TUESDAY MARCH 11
It’s a special kind of courage—calculating and steadfast, maybe even a little bit crazy—that moves a man to become a volunteer firefighter. Ernest Robert Mungarro of Beaumont displayed just those characteristics as head of the Calimesa Volunteer Fire Company . . . and maybe not only when he was fighting fires. Mungarro is suspected of embezzling more than $20,000 from his company—now that’s balls—and has been charged with felony counts of forgery, identity theft and grand theft. And maybe it’s not just Mungarro. In January, Quail Valley Station volunteer Russell H. Edmiston was arrested for misappropriating funds. When Mungarro became president of the Calimesa Voluntary Fire Company in 2002, the group had $27,909.26 in the bank. In January 2003, Mungarro took on the treasurer’s job, too . . . until April 2006, when the company account had only $128.32 left.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12
More and more parents are withdrawing their kids from Catholic schools, reports the Riverside Press-Enterprise. They don’t want to, but the high cost of living and the increased difficulty of making one—and annual tuition that averages $3,500 at the elementary level and $5,850 at the secondary level—is leaving them helpless to do anything else. Helpless! “We’d have to win the lottery,” Linda Aldana told P-E reporter David Olson, laughing about her helpless situation. Why was she laughing? Perhaps because she was sitting in the library at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Or perhaps not.
THURSDAY, MARCH 13
George Lopez is canned as the host celebrity of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic golf tournament—possibly to be replaced by Arnold Palmer—and the chuckle that tumbles involuntarily out of my mouth is only the second one that the so-called comic has ever given me. The first was when he was hired as host celebrity. George Lopez . . . celebrity? It’s still funny.
FRIDAY, MARCH 14
Norco Farms donates more than 159,000 eggs to the Second Harvest Food Bank, a nice and helpful gesture to innumerable hungry families across the Inland Empire—and timely, too, considering it’s the Easter season . . . although it strikes us more like a special kind of Spring Break. You know, because they have to break the eggs to eat them? I suck.
SATURDAY, MARCH 15
Seventeen-year-old Alyx Burnett is crowned Miss Barstow at the conclusion of a gala evening in the Boys Gym at Barstow High School—totally gala, according to some of the teenagers who squirmed through an opening number in which contestants wore pirate costumes and danced in front of a ship flying the flag of the skull-and-crossbones. They liked the rest of the show—which consisted of pretty young things shaking their moneymakers in sportswear, evening gowns and swimsuits . . . especially the swimsuits a little more. Okay, a lot more. Although thrilled by her coronation, Burnett doesn’t forget her public. She begins her reign by offering a subtle but unmistakable message of hope and encouragement to other girls who have unsightly oversized feet. “It’s overwhelming,” she says. “Miss Barstow has big shoes to fill.”
SUNDAY, MARCH 16
Playing without their most valuable player—that would be Pau Gasol, who’s got a sprained ankle—the Lakers lose to the Houston Rockets, 104-92. It’s Houston’s 22nd consecutive victory, the second-longest winning streak in NBA history behind the 33 in a row the Lakers won in 1971-72. These Lakers? They just lost their second in a row, and any kind of a sustained losing streak could cost them a playoff spot in the competitive West Conference. The bright side of that, of course, is that Kobe Bryant might revive his demand to be traded. I don’t like that guy.
MONDAY, MARCH 17
How down-on-their-luck does someone have to be to be kicked out of a homeless camp? Lots of shelter-challenged people find out today in Ontario, where officials begin to reduce the number of residents in the city-sanctioned homeless encampment to 170. Bummer. It’s difficult to be too critical of Ontario, which has at least tried to accommodate a problem that has fallen off the public radar—although it will likely reappear now that more and more people are being forced from their homes by foreclosures. “The area was really intended for Ontario homeless residents,” explains Brent Schultz, the city’s director of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization, “but it has swelled by nearly tenfold.” There have also been reports that the growing size of the encampment has made it unruly and potentially dangerous. Those who want to stay must prove some tie to Ontario—from a school record, birth certificate or some memento (like an old utility bill) from the days when they had a home. Those who don’t qualify and refuse to leave will be cited for trespassing—which could land them in jail. Sounds severe. On the other hand, shelter problem solved!