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Canyon Country: A Minute in History

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 26, 2016

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In 1968, Margaret and Joe Warmuth, pictured here in 1941, purchased the Dyer Honey House on Sierra Highway in Canyon Country. Willis and Jim Dyer ran the business during World War II, as honey was important to the war effort. The Warmuth family had a 3,000-colony bee pasture in Sand Canyon and had been beekeeping in Sylmar since 1953. They renamed the business Warmuth Honey House and opened a retail store, in addition to processing honey at the location. After Joe died in 1985, Margaret and her daughter, Margleen, kept the doors open, expanding the store to include a saddle and tack shop. The Warmuths sold the property to College of the Canyons 20 years later, where its ownership still lies. Photo, courtesy of Mary Warmuth Sathre.

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.

Santa Colorita Fun Run and Skip for Jack

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 24, 2016

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The Santa Clarita community will join the rest of the world in a 5K Run and raise money for the Chamber of Commerce next month. The third annual “Santa Colorita Run” is a community festival for families on February 13, 2016 at Castaic Lake Recreation Area. The event takes place all over the world and is open to participants of all ages.

Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, registration is available on the website: Santacolorita.com. Runners need to pick up their bags at Valencia Country Club on Feb. 12, the day before the race, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. The race kit will include a T-shirt, color packet and a bib number.

The Skip for Jack portion of the race is dedicated to Jack Demeter, a three-year-old boy who died of Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG, a rare brain tumor. Because Jack loved to skip, Fun Run participants are invited to join a skipping race, where registration fees will support Jack’s Angels, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of DIPG.

The 5K and Skip for Jack will begin at 8 a.m. at Castaic Lake Recreation Area on February 13, 2016. Participants should wear white to maximize the effect as multiple colors of powder are thrown on them throughout the race. They can be sure they will get “rainbowed.”

Coach Chris Varner Gets Back in the Game

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 24, 2016

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After leading the Canyon High School football program for four years, Christopher Varner found himself in the middle of an option play. The decision he made was to hand off coaching to the school’s athletic director, Richard Gutierrez, and focus his energy on his role in the classroom and to his growing family.

That was 2010, when Varner and his wife, Candice, were rearing two young sons. Now the Varner family totals seven, including Austin, 10; Colton, 9; Audrey, 4; Piper, 3; and Darcie, 2.

Though it has been a busy five years, Varner is like an out-of-contract free agent, always in demand, never sitting on the sidelines for long. He covered football for SCV-TV over the past few years, until the current opportunity became a reality. Beginning this semester, he is a teacher at West Ranch High School and head coach of the football team.

“Coach Gutierrez asked me to help out mid-season this year at Canyon, and he and I were chatting about future plans. He is the one that put the idea in my head about applying to West Ranch,” Varner said. “The final decision was at the encouragement of my wonderfully supportive wife.”

With five children and the demands of coaching, it is somewhat unknown territory for the Varner family.

“I have the most amazing wife in the world,” said Chris Varner. “When we met I was a coach and she knows that’s what I was meant to do. She is very supportive and now my sons are old enough to really be excited about things.”

Varner has been coaching in some form for almost two decades, including Canyon’s junior varsity football team. Varner amassed a 10-2 record and a trip to the CIF quarterfinals. Varner was also a member of the Canyon coaching staff that won a state title in 2006.

“My first stint as a head coach was a BIG learning experience,” Varner said. “I was 30 when I started my first season and had to grow a lot from my mistakes. By the time I finished my fourth season I think I had a pretty good formula down. I think it is a matter of doing it the way you see fit and to enjoy it while you’re in it.”

West Ranch High School Principal Mark Crawford hired Varner to replace former head coach Jan Miller, who stepped down from the position this year.

“We are excited to have Chris Varner on board as our new head football coach,” Crawford said. “Not only is Chris a great addition to our athletic program as a coach, but he is an outstanding teacher as well. I know there are great things to come for the Wildcat football program. We look forward to him becoming part of the West Ranch family.”

