Vision to Be Organized

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 25, 2019

With the popularity of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” you’ve probably done some self-examination to decide if a little change is in order. But if applying the KonMari method sounds overwhelming, it’s possible you just need a little help.

There are a lot of circumstances that might lead you to reach out to Canyon Country resident Christie Johnson:

If your “junk drawer” is a closet
If you’re the only child of a hoarder
If you’ve got mass quantities of something you defend with “What if…”
If inviting Marie Kondo to your house would make her cry

There are plenty more reasons to call a professional organizer like Johnson, and the bonus you get is she trains you to use new practices to make it easier for you to go forward without a repeat of untidy habits.

Vision to be Organized is the name of Johnson’s business, which involves her working side-by-side with you to create systems of organization that work for you. She is an objective party, able to put ownership of your belongings in perspective, while remaining sensitive to your needs and desires.

“That is a part of me as an organizer – I’m sentimental for my clients,” Johnson explained. “Other organizers might say, ‘You don’t need it anymore, it’s not doing anything for you.’ I will say, ‘Let’s document the story.’”

The clutter part of it gets addressed later in the process. Johnson approaches the client to suggest that the documentation is enough without holding onto the physical items, which may be furniture, like rocking chairs, or home goods, such as teapots or handkerchiefs. She’ll ask, “Do we really need it to document the story, or is there someone else in the family who could use it?”

One of the hurdles for an individual who has trouble parting with things is their attachment. “Why they have it in the first place, why they bought it, why they received it into their house,” she explained. “They ‘can use it someday’ or ‘why should they get rid of it if they don’t need to?’”

The majority of Johnson’s clients have read the book by the new Netflix star Marie Kondo about increasing your joy by decreasing clutter.

“Most of them have multiple organizing books in their house,” she said. “But applying the methods to it is another thing – it just doesn’t click.”

Perhaps none of us need another reason to de-clutter, but it’s helpful to be reminded of the advantages.

“Obviously, a kind of clear space, in the sense you have room to move around, so you don’t trip on anything or stumble,” Johnson said. “And health-wise, it contributes to cleanliness, because a lot of (knickknacks) bring dust into the house as well.”

She brought up another downside to ignoring the new trend toward tidiness: “The agony of throwing things in the spare bedroom and just closing the door, and then you don’t ever really have a spare bedroom available for a guest – which is impractical.”

Johnson’s home is nowhere near the image some people have of a stark, austere, sparsely-furnished house belonging to a professional organizer. She decorates with quilts, Swedish horses and plenty of memorabilia, mostly honoring family heritage, complete with a “genealogy wall” along the stairwell.

The most common articles that she’s seen residents purging are clothing and electronics. And for the latter, by the way, Johnson recommends smashing your hard drive.

One of the bigger challenges with clutter that people have is excessive paper. “Bills and receipts, trying to get away from the piles and files and the file cabinets,” she said. “If they feel uncomfortable getting rid of old papers, like tax returns, they can scan them.”

Originally from Nebraska, Johnson moved to California to work in the fashion industry, hoping for a Hollywood wardrobe connection. When it didn’t pan out that way, she ended up in retail management, later leaving the chore of working nights, weekends and holidays to launch her own business.

A scrapbooking fan during the ‘90s craze, she worked in a crafting store and found herself organizing a lot of photos as a part of assisting locals with their scrapbooks.

“They’d say, ‘There could be more photos, but they’re in that guest room’ or in ‘that closet’ or in ‘that drawer that’s messy and disorganized,’” she said. “And I’d say, ‘I can help you tidy that up.’”

That led to organizing various spaces in her clients’ homes in search of photos, and she realized she could expand her scrapbooking business, also noting the rise in organizing shows on TV. Next she found an industry affiliation to join – National Association of Professional Organizers.

She’s active in NAPO, including the Los Angeles chapter and a virtual chapter of the association. She also attends and speaks at conferences in and out of California.

Johnson will teach a class at the SCV Family History & Genealogy Fair at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, at 24443 McBean Pkwy in Valencia, on March 23. The conference is free and open to the public and will run from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. For more information, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/scv-family-history-and-genealogy-fair-2019-tickets-55138466638.

Her trajectory got its start early. Johnson’s first job was at a pizza restaurant, where she earned an award for “most organized.” Later, her interests and experience contributed to her current expertise and, like her colleagues, she developed a specialty. There are organizers with narrow specialties, including: photo books; video transfers; memory boards; kosher kitchens; and eco-friendly organizing.

The job of a photo and genealogy organizer requires a certain amount of flexibility, as there are ongoing shifts in the technology market. And sometimes it’s the client, especially those who struggle with ADD or OCD, she said. Tasks can get bogged down when they spend too much time making decisions about one small item or if they have way too much to wade through.

“I don’t specialize in hoarding, though I have worked on the TV show twice,” Johnson said.

As an assistant to another organizer, her first gig on the A&E series “Hoarders” involved a young woman whose mother had passed away.

“She was trying to keep the memory of her mom alive, and she had young children and wanted them to remember,” Johnson said. “There were photos involved, so I came on to help her work through some of the photos and some of the memorabilia even.”

The second hoarding project was a mother and two daughters whose household had deteriorated due to personal setbacks.

“The mom went through a divorce and she had some health issues, so her life just stopped,” Johnson explained. “As we peeled back the layers you could actually see the stuff in the house get younger and younger. The top layer was the girls’ recent boy craze and the bottom was their toys and baby clothes.”

But the job wasn’t as difficult to endure as it sounds, she said.

“It wasn’t dirty or dusty – it wasn’t bad, it was just layers of their life,” she said. “A team came in and everybody specialized in something different. Someone specialized in kids, someone in paperwork, someone in organizing the kitchen, someone for closets. We all came in and as soon as we knew what we needed to do, we gravitated to that.”

You could sense the family’s relief at the end of the job, Johnson said, but those scenarios can spark problems in the future, with a likelihood of recidivism. “We’re in there for two 8-hour shifts, and then we leave,” she said. “They didn’t learn the skills … they need training.”

She’s worked with various clients for 10-15 years now, witnessing growth along the way. “When I have the same client over time, their lives change,” she said. “The system they had set up may no longer be needed, so that needs to be changed. Like when they used to pay with paper, now it needs to go online.”

Johnson’s business has also experienced change since she launched it.

“Back then there wasn’t that much information about (organizing). They’d call me because they’d say, ‘I can’t walk in my house’ or ‘I can’t find this,’” she said. “Now there’s a lot of knowledge and information put out there – the books, the shows, your best friend getting organized and you not being organized … people are more aware of it than they were 10 years ago.”

The upside to it is that now it’s not as hard to get the client sold on the job.

As far as the reason some people need help with organization is due to many factors, she said. “There’s a genetic component and also lifestyle, and exposure you’ve had, education or no education,” she explained.

Johnson has guided people through the latest DNA testing, as well, but warns that family secrets sometimes pop up.

“I have a client who’s adopted and wanted to do the genealogy to find out who her birth parents are,” she said. “As I hand her the test, I tell her, “As long as you know it could find you siblings and other relatives.”

Johnson’s client responded affirmatively. “She and I are hoping for something very exciting,” she said.
For Canyon Country residents, living in a fire zone means they have an added incentive to put genealogy documents and photos in a safe place.

“It’s not just fires – it’s earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes – it affects everyone,” Johnson said, adding that people everywhere should scan their genealogy materials and put scans into a cloud service, such as Dropbox.

It’s the dual benefit to the whole process – absence of clutter and protection of valuables.

When asked her greatest satisfaction, Johnson said, “When we have the photos in beautiful books or they’ve all been scanned and all the scanned information is given to family members.”

Visit visiontobeorganized.com.

PC 273(a) – Child Endangerment

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 20, 2019

Residents of a Canyon Country apartment complex got a scare recently when they witnessed a small child standing dangerously in front of an open window and banging on the screen. According to eyewitnesses, the little girl was heard screaming and crying as she pounded against the screen of a second-story window. With the sliding glass open, the flimsy screen was the only thing keeping the child inside the apartment.

Neighbors quickly phoned 911, and emergency response teams were dispatched to the location. Deputies from the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station were attempting to get into the apartment through the door, but were having trouble, so a fire truck with a ladder was brought in to get the girl to safety. Fortunately, one of the deputies was able to gain entry to the apartment and get the girl from the window. The child appeared to have been left unattended and, once located, her parents were both arrested and charged with child endangerment. They were taken to the SCV Sheriff’s Station to undergo booking and processing and were held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Child endangerment is covered under California Penal Code 273(a) PC and is defined quite simply as willfully exposing a child to pain, suffering, or danger. Anyone can be charged with violating PC 273(a) – not just parents.
More often than not, the charge is pressed against an adult who has a child under the age of 18 in their care.
Per its definition, child endangerment may sound a lot like child abuse, but they are, in fact, two different things covered by separate penal codes. Child abuse is covered under California Penal Code 273(d) and is described as imposing physical injury or cruel punishment on a child. The major difference between child endangerment and child abuse is that, in cases of child endangerment no actual harm has to happen to the child. In cases of child abuse there typically needs to be some sort of injury to the child.

