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Volunteers Needed for 23rd Annual Santa Clarita Marathon

| Community | October 12, 2018

The City of Santa Clarita is seeking volunteers for the 2018 Santa Clarita Marathon, presented by Parkway Motorcars, which is scheduled to take place on November 3-4, 2018. The event, currently in its 23nd year, will include a 5K race, 10K race and Mayor’s Walk on Saturday, November 3, followed by a Half Marathon and Marathon on Sunday, November 4. Also on Saturday will be an all-new Kids Fitness Challenge, presented by Kaiser Permanente.

The weekend will begin on Friday, November 2 at the Santa Clarita Health and Fitness Expo, presented by Boston Scientific. While the expo officially opens to the public on Saturday, runners can pick up their bibs and their official race shirt beginning Friday, from 4 to 9 p.m. The expo will be held in the northern parking lot at the Westfield Valencia Town Center, near Chick-Fil-A. At the expo visitors can connect with various health and fitness vendors on Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

On Saturday, November 3, runners from near and far will take to the streets of Santa Clarita for the 5K race and the new 10K race, presented by Boston Scientific, as well as the Mayor’s Walk, presented by Henry Mayo Fitness and Health. The next morning, runners will compete in either the Marathon or Half Marathon, presented by Parkway Motorcars.

During the expo on Saturday, parents will be able to purchase an all-day pass for their child to participate in the new Kids Fitness Challenge, presented by Kaiser Permanente. The Kids Challenge is an inflatable obstacle course for children to navigate. An all-day pass is $10 per child and free T-shirts will be distributed with the first 300 Kids Fitness Challenge passes sold. Passes may be purchased at the expo site, beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 3.

Online registration for races is ongoing until Sunday, October 28, while in-person registration will be available during the Health and Fitness Expo only. Runners will not be able to register the morning of any race.

The City of Santa Clarita is seeking volunteers for both race days, and is in need of water station workers, course monitors to direct runners along the course and zone captains to oversee course monitors. The deadline to register as a volunteer is Sunday, October 21. To learn more about the responsibilities of each position and to register as a volunteer, visit SantaClaritaVolunteers.com.

The public is encouraged to cheer on runners at various points along the course both days. Street closures and times will be announced once they are confirmed. In the meantime, Santa Clarita residents can familiarize themselves with course maps online. For questions regarding volunteering, please call (661) 250-3708 or email volunteers@santa-clarita.com. To learn more about the Santa Clarita Marathon and register for a race, visit SCMarathon.org.

Creativity Advocacy – Creativity and Destruction

| Community | October 12, 2018

Creativity and destruction are two words that don’t seem to belong next to one another. After all, Creativity warrants something new being made and destruction usually destroys something—either tangible or intangible. Why, then, do I pair them today? Well, for one, I am writing a book on Creativity. It’s taken me years to get to the point of having enough word count to share my work with beta-readers in the hopes of getting it ready to format. I’ve collected the thousands of thoughts that have relentlessly been swimming around in my head and have painstakingly put them onto the paper. I’ve Created something that may look like a stack of paper, but really, it’s my heart. It beats silently from the page and the writing of it keeps me alive, figuratively speaking. Well, after collecting vital feedback from my beta readers, I spent the last six weeks writing the final chapter. I actually had so much fun writing this last section that I felt sort of giddy.

Sadly, just last week, after finishing the chapter, which completed the entire book, I destroyed it. I didn’t mean to. It was one of those Microsoft Word disasters where you press “save” after accidentally deleting a chunk of content. In this case, five-thousand words of content. Too bad it was not my Creativity research with notes and a linear argument. That can be reconstructed. This particular chapter was all from my heart—from author to reader. Fluid and emotional and impossible to reproduce. Technology could be blamed, but mostly I blame myself for not paying closer attention to that almighty space bar.

As I noodled around the Internet looking for a Mac-hack (after calling my brother, the PC genius, and my son, the computer nerd) I asked myself why? How? I tried not to cry my eyes out—after all, it’s not a cancer diagnosis. Nonetheless, this knocked the wind out of my sails. This setback made me feel like I could be knocked over with a feather, never to return to the manuscript again. This is only how it feels, not how it actually is.

Naturally, I tried to make sense of this mishap.

One of my writer friends pointed out the irony that was obvious to her, but that I could not see. The book itself is all about the process of Creativity and how important it is to honor process before product. If I enjoyed the process of writing these five-thousand words, then voila. I am enriched. The process functioned as a positive exercise in my life. In a sense, I was forced to take my own prescription—to honor process without worrying about the end result. I can never retrieve these words. They came and went without permanence.

I mused over this for a while and then realized that painters experience this sort of thing all the time. My friend Lorelle Miller regularly participates in sidewalk chalk festivals, where giant masterpieces are Created outside on the asphalt or concrete and then washed away. Ice sculptures, too, are a version of Creating and destroying. Bakers who ornately decorate wedding cakes know their work will be consumed; they know it will be gone within hours, its purpose served. What about designers who create ornate structures for a short run at the theater, only to be the first to strike the set on closing night?

Artists who are prepared to let go of their work experience a freedom in the act of Creating that, surprisingly, is enriching and expansive. When I place myself in the company of these dedicated Creative souls, I feel a little bit better. I am trying to accept the fact that destroying my work can teach me and mold me as a writer, which means I am still in process myself and thus my development as a writer mirrors my Creative output. It’s pretty cool, I guess, that Creativity and destruction, while polar opposites, can function to knit me together and help me become a better artist.

Jungian psychology purports that Creativity involves the reconciling of tensions between opposing forces. When we embrace this tension as a way of rising to a higher plane for a new perspective, we expand and grow. By accepting this in my own mind, I am encroaching upon an innovative freedom. I like this angle because it keeps me from frustration and invites my curiosity.

Could this idea extend to others who may not be writers or artists? Perhaps something may just have to die before something new can be born. Maybe there is destruction before every new creation—an ending to a stage before the next stage begins. Raising kids was like that! There is no substitution for learning to trust in process, whether it is in artistic endeavors, home improvement, cooking or athletic accomplishments. Creativity and destruction are opposing sides of the same coin that can help us to grow in our approach to life itself.

It’s a Dog’s Life

| Community | October 11, 2018

by Harry Parmenter

It’s been nearly three weeks since Charlie died and the void he left just seems to widen, the loss burnished by time. Charlie was our family dog, a small, fierce, loving and protective mix of Schipperke, Chihuahua and mutt. Black coat sprayed with white triangles across his throat and chest, Charlie joined us 13 years ago, shortly after we married New Year’s Day 2005. It was the beginning of the blended family experiment, both of us divorced with three kids each in tow, more Wild Bunch than Brady Bunch.

After purchasing a six bedroom, three bathroom house in Canyon Country a year prior, the rocky road to integration commenced in earnest. Four girls, two boys, aged nine to nineteen, all rolled into a house of hormones and emotions sweet and salty; the kids sometimes weekend visitors, sometimes permanent residents, lots of attitudes and adjustments for all involved, including my wife and I. Getting a dog was one unanimously popular decision.

