Citadel Krav Maga

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 2, 2020

If you’re fighting off some extra pounds or just looking for an active new hobby, you can train in an Israeli form of self-defense at a new studio in Canyon Country.

Citadel Krav Maga opened its doors last fall, offering kids’ and adults’ classes in this specialized practice which was adapted from hand-to-hand combat techniques used by Israeli Defense Forces.

As an American Krav Maga Federation school, owner John Veverka’s program strives to bring practical self-defense instruction to the public.

“We continue to develop and pressure test our self-defense techniques, but train our students to understand that principles are what will save lives,” he said. “In other words, if a technique begins to fail or the situation changes, the idea isn’t to continue to force the technique, but to immediately adapt to it.”

But instruction is just part of his standard for success.

“It all depends on the instructors and experience of the instructors,” he said. “Krav Maga itself is a myriad of martial arts skills compiled together, but the focus of the program is what changes. Citadel Krav Maga specializes in teaching context behind the techniques based on real world events and attacks, as well as providing stress inoculation drills.”

Veverka trained at a dedicated Krav Maga school, but continues his education at the AKMF Chatsworth Krav Maga location that teaches many disciplines. He served in the United States Marines as an infantryman with deployments to Iraq from 2003-2006.

“I started my Krav Maga journey back in 2012 and continue to train as a 2nd Degree Black Belt,” he said. “In 2016 I began training with the Dog Brothers, which is a full contact stick fighting tribe, and hold the title of ‘Dog.’ This year I have also started learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Sergio Machado.”

Veverka and his wife moved to Canyon Country last year.

“We enjoy meeting people from the community and watching it grow,” he said. “We chose the location based on opportunity and growth in the area. There didn’t seem to be any dedicated Krav Maga schools in Canyon Country.”

Their five-year plan includes expanding to increase the training facility space. “Whether that means relocation to purchase our own building or expanding in place depends on the growth of Canyon Country as well,” John Veverka said.

Citadel Krav Maga is located at 17749 Sierra Highway in Canyon Country. For more information call (661) 491-KRAV or email [email protected] Visit www.citadelkravmaga.com

No Obstacle Too Large for Riley Weinstein

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 25, 2020

Riley Weinstein of Canyon Country is proving to be a mover and shaker in the community – both figuratively and literally. She just completed the Grit Obstacle Course Race in Placerita Canyon and you can expect to see her in future races. In addition to that, Weinstein has planned a Concert in the Park inclusion event for later in the year.

As a member of Results Fitness in Newhall, Weinstein has been stepping up the pace. Last month’s Grit race was the first time she has competed with the local gym’s race team.

“It was so much fun!” Weinstein said. “I had a hard time on the trail run, but it was so incredible and all the other athletes really inspired me. … I am actually going to continue to do these and I possibly will be doing a para Spartan race next month – a race that is kind of like the Grit but with more obstacles and trails, but it is a race for differently-abled athletes. So very exciting!”

Alwyn Cosgrove, who owns Results Fitness with his wife Rachel, is involved in preparing athletes like Weinstein who want to expand their skills.

“Training Riley and developing programs for her, hinges upon not thinking of her as a disabled athlete (she prefers differently-abled), but as I prefer – an athlete,” Cosgrove said. “My niece has cerebral palsy and is part of the Challenged Athletes Foundation, so it’s an interest close to my heart.”

Cosgrove is also involved with USA OCR which is the Olympic governing body for obstacle course racing.

“There has been tremendous growth over the years in the Paralympic version of the sport,” Cosgrove said. “Spartan – a brand of OCR competition – actually held a Para Spartan World Championship last year, which was very inspiring.”

Weinstein will depend on her Results Fitness coaches to get her ready for her next race.

“We start with a look/evaluation/baseline of movement competency with all our members,” Cosgrove explained. “It’s fair to say that Riley started a little bit more compromised than the average beginner, but the cool part is that she improves just the same. … We focus most of her training on strength, core stability and balance. About six weeks prior to the race, we start obstacle specific training and running. As with any athlete, we figure out a way to help her to adapt and gain the physical strength to accomplish her goals based on her abilities.”

A young girl from Bangladesh attended the recent Grit race to watch Weinstein compete. She was in the United States for reconstructive surgery to her face.

“The woman who brought her told me she wanted to bring her to the race to show her that people who are a little different can do anything they set their mind to,” Weinstein explained. “She told me in her country having a disability is not accepted. … I’m so honored to be a role model for those who are differently-abled. It makes me feel so good!”

Vivian’s Flower Market

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 24, 2020

It’s every resident’s hope that when a new business takes root in Canyon Country it will blossom into a lush, lively establishment. That’s the case with a newcomer that’s changing the landscape of Sierra Highway with its visual appeal.

Vivian’s Flower Market attracts the attention of motorists with an overflow of greenery and fresh blooms, potted plants and a curbside flower cart in front.

“It’s a different concept than your normal flower shop,” said owner Vivian De Leon. “In most flower shops you have a florist who does 10-15 arrangements and puts them in refrigerators. We’ll have just two or three. When I get called by someone, I get their idea and get to know who they are and what kinds of flowers they like. We personalize their arrangement, even if it’s a bouquet.”

One of the artistic new business owner’s priorities is creating bouquets that serve the practical purpose of being vase-ready.

“I’ll ask what kind of vase you have at home. We make it so they can put it right in the vase,” De Leon said. “It’s more practical.”

A lot of their return clients have commented on how long the flowers from Vivian’s Flower Market last compared with other florists’ arrangements. “If they’re buying just a flower or an arrangement, I want to give great customer service to every customer,” she said.

The store is multi-faceted. She carries both silk flowers and fresh cut blooms, and there are party supplies, including plates, napkins and decorations. The front room is a gift shop with a baby shower vibe.

“We’d like to be able to be the one-stop shop for a baby shower, weddings, etc.,” she said.

There were reasons De Leon chose that specific space on Sierra Highway to open the store.

“It was due to the layout,” she said. “The gate caught my eye. And when we actually got to see it inside I could picture the way it would look.”

She plans to put a canopy outside where she will place fresh blooms, and she wants to plant flowering trees in front.

She chose Canyon Country because she already lived locally – near Sand Canyon and Sierra Highway, to be exact.

“I moved into Canyon Country about six years ago,” De Leon said. “I love it. Everything’s just very personalized, when it comes to your neighbors, and your businesses. It’s more home-like. The way the support is here in Canyon Country – and the SCV – is incredible. They treat you like family. I see it now with customers.”

Personal experiences, which included her own health and that of her mother’s, contributed to her decision to open her own business. Last year’s fire season played a part as well.

“The fires came close to our property,” she said. “We were evacuated within an hour from its starting point. It’s just one of those things – I felt like life is too short.”

De Leon’s mother, who she calls her moral support, has had an influence on her artistic side.

“My mother would decorate every corner of the house with silk flowers and I loved that and it grew to include real flowers,” she explained. “From a young age I’ve done my mom’s arrangements and events for friends. Over the years people said, ‘You should do this for a living.’ Eventually you just want to do your calling, your passion.”

Vivian’s Flower Market has both silk and fresh flowers for sale and for rent. They also carry pillars, blooming trees with twinkle lights, crates and barrels are available too..

“They don’t necessarily have to buy arrangements to incorporate them in their event,” she said. “As we grow we’d like to be in touch with the needs and desires and ideas people have.”

Suffice it to say, Vivian’s Flower Market seeks to be something different than your standard experience with a florist.

“They get market value at a shop experience,” she said. “And they’re not coming to something generic. Their input, their possibilities are all possible here. … We are more than happy to work with anyone who comes through our doors.”

Currently the hours are Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday by appointment. They also make arrangements for special times if needed.

