When Ron Manna's brother recently came to visit him at his Hesperia home, his brother didn't simply see the ever-changing town through the eyes of a vacationer - he saw Hesperia as an elected official.
"It (Hesperia) has changed dramatically," Carl Manna said. "I first see it as change, then I see it as cost."
The reason for his perspective is that Carl Manna is a councilman in the Burough of Dumont, New Jersey, a suburb about half an hour outside of New York City. While he didn't offer suggestions for Hesperia officials, he shared his current experiences serving Dumont.
Not surprisingly, both cities are trying to keep down costs due to the recession. Dumont is considering alternative energy sources as a solution. The city is looking at wind turbine and solar panel power, and it's beginning to use vegetable oil in its diesel-engine vehicles. It's also partnering with the school district to find other solutions.
"It's an ongoing education for all of us," he said.
A retired operational director on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Manna was on the floor when terrorists hit the World Trade Center in 1993. But that was only a precursor to the monumental terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. He was in a weekly staff meeting when he got a call that a plane had hit one of the towers.
He and others were transfixed when they watched news coverage on the many TVs on the floor of the stock exchange. Because he knew that the stock exchange was possibly on terrorists' hit lists, "I was at a heightened sense of being a target."
His 9/11 experience was personal and visceral.
"We saw, heard and felt the towers collapse," Manna said. "We felt the rumble. It got dark. Lights flickered."
After the attack he took a ferry to New Jersey.
"There was no color (in the sky). Everything was gray."
He arrived in Hoboken, where a triage center was set up.
"They were ready to handle survivors, but there were no survivors. That was the chilling part."
During their recent stay, Manna's brother served as a tour guide for Carl and his wife Catherine. They visited Old Town Pasadena, numerous landmarks in Hollywood including Grouman's Theater, Kodak Theater and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They also visited the Planetarium ("I can't believe the view of Los Angeles," Carl said.) and missions in San Juan Capistrano and San Gabriel.
"We got to see a lot of things in the southern part of the state," Carl said. "But we didn't go to the wineries in Temecula though, so we'll have to come back."
(Ron Manna is a retired NYPD police officer and a Hesperia Knights of Columbus district deputy who spearheaded the council's Officer and Firefighter of the Year awards.)
After the trip, Carl and his wife returned to Dumont, where he serves on the Mayor's Advisory Board and several other committees.
"I enjoy being involved with the town," Manna said. "I enjoy many things - especially getting things done."