COC Canyon Country Campus to Host Spring ‘Star Party’ May 13

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 26, 2016

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The College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus will be the site of the 13th Bi-Annual Star Party, a popular event that invites both students and community members to learn more about the complexity of the universe through informational and hands-on, immersive education.

The spring 2016 Star Party will be from 7-10 p.m. on Friday, May 13 in the campus’ Carl A. Rasmussen amphitheater. The Canyon Country campus is located at 17200 Sierra Highway.

The evening will include interactive displays and exhibits presented by students and faculty from the college’s Astronomy & Physics, Engineering, TEACH, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA).

The Local Group Astronomy Club – Santa Clarita, will also be in attendance, having agreed to bring telescopes through which the public can view a variety of objects during the event.

The theme of this semester’s Star Party will be “Gravity,” with NASA Astronaut Dr. Stanley Love and NASA Space Scientist Dr. Susan Lederer presenting as special guests.

Their talk, “The Truth Behind Gravity,” will contrast the physics of the 2013 film “Gravity” with reality, using video from the International Space Station to demonstrate how and when the laws of physics differ from what we see in the movies.

They’ll also explore which scenes were sensationalized to bend the laws of physics in order to capture your imagination and keep your heart pounding. The duo will also be teaching several scientific concepts along the way.

Love has been part of the NASA astronaut program since 1998, and has completed numerous missions since then, logging more than 300 hours in space with over 15 hours performing spacewalks. Love also co-invented the gravity tractor — a method of modifying the orbits of potentially hazardous asteroids — in 2004 with fellow astronaut Edward Lu.

Dr. Lederer works as a part of NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) program, studying comets, asteroids and orbital debris. Specifically, she works in the experimental impact laboratory, which studies the impacts of space debris on planetary bodies and equipment used on space missions.

“The Star Party offers the community an opportunity to see our campus up close, interact with students and faculty from the science disciplines, and learn about space through guest speakers and telescope viewing,” said Anthony Michaelides, acting dean of campus services & operations. “We are especially excited to have an astronaut and a space scientist from NASA as guest speakers. It will definitely be an evening to remember.”

The Star Party event is free and open to the public. Students, families and community members are encouraged to attend the event, and bring blankets and lawn chairs along with them. Food and beverages will also be available for purchase on site.

For more information about the spring 2016 Canyon Country campus Star Party, call (661) 362-3800 or visit www.canyons.edu/ccc.

Bar Rescue Saves Local Business

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 25, 2016

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Canyon Country’s Cajun Belle on TV May 1, 2016

Millions of viewers will see the near death experience of a Canyon Country bar brought back to life by the experts at “Bar Rescue” next month. If you set your DVR or tune in to the episode of “Bar Rescue” on Sunday, May 1, 2016 on Spike TV you will watch as Grinder’s, a bar on Soledad Canyon Road east of Sierra Highway, becomes Cajun Belle.

A little like Vegas, what happens on the show stays under wraps until it is aired. What we do know, however, is the style, colors and menu changed. Some food items even dropped in price, says owner Jessica Murrie, who is staying secretive about the experience, as instructed by production staff.

“They updated our look to make it more friendly for couples and different clientele,” she says.

Cajun Belle has a lot of live music, including classic rock and blues on Wednesday nights and various cover bands on
Saturdays. Thursday is “singles night” and the bar is open every night (morning, actually) until 2 a.m. Viewers may be surprised by both the bar’s changes and the process, but one thing is clear, says the owner. The show lives up to its name.

“We literally got saved by it,” Murrie says. “That’s not fake at all. The only reason I’m here today is because of the show. Otherwise I’d be gone.”

The bigger story of Murrie’s experience sinking her life savings into Grinder’s Bar will appear in Canyon Country Magazine next month, in order to not betray the benefit of surprise in the show, but suffice it to say, changes were dramatic and life-saving for the bar.

Will “Bar Rescue” star Jon Taffer make Murrie cry? You’ll have to tune in to see. Cajun Belle is located at 18283 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country; (661) 251-3354.

Canyon Country Business Briefs

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 20, 2016

Film-reel web

Future Canyon Country Community Center Based on input from public meetings in May and July of 2015, a community consensus plan was developed which provided for the location of a proposed 20,000-square-foot community center building, parking and passive recreational amenities.

A community meeting is planned for Thursday, April 28 from 6-8 p.m. in the Community Room at the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library located at 18601 Soledad Canyon Road. Anyone interested in hearing about progress on the planning of the site is invited to attend. Questions regarding this project may be directed to Tom Reilly, park development administrator at treilly@santa-clarita.com or by calling (661) 286-4129.

