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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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Highway Hook-Up

| News | April 20, 2017

Sierra Highway. It’s had a life as “El Camino Sierra,” been nationally-known as “U.S. Route 6,” and first made it to the silver screen in the final shot of Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” in 1936.

So, what now?

If you’ve driven north on Sierra Highway from Soledad to Vasquez Canyon Road, you’ve probably noticed a few things, such as deterioration of the roadway, the announcement of a community center, and the presence of tractors up on the ridgeline when you face west.

To inquire about all of those issues isn’t entirely simple, as the City of Santa Clarita doesn’t own all of Sierra Highway. Some of it south of Soledad Canyon Road actually belongs to CalTrans. And a small portion of the road, a .7-mile stretch between Golden Valley Road and Friendly Valley Pkwy, has been a point of discussion for leaders of Santa Clarita recently. Legislation was co-sponsored earlier this year by Assemblyman Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita) and state Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) to authorize the California Transportation Commission to relinquish all or any portion of Sierra Highway from Friendly Valley to Newhall.

 Acosta spokesperson David Creager said in an email to Gazette writer Lee Barnathan, “This was requested by the city due to the state’s inability to maintain the section of highway. The city wishes to take over responsibility for the section in question in order to make sure that the highway doesn’t fall into any further disrepair.”

But north of Soledad is not owned by the state. It is owned by the city up to Fox Feed, beyond which Sierra Highway is owned by L.A. County.

“When the Community Center moves forward there will be significant improvements to Sierra Highway going north from Soledad,” city Councilman Bob Kellar said.

The Canyon Country Community Center is planned for the northeast corner of Sierra Highway and Soledad, though the fate of the white, two-story building  located there (photo below) is unclear.

“At this point we are working with all the surrounding property owners for the development of the new Community Center, Caruso’s included. We have had preliminary discussion with the owners,” City Director of Public Works Robert Newman said.

Angie Caruso, whose family owns the building on Sierra Highway where their restaurant, Caruso’s, is located, has been informed about the proposed Community Center, and debunked any rumors that their building would be demolished as part of the plan.

“They contacted us last year that they have plans to build in back of us. That’s okay,” Caruso said. “We have no intention of selling (the building). My grandpa bought that in the 1950s, it’s something my grandfather left us. My mom and dad have no intention of selling it.”

Angie Caruso owns Piccola Trattoria, an Italian restaurant on Dolan Way, around the corner from Caruso’s. She believes both of her family’s businesses are impacted by the state of Sierra Highway.

“We do need Sierra Highway upgraded,” she said. “It’s very dark, very dangerous. We offer valet here because we don’t want any of our customers crossing Sierra Highway. That was one of the reasons we started valet — we didn’t want anything to happen to anyone. They need lights. They need sidewalks.”

That’s where the City of Santa Clarita comes in.

“With the development of the Community Center, street improvements along the property frontage on Sierra Highway will be constructed including sidewalk, curb and lighting,” Newman said. “(It) will include full construction of curb and sidewalk improvements along the project frontage, along with striping changes to include three lanes and a bike lane.”

Newman responded to questions about the current state of the roadway.

“The city has made a number of improvements along Sierra Highway over the years, including widening to two lanes within the city, landscaped medians with development partners and traffic signal enhancements,” Newman said.

And what about where Sierra Highway becomes county-owned, north of College of the Canyons and Fox Feed?

“For residents I would refer them to the local 5th District County Supervisor’s office,” Kellar said. “Other improvements will take place over time on Sierra as new development occurs. The Skyline project is a case in point, with the creation of a new intersection just north of the Backwoods Inn Restaurant.”

The Skyline development, which will all be on county-owned land, is a property of Pardee Homes, with approval for 1,220 total units, all single-family detached homes. According to Dave Little, division president for Pardee Homes, about a quarter of them will be age-restricted units in their own gated section, the same size as Belcaro, a 55 and older gated community in Valencia.

“In conjunction with the development of Skyline we’ll be providing another school for Sulphur Springs, also a nine-acre public park,” Little said. “With our grading equipment up and over that ridgeline, you can see what’s going on across the street from the Backwoods Inn. There’s an inherent inconvenience, but a lot of benefits, in addition to having the equipment out there.”

What they’re constructing is Skyline Ranch Road and will connect Plum Canyon Road to Sierra Highway. An intersection will be constructed in front of the Backwoods Inn.

“At the connection point we’ll improve the intersection there. We’re working with the city to see what they’re doing with improvements right there, so we can see how we can dovetail with that,” Little said. “Vasquez Canyon Road is obviously a sore subject for residents of Santa Clarita. Skyline Ranch Road will offer people another way to get to the Sierra Highway side.”

 

National Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 18, 2017

As difficult as it is for an individual with Parkinson’s disease to move forward, the effort to raise money for research and treatment is also something that occurs one step at a time. One Canyon Country woman is making the process of raising funds and awareness look more like a trot than a walk as community development manager for the National Parkinson Foundation for the last two years.

“I came to the foundation because my younger brother has early-onset Parkinson’s disease (PD), diagnosed four years ago, when he was only 32,” explained Sarah Osborne. “It was a very confusing time for our whole family, with emotions ranging from denial and disbelief to fear and sadness. None of us knew what to expect or how to handle the inevitable changes we were about to face. The National Parkinson Foundation has been a valuable and trusted source of information for us and thousands of families.”

According to the NPF website, Parkinson’s disease affects an estimated one million Americans and four to six million worldwide. PD is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s and is the 14th leading cause of death in the United States. There is no cure for PD and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States alone.

Actor Michael J. Fox has brought attention to the need for funding for the incurable disease, which causes symptoms such as tremors, stiffness and slow movement. The mission of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is to “(accelerate) breakthroughs patients can feel in their everyday lives.”

“The best advice I can give someone is to stay away from searching the general internet and guard yourself from the avalanche of misinformation, speculation, and trends,” Osborne said. “Talk to and listen to your medical professionals, connect with reputable organizations, advocate for yourself or loved one, and STAY ACTIVE! These are key to fighting PD.”

Moving Day
The limited movement that victims of Parkinson’s disease experience is the point of the organization’s fundraiser, the “Moving Day” walk. Locally, Santa Clarita is host to Moving Day North LA County later this month, which is a celebration of movement, while raising funds and making victims of the disease aware of the benefits of exercise in managing Parkinson’s disease.

The National Parkinson Foundation Moving Day walk will be held at Valencia Heritage Park on April 29, 2017 from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Participants can choose the family-friendly walk course or enjoy the kids’ area, a “Caregivers Relaxation Tent” or visit the “Movement Pavilion,” a tent with activities such as yoga, Pilates, tai chi, dance and more.

Last year the local effort raised nearly $60,000, which is used to provide free patient and caregiver resources like life-saving “Aware in Care” hospital kits, the professionally-staffed NPF Helpline, education, and part of the funds stay local in the form of community grants.

“Moving Day is fun, it is great exercise and it’s educational,” Osborne said. “But mostly, the support of the community enables us to continue to make meaningful changes in the lives of those with Parkinson’s. We believe that ‘People who move change the world.’”

Last year’s top fundraising team came from Canyon Country: “Carolyn’s Cruisers.” It was Carolyn’s sister, Mary, who signed up their team of nine siblings, who then rallied their families around the cause. “I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease two years ago,” said Carolyn. “I had a hard time accepting this, because I had already been through so much. In 2004, I was diagnosed with mantel cell lymphoma. I fought back with a stem cell transplant, but the lymphoma returned. In 2007, I underwent a bone marrow transplant, and I recently celebrated 10 years of being cancer free!”

After Carolyn was diagnosed with PD she was still working as a full-time registered nurse, trying to persevere through the symptoms —difficulty walking, clumsiness, falling and tremors.

“Fast forward five months later when my family heard about Moving Day North Los Angeles,” Carolyn continued. “It was exactly what I needed. The Moving Day walk motivated me to turn something negative into a positive. When I began training in March, I was barely able to walk a quarter of a mile. But I did not give up and I continued to walk three days per week. My doctors helped me by adjusting my medication and providing me with ways to improve my stride. It was my dream to be able to accomplish this walk and not give up on the possibilities of what I can achieve. I realized that I couldn’t let this disease be the reason for not doing something. At Moving Day North LA I walked with my team and completed my first 5K! Goal accomplished!”

Nationwide, Moving Day has funded millions of dollars in mission services, focusing on addressing the unmet needs in the Parkinson’s community, expanding successful programs to new areas and developing new programs to make life better for those living with the disease.

“We have funded the largest clinical study of PD ever, called the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project (POP),” Osborne said. “Started in 2009, the POP involves nearly 10,000 participants in four countries, with the goal of improving patient care and outcomes.”

According to Osborne, key findings include the following:
Interventions that provide neuroprotective benefits, such as exercise, could change the course of the disease.
Increasing physical activity to at least 2.5 hours a week slows the decline in quality of life.
Regular neurologist care could save the lives of thousands of people each year.
Depression and anxiety are the number one factors impacting the overall health status of patients.

Osborne moved to Santa Clarita a decade ago and now lives in Canyon Country. “We like the family atmosphere of our neighborhood and being on the ‘quiet side of town,’” she said. “We have great access to the 14 and bought a home at a great value, comparing size, amenities, and price, so we’re very happy to call Canyon Country home.”

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and St. Jude Medical are sponsors of Moving Day North LA. To learn more about how you, your family and friends and/or your company can get involved, visit www.MovingDayNorthLA.org.