Vivian’s Flower Market makes deliveries – locally and into the San Fernando Valley. You can find the business on the Yelp review pages. When you call Vivian, she can send you a text with pictures to create your personal arrangement.

Vivian’s Flower Market is located at 17733 Sierra Highway in Canyon Country.

To place an order or for more information, call 818-538-0151.

Artist Therese Verner

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 23, 2020

Artists often see the world in a different way than the average person, and many times their creative ventures offer a new angle on what the rest of us see. Therese Verner of Agua Dulce demonstrates those skills despite the fact she’s legally blind.

Her Background
Verner’s first successful artistic venture was designing and creating custom stained glass windows. They were sold and installed in several Los Angeles area homes.

The local artist earned a Bachelor of Science in sociology & psychology, graduating summa cum laude from Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. She had a long career in software development, managing design teams at St. Jude Medical and Photo Research in the San Fernando Valley. She was a software engineer for medical systems in San Diego as well.

After retiring, she returned to her artwork.

The Artist
A self-taught artist, much of Verner’s work in recent years has included oil painting and mixed-media, which are inspired by her love of nature and color harmony. She has returned to working with stained glass by making it a part of her mixed-media work.

In 2018 she was awarded an Arts and Accessibility Grant by the National Arts and Disability Center.

She has had more than one challenge where her eyesight is concerned. She sees well enough to complete her artwork, but she has no peripheral vision.

“I lost most of my sight in my right eye due to myopic degeneration,” the artist explained. “I also have glaucoma which has affected the sight in both my eyes.”

Life experiences also continue to shape the evolution of her artwork, even through personal medical challenges. Last year Verner was diagnosed with breast cancer and during radiation treatment she created the “Radiating Sunflower” series, which expressed her intense emotions at that time.

Verner curated her largest solo exhibition, including 60 pieces of art, at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts in January 2020.

“I created two paintings specifically for that show, because the venue has beautiful, large walls.”

More than 10 museums and galleries have exhibited her artwork, and sold some of her works of art.

Those venues include:
Poway Center for the Performing Arts (PCPA)
SLOMA (San Luis Obispo Museum of Art)
Santa Paula Art Museum
The Channel Islands Maritime Museum
The Latino Art Museum
The Neutra Institute Gallery & Museum
BG Gallery Santa Monica
La Galeria Gitana
SCAA Art Gallery
Lancaster Museum of Art CEDARFEST
Laemmle Playhouse 6
Graphic Experience Gallery
Brooks Theater Gallery
Mee Industries
Saga Fine Art gallery.

Verner is also an active member of the Santa Clarita Artists Association. She joins nine other members of the nonprofit organization who have been accepted to Under and Above the Sea: A Way of Life Worth Protecting.
This exhibit, at La Galeria Gitana in San Fernando, will run from March 21 to May 1, 2020.
The local artists who are also included in the exhibit are:
-Jerry Cowart – Etsy.com/shop/ PhotosbyJerryCowart
-Olga Kaczmar – Fineartamerica.com/profiles/olga-kaczmar.html
-Dody Rogers – Santaclaritaartists.org/dody-rogers.html
-Jeanne Iler – Facebook.com/jeanne.iler
-Laurie Morgan – Lauriemorgan.biz
-Meressa Naftulin
-Rosanne Haddad – Rosannehaddad.com
-Lynda Frautnick – Lyndafrautnick.com
-Patty O’Hearn – Santaclaritaartists.org/patty-ohearn.html

SantaClaritaArtists.org; GaleriaGitana.com
You may contact Therese Verner through email at [email protected] to share your ideas about her work, purchase paintings, custom work or prints. Visit Fineartbythereseverner.com.

Paws Stay and Play, Doggie Day Care and Boarding

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 23, 2020

For some dog owners there are times where “stay” is more than just a training command. Canyon Country residents who are looking for that home away from home have a new resource for doggy day care.

Paws Stay and Play opened last month on Sierra Highway in a newly renovated space with the capacity for approximately 70 dogs. Each boarder gets their own space and four of the kennels are “presidential suites.”

“We’ve taken the steps and invested the money into the best kennels available, that dogs would be comfortable and safe in and that would make sanitizing and cleaning the kennels for each dog easier,” said Roya Aliabadi, managing partner at Paws Stay and Play.

Using a new “continuous floor,” there are no seams or spaces where body fluids can get trapped and develop unhealthful conditions.

“It’s not tile, it’s not wood; it’s a very expensive flooring,” she said. “The smaller kennels have removable trays that can be taken out and cleaned completely.”

Dogs that board at the facility have skylights and the daycare room does as well. “It gives them natural light,” Aliabadi said. “We designed it so it looks like home. It looks like the dogs are in the backyard.”

Boarders are taken outside for walks twice a day. And cameras throughout the kennel make it possible for dog owners to watch their pets while they’re away. Clients are given a username and password so they can monitor the dogs 24 hours a day.

“Our staff is trained in doggy CPR,” said Aliabadi, whose background includes working with several dog trainers, both locally and in New York, including Cesar Milan. “I’m passionate about dogs – I’d like to be a dog myself. They live in the moment.”

Aliabadi began on the East Coast, first by volunteering, followed by taking a job in a facility that offered daycare, boarding and water therapy, which is an exercise practice that’s easier on a canine’s joints.

Her partner is a veterinarian who works nearby, so she can reach out to him if one of her boarders becomes ill.

“We are the first all-indoor daycare facility in the valley,” said Aliabadi. “They’re always safe and not in the elements, if it’s cold or if it rains.”

Paws Stay and Play has two heating and air conditioning units for the space so dogs are comfortable.

They can board a total of 30 dogs, and for daycare they can accommodate 15-20 large dogs and the same number of small dogs. They are divided by size and they have separate designated areas for interaction. Some of her clients bring their dogs five days a week and some only twice a week, depending on their schedules.

“There is plenty of room for them to play together,” she said. “And we try to make the dogs use their minds. It makes them more tired because of all the physical activities.”

When one dog “isn’t playing well with others,” there are supervisors to handle it.

“We hang out with them – they’re never alone. There’s always someone in the daycare,” Aliabadi said. “If we see a dog not behaving right, we correct them by a loud noise and if they continue doing that, we just separate the dog.”

New arrivals at Paws Stay and Play undergo a temperament test before their first day. And they have to be up-to-date on all vaccinations including distemper, parvovirus, rabies and bordetella. Staff members can administer medication for your dog if necessary.

“They go to our website, they fill out the registration form which asks for information, their vet’s name, who else can pick up their dog, and we ask them to give us a current copy of the vaccination, which goes into their file,” the new business owner explained. “All dogs are safe – either boarded or in daycare.”

You can board your dog for as long as you want, she said. Some clients are planning for three-week stays at the new kennel.

Paws Stay and Play is located at 17755 Sierra Highway in Canyon Country. Call 661-888-2030 or visit PawsStayandPlay.com.

Bowman Obtains “Model High School” Status for Eighth Year in a Row

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 23, 2020

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction is getting to know the merits of Bowman High School. For the eighth time in a row Jereann Bowman High School has been named a Model Continuation High School in the State of California. The award is presented every three years, with Bowman earning the distinction every year it has been eligible since 1999.

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced 43 schools that were recognized as Model Continuation High Schools (MCHS) for 2020.

“Bowman High School is fortunate to have such an exceptional program where ‘at promise’ students have the opportunity to graduate high school and develop post-secondary endeavors,” said Principal Eran Zeevi. “Being recognized once again as Model School of California only fortifies the work we do in making sure our students MATTER in our community. I am honored to share this award with an outstanding, dedicated staff, who work with so much diligence and care to support our student population.”

