About Martha Michael


A professional writer for decades and the editor of multiple products from Valley Publications, Martha is in a constant search for new challenges. While maintaining her editing post for more than eight years, she also opened an antiques business and authored her first book, “Canyon Country,” by Arcadia Publishing.

Martha manages two blogs—one for business and one that is more personal—and works to market and perfect her craft in every arena. Lack of energy is never a problem, and Martha is daily generating ideas, taking photos and talking to members of the community. She believes strongly that “everybody has a story.”

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Local Restaurateur Provides Brunch for Chamber Golf Tournament

| News | October 19, 2017

While members of the community are teeing up, Steve Dinkowitz will be serving up food for hungry participants at the 33rd Annual Oak Tree Golf Classic. The owner of The Backyard Grub N’ Brews in Centre Pointe Marketplace, Dinkowitz will prepare breakfast burritos for 250 golfers at the SCV Chamber of Commerce fundraiser.

It’s not out of the restaurateur’s wheelhouse, having been the owner of multiple Dink’s Delis in Santa Clarita, which he sold after 25 years, calling it “bittersweet.”

“Being in the restaurant business is not easy; (it’s) a lot of work and time,” said Dinkowitz, who started baking at the age of 15 and parlayed his skills into a major cookie business, eventually shipping as much as 1,000 lbs. a week.

Donating food for the Chamber’s Octoberfest-themed golf tournament on Monday, October 23 is just one example of Dinkowitz’ community involvement. Thursday nights are “Pint Night” at The Backyard Grub N’ Brews, where customers enjoy live local bands offering blues, jazz, R&B and rock music. Beer suppliers add to the excitement by offering giveaways, such as shirts, glasses, hats, key chains, etc.

There is also music on weekend nights, and sometimes for the Sunday brunch crowd.

“My hope now for The Backyard Grub N’ Brews is to give all the people of SCV a fun place with good food … where they can come on a night and relax and enjoy music, have a drink and then call it a night,” Dinkowitz said.

For more information, call 661-286-1165 or visit Thebackyardgrubnbrews.com.

ER Alternative Opens in Stevenson Ranch

| Community | October 19, 2017

For residents who have experienced long waits in emergency rooms, or have been frustrated by a shortage of resources at their urgent care facilities, a new medical center opened to offer something different. Exer More Than Urgent Care opened its doors to patients Wednesday in Stevenson Ranch, the company’s seventh Southern California clinic since its inception four years ago.

The first of its kind in the Santa Clarita Valley, Exer is staffed with ER doctors and includes on-site medical services such as X-ray, lab, splinting, laceration and diagnostics.

“Each of our centers has the capabilities to stabilize and treat over 80 percent of the cases seen daily in the local ER with little-to-no waiting and for a fraction of the costs,” said Exer CEO Rob Mahan. “We accept most PPO, most HMO insurance plans and we have a Prompt Pay Program with affordable payment options for those with minimal or no health insurance.”

Founded by Cherlin Johnson, M.D., Deann Hampton and lead investor James Fay, Exer’s unique model was developed with the belief that patients receiving care in an emergency room could be better served in a more convenient, high-quality and affordable urgent care environment.

“We’re on a mission to help people to feel better faster,” Mahan said. “That means placing our centers in easy to access locations that are close to residential areas, local hospitals and schools. In addition, our partnership with Providence Health & Services enables us to serve more communities we may not otherwise be able to serve.”

Exer More Than Urgent Care is located at the corner of The Old Road and Constitution Avenue in Stevenson Ranch. For more information, visit Exerurgentcare.com/urgent-care-santa-clarita/.

Non Profit of the Week – Thank-A-Vet Golf Foundation

| SC Living | October 13, 2017

Nancy Butler, founder and organizer of the annual Thank-A-Vet golf tournament, has very personal reasons for working tirelessly throughout the year to produce and implement her event. There are four very important military veterans in her life: her father, brother, and two uncles, as well as dear friends and former students. They were, and are, men of honor who were bound by duty and love of country to do what was asked of them to protect and guard the dreams of so many while putting their own dreams on hold. This made a huge impact on her as a child.

Thank-A-Vet’s mission statement is a testament to Miss Butler’s dream: The mission of the Thank-A-Veteran Golf Foundation is to honor and embrace the spirit of the dedication and sacrifices of military and their families by:

Organizing and implementing fun, enriching, and community-connecting events, the major event being the non-profit’s annual Thank-A-Vet Golf Tournament
To be able to provide a meaningful monetary contribution to organizations that benefits local military veterans

Her dream of honoring those special veterans in her life blossomed into an annual golf tournament which consistently has a waiting list of participants. Veterans play for free (or make a voluntary donation), while others pay a very reasonable set fee. Still other individuals and local businesses donate goods and services for silent auction and raffle items to raise money for various veteran-based organizations. Past events have taken place at Robinson Ranch Golf Club (now Sand Canyon Country Club) and TPC Valencia.

This year, Thank-A-Vet’s annual 18-hole scramble format golf tournament will be returning to the beautiful TPC Valencia Golf Club on Monday, October 30, 2017. Again, as expected, it is sold out, but hole sponsorships, silent auction, and raffle donations are still available.

Typically, each event is kicked off by an address from a local city or state official.

Miss Butler closes the opening ceremonies by thanking all the participants, contributing community partners, and the highly valuable volunteers that make this event a success.

Veterans are treated to a boxed lunch while on the course and a catered dinner when play is complete. The event is capped off with prizes awarded to winning teams and sponsor recognition ending with the silent auction and raffle.

Thank-A-Vet hopes at some point in the future to involve professional golfers in a pro/am format and to implement and host a few more tournaments … all aimed at raising funds for local veterans.

For more information about this golf tournament, to make a donation, or to obtain more information about the Thank-A-Vet Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, contact Nancy Butler at thankavetgolf@gmail.com. Look for them on Facebook as well.

Carve Out Time for Halloween

| Canyon Country Magazine, Community | October 7, 2017

Whether Trick-or-Treating or hosting a Halloween Party this year, there are plenty of places to enjoy this spooky holiday…

Gilchrist Farm
Every day in October there’s a pumpkin patch party at Gilchrist Farms in Saugus from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. You can pick out pumpkins for purchase and on weekends enjoy: Mule Drawn Wagon Rides, Pony Rides, Face Painting, Pumpkin Decorating, Fall Farm Crafts, Live Entertainment, Caramel Apples, Roasted Corn on the Cob, Food Trucks, the Petting Zoo, Straw Slide, Pig Races, Chicken Splat Bingo and free Goat Milking Demonstrations each Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m. You get free entry to the Straw Bale Maze if you bring a donation to the SCV Food Pantry from the non-profit group’s website: scvfoodpantry.org/HowtoHelp/NeededItems.

Gilchrist Farms is located at 30116 Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus. For more information, call 661-645-2517 or visit www.gilchristfarm.com/harvest-festival.

Trunk or Treat
This family-friendly holiday event on Sunday, October 29 from 5-6:30 p.m. brings community members together to trick-or-treat from decorated cars! Santa Clarita United Methodist Church is inviting residents and friends to come—costumed or not—to collect candy from cars in the parking lot. It’s a safe event for kids to trick-or-treat and includes a maze and food for everyone. Santa Clarita United Methodist Church is located at 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus. Call 661-297-3783 or visit SCUMC.org.

Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest
Watch certified scuba dive teams carve masterpieces under water at the 10th Annual Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest! Every year, the City of Santa Clarita hosts this unusual event, held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 28 at the Santa Clarita Aquatics Center, located at 20850 Centre Pointe Pkwy in Santa Clarita. The community is invited to watch it live on big screens and enjoy crafts, games and trick-or-treating. Call 661-259-2489 or find the event on page 22 of the Seasons Catalog at Santa-Clarita.com/seasons.

PumpkinLiner Train Rides
The Fillmore & Western Railway is “dying to see you” board their vintage train for the annual PumpkinLiner day trips. There are departures Saturdays and Sundays beginning October 7 at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. taking passengers to “The Patch” to pick out pumpkins for purchase. There are added attractions this year for $3 that include a haunted house, antique carousel, jolly jumpers and hay rides. Vendors will be onsite so you can enjoy tri-tip sandwiches and other eats, while the kids get face paiting, a hay maze and more. Tickets range from $10-$22 and lap children under age 2 are free. There is also a Zombie Hunter Train Ride and a Haunted Hayride Family Dinner Train in October. Fillmore & Western Railway is located at 364 Main Street in Fillmore. For more information, call 805-524-2546 or visit FWRY-blog.com.

Mary Purdy – Teacher of the Year

| Canyon Country Magazine | October 6, 2017

If you created a song from the life of newly retired choir teacher Mary Purdy it would sound a lot like the last verse of Huey Lewis’ “Heart of Rock & Roll.” Only her lyrics would be “Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, New Mexico, California, Elsinore, Morro Bay and San Fernando.”