Citywide Film Statistics

In February, the City issued 51 film permits which contributed to 119 film days, generating an estimated economic impact of $2,455,000.

The following productions were filming in Canyon Country in February of 2016.

Feature Films
Confused – at a Sand Canyon area home

Television Shows
Deadly Intent – at a Sand Canyon area home
The Young Pope – at Rancho Deluxe and Sable Ranch

Television Movie
Sharknado 4 – at Rancho Deluxe and Sable Ranch

Walmart – at the Carl Boyer Walmart

Morning Star Farms – at Leavittatin

Lady Time – at a Sand Canyon area home

Industrial Video
Troy – at a Sand Canyon area home

Short Films
Bridesman – at Sand Canyon area homes
Night Digging – at Sable Ranch

CalArts “Love Confession” – at Bergie’s
LMU “Lost Lottery Ticket” – at an area condominium
LMU “My Darling” – at an area condominium

Tree of Second Chances Award

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 19, 2016


Like a bolt of electricity, the powerful partnership between Jen Gerard, owner of Gerard Cosmetics/Whitening Lightning and the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita Valley will energize one woman’s entrepreneurial efforts every year.

The new Tree of Second Chances Award is the result of Gerard’s $10,000 donation to the DVC of Santa Clarita Valley for a legacy program where an applicant needing business development support can see her dreams realized. The entrepreneurial award will go to a victim of domestic violence who is pursuing her own business — helping her get a second chance in life.


Gerard, a witness herself to the devastating effects of domestic violence, announced she will donate the same amount of money each year to give others the chance for the American Dream. This program will provide guidance and marketing support for the recipient, including mentoring by Gerard for the successful launch of the winner’s new business.

“I feel we all need to have the confidence to reach for the stars, especially when we find ourselves starting over,” said Gerard.

Interested applicants should contact info@dvc-scv.org or call the Domestic Violence Center office at (661) 259-8175.

The Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita Valley operates an outreach center and an emergency 30-day shelter. Services include court mandated 16-week domestic violence programs, support groups, individual therapy, children and women’s art therapy programs, legal assistance programs and community outreach programs based on intervention, prevention and education. The emergency shelter houses domestic violence victims who are in immediate danger for up to 30 days while providing optional case management, group counseling, children’s programs and individual therapy. For more information, visit www.dvc-scv.org.

Views from Both Sides of the Track

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 18, 2016


While the history of Canyon Country is closely connected to the railroad industry, its impact on the community has continued to make headlines. The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) project approved by voters in 2008 has prompted some heated reaction by local residents for several years. And recently, the community’s attention has been captured by repeated pedestrian deaths on train tracks off of Soledad Canyon Road.

High-Speed Hassle
Residents recently celebrated a successful attempt to obtain changes to the proposed rail route. The estimated $68 billion high speed rail project, which will connect San Francisco to Los Angeles at speeds of up to 200 miles an hour, was slated to cut through the east side of the Santa Clarita Valley, forcing the removal of Sulphur Springs Community School, churches and homes.
In 2014, the CHSRA Board, in response to a request from the City Council, refined the alignments to eliminate one of two proposed surface alignments and include an extension of a tunnel under neighborhoods in eastern Santa Clarita. Acting on a request from Supervisor Michael Antonovich and supported by the Santa Clarita City Council, the CHSRA is looking at several potential alignments, proposing to tunnel under the Angeles National Forest. The city council has taken a formal position in support of a fully underground east corridor direct alignment as the preferred alternative, because it will then bypass the City of Santa Clarita.

The City of Santa Clarita website says: “Most importantly, an appropriate, fully underground East Corridor alignment would eliminate risks to Sulphur Springs Elementary School, Pinecrest Elementary School, Church of the Canyons, homes in the Sand Canyon neighborhood, and the mixed-use Vista Canyon Project, which remain vulnerable to the initial surface and tunnel alignments.”

Tragedy on the Tracks
If you opened your newspaper or turned on the TV November 7, 2014 you may have been shocked to learn that a woman was killed by a train near Soledad Canyon Road and Ruether Avenue in Santa Clarita at approximately 10:20 that morning. Less than a year later, on Tuesday, July 7, 2015 it happened again. The community learned that a Metrolink train struck and killed a pedestrian on the tracks, this time in the evening, at about 6:30 p.m. near Soledad Canyon and Golden Oak roads.

The most recent incident occurred last month, when the community had another wake-up call. On Friday, March 25 at about 7:40 a.m. a man was hit by a train, once again at Ruether Avenue and Soledad Canyon Road.