Continuation schools provide a high school diploma program for students ages 16 through 18 who have not graduated from high school, are required to attend school, and are at risk of not completing their education. The schools were selected based on a comprehensive and competitive application process that involved assessments and data. The process included a peer review panel and on-site visit.

“This recognition is a testament to the hard work, dedication and determination of the teachers, school staff and administrators who are helping these students to thrive personally and academically,” Thurmond said. “With the right guidance, encouragement and support, students in continuation high schools can access the same career and college opportunities after graduation as their peers in traditional school settings. These model schools give students a chance to not only succeed in high school, but in life.”

The MCHS Recognition Program is a collaborative partnership between the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Continuation Education Association (CCEA). The program honors continuation high schools for the comprehensive services they provide at-risk youth through instructional strategies, flexible scheduling, guidance and counseling.

The 43 schools selected as MCHS retain their designation for three years and will be recognized at the 2020 CCEA State Conference in San Diego on May 1–3, 2020. For more information, visit the CDE Continuation Education web page or the CCEA website.

February is National Heart Month

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 2, 2020

How to Reduce Your Risk for another Heart Attack

Up to one in four individuals who suffer a heart attack will have another one in the future. But by instituting lifestyle changes and working closely with your doctor to manage your health, you can minimize the risk of a repeat event.

“A heart attack is a life-changing event,” said Nieca Goldberg, MD, American Heart Association volunteer and medical director of NYU Women’s Heart Program. “What many people don’t realize is the hidden risks that led to your first heart attack can be managed and, by doing this, you may reduce your risk of having another one.”

Because up to 80 percent of heart attacks are preventable, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for reducing your risk. Talk to your doctor about a secondary prevention plan, and consider other steps like these from the American Heart Association’s secondary prevention program, nationally sponsored by Bayer:

Take your medications as prescribed. Certain medicines can lower your risk of another cardiac event. That’s why it’s important to understand your medications and take them correctly. Taking aspirin as recommended by a doctor is one way to help prevent another attack. No one should start, stop or modify an aspirin regimen without first speaking with their doctor. Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.

Manage your risk factors. After a heart attack, it’s important to manage risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes by taking medications as prescribed, quitting smoking, eating healthier and getting active.

Attend your follow-up appointments. Attending your follow-up appointments helps your doctors keep track of your condition and recovery. You can make the most of your time with your doctor by preparing a list of questions and concerns along with a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements. Bringing a trusted friend or family member may help as well.

Participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program. Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program designed to help you recover after a heart attack. You should have received a referral to cardiac rehab when you were discharged from the hospital; if you didn’t, ask your doctor if this program is right for you.

Get support. It’s normal to feel scared, overwhelmed or confused after a heart attack. Getting support from loved ones or people who have also experienced a heart attack can help you cope. Connect with other heart attack survivors and caregivers through local support groups or the American Heart Association’s free online Support Network.

Learn more about ways you can thrive after a heart attack at heart.org/oneisenough.

Take Charge of Your Heart Health

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, but your lifestyle can be your best defense.

Stop smoking. If you smoke, quit. If someone in your household smokes, encourage him or her to quit. It may not be easy, but it’s even harder to live with chronic heart disease or recover from a heart attack.

Choose good nutrition. A healthy diet is one of the best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. Research shows eating 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day may lower blood pressure over time.

Lower cholesterol. Fat lodged in your arteries can trigger a heart attack or stroke. Reduce your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, and get moving. If diet and physical activity alone don’t get those numbers down, then medication may be the key.

Lower blood pressure. Shake that salt habit, take your medications as recommended by your doctor and get moving. An optimal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).

Be physically active. Research has shown that at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level.

Reduce stress. Some studies have noted a relationship between coronary heart disease risk and stress. This may affect the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For example, people under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would.


Content courtesy of the American Heart Association’s secondary prevention initiative. Article from Family Features; photo courtesy of Getty Images

Vista Canyon Bus Transfer Station Breaks Ground

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 24, 2020

The City of Santa Clarita got out the golden handled shovels last month to celebrate the act of breaking ground on a transportation center in Canyon Country. Dozens of visitors gathered at the site of the new bus transfer center at Vista Canyon. Mayor Cameron Smyth, along with City Councilmembers, members of the Metro board, City officials and more were in attendance to help commemorate the start of construction on the project.

Adjacent to the new KB Homes sales office, it is located south of the 14 Freeway off of Lost Canyon Road and will function as Santa Clarita Transit’s hub on the east side of the city. It will feature a commuter platform with seven bus bays, parking spaces, restrooms, bicycle storage and additional enhancements to promote a safe and convenient transit option. The development is one of the many noteworthy amenities on the way at the Vista Canyon Project.

Santa Clarita City Councilmembers listen as Michelle Kampbell reads a congratulatory message from the office of California State Assemblywoman Christy Smith.

Designed to be a “car optional” community, Vista Canyon will be home to both work and leisure opportunities, all within walking and biking distance of each other. Additionally, the community will provide a new Metrolink commuter rail station that will allow for access to downtown Los Angeles in just 60 minutes. Vista Canyon’s encouragement of clean and alternative commute options aims to not only reduce carbon emissions but also aid in maintaining a sustainable living environment.

The Vista Canyon development will consist of 1,100 dwelling units, 646,000 square feet of office space, 164,000 square feet of commercial and retail space and a 200-room hotel. To stay up to date on the new bus transfer center, current service offerings, new route schedules and everything transit, visit SantaClaritaTransit.com.

Sand Canyon News

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 19, 2020

Call to Action
A “call to action” email was sent to members of the Sand Canyon Homeowners Association last month from Alex Guerrero, chairperson of the Stop Sand Canyon Resort Task Force.

It was a recap of last year’s efforts to stop the expanded development by Steve Kim, owner of Sand Canyon Country Club. When it became public that Kim’s plan was a much larger expansion than he communicated earlier, a group of Sand Canyon residents formed Stop Sand Canyon Resort Task Force.

The goal of the group is “to prevent a billionaire developer from achieving one of the largest zoning changes in Santa Clarita history to convert Open Space to high density commercial zoning so that he can build, in his words, the ‘Largest Hotel & Resort in Los Angeles County’ at Sand Canyon Country Club (formerly Robinson Ranch Golf Course),” the email said.

The Task Force held a community meeting in September 2019 which was attended by nearly 300 residents, to present facts regarding the proposed resort and the impact it would have on the canyon.

“If you missed it, you can see the slides from the presentation at the web site: StopSandCanyonResort.org in the ‘documents’ section,” Guerrero’s email said.

The Stop Sand Canyon Resort Task Force heard from several City of Santa Clarita leaders after the community meeting. These elected officials and staff said they had no idea the extent and intensity of opposition to the resort within Sand Canyon.

“Given that feedback, and with hundreds of you asking me and other Task Force members what you can do to voice your opposition, I am emailing you today with this call to action,” Guerrero continued.

He asked residents to print an attached “Petition to Stop Sand Canyon Resort,” gather signatures, and turn in the signed petitions to Michael Hogan, a Task Force member. “ALL signatures, whether from residents of Sand Canyon, Santa Clarita, Los Angeles County, or outside the State, will be helpful and impactful, so please ask anyone and everyone to sign,” the email said.

Any citizen can email [email protected] to obtain a pdf of the petition, which can be returned to task force members when completed. Include your name, address and phone number when reaching out to Michael Hogan at the gmail address.

“Ask neighbors, friends, associates and anyone else to sign the petition,” the email continued. “Every signature counts and will be helpful, so please turn in any signed petitions you have, even if they only have one or a few signatures.”

You can follow the Task Force and its community of neighbors who are now heavily involved on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/StopSandCanyonResort.

Save the Date – New Location

The Sand Canyon Community Annual Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

Residents of Sand Canyon are invited to attend the yearly event which will be held at Church of the Canyons at 7 p.m.