Mary Purdy was always going places — even from childhood, moving a lot thanks to being a pastor’s daughter — but when she began her career in music education she made sure the kids were going places too. Not only does she have numerous students from her 26 years at Canyon High School who went on to study music in college, but she literally took them places — a lot of them — from her first year as Canyon’s choir director. She led choir trips to: Hawaii, New York, Chicago, Orlando, Washington, D.C., Sacramento, Boston, San Antonio — some of those more than once.

“I attended three trips: a Mexico cruise, Orlando Disney tour and Vancouver,” said former student Danny Jaramillo, who graduated in 2004. “I had such an amazing time on all three.”

As many of her former students will contend, Mrs. Purdy didn’t need a change of scenery to keep it lively. It’s what happened in the classroom day-to-day that made a difference for them.

“She has helped in more ways than she knows,” Jaramillo said. “I credit her with the reason my voice has grown into what it is today. She gave me a rock solid foundation of skills that I still use to mold my ‘instrument’ whenever a piece of music I need to learn comes up.”

Jazz vocalist Natalie Mendoza, 25, said it was one of her last days in Mrs. Purdy’s class that inspired her to become part of multiple college choirs.

“I remember singing with Madrigals in rehearsal and feeling my voice open and fill out in a round and resonant way that I hadn’t quite felt before,” Mendoza described. “Mrs. Purdy heard this difference and stopped the rehearsal for a moment to tell me in front of the choir that I had finally started singing with my true classical sound and that I would sing that way in my college choirs. I hadn’t even considered singing in choir in college at that point, but her words propelled me into the notion that music would inevitably be a part of my college career. I became a music major, studying both classical and jazz voice, singing in five different choirs during my college years.”

Purdy earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from California State University, Northridge, and in 1977 got her first teaching job in East Los Angeles at Stevenson Junior High School. In 1981, she joined the William S. Hart Union School District as a teacher at Sierra Vista Junior High. Nine years later, Purdy began teaching English at Canyon High School, and took on the choirs, which were, at the time: Women’s Chamber Ensemble, Concert Choir with about 35 students, and Treble Choir, which was for beginning singers. The small, exclusive group, Madrigals, met in the evenings. In 1994 she added the Men’s Chamber Ensemble.

This year has been a big one for Mary Purdy. She retired in June and was recently recognized as the William S. Hart Union School District Teacher of the Year. While her excellence in the classroom is rewarded by Hart leadership, what her students remember is that her classes were anything but “business as usual.”

“I remember, quite vividly, that Mrs. Purdy would spray the contents of her water bottle on you if she heard you playing ‘Heart and Soul’ on the piano,” Jaramillo said. “The people ‘in the know’ would always stop what they were doing and look to watch her reaction when someone unknowingly played the trigger song. It was comical!”

Andrew Taban of Canyon Country has similar memories after four years in the classroom with a teacher he calls “feisty.”

“If you said something out of turn she would chase you and spray you with water,” he said. “One time I ran out of the room to escape. When I went back in the classroom, my backpack was soaking wet.”

There was a different vibe in choir than in other classes, students say. It may be, in part, because music is an elective, but it had everything to do with Purdy’s style.

“I think that most people would think every day in my classroom was pretty crazy,” Purdy said. “We did a lot of laughing each day.”

The biggest takeaway for her students, however, was her generosity of spirit, and the benefit to them personally.

“She didn’t care who you were, she wanted to be there for every one of her students. … She loved every single one,” Taban said. “We adored her.”

The choir room doors were open for teens to spend their free time, and she developed relationships with students that continued after graduation.

“Mrs. Purdy and I share a birthday and EVERY SINGLE YEAR I receive a birthday card in the mail from her that is signed “birthday buddy,” Mendoza said. “She called me that in high school.”

But Purdy’s playfulness had substance.

“Besides the obvious music skills … I learned how to be an adult as a student under her guidance,” explained 30-year-old Jaramillo. “Empathy, punctuality and personal responsibility are three poignant character traits that I can say she nurtured in me!”

That positive feedback might be enough for a lot of retirees to, deservedly, consider it a job well done and relax. But that isn’t Purdy’s way. She keeps moving, no matter what.

“I haven’t finished cleaning out closets, so I’m not bored yet!” Purdy joked. “I have to say that it is really weird. I don’t miss getting up at 5 a.m. or going to faculty meetings (no offense, Jason!) or professional development that has nothing to do with what I teach. I like being able to read my Bible every morning and the newspaper at my leisure. However, I really miss seeing the kids and making beautiful music with them.”

Mary Purdy has been “making beautiful music” with her husband, Wally Purdy, for 44 years. They have planned a trip to Hawaii and a cruise to see the fall colors in New England (a time of year educators rarely get to travel, she points out).

Mary and Wally, who is executive vice president at the Bank of Santa Clarita, checked with the State Teachers Retirement and found that she would receive the optimum benefit by retiring in 2014. But, that year was the groundbreaking for a brand new Performing Arts Center on the Canyon High School campus.

“Since I had been involved with the design from the beginning, I wanted to see all that planning come to fruition,” Mary Purdy said. “I wanted to be able to perform in it for one entire year, so that was when I retired.”

Canyon High School’s new choir teacher, Kelly Caswell, is a Valencia High School graduate and was one of Mrs. Purdy’s student teachers.

“I knew that she was a person who knew the program and would work with the established traditions and would have a long, successful career at Canyon High School,” Mary Purdy said. “When she came to meet these kids, they fell in love with her immediately. She is talented, nice, fun, kind, caring, everything you would want in a choir teacher.”

Canyon students will never again join Mrs. Purdy onstage for a teary farewell singing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.” And they’ll never again watch Mrs. Purdy navigate such choir tour snafus as the time the door to their airplane door broke off (resulting in 110 students finding alternate transportation to NYC).

But they will make memories with Ms. Caswell, while Mary Purdy keeps moving in her own, new direction. So far that means daily walks with friends, helping her mother-in-law and singing at Grace Baptist Church and the Santa Clarita Master Chorale.

And while the “heart of rock & roll is still beating” for Huey Lewis & the News, Mary Purdy’s heart is still beating the way it always has … filled with purpose and generosity, impacting whoever gets the pleasure of her company, wherever she goes from here.

Tried and True – True Crime Details from Local Menendez Juror

| News, Sand Canyon Journal | October 5, 2017

It isn’t often that Sand Canyon has a prison insider. But viewers of “NBC News” following episodes of “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders” can see local resident Betty Oldfield share what she knows about the famous trial 23 years ago. She served as a substitute on the jury for Erik Menendez during the first trial, which ended in a deadlock. After a second trial, in 1996, the brothers were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

NBC began airing the “Law & Order True Crime” series on Sep. 26, which will be presented in eight one-hour segments. It is a drama starring Emmy Award-winner Edie Falco as Erik Menendez’ defense attorney, Leslie Abramson. NBC’s Colleen Williams will air her interviews with jurors intermittently.

Oldfield and another juror, Hazel Thornton, were interviewed by Williams for the segments, as well as many other shows over the last two decades, such as “Snapped” on the Oxygen Network. One of Oldfield’s first interviews after the trial was on “Larry King Live,” plus she appeared on TMZ, and she was interviewed by Greta Van Susteren on “Fox News.” Producers always send a car to take Oldfield to their studios in Los Angeles, she said, except the Reel Channel, who filmed in her Sand Canyon living room. She’s been on so many shows at this point that she’s lost count.
While actress Edie Falco was impersonating attorney Leslie Abramson to the best of her ability, the real Abramson was reconnecting with former jury members Oldfield and Thornton, now an author with a book entitled “Hung Jury: The Diary of a Menendez Juror.” Back in 1994, to prepare for the second trial, Abramson reached out to several jurors to learn which aspects of the defense resonated with them. Oldfield developed a rapport with the attorney, as well as a friendship with defendant Erik Menendez.

According to press about the new show, the storyline will focus on why the brothers committed murder, an attempt, in part, to humanize them. And in the same way “Law & Order True Crime” seeks to grow public empathy for the Menendez brothers, Erik has a parallel project behind bars, according to Oldfield. He works with groups of inmates to help them develop empathy for fellow prisoners.

“One of his goals is to bring in some of the younger inmates to learn empathy for the older ones,” Oldfield explained. “He makes much time in helping others while incarcerated.”

Over the many years Erik Menendez has corresponded with Betty Oldfield, she has become impressed by how he’s turned a life sentence into a life of productivity, including educating himself and developing his skills as a painter.
She received a copy of a letter from a Folsom Prison official praising the younger Menendez for how he’s helping fellow inmates.

“The prison where he is has a lot of physically handicapped individuals,” Oldfield said. “Erik said they’d be pushed in a corner and just be ignored. So, he started a group where they could all meet and socialize a bit — and now the group has grown way beyond that.”

The role the cameras played in the courtroom during the first trial (the judge barred them from the second trial) have, doubtless, affected public sentiment about the case. And the spate of shows about the Menendez brothers will add layers to the already existing (largely negative) attitudes.

