A Story of Wasted Water

| Canyon Country Magazine, Spotlight News | October 10, 2014

by Josh Heath
With half of California’s water storage gone and preliminary discussions about daily water rationing in the works, each drip of the liquid that gives us life has become more vital than ever.

water 3By contrast, there are currently 7 million gallons of water being released every day into the Santa Clara River—for no purpose water 2whatsoever.

Stepping in to propose a solution to this problem is City Councilmember Bob Kellar. Councilman Kellar is in preliminary talks with community leaders to recycle the water by constructing new piping to get it back to the community.

And send it where? Canyon Country Lake.

Constructing a lake in Canyon Country would entail major engineering, Kellar said, but would, in the end, provide the area with a scenic view, all the while recharging the valley’s aquifers. If such a lake were to be tacked onto the project, it is unknown how long it would take to be constructed.

No details are available about the project at this time, as Kellar stressed that talks are in their beginning stages.
“Anytime we can conserve our water and recharge our aquifers is good public policy,” Kellar said.

George Thomas, owner of Route 66 Classic Grill, is excited about the prospect of Canyon Country getting a lake, and feels it would do a lot to re-invigorate an important area of the Santa Clarita Valley.

water 1‘”It would be wonderful to get a nice scenic water feature like what they have in Bridgeport. My grandson loves it there. He likes seeing the turtles and the ducks,’’ Thomas said.

Thomas first discovered the wasted water during a bike ride along Bouquet Canyon in the center of town. Looking to his side, he saw a 42-inch pipe gushing out water. Mortified, Thomas made his way to City Hall, where Councilman Kellar informed him of efforts being made to tackle the issue. According to Thomas, a similar pipe exists off of the Old Road on the west side of the 5 freeway.

Sources say it is still too early to say which proposal is more likely and that the simple fact the problem is being addressed is promising.

‘’I’m not an environmentalist, but I realize that you can’t just throw resources away. We have for a very long time, but now the resources are becoming scarce,’’ said Alan Ferdman, president of the Canyon Country Advisory Commitee, a local political group.

The cleaned water is released into the Santa Clara River, due to Federal Law and the fact that the funds to construct the infrastructure needed to recycle it have been hard to obtain.

In total, 20 million gallons are released into the Santa Clara River every day. And 13 million of the gallons are required to be released in the river in order to maintain habitats protected under the endangered species act. It is also meant to ensure that enough water flows downstream to farmers in Fillmore and Ventura, sources said.

An equitable amount of river water must make its way to Sylmar and Ventura, or else members of that community could file suit for an equal portion of those resources, according to Lynne Plambeck, president of SCOPE (Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment), a local environmental group.

Legally called an adjudication, the long and costly process would result in precise water allocations being handed down for both Santa Clarita and the other parties who file suit.

Plambeck, also a member of the Newhall County Water District, voiced her support for a recycling of the 7 million gallons of water, saying that such an action would not receive opposition from the environmental community.

‘’Getting that water back to Santa Claritans is a vital task. It is good we are getting to it,’’ Plambeck said. “But, I think that the best way to do it is to put it back into the upper Santa water 5Clara River and allow it to recharge the water supply wells.”

Governor Jerry Brown, in an executive order this year, called on Californians to conserve their water usage by 20 percent. Recycling those 7 million gallons of water would conserve our water supply by eight percent, putting Santa Clarita halfway in line with the governor’s recommendation with that single action alone.

One big hurdle still in front of recycling the water is the cost of new infrastructure. Dan Masnada, general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency, stated that 5,000 acre feet of new recycling piping would cost approximately $50 million.

The Castaic Lake Water Agency had a project to recycle the water in the works, but had to delay it due to the agency’s controversial purchase of Valencia Water, according to sources. The move, which cost approximately $70 million, came under fire from members of the community who felt it unethical for the Agency, a water wholesaler, to purchase Valencia Water, a water retailer.

The Castaic Lake Water Agency had previously purchased another local water retailer in 1999, the Santa Clarita Water Agency. In response to this, the California Legislature passed AB 134 in 2001. The law stated that any further expansion of the Castaic Lake Water Agency’s retail services could only come with authorization from the Legislature. Agency officials did not obtain such authorization for their 2012 purchase of Valencia Water, according to sources.

Masnada called such accusations false, saying that regardless of the Valencia Water purchase, the money was simply not available for the project and that if the job was undertaken, consumers would not see
benefits for four to five years.

‘’We are talking huge hikes in consumer water bills with that kind of a project,’’ Masnada said.

Two new development projects, Vista Canyon and Newhall Ranch, will include their own recycling procedures, according to sources close to those plans. Local environmental groups are concerned, regardless of the recycling efficiency of the proposed projects, about where exactly the water will come from to break ground on the developments in the first place.
According to Jim Backer, president of JSB Development, the organization developing the Vista Canyon site, water will be recycled using similar infrastructure that would be needed for the Santa Clara River water. A reclamation plant will be built for the site, which would recycle all the sewer water that would come from the community.

The plant would be so efficient that it would recycle enough water to cover 100 percent of the planned community’s non-potable water needs. All potable water, or water needed for drinking purposes, would come from the Santa Clarita Water Agency.

‘’The only additional resource needed would be the potable water,’’ Backer said.

Neurosurgeon Addresses Back and Neck Pain

| Canyon Country Magazine, Santa Clarita Living | September 12, 2014

A board-certified neurosurgeon is bringing his voice to the fore in a world of medical infomercials and confusing information on the Internet. Dr. Anthony Virella aims to provide clarity about the facts of chronic back and neck pain at a free seminar.

For those who suffer from these ailments and are seeking accurate information regarding treatment, Dr. Virella, a neurosurgeon and spine expert with the practice Virella Neurosurgery in Valencia, is devoted to his mission to educate patients in an effort to assist them in making decisions for their individual conditions. Dr. Virella promotes the idea that there is no “one size fits all” treatment for spinal conditions and that they should not be misled by false promises. His goal is to educate patients about the cause of their back and neck pain as well and promote an understanding of what is and is not possible with regard to treatments.

A free educational seminar and free MRI review will be hosted by Dr. Virella for those with chronic spinal conditions in the Santa Clarita Valley. The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clarita on Thursday, October 9 at 7:00 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring their MRIs, CT scans or X-rays for review by Dr. Virella, who will also field questions about spinal conditions and dispel rumors and myths about treatments and “cures.”

The Hyatt Regency is located at 24500 Town Center Drive in Valencia.
Space is limited, therefore attendees are encouraged to reserve a spot by calling (805) 449-0088 or email VirellaNeurosurgery@gmail.com. Visit www.Dr-Virella.com.

About Dr. Anthony Virella
Dr. Virella is a board-certified, fellowship trained neurological spine surgeon with advanced training in the management of complex spinal disorders. He attended medical school at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S) and a graduate of the UCLA Neurosurgery Residency Program under the direction of Neil A. Martin, M.D., F.A.C.S. Dr. Virella completed his complex spine in-folding resident fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and a second fellowship in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery at the UCLA Comprehensive Spine Center with Larry T. Khoo, M.D.

Dr. Virella has authored numerous articles and lectured internationally in the field of complex and minimally invasive spine surgery. He evaluates and treats patients with a variety of spinal disorders, including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, sciatic pain, nerve root impingement, degenerative disc disease, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, spinal fractures and other associated spinal conditions.

Litter Bugs – Limiting Animal Overpopulation Through Spaying/Neutering

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine | August 6, 2014

By Martha Michael

There has always been a healthy campaign urging pet owners to have their animals spayed and neutered.

Canyon Country resident Kyle Harris, owner of Kyle’s Custom Critter Care, a local pet sitting business, is a part of that campaign.
“Absolutely necessary,” wrote Harris in an email. “The earlier the better! Pet overpopulation is a deadly problem!”

For 12 years Harris has been a volunteer at the Castaic Animal Shelter, where, she said, there will be a new clinic for spaying and neutering. Formally called the L.A. County Animal Care Center in Castaic, the shelter broke ground on its new clinic earlier this year.

Canyon Country is home to numerous animal rescue venues and non-profit animal advocacy groups. The Gentle Barn occupies land on Sierra Highway, the Brittany Foundation and New Leash on Life are located in Sand Canyon, in addition to individuals who spearhead the rescue of particular breeds.

Local resident Michelle Lewis is a tireless volunteer at Oak Creek Corral, a Sand Canyon horse ranch promoting equine care and riding, with a variety of animals in a petting zoo.

