen and Alfredo Rosales, used “$300 and a dream” to start a taco stand in the City of Industry in 1966, when Dolores was 9, she said. The family moved to Victorville in 1981 and opened La Casita Restaurant on Palmdale Road, where Carmen Rosales, 78, still works today. Carmen Rosales’s son Alfred runs another La Casita location at Spring Valley Parkway. Dolores Compean, her husband, Armando, and her brother Richard Rosales helped Carmen and Alfredo Rosales open up La Casita Cafe in Hesperia in 1983. Dolores Compean said she bought the restaurant from her mother in 1987. They have kept the business through two recessions, Dolores Compean said, but added that one of their ventures, a second location in Hesperia, had to close in 1994 due to a recession. “By the grace of God,” is how the business survived the lean times, Dolores Compean said. “Always giving God the glory. God will provide — the secret to La Casita’s success is God.” “Being able to work with the family, my sister and brothers, it brings me joy that we did all this together,” said General Manager Richard Rosales. He said they treat their customers like family because “we’re here to tend to them, not actually for ourselves.” Armando Compean said the family values the importance of being a part of our customer’s lives outside of the restaurant. They support the community


General Manager Richard Rosales, Manager Armando Salinas and Owner Armando Compean are shown at Hesperia’s La Casita Cafe.

Bar patrons enjoy each other’s company at the La Casita Cafe. LAURA STREPPONE, FOR THE PRESS DISPATCH

by providing gift certificates for raffles at local high schools and holding fundraisers, he said. “I like a lot of our customers; they’re so friendly they feel like part of our family,” said Manager Armando Salinas, an employee for 20 years. He said generations of families continue to eat there. Rosie Guerra, 21, who’s been eating at the restaurant for 10 years, said, “It reminds me of grandma’s food when we were younger. It tastes

good — authentic.” Hesperia City Councilman Russ Blewett said 30 years in business was a well-deserved milestone for the restaurant, which is at 17289 Main St. “They deserve all the kudos in the world,” said Blewett, a regular customer. “In the restaurant business the mortality rate is extremely high, and for them to be able to survive the ups and downs is a testament to good management, good food and good employees.”


Press Dispatch

Sunday, April 28, 2013




Residents enjoy desert living in eastern Victor Valley BY KRIS REILLY CITY EDITOR


xit Interstate 15 at Highway 18 and drive east, through the rustic neighborhoods of Old Town Victorville and the gleaming retail developments of Apple Valley, and finally you’ll find something resembling the desert the pioneers knew. Lucerne Valley is one of the tiniest and most rural corners of the Victor Valley, a place where most residents are intent on maintaining an Old West aesthetic. There isn’t much corporate development in Lucerne Valley; most of the town’s businesses are local — something hard to find in America these days. The unincorporated area is designated as County Service Area 29 by San Bernardino County. According to 2010 U.S. Census data, there are only 5,811 people in the valley, yet it has enough services that residents don’t have to leave town often if they don’t want to. “We’re kind of unique in that we have heavy industry (mining) and we have a commercial core that can provide just about all the necessary services,” Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association Chairman Chuck Bell said, noting that CSA 29 offers extensive parks and recreation services. “We’re a fairly self-contained community and I guess that’s because of a lot of very involved volunteers who keep this place going. We have commercial enterprises that want to be here. They’re not here to make a fortune. They’re here because it’s their calling and they like it.” Cattle ranchers first came to the valley in the 1870s, and alfalfa farming had become prevalent by the early 1900s. The valley takes its name from a French word for alfalfa. By the 1950s, Lucerne Valley was a bustling little community full of farms and guest ranches. Prospectors came to the area in the 50s looking for uranium, longtime resi-

