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About Martha Michael

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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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Santa Clarita Valley Quilt Guild

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 12, 2018

Your grandmother may have had a sewing circle, or had a group of friends who would bring over fabric squares which they pieced together on a rack.

Santa Clarita has the SCV Quilt Guild.

“Our guild is a fun guild,” says quilter Donna Chipperfield of Agua Dulce, who joined the club in 1991. “Yes, we do a lot of work … but we also go out and have dinner once in a while and anybody is welcome to come.

Almost 30 years ago, a group of quilters created the non-profit Santa Clarita Quilt Guild to share their love of handcrafting, and at the same time, meet needs of others in the community. They pass on their skills to future generations through demonstrations and in working with Girl Scouts earning their Quilting Badge.

The group has contributed three quilts to the City of Santa Clarita, and one hangs in the City Council chambers. The members also adopt families in need, raising money for individuals without resources.

The goal of the SCV Quilt Guild is to serve the community, says Carol Carter, who serves on the community service committee for the club.

“We make quilts for our veterans through Habitat for Humanity,” she says. “Each veteran receives a quilt when they move into their new home.”

The non-profit organization also creates quilts for residents of the VA Hospital in West Los Angeles. They also support The Painted Turtle, a camp for children with special needs and medical issues.

“We donate turtle pillows and small quilts for each child to take home,” Carter says.

The Guide Dogs of America are supported by the non-profit, and the Santa Clarita Senior Center receives original work from the Quilt Guild, including placemats, shawls, wheelchair and lap quilts for seniors.

“We have a good group and we’re all oriented toward doing community service,” Chipperfield says.

Some of the other organizations benefiting from the work of the guild include: American Diabetes Association, Boy Scouts, Brownie Girl Scouts, Canyon Country Library, City of Hope, Henry Mayo Memorial Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, Santa Clarita Food Pantry, SCV Pregnancy Center, SCV Homeless Shelter, SCV Sheriff’s Department, United Cerebral Palsy, and others.

Canyon Country resident Bunny House joined the Quilt Guild after she retired from Union Bank in 2004. Her first quilting project involved matching up the points of triangles.

“It was all challenging, I’ve got to tell you,” she says. “At the time, I hadn’t used my sewing machine in … I can’t even tell you. I had packed it away.”

Like many of the guild’s members, House sewed when she was young. “When my daughter was born … the first two years she was in school I made everything she wore,” she says. “I made clothing for myself, and doll clothes. Before, it was actually more cost-effective than it is now, because fabric is really expensive.”

House says she’s a traditional quilter.

“I’m not a modern quilter,” House says. “I like traditional patterns. I don’t have a favorite pattern, but I do like stars.”

Traditional does not necessarily mean hand-sewn.

“Hand-quilting would not be an option at this point. I can do some hand-sewing, but hand-quilting would be intensive,” House says. “I know we have some members who do hand-quilting.”

Of course, some of the Guild prefer working by hand, one member in particular.

“She doesn’t even own a sewing machine,” Chipperfield says. “Everything is done by hand. And she pumps out some of the most beautiful quilts you have ever seen.”

Chipperfield, a former Quilt Guild president, quilts professionally, finishing people’s quilts for almost two decades now.

“Modern quilting now is quite different,” Chipperfield says. “It used to be quilts were made to be on beds. Now we do it for art. … You used to sit around a frame and you outlined your little squares or triangles. And now you do it by machine and your imagination is the only thing that hinders you.”

Chipperfield’s grandmother started her quilting when she was 9 years old, and she was hooked.

“Anybody who takes up quilting, it will become a passion for them,” she says.

Smithsonian refers to quilting as “fiber arts,” says Chipperfield, who adds that it resembles the work of visual artists.

“All quilts are beautiful,” she says. “It’s kind of like looking at paintings. Some will really jump out at you and others will kind of just intrigue you. With others you’ll say, ‘Hmm … that’s OK.’ Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Santa Clarita Valley Quilt Guild meetings are held the second Thursday of every month from 7-9:30 p.m. at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, located at 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road. The club gets national and international quilting experts to come and speak, and will typically show examples of their work. Sometimes there’s a workshop, where members can become more knowledgeable quilters.

“If you had any desire to become one, or any sewing background you’d probably enjoy it,” House says. “It’s really gratifying to put a quilt together and see it come together and you can give it to someone who will appreciate it.”

For more information about the organization, visit SCVquiltguild.org.

Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center Meal Delivery

| Sand Canyon Journal | June 11, 2018

The mission of the SCV Senior Center is to promote quality of life for seniors, which the facility does in many ways. On top of classes, adult day programs of all kinds, trips and more, there is a reliable food delivery system.

Tom Hartmann of Sand Canyon has been giving back for a very long time, but when he retired from Lockheed Martin where he was a program director a few years ago, he decided he wanted to do more. While he and his wife, Jackie, have been active in non-profits for years, he decided to go to the next level at the SCV Senior Center.

He literally walked in the front door and asked how he could help.

“They asked me, ‘Can I help you?’ And I said, ‘The better question is How can I help you?’” Hartmann said.

He was directed to the kitchen and they made him a driver.

“The Senior Center has been so welcoming,” he said. “They clearly appreciate the volunteers and they also appreciate the seniors there. It’s just a collegial atmosphere.”

He has two regular routes and delivers mid-day meals two days a week on a regular basis. He takes on a third if they need it.

There are a total of 10 meal delivery routes from the Center. Typically drivers start as back-ups and fill-ins, Hartmann said, and he got a regular route within a few weeks.

“It’s very flexible and easy,” said Hartmann, who has lived in Canyon Country for nearly 30 years. “There’s a range of times you can show up. The routes change a little bit during the day, but for the most part, they’re pretty consistent, so you get to know the people on the route.”

The interaction with people is what makes it worthwhile to Hartmann.

“Nearly all of them are face-to-face contacts,” he said. “Sometimes a person is bed-bound, in which case we’ll go leave it for them.”

On one occasion, Hartmann delivered to a woman who was in distress and needed medical help.

“I try to at least have a short conversation, and nearly all the time that’s very much appreciated,” he said. “A lot of these people spend a lot of time by themselves. We’re advised that we may be the only person they see all day.”

The Senior Center has a kitchen where meals are prepared, and they are usually packed and ready to go, or close to being ready to go, when drivers arrive.

“When they move to a new facility early next year there will be more room in the kitchen to make more meals,” Hartmann said. “I could see the program expanding.”

If you’re interested in becoming a driver, chances are there’s an opportunity.

“You can call or just walk in like I did,” Hartmann said. “They take you out on an orientation drive … then you take a second drive and at that point you see if this is something you want to do. … I know you’ve heard it before, but it’s true – I get more out of it than I put into it.”

To get involved, contact the SCV Senior Center volunteer and recreation coordinator Robin Clough at 661-259-9444.

The Shrinking Life of Bees

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 5, 2018

Bee-lieve it or not, if the number of hives continues to decline, humankind may not survive.

That’s a driving force for Max Morgan, a former member of the military, firefighter and police officer who began a new career as a bee removal specialist.

Last month, a swarm of Africanized bees killed three dogs in Agua Dulce. But while many members of the community were shocked by the local drama, Morgan wasn’t surprised.

“It’s not unusual at all,” he said. “The Africanized bees have killed livestock, pets … humans. They actually crossed the border into Texas, probably in 1999, and they were found in California in 2004, and now they’re pretty much in the Southwest and moving their way north.”

Morgan quoted a statistic where they found that 80-90 percent of wild bees (the kinds not kept by beekeepers) have some degree of “Africanization,” meaning they have DNA from the aggressive African honey bee.

“Some are mildly nasty and some are a public safety hazard,” Morgan said. “It’s evolutionary. They’re starving to death because of a lack of forage.”

To avoid being attacked by them, it’s best to stay away. Morgan said that Africanized bees can sense danger at 50 feet away, and they sense vibration (which agitates all bees) at 100 feet. “A bee can fly 15 miles an hour,” he said. “How fast can you run? They will chase someone for a quarter of a mile.”

The local bee expert responds to calls from clients and speaks to groups about a growing – or shrinking – problem. It is called Colony Collapse Disorder.

“It’s a worldwide phenomenon,” Morgan said. “What happened around 2006 is the agricultural chemical companies came out with new … insecticides – neonicatinoids – which are nicotine-based.”

It is a “systemic insecticide,” according to Morgan, which means that by contrast to other insecticides, which typically last a few days, neonicatinoids are there forever. Bees then gather the contaminated, toxic nectar, according to Morgan, and bring it back to hives, decimating bee populations. He added that most of the Western European countries, including Russia, banned the use of neonicatinoids.

There is also a loss of habitat because farmers are using their land to grow corn for ethanol for cars, he said.

“A few years ago, for the almonds in the Central Valley, they needed 1.6 million bee hives to pollinate. They were literally trucked in by the thousands,” Morgan explained. “But because of the Colony Collapse Disorder, they’re losing colonies. Four years ago there were only 500,000 hives available to pollinate the almond crops.”

