Local Events That Helped Shape the Inland Empire in 2016

Local Events That Helped Shape the Inland Empire in 2016

S. E. Williams

2016 was ushered in as local residents and the nation still reeled from the devastating terror attack on the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino that occurred December 2, 2015; and it comes to an end with the nation still reeling from the surprise outcome of the November 8 Presidential election. 

The terror attack left 14 inland residents dead and 22 injured; while the election culminated in the electorate’s surprising selection of the most unlikely presidential candidate in the nation’s history—President-elect Donald J. Trump. 

Between this year’s beginning and ending revelations, The Voice reported on a myriad of issues at the local, state and federal levels. Following are some highlights from the year that was in the Inland Empire. 

• Both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties made major strides toward meeting President Barack Obama’s challenge to end veterans’ homelessness in America 

• San Bernardino received an economic boost with the opening of the $68 million medical clinic and health care trade school run by Loma Linda University Health 

• Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff issued the long awaited, county-wide policy on police body cameras 

• UCR was selected as the location for a new vehicle emissions testing lab and offices for the state Air Resources Board that is expected to bring nearly 400 jobs to the area 

• The chemical Chromium 6 was found in a well used for drinking water at the Westside Elementary School in Thermal

• Riverside Deputy City Managers Bill Manis and Nita McKay resigned their posts unexpectedly 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded two researchers at UCR nearly $750,000 to study the human and ecological health impact of water in relation to reuse and conservation practices 

• Riverside County considered the use of drones as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to expedite its search and rescue efforts 

• Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin sat down with The Voice and in series titled “Struck by Lightning” discussed the ongoing controversy over the county’s aggressive application of the death penalty 

• A strange incident occurred at Deep Creek, a remote camping area in the San Bernardino National Forest early Easter morning, March 27. Witnesses in the area heard shots and observed a large group of middle eastern men in their twenties armed with guns. The men were questioned by authorities and released. Although both the FBI and local sheriffs were called to the scene, pictures were taken by witnesses, etc. neither agency would provide any information to the press regarding the incident. 

• In honor of Earth Day Southern California Gas Company and Southern California Edison officials spoke with The Voice about their companies’ commitments to help alleviate environmental concerns in the region 

• The Greyhound bus terminal was evicted from its location in the City of Riverside after years of failed negotiations 

• Two separate lawsuits were filed against the Sterling Water Recycling project in Highland 

• Gun violence exploded in San Bernardino and outpaced the number of homicides in 2015 

• The nonprofit Community Foundation celebrated its 75th anniversary of service to the inland region 

• 55 inland area elementary schools were honored by the state for serving those in need 

• In May, the community celebrated the life, contributions and legacy of octogenarian, Arthur J. Forbes Sr. 

• Desert Hot Springs became the first Southern California city to legalize large-scale medical marijuana cultivation 

• A committee of co-workers, victims’ relatives and others continued their efforts to determine a fitting memorial for the victims, survivors and first responders of the December 2, 2015 terror attack 

• A report by the law firm Graham Donath named San Bernardino as the most dangerous city in California 

• Riverside County Registrar of Voters revealed the failure of a long-time vendor to deliver sample ballot booklets to thousands of Riverside voters by the contractual deadline for the June 7 primary election 

• The California Public Utilities Commission rejected the North-South project—a natural gas pipeline that would have originated in Adelanto and run 65 miles through San Bernardino County to Moreno Valley 

• National Urban League’s annual report on the state of Black America noted Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario remained at the top of the Black-White Income Equality ranking for the third year in a row, with the median Black household earning 76 cents for every dollar of median White household income 

• Seven former high-ranking Beaumont officials were arrested and charged with embezzlement that in some instances, dated as far back as twenty years 

• High School graduation rates were up in both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties; however, California graduation rates are now under federal scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General 

• Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington shared his insights on fatherhood, families and marriage 

• “I was true to my convictions . . .” In the nearly 20 years since the passage of Proposition 209, former UC Regent Ward Connerly told The Voice he remained confident in his belief that Affirmative Action is not necessary 