We piled into a pair of vehicles one crisp Saturday morning, almost all the brood in tow, and sailed down the 126 and up a long dirt road somewhere in Santa Paula. Eventually we made our way to a worn, sprawling compound, a house, a barn and a couple of shacks and other small structures, the cacophony of yapping canines greeting us as we disembarked.

I can’t recall if it was four or five of the kids there with us, but I know somebody was missing. I do know the idea was not only to get a beloved pet to unite our incipient clan, but to do it especially for my 15-year-old daughter, a middle child who was struggling. Regardless, everyone was excited. There must have been at least 50 dogs at the place, some running free, others confined to half a dozen coops. A frazzled woman with brown hair, jeans and a red and black plaid shirt slammed open a screen door at the house, her voice whipping through the winter air.

“You the ones who called?”

“This morning, yes,” said my wife. “Raquel?”

“Right! Welcome!” She held the door open and a huge brown Doberman bolted out of the house past her. “Brutus!” She bellowed as the beast headed straight towards us. “BRUTUS!” My ten year old son coiled behind me as the dog neared, and I flashed on Sherlock Holmes battling the hound of the Baskervilles on a foggy moor. “BRUTUS!!!”

The dog approached and, smelling fear, bounded up into my chest, his huge frame pushing me back, excited eyes and a square, panting snout as big as a baseball mitt. The tail wagged furiously.

“Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite,” shouted Raquel as a telephone rang inside the house. Just as fast as he’d made his introduction Brutus was gone, drawn by a pair of German Shepherds loping across the parking lot. My son released his grip on my jacket.

“Help yourself, look around,” said Raquel. “I gotta grab this.” She disappeared back into the house and the phone stopped ringing. We wandered around for a while, the smell of dogs, pigs, horses and everything that goes with them wafting through the air.

We eventually homed in on a small chicken coop, padlocked, two sleeping Spaniels and a little black dog hovering in the back behind a water bowl. At first, he ignored our entreaties, and then gradually inched towards us. His eyes were filled with cautious uncertainty, his ears pulled back, but finally he put his face up to the mesh, a look of hope, fear and adoration. I had seen a similar expression on my daughter’s face when I’d picked her up at her mother’s house the night before.

“Dad, he likes us!” she cried.

Raquel told us he was somewhere between three and five years old, abused, abandoned. His name: Zeppo, just like the fourth Marx Brother. That was all I needed to hear. We took him home and rechristened him Charlie. I had never heard of a Schipperke until then—a small, Belgian dog originated in the 16th century: “Fearless, agile, independent, confident, faithful.” Talk about spot on.

Fearless: he went right at a coyote in our backyard one summer night and the creature, thrice his size, bolted. True story. Agile: he’d jump up onto the kitchen table after we left and sleep with one eye open—ever wary of intruders–only to be later seen leaping off when you pulled back into the driveway, filling the air with a big bark belying his size, then twirling in fervent circles once you unlocked the door, his tail a blur, the eyes no longer uncertain but gleaming, ecstatic. Curious: always up for a car ride or a neighborhood sniff. Independent: “Charlie, GET IN THE HOUSE!” became a household mantra. Confident: Trotting outside, marking territory—an unfortunate habit he shared with a certain living room couch—I can still see him furiously wiping his back feet on the grass, emphatically making a point I never quite grasped.

And like all dogs, of course, faithful. Charlie certainly was, an endless shadow, never wanting to be away from the action, the family, not to mention the food. Through the years, the good and the bad, the kids growing into adults, he was always there to inject happiness and good energy, be it a mundane, tense or celebratory moment. He was the black and white thread of our blended family, weaving through it all as one child after another grew up and left the nest.

In recent years he developed a heart murmur and other complications. We paid five or six bucks a day in doggie rx but it didn’t keep him from developing a dry, deep cough that wracked his little body for minutes at a time. It didn’t faze him; the tail wagged on.

One day I came home and my wife and youngest stepdaughter, who’d become the closest to Charlie of the six kids, gave me the bad news. It wasn’t a surprise but it was still a shock. He had gone out the dog door in the middle of the night like he had a thousand times before but this time died right there, eyes wide open. It was painful for us to realize that he’d been alone, not held by one of us in his final moments like he should have been, his soft neck resting in a friendly lap on the couch as it had so many times before. My wife went out of town last weekend and the house felt even emptier, soundless, her absence underscoring Charlie’s and his hard charging personality, which enlivened our home for so long. He was always there, watching, trailing, sleeping, barking, living … until he wasn’t. Somewhere I know he is furiously wiping his back paws on celestial turf and marking his territory, twirling in circles waiting for the loving members of his blended family to join him.

Passport Services Available at Newhall Library

| Community | October 11, 2018

On Wednesday, October 3, members of the Santa Clarita City Council visited the new Passport Acceptance Facility, located on the second floor of the Old Town Newhall Library. The new facility offers passport services to library customers by appointment.

“The Santa Clarita Public Library, has what you need for where you’re going – and now that includes passport services,” said Mayor Laurene Weste during her visit.

According to the U.S. Department of State, nearly 20 million passport books and cards will be issued this year in the United States alone. “Unfortunately, high demands can translate to long wait times. That is why we are excited to be able to offer this convenient service at your local library,” added the Mayor.

The new facility offers the following services:
First-time passports
Passport renewals, for passports issued before the applicant was 16 years of age
Renewals for expired passports, issued more than 15 years ago
Replacements for lost, stolen or damaged passports
Passport photos

For facility dates and hours, fee information or to schedule an appointment, visit the Passport Services website at SantaClaritaLibrary.com/Passport-Services.com. The Old Town Newhall Library is located at 24500 Main Street.

To learn more about the management of the service, contact Library Administrator Gina Roberson at (661) 799-6105, or at groberson@santa-clarita.com.

Use Your Own Superpower to Increase Self-Worth

| Community | October 11, 2018

A workshop, hosted by Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley, will help participants “transform challenges into power & catapult to success; resolve problems with ease and confidence and find gifts in baffling situations.” This free LifeForward workshop is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, October 20, at Savia Community Center, located at 23780 Newhall Ave in Newhall. Individuals will be able to learn how to increase their feelings of self-worth, believe in themselves and feel good.

Expert Laura Cazares will share her knowledge with the audience as she presents ways to feel good and empowered by using your own inner superpower. Laura is a certified Life Mastery Consultant and DreamBuilder coach. Since 1986, she has worked with people to unleash their inner hero and transform obstacles into powerful forces for their success.

Participants are not required to register in advance, however, free childcare is available through Single Mothers Outreach (SMO) and the children must be registered at least one week in advance by calling the organization at 661-288-0117. Spanish translation can also be provided upon request. The topic presented will be empowering and uplifting.

Previous workshops in the series have helped women and attendees learn how to improve relationships and communicate more effectively, select career options, pursue meaningful employment, work on goal setting and time management, deal with anger management, set budgets and file taxes, maintain healthy eating and exercise habits, and provide advice before, during and after a divorce. Workshops are designed to help participants believe in their unlimited power and potential, build the skills necessary to succeed, and be the powerful women they are meant to be. All are welcome.

Zonta offers nine free LifeForward workshops on a monthly basis (with the exception of June, July and December), in collaboration with Single Mothers Outreach, Domestic Violence Center, Returning Women Veterans and Veterans’ Wives, and the Los Angeles County Department of Child & Family Services serving foster mothers.