Bee-lieve it or not, bees are smart
“People who are aware that bees are dying, they’ll say, ‘How come we’re getting all these bees?’ We have sprinklers, bird baths, pools, water features, and we have landscape plants,” he said. “It’s almost Darwinian. They’re moving into urban areas in their fight to survive.”

Morgan gets called to Sand Canyon, among other parts of the valley. Ranch owners who have water troughs for livestock can draw bees. A lot of the horses will get stung on their faces, such as the nostril area, he said.

“Bees require a lot of water,” he said. “I get several calls a year from people saying, ‘We can’t use our swimming pool.’ I tell them to drain the pool. And sometimes they ask, ‘Can we convert it to saltwater?’ But bees like saltwater even more.”

This hive at Lowes was relocated

Morgan said that when bees find a desirable situation, they remember it. “Bees will put that in their GPS. They’ll fly in a 5-mile radius and find their way back,” he said. “They are highly intelligent.”

Bee-lieve it or not, Max Morgan is a no-kill bee expert
“I’m a moderate environmentalist,” he said. “I recognized six, seven years ago bees were dying, so I became a beekeeper. I wanted to do my part. I thought it was the environmentally responsible thing to do.”

By keeping bees alive, Morgan can fight the numbers dying off.

“Everyone knows they’re critical to our food supply. One out of three foods we eat requires a bee to pollinate it, whether it’s vegetables or fruit,” he said. “It’s also critical to our meat and dairy, because alfalfa requires pollination.”

When bees swarm, there are typically 4,000-6,000 bees and they’re about the size of a football,” the bee expert warned.

One of his most challenging calls involved removing an Africanized hive a few years ago. They attacked him and got into the cab of his truck, so he had to drive home in his beekeeper uniform, Morgan said.

“The best advice I could give people is don’t ignore their bee problem,” Morgan said. “A lot of people say, ‘That’s OK, it’s nature, they’re not bothering anyone.’ I cannot emphasize it enough. They’ve got to deal with it.”

The season for bees is March through September, and a fertile queen bee can lay 1,500-2,000 eggs a day.

“Exponentially, the population is exploding,” he said. “It doubles again and again. You can have a hive with 15,000-40,000 bees and they can become Africanized.”

If they aren’t attended to and they get in the wall of a house it’s complex and expensive to solve, Morgan said.

The beekeeper’s research shows that without bees, humans have only wheat, rice and corn to eat. He reminds people that it was Einstein who allegedly said, “If all the bees were to die, mankind would only have four years to live.”

That projection sounds a little bit ironic, as Morgan’s proposal to help turn the tide is a political one. He said, “It’s all about campaign donations from chemical manufacturers.”

To learn more, you can visit Max Morgan’s business page on Facebook, which is “Have Bees?”

Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 4, 2018

When Cindy and Gary Bernsdorf moved to Canyon Country in 1977, roses were the first thing they planted in the front yard. Since then, when they’ve made changes to their landscaping it often meant making room for more roses.

“My interest in roses goes back to my childhood,” Cindy Bernsdorf said. “My mom had roses as part of her front and back gardens. It just seemed natural to include them in our gardens, too.”

Susan Rinker

Susan Rinker’s interest in roses also took root in her mother’s garden. She remembers her “Peace Roses” as colorful and “Mister Lincoln Roses” as fragrant and velvety red.

When she came to the Santa Clarita Valley, Rinker noticed that some roses don’t grow well in this area.

“There are specific roses that do really well out here, while there are others that don’t,” said Rinker, who moved to Canyon Country 21 years ago. “We bought here because it was semi-rural at the time. Canyon Country still has that small town feel and community spirit.”

The SCV Rose Society is another community Rinker praises. She attended their annual rose shows and about five years ago, she went to the group’s “How to Cut Back Roses” class, which is held in January.

“Everyone is really friendly and knowledgeable,” she said. “There is something for everybody, even if you are just starting out.”

some of the Bernsdorf family’s 50 roses

The Bernsdorfs have been members of the Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society for about 10 years.

“We first became aware of the Rose Society from articles in The Signal inviting the public to visit local rose gardens. One of them was in Canyon Country, not too far from us, so we went,” Cindy said. “It was amazing to see someone’s garden who was really ‘into’ roses. They had so many different kinds and colors, and everyone there was so helpful when we started asking questions.”

Their next visit was to the Rose Show at Hart Park. “Again, we talked to members, and decided to join,” she said.

The 26-year-old local Rose Society has monthly meetings with speakers on subjects related to roses or gardening, including related topics such as pruning, soil, pests, or from experts in the field of landscaping.

“We have often brought questions about growing roses to the many experts who attend,” Cindy said. “The really nice thing is that there are many members who, like us, grow roses for our own pleasure, but don’t go any further than that. However, if you want to grow ‘show quality’ roses and participate in showing them, we have lots of others who can help.”

Some of the club’s members even graft their own roses, and there is a wide range of expertise in the group.

“There is a place for anyone who loves roses, no matter how involved you want to be,” Cindy said. “We have a monthly newsletter with great articles, as well as an award-winning website. You can find information there on almost any question you might have about roses.”

The group’s website, SCVRS.homestead.com, has a calendar of care, with suggestions about what you can do each month to help your roses grow to their highest quality. There are photos of members’ gardens and a list of consulting Rosarians, among much more.

“Of course, we also continue to have the Rose Garden Tours and our Rose Show each year,” Cindy said.

All three of the members support the club by volunteering; for instance, assisting judges at the Rose Show.

The Bernsdorfs don’t show their roses; but they’ve been enjoying them in the yard for 40 years, as well as life in their Canyon Country neighborhood.

“We still have neighbors who were there when we moved in. Our kids grew up together,” she said. “We loved the schools and families we met through PTA, Girl Scouts, and AYSO. … We have some pretty awesome newcomers in our neighborhood as well.”

Rinker was drawn to the area, in part, for the wildlife. “We loved the roadrunners, quail, plover, and a coyote or two,” she said. “Due to the development out here, most of the animals are gone now, but we still love the quietness, the beautiful views, the sunsets and sunrise.”

Vine & Dine Locally

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 1, 2018

If a trip to “wine country” makes you think of a flight to the Bay Area and another couple of hours in the car, you might not be aware of the options in your own backyard. In the last two decades, an American Viticulture Area, or AVA, has been established in the Sierra Pelona Valley, which includes Agua Dulce, Acton and the Antelope Valley.

In other words, the Sierra Pelona Valley is “wine country.”

In 9.7 square miles and 96 acres of commercial vineyards, the official paperwork says the viticulture area lies 30 miles north of the City of Los Angeles, 35 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, and 20 miles southwest of the Mojave Desert.

The Sierra Pelona Valley Vintners Association is the organization partnering grape growers and bottlers with the rest of the community, promoting the production and appreciation of fine food and wines. The natural beauty of the east side of the Santa Clarita Valley has provided what entrepreneurs need in order to grow grapes and build businesses, providing the community with locally-produced wine.

Visitors have opportunities for relaxation and exploring the area through events at Sierra Pelona Valley wineries, including hikes, wine tasting, overnight stays and much more. The largest annual event hosted by the association is the Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival held every spring.

For information on how to make the most of your time in Sierra Pelona Valley wine country, you can join the Sierra Pelona Valley Vintners on Facebook or visit the website, SierraPelonaVintners.com.

Reyes Winery Hike & Brunch

Beth Heiserman & Robert Reyes served wine and brunch to hikers.

After purchasing his 16-acre property in Agua Dulce in 2002, Robert Reyes planted grapes and the Reyes Winery got its start. The business produces small amounts of ultra premium wines for family and friends and consists of five popular grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Muscat. The winery has produced single varietals, blends, a rose, and has created four award-winning dessert wines.

Every month – with the exception of June through August – Reyes Winery hosts a Hike & Brunch event, where attendees get to walk about 7 miles of the Sierra Pelona Mountains.

This writer attended last month’s Hike & Brunch with 40-plus hikers. Residents came from a wide area, from Mary Rodriguez of Santa Clarita to Megan Derrig, a military contractor who lives in Palmdale. The group seemed happy with the views of Agua Dulce at 3,500-feet elevation. The walk was led by the winery owner himself, who said they’ve hosted as many as 65 people at the event. It wasn’t for the faint of heart — it was challenging enough to be fun — but you could choose from easier hiking options as well.

At the end of the hike the group returns to the vineyard for a light and healthy brunch that the winery pairs with award-winning Reyes wines. Sales and marketing director Beth Heiserman gets fresh produce from a local farm, planning her menu around what’s available.

Heiserman’s professsional food background was evident at last month’s event, as the brunch was restaurant-quality. She prepared wine-infused jam made with the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and Szechuan pink peppercorns, which went well with the fresh yogurt and her sweet granola, made with local honey. There were rolls, freshly baked breads and a buffet of hot dishes, which were equally filling and unique.

Her handmade cheesecake was like nothing I’ve ever eaten; in a word – delicious.