Church of the Canyons is located at 28050 Sand Canyon Road in Canyon Country. Email [email protected] for more information.

Note: The location has changed from previous meetings.

Canyon Country Park Opens First Inclusive Playground

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 18, 2020

There were hundreds of visitors at Canyon Country Park last month to see the grand opening of the Inclusive Play Area – including Canyon Country Magazine.

Residents and their kids gathered to do more than just watch Santa Clarita City Council members cut a ribbon. Children were released onto the grounds to try out the new toys and enjoy a drum station hosted by REMO. Visitors ate Jersey Mike’s sandwiches and drank Starbucks coffee at the event while visiting with representatives from Special Olympics and volunteers at the Family Resource Fair.

Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth welcomed those in attendance and introduced the event’s special guest performers – students from the City of Santa Clarita’s Primetime Preschool program, which is also based in the park. The students were able to see the construction of the Inclusive Play Area from start to finish and rehearsed songs that they could sing to their parents and other guests at the grand opening celebration.

Following a brief speaking program, attendees of all ages and abilities watched the ribbon get cut before being the first to explore the variety of elements in the expansive western-themed space. The Inclusive Play Area includes a number of features suggested by residents through a public input process, including a dual-track inclusive zipline, sensory-friendly elements, accessible connections to existing facilities and large shade structures to protect visitors from the elements in the summer months.

“There was a merry-go-round with seats instead of bars on it,” said Barbara Ward, a 58-year resident of Canyon Country. “There were so many mazes where the kids could climb through and go down a number of slides.”

Ward brought her great grandson to the opening at the park and noticed which toys attracted him most, including musical instruments built into the site.

“I’ve never seen xylophones and drums at a park before,” she said, adding details to her overall reaction. “The padding was really soft under your feet. And there were plenty of benches all around for parents, which was nice.”

For more information about the Inclusive Play Area at Canyon Country Park, contact project manager Elena Galvez at [email protected]

Grit Obstacle Course Race

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 17, 2020

The entire community is invited to take in the excitement of the Grit Obstacle Course Race held February 22-23, 2020 at the East Walker Ranch and Golden Valley Ranch Open Space. Several Canyon Country residents are participating in Grit OCR this month, but runners aren’t the only ones who get to enjoy the panoramic views of the foothills and the ridgelines.

Spectators are welcome too.

Grit OCR is a local endurance test where individuals who want to push themselves physically and mentally can check their limits. It’s already a challenging course, but when obstacles are added to the trail it becomes a dramatic competition. There is also an all-day festival at the course with a beer garden, food, music and activities.

Online registration will close on February 20, but there will also be on-site registration available at the race. The start times will occur in waves of 30-minute intervals to prevent congestion at obstacles.

The first day of the race is the Claw Course which is the most challenging of the two. The distance is longer, with more trail running and a greater number of obstacles. The Claw Course goes through East Walker Ranch and Golden Valley Open Space where they extended the trail with a long, single-track section to create a full loop, bringing the course to just over 8 miles. There is a variety of challenging trails, killer hills, and over 20 unique obstacles peppered throughout. Claw finishers earn a 2020 medal with the special Claw key chain medallion.

The second day – Sunday, February 23 – involves the Fang Course, which is better for first-time runners as it’s less intense. The distance is shorter (5 miles) and there are fewer limitations. Also planned for the East Walker Ranch and Golden Valley Open Space site, the Fang Course includes challenging trails and 19 obstacles. In the process, you climb 728 feet to a high point of 2,329 feet.

Each of the two races have aid stations for runners to hydrate and refuel. They will have water, electrolytes and energy gels. Some stations will include snacks and food.

The event is hosted by New Global Adventures, which also produces:

Valencia Trail Race
Silver Moon Race
Arts Run
Sugar Daddy Race
Be the Light 5K
Spacerock Trail Race

New Global Adventures founders Terry and Jenny Majamaki organize and market the races, bringing together their passion for running and ability to create meaningful experiences.

“A diverse roster of events for all types of people from hikers, first-time runners, marathon runners, ultra-marathoners, to seasoned athletes; all our events achieve the goal to help keep people active and healthy while having a great time,” the website says. “Our vision is to create awesome race experiences that stand out from our competitors to give runners, volunteers, sponsors, and vendors a unique race experience that keeps them coming back for more while giving back to the community through charities and community support.”

If you want to participate you can still register to compete or choose to be a spectator this year. East Walker Ranch Open Space is located at 16723 Placerita Canyon Road in Santa Clarita.

There will be parking at two locations: General Parking at Sable Ranch on Sand Canyon Road costs $5 cash on site. As it is approximately 1.4 miles from the race course, a shuttle bus service will transport participants from parking to the race and back. There is also limited VIP parking at East Walker Ranch for $20 but you must register in advance.

For more information, visit GritOCR.com.

KB Homes at Vista Canyon Bluma and Auburn

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 15, 2020

Six model homes are now open at the Vista Canyon development. KB Homes has two classifications – “Bluma” and “Auburn” – available for purchase. They are all new, two-story detached condominiums.

A walkable community with 4 miles of pedestrian and bike paths, residents will have close proximity to shopping and dining at Vista Canyon’s Town Square. The development is close to award-winning schools and adjacent to a bus transit center, which just broke ground, and the future Metrolink station aimed at commuter-friendly travel.

The builders are describing the community as being near the edge of Angeles National Forest with miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Sand Canyon Country Club golf course is just a few miles from the development, which will include a neighborhood tennis court and fitness center.

All of the condominiums in both Bluma and Auburn have 2-car garages and upstairs laundry facilities.

The Bluma at Vista Canyon community of condos are priced from $521,490 – $545,990 and the front doors of the three model homes are facing the front of the Auburn models. The three plans have the following totals, measured in square feet: 1401, 1579 and 1690.

The larger homes in the development, Auburn at Vista Canyon are priced from $566,490 – $612,990. The three plans have the following totals, measured in square feet: 1855, 2201 and 2312.

For more information, visit https://www.kbhome.com/new-homes-los-angeles-and-ventura/bluma-at-vista-canyon.

Canyon Country Business Briefs

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 15, 2020


The following projects were working in Canyon Country in January 2020.
Kia – Commercial
Pep Boys – Commercial
Bless This Mess – Television Show
Space Force – Television Show
Off The Grid – Feature Film


The second phase of construction at the Canyon Country Community Center is anticipated to begin in the coming weeks. Residents will see the community center start to take shape as Phase II includes the construction of the community center building, parking lots, sidewalks, plazas/courtyards, play area and other site amenities. This phase is anticipated to take approximately 18 months to complete. Be sure to visit santa-clarita.com to see updates and information from the project site!


Mind Flow by Renu Hasan
This exhibit will be on display until April 10, 2020 at the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library.
The show features Hasan’s paper marbling technique with an emphasis on color, lines, shapes and designs. Through their travels and experiences, Hasan realized the importance of visual communication, inspiring the beginning of her artwork and willingness to teach impoverished youth.


You’re The Best
Thursday, February 27
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
The MAIN (24266 Main Street in Newhall)

Hosted by wacky local celebrity Even Steven, this is not your average community talent show! Come enjoy an outrageous and ridiculous evening of entertainment, fun and mayhem. Expect the unexpected! Admission is FREE! For more information on the contest, or to sign-up to perform, visit AtTheMAIN.org.


One Story One City
Each year, the Santa Clarita Public Library’s One Story One City program promotes reading and encourages discussion among Santa Clarita residents through the celebration of one story during the month of March. This year’s book selection is “Gods of Jade and Shadow” by award-winning author Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

The book follows Casiopea Tun, a woman who dreams of venturing beyond her traditional life, as she journeys through Mexico to the Mayan underworld to help the Mayan God of Death recover his throne and find her place in the world. Residents are encouraged to check out a copy from their local Santa Clarita Public Library branch and participate in book-themed programming throughout the month of March! For more information, visit SantaClaritaLibrary.com/OneStoryOneCity.
New Storytimes Added!