Workshops are organized by topics developed from surveys showing expressed interest and needs. Flyers and a schedule of upcoming workshops are posted on www.scvzonta.org for women who are interested in a particular topic. Pre-registration is not required for those who simply wish to attend a workshop, but those who wish to hold a space for the more popular workshops or obtain further information on the upcoming workshop can call 661-288-0117.

Afternoon T

| Community | October 5, 2018

Q: Is there a way to ask for help without sounding pitiful or needy? Things have been tough lately and someone close to me is in a pretty good position to help out, but I’m afraid of looking bad in this person’s eyes (or anybody’s really).

A: Sweet soul, I know how difficult it can be to ask for help. Deep down, we want to prove ourselves capable of doing things on our own. Something that starts when we’re toddlers. That wonderful feeling of pride at our accomplishments, knowing we were responsible for a job well done. Honestly, one of my favorite phrases out of my children’s mouths, when they were barely capable of stringing monosyllables together, was the defiant “Me… do!” Whatever it was they were attempting, that triumphant phrase meant they were ready to tackle the task at hand before it was done by others. That sensation stays with you all the days of your life, likely growing after you’ve spent a couple decades test driving the waters of employment, relationships, finances and the rest. It hurts when one of the critical components of being an adult goes awry (job loss, breakup/divorce, crushing debt, etc.) and you have to approach another of your tribe to say, “Help me, please?” The idea you’ll be perceived as weak, uncertain, not smart/good/worthy enough (fill in the blank) and in need is frightening. I know. No, really. I know.

You should know, there’s an emotional see-saw effect when you reach out for help. While so many of us are wired with the “Me do!” recording, we’re also typically wired for the response of “Let me help.” It’s one reason caregivers often take ill when looking after a loved one, as they give and give until they give out, rarely accepting respite for themselves (the statistics are sobering). Therefore, asking for support is healthy for all involved. It provides a chance for others to give the gift of being of service. In fact, doctors say that volunteering wards off depression so, you’ll be doing a good deed by letting someone help you!

In her book, The Art of Asking (or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help), Amanda Palmer devotes over 300 pages that help you help yourself when it comes to help. Talk about a self-help book! (I also recommend seeking out her 13 minute and 47 seconds TED talk on the subject, too.) In it, she states:
Asking for help with shame says:
You have the power over me.
Asking with condescension says:
I have the power over you.
But asking for help with gratitude says:
We have the power to help each other.
You say you have someone you can turn to? If it’s a person you trust and feel they can lend a hand – and you would do the same in return – let them. Even Charlie Brown said, “Asking for help isn’t weak. It’s a great example of how to take care of yourself.”
xo – t.

Now and Then

| Community | October 4, 2018

2017 SCV Woman of the Year, Laina McFerren, is as comfortable serving the community as she is serving the “Staples with a Twist” at Wolf Creek, the Valencia restaurant and brewing company she co-owns with her husband Rob.

Originally from the Northern California area, Laina came south to study theatre arts in 1984. Her extra-curricular high school activities of swimming, dancing, and cheerleading combined with her academic prowess gained her entry to study at the University of California at Los Angeles.

During her lower division years at UCLA, Laina developed an interest in mass communication, prompting her to declare a major in that field in her junior year. She graduated form UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in Communications in 1988.

Laina began her professional career training servers at the Cheesecake Factory in Marina Del Ray. While her organizational and leadership skills were enough to earn her the attention of restaurant manager Rob McFerren, there was also a spark there that would develop into a romance. In 1990, family members and fellow Cheesecake employees celebrated the marriage of Rob and Laina. The couple settled briefly in Westchester as Rob continued on with the Cheesecake Factory, and Laina took on a new position at a restaurant in Pacific Palisades.

Laina McFerren and co-chair Ginger LeVang were thanked for the time and energy they dedicated to the Child & Family Center’s 2016 Taste of the Town by Cheryl Jones, vice president of marketing and community outreach for the Center.

A desire to own their own home as well as their own restaurant brought Rob and Laina to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1992. They used their combined restaurant experiences, coupled with Rob’s interest in brewing craft beers, to open Wolf Creek in 1997.

The birth of a new business wasn’t the only creative process taking place in the McFerrens’ lives; there were also the arrivals of daughters Amanda in 1994, and Gillian in 1999.

As their family grew, so did the success of the restaurant and Rob and Laina found that they were a favorite target for local charities, which were always on the lookout for “dining out” donations for their fund-raisers. A few of the volunteers who came to Wolf Creek seeking donations were from the American Red Cross. They encouraged Laina to join the organization in 2000, launching her on a second “career” – in volunteerism (she was named SCV Red Cross Volunteer of the Year in 2002).

Her community involvement with the Child & Family Center began as a vendor in the Center’s annual Taste of the Town fund-raiser. After a few years of participation, Laina came up with some ideas that could facilitate the coordination and set-up for her and her fellow food and drink vendors. She took those ideas to the event chairs in 2005 and soon found herself serving on the boards of the C&F Center Foundation and the Center Board. She served as chair of the Foundation board in 2012, and became co-chair of Taste of the Town from 2014 to 2016.

While the majority of her Child & Family Center volunteerism has focused on board activities and the annual Taste of the Town event, Laina has also served on the Adopt-A-Family Project, 35th Anniversary Celebration, Guardians of Hope, and committee work with the Center’s Santa Clarita Jazz Festival, Kid Expo, golf tournaments, and installations.

Laina joined the Valencia Industrial Associations Connecting to Success Committee in 2014, and became a board member of the College of the Canyons Foundation in 2015. Her involvement with COC has also extended to the Culinary Advisory Board, the Patrons of the Performing Arts Committee, and the Social Committee for Outreach.

During these years of personal service, both Laina and Rob have continued their in-kind restaurant and brewery donations to community charities like Carousel Ranch, Circle of Hope, Straightening Reins, Soroptimist International, and SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery.

Laina has also served as secretary of the Los Angeles Brewers Guild, a non-profit organization to promote and support the craft beer community throughout greater Los Angeles.

The craft beer component to the McFerrens’ growing food and catering business led to a larger brewing facility and a new out-reach project in 2013, which they call Community Pint Night. The Wolf Creek Brewing Company, located in the Rye Canyon Loop, is made available to local charities and service organizations every Tuesday evening for one month. A percentage of the beer sales goes back to the participating organizations.

The site has also become a popular fund-raising venue for organizations such as Rotary, which recently held a Car Show and Music Concert there, and the Child & Family Center, which initiated its action-packed Trike Derby there in 2017. The 2018 Trike Derby will take place Saturday, October 6, from 3-6 p.m., followed by a concert by the blues band, Kelly’s Lot & Friends.

Between their family life, volunteer activities, and business commitments, there isn’t much time for leisure pursuits, but when Rob and Laina do squeeze in some “down-time,” they travel to other countries and, not surprisingly, spend the majority of the their time sampling the local cuisine and craft beers.

L.A. County Department of Public Health to Provide Free Flu Vaccine Clinics

| Community | October 4, 2018

Along with those crisp fall days, flu season is coming, and the first and most important step in preventing the spread of flu is to get a vaccine each year.

