Sage Town Hall Association holds ‘Meet and Greet’ barbecue fundraiser

Sage Town Hall Association Vice Chair Eleni Malandrinos mingles with the crowd at the “Meet and Greet” barbecue fundraiser Saturday, Aug. 26. Diane Sieker photo

The newly formed Sage Town Hall Association held a “Meet and Greet” barbecue dinner at Fire Station No. 28 on Sage Road Saturday, Aug. 26. The event was well attended by concerned local citizens.

The Sage Town Hall Association is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to preserving historical landmarks, combating community deterioration and unifying the residents living in Sage.

The association was created by a group of residents seeking to inform and to advocate for the citizens of Sage and the businesses within the rural community. The initial public meeting and barbecue was held as an introduction to the board members and a fundraiser for the organization. Attendees were asked to submit ideas regarding the definition of the Sage’s boundaries. The push to obtain a separate Sage postal ZIP code to differentiate it from Hemet was also discussed at length.

“We were seeking public comment on what they thought were the proper boundaries of Sage and what residents within those boundaries would like to see accomplished,” Chairman Bill Donahue said. “We made clear what we can and can’t do. It was an orderly and productive meeting.”

The board of directors introduced themselves to the community and stressed the importance of having an organization to help protect the rural flavor and property rights of the residents of Sage, an officially undefined region in unincorporated Riverside County that shares a ZIP code with Hemet.

Secretary Lydia Dana spoke of the need to preserve historical local landmarks, a desire for parks and the possible designation of Sage Road R3 as a scenic highway.

“We are trying to build membership so we have more impact with the county,” Treasurer Diana Hobart said.

The association will act as an advocate between the residents and the county board of supervisor’s office.

Vice Chair Eleni Malandrinos remarked on the success of her Facebook groups, “Sage Community Watch” and “Sage Community Talk,” and credits their members for helping unify the residents. She had organized the previous town hall-style meetings that addressed crime, code enforcement violations, planning and other important issues.

“Now look,” she said, “We have the Sage Town Hall Association.”

Noel Donahue spoke of her success at securing government grants and that she was looking forward to helping the association progress toward its goals.

Terry Hobart introduced himself and said that “As a teacher, I like to be organized.” He pledged to be an organizer of the members’ ideas and make things happen.

Besides identifying the boundaries of Sage, the group has sales tax concerns as well. Most of the area is under the Hemet ZIP code and is taxed as such, even though the residents do not reap the benefits of the added taxes.

“It is important we in Sage divest from Hemet completely, including ZIP codes. Check your purchases to insure you are not paying the Prop U 1 percent tax to the city of Hemet. I found the tax applied to our new car and to online purchases. Company computer systems place Sage in the city of Hemet due to our ZIP code,” wrote Sage resident John Ventuleth on the group’s Facebook page.

The board and the residents shared many ideas and suggestions for future meetings and projects.

“A nonprofit’s power lies in its members,” Donahue said. “We’ve been overlooked for too long.”

To learn more about the Sage Town Hall Association, visit www.facebook.com/sagetownhall/ or www.sagetownhallassociation.weebly.com.

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