For more information about the disease, visit www.parkinson.org, or call the NPF Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636).

Man of the Year, Woman of the Year

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 13, 2017

One might say that non-profit involvement is a contact sport in Santa Clarita, meaning the field of volunteers is crowded with generosity, and there is a crossover of efforts among organizations of all kinds. That is why choosing a top philanthropist in this community is likely to be a difficult task.

Serving a 501(c)(3) is encouraged year round, but every spring one man and one woman are celebrated for the breadth of their volunteerism. Each year there are residents of Canyon Country nominated, and this year there are four individuals from this side of town. Previous winners of the Man of the Year and Woman of the Year honors will gather together to choose which of the nominees gain the two titles, and it will be announced at a gala on May 5 at the Valencia Hyatt Regency Hotel. The two winners each receive up to $1,000 to donate to the nonprofit(s) of their choice.

Alan Ferdman was nominated by the Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers, Inc. He has chaired the organization’s annual Rubber Ducky Festival for three years. The retired aerospace engineer is perhaps best known by locals as the chair of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee, or CCAC, for 17 years. He is active in numerous non-profit groups, including Bridge to Home and the Santa Clarita Senior Center, and is a member of local clubs such as Sunrise Rotary, Santa Clarita Elks and Mint Canyon Moose Lodge.

Alan and his wife, Pam, moved to Canyon Country in 1965, and raised two children.

“I am a big supporter of Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers because of the important role they provide for our uninsured and under-insured residents,” he said. “Nothing is more important than maintaining our health and the health of our family members.”
Tracy Hauser was nominated by the SCV Senior Center. A broker for Cobalt Realty, Tracy has tireless energy and has touched the lives of many through Santa Clarita non-profits. She is a big supporter of Single Mothers Outreach and helps with fundraising efforts for SCV Education Foundation and Bark for Life. She is known both in and out of the non-profit community for her ability to connect people to resources. Her personal experiences fuel the work she does with those in need, whether it is single mothers, a role she had in the past, or the senior population.

“The Senior Center provides for the well-being of the whole family, as well as the seniors,” Hauser says on her Tracy Team real estate webpage. “One of the critical services supported by fundraising events such as the Celebrity Waiter Dinner is the Home Delivered Meals program, which delivers hot, nutritious meals to homebound seniors five days a week.”

Diane Green was nominated by the SCV Disaster Coalition, which she and her husband founded with Carl and Jeri Goldman. Seeing the experience of victims after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Diane was moved to put some preparation in place on a local scale.

“We are so unprepared as a community,” said Green. “Certainly if we have a disaster here, we have to be prepared to help victims.” The Disaster Coalition is a non-profit you don’t hear about except in a crisis, such as the recent fires and flooding. “We stick with the families throughout the whole process,” Green said. “You can lean on us until you can stand on your own.”

Diane and Neal Green were in the car when she got a text message from Carl announcing her nomination for Woman of the Year. “I had to read it three times,” she said. “I was beyond honored — it really is a thrill.”

Janice Murray was nominated by Circle of Hope, Inc., where she has volunteered for more than six years. She serves on the executive board and has held roles as vice president, secretary, event chair, public relations ambassador, and headed up auction fundraising.

Circle of Hope is a charity dedicated to providing emotional, financial and educational support to those diagnosed with cancer in the Santa Clarita Valley. Working as host of “Non-Profit Spotlight” on KHTS AM-1220, Murray interfaces regularly with many of the charities she has been involved with as a volunteer.

Janice Murray was nominated right on the heels of her nomination for Zonta Club’s Service Award this year. “I can honestly say I was honored and very flattered to be nominated for Woman of the Year,” said Murray. “There are so many more deserving women in this town who I admire and look up to for their volunteerism, and I’m thrilled just to be thought of along with them!”

Friends and family of the nominees and members of the nominating organizations can purchase tickets online for $125 each at scvmw.org/awards-dinner-reservation-form/. Regular tables are $1,250 and include seating for 10. Premium tables, at $1,500 each, include seating for 10 with the sponsor’s name on the table, plus a full-page ad in the program book. Guests are encouraged to make reservations early, since seating is limited and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

The committee also is taking reservations for congratulations advertisements in the program to show appreciation to the candidates. Ads are due by April 15, 2017 and may be e-mailed to akovach@insidescv.com.

Sand Canyon Plaza

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | April 8, 2017

Current view of the site

It is perhaps best known as the project replacing the mobile home units on the corner of Sand Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads.

Sand Canyon Plaza is a mixed-use project on approximately 87 acres that plans to include: 580 dwelling units (comprised of single-family and attached multi-family units); 60,000 square feet of retail (primarily restaurants situated around a water feature); and a 130-bed, 80,000-square-foot assisted living facility. According to developer Tom Clark, the project will also include three private recreation areas, commercial plaza areas, various private streets, driveways, parking and landscaped areas.

“We have had two Planning Commission public hearings, to date, with a third scheduled for May 16, 2017,” Clark said. “If approved at that meeting, the project would likely be scheduled for City Council consideration in June/July. We intend to start land development after City Council approval, if granted.

Royal Clark Development has made several changes to the project over the last two years, after considering input from the community, city staff and the Planning Commission.

“Recent changes have included increasing the size of the commercial square footage, the provision of additional parking, and the creation of a two-acre park, which will include a pool, jacuzzi, clubhouse, BBQ, fireplace, basketball court, dog park and trails,” Clark said.

The project will connect to the existing public sewer system, and water for the project would come from Santa Clarita Water Division. Previously, the Sand Canyon Plaza development was intended to connect with the nearby Vista Canyon development for some of its water.

“Castaic Lake Water Agency will be distributing recycled water from the Vista Canyon Water Reclamation Plant,” Clark said. “Based on their engineering studies they will be using the recycled water in Vista Canyon and then off-site into Fair Oaks Ranch. They are not proposing to utilize the water at this stage to properties east of Vista Canyon such as Sand Canyon Plaza. However, we will be incorporating all of the city’s green building requirements into the project, (including) the use of drought-tolerant landscaping, low-flow fixtures and other water conservation strategies.”

To some of Canyon Country’s residents, progress seems slow, considering rumors that the lot where the mobile home park currently stands would possibly become the site of a Trader Joe’s, or that Vons would move there from its current location across the street.

Tom Clark explained some of the process involved. “Large scale development projects like Sand Canyon Plaza and Vista Canyon take time (years, not days) to develop,” he said. “Assuming City Council approval, grading and infrastructure work on Sand Canyon Plaza will take us through mid to late 2018, with vertical construction following.”

Nearby residents are hoping the presence of both developments prompts two thumbs up.

“We made a point early on to reach out to the surrounding community,” Clark said. “The feedback has been very positive. Additionally, the public outreach process has really resulted in the creation of a project that will be an asset to this part of town.”

What’s Happening to the Highway?

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 6, 2017

Sierra Highway. It’s had a life as “El Camino Sierra,” been nationally-known as “U.S. Route 6,” and first made it to the silver screen in the final shot of Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” in 1936.

So, what now?

If you’ve driven north on Sierra Highway from Soledad to Vasquez Canyon Road, you’ve probably noticed a few things, such as deterioration of the roadway, the announcement of a community center, and the presence of tractors on the ridgeline to the west.

To inquire about all of those issues isn’t entirely simple, as the City of Santa Clarita doesn’t own every stretch of Sierra Highway. Some of it south of Soledad Canyon Road actually belongs to CalTrans. And a small portion of the road, the .7-mile length between Golden Valley Road and Friendly Valley Pkwy, has been a point of discussion for leaders of Santa Clarita recently. Legislation was co-sponsored earlier this year by Assemblyman Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita) and state Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) to authorize the California Transportation Commission to relinquish all or any portion of Sierra Highway from Friendly Valley to Newhall. Acosta spokesperson David Creager said in an email to Gazette writer Lee Barnathan, “This was requested by the city due to the state’s inability to maintain the section of highway. The city wishes to take over responsibility for the section in question in order to make sure that the highway doesn’t fall into any further disrepair.”

City Councilman Bob Kellar told Barnathan that “the city spends between $8 million and $10 million (the city’s website puts it at about $9.5 million) annually on slurry seal and overlay road preservation to improve roadways and extend their lives.”

So, what’s happening on Sierra Highway north of Soledad?

“We maintain roads much better than the state,” Kellar added.

But north of Soledad is not owned by the state. It is owned by the city up to Fox Feed, beyond which Sierra Highway is owned by L.A. County.

“When the Community Center moves forward there will be significant improvements to Sierra Highway going north from Soledad,” Kellar said.

The Canyon Country Community Center is planned for the northeast corner of Sierra Highway and Soledad, though the fate of the white, two-story building located there (photo) is unclear.

“At this point we are working with all the surrounding property owners for the development of the new Community Center, Caruso’s included. We have had preliminary discussion with the owners,” said Robert Newman, city director of public works.

Angie Caruso, whose family owns the building on Sierra Highway where their restaurant, Caruso’s, is located, has been informed about the proposed Community Center. She debunked any rumors that their building would be demolished as part of the plan.

“They contacted us last year that they have plans to build in back of us. That’s okay,” Caruso said. “We have no intention of selling (the building). My grandpa bought that in the 1950s, it’s something my grandfather left us. My mom and dad have no intention of selling it.”