The County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health will present two free flu vaccine clinics in the City of Santa Clarita, with shots provided at no charge for those who don’t have health insurance or those whose healthcare providers do not offer flu vaccines. Clinics will be provided on: Thursday, October 18, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Canyon Country Community Center (18792 Flying Tiger Drive), and Monday, October 22, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Newhall Community Center (22421 Market Street). As clinic dates and times are subject to change, please call (661) 287-7040 to confirm clinic times before you arrive.

Flu vaccines are for everyone six months and older, especially for healthcare workers, at-home caregivers, pregnant women, new mothers, elderly people, children under five and those with chronic medical conditions. The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu-related illnesses and the risk of serious secondary infections that can result in hospitalization or even death. The flu can cause mild to severe symptoms and complications, and infections can come on suddenly.

The single best way to prevent the seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits can help stop the spread of germs and prevent the flu.

Call your health care provider before getting vaccinated if you have questions about a severe egg allergy or if you have another illness before the vaccine clinic.

If you don’t have a regular provider, call 2-1-1 for a list of no-cost or low-cost providers.

Hero of the Week – Sarah Vacter

| Community | October 4, 2018

Sarah Vacter is a hero because of the difference she makes as a volunteer. That may sound like the obvious answer, or a statement people expect to hear, but it is different with Sarah. She volunteers for the cause to sincerely make a difference and focus on the ride.

Sarah Vacter was born and raised in Santa Clarita and started volunteering at the Bow-Wows & Meows Pet Fair after hearing about it from her co-worker. It only took one fair to hook her, and she’s been a loyal volunteer now for years.

Sarah does not require, need, or seek any attention for all she does. When she offers to do something, she has no agenda other than to achieve that goal. As a volunteer in any organization, there are “popular” tasks and “not-so-popular” tasks, but it all has to be done. Sarah seems to get that on a level that others rarely do. She is always happy to do whatever is needed. She doesn’t even hesitate. Whatever is required, she’s there and happy to do it. That is a selfless volunteer; one who is involved for the right reasons. When asked, her response is typically, “I’m happy to do whatever, whatever you need.”

Sarah’s specific volunteer focus is using social media for our organization. She is pretty out of sight, which, for many, means out of mind as well. We don’t always realize just how hard she is working, how many people she is reaching, families she is touching and all those pathways and connections she is responsible for. Undoubtedly, she changes the lives of others, including homeless pets and people through the incredible exposure she creates for our organization. The number of people who are reached by social media accounts for countless adoptions. You put all that together, and you have Sarah. WE have Sarah, and we are very lucky, indeed!

Sarah’s passion for all animal life, responsible pet ownership and follow-through makes her a perfect fit as a Bow-Wows & Meows Volunteer. She added an unwanted Pit Bull to her home last year after finding him running loose on the streets in Canyon Country. His owners didn’t want him any longer and let him and his sister go. Trust us when we say that “Ripley” had unknowingly won the doggy lotto!

Sarah now lives with her Pit Bull, Ripley, Chihuahua-mix Sadie Bird, a few reptiles and her boyfriend. If you learned of Bow-Wows & Meows via social media, you can probably thank Sarah, because she is likely the one behind it.

Now and Then – Trike Day

| Community | September 27, 2018

As a teenager, Valencia BMW’s internet/fleet sales manager, Robert Grass, developed a passion for bicycle motor cross (BMX). Combine his competitive cycling experience with a 21-year career at Gruber Systems, much of which was spent as Western Regional Manager, and his 15 years at BMW, and Robert was a natural choice to organize and chair the upcoming Child & Family Center Trike Derby.

Up until two years ago, the 37-year Santa Clarita Valley resident’s main association with local charities was confined to donating to and attending events like Cancer Walks and Circle of Hope galas. Long-time friend and C&F Center board member Nick Lentini changed all that when he talked Robert into co-chairing the first Trike Derby.

“I was hesitant to step into the position because my wife Kim and I have extremely time consuming jobs. Couple that with the responsibilities of parenthood and family activities involving our seven children and nine grandchildren, and there’s not many minutes left for anything else,” explains Robert. “However, Nick assured me that, as co-chair my commitment would be minimal and it would be a lot of fun.”

“Minimal” turned out to be helping with the tasks of signing up sponsors, recruiting teams, and developing a workable race format. With that experience under his belt, and what Robert describes as “not just a lot of fun, but a heck of a lot of fun” (he was one of the Valencia BMW team competitors), it didn’t take much coaxing to get him to take over the chairmanship of this year’s event.

Trike Derby Chairman Robert Grass

The races, which will once again take place at Wolf Creek Brewery, are scheduled for Saturday Oct. 6 from 3-6 p.m. (teams will have the chance to assemble and try out the course between 2:15 and 2:45).

Two four-“men” teams will compete against each other in individual races with losers consigned to a consolation bracket. Winners of each heat will continue to race, knocking off competitors as they make their way up the leader board. Prizes will be awarded for First, Second, Third, and Biggest Loser. Food trucks, craft beers, and a costume parade are also featured in the afternoon activities.

Robert’s BMW team will be defending its championship title against competing teams like Lentini Financial, Skyline, American Family Funding, AutoNation Chevrolet, Mercedes Benz Valencia, and Martin and Company. Some event sponsors already signed up include Stern, Kory, Sreden, & Morgan, Mike Berger, Salon Seven, Acura, Sue Reynolds, Barbara Cochran, 8th & Rail, and Suzane Duncombe.

The fun won’t end with the prize presentations. Immediately following the competitions, Kelly’s Lot & Friends, a popular blues band, will perform at the Brewery in a venue that may be unfamiliar to many Santa Claritans – the Cristal Palace Spiegeltent. The original Speigeltent was a travelling dance hall in Belgium in the early 1900s. Its modern day prototypes have been drawing crowds in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands since 1947.

The Trike Derby and the concert are open to the public with suggested ticket donations of $10 per person for the races and $10 per person for the concert. All proceeds raised will help fund Child & Family Center programming. Kelly’s Lot & Friends are donating their talents in support of the Center’s Domestic Violence Program.

“Our Trike Derby committee has planned a fun-packed afternoon and evening,” concludes Robert, “creating a unique, action-packed way to raise the funding that is so necessary for programs that help SCV families in crisis.”

Duane Dye Remembered by Family and Fellow Rotarians

| Community, Obituaries | September 27, 2018

Duane Lee Dye, “a Nebraskan Cornhusker” of Fillmore, Calif. passed away at the age of 85 on September 19, 2018.

Duane was born to Mildred and Ralph Dye on September 23, 1932 in Stanton, Nebraska. He was raised on the family farm, along with his sister Carol, near Pilger, Neb., and that farm remains in the family today. Growing up in Nebraska always held a special place in Duane’s heart, even though he left Nebraska for California in 1957.

When Duane was 17 years old, he contracted polio, which swept through the Midwest. Ultimately, leaving the cold and difficult weather that Nebraska offered was what Duane needed.

His determination allowed him to champion the physical difficulties that the polio presented, and after attaining his college degree in Accounting, he left Nebraska for California.