After brunch, Heiserman takes the hikers on a guided tour of the winery, vineyard and the tasting room, where they see Robert Reyes’ original paintings.

And finally, they finish in the tasting room, where they get to try a few more wines.

You can sign up for the next Hike & Brunch, which will be held in September, at https://squareup.com/store/reyes-winery.

Reyes Winery is located at 10262 Sierra Hwy in Santa Clarita. For information about the winery, call 661-268-1865 or visit Reyeswinery.com.

Agua Dulce Winery Mansion
If you have visiting relatives or you just want to get out of the house, there’s a B&B where your party can experience the peace and quiet of life in a vineyard. The Agua Dulce Winery Mansion is a four-bedroom, four-bathroom, 5,000-square-foot home inside the 100-acre vineyard. You can rent the house and take advantage of nearby restaurants, including Zagat-rated Le Chene French Cuisine, go horseback riding on the Pacific Crest Trail and do some wine-tasting.

You can time your stay to also take part in one of the vineyard’s events. They hold wine barrel tours and tastings on weekends, which are sold out months in advance, but there are a number of other ongoing opportunities to experience life at the winery. Next month there will be a Bingo Party on Sunday, June 3; Wine and Paint on Saturday, June 16; and the Father’s Day 6th Annual Hold ‘Em Poker Classic on Sunday, June 17. The winery has tentatively scheduled a lobster truck for Saturday, June 23.

To inquire about staying in the mansion or attending events, call 661-268-7402. You can also learn more at AguaDulceWinery.com.

Agua Dulce Winery
9640 Sierra Highway 91390
(661) 268-7402
www.aguadulcewinery.com

 

Antelope Valley Winery
42041 20th St. West 93534
(661) 722-0145
www.avwinery.com

 

Alonso Family Vineyards
We offer our wines
for sale at:
Le Chene French Cuisine
12625 Sierra Highway 91390
(661) 251-4315
www.lechene.com

Coruce Vineyards Tasting Room
1055 West Ave M #105
Lancaster
(661) 494-8877
www.corucevineyards.com

 

 

Golden Star Vineyards
36043 106th St. East
Littlerock
(661) 713-6660
www.goldenstarvineyards.com

 

Harris Wine Biz
(661) 266-9465
http://harrisvineyard.blogspot.com/
http://HarrisVineyard.com

High Desert Cellars
3045 90th St. West Suite A 93560
(661) 256-6203
www.highdesertcellars.com

 

 

Oasis Vineyards
Stephen Hemmert Vineyards
www.datingandthefiftyyearoldman.com

Pulchella Winery
24261 Main Street 91321
(661) 799-9463
www.pulchellawinery.com

Reyes Winery
10262 Sierra Highway 91390
(661) 268-1865
www.Reyeswinery.com

 

 

Wine House Vineyard
(818) 634-5786
www.winehousevineyards.com

Flight or Bite

| Canyon Country Magazine | May 30, 2018

When spending time outdoors this summer, a lack of awareness may come back to bite you. Many of your Canyon Country neighbors have already had rattlesnake sightings, and that number should grow in the next three months, when Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital will likely see the majority of its snake bite patients. And one physician suggests you stay alert to avoid negative encounters with rattlers.

“Have good situational awareness in the outdoors,” said Bud Lawrence MD, medical director of the emergency department. “And know that we aren’t part of their food chain. Be sensitive to that and you can avoid situations.”

Most rattlesnake bite victims simply walk too close to the snake because they fail to see it, Dr. Lawrence said. “Rattlesnakes in general are not aggressive. We’re not their prey. It’s really a second line of defense; it usually shakes its rattle first.”

Henry Mayo typically sees 2-4 snake bite victims per month in the summer, and when a patient comes in doctors are cautious about making the decision to treat the individual with anti-venom CRO FAB.

“Usually the localized reaction from the venom is a lot of swelling and discomfort,” Dr. Lawrence said. “Then there are sometimes other reactions; some people get twitchy, for instance. But the main thing is swelling at the area of the bite.”

Occasionally they see victims of non-envenomations, or “dry bites,” when snakes don’t discharge venom, he said. And they don’t want to use CRO FAB unless the patient definitely needs it.

“One of the big barriers to treating people is the medication takes a while to mix up. It comes in powder form and we have to mix it into a solution,” Dr. Lawrence said. “And it’s extremely expensive, like $2,000 a vial, and it sometimes takes 4-6 vials.”

Mixing the medication in advance would save time, but hospital personnel refrain from doing so, unless a professional, such as a paramedic, is on scene and can describe symptoms.

When it’s determined a person needs the anti-venom, CRO FAB is injected in the veins and infuses over a period of time, while emergency department personnel reevaluate between doses. Most significant bites need multiple vials, Dr. Lawrence said.

While Henry Mayo treats the most rattlesnake bite victims in Los Angeles County, it’s unlikely to run out of the anti-venom medication. “We always keep a par level,” the doctor said. “We are always stocked.”

And if living in rattlesnake country seems like a down side, Dr. Lawrence has a bright side for you.

“In many parts of country there are many types of poisonous snakes,” he said. “Here there’s only one – the rattlesnake.”

Non-Profit of the Week: Santa Clarita Valley Quilt Guild

| Community | May 18, 2018

If you ever worked on a quilt, you recognize the tremendous amount of time that’s spent creating these one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork. The Santa Clarita Valley Quilt Guild is made up of hard workers, though their contribution also enables them to do what they love.

Almost 30 years ago, a group of quilters created the non-profit group to share their love of handcrafting and at the same time meet needs of others in the community. They pass on their skills to future generations through demonstrations and in working with Girl Scouts earning their Quilting Badge.

The group has contributed three quilts to the City of Santa Clarita, and one hangs in the City Council chambers. The members also adopt families in need, raising money for individuals without resources.

 

The goal of the SCV Quilt Guild is to serve the community, says Carol Carter of the community service committee for the organization.

“We make quilts for our veterans through Habitat for Humanity,” she said. “Each veteran receives a quilt when they move into their new home.”

The non-profit organization creates quilts for residents of the VA Hospital in West Los Angeles. They also support The Painted Turtle, a camp for children with special needs and medical issues.

“We donate turtle pillows and small quilts for each child to take home,” Carter said.

The Guide Dogs of America are supported by the non-profit, and the Santa Clarita Senior Center receives original work from the Quilt Guild, including placemats, shawls, wheelchair and lap quilts for seniors.

Some of the other organizations benefiting from the work of the guild include: American Diabetes Association, Boy Scouts, Brownie Girl Scouts, Canyon Country Library, City of Hope, Henry Mayo Memorial Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, Santa Clarita Food Pantry, SCV Pregnancy Center, SCV Homeless Shelter, SCV Sheriff’s Department, United Cerebral Palsy, and others.

The SCV Quilt Guild holds monthly meetings where national and international quilting experts speak and offer workshops. For more information about the guild, visit SCVquiltguild.org.

Santa Clarita Valley Quilt Show

The public is invited to the Santa Clarita Valley Quilt Guild Quilt Show at Hart Hall on June 9-10, 2018. Those who attend will see a display of quilts crafted by members of the SCV Quilt Guild, and can enjoy gift items from various vendors, plus take part in a silent auction and door prize opportunities. There will be food trucks present, as well.

The Quilt Show will take place on Saturday, June 9 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, June 10 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Hart Hall is located in William S. Hart Park, 24151 Newhall Avenue in Santa Clarita.

The cost for one-day admission is a $10 donation and two-day admission is a donation of $15. For more information, visit SCVQuiltGuild.org.

The British are Wedding

| News | May 17, 2018

When you turn to the Facebook page for the Rose & Crown Restaurant, you see: “Come witness Diana’s youngest get his ‘happily ever after’ with the beautiful Meghan Markle.”

Indeed, the British pub is opening early and inviting you to join them in celebrating the marriage between Prince Henry of Wales, known as Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle. It begins at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 19. You must have a ticket to attend.

You’ll receive a glass of champagne upon arrival and feast on a four-course menu the chef created for the viewing event. You will also have unlimited access to a snack bar filled with treats and there will be festive drink specials and other surprises.

Doors will open at 7:30 a.m. and the wedding viewing (including pre-show, ceremony and balcony showcase) will begin promptly at 8 a.m. It is, of course, a delayed airing of the royal couple’s nuptials.

You must purchase a ticket to attend and the cost is $50 per guest. Stop by the Rose & Crown Pub to purchase one.

There is limited space, and the restaurant suggests you bring your own fascinator (hat) just like the royal guests will wear across the pond in Windsor.

The Rose & Crown is located at 24246 Lyons Avenue in Santa Clarita. For more information, call 661-255-5048.

Billy Blanks at Hugo’s

| Canyon Country Magazine | May 16, 2018

If you’re a Tae Bo fan, then you know the name Billy Blanks. He’s a world famous fitness expert, sometimes referred to as the king of cardio kickboxing with dozens of videos leading people through his original training style.

And he’s coming to Santa Clarita.

