Grand Opening Celebration of Henry Mayo Fitness and Health

| Canyon Country Magazine | August 23, 2016

henrymayofitness article

The Santa Clarita Valley community is invited to the Grand Opening Celebration of Henry Mayo Fitness and Health on Saturday, September 10 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at 24525 Town Center Drive in Valencia.

There will be live musical entertainment, food samplings, giveaways, dance demonstrations, tours of the new Henry Mayo Fitness and Health facility, and more.

“Our fitness specialists will guide personalized tours of our extensive cardio deck, cutting-edge strength machines and a free weight area that includes a specialized circuit, indoor cycling studio, and covered outdoor pool with lap swimming and water classes,” said Sharlene Duzick, director of member services.

Food enthusiasts can visit food stations to sample twists on healthy, organic and sustainable dishes from destinations such as Lyfe Kitchen, Plate Therapy, Williams-Sonoma and Henry Mayo’s own culinary specialists. The Sweet Beams old-fashioned ice cream truck also will be on hand with special ice cream treats.

Waller’s GymJam Academy, owned and directed by 1992 Olympian Chris Waller and his wife Cindy Waller, will have a number of their gymnastics athletes offering demonstrations in the gymnasium. Also at the gym, visitors can stop by for Zumba and dance demonstrations throughout the day.

Giveaways, including beach balls and water bottles,
will be given out to visitors while supplies last. Visitors can sign up that day to take advantage of special grand opening membership rates.

Henry Mayo Fitness and Health is a state-of-the art fitness center providing a variety of exercise amenities such as strength and weight training, cardio equipment, pool, sauna, and group exercise studios. On the clinical side, the center will offer Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s full range of physical therapy services with new state-of-the art rehabilitation equipment, including the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill.

Applications for charter memberships to Henry Mayo Fitness and Health, which is slated to open in summer 2016, are currently being accepted. To learn more, call (661) 200-2348 or visit henrymayofitness.org.

The History of a ‘Gold Rush’ Right Here in Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine | August 23, 2016

robin sandoval

It’s well-known that, in 1848, the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in Northern California changed history. On January 24, 1848, James Wilson Marshall found flecks of gold in the American River as he worked to build a sawmill for John Sutter. His findings sparked the “Gold Rush” of 1849, which had prospectors from all over the world flooding into California hoping to strike it rich.

What you may not know, though, is that Marshall’s discovery in 1848 wasn’t the first time gold had been discovered in what is now California. As a matter of fact, it first happened in 1842, right here in Canyon Country.

On March 9 of 1842, Francisco Lopez was herding his cattle through Placerita Canyon with two companions. With an education in mining from the University of Mexico, Lopez wasn’t just traversing the canyon to feed his cows. Instead, he had a feeling there might be something worthwhile beneath the ground in those hills. According to Lopez, he had stopped to unearth some wild onions near a sycamore grove. When he pulled the onions from the ground, he noticed gold flecks among the dirt and roots. As he dug deeper, he found even more.

The next day, Lopez and his brother rode to Los Angeles with samples of the discovery to report his findings. The samples were sent to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia and came back certified as .926 fine gold – a metal worth $19 an ounce. Lopez then petitioned the governor of California (which was, at the time, part of Mexico), Juan Batista Alvarado for permission to exercise his claim to the gold. What ensued was a miniature gold rush consisting of about 2,000 miners from Lopez’s home state of Sonora who worked the land for several years.

Francisco Lopez’s original petition resides today at the National Archives in Washington D.C., providing indisputable proof that the first discovery of gold in California happened right here in our own backyard.

Canyon Country History Minute

| Canyon Country Magazine | August 17, 2016


Growing up in Sand Canyon, Brent Parkinson was a member of the Canyon Country Prairie Dogs, an active 4-H group in the late 20th century. Here in 1980, he was showing a prized steer he raised.

Brent went to Sulphur Springs Community School, Sierra Vista Junior High School and graduated from Canyon High School in 1985. He attended USC, where he played football, followed by two years on the Denver Broncos.

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.

Antelope Valley Fair & Alfalfa Festival

| Canyon Country Magazine | August 16, 2016


If a day in the country is fun, a week and a half is even better. This year’s 78th Annual Antelope Valley Fair & Alfalfa Festival is around the corner – August 19-28, 2016. The fair promises all the usual favorites, including the swine barn, livestock exhibits, junior dog show, fair food competition, racing pigs, hypnotists, and much more.