When he arrived in California, he took a job at Wayside Honor Farm in Castaic, working as a supervisor within the Accounting Department. At the same time he was working at the Honor Farm, he was developing income tax clientele. These connections ultimately led to him starting his own insurance agency, Duane Dye Insurance, in Newhall. The area of Newhall was a community of only 15,000 people, and it was on the cusp of great growth. Duane Dye Insurance is still a vibrant insurance agency in the Santa Clarita Valley today.

Duane married his wife Linda in August of 1965, taking on not only a wife, but a wife with three children, named Lori, Luanne and Larry. Duane and Linda added another sibling, Jef, to the family in 1968.

Between running a business and raising a family, Duane was an active member of the Newhall Rotary Club and a member of the Baha’i Faith. His devotion to his faith helped to guide him through his life and his commitment to Rotary was the foundation of his many years of community service to the Santa Clarita Valley. His greatest desire was to help the world through Rotary International, by making people aware of the need to eradicate polio throughout the world. He helped raise awareness of the issue through the Rotary Polio Plus program. Duane and Linda, through contributions and fundraising, were responsible for inoculating approximately 88,000 individuals throughout the world with the polio vaccine.

Not only did Duane devote his life to serving his community, he devoted much of his time to one of his favorite hobbies: collecting vintage cars.

“One of Duane’s favorite hobbies was his collection of old Chryslers,” said Jef Dye. “Including a 1964 300k convertible he drove in the summers, (a) 1963 Imperial and a 1965 Crown that the family jokingly named, ‘The Pimp Mobile.’ He loved driving each of them, and it did not matter where he and Linda went, there was always someone who flagged them down and commented on how impressed they were with the vehicle. He took impeccable care of each of them, with the help of some great mechanics.”

Until just a year ago, Duane remained active in Rotary, even while dealing with many health complications caused by advancing age and his physical challenges. Duane’s fellow Rotarians were greatly affected by his life.

“Duane Dye was one of a kind,” Connie Ragen Green said. “He mentored me as a new Rotarian, sharing his insight on topics I had no experience with and introducing me to people in the Club and the community who would go on to help me personally and professionally. He also took an interest in me as a human being and truly cared about my welfare, and for that I am eternally grateful to have known him.”

Santa Clarita Rotary Club President Tom Cole expressed his appreciation for Duane.

“Our Rotary Club family was truly sorry to hear of the loss of Duane Dye,” said Cole. “His community service spirit will always be with us locally and internationally. Duane’s passion for our End Polio Now campaign was near and dear to all our hearts. Duane will always remind me of one of our Rotary sacred creeds, ‘Service above Self.’ He will be truly missed, but the memories and our Rotary Club of SCV will continue to serve in his honor.”

“I have been associated and friends with Duane and Linda for over 50 years, as he and I were in the same business of different fields. In the 32 years Duane and I have shared Rotary, He has been an attentive supporter of RI and our Foundation, often leading our charge to raise funds and contributing to our programs.,” said Jim Lentini.

The recent months were indeed very difficult for Duane, and he bore the burden in a stoic and determined fashion.

“I have never met a person who was as thoughtful as Duane was, and the courage he had to attend the meetings with his physical condition, for all the years I’ve been in Rotary, was a testament to how much he cared about Rotary. Rest in peace, Duane,” Dave Reeves said.

Steve Colf added, “Duane always acknowledged our great granddaughter, Heather, with respect and encouragement. Heather had started a little business at our ranch and donated all the proceeds to Polio Plus. Duane made sure she was aware of the importance of her gift.”
Upon his death, Duane was surrounded by his family and loved ones. Duane touched and affected all those he met through his example of courage, determination, humility, patience and compassion for others. His wise counsel and ability to listen was extraordinary and impactful. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Duane will be buried in a private family graveside service, and a celebration of his life is being planned for the near future. In lieu of flowers, Duane’s family encourages contributions to the Rotary End Polio Now program in Duane’s name at the web site https://www.endpolio.org/donate.

Creativity Advocacy – Creativity and Community

| Community | September 21, 2018

Last month I attended the “Yellow Conference” in downtown L.A. where millennial female entrepreneurs got together for inspiration and motivation. I was reticent to attend, considering I was double the age of most attendees, but participated at the request of my niece Joanna, the founder of the conference. It seems that everywhere I turn, folks are bagging on the millennial culture because of their entitlement or need for instant results or lack of a work ethic. I’m not sure I want to explore the truth to these accusations, as I have four grown kids—all of them millennials. I am also, incidentally, immersed in this culture through teaching both at the college and in my home studio. I try not to perceive my own kids and students as a “demographic” per se, but as individuals with unique paths. For all the media’s finger-pointing at the younger generation, I must say I found none of it to be true at the “Yellow Conference.” The main difference between them and me was their propensity for striped pantsuits, but as far as being wired for collective, these girls had a heart for the masses much like their baby boomer predecessors.

Since my brick-and-mortar business is already thriving, and since I myself am not a millennial, I assumed the conference would have little to offer me by way of business models and branding. Was I ever wrong! Sitting in a room full of five-hundred women, next to a wall that read: “If there ever comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such that the world has never known,” we clapped and cried and connected not for the sake of businesses burgeoning but for the sake of the whole world. The experience was a surprise and truly transformative.

Stereotypically, women are known for their compassion, not their business savvy—a trope they’ve been trying to drop for decades. Proving ourselves to be capable and equal to men in business, without being referred to as the “B” word, has been tough. The speakers at “Yellow” did have unapologetic business know-how, and yet their drive was not based on money. The speakers were absolutely driven, offering tips on “bad-assery” and how to be the best you can be. But it didn’t just end there. After being your best, you would then help others and build community, like bees do—thus the name “Yellow.” Each business model presented how they would give a large percentage of their profits to a non-profit or charity of some kind. The general theme of each speaker was how to give back. The message was this: the purpose behind a profitable business is to profit others. These women figured out a way to employ compassion as their CEO. It was all about community.

The business models of today don’t demand expensive rents or the kind of overhead that had been necessary in my day, so everywhere I turn, there’s another start up, or online master class, or cyber-store. It makes it easier to make money, which makes it easier to give it away, especially considering many millennials don’t even want to accumulate goods, own houses or support mass consumerism. This recipe is not a repeat of our grandmothers’; indeed it is new. We are a global community now and can share what we have with others in need.

The crux of Creativity is connection—connecting us with our deepest selves and with one another. Anything that builds community, then, engages a good amount of Creative activity.

Obviously, Creativity in business is nothing new, as brainstorming clever slogans pays many a salary, but the kind of Creativity that unites us under the guise of business is novel, indeed. Not only that, but pulling all of these women together in one place to demonstrate how to do this ultimately marries opposites—business and charity/revenue and donation—where there is no need for competition because compassion is expansive. I participated in the weekend imagining I’d be just a fly on the wall, but instead I was equipped with inspiration and resources for my do-good business, ultimately, upholding the mission of Creativity. True community knows no age or demographic, only the power of our collective energies aimed at healing our world.