Michelle Lewis takes care of the animals at Oak Creek Corral, including goats, pigs, peacocks and an alpaca.

Michelle Lewis takes care of the animals at Oak Creek Corral, including goats, pigs, peacocks and an alpaca.

“Every one of my animals, male and female, is fixed,” she said. “Every male goat, horse, sheep on the ranch is fixed. The baby peacocks are the last babies, as we will now eat the eggs. I aim for zero population on the ranch. The baby lamb is a rescue lamb who was abandoned by its mom.”

Lewis has owned dozens of animals, mostly dogs, and expresses a slew of good reasons for the procedure.

“Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life,” said Lewis. “Your spayed female won’t go into heat. While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!”

Neutering has its strong points for the pet owner also. “Your male dog won’t want to roam away from home,” said Lewis. “An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male. Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age. Your neutered male will be much better behaved. Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.”

Money is, of course, a factor when it comes to choosing the procedure for one’s pet. Lewis thinks this is misunderstood.

“It is highly cost-effective,” she said. “The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!”

One of the mainstays in the campaign is the argument that spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation. “Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays,” said Lewis. “These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.”

Young married couples sometimes get a pet before tackling the role of parents. And sometimes parents want to let their kids experience the family pet having “just one litter.”

“Your pet doesn’t need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth,” said Lewis. “Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children—especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way.”

Animal advocates believe spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community. “Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children,” said Lewis. “Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.”

Back-To-School Resolutions for Tweens and Teens

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine, Santa Clarita Living | August 5, 2014

By Cary Quashen

August is back-to-school time. As a high risk teen counselor, I know that returning to school can be risky, especially for our tweens and teens, as they move from childhood to adolescence. And as your tweens make the transition from elementary school, I would encourage you, as a parent, to never fall victim to the myth that you can now stop parenting your kids when they reach 12, 13 and 14 years of age. Once a parent, always a parent!

It’s hard for parents and kids to get back into a workable routine when the school year rolls back around. Part of the difficulty arises from the lack of structure summertime brings, and the perception that we owe our teens more freedom – after all, it is summer! But it’s never too late to establish structure. And structure can be introduced at any time.

Here’s a strategy that can help with a smooth school transition. Just like we do at the New Year, when most of us set new goals and resolutions, back to school is a perfect time for parents, tweens and teens to do the same. It’s time to talk about what to strive for this year and what to avoid. How will this school year be different than the last? How will this school year affect their futures? And as your tweens and teens transition to a new school, what will that feel like? Knowing and understanding that tweens are moving from a one classroom setting with one teacher to a multiple classroom setting with multiple teachers is a helpful discussion and eases the back to school pressure that anxious tweens may be feeling. Make sure your discussions include conversations about your kids’ friends, classes and activities for the coming school year – and all of their concerns, founded or unfounded.

As for re-establishing structure, make sure you start a back-to-school routine now. Start a daily schedule of when to get up and when to go bed. Contrary to their belief, our teens still need 8-10 hours of sleep every night. And they need to be able to get up on time every day.

Set an expectation with regard to homework, such as what time it is expected to be done every day. Make sure that you review your kid’s homework. It’s unfortunate, but true, parents often set expectations, but are often too busy to follow up on the expectations they set. Homework can be especially daunting for tweens and teens as they move into a multiple classroom environment with multiple homework assignments.

Make time for dinner and dinnertime conversation with kids on a daily basis. Our kids are often with their friends 24 hours a day. That’s right, 24 hours a day. I say 24 hours a day, because electronic technology (cell phones and computers) provide constant contact. Numerous studies indicate that most parents spend fewer than 15 minutes a day talking to their tweens and teens. Dinner is the perfect way for all families to connect with their kids and have a variety of conversations.

Last, but not least, always keep an open communication with your kids. As they come home with problems, make sure that you empathize with them and let them come up with workable solutions. As parents, our tendency is to bubble wrap and insulate our kids from risk. They don’t learn anything that way.

Cary Quashen a nationally recognized high-risk teen expert who specializes in teen recovery issues working with mental health and substance abuse issues. He is the founder and president of the Action Family Foundation Parent and Teen Support Group Programs and Action Family Counseling. He can be reached at (661) 297-8693.

Sulphur Springs Sees Changing of the Guard

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine | August 4, 2014

By Martha Michael

While the biggest change in decades for the Sulphur Springs School District has not yet occurred – the retirement of District Superintendent Dr. Robert Nolet – the SSSD will begin the year with the usual shifts in personnel. There are always routine changes – teachers moving to new school sites, administrators retiring, and movement within the classrooms.

“In the 15 years I have worked at Leona Cox Community School, there have been MANY changes – a major remodel, position changes, personally moving classrooms four times, and a new principal or assistant principal every few years or less,” said Janet Yslas, special needs aid at Leona Cox. “I have just learned to roll with the punches. Because I work mostly with special needs children, changes in teachers are difficult. However, we have a group of teachers who have been there for a number of years, as well as a core group of substitutes who know the importance of routine for the children.”

Heather Drew is moving to a new site after almost two decades on one campus. She has taught grades 1 through 5 at Sulphur Springs Community School and, prior to that, grades 3 and 4 at Valley View Community School. This year she will move to Mint Canyon Community School, where she will take on a 4/5 split class.

“Making the decision to move to Mint was a difficult one, considering I felt as if Sulphur was and had been my home for almost 18 years,” said Drew. “But, the reality was, the (Sulphur Springs) District is my home and I was ready to challenge myself with new experiences at another site in the District that was quite the opposite of Sulphur. I expect it to be quite different in the size of the staff and the students and the diversity of the students, but also know that there will still be similarities: students who are wanting to learn, are in need of a teacher who cares about seeing them succeed, a staff that enjoys collaborating and only has the best interests at heart for their students, and an administration that has student success at its core.”

Drew worked for years at the same site as Julie McBride, who is heading to Mitchell Community School as the new principal this year.

“Seeing the ‘aha’ when a student grasped a concept he or she had been working on was priceless!” said McBride. “I moved into administration last year as an assistant principal and worked a shared assignment between Sulphur Springs and Valley View Elementary schools. Teaching will always be my passion, but I really enjoyed supporting other teachers and working with students in a completely different capacity. The school and its staff and students became my new ‘classroom’ and that has been an amazing experience.”

Kathie Goodrich is an office assistant at Mitchell School. “As with any situation, change is scary, but also exciting,” said Goodrich. “Personnel change for me is an opportunity to see things from a new perspective and to share my ideas with those joining us. Beginning the transition with a positive attitude is the best way to address any change.”

“There is always a ‘honeymoon’ period, when everyone is trying to get used to a new principal,” said Yslas. “In my opinion, the majority of the time, what you see is what you get. Good leaders are just good leaders. I think change is good, however hard it may seem at the time.”

Decor and Design

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine | August 3, 2014

The decor in your house should express personal style and depict your own idea of “home.” Balance and creativity are a must, along with theme, color scheme, cohesiveness and utility. Decor choices, whether minimalistic or dramatic and luxurious, are about making you feel good rather than to impress the neighbors, according to local experts.

bellaBella Venezia Home & Décor, located in Canyon Country on Soledad Canyon Road, is a go-to stop for residents looking for real wood furniture and old world style collections. Manager Fonzie Diz shared his observations.

“The style we have here is very old, Tuscan, old European, that’s our look,” said Diz.

Although the older look is not top choice for every household, real wood furniture is hard to come by. Diz said he has customers from around the state coming in to look at his furniture, because they are custom crafted, real wood items.

“Real wood is something that you don’t find anywhere else,” said Diz. “I get people from surrounding states coming in to look around and buy. People want it and nobody offers it.”

The look and feel of real wood goes a long way toward setting the right environment in your home. Wooden furniture brings a warm and homey vibe, as well as giving off the luxurious effect that plastic “wood” can never achieve.
The furniture sold at Bella Venezia includes television stands, dressers, dining tables and chairs, benches, mirrors, engraved bookcases, and much more. The store also carries custom furniture from around the world.

By contrast, other Canyon Country homes are looking to go in a modern direction, using muted colors and simple themes.

There is a new trend in kitchen counters, for instance. Instead of porous granite countertops, stone or other materials, homeowners can get a modern surface that can take on the appearance of stone, yet not age or develop a patina, because it is made of high-tech, heat sculpted plastics.

