Posts Tagged ‘Mountain Center’

Cross Bearer Walks Along Highway 243 Near Idyllwild

March 15, 2012

Wes Maugh walking with his cross along Hwy. 243 Tuesday

By Marcia E. Gawecki

During this Lenten season, the cross is often depicted on posters, signs and church banners. For Christians, it symbolizes everlasting life.

Yet, it was unexpected to find a senior citizen carrying an oversized cross along Hwy. 243 near Idyllwild on Tuesday evening, March 13. About 40 yards behind him was a woman carrying a Bible.

“God asked me to do it,” said Wes Maugh, 63, an Evangelical minister from Banning.

He had carried his 40-pound pine cross from Valle Vista to Mountain Center (about 17 miles), and was headed back down the hill again. His wife, Victoria Grace, 59, was walking with him.

Wes Maugh and his wife, Victoria Grace

They stopped for a minute in a pullout. Several motorists honked and waved at them.

Wes built his cross in 2010, and since then, has traveled along roadsides to 194 cities and towns.

“I’ve traveled from 29 Palms to Glendale and Devore to Fallbrook,” Wes said. “The cross is for everyone.”

Even though there isn’t much of a shoulder along Hwy. 243, Wes was free from worry about getting hit.

“I have two angels beside me,” he said, winking at his wife.

For better traction, his 8 x 5 1/2 foot cross was equipped with a roller at the end.

“Otherwise, it would split,” explained Victoria Grace.

Yet, the roller didn’t help ease the burden any. Wes let me rest it on my shoulders as I walked just a few feet. It was heavy and uncomfortable, and I was going downhill. No way would I want to walk 17 miles up and downhill with it over my shoulder!

Yet, Wes and Victoria Grace were in good spirits. They said that many motorists have honked and waved at them. Some have stopped and prayed with them, while others have given them water, money or slices of pizza.

Wes walks with his cross to help avert natural disasters

“Whatever they have in their car, they share,” he said.

Victoria Grace said that some motorists have shouted at Wes for carrying the cross.

“Why are you doing that?” they’ve demanded.

“Why not?” Victoria Grace retorted.

Over the past two years, Wes has racked up 4,175 miles with his cross to help his fellow Californians avert natural disasters.

“God told me that if I carried this cross, then He would turn away catastrophes in California,” Wes said, mentioning storms, fires and earthquakes.

“God is not into death and suffering,” Wes said. “This cross is no burden; it’s a blessing.”

Wes added that the cross was a symbol that should be seen out in the open.

“It has a voice,” Wes said. “It is the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Although Wes and his wanderings are not associated with any particular religion or church, it’s not an original idea.

“For 38 years, Arthur Blessitt racked up 38,102 miles around the world with his cross,” Wes said.

Arthur’s cross was a bit bigger than Wes’, 12 feet x 6 feet. Arthur made it into the Guinness Book of World Records, and they wrote a movie about him (‘The Cross’).

“I saw Arthur walking with his cross along Hwy. 101, and it changed my life,” Wes recalled.

The message that Wes wanted to impart was simple:

“Jesus loves you, and He is coming soon,” Wes said. “But it will happen in a twinkling of an eye, so you have to be ready, and stay ready.”

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.





Possible Drug Bust at South Fork Near Idyllwild

July 21, 2010

A large pullout near the South Fork Trail is deserted now, but had a lot of police activity Wednesday

By Marcia E. Gawecki

At around 10:55  a.m. on Wednesday, July 21, a sheriff’s helicopter (No. 12) flew overhead and landed in the pullout near South Fork Trail on Hwy. 243, near Mountain Center. A cloud of brown dust from the landing covered the road, and motorists found it difficult to see. One man in a truck camper pulled over immediately.

When the helicopter landed, a man in khaki gear (without a hat or helmet), got out and started walking towards a sheriff’s van that was blocking the entryway into the pullout. The sign on the van read: “Law Enforcement.” There were several other sheriff’s vehicles parked in the pullout, but it was difficult to read their markings.

A sheriff's helicopter landed on this site

Was this a drug bust in progress? More than likely. I’m no investigator, but I used to be a reporter for the Idyllwild Town Crier newspaper, and crime was my beat. Whenever there’s a sheriff’s helicopter circling these parts, it’s usually a drug bust.

Years ago, when the Sheriff’s Department, Hemet Station, along with other drug enforcement agencies, made a large drug bust near Idyllwild, the Public Information Officer (PIO) called the Idyllwild Town Crier. Jenny Kirchner, the photographer, raced down to capture candid shots of tons of marijuana being hoisted from the mountains via a sheriff’s helicopter.