Child endangerment can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history (if any). If charged as a misdemeanor, the possible penalties include misdemeanor probation and/or up to 6 months in county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. For felony charges, the penalties include 2, 4, or 6 years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 and/or at least 4 years of formal, felony probation.

Vista Canyon Update

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | March 20, 2019

Canyon Country Magazine checked in with Stephen Valenziano from JSB Development to find out the status of Vista Canyon, which is the property in the Sand Canyon/Lost Canyon area. The first phase, building the water reclamation plant, is pictured.

“The Water Factory is complete – equipment now being tested and certified,” he said in an email. “We will operate the Water Factory for 18-24 months before turning it over to the City of Santa Clarita.”

It is scheduled to be operational in June or July.

“The first three-story commercial office and retail building is about eight weeks away from completion, with initial proposals and leases under review,” Valenziano said. “Street paving, sidewalk and curbs, street lights, etc. is now underway.”

And what’s next?

“Bridge design is 95 percent complete,” he added. “The City has redirected a grant and will be building the bridge, with reimbursement coming from future developer bridge & thoroughfare fees. Road intersection work is beginning in summer /fall, with actual bridge construction beginning in spring 2020.”

The city bus transfer station construction will start in a few months, according to Valenziano. Grant funding for the new Metrolink station is nearing completion and station design is 95 percent complete. Station construction may start as soon as late 2019 or early 2020. Over the next 5 to 7 years, the balance of 650,000 square feet of offices, 165,000 square feet of retail, a 200-room hotel and approximately 400 luxury multifamily units will follow in the Town Center portion of the project.

How has the rain affected the Vista Canyon schedule?

“It has been a difficult winter for construction projects,” Valenziano said. “The rain has caused us, and all other builders throughout Southern California, some delays.”

Dallas builders JPI purchased the west side of the Vista Canyon development and construction is now underway for 480 luxury multifamily units.

The east end of Vista Canyon is in a land sale transaction with a major national homebuilder, which is scheduled to close at the end of the month. They will build 245 small-lot, detached homes for sale and the first models are scheduled to arrive in October.

Look in the April issue of Canyon Country Magazine for another update … and possibly an announcement!

National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day is March 29, 2019

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 20, 2019

You see them when you drop off your dry cleaning, call out a plumber and have your trees trimmed. But the local business climate is benefited when you also choose a mom and pop company for other needs, such as clothes shopping, auto parts and hardware.

March 29 is Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, where communities everywhere focus on local companies that can more easily survive when we shop with them.

“When you own a small business, you pour everything into it,” said D.W. Cookie Co. owner Devar Ward. “It’s more value to the customer and to the mom and pop. Every dime counts, everything that comes in counts. It’s a way of supporting your own community.”

According to the National Center for Business Journalism, it’s the Small Business Administration, or SBA, that determines what falls into that category. It’s industry-specific, so in some cases the size of a business is based on the number of employees the company has, but in other industries it’s based on total receipts.

The agency considers “economic characteristics comprising the structure of an industry, including degree of competition, average firm size, start-up costs and entry barriers, and distribution of firms by size,” the website says. “It also considers technological changes, competition from other industries, growth trends, historical activity within an industry, unique factors occurring in the industry which may distinguish small firms from other firms, and the objectives of its programs and the impact on those programs of different size standard levels.”

An article on NationalToday.com offers support for celebrating small business.

“Our economy couldn’t run without small mom and pop businesses,” it says. “They create economic growth and provide almost 70 percent of all new jobs in the country. That’s why every year on March 29 we acknowledge the more than 27 million small businesses in this country by celebrating National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day.

Rick and Margie Segel put the “holiday” on the calendar in honor of their parents, who ran a successful hat shop. They launched the business in 1939 and it grew to a 10,000-square-foot shop earning $2 million. The emphasis is on “long hours, hard work and dedication” that small business owners pour into their work.

Local business owner Karitza Gladden of Roast & Perk in Canyon Country also keeps her parents’ efforts in her thoughts. They had a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, which means she knows the “fine print of running a business,” including the daily perseverance involved.

One of the biggest challenges, Gladden says, is “introducing a brand new brand, and gaining customers’ trust,” which can lead to success in standing out against the sometimes bigger names available.

That’s precisely the idea behind the national day of recognition.

“Mom and Pop shops bring fresh ideas to the marketplace,” the article says. “In today’s economy, when you can find the same products in every Big Box in every city, it’s refreshing to find something new which everyone else hasn’t discovered yet.”

“With big businesses all the stuff is automated now,” Ward said. “Sometimes the only interaction with a person you can get is that human interaction of a mom and pop shop.”

Paul Dell’Olio of Paul’s Paint & Hardware in Canyon Country finds his greatest satisfaction in providing that contact.

“There are many differences between mom and pop and big box stores, but number one for us would have to be when a customer walks into our store, we smile, we help and we care – enough said,” Dell’Olio commented. “Owning your own business is a lot of hard work. The reward is all the wonderful relationships we’ve developed with our customers over the last 25 years.”

One of the other good reasons to support small business is that their success gets poured back into your community.

Gladden makes a point to hire high schoolers, so they learn to feel comfortable with people, learn a trade, and experience work in the real world.

And during a recent season of fires, Roast & Perk, which is located in the Canyon Country Theatre complex, facilitated the collection of supplies for first responders.

The benefits go both ways, Gladden says: “Even though we are small, we are still receiving a lot of love from the community.”

The website encourages everyone to “share the love” with small business owners, suggesting creative ways to pay tribute to mom and pops. The most obvious one is to “shop local,” of course. And the second is to share what you’re doing on social media. The more attention these businesses get the better.

You can also simply drop a note to your favorite business owners thanking them for their hard work. After all, you may not otherwise have access to those extra soft cookies or custom made T-shirts.

The Great Outdoors

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | March 19, 2019

Life in Sand Canyon is never dull, especially with dramatic changes in weather this year. It’s been a wet winter, so Canyon Country Magazine checked in with some of our neighbors…

Wildlife Waystation

The Wildlife Waystation has reached out to supporters more than once for assistance. The constant rain has caused mudslides and flooding that’s affecting the lives of the hundreds of animals living at the sanctuary.

An email went out on Friday, March 1 from the Wildlife Waystation saying:

Thank you for supporting us! You’ve made a big difference this week helping to address our water, heating and repair needs. We are incredibly grateful.
We asked for your help this week because it is a very challenging time right now and our resources are strained. Also, since it is National Justice for Animals Week, we wanted to share with our friends and supporters some of the issues we face while providing the very best quality of life, which all animals deserve.

We›re asking one last time for your help this week. We have a large population of animals — much larger than most municipal zoos. A significant portion of our animals are geriatric or have special needs. Medicine is expensive. Analysis is expensive.  And, treatments are expensive.

The Wildlife Waystation has a full-time veterinary team providing daily care. Most sanctuaries rely on contracted veterinary support services to care for animals weekly, or even monthly in some cases.

For more information about the nonprofit animal sanctuary, call 818-686-6681 or visit WildlifeWaystation.org.

Placerita Canyon Nature Center
They have had a lot of water in Placerita Canyon, but the Nature Center is doing very well, says Evelyne Vandersande, editor of the nonprofit’s newsletter, “The Rattler.”

“There is no major problem with the stream, but it is running, and we love to see kids coming to play in the water,” Vandersande says. “I am sorry to say that we just received the news that the Canyon Trail won’t be open any earlier than next November. We had hoped it could be sooner.”

The Placerita Canyon Nature Center is planning its annual Open House, held on May 11, 2019.

Regular Programs
Every Saturday the PCNC offers a Family Nature Walk at 11 a.m. and a Native Live Animal Presentation at 1 p.m. There is no charge for these programs.

Every second Saturday of the month there is a docent-led Bird Walk starting at 8 a.m. for beginning to advanced birders. Bring binoculars, a field guide and water.

Every third Saturday of the month there is a Twilight Hike. Here’s the schedule:
March 16 7:00 pm

April 20 7:00 pm

May 18 8:00 pm

June 15 8:00 pm

July 20 8:00 pm

Every third Sunday of the month is the Community Nature Education Series, held at the Nature Center at 2 p.m. with a different topic each month. Check the website calendar for the current schedule.