Along with being masterfully finished, non-porous surfaces prevent bacteria and molds from taking refuge among the cracks and crevices a normal tabletop would have. This plastic also leaves a sleek finish, which is perfect for anyone looking for a minimalistic, solid and clean look to their home furnishings.

Local, family-owned Surfaces USA managers, Jen and George of Canyon Country, believe that when it comes to remodeling there are some definite trends, and Canyon Country is a big market. “We’re a part of the community – it matters to us,” said Joe Salem from Surfaces’ sales and marketing department.

Locals are using porcelain tile for indoor and outdoor floors, also living room, dining room, hallway and kitchen floors, bathroom floors, shower walls. Many are using granite and marble for kitchen countertops, bathroom vanity tops, showers walls and shower benches.

Surfaces USA staff described the latest tiles and newest counter finishes. “We are seeing warm colors, rustic styles, as well as a lot of whites in bathrooms and kitchens!” said Salem. “Contrast is the key to appealing design.”


When it comes to home décor, the bedroom is a more personalized area for the homeowners and for anyone with a smaller room looking to make the most of it. Wallbeds are a great alternative to the traditional bed frame and mattress.

Stephanie Saunders, owner of Wallbeds “n” More in Pasadena, has sold these Murphy style beds to many communities outside of her store location, including Canyon Country and homes throughout the Santa Clarita Valley. “The one thing I noticed was that people would mention that, although the houses were relatively new, some of the rooms were small. And for any room that you don’t want to keep a dedicated bed in, a wall bed is perfect,” says Saunders.

A wallbed is a bed that is propped up and only brought down when in use. Otherwise, it is a completely functional desk, cabinet, storage area, or other furnishing. Wallbeds are completely customizable and Saunders says that it is completely up to the home style as to which wallbed would be of best use.

“We get a mix of people, we do contemporary homes and we do beds with railings and moldings for the more traditional look. This is the bed for anyone who wants any extra space in a room. These can be in an office, an exercise room, and for anyone who has a kid away in college or guests every once in a while, a fully functional office or craft room can be turned into the guest bedroom whenever they’re in town,” says Saunders.

Wallbeds are not only for guests, however. Saunders says that some clients will want to ensure extra space in their own room for activities, such as yoga or exercise, and so they sleep in a wallbed every night.

“It’s a real mattress,” she says. “It’s comfortable and it’s efficient.”

A wallbed enables homeowners to make the most of the rooms they have, using them as full functioning spaces and, when needed, have an extra bed for a guest room.

Wallbeds “n” More is located at 1382 N. Walnut Street in Pasadena.
Visit www.wallbedsnmore.com.

PAC to Celebrate 10th Anniversary with a “Season of Celebration”

| Canyon Country Magazine, Spotlight News | August 2, 2014

Offering local audiences a “Season of Celebration,” the 2014-15 Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (PAC) at College of the Canyons 10th Anniversary Season will feature a wealth of talent for audiences of all ages to experience and enjoy.

“The PAC’s 10th Anniversary Season of programs has been carefully crafted to offer our valued patrons a variety of artistic options from which to choose,” said Evy Warshawski, PAC executive director. “I invite you to join us as participants in this season, and engage in all that the PAC brings to this community.”

Throughout the 10th Anniversary Season, local residents will have the opportunity to experience an eclectic mix of internationally acclaimed acts and artists, without ever having to leave the Santa Clarita Valley.

“This will definitely be a year-long birthday party that you won’t want to miss,” said Warshawski.

Highlighting the 2014-15 PAC schedule are performances by:

Emmy Award-winning comedian, author and humorist Paula Poundstone — Sept. 6, 2014

Paula Poundstone

Paula Poundstone

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and co-founder of the band  Traffic, Dave Mason — Sept. 18, 2014

315publicity-(13)-color-1Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum selling country artist LeAnn Rimes — Sept. 28, 2014

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Mavis Staples —Nov. 1, 2014

Legendary wildlife expert and TV personality Jack Hanna —Nov. 2, 2014

Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominee Stephanie J. Block — March 7, 2015

Croatian cello virtuosos Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, the 2Cellos — March 23, 2015

American folk singer and veteran songwriter Arlo Guthrie — April  12, 2015

10-time Grammy Award-winning artist Bobby McFerrin — April   18, 2015McFerrin_F copy 2

Grammy Award-winning acoustic group Carolina Chocolate Drops— May 19, 2015

In addition, patrons will have multiple opportunities to mix and mingle with their favorite artists as part of the PAC’s meet-and-greet events, often held in support of the PAC K-12 Educational Outreach Program.

The season also includes the COC Arts on Campus program, as well as the COC Art Gallery’s 2014-15 exhibition schedule.

Other acts and artists visiting the PAC as part of the 2014-15 COC Presents season include: Travis Brass, the premiere ensemble of the United States Air Force
Band of the Golden West; The Orquesta de Baja California; Hawaiian hula troop Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu; the multi-media theatrical experience Basetrack; illusionist Jason Latimer; The United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra; Rockapella; Versa-Style Dance; Lightwire Theater; Story Pirates; and Trinity Irish Dance.

As in years past, the PAC will also host a number of College of the Canyons theatre, music and dance department productions, as well as other community group performances. Those productions include “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “The Nutcracker” (Santa Clarita Ballet), “Annie” and “The Sound of Music” (ESCAPE Theatre), and the musical programs “A British Holiday,” “Mozart: Requiem,” and “Defying Gravity” with Stephen Schwartz (Santa Clarita Master Chorale).

PAC 2014-15 ticket sales are now on sale. Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone, or in person at the PAC box office.

For more information about the PAC 2014-15 season or to purchase tickets visit www.canyonsPAC.com or call the PAC box office at (661) 362-5304.

Is the Doctor In? Medical Progress in Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine | August 1, 2014

By Martha Michael

15750stethoscopeWhen it comes to medical treatment, Canyon Country residents have years of changes they can recount. Many of us can recall when Facey moved in. And farther back in history, Canyon Country – then called Saugus – had its own hospital. It was located at Golden Triangle and initially it was called “Santa Clarita Hospital.” In 1969 the name was changed to “Inter-Valley Community Hospital.”

Is there enough access to good medical care on the east side of the SCV now? Or does the fact that the Valley only has a hospital on the west side just underscore the argument that Canyon Country is constantly  under the radar?

When you bring up the topic in casual conversation, a good number of local residents will mention that a drive over the hill into the San Fernando Valley – to Holy Cross Hospital, for instance – takes the same time to execute as a drive across the valley to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital … though HMNMH is half the distance as Holy Cross.

Does Canyon Country need its own hospital?

“I don’t think so. We have a number of good hospitals located nearby,” said Paolo Hernandez, DO, medical director of Doctors Express of Santa Clarita. “I do not think that there is the demand or a need for a new hospital in Canyon Country.”

Local chiropractor Phil Eddy agrees. “I don’t really think we need a hospital. It’d be cost prohibitive. We’ve got one 10 miles away,” he said. “The majority of problems you’d have can be reached by ambulance. Santa Clarita as a whole has very good health facilities, and Canyon Country used to be ‘out in the boonies’ … but now we have a lot of good doctors over here.”

Some residents say there has been a build-up in the medical presence on the east side of the SCV. The Doctor’s Office, for instance, expanded to include an office in Canyon Country, and there is a fairly new Doctors Express on Soledad Canyon Road, where walk-in clients can seek care. It is urgent health care, an alternative to a hospital emergency room.

“Within the past two years there has definitely been an increase in the number of new medical facilities that have opened in Canyon Country,” said Dr. Hernandez. “Moreover, prior to the opening of Doctors Express of Santa Clarita, the only medical facilities that were open late at night were located in Valencia. Now Canyon Country has Doctors Express, which is open seven days a week; Monday through Saturday we are open until 8 p.m., and Sunday we are open until 6 p.m.”

Canyon Country Civic Developments

| Canyon Country Magazine, Spotlight News | August 1, 2014

Recent Projects
The Plaza at Golden Valley was recently acquired by an affiliate of Merlone Geier Partners from Terramar Retail Centers, LLC. The 618,000-square-foot regional shopping center recently added a Sizzler and Jersey Mike’s Subs.

construction webLocal developer Williams Homes has begun grading on the “Trestles” project, located on Soledad Canyon near Camp Plenty and Whites Canyon. The residential development will add 137 single-family detached condominiums; models will be available in 2015.