Quick Facts: Lucerne Valley

5,811 2010 population

$25,323 Median household income 2007-11

83.1% Home ownership rate 2007-11

$135,500 Median value of owner-occupied homes 2007-11 Source: U.S. Census Bureau

dent Millie Rader said, but what they found was limestone, which would later support the town’s three major mining operations: the Mitsubishi Cement Corporation’s Cushenbury Plant, Special Minerals Inc. and the Omya California plant. Many guest ranches had closed by the end of the 1960s, though a few ranches still dot the Lucerne Valley landscape, hosting tourists who want a taste of the Old West. But a different kind of tourism carries the town these days. Off-road vehicle enthusiasts come through town by the thousands on weekends. The annual King of the Hammers Race at the Johnson Va l l e y O f f- H i g h w a y Vehicle Area (about 20 miles to the east) draws as many as 30,000 people every February. These visitors help support Lucerne Valley’s service economy — its restaurants, gas stations and its largest retail store, Lucerne Valley Market and Hardware. Times have perhaps been tougher in Lucerne Valley than anywhere else in the Victor Valley over the past five years, with scores of homes and buildings sitting vacant. “Community’s like Lucerne Valley are hard hit by recessions,” Bell said, noting that smaller towns have difficulty withstanding economic flight. But with growth on the horizon and the economy showing signs of life, Bell thinks the town can move forward without sacrificing its rural character. “I feel like we can advance again,” Bell said.


SS Hert founder and CEO Scott Hert, left, credits his employees for the company’s longevity. Personnel director Marie McDonald, center, and Robert Jahn, not shown, have helped Hert with most major decisions. Bruce Girard, right, is a longtime employee who has made a difference helping run the service shop, Hert said.

SS Hert Trucking moving along Lucerne Valley-based company anticipates market trends BY PETER DAY STAFF WRITER

In 2003, several years before the economic bubble burst, Scott Hert put his ear to the ground and didn’t like what he was hearing. “I thought we should diversify a lot more,” said Hert, 58. “I thought we were about due for a recession.” At that time, about 90 percent of SS Hert Trucking Co.’s business was from California. But Hert let customer demand reshape the company’s direction, and today those numbers are reversed: Nearly all of SS Hert’s business comes from 10 neighboring western states. “Our company changed dramatically from all local work to all out-of-state work,” he said. “That’s why we’re here today. Without doing that we wouldn’t have made it.” While the company ships outside of California, the trucks begin their journey in Lucerne Valley, where SS Hert has been based for nearly 29 years. High-quality limestone and other natural products from the three major Lucerne Valley mines — Mitsubishi, SMI and Omya —are loaded onto 18wheelers and trucked out of state. In response to a customer’s request, SS Hert opened

a trucking yard in Fallon, Nev., 15 years ago. Another will be opened in Kingman, Ariz. “I think it’s important that there’s truly a need,” Hert said. “You minimize your failure that way.” Hert’s family moved to Lucerne Valley when he was in the fifth grade. He attended Lucerne Valley schools and later became a truck driver. He and his wife lived “down below,” but he was working for a company that moved cement from the Lucerne Valley mines. Eventually, he bought his own rig and moved his family back. “It just grew from there,” he said. Of SS Hert’s 49 employees, not one is a salesperson. “We gained all of our work by customer request,” Hert said. Before the recession, the company had nearly 50 18-wheelers, but now it has just 28. “It didn’t happen over night,” Hert said. “We didn’t replace people for quite awhile and we’d just park the truck.” He is very conscious — and grateful — for the dedication of his employees, some of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years. “These people are there for you day in and day out,” he said. Hert is quick to credit community members for helping his company succeed. He is very thankful for First Mountain Bank — Lucerne Valley’s only

