Music Student Receives $21,000 Scholarship

| Community | May 26, 2017

College of the Canyons music student Justin Horwitz was offered a $21,000 transfer scholarship to Rider University in New Jersey. Unaware that the university offered talent scholarships, the 22-year-old was surprised by the scholarship offer, which was based on his performance during a recent audition.

“If I had known, I probably would have been more nervous for my audition,” said the Valencia resident who will be graduating from COC in June and continue his studies to become a music director.

Horwitz started playing piano when he was eight years old, but it wasn’t until he played piano in a production of “Into the Woods” at the age of 15 that he discovered his love for theatre.

“Music is an aesthetic to my identity as an artist, as opposed to theatre, which forms the core of it,” said Horwitz, who realized he could marry his two passions as a musical director. “In theatre, this is traditionally the person whose job is to bridge the gap between two worlds — theatre and music — which need to symbiotically exist in order for musical theatre to function.”

Being able to float between the college’s music and theatre departments has been instrumental to his training, which includes the ability to analyze music and function as part of an ensemble.

“For someone who wants to do what I do, understanding the beats and changes an actor makes to communicate a thought is just as important as being able to analyze the harmonic structures a composer uses to communicate the very same idea,” said Horwitz. “I feel very lucky to have had great teachers.”

Among those who guided Justin at COC is Dr. Carmen Dominguez, dean of the college’s School of Visual and Performing Arts, who helped Horwitz develop skills to be a better accompanist and provided him with the opportunity to learn from experienced music directors.

“Justin is the rare student who, in addition to having strong piano technique and musical talent, also works diligently to expand his musical theatre repertoire,” said Dominguez. “He works every day, learning new music from every era of musical theatre. He has tremendous potential to succeed.”

Six days out of the week, Horwitz can be found sitting at the piano in the Pico Hall practice room, practicing for up to five hours.

“For musicians, practice rooms often become sanctuaries — safe spaces — and I’ll miss the one I use at COC,” said Horwitz. “I’ve grown a lot in there.”

White Ribbon Week to Raise Traffic Safety Awareness

| Community | May 25, 2017

In an effort to remind young graduating seniors of the serious consequences that can occur when they drive while distracted or impaired, a Santa Clarita sheriff’s deputy visits area schools at the end of the year. Local high school assemblies are held where white ribbons are handed out, which are attached to cards listing the names of Santa Clarita Valley youth ages 14 to 20 killed in traffic collisions. White Ribbon Week this year is May 22 to June 5, 2017.

The Drive Safe White Ribbon Campaign began in 1997 in response to concerns over the large number of local teenagers who lost their lives in vehicular collisions as a result of driving recklessly or while impaired. The Class of 2003 White Ribbon card listed 17 students killed since 1998. This year’s Class of 2017 card lists the names of seven teens killed since 2011: Sarah Alarid, Albert B. Castro, Dakota Demott, Nicole Lynn Hoffman, Madeline “Mads” Rossiter, Wyatt Anthony Savaikie and Jennifer Stift.

Teens are asked to wear the ribbons during their graduation ceremonies in memory of those who have lost their lives. The ribbons also provide a drive safe message in hopes of encouraging students to have fun during their celebrations without engaging in high-risk activities, such as impaired driving, to prevent any further traffic collisions.

“We want to educate students about safe driving and avoiding distractions such as cell phones or driving while impaired,” law enforcement officials said. “We’re asking the students to wear the white ribbon on their gown during graduation not only to show respect for the fallen, but to remember to make smart choices during graduation time. This can be a dangerous time in a teenager’s life because of being fatigued from studying for finals and celebrating their accomplishments.”

Local residents are also encouraged to wear white ribbons and show their support. Free white ribbons can be picked up at the following sponsor locations: Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Gift Shop, Frontier Toyota and Santa Clarita City Hall. Other sponsors of the Drive Safe White Ribbon Campaign include the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Safe Rides. For more information, call 661-200-1306.