Citywide Film Statistics
The City of Santa Clarita saw record numbers for Fiscal Year 13/14.  During this timeframe, the City issued 531 film permits, which led to 1,370 film days and an estimated economic impact of $33.5 million. This is the fourth consecutive year of increases in each category.

The following productions were filming in Canyon Country
in the Second Quarter of 2014:

Film-reel webTelevision
The Bridge – Sand Canyon area home
Jennifer Falls – Rancho Deluxe
Mud, Sweat & Gears – Rancho Deluxe, Sand Canyon area home
Outrageous 911 Calls – Sand Canyon area home
Perception – Sable Ranch/Rancho Maria
Ray Donovan – Golden Valley High School

A Place Among the Dead – Sable Ranch/Rancho Maria
Bounty Hunter – Sable Ranch/Rancho Maria
Curve – Sable Ranch/Rancho Maria
Good Grief – Super 8 Motel
The King’s Rook – Sand Canyon area home
Married Young – Greenbrier Estates
Seattle Road – Rancho Deluxe
Somebody to Love – Sand Canyon area home
Some Kind of Hate – Sable Ranch/Rancho Maria
Submarine Kid – Rancho Deluxe

Ashley Furniture Home Store – Carl Boyer Ashley Furniture
Napa – Sable Ranch/Rancho Maria
Outback Steakhouse – Rancho Deluxe
Subaru – Canyon Country Library (JoAnne Darcy)
Walmart – Carl Boyer Walmart, Fair Oaks Ranch Community School

Student Films
A Teenage Drama (AFI) – Sand Canyon area streets
The Sheriff of Chevron (CalArts) – Art’s Liquor
Untitled Animal Comedy (CalArts) – Robinson Ranch Golf Club

Citywide Jobs, Businesses, Sales Tax Revenues and Unemployment as of June 2014
The City of Santa Clarita added more than 3,000 jobs in 2013, according to the most recent numbers (Q4), with the fourth quarter of 2013 at 77,969, compared to 74,931 in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The unemployment rate in the City of Santa Clarita in June 2014 has decreased to 5.0 from 6.3 in June of 2013.

Current hotel occupancy rates are as follows:
June 2014
Occupancy %                        86.7%       Year to Date (78.1%)
Average Daily Rate (ADR)   $125.70     Year to Date ($115.79)

*Content courtesy of Jason Crawford, City of Santa Clarita
marketing and economic development manager

Full Circle Hoefflin Gala Returns to Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine, Spotlight News | July 31, 2014

By Martha Michael
One could easily say that this year’s Michael Hoefflin Foundation Gala has “come full circle.”

Bella Circo Photo by Mari Provencher

Bella Circo Photo by Mari Provencher

Not only is it back to the community where it all started — Canyon Country — its featured entertainment this year is “Bella Circo,” an acrobatic

Bella Circo Photo by Mari Provencher

Bella Circo Photo by Mari Provencher

troupe with an aerial act, the type of performance you might find at “Cirque du Soleil.”

The 21st Annual “Evening Under the Stars Benefitting Kids with Cancer” will be held on Saturday, September 13 at Robinson Ranch Golf Club in Sand Canyon. Guests will gather on the 18th hole for a dinner, auction, silent auction, and the Bella Circo performance called “La Galleria.”

“I love Cirque du Soleil shows – I don’t think anybody out here has done this,” said Gillian Stone, Michael Hoefflin Foundation executive

Bella Circo Photo by Mari Provencher

Bella Circo Photo by Mari Provencher


After years hosting the event at the Mann Biomedical Park in Valencia, more than just a few residents from the east end of the SCV are pleased about the return of the gala.

“We had attended the Hoefflin event for years when it was located in Canyon Country. It was one of our favorite events,” said Rand Ferris of Canyon Country. “It was so convenient and was always the talk of the area. It had such a neighborhood/local feel. When they moved across town, we attended for the first couple of years, but it just didn’t have the local feel or convenience and eventually fell off of our radar. It is such a good cause and I’m excited to hear that it is returning to Canyon Country.”

Though the event was a successful fundraiser at the Valencia location, Hoefflin Foundation staff members felt it was time for a change. The catalyst for making the transition was the status of the Mann Biomedical Park, which was recently sold.
“They are in escrow, so couldn’t commit,” said Stone. “It’s nice to have a change, anyway. We looked at several sites, and Robinson Ranch almost immediately got back to me … we tasted the food and it was delicious.”

The different physical nature of the venue — the 18th hole on a golf course versus a relatively flat park that hosts numerous events — underscored the choice for a change in entertainment from previous years. The Evening Under the Stars has almost always ended with a dance to such musical acts as Eddie Money, band members from Earth, Wind & Fire, and Christopher Cross.

“The topography (at Robinson Ranch) is a little bit hilly. I decided if I take away my dance floor, then I can get my tables closer to the stage. Auctioneers have been telling me for years that we need to get people closer,” said Stone. “We’ll get people in tight, where it’s nice and flat.”

The event will begin at 6 p.m. Attendees will enjoy a dinner catered by the Sycamore Bar & Grill at Robinson Ranch, and the opportunity to bid on many unique auction items.

“We’ve been going to the Mann Biomedical Park for quite a few years … you don’t want to make changes when things are going well,” said Stone. “But we are really excited about being at Robinson Ranch. They have been so incredible, so easy to work with.”

Any changes create new challenges when it comes to planning a non-profit fundraiser, not the least of which are budgetary concerns. “This is an expensive event to begin with. We have a low budget, because we want to spend the money on the children,” explained Stone.

The troupe is designing a new show for this performance, which Bella Circo can also use at another event booked two weeks later. “And at a minimal cost,” said Stone. “It was a win-win for us.”

Although the Michael Hoefflin Foundation focuses on fundraising efforts throughout the year, Evening Under the Stars is critical 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.

“We are grateful for the support of our community, whether at our 5K earlier in the year or the amazing efforts by people such as Roy Wiegand, who recently ran in honor of one of our recently lost angels,” said Stone. “This is our chance to give the community that we so appreciate a beautiful, memorable and, hopefully, inspiring evening, and let people know about why we need the support we do.”

Event co-chairs this year are Brenda Neilson from the Bank of Santa Clarita and Dan Sterkel of Nissan of Valencia. To purchase tickets or get more details about the event, visit www.mhf.org.

The Michael Hoefflin Foundation for children’s cancer is a public nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation that provides financial and emotional support to children and their families in the Santa Clarita and surrounding valleys. The organization strives to educate the public and provide grant funding for innovative research to accelerate progress in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Beauty Minute – Top 5 Eyelash Products

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine, SC Women | July 30, 2014

by Jennifer Gerard

Now that summer is coming to a close and we are all sporting our Autumn bronze glow, dramatic makeup looks are out. However, sweeping lashes are a secret beauty staple any time of year. I am always in search of great lash products, because I am just one of these people who can’t do false lashes. They feel heavy on me and sometimes they itch. They look amazing when they are perfectly placed, but who has all day to place them? Using the must-have products and techniques mentioned below, you can hang up your falsies for good and have lashes your friends will be envious of!

1. RapidLash XL Eyelash Enhancing Serum ~ I have to say I was skeptical when I first tried this product, but it truly does work wonders. I have used other lash enhancing serums costing up to $160, but none have worked as well as RapidLash, which runs about $30 on Amazon. Simply apply a thin layer along your lash line (just as you would liquid eyeliner) once a day. After 4-5 weeks you will be amazed by how much longer and thicker your lashes will be.

2. Chanel Eyelash Curler ~ I recently switched after many years of using the She Uemera lash curler, because I think this one grips all the lashes perfectly, especially those thinner lashes on top going toward the inner corner of the eye. It is a tad pricey ($36 at Chanel.com) compared to an eyelash curler you can get at Walmart for $4, but since eyelash curlers basically last forever, consider it an investment. Always curl your lashes before applying mascara or primer.

3. Lancôme CILS Booster XL Super Enhancing Mascara Base ($24.50 at Sephora).This is a white mascara that primes lashes. It thickens and lengthens without clumping, allowing mascara to go on effortlessly. I have probably used every mascara primer on the market at one time or another, but the Lancôme is the best by far. Make sure to wiggle the wand a little as you apply this product for even more dramatic results.