In a metaphorical irony, at the same time that Varner is heeding the message “go west,” he is leaving the cowboy theme behind.

“I will miss an amazing staff and student body at Canyon. It is really hard to say goodbye to a place that has meant so much to me for so very long,” said the coach. “I have to admit I haven’t really thought what it will be like to look across the field and see the team that has meant so much to me as an opponent.”

What has changed since Varner was at the helm of a team five years ago?

“I really see the amount of attention that is now focused on concussions,” he said. “I think it’s the right thing to do and I’m glad that more people are starting to be aware of it.”

Chris Varner recalled what someone told him about working with youth in his early days. His friend said that students are pretty similar everywhere, but with different roads leading them to their current place in life.

“What I like about coaching is the journey that you are able to share with the players and staff. Most adults don’t have the privilege of experiencing that. I am blessed to have that opportunity once again,” he said. “I see the Wildcats as having a lot of potential and I’m hoping to start a tradition.”

 

Business Briefs

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 20, 2016

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Canyon Country Paseo Bridge
The first Canyon Country paseo bridge is currently in design, and construction is anticipated to begin in late summer of 2016. The project addresses safety and mobility issues for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users at the busy intersection of Sierra Highway and Golden Valley Road. The proposed improvements will benefit students of nearby Golden Valley High School, many of whom cross the intersection before/after riding transit buses. The project includes a proposed pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Sierra Highway as well as relocation of an existing bus stop and street improvements. The changes include signal modifications to allow for U-turns at the intersections of Sierra Highway/Rainbow Glen Drive and Sierra Highway/Golden Valley Road; extension of the median; access ramps; parkway landscaping; slurry; and traffic striping.

The proposed pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Sierra Highway, 300 feet north of Golden Valley Road, will connect the existing multi-use trail seamlessly integrating it into the city’s larger, 36-mile off-street trail network. The proposed pedestrian bridge and associated bicycle way-finding signage will benefit bicyclists who currently must walk across the Sierra Hwy/Golden Valley Road intersection before continuing along the trail.

Additionally, an existing bus stop will be relocated approximately 900 feet to the north of its current temporary location on the west side of Sierra Highway, north of Golden Valley Road. Widening on the west side of Sierra Highway is proposed to accommodate a bus turnout and a right-turn lane from southbound Sierra Highway onto Golden Valley Road. Proposed “continental crosswalks” and enhanced curb ramps at the intersection will provide safety benefits to pedestrians and bicyclists who elect to cross the intersection. A proposed sidewalk along the western edge of Sierra Highway will replace a non-permitted path and provide safety and comfort to pedestrians.

Sierra Highway Beautification and Intersection Improvement Project
As part of the Sierra Highway Beautification and Intersection Improvement Project, the city has now landscaped six medians on Sierra Highway between Soledad Canyon Road and Via Princessa. Additionally, left turn lanes have been added at Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway in order to optimize traffic flow at that intersection.

Development Updates
La Cocina Shopping Center (Updated)
The new 10,000-square-foot commercial center at the corner of Golden Valley Road and Sierra Highway is expected to be completed by the end of January. Tenant improvements are underway in two suites: a new convenience store and the newest location for La Cocina. Both businesses plan to open in early 2016. When completed, the shopping center will provide neighborhood dining and shopping opportunities within walking distance of several neighborhoods.

Citywide Film Statistics

In November, the City issued 49 film permits, which contributed to 116 film days, generating an estimated economic impact of $2,126,000.

The following productions were filming in Canyon Country in November 2015.