“My slant is not what the media has portrayed,” Oldfield said. “I certainly know Erik for who he really is. He’s a very caring person. My main goal is to help people understand they are not the rich, spoiled kids from Beverly Hills. Those people have not sat through the same trial that I sat through.”

In the case of both Lyle’s and Erik’s deadlocked juries in 1994, votes were pretty much split down gender lines. The women voted for leniency, while the men were unsympathetic to the defendants.

“You could see (the male jurors) throw their notepads down and not bother to take any notes,” Oldfield said. “It was never a case of whether they were guilty. It was question of degree.”

For anyone wondering how the jurors in the second trial managed to make a decision for guilt, Judge Stanley Weisberg limited testimony about allegations of sexual abuse by Jose Menendez. “I could understand how they reached a verdict,” Oldfield responded. “They didn’t hear the truth of it.”

Elks Lodge Member Jay Larkins Roasted

| Community | September 28, 2017

In a warm-up to the celebration for the 50th anniversary of Elks Lodge #2379, members roasted fellow Elk Jay Larkins earlier this month. The roast drew a crowd, and the night ended with Larkins’ rebuttal to the playful jabs that left guests laughing.

The Lodge was filled with local Elks members on September 9, as well as Elks leaders from other lodges in the Southern California area. Exalted Rulers, known as ERs, past ERs and leaders from Burbank, Canoga Park,  San Fernando, Sunland-Tujunga and Van Nuys  were present to hear the “dirt” about Jay. The program started off with a short film followed by Larkins’ friends and family sharing embellished tidbits about the guest of honor. Even Ginger, Jay’s wife, had a turn roasting her husband.

Santa Clarita Lodge Exalted Ruler Maurice Hamilton turned the heat up, and Master Roaster, Councilman Bob Kellar, who is a longtime Elks member and who seemed to know Jay Larkins well, elevated the roasting thermometer to the highest level, according to reports.

Councilmember Bob Kellar “roasting” Elks Member, Jay Larkins

Larkins has a successful career in television as current president/director of Southern Comfort Productions, former director of  NBC’s “Entertainment Tonight” and “Crime Watch Daily,” plus numerous other productions. He has served the Elks proudly at the local, district and state levels — helping fellow Elks garner numerous trophies on display at Elks Lodge 2379. Proceeds from the event are used to further the programs and services of the Lodge.

The Elks organization is a national fraternal order, with more than 2,000 lodges and approximately a million members across the country. Elks Lodges are places where neighbors come together, families share meals, and children grow up. Elks invest in their communities through programs that aim to make it possible for children to grow up healthy and drug-free, meet the needs of today’s veterans, and improve the quality of life for many individuals. The monthly Lodge schedule has activities every day of the week — from regular events such as Sunday breakfast and bingo; Monday night football; Taco Tuesday; and Friday night dinner to events sponsored by the Santa Clarita Emblem Club, an auxiliary group supporting Lodge 2379 projects.

Today, Elks Lodge 2379 has more than 700 members and is led by Exalted Ruler Maurice Hamilton who says, “It is an honor to be serving the lodge and community during our 50th year celebration and to have the opportunity to enthusiastically set the tone and direction for the next 50 years serving the Santa Clarita community.”

For more information about the Elks 50th Anniversary, their programs and projects, contact Phyllis Walker at 661-251-1172 or visit Elks.org.

Non Profit of the Month – The Brittany Foundation Sanctuary and Dog Rescue

| SC Living | September 28, 2017

Saving the lives of animals is the mission of The Brittany Foundation Sanctuary & Dog Rescue in Agua Dulce. It is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the rescue, care and placement of dogs — all breeds and mixtures. There are approximately 50 dogs on the property at any time, many with various physical challenges.

The dogs are shown at the Foundation’s weekly adoption program at the sanctuary in Agua Dulce, plus there are adoption events throughout the year. While in the care of Foundation staff members, the dogs are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and given a thorough check-up, along with any necessary medical attention. The dogs are also micro-chipped. If dogs are not adopted, they will live at the sanctuary for their entire lives. In other words, it’s a no-kill facility!

They rescue all dogs, regardless of breed, and focus efforts on the harder-to-place dogs such as seniors, disabled or abused dogs, and “media condemned” breeds such as pit bulls, chow chows and Dobermans. It’s relatively easy to find a home for a cute little terrier, but the gratification for Brittany Foundation volunteers comes from placing the 6-year-old pit bull with one eye, the stray mutt who has never had a home before, or the 12-year-old Doberman with severe separation anxiety (who is now living in a wonderful home of his own). Of course, they also have the adorable, well-behaved angels who are still searching for their forever homes too.

A Day in Their Paws

The Brittany Foundation will be holding their major, yearly fundraising event, A Day in Their Paws, on Saturday, October 14, 2017, at the Agua Dulce facility. The community is invited to visit the dogs during the event, and maybe find the dog-companion of their dreams.

At A Day in Their Paws volunteers commit to spending 24 hours in a kennel with the dog of their choice. It is a dramatic way to raise awareness of how shelter and rescue dogs live.

Volunteers can only get out of the kennel by finding sponsors who will “buy their freedom” for $1 per minute. There is an open house at The Brittany Foundation Sanctuary that day from 12 noon-4 p.m., with music, raffles, a silent auction, and of course you can tour the sanctuary, visit the “incarcerated” volunteers, and learn about the dogs who are keeping them company.

You may also visit the website to meet participating volunteers and to help them meet their fundraising goals: Brittanyfoundationonline.org.

For more information and a visit to the facility, contact founder Nancy Anderson at 661-713-5420 or email Brittany_dogs@yahoo.com.

Tattoo Artist Has Designs on New Building

| Canyon Country Magazine, News | September 28, 2017

Like some of his clients who spend time researching and designing the tattoo they hire him to create, Adam Guyot looked at his options and is happy with his choice. After 23 years since he opened his doors, the Canyon Country business owner is moving Eternal Art Tattoo down the road to Flying Tiger Drive.

Like other businesses in his building on the northeast corner of Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway, Guyot had to find a new space to set up shop. The City of Santa Clarita is taking ownership of the buildings on the east side of the 18400 and 18300 blocks of Sierra Highway in order to construct a new Canyon Country Community Center.

The news was not welcome initially, at least by most of the tenants.

“That’s how I felt at the beginning as well,” Guyot said. “I’ve been here 23 years and being told I had to up and move — I wasn’t too happy about it.”

His prospects were perhaps more slim than some of the other business owners, partly because he needed specific zoning criteria. And that’s where he feels the City of Santa Clarita is coming through for him.

“At first I thought they were going to just run us out of town,” he said. “The city is really helping us with the whole move. And they’re allowing us to stay open there until we’re in the new location.”

While it may not sound like much, being allowed to stay at 18438 Sierra Highway through the waiting period involved could add up to survival for Guyot’s shop.

“My biggest concern was (that) I have five other artists,” he said. “As of this month the city is actually my landlord.”
Guyot turned in Conditional Use Permit paperwork last week, which is two months before they can actually do construction.

“We wanted to stay local. I love this place,” said Guyot, who was born and raised in Canyon Country. “I think our clientele will be able to find us.”

Not only is the city offering financial assistance for the move, the City of Santa Clarita is supporting Eternal Art as a co-applicant for the conditional use permit, or CUP, at the new business address.

“It’s the same building where the (Canyon Country) Community Center is currently,” Guyot said.

Among other phases of the process, Guyot is waiting for approval by the health department and the plans to be drafted by an architect, followed by engineering before construction begins. He is hoping, assuming even, there will be no interruption in business.

I hope we get this place built and once it’s turnkey ready, we lock the door here and unlock the door there,” he said.

After the move—for as long as the current building is still standing, the city’s Planning Department will allow a window painter to direct customers to the new address for Eternal Art Tattoo.


And in a sort of symbiosis, Guyot plans to donate his time to the efforts of the community center, perhaps painting a mural or teaching art classes to kids after school. It’s a way to give back, considering he was a Canyon Country student too, first at Honby Elementary, then Sierra Vista Junior High, and later Canyon High School.

Guyot also participated in ROP (Regional Occupational Program) classes at Saugus High School and Hart High.

“It was a graphic arts program. I’d go from Canyon and go work with Mr. Shaw at Saugus, then Gary Lindberg at Hart,” said the 44-year-old Guyot. “I learned the whole printing industry.”

In 1995 he opened his own business after years learning his craft as a tattoo artist. “I wanted to try it on my own,” he said. “I knew that I could do it and have a place that people could feel comfortable.”

According to Guyot, the cell phone store already moved up the street, which he said was “uneventful.” The city helped them with that move. And the auto repair garage is having some issues with zoning, because the business requires bays and lifts, etc.
“It’s hard to find a spot to reopen,” Guyot said about the City of Santa Clarita’s help. “They’re being fair. You can fight them in court for three years or you can play ball.”