bank — which provided initial funding. “They took interest in local folks,” he said. He’s also thankful for the late Ernie Gommel, whose family has presided over Lucerne Valley Market and Hardware for decades, giving the town its only grocery store and largest retail store of any kind. “They’ve invested their whole lives in this community,” he said, “and it’s given us stability.” Most of all, he thanks his wife of 36 years, Kathy, who works as a member of SS Hert’s bookkeeping team. “A stable marriage makes for a stable business,” he said. Those and other Lucerne Valley cornerstones have helped provide an environment for success, according to Hert. “Without their support, I couldn’t have done it,” he said. “For a small community we’re really fortunate to have people who support your business. You look back and you realize how grateful you are to have met people at the right time.” Hert closely watches salestrend data. A chart based on company figures from the past 10 years shows a serpentine form: The tail at the left, which represents the year 2000, starts low then curves upward. By the mid-2000s it begins to swoop downward. But now the data curve points upward again. “It went down, but it’s going up,” Hert said. “We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We are encouraged about the uptrend that we are seeing.”



Sunday, April 28, 2013

Press Dispatch



Growth in Phelan area slow but steady BY REBECCA HOWES STAFF WRITER


he comm u n i t y of Phelan continues to grow slowly and steadily, according to Don Bartz, general manager for the Phelan-Pinon Hills Community S ervices District. Phelan is the hub of the area known as the Tri-Communities, which also includes the unincorporated towns of Pinon Hills and Wrightwood. Phelan was named after James Duval Phelan, a trader, merchant, banker and politician. Born in San Francisco, Phelan was the son of an Irish immigrant who studied law at the University of California, Berkeley, and successfully ran for mayor of San Francisco. He served as mayor from 1897 to 1902 and later went on to represent California in the U.S. Senate from 1915 to 1921. Phelan, the largest of the Tri-Communities, experienced a trend of considerable growth up until a few years ago but the economic downturn slowed things down, Bartz said. According to census data, the population of Phelan in 2010 was 14,034, and that number doesn’t seem to have changed much recently. “I see slow growth for the next couple of years until the surplus of existing housing has been purchased,” Bartz said. The good news is Phelan is experiencing a significant recovery in residential property. “Prices for housing in the area have increased by approximately 23 percent over the past year,” Bartz said. Commercial growth for Phelan is also showing signs of life and recovery. Phelan is starting to get inquiries and plans for a limited amount of new construction, including Rite-Aid and Napa Auto Parts, which have plans to build within the next year, according to Bartz. One factor that attracts residents to the area is the Snowline Joint Unified School District. Snowline’s Serrano High

Arturo’s Kitchen expands with recovery BY REBECCA HOWES STAFF WRITER

PHELAN • For the past 10 years, Lupe and Arturo Torres have been feeding breakfast and lunch to local residents, treating them like family and keeping their prices low. As a result, the couple has seen growth for their restaurant, Arturo’s Kitchen. In February, the couple moved the restaurant to a much larger building at 4264 Phelan Road. “We work seven days a week, Arturo and I,” Lupe Torres said. “We love it.” Arturo Quick Facts: Torres is the head chef and Phelan Lupe Torres takes orders, greets peo2010 population ple and runs the cash register. Median household income 2007-11 Patrons are treated like family, Home ownership rate 2007-11 so much so that when the restaurant Median value of owner-occupied homes 2007-11 is packed they often Source: U.S. Census Bureau grab their own personal mug from the rack behind the counter and get their own coffee, Arturo Torres said. “Our regulars want to have coffee in their own cups,” Lupe Torres said. “We have some in front at the counter and more in the back.” One of those regular customers is Sylvia Williams, of Phelan, who eats at Arturo’s Kitchen every day. “Arturo’s chile verde is to die for,” Williams said. “And his albondigas soup is amazing.” Creativity in his recipes is paramount for Arturo Torres, who has been cooking professionally since 1975. Most of the restaurant’s food is homemade and they never use MSG, he said. Regulars often ask him to make something special that is not on the menu. That sparks his creativity. “I ask them if they want Mexican, Italian or American food? Breakfast or lunch?” he said. He then gathers up all of the ingredients and combines them in one pan, seasons and then everything is sauteed. “People know there is going to be a little of this and a little of that,” Arturo



Arturo and Lupe Torres own Arturo’s Kitchen in Phelan. The restaurant recently changed locations to provide a larger dining area and better parking accommodations to its customers. Arturo’s has been successfully serving the Phelan area for the past 10 years.