Angie Caruso owns Piccola Trattoria, an Italian restaurant around the corner from Caruso’s. She believes both of her family’s businesses are impacted by the state of Sierra Highway.
“We do need Sierra Highway upgraded,” she said. “It’s very dark, very dangerous. We offer valet here because we don’t want any of our customers crossing Sierra Highway. That was one of the reasons we started valet — we didn’t want anything to happen to anyone. They need lights. They need sidewalks.”

That’s where the City of Santa Clarita comes in.

“With the development of the Community Center, street improvements along the property frontage on Sierra Highway will be constructed including sidewalk, curb and lighting,” Newman said. “(It) will include full construction of curb and sidewalk improvements along the project frontage, along with striping changes to include three lanes and a bike lane.”

Newman responded to questions about the current state of the roadway.

“The city has made a number of improvements along Sierra Highway over the years, including widening to two lanes within the city, landscaped medians with development partners and traffic signal enhancements,” Newman said.

And what about where Sierra Highway becomes county-owned, north of College of the Canyons and Fox Feed?

Canyon Country Magazine reached out to the 5th District County Supervisor’s office, and was referred to Steven Frasher, public information officer for the Los Angeles County Public Works office. There are no projects planned for the county-owned section of Sierra Highway, Frasher said. Recently there was work on recessed pavement markers and striping, he said. If residents have concerns they should direct their inquiries to the district engineer’s office at 661-947-7173. And in the case of a downed tree or potholes, you can call a 24/7 dispatch line at 800-675-HELP (4357).

“Other improvements will take place over time on Sierra as new development occurs,” Kellar said. “The Skyline project is a case in point, with the creation of a new intersection just north of the Backwoods Inn Restaurant.”

The Skyline development, which will all be on county-owned land, is owned by Pardee Homes, with approval for 1,220 total units, all single-family detached homes. According to Dave Little, division president for Pardee Homes, about a quarter of them will be age-restricted units in their own gated section, the same size as Belcaro, a 55 and older gated community in Valencia.

“In conjunction with the development of Skyline we’ll be providing another school for Sulphur Springs, also a nine-acre public park,” Little said. “With our grading equipment up and over that ridgeline, you can see what’s going on across the street from the Backwoods Inn. There’s an inherent inconvenience, but a lot of benefits, in addition to having the equipment out there.”

New Road from Sierra Highway side

New road from Plum Canyon

What they’re constructing is Skyline Ranch Road, which will connect Plum Canyon Road to Sierra Highway. An intersection will be constructed in front of the Backwoods Inn.

“At the connection point we’ll improve the intersection there. We’re working with the city to see what they’re doing with improvements right there, so we can see how we can dovetail with that,” Little said. “Vasquez Canyon Road is obviously a sore subject for residents of Santa Clarita. Skyline Ranch Road will offer people another way to get to the Sierra Highway side.”

Local Man Put Polio on the Run

| Community | March 31, 2017

When Wayne Archie contracted polio in 1950 he was knocked off his feet. But despite the damage the epidemic caused to the bodies of thousands of Americans every year, the paralysis it caused Archie — who was just 15 months old at the time — was not permanent. It was one of the earliest signs of a lifetime of resilience.

The Archie family lived on a chicken ranch in Sylmar after World War II, when the area was much more rural. Wayne’s father had attended Pierce College in the San Fernando Valley to learn poultry farming. He built cages on their property and they eventually owned 3,000-4,000 chickens.

When Wayne got sick, the Archie family included two older brothers, a two-month-old and their mother and father. They moved to the area to be near the VA hospital after Wayne’s father, a war veteran, contracted tuberculosis. Wayne’s parents took him to the General Hospital in Downtown Los Angeles where they diagnosed him with polio. He had stopped walking and became paralyzed from the waist down.

“People tell me I cried a lot because I was in isolation, so when my parents would come I couldn’t touch them, and they couldn’t hold me,” Wayne said.
After two to three months, the paralysis was gone, but Archie was left without muscles in his left leg, he explained. Doctors told his parents he may not live, and he would at least be in a wheelchair or have to wear braces on his legs for the rest of his life. But even as a baby, when Wayne went home from the hospital he found a way to prove them wrong. When his little brother — just 13 months younger than Wayne — began walking, it was a great opportunity for him to follow.

“As he learned to walk, I kind of did what he did,” Wayne explained. “But I would fall when I put any weight on my left leg. I learned to keep my knee locked when I walked.”

Meanwhile, the Archie family was adapting too. The March of Dimes assisted them financially, and Wayne’s mother actually learned to drive in order to take him to physical therapy appointments at the hospital.

“My brothers would tell me that Dad had the chicken ranch and also got a job down in Burbank,” Wayne said. “He’d come home and have his cold coffee from the refrigerator (that Mom would make in the morning), and he’d work on exercising my leg.”

Members of the family praised the head of pediatrics at the hospital, Dr. John C. Wilson Jr., who later headed up pediatrics at Good Samaritan Hospital.

“The doctors would have consultations and some would say, ‘We should operate and put half the muscles from the right leg and put them in the left leg,’ but Dr. Wilson said, ‘You don’t mess with what works,’” Wayne recounted.

Because of Wayne’s easy going nature, he went to school and successfully made friends, whose physical help he would need at times. And though many would doubt, sports was a part of Wayne’s life, especially with three brothers.

“I’d play catch and baseball all the time with my brothers,” Wayne recalled. “My second brother was really into sports, so he pushed me hard.”

Hard enough that Wayne even played high school sports. He was a member of the Sylmar High School tennis team.

“I had to be really good at placing the ball,” he said, acknowledging that he had less chance of winning if running was involved. “I knew how to hit and I knew how to hit pretty hard.”

Wayne also took part in swimming, but through the years he was subject to some major surgeries, including the day he missed junior high school graduation. A highlight, however, was a visit by a high profile citizen of Santa Clarita, also Wayne’s homeroom teacher — the late Clement Cox.

“He brought me the flowers from graduation,” Wayne remembered. “We were really close. He had a chicken ranch and we’d talk a lot. I had him for three years in junior high.”

Later, Wayne’s brother would, in fact, teach at Leona Cox Community School in Canyon Country, named for Clem’s mother. Another one of Wayne’s brothers, Stan Archie, taught at nearby Sulphur Springs.

When polling any of the numerous individuals Wayne has forged a relationship with over a lifetime in the northern part of Los Angeles, one quality about the man remains evident: He is very optimistic. Following double bypass heart surgery in 1994 and triple bypass surgery in 1999, he has returned to hiking and working, and attending exercise classes at Henry Mayo Hospital, where people frequently ask him about his upbeat attitude.

“I have a great outlook on life; I try to be positive,” Wayne said. “What’s your choice?”

He can be found after the cardiac rehab classes twice a week, chatting it up with the women who run the program, like Dorinda, Reba, Christa and Dina.

“I go two times a week,” he said. “I run into people there, and we sit around and talk until whenever.”

Now almost 68 years old, Wayne began working at Magic Mountain more than 40 years ago. A student at California State University, Northridge at the time, the big 1971 earthquake caused him to look north. He worked in the merchandise division of the theme park and stayed in the industry for his entire career. After 13 years at Magic Mountain he went to work for an import company overseas and in 1989 formed his own company—Archie & Associates. Once again, his way with people gave him a good, solid start, as he knew many of the members of the Tourist Industry Retail Merchants Association already.

He said he’s finally slowing down. For instance, he no longer attends the Smoky Mountain Gift Show, which he did every year.

Wayne and Nancy Archie both grew up in the San Fernando Valley and met in 1968 through the YMCA. They have been married for almost 45 years and have two sons and three grandchildren, with one on the way. One son and his family live in Santa Clarita and the other son and his family live in Chicago.

There is really nothing lacking for Wayne Archie, which becomes clear when asked what he would wish for, if his health limitations weren’t a part of the equation.

“One of them is to walk up the stairs one foot at a time without holding on,” he said. “And the other is to run around in the outfield to catch a fly ball. I would’ve loved to play baseball.”

The example many see when they look at Wayne Archie is a life well lived, whether or not they have been knocked down by a force like polio. They see a man who was able to run free in every other way. And for most people, that’s as good as a home run.

Prom Planning

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 19, 2017

This month, Canyon High School students will create a runway show where they preview the latest prom styles for classmates. It gives them a month to seek out the look they want for the April 22 prom. Golden Valley’s prom will be right on their heels on April 29, this year held at Madame Tussaud’s in Hollywood.

For dresses, a lot of the girls turn to Eugenia’s, a longtime local resource for all the high schools. Others head to downtown L.A. to the fashion district to seek out something they wouldn’t find in local department stores.

Of course, the winter formals the schools had a few months ago are also a great way to check out the latest looks. Bailey Moore of Canyon High School told us what she saw this year. “The majority of the guys wore dark colored tuxedos and the girls wore longer dresses, primarily matte black,” she said.

What are they doing with hair and makeup this year? For answers, Canyon Country Magazine consulted with Nicole Lorraine, a local hair and makeup artist.

“I think that the messy up-do is in still this year,” she said. “The loose curls and pulled-out braid are very trendy and popular. Beach waves are another favorite this year.”

Has anything changed, in terms of style?

“The last few years I have seen more of the formal style, the more ‘put together’ up-dos or half-up style,” she said. “This year is more of a messy/fun look.”

And for makeup? “This year everyone is loving the glowy/dewy finish,” the makeup artist said, “and full brows that are pushed upward and fluffy compared to last year’s carved out brow and contour.”

Jen Gerard of Gerard Cosmetics agrees that brows are full this year. “Full and sculpted brows are very in at the moment,” she said.