Local Resident to be on ‘The Voice’

| News | September 21, 2017

When Blake Shelton, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Levine met Karli Webster of Canyon Country, they probably thought they were listening to a seasoned performer who trained for years to appear in front of millions of viewers on “The Voice.”

Indeed, the 20-year-old Webster will appear on TV as a contestant on this season of “The Voice” in one of the “Blind Audition” episodes, scheduled to air September 25, 26, October 2 and 3. But it’s the young singer’s talent — not her experience — that got her there. Her family and friends hounded Webster to compete, which she dismissed season after season, never expecting to truly make the cut.

“They believed in me more than I believed in myself,” Webster said. “I was proving to myself that I could do it, more than proving it to them — they knew I was going to be just fine on that stage.”

Last February she agreed to go to the open call in Las Vegas, so en route to Nevada, Webster thought it might be a good idea to decide on her audition songs. She chose Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and “The Story,” a folk rock number recorded by Brandi Carlile.

“I finally picked those on the way there,” Webster said. “They felt most true to who I am as a performer. And they were songs that were easy for me to sing — I felt comfortable doing them under pressure.”

Underscoring the part destiny has played in Webster’s bright future, she was named for Carly Simon, she said, and considers herself a vintage ‘70s folk rock artist, for the most part. That fact also may offer a clue about the hush-hush content of the first four shows.

“It’s going to be a little bit different from the other blind auditions,” Webster said. “I have a different style than a lot of the other singers who’ve been on the show.”

The Santa Clarita native said she didn’t really sleep the night before “The Voice” taping.

“But the day of, I had so much peace,” she said. “I was confident about the work I put into my song. I was just grateful for the experience.”

Andrea Vibe of Vibe Performing Arts Studios in Santa Clarita is Webster’s go-to voice coach when she wants feedback or needs polishing before an important performance. She got her vocal talent from her father, Ronson Webster, and took piano lessons from the age of 4 from Suzy Hanna, but her performance experience is minimal. Webster sang locally at Heart of the Canyons Church and took part in musicals at ESCAPE Theatre and Canyon High School, plus performed a few original songs at It’s a Grind in Castaic.

“Doing ‘The Voice’ was me forcing myself to finally get out there,” she said. “I’ve never sung in front of an audience that big. It was wonderful meeting all of those coaches. They treat all the artists with so much respect. They are all so amazing.”

An even bigger audience will watch the coaches and talented contestants when they tune in to NBC for the ‘Blind Audition’ episodes. Best of all, they’ll find out how they treated Karli, the local voice with the “vintage vibe.”

Non Profit of the Week – Michael Hoefflin Foundation

| SC Living | September 7, 2017

The Michael Hoefflin Foundation for children’s cancer is a public nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation that provides financial and emotional support to children and their families in the Santa Clarita and surrounding valleys. The organization strives to educate the public and provide grant funding for innovative research to accelerate progress in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Michael Andrew Hoefflin was born January 10, 1986, and as he grew, his good health and athletic ability was matched with energy and enthusiasm. But at the end of his kindergarten school year, Michael had flu-like symptoms that didn’t improve with various treatments by his pediatrician. After a few weeks of illness, the occurrence of double vision prompted a brain scan.

On July 13, 1992 at the age of 6, Michael was admitted to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where he was diagnosed with a brain tumor — PNET/medulloblastoma — an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Following brain surgery to remove the large tumor pressing against his brain stem, Michael received weeks of rehabilitation therapy to recover from the impact of surgery. He needed physical therapy to regain his strength, his ability to walk, speak clearly, and perform the most basic activities in order to care for himself again.

Michael received both radiation and chemotherapy treatments during the subsequent months, but to everyone’s great disappointment, doctors found that a small amount of the cancer had survived the early treatments and had spread into his spine. Children’s brain cancer has a propensity for recurring; however, a relapse this early into a child’s treatment was unusual, signaling the threat of a very resistant form of cancer.

Michael’s recovery from mega-therapy and a bone marrow transplant was slow and difficult, but he was fortunate to have 17 months of remission following that procedure. During that period, Michael enjoyed his second grade year in elementary school and resumed some favorite activities, however, a routine screening in May of 1994 showed his cancer had returned and was actively growing again. The doctors were very clear: each recurrence poses a much more difficult battle than the last.

Michael immediately began treatments with the most promising chemotherapy drugs, but unfortunately, the brain cancer cells that had survived were the strongest and most resistant to medical technology known at that time. During that period of treatments, the cancer had advanced significantly with diffuse disease forming dozens of tumors throughout his brain and spine. But you wouldn’t guess that by seeing him. Michael insisted upon being active, and had a persistent smile on his face. Amazingly, despite his declining condition and very young age, Michael continued to maintain his positive attitude. He wanted to help others in need, and was a grand spokesman for the many other children suffering with cancer. He had a strong spirit, refusing to dwell upon his situation; he cared more about how others were doing.

Inspired by his amazing example, Michael’s family and friends in 1994 reached out beyond the fight for just Michael’s recovery and included the tens of thousands of other afflicted children. With the commitment to being a positive force in the advancement of effective treatments, compassionate support to afflicted children and their families, and discovery of cures for childhood cancers, the Michael Hoefflin Foundation was formed in late September of 1995.

Michael’s loss on May 15, 1996 brought immense sadness, and reaffirmed the critical need to eliminate cancer as a threat to our children. Michael is dearly missed and continues to be our inspiration.

Evening Under the Stars Gala Benefits Kids with Cancer
For almost a quarter of a century the Michael Hoefflin Foundation has hosted a local fundraiser bringing hundreds of residents together for food, entertainment, and a common goal—to fight childhood cancers.

The 24th Annual Michael Hoefflin Foundation Evening Under the Stars gala dinner and charity auction will be held on Saturday, September 16. The event will be held at Mann Biomedical Park beginning at 6 p.m. Attendees will enjoy a dinner catered by Salt Creek Grill, live music, and the opportunity to bid on hundreds of unique auction items.

Although the Michael Hoefflin Foundation focuses on fundraising efforts throughout the year, Evening Under the Stars is critical in raising funds to help drive the foundation’s mission to provide support to children and their families facing the emotional and financial difficulties of pediatric cancer.
“We are grateful for the support of our community, whether at our 5K earlier in the year or the amazing efforts by people such as Roy Wiegand, who recently ran in honor of one of our recently lost angels,” said Gillian Stone, MHF’s executive director. “This is our chance to give the community that we so appreciate a beautiful, memorable and hopefully inspiring evening, and let people know about why we need the support we do,” she said.

Honorary chairs are Jon and Mardilan Giorgio of Gothic Landscape, and this year’s entertainment is the third appearance by the Kelly Rae Band, a high-energy country band that has been delivering crowd-pleasing performances around the world for more than two decades. The band is comprised of seasoned musicians who have performed with such names as Tanya Tucker, Rascal Flatts, Bobby Bare and Trick Pony.

To find out more about the event, visit www.mhf.org for ticket information and to discover what the Michael Hoefflin Foundation is doing in the community.

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Evening Under the Stars Gala Benefits Kids with Cancer

| Canyon Country Magazine | September 4, 2017

For almost a quarter of a century the Michael Hoefflin Foundation has hosted a local fundraiser bringing hundreds of residents together for food, entertainment, and a common goal — to fight childhood cancers.

This year’s 24th Annual Michael Hoefflin Foundation Evening Under the Stars gala dinner and charity auction will be held on Saturday, September 16, 2017. The event will be held at Mann Biomedical Park beginning at 6 p.m. Attendees will enjoy a dinner catered by Salt Creek Grill, live music, and the opportunity to bid on hundreds of unique auction items.

Although the Michael Hoefflin Foundation focuses on fundraising efforts throughout the year, Evening Under the Stars is critical in raising funds to help drive the foundation’s mission to provide support to children and their families facing the emotional and financial difficulties of pediatric cancer.

“We are grateful for the support of our community, whether at our 5K earlier in the year or the amazing efforts by people such as Roy Wiegand, who recently ran in honor of one of our recently lost angels,” said Gillian Stone, MHF’s executive director. “This is our chance to give the community that we so appreciate a beautiful, memorable and hopefully inspiring evening, and let people know about why we need the support we do.”

Honorary chairs are Jon and Mardilan Giorgio of Gothic Landscape, and this year’s entertainment is the third appearance by the Kelly Rae Band, a high-energy country band that has been delivering crowd-pleasing performances around the world for more than two decades. The band is comprised of seasoned musicians who have performed with such names as Tanya Tucker, Rascal Flatts, Bobby Bare and Trick Pony.

The Michael Hoefflin Foundation for children’s cancer is a public nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation that provides financial and emotional support to children and their families in the Santa Clarita and surrounding valleys. The organization strives to educate the public and provide grant funding for innovative research to accelerate progress in the fight against pediatric cancer. To find out more about the event, visit www.mhf.org for ticket information and to discover what the Michael Hoefflin Foundation is doing in the community.