School has the lowest dropout rate of any traditional (non-charter) high school in the Victor Valley. Longtime business owners Dave and Janet Molina, of Wrightwood, are seeing

Coffee cups hang on a wall at Arturo’s Kitchen in Phelan. Regulars of Arturo’s bring their own coffee cup to hang on the wall and use each time they visit the restaurant.

Torres said. For the less adventurous, the menu offers a variety of choices including breakfast all day, burgers, salads and sandwiches. In addition Arturo offers three or four daily specials and a soup of the day. But fresh food doesn’t have to be expensive. “We have the same prices since 2009,” Lupe Torres said. “We try to help people by keeping the prices down so they can come and visit us.” With their children all grown up, the restaurant has become the Torres’ priority, their “baby,” Lupe Torres said.

an upturn in their business. For the past 20 years the Molinas have run the McDonald’s franchise on Phelan Road in Phelan. “We can see business picking up,” Dave Molina

said. “Sales are trending upward.” The Molinas, who were McDonald’s operators in San Diego County before moving to the High Desert, have held

As the town has grown, the restaurant has grown with it. The couple said the decision to move was easy — it tripled the restaurant’s size, lowered the rent and improved the parking area for patrons. They hope to soon open a family friendly bar that also serves food next to the restaurant. According to Tammie Espey, of Phelan, the move to a bigger location was long overdue. “They were super crowded at their first location and it was tiny,” Espey said. “They are still busy.” Rebecca Howes can be reached at or at (760) 951-6276.

their own through all of Dave Molina said. “The the economic turmoil business has done well and have never regretted overall.” their decision to open a franchise in Phelan. Rebecca Howes can be reached at “They offered the site or at 760-951-6276. to us and we took it,”


Press Dispatch

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Victorville remains commercial, industrial center of Victor Valley



The of growth

Quick Facts: Victorville




t wouldn’t be accurate to say Victorville is growing again. The fact is it never stopped. Though growth slowed with the onset of the recession, the Victor Valley’s largest city gained more residents than it lost during the lean years — and Victorville’s economy has grown along with its population. According to city data, the growth rate was 1.36 percent in 2012 and 5.26 percent over the past five years. The city is currently home to 113,057 residents. It’s also home to a growing number of businesses. The number of new business licenses issued in the city has grown steadily over the past five years, from 586 in 2007 to 1,605 last year. Another 638 licenses were issued in the first three months of this year. The arrival of Macy’s earlier this year continued a renaissance for the 27-year-old Mall of Victor Valley, and the nearby Dunia Plaza shopping center at the intersection of Amargosa and Bear Valley roads welcomed a Wal-Mart Supercenter and Panera Bread in recent months. T h e e v e r- g r o w i n g industrial complex at S o u t h e r n C a l i fo r n i a Logistics Airport recently saw a 176,000-square-foot expansion of its Newell

113,057 Estimated 2013 population

$52,357 Median household income 2007-11

63.6% Home ownership rate 2007-11

$172,500 Median value of owner-occupied homes 2007-11 Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and city of Victorville

Rubbermaid facility. The city also added a new Mazda dealer last year, something City Manager Doug Robertson found to be significant. “A few years ago, many (cities) were working to try to save (dealerships) manufacturers wanted to close,” Robertson said. “We’ve actually added (a dealership).” There’s also plenty of new development on the horizon. Dick’s Sporting Goods is starting construction at the mall within the next month. A few miles to the south, St. Joseph Health, St. Mary has begun construction on a $260 million hospital and trauma center just west of Interstate 15. SCLA has secured a deal with Church & Dwight, parent company of Arm & Hammer, for a 450,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility; and more construction is planned at SEE VICTORVILLE • PAG E 6

