Friday News Wrap With Cassie MacDuff: Lovingood Seat Open, Ontario Airport Update, And More
Longtime Inland Empire journalist and KVCR contributor, Cassie MacDuff and KVCR's Rick Dulock review some of the big Inland Empire news stories from the past week, including:
1. A nonprofit senior citizens community near March Air Reserve Base may be sold in a bankruptcy sale.
2. San Bernardino County Supervisor Robert Lovingood has said he won't run for re-election.
3. Recently, there's been some good news and some bad news about Ontario International Airport.
4. The La-Z-Boy factory in Redlands has announced it will close.
Purper: "You're listening to Empire KVCR News, I'm Benjamin Purper. On most Fridays we talk with former Press-Enterprise columnist and longtime KVCR News contributor, Cassie MacDuff, and review some of the big Inland Empire news stories from the past week. Good morning, Cassie."
MacDuff: "Good morning, Ben."
Purper: "So first off, a nonprofit senior citizens community near March Air Reserve Base may be sold in a bankruptcy sale."
MacDuff: "Right, this is the former Air Force Village West, it was built in 1993. About 300 people live there now, roughly half of who used to, they've been losing money - in fact they're about $60 million in debt - and so there was a bankruptcy hearing this week where the judge okay'ed the sale to go ahead. It's being sold to a La Jolla-based for-profit called Westmont Living, and some of the residents are concerned that the medical care, the ongoing medical care that they paid for for Alta Vida Village is going to cost them double, that they're going to be billed again for money they already paid in advance. And so the judge said that they as creditors will get to plead for those contracts to be honored, we'll see what happens."
Purper: "So are there a lot of retired military there?"
MacDuff: "Right, it was originally built near March Air Force Base, then, to serve the retirees and many are retirees. Some of them now of course are passing away, but their spouses still live there. But in 2015 when they re-named it Alta Vida Village, they began accepting non-military retirees. And so it's a combination of both."
Purper: "Okay. Next, San Bernardino County Supervisor Robert Lovingood has said he won't run for re-election."
MacDuff: "Right, he's in his second term, his second term ends in November 2020, and he has announced that he's not going to be seeking re-election. He said he's looking - he's 61 years old, he's thinking that by the end of a third term he would be 68 years old - and he would prefer to spend the time with his family, do a little bit of travelling and camping, the kind of things that he enjoyed before he became a busy county supervisor."
Purper: "I read that Paul Cook is considering running for that seat."
MacDuff: "Right, and that's the congressman whose district includes the High Desert. This district, the 1st District of San Bernardino County, runs all the way from the Victor Valley all the way out to Needles, and so Cook's district overlaps it, although it goes considerably further. Cook actually has been in Congress since 2012, he's a retired Marine Corps Colonel and Vietnam combat veteran. He's also a Republican, and it may not be a lot of fun for the minority party, Republicans are now in the minority in Congress, can't get a lot done, so he may be looking to come home, so to speak. He served 6 years in the State Assembly, 8 years on the Yucca Valley Town Council, the only kind of snag is that while you are not required as a member of Congress to live in the district you represent - although Cook does - he does not technically live in the 1st District, he's in Yucca Valley, and so we'll see if he decides to relocate within that district or he may not run, he hasn't really said yet."
Purper: "So a few weeks ago you talked about traffic being up in Ontario International Airport. And recently there's been some good news and bad news about Ontario."
MacDuff: "Right, the good news first. The good news is Frontier Airlines is going to be staring service to Newark, New Jersey, so there will be two flights now nonstop from Ontario Airport to the East Coast. Jet Blue already serves JFK, New York's major airport, and so this will add a second option for travelers beginning in March or April. The bad news is, there's a dispute right now between Uber and Ontario International Airport. The airport raised the fee from $3 to $4 for pick-ups and drop-offs by Uber and Lyft, and Uber just said that's too much, and so they've declared that as of September 13th, they're going to start stop serving Ontario Airport. The airport says they're open to negotiating and so hopefully that's happening right now as we speak and Uber will continue but in the meantime the airport says you can always use Lyft."
Purper: "Yeah. And finally, the La-Z-Boy factory in Redlands has announced it will close."
MacDuff: "Yeah, you know manufacturing in the United States of course is under a lot of stress, a lot of factories are closing. The La-Z-Boy factory in Redlands has been there since 1966, it employs about 350 people. They make sofas and recliners and all the kinds of things that we are familiar with La-Z-Boy that they do. They've announced not only are they closing the upholstery factory in Redlands, but also they're moving another plant, a leather cut and sew operation in Mississippi, they are moving also to elsewhere in the United States. We don't know at this point whether the people who work there in Redlands will be offered jobs at factories elsewhere or whether they're simply contracting."
Purper: "Do we know what will happen to the building?"
MacDuff: "Yeah, that building once vacated is going to be for sale. Now, this is very close to the Esri campus and we know Esri, the geographic mapping company, is growing by leaps and bounds so who knows, maybe they'll take a look at it."
Purper: "Thank you, Cassie."
MacDuff: "Thank you, Ben."
Purper: "Cassie MacDuff is a longtime IE journalist - she helps us out regularly for our Friday morning News Wrap. You can find these segments on our website at kvcrnews.org."