Richard Cook – The Sky’s the Limit

| Sand Canyon Journal | September 3, 2017

While a lot of us were seeing stars last month during the solar eclipse, for one Sand Canyon resident it was just another day at the office. For almost 30 years Richard Cook has made his mark as an engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. As project manager of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory project at JPL, he played a key role in the landing of the rover, “Curiosity,” in 2012. Cook attracted the attention of Time Magazine when he was counted among the publication’s “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.”

While people all over the U.S. faced the eclipse on August 21, 2017 wearing special order glasses and holding up homemade pinhole boxes, JPL employees were doing the same — perhaps with slightly more enthusiasm, however.

“Eclipse day was pretty exciting at JPL, although we didn’t have any particular equipment to view it, other than the standard viewing glasses that most people had,” Cook said. “I would say nearly all JPLers came outside and watched it directly, so it was a bit of a party. Lots of folks didn’t come to work, though, because they travelled up to the ‘zone of totality’ to check it out in person. I heard lots of great stories about what it was like in person.”

Cook says this year is another big one for JPL.

“We just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Voyager mission, and we continue to get science data from it, even though the spacecraft has left our solar system — the furthest human made object,” he explained.

The public can get unprecedented views of Saturn this month, he said, as the Cassini mission finishes 13 years of orbit. “We have to crash the spacecraft into Saturn on September 15 because it has run out of fuel,” he described. “There will be lots of coverage of it as it gets closer … culminating in some amazing close up pictures of the rings as the spacecraft goes in.”

Next year brings even more drama at JPL, Cook added. “We are getting ready for Mars missions in 2018 (a lander) and 2020 (a big rover),” he said. “Plus, we want to send an orbiter and lander to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, to look for potential life in its subsurface ocean. Those missions will happen in the 2020s.”

Cook has been a Sand Canyon resident for 16 years. “I love it and it’s been great seeing my kids grow up in Canyon Country,” he said. “My youngest is graduating from Canyon High School this year, so 2018 will be a big year.”

Cajun Belle Unmasks a New Owner

| Canyon Country Magazine | September 1, 2017

Last year, a Canyon Country night spot made headlines when it became a “Bar Rescue” assignment, where reality TV show expert Jon Taffer, among other things, changed its name from Grinders to The Cajun Belle.

This year, the Mardi Gras themed bar is changing hands. Stacey Shaw is bringing more than 25 years of bartending experience to the business, and literally “pouring” her own ideas into the already busy bar.

“I’m keeping everything pretty much the same — the only thing different is there’s a lot more stock there,” Shaw said. “There’s going to be an expanded collection of beers and spirits.”

She’s put more than $3,000 and hours and hours into her new business. “I saved and saved — my goal was to buy my own bar,” Shaw said.

She signed up with a brokerage firm, which sent her an alert when The Cajun Belle went up for sale. A main feature she was looking for was a bar with a full liquor license. “One of the big draws was the entertainment license, because you can have live music,” Shaw said, tying it to her expertise. “I actually have a degree in sound engineering.”

The Cajun Belle will host a big event on Saturday, September 2 beginning at 10 p.m. Members of the community who are over 21 are invited to the bar to hear “Arizona Bay,” a tribute to the band Tool. There is no cover charge, and there will be pizza and wings for purchase.

Shaw plans to showcase local bands and hold frequent “80s nights.” There is karaoke with DJ Donnie Do every Thursday and Saturday 9 p.m.-1 a.m., except when there’s a special event. And she’s a huge L.A. Kings fan, so customers will be tuned in during hockey season. The Cajun Belle is open every night from 4 p.m.-2 a.m. and it is located at 18283 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country. For more information, see The Cajun Belle’s Facebook site or email Stacey Shaw at THECBelle@gmail.com.

Non Profit of the Month – Santa Clarita Senior Center – Sponsored by Wolf Creek Brewery

| SC Living | August 31, 2017

Wolf Creek Brewery’s Community Pints Program honors a non-profit every Tuesday with donations from its total sales. This month, the SCV Senior Center will receive 10 percent of all sales at the brewery on Tuesdays in September, plus proceeds from the purchase of Golden Eagle Ale at Wolf Creek’s Restaurant.

Wolf Creek Brewery, located at 25108 Rye Canyon Loop in Valencia, will host live music and special food on the following Tuesdays in September:
Sept. 5—Steve Jones Acoustic Blues/Shreiners Fine Sausages
Sept. 12—Monkey Bump Band/BurgerBar LA Food Truck
Sept. 19—Bob Heller Acoustic Rock/Pacific Pizza Food Truck
Sept. 26—Jackie Beckwith Easy Rock/Swami Sandwiches

The brewery is open from 4-9 p.m., with music starting at 6 p.m. Ten percent of all Tuesday sales go to the SCV Senior Center.

The Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company, located at 27746 McBean Pkwy in Valencia, will donate 50 cents from every pint of Golden Eagle Ale purchased on Tuesdays this month.

For more information, call 661-294-9977 or visit Wolfcreekbrewingco.com.

About the Senior Center:

The SCV Senior Center has served the Santa Clarita Valley aging population for more than 40 years, offering programs and services that promote quality of life for seniors to over 10,000 individuals and their families annually.

The SCV Senior Center provides nearly every program and service listed in the Los Angeles County Senior Center Directory, including Adult Day Program and Respite, Handyworker Program, Congregate and Home Delivered Meals, Information and Resource Referral, Health and Wellness Programs, Caregiver Resources and Support Groups, Lifelong Learning Classes, Transportation, Recreation, Leisure Activities, Fitness and Exercise and more.

The Adult Day Program is a licensed program specializing in the care and activities for adults with Alzheimer’s disease, other types of dementia, post-stroke, Parkinson’s or other conditions requiring assistance and supervision. The SCV Senior Center’s focus is to enhance the lives of participants by encouraging independence, while building on their skills, knowledge, strengths and abilities.

The Handyworker Program is designed to provide free minor home repairs to qualified homeowners to improve the safety and habitability of their homes. Individuals who qualify for the program are eligible for repairs to their dwelling unit. The program enables homeowners to live safely in their own homes by addressing health and safety issues.

The Congregate and Home Delivered Meals Program provides an opportunity to enhance the daily nutrient intake, nutritional status, social interactions and functionality of older adults. The center’s Congregate Meal sites allow for social interaction with others and promote conversation, camaraderie, support and friendship. The Home Delivered Meal Program allows those who are homebound a nutritious meal, while also receiving comfort and interaction from a Home Delivered Meal Driver. For many seniors, the driver is the only visitor they receive in the day. Giving residents the opportunity to connect with others provides relief from loneliness, social isolation and feelings of depression.

The Support Services Department is the largest component of the SCV Senior Center, offering a wide range of assistance and providing information about available Caregiver support resources and services. They are there to educate groups of current or potential caregivers and provide them with assistance. Care Management offers assistance in the form of access coordination in circumstances where the client is experiencing diminished functioning capacities, personal conditions or other characteristics that require the provision of services by formal service providers or family caregivers. The program is also designed to assist caregivers through the development of a care plan that provides home and community-based support services. These plans are additionally supported through counseling, support groups and workshops designed to improve decision-making and problem-solving skills related to caregiving responsibilities.

The Transportation Program serves individuals who are in need of transportation and have no other resource available. The program offers the comfort they want and the confidence they need when going to a doctor’s appointment, picking up a prescription and going grocery shopping, providing a sense of independence and freedom for their lives.

The center’s Health and Wellness Programs provide a safe, supportive and cheerful environment for adults to discover rewarding new hobbies and pleasurable crafts, learn new game skills, bring new adventures and expand horizons, enhancing life-long learning and engagement. The primary focus of the Health and Wellness Program is to promote physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellness in seniors in a relaxed, non-intimidating environment.

The public is invited to join more than 250 volunteers a month who support the SCV Senior Center, or just stop by to take a tour.

For more information about the organization, visit the website at www.scv-seniorcenter.org.

The Senior Center is located at 22900 Market Street in Newhall, and can be reached by calling 661-259-9444.

The Canyon Santa Clarita Opens Doors in October

| Entertainment, News | August 31, 2017

Westfield Town Center Mall is getting a life — a nightlife, that is, beginning next month.

The attraction? The opening of The Canyon Santa Clarita, a food-and-concert venue that’s music to the ears of local residents.

Sterling Venue Ventures is taking up seven former retail store spaces in the Westfield Town Center Mall with a nightclub not unlike some of the company’s others, which include The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills and The Rose in Pasadena.

Approximately 1,000 guests will be able to fill the concert venue, where food and drinks are served to add a flavorful backdrop for the musical performances.

The corporation’s owner Lance Sterling developed the gold standard in nighttime entertainment since he ran operations at the House of Blues in Los Angeles.

“Treating a customer well used to be looked down upon,” Sterling told the Gazette in January. “We had to explain we were a concert entity, but we did things differently. Now, at Canyon Club, it’s acceptable to go to a venue and have dinner.”

