Mr. Steve Hunt became the Editor of The Daily Press on February 3, 2014. I am proud to say that I was able to know Steve as a friend, as a confidant, and as someone who really cared about the High Desert. Throughout our friendship Steve talked about the many years that he had lived in the High Desert region. I distinctly remember him telling me the date that he moved to Hesperia: October 9, 2003.
During the 31 years that I have been a resident of the High Desert we have had some great editors. I think of Steve Williams (one of the most prolific writers of all time), the topics that he would tackle and the knowledge that he had to have in order to do that. Mr. Don Holland was also an editor, along with Mr. David Keck.
Steve Hunt was hired by the former Publisher, Al Fratura, who was not only a great friend to many people in the High Desert region but someone who truly believed in the vision of education and the future of the Victor Valley Community College District. It was Mr. Fratura and Steve Hunt, in combination with many other great reporters who helped bring to light the numerous challenges that the college faced, prompting us as Trustees to stand up, recognize what the issues were, and to work with community members like Dr. Pat Caldwell, Ms. Diana Carloni, Ms. Holly Noel, Mr. Brandon Woods, and Ms. Shannon Shannon to make Victor Valley Community College the great community college that it is today. It was the Daily Press that made that happen.
Steve wrote a great Op-ed piece on Sunday, March 16, 2014, titled “A Vision for our Desert.” Steve notes through the article, “I don’t just have a vision for the Daily Press, I also have a vision for the entire High Desert, as they are interconnected. We have a real family here at the Daily Press and people feel good about what we provide to our readers and to our advertisers.”
Some of the issues that he addressed in that article have also emerged in the results of the High Desert survey that was recently completed on September 15, 2019, garnering a total of 13,046 responses from residents and workers in the region. Steve goes on in his article, “Honestly, we need to clean up the entire High Desert. Cheap housing isn’t necessarily a bad thing; heck, it was one of the factors that convinced me to move here. I couldn’t see paying $500,000 for a dumpy little three-bedroom house on a small lot in Ontario when I could get a new home up here for half the price.”
“But there is no doubt that the Great Recession caused our region to take a few steps backwards. Investors bought a lot of foreclosed homes. Not all these investors have fixed up these homes, painted and landscaped them. Also, an influx of too many renters never bodes well for an area.”
Steve goes on in his article to state that “we need code enforcement’s help too. We need some code enforcement officers that work nights and weekends. They shouldn’t all work 8AM-5PM. We need them to crack down on trash piled up beside homes and in backyards. We need them to crack down on dirt bike riding in residential areas. Our Sherriff Deputies have plenty to do without being asked to enforce code issues. Let them concentrate on running the bad guys out of town or showing them the inside of a jail cell.”
In closing, Steve makes a rather interesting conclusion: “We need everyone to be proud of the High Desert. That’s the only way it will ever change. I want the High Desert to be a destination, not just number one on the housing affordability index. We should look more like Tucson or Scottsdale, Arizona. Even Las Cruses, New Mexico. People should want to come here and so should businesses. We need stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Sprouts to come to our area. We need to attract employers who pay well so people that live in the High Desert don’t have to commute down the hill, as I did for too long.”
Lastly Steve talks about education. “We need to partner with our public and private schools to help them do a better job of educating our children. I think every student in the High Desert should have a mentor, someone who can help instill in them a love of reading and learning. I think many of their parents need mentors too, and perhaps the faith community can help out here. Can’t our churches and other houses of worship become places where parents can learn how to nurture their children and guide them to a better future?”
Steve, I know that you are looking down on the work that your wife Luanne and many of your friends did at your “Celebration of Life” in Upland. It was incredible; the music, the stories, the passion that the speakers showed in the friendships that you shared.
Many of us have the motivation to continue the leadership that you demonstrated and the passion that you had to make the High Desert (Mojave River Valley) region a great place to live, work, and play. Steve, we will see you again. We love you.
Joseph W. Brady is President of The Bradco Companies and Vice President of The Board of Trustees for Victor Valley Community College District