Gerard described other makeup choices also. “The hottest trends are glitter and metallics for eyes and lips,” she said. “Color-wise, I would use more nudes and pinks for teens. I also would go for a more natural look.”

Wolitarsky Could Be a Great Catch for NFL

| News, Sports | March 16, 2017

As a 2013 graduate of Canyon High School, Drew Wolitarsky already had his name in the history books for record-breaking football stats. He cracked the ceiling on total receiving yards and total number of receptions among all California high school football players that came before him.

He continued to perform as a University of Minnesota Golden Gopher, where he finished his college career at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 27. It was Wolitarsky’s 26th consecutive game, with a catch that put him among the top 10 receivers in Gopher history for that category.

The season for NFL scouting starts in late February with the Combine, where football players show their abilities to scouts. After that invitation-only event, each of the larger colleges host their own Pro Days, drawing scouts to their schools to showcase their best players.

Last week, Wolitarsky was one of 10 players who performed for approximately 46 NFL scouts representing 26 teams at the University of Minnesota’s Pro Day. They ran pretty much the same drills as the Combine, timing their speed and testing their strength.

“They literally just jot things on their clipboards and go to the next Pro Day,” explained Drew’s father, John Wolitarsky, who attended the event. “For the next three weeks or so that’s what they’ll be doing … fact-gathering.”

What it means is that Wolitarsky’s a contender.

After the Holiday Bowl, the University of Minnesota senior began training with Bill Welles, the personal trainer for Larry Fitzgerald, an All-Pro NFL wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals. The trainer’s indoor facility is about 30 miles from the university.

Drew Wolitarsky, who turns 22 next week, spent eight weeks doing intense training there, all leading up to Pro Day. Part of the demonstration for scouts includes bench pressing, where they put 225 pounds on the rack and see how many times the player can bench it. Wolitarsky did 14 repetitions of the 225 and then he ran a 4.67-second 40-yard dash.

The players also completed two other drills, which are important for receivers: the 3-cone drill, which Wolitarsky whizzed through in 6.88 seconds, and the shuttle drill, which took him 4.22 seconds.

“It was an amazing experience to remember when Drew started playing flag football at seven years old to now watching him perform in front of a bunch of NFL teams,” John Wolitarsky said.

He began with Santa Clarita Parks & Recreation football and later joined the Canyon Country Athletic Association Outlaws team before joining the Canyon Cowboys and on to Minnesota.

“Then to play in the Big 10 with a fantastic senior campaign, ending it all in San Diego at the Holiday Bowl—it’s been fun to watch the journey,” John said.

Now on spring break, Drew will return to train right through the NFL Draft April 27, because if his name is on a roster, the Gopher grad will have to head to camp right away, according to his dad.

Santa Clarita is convinced Wolitarsky is a great catch. In another month, we’ll know if he’s also caught on with the NFL.

A New Opportunity for Learning

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 14, 2017

While Opportunities for Learning is known for making education more accessible, last month the local charter school took advantage of an opportunity of its own. Canyon Country’s OFL location moved to a bigger facility, near the Canyon Country Edwards Stadium Theatre.

“We have been serving the Canyon Country community for the last 15 years and wanted to stay as close to our original home as possible. Some of our students take public transportation or walk to our learning center, so we were cognizant of their needs when we decided on our new location,” said Julie Johnson, who has served as principal of OFL Santa Clarita Valley/Ventura for three years. Due to Johnson’s recent promotion, Canyon Country resident Candice Varner, who was principal of OFL Simi Valley, is now the new principal of SCV/V OFL.

“After 10 years in public education, I am looking forward to leading an instructional team that is dedicated to serving OFL’s diverse and unique student population,” Varner said.

Before opening the new facility, students attended class at OFL near the Vallarta Supermarket on Soledad Canyon Road. Most of the students who attend locally also reside in Canyon Country, and the new location accommodates the growing needs of the program.

“About two years ago, it became apparent that we needed not only more space, but updated space,” said Peggy Wilson, enrollment and outreach specialist. “More staff in specialized fields were added, and space was getting tight with resource teachers, continuing enrollment. … This space provides a larger learning environment as well as space for laptops, textbooks, smart-boards, and other educational tools that allow our students more access to technology and resources.”

Staff members, city leaders and associates celebrated the official opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 24. Johnson officially welcomed attendees before accepting certificates of recognition from Congressman Steve Knight, State Senator Scott Wilk, State Assemblyman Dante Acosta, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth and the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“Our student population remains steady in the Santa Clarita Valley,” Johnson said. “We serve a population of students who are looking for a school of choice that is different than a comprehensive high school campus. OFL works closely with the Hart district to recover students and return them to the district based on student needs and parent choice.”

Established in 1999, OFL is a free public charter school, serving students in grades 7-12 who have fallen behind in school, are looking to get ahead and graduate early, or simply desire a non-traditional learning environment. Via a blended learning model, students learn through independent study, small group (SGI) classes, online courses, one-on-one single-subject tutoring and hands-on, experiential activities. There are trips and cultural excursions available also, including scholarship trips to Washington, DC, Cuba, Italy and China.

For more information, call the Canyon Country OFL at 661-233-7889 or visit www.emsofl.com.

Andy Del Rio – Vargo Physical Therapy

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 14, 2017

Every town has one. That medical professional who is so well-known you only have to say his first name. He treats everyone you know and is esteemed by all.

In this case it’s Andy at Vargo Physical Therapy.

Whatever your insurance, whoever your primary care doctor is, you’re probably only a few degrees from Andrew del Rio, MPT.

Located near Chi Chi’s and Telly’s on Sierra Highway in Canyon Country, Vargo has been a fixture since the turn of this century. Always swarming with patients, they’ve had to knock down walls – more than once – to increase the facility’s size.

According to the Vargo website, “The original Vargo PT location, the Canyon Country clinic, opened its doors in 2000, has expanded twice and was completely renovated in 2011. It was here the company first implemented its unique approach to physical therapy – a combination of cutting edge technology within a truly community-centered focus including highly-trained therapists who make the time to care for each and every patient all in an open and friendly environment.”

Continuing with that mission are Vargo owners Andy del Rio and Jeff Vargo. The practice now has nine offices. In Canyon Country there are two therapists – Rosemary Conner and Andy – six aides and office manager Sarah Solis.

Vargo has a steady stream of repeat business, just one aspect that underscores how important the practice is in the community. They treat children as young as 6 years old, and del Rio says his oldest patient was 100.

“It’s not a sterile environment and everybody communicates about what they’re doing together,” del Rio says. “And they get better when they come.”

The team’s approach is hands-on. “We use our skill to keep your joints moving properly. “It’s crucial to recovery,” del Rio says, and “getting you back to what you love to do.”

If a patient needs treatment for an ACL, it may take six months. But if it’s something like a sprained ankle, he says, they have turned people around as quickly as a week.

“I’ll keep you here until you can return to your sport,” he says. “There’s no time frame on your therapy. You’re here until you’re done. I’m not going to kick you out of here just because I need a table.”

With a number of Biodex machines and isokinetic strengthening and testing apparatuses, Vargo’s therapists can measure muscle and tendon functionality. Clinicians at Vargo are educated and certified to “foster healthier connective tissue and long term healing of muscles and tendons,” Vargo says on its site.

The biggest challenge is treating someone with long-term problems, del Rio says. “Chronic pain cases are tough, ones that involve nerve damage, because of the unpredictability of the case,” he says.
Vargo treats a lot of the local Hollywood entertainment people, particularly stunt men and women. But another couple of groups they see are firefighters and police force personnel.

A resident of Fair Oaks Ranch, del Rio is connected to the community, supporting local athletic teams, such as the Canyon High School football team. But del Rio’s extra attention has turned toward home lately, as father to a 4-year-old girl and a baby boy born this month.
Perhaps all the well-wishing the popular physical therapist gets from his patients is their way to offer him a sort of “pass” to take some time off. If he ever takes them up on it, they know it’s not for long because of his strong connection to his patients.

That and the fact that Andy del Rio is that guy … the one everyone in town knows they can count on. And those that don’t know him yet probably will at some point.

Voice of a Vargo Volunteer

As a 17-year-old girl fresh out of my junior year of high school, I found it nearly impossible to find my first job. No one really wanted to hire a minor with little-to-no previous experience and, quite frankly, I was tired of filling out one application after the other. That’s when my mom suggested working somewhere as a volunteer.

The reason I wanted to volunteer at Vargo was because that’s where my brothers went for their sports injuries in years past, and physical therapy was something that really fascinated me. So, I mustered up a bit of courage and walked in the clinic hoping someone would give me a chance. I asked Vargo’s clinical director Andrew del Rio (or Andy, as people like to call him) if they needed a volunteer. I was so nervous I don’t remember much, but he did warn me about the towel folding (there was a lot!). I was ecstatic when I got a call that weekend asking me to come in on Monday. On my first day, I followed the workers around like a lost puppy, simply observing everything around me. Slowly I learned how to give ultrasounds, how to prepare an ice pack properly, and yes … how to fold the towels!

I loved the mix of people that came through the doors, from Canyon student athletes to kind senior citizens. My favorite part was sitting down with patients and asking them about their recovery, because I heard some pretty interesting stories from my time there, to say the least. I think PTs have an incredible job, because when people are recovering from injuries it’s often a long and tedious journey. I witnessed the impact that it made for the Vargo team to walk with patients through their exercises and ask them how they’re doing, making the healing process so much better overall.

