Big Bear, Ca, January 12, 2012, 1:00pm – Representative Jerry Lewis announced this week that he will retire at the end of this term after 46 years in elected office and 33 years representing San Bernardino and Riverside County in Congress. Lewis is the longest-serving Republican member of Congress from California, and the first member from the state to be Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.  Lewis issued the following statement on his retirement plans: “I will not seek re-election to the Congress in 2012. After months of consultation with loved ones and family, my wife Arlene and I have decided to retire from public life. We are deeply grateful to so many who have provided their support over the years. I have worked hard to justify that support. Thank you all and may God continue to bless America.”   Lewis has done a great amount of work in the last 46 years, and locally helped contribute to the elimination of more than a million dead trees to reduce fire danger in and around the San Bernardino National Forest. He worked with Sen. Dianne Feinstein to secure $500 million more to eliminate fire dangers throughout Southern California. As a result of the work with San Bernardino County and forest service officials, fire danger has been dramatically reduced in the past few years.  With elections just around the corner for 2012, Assemblyman Paul Cook who earlier last year announced his intention to run for San Bernardino County Supervisor, announced last week his intention to instead run for the Congressional seat that will be left open after Lewis retires.