4. YSL (Yves Saint Laurent) Faux Effet Babydoll Mascara ~ I honestly can’t say enough great things about this mascara. It is, hands down, the best of the best when it comes to mascara. It has a precision wand that separates the lashes perfectly without clumping. Apply it over the primer and wiggle the wand as you pull it up along the lashes. It is far from the cheapest mascara on the market, at $30 (Sephora or any department store carries it) but it is the only mascara I will ever use.

5. YSL (Yves Saint Laurent) Faux Effet Shocking Mascara (also $30 at Sephora) ~ For special occasions only, I add a little of the Shocking mascara over the top of the Babydoll for the full dramatic false lash effect. There is also a waterproof version, which is great for those sentimental occasions.

New Stores at Westfield Valencia Town Center

| Canyon Country Magazine, Tell Me More | July 14, 2014

In addition to new tenants on The Patios this year, including LYFE Kitchen, Solita, and CA Fish Grill, there are new retail stores coming in the next year, says Stacie House, marketing director for the mall. If popularity is any indication, one such store should appeal to residents from teenage to 50 years old.

“The next 12-months will bring anticipated additions to the center that we believe the community will be very excited about” says House. “We will welcome several new tenants, including H&M, as well as a handful of new restaurants. We are looking forward to the future of Westfield Valencia Town Center as we carry out our vision to be the best shopping center and lifestyle destination in the best community.”

Westfield Valencia is located at 24201 West Valencia Blvd. in Valencia.

Is Your Teen Typical or Troubled?

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 8, 2014

By Cary Quashen

Do you know that adolescents (ages 10 to 19) and young adults (ages 20 to 24) make up 21 percent of the U.S. population? Many of the behavioral patterns established during these crucial developmental years help determine a teen’s and young adult’s health status and their risk for developing mental illness.

For most, the period of adolescence and young adulthood are generally healthy times of life. However, we often assume, incorrectly, that mental illness is only an adult issue. Working with high-risk teens for the last 35-years, I can tell you the conversation and growing awareness of adolescent mental health is just as important to understand. Unfortunately, denial, fear of social consequences, stigmatizations, discrimination and beyond often keep people silent, especially parents.

We know that the teenage years can be stressful and challenging. And, sometimes, parents aren’t sure if their teen is experiencing typical growing pains or if they are headed for trouble with real mental health problems.

There is a difference between typical and troubled. Mental health problems in teens are real and painful. And when they are left untreated, they can have serious consequences. Without intervention, mental health problems become worse over time, affecting a teen’s school performance, and his or her emotional and social life.

Recognizing mental health issues in teens is scary. Let’s face it – it’s a hard topic to wrap our heads around, especially if we are talking about our own loved ones. The good news is mental health treatment can be effective for teens on a long-term basis.
Is your teen experiencing any of the following symptoms?
Not eating or sleeping
Can’t perform daily tasks, like going to school
Doesn’t want to hang out with friends or family
Doesn’t want to do things usually enjoyed
Fights a lot with family and friends
Feels like he/she can’t control his/her emotions and it’s affecting relationships with family and friends
Has low or no energy
Feels hopeless
Feels numb, or like nothing matters
Can’t stop thinking about certain memories or concerns
Feels confused, forgetful, edgy, angry, upset, worried, or scared
Wants to harm self or others
Has random aches and pains
Smokes, drinks or uses drugs
Hears voices

Parents are more likely to see warning signs of mental health problems in their teens. But, sometimes teachers, coaches, and school counselors see signs that others fail to notice. These signs usually are not one-time occurrences; they persist over several weeks.

If you see any of the warning signs, talk to your teen. Find out how your adolescent is doing and be a compassionate listener. The next time you ask how your teen is, encourage an honest answer.
Make sure your teen gets help from a mental health professional at school or in the community. You may need to start talking to your personal doctor or the nursing staff first. But, get the help your teen needs. Treatment works.

Cary Quashen a nationally recognized high-risk teen expert who specializes in teen recovery issues working with mental health and substance abuse issues. He is the founder and president of the Action Family Foundation and Action Family Counseling. He can be reached at (661) 297-8693.

Home and Hearth Whether it’s Moving or Improving … Residents Know What they Like

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 7, 2014

By Martha Michael

Home ownership is something most of us can relate to, and whether you are looking at new housing or     staying and remodeling, the market is always in flux. It is affected by the economy, practical concerns, generational cycles, and even fashion trends. What are Canyon Country residents choosing these days, in terms of purchases, remodels or minor changes?
SHOWER-ENCLOSURE-2Local contractor Gene Elson does a lot of bath remodels, and certain features are commonly requested.

“Frameless shower doors and 3/8-inch glass,” he said, referring to his customers’ design requests for their shower remodels. “And ladies always want a bench.”

Elson, who approaches his jobs as an artist approaches a canvas, has frequently been designing bathrooms where the countertop choice matches the shower dam and soap inset.

“Design is everything,” he said. “The beauty of the job is nice craftsmanship.”

Granite has been a popular material for countertops, according to Elson. And he often ties the look together by using granite on the shower dam, soap inset and countertop. “Then light colors on the wall contrast the granite. In a piece of granite there are 5-6 different colors, so the wall picks up the color in the granite. From an artist’s standpoint … it’s an art project.”
The brushed nickel finish is the most popular choice for fixtures, Elson added, and oil-rubbed bronze. Recessed lighting has also brushednickel faucetmade a comeback.

Most of the wall color choices are natural tones, says Gene Wagner of Home Pros, based in Canyon Country. “People are using Navajo white on walls, and crown molding too,” Wagner said.

Wagner has been hired to do a lot of outdoor projects lately – picket fences, storage sheds and exterior painting. He says that customers are choosing natural colors for the exterior of their homes and natural stones, such as pebbles.

He has also been booked for interior tile work and painting, and quite a few residents changing out blinds, he said.

New housing projects are moving forward in Canyon Country, such as the Live Oak Court homes, a gated development with a few vacant lots and new homes in Sand Canyon.

“There are nine or ten lots at Live Oak Court, and three or four were sold to individuals who already or will be building homes,” said Chad Hartman from RE/MAX of Santa Clarita.

The property was partly developed and when there were six remaining lots, a smaller builder picked them up. The home designs are in the 300- to 400-square-foot range in size.

“There will be three floor plans used. Two are very similar, just slight modifications to the first floor, manipulated for the view of each lot,” said Hartman, who also works as listing coordinator for Neal Weichel at RE/MAX.

Even more importantly, people want to know what style the builder has chosen.

The architecture is one that was used in Santa Barbara, so it’s a fresh feel for out here. High end upgrades in the inside and, depending on where they’re at when a buyer puts a down payment on it, will determine how much choice they have,” said Hartman.

The homes which are near completion are slated for move-in beginning in July.

Add your comments to this topic at www.Santaclaritalife.com.

The Roles of Rick Herbst

| Canyon Country Magazine, Spotlight News | June 5, 2014

RickHearstLiving next door to a tall, dark and handsome soap opera star is something most people can only joke about. Except for the 135563_8414neighbors of Canyon Country resident Rick Herbst.

The four-member Herbst family has left a big footprint in Canyon Country, contributed, in part, by Rick’s 12-year career as attorney “Ric Lansing” on ABC-TV’s “General Hospital.” Using the professional name “Rick Hearst,” the actor has been seen on the big and small screen, including another soap opera turn on “The Bold and the Beautiful” before taking his current role.

While few people would expect a TV celebrity to settle in Canyon Country, it made sense for Hearst.

“Back in 1999 my wife and I and our boys were living in North Hollywood, renting a house there and it was a nice little area, Valley Village,” said Hearst. “My mom and stepdad and grandparents were living in Texas, and my mom said, ‘Look, you’ve been living away from me for 17 years and I’m done. I’ve gotta be closer to my children and grandchildren. We discussed it and we started looking around at areas. We looked at developments, at Stevenson Ranch and then Fair Oaks Ranch.”

The availability of space and the value for their money was what brought the Herbst family to choose Fair Oaks Ranch to establish roots, and they found a house in Canyon Country for Rick’s parents and grandparents also. It was August of 2000.

“Schools and space. That was our primary impetus for wanting to come up here. So, we packed up the truck and moved to Canyon Country,” he said, mimicking “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme song. “We had a house in New York we were renting out. We could sell that house and buy something here brand spanking new.”

Hearst grew up in New York, an only child from a tightly knit Italian family.