The positive atmosphere is what stood out to me the most. Andy was always encouraging and his humor lightened the mood, and I think the whole team definitely reflected that energy. I wasn’t at Vargo for very long – just two or three days a week for that summer, but I am so thankful to have gotten a glimpse into the life of a PT. The experience has helped me have compassion for other people, which is something I’ve carried with me to my current job and will continue to carry to whatever’s next.

Non-Profit of the Week: Pets N Suds

| SC Living | March 11, 2017

A Valencia store has a non-profit animal rescue that seeks adoptive families for homeless pets. Pets N Suds is a 501(c)(3) located inside a store by the same name, which is located on McBean Pkwy.

The animal adoption process operates on donations, which have been dangerously low, threatening the life of the non-profit.

“We are having great difficulty paying our rent. Our rescue will suffer if we cannot operate in this location,” said Jennifer Berardini, who owns the store with her husband, John. “We got the space and it took all of our money to build up the space, i.e., floors, ceilings, sprinkler system, walls, air conditioning, our signage, etc., so now we find ourselves in this position of near eviction.”

A GoFundMe account was opened in the hopes that resources will come in to boost the animal rescue’s viability. The link to the account is https://gofundme.com/501rescuepetsnsuds. The group’s goal is to raise $15,000, and Berardini can provide non-profit tax receipts to donors.

“We have saved hundreds of animals,” Berardini said. “We have animals in our care right now that need your help. We want to continue rescuing animals.”

Berardini sees loss of the store location as possibly fatal to the adoption charity.

“We do not want to lose our space,” she said. “We put a lot of time and effort into our organization. Our pet store Pets N Suds needs to keep the rescue mission going. The animals are depending on us.”

The animal rescue organization is in danger of closing due to the high expenses and low volume retail sales of the retail portion of the store.

“Our rescue is in danger of closing due to expenses that we cannot maintain at the moment,” Berardini said. “It was an expensive adventure to move and we need your donations to keep us alive in the Valencia Area.”

The shop owner sees the problem as short-term and solvable.

“Once we are on track, the weather gets warmer and more people know we are here, I know we can survive,” she said. “The animals are counting on us to keep rescuing them.”

Animals accepted into Pets N Suds are rescues only, brought in by community members or, literally, left on the doorstep of the store. All adoption fees are used to pay for animal food and health care (shots,vet visit etc). The store is open Sunday and Monday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Pets N Suds is located at 27736 McBean Pkwy in Valencia. The non-profit’s phone number is 661-263-2424 and the website is www.petsnsuds.com.

Non-Profit Harnesses Stubbornness of Mules to Turn Around Teens

| Community | March 3, 2017

It’s the perfect metaphor: Headstrong youth take on creatures even harder to control than themselves. That’s what One Spade Youth Packers is all about.

Located in Kern County, but drawing from all areas, co-founder Reid Hopkins spoke at SCV Rotary last month about the non-profit and the adolescents whose lives have been changed by the program.

“It’s a leadership and character development program for at-risk and/or underprivileged kids,” he explained. “They learn how to harness and drive teams of mules and learn how to hook them to various farm implements.”

But if you’re thinking, “It’s not your grandma’s training program,” you’re wrong. It actually is.

“We have a comprehensive collection of ancient packing equipment. George Washington packed in the Revolutionary War just like these kids are doing today,” Hopkins said. “Nothing’s changed and there (are) very few things now that haven’t changed in the last 200 years. But packing has stayed the same. The way a family went into the back country in 1890 we do the same way now.”

There are no paid salaries – it’s operated solely by donations and volunteer driven.

“The program is no cost to the family,” Hopkins said. “Most of the kids, their folks don’t have the money to do this.”

What “this” entails for the 10-15 adolescents who participate is a yearlong commitment to everything from planting fields to riding horses.

“We hit ‘em pretty hard with feeding and care for the animals. They learn the diseases and health issues they have,” Hopkins said. “For a lot of kids that’s the first responsibility they’ve ever had. They’re actually held accountable for the animals.”

The teens have to maintain a “C” average and they can’t have severe attitude problems.

“A lot of the kids we get have some issues at home,” he said. “A lot of them come from single parent only situations; they’ve maybe been in trouble, but nothing criminal. Some are right on the fence and they can go either way.”

One Spade Youth Packers has changed the lives of 350 or more teens in 22 years of operations.

“A lot of these kids don’t want to play football or baseball,” he said. “A lot of them have never been on a team of anything and they learn the value of that. It’s kind of a unique program.”

This year there are four girls and eight boys who spend every other weekend and most of spring break at the Kern County Ranch of Reid and Eileen Hopkins, who founded the organization together.

“It’s comprehensive. They have to learn a lot and learn it quickly,” he described. “They learn how to put pack saddles on and tie loads on. … They learn a lot of anatomy and physiology, how much water and hay they need a day.”

The whole program culminates in bringing the teens to Mule Days in Bishop, Calif. in May, where they compete for world titles in a range of events.
“They compete in the farming class, using the team of mules pulling an implement,” Hopkins explained. “All the implements we have are pre-1915. The kids kind of get a window into the past.”

They also compete in packing contests and the “Teamster Challenge.”

“It’s really a difficult competition,” Hopkins said. “Most of the people they’re up against have 20-30 years of experience.”

There is a trails class, obstacle course and packing scrambles, plus events like “Musical Tires” and the “Dolly Parton Race.” The kids get to ride in the largest parade of its kind as well – another rare opportunity.

What are the One Spade core values?

“Honesty is number one,” Hopkins explained. “We teach them that these gray areas … they do not exist. You know in your gut, that little voice tells you if it’s right or wrong.”

Building self-confidence is another aim of the program, and teaching the kids to set goals and complete them.

“Self-reliance, self-confidence, personal responsibility – you have to own what you do, good or bad,” said Hopkins, who retired from 39 years in law enforcement. “We emphasize they can control a lot of what happens in their life.”

One Spade Youth Packers exists because of Hopkins’ own background. He suffered “a horrible childhood” and an “awful, awful home life,” as he describes it. He became a runaway, but found his way back, even graduating from college.

“There were people who stepped in to help me at critical times,” he recalled. “I realize the importance and the monumental impact they had on me.”

He sees a lot of familiar symptoms in the adolescents in the program.

“I went through the same thing myself,” he said. “Kids are pretty perceptive. They size you up in a heartbeat.”

What happens after the program?

Some kids come back for more than one year, even as many as five years, often helping to mentor the younger boys and girls. And after Mule Days they go on actual pack trips, to the Golden Trout Wilderness, for instance, so they can see how it all applies.

And even more lasting, Reid and Eileen use the program to give some a leg up with college and career training.

“We sent two of them through horseshoeing school. Some go to work for the National Park Service packing,” he said. “Over the years we’ve got a pretty large support group — we can do a lot of good in helping them head in the right direction.”

It is this support group that keeps the doors open at One Spade Youth Packers.

“We have a volunteer crew and I don’t want to underemphasize them,” he said. “It makes it work. They help with the cooking and help with the kids, (some who) are accomplished horse people who help with the kids riding.”

Financially, it is donations from multiple groups and individuals that keep the program alive.

“My wife and I, some years, have finished in the red and other years finished in the black,” Hopkins said. “Rotary, the Masons, the Exchange Club, several Bakersfield veterinarians – everybody chips in every year and we raise the money each and every year to do this. Folks are generous. Some folks have the time, not the money, and we’ll take all the help we can get.”

Reid and Eileen Hopkins get the satisfaction of watching a brotherhood and sisterhood emerge among participating teens, who learn to depend on each other.

“We get ‘em ready to compete in the world. It’s really rewarding to see them metamorphosize,” he explained. “You really get a chance to mentor them, get them going in the right direction. It’s the hope that they’ll become more productive members of society.”

To contact One Spade Youth Packers call 760-223-1612 or visit Onespadeyouthpackers.org.

Why Rescue?

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 22, 2017

Canyon Country is in the middle of two active animal shelters – Castaic and Lancaster – so there is no need to look far and wide for a new pet. While going to a breeder sounds inviting, you can, literally, save a life by searching these kinds of facilities for a new family member.

“These are animals that have been on the streets or they came from someone breeding them or someone turned them in when they were no longer useful,” explained Sara Scott, adoption counselor at St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary in Canyon Country. “Going to a shelter instead of a breeder – they are animals that won’t get a home otherwise.”

St. Bonnie’s rescues mostly dogs and cats, but they have saved chickens from high-kill shelters also. “You can find all sorts of animals: turtles, tortoises, snakes, rabbits, even guinea pigs, and I’ve heard of shelters that get parrots,” she added.

When St. Bonnie’s rescues animals they keep them quarantined for a couple of weeks to be sure they aren’t sick, Scott said. She recommends that private adopters do the same. Plus, animals need a vet visit for vaccines, neutering or spaying, and micro-chipping. While rescue organizations can do the micro-chipping, individual owners should turn to a veterinarian.

“Micro-chipping is sort of an insurance; it’s not like a collar that can fall off,” Scott said. “But micro-chipping is there for life. It helps make sure the animal gets back to its owner.”

St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary is a part of Lange Foundation that was founded in 1993. Both locations rescue dogs and cats from city and county shelters and find them forever homes. Located in Sand Canyon, St. Bonnie’s has a large property that also allows for horses to be rescued as well. Visit Langefoundation.org.