Every fourth Saturday of the month there is a “Blooms of the Season” wildflower walk from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Every second Saturday of the month there is a “Nature Tots” program for children 3 to 5 years old from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Pre-Registration is required.

Canyon Country Resident Receives Award from PCNC

The annual Paul Levine Cup was presented to Placerita Canyon Nature Center docent Suzy Hermann of Canyon Country.

“Suzy’s attention-grabbing techniques while making a classroom presentation and unique educational approaches while teaching children is exactly what the Paul Levine Cup represents,” says an article in “The Rattler.” “Suzy motivates children in a way that enables them to understand and appreciate the natural features of Placerita Canyon. Many children come away saying they had the best day of their life.”

Originally from La Canada, Hermann became enamored with the outdoors as a youngster.

“My brother and I could wander the canyons, climb trees, throw rocks and just plain run around exploring all there was to enjoy outdoors,” she says. “It’s always better outdoors. We had dogs, cats, rats and snakes to keep us busy.”

She graduated from John Muir High School in Glendale and entered the nursing program at Pasadena City College. It was a chance meeting at a gas station where she jumped out of her car and hollered, “Hi ya, handsome!” that led to a 55-year marriage, the birth of a son and daughter – and now three grandchildren as well.

The Hermann family moved to Canyon Country when it was still called Saugus, where she heard about the Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates and became a member.

Life took her away from the PCNC during the years of playing softball and soccer, coaching sports, teaching swimming, teaching Sunday School, all while putting in 50 years of nursing.

“I always intended to return actively to the Nature Center and eventually did,” Hermann says. “All I had to do was retire, which came about six years ago. … For me, the best part of being a docent is time spent with the kids, enlightening them with new knowledge about the beauty of animals, plants, ecology and how to enjoy and value all that nature presents, and helping them realize that nature is not to be feared, but to be protected, while hungrily exploring it all.”

Second Annual MakerSpace Festival Arrives at College on March 23

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 19, 2019

Makers and innovators of all ages are invited to stretch their imaginations and ingenuity at the second annual SoCal MakerSpace Festival. Come celebrate creativity, resourcefulness and invention on Saturday, March 23 at the College of the Canyons.

The family-friendly festival will feature hands-on STEAM activities, free workshops and exhibitions of the latest cutting-edge technology, including 3-D printing, lasers and coding.

“We are very excited to bring the MakerSpace Festival back to the Santa Clarita Valley and the surrounding Southern California community,” said Andy McCutcheon, dean of the college’s School of Humanities, which oversees MakerSpace. “We hope this event sparks the imagination and creativity of attendees of all ages.”

Several keynote speakers will also be presenting and food trucks will be parked onsite.

The MakerSpace Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Valencia campus at the main entrance. Parking will be free in all lots.

Admission is free and open to the public.

Created by Maker Media, the first MakerSpace Festival was held in the Bay Area in 2006. Since 2016, College of the Canyons has operated two MakerSpace locations at its Valencia and Canyon Country campuses.

Both of the COC MakerSpace facilities have been designed as collaborative learning areas which give users free access to tools, materials, technological resources, skills training and a variety of entrepreneurial opportunities.

For more information about the MakerSpace Festival, visit socalmakerspacefestival.org, email christopher.walker@canyons.edu or call 661-362-3601.

Ask the Expert – What Steps Should I Take to Buy a Home?

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 18, 2019

by Craig Martin

Many people ask me what they have to do to buy a home, so I put together a short list of items to consider when you decide it’s the right time for you to make a purchase.

Check your credit score: This is super important and can be the difference between buying now or taking 6 to 12 months to get your score up. Your credit score will be a factor in the loan you qualify for, as well as the interest rate and cost of mortgage insurance. It’s also good to check for errors that can be fixed quickly because a Federal Trade Commission study found that one in four people identified errors on their report. The first thing I do with clients is pay for a credit report and go over it with a qualified lender.

How much can I afford? This is where you will need to talk to a qualified lender. They will usually look for a total debt load of no more than 43-50 percent of your gross monthly income, depending on whether it is a Conventional, FHA or VA loan. This is the debt-to-income ratio and it includes the mortgage and other debts like a car loan, student loan and credit cards. I offer all my clients a free consultation with my lender to find out how much they can afford and what the interest rate will be.

Down payment: The standard down payment for most mortgages is 20 percent of the cost of the home. If you can do this, your loan costs and mortgage will be lower, you get a better interest rate and you avoid the cost of mortgage insurance, which can save hundreds more a month. It is hard to save that much, but if your credit score is good you can also qualify for 3 percent down on a Conventional loan and 3.5 percent down on an FHA loan. Military vets that qualify can put 0 down and have no mortgage insurance costs. Also, remember that any deposited funds will have to be seasoned in your account for 60 to 90 days. The good news is that you can also receive the funds as a gift from a family member.
Finding a home: Now that you have good credit and have a deposit ready, based on what you can qualify for, it is time to locate a home. I truly believe in finding a local real estate agent who is an expert in the neighborhood you choose. Most agents get compensated from the selling side and there should be no agent fees when you purchase. Just beware of any agency compliance fees and ask your agent to waive them if they come up. And since using an agent is FREE to you, there should be no excuse in not using one to help you find the perfect home.

Benefits of an agent: Finding the right agent to help you in the home buying process will be very beneficial. I specialize in that process and all of my services are FREE – I offer a loan consultation and credit report, as well as up to $5,000 towards your closing costs and a FREE local MOVE when I help with your home purchase.


Canyon Country Business Briefs

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 17, 2019

In January, the City of Santa Clarita issued 32 film permits which contributed to 75 film days, generating an estimated economic impact of $1,645,000.
The following productions were filming in Canyon Country in January 2019:
Television Shows:
9-1-1 – Babies R Us (vacant)
Murder Loves Company – Sand Canyon area home
NCIS – The Conservation Station
S.W.A.T. – Sand Canyon area home
Ford Co-Pilot 360 – Sable Ranch


Phase I construction plans, which includes the rough grading of the site, Mint Canyon Channel and storm drain improvements, and the installation of an infiltration system, are scheduled to begin in late March. They scheduled a groundbreaking ceremony at the project site for Friday, March 15 at 10 a.m.

Phase II of the project, which includes the future Canyon Country Community Center building itself, is planned to begin near the end of 2019, as soon as Phase I is complete. For more information on the new Canyon Country Community Center project, visit santa-clarita.com/FutureCCCC.


Planning has approved an Architectural Design Review (ADR) to allow for the Dog Haus restaurant to construct a new 1,240-square-foot outdoor patio attached to an existing building in the Plaza at Golden Valley. Improvements include new seating with a canopy, built-in seating and new railing.


On display March 19 through July 31, 2019
Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library, 18601 Soledad Canyon Rd.
Santa Clarita, CA 91351
All of the work in this exhibit features the art of local artist Christopher Darga. After working as an actor and sculptor in Los Angeles, Darga picked up paints again in 2013, due to inspiration from a gift that he received from his wife – painting instructional DVDs by the Santa Clarita artist Morgan Weistling. Darga was inspired and subsequently immersed himself into the world of oil painting.

“From working for many years as a sculptor, creating busts of historical figures such as Sitting Bull, Geronimo and Abe Lincoln, painting seemed to come naturally. Working three dimensionally in clay helped me to transfer the observations of light and shadow into painting. The major challenge in painting was color and color values. I immersed myself in online courses and readings and gradually got a little better,” says Darga. “I’ve always loved realism, whether in sculpture or painting. It is a wonderful feeling to capture the likeness of a person or animal. I admire the works of artists like Vermeer, Van Eyck and Rembrandt, as well as Bernini and Michelangelo.”

To see more of Darga’s work, visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/ChristopherDargaFineArt.


Canyon Country Community Center

Get Your Game On at Family Dodgeball Night! (All ages)
Go all out for our Family Dodgeball competition! Throw, dodge and catch with the whole family tournament style. This friendly game does not require experience, practice or athletic ability to play. Come dodge, duck, dip and dive, as your family works hand-in-hand to beat the rest to be the best!
Friday, March 15
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Girls’ Night In (6-14 yrs.)
It’s time for the girls to shine! This evening will be full of dancing, crafts, games, painting fingernails and, most of all, making new friends! Dinner will be provided.
Friday, April 5
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Fee: $9 per person

Line Dance Night (18+ yrs.)
Line Dancing is a fun way to dance without a dance partner. Dancing styles covered in this special night will include routines like the Electric Slide, Cowboy Charleston, Black Velvet, Tush Push and more. Beginners welcome. Taught by D.J. Mike Bendavid.
Saturday, April 6
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Fee: FREE – No Registration Required

Visit santa-clarita.com/CCCC or call (661) 290-2266 for more information and to view a complete list of activities happening at the Canyon Country Community Center.

Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library

Children’s Programs:
Art for Little Hands
Art activities for toddlers and their families.
Friday, March 15
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Teen Programs:
Escape Room – A LepreCON Job
It’s almost Saint Patrick’s Day, and you’re determined to have genuine leprechaun treasure at your Saint Paddy’s Day party. You’ve discovered his treasure hold and tonight you’re going to steal it ALL!
Friday, March 15
3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

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

Film Screenings at Congregation Beth Shalom

| Canyon Country Magazine, Entertainment | March 16, 2019

A place of worship isn’t normally a venue for screening movie entertainment, but for the leadership at Congregation Beth Shalom’s monthly film series, being outside of the mainstream is a good thing.

“Five years ago, the CBS Film Series started as a way to bring wonderful and little known independent films to the community,” said Suzannah Warlick. “The two movie theaters in Santa Clarita typically show the same big budget blockbusters, (but) independent films don’t have those same budgets for publicity. They’re usually confined to film festivals and other venues you have to be in-the-know to find.”

The public is welcome to attend. And to get a taste of how unique the event is, among the movies they’ve screened are “Land of Milk and Funny” about an American Jewish standup comedian bringing colleagues to Israel and “93 Queen” about a Hasidic lawyer who creates the first all-female ambulance corps in New York City.

The CBS Film Series was designed to bring these diverse and lesser-known films into the public eye. At Congregation Beth Shalom’s first screening they only had 19 people in the audience, but it’s grown exponentially since then, so now they can typically expect about 100 people at the monthly event.

“With audience members spreading the word and bringing their friends, the film series even attracts people from neighboring communities as close as the San Fernando Valley and as far as Los Angeles,” Warlick said.

And the value is also a big draw. For the price of a $5 ticket, you get lunch and popcorn along with the movie.

“It’s a terrific way to meet new people and broaden your film horizons,” Warlick added. “We try our best to bring directors, producers, or relevant speakers to accompany the film for a Q&A. If we can’t make that happen, we still give the audience interesting information so they come away with an even better understanding of these amazing movies.”

The most recent film the group screened was “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast,” which has a score of 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The film featured Carl Reiner’s interviews with 90-year-old celebrities to get their insights about life. Dick Van Dyke, Kirk Douglas and Betty White were among those in the movie.

To stay informed about the Congregation Beth Shalom Sunday movies, you can get on a list to receive updates by emailing them at cbsfilmseries@gmail.com. You can also “like” the CBS Film Series on Facebook. Or you may also join more than 1,000 members on the Santa Clarita Monthly Independent Film Series Meetup group on Meetup.com.

East Side Night Life

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 15, 2019

Priority Ground: Music Open Mic Night
Friday, March 29 (7:00 – 10:00PM)
Priority Ground-Your Mailbox Direct, 20605 Soledad Canyon Rd., Canyon Country
A new Coffee House is hosting a monthly Open Mic Night. You will hear a variety of musical styles and you can participate as well. Musicians will sing and play LIVE. Snack specials along with a selection of PEET’S Coffees will be available. Listeners can hang out inside or outside.

St. Clare’s Fish Fry – Fridays
St Clare’s Catholic Church
19606 Calla Way in Canyon Country
The folks at St. Clare’s Catholic Church have gotten together for many years to prepare a Fish and Chips or Fish Taco Dinner for the community for Lent. It also serves as a fundraiser for local charities. You can eat there or get your order to go.
Fridays until Easter – 4:30-8pm

VFW Post 6885
16208 Sierra Highway, Canyon Country
Saturday (8PM-midnight)
Mar. 16 Big Coyote
Mar. 23 Servants of Soul
Sunday Afternoon (5:00-9:00PM)
Mar. 17 Chad Watson & Pam Lowe
Mar. 24 Breakfast w/Barbie
Mar.31 Susan Rey

Vincent Hill Station Restaurant & Saloon
553 Sierra Highway, Acton, CA
Mar. 15 Seventh Switch 8 PM
Mar. 16 Chrystal Waters 6 PM
Mar. 17 Open Mic 3 PM
Mar. 22 Overdrive 8 PM
Mar. 23 MILES 2 GO 6 PM
Mar. 24 Open Mic 3 PM
Mar. 29 Fulcos 8 PM
Mar. 31 Open Mic 3 PM

Bergie’s Bar & Grill
16404 Delone Street, Canyon Country, CA
Blues Tuesdays (7:00PM –10)
Mar. 19 In Memory of Skip Van Winkl
Mar. 26 Dallas Hodge
Thursdays SRBQ (7:00 PM-10)

Sand Canyon Real Estate Expert – What is it About Sand Canyon?

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | March 15, 2019

Yes, it is true, I have lived in the same home in Sand Canyon for 40 years and, God willing, that is where I will finish out my days. Simply said, it has been a wonderful place to call home for so many years. My neighbors are all great, many of whom have lived on my street – Ravenhill – even longer than my wife Kathy and I have.

Has Sand Canyon changed over the decades? I would have to say “yes.” There are twice as many homes today as there were in 1979.

So, what is it about Sand Canyon that makes it such a special place to live and raise a family? I believe there are a couple of reasons.

First off, there are the thousands of magnificent oak trees that line, virtually, every street in Sand Canyon. They bring a beauty to the area that is hard to find elsewhere.

Next, I would say the “special standards district.” There are no curbs, sidewalks or streetlights in Sand Canyon, with the exception of safety issues. That is to say, the neighborhood is rural with large lots, most of which exceed an acre.

Also, the Canyon is nearly surrounded by the National Forest, which adds even more to the beauty of the area.

Shifting gears, I’ll discuss the home sales market. Presently, there are 23 homes on the market in Sand Canyon with the average days on the market totaling 166. Of those homes on the market, only three are priced under a million dollars with the highest at $3,999,000, which is 13,000 square feet on over 8 acres. Over the last year, 37 homes sold and currently seven are in escrow.
You might like to know that sales of vacant land has been slow. There are many great opportunities for land, with 13 presently listed for sale and four having closed in the last 6 months.

Here is the bottom line, as I see it: There is no crisis in real estate, as prices are holding steady, in Sand Canyon in particular.

The last quarter has been a bit slow, but then, the end of the year and going into the new year is always slow, compared to the rest of the year. We are going into the best time of the year to sell or buy a home.

Also, don’t overlook the possibilities of building your dream home on one of the many beautiful lots that are on the market. Interest rates are still great. Does anyone remember the Jimmy Carter years?

Here’s looking forward to a great 2019!
Bob Kellar
Kellar Davis Real Estate

Joyriding Charges in Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 18, 2019

On January 29, 2019 a vehicle was reported stolen near Whispering Leaves Drive and Sierra Highway in Santa Clarita. When deputies located the vehicle, they attempted to make contact with the suspect, but he ran from them. A containment area was set up and the suspect was caught less than an hour later. He was arrested under suspicion of unlawfully taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent, as well as two other warrants, including vandalism and violation of a domestic court order.

Driving or taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent is covered under California Vehicle Code 10851 VC. It can be charged when someone drives or takes a vehicle without the owner’s consent, and with the intention of depriving the owner of the vehicle for any length of time. VC 10851 is often referred to as “joyriding,” because it isn’t quite the same as grand theft auto (GTA) which is covered under California Penal Code 487(d)(1)PC.

The two crimes are similar in many respects in that they both involve taking someone else’s car without the owner’s permission. The major difference between the two revolves around how long the suspect intended to keep the vehicle. Generally, when someone steals a car with the intention of depriving the owner of it permanently (whether by keeping it themselves or selling it), the person will be charged with GTA – a straight felony. If, however, a person takes a car without permission with the intention of keeping it only for a short while, it’s more likely they will be charged with joyriding – which is a “wobbler.”

A lot of California crimes are “wobblers,” which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal record. When “joyriding” is charged as a misdemeanor, the possible penalties include up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000. If charged as a felony, the potential penalties are increased to 16 months to 3 years in county jail.

Ask the Expert – Top 10 Ways to Prepare Your Home to Sell Quickly and for More

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 16, 2019

I’ve seen many homes that would sell more quickly and for more money if only the seller spent a little time and money preparing it. I seldom walk out of a home with a buyer who doesn’t have complaints about at least one item that could have been a simple fix to make the home more appealing.