He attended high school in Plano, Texas and met his wife, Donna Smoot, at University of Texas in Austin.

rick and donnaIn a bit of irony, Rick and Donna began their romance in the iconic “Luke and Laura” days of “General Hospital,” a show in which he could never imagine he would land a leading role.

As a family man, it is easy to wonder how Hearst could pull off a successful career with the demands of long work days and maintain a happy household, with a marriage of almost three decades and two grown children.

“It’s a great schedule,” said Hearst. “It’s the most conducive to having a real life. If you’re on a nighttime television show, you are working 14-hour days.”

Hearst pointed out the contrast in being a part of various sides of television, including the difference between working on a daytime or a nighttime show.

“Here’s the way it is in television,” he explained. “You can work 14-hour days, depending on the script, etc., or you can work four. Yesterday I was there at 7:15 a.m. I had hair and makeup done, wardrobe … then went on the set, rehearsed the scenes, then we went up to shoot it. Yesterday I was done at 12:45. That’s an average day — a five- to eight-hour day.”

It was a real bonus for Hearst’s two sons, Nick and Cameron.

“I was able to be – I made it a point – at my kids’ functions,” said the actor. “When they were playing Little League or soccer, I was always there.”

photoHearst continues his involvement in some of his sons’ former activities. For instance, once a year he still goes to Fair Oaks Ranch (Community School) to read to students on Dr. Seuss Day.

The Herbst boys attended several local schools. They both attended Valley View Community School and Fair Oaks Community School, Nick attended Pinecrest School, also Golden Valley High School, while Cameron attended LACHSA (L.A. County High School for the Arts).

“My kids are pretty adaptable to a lot of different environments,” said Hearst. “They were both born in New York. We moved when Cameron was 18 months old, now 18 yrs old, and Nicholas was about four and a half and now 22, almost 23.”

Both young men are actors, singers and dancers. Cameron graduated from high school in 2013 and is currently attending the prestigious Boston Conservatory studying Musical Theatre, and Nick studied in New York after high school and will be returning to Point Park’s Musical Theatre Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA. The whole family shared their talents with the SCV in different programs.

Donna has choreographed several productions at Golden Valley High School as well as ESCAPE Theatre for seven years. Hearst directed “Peter Pan” for ESCAPE. Nick and rick 2Cameron received the lion’s share of their coaching and training in the arts from their parents, in fact.

One thing that SCV residents can count on from the Herbst family is that they do not expect the star treatment.

“I run into people and they’ll look at me and sometimes they’ll ask me, ‘Do you know so-and-so?’ their neighbor, etc. … It’s never invasive,” said Hearst. “Do I ever get upset? Never. I would never get upset at someone. ‘Thank you’ is all I say. It’s something I do, that I love to do, that I get paid to do.”

Hearst is in the process of developing his own program, teaching his craft to others. Read about his plans, his attitude about the arts, and more about the Herbst family at www.santaclaritalife.com and click on “Tell Me More.”

Women’s Conference to Help Attendees Reach “Beyond Barriers”

| Canyon Country Magazine, Spotlight News | June 5, 2014

2014Flyer_WCThe annual College of the Canyons Women’s Conference returns this summer with a lineup of inspiring presenters and empowering breakout sessions designed to help attendees reach beyond the barriers faced throughout their lives and achieve their dreams.

The 2014 College of the Canyons Women’s Conference “Beyond Barriers: Reaching Your Full Potential” will take place from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 10, at the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, located on the college’s Valencia campus (University Center Drive entrance).
Focusing on the variety of personality traits and lifestyle attributes which often lead to professional success and personal satisfaction, event organizers have focused this year’s Women’s Conference around the following key information strands:
Balanced & Healthy Lifestyles
Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
Motivation & Empowerment
“The ‘Beyond Barriers’ theme is about women reaching their full potential and striving for their dreams without limits,” said Dr. Diane Fiero, assistant superintendent/vice president, human resources at College of the Canyons. “Join us for a day of education, motivation and empowerment provided by inspirational women doing amazing things in our community and around the world.”

Serving as the keynote speaker at this year’s Women’s Conference is award-winning actress, filmmaker and executive director of the ERA Education Project, Ms. Kamala Lopez.

Lopez launched her professional acting career while still in high school, when she was cast on “Sesame Street” as the recurring character “Mercedes.” The young actress would go on to attend Yale University, double majoring in philosophy and theatre studies, before returning to the silver screen and appearing in more than 30 feature films, including “Born in East L.A.,” “Deep Cover,” “The Burning Season” and “I Heart Huckabees.”

In 1995, Lopez formed the production company Heroica Films with a mission to write, direct and produce media for women, about women and utilizing women, both in front of and behind the camera.

Lopez is also the founder and executive director of the ERA Education Project, a new national media campaign dedicated to educating the public about the need to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. She is also currently directing the documentary film “Equal Means Equal,” which examines the status of American women in society today.

Lopez is a 2011 National Women’s Political Caucus Women of Courage Award winner, and in 2012 was named one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s eNews.

Joining Lopez at the conference will be an esteemed panel of 12 presenters speaking on a variety of career fields and areas of interest.

The 2014 COC Women’s Conference is being sponsored by presenting sponsor Boston Scientific Neuromodulation, Valencia, the COC Student Development Office, Mellady Direct Marketing, Wolf Creek Restaurant and Brewing Company, KHTS AM 1220, Bake You Happy, and College of the Canyons.
General admission tickets are $30 ($35 after June 6) or $20 for COC students and staff.
Admission includes access to the entire conference, including a continental breakfast, three morning breakout sessions of the attendee’s choice, lunch and an afternoon keynote presentation. There will also be vendors on site, and an exciting raffle to conclude the day.
For more information about the 2014 College of the Canyons Women’s Conference and the full lineup of featured presenters, or to register to attend, visit www.canyons.edu/Offices/WC/ or contact the Women’s Conference event desk at (661) 362-3426 or womensconference@canyons.edu.

One Man Show

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 5, 2014

By Martha Michael
photoThe idea of a new music school conjures up visions of little Johnny creating ear-piercing noises on a trumpet or little Suzy shrieking out the high notes while singing endless scales.

But, a new addition to the Canyon Country music scene, Jerome Snyder of Valley Community Music Center, has something much more melodious in mind. When it comes to running the program at the center, Snyder does it his way. And that means the students aren’t being taught to play notes, they’re being coached to play music.

“The most important thing to differentiate other music lessons from what I do here is that other teachers teach them to practice. Practice is another word for homework,” says Snyder. “But, I want them to associate music with play. I tell my students, when you play, I want mom and dad dancing in the kitchen.”

Snyder started playing as a child, beginning with accordion lessons at age six.
“I started taking lessons at Foreman Music Schools in L.A. I wanted to learn piano. My sister got piano. My parents gave me a choice between accordion and bagpipes,” he jokes.

Snyder grew up in Southern California, mostly in the San Fernando Valley. His music mastery grew as he did; he added cello and drums to his expertise in high school, where he played in the orchestra. The majority of his professional life, however, has been a solo act.

“That’s all I’ve been all my life, always working alone,” says Snyder. “Professionally, most of the time, I’m being hired to play and to sing … as a vocalist, I use an accordion to accompany myself.”

WALLThe music school owner grew up on the stage — his mother was an entertainer, mostly working in radio in the 1930s and ‘40s. Her stage name was “Tanya Tamara.” Snyder’s own work took him to countless venues, including the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, playing for such names as Gene Autry and Buddy Hackett. In 1968, he began teaching.
“Before I launched my first school, I was a teacher at St. Joseph’s, also Gerald Ford Elementary School (in Indian Wells, Calif.). I worked for Coachella Concert Association. That’s where I opened my first school – Cathedral City Music. Then I opened up Toca Musica four years ago and it’s still active,” says Snyder.

Toca Musica, located in the San Fernando Valley, is the precursor to Snyder’s new Canyon Country school. He chose Canyon Country because he drove to this community a few months ago to see if Baron Music was still operating, where he had taught accordion lessons in the past. Though Baron Music was long gone, Snyder found a perfect space to open a new school in El Centro Shopping Center.

Over a 10-year period developing his schools, Snyder crafted his own unique program, once again operating alone.

“Either I’m teaching there (Toca Musica) or I’m teaching here,” he says. “I teach ‘teams’ and put players together just like they were playing football. My kids play as a group. There’s no such thing as a ‘football teacher.’ So, why do we call it a ‘music teacher’? My music is written to coach to play.”