History Minute

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 19, 2017

It was the presence of year-round streams on the Sand Canyon property of Josephine and Jean Joseph Reynier in the late 19th century that nourished their grapes, which they grew to make wine. The Sand Canyon-Placerita Canyon area was home to cattle ranchers in addition to families like the Reyniers, who were sheepherders. In 1868, Jean Joseph homesteaded and later married Swiss immigrant Josephine Sambien. The couple built a Victorian house where they reared three children, all who attended Sulphur Springs School. (Photo courtesy of George and Gayle Starbuck)

Living Large in a Little House

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 14, 2017

While her friends may have longed to live in a mansion or pined away for a palace, Toni Shelton had a big dream of her own: a tiny house.

Inspired by such TV shows as “Tiny House Nation” and HGTV’s “Tiny House Hunters,” Shelton got in touch with one of the reality show contractors and hired him to build her “tiny dream house.”

“I designed it and had it built. It’s got a bedroom on the first level and a washer, stove, oven, hardwood floors and a barn door for my bathroom,” said the Canyon Country resident. “I have the tiniest house on wheels.”

At the moment, Shelton’s tiny house is without a home. It sits on a trailer in a storage unit until she finds a piece of land to rent where she can place her house and live in it.

Now that her four children are grown – her youngest, Carl, graduates from Canyon High School in a few months – she decided to move forward with the home she had saved her money to build.

“They didn’t believe me. They said, ‘Mom, you’re crazy,’” Shelton recalled.

The whole experience was brand new territory, and she wasn’t sure how to even begin, so she turned to her computer.

“I started doing some research online to find a builder. I saw a builder on HGTV and I was in awe of his work,” she said. “You could tell he put a lot of love in his work. It was like love at first sight. He was detail-oriented – from the wood to the light fixtures, to the flooring. I thought, ‘I’ve got to call him, I’ve got to call him.’”

That’s just what she did. Shelton contacted Doug Schroeder at Timbercraft Tiny Homes in Guntersville, Alabama. And though he was booked up, she got on his list and gave him a deposit.

The website for Timbercraft Tiny Homes reminds you why you might consider a house like Shelton’s, especially with taglines like: “Downsized living is all about making time for things that matter.”

The company customizes the tiny houses, taking 8-10 weeks for construction following the design phase. They also build bumper pull trailers from 16-28 feet long for hauling the houses, and customers have access to gooseneck trailers for up to 39 feet in length.

When Shelton heard it was built and ready to be picked up, she had a friend from Chicago fly in to drive with her to Alabama to get her new house – a 4,500-mile trip in less than three days. They hurried, because her friend had to return to work.

When Shelton first laid eyes on the house, she actually thought it looked large. It is 8 ½ feet by 24 feet, weighs 14,000 pounds and has two levels.

“We got stopped along the way, people were pulling to the side of us, following us, stalking us – it was like that the whole way,” she said.

That part of the adventure is over, and since November the house has been in storage.

“I’m still in awe of it,” she said. “I go and visit it like it’s a family member.”

It sleeps 5-8 people tightly, and when she moves in she will be downsizing quite a bit. Shelton will be moving from a 3-bedroom, 3-bath house to her 192-square-foot custom home. Luckily, she designed it with a lot of built-in storage, mostly for her shoes, clothes and photos, she said.

Shelton’s children live in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, but she is established here in Canyon Country. Shelton moved here because she had a friend who “lived in the area and loved it,” she said. “It’s family-oriented and safe for children.”

She has her own event planning/promotions/photography business. Shelton is also a prolific formal model, who has appeared in everything from billboards to music videos.

Right now, however, her attention is fixed on one appearance: finding the perfect home for her new house.

If you have some land available for rent, contact Toni Shelton by emailing Tsprodhouse@gmail.com.

A River Ran Through It

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 13, 2017

Mudslides were the latest war with nature experienced by Sand Canyon residents. The hardest hit were homes on and near Iron Canyon Road, as well as Sand Canyon Road all the way past Placerita Canyon.

Iron Canyon resident Kara Franklin was out of the area when news of the storm damage broke. “That’s when I came home an hour and a half later and saw my drive had four inches of sand on it from the crazy water rushing over the side walls of the washes,” Franklin said. “Never have I ever seen a greater amount of water flow in any given period of time. There was a clap of thunder, then my neighbor’s hillside broke and ran down to my guest house again … just like Christmas Eve. What a mess.”

Another Iron Canyon resident, Aurora Harris, shared her storm experience with Canyon Country Magazine:


It was a very stressful, long weekend that began with a downpour on Friday morning. Water was ponding in our yard, so I climbed over the fence into a neighbor’s yard to unplug a drainage channel that was backing up. I was standing in rubber boots, knee-deep in water, holding a metal shovel, when I heard the crack of thunder and saw lightening and my heart started pounding. It was then I heard a roar that sounded like a dozen freight trains and the ground shook. It was the sound of mud and water escaping from two large catch basins … built by the city which were now completely overwhelmed. I ran to the side of our property, which borders the creek, and for the first time saw a horrible wall of mud flow just like what we in the burn zone had been warned about. Chicken Little was right! The mud and rock was pouring down the creek at high speed, mounding up and churning like chocolate pudding over the ridges on the sides of the dip crossing and into the street and neighbors’ yards. It was so frightening and the sound deafening. I drove my two mini ponies into the upper paddock, because I was worried their corral next to the creek would be inundated. My husband came home from work early but could not drive home, as the mud had poured down both the street and the creek, and huge rocks and mud were blasting across Sand Canyon. Most of the properties along the creek were full of mud and rock. He parked the car and trekked home, crossing the creek on a high foot bridge.

Of course, authorities were on high alert, clearing as much as possible as fast as possible. The Iron Canyon area received attention throughout the storm. Aurora Harris continued:

The city was wonderful! We live on a private street, but they sent a troop of cheerful bulldozers, trucks and shovelers to dig us out and clear the roads. We spent all day Saturday talking with neighbors, sharing pizza, shoveling mud and sandbagging. Friends came to help. Everyone was concerned about the big rains expected Sunday and trying to figure out whether to evacuate or not, as the Sheriff’s Dept. personnel were coming around and telling us of mandatory evacuation. We bought plywood and straw bales, built mud-berms and filled sandbags and boarded up the best we could, helping each other dig out the mudded up drain ditches. I was imagining delicious chocolate mousse with every heavy shovelful. Boy, did I scoop it up — my back was so stiff later. Then I got to a spot where it was more like chocolate pudding and my boots stuck in the mud and I had to be hauled out. It was the same spot where my husband had gotten a tractor stuck in the mud.
Oh, what a worry — (deciding) whether to evacuate or not. Some of our neighbors could not leave because their creek crossing had washed out. One couple was living on “ground zero” near a side canyon in a very dangerous situation, and had been inundated with several feet of water, mud and rocks. They boarded up their entire house and moved in with a neighbor. Another neighbor told me, “It’s Armageddon! Boulders as tall as people are coming next. I can see them from my house!” Fortunately this did not prove true. 

Sunday we stayed home, as the roads were locked down and we played cards and drank Bloody Marys with several neighbors, occasionally checking on the creek. The wind was strong, (with) little rain. On the Doppler map the rain cell seemed to be over in Newhall. So, it was no surprise that a call came that afternoon saying two large trees behind our office building in Newhall had fallen, one onto the neighboring building, owned by the city. Yikes! But again, our city was a champ and helped cut one tree and Edison cut the other. So, in retrospect, we live in a great community and disasters are great opportunities to get to know your neighbors.

What happens next? Sand Canyon residents wait.

“The new rainfall will have no place to go but up and over the side, or continue eroding the sides and banks of these washes,” Franklin said. “That, in turn, takes away the soil to protect our properties.”

After years of drought, it almost makes you wonder if we should be careful what we wish for.

Non-Profit of the Week: Single Mother’s Outreach

| SC Living | February 10, 2017

Providing hope, support and resources to single parent families is the mission of Single Mothers Outreach in Santa Clarita. The non-profit organization seeks to empower those who are raising children so they have the ability to become self-sustaining.

The free services SMO offers include assistance with legal issues, housing, childcare, employment and nutrition. Any single resident of the greater Santa Clarita Valley with at least one child under the age of 18 are able to gain assistance from SMO. They provide one-on-one case management to all single parents in the program.

The organization provides back-to-school supplies and holiday gifts for families. An annual tea event celebrates the mothers involved in the organization. Also, numerous classes and workshops are offered to the men and women of SMO. Those include:

  • Financial Peace University – in English and Spanish
  • Zonta LifeForward workshops for women
  • Computer program classes
  • Recreational programs
  • English language
  • Spanish language

Anyone contacting the non-profit receives the Single Parent Resource Guide, which offers resources in a variety of areas, from childcare and food to legal and financial assistance.

The website says: “Parenting is too important a responsibility to bear alone, yet all too often single mothers and fathers are forced to do just that. With a mission to ‘empower single parents and their children by providing hope, support, and resources so that families can become self-sustaining and thrive,’ Single Mothers Outreach (SMO) directly helps single parents find jobs, get educated, secure housing, stabilize their children’s emotional states, manage their finances, and help one another.” For more information, visit Singlemothersoutreach.org.

Empowering HeARTs Gala

Single Mothers Outreach is holding the 7th Annual Empowering HeARTs Gala on Saturday, Feb. 11 from 5 – 7:30 p.m. at Savia Community Partners Center in Newhall. The event features women who have shown courage in difficult circumstances. The Gala showcases six honorees and six artists. Local dignitaries, family, friends and the greater SCV community are invited to view the art and read the stories of each of the honorees and learn the Grand Prize and People’s Choice Award winners.