Hugo’s Gymfitness, located on Centre Pointe Pkwy, is hosting a Tae Bo Masterclass with Billy Blanks on May 20 from 4-6 p.m. Local resident and certified instructor Angie Eliaszewicz of Stevenson Ranch will partner with him in the day’s instruction. She is a former student of Blanks and the first certified Tae Bo master instructor in Santa Clarita.

In the 1980s, Billy Blanks devised Tae Bo fitness in his basement in Pennsylvania, and now it’s evolved to “Tae Bo Nation,” a fitness exercise program that was created to “challenge your body, your mind and your will.” It became known as the original total-body workout in the fitness industry, eventually rising to common household name. Today, Tae Bo Nation operates through the “Celebrity Sweat” TV series corporate office.

The fourth of 15 children, Blanks is now a fitness guru, actor, trainer and humanitarian, and his travels are taking him, most recently, as far as Romania, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan, where thousands of instructors are earning Tae Bo certifications.

Eliaszewicz became an instructor and has been working with Blanks for the last four months on the specialized martial arts form, which is a combination of tae kwon do and boxing.

“Billy’s conscientious about health issues,” said Eliaszewicz, who teaches Tae Bo to corporate employees, in the aerospace industry, and at universities.

After the May 20 event, she will offer Tae Bo classes locally. Already an instructor at Hugo’s, Eliaszewicz is establishing Tae Bo training in Santa Clarita hoping to bring healthy ideas to residents through both exercise and diet education.

“Our market got saturated with Zumba and beach parties,” she said. “And there are so many cardio kickboxing classes in Santa Clarita. When Billy teaches his Tae Bo instructors, he emphasizes technique a lot … so they don’t get injured.”

Eliaszewicz said you have to study more than 139 pages and pass a test before obtaining certification. “He’s very solid about that,” she added. “Two days, training eight hours each day, and through the whole training he emphasizes technique. We are very qualified instructors.”

Trainers using other modalities tend to get hurt, she said. “This is not a performance, it is for me to create a difference,” Eliaszewicz said. “I’m the tool to make that happen. … I care about you doing the right stuff so you see results. That’s what Billy puts into his instructors.”

Hugo’s is located at 21107 Centre Pointe Pkwy in Santa Clarita. Visit Hugosgymfitness.com.

Canyon Country History Minute

| Canyon Country Magazine | May 15, 2018

When College of the Canyons completed research about the more than 20,000 students on the Valencia campus back in the early 2000s, staff members found that about one-third of them lived in zip codes from the Canyon Country area. They subsequently purchased 70 acres on Sierra Highway and got the wheels in motion for a new campus. The College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus opened on August 27, 2007 with room for 8,000-10,000 students.

Local Music Educator to Premiere Composition

| Entertainment | May 10, 2018

A CalArts graduate and artistic director of the SCV Youth Orchestra will premiere his most recent composition at two concerts this month. The name Derrick Spiva Jr. will appear next to names like Vivaldi and Mozart when his newest work, “From Here A Path” is performed by the L.A. Chamber Orchestra on May 19 at The Alex Theatre in Glendale and on May 20 at UCLA’s Royce Hall Auditorium.

Spiva grew up in Fresno in a family of musicians. From years as a member of the marching band and orchestra, and with the influence of gospel music he heard in church, he produces a unique combination when he composes.

“I really love rhythm, I love dance, so my music tends to have grooves to it,” he said.

Spiva said he loves all sides of music – performing and composition, as well as teaching. Formerly the conductor of the Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra, now that he’s artistic director he oversees the organization’s overall philosophy, or method.

Before earning an MFA at CalArts, Spiva graduated from UCLA, where he got a classical music education, including a lot of West African and North Indian classical music.

“(It was) definitely more of a traditional approach to creating music, which I personally needed,” he said. “I needed that structure when I was young. At CalArts it was understood you learned the traditional way, then could branch out and experiment.”

Spiva’s uncle works in the entertainment industry as a film editor, and Spiva has always loved movies, especially attentive to the work of film composers.

“For movie soundtracks they’ll break all the rules. They’ll do anything to make the music complement the film,” he explained. “I had this huge pile of soundtracks I’d keep collecting that had examples of composers trying to find ways to bridge cultural music together with classical music.”

Spiva cites John Williams as a genius in the industry, and one of his favorite film scores is from “The Ghost and the Darkness.”

“The film score for that film was like something I’d never heard before, other than ‘Lion King,’ but ‘Lion King’ wasn’t as dramatic,” he said. “The film centered around a railroad being built and people were from all different parts of the continent of Africa. … You can hear influences from that score in ‘Black Panther.’”

The continent’s rhythm influence comes into Spiva’s classes at West Creek Academy, where he teaches West African drumming. It enables students to experience music differently, including an understanding of “rhythm and pulse,” he said.

At the upcoming L.A. Chamber Orchestra concerts the public will hear “From Here a Path” for the first time. The work is the second part in a series of pieces. The first in Spiva’s trilogy premiered in 2015 and the third part will be completed in 2021, he said.

“It’s all centered around different ways of perceiving the same thing,” he said. “It’s kind of three-dimensional music in a way. I like to take these rhythms and these phrases and with different influences from regions like West Africa and Eastern Europe, and of course the diaspora of what American music is, which is pretty much everything.”

The L.A. Chamber Orchestra concerts are Saturday, May 19 at 8 p.m. at The Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand in Glendale; and Sunday, May 20 at 7 p.m. at Royce Hall Auditorium, 340 Royce Drive on the UCLA campus. Tickets may be purchased online at laco.org or by calling LACO at 213 622 7001 x 1.

Women of the Blues Draws Top Artists

| Entertainment | May 10, 2018

The Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society will host a spring festival this Saturday, May 12, 2018 as a pre-Mother’s Day fundraiser to benefit the Blues Society and Single Mothers Outreach. Several artists are slated to entertain the community at “Women of the Blues,” held at Wolf Creek Brewery in Santa Clarita. The Santa Clarita Gazette is a media sponsor for the concert.

Performers include Truth Jones, Kelly’s Lot, Brigitte Rios Purdy, the Laurie Morvan Band and Teresa James. The concert begins at 3:30 p.m. Tickets for members of the Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society cost $15 and $25 for the general public. Tickets purchased at the gate cost $30.
The Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society is a local non-profit supporting the education and continuation of blues music. Single Mothers Outreach is a Santa Clarita-based non-profit group dedicated to meeting the physical and emotional needs of single mothers.

Wolf Creek Brewery is located at 25108 Rye Canyon Loop in Santa Clarita. For more information about the Women of the Blues event, visit SCVBlues.com.

Brigitte Rios Purdy
Originally from Los Angeles, Brigitte Rios Purdy has been voicing her emotions through song since she was a child. The genres that have resonated with her most were blues, soul and R&B. Because of her standout talent, she has performed with some of the most notable music stars.

“I’ve been performing since I was five,” Purdy said. “I took a long break to raise my children.”

When she returned to her music, Purdy was all in.

“My goal as a human being is to be used as an instrument to help lift others via my music,” Purdy says, “that my love for humanity would resonate within their souls.”

Players in her band include: Drake Shinning on keys; Jamie Hunting on bass, Eric Tice on drums, and Gratz Arias on guitar.

“Music binds us together in such a unique form,” she said.

Purdy has a soft spot for helping empower young girls. One of the causes she supports is One is United by Music, which blends differently-abled musicians with blues artists. She’s also involved with Rock and Roll Camp for Girls, which “provides empowerment for young girls via music,” she said. “The girls form bands, write music and, at the end of the week, perform their songs at the Troubadour. It’s quite an experience to watch as each of these groups blossom via some one-on-one nurturing, modeling and mentoring through music.”

Over all, Purdy says love is her main emotion when it comes to her art, and she aims to leave a legacy of love.

“My goal is to be able to connect with my audience through my music,” Purdy said. “I cherish the moments when the listeners are able to cast their worries of the world aside and enjoy a phenomenal musical experience.”

Working to support a non-profit like Single Mothers Outreach was a big factor in the artist scheduling this concert.

“To participate in the Santa Clarita Women of the Blues Festival is of great importance,” Purdy said. “Lifting others in any capacity is a big priority in my book.”

Kelly’s Lot
Longtime members of the Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society, Kelly’s Lot has been a fan favorite in the area for more than a decade. Kelly Zirbes and her band came together in 1995. She’s been playing blues-inspired music since childhood, and in the last 10 years the group has been focusing on blues and blues/rock. They have toured nationally and internationally and have released 13 albums.

When asked to describe the style of Kelly’s Lot, Zirbes said, “We play blues and Roosty Rock with energy that inspires a dance and an emotional intensity that reaches inside the listener.”

Drummer Art Mendoza lives in Newhall, and the rest of the band members live in various other places, but the group has worked with the SCV Blues Society for more than 10 years.

“We love Santa Clarita and some of our best fans live there,” Zirbes said. “The Santa Clarita Blues Society works very hard to enrich their community with the blues. This event is going to do just that.”

