Monday, December 24, 2012

Interstate 10: Harbinger of Change

It was the summer of 1961.

A small army of workers and machines toiled in the sun, laying concrete for a new freeway.

As the town watched, the coming of Interstate 10 was a harbinger of change. In a few decades, a small-town became one of the Inland Empire’s most progressive, modern cities.   

The freeway, just like the Transcontinental Railroad before, brought waves of new people and changed the course of our history. But it’s uncertain whether a freeway through our downtown was always in our destiny. Old timers still talk about a fascinating bit of local history that would have changed things in a big way.

It seems that in the 1950s, freeway engineers drew lines on a map that would have had the freeway skirting downtown and instead following Cherry Valley Boulevard before dropping down into Banning.

With hindsight, we can look back and see how the alternate freeway route would have drastically changed our landscape. For one thing, the old downtown along Fifth Street would have survived. But in doing so, the growth that made Beaumont so strong and vibrant might have passed us by—or at least looked much different than it turned out—and rural Cherry Valley would have grown up alongside a freeway.

In the end, the idea to run the freeway through Cherry Valley never got traction, and the freeway came to Beaumont, easily allowing us to reach any destination in the Inland Empire and beyond.

Freeway history

Looking back a half-century to see how the path of the freeway changed Beaumont, let’s revisit the days when plans for the interstate captivated the whole town.

On June 14, 1961, a story by John Hunter in The Beaumont News began this way:

“Here’s the answer to the freeway question: It will open to traffic through Beaumont about the middle of July.”
In the story headlined, “Six Lanes in Progress —Expect Freeway Opening by The Middle of July,” Hunter gave readers an inside look at the busy scene.

More than 200 workers, many of them local residents, worked on the job. The section of freeway through Beaumont called for 110,000 tons of concrete. But that was “piddling” compared to the 2,800,000 tons of dirt (hauled largely from the Stewart Ranch) to raise the freeway above Beaumont’s old downtown.

Some adventurous teenagers got a sneak peek of the freeway before all the traffic. They hopped a chain link fence and strolled across the lanes, walking to the Fox Theatre in Banning.

Before the freeway, the heart of Beaumont was along Fifth Street. But the original downtown was razed to make way for I-10. The freeway’s route today is just south of old Highway 99, now called 6th Street.

Workhorse of the interstates

More than a half century has passed since the freeway opened. Nowadays, an average of 120,000 cars and trucks zip through Beaumont along the interstate on a given day. The freeway is a main artery for national and international trade as a NAFTA highway and keeps goods and traffic flowing smoothly to vital destinations such as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The freeway also is a major tourism route to Palm Springs and the Colorado River, supporting the gaming and hospitality industries, which provide many jobs for area residents.
While Beaumont has grown alongside this major thoroughfare, the community has always maintained a unique hometown flavor and can-do spirit to go along with the progress that helped make our city what it is today.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Celebrating Sustainability!

Beaumont honored for being energy efficient!
Beaumont was recently honored by the Institute for Local Government and the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative for our participation in a statewide sustainability and climate change recognition program, the Beacon Award: Local leadership toward Solving Climate Change.
Beaumont was recognized for its leadership in making its city buildings more energy efficient, saving money and promoting sustainability, including reducing electricity use by 10 percent in agency buildings and operations, saving more than $125,000 since 2009.
Examples of recent activities for which Beaumont was honored include:
·         Completing a comprehensive lighting retrofit to the newly renovated Police Administration Building, saving 119,000 kWh and saving $37,000 this year.
·         Adopting Municipal Green Building Policy that requires all new municipal building to meet high level green building standards.
·         Retrofitting the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the Beaumont Civic Center to be more energy efficient, saving 31,699 kWh and providing over $13,000 in savings.
“Beaumont is being very aggressive in its efforts to be a green community, control its energy costs and pursuing the latest technologies in sustainability,” stated Mayor Pro Tem David Castaldo. “Because of the prudent decisions of our city staff, and their timeless hours of research in energy efficiency and through some very wise investments in our own city's buildings, we have saved our residents precious tax dollars now, and in the years to come.”
Additional information about Beaumont’s accomplishments is available at

Friday, August 10, 2012

Minute Video

Beaumont adds `Minute Video’ to its website
For nearly 100 years, Beaumont has worked hard at creating a bond with its citizens.
In the early days, people chatted at town hall meetings and in the general store. We still cherish those tried and true forms of staying in touch, yet with today’s Internet, we’re also connected through cyberspace.

Because we spend more of our time online, Beaumont has created a special, new feature called, “Minute Video.” These short, captivating videos will help you discover what’s happening in town as we approach our city’s 100th anniversary on Nov. 18.

Please check out our first Minute Video, The Plunge.

With the click of a mouse, you can watch these productions on the city’s website, They’re posted on the YouTube link.