It is an elegant cocktail party where guests enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine and soft drinks, as well as the featured program. Tickets are $65 and are available at Singlemothersoutreach.org.

 

 

Austin Dave: Multimedia Man

| News | February 9, 2017

Much like the objects he works with so closely, Austin Dave is a machine. The multimedia journalist and head of digital operations at The Signal newspaper spends close to 20 hours a day on the job, working as video journalist, writer, techie, mechanical whiz and, at times, plumber. He even does windows (the kind on a computer screen, at least).

And the same way Americans rely on their computers to work non-stop, turning to them for information – anytime they need them – Santa Clarita’s daily newspaper looks to Dave.

A cup of Peet’s Coffee is first on Dave’s list every day, but nothing ranks above Dave’s commitment to serve the best interest of the citizens of Santa Clarita.

“We listen to what people are saying. We work for them,” Dave said. “We take what people in the community say seriously. We can use our power for good.”

His service to the newspaper – and the public – is mobile. He keeps a car load of equipment ready to go: his MacBook (always charged), his iPhone (“It’s the fastest camera I have”), his Digital Single Lens Reflex camera and his Electronic News Gathering camera. He even has a brush coat (fire resistant jacket) in his car.

NBC gave a credit to @AustinDave last month, when the news agency obtained its footage of the Fox Feed fire from Dave’s tweet. Sitting in the drive-thru at Everest in Canyon Country at 1 a.m. on a Saturday, he heard about the blaze on his emergency broadcast radio and almost drove away – food or no food – to get to the scene ASAP. He initially tweeted video from his iPhone, then grabbed his more sophisticated cameras to follow the story.

“I will tweet out something if we’re the only ones there,” Dave said. “But we try to find out the details. It’s not ‘Let’s get this first.’ Let’s actually develop this. It’s really a team effort. All of us come together to form the full picture.”

Katharine Lotze and Austin Dave cover the Sierra Fire. Photo by Skylar Barti

 

Once an extremely quiet child, who remained shy into his teen years, Dave’s nature is to share his glory with others around him, such as fellow journalist Katharine Lotze, whose 26th birthday was just one day before his. And like most millennials, both Lotze and Dave seem acutely aware of the fast-moving nature of technology and the importance of social media in the current journalistic climate.

“Information is more accessible now,” Dave said. “It’s just knowing where to go get it.”

His job involves making The Signal’s digital products appealing and informative. When asked how his employer’s online sites are doing, he said, “We’re really far ahead of everyone else. Engaging with the public – giving them what they need to know.”

Originally from Los Angeles, Dave lived in Nevada until his mid-teens with a goal to someday become an attorney. But a presentation at Las Vegas High School inspired him to change his course. “It was a digital journalism program,” he said. “I was really intrigued by it.”

Unfortunately, his mother announced they were moving to Santa Clarita, but good news came in the form of video production instructor Charles Deuschle at Golden Valley High School. Entering as a junior, Dave quickly accelerated to the role of co-producer with another student, and Deuschle created an atmosphere that further ripened Dave’s abilities.

“He gave me carte blanche,” Dave said. “He said, ‘This is your sandbox. Plant whatever seeds you want and grow some crops.’”

Dave saw further growth when watered by the mentorship of Dave Brill, chair of the Media Entertainment Arts Department at College of the Canyons. The practical education he got there led to employment at SCVTV, and his connection to COC continues today, as Dave offers his services in the form of teaching and consultation.

That kind of cross-pollination is a hallmark of Austin Dave’s modus operandi. He shares his video footage with local and regional news services and they, in turn, offer him helicopter videos and contact him to tip off The Signal when stories break.

Dave wakes up at about 5 a.m. and tunes into his emergency scanner. If something is “interesting or suspicious,” he investigates it.

“The goal is to find a story, or have a story, before we come in,” he said. “If it’s a threat to public safety it’s best to let the people know.”

When you talk to this master of metaphor you’re likely to hear him compare his mind to a freight train, or say that a website should “sing.” It’s no wonder that he considers his greatest strength “video-based storytelling.”

The motherboard of Austin Dave’s brain is probably investigating, writing, repairing or tuning right now – and for a very long time, if the newspaper has its way. He rarely unplugs and one can only assume that any news in the SCV, or any drama with computers, radios, monitors or anything else, will continue to be tended by him.

After all, Austin Dave seems hard-wired to do so.

Non Profit of the Week – Zonta Club of SCV

| SC Living | January 27, 2017

Zonta Club of SCV is part of a world-wide organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls, locally and around the world. The local club is proud that former club president Dianne Curtis is a past president of the Zonta International organization. A current club member, Sharon Langenbeck, is currently an international vice president and a potential international president for a future biennium. Langenbeck is a two-time recipient of Zonta International’s Amelia Earhart Fellowship, a fund which supports women studying for leadership in the aeronautics and space disciplines.

Zonta’s local projects include LifeForward workshops, a series of free workshops for local women to encourage them to be the powerful women they were meant to be. The group has a Girls’ Robotics program in conjunction with the SCV Boys & Girls Club, which encourages teen and pre-teen girls to take an interest in the science, mathematics, engineering and technology fields. The non-profit also contributes through Community Service Grants, which go to local organizations to support their own projects devoted to improving the lives of women and girls. The club awards Women in Business scholarships to women pursuing advanced degrees in the business field, and Young Women in Public Affairs scholarships to young women attending local high schools or colleges who have shown outstanding leadership in public affairs and are likely to enter careers in that field.

In honor of former Zontian Virginia Wrage, the club offers grants to mature women who are facing a major change in life and need support to gain their independence. The club also has organized and trained a team of domestic violence advocates who can help write temporary retraining order requests and offer support to women who are facing the specter of domestic violence. Club members staffed a traveling Red Dress display last month commemorating the seven local women who have died because of domestic violence in recent years.

The local club’s two major fundraisers include the annual Tribute to Women dinner, which celebrates a successful local woman who is a leader in her field; and LUNAFEST, a women’s short film festival featuring films by, for and about women. Zonta also sponsors the annual Women in Service Celebration, which honors women who are nominated by other local non-profits as outstanding volunteers who are making an impact on women’s lives through their volunteer leadership. The top nominee receives the Carmen Sarro Award, which salutes longtime community volunteer and Zonta member, the late Carmen Sarro.

Zonta Club of SCV currently is approaching the 70-member mark and is growing rapidly. Meetings are held the second Wednesday of each month at the Embassy Suites in Valencia. Further information on the club, projects and its membership requirements is available at www.scvzonta.org.

Charter School Doesn’t Fly

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 25, 2017

Parents and community members attended a meeting of the Sulphur Springs School District Board of Trustees last fall to request approval for Eagle Collegiate Academy Charter School, or ECA, which they hoped to open in fall 2017.

At the December 7 meeting of the District’s Board of Trustees, their petition was denied. “(The) ECA petition was not approved, which left many parents disappointed,” said ECA Parent Board member Rita Zelaya in an email.

“If you look at the petition, there are a certain number of elements that have to be in it,” explained Sulphur Springs School District Board President Shelley Weinstein. “We have to make sure the educational plan is viable and they can afford it. The whole rationale was, we didn’t feel it met the educational needs of our students.”

The California Dept. of Education declined a request by Eagle Collegiate Academy for a grant, Weinstein said.

The board’s agenda, posted online, spells out the shortcomings of the school’s plan. It reads, “Denial of the Petition is recommended on the grounds:

The Petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program presented in the Petition;
The Petition does not contain the number of signatures required by statute; and
The Petition fails to provide a reasonably comprehensive description of all required elements of a charter petition.
Certain areas of concern were listed that were identified as having the greatest impact on the board’s decision to deny ECA’s petition. One of those issues was location. The report says, “Although the Petition states the Charter School plans to operate within the District’s geographic boundaries, it lists several different options for facility space, from open land with portables, to commercial buildings, to looking for other properties. This unfocused approach to securing facilities evinces a pre-planning stage, not a point where the Charter School is in a position to move forward in a concrete manner.”

The reply from the board also referenced ECA’s financial plan, calling it “incomplete” and citing “an inability … to establish a sustainable school.”

The potential for a negative balance (loss of $71,343 the first year and $63,866 the second year) is in the report. The budget in ECA’s proposal assumed 51 percent of projected students would qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch program, which the board’s report claims is inaccurate. And the projected salaries in the charter school’s proposal were set to begin at $50,000 for teachers in an International Baccalaureate, or IB, program; but the Sulphur Springs District report points out that the average teacher salary in the SSSD is $73,087.

The 19-page report with a comprehensive response to the petition brought by the charter school’s organizers is available to the public online. You can find it by visiting the district’s website at SSSD.k12.ca.us.

The Open Book: Canyon Country’s New Bookstore

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 24, 2017

You can easily read between the lines when you hear about a new arrival to the Food 4 Less shopping center in Canyon Country. A unique store called The Open Book has been a fixture in the Westfield Valencia Town Center Mall for three and a half years, and it’s only natural to make assumptions about the reason for the retailer’s move.

“We had to move, due to rising rental costs,” explained Elizabeth Whitlock, the district manager for the company’s four retail locations. “It’s a tough world for the survival of bookstores, but our independent book company is comprised of optimistic, hard working and passionate individuals who are determined to keep going!”

