Johnson Valley News 1/20/2018

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• Eye-opening!
Never knew this school was like this. Kid-friendly.
Friendly, period.
A family atmosphere.
After last Tuesday’s special meeting of the Homestead Valley Community Council at Landers Elementary School, we heard these comments and more as we toured classrooms, computer lab, and the colorfully-decorated halls.

It seems a perfect storm of changes has caused concern in the Homestead Valley over the future of this small but advanced rural school. Shrinking population, fewer families, more homes sold for vacation rentals or retirees, all these were brought up as factors contributing to the shocking drop in enrollment this year.

The last school year ended with 163; this year opened with 125 (though that number has since increased to 140, partially due to out-of-area parents’ preference for Landers Elementary).

Landers’ traditionally small classroom sizes, a positive advantage, can be outweighed in today’s numbers game for schools’ support. When a retired teacher cannot be replaced and grades need to be combined, small numbers become a negative.

But many positives remain: well-educated teachers who know all the kids, inventive after-school activities, parent involvement, and support from some dedicated community members, all add up to an impressive learning atmosphere.

Suggestions from the meeting included various ways to boost enrollment, and possibilities for employing underused facilities for other educational purposes, including evening adult classes. A Wish List for restoring former educational benefits is long.

A suggestion that the incentives and achievements that permeate the school’s atmosphere get more publicity, to let newcomers and homeschoolers know how all this can benefit their kids, seems to be something the HVCC can help with.

• We can all help spread the word about Landers Elementary fundraising events, such as the auction coming up on Wednesday, February. 28.

An amazing array of items and services has been donated by businesses in the area and Yucca Valley, thanks to the efforts of volunteers who visited them all.

The auction is from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Open bids and silent auctions can get you some great deals, and all proceeds go toward the schools’ activities.

You want to see this gem of a school anyway, 56450 Reche Rd., just a mile from Hwy 247.

• 60 years seems like a long time. 60 years ago – 1958 – the Fabulous Fifties – rock’n’roll and a whole gamut of other great music on the tinny transistor radio.

1958 saw action out here in the back of beyond, too. City dwellers making their escape into the desert deciding to take the government up on its deal: build a little cabin on five acres of land, and, bingo, you are a homesteader, a landowner with your own vacation getaway.

All it took was some skills, know-how, determination, fascination with the desert and its ever-changing eternal scenery, weather and wildlife. Bring your friends, and they catch the landowner bug, too, and bring their friends. They come to play; then many come to stay. The kids grow older, wise in the ways of the desert. Then they grow up and bring their own kids.

1958 saw the formation of what became the Johnson Valley Improvement Association. The homesteaders decided they needed a meeting house, so they built one. The Johnson Valley Community Center grew and expanded as landowners volunteered their time, money and skills to work on it.

They decided communication by ham radio and CB could be improved on and got telephone service. Same for electric power to their homesteads. Same for a volunteer fire department. They held Movie Nights, potlucks and dances, and started the Saturday Breakfast to raise funds to build the fire station.

Time and governmental tentacles have altered a lot of their achievements, which might even be impossible today. But the desert views, the landowning bug, and the JV Community Center remain. JVIA dedicates this 60th Anniversary year to the spirit of those homesteaders and their heirs and successors.

The regular First Saturday Dinners, the Saturday Breakfasts, and special events all year; and to everyone reading this, you are welcome to join in. Stay tuned for announcements and come join the fun (like the Potato Bar Dinner described below– don’t miss it, more to come!)

• Bring family and friends to the Community Center on Saturday, February 3, at 5:00 p.m. Everyone gets a jumbo hot potato, then pick out your favorites from the lineup of toppings. Chopped green onion, bacon bits, sour cream or lemon, butter, chili, grated cheese, et cetera, et cetera, yum.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Potatoes at 5:00. Donation 4.00 per person, kids 12 or younger, 2.00.

• Spectators’ favorite events, and some new twists this year. Check it all out on Hammers Week is Friday, February 2 through  Friday, February 9. Be sure to pre-order your entries online before January 29; you’ll save money and save time at the gate!

JVIA members, sorry to disappoint, but we will not have entry wristbands at the Community Center; just wasn’t in the stars this year.

We know you know, but if you pack it in, pack it out, and pack it back home. Some townie folks seem to think some government entity will come along and pick up trash bags left along the highway, but you can be sure the wind can scatter trash faster than anyone can capture it.

• Today’s breakfast crowd saw some snow floating in the air and sprinkles of rain, and the mountains behind us got frosted. Gusty winds and puffy clouds sailing by made the day chilly but beautiful. Tomorrow morning is supposed to be 32° followed by the usual 20-plus degree jump as the day goes by.

The forecast for next week is partly cloudy, not too cold or windy most days.

Welcome to new readers on this e-mail list who have not visited the Johnson Valley Community Center before, it is at 50567 Quailbush Rd. From Hwy 247, turn onto Larrea Rd, go 1-3/4 miles to Quailbush. The building is on your left at the corner.

The Paul Van Hook Desert Dreams Garden is next to the parking lot, open to all. Lots to look at, including vintage artifacts from the homesteading era.

Everyone is welcome to every event at the Center; you do not have to be a JVIA member to join the festivities (but we would like you to join us, of course)

Hope to see you at the Saturday Breakfast, 7:00-10:00 a.m.

Off-roaders navigating by GPS – according to Google Maps, the coordinates for the Community Center are
34.3424938     -116.56066880000003.
If you come from the OHV Area, you can legally cross the highway, but not travel on the right of way.

A dirt trail parallels the highway on the north side; cross over to any of the community roads. Remember to take it easy, watch out at blind corners.

If you come up Larrea Road, travel alongside it, off the pavement. Plenty of parking at the Center.



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