Snyder writes and arranges the music. He says that his unique style results in a different outcome than the experience students have at other schools.

“I treat them like a young person already playing an instrument,” Snyder explains. “The challenge is in playing music; if they want to accept that challenge, this is the only school where they’ll be able to pick up that instrument and play it. Example — I have two girls who played in front of their mother’s store on weekends for tips. They were written up in the LA times. I get kids who are now in bands. My students have a repertoire – they can play for hours.”

The most popular instruments in his classes are piano and guitar. Snyder also teaches violin, trumpet and a number of other instruments, including vocal music. His youngest GUITARSstudent is five years old, and the oldest student he ever had was 86 years old.

As usual, the entrepreneur is constantly creating something new. His latest offering is a program with “flautas,” a wind instrument with a purchase price of $15. Music classes for the flauta are $15 per hour.

What’s ahead for Snyder and Valley Community Music Center? He hopes to fill his schedule to capacity.

“Capacity would be 100 students,” he says. “There’s no one coaching other than myself. And it’ll always be a one-man show.”

Triumph Foundation Ambassadors

| Canyon Country Magazine, Tell Me More | April 7, 2014

Here are some of Triumph’s Ambassadors:

Anthony Orefice
Bobby Rohan
Will Matay
Melissa Allensworth
Domonic Corradin
Janette Knudson
Alvin Malave
Michele Altmirano
Alex Romero
Olivia Almalel
Robert Tyler
Tim Cleveland
Michael Garafola
Erik St Amant

Adults Don’t Give Teens Alcohol…Get It??

| Canyon Country Magazine | April 6, 2014

By Cary Quashen, CAS

Tony and Susan throw the best keg parties in town. The beer flows and a designated teen collects car keys at the door. Teenagers mill around, shouting over the pounding music, hugging and “high-fiving” Tony and Susan.

What’s wrong with this picture? Tony and Susan graduated high school 25 years ago, and this is their son’s party. The family is planning a few more beer bashes during the summer. Unfortunately, they think beer pong is a harmless party game. NOT!

Some parents see drinking as a sign of adulthood. There is a belief that once someone has graduated from high school, they are an adult. But they’re STILL under 21 years of age and drinking is illegal.

Some parents seek the approval of their teens, and want to be heroes in the teen arena. I am astounded parents think as long as they are serving the alcohol, they can control their kids and other kids’ actions.

Often times these parents think they should be nominated for “Parents of the Year.” They regard themselves as enlightened crusaders for their teens. They walk the teenage walk and talk the teenage talk. They’re so desperate to be considered cool by their kids; they believe the law doesn’t apply to them. They think they’re wiser and better than the parents who won’t provide the alcohol.

When you add drinking to natural teenage curiosity and pleasure seeking, the results can range from the lowered self-esteem of a girl who had sex with several guys at a party to tragedies like driving into a brick wall, fighting and injuring or killing someone. These parents know that kids are going to drink, but they’ve decided to be the responsible ones and supervise their drinking.

The mixed messages parents send when they “bargain” with teens and allow them to drink at home may be to blame for excessive teen drinking. Do you know that permissiveness at home affects adolescent choices more than peer pressure? Many times parents send the message that fun revolves around a can of beer. Many parents feel they are “buddies” with their teens when they allow them to drink.

It’s pathetic if parents rely on their teen’s definition of fun. Of course, I liked to drink in high school and thought it was really cool when certain parents let us drink in their home. Underage drinking is a factor in nearly half of all teen automobile crashes. It also contributes to suicides, homicides and fatal injuries, and is a factor in sexual assaults and date rapes.

Parent-sponsored drunkfests make it harder for the kids who don’t drink and parents who won’t let their kids drink. It’s almost an inherent challenge these parents lay down by saying, “I’m sponsoring this because I think your teen is mature enough to drink responsibly.”
Some parents feel like they would be ostracized if they said their kid couldn’t go to a prom or graduation party because there was drinking going on. But, I don’t understand how parents can justify serving 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds beer and hard liquor.

Parents need to understand that too many drinks ingested, either accidentally or intentionally, can result in alcohol poisoning, which can often result in death. Alcohol is a drug that numbs the brain. If too much is used, it paralyzes the nerve center in the brain and puts the brain to sleep. When the brain slows down, so does the respiratory system. When the lungs and heart stop sending oxygen to the brain, breathing stops.

Making it “safe” for kids to drink is a complete contradiction of terms! There are laws regulating use by age because of the lack of physical maturity and psychological maturity. People under the age of 21 have dramatically impaired judgment.

I urge parents to rethink just what “responsible drinking” is for someone under the age of 21. Parents think THEY did it, so their kids can do it too. After all, parents don’t want to say that the things they did as teens were wrong. Guess what, in this instance, it’s okay to be a hypocrite.
Teens need you to point them in the right direction and keep them safe. You’re supposed to give them wisdom, not a keg party in the backyard or the garage.

Cary Quashen is an expert in the field of addiction treatment and recovery and is the founder and president of Action Family Counseling. He can be reached by calling (661) 297-8693.

The Triumph of Andrew Skinner

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine, Spotlight News | April 3, 2014

Kirsten and Andrew at one of Triumph's events

Kirsten and Andrew at one of Triumph’s events

It was a tragedy. A strong, athletic, virile young 25-year-old heads to the snow to do some snowboarding, but an accident brings

Kirsten and Andrew after his accident

Kirsten and Andrew after his accident

him home with life-changing disabilities. Andrew Skinner of Canyon Country was now quadriplegic.

“This injury kind of left me like a newborn,” said Skinner. “I had to learn how to do everything myself…then returning to the community and reintegrating into activities and sports and things. I had a lot of training and a lot of people who had gone through this before me.”
Skinner’s brother and his wife, Kirsten, urged him to use his new knowledge and understanding, in part to fill some of the gaps in care that people with spinal cord injuries were experiencing. In 2008 Triumph Foundation was born.

“When we first started I never dreamed it’d become the force it’s become now,” said Skinner. “I never dreamed I’d be a philanthropist.”

It began when they simply began visitations at a hospital in Northridge. “We’d meet people with different needs, and we’d try to solve them,” he said. “Then it was one more hospital and one more hospital, and now we’re going to a dozen different rehab centers and hospitals. Every year we grow.”

Financed  mostly through individual donors, Triumph’s biggest fundraiser each year is a “Casino Night” in July at the Hyatt Regency in Valencia.

“We wanted to do something fun and social,” said Skinner. “We’ve gone to a lot of other fundraisers and you sit at a table and eat dinner, but you don’t get to mingle and get to know people. We really get to meet some of  the people who have been impacted by our organization. It’s more of a family atmosphere. I’m not a big gambler, but its fun — it’s like playing games.”

Skinner quit his job two years ago as a “leap of faith” to work for the foundation full-time. He goes after more grants and other funding, also planning events and getting sponsors for them.

“It’s a labor of love,” he said. “We run about a dozen support groups all over Southern California – most once a month.  I also get lots of calls and emails from people needing mentorship, many who are newly injured. There is also a cycling clinic every month — we do sports every week.”

TRgroup photo webThere are close to 3,000 individuals in Triumph Foundation’s network. In addition to Skinner’s family members, who work tirelessly for the foundation and serve on the board of directors, there are approximately 20 core members who are “ambassadors,” who get involved with a major hospital outreach, for instance.

Meet Triumph’s Ambassadors at Tell Me More tab.

Kirsten, Andrew and Betty

Kirsten, Andrew and Betty

Andrew Skinner’s wife, Kirsten, gave up a promising corporate job after the accident. She quit to stay by Andrew’s side. Later, she got an early childhood development degree and started teaching at Kindercare. Kirsten is now the assistant director there.

“It puts things in perspective,” said Andrew, regarding Kirsten’s life and career direction. “She wanted to do something fulfilling, more purposeful than just punching a timecard.”

Meet the Skinner’s little girl, Betty, and learn more about Triumph click on Tell Me More.

No One Likes To Shiver – Room 22 Gives Back

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine, Spotlight News | February 13, 2014

By Angela Tiano

Room 22 with their blankets

“It’s good to give back, because then they will be your friend” (Elijah, age 10)

There is more happening than reading, writing and arithmetic in Mrs. Kayla Bastedo’s Room 22 at Sulphur Springs Community School. In addition to their daily academic standards, last semester Bastedo’s students began working on a “giving” project. The 14 boys and one girl in the 4th, 5th and 6th grade Special Day Class handcrafted more than 30 fleece blankets that have been donated to the Santa Clarita Valley Homeless Shelter and Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital.
These soft and colorful blankets offered a lesson to the students, that helping others in need can be a rewarding experience to both the giver and the receiver. Elihu, 11, reflected on the project. “It took time, but we worked together to make the blankets. It made me feel happy and excited,” he said.

