Looking back at 2021
Last updated 12/31/2021 at 10:02pm
This has been a year of milestones, progress, changes in command, protests, and dramatic sunsets. Earlier in the year, when the coronavirus pandemic had eased up, life started to return to a more normal pace of activities, but the effects of COVID-19 continued.
Schools reopened for in person learning gradually, with shorter days and fewer days per week. The elementary schools reopened before the high schools, all with masks and social distancing required. It took longer for sports programs to open up with Fallbrook High School having three seasons of sports competed within one semester. Some families have chosen to keep their students in the virtual learning programs.
Student of the Month honors were presented outside – in the parking lot for Vallecitos' students and at home for Fallbrook Union High School District students. Many students have continued to thrive in their education; the MCJROTC team made it to the national finals of the Leadership and Academic Bowl in Washington for the third time in four years.
Another residual effect of the pandemic is that all local students are now provided with free lunches, at all levels, while area food programs are still handing out free food once a month, not just the Fallbrook Food Pantry which still has a high number of families picking up food.
When more people were able to go out again, the speed of cars increased and not just on the highway. The San Diego Traffic Advisory Committee has recommended lower speed limits for several local roads including Gum Tree Lane and East Alvarado Street, as well as a four way stop at Potter and Elder streets. Three new signals have been approved by the Board of Supervisors, to be installed in 2022 (Rainbow Glen at Old Highway 395, South Mission at Green Canyon, and East Mission at Santa Margarita).
The supervisors have also approved plans for two new parks in our area, Village View Park on Fallbrook Street and Bonsall Community Park off of Camino Del Rey. The Fallbrook Community Planning Group has been working on recommended changes to the county's marijuana ordinance to make it more suitable for our area. Another issue on the FCPG agenda has been a proposed gate on Sandia Creek Drive, a private road used by many to get to Temecula.
The planning group also contributed input on the redistricting process which resulted in Fallbrook staying in District 5. All of the local districts, water, school, fire and health have also been going through the redistricting process which will affect the board elections in 2022 with candidates required to run in the zone live in.
Several community leaders either retired or transferred in 2021, making way for new people in charge, including the following, San Diego Sheriff Substation Commander Lt. Aldo Hernandez, North County Fire Protection District Chief Keith McReynolds, Fallbrook Community Planning Group Chair Eileen Delaney, Bonsall Unified School District Superintendent Joseph Clevenger, Crime Prevention Specialist Heather Mitchell and Fallbrook Union High School Principal Lauren Jones.
While helping with bigger fires up in Northern California, NCFPD firefighters had relatively few fires to battle in our area despite the drought. A new tool in fighting fires was unveiled in September when Rainbow Municipal Water District demonstrated its heli-hydrant which can be filled with water remotely by helicopter pilots who then suction the water into their tanks.
The month of January marked an historic shift for the community of Rainbow – the Rainbow Fire Station, operated by volunteer firefighters for decades, is now entirely run by full-time North County Fire Protection District personnel for the first time. Since it was built as a volunteer station, the now Station 3 needs a new building. Assemblymember Marie Waldron presented NCFPD with a check for $900,000 as funding for that project from state funds Dec. 14.
Fallbrook Public Utility District held an open house in November for its newly finished Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project treatment plant which will provide 50% of the district's water supply. To make water more affordable, FPUD and RMWD are working together to detach from the San Diego County Water Authority in a process moving forward with the county's Local Agency Formation Commission.
The Fallbrook Regional Health District made progress with its Health and Wellness Center getting approved for a major use permit. The facility has been offering COVID-19 vaccination and testing clinics regularly since its first one in March.
While many residents have made known their views on the mandate for vaccinations and other pandemic-related topics, the latest data from the county shows Fallbrook with 5,623 total cases; 32,140 residents with at least one dose of the vaccine, and 28 total deaths from COVID-19. It gives the population number as 49,008.
Despite all that, an increasing number of local seniors here are reaching the age of 100. New centenarians this year include Bill Brooner and Lucy Sanders while both Chick Mahr and Bud Roberds celebrated their 101st birthdays and Betsy Phillips is now 104. Having had to postpone a 100th birthday party last year, the county Parks & Rec department held a celebration for Live Oak Park's 101st anniversary July 17.
The Fallbrook Senior Center reopened July 1 and has a full schedule of activities besides lunch served at the Fallbrook Community Center Monday through Friday.
Now, we can all look forward to a life with more activities, but one still requiring the exercise of precaution and common sense in all areas of life.