GoFundMe for Family of Cancer Victim

| Canyon Country Magazine | May 9, 2018

The Grasso family has never been afraid of hard work, faithfully pitching in at Oak Creek Corral in Canyon Country, where they ride horses. But the past few years have taken them down a more difficult trail, as husband to Jodi and father-of-five Craig Grasso has been fighting a battle with cancer.

A storybook artist in film animation and an instructor at CalArts, Craig has been able to work – at least some of the time – but things haven’t been going as well lately.

“The doctors told him they are out of options,” said Tracy Boldroff, owner of Oak Creek Corral. “The next step is heavy doses of chemo to see if they can get the levels down enough to do a stem cell transplant. If this does not work they say the cancer will be very aggressive and his time left will be very limited.”

He found out he had multiple myeloma in 2011 during a routine life insurance exam which, unfortunately, precluded him from getting the policy, which is one reason the community is contributing to the family’s finances.

“The out-of-pocket expense for his medication had risen to over $800 per month in the past, which already created stress for the family,” Boldroff said. “(And) the doctors do not want Craig working from this point on.”

Friends of the Grassos set up a GoFundMe account to offset the extreme hardship due to medical bills. Boldroff and Jacqulin Powell-Audish are reaching out to the entire community to meet the goal of $20,000.

“We are trying to raise funds to give to the family for their monthly expenses and for the girls’ activities,” said Boldroff, referring to the Grasso’s three teenage daughters who ride. “The girls are already going through enough and they need their activities to give them some type of peace at this difficult time.”

The horse community can help further by participating in a Fundraiser Trail Ride & Walk followed by a dinner on May 12, 2018. For more information about the Fundraiser Ride, email TracyBoldroff@sbcglobal.net.

To help Craig Grasso and his family, visit https://www.gofundme.com/theGrassofamily.

Career and Education Alternatives

| Canyon Country Magazine | May 8, 2018

Health Care Certifications

Charter College

You may have seen Charter College on Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country, but never considered what is happening inside. The school currently offers certificate programs in medical assistant and dental assisting. The curriculum is what they call a “blended learning” format, which means students learn both in the classroom and online, saving travel time and expenses, while also having the flexibility they need to balance family life with school.

The Charter College Medical Assistant training graduates can have careers in a variety of positions, including: medical assistant, clinical assistant, medical receptionist or medical office assistant. The program takes 10 months and employs a combination of clinical, technical and business skills, and it’s a hands-on format.

According to the Charter College website, to meet graduation requirements, all medical assistant students must pass, or attempt at least twice, a certification examination. Students who do not do so will not be considered a graduate. Students unable to pass the examination on the first attempt may continue to an externship. Charter College will sponsor students who take the national examination through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT).

Highlights of the program include information, technical skills, and administrative skills required for entry-level Medical Assistant; training in front office computer technology and word processing and externship programs.

The Charter College Certificate in Dental Assisting is a 10-month program preparing graduates for entry-level employment in dental settings. Job titles include chairside dental assistant and dental x-ray technician. Dental assistants work under the supervision of dentists performing a variety of patient care, office and laboratory duties. Responsibilities may include sterilizing and disinfecting instruments and equipment, preparing and laying out materials, taking dental x-rays and processing x-ray film. During dental procedures, assistants work alongside the dentist. Dental assistants perform a different role than dental hygienists, who are licensed to perform various clinical tasks.

The program’s highlights include didactic, laboratory and clinical instruction in chairside assisting procedures; infection control and treatment procedures; and basic training in front office procedures.

Charter College is located at 19034 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country. Call 661-252-1864 or visit Chartercollege.edu.

 Golden Oak Adult School

Certified Medical Assistant. The program includes classes from 8:45 a.m.-3 p.m. for 18 weeks and an externship for four weeks. You must have a high school diploma or the equivalent, plus take a pre-admission placement exam.

Pharmacy Technician. After completing this program you can gain an entry-level job, from assisting a pharmacist with mixing/packaging prescriptions to inventory control and billing. You need a high school diploma or the equivalent and the course includes more than 240 classroom hours over 18 weeks, as well as an externship of up to 120 hours. After completing the course, students sit down for the National Healthcareer Association’s CPht exam.

Phlebotomy Technician. To earn phlebotomy certification, a student needs 24 hours of basic and 24 hours of advanced didactic plus 40 hours of an externship. It prepares you for an entry-level position as a phlebotomist in a hospital, clinic, laboratory service center or doctor’s office. This program includes 48 hours of lecture and 40 hours of practical experience or “advanced” 48 hours of lecture for students who already have phlebotomy experience. Following the course, students take the National Certification Exam.

Golden Oak Adult School is located at 23201 Dalbey Drive in Santa Clarita. For more information, call 661-253-0583 or visit GoldenOakAdultSchool.com.

 Hart District Career Pathways

Students in the William S. Hart Union School District are currently offered the ability to explore their options through the Career Pathways program. The majority of students in the district in grades 7-12 take at least one semester of career education courses by the time they graduate, according to Mariane Doyle Ph.D., Hart District director, Career Technical and Adult Education.

“Our mission is to provide all students with the opportunity to explore careers and identify the best post-secondary preparation options leading to their career choice,” Doyle said. “Our pathway options range from engineering to animal science to construction technology. We really provide a great variety for students and we are proud to now offer the STEM lab at Bowman!”
A grand opening was held at Bowman High School for a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) lab last month. When students complete online learning, they can now participate in hand-on activities in technical career fields.

The STEM lab will help students in the following areas of interest:

Nursing

Emergency medical technician

Plumbing

Electrical

Robotics and automation

Manufacturing and technology

Pharmacology and construction

Medical imaging

“These modules are succinct, allowing students to explore multiple career pathways in short periods of time,” Doyle said. “This ‘out of the box’ approach to career exploration and development is ideal for alternative school students who are often kinesthetic learners who thrive by experiencing the process of learning. ‘Learning by doing’ supports the acquisition of academic content through hands-on mastery.”

In addition to the STEM lab, Bowman also aims to promote career and college readiness by providing an AP Computer Science class and a Culinary Arts program. Next year, an education pathway with a focus on child development will be offered and a Makerspace will be outfitted with the tools and equipment needed to support a Next Generation Science Standards curriculum being developed in the fall.

“The Hart District provides myriad opportunities for students to engage in STEM,” Doyle said. “From career pathways ranging from Medical Science to Computer Networking, to elective courses including Nanoscience and Anatomy and Physiology, students can engage in STEM at every school in the district. Further, we have STEAM pathways and programs that integrate the Arts in our STEM work. For example, Arroyo Seco’s STEAM Makerspace has always included art and design.”
Career Pathways are similar to choosing a major in college. And the courses are for students planning a post-secondary education, as well as for those who plan to enter the work force following high school.

The Hart District website explains Career Pathways as:

A sequence of courses within your area of interest

A way to connect your career interests from high school to college and/or career

An educational road map guiding you to the high school courses and post-secondary options most relevant to your chosen career destination

A method to acquire the depth of knowledge and skill linked with specific post-secondary programs that will lead to a certificate or degree and/or career

Classes offered in the Hart District Career Pathway program are:

Animal Science

Arts, Media, and Entertainment

Building and Construction Trades

Culinary Arts and Hospital

Education

Engineering and Architecture

Health Science and Medical Technology

Information and Communication Technologies

Manufacturing and Product Development

Marketing, Sales, and Service (Entrepreneurship)

Public Service

Transportation

For more detailed information on Career Pathways, visit the website, PathwayToMyFuture.org.

Technical Career Education

The Career Education program at College of the Canyons aims to meet student demand for information that is applicable to familiar jobs and everyday life.

“It is a rigorous and relevant experience that allows students to learn by doing. Students are provided the opportunity to build the comprehensive skill sets required to be successful in the workplace today and tomorrow,” says the Career Education page on the website Canyons.edu.

Courses are taught by experienced instructors and working professionals and the classes are available day and night in a variety of formats, including face-to-face, online and hybrid.
College of the Canyons’ School of Applied Technologies includes Computer Networking, Electronic Systems, Water Technology, Construction, Construction Management, Surveying, Welding, Manufacturing, and Auto Technology.

The Construction Technology program and Automotive Technology are taught at COC’s Canyon Country campus, and some of the classes for Water Technology and Construction Management are offered in Canyon Country, as well.

Construction Technology
The Construction Management Program at COC offers both an Associate in Science Degree and a Certificate of Achievement.

The only difference between the Degree and the Certificate is the completion of the college’s general education requirements. The Degree is 33 program units plus 27 general education units, for a total of 60 units, and the Certificate program is 33 units.
Construction Management Technology
The Construction Management Technology program is designed to prepare students with the foundation needed to meet the current technological requirements of the construction workplace. The program has two tracks: one for those interested in transfer to a four-year college or university to major in Construction Engineering Technology or Construction Management; the other option is for those students already employed in the construction industry or who plan to enter the industry after completion of a certificate or associate degree. The certificate and associate degree curriculum seek to provide students with the industry-identified skill competencies for entry into the field.