There is also new excitement. Que Buena 96.1 radio station is sponsoring nightly dance parties. There will also be tailgate parties each night in the H.W. Hunter Corral. Visitors can do some line dancing beginning at 7 p.m., sponsored by BeX Bar & Grill in Lancaster.

Concerts are held on several stages throughout the fairgrounds, where visitors can dance and listen to such groups as Whiskey Tango, Big Coyote, Juke Box Blender and Born Jovi.

Each night in the Rally Kia Arena you can watch concerts and events, beginning with opening night’s performance by Trace Adkins and Brandy Clark. Other concerts during the 10-day fair include Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo with special guest John Waite on August 20; Foreigner and Don Felder, formerly of the Eagles, on August 22; plus Figure 8 Racing, Monster Trucks and Rural Olympics. On August 27, the Antelope Valley High School Spirit of ’76 and Alumni will celebrate their 40th reunion from 6 p.m.-12 midnight.

Grandstand seating is free, but better seats are available for purchase.

You can stroll through the home arts building to see how the judges rated residents’ entries of table settings, homemade clothing and fine arts. There are demonstrations and interactive exhibits on the fair schedule too.

Tickets can only be purchased at the A.V. Fairgrounds, avfair.com, or etix.com. All other re-sellers are considered null and void and will not be refunded.

Ticket prices: Adults age 12 and up $11; juniors age 6-11 $8; children under 6 free with a paid adult; seniors and special needs citizens age 62 and up $8; active military and dependents are free with military service photo ID. Pre-paid tickets are as follows: Adults, juniors and seniors/special needs $7.

For discounted tickets and other special events, visit the website: www.AVFair.com.

Montessori Method

| Canyon Country Magazine | August 16, 2016


montessori8In the 21st century, it’s common knowledge that children learn differently. Schools have made gains in varying their styles of education to benefit students. For instance, they sometimes broaden methods of teaching for those who are auditory or experiential learners.

Montessori Schools emphasize a unique learning process as well. Using all five senses, students take in information through listening, watching and reading, each at his or her own pace.

Founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first female in Italy to become a physician, she used scientific observation to design the process. She was guided by her discovery that children teach themselves, which is why Montessori schools “prepare” the environment for students, then release them to freely choose from a number of developmentally appropriate activities.

While other pre-schools may resemble babysitting, Montessori students are in the process of discovery, learning through concentration, motivation and self-discipline.

The Montessori method is both a philosophy of child development and a guide for growth, according to Erin Johnson, director of Montessori of Valencia. montessori1

“They learn independence, such as learning to buckle and tie their shoes,” Johnson said. “There’s accountability. They clean up after their own mess, and develop manners.”

Age groups are combined at Montessori of Valencia, as students advance at their own pace, to large degree. And children of all ages – even the “babies” class – are learning, not just playing.

montessori9“There’s no limit to it,” Johnson said. “At most pre-schools you’re limited. This goes way above and beyond all that. They gain the ability to learn, to explore, and to find things.”

Montessori classrooms tend to be quieter and less chaotic than standard pre-schools. Training begins with the youngest classrooms, which are facilitated to enable the students to participate in activities that have meaning and allow for growth.

montessori2“It’s all hands-on – they’re touching, feeling, there are no worksheets,” Johnson said.

There are thousands of Montessori schools in the United States alone. The intended results for those who are involved include students who have positive attitudes toward school and a lifelong curiosity.

Free People: Couple Leaves China after Hurdles of Olympic Proportions

| Canyon Country Magazine | August 15, 2016

kai and fiona chen

Canyon Country has a lot of colorful characters, but it isn’t often we meet residents on a government blacklist.

Kai and Fiona Chen can never return to their home country – the People’s Republic of China.

Fiona is from the Shandong Province on the east coast of China, while Kai is from Beijing. Their stories are different, but their union has resulted in a doubly powerful voice against the hidden agenda of government in China.

Fiona left China on Christmas Eve in 2003 and moved to Canada with her firstborn son, Lawrence. Her father criticized the Communist Party while taking part in the Anti-Rightist Movement of the late 1950s, so her family members were being persecuted.

The magazine editor found a job working as a TV reporter in Vancouver, where she used her skills to spread a message to the rest of the world that the image of China coming through propaganda was untruthful. She worked to “expose the evil deeds of Chinese authorities,” who she had seen quashing dissidents and “committing crimes against their own citizens and people in the free world.”

“I shed tears over Tiananmen,” Fiona said. “Since 1949 more than 80 million people have been killed. I was shocked by that.”