Wednesdays 11:00 a.m. – Read, Stretch and Play
Join us for a relaxing morning stretch and a calming story. After a good stretch, children will have time to explore sensory play in a tranquil atmosphere. It is for children 3-5 years old and their adult caregivers, but children of all ages are welcome to join.

Thursdays 6:30 p.m. – PJ Storytime
Put on your pajamas and gather with your family in a creative and laid-back atmosphere. This program is similar to daytime storytime, but is geared towards families who are working during the day. All ages are welcome!

Canyon Country Children’s Programs
3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
1st Tuesday of the Month – LEGO Block Party
2nd Tuesday of the Month – Crafternoon
3rd Tuesday of the Month – STEM: We’re Scientists!
4th Tuesday of the Month – Explorer Club
5th Tuesday of the Month – Book Adventures

Toddler Fridays 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
1st Friday of the Month – Art for Little Hands
2nd Friday of the Month – Toddler Dance Party
3rd Friday of the Month – Toddler Lab
4th Friday of the Month – Construction Zone

Garden Club 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
4th Saturday of the Month

The Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library is located at 18601 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country. Call 661-259-0750 or visit SantaClaritaLibrary.com for more information and to view a complete listing of upcoming activities happening at the library.

Sizzler Reopens Under New Ownership

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 15, 2020

When the owner of Santa Clarita’s Sizzler left the franchise in the summer of 2019, the corporation stepped in to regroup and keep its presence in the valley.

“The Santa Clarita community has been so great to us, we couldn’t let the store close, so we came in,” said Alexya Williams of Fish Consulting, the firm representing Sizzler USA. “The Sizzler of Santa Clarita is now a corporate-owned location; it was a franchised location previously.”

The restaurant reopened in the Plaza at Golden Valley early this month with an updated menu, a brand new salad bar and a new beverage station. The banquet room, which has a capacity for 50 people, has also been updated and is now wired for presentations.

While its doors were opened for business Feb. 5, Sizzler is holding a grand re-opening celebration on Friday, Feb. 21 and Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. The restaurant’s signature craft salad bar will cost $4.99 for customers over those two days.

Sizzler can serve up to 329 diners at the location and is known for its USDA Choice steaks, seafood, salads and soups.

Sizzler of Santa Clarita is located at 19013 Golden Valley Road. For more information, call
(661) 250-7300 or visit Sizzler.com.

Crazy Hot Chicken

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 14, 2020

As the New Year got its start, so did a new Canyon Country restaurant. Crazy Hot Chicken opened January 6 with an original menu and all new taste combinations. Located next to Chi Chi’s and Manoushee Mediterranean Restaurant on Sierra Highway, it’s an exotic version of a traditional, fast casual chicken restaurant.

“We serve sandwiches and wings—five or six different flavors and five or six dips for them to choose from,” said Julie Ung, who owns Crazy Hot Chicken with her son, Michael. “Most sauce is made in-house and most of it is non-spicy unless the customer asks for more spice, (then) we add flavor.”

The restaurant staff does not pre-cook the chicken, which is why it isn’t fast food in the traditional sense. “Everything we cook, we cook fresh,” she said. “We fry chicken fresh, and that takes at least 7 or 8 minutes. It’s tender, nice and juicy.”
They also set themselves apart by using Hawaiian rolls for buns. Customers like the blend of the bread’s flavor with the creamy Sriracha Sauce.

“Most people like chicken,” Julie Ung said. “Some people don’t eat pork, some don’t eat beef, but most people eat chicken. It’s like comfort food. To me, it’s very convenient for people to eat – kids, adults – everybody can eat fried chicken. It’s easy to serve most people.”

The two new business owners chose the specific location because there’s easy access to the building, as it’s on a corner lot on a major street. “Everybody can see it when they get off the freeway,” Julie said.

The Ung family last owned an authentic Thai restaurant in Canyon Country. They have lived in the Santa Clarita Valley for many years.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s not crowded, it’s nice and clean and people are nice. It’s quiet, less crime than anywhere else. And not crowded. The air is clean too … not a lot of pollution.”

There is only one family-owned Crazy Hot Chicken so far. But if it becomes increasingly popular, the Ung family hopes to expand.

Michael is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, “so he came up with a recipe for the batter, how to marinate it, etc.,” Julie said.

They offer side orders from Alfredo style macaroni-and-cheese to garlic mashed potatoes. The menu is also a base for customers to expand upon. “We can make things more fancy,” she said, offering a topping of bacon and eggs as an example. “And we can put any sauce that they like on it.”

Crazy Hot Chicken is located at 27125 Sierra Hwy, suite 100, in Santa Clarita. (661) 360-9003.

Local All-Conference Athletes

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 31, 2020

Four College of the Canyons students who are athletic standouts went to high school on this side of the Santa Clarita Valley. Soccer players Emily Perez, who graduated from Golden Valley High School in 2019, and Celia Franco, a 2015 Canyon High School graduate, were first team selections for the All-Western State Conference, South Division. There were seven athletes from the COC women’s soccer team who gained honors following a season in which the Cougars led the Western State Conference in goals and qualified for the playoffs for a ninth consecutive year.
Perez is a freshman midfielder who finished the season with seven goals, including two game winners, and an assist, while serving as one of the team’s captains. Franco, who also served as a captain, scored three goals from her defensive position.

Canyon graduates Madison Martinez and Kyra Titner picked up honors for their volleyball performance at College of the Canyons. Martinez, a sophomore, and Titner, a freshman at COC, picked up All-WSC Honorable Mention accolades.

Martinez was fourth on the squad with 116 kills while playing from the outside hitter and opposite spots. Titner, a middle blocker, finished the regular season with 84 kills and ranked third on the Cougars with a .385 hitting percentage. She also recorded 45 total blocks.
For more information about College of the Canyons sports, follow the College of the Canyons Athletic Department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Scott Parker – Where Mechanics Meets Artistry