In the midst of a class discussion immediately following their project, Mrs. Bastedo and her students sparked a conversation that created a motto to help them remember their hands-on giving experience: “No one likes to shiver.”

With their new tagline in mind, Gavyn, age 10, suggested, “We should make pillows next year.” The recent holiday season was the start of a new tradition for Room 22, and was made possible with the enthusiasm of the students, their teacher, and their aides.

How Great The Arts

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine, Spotlight News | February 11, 2014

By Martha Michael

Darlene Marcos

How to Paint a Mural
Budding artist or not, you will either gain some painting pointers or just enjoy getting some insight into the mind of a talented local muralist at the next meeting of the Santa Clarita Artists’ Association (SCAA). The talent of artist Darlene Marcos will be front and center at this month’s art demo, entitled “How to Paint a Mural.”

“My sole source of income has been surrounded by art from the time I was 18 years of age,” said Marcos. “As a ‘fine artist,’ I have enjoyed creating canvases for shows and illustrating books for my ideas, likes and wants. As a ‘muralist/finisher,’ I have enjoyed creating for others from their ideas, likes and wants. Color plays a big factor in designing for homes and businesses. The murals and finishes must flow with the concept of their personal surroundings. Finishes are a tool for muralists to complete the walls encompassing the murals. Many faux finishes and decorative finishes are used inside and outside the mural – definitely a handshake between two worlds. I have now been a professional muralist for over 35 years.”

The SCAA’s meeting will be held on February 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Valencia, and it is free and open to the public. Arrive

One of Darlene’s Murals

early, as there is often standing room only. For information regarding SCAA, contact www.santaclaritaartists.org or call (661) 244-7689. Barnes & Noble is located at 23630 Valencia Boulevard in Valencia.

Arts Alliance Revival
Over the years, Santa Clarita has seen the Arts Alliance come and go. It’s baaaaaack!

The non-profit committee was formed in 1997, as a coalition of artists and arts organizations coming together to address arts needs in the community. The group was hosted by the City of Santa Clarita, and it accomplished some key pieces of history: the development of a Cultural Arts Master Plan, advocating for support for additional funding for the Performing Arts Center, advocating for an Arts Commission, and arts funding.

While the entity faded away for a time, it was recently given new life, and members are currently being sought to become involved. The group acts as a forum to discuss issues that face the local arts community: on-going arts funding, public art, local venues, development of an arts center, and further development of the Arts Commission. Its aim is to foster local jobs in the arts and strengthen the local arts economy.

“It was always the goal of the Arts Alliance to be independent of the City,” said David Stears, a founding member of the Arts Alliance. “Now is a great time to revive the Arts Alliance. The arts are on the verge of a renaissance in our community.”

Currently the Arts Alliance can be found on the following forms of social media: Facebook.com/ArtsAllianceSC, a twitter account called @ArtsAllianceSC, email ArtsAllianceSC@gmail.com, and a facebook group for artists: Facebook.com/groups/ArtsAllianceSCV. Anyone can sign-up for a monthly newsletter at the website: http://artsalliancesc.weebly.com.

The Arts Alliance is open to all artists, performers, arts organizations, and arts supporters in the entire Santa Clarita Valley. Currently there is no formal structure to the group, however there are plans for a future meeting. Anyone interested in participating, organizing, or hosting a physical meeting, send an email to ArtsAllianceSC@gmail.com.

Community Education Courses to Debut at Canyon Country Campus

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine, Spotlight News | February 9, 2014

Beginning this spring, the College of the Canyons Community Education department will offer a series of personal and professional development courses at the college’s Canyon Country campus.

The College of the Canyons Community Education department provides a wide breadth of valuable educational services designed to meet the needs and interests of all community members.

Community Education students range in both age and skill level, and include working professionals, business minded entrepreneurs, parents, traditional junior high, high school and college students, older adults and other community members seeking educational, vocational, and personal enrichment.
With classes offered at both the Valencia and Canyon Country campus, and online, students will find courses in subjects including art, computer skills, food preparation handling, driver’s education and traffic school, English as a Second Language (ESL) and a range of other subjects.
Community Education courses do not earn college credit, and are designed to provide students with a positive learning experience focused on the exchange of information and personal enjoyment.
Included among this semester’s selection of Community Education courses being offered at the Canyon Country campus are the following:

Introduction to Painting (Oil/Acrylics)
Four class meetings
Saturday’s from 9 a.m. to noon
Feb. 22 to March 15

Introduction to Computer Basics
Two class meetings
10 a.m. to noon
Feb. 22 & March 1
Introduction to MS Word 2010
Two class meetings
Saturday’s from 10 a.m. to noon
March 8 & March 15

Introduction to MS Excel 2010
Two class meetings
10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
March 22 & March 29

“Community Education courses provide wonderful opportunities for the residents of the Santa Clarita Valley to learn new skills, interact with students with similar interests and enrich their daily lives,” said Diane Stewart, Dean of Community Education at the college. “We are very excited to bring these learning opportunities to the Canyon Country campus.”

For more information about the College of the Canyons Community Education department or to register for an upcoming class please visit www.canyons.edu/communityed.

Canyon Country Campus Update
Enrollment at the College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus continues to surge, with more class sections continually being added in order to meet demand.

During the fall 2013 semester nearly 5,400 students attended classes at the Canyon Country campus. Meanwhile, the 40 class sections offered at Canyon Country during the winter session represented the campus’ largest winter schedule since 2008.

In addition, an estimated 315 class sections will be offered at the Canyon Country campus during the spring 2014 semester — representing a high mark for spring.

To help put this all in perspective, the number of full-time equivalent students taking classes at the Canyon Country campus is on par with several of the state’s smaller community colleges!

For more information about the College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus please visit www.canyons.edu/CCC.

Where in the World is Wolitarsky?

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine, Spotlight News | February 8, 2014

It was winter break for “true freshman” Drew Wolitarsky, who is recognized across the Santa Clarita Valley, after record-breaking years on the Canyon High School Cowboys football team. He returned to the University of Minnesota in early January, where he began  his second semester, and back to football practice, though it is off-season now.

While the sport of football has often been compared to the art of war, there are other similarities that sometimes go unnoticed. It may be due to the seriousness with which football is treated by fans, coaches and athletes, but Wolitarsky has become acquainted with some of the sacrifices built into competing at the college level. Not only did John and Audrey Wolitarsky celebrate Christmas without the third of their four children this year (the University of Minnesota Gophers had a game two days later), but the family gathered without Drew to mourn the death of someone close to him. To read more about his loss visit www.santaclaritalife.com.

Though thousands of miles away from Santa Clarita, Drew Wolitarsky has developed a family atmosphere with teammates. In fact, after rooming in a dorm situation with fellow players, a group of them are moving into an apartment together this semester.

The living quarters are still on campus, said Wolitarsky, and when asked about food, he said, “Everything is provided, they take care of everything we need.”

What they need includes tutoring in multiple subjects, food, transportation and more for the players who, like Wolitarsky, attend U of M on full-ride scholarships. At Christmas the team resided in a hotel, offering as nice a holiday as possible while away from their homes. They all dispersed following their game against Syracuse University in the Texas Bowl on December 27.

For the couple of weeks that Wolitarsky was home in Canyon Country, he was stopped all over town, sometimes by adults he had never met. A lot of the conversations were the same, including, “What’s it like living in Michigan?” Wolitarsky would usually go on with the conversation, resisting the urge to offer a correction, such as, “I don’t know…I go to University of Minnesota.”

As for adapting to the obvious contrast in climate conditions, the college student said that when it is really cold, they simply stay indoors a lot more. He added that playing football in the extreme cold is less than ideal. “When it’s really cold, the ground feels like rocks,” he explained.

After covering the differences in weather, most people asked about school, whether he was happy with his choice of colleges, etc. His answer to that one, by the way, is “yes.”

A funny thing happened when Wolitarsky and his friend went out to a Canyon Country restaurant a couple of weeks ago. Read about it at www.santaclaritalife.com and click on “Tell Me More.”

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