“It was one of the largest drug busts in years,” said Gerry Franchville, the PIO at the time. The helicopter photo made the front page of the paper, and I wrote the article based on what Gerry told me.

One interesting aspect is that, Gerry said, is that marijuana fields are a different color from the trees.

“They’re usually a lime green color,” he said.

During that monumental drug bust, the sheriff’s deputies got the loot, but the growers got away.

The pullout near the South Fork Trail has been an attractive spot for drug activity

The same South Fork pullout has been an area of potential drug activity for years. There have been cars, vans and trucks parked there late at night whenever I’d drive by. And it’s not just tired motorists talking to each other.

One time, at the South Fork pullout, while picking up cans to recycle, I noticed a bleach bottle sitting underneath a fir tree. I picked it up to throw it away, but it was full. Now, why would a full bleach bottle be there in the pullout? Anyone who has studied drug behavior knows that drug addicts often use bleach to “sterilize” their needles while “sharing.” I decided to leave the bleach bottle alone.

When I contacted the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Hemet Station, this afternoon, I left a message with the desk officer, Sgt. Jeff Wagman. I told him that I wanted to speak with Gerry Franchville, the PIO, to get some more information on the South Fork activity, but he hadn’t returned my calls by the 1:15 p.m. post time.

If there had been a drug bust near South Fork today, they’ll want to tell us about it. For Riverside County Sheriff’s Department press releases, visit Revised August 15, 2016

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Motorcycle ‘Crash’ Sculpture Causes a Stir

May 22, 2010

Dore's crashed motorcycle sculpture is grabbing a lot of attention

Someone once said, “Artists are the first and last to speak.”

Well, one artist in Mountain Center is speaking out about the current state of traffic around his metal sculpture garden.

There’s too many motorcycle accidents happening there, he said.

About two years ago, CalTrans, along with a contractor, attempted to fix the curve on the road from Mountain Center leading up to Idyllwild. They widened the road and added caution stripping to the middle, but many accidents still happen there.

“They fixed the road, so people think they can go faster now,” said Dore Capitani, a metal sculptor whose shop sits at the end of the curve. He closes his eyes and sighs. He’s seen his share of motorcycle accidents.

One time, he said, the motorcycle rode right onto his property, near his metal building where he was working.

“The guy fell off it earlier, but the motorcycle came pretty fast around the curve and landed on my property,” Capitani said.

After a motorcycle flew into his yard, Dore put up a wooden barrier

After that, he wasn’t taking any chances. With the help of Josh Whitney, who owns a tree cutting business in Idyllwild, they stacked up several huge wooden tree trunks that act as a barrier to his property. It kept the motorcycles from coming in, but didn’t stop the accidents from happening.

So last week, Capitani decided to put up a life-sized metal sculpture of a crashed motorcycle and attach it to the wooden tree stumps.

“I had an old junker motorcycle, and about three wheels laying around,” Capitani said. “So I made a crash sculpture.”

Well, some Idyllwild townsfolk and at least one CHP officer thought it was real, and became alarmed.

Some motorcyclists told Dore that they didn't like the sculpture

“One police officer came over the wood pile looking for the body,” Capitani said. “These guys are used to fighting crime, but he couldn’t see that the motorcycle was welded to the wood!”

“Then Larry from the hardware store said that I better add something to the sculpture because people were concerned,” Capitani added. “So I added the word, ‘OUCH!'”

“Ouch!” is welded next to the motorcycle in bright, red letters, so there’s no more confusion. But there’s still bad feelings.

He said that several motorcyclists have stopped by his art garden and said they weren’t happy with his sculpture.

“They don’t have to like it,” Capitani said.

He hopes that it might make a few motorcyclists and drivers stop and think about going too fast on that curve. It’s clearly marked “25 mph” on either end, but most of them go 50 mph.

One CHP officer, who was assigned up in Idyllwild for years, grew weary of the motorcycle accidents. When he was writing up a report about one, he asked the kid how fast he was going. The kid, who had a broken leg, didn’t lie.

“I was going 50 mph,” he said.

“It’s marked 35 mph,” the officer scolded. “That means 35 mph, not 36, not 37, but 35 mph.”

That motorcyclist was lucky that he only sustained a leg injury, but his bike was “totalled.”

Dore's art garden has many more sculptures to see

Capitani’s motorcycle crash sculpture is located just after the curve in Mountain Center at 28815 Hwy. 243. Visit Dore’s Mountain Metals Sculpture Garden for other large metal and wood sculptures made by him or call (951) 659-0791.

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