October 5 will feature Get the Led Out, a Led Zeppelin cover band, and many of Sterling’s “regulars” will appear at the new venue in the coming months. They include names such as Jefferson Starship, Kenny Loggins, and the Gin Blossoms.

It is clear the business owner has it down to a science, considering he was pretty much “spot on” in estimating construction time.

“We’re doing well. The city’s been great — everybody’s pushing me along as best they can,” Sterling says.

Sterling gets some deja vu by including CaliBurger in the plan, a restaurant also at The Rose, and he has worked with Westfield in the past.

“They called us in and showed us locations in the mall. It was amazing that a city actually asked us to come,” Sterling says, underscoring Santa Clarita’s readiness for such a newcomer.

Sterling’s son, also named Lance, will be general manager of the new location. He had moved to Santa Clarita and felt the area was economically ready for the company’s brand. In addition to music, The Canyon Santa Clarita will host comedy and murder mystery events, as well as private parties.

For tickets, go to The Canyon’s website, Wheremusicmeetsthesoul.com.

‘We Have Rights’ Small Business Owners Want Money for Move

| News | August 31, 2017

Comparing it to life in communist Vietnam before she escaped more than 30 years ago, one local business owner believes that being forced to move the location of her hair salon is a reversal of the American freedoms she became a citizen to obtain.

“I have a shop beginning in 1986,” said Kim, owner of Hair Wave on the 18300 block of Sierra Highway. “I work two jobs to build (my) business. (Now) they drive me out.”
Kim and other tenants in the building received notices in the spring ordering them to move out of the building by the end of the year. At least two buildings are being purchased and razed by the City of Santa Clarita to build the proposed Canyon Country Community Center.
Negotiations are taking place between the city and attorneys for the Caruso family, owners of the building since the 1950s. They also own two restaurants — Osteria Caruso in the same building as Hair Wave and Piccola Trattoria around the corner. But the Carusos’ tenants argue that after decades building their businesses at the site, there are both emotional and financial costs which are being minimized by the parties involved.

“I believe we deserve fair compensation for all the distress and for the future financial hardship that awaits us when we move,” said a written statement by Joe Chavez-Trejos of Joe’s Shoe Repair, next door to Hair Wave. “The City of Santa Clarita isn’t giving us a right to just compensation for the nearly 20 years that we’ve been in business. They should consider the fact that we are being torn from our established businesses for their interest and convenience. For that, all we ask is to leave our business in a fair manner, as it should be. We have to move and re-establish ourselves again and it will be difficult. What the city is offering is not fair enough at all.”

Two individuals from Creative Perspective Strategic Implementation, or CPSI, visited the business owners. They were hired to assist the tenants in finding new commercial locations and communicate offers by the city of financial support in the process. It just wasn’t enough, said Chavez-Trejos and Kim.

The prospective rental properties suggested by CPSI were either too expensive or too far away, Kim said. They showed her a space at 26836 Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus, for instance — 6 ½ miles from Hair Wave.

“I need my customers,” Kim explained. “The customers are like my friends. I don’t want to go far away.”

When it was suggested to Kim that she simply rent a station rather than open another salon of her own, she used a metaphor to communicate her rejection of the idea: “I have a car; they give me a bicycle.”

Currently, Kim pays $850 per month for rent, while the Bouquet Canyon space is $2,557 per month, she said. The CPSI consultants told her she would receive the difference in rent of $1,707 for 24 months. The problem, she said, is that she needs $20,000 a year of income, and she would be starting from scratch building a client base.

“I support my family,” she said, which includes two sisters, as well as financial help she gives nieces and nephews for their education.

She also said she spent $45,000 on such upgrades as electricity, water and lighting, which she can’t get back with the current offer. By Kim’s calculations, she could afford to relocate and open a new salon if the city paid her $125,968. That’s $40,968 for two years of the difference in rent, plus $40,000 for two years of income she said she needs, plus $45,000 for the money she spent on upgrades.

“I need to speak out so people know how I feel. Sometimes I wake at midnight with nightmare that I lost my business,” she said. “The communists took everything (from) my father and mother. I escaped by boat in 1980. We lost everything. Now they take everything here.”

Kim pointed to a flag that sits atop the desk at the entrance, a backdrop for her thoughts.

“I’m so happy in USA,” she said. “I love this country so much.”

Joe Chavez-Trejos wants fair compensation as well, enough to cover the bump in rent plus the loss of income.

“I believe we have rights,” he said. “They claim that we have no rights and that the time and many, many years we’ve invested in our small businesses don’t matter, as long as they can get us out of here. They aren’t being just or comprehensive at all, in any way.”


Buy a Dog a Beer Festival at Wolf Creek Brewery

| Community | August 24, 2017

The flavor of an upcoming event is best described by its tagline: “Saving Lives one Taste at time!”

The creators of Surf ‘n’ Suds Beer Festival are bringing the Santa Clarita community an evening celebrating a favorite beverage with the Buy a Dog a Beer Festival at Wolf Creek Brewery in Valencia on Saturday, September 9, 2017.

This craft beer festival (4 – 9 p.m.) will take place outside of Wolf Creek Brewery, located at 25108 Rye Canyon Loop in Valencia, under the stars. To add to the atmosphere, there will be live entertainment by DJ Hecktik.

Guests will enjoy beverages from more than 25 independent craft breweries and cider companies from 5-9 p.m. There is also a VIP session from 4-5 p.m. It is a limited ticket event, allowing visitors to sample from some of the best breweries in California without battling crowds.

Breweries already registered include Wolf Creek Brewery, Pocock Brewing Co., Three Weavers, Lucky Luke, Firestone Walker, Rob Rubens Distilling and Brewing, Karl Strauss, Kinetic Brewing Co., King Harbor Brewing, Alosta, Hand-Brewed Beer, El Segundo, Poseidon, Indie, Smog City, The Dudes Brewing Co., Green Flash, Alpine Beer Co., Yorkshire Square Brewery, Ventura Coast Brewing Co., North Coast Brewing and Einstok. They will also have Common Cider Co. and 101 Cider House on site.

The Buy a Dog a Beer Festival benefits the Dirty Dog Squad, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that saves pets from death row in local high-kill shelters. Dirty Dog Squad devotes their energy and resources to providing the pets they save with veterinary care, rehabilitation and training, and then adopting them out to loving, forever homes.

VIP tickets are $55 and include an hour early entry with special brews not available during the General Admission Session. General Admission tickets are $45 and include unlimited samples from all of the breweries and ciders on site.

Tickets and more information are available at www.buyadogabeerfest.com.


Born to be Wild: Saving Mustangs & Burrows

| Sand Canyon Journal | August 22, 2017

Wild horses couldn’t drag one local couple away from their mission. Fred and Tony Santoro aim to make sure that mustangs and burros can continue to live in their natural habitat, free from government intervention and destruction by the thousands.

More than 10 years ago, the Santoros of Canyon Country added some very special horses to the number of Sand Canyon’s equine residents. They adopted two wild mustangs from the U.S. Dept. of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. Their names are “Misty” and “Nevada.”

“They were beautiful, and actually ‘friendly’ in a casual sense of the word. They came up to the fence (remember, they were captured from the wild and had no direct contact with humans),” said Freda “Fred” Santoro. “They also seemed to hang out together and ate together. They captured our hearts.”

The Santoros have spent more than a decade keeping abreast of governmental action affecting the fate of horses and burros in the wild, including the methods used by agencies to limit their burgeoning numbers. The couple receives news alerts from several non-profit organizations dedicated to monitoring the treatment of the wild animal population.

According to the Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Congress will soon vote on a budget concern that may result in the destruction of thousands of these animals.
“The Department of the Interior is currently attempting to cut the fat from its 2018 budget by killing off up to 46,000 wild horses and burros in BLM holding facilities, and even more ‘excess’ wild horses & burros on the range,” said a press release from the WHFF.

Another non-profit group, the American Wild Horse Campaign, or AWHC, sent an email saying the BLM is planning to round up and remove almost 10,000 wild horses from their homes on the range in Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Oregon and Colorado in the coming months.

“Every one of these majestic and innocent horses will be in danger of being killed by this agency that is seeking permission from Congress to destroy healthy wild horses and burros and sell them for slaughter,” the AWHC email said.

Fred Santoro said that Misty and Nevada were in danger of being destroyed for the same reasons 10 years ago.

“If not adopted, that most likely would have been their fate. That being EXACTLY what the situation is today,” she said. “BLM rounds them up. … If not adopted they sell them to (buyers) who ship them to Mexico and France, etc. for horsemeat.”

The Bureau of Land Management is in charge of managing wild horses and burros on public lands in 10 western states. The responsibility was set up in 1971 with the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

“By creating this whole program they gave us tools to gather, remove, adopt and to have humanely euthanized excess horses where there’s no adoption demand,” said Jason Lutterman, spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management. “The BLM has never used that option. Our emphasis is finding good homes.”

