By John Bowler
>Toy, food drive needs donations
The Crooked River Ranch Fire Auxiliary's annual Christmas toy and food drive for needy Ranch children was struggling last week to meet its quota for gifts to be sent out in about another week.
CRR Seniors President Earleen Arthur suggested donations would be appreciated if the program is to be successful this year.
Over most past years, the volunteer Ranch Fire Auxiliary collected toys, other gifts, food and money to be distributed to Ranch children who otherwise might not receive any Christmas gifts. They sent them out in boxes after the middle of December in time to arrive before Christmas.
CRR Fire Chief Tim McLaren said that the drive was all set with enough gifts for children of grade school age, but they were very short on food, clothing and other gifts for teenagers. He asked that gifts for older kids be dropped off at the fire hall between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. until Dec. 21, when all available boxes will be sent.
McLaren also said that the Ranch Auxiliary was operational, but only in a limited way. He couldn't say how many members it had and said nobody was officially heading it up. A decision on whether to continue it will be made next month by the board.
Kay Norberg a current Ranch Fire Department board member and past president of the auxiliary added her perspective, noting, "The auxiliary was needed more in the earlier days of the fire department, before permanent staff were hired."
"We performed a lot of duties back then, from cleaning toilets to answering phones that now are performed by paid employees and students," she said. "About a dozen of us still meet when it's necessary but it's pretty informal and not often. The times they are a-changin'."
Crash destroys P.O. boxes
Ranch Club and Maintenance Association President Ben Johnson posted the following notice on the Ranch website, www.crookedriverranch.com, last week:
"On Dec. 5, a vehicle wiped out the entire cluster mailbox configuration on Panorama Circle near the Park. One of the heavy units was pushed nearly 50 feet from the installation and the concrete pedestal on which it was mounted was destroyed. The vehicle must have been going very fast and one wonders what it looks like after this collision."
Ranch maintenance supervisor Mike Knoke said that the driver had been apprehended by a county sheriff's deputy, who found the vehicle's license plate left at the scene.
The vehicle belonged to a Ranch resident, and the deputy who found the plate said he went right to the owner's Ranch home with it and cited him on four charges: failure to perform duties of a driver, property damage, reckless driving, and criminal mischief in the second degree.
Knoke said he has talked with the owner's insurance carrier and is optimistic that the cost of replacement of the postal boxes and stands will be recovered. They have been ordered and are to be installed at the same location before the end of the week.
Johnson said he was impressed with the fast and efficient response of the sheriff's department. They found evidence of the identity of perpetrator and issued a citation, which will be a favorable factor in the Ranch avoiding payment of a replacement tag that could run close to $10,000.