• The Voice explored how Open-Carry laws pose unmitigated dangers for Black men 

• The California Department of Health Care Services revealed feelings of incapacitating, chronic sadness or hopelessness were reported by 26 percent of the state’s 7th graders, 32 percent of 9th graders, and 34 percent of 11th graders. In addition, almost one-fifth of the high school students surveyed admitted they had contemplated suicide 

• Eloy Ortiz Oakley became the first Hispanic Chancellor to direct California’s Community College District

• For the first time in more than twenty years the Association of African American Museums (AAAM) held its annual conference on the west coast in association with the Riverside Art Museum and African American artists 

• The Voice explored the growing tension over the deaths of police officers killed in the line of duty and the shooting deaths of unarmed Black men and women by police nationwide 

• A Report showed how clean energy jobs have given a boost to inland area employment opportunities 

• Millions in federal grants were awarded to Head Start/ Early Head Start programs in San Bernardino County 

• The Voice/Black Voice News celebrated its 44th anniversary 

• The Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) called upon San Bernardino City Council members to support them in their efforts to end the violence in the city 

• Former Ontario City Fire Chief Floyd E. Clark filed a discrimination lawsuit against the city. Ontario’s first Black Fire Chief, Clark claimed he was forced out of his job by city officials 

• The Voice reported on San Bernardino County Sheriff Department’s covert stingray operation 

• The Blue Cut Fire swept through the Cajon Pass near Interstate 10, grew into a large wildland fire and destroyed nearly everything in its path 

Blue Cut Fire Aftermath. Photo by Benoit Malphettes

• CSUSB President Tomás Morales was named one of nation’s most influential leaders 

• In September, Ashley Furniture closed its manufacturing facility in the City of Colton and laid-off nearly 900 employees with very little notice 

• ITT Technical Institute closed its doors without notice to students—an alleged victim of its own inability to comply with federal regulations 

• As mosquitos known to carry the Zika virus worked their way through the Coachella Valley, Riverside County responded with a spraying campaign and San Bernardino requested mosquito control products out of an abundance of caution 

• Perris visionary and matriarch Alberta Mable Kearney passed away and left a legacy—the Dora Nelson African American Art & History Museum (DNAAAHM) of Perris 

• The Voice published a special feature, “In plain sight” a report on the unprecedented number of homeless and unaccompanied minors in the Inland Empire 

• CSUSB received a $2.6 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education for its award-winning and nationally acclaimed Coyote First STEP program 

• The Voice published a special report on Riverside and San Bernardino County Sheriff Departments’ secret collection of biometric information 

• Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin joined Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Clara counties in a joint lawsuit on behalf of all Californians against the debt collection giant iQor US, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Allied Interstate, LLC 

• Police Officers Jose “Gil” Vega and Lesley Zerebnv were shot and killed and a third officer was injured when the three responded to a domestic violence disturbance call in Palm Springs 

• The Voice published a special feature, “Black women—At the polls and in the halls of power” 

• The Voice published a special feature regarding the role millennials will play in shaping the future of the Inland Empire 

• The Riverside Art Museum welcomed a new curator—Todd Wingate 

• The City of Riverside received the Governor’s award for its historic preservation of the Home Front at Camp Anza project 

• rePlanet LLC was convicted in the death of employee, Salvador Garcia who was crushed to death by a 35,000-pound earth mover at the company’s Rancho Cucamonga facility 

• The newly established Pan-African Student Success Center opened its doors at CSUSB 

• Ontario International Airport was officially transferred from Los Angeles World Airports to the Ontario International Airport Authority 

• The Riverside County Board of Supervisors authorized Sheriff Stan Sniff to provide all patrol deputies with body-worn cameras and agreed to accept more than a half-million dollars in funding from the United States Department of Justice in support of the effort 

• Concern grew among inland minority residents regarding what the election of Donald J. Trump means for members of their communities 

• Popular Stater Bros. leader Jack Brown passed away at the age of 78 

• State Attorney General Kamala Harris was elected U.S. Senator to replace longtime Senator Barbara Boxer who elected to retire 

• The Inland Empire and the nation marked the one year anniversary of the terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino

Moment of Prayer for San Bernardino Shooting Victims. Photo by Patrick Edgett

Next week, The Voice will explore 2016 from both a state and national perspective.

About The Author

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