The first two were thought to be suicides and the last incident was deemed an accident, though it is not easy to say for sure.

It is only natural to wonder if there is an increase in these tragedies and why they occur in roughly the same stretch of the tracks.

The pedestrian struck in 2014 was a teen girl. The incident in 2015 involved AV Line Train 285, where witnesses told Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies that a person was trying to beat the train. Last week, the man just stepped into the path of the train and never looked up, according to the commuter train operator. Train service returned to normal, said reports, not causing any disruption to later commuter transportation.

The quick return to “normal” makes a lot of people wonder if this is a pattern the community will continue to see. Why do members of our neighborhoods choose suicide?

“I don’t think we can pinpoint one reason,” said Carole Lutness LCSW, DCSW. “I think the economy has driven a lot of people to despair, that there’s no hope.”

Lutness, who has a private psychotherapy practice in Newhall, believes the community can address some of the causes.

“We need to face the kinds of situational issues in Santa Clarita that bring people to despair, like lack of affordable housing,” she said. “I think it bears watching.”

Lutness sees substance abuse as another common factor in suicides.

“In all my experience with those who actually successfully committed suicide, there was always substance abuse involved,” she said. “Isolation is a big, big factor. Feeling ‘I’m all alone.’ Family breakup can also contribute to someone feeling that there’s no hope.”

Staff members at the College of the Canyons Student Health & Wellness Center have a regularly scheduled meeting that addresses issues around suicides, prevention and “postvention,” says Larry Schallert, LCSW, DCSW, assistant director of the College of the Canyons Student Health & Wellness Center.

“We have been talking about the railroad issue, especially at that general area between the bowling alley and Rainbow Glen,” says Schallert. “We have also been discussing at length the media’s portrayal of suicide in the community that either makes things worse or helps.”

While his staff at COC meets regularly about such issues, Schallert favors further discussion. “I would be very interested in putting together a ‘think tank’ about this particular stretch of rail,” he said.

The impact of the railroad is no doubt as much a part of this community’s future as it was a part of the past. Many residents have voiced the belief that in regard to both issues – the high-speed rail line and the personal tragedies on the tracks – it’s best to stay attentive to local developments and not let discussion get derailed.

Canyon High School Performing Arts Center Opens

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 17, 2016

pac Canyon HS choir teacher Mary Purdy

After 25 years of waiting, the Canyon High School choral program is offering a standing ovation of its own to the William S. Hart School District. They are celebrating the newly built Performing Arts Center on campus with the band and theater departments, all performing on Friday, April 15, 2016.

“I’m thrilled to be getting to perform in our own Performing Arts Center,” says Mary Purdy, Canyon High School choir director. “We started this process about 20 years ago. … I’ve had numerous times that I thought it wouldn’t really happen. We had plans once and went to the school board meeting expecting it to be approved. One board member objected and three weeks later, the funding got cut.”

A ribbon-cutting for Santa Clarita’s newest theatre drew a crowd of almost 400 guests last month when the center was unveiled for members of the public. There were speeches by William S. Hart Union School District leaders and representatives from construction company Balfour Beatty and Little Diversified Architects.

But the largest cheer was given to Purdy, who not only spoke to the crowd and conducted the Canyon High School Madrigals in a performance, but snapped a selfie in front of the entrance.17

The 452-seat PAC is an 18,560-square-foot facility built at a cost of $13.8 million from Measure SA funds. The Canyon High School choral program has held most of its concerts in the Golden Valley High School theatre over the last few years.

“I’m excited about not having to schlep things across from Canyon to another school,” Purdy said. “I’m just excited about the idea of being in a facility that I helped design and I watched grow from the ground up.”

Members of the public can support the fine arts department by purchasing a brick to serve as a legacy, displayed in front of the building. The cost begins at $75 for an engraved brick that can honor a graduate or a program, for instance. You order from the manufacturer at www.engravedbricks.com/campaign/canyon.

For information about the program, email Bmccann@hartdistrict.org.

First on the Field: Valerie Gonzales

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 13, 2016


While other parents were dropping off their little girls at ballet class, Steve and Jaimie Gonzales of Canyon Country were at baseball practice with their daughter.

Not softball. Baseball.

From a young age, Valerie Gonzales found she was comfortable with or without the “home field advantage.” At about the age of four she committed herself to what was largely a boy’s sport, determined to become good enough to eventually make her high school team.

Not only did she hit a home run, she made it into the record books: Valerie Gonzales is the first female to play on Canyon High School’s baseball team and the first girl in the William S. Hart Union School District to play in a varsity baseball game.