Fiona’s father was a writer and publicist who had to use a fictional name because of his statements against the government.
“In China there’s a one child policy,” said the mother of three – Lawrence, 16, David, 10, and Celina, 6. “I didn’t want my kids to live in (Communist Chinese) society.”

Fiona didn’t know anyone when she moved to Vancouver. Her parents immigrated to Canada two years after she did, where they still live today.

“When I landed (in Canada) it felt totally different, how people naturally trust each other. There’s a genuine smile on their face. They share their story—not just to please people.”

Fiona met Kai in 2007 before the Beijing Olympic Games. She produced a four-episode documentary called “My Way” about Kai, a former Chinese professional basketball player, who she married in 2014.

“In one month there were more than 300,000 viewers,” Fiona said. “People were so moved by Kai’s story.”

She said the Chinese government soon blocked the YouTube upload of her documentary. “It was one professional athlete to stand up,” she said.

And when Kai Chen stands up, his 6-foot, 7-inch frame is noticed.

“Once the door opened in China, I was gone,” said Kai, a former professional basketball player for China’s National Team. He left China in 1981.

Born in Beijing, Kai’s family was caught up in the turmoil of 20th century China. They were involved with the Kuomintang, or KMT, the ruling party in China until 1949, when it moved to Taiwan after being defeated by the Communist Party. Kai’s father and his nine siblings were separated by the Taiwan Strait. His grandfather stayed in Beijing with Kai’s parents, while his grandmother went to Taiwan with his uncle and other members of his family. His grandparents would never see each other again.

Because of his family’s ties to Taiwan, Kai and his family were exiled from Beijing to Tonghua in Manchuria. During the Cultural Revolution, young people were sent to the countryside. They were forced to work at a grain depot, sometimes carrying up to 200 pounds on their shoulders. An avid basketball player, Kai found his passion through expressing himself on the court; later, it’s where he would find his freedom.

“The Communist Government wanted to use sports to break China’s isolation around the world,” Kai said.

Kai was chosen at the age of 16 to play for a National Athletics program grooming talent for the Chinese National Teams in 1970.

“Before I knew there was a country called America, America had already saved me,” Kai said. “Because America invented basketball.”

He first tried to free himself from the national authorities, who were going to send him back to the grain depot in Liuhe after Kai’s Taiwan relatives were revealed. Kai found he could get on a professional team in Guangzhou Military District, so he escaped from Beijing, pretending to go shopping, carrying just a yellow satchel to deter suspicion. It had Mao’s inscription, “Serve the People,” on it, which he said would make him “keenly aware of the immorality and corruption in this society. I would be reminded of the falsehood and lies spread by the authorities.”

Kai was caught and sent back to the grain depot. But he escaped again to a provincial basketball team, and finally joined the Chinese Army for the political benefit to his family. Due to the intense physical labor, repairing dams and military training, Kai developed bleeding ulcers and was on the verge of death. While hospitalized for a month, he made up his mind he would find happiness. He had never in his life known anyone in China that was happy, he said.

“The biggest revenge for me against this society was to find freedom and happiness for myself,” Kai said.
During the brief period following Mao’s death, Kai was able to obtain a student visa to the United States. He is a graduate of UCLA. Fiona’s family emigrated to Canada through the independent immigration process.

Both Kai and Fiona are on the “blacklist” in China.

Her writing and internet posting through her own company, Liberty Bell Studios, is aimed at introducing American values to those behind the Communist curtain. She forms online groups in order to penetrate fire walls created by the Chinese government to impede citizens of China from gaining access to that information. Kai and Fiona help others find software to break through those firewalls.

The couple described a group called “50 Cents,” which is a propaganda team hired by the Communist government. It is made up of young “opinion leaders” who earn 50 cents when they complete an internet post promoting Chinese Communism and government agendas.

“The (Chinese government) learned from the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Kai said. “They’re better than the Soviet Union at controlling your thoughts. It’s been pretty effective so far.”

They’re fanning nationalism and sentiment that is anti-U.S. and anti-Japan, according to the Chens.

Kai has spent decades protesting pro-Communism efforts and promoting the values espoused by America. A naturalized citizen of the United States, Kai fought Confucius Institutes that cropped up globally. It is a program teaching the language and culture of China that critics say advances the Chinese government’s agenda to falsely influence perceptions of China.

“I went to Congress and testified,” Kai said. “They terminated their contract because it violated U.S. educational policies, against American employment policies, when they hired teachers.”