“This new feature will give residents, businesses and visitors important news about our hometown,” said Mayor Roger Berg.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Community Policing at its Best

Unique teams for the Beaumont Police Department are enhancing our lives and creating a better community.
The Community-Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) Team and the Quality of Life Team are keeping neighborhoods safe and livable, working with our youngsters and rounding up our pets. These dedicated officers work closely with patrol officers, many city departments and the community. They strive to live up to the Department’s motto, “Exceeding Expectations.”
“We reach out to city departments and take a global look to increase our effectiveness,” said Sgt. Josh Ellsworth, who runs the COPPS program.
About two years ago, Beaumont created two units, COPPS and the Quality of Life team. (The Quality of Life team includes police, and code enforcement and animal care officers.) Because the police teams aren’t on regular street patrols, they are able to devote extra time and attention to issues. They work hand-in-hand with their fellow police officers and city employees, who often refer community issues to them.
The issues could involve anything from a dispute between neighbors or a business looking for security and crime prevention tips to cars speeding through a neighborhood. Other duties for Beaumont’s police teams include planning for law enforcement at special events, reading to youngsters during Story Time CafĂ© at Starbucks, being role models for youngsters as part of the Adopt-a-Cop program, supervising the Police Explorers program, and meeting with homeowners at Neighborhood Watch-style meetings under the Beaumont Cares program.
High praise
Meanwhile, the residents of Beaumont are giving kudos to their local police department. They recognize close cooperation between patrol officers and enforcement teams makes for a better, safer community.
Here are a few examples of praise for our officers and city employees:
  • Good neighbors: Two neighbors involved in a running dispute became friends when police listened and had them talk it over. “Because of the officer’s outstanding level of common sense, my neighbor and I became friends,” wrote a resident.
  • Safety First: A child’s ball rolled into the street, and a city employee passing by stopped his truck, halted traffic, and handed the ball back to the youngster.
  • Houdini” Hound: A clever dog stood up on its hind legs, flipped the lock, and opened the front door while his master was away. Police saw the open door, called the homeowner and locked up the residence. “I kept reflecting on how great it was to have the police come and make sure everything was okay at my house,” wrote a resident.
  • Sad passing: A 17-year-old family cat passed away, and a distraught owner called police. A police officer and an animal care officer arrived to comfort and assist the pet owner.
  • House Call: An animal care officer made a “house call” to check on a dog’s implanted microchip.
  • Staying Connected: A police officer took time to return a recovered cell phone to its owner.
  • Good Samaritan: A family from San Jacinto missed the last bus after spending the night shopping in our hometown. A police van took the grateful family back home.
So the next time you’re out and about in Beaumont, please take a moment to wave and say thanks to all our brave public servants. They’re outstanding city employees working every day to keep us safe and serve our community.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beaumont's Citizen Volunteer Patrol

Police Department volunteers protect our community

They serve as the “eyes and ears” for Beaumont—and they’re worth a million dollars.

Each year, the Citizen Volunteer Patrol program donates more than 10,000 hours of community service to our hometown. You’ve probably spotted them directing traffic, checking abandoned homes, and cruising through neighborhoods in their specially-marked cars. As volunteers for the Beaumont Police Department, they receive extensive training about being good observers. When they spot something amiss, they notify police dispatchers. Some also work inside the Police Department entering data into the computer, taking fingerprints and photographs and doing clerical work. 

“Beaumont is very fortunate and honored to have so many dedicated citizen patrol volunteers,” said Police Chief Frank Coe. “They are part of our law enforcement family, and we all work together to protect the public.”

Tradition of service

The volunteer program began in 1994 when only a handful of officers patrolled Beaumont. The city needed a helping hand, and the Citizen Volunteer Patrol was born. Today, the program has 25 volunteers, including some who donate a hundred hours or more a month to their community.

You’ll see them on duty this summer at Stewart Park helping the public and police officers during the concert series. You might have spotted them last March fanned out across the city directing traffic at intersections during the Beaumont Road Race, which is part of the Redlands Bicycle Classic. The Citizen Volunteer Program allows more police officers to work their regular patrols and keep us all safe.  

Volunteers take part in a 10-week training course at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Academy. They learn about law enforcement procedures, take a driving course, and study everything from gangs to CPR. They fill out a city application and undergo a background check. Because Code Compliance and Animal Care are part of the Beaumont Police Department, citizen volunteers may also work in those areas.

Citizen Volunteer Patrol Commander George Diggs has been volunteering since 2008. The retired plant maintenance supervisor puts in up to 130 hours a month.

“I believe in keeping busy and serving the community and its residents,” Diggs said. “

Close ties

The volunteers and Beaumont police officers share a deep bond and a close working relationship nurtured over many years. They often ride together, work closely at crime scenes, and honor each other’s service. At an annual volunteer dinner, the cops cook up and serve a meal for the volunteers and their spouses.

