Page 9 - R.G. Percy

At Seaside I made an arrangement with Sheriff McMartin for the use of trustees from the County jail, with one of our regular men as an unarmed guard, which saved the County considerable money there. Camp Comfort would have to wait until later until money was available, and so would planting of trees on the new State Highway until it was completed through the County in 1916.

It might be interesting to know how different County business was conducted in those days from the present time. There were no yearly budgets, nor were we ever told by the Board of Supervisors how much money we could spend. The Supervisors met only once a month on the first Tuesday. I paid our help and any other expenses with a County warrant on the first of each month, which had to be approved by the Board at their meeting. Usually I had to appear before the Board to explain the money which we had spent, and fortunately for me, Mr. Foster usually went to the meeting with me. Four members of the Board were almost always on our side. The other, Ferd Roussey of Oxnard, usually objected. At one meeting sometime later, he even went so far as to get up a petition and had it circulated both south of the Santa Clara River and the north side, and even got a number of signers to do away with the Forestry Commission, the Parks, and particularly me. However, the other four Supervisors ignored his petitions.

Previously to the formation of the Forestry Commission the caretakers had been appointed by the Board. When the Commission appointed, and I became the Forester, the first thing which I did was to fire the Foster Park caretaker because he was completely unqualified for the job, and I hired a man who was well qualified.

I was called before the Board, and Roussey asked me, "By what authority did you fire a man who had been appointed by the Board?

Fortunately Mr. Foster went with me. I replied, "Gentlemen, I will not work on any job where I do not have the responsibility to hire and fire the men who work under me. I am responsible for what is done, and if I am not, I don't want the job."

Perhaps the Board was surprised at my answer, and I know that Mr. Foster was surprised that I had made it so emphatic, but I meant what I said. Charles Perkins, the Supervisor of the Camarillo and Somis area backed me up. He said, "Mr. Percy is absolutely right. He is the one who is responsible and I agree that he should hire or fire any man who works for him, without even consulting this Board. He is more qualified to know whether the men are doing their job than we are."

Only Roussey continued to object, but the other Supervisors agreed with Mr. Perkins. From then on Roussey always objected to me, but to what the Commission did too.

We continued to improve "Seaside and Foster Park, and we made many improvements until the State Highway was completed through Ventura County. Our first planting was to be along the Rincon Highway from Ventura to the Santa Barbara line, and to plant palms on both sides. Although I had palms in our nursery at Seaside, they were still not tall enough to plant yet. Mr. Foster knew a nursery man in Santa Barbara who had a large supply of Palms ready to plant and who offered them to us at one dollar each for balled trees. (Evergreen trees must be taken up with a ball of earth to protect the roots. Deciduous trees when dormant can be planted with bare roots).

The matter was taken up at the next meeting of the Commission and then approved by the Supervisors, as usual Roussey objecting. And Mr. Foster ordered 1000 trees, three feet tall to be shipped by train to Ventura.

However, shortly before we had started that program two important things had happened in my personal life, which must be explained.