Strait On: Panorama Village – Hemet’s secret paradise

An open Town Hall meeting with local authorities is set for Oct. 14

Photos by Rusty Strait/The Valley Chronicle
Dianne Snow (l) and Lynn Throckmorton (r) in front of the stage at Panorama Village’s auditorium.

■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter

On Saturday, Oct. 14th, beginning at 11 a.m. and going until who knows when, the good residents of Panorama Village in Hemet will welcome valley authorities, including Hemet Mayor Linda Krupa, representatives from Hemet’s police and fire departments, and other Hemet city officials, and San Jacinto Councilman Andrew Kotyuk for an open Town Hall meeting. These brave souls have promised to take the witness chair, where the questions are sure to fly. All valley residents are invited to attend.
I had no idea that Panorama Village existed, although I pass by the Mayberry Avenue side of the private community every day.
Thanks to my friend Lynn Throckmorton, who seems to know everything about everybody, I met Dianne Snow, the lady in charge of everything at Panorama Village. We sat down in a room known as the lounge and I soon learned what a gem this place is and how it got started.

Question 1: When did this complex start?
“In the mid-1960s, our founders, Lucille and Walter Calland, had a dream of this development. I think they originally came from someplace else but they wanted to settle here, back when the likes of Art Linkletter and Del Webb were starting to create senior communities in the Inland Empire. The idea was a 55 and older community. This was their dream come true. Of course we have grown since then.
“We are different than most retirement communities. Each home is individually owned, including the land; the HOA only owns the common areas. It is absolutely an ownership community and every house in this development is privately owned. We are totally self-managed, which allows for a lot more advantages than a community run by outsiders.”
(Incidentally, I discovered the HOA fees are only $90 a month. Most retirement communities owned by outsiders charge a lot more.)

Q 2: What is unique about your community?
“This might surprise you, since we’re sitting here in the middle of town, but we have our own well, which means we do not depend on the city of Hemet or Lake Hemet for our water. About 15 years ago we dug the well and it supplies our 501 residents and all our green space with water. Of course, we are careful with its use because of the aquifers.”

Q 3: I noticed the clubhouse is loaded with solar panels; is that a rule?
“No; it is an option. Not all houses have solar, but they can have it if they want it. That’s up to [each owner] and their budgets.”

Q 4: I’ve heard that solar panel companies charge too much. How do you manage that?
“It isn’t bad – we have a 20-year loan for the panels on our auditorium and clubhouse. We subsidize the loan so that we’re paying ourselves back with interest. We are saving enough on our electric bill so we are able to pay back what we put in, as well as the electric bill we have to pay the city anyway. It is pretty much a win-win situation.”

The library at Panorama Village is stocked with books, puzzles and lots of other mentally stimulating activities for its residents.

Q 5: What are some of the big events you host here?
“There’s a New Year’s Eve party, and we have dancing at that event. When we first started out we had monthly dances, but over the years people just seem to lose interest. Many of our residents are still working at their jobs; not everybody is retired. We are a very active community.”

Q 6: What about Halloween?
“Oh yes. Our karaoke club is sponsoring our Halloween party this year.”

Q 7: You have karaoke?
“Yes, sir – Thursday nights at 6 p.m.”

Q 8: Is it limited to residents?
“It is open to anyone who wants to participate.”

Q 9: Tell me more about your Halloween bash coming up.
“It is always a very festive, fun time. It is held in what we call the auditorium where we have a nice curtained stage and rotating mirrored ball hanging down at what you’d call mid-court.”

Q 10: Can anyone under the age of 55 be a resident of this not so hidden paradise?
Yes, [residents can be age] 46 or even younger if they’re married to a qualified resident. [The age requirement is lifted] if a resident is responsible for someone who is handicapped or not able to function alone; however, we require a doctor’s order to permit that. We don’t [allow] for young children.”

The pool is a place where many residents come to relax or do water exercise.

Q 11: What other amenities do you offer?

To answer this last question Dianne and Lynn took me on a tour. I was shown a well-stocked library, spacious pool hall and card room, gym, and a spacious 9-hole golf course, which they feel is the best in the valley. The community also boasts a large swimming pool and championship shuffleboard court.

Q 12: Finally, how do you manage to keep this place so well-groomed? You must have a great gardener.
“We do. Our employees are very loyal and stay with us. We rarely have turnover. Pablo, who does our janitorial and Darlene, who works in the office, were hired by us, not some corporation.”
Having been privy to some of the questions for the Town Hall meeting, I’d say these public officials better put on their thinking caps before they arrive on Saturday. This community has questions and they expect answers. I sure wouldn’t miss this one.

Just sayin’.

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