Seventeen-year-old “Val” started by playing on a Santa Clarita Parks & Recreation team as a child, and moved into the William S. Hart Pony League at the earliest age possible, which was five years old at the time. She was always the only female team member, even when she tried out for the high school team as a freshman. There were 39 boys trying out to play for the Cowboys, and they chose 14 boys plus Val for the team.

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She played first base, relief pitcher and catcher as a freshman. During her sophomore and junior years on junior varsity she was switched to second base.

“I am very proud of living out my dream, a dream I have dreamt of since the day I began playing baseball at the age of four,” Val said. “I am very passionate about the game of baseball, so much that I also coach my nephew who is just beginning his baseball career. He is five and has been playing for two years.”

The importance of family is underscored by the number Val wears when she is on the field. The number 19 was not randomly assigned; it has been reserved for her through the years as a tribute to her baby brother who passed away at birth from a brain tumor. His date of birth was the nineteenth.

If meeting her goals on the field is not enough, Val has really gone around the horn when it comes to her range of other aspirations.

For four years she has been involved with the Key Club and has met the qualifications for the California Scholarship Federation for four semesters. They both require members to fulfill a minimum number of community service hours per semester. Val volunteered for several organizations, including Safe Rides, Help The Children and Special Olympics.

In fact, she has met all of the goals she declared at the beginning of high school.

“I was determined to make the baseball team,” she began. “I was/am determined to walk my graduation in white and rank in the top 9 percent of my class; to letter academically and athletically; and to continue to serve my community.”

Val has accomplished what she set out to do while maintaining a 4.0 GPA or higher.
The talented teen has been accepted to her two top college picks, Arizona State University and University of Calilfornia, Riverside. She plans to major in exercise and wellness, with a minor in nutrition or business economics. Val would like to work within the Major League Baseball franchise.

Wherever she goes and whatever she studies, the end game is pretty clear to those who know Valerie Gonzales. If you had to phrase it like a senior celebrity title it would probably be “most likely to hit it out of the park.”

Coming Up

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 11, 2016


Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival
Saturday, April 23

Reyes Winery in Agua Dulce will host hundreds of wine and gourmet food lovers at the Fourth Annual Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival to be held from 12 noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, 2016.

“We are proud to be able to introduce our guests to the wines of Sierra Pelona Valley and beyond,” said Robert Reyes, Wine maker and general manager of Reyes Winery and founder of the Sierra Pelona Valley Vintners Association. “And this is our fourth year assisting nonprofits in the Santa Clarita Valley.”

The Festival is a fundraiser for the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, a non-profit organization in Newhall providing a variety of educational, meal and respite services to 10,000 seniors and their families in a 450-square-mile area in and around the SCV. The service area includes the communities of Santa Clarita, Agua Dulce, Acton, Castaic, Val Verde, Paradise Ranch, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch and other areas nearby.

The Fourth Annual Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival will feature more than 80 food and wine vendors from throughout Southern California, as well as entertainment, specialty items sampling and handmade crafts from local artisans.

Attendees will receive a specialty event glass, event plate, swag gift bag, wine and food sampling, and free parking.
Guests will be treated to gourmet food pairings from Los Angeles area chefs and artisanal food makers, as well as award-winning wines and other libations at the festival. Live entertainment for the Festival will be provided by Still Moving Project, Just Us and other musicians. In addition to food, refreshments, entertainment and an art exhibit from local artists and craftsmen, the event will include a raffle featuring wine-and-dine gift certificates, wines and gift baskets.

Festival director Beth Heiserman said the event is a “great way to spend the day with friends, enjoying great wine, great food and great entertainment in a beautiful vineyard setting.”

Now through April 9, 2016 prepaid general admission tickets are $75 and VIP tickets are $100 (if still available – only 100 tickets are available). From April 10-April 23, 2016 prepaid and general tickets at the door cost $85 each. Designated driver tickets are $40 each.

The Festival is an “adults only” event and open only to guests age 21 and older. The Reyes Winery is located at 10262 Sierra Highway in Agua Dulce. For information or tickets visit reyeswinery.com or call 661-268-1865.

Triumph Foundation’s 5th Annual Wheelchair Sports Festival
Saturday, April 30-Sunday, May 1, 2016

Triumph Foundation, a triumphpicnon-profit organization working to improve the lives of people living with disabilities, will host its 5th Annual Wheelchair Sports Festival on Saturday, April 30, 2016 and Sunday, May 1, 2016 at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.