Feature Films:
Crossing the Line – at a Canyon area home
Dance Night Obsession – at a Sand Canyon area home

Television Shows:
Baskets – at area streets
Bosch – at area streets and Sable Ranch
Deadly Intent – at Sand Canyon area homes
Deadly Sins – at a Sand Canyon area home
God – at Sable Ranch
Super Into – at Action Factory
Westworld – at Rancho Deluxe

Commercials:
Abiomed – at Robinson Ranch Golf Course
Career Builder – at Robinson Ranch Golf Course
Ford F-150 – at Rancho Deluxe
GMC – at Sable Ranch

Internet/Web:
Battlefront Experience – at Walmart
Hidden America – at Rancho Deluxe
Science of Video Game Fighting – at Rancho Deluxe

Still Photo:
Nike – near Jake’s Way

Student:
Good Ol’ Mr. Jenkins (CSUN) – at a Sand Canyon area home
How to Crack Hard-Boiled Eggs (CalArts) – at Trails Tavern

Upcoming Events

Betty Morgan Art on Display at Canyon Country Library
A new art exhibit by local artist, Betty Morgan, will be on display from Friday, January 8 through Friday, May 6 at the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library, located at 18601 Soledad Canyon Road. The exhibit, entitled “Betty Morgan and Her Animals,” is a display of Morgan’s passionate paintings of animals. Morgan is a self-taught, 85-year-old artist who lives in Santa Clarita.

The Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library will be hosting a craft activity inspired by Morgan’s animal paintings on Friday, March 4, 2016. This will kick off the library’s celebration of National Craft Month. Free Craft Month Fridays will be held through March from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. for school-aged children and their families. For more information about Craft Month Fridays, visit santaclaritalibrary.com.

New Heights: Artist Development Workshops
The City of Santa Clarita City Council and Arts Commission is proud to present the New Heights: Artist Development Workshops, which is designed to assist artists, performers, and arts organization representatives to expand their knowledge and to learn valuable tools to increase their ability to be successful.  The series comprises workshops, panel discussions, and art trips that are designed to engage creative individuals, no matter what level of experience.

The upcoming Taxes and the Artist event will provide artists with knowledge on how to properly navigate the tax system. The event will be held on Wednesday, January 27 at 7 p.m. in the Century Room of Santa Clarita City Hall, located at 23920 Valencia Boulevard. For more information about New Heights: Artist Development Workshops visit arts.santa-clarita.com/new-heights/

Residents Share Their New Years Resolutions

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 20, 2016

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For those in need of a little inspiration for their New Year’s resolutions, some Santa Clarita Valley residents shared their own hopes with Valley Publications staff:

“Read more books” – Liz
“Pay for medic school” – Matt
“Eliminate clutter so that I can focus on the people in my life” – Tyger
“Find more time and resources to help more dog rescue organizations” – Francisco
“Quit smoking” – Becky
“Organize a protest” – Sarah
“I want to be better at skiing” – Heather
“Leave my mark on the world so that I can leave a better place for my grandson and his entire generation” – Tyger
“My resolution is to not have a resolution” – Henry
“Create a better balance between work, family time and alone time” – Randi
“Eat more donuts” – Kimberly
“Finally get in shape and start dating again” – Tyger
“Watch more musicals” – Susan
“Be the best I can be with God’s help and those of family and friends around me” – Melanie
“Read more books, less time on Facebook” – Kathy
“Pay off all of my debt” – Tyger
“Spend less time on Open Forum” – Scott
“I’m doing ‘less and more’ for my resolutions; meaning, instead of setting a resolution or goal that I’ll surely not stick to, I’m going to replace something I’d like to do less of with something I’d like to do more of” – Selena
“I’m going to stick to a budget next year. I’m also going to limit my Starbucks trips to once a week” – Bonnie
“Less Facebook and smartphone” – Suverna
“Focus on my bucket list now instead of waiting for ‘someday when I retire’” – Tyger
“Get in better shape” – Hal

New Business: Papa Murphy’s Take n’ Bake Pizza

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 19, 2016

The latest Canyon Country pizza establishment doesn’t cook your dinner – you do.

Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza lets you bring it home and be your own cook. “They can put it in their own oven and in 10 to 15 minutes they have a fresh pizza,” says owner Garen Arzoomanian.

Opened in December on Golden Valley Road near Starbucks, Papa Murphy’s is a regular for families on their way home for dinner. “They go grab their kids, and by the time they get home, wash their hands, change their clothes, the pizza’s ready,” says Arzoomanian.