These are the top 10 items that buyers complain about and how to address them:

  1. De-clutter. All extra items should be packed in boxes and stored in the garage. Remove furniture that is unnecessary or too big for the room. Remember, you are moving, so start packing and get those items out of sight. This will make the rooms look larger.
  2. De-personalize. You want to make prospective buyers feel like they can see themselves living in the home. It’s important to remove all pictures of your family, or any personal items.
  3. Paint / touch-up. After living in your home for years, the walls will look worn and your colors may be too bright for the buyers. It is very cost-effective to have a fresh coat of paint in the main rooms. Also, make it a neutral color to appeal to the majority of buyers.
  4. Repair small items. Fix or tighten items that could make the buyer doubt the home was maintained. Make sure all door knobs and locks work. Fix or change faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms. Tighten door hinges and handles and make sure all light bulbs work.
  5. Clean and sparkle. Have a professional cleaner come in, and pay extra attention to the bathrooms and the kitchen. Also, have the floors professionally cleaned. You will be surprised how much better it will look, and the buyers may think it is only a few years old.
  6. Fix that shower. I get the most complaints from buyers about how dirty, gritty and used the showers look. Clean the tile and mildew with a professional product. Also, touch-up the grout and caulk all of the seams. This will help seal the shower and make it look newer. And don’t forget to put in a new shower head. It’s only $50 and will make all the difference.
  7. Lighting. Change those dated light fixtures. Put a fan in the bedrooms and a nice chandelier in the dining room. Small upgrades go a long way to adding value. Also, change out missing or burned-out bulbs, as this will help brighten the room and make it look more spacious.
  8. Open those window coverings. Make sure to open all drapes, blinds, shutters, etc. to let the light in and see outside the home. It makes the rooms look and feel bigger. Also, have the windows cleaned inside and out.
  9. Landscape / curb appeal. Make sure you can see the home by trimming trees and bushes, and make the home look alive by putting in fresh plants and flowers. Also, trim the lawn and add more water a few weeks before listing the home. This will make the vegetation look green and inviting.
  10. Professional walk-through.If you’re selling your home, it is always a good idea to have a real estate agent go through the home to help and advise you on your home’s specific needs. I include specific items on this list at no extra charge.

Canyon Country Business Briefs

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 15, 2019

In December, the City of Santa Clarita issued 34 film permits, which contributed to 89 film days, generating an estimated economic impact of $2,103,500.
The following productions were filming in Canyon Country in December 2018.
Television Shows:
Are You Sleeping? – Friendly Valley
S.W.A.T. – Bistro DK
Taste – Area home
Untitled Suits Spin-off – Backwoods Inn
Young Sheldon – Area streets
Feature Films:
A Mother’s Deception – Sand Canyon area homes
Butter – Rancho Deluxe
Dell – Sable Ranch
Volkswagen – Area streets
Music Video:
MISSIO – Sable Ranch
Still Photo:
Ford Transit – Vista Canyon


Phase I construction plans are currently out to bid and include the rough grading of the site, Mint Canyon Channel and storm drain improvements.  In preparation for construction, a number of trees that would be impacted by the channel construction have been removed. It is anticipated that Phase I will begin construction in April of this year.

Canyon Country Community Center
Teen Night Out (13-18 yrs.)
This evening, we will be joining the iTEENS at the Newhall Community Center to work up a sweat with an evening of dodgeball, Wii or computers in the Tech Room. Bring a friend! Activities will be structured. Membership and participation is required.

Friday, February 22
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Boys’ Night In (8-12 yrs.)
It’s time for the boys to play! This evening will be full of sports like dodgeball, soccer, broom ball, hockey and games using the SMART ProTrainer Interactive Wall. Dinner will be provided.

Friday, March 1
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Fee: $9 per person

Visit santa-clarita.com/CCCC or call (661) 290-2266 for more information and to view a complete list of activities happening at the Canyon Country Community Center.

Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library

Children’s Programs:

Make a Sweet Treat
Wednesday, February 20
3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Have fun making candy sushi!  This free program is for children in kindergarten through sixth grade.  Participation limited to supplies on hand.

Teen Programs:

Chocolate Olympics
Friday, February 15
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Celebrate post-Valentine’s Day by joining Chocolate Olympics at the Library! Using different types of chocolate candy, you’ll participate in fun games that test your athletic skills in interesting ways. Compete for prizes!

Adult Programs:

Pencil Me In
Monday, February 25
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Join us the last Monday of every month to work on your planner, whether it is for work or personal use. Supplies are provided, but feel free to bring your own.
Supplies: stickers, washi tape and more.

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

All Locked Up – escape rooms

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 15, 2019

It turns out a lot of people like to be locked inside a room with their friends and rely on their wits to find a way out. In fact, many of them put their money down and spend their free time in jails, crypts and police stations … well, sort of.

Escape rooms are creatively designed live action puzzles, where players get an hour to follow clues and find their way out.

If most of your neighbors are still doing the usual “dinner and a movie,” when they go out, they now have a chance to get out of a rut and try something new. As of two months ago, residents on the east side of the SCV can experience the fun and stimulation of an escape room without leaving Canyon Country. All Locked Up just opened behind Denny’s on Soledad next to Betitos in the space where Flair Beauty School existed for decades.

Mike Motherspaw and his girlfriend Danielle Desch wanted to give people of all ages a new option for entertainment and they chose a business that’s close to home – in more ways than one. Both Canyon Country natives, it’s an area that hasn’t had one of these popular live gaming sites in the past. And they chose the business model they did because they’re huge personal fans of attempting all kinds of escape rooms. So far, they’ve been to 45 different sites.

“Wherever we go we end up doing escape rooms – Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego – and we’ve done quite a few in Arizona,” Motherspaw said. “That’s what we do when we travel.”

But they’re not alone. The escape rooms at All Locked Up are already occupied at a pretty remarkable rate, a testament to the pastime’s popularity.

“We’ve met people who’ve done over 200 escape rooms,” Motherspaw said. “There are some real enthusiasts out there.”

If you haven’t been through one yourself, you may be wondering if visit after visit would get boring … but they’re all different. Motherspaw compares it to pizza, pointing out the obvious differences between what you get at a restaurant like Vincenzo’s vs. Costco. And that philosophy goes into designing their rooms at All Locked Up.

“It starts with a theme,” he explained. “One of our two rooms is a garage. Not a cave man’s garage – it’s grandpa’s garage … saws on the wall, it smells like oil, there’s still sawdust on the ground. It’s like an old garage.”

Then there’s the puzzle part of the business, which refers to the challenges participants face to “escape” the room.

“Once you get your theme you ask, ‘What do you find in a garage you could make a puzzle out of?’” Motherspaw said. “Some escape rooms are just keys and locks. Some are very simple. Sometimes we over-think puzzles … sit back and relax, don’t over-think it.”

His partner is the one who’s deep into thinking through and designing the puzzles, he said.

“My favorite aspect is when people go into our rooms and they say, ‘Wow – how do you pull this off?’” said Desch. “We love when people escape – their excitement and happiness when they get out, when they successfully do the room.”

In “The Garage,” which the couple considers a medium-to-hard range in difficulty, there’s about a 40 percent pass rate. That means that 60 percent of groups attempting to escape don’t get out within the hour allotted. But if that sounds too challenging or not challenging enough, All Locked Up has levels of difficulty you can choose from when you take on their other escape room, which is called “The Classroom.” Various paths are built into it, so it accommodates groups in a range of ages and stages.

“Every sound, everything you see, what things you see on the walls – the white boards, the clock above the white boards, like a movie, you forget that you’re in a retail location,” Motherspaw described. “Everything that comes into your brain when you think of a classroom has to be there.”

The Classroom is appropriate for all ages – 6 to 106, Motherspaw says – partly because you can choose the level of difficulty and also because they designed it to resonate with a family-centered community.

“All we care about is that they have a good time,” Desch said. “Even during the experience, we maybe give them an extra clue if they do a dance-off for instance … just as long as everyone who comes through has fun.”

Motherspaw is mostly responsible for the construction, which he said is minimal, involving just wood, dry wall and paint, for the most part. They plan to add “Aunt Debbie’s Apartment” next month and “The Morgue” close to Halloween. Their fifth room will be a rotational room, which means its theme will change regularly. “The Garage is going to stay,” Desch said. “It’s very customized.”

The business owners do their research out in the field. “Every time we leave an escape room we create a pro-con list,” Motherspaw said. “What did we like, what can we avoid, like if we’ve seen that puzzle too many times.”

The escape room themes he’s grown tired of, he said, are science labs and crime investigation rooms such as police stations. The most important aspect of the room design, he said, “is to be immersed in the experience. If you’re in The Garage there’s nothing that reminds you that you’re not in a true garage. Some people are all about the puzzles, but at the same time, it’s important to me that you walk into a room and it smells right, it feels right.”

All Locked Up is located at 18914 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country. You can reach the staff at 661-235-6969 or book your escape room experience at ALUSCV.com.

February is National Heart Month

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 15, 2019

Did you know that heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States? The American Heart Association wants everyone to become more aware of the factors affecting your heart health.