There are hundreds in the United States at all levels of education. “These are brainwashing … propaganda about reality,” he said. “They do a lot to damage the U.S., weaken this country’s moral underpinnings.”

In 2009 Kai protested a restaurant in Hollywood called Mao’s Kitchen for their portrait of the former Chinese leader and for “singing Mao’s praises,” Kai said.

And when the Nixon Library had a statue of Mao Tse-Tung in his “world leaders” section near Winston Churchill, Kai organized a protest. “Mao is worse than Stalin and worse than Hitler, in terms of killing,” Kai said.


chen fam 2


The Chens have strong political opinions, and share them when invited to speak at groups or meetings.

“Historians agree Mao committed atrocities against the Chinese people,” Kai said. “Reagan had great moral clarity, calling the Soviet Union an ‘evil empire.’ We needed an American president to enunciate moral principles.”

The Chens hope to affect U.S. policy toward their homeland. They hope to promote “political and moral wisdom in dealing with China.”

“We are not a country built on money; we are a country built on principles,” Kai said. “We feel obligated to give back. (The U.S. is) the greatest country in the world. Don’t take it for granted.”

Fiona recently became a member of Zonta International of SCV. She was sponsored by a member, Ronnie Erickson. “They are a group concerned about women’s lives. I fit in this category,” Fiona said. “A life with lots of layers.”

It was a big shift from Canada to living in the U.S. She said the education her children are receiving in the U.S. is more focused on reading and math. She was particularly pleased that her son, David, was chosen to write two books through the Sulphur Springs School District Young Authors program.

The Chens said their kids are “making tremendous progress.” Ten-year-old David enjoys activities such as a magic class offered in Newhall, and six-year-old Celina takes piano lessons and plays soccer. Lawrence, 16, is a student at Canyon High School.

Kai is a four-year resident of Canyon Country and has two grown children, who both played college basketball – one at Yale and one at Brandeis University. Fiona moved here with her children in 2014.

“People are very friendly and they are trustworthy,” Kai said of the Santa Clarita Valley. “It’s very quiet. There’s a wonderful sense of community.”

Canyon Country Business Briefs

| Canyon Country Magazine | August 14, 2016


Canyon Country Pedestrian Bridge & Street Improvements Project
The first Canyon Country pedestrian bridge is currently in design, and construction is anticipated to begin in Fall 2017.

The project will address safety issues for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users at the busy intersection of Sierra Highway and Golden Valley Road.  The pedestrian bridge will be located 300 feet north of Golden Valley Road and span over Sierra Highway, connecting the existing trail along Golden Valley Road and seamlessly integrating it into the city’s 36-mile off-street trail network.

In addition to the pedestrian bridge, the project involves street improvements, including widening on the west side of Sierra Highway to accommodate a right-turn lane from southbound Sierra Highway onto Golden Valley Road. The project also includes a bus turnout, extension of the raised median, sidewalk, parkway landscaping, asphalt slurry, traffic striping, and traffic signal modifications to allow for U-turns at the intersections of Sierra Highway/Rainbow Glen Drive and Sierra Highway/Golden Valley Road. 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.  Enhanced crosswalks and curb ramps at the intersection will provide safety benefits to pedestrians and bicyclists who elect to cross the intersection.

Construction is anticipated to take five months to complete.

Citywide Film Statistics

In June, the city office issued 41 film permits, which contributed to 139 film days, generating an estimated economic impact of $3,786,000.

The following productions were filming in Canyon Country in June 2016.

Feature Films
Hellstorm – at Sable Ranch
Lucky – at a Sand Canyon area home

Television Shows
Crazy/Love – at a Sand Canyon area home
Fox Sports USGA – at Robinson Ranch Golf Club
JCVD – at Rancho Deluxe
Santa Clarita Diet – at Canyon High School

Sam’s Club – at Sam’s Club on Carl Boyer Dr.

Industrial Video
Cyberobics – at Rancho Deluxe

The Eyes of Men (CSUN) – at Oak Crest Dr.

Upcoming Events

Canyon Country Community Center

Big Band Dance (40+ years)
The Canyon Country Community Center invites adults to dress in their best DAPPER DUDS and SWING the night away to the music of the Big Band Era on Saturday, August 13!

Saturday, August 13
6:00pm – 7:00pm (lessons)
7:00pm – 9:00pm (social dancing)
Fee: $2 per person

Visit www.santa-clarita.com/cccc to register and view a complete listing of activities happening at the Canyon Country Community Center in August.