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 29, 2020

As if to mirror the latest exhibit at the Santa Clarita Artists Association gallery entitled “Time to Reflect,” Scott Parker talks about his own journey as an artist, looking back to the beginning and forward to his current projects. The Canyon Country resident has a wide range of talent from the back-to-basics simplicity of pencil sketching to modern forms such as computer graphic design. The artist continues to work in multiple mediums.
“It opens up more opportunities for me,” Parker said. “My favorite is a toss-up between photography and colored or black and white pencil. At least with those mediums I have more control over color and detail.”
To describe his interest in fine art alongside his work in website design, Parker builds on the familiar theory that humans have two sides of the brain with somewhat opposite strengths. “I’ve been able to utilize both, so to speak,” he said. “It’s been a blessing and a curse.”
He began his artistic work in elementary school. “It started with just doing pencil drawings and stuff like that,” he said. “I was in the fourth or fifth grade when I first started noticing the interest.”
Naturally mechanically-inclined, Parker’s understanding of computer systems began when he received his older brother’s hand-me-down machines. “Figuring them out on my own, I gained an interest in them,” he said. “Then I went to school to study graphic design and web design.”
He’s expanded on both ends of the spectrum – using computers to make prints of his drawings and accessing photo editing programs. He grew in his artistry by dabbling in watercolor, oil and acrylic paints. “I was kind of comfortable, but I didn’t have that control,” he said, reiterating his preference for sketching. “I also like the fact that with pencils it can be portable, unlike paint.”
Some of Parker’s favorite content for his artwork includes science fiction and fantasy. “My parents took me to ‘Star Wars’ and that opened the floodgates of my subject matter,” he said.
When you visit his website – Artworks & Abstracts – there’s a gallery with some of his images of comic book characters. One day Parker had the good fortune of meeting an icon who was one of his professional inspirations. For six years Parker was a contracted artist through a restaurant named Café Tu Tu Tango located at Universal City Walk, where he would sell his art. He saw Marvel Comics co-creator/writer/producer Stan Lee who was filming for the Sci-Fi Channel at Universal Studios. Parker approached the animation industry legend and asked him to sign one of his Spider-Man paintings and Lee agreed.
Where photography is concerned, Parker likes to capture shots of wildlife, scenery, landscapes and antiques. Some of his favorites are shoots in deserted towns where he can get images of abandoned cars and buildings. “I love the antiques – the wagons for the wood grain and the detail you can pull out of it,” he said.
Despite his success, Parker doesn’t have a lot of sophisticated equipment. “I manage to get by with what little I have,” he explained. “I used to use a little point-and-shoot digital camera. Then one of my brothers went to a benefit fundraiser and put money in a raffle for a camera and I realized what I could do with it. It went from there.”
Born and raised in the Santa Clarita area since 1977 when his family moved here, Parker went to College of the Canyons where he began studying art and computer science. When his father contracted cancer, the artist paused to focus his attention on family.
He later returned to school in web design, but most of his skills are self-taught through books, YouTube and other internet sites.
Parker has been an active member of the Santa Clarita Artists Association since 2012. He served on the board and has worked in the gallery in addition to doing graphic design on the organization’s website.
The SCAA Gallery’s new exhibit features the work of many local artists including Parker’s photo, “Walking in My Shoes.” The picture was a gift for his brother-in-law.
“Scott Parker is an excellent realistic artist,” said SCAA publicity Chair Olga Kaczmar regarding his use of colored pencil. “He does a very good job photographing and illustrating wildlife … very creative. As a member of Santa Clarita Artists Association, he put in many, many volunteer hours to get the gallery running smoothly. We are really grateful to him.”
The Artists Association is one of the reasons Parker likes living in the Santa Clarita Valley. “I like it for the community,” he said. “I know every city has their issues but I like it better than other areas where I’ve lived. It’s close to family and I have a lot of friends here from the group.”
For more about Scott Parker visit ArtworksandAbstracts.net.

Sierra Pelona Wine Festival VIP Tickets

| Canyon Country Magazine, Entertainment | January 28, 2020

If you haven’t attended the Sierra Pelona Wine Festival in the last seven years, you wouldn’t know about the engaging crowds and enterprising vendors who participate. This year the 8th annual festival will celebrate local vintners at Reyes Winery in Agua Dulce on Saturday, April 4, 2020 from 1-6 p.m.

There are various tickets available and prices go up when purchased after March 31, 2020. You can gain entrance at 12 noon if you purchase a VIP Pre-Pay ticket. These ticketholders also have access to an exclusive area with artisanal food and wines. The VIP tickets cost $90 per person ($100 if purchased between March 1-March 31 and $110 if purchased between April 1-4). Because there are only 100 available, they typically sell out in advance.

A pre-paid general admission ticket to the Sierra Pelona Festival costs $55 per person ($65 from March 1-March 31 and $75 thereafter) or you can buy a group ticket package for $500.

There are nearly 1,000 attendees at the festival each year and event proceeds benefit Zonta Club of Santa Clarita. The festival is held both to raise money for charity and to bring national and regional attention to the wine and culinary offerings of Santa Clarita, adjacent communities and the Sierra Pelona Valley.

The wine festival features local wine makers from the Santa Clarita Valley to the Antelope Valley offering tastings of their best wines, plus cider, craft breweries and spirits.  There will also be gourmet food and specialty items sampling, handmade crafts from local artisans, live music, a live auction and more.

Attendees will receive:
Specialty event glass
Event plate
Specialty gift bag
Wine and beverage sampling
Free parking

The Sierra Pelona Valley Vintners Association is an organization that brings together the talents and resources of its members, partners and community to promote the production and appreciation of fine food and wines grown or produced within the Sierra Pelona Valley AVA and surrounding areas. Nestled in the Sierra Pelona Mountains of Southern California, just 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, the Sierra Pelona Valley’s untouched natural beauty provides the perfect environment for burgeoning vineyards, boutique wineries and outdoor enthusiasts.

Reyes Winery is located at 10262 Sierra Highway in Agua Dulce.
For tickets, visit SierraPelonaVintners.com. For information on how to make the most of your time in Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Country, join the Sierra Pelona Valley Vintners on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ReyesWinery.

Wedding Ways

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 22, 2020

People get married every month of the year, but there are special seasons when weekends are meant for weddings and local families come together for cakes, flowers and vows. Unless you’re someone who likes the drama of winter weddings, chances are that if you’re currently engaged, you’ll be walking the aisle several months from now.

When and Where

According to a study conducted by bridal website The Knot, 78 percent of weddings in the United States take place between May and October. Nationwide, the most popular months are June, September and October.

Spring and summer are the most popular seasons for weddings at the Odyssey Restaurant in Granada Hills. The hilltop venue hosts intimate parties of 50 individuals up to 500 guests, with indoor and outdoor accommodations for ceremonies and receptions.

The Odyssey has both rooms and private patios available, and wedding events typically include all food, beverage, staffing, table/place settings, linens and a dance floor. Staff members help wedding planners attain outside vendors for floral, décor, music, cake, photo booths and other amenities.

The garden at Le Chene Restaurant in Agua Dulce can accommodate up to 300 guests and the banquet room can host up to 100 people in attendance. Le Chene is a popular site for Angelenos to hold many special occasions – it’s not just limited to weddings. It is frequently chosen by residents for birthdays, anniversaries, business functions, holiday parties, celebration of life ceremonies, etc.

Weddings at Le Chene are particularly popular because brides are attracted to the lush greenery of the gardens to hold the ceremony and the banquet room, which comes with its own bar and dance floor, for receptions. Many of the indoor weddings at Le Chene include DJs with music for dancing on the 12-foot by 12-foot dance floor.

Reyes winery

Here in Southern California, outdoor weddings are always in style. The most popular season for weddings at Reyes Winery in Agua Dulce is March through July, though September is a great target month for local beauty. As an event venue, the winery has a huge range of options in terms of size. The average wedding at the site hosts about 150 guests, though Reyes can accommodate from 12 to 350 people.


As far as style goes, the surroundings, including rows and rows of grapevines at the base of the Sierra Pelona Mountains, offers the backdrop most of their clients desire. One of the weddings at Reyes Winery included a ride down the aisle on horseback.

Bloom Ranch

Bloom Ranch

Bloom Ranch in Acton is a new local venue hosting the largest number of weddings in the spring and summer months, particularly April through July.

“The fruit trees are in full bloom in April, and full/green for summer months,” said Heather Puett, who is on the Bloom Ranch management team with owners Chris and Barbara Ziegler. “We do not host weddings August through early October, due to peach season.”

As resident event manager, Puett handles bookings and coordination. Her background in wedding coordination gives her an understanding of what couples need, and her services are available for clients of Bloom Ranch if they choose. So far, clients of the new event venue have chosen a range of styles from “simple and quaint, country inspired to rustic elegant,” she said. “There have been hay bales and sunflowers, while another featured chandeliers, linens and candles. I would best describe our venue as rustic elegance. The diverse landscape and backdrop options lend themselves to many different styles and personalities.”

Bloom Ranch features peach/pear orchards, lilac fields, and two historic homes, complete with a rustic barn and hand-cut stonework. Clients have the freedom to choose the caterer of their choice, as the event site does not provide in-house catering.

Many local caterers and wedding venues such as the Odyssey offer customizable menus. The restaurant offers all-inclusive packages with signature cocktails as well.