According to the COC website, upon completion, students will be able to demonstrate proficiency in the core skills and knowledge required for employment in construction management.

Automotive Technology
College of the Canyons offers both an Associate of Science degree and two Certificates of Achievement: MLR Automotive and MLR Automotive minoring in Diesel.

To receive a Certificate of Completion majoring in MLR Automotive Technology, students must complete all of the required courses, as well as nine units from the elective courses.

To receive a Certificate of Completion majoring in MLR Automotive Technology with a minor in Diesel, students must complete all of the required courses, as well as three units from the elective courses.

Students from this program will be able to demonstrate proficiency in the core skills and knowledge required for employment in the automotive industry. To receive a Certificate of Completion AND the associate degree, students must, at minimum, complete all of the required courses, 17 units, as well as nine units from the elective courses, plus one unit from CWE 188 Cooperative Work Experience Education. That is a total of 27 program units.  There are a minimum of 27 general education units required. The associate degree requires you to have at least 60 units before earning the award. That leaves another six units that you can fulfill by taking additional automotive technology courses or other courses offered by the college.

For Teens: COC Summer Institute Automotive Technology
One of the popular Summer Institute programs takes place at College of the Canyons Canyon Country Campus. Automotive Technology is offered from July 9-13, 2018. Students entering grades 6-8 can sign up for one of the Summer Institute’s programs.

In Automotive Technology, the young teens will experience what it is like to work in an auto shop. They will learn how to maintain and repair a vehicle, as well as safely handle the most common roadside emergencies. They will use top-of-the-line industry tools and equipment while performing shop tasks just like the professionals. Students will build a real, working, battery-powered 4-cylinder model engine to take home. The model is complete with moving parts, lights and realistic engine sounds. Valves open and close, spark plugs fire and pistons drive the crankshaft, just like a real internal combustion engine.

For information about the Summer Institute Programs for students entering grades 6-8, visit http://www.canyons.edu/Offices/CommunityEducation/Pages/2018%20Summer-Institute.aspx

2nd Annual Win, Place, Home Silent Auction and Gala

| Canyon Country Magazine | May 6, 2018

More than 100 guests attended a party in the barn at Birtwick Park Equestrian Center last month, raising more than $11,000 for the non-profit racehorse rescue Win, Place, Home, Inc.

Located on Lost Canyon Road in Sand Canyon, the ranch had plenty of room for the family-friendly event, adding a Western-themed bounce house for kids, a refreshment stand stocked with donated beer from Lagunitas and Garage Brewing Company, plus non-alcoholic drinks, and a Win Place Home store. At the store guests could purchase hats, beanies, bags and handmade horse ornaments based on current and past horses that had come through the charity.

There were 80 items up for bid, including some Hollywood novelties – an “Iron Man” replica mask from Legacy Effects, the company that made the original, and tours to both the Jim Henson Studios and Jim Henson Creature Shop. One winner took home a first edition book written and signed by Antarctic explorer Sir Edmund Hillary, and other guests won tickets to Knott’s Berry Farm and Medieval Times. The most valuable item was a 20-person suite at Santa Anita Park worth $2,000.

Win, Place, Home, Inc. is a place where racehorses go to relax, retire, and in some cases, rehabilitate. Founder CJ Marinaccio created the non-profit after working at a racetrack in the early part of her career before moving to the green pastures of Santa Clarita. She brought some horses with her and decided to begin taking them in to care for them after their life on the track. She gets them treated for injuries and lets them retire there.

“I worked at the racetrack from 2005 until 2015 and saw many horses come to the track and go from being treated like champions to being forgotten about when they were done,” Marinaccio said. “I decided to be in their lives in a different capacity. They had enough to help them on the track. They needed help getting off of it.”

Win, Place, Home received its first horse, Thorin, in February of 2016. He was adopted last summer as a jumping horse for a 15-year-old girl. A total of six horses have come through the Win, Place, Home program and they have successfully adopted out two of them so far.

Another horse, recently donated to Win, Place, Home by his trainer, is Mighty Mo. He had won more than $120,000 from his days on the track, but in December he broke his pastern bone down the middle, Marinaccio said.

“He did not have a high chance of surviving, but the vets and owners decided to do all they could for him. He had surgery two days later and even though his chance to survive was so low, he has made it,” she said. “Since he has been with us we have been doing everything we can to keep his mind active while his body is healing,” Marinaccio said. We want to help him get every possible chance to make it. He’s lovely and so smart.”

When horses leave the electrified scene of the racetrack they have a vastly different lifestyle at Birtwick Park, which Marinaccio named for an estate in “Black Beauty.”

“When we get a horse we gently let them down from being a racehorse,” Marinaccio said. “If they come uninjured, we then give them a month or two to just be a horse, to help their mind.”

Horses also get a job to do at Win, Place, Home. “When they get off the track and can settle into just being a horse, it’s amazing how much their personality shifts!” the founder said. “And when they are put into a second job that they WANT to do they are so willing to please.”

Horses learn the basics in their chosen discipline – jumping, dressage, western, trail, polo, barrel racing, etc. Marinaccio has three employees at Birtwick Park, one who lives on the property with his family, but the charity’s owner is the only one who rides the horses while they are training. When they are ready for adoption, prospective owners may ride them to see if they’re compatible.

For more information about the non-profit, visit WinPlaceHome.org.

Women of the Blues Festival: Laurie Morvan Band

| Entertainment | May 5, 2018

If you attend one of their latest CD release parties, you can see that the Laurie Morvan Band actually defies “Gravity,” and is ironically the name of the album they’re promoting on tour. The five-member blues rock group’s actual trajectory is anything but tethered to the ground. The work of unseen forces are taking them to their fan base up and down California and through numerous Midwest states, according to their website tour schedule … and that’s just this summer.

Based in Long Beach, the Laurie Morvan Band delivers original music straight from the mind of Morvan, who calls writing music “a great joy.”

“Songwriting was really natural,” she said. “It’s like any skill. Some people have more natural ability. Songwriting is the most important thing an artist can do.”

People often describe Morvan as a blend of Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Ray Vaughan, the latter having a tremendous influence on her style.

“I started out playing in rock and roll bands and gravitated toward the blues,” she explained. “Honestly, when I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan, it kind of changed my life.”

Vaughan was a famed guitarist considered partly responsible for the revival of blues music worldwide. He died in 1990.

“Stevie’s like a gateway, because he shone the light on so many of the artists who came before him – Albert King, Muddy Waters,” she said. “Once you open the door it becomes a whole musical palette you didn’t know existed before.”

Originally an electrical engineer at TRW, Laurie Morvan got an acoustic guitar while in college in Illinois, and left her day job in the ‘80s to perform full-time. She is the lead guitarist and lead vocalist for the band, which you can learn more about by visiting Lauriemorvan.com.

The public has the chance to hear the Laurie Morvan Band and four other female blues artists at Wolf Creek Brewery on May 12, 2018 beginning at 3:30 p.m. The Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society will host “Women of the Blues,” a spring festival which is also a pre-Mother’s Day fundraiser to benefit the Blues Society and Single Mothers Outreach.

“It’s a really good cause,” Morvan said. “Of course, the most vulnerable people in the world need support, and I think it’s a really great cause to support.”

The Santa Clarita Gazette is a media sponsor for the concert and the performing bands each have achieved levels of success that include recordings, touring schedules and a big fan base. Tickets are $25, and $15 for SCV Blues Society members. Tickets are $30 at the gate.

Wolf Creek Brewery is located at 25108 Rye Canyon Loop in Santa Clarita. For more information about the Women of the Blues event, visit SCVBlues.com.

Smuddes Smiling After 20 Years of Dentistry

| Community | May 3, 2018

When Drs. Kelly and Allen Smudde opened their practice in Santa Clarita in 1998, the city’s population was only about 130,000. As the area grew, so did their relationships with their dental patients, and this week the staff is celebrating the milestone.

To symbolize their gratitude to the community, to their patients and their team after 20 years, Drs. Allen and Kelly Smudde will take part in 20 acts of kindness during the month of May. They call it “a small thanks to all of those involved in helping the Smudde Family grow since 1998.”

Theresa, a registered dental assistant with extended functions, has been with the Smudde practice for two decades.

“Drs. Allen and Kelly Smudde are the most genuine and selfless leaders,” she said. “They continuously instill their qualities in all of us, (for) which we are truly grateful. They care about how we’re doing, how our families are doing, and never forget about important events going on in our lives.”

Comments from staff confirm that the Drs. Smudde are both attentive to the day-to-day experiences of their team members, rewarding them with spontaneous gestures of appreciation.

The dentists are also active in the Santa Clarita community. Philanthropies include donating to multiple charities, organizations, and local high schools. They team up with Operation Gratitude, a non-profit organization that has sent more than two million care packages to troops overseas, first responders, veterans, military families, and wounded heroes.

The Smudde office hosts an annual Halloween Candy Buy Back, paying children a dollar per pound in an effort to protect their teeth. A few months ago, the Smuddes hosted a Free Day of Dentistry, opening their doors to community members in need of dental work. Kelly and Allen Smudde have donated more than $1 million to causes in the Santa Clarita Valley, plus they have expanded their support to orphanages in undeveloped countries that lack access to dental supplies for basic oral health.