Heart disease can be minimized through your practices, such as choosing a healthier diet and increasing your level of exercise. American Heart Month creates the chance for individuals and organizations to raise awareness about prevention techniques, both at home and in the community.

Some of the recommendations on the government’s “Health Finder” website are:

  • Families should make small changes, including the use of spices on food, rather than salt.
  • Medical personnel can provide leadership within their communities, speaking out about prevention of heart disease.
  • Schools would be wise to make physical activity an important part of curriculum, preferably every day.
  • Individuals can inform their companies and organizations about healthy practices via newsletters.
  • Hosting community events raises awareness about risk factors.
  • Using social media such as Twitter to spread the word is also effective.

For more information about National Heart Month and other topics, visit HealthFinder.gov.

Voice of Empowerment Karli Webster brings it home with personal music on a new EP

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 15, 2019

Many an author with a book launch or an artist with a show has echoed concerns about how much appreciation they can expect from their hometown audience.

But if you’re Karli Webster from Canyon Country, you just got confirmation you really can go home again.

After becoming a solid Season 13 contender on “The Voice,” Webster is pursuing her vocal music career, including a newly released EP, “Bittersweet,” which she shared with an audience at Wolf Creek Brewery in Valencia last month.

Suzy Arias joined her friend to see Karli Webster perform.

Karli Webster (left) visited with locals Daniel Baca, Ysela Coch and Kennedy Poirier before the show

There were more than just a few familiar faces filling the Spiegeltent at Wolf Creek, waiting for the chance to hear the 22-year-old’s latest music. You could see Webster working the room, exchanging hugs with former classmates and chatting with family friends between performances by musicians that preceded her onstage – The Band Lexington and Dakota Spencer.

She stopped at a table to talk to Kennedy Poirier, who attended Valencia High School when Webster was at Canyon High. She said she’s becoming reconnected to the singer through a mutual friend, Ysela Coch, who invited Poirier and another friend, Daniel Baca, to the concert.

A former Sylmar High School classmate of Webster’s father, Ronson, was there for the concert. Valencia residents Lisa Sickafoose and her 18-year-old daughter, Jordan, wanted to hear the latest Karli Webster music after watching her on “The Voice.”

“It was amazing,” said Lisa Sickafoose about watching Karli on TV. “I was biting my nails.”

The release party and the new album were a great forum to show the young singer’s artistic growth since “The Voice.” Webster is defining herself with more clarity, which adds depth to her original music – which, in turn, connects her to the listening audience.

The five tracks on Karli’s new EP “Bittersweet” include original music, one song that the 22-year-old wrote seven years ago.

When she wrote “Catching Air” at age 15, Webster was ruminating over an end to a relationship that taught her the importance of self-worth and personal strength. For the “Bittersweet” EP she reworked the number with songwriters Terra Naomi and Hilton Wright and the album’s producer Dennis Herring, who’s worked with Counting Crows, Modest Mouse and Jars of Clay.

Dan, Jim and Deanne Barton took a table in the Spiegeltent to hear Karli Webster sing.

The song “When It’s Over” communicates her struggle to cope with anxiety and panic disorder.

“What’s a Gal to Do,” which dropped on digital service providers early this month, sends a broad message. “This song is about embracing femininity as power, regardless of who you are or what that means to you,” Karli explained. “I wanted to play off of the ‘sensitive, innocent, hopeless’ narrative that has been consistently used to define women in film, music, and history.”

“Anyone” is the first song Karli wrote after she was released from “The Voice.”

“At this time in my life I had absolutely no idea where my life was headed, but I knew for certain that I didn’t need anyone to tell me who I needed to be, and this song is about that,” she explained.

There’s another thing Karli Webster’s experiences seem to have taught her over the last couple of years, which you could see from the way she seamlessly connected people from the past with her current message along her artistic journey.

And that is: “The longest way round is the shortest way home.”

New Urgent Care a Shot in the Arm for Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 15, 2019

Your son splits open his knee; your daughter sprains an ankle; and you have chest pain. The old school solution may have sent your son to the doctor’s office, your daughter to X-ray, and you to the ER.

But now, Canyon Country has one stop to treat all of those circumstances: Exer More Than Urgent Care in the Facey Medical Building on Soledad Canyon Road.

Injecting the words “new” and “convenient” into a description of the east side of the Santa Clarita Valley is, for some residents, a big win.
But another claim that may be felt even more acutely by residents is that, by contrast to hospitals, “Exer is a fraction of the cost and wait time.”
According to Truven Health Analytics, 71 percent of visits to hospital emergency departments are unnecessary or could be avoided.
“We are going to redefine what urgent care is,” said Exer More Than Urgent Care CEO Rob Mahan. “We’re pretty passionate about what we’re doing here.”

What they’re doing, Mahan said, is offering patients a wider range of services commonly associated with hospital emergency departments, which lowers patient costs. Most urgent cares, for instance, won’t administer intravenous fluids, mostly because it ties up a room, which limits the facility’s profits.

“Low-acuity patients are going to ERs, where there are the highest cost treatments,” he said. “It’s unnecessary to send someone to the ER for an IV. When someone is transferred to an ER (from Exer), we review everything. We look at why.”

Exer More Than Urgent Care has a 2 percent transfer rate, he said, while other urgent cares send up to 20 percent of their patients to hospitals due to a lack of onsite treatment options.

Canyon Country residents won’t have to darken the doors of a hospital for a comprehensive set of services from EKGs and X-rays to pharmacy and lab tests. Exer claims to treat 80 percent of the cases typically seen in an ER and patients can purchase medications on-site for a flat fee of $25. The goal is to bring emergency medicine closer to patients, so Exer More Than Urgent Care partnered with Facey Medical Group to offer the walk-in ER alternative.
You might say it’s just what the doctor ordered, considering the Canyon Country area is a 15-20 minute drive to reach an ER. The new arrival’s proximity to homes may even mitigate occurrences of code blue situations.

Mahan made a strong statement to sum up the facility’s purpose. He said, “We’re going to revolutionize what an urgent care should be.”

Exer More Than Urgent Care is located in the new Facey building at 14550 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country and it is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is the 10th Exer facility to open in Southern California, the second in the Santa Clarita Valley. Other locations include: Calabasas, Pasadena, Northridge, Beverly Hills, Newbury Park, Sherman Oaks, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Stevenson Ranch. For more information, visit Exerurgentcare.com/urgent-care-canyon-country.

Dueling Doulas Night Nannies to the Rich & Famous

| Canyon Country Magazine | February 15, 2019

If you’ve ever brought a newborn home from the hospital, you know the familiar cry. It sometimes starts softly and builds as it gains emotion until it’s a loud, piercing, desperate wail.

That’s not a reference to your infant calling for more milk … but rather, it’s your own cry for help as you desperately try to cope with the exhausting work of feeding, changing and rocking your baby while suffering from a debilitating lack of sleep.

Every day there are new moms and dads in Southern California who choose not to go it alone, but instead they get another set of arms to swaddle the baby, someone with the experience to offer them some training along the way. In other words, Lily Marks of Canyon Country steps in.

For more than 15 years, Marks has served as a nighttime nanny to newborns so parents get a break – including a reasonably long stretch of sleep.

“I try to make the parents as comfortable and stress-free as possible,” she said. “I find that when you bring home a baby, they can’t express how they’re feeling, so you have to put it together like a puzzle and guess. I’m helping them figure out what’s best for them. … I try to leave them with tools so they can figure it out on their own.”

A kind of “doula to the stars,” Marks has been a night nurse for major celebrities – (hint: check the “highest paid actors” list) – and musicians, including a member of Linkin Park and his wife, as well as producers, directors and other entertainment industry people.

She can’t reveal the names of clients due to confidentiality agreements, but what Marks is hired to guard is much more valuable than their privacy. And it’s clear she’s made a lot of parents very happy, as many of her clients are hiring her to return when they give birth to their second and third babies.

Lily Marks has 15 years of experience as a doula.

“Everybody’s been super, super nice for the 15 years I’ve done it,” she said. “A lot of them have instincts that kick in and I try to help those come out so they can really listen to them after I leave. A lot of them don’t feel confident to do it on their own and some postpartum creeps in. The other half of the job is being a counselor and building up their confidence.”

The seasoned night nurse owes her career choice to a neighbor she had, back when Marks was a young mother, widowed and raising two young daughters on her own.

“I was a stay-at-home mom and my neighbor was a labor and delivery nurse at Cedars-Sinai,” she said. “I had wanted to go back to school and become an RN and she told me, ‘If you ever want schooling, I teach doula classes at Cedars-Sinai.’ … It was a perfect opportunity to work nights, because I wanted to be home with the girls.”