One of the latest trends, said Beth Heiserman of Reyes Winery, is the request for vegetarian and vegan fare. Wedding planners can use the onsite catering service or hire an outside firm.


Like the changing tide of runway couture, wedding fashion is never stagnant. Generations of brides may hold fast to a particular sleeve or fabric for a time, but there’s always another style waiting in the wings. According to a review of the 2020 Bridal Fashion Week collections, wedding website The Knot says that rather than sleek and sexy, body-hugging styles, the current rage includes huge, exaggerated sleeves on ball gowns. For brides, tiered skirts are top trends, ruffles are romantic and fullness is fashion forward.

Bridesmaids are in spring pastels and even floral print dresses. For the wedding as a whole, The Knot says that color is coming. Guests can expect to see “neo mint,” “not quite pink” an earthy, rich hue of yellow and faded denim.

For men, there’s much more than black in the palette.

“Blues and charcoal grays are going to be big this spring and summer,” said Jeannie Johnson, manager/buyer at J. David’s Custom Clothiers in Valencia. “The blue looks so good in pictures – when it’s clear outside it looks fantastic.”

If you’ve been to a wedding in the last two decades you’ve probably noticed a shift from formal tuxedos to sensible suits.

“The reason why, I think … is they’re going to have more occasions to wear that suit,” Johnson said. “Some are very young and they’re just out of college and are going to go on job interviews.”

J. David’s, which was opened by David Gunther in 1983, provides menswear for rent or sale, meeting needs that far exceed wedding wear.

“A lot of guys for the awards shows that are coming up are going to be in a solid black tuxedo, going a little more classic. And a lot of people are using burgundies with black lapels for the Oscars and Golden Globes,” said Johnson, who also has the style of her prom customers pegged. “It’s the younger group that’s going to go more wild. I’ve got a white tuxedo right now with a small, black pinstripe on the outside of the lapel and a lot of guys are going to do that.”

Today’s prom customer is tomorrow’s bridal party member and there’s an industry built around predicting their style. Some of Santa Clarita Valley’s businesses are paying attention … or they should be.

Many Become #SaugusStrong

| Canyon Country Magazine | December 15, 2019

There was a time when we were all Saugus. And recently, after the November 14 shooting on the Saugus High School campus, we all stood under that umbrella once again.

Golden Valley High School held a charity basketball game to benefit the Saugus community on the day before the students returned to school Dec. 2. Also, Golden Valley’s website recognized Garth Sanders of Minuteman Press, a GVHS parent, for his support for the #SaugusStrong efforts. He donated banners to Golden Valley so students could express their support. Banners were sent across town to Saugus to be displayed for encouragement when the campus reopened.

Canyon High School graduates are also showing their support. Amanda and Megan Gardner joined their mother, Karen, in putting their talents to work. Assisted by their aunt, Julie Chebbi from Westchester, and Sulphur Springs teacher Jenna Baker, the group created hundreds of handmade Saugus Strong key chains and bracelets.

When Karen Gardner posted on Facebook that people could purchase them to support Saugus High families and the school’s wellness center, Canyon High School staff members bought dozens of them. Karen distributed them to the staff at Saugus High School for free.

You can purchase them for $10 each; visit the Saugus Strong Facebook page and put “key” in the search bar to pull up the post.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness has submitted a grant request to the City of Santa Clarita in the amount of $5,000 in hopes they will receive a Community Services and Arts Grant to bring several educational programs to schools in this valley, says Kim A. Bunnell, president of NAMI San Fernando Valley. The nonprofit organization has such programs as Mental Health First Aid and Suicide Prevention.

NAMI California posted the following message on the nonprofit’s website: “We are deeply saddened to hear about news of a school shooting in Santa Clarita. Whenever we hear about another tragedy involving gun violence, we grieve along with our fellow citizens and community members impacted by it.”
One of the group’s strongest concerns is the stigma that keeps people from getting the psychological help they need. They have an article on their website entitled “The Truth about Gun Violence” which explains that according to studies at such universities as Johns Hopkins and UCLA, mental illness contributes to only about 4 percent of all violence.

It says, “Every time we experience a tragedy involving guns, people with mental illness are drawn into the conversation. The truth is that the vast majority of violence is not perpetrated by people with mental illness. Statements to the contrary only serve to perpetuate stigma and distract from the real issues.
“Most people with mental health conditions will never become violent, and mental illness does not cause most gun violence. … We need to have an honest and productive national conversation about all the factors that play into this type of violence and what we can do to prevent these tragedies. Only then can we find meaningful solutions to protecting our children and communities.”
The good news is that local individuals are mobilized in every related facet of the problem, from law enforcement to therapies for those dealing with grief. Many would say the support has looked a lot like #SantaClaritaStrong.

New Business – Pierogi Spot

| Canyon Country Magazine | December 14, 2019

European Cuisine Comes to Golden Valley Marketplace

When new restaurants open on the edge of Canyon Country, it draws curious crowds looking to add to their favorite food venues. The uniqueness of newcomer Pierogi Spot, which opened this summer, gives you the opportunity to go somewhere new and expand your palate with their unique cuisine

For some residents, it is their first visit to a Polish restaurant, and other than Polish sausage, they aren’t really sure what dishes are served in that part of the world.

A pierogi is a dish from eastern and southern Europe that consists of a small dough dumpling with a filling such as potato or cheese, often served with onions or sour cream. Pierogi Spot has a lot of options, including pierogis with pork, sauerkraut and mushrooms, potatoes and cheese, and potatoes with onion. The chef boils and pan fries them, then they’re stuffed with your choice. Among the toppings used are BBQ sauce, sour cream and cheddar cheese.

There are dishes you may have heard of, but didn’t know they were Polish classics, such as hunter’s stew and stuffed cabbage. Your entrée is accompanied by a salad and, of course, they make their own soups and sauces, including rich horseradish.

No one will go away hungry. You can top off your meal with cakes or crepes for dessert.

Owner Michael Budny is an immigrant from Northern Poland who moved to Southern California for college and relocated to Santa Clarita a few years ago, where he’s sharing with locals a menu of favorites from his native homeland. Before opening the local venue, back in 1994, the family launched Polka, a restaurant in Los Angeles.

Pierogi Spot is located at 26511 Golden Valley Road, Santa Clarita. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. plus you can book them for catering your parties. For more information, visit www.pierogispot.com or call (661) 254-4850.

Canyon Country Business Briefs

| Canyon Country Magazine | December 14, 2019

The following productions were filming in Canyon Country in November 2019.
Television Shows:
Bless This Mess – Sable Ranch
Good Trouble – Sound stages
68 Whiskey – Local movie ranch
NCIS – Newhall Park/Ice Station Valencia
S.W.A.T. – Car dealership/Newhall
LA’s Finest – Bermite property
16 and Pregnant – Local home
Party of Five – Sound stages
Feature Films:
The Outlaw Johnny Black – Local movie ranches
Shooting Star – Veluzat Motion Picture Ranch
The Little Things – Saugus Superette
Coldwell Banker – Driving shots
Lawnmower – Area homes
Walmart – Walmart
Alexa – Circle K
MC Promo – JEM FX
Non Profit:
Overwatch PSA – Blue Cloud Movie Ranch
Student Films:
Reverter – Area home


Construction for the new Inclusive Play Area at Canyon Country Park is moving forward. The old playground has been removed, civil engineering, including drainage and utilities, has been addressed and the footings for the shade structures and concrete forms are underway in preparation for the installation of the new inclusive play equipment. The project is on schedule to be completed by the end of 2019, with a grand opening event being planned for January.

