HESPERIA Although San Bernardino County and the Victor Valley are facing tough economic times, both are still open for business and moving forward, 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt said.


Mitzelfelt addressed the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce at their weekly coffee club meeting Friday morning on the campus of Hesperia Christian School.


San Bernardino County has generally has been hit hard by the recession, but the effects have been even worse in the Victor Valley: Countywide unemployment is at 14 percent. Locally, it's at 17.1 percent.


Faced with these trying financial times, Mitzelfelt said he draws inspiration from the late Ronald Reagan. President Reagan inherited a deep recession when he came into office, but isn't remembered for his presidency being one of economic malaise today, he said.


"Attitude matters and we do fulfill our own prophecies," Mitzelfelt said.


Another expert on making the most with limited resources is coming to the Victor Valley in October, he said: Billy Beane, the subject of the newly released film "Moneyball," will be speaking at the High Desert Opportunity conference in October.


The speech was, in part, an update on the state of the county: The first official State of the County address for 2011 was given in April.


But good things are still happening locally, Mitzelfelt said, including the August groundbreaking of the long-awaited Ranchero Road Underpass.


"Pigs are flying and fish are tap-dancing in the desert," he said, riffing off the flying pigs motif the city of Hesperia used in their invitations to the groundbreaking.


Even as work continues on the underpass, the city is now looking ahead to a freeway interchange at Ranchero Road, which would turn the road into a major entry for the whole Victor Valley assuming the road could handle the load.


"Do we want a state of the art underpass and a state of the art interchange and a two-lane county road in between?" Mitzelfelt asked. There currently aren't funds to widen Ranchero Road, "but it's a priority and needs to happen."


The way to "get things done in an era of dwindling resources" is for multiple cities to work together.


The supervisor also spoke of the importance of supporting local education, as the presence of educated workers can make the difference between attracting new employers to the region or not.


"It needs to be everyone's concern," he said.


Although more layoffs and workforce reductions through furloughs and other means are coming to county staff "There's really no choice," Mitzelfelt said, due to a $23 million budget shortfall there is at least one department that's going to be actively hiring.


The county is hiring more probation officers as the state prepares to shift 11,000 prisoners over the next year from state rolls to the county. But, he said, San Bernardino County already does a better job with parolees than the state, with a 10 percent recidivism rate, compared to 67 percent for state parolees.


The county is also planning a $300 million redesign of the Interstates 15 and 215 interchange, eliminating congestion and increasing capacity. The project is scheduled to break ground in 2013.


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.