Big sellers at Papa Murphy’s include the Chicken Bacon Artichoke Pizza and a five-meat combo called Cowboy Pizza. Another standout is a stuffed pizza, which has two layers and weighs 4.5 pounds. It requires 18-25 minutes of cooking time.

One of the advantages of cooking it yourself, says Arzoomanian, who also owns a Papa Murphy’s in Monrovia, is the pizza never arrives “soggy and cold.”
“I love this location,” says the owner. “People are so nice. Most of them know Papa Murphy’s, so they’re pretty familiar with the concept. You take and bake.”
Arzoomanian was a contractor for 29 years who retired … for one day. “I closed my business to retire and the very next day I found I can’t retire.”

The owner’s ceaseless energy is Canyon Country’s gain – a piece of pizza residents can sink their teeth into at home.

Papa Murphy’s is located at 26583 Golden Valley Road in Santa Clarita; (661) 799-7171. www.papamurphys.com.

New Year, New You?

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 19, 2016

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New Year’s Resolutions to Lose Weight Rank No. 1, Long-term Success Rates Slim

With the new year well underway, nearly half of Americans are estimated to have made at least one New Year’s resolution that they intend to keep—at least for awhile.

Though losing weight was ranked the No. 1 resolution for 2015 in a study conducted by the University of Scranton, a mere 8 percent of people are actually successful in achieving their resolutions long-term, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute (SBRI).

A manager at L.A. Fitness in Santa Clarita said that she usually sees about a 30 percent increase in general attendance immediately after New Year’s, but that it typically returns to normal by mid-March.

At L.A. Fitness in Valencia, the amount of check-ins at the beginning of January typically doubles, while the number of new memberships at least triples, according to the gym’s weekend General Manager Wyatt, who asked that his last name not be published.
“Everybody comes in for the new year, and they want to be a new person,” Wyatt said. “Two months is pretty much how (long) that runs, where it’s peaking like that.”

So how can Santa Clarita residents be part of the lucky few who manage to make their resolutions stick?

First off, individuals should find the fitness environment that works best for them—whether that means working at home to exercise DVDs, jogging around the neighborhood, joining a gym that offers independent as well as group fitness or becoming a member at a specialized group fitness center.

“Our class formats are different,” said Torrence Pfatenhauer, the general manager at UFC Gym in Santa Clarita. “You see a lot of these group classes where you get 50 people taking a class and each person is in a little mini bubble. Ours is a very supportive group setting. People get to know each other.”

For those who do better in a one-on-one setting, gyms like L.A. Fitness, 24-Hour Fitness and Gold’s Gym offer personal training sessions to keep their clients motivated and on-track, and can sometimes provide a free session with new memberships or flexible rates.

“We help families get memberships at the best rate and a comfortable price,” Wyatt said. “We want pretty much to get everybody to exercise at the right price.”

Pfatenhauer said establishing a habit of regular exercise can help individuals stick with their New Year’s resolutions long-term, nothing that working out three times per week over the first three months is usually enough for most people to do so.

Partnering with a friend for workouts can also help people stick with their resolutions, because then they become accountable to someone other than themselves if they decide not to go to a planned workout session.

The same can also be true when it comes to personal training sessions, which require a scheduled appointment and payment for each session.

Even free mobile applications like Runkeeper—which tracks things like time, distance, average pace and calories burned for running, hiking and more using the phone’s GPS—and Fitnet—which uses the device’s camera to monitor the user’s workout as they follow along to a video—can give individuals the edge they need to keep their New Year’s resolutions going throughout the entire year.

And according to SBRI, those who explicitly make New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t, so SCV residents can boost their chances of success by determining a specific, concrete goal, writing it down and sticking it someplace they’ll see it regularly.

Pizza Wars

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 18, 2016

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Pizza Restaurants Vie for a Piece of the Pie 

Canyon Country has approximately 17 pizza restaurants. And more are on the way. The owner of Athena’s will soon be opening Mama Mia Pizza next door, for example.