The Smuddes’ practice is Santa Clarita Advanced Dentistry, located on Tourney Road in Valencia.

Artist of the Week – Teresa James

| Entertainment | April 26, 2018

For Teresa James, when it comes to singing the blues it certainly isn’t her first rodeo. She and her husband, Terry Wilson, and their band perform several times a month, touring all the way to the East Coast and back.

They moved to Canyon Country in 1991 and raised a son and daughter in Santa Clarita, where they were in close range to Los Angeles for their music careers, but had a safe, slow atmosphere for the kids.

“I can’t even think of a better place to raise our kids,” said James, a native of Houston, Texas. “Here there are a lot of kids in the neighborhood; you always knew right away if something was going on.”

On May 12 Teresa James is joining four other female artists to perform at the Women of the Blues, a fundraiser sponsored by the Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society. Proceeds will benefit the non-profit Blues Society and Single Mothers Outreach.

“I’m excited about being a part of this,” James said. “It’s a good cause.”

With 10 albums recorded, the latest just a month and a half ago, and a new weekly gig every Wednesday at The Write Off Room in Woodland Hills, Teresa James is spreading her talent far and wide. But she always comes home to Santa Clarita.

The Women of the Blues Festival will be held on May 12, 2018 as a pre-Mother’s Day fundraiser at Wolf Creek Brewery, located at 25108 Rye Canyon Loop in Santa Clarita, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

The Santa Clarita Gazette is a media sponsor for the concert and performers include Truth Jones, Kelly’s Lot, Brigitte Rios Purdy, Laurie Morvan Band and Teresa James. Tickets are $25, and $15 for SCV Blues Society members. Tickets are $30 at the gate.

To learn more about Teresa’s music, visit TeresaJames.com. For more information about the Women of the Blues event, visit SCVBlues.com.

Furry Friends on Facebook: Lost & Found Pets of SCV

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 23, 2018

On a typical morning, you head out to your car so you can get to work on time, when you spot a four-footed neighbor running around in your yard. Of course, there’s no owner in sight, so you’re saddled with the responsibility to find the animal’s home and family. This means getting to work late, plus figuring out a plan.

For some, this is a relatively frequent scenario, which is why there’s a Facebook group called Lost & Found Pets of SCV.

Six years ago, Rochelle Dawn of Canyon Country created that site – a hub where owners with lost pets could connect with the individuals who found them. Her friend, Elizabeth Rose of Santa Clarita, joined her mission and the two have served as co-administrators since.

“It has brought me great joy and pride to be a part of such a great community that is willing to go to such lengths to help others out; whether they walk on two feet or four feet, and in some cases whether they slither or fly!” she said.
There are currently more than 11,000 members of the group and it is growing daily. The vast majority of members are residents from all over Santa Clarita with a few from the Antelope Valley, the San Fernando Valley and other neighboring communities. Because of telecommuting, cross-posting and the occasional pet lost during a trip to the SCV, members are not exclusively from Santa Clarita.

“The group has very strong community involvement for assisting other members in so many different areas of the process when a pet is lost or found,” Dawn said. “This can range from encouragement when an owner is feeling lost or helpless, education on the steps to take when a pet is lost or found, and even donating their time to look for the lost pet, post flyers or help transport a found pet.”

In addition to Rose and Dawn, there are volunteers who help with moderating and assisting members.

“We all live in different areas of the SCV, which allows us to better help the members of the group,” Dawn said. “Often times this help includes us going out to scan a found pet for a microchip or assisting in a search effort, and it would be very difficult to cover the entire SCV without having wonderful volunteers spread throughout the valley.”

Some residents have even purchased scanners with their own funds and learned how to properly scan pets for microchips to help in the effort to get lost pets back with their families, she added. And she encourages members to educate each other, which includes how to locate owners when you find someone’s lost animal, or how to look for your own lost pet. The conversation also covers tips for preventing the loss of a pet. This form of communication “has had a cascading effect,” Dawn explained. “The group educates them and they, in turn, educate their friends and neighbors, leading to both preventing lost pets, as well as reuniting pets with their families.”

Most of the posts on Lost & Found Pets of SCV are dogs and cats, of course, but the group has also seen concerns about lost reptiles, birds, pocket pets and farm animals. “If you can own it, we probably have seen it posted to the group,” said the co-founder, adding that there are an average of 300 posts per month, including lost/found pets, loose pet sightings and lost pet prevention.

“Most people who find lost pets are shocked to discover how many steps are required to look for the owners,” she said. “The old days of simply placing a few flyers isn’t enough anymore. It is also amazing and sometimes overwhelming how much information and community support there is to help an owner look for their lost pet or looking for the owner of a pet they have found. Just last year, the Lost & Found Pets of SCV community had a confirmed 70 percent reunited rate for pets posted to the group!”

You can find the group at www.facebook.com/groups/LostAndFoundPetsOfSCV.

GoFundMe for Family of Cancer Victim

| Community | April 19, 2018

The Grasso family has never been afraid of hard work, faithfully pitching in at Oak Creek Corral in Canyon Country, where they ride horses. But the past few years have taken them down a more difficult trail, as husband to Jodi and father-of-five Craig Grasso has been fighting a battle with cancer.

A storybook artist in film animation and an instructor at CalArts, Craig has been able to work – at least some of the time – but things haven’t been going as well lately.

“This week the doctors told him they are out of options,” said Tracy Boldroff, owner of Oak Creek Corral. “The next step is heavy doses of chemo to see if they can get the levels down enough to do a stem cell transplant. If this does not work they say the cancer will be very aggressive and his time left will be very limited.”

He found out he had multiple myeloma in 2011 during a routine life insurance exam which, unfortunately, precluded him from getting the policy, which is one reason the community is contributing to the family’s finances.

“The out-of-pocket expense for his medication had risen to over $800 per month in the past, which already created stress for the family,” Boldroff said. “(And) the doctors do not want Craig working from this point on.”

Friends of the Grassos set up a GoFundMe account to offset the extreme hardship due to medical bills. Boldroff and Jacqulin Powell-Audish are reaching out to the entire community to meet the goal of $20,000.

“We are trying to raise funds to give to the family for their monthly expenses and for the girls’ activities,” said Boldroff, referring to the Grasso’s three teenage daughters who ride. “The girls are already going through enough and they need their activities to give them some type of peace at this difficult time.”

The horse community can help further by participating in a Fundraiser Ride planned for May 12, 2018. For more information about the Fundraiser Ride, email TracyBoldroff@sbcglobal.net.

To help Craig Grasso and his family, visit
https://www.gofundme.com/theGrassofamily.

Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival

| Entertainment | April 19, 2018

This week we’re celebrating “Wines of the Week,” since this weekend is the Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival, which is your chance to sample what’s flowing at 34 wineries!

The Festival will be held from 12 noon-4 p.m. at Reyes Winery, 10262 Sierra Highway in Agua Dulce. Guests will enjoy wine and food while listening to live bands, and meet vendors with handmade crafts and wine related items.

Proceeds benefit Zonta Club of SCV. Sponsors include: The Santa Clarita Gazette, Mercedes Benz of Valencia, California Bank & Trust, SCV Advanced Audiology, Pepsi Co., Anheuser Busch, Reyes Winery, Christine Sexton of Realty Executives, Jorja Harris of Farmers Insurance Agency, Russ & Barbara Cochran, Charles Wine Co., KHTS Radio and The Santa Clarita Signal.

Guests will enjoy wine, spirits and beverages from:

1.       Reyes Winery
2.       Stephen Hemmert Wines
3.       Domaine Kreger
4.       San Antonio Winery
5.       Bouquet Vineyards
6.       Agua Dulce Winery
7.       Absente
8.       Bobcat Winery
9.      Du Nasi
10.   Brown Knows Cider
11.   Anheuser Busch
12.   Copper Hill Brewery
13.   Aquafina/Gatorade
14.   LA International Wine Comp
15.   Coruce Vineyards
16.   Charles Wine Co
17.   Honu Coffee
18.   Parhelion Cellars
19.   Ballestas Ranch
20.   Chavez Vineyards/High Desert Cellars
21.   Barrett Cellars
22.   Golden Star Vineyards and Winery
23.   Vina Sympatica
24.   Patger Brothers Winery
25.   Hoi Polloi Winery
26.   Brewery Draconum
27.   Entourage
28.   Thief and Barrel

Food vendors include:

1.       Truffle N Toffee
2.       Gourmet Blends
3.       Grandpa Fred’s BBQ
4.       The Pickle B
5.       California Bakery
6.       Porto’s Bakery
7.       Broken Bit Steakhouse
8.       Bonefish Grill

And other vendors at the Festival include:

1.       Exquisite Things Jewelry
2.       Magnolia Vine
3.       Reine River Studios
4.       JL Vision
5.       Bency Co
6.       M Cigars
7.       Savannah Lilly
8.       Crazy Kraut Products
9.       Prussmeier Fine Pens
10.   Virginia Miranda
11.   Chalk-O-Lot
12.   So Cal Mirror Booth

For more information and tickets,
visit SierraPelonaVintners.com.