One reason the BLM has not been euthanizing the animals is a prohibition that was placed on killing healthy wild horses and burros. Upcoming Congressional voting on budget concerns may withdraw that prohibition.

“It takes $50 million just to feed those horses that aren’t adopted,” Lutterman said.

More than half of the horses live in Nevada where there is no grassland, but rather, arid desert conditions, according to Lutterman, who said it takes about nine football fields of pasture to support one horse.

“We’re really faced with a challenge, especially on the range, where there are three times too many horses and burros,” he said. “Most animals, like deer and elk have natural predation or they’re hunted. Every large species is managed on the range in some way.”

While the BLM cites limited water and food from foraging as problems with overpopulation of grazing animals, non-profit groups believe it’s lobbying by ranchers that sway government agencies in the direction of thinning out wild herds.

What’s Being Done

Of the more than 70,000 wild horses and burros estimated, about half are held in off-range pastures and corrals managed by the BLM or contracted out. Adoptions take place through the corrals, while mustangs in the wild get supplemented food in winter, which is supported by taxpayers. Non-profit groups such as the Mustang Heritage Foundation work with the BLM to increase adoption opportunities through training, which increases the chances a horse will find a home.

“Mustangs are great horses to have,” Lutterman said, making a case for adoption. “Compared to domestic horses, wild horses are a lot more intelligent, more sure-footed. They’ve been evolving and adapting, they’re more resilient.”

The Santoros found that to be true. They said that training their mustangs to become saddle-ready was not that difficult.

“We did hire cowboys that we trusted to be gentle with Misty and Nevada and the end result was amazing,” Fred said. “They have unique personalities, mischievous and inquisitive, and I could not imagine life without them.”

Unfortunately, adoption numbers are down. Only about 3,000 per year are being adopted through the BLM. And one of the biggest problems managing predator-free animals is their reproduction rates. One of the government programs involves “shooting” birth control into wild mares. Fertility control requires a fairly close proximity, plus a means to track which horses receive the chemicals. More research is needed, also, to create longer lasting birth control, as the current system only works for one year, Lutterman said.

Taking Action

“The massive helicopter roundups will decimate the wild populations in those areas, leaving the public lands available for increased cattle and sheep grazing by ranchers who pay bargain basement rates to graze private livestock on public lands,” according to the American Wild Horse Campaign.

To prevent helicopter-led roundups, removal and destruction of these animals, the organization suggests action by citizens.

“A strong show of public opposition will make a powerful statement to Congress that Americans want our iconic wild horses and burros protected on our public lands, not rounded up and destroyed,” said the AWHC. “We have a much better chance of stopping this lethal legislation in the Senate … but only if your senators hear from you. Please don’t wait to give America’s horses a voice – call Congress today!”

Misty and Nevada enjoy their life in Canyon Country, and their owners urge others to save as many as they can from governmental intervention.

“Becoming aware of their plight has been my passion in doing all that I can to support keeping these amazing wild horses and burros free and wild,” Fred Santoro said. “As an individual, I feel frustrated in not being able to get the word out to many people! We need as many people as possible to be made aware of this crisis, and calling their congressman and senator(s) to voice their opposition to the rounding up and slaughtering of these innocent and beautiful animals will have a huge impact on their fate.”

Contacts for Reaching Leaders:

Rep. Stephen T. Knight
California District 25
Phone: (202) 225-1956

Sen. Dianne Feinstein
California U.S. Senate
(202) 224-3841

Sen. Kamala Devi Harris
California U.S. Senate
(202) 224-3553

Donald J. Trump
(202) 456-1111

Non Profit of the Week – Triumph Foundation and their Let ‘Em Roll Casino Night

| SC Living | August 17, 2017

Providing resources, hope and security to people living with paralysis is the mission of Triumph Foundation in Santa Clarita. The 13-year-old nonprofit organization works to improve the lives of people living with disabilities, with much of its focus on helping victims of Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder, or SCI/D.

Triumph Foundation’s programs serving the spinal cord injury community include supporting those who are newly paralyzed with: “Care Baskets” full of resources; providing grants to obtain necessary equipment, supplies, and services; assisting with home modifications for wheelchair accessibility; leading SCI support groups; and holding adaptive recreational events.

To date, the organization has touched the lives of over 5,000 individuals with disabilities. Triumph has given assistance to people with inadequate medical insurance and financial hardship; performed accessible home remodels; provided wheelchair accessible vehicles to people who did not have the means to purchase one on their own; and handed out thousands of Care Baskets full of resources to newly injured people. Volunteers regularly visit area hospitals and rehabilitation centers throughout the Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, Kern, and San Diego Counties.

Andrew Skinner of Canyon Country launched Triumph Foundation after suffering a spinal cord injury himself and seeing the need for physical support and hope. After years of extensive physical therapy, Andrew felt destined for a mission: to help others who suffered an injury like him. In 2008, he and his wife, Kirsten, founded Triumph Foundation with a simple desire: to bring hope, resources, and mentorship to people who are dealing with paralysis.

Triumph Foundation provides the following programs:

Newly Paralyzed Support
Care Basket Outreach
SCI Support Groups
Grants and Equipment
Keep Moving Forward Grants
Equipment & Supply Exchange
Adaptive Sports & Recreation
Wheelchair Sports
Outdoor Adventures

The support provided by Triumph is not just for the initial phases, when the injury/disease occurs, but as a lifelong support network. Additionally, the non-profit group is a force within the entire disabled community. Many consider Triumph the go-to organization for people living with mobility impairments throughout Southern California.

Let ‘Em Roll Casino Night

Triumph Foundation is hosting its 7th annual Let ‘em Roll Casino Night at a new location, the Universal Hilton located in Universal City. All proceeds will benefit Triumph Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to minimize the obstacles for children, adults and veterans that suffer a spinal cord injury and other forms of paralysis. Guests will be treated to prime rib dinner, music, dancing and silent auction. They will also receive $500 in chips to play Blackjack, Craps, Roulette or compete in a Texas Hold ‘em Poker Tournament.Triumph Foundation is hosting its 7th annual Let ‘em Roll Casino Night at a new location, the Universal Hilton located in Universal City. All proceeds will benefit Triumph Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to minimize the obstacles for children, adults and veterans that suffer a spinal cord injury and other forms of paralysis. Guests will be treated to prime rib dinner, music, dancing and silent auction. They will also receive $500 in chips to play Blackjack, Craps, Roulette or compete in a Texas Hold ‘em Poker Tournament.

“For the last eight years, Triumph Foundation has partnered with people who become paralyzed to assist them with triumphing over the new challenges they face and restoring life,” founder Andrew Skinner said. “The Let’em Roll Casino Night brings the entire community together for a night of fun and celebration of our accomplishments. We make quality of life a reality for people.”
This year, Triumph will be honoring Dr. Ann T. Vasile with the Outstanding Service Award for her work serving the paralysis community. Dr. Vasile is currently medical director of Tustin Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation, Paradigm medical director and a partner at Rehabilitation Associates Medical Group. She is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Spinal Cord Injury Medicine. She has received numerous honors, including U.S. News and World Report’s Top Doctors and The Best Doctors in America.

Last year, the Let’em Roll Casino Night had more than 350 people in attendance and raised close to $100,000. Needless to say, this is not a typical gala event. It is inspirational, impactful and powerful. Friendships are built, funds are raised and lives are changed.

The fundraiser is open to the public. Sponsorships and tickets can be purchased at http://SupportTriumph.org, or checks can be made to Triumph Foundation and mailed to 17186 Hickory Ridge Ct., Santa Clarita, CA 91387.
Event sponsors and silent auction items are needed. For more information, visit www.Triumph-Foundation.org or call Andrew Skinner (661) 803-3700.
WHO:                Triumph Foundation

WHAT:              7th annual Let’em Roll Casino Night Fundraiser

WHEN:              Saturday, August 26, 2017 5 p.m. – 12 a.m.

WHERE:          Universal Hilton              555 Universal Hollywood Dr.            Universal City, CA

The Canyon Comes to Town

| Entertainment, News | August 17, 2017

In the three decades since Santa Clarita was founded, the community’s never grown a reputation for notable nightlife. That could change by October. Sterling Venue Ventures is nearly ready to open the doors to Canyon Santa Clarita, taking up seven former retail store spaces in the Westfield Town Center Mall.

Approximately 1,000 guests will be able to fill the concert venue, where food and drinks are served to add a flavorful backdrop for the musical performance.

The corporation’s owner Lance Sterling developed the gold standard in nighttime entertainment since he ran operations at the House of Blues in Los Angeles.

“Treating a customer well used to be looked down upon,” Sterling told the Gazette in January. “We had to explain we were a concert entity, but we did things differently. Now, at Canyon Club, it’s acceptable to go to a venue and have dinner.”

Many Santa Clarita residents have made the trip down to Agoura Hills to go to Sterling’s concert site The Canyon Club. He says the newest site will resemble the Agoura venue and The Rose in Pasadena, another one of Sterling’s clubs.