“Officers will often say, `We really appreciate what you do—you’re part of the family,’” Diggs said. “That means a lot.”

Volunteers come from all backgrounds. Some volunteers in their twenties are checking out a career in law enforcement. Others are retired police officers who still want to be involved in public safety. 

”I’m impressed with the professionalism of the officers that I’ve met with this Department,” said Dennis Gray, who retired from law enforcement after a 34-year career and has been a volunteer for about a year. “I’m also impressed with the volunteers, their array of experience, their dedication, and how much they give back to the community.”
 Gray spent 27 years with the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, and also worked as a police officer in Banning and Perris.

So the next time you see one of our Citizen Volunteer Patrol members on duty, say hello, thank them for their service, and consider becoming a volunteer yourself. Applications are available at the Beaumont Police Department, the Beaumont Civic Center, and the Albert A. Chatigny Sr. Community Recreation Center and also online at

Monday, July 9, 2012

VIBE program

Rewards for hometown volunteers
You can feel the “good vibes” in Beaumont, where a new volunteer rewards program is taking public service to a new level.
As a city volunteer, you can give back to your hometown, learn about local government, and even receive credit for your civic involvement. The program is called Volunteering in Beaumont is Excellent (VIBE).
Based on a $10-an-hour pay scale, volunteers will receive 2 percent back on their time. So if you volunteer for 100 hours, that would be worth $20. While there will be no cash payments, money will be deducted from your sewer or trash bill, or you can receive a gift card at a local business.
The importance of giving back to your community has long been recognized. Some call volunteerism the “ultimate exercise in democracy where you vote everyday about the kind of community you want to live in.”
Recently, several residents stopped by the Beaumont Civic Center to learn about this unique public service opportunity. Getting started is as simple as filling out an application, sitting in an interview with city staff to find out about your interests, and passing a basic background check.
The opportunities are endless. You could help out seniors at Albert A. Chatigny Sr. Community Recreation Center. You could ride city buses as a volunteer and tell passengers about Beaumont Transit’s many services; or maybe you would enjoy mentoring children in one of Beaumont’s many youth programs. Or, maybe becoming the eyes and ears of your hometown police department intrigues you. If so, you might want to consider the Citizen Volunteer Program, Police Explorers or even the police chaplain program.
The Police Department is overseeing the volunteer rewards program, which won City Council approval in February. Applications are now available at the police station, City Hall and the Chatigny Center. Application forms will soon be available online on the city’s website: For further information, please call 951-769-8520.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Former Mayor Brown's Legacy

Making a lasting imprint on Beaumont’s legacy of giving 

During the hard times of the Great Depression, Orlie and Daisy Mae Brown lifted up the downtrodden.
Hobos riding the rails would stop off in Beaumont and head for their house, which was known as a place where the homeless and hungry could get a meal.
Orlie was a kindly gentleman with a booming laugh who often had a pot of chili cooking on the stove. Daisy Mae made sandwiches on homemade, fresh bread just out of the oven.
When a train whistle sounded in small-town Beaumont, Orlie and Daisy Mae had supper ready for those knocking on the door. The Browns welcomed those who trudged from the train to their home carrying “bindles” over their shoulders. (A bindle was stick tied at one end with a cloth or blanket for holding a hobo’s worldly possessions, just as we’ve seen those iconic black-and-white photographs from the 1930s). This was a time in Beaumont when men worked for 25 cents an hour and goods were bartered.
On holidays, the couple would invite people to dinner at their home at Beaumont Avenue and Tenth Street if they were alone or down on their luck. Orlie Brown would find work for those struggling to make ends meet and give haircuts to men who couldn’t afford a barber while looking for work.
“It was just who they were,” said their granddaughter, Donna Monroe, 56. “They were the type of people who reached out and helped others.”
Heading west

In 1925, the couple left St. Francis, Kansas, and started a new life in Beaumont. As a contractor, Orlie Brown built the United Presbyterian Church in Beaumont and went on to serve as mayor of his new hometown in 1941. Daisy Mae Brown loved to bake cherry pies and enter them in contests at the Cherry Festival. The couple had seven children.
Now, decades after their passing, Monroe still cherishes the kindness and compassion of her grandparents. At home, she proudly displays Orlie Brown’s old-fashioned desk, his colored pencil drawing of a hobo, and the Burpee Aristocrat Cooker for making chili. There are also pictures on the desk of her grandfather looking jaunty in his bow tie and her grandmother looking elegant in a fur coat around her shoulders.

A spirit of giving

Back in those days, the hobos left an “X” marked in a circle on the pepper tree outside the Browns house. It was a code that let the downtrodden know that this was a place where there would always be a meal waiting for anyone in need. Generations have passed since then, but the Browns compassionate nature left the kind of imprint that has been part of Beaumont’s legacy of giving for the past century.