Santa Clarita Public Library

Digital Drop In
Adults are invited to drop in for twenty minutes of one-on-one assistance with their e-reader or digital device.

Every Friday in August
3:00pm – 4:30pm
Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library
Study Room A

ACT Practice Test
Practice testing is being offered for the ACT Test. The library sponsors this program from C2Education. Registration is required. Visit SantaClaritaLibrary.com/Events for more information and to register.

Saturday, August 27, 2016
10:30am – 3:00pm
Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library
Canyon Country Meeting Room

Visit www.santaclaritalibrary.com/ for more information and to view a complete listing of activities happening at the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library.

New Families Sought to Foster or Foster-Adopt Children

| Canyon Country Magazine | August 13, 2016

childrens bureau logo

Adoption is a meaningful way for individuals and couples to fulfill their dream of parenting. There are approximately 64,000 children in foster care in California. Los Angeles County’s foster care population exceeds 21,000 children, with 450 foster children waiting to be connected to a family who will adopt. Children’s Bureau offers a comprehensive foster care and adoption program that brings families together for a lifetime. The agency is in need of resource families for children in foster care while reunifying with birth families or to provide legal permanency by adoption.

Children’s Bureau Resource Parents protect and nurture children, meet children’s developmental needs, support children’s relationships with their birth families and do all of this as members of a professional team. Qualifying families receive training, certification and support.

You have the opportunity to discover whether or not you have the willingness, ability and resources to take on the challenge of helping a child in need. A monthly information meeting is being held Saturday, August 27 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at College of the Canyons, Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, at 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Room 222 in Valencia. To RSVP or for more information, call 661-208-4212. An information packet or application may also be requested by filling out a request form on the website at www.all4kids.org/program/foster-care/.

Since 1904, Children’s Bureau has been a nonprofit leader in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. More than 30,000 children and families are helped each year throughout Southern California with services that include school readiness, parenting classes, family resource centers, support groups, mental health counseling, foster care and adoption.

Hoefflin Foundation Hosts 23rd Annual Evening Under the Stars

| Canyon Country Magazine, Community | August 10, 2016


The annual fundraiser for a local charity benefiting kids with cancer will move back to its previous event venue this year. The Michael Hoefflin Foundation’s Evening Under the Stars will take place on September 17 at the Mann Biomedical Park, located at 25104 Rye Canyon Loop in Valencia.

For 23 years, Chris and Sue Hoefflin have turned the tragic loss of their son into a celebratory fundraiser attended regularly by hundreds of local residents. In addition to a formal dinner catered by Salt Creek Grille, guests will hear the Kelly Rae Band, high-energy country performers from Southern California, who will provide music for guests who want to dance. The gala always includes a large number of silent auction items and a live auction for the diners as well. Auction items this year include Dodgers Dugout tickets, a Michael Jordan signed shoe, a Sprinter van and driver for a week and a special escape weekend.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. Registration opens at 5:30 p.m. and dinner is served at 7:15 p.m.

The evening of dining, auction and entertainment accounts
for nearly half of the non-profit’s operating budget. It plays a critical role in raising funds to help drive the foundation’s mission to provide support to children and their families facing the emotional and financial difficulties of pediatric cancer.

To attend An Evening Under the Stars, call (661) 250-4100 or visit www.mhf.org.

SUMMER BASH JULY 29 – Block Party in Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine | July 19, 2016


It’s not a trip to the beach, but residents on the east side of the Santa Clarita Valley will be making a splash with their own summer block party. On Friday, July 29 from 6-10 p.m. the city is sponsoring Summer Bash, a free evening of outdoor entertainment in town.

For the third year in a row, the event will draw crowds to Luther Drive between Soledad Canyon Road and Mandan Street for food trucks, live music, vendors, a beer garden, rock wall, obstacle course, mechanical shark and an inflatable slide. The four food trucks are Tainamite, The Grilled Cheese Truck, Los Ruizenores and Kona Ice.

summerbash1web“Similar to the monthly SENSES block parties on Main Street, Summer Bash offers the community a laid back and fun atmosphere to enjoy,” said David Knutson of the City of Santa Clarita. “Live music will be provided by local cover band, Rebel Heart. The band plays current country hits, classic rock, as well as original music. They’ve got great energy, harmonies and a general love for music and entertaining.”

All ages are welcome to Summer Bash and there is no admission charge. For more information, contact the City of Santa Clarita’s Arts & Events Office at (661) 250-3787.

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