Most bands are “regulars,” playing every year at one or more of Sterling’s venues. They include names such as Pat Benatar, Kenny Loggins, Willy Nelson, and the Gin Blossoms.

“We have standard operating procedures — the bands expect a certain thing and customers expect a certain thing,” Sterling says.

It is clear the business owner has it down to a science, considering he was pretty much “spot on” in estimating construction time.

“We’re doing well. The city’s been great — everybody’s pushing me along as best they can,” Sterling says. “We’ve given ourselves 3-4 weeks of just stuff happening, and only one of those four weeks has been eaten up.”

Sterling gets some deja vu by including Caliburger in the plan, a restaurant also at The Rose, and he has worked with Westfield in the past.

“They called us in and showed us locations in the mall. It was amazing that a city actually asked us to come,” Sterling says, underscoring Santa Clarita’s readiness for such a newcomer.

Sterling’s son, also named Lance, will be general manager of the new location. He had moved to Santa Clarita and felt the area was economically ready for the company’s brand. In addition to music, The Canyon Santa Clarita will also host comedy and murder mystery events.

The grand opening bands will be a surprise, but tickets for fall concerts can already be purchased on the Canyon Club website. Visit Wheremusicmeetsthesoul.com.

Canyon Country History Minute

| Canyon Country Magazine | August 17, 2017

It was 1976 when Odie Fox opened his first storefront in Canyon Country — Fox Feed. Originally from Oklahoma, he went west during the Great Depression and began working in the hay fields of the Imperial Valley. In this photo from the 1940s, Odie (left) and his friend are loading up hay for a delivery. Odie purchased more modern trucks over the years and in the 1960s and ‘70s his son, Jerry Fox, joined him, delivering hay to dairies and later building the store on Sierra Highway.

Read more local history in the book “Canyon Country” by Martha Michael & released by Arcadia Publishing. It is available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Sam’s Club, Costco and ArcadiaPublishing.com.


Shop Soledad: McDonalds Re-Opens

| Canyon Country Magazine | August 15, 2017

If the last time McDonald’s got you in the door was when they declared that “You Deserve a Break Today,” it’s been awhile. But whether the burgers and fries were your favorite teen take-out or you like its healthier 21st century fare, McDonald’s is (still) your kind of place.

The Canyon Country McDonald’s, at 18850 Soledad Canyon Road, just got a $2 million facelift, which residents will see in the middle of this month.

“This is not what most people would think of as a typical McDonald’s,” said Jay Schutz, the owner/operator of several McDonald’s restaurants, including the newly remodeled Canyon Country location. “Elements of the décor and layout are part of the new ‘Vision 2020’ for McDonald’s and they encompass all the newest elements McDonald’s currently offers worldwide.”

The forward design is part of an international rebranding campaign and the famous restaurant’s corporation aims to update all McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. That put the Canyon Country site on the list for a major remodel project.

Closed April 30, construction was supposed to take six weeks and has now exceeded 3 ½ months, Schutz said. “I wasn’t that concerned about closing, but I was very skeptical that the job could be done in six weeks. We did a lot of structural repairs to the building, and there are so many cool elements inside.”

There is a brand new play place, a state-of-the-art outdoor patio, customized wall graphics, Wi-Fi, and customers can step up to a kiosk to place an order. They also included a “fast casual” feature, where you take a number from the kiosk and a server delivers the food to your table.

There are changes to the drive-thru as well. Now the west side has two drive-thru lanes and a pass through, rather than parking. The new quick-service drive thru has a full LED computerized menu board and there’s a mobile ordering feature with curbside pickup. McDonald’s also has Uber Eats scheduled to be released in Santa Clarita this fall, Schutz said.

The hours are changing too. The McDonald’s dining room is open inside from 5 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week, with the drive-thru open until 2 a.m. seven days a week.

“We understand there are a lot of people who work graveyard shifts,” Schutz said, “and since we serve breakfast all day, it will be helpful for them to count on us to be there for them, whenever they need us.”

Much like his restaurants, Schutz needs little down time. He didn’t let a break in operation for construction at the Canyon Country restaurants take his employees out of the workforce. He temporarily moved many of them to the Via Princessa McDonald’s and paid them to do volunteer work at Santa Clarita non-profits. Some of them offered mentoring and tutoring at the Boys and Girls Club, while others assisted at the Senior Center, SCV Food Pantry and Bridge to Home.

“I wanted to retain my employees, because they’re very valuable to me,” Schutz said.

Manager Sergio Rizo has been working for Schutz for 20 years. And McDonald’s is looking for additional team members, said the owner, who said he pays a higher wage — the county standard of $12 an hour. Next July it will go up to $13.25 per hour.

The menu is changing all the time, but there were no specific changes associated with the remodel. “For people who haven’t been to McDonald’s in a long time, the menu will look new to them,” Schutz said. “Our food has no preservatives or hormones or antibiotics … the chicken nuggets are all white breast meat, and we’ll have organic apple juice any day now.”

McDonald’s sells “best in class” Tyson chicken and there is a whole new line of taste-crafted sandwiches. Customers can get fresh Pico de Gallo, fresh guacamole and Sriracha burgers also.

But after the doors open this month, a report from locals that the new McDonald’s offers a “Good Time, Great Taste” isn’t the end game, said forward-thinking Schutz. “Now Via Princessa will undergo its own transformation,” he said.

If you check in with Schutz at the first of the year to ask about the toll of more construction work, remodeling costs and personnel shuffling, it’s possible his answer will have a ring of familiarity to you. Especially if he responds with: “I’m lovin’ it!”

City Purchases Sierra Highway Buildings

| News | August 4, 2017

For three decades the doors of certain small businesses on Sierra Highway have fed families, groomed pets, repaired shoes and much more. But between now and December, countless customers will have to look elsewhere for those services.

The building on the northeast corner of Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon Road, as well as the building just to the north of it on the 18300 block, are being sold to the City of Santa Clarita to make way for the planned Canyon Country Community Center. The owners of Joe’s Shoe Repair, Hair Wave, Doggie Den and Osteria Caruso received letters from the city ordering their eviction by December, 2017. Each business now has to find a new location, because construction is set to begin next year.
“I was crying about it. I’ve been sleepless,” says Amy Chavez, whose father owns Joe’s Shoe Repair. “I just feel for my dad. He can practically lose everything.”She has been researching potential new spaces, where owners are asking $2,000-$3,000 for a down payment. Plus, rent is higher everywhere, partly because Joe’s Shoe Repair has been in the same building for 20 years, and a decade longer than that under a different name.

The space where Joe Chavez Trejos has done business for decades totals about 800 square feet and costs about $1,300 per month.

“It’s the fact we’ve been here so long is why it’s so cheap,” Amy Chavez says.

Hair Wave’s owner, who goes by “Kim,” has been in that retail space for three decades. The city has suggested a space in Saugus for the hair salon, but it’s expensive, she says. An even bigger problem, however, is keeping her customer base, who she predicts will say they will follow her to the new location, but will not really do so in the end.

City leaders have suggested that Kim relocate her salon closer to her home in Valencia.

“It doesn’t matter where I live,” she says. “It matters where my customers are.”


Joe and Amy Chavez live in Palmdale and people have asked them why they don’t open their doors in the Antelope Valley.

“It’s dead out there,” Amy says. “There’s no business.”

Renters in the building heard rumors for many months that changes were coming, especially when maps of the planned Canyon Country Community Center showed no sign of their building. But, when they reached out to the city, they w

ere assured they weren’t going to lose their spaces. Amy laments that if the city told them about the move last year it would have been easier, because for some reason, there were a lot of vacant commercial spaces in the area.

“Now it’s out of the question—it’s all taken,” she says. “We don’t want to move. We haven’t found a place financially suitable.”

To begin again and build a new customer base it takes about a year with no profits, Amy explains. Then, as if on cue to illustrate her point, a loyal customer enters the shop, and she calls him by name and walks straight to his two pairs of motocross riding boots. They speak in Spanish, trading “Gracias” across the counter.

No one expected this timeline. Angie Caruso told the Gazette earlier this year that this building, which was purchased by her grandfather in the 1950s, would stay put and not be sold. The family even completed a makeover and renaming of their restaurant, Caruso’s, which is now Osteria Caruso. And tenants like Joe’s Shoe Repair just signed a five-year lease.

“They were talking to us at the end of April, but we’re not handling it anymore. Our attorneys are handling it,” Angie Caruso says. “We were hoping they wouldn’t need it. It’s for the better of the community — we hope.”

The City of Santa Clarita Parks Planning Manager Wayne Weber confirmed the compulsory move with a prepared statement to the Gazette: “The City has hired a relocation consultant to provide relocation services to all businesses impacted by the future Canyon Country Community Center.  Discussions with property owners and tenants have been ongoing and will continue until businesses have been relocated or other settlement agreements reached.  The construction of the Canyon Country Community Center is currently scheduled to begin in mid to late 2018.”

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