Hart District Looking for Measure SA Oversight Committee Member

| Community | September 21, 2018

The William S. Hart Union High School District needs a new member of the Measure SA Citizens’ Oversight Committee. This member will serve a two-year term with a maximum of three consecutive terms.

The committee is looking for a member who would fit in the Business Organization category. In other words, this member needs to be active in the business community within the district.

Employees, contractors, vendors and consultants of the William S. Hart Union High School District are not eligible to be on the committee.

Measure SA is a $300 million general obligation bond passed by voters in Santa Clarita in November, 2008. Its purpose is to fund construction projects such as the new Castaic High School, Performing Arts Centers at Canyon and Saugus High Schools, and improvement projects at other high schools and junior highs.

The application for the Measure SA Citizens’ Oversight Committee can be found online at http://www.hartdistrict.org/apps/pages/measure-sa-members. All completed applications must be sent to Lisa Arnone (larnone@hartdistrict.org) by Friday, October 19 at 4 p.m.

City of Santa Clarita Receives Beacon Spotlight Award

| Community | September 21, 2018

The City of Santa Clarita received recognition from the Institute for Local Government with a Beacon Spotlight Award for Natural Gas Savings. Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean accepted the award on behalf of the City of Santa Clarita on Thursday, September 13, 2018 at the League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo in Long Beach.

“The health of our residents and the environment that surrounds us is a top priority in Santa Clarita,” said Mayor Pro Tem McLean. “We are proud of the work our City has done to accomplish energy efficiency goals, and it is a great honor for the City to be recognized with a Beacon Spotlight Award for our efforts.”

The Beacon Program, which is sponsored by the Institute for Local Government and the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative, honors local governments for voluntary efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy and promote sustainability. Beacon Spotlight Awards are bestowed in five categories: Community Greenhouse Gas Reductions, Agency Greenhouse Gas Reductions, Natural Gas Savings, Agency Energy Savings and Sustainability Best Practices.

The City of Santa Clarita’s natural gas savings reached 11 percent over the last year. The city has also received Spotlight Awards for Agency Energy Savings (2012, 2013) and Sustainability Best Practices (2013, 2016).

Earning a Beacon Spotlight Award is the first step in completing the program and receiving a Beacon Award, which honors cities that have received recognition in each of the five Spotlight categories. The City of Santa Clarita is one of six cities in California to earn a Spotlight Award for Natural Gas Savings in 2018 and one of just four to reach the Gold level designation.

For more information about the Institute for Local Government and the Beacon Program, please visit ca-ilg.org. For more information about the City of Santa Clarita’s award-winning programs, contact Communications Manager Carrie Lujan at (661) 255-4314 or clujan@santa-clarita.com.

Afternoon T

| Community | September 20, 2018

Q: Friends and family tease me about my inability to make decisions and I think they’re being unfair. I don’t want to do the wrong thing. Sometimes I don’t do anything at all, because I’m so afraid. Is there a formula or way to know if you’re making the right choice?

A: How to KNOW if you’re making a right choice? Well, here’s a kick in the pants: You won’t. Not until some time has passed and you are given the gift of hindsight. It’s scary to make decisions, especially the big life ones (relationships, job, family, etc.) but there isn’t a magic formula or feeling that comes over you to let you know you’ve made the “right” choice. You can only make decisions based on whatever information is presented to you or you’ve sought out on your own. Then, assess the pros and cons to the best of your ability, perhaps consulting with your nearest and trusted dearest (especially if the outcome will impact/affect them), then hold your nose and jump. Notice I didn’t add, “Close your eyes!” to that. No. That’s bad strategy. You can’t go blindly into decision making, but you do have to metaphorically plug your nose, go forward and hope for the best. Trust me, some of your choices will kind of stink (hence the holding-your-nose part of the equation).

As far as the opinions and comments of your friends and family? Please know it’s hard to watch someone you care about agonizing over decisions to the point they are frozen and do nothing at all. Perhaps they simply believe a bit of gentle joking might push you forward. But, you do have every right to ask them to dial their comments down a notch, because it sounds like being poked you in your soft spot isn’t helping. You may also remind them that it’s also a fine line between wheedling and being a weasel.

But my darling, you cannot allow the fear of making a wrong selection grip you in analysis paralysis. That’s a sad and dreary space in the mind where dreams and aspirations go to die, alongside experiences and opportunities to learn and grow. NOT making choices, even little ones, prevents you from flexing your emotional muscles to make bigger decisions. What may ultimately turn out to be “wrong” can lead to beautiful things, too. Example: It was totally by chance that biochemists conducting research into pharmaceutical drugs found how to make blue roses, the ‘holy grail’ that horticulturists have chased for years. Those scientists were working diligently to make right choices in their medical lab, but a wrong one created something else entirely that impacted another industry in a glorious way. Your decisions, right or wrong, will provide the chance to learn more about yourself and can lead to beautiful things you don’t expect. If there was a formula, it would be: Choices, chances and changes. So, make a choice and take the chances. Smell the (blue) roses along the way.
xo – t.

College of the Canyons Library and Art Gallery Team Up for Banned Books Week

| Community | September 20, 2018

By Natalia Radcliffe

In addition to the Learning Center at College of the Canyons (COC), both the school’s library and Art Gallery are also going to be celebrating Banned Books Week this week.

The library is going to have an interactive display showcasing challenged and banned books, according to Librarian Sara Breshears.

Collaboratively, the library and Art Gallery are teaming up to showcase student artwork. According to Art Gallery Director Pamela Lewis, student artists will create pieces of art in response to different themes that Banned Books Week raises, such as censorship, bans and American freedoms, to name a few.

Two types of artwork will be featured: illustrations and graphic design. Professor McDonald, who teaches illustration, and Professor Doronio, who teaches graphic design are the two COC professors who are the faculty leads on this project.

“I think it’s really important for new artists to have the opportunity to focus their endeavors on social issues and other such topics,” Lewis explained.

She added, “I’m excited to participate for the first time and hopeful that we will continue to partner with other campus groups to respond to all topics that are relevant to the COC community and larger community.”

Chancellor’s Circle Presents Customer Service Strategies Briefing

| Community | September 20, 2018

Local businesses are invited to the College of the Canyons Foundation Chancellor’s Circle Breakfast Briefing “Customer Service Strategies from a Global Leader” on Friday, September 28 at the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center.

Lorna Warren (Vice President of Guest Services) and Jen Wright (Director of Trade Reservations) of Princess Cruises will present on customer service best practices. Immediately following, a Q&A session will be available for members of the Chancellor’s Circle.

“Princess Cruises leads the way with their stellar customer service, and it will be a privilege to learn from their example during this informative event,” said Jill Mellady, co-founder of Mellady Direct Marketing and Chair of the COC Foundation Chancellor’s Circle Committee. “As the second largest private employer in Santa Clarita, Princess Cruises is a role model for all local businesses looking to grow, without sacrificing the personal touches of an exceptional customer service experience.”

The business briefing is scheduled 8 to 10 a.m. in the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center lobby. A light breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m., allowing for networking opportunities. Tickets are priced at $20. Those interested are asked to RSVP by Friday, Sept. 21.

For additional information or to RSVP, contact the COC Foundation at (661) 362-3434 or email cocfoundation@canyons.edu.