The event will feature 10 adapted recreational sports that are open to the general public to participate. They include wheelchair hockey, basketball, racquetball, baseball, quad rugby (aka “murderball”), hand cycling, adapted scuba, wheelchair skating (WCMX), track and field, and a power wheelchair rodeo. There will also be a resource fair and art workshop.

Triumph Foundation hosts the free event to introduce wheelchair sports to people who are newly disabled, as well as provide learning opportunities to the general public and showcase people living with physical impairment in a way that members of the community do not often see. The Wheelchair Sports Festival brings everyone together, able-bodied and disabled alike, on a level playing ground to take part in a weekend of games and activities.

“This is Triumph’s major event of the year that gives people with disabilities a chance to push the limits of their ability, play games with their friends and family on a level playing ground, and enhance their quality of life through the benefits of exercise, sports and fitness,” said Triumph Founder Andrew Skinner, who suffered a spinal cord injury in November 2004 in a snowboarding accident.

The Santa Clarita Sports Complex is located at 20870 Centre Pointe Pkwy in Santa Clarita. For more information visit www.Triumph-Foundation.org or call Andrew Skinner (661) 803-3700.

A Woman of Substance

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 10, 2016

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Justine Belyeu

If Justine Belyeu is known for anything, it’s the support of women. As a hair stylist in Canyon Country, her business is largely woman-centered. And in her busy life of service to others she reaches out by giving her time and talents to women at the homeless shelter or those with incurable diseases through the non-profit Beauty Bug.

But Belyeu is not stopping there. She has just launched a new Santa Clarita non-profit called Women of Substance, designed to bond females in service to others.

“I wanted to give back. … I want to multiply my efforts,” Belyeu said. “It’s a group of women (who) can give things, not have things. To give of themselves in volunteer work.”

Already an avid volunteer, Belyeu hands her business card to needy individuals sometimes and invites them to the salon saying, “I’d like to do your hair for free.” She has plans to style hair for five young mothers at the local homeless shelter for Mother’s Day.

“We’re trying to do more in the community with a 501(3)(c). “We need to concentrate on where we live. Take care of our own home first,” Belyeu said.
A self-proclaimed “corporate runaway,” Belyeu left a job with a large company in 2013 to head back to school for a cosmetology license. For almost two years Belyeu has been working in the Santa Clarita Valley, and with only two salons exclusively serving African American women, she has been very busy. Her business is Black Hair Care by Justine at Onyx Hair Studio in Canyon Country.

As she worked, Belyeu began talking to women who would say they don’t know anyone, or they wanted to get involved in the community. They needed a black hair salon, she said, and they wanted to know where to go and volunteer their services.

So she started the Women of Substance group with about 35 of her clients, mostly. A few of the women have their own businesses and many are in medical fields. The group will likely do events and fundraisers to provide for the less fortunate in the community, which began with a tea last month.

“The Women of Substance Tea started as thank you to my clients,” Belyeu said about the group’s first event. “The tea was wonderful. Each person did an introduction of their name, what they do and what they love about themselves. We had a guest speaker, Dr. Diana White-Johnson, founder of Foundation for Healthy Families.”

The next event for Women of Substance is slated for June 19, 2016, an indoor picnic/potluck, where attendees will gather food for the Santa Clarita Homeless Shelter.

Justine Belyeu can be reached by calling (818) 633-9994 or email justinebelyeu@lightlycooked.com.

April is Prom Season, Discourage Drunk Driving

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 10, 2016


SADD Stats
Students Against Destructive Decisions is a non-profit national network with scientific-based peer-to-peer educational trainings, programs and events, awareness campaigns and leadership development opportunities for teens.
According to www.sadd.org:
72% of students have consumed alcohol by the end of high school
37% of students have consumed alcohol by the end of 8th grade
30.8% of underage drinkers paid for the alcohol the last time they drank
8.3% bought alcohol themselves
22.3% gave money to someone to purchase alcohol

The following local businesses are responsible for this month’s message


AV Sport & Truck Accessories
805 West Ave. K

Angelo’s Barber Shops
27261 1/2 Camp Plenty Rd
Canyon Country

D.W. Cookie Co.
18962 Soledad Cyn
Canyon Country

Oh Bella Crepe
18588 Soledad Cyn
Canyon Country
Bark Ave – Pet Grooming
17737 Sierra Hwy
Canyon Country

Derma Cure
27871 Smyth Drive
Suite 100

Women of Substance

bennett honey logo PPH Logo w-address Hallway Plumbing LOGO IP11_20431_GM_Auto274.indd Fillmore and western logo dance studio 84 logo

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