After being trained, Marks worked for her neighbor’s company, Birth, Baby & Beyond, going to the homes of newborns, helping the women with breastfeeding and teaching them to bathe their infants. She later formed her own company, and now she is contacted by pregnant parents months in advance who want her schedule clear for them when their babies arrive. She can work several nights in a row, but has to book nannies in between so she can rest.

Mary Sloan works her magic with kids of all ages.

Sand Canyon resident Mary Sloan has served as a backup system for Marks on several occasions over the last couple of years.

“You’re there for the baby so the mom can sleep,” Sloan explained. “The baby wakes up, you change the diaper, you quietly go in and give the baby to mom. Some moms like you to bring the baby in to nurse, and some moms pump and you bottle feed. She sends you a text when she’s finished and you go get the baby, burp them and put them back to sleep.”

Getting babies to sleep has never been a big problem for Sloan.

“When they wake up and are crying you’ve got to figure it out,” she said. “I love little babies and kids. I’m comfortable with them; I don’t freak out.”

With three children of her own, Sloan has plenty of experience with kids, babysitting a lot as a girl and spending time with nieces and nephews before she became a mother. Sloan is CPR-trained and when she covers for Marks it could be in Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills or as far away as Newport, which is the farthest distance Marks has traveled for the job.

Typically, the doula has her own room, either with the baby or next door to the nursery. Or at times, there’s a comfortable couch for the night nurse next to a bassinet in a family room. Either way, the job’s the same.

“You do get some sleep,” Sloan explained. “It’s tough, though. I’ve done two nights in a row, or twice in a week. You’re exhausted the next day.”

There are often other parties involved, including housekeepers, day nannies and mothers or mothers-in-law. Sometimes doula services are gifts to the new mom and dad from grandparents of the infant.

“I make sure to ask if they’re OK with this or that,” Marks said. “I’m here to suggest tools and ideas. I never want to step on anybody’s toes. My concern is teaching parents how to deal with their babies.”

The most challenging factor, Marks said, is getting infants to sleep through the night as quickly as possible. And at times she cares for a baby with colic. “You have to figure out what formula is good,” she said. “And I just hold them; holding them upright is usually best to calm them down. Sometimes time is the best thing.”

For those who are lucky enough to hire a knowledgeable, experienced night nurse, it’s a softer, quieter introduction to parenthood. But imagine the benefits when baby whisperers like Lily Marks and Mary Sloan teach new parents to care for their infants proficiently … especially if it’s true that the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.

Ask the Experts – Real Estate Related

| Canyon Country Magazine | December 20, 2018

by Dean Glosup – Which home sellers are your typical clientele and what is your process?

I buy distressed properties. Generally speaking, if a person just wants to put their house on the market and sell it, they should research and find the most active local brokers in the area. Select a couple and talk to them to make a determination of who you feel best with.

That’s the first thing I do, because when someone wants the most money for their house, I’m not their guy. I am a broker, but I don’t do that.

I buy distressed properties. I buy, fix and sell houses. And the best way to determine whether or not it’s distressed is to see why they’re selling it. The properties I specialize in don’t have to do with location or even type. They’re situational, such as:

Homeowner died and the relatives don’t know what to do with the house
Homeowner has to downsize
The property is in disrepair or is a mess and the homeowners are embarrassed to show the house
In foreclosure or behind on payments
Damaged by fire or flooding, etc.

I buy, rehab and sell, and generally don’t keep properties. I don’t buy them for top dollar, nor do I sell them for top dollar. I get a deal, then I want to pass that deal on to whoever buys it from me.

What if someone wants to sell their house for top dollar?
Basically, go through the house and update it – if it’s an older house.

Make sure it’s painted and there’s no rotten wood or anything like that.

Your yard should be maintained properly or be brought up to speed.

Staging is important. If you’re living in the house, you’ve got to keep it super neat and clean. If you have moved and there are tenants, move them out and have it professionally cleaned. Then call a property staging company. They’ll come in and move some furniture, bring in plants, etc. When people walk into an empty house, they have to use their imagination and they don’t know if their things will fit.

Dean Glosup of Dean Buys Houses is a 30-year resident of Santa Clarita and has purchased and resold more than 30 houses from 2001 to today. You can reach him by calling 661-618-7015.

by Craig Martin – Is today’s housing market a good time to buy a home?

It’s the American dream to stop paying rent and own a home. Many people wait to buy real estate, but the truth is, you buy real estate and wait. There are many benefits of owning a home, and in the long run, it is the truest way to build stability and wealth for your future.

In many areas of Canyon Country you can still buy a home with a payment equal to what you would pay for rent, yet get all the benefits. With mortgage rates rising but still at historic lows, and with no-money-down VA loans and 3.5 percent FHA loans available, it is still a good time to buy a home.

Most of your home mortgage payment comes back to you over time. A typical entry-level home in Canyon Country goes for around $500,000. If you put down 3.5 percent on an FHA loan, you would only need $17,500 down, which you can also receive as a gift from a family member. The loan balance at current rates would be a payment of around $2,400. Now add property tax, home and mortgage insurance, and your total payment is around $3,000 a month, which is close to what it costs to rent.

Additional benefits and savings include:
Income tax benefits – By deducting loan interest and property tax on your income tax return you can save approximately $500 a month.
Principal reduction – On a 30-year-loan, approx. $700-$800 a month would go towards paying down the loan and building equity at the start.
Appreciation – Historically, homes have gone up an average of around 4.3 percent per year over the last 60 years. That means that over time you could be getting back up to $1,790 monthly from appreciation.

So, by looking at only three of the benefits you can see that your $3,000 monthly payment minus what you get back in income tax benefits of $500, principal reduction of $800 and appreciation of $1,790, you would be getting back around $3,090. That means your monthly home payment is all coming back to you over time, while if you rent, the $3,000 is gone and you never see it again!!

Also, with inflation and current rents going up 8 percent a year, you would save an additional $240 a month after the first year by paying a fixed-rate mortgage instead of a rent increase that will go up annually.

And with capital gains benefits you would pay no tax on the profits of up to $250K for a single person and $500k for a married couple. That means if you sold the home in 30 years for $1,000,000 it would all be tax exempt.

By putting down $17,500 for a $500,000 home that is saving you and giving back around $3,000 a month ($36,000 a year), it’s a return of over 200 percent a year on your home, which you live in and enjoy.

That is why a homeowner’s net worth is 36 times that of a renter and a big reason why around 95 percent of a person’s wealth comes from owning a home.

I specialize in helping renters and first-time buyers purchase a home, working with several lenders that have programs to get buyers qualified. I include my Home Rewards Program that gives you up to $5,000 towards your home purchase and a free local move.

Craig Martin / Realty ONE Group / 661-361-6843

Adapt and Overcome – Our firefighters serve where they’re needed

| Canyon Country Magazine | December 19, 2018

If our local firefighters weren’t already heroes in your mind, you may be impressed to hear they provided manpower to battle the recent “Woolsey Fire” in Malibu. And what’s perhaps equally significant is their reaction when you ask about the dramatic scope of that blaze and the massive “Camp Fire” in Paradise, California.

They say it’s just business as usual.

“We support the incident in any way we can,” said Capt. Paul Popp of Fire Station 132, a 20-year veteran of the department, whose “structure defense” engines were sent out to save homes.

When fires break out, like the recent California blazes, the fire captains institute “telephone standby,” which puts personnel on notice, to get all hands on deck. Engineer Tony Carcioppolo was at Fire Station 132 for 12 consecutive days, because some of his staff were sent to the Woolsey Fire. He had to cover for Capt. Popp and the strike team, who went to Malibu, where they did “mop up” duty and patrolled for hot spots.

“We have engines in reserve throughout the county,” Carcioppolo said. “Some of the firefighters who cover the east end of L.A. County and Orange County moved personnel to cover our stations.”

In summer, firefighters carry “strike team bags” with extra clothes, MREs (like the military’s meals) and sleeping bags. They have to respond quickly to brush fires, which occur in the Santa Clarita Valley about 4-5 times per week during fire season.

Each station has a separate jurisdiction and respond to a lot of emergency medical services, or EMS, calls that come in. Station 132, which is located at the entrance to Stetson Ranch on Sand Canyon Road, responds to incidents on the 14 freeway, in addition to brush fires.

When fires break out, adjoining stations send backup, and the L.A. County Fire Dept. joins forces with the U.S. Forest Service.

“We integrate very well together,” Capt. Popp said. “We use common frequencies and common terminology.”

With big blazes such as the Woolsey Fire, there’s an incident command system that serves as the hub of the team efforts.

The strike team reports to “staging,” Carcioppolo said. “With big fires you’re a little more cautious, because there’s a reason it’s so big and you don’t know the area,” he said. “You’re more focused on doing the basics right, to set you up for success.”