Jeri Goldenhar, aka Truth Jones

| Entertainment | April 19, 2018

According to local musician Jeri Goldenhar, aka Truth Jones, her band’s original songs are fairly autobiographical. Members of the community have a chance to get acquainted with them through their music – plus classic covers – at the Women of the Blues Festival next month.

“I am thrilled to be fronting the band for the Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society Women of the Blues spring festival,” Goldenhar said. “Hopefully our listeners find themselves in all the music we share. We truly feel blessed to do what we do.”

Her band is known in the blues community as Jim Gustin and Truth Jones.

Jim Gustin and Jeri

“Jim Gustin has been my musical partner in crime for almost 17 years,” she said.

Goldenhar has been singing for audiences since she was 2 years old, a preacher’s kid originally from Santa Clarita.

“I was raised in a musical family, and I started writing songs with my sister in junior high school,” she said.

She’s still with “family,” in a group with recordings and tours among their many experiences to date. And she’s always at home onstage, singing with a seasoned ensemble and sharing vocals with Gustin.

“We all have day jobs, so this is a labor of love,” Gustin said. “We can just play what we want to play and not worry about how much the gig pays. It gives us freedom to play what we want.”

Touring is a way for their music to reach as many people as possible.

“While we sing about a lot of painful things that people go through, we believe that because of our relationship with God that we have peace and comfort through that,” Gustin said.

The band is playing at the Women of the Blues Festival on May 12, 2018 as a pre-Mother’s Day fundraiser to benefit the Blues Society and Single Mothers Outreach. The festival will be held at Wolf Creek Brewery, located at 25108 Rye Canyon Loop in Santa Clarita, at 3:30 p.m.

The Santa Clarita Gazette is a media sponsor for the concert and performers include Truth Jones, Kelly’s Lot, Bridgette Rios Purdy, Laurie Morvan Band and Teresa James. Tickets are $25, and $15 for SCV Blues Society members. Tickets are $30 at the gate.

For more information about the Women of the Blues event, visit SCVBlues.com. You can check out Truth Jones on the band’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/jimgustinandtruthjones, and listen at: https://www.reverbnation.com/jimgustinandtruthjones.

Women in History: Costumed portrayals of historical women

| Sand Canyon Journal | April 16, 2018

Every year, PTA members at multiple schools create theatrical presentations that take kids back in time in honor of “Women in History Month.” Approximately six volunteers – usually mothers of students – appear in costumes, portraying real life women from American history.

But when a local woman takes the stage at her child’s school to recognize the achievements of a historical female, she may not realize she bears a striking resemblance to the woman she portrays: Like her character, she is taking her place in history (of the school, at least), while also making a notable achievement – capturing the imaginations of hundreds of elementary school students.

Schools in the Sulphur Springs School District all have the opportunity to take part in the program. The local chapter of the American Association of University Women decides the theme and selects the female icons to be portrayed each year, and the rest is up to the individual schools. Each site works on its own to choose presenters, create scripts, and gather costumes and props. Leona Cox Community School will hold the presentations in April this year, while volunteers at Sulphur Springs Community School performed for the kids in March.

This is the second year that Sabrina Randall was the program coordinator at Sulphur Springs. It used to be handled by Sue Hoefflin, who retired after 20 years teaching in the district.

“I was honored to be asked to coordinate Women in History because it’s an opportunity to introduce students to historical icons they don’t often get exposure to, if ever,” Randall said. “Women in History is also essential in the realization that success in any field isn’t gender or race biased. It also opens up the realization that there are multiple careers out there and how subjects students are learning in school right now can lead to their chance to enter some of the same fields as any of the icons we portray in Women in History.”

This was Tina Roberts’ second year portraying a woman in history at Sulphur Springs.
“It was just a blast, so I was happy to do it again,” said Roberts, who impersonated the wife of John F. Kennedy last year. “I put on a wig and really had the kids fooled. They really thought it was Jackie Kennedy come to life.”

In addition to the information AAUW provided last year, Roberts added her own research and created a large poster board with a timeline.

“I wanted to emphasize her as a woman, rather than the wife of Kennedy, to point out that she was an editor, and educated, and didn’t just sit on her laurels as a person in a privileged lifestyle,” said Roberts, who pulled off the look with a scarf and sunglasses. “She could’ve come off more as a debutante than a contributing person.”

This year, Roberts’ character was naturalist Joy Adamson, perhaps known best as the author of the book “Born Free.” She and her husband, George Adamson, who was a wildlife warden, lived in Kenya. They took an orphaned lion cub, Elsa, and domesticated her, but eventually realized the animal had to be set free.

“They had to reintroduce her into the wild, which hadn’t been done before,” Roberts said. “They had to teach her to be wild again.”

Joy Adamson spent much of her life serving causes associated with wildlife.

“She became an advocate for animals,” Roberts said. “She wanted to make people understand that they have personalities, they’re not just food and game.”
Roberts dressed in safari pants and set the stage with a stuffed lion and gourd art from her home, plus played the movie’s title song, “Born Free” on her computer. Recently elected recording secretary in PTA, Roberts is the mother of two children at Sulphur Springs – a son in fourth grade and a daughter in sixth grade. She is also the chair of the school’s Founders Day celebration.

“I’m impressed, in this day and age, with so much electronics, so many distractions, and about 60 kids … they were all just staring and asking questions and so engaged,” Roberts said. “It was so unexpected that you’d get that out of kids all day long.”

The volunteers who take a Women in History role year after year rarely have acting experience, just a desire to learn and pass the information onto the kids.

“I’m not an actor by any means and I felt so interested in learning about this woman,” Roberts said. “It was a great way to learn about somebody. Another woman, Rebekah Child, who did Rosalind Franklin – she did such a great job. She had to teach the kids about DNA! It’s fun to see what women come up with, as a mom and presenter.”

Randall is heading up the program at Sulphur Springs, but hasn’t participated as a presenter yet, mostly because of the enthusiasm of women around her.

“We have so many outstanding parent volunteers at Sulphur Springs who immediately come forward to portray an icon the minute roles become announced,” she said.

The other Women in History icons this year were astronaut Peggy Whitson, engineer Ellen Swallow Richards, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, and NASA research scientist Katherine Johnson.

Non Profit of the Week – Win, Place, Home

| SC Living | April 13, 2018

When CJ Marinaccio of Canyon Country worked at a racetrack in her 20s and 30s, she probably didn’t see herself in the position she is today. Horses have been a priority since she was a child, so she’s always had the passion – it’s her purpose that’s changed.

“I worked at the racetrack from 2005 until 2015 and saw many horses come to the track and go from being treated like champions to being forgotten about when they were done,” Marinaccio said. “I decided to be in their lives in a different capacity. They had enough to help them on the track. They needed help getting off of it.”

What Marinaccio did to get herself on track with her new goal was to form a non-profit to help retired racehorses make their transition from track life to thriving in a new discipline. In October of 2015 she founded Win, Place, Home, Inc.

“When we get a horse we gently let them down from being a racehorse,” she said. “If they come uninjured, we then give them a month or two to just be a horse, to help their mind.”
Horses with injuries begin a physical program to get the healing process started.

“If they are injured we help them through their rehabilitation until they are ready to get to work. We then help them figure out what discipline they would like to do!” Marinaccio said. “Jumping, dressage, western, trail, polo, barrel racing, etc. They will learn the basics in their chosen discipline and then will be ready to be adopted out.”

Win, Place, Home has obtained six horses so far and adopted out two of them.

Birtwick Park Equestrian Center is located at 16257 Lost Canyon Road in Canyon Country. For more information about the organization, visit WinPlaceHome.org.

2nd Annual Win, Place, Home Silent Auction and Gala
A wide range of items will be there for the bidding at the upcoming Win, Place, Home Silent Auction and Gala held at Birtwick Park Equestrian Center on April 21 from 6:30-9 p.m. More than 100 guests are expected to gather among the horses in the barn for drinks, appetizers and shopping.
Rain or shine, the family-friendly event will also include a bounce house and a chance to meet two miniature unicorns.
Tickets are $20 online and $25 at the door. Guests under 21 years old are free. Last year the event raised more than $11,000 for the non-profit. For more information, visit http://winplacehome.org/index.php/12-silent-auction.

Hero of the Week – Stephanie Wehan

Stephanie Wehan, who boards her “big boy” Remington at Birtwick Park, is also a volunteer for Win, Place, Home. This month she has been working hard helping with the upcoming gala’s silent auction.

“She has been calling businesses for donations, picking up items, getting the word out on social media, and even buying extra supplies to donate to the night,” said CJ Marinaccio, founder/trainer at Win, Place, Home, Inc. “Her father also donated items for people to bid on! She’s been monumental in helping get as much money donated as possible.”

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