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Press Dispatch

Mall of Victor Valley reinvents itself BY BRYAN KAWASAKI FOR THE PRESS DISPATCH

With the Mall of Victor Valley planning to fill its last major vacancy with a Dickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sporting Goods store later this year, there is a lot for local shoppers to be excited about. From the new additions of Macyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and Crazy 8, to the redesigns of J.C. Penny and Bath and Body Works, the mall has revitalized itself as the premier shopping location of the High Desert, attracting shoppers and retailers alike. â&#x20AC;&#x153;With our new expanded anchors and the addition of the new-to-market retailers, the Mall of Victor Valley is a stronger retail draw than ever,â&#x20AC;? said the mallâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s marketing manager, Eddie Hernandez, in a written statement. This comes as a pleasant change for many who saw the mall go through a period of instability after the recession. Over the past few years, this was most notably witnessed through the changes that took place amongst their anchoring stores. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Traffic in the center was affected due to the loss of both Mervynâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and Gottschalks,â&#x20AC;? said Hernandez, referring to the bankruptcy of both companies in 2008. Forever 21 was able to temporarily fulfill the space previously occupied by Mervynâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in early 2009, however, the mall was unable to attract a big retailer to replace the vacant lot left by Gottschalks. The void drove many local residents away from shopping at the mall, such as Hesperia resident Raelynn Bush. VICTORVILLE â&#x20AC;˘


The Mall of Victor Valley has revitalized itself as the premier shopping center of the area with new additions and renovations.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is the first time Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been here in years,â&#x20AC;? said Bush, who said she felt the mall did not offer her the shopping options she was looking for. Like many locals, she did most of her shopping at Target or down the hill, and stayed away from the mall. But now with the inclusion of Macyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, mall officials believe they have weathered the economic storm, bringing back lost customers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The recent addition of the newto-market Macyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s has brought new energy to the center,â&#x20AC;? Hernandez said. Macyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s is quickly becoming a

favorite, offering designer clothes and products that are not easily found in the High Desert. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They finally have a good makeup section,â&#x20AC;? said area resident Elena Flome. Flome is one of many benefiting from not having to spend money on gas to drive to Rancho Cucamonga or Ontario to shop. Even smaller stores seem to be recovering nicely, with the mall hoping to capitalize on their successes. Along with Bath and Body Works, Victoriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Secret is currently undergoing an expansion and remodeling. Justice has also begun construction

on its store. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The team is always researching and looking to bring in new retailers as well as dining options,â&#x20AC;? said Hernandez, who said he is always pushing to meet the evolving preferences of the community. With all the new stores and the mallâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s slick new exterior design, the future of the mall looks bright, giving locals a reason to shop in the High Desert. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have lived in the High Desert for 20 years, so to see the transition the center is taking brings a smile to my face,â&#x20AC;? Hernandez said.

VICTORVILLE: Super Target planned for Desert Sky Plaza on Roy Rogers Drive FROM PAG E 5

SCLA because the existing warehouse space is reaching full occupancy. Another Wal-Mart Supercenter is coming to west Victorville, and a

Super Target is planned for the Desert Sky Plaza on Roy Rogers Drive. City officials say itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hard to find any other place in California that has seen as much devel-

opment as Victorville during the economic downturn. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not aware of any other city building a new Macyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, two Super WalMarts and a Super Target

lately,â&#x20AC;? said Bill Webb, the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s director of development. While other Victor Valley cities and towns may have their own qualities to offer residents

and businesses, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hard to deny that Victorville is the industrial and commercial heart of the area. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Victorville has historically been, and continues

to be, the primary commerce center of the Victor Valley,â&#x20AC;? Webb said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Yet it is still a young city, with tremendous opportunities for continued growth and prosperity ahead.â&#x20AC;?




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