Americans are spending more money than ever dining out, totaling $680 billion per year, according to an article in Consumer Reports last year. And an industry trade magazine, Foodservice Equipment & Supplies, reported last year that pizza is second to only hamburgers in menu popularity. Research showed that 75 percent of consumers eat pizza at least twice a month.

Every single pizza establishment can’t have the best pizza in town. So, what are their selling points? How do they set themselves apart from the others?

When describing their pizza, one of the first words you hear from owners is “fresh.” And with today’s consumers more vigilant than ever about ingredients, it makes sense.

“We make everything from scratch and by hand and we use all items that are as fresh as can be,” says Maria Caruso, owner of Caruso’s II, a Canyon Country landmark for decades. “Most of our customers recognize our pizza and they know our pizza isn’t (bought) at a store – we make it ourselves.”

The most popular pizza, says Caruso, is a recipe she created a few years ago that includes olive oil, garlic, onion, tomato slices and basil. The restaurant is sizable, with a capacity for 75 diners and a private room seating 40.

Guido’s Pizza, across from Friendly Valley, has hand-tossed pizza, never made with a machine.

“Regulars” often choose the Barbecue Pizza, consisting mostly of chicken, cilantro and red onion. “The Works” is a favorite menu item for customers who love the pizza’s 18 toppings, says Guido’s Manager Blanca Zuniga.

The word that comes to mind for Ahad Bagherdai, owner of Round Table Pizza on the corner of Sand Canyon and Soledad Canyon Road, is “quality.” When his employees assemble such big sellers as King Arthur’s Supreme or the Chicken Garlic Gourmet pizzas, all the ingredients are measured. “The quality of the cheese and the sauce is famous,” says Bagherdai. “Our bread dough we make every day fresh.”

At Oggi’s, fresh pizza dough is used for more than just pizza. Customers can order flatbreads or Oggi Sticks, where the bread is combined with such ingredients as mozzarella, parmesan and parsley, and served with dipping sauces. Said manager Mark Bennett, there’s a new addition to the menu coming later this month: Jamaican Jerk Pizza.

One of Canyon Country’s newest arrivals is Toppers Pizza on Soledad Canyon Road, and owner Evan Jonker considers their chain “a modern take on the traditional family pizza place.”pizza2

“When you walk in the door a selection of 22 beers greets you,” says Jonkers. “As our name suggests, we are known for having different toppings and unusual combinations that you likely won’t find anywhere else. We have pizzas like a Carnitas Chipotle, Spicy Garlic Italian with house roasted grape tomatoes, or a Hot Honey that features a honey drizzle on top.”

Toppers has a salad bar with produce delivered every day. They also make most of their own salad dressings. Their aim is to become the fastest delivery restaurant in Santa Clarita.

The family-owned Venice Pizzeria on Sierra Highway delivers to a three-mile radiuswithin 40 minutes or you can order a pizza that’s ready for pick up in 10-15 minutes, says owner Esteban Anzures. The restaurant’s most popular pizza pickups are the Carne Asada and the Al Pastor pizza, which has onions, cilantro and green spicy sauce.

In December, Papa Murphy’s opened in Santa Clarita, offering a different pizza dining experience. Instead of eating in or picking up a freshly baked pizza, you take one home and bake it yourself.

Many residents hope Canyon Country can support all of the pizza options in town. But, time will tell if there’s enough dough to go around. pizza

St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 18, 2016

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St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary made the Santa Clarita Valley its home in 2007 when its parent organization, the Lange Foundation, purchased a 4.5-acre horse ranch in Canyon Country. Since then, the property has been transformed into a sanctuary for countless homeless dogs, cats, horses and ponies.

“This allowed us a place of our own in which to expand our rescue work to include the forgotten desert shelters,” read a statement on the organization’s website. “In mid-2010, the first of what we hope will be many kennels was completed.”