About the Chancellor’s Circle
The Chancellor’s Circle is a leadership support group for the College of the Canyons Foundation. This group of College of the Canyons supporters is comprised of prominent community leaders, local business executives, companies, alumni and other individuals who are dedicated to the success of COC and its students. Donations to the Chancellor’s Circle are used to support areas of greatest need and innovative programs that help College of the Canyons students succeed.

More information about the Chancellor’s Circle is available at the COC Foundation’s website.

RAM PRCA California Circuit Finals Rodeo Returns to The Antelope Valley

| Community, News | September 20, 2018

The RAM PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) California Circuit Finals Rodeo Committee and the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds proudly announces the return of the RAM PRCA California Circuit Finals to the Antelope Valley Fair & Event Center on October 5 -7.

This year’s event will once again host the top twelve California rodeo contestants who will compete in all seven rodeo events, including bareback riding, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping and barrel racing.

“We are thrilled to once again bring California’s best Rodeo professionals and the top animal ‘athletes’ to the Antelope Valley. The California Circuit Final Rodeo is one of the most competitive and exciting spectator sports,” PRCA California Circuit Committee Chairman Johnny Zamrzla said. “All of the rodeo events will surely thrill the most seasoned and new rodeo fans alike. We are fortunate to have tremendous partnership and community support that makes this caliber of event possible and I hope our local residents come out in droves to enjoy this affordable family-friendly event.”

In addition to great rodeo, the annual Craft Fair, featuring hundreds of crafters and shopping, returns to the H.W. Hunter Pavilion. Craft Fair shopping hours are 12 p.m. – 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Entry to the Craft Fair is free on Friday and Saturday. Sunday Craft Fair hours are from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Entry to the Craft Fair on Sunday requires either a Rodeo or Lancaster Flea Market admission ticket.

The Van Dam Barn Dances will also return on Friday and Saturday night, immediately following the Rodeo. Dance the night away under the stars at the Corona Cantina, located right outside the grandstands. Live music on Friday night will be provided by Jake Nelson and the Tone Wranglers. On Saturday night, John Spear and The Runaway Train will entertain fans.

New to the event this year, will be the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce Flea Market and Car Show on Sunday, October 7. Paid admission tickets to the Flea Market include free rodeo matinee admission. Flea Market tickets are available for purchase at the box office on Sunday, October 7.

Rodeo festivities kick off on Friday, October 5, with Patriot Day. Active, retired and former military men and women and their dependents receive free admission. Free admission will be available at the box office on Friday evening only. All other fans are encouraged to show their patriotism by wearing red, white and blue. Gates open Friday at 12 p.m. and the Rodeo begins at 7 p.m.

Saturday evening Rodeo will open with a special ride in by Ride for the Pink, an organization dedicated to raising money for Breast Cancer research, awareness and treatment. Rodeo fans can show their support of finding a cure for Breast Cancer by wearing “Pink.” Gates open Saturday at 12 p.m. and the Rodeo begins at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, gates open at 7 a.m. Rodeo Matinee begins at 2 p.m. Sunday Rodeo or Flea Market tickets are $6. Sunday tickets include entry to both the Rodeo and Lancaster Flea Market.
According to AV Fair and Event Center CEO, Dan Jacobs, “This is going to be a fantastic fall weekend, a great venue and great events, Rodeo, Crafts Fair and the renowned Lancaster Flea Market and Car Show. An all-American sport, shopping, live music, dancing and more. It’s truly affordable family entertainment all weekend long with Rodeo tickets starting at just $25, and we offer $10 on-line promotional codes for Friday and Saturday Rodeo tickets. Sunday tickets are $6 and include access to the Flea Market, Craft Fair and Rodeo.

Ticket and parking information is available at avfair.com. For Rodeo details go to cafinalsrodeo.com. Visit lancasterchamber.org for Flea Market information.

Advanced Technology Careers For Students

| Community | September 20, 2018

Parents, students and the public are invited to attend a speaker panel and displays on advanced technology careers on Thursday, October 4, 2018, from 6 – 8 p.m. at the College of the Canyons (COC) Student Center. This event, featuring Santa Clarita organizations, reveals the lucrative and rewarding potential of careers in manufacturing and advanced technologies. Admission and parking are free, but those interested must reserve seats at www.scvedc.org/mfgday.

Parents and students will hear a panel presentation, led by James McKinney of Google’s Startup Grind, on the skills and characteristics these employers are seeking today. Displays and activities explaining opportunities in design, engineering, fabrication, robotics, and distribution will also be available.

The William S. Hart Union High School District, College of the Canyons, the City of Santa Clarita, the SCV Economic Development Corporation, and California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC) are in their fourth year joining schools and organizations across the nation in celebrating National Manufacturing Day. This year a new, exciting youth perspective is presented by joining forces with S.T.R.E.A.M. Kids Expo™, founded by Saugus High School senior/engineering student Niamani Knight.

“For the past three years I’ve attended Manufacturing Day and this year I am excited to bring the S.T.R.E.A.M. Kids Expo concept of interactive learning to the event,” Knight said. “I can’t wait for my peers to explore some of the amazing companies I’ve had the privilege of working with in the areas of Manufacturing and Technology. Kids will not only be blown away by what they see at the event, they will connect the dots of their education to career by having “real deal” conversations with industry experts. With over 200,000 jobs available in the manufacturing industry, students should know this is a booming career option.”

On Friday, October 5, 2018, approximately 1000 students from across the Hart School District will travel to COC to enjoy additional activities conducted by many SCV advanced technology partners such as JPL, Lockheed Martin, PPG, Gantom Lighting & Controls/ZTAG, Advanced Bionics, sPOD (car lights & sounds), CA Highway Patrol Air Operations, LSL Instruments (guitars), Chocolates a la Carte, Schiit Audio, Fralock, Talladium, Air Flow Research, and Remo Drums. Students will meet current robotics competitors, NASA HASP (High Altitude Student Payload) personnel, and have hands-on engineering and fabrication activities in COC’s FabLab and MakerSpace.

A Banned Book A Day

| Community | September 20, 2018

by Natalia Radcliffe

Happy Banned Books Week!

Over the past few weeks, we have explored this unique event from its birth over 70 years ago, to its continuing impact on the present. Now, let’s see what the future holds for us. Here are five books you might want to add to your collection that have been banned or challenged in California. Enjoy!

Monday, Sept. 24: Harry Potter Series
This book has been challenged for “occult/Satanism and anti-family themes,” according to the American Library Association’s website.

Tuesday, Sept. 25: The Giver by Lois Lowry
According to Marshall University’s website, this book was challenged in 2008 at the Mt. Diablo School district, located in Concord, California. Two parents demanded that the book be removed from the “school reading lists and libraries,” as they were “appalled by the descriptions of adolescent pill-popping, suicide, and lethal injections given to babies and the elderly.”

Wednesday, Sept. 26: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
According to the San Jose Public Library, “in 1902, the Ohama Public Library removed The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn off of its shelves, claiming ‘criticisms of the book have been made in the pulpit and the press.’”

Thursday, Sept. 27: Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe
According to the American Library Association’s website, this book was challenged because of “drugs, alcohol, smoking, and violence.”