The new inclusive play area will replace the existing 3,500-square-foot playground with a shaded play area measuring approximately 9,400 square feet upon completion. This play area has been designed with the 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design developed in partnership with Utah State University and the Center for Persons with Disabilities. A conceptual rendering and a project video of the project at Canyon Country Park can be viewed on the City’s website at santa-clarita.com/CIP.

For more information about the new Inclusive Play Area project at Canyon Country Park, contact Elena Galvez at (661) 255-4911 or [email protected]


Current construction at the future Canyon Country Community Center site includes the installation of the infiltration system and site grading. Phase I improvements to the Mint Canyon Channel have been completed.

The second phase of construction, which includes the community center building, parking, walkways, plaza/courtyard, play area and other site improvements, will begin at the conclusion of Phase I. The construction elements for Phase II are currently out to bid and a contract will be awarded at a future City Council meeting.


Mind Flow by Renu Hasan
An exhibit by Renu Hasan is on display at the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library from December 10, 2019 to April 10, 2020 .
The exhibit shows Hasan’s paper marbling technique with an emphasis on color, lines, shapes and designs.

Through her travels and experiences, Hasan realized the importance of visual communication, which sparked the beginning of her artwork and inspired in her a willingness to teach impoverished youth. This unique exhibit should not be missed.



Featured programs at the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library in December include:

Holiday Extravaganza Storytime
Monday, December 16
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Library Eats
Monday, December 16
3:30 p.m.

Cookie Decorating
Wednesday, December 18
3:30 p.m.

Teen Flicks: Star Wars Edition
Thursday, December 19
3:00 p.m.

Cricut 101: Part 3 – Creating a Project
Thursday, December 19
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Relax and Paint: Holiday Edition
Monday, December 23
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

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

Gift From Bethlehem – Jam for Jesus

| Canyon Country Magazine | December 13, 2019

Bethlehem SCV in Canyon Country holds an annual concert that is nothing short of a valuable gift to the community. There are many (as evidenced by its typically standing-room-only attendance) who rush as enthusiastically for a seat at Jam for Jesus as they raced to the tree on Christmas morning as a child.

And with good reason! It’s a free three-hour music experience featuring men and women who perform for a living, but volunteer their abilities for the concert.

There are dozens of A-list musicians who perform at the concert – some who tour with the likes of Phil Collins, Earth, Wind & Fire, Ringo, and Frankie Valli. It’s spearheaded by Robby Robinson, who pulls together about 30 of his friends – professional musicians like himself – to bring the show to the public.

Robinson was recognized by the City of Santa Clarita Arts Commission in March (see sidebar – at the end of this article).

“The talent level is just off the charts, but more than the talent level is the heart that these musicians have, who are giving their talent – significant talent, I might add – to the Lord,” Robinson said. “You walk into this church and what you get is something you’d expect to see in Radio City Music Hall.”

This year, the 28th Annual Jam for Jesus will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019 at 7 p.m. at Bethlehem SCV.

Front-and-center is Robinson on keyboard, who created the annual event when he was the minister of music at the church in the 1990s, and his brother, Rex Robinson, on bass. Though Rex, an Agua Dulce resident, has retired from touring, both men were in Frankie Valli’s band, and Robby has been Valli’s music director for more than 40 years.

Some of the horns, guitarists, vocalists, etc. are locals who are now professionals, including Andrea Hammond, Roland and Tristan Garcia and Sara Niemietz, Tony Galla and Dr. Michael Millar. Jam for Jesus performers also include musicians who play in the “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol” bands.

The songs in the concert are sacred, Robby said, including a number of Christmas songs. But the group tackles many different styles, from classical to jazz/pop. Far from a rigid performance, it’s what Robby calls “somewhat loose,” where there’s only one rehearsal and a basic script, which he writes in advance.

Like a symphony, these friends of Robby create a blend that fills the rafters, using little musical construction but still following a list of songs and basic arrangements.

“It’s like flying with no net,” Robby said. “It’s a very intimate kind of concert, not formal – you feel like you’re backstage. It’s hard to describe unless you’ve been there.”

One professional who’s “been there” from the beginning is percussionist Richie Garcia. He’s recorded on soundtracks for such films as “The Italian Job” and “Emperor’s New Groove” and toured with Sting, Diana Ross, Brooks and Dunn and many others. His sons, Roland and Tristan, also perform professionally and have been a part of Jam for Jesus since their grade school days.

“It’s an honor to share the stage with my family and some of the most accomplished musicians in Los Angeles year after year,” said Tristan Garcia in an interview with Canyon Country Magazine last year. “They come together for a time of giving, share their talents and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.”

If you attend Bethlehem SCV on a Sunday morning, it’s possible to hear several of the same musicians. You’re more likely to see Rex Robinson in the worship band than Robby, who is now a minister of music at Trinity Lutheran Church in Simi Valley, where he lives. But his years of leadership give him the ability to speak for many of his musician friends.

“I feel so blessed to do what I do,” Robby said. “And that’s the way these guys feel.”

Bethlehem SCV is located at 27265 Luther Drive in Canyon Country. For more information, call 661-252-0622 or visit BethlehemSCV.com.


When the City of Santa Clarita Arts Commission recognized Robby Robinson last spring, he responded with this Facebook post:
This is an event that is so much bigger than me, I would be remiss to NOT publicly acknowledge a number of people, so sincere THANK YOU to…
My talented bass-player brother REX ROBINSON, has been there playing for all 27 years, even playing 1 year with 103-degree fever.
My friend (for 48 years) who is like a brother, extraordinary percussionist RICHIE GAJATE GARCIA has been there ALMOST all 27 years, along with his sons ROLAND & TRISTAN who have grown up playing at this event.
Literally hundreds of A-list musicians and singers who have graciously given of their precious time and extreme talents to give back! The list is like a who’s-who of the music industry … you know who you are … THANKS!
This tribute goes not just to the musicians on stage, but also to all the behind-the-scenes people, technical people, production people, and church staff … it couldn’t happen without you!
Brilliant bass trombonist DR MICHAEL MILLAR who spearheaded last night along with Arts & Events Manager PHIL LANTIS. Thanks as well to the whole SC Arts Commission … the artistic community in Santa Clarita is in great hands!
PASTOR JOHN KOCZMAN and BETHLEHEM SCV CHURCH for so graciously hosting J4J for so many years.
My church home of TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH-SIMI VALLEY who hosted the early years. I’m proud to serve TLC as Minister of Music.
My wife CARLA who puts up with my madness every December (as well as the other 11 months each year!)
To all the wonderful friends who came out last night to show their support…not one wisecrack was heard (out loud).
So … last night I find myself in a government city hall … the wonderful city of Santa Clarita, Calif., being honored for a series of concerts proclaiming the Savior’s Birth … only in America!!
Of course, I have to acknowledge the Reason for the Season, the reason for life, breath and everything I do … JESUS.
Soli Deo Gloria!

Girls Invited to Play Softball

| Canyon Country Magazine | December 13, 2019

Registration is now open for girls between the ages of 6 and 12 to receive softball training from Canyon High School players and coaches. On January 8, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Canyon High program will hold a Winter Softball Clinic at the school.

Training will include hitting, throwing, running, pitching and catching. Lunch, snack and beverages will be provided. Participants who are registered by Dec. 21, 2019 will also get a T-shirt. The session will take place at the CHS softball fields located at 27824 Camp Plenty Road in Santa Clarita.

The clinic costs $55 per player for those who register on or before Dec. 21, 2019. After that, the price goes up to $60. Same-day registrations are welcome, although T-shirts can only be guaranteed for those who register by Dec. 21.

Participants should wear appropriate practice clothing and bring their own personal protective equipment including bat, batting helmet, glove and cleats.
For more information on how to register, email Scott Goodspeed at [email protected] or the Cowboys Softball Booster Club at [email protected]

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