Staff members at The Open Book worked for quite a few months to find the Canyon Country location. “Something within our price range that could house our cultivated selection of titles, that has a kind and curiously-minded community, as well as an appreciation for high quality books at heavily discounted prices,” Whitlock described. “We are happy to announce that only one month before we had to close our doors, we found it!”

The Open Book will open in its new 6,000-square-foot store front later this month with an expanded selection and more bookstore events in the community.

“We have an artistic and creative staff that will be constructing a magical reading and shopping environment,” Whitlock said, “complete with custom signs, up-cycled book sculptures, an 1800s library-inspired antiquarian book lounge, and communal study tables that surround our event stage. This stage will play host to some of our classic events, such as the monthly open mic night, and will help us expand to poetry events, author signings, art showcases, and special story times.”

The Open Book will also have a larger children’s book section than it had in its Valencia location. “Our popular Sunday story times will continue to be a free event for families to enjoy stories, activities and snacks around a central theme each week,” she said.

The store carries books that appeal to every demographic, which Whitlock said is “the true beauty of books.”

She began working for The Open Book at age 19, bringing to the company a lifelong love of reading.

“My favorite aspect of working for this company is its ability to adapt and grow in an increasingly difficult industry, all the while keeping a consistent standard of good, old fashioned customer service,” she said. “We believe in the necessity of books and whether you are a new reader, looking to get into reading a bit more, or a well-read bibliophile, we want to assist your journey.”

After a soft opening aimed at January 20, the new store front will introduce regular hours and its “book buying program.” The bookstore hours will be Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m.-
7 p.m.

The Open Book is located at 19188 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country. For more information, call 661-255-1400 or visit www.theopenbook.biz.

Canyon Country History Minute

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 24, 2017

Sand Canyon resident Craig Branham was an All-American athlete in his native Arizona, setting a national record in the decathlon while competing for Pima Community College in Tucson. He turned to modeling for high-profile companies like Guess and Armani and toured with the late Gianni Versace. Pictured here is Branham performing his first job as a Hollywood stuntman. This Budweiser commercial aired during the Super Bowl in 1992 and shows Branham free jumping from building to building in downtown Los Angeles.

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.

New Business: MJ’s Tap House Grill

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 23, 2017

Like the drought relief from recent rains, Canyon Country’s thirst for more watering holes gets quenched by the arrival of new restaurants, especially those with crowd-pleasing flavors.

MJ’s Tap House Grill opened last month across the street from Home Depot, bringing more than just food and drink to our side of town. It is a big draw for sports fans (nine flat-screen TVs), and its unique “modern barbecue” recipes hit the table along with MJ’s signature offerings: craft beers.

About 95 percent of the beers come from local breweries, at least from the greater L.A. area, says Miguel Perez, who owns the bar with Iggy and Martha Trujillo. “I love craft beers. When I travel, I usually visit a local brewery. It’s growing so quickly as an industry,” Perez said. “And my passion has always been barbecuing.”

It is not a “Southern barbecue,” he explains. “We grill everything, not fried.”

The most popular offerings so far at the month-old restaurant are the tri-tip sandwich and the Iggy’s Burger,” which was, of course, a design of Iggy Trujillo. But the name, MJ’s Tap House Grill, came from Perez – that’s Miguel Jerome Perez.
In fact, the whole restaurant was Perez’ brainchild, including 14 craft beers on tap.

After 25 years in the mortgage servicing industry, including a vice president position at Bank of America, Perez left the corporate world because he always wanted to own a sports bar restaurant.  He doesn’t have a food industry background, but his partners do – and they shared his vision.

Iggy has a full-time job and Martha works at MJ’s in management. Luckily, her brother, Luis Arturo Mojica, was a contractor, because the owners took a former pizza restaurant across the street from Home Depot and transformed it into the warm, industrial style that is MJ’s Tap House Grill.

The fact it was previously a pizza restaurant meant it only took about two to three months to convert the facility, instead of about eight, according to Perez.

“I knew the Canyon Country area didn’t have this type of restaurant either,” he said.
The individuals in the kitchen are applauded by Perez for their originality. “Our chef worked at a lot of breweries and incorporates a lot of the craft beers in his dishes,” he explains. “For example, he made a bread pudding and made chocolate syrup with a chocolate craft beer.”

Patrons come from all walks of life, made clear by the eyes on the multiple screens, plus the presence of eight high chairs. The menus offer salads and flatbreads for vegetarians to join the meat-lovers, and MJ’s can seat over 100 people when you include the patio.

The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

MJ’s Tap House Grill is located at 20655 Soledad Canyon Road in Santa Clarita. Call (661) 250-7899 or visit MJstaphousegrill.com.

Ash Winds-Day

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 21, 2017

Though it has been six months since the Sand Fire, Canyon Country residents are still feeling its effects, and in more than one way. There is the threat of mudslides, ashes covering homes and properties, and for some, breathing problems, as well.

According to Ruthann Levison, Sand Canyon Homeowners Association communications director, the rainy season cuts both ways. While it cleans up the ashes people are complaining about, it increases the chance of flooding in Sand Canyon.

In an email sent to homeowners on Dec. 30, 2016, Levison said: “Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Works is providing 30 trucks per day doing six trips each to attempt to keep our canyon safe from massive flooding due to the Sand Fire. So far, they have removed 25,000 cubic yards of mud and debris from our roads and flood control channels. So when you see them, give them a thumbs up for their superlative efforts, which will be ongoing during the rainy season.”

At issue in between rains is the amount of ash in the air, which lands on rooftops, in yards and in swimming pools. Many residents have weighed in, puzzled at the severity of the problem, unlike the challenges following the Buckweed Fire of 2007.

“This one seems much different. The ash is so heavy and can’t be swept away,” said Judy Scott, a Sand Canyon resident since 1992. “Our gardener’s blower can’t seem to handle it either. Sean at The Pool Genie has really good equipment that can clean the pool fairly well, until the next windy day and it’s black again.”

During the Buckweed Fire, Judy and her husband, Curt, packed their cars, but never felt the need to evacuate. This year, however, they left for three days.

Sand Canyon resident Gail Eddy said they had no problem with the aftermath of the 2007 fire, but she and her husband, Phil, have been battling the ashes during the high winds, like a number of her neighbors. She said they have been “doing a lot of blowing, sweeping and hosing the ashes from around the house by the doors and patio, so it won’t get tracked in the house.”

For the most part, the Eddys find ashes collecting around the house and pool areas on windy days. “The pool man was here today cleaning it out, but I am sure with these winds the pool will be a mess again tomorrow,” Gail said. “It is really a very messy problem.”

Gail Eddy’s advice? Stay indoors.

That is likely to be the same instruction you would get from Dr. Jacob Offenberger, a board certified asthma and allergy specialist with an office in Canyon Country. He said there was an increase in calls during the Sand Fire last summer. At issue was both the smoke from the fire and, following the blaze, the soot on the ground which gets airborne when it becomes windy.

“When you have a good rain, it’s good,” Dr. Offenberger said. “But every time it’s windy, like recently, people get itchy eyes, a sore throat and a cough.”

Some of his patients simply could not return home for a few days and needed their prescriptions called in. But, one of Dr. Offenberger’s patients had an asthma attack when she was trying to clean up her house, half of which burned in the Sand Fire.

It is not atypical for asthmatics to experience symptoms during and after a fire, the specialist said. But regardless, the cycle of allergies continues, even as the effects of fire are relieved.

“Now all the rain will create all the green around us … and we know we’ve had enough rain to create every single flower here,” he said. “In California, the tree pollen is worst in March … and then we start seeing the grass pollen come up.”

How do you know if you have cold symptoms or you have developed allergies?

Dr. Offenberger suggested that if you have symptoms of itchy eyes, an itchy nose, a sore throat or cough lasting more than three weeks, it is likely to be allergies. Residents who need assistance with symptoms such as these can contact the doctor’s office at (661) 298-1491.

Much like the problem of allergies and asthma in general, there is no concrete end to the presence of ash in Sand Canyon and other parts of Canyon Country.

“It pains me to tell you that the ‘ASH’ will be with us for quite awhile,” Levison’s email said. “It doesn’t absorb into the soil, so when the San Gabriel Mountain Range dries and the winds blow again and again, it continues to come down on us.”

According to U.S. Forest Service personnel, Levison said, it takes two full rainy seasons and a good amount of wild grass to stop the ash.

“That’s the price we pay for not losing our homes during the fire,” her email said. “But it is an annoying mess. Hopefully it will lighten up as time goes on.”

The following are some of the responses received by Canyon Country Magazine from residents:
We are battling with the ash too! It comes in every crack of the house and the dogs also bring it in. My carpets are a mess, and it is everywhere!

I was appalled when the gardeners swept and then hosed it down, because of the water they used, but it did help. Even when it gets washed down, (by) the rain and non-natural means, though, we have to be very careful about keeping the drains clean, or it comes right back.

Also, the pool cleaner is coming 2-3 times a week, and has had to clean the filter far more than usual.
******
I live in the Canyon and unfortunately am backed up to 5 acres of ash. The fire burned right to our home. We were directly hit by the air drop three times. Needless to say, we have been dealing with the ash since day one.

I found that a high pressure nozzle works best. I have been through a number of wild fires in my life and have never seen ash quite like this. It is like silt.

We recently also have had an ash (mud) slide. So now I have an even bigger cleanup problem. My poor pool was wiped out from the retardant, then the constant ash from the air, and now from the mud slide. This has not been fun!

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