Friday, Sept. 28: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This book was banned in a high school in Boron, California “because the book contains profanity,” according to the American Library Association’s website.

Think Local

| Community | September 13, 2018

Sometimes, the best place to market yourself is in your back yard, figuratively speaking.

By targeting your local area, you put yourself in an advantageous position: You’re competing with fewer people for your services. It’s also true that by doing so, you decrease the number of potential customers, but this can be mitigated because many people want to work with people who live nearby. This gives you a better chance of being the big fish in this smaller pond.

So, you’ve decided to think local. How do you go about it? Here are some ideas:

Show everybody online you’re local. The easiest way to do that is to include your address and phone number on your website. Another way is to get listed in online directories, such as Yelp and yellowpages.com. Individual search engines, such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing, also have online directories. Just go to any search engine, type in “business directories” and get a long list. Then, go to those sites and fill out the information – making sure you again include your local address and phone number.

Show everybody you meet you’re local. Good old-fashioned networking still works. Go to local chambers of commerce, networking groups, business mixers, trade shows and professional associations and get in front of as many people as you can. Stress that you’re local and looking for local customers/clients. Make sure you have business cards and marketing materials with local addresses and phone numbers. Maybe you can team up with “power partners,” which are businesses that could refer their clients to you because you offer a service those clients need. An example: web designer, content writer, graphic designer and proofreader/editor.

Show everybody you’re an expert who’s local. Have a portfolio that shows the awesome work you’ve done for local customers/clients. Get these people to give testimonials. Give a free seminar that leaves no doubt that you are the one to go to in your field/industry. Offer some of your lower-priced services at either deep discounts or for free. Have a blog that can link to your website, or write articles for local newspapers or trade publications.

To discover what else can be done to improve your online presence, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628. Website: www.TAPSolutions.net

Tickets on Sale for Soup for the Soul

| Community | September 13, 2018

Bridge to Home, the primary homeless services provider in the Santa Clarita Valley is inviting the community to a fundraiser called “Soup for the Soul – All the Stars are Closer.” This year’s event will take place on Saturday, October 13, at 6 p.m., and the location will be six stories up in the starry sky on the rooftop in Old Town Newhall.

This year’s fundraiser is vital as Bridge to Home is in the process of making the dream of a permanent, year-round homeless shelter a reality, and they are calling on the support of the community.

Come to the new rooftop in Old Town Newhall for a night of wines, appetizers, craft brews, hot soup, decadent desserts and much more. As the stars sparkle overhead, participants can dine, enjoy live entertainment, an auction and learn about the mission of Bridge to Home and how you can help.

Restaurants that will take part in this delicious event include local favorites Stone Fire, Wolf Creek, Salt Creek, Egg Plantation, Olive Terrace, Fishtail and Nothing Bundt Cakes, to name a few. There are sponsorship opportunities still available.

Bridge to Home provides support services – including an emergency winter shelter, case management, housing navigation, and additional resources – that help individuals and families in the Santa Clarita Valley transition out of homelessness.  All these services are available thanks to funds from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, subcontracts with Los Angeles Family Housing, private and public grants, and extensive in-kind donations and participation from the local community.

Come enjoy a night of food and fun – while helping this important cause. Individual tickets are $100 and sponsorships are available. Visit btohome.org to buy tickets and learn more about Bridge to Home.

College of the Canyons’ Learning Center Continues Annual Tradition

| Community | September 13, 2018

by Natalia Radcliffe

The Valencia campus at College of the Canyons (COC) is preparing to celebrate Banned Books week. This year, The Learning Center (TLC) continues its annual tradition of having a theme with respective events and displays pertaining to banned and challenged books.

This September, the theme is a perfect suburban utopia set in the 1950s, inspired by the book “The Stepford Wives.” Think perfect, neat, houses all looking the same, with neatly trimmed lawns and white picket fences, similar to the perfect, idyllic neighborhoods in the movie “Edward Scissor Hands” or the book “A Wrinkle in Time.”

With this description in mind, the decorations will mimic a perfect suburban neighborhood, including the aesthetics of white picket fences and perfect houses. Music will be playing that portrays a perfect American society.

As of September 6, the specifics pertaining to the activities and presentations were not solidified. According to Miguel Chavez, a lead tutor and major contributor in the planning of events, decorations, and displays for Banned Books Week, the different activities will happen Monday through Thursday. For the one of the activities, Chavez says the TLC is hoping to have a professor from the sociology department come and speak in an open forum style. Another idea is to have a presentation of different films that depict the perfect 1950s suburbia paired with a discussion of how that relates to the censorship of books and other forms of media.

“Mainly, we are really focusing on why the books were banned or challenged,” Chavez said. “We hope people will come way from these events with a more open mind. Just because you hate this book or other form of media and think it’s controversial, does not mean that it should be censored. People are diverse and have different tastes. Perhaps the next person likes it.”

In the spirit of the upcoming Banned Books Week, Chavez says favorite banned/challenged book is “1984” by George Orwell. “I’m very into societal structure,” Chavez explains. “I like the depth of how well the society is depicted. I also enjoy the allegories to real life that are referenced in the book.”

The COC library and Art Gallery are expected to be participating in this event. More information will be available in next week’s issue.

Small Business Websites

| Community | September 7, 2018

Many people believe Santa Clarita is famous for being business-friendly. Many of those businesses in and around the valley are considered small businesses. The Small Business Administration defines a small business as one with less than $7 million in annual sales and fewer than 500 employees.

That’s probably the majority of businesses in Santa Clarita.

Regardless or how small your business is, you need a good business website. Let’s assume you have one already. Is it up to date, getting good traffic and bringing in enough business that you’re always busy?

If so, you can stop reading now. Your website is in good shape and doesn’t need work.

For everyone else, you may need a website redesign. If any of the following apply, you ought to strongly consider it.

1. You’re not ranked on page one of the search engines. Ninety-five percent of online traffic comes from that first page. I can’t stress how important it is to maintain a high standing in the search engines. You can achieve this by taking advantage of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, which I’ve written about many times before.

2. You’ve changed something about your business, but it is not reflected on your website. Companies alter and update business plans, or introduce new products and/or services, but sometimes forget to put these changes on their website. Your site is a direct reflection of your business. Make sure it is in sync with everything else you do.

3. Your site isn’t easy to navigate. Visitors to your website must be able to find what they’re looking for easily. This means concise wording that incorporates your key word phrases and other elements to make the pages more search-engine friendly.

4. Your site looks dated. Design standards, trends and best practices change and evolve over time. Currently, broken-grid layouts, illustration in the center of the page, animations and videos, variable serif fonts, floating navigation menus and mobile-friendly designs are some of the in-trends. But that will eventually change, so stay updated on what’s cool, hip, hot, trendy, etc.

If your business website suffers from a lack of enthusiasm and creativity, a website redesign can be the first step in generating excitement within the company. A redesign can show your employees, your customers and your competition that you are a force to be reckoned with in the market, and you will not go quietly.

A redesign can breathe new life into your website, transforming your web presence from being good enough to being extraordinary.

To discover what else can be done to improve your online presence, contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628. Website: www.TAPSolutions.net

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