Today, the sanctuary houses 23 indoor/outdoor dog runs, a large cat room with a fully enclosed cat play area, two isolation rooms for rescued animals recovering from illness, a state-of-the-art barn and five large pastures.

While St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary was originally intended as a dog and cat rescue, not long after acquiring their facility in Canyon Country, sanctuary staff heard of several starving horses “in grave need of care.”

“It seemed obvious as to what we had to do,” organization officials continued. “Shortly thereafter, we were caring for 14 horses. We did not realize it at the time, but we had just entered the world of horse rescue.”

Since 2008, St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary has rescued more than 40 horses and ponies, in addition to the numerous dogs and cats rescued from euthanasia at animal shelters and given a loving home and care until they can be adopted into their “forever” homes.

For those animals who are repeatedly overlooked or were so neglected or abused that they are considered beyond rehabilitation by sanctuary staff, St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary serves as their forever home. Known as the sanctuary’s “retired” dogs, cats and horses, sanctuary staff members make a commitment to each animal to ensure they are “loved and spoiled for the rest of their lives.”

“Our retired dogs live indoors in a real home with access to tons of outdoor space to play, run and experience life,” read a statement on the website. Retired resident cat Poochie “lives in the house at St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary, with access to a big, beautiful outdoor enclosure. He can climb, jump, watch the birds, talk to the dogs, all from within his secure outdoor space. When he wants to take a break from his tough guy exploits, he wanders back inside to the comforts of home.”

These retired animals, as well as the rest of the sanctuary’s rescues, require food, grooming, medical care and “everything an animal needs to be happy and healthy,” according to organization officials.

Tax-deductible donations made to St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary’s parent organization, the Lange Foundation, go directly toward the care of these animals both at the sanctuary and at the foundation’s Halfway Home Kennel in Los Angeles.

A statement on the foundation’s website reads, “With your donation, we can save a sick mother cat and her baby kittens from euthanasia, provide an injured puppy with much-needed medical attention, rescue a badly neglected horse from auction (and) restore sight to an elderly, blind, abandoned dog.”

For more information about St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary, or to donate, go to http://langefoundation.org/st-bonnies-sanctuary or call 661-251-5590.

Library to Display Exhibit by 85-Year-Old Artist, Hold ‘Bake a Book’ Contest

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 17, 2016

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A few fun events are coming up at the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library in the month of January. They include the opening of an art exhibit displaying the work of an 85-year-old Santa Clarita artist and the “Bake a Book” contest and cake display.

‘Betty Morgan and Her Animals’ Art Exhibit

The passion that local artist Betty Morgan has for the animal kingdom is evident to anyone visiting the Canyon Country Library between Friday, January 8 and Friday, May 6, 2016. An 85-year-old who is completely self-taught, she has an exhibit entitled “Betty Morgan and Her Animals” available to the public over the next four months.

“I have enjoyed animals my whole life,” said Morgan. “Their eyes always speak to me. That is why I adore painting them.”

The library will be hosting a craft activity inspired by Morgan’s animal paintings on Friday, March 4, 2016. This will kick off the library’s celebration of National Craft Month. Free Craft Month Fridays will be held for school aged children and their families through March from 2-3 p.m.

For more information about the exhibit, contact Jeff Barber, Santa Clarita Arts and Events supervisor, at (661) 250-3779 or jbarber@santa-clarita.com. Visit arts.santa-clarita.com. For more information about Craft Month Fridays, visit santaclaritalibrary.com.

‘Bake a Book’ Contest and Cake Display

Start the new year creatively – design, bake and decorate a cake paying homage to one of 18 classic children’s books.

Four awards will be handed out, and one entry per individual or family may be submitted. There is no cost to enter. Entries must meet the criteria outlined by library staff.

Submissions are being accepted Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 19-21 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a public display set for Friday and Saturday, Jan. 22-23 during library hours.

For more information about the “Bake a Book” Contest and Cake Display, visit santaclaritalibrary.com.

The Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library is located at 18601 Soledad Canyon Road.

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