Firefighter Aurelio Sanchez and the Station 132 team went to Malibu Lake while the fire was active. One of the challenges, he said, was ineffective radio communication, so they sent a message by computer warning that they were starting independent action. First, a crew from another engine informed them of hazards, and then Sanchez’ team drove the truck uphill, where they joined others in protecting structures – saving as many homes as possible.

As bad as the damage from the Woolsey Fire, the Camp Fire was the worst in California history. It was the result of a bad combination, according to Capt. Popp: high temperatures, wind, and a heavy fuel load.

“You have all the trees and undergrowth,” he explained. “Everything is receptive, so the rate of spread is incredibly fast.”

Preventing Fires
A lot of residential fires begin when an “ember cast” gets under the eaves of a house.

It’s not entirely preventable, of course, but if you have enough advanced notice, the firefighters said, cover the attic vents. That’s where embers tend to enter the structure and burn the whole house.

Clearing brush around your house is, of course, important. But also, you should move combustibles away from your house, such as firewood, as well.

Properties with regularly irrigated lawns help to deflect the spread of a blaze, but hosing down your roof doesn’t help much, the three firemen said.

Local fire stations are calling in extra personnel because of the threat of mudslides. Residents can pick up sand bags from the stations and some of them also have sand onsite. If the station nearest you doesn’t have sand to fill the bags, fire personnel can direct you to one that does.

For more information, you can swing by one of Canyon Country’s stations for written materials. There’s a “personal wildfire action plan” called “Ready! Set! Go!” and a booklet called “Homeowner’s Guide for Flood, Debris, and Erosion Control.”

In the meantime, though the threats will come and go, Canyon Country can rest easy because, as Carcioppolo said, an important part of their job is to “adapt and overcome.” And they’re prepared.

New Business – Roast and Perk

| Canyon Country Magazine | December 19, 2018

Canyon Country moviegoers have a new hangout where they can grab a pre-flick coffee or catch an after-movie snack. It’s also a new venue for residents to get a fresh, handmade breakfast or lunch every day of the week.

Roast & Perk opened in October in the Edwards Stadium Theatre complex, next to Canyon Country Veterinary Hospital.

“I grew up in the restaurant industry,” said Karitza Gladden, who owns the café with her husband, Doron. “My parents owned a restaurant in downtown L.A., and from age 12 I was in the kitchen, a busser, a waitress … and then I was doing the back of the house. … I learned the business inside and out.”

Her family still has a Central American restaurant in Los Angeles.

“I’ve always loved baking and wanted to have a little café/bake shop,” she said. “And tie in my love for coffee.”

The couple works at Santa Clarita Christian School. Doron Gladden is a computer science teacher and Karitza does the coordination for the home school program at the local private school, which is across the street from Roast & Perk. Their older children – Mia, 12, and Michael, 11 – are SCCS students, and their youngest daughter, Emma, is 4 years old.

“We saw the location was available and thought, ‘Why don’t we go check it out?’” Karitza said. “We want more for our kids … what we can build for them.”

Roast & Perk began as a coffee shop with pre-baked goods, but a menu of fresh choices has grown out of the feedback the Gladdens got from customers.

“There was kind of a demand for lighter, healthy options for lunch,” Karitza said.

The café’s biggest hit is a pesto Italian sandwich, followed by the Greek toast, which is an open-faced Greek salad on toasted bread. It’s a vegetarian option.

“It’s nice and light and has all fresh and organic ingredients in it,” she said. “The feedback had people saying, ‘We don’t want to do fast food. We want healthy options without spending an arm or a leg for lunch.”

Karitza’s favorite menu item is the Caprese toast, which includes mozzarella and salami in a spring mix salad on toasted sourdough. Her favorite non-coffee drink is the acai berry lemonade, and her favorite coffee drink is called “L.A. Christmas.” It’s a spiced Mexican hot chocolate with a shot of espresso and a little bit of Irish cream.

The café is adding freshly made waffles to the menu for breakfast, along with other early morning options.

A number of the weekday customers are parents dropping off kids at SCCS and students who walk to Roast & Perk for acai bowls at the end of the day.

“For students it’s a great treat for after school,” said the business owner.

Karitza has different goals for weekend customers – mainly getting them to take notice, because Roast & Perk is on the west side of the complex.

“So far, people are getting to know us,” she said. “Moviegoers haven’t really recognized where we are because all of the food is on the left.”

There are currently two tables with benches indoors and two bistro sets outside. They plan to add seating as well.

Roast & Perk is open Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

They also host private events or parties. For example, a customer held a hand-lettering class at the venue. “We invited local teachers who want to create their own events. We make the space available for them and they create an event on facebook and sell their own tickets,” Karitza explained. “We’ll be rolling out our catering menu for holiday parties, office parties and our coffee catering too.”

The Gladden family moved to Santa Clarita in 2010 and currently live in Saugus. “It’s such a nice place to bring up a family,” Karitza said. “It’s a big valley, but still has that small town feel to it.”

Roast & Perk is located at 18836 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country; 661-367-4507.

Code Ninjas

| Canyon Country Magazine | December 19, 2018

Choosing an after-school activity for a child leads most parents to the same dilemma: finding an activity that’s safe, educational, and most importantly, they really like it.

Santa Clarita parents are in luck, because a new business opened this month for kids age 7-14, especially those who enjoy computers. Code Ninjas offers after-school coding classes – both a drop-in class and weeklong camps – with all the flare of a martial arts experience.

The classroom is called the “dojo,” like a martial arts studio. The students are “ninjas” and instructors are “senseis.”

When they start, the ninjas are white belts, and as they learn, over time, they work their way through the 10 levels to become “black belt” code ninjas, which takes approximately four years, start to finish. At the black belt stage the ninja is able to design an app and even market it to sell in the app store.

Similar to a gym membership, the kids can show up any time for two one-hour sessions, where they work on building their own video game as they learn to code. Drop-in hours are 3-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and Saturdays 9 a.m.-noon.

“We start out with foundations of coding and it builds to become more advanced as they come through,” said Center Director Heather Cunado. “There’s nothing like it.”

It’s the first of its kind in Santa Clarita and the franchise owner is local resident Matt Reeser. More than 300 Code Ninjas sites are opening across the country.

The Code Ninjas motto is “Kids have fun, parents see results.”

“Our main goal is balancing – to make sure kids have fun while learning to code,” Cunado said.

The first camp will be held the last week of winter break – Jan. 7-11. The morning session is Java Script Camp from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. The afternoon is Minecraft Create Camp from noon to 3 p.m.

Code Ninjas is holding its first “Parents Night Out” beginning this month, just in time for holiday shopping, or whatever else they want to do. Children can be dropped off from 7-10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14 and they will spend the evening building video games, doing STEM activities and eating pizza.

The community is invited to the grand opening of Code Ninjas on December 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can see the facility, meet the staff, enjoy refreshments and take part in a raffle.

Code Ninjas is located at 26867 Sierra Highway at Via Princessa in Newhall. You can contact them by calling 661-360-5050 or email SantaClaritaca@codeninjas.com. The website is Codeninjas.com

California Penal Code 647(f) – Drunk in Public

| Canyon Country Magazine | December 19, 2018

In the early morning hours of Monday, November 26, several reports were made to Santa Clarita deputies about a woman screaming in a Canyon Country wash. When the deputies arrived, they found a drunk, 67-year-old woman drinking wine in the wash. Once she was identified, deputies discovered that she had four outstanding warrants totaling over $200,000 for crimes including driving on a suspended license, DUI, battery on a police officer, and drunk in public. The woman was arrested and is facing a second charge of drunk in public as well.

Drunk in public is covered under California Penal Code 647(f) PC and is described as more than simply being drunk in a public space, which isn’t illegal. In order to be charged with violating PC 647(f), you need to be so drunk that you are unable to exercise care for your personal safety or that of others OR interfere with, obstruct, or otherwise prevent people from using public walkways, sidewalks, or streets. For example, if you drink so much that you end up passing out on the sidewalk, you could be charged with being drunk in public because you’re inhibiting other people from using that space while you’re passed out in it. However, a person who passes out someplace that doesn’t meet the requirement of being a public way, sidewalk or street probably won’t be charged. When it comes to whether or not you are able to exercise care for your own safety or the safety of people around you, a lot is left up to interpretation by police on the scene.

Being drunk in public is a misdemeanor with the possible penalties of summary probation, up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. In some cases, instead of filing charges, police can take the drunk person to an inebriation treatment facility (a.k.a. the “drunk tank”) where he/she can be held for treatment and observation for up to 72-hours. This action is usually referred to as civil protective custody, though unfortunately a lot of cities and towns don’t have one, which means criminal prosecution is the only option.

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