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All staff photo - 2020 RivCoParks Confer

Friday, April 28, 2023 was a beautiful day to celebrate Arbor Day with the planting of 15 trees, as well as dedicate one of those trees in memory of Kristopher "Kris" Wren.


Kris, a former park maintenance worker at Lake Cahuilla Veterans Regional Park, passed away unexpectedly at home on October 8, 2021. He had worked for the District at Lake Cahuilla for 7 years.

In his time working with parks, Kris demonstrated a strong work ethic and passion for keeping Lake Cahuilla Park safe, clean, and welcoming. He gave his best every day and cared tremendously about making the park the best it could be. Whether he needed to fill in at the front gate collecting fees and doing quagga inspections, clean bathrooms, trim trees, or do just about anything in the park, Kris gave it his all. There was no task beneath him and no problem he couldn’t solve.


Arbor Day Celebration

Arbor Day is a day of significance because, quite frankly, trees are significant. Trees are our natural air and water filters and help protect healthy soil. They support biodiversity, good health, and reduce impacts of climate change by absorbing harmful carbon. Trees help support the economy through forestry, and of course, we benefit from their fruits, nuts, berries, leaves and flowers. Trees build our homes and other structures, they provide us relief from the heat, and they sooth our souls with their beauty. We need trees to live.


Doing our part to help sustain a healthy balance of trees here in RivCoParks, we were joined by staff and volunteers who planted 15 trees at our Crestmore Manor campus and next door at Rancho Jurupa Park.


Kris Wren Dedication

One tree in particular, a Tipuana or tipu tree, was planted in dedication to Kris Wren. Kris' sons Diego and Mateo, son-in-law Michael, daughter Kristina, and wife Maria, all helped plant the young tree. Family and friends, including Kris' father, Kent, and mother, Sharon, joined in to unveil a small monument memorializing Kris' years of service to the

Park District.


Kris was much more than just a dedicated employee. He was a cherished friend and a beloved member of our Parks family. His warm smile, kind heart, and generous spirit touched the lives of everyone he encountered. Kris was someone who truly made a difference, and his loss has been felt deeply by all of us.


The tree that was dedicated on April 28, 2023, is more than just a symbol of Kris' memory. It is a living testament to his spirit and the impact he had on those around him. This tree will continue to grow and thrive. It will stand tall and strong, just as Kris did in the face of challenges. And it will provide shade and comfort, just as Kris did to his family members and friends who needed it most.


Kris' tree will be a source of comfort and inspiration to us all, and it will remind us of the importance of living a life that is dedicated to making a positive impact in the world.


This tree is our promise to Kris that his memory will live on in our hearts and in the world around us.




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RivCoParks held our 2nd ever all-staff conference on Wednesday, February 22, 2023. The theme of the day was Trails to the Top with over 100 employees in attendance, each participating in learning and team-building sessions.


The half-day conference included a welcome message from the Executive Team, an overview of the District by the General Manager, team activities, learning sessions on finance and planning, and employee recognition. If you missed the conference, or would like to look back on the information presented, here are the presentations for your reference:


GM Update - Overview and Direction

Finance Basics

Project Funding

Problem Solving Team Exercise

Employee Recognition: Service Awards, Nominations for 2022, Employee of the Year and GM Award Recipients


The day concluded with a Question & Answer Session, as well as team photos. You may view and download all of the team photos by visiting our staff photo site: https://rivcoparks.smugmug.com/AllStaff-Meeting-2023/


Questions & Answers

Team members had an opportunity to jot down their questions throughout the conference. Here are the questions addressed at the end of the day:


Question:

Due to the rising cost of living and the raising costs of food, gas, bills, etc., are there any plans to raise County employee salaries to a more sustainable amount?


Answer:

The County has taken several steps to increase employee salaries and benefits in the past year. As a provision of the SEIU MOU, a Minimum Salary Market Adjustment was conducted where:

  • Individual Market Surveys were conducted for every SEIU-represented classification (including all Parks classifications).

  • Classifications identified as having a minimum salary range below the market median were increased to equal the median of the comparable market.

  • If the employee's salary was less than the new minimum salary for their classification, the employee's salary received an increase to the new minimum.

These adjustments were approved by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors (BOS) on July 12, 2022, and went into effect July 14, 2022. A total of 44 Parks classifications were included in this effort.


Starting January 1, 2023, minimum wage was increased to $15.50/hour which affected the starting salary for both Park Attendants and Public Service Worker classifications.


On Tuesday, January 10, 2023, the Riverside County BOS approved significant increases in medical benefit subsides for employees electing 2-party or family coverage. Human Resources sent a County-wide message to all employees with a description of the changes and included a PDF Announcement with more detailed information.


Question:

Who will run the off-road vehicle park? Will there be a charge to use the park?


Answer:

We're still in the early planning stages for development of an OHV Park. Most likely, we will contract with a private operator once an OHV park is built. As to the second part of your question, there will most likely be fees charged to use the park, similar to all of our park operations.


Question:

What is the update on the Hidden Valley well?


Answer:

The well needed a new pump and the work should be completed within the next week or so, pending weather conditions. There was a slight delay in getting the work scheduled as our service provider needed to re-register as a County vendor in order for their work to commence. Thank you for your patience.


Question:

Related to development impact fees (DIF):

  1. Can current needs override original areas that DIF funding is allocated for?

  2. Are expanded use funds generally spent on above-ground items (i.e., shiny new stuff)?

Answer:

  1. For the past (2010 DIF needs list) new projects cannot override what was originally identified as a need. There will be a new approach for the new DIF needs list once approved and we'll have more flexibility to address current needs.

  2. Expanded use funds can be used on above-ground or underground projects so long as the project expands the use of the park (allows us to serve more people, adds new functions, etc.).

Do you have a question that hasn't been answered yet or a suggestion you'd like to share? Submit your Feedback to the GM today!




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Question:

Still not happy about this. Last year I tried to book a cabin and they said it was closed (becuase) of Covid. Okay. They were put on hold then [for an employee] and [their] folks got to stay there. I saw it twice. Why?


Answer:

NOTE: The individual named in your original question was removed due to the fact that several employees booked a stay during the pandemic, not just that individual.


During the past year and a half, we've had to make many adjustments to our operations, including reducing capacity of campgrounds, and during some times, full closures. Some of these changes were based on State mandates, and other times it was simply based on staffing levels and our ability to keep facilities clean and safe. That said, it may not have been clear to all employees (or volunteers) what facilities were still available to our workforce. For that, I apologize. The rapidly changing nature of the pandemic created challenges keeping pace with communication.


Throughout the pandemic, we have worked hard to support all employees and volunteers as each person has been impacted differently. We strived to make our facilities available to the greatest extent possible. Several employees, including the one you named in your original question, took advantage of using the Lawler Lodge and Alpine Cabins for a getaway. In addition, once cabins and campgrounds were open for use, several employees booked sites through normal reservation processes.


I'd like to emphasize that we strive to allow employees and volunteers to use our campgrounds, cabins and lodge, to help see the benefits and share their experiences with others. Using these spaces help our workforce to better understand the accommodations and amenities and give them a better understanding for promoting their use to guests. If you have had trouble booking a reservation through Guest Services, I encourage you to reach out to Chief Dustin McLain, Assistant Director Gettis, or directly through my office. We are eager to help ALL employees and volunteers in compliance with our policies in an effort to promote knowledge and awareness.

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