Now Brewing in Castaic

| Community | May 25, 2017

Featuring wingback chairs that contribute to its comfortable atmosphere, It’s A Grind in Castaic offers customers whole bean coffees, espresso drinks, teas, fresh pastries, homemade burritos, newly featured drinks, and menu items such as empanadas, salads and sandwiches.

New owners, Brad and Lea Lanfranco, had been patrons of It’s A Grind for years, walking to the coffee shop from their home in Hasley Hills.

“We had told the previous owner several years ago that if she ever wanted to sell, we were interested,” Brad Lanfranco said.

The couple was thinking of an investment several years down the road, but when the opportunity presented itself earlier than they expected, the Lanfrancos jumped on it.

“I didn’t want to be a Walmart greeter in my retirement,” Lea joked.

While the husband and wife team haven’t given up their day jobs, you can find them in the store daily.

“It was very important for us to preserve the warm, friendly hometown atmosphere,” Lea said.

It’s A Grind is a local, family-run business. The Lanfranco’s daughter Bailey works as a barista, juggling her time between the business, completing her senior year at Hart High School and taking college courses. Brad is a Marine Corps veteran and also works for National Write Your Congressman. Lea works as a communications leader at Intuit. Both of them are eager for the day they can make It’s A Grind a full-time gig.

“We love this business,” said Brad. “We really want this to be the place where people come to get great coffee and food, to relax and socialize.”

Like the bar on “Cheers,” where everyone greeted Norm by name, It’s a Grind has regulars the Lanfrancos see nearly every day.

“We know their cars and their drinks, so when they walk in, the baristas’ goal is to put the drink in their hands when they walk through the door.”

It’s a Grind is located in Hasley Canyon Village at 29641 The Old Road in Castaic; 661-702-9636.

Now and Then – Celebrating 57 Years of Service

| Community | May 25, 2017

How does a service organization celebrate its 57th birthday? If it’s the SCV Rotary Club, it takes a year! There are the 6 a.m. preparations for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and the Fourth of July pancake breakfasts; a renovation project at the Rotary Garden honoring young military heroes; community service projects, and the presentation of four $2,000 checks and two $1,000 checks to local charities, to name just a few of the ways.

The check presentations come from the club’s community foundation, which was started in 1977. Signing the Articles of Incorporation were then president, Jack Clark (CalArts administrator), Dan Hon (Attorney), Chuck Rheinschmidt (COC administrator), Adrian Adams (Judge), Ed Bolden (Engineer), and Robert Rockwell (COC president). Since that time, interest from the foundation’s earnings is divided annually and presented to local applicants. This year the donations went to Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers, the Triumph Foundation, the SCV Food Pantry, the Santa Clarita Valley Quilt Guild, and two checks to the Passick-Greer Nursing Scholarship Fund.

In accepting the $2,000 check for the Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers, executive director Philip Solomon explained that the money will help pay for the new flooring in the Val Verde clinic. Solomon thanked Rotary, not only for the check, but also for the ongoing support that Rotary has provided since the first center was opened in 1980.

The health centers began as an annex at Reverend Samuel Dixon’s church in Val Verde. Rev. Dixon, who was committed to bringing affordable health care to his community, tragically died before the first building was officially dedicated in 1980. The demand for affordable health care in the unserved and underserved population has contributed to the growth of Rev. Dixon’s dream. Today, there are two more health centers besides the one in Val Verde — the Canyon Country center opened 16 years ago, and the Newhall facility became reality in 2009.

The non-profit organization not only provides health and wellness care, but dental and mental health services as well. Government and private grants and donations help keep the doors open to patients who receive care on a sliding scale basis. Solomon was quick to point out that care is provided even if the patient is unable to meet the $36 per visit fee.
SCV Rotary first learned of the Triumph Foundation in 2010, one year after its creation. Andrew Skinner came to us then to describe how a 2004 snowboard accident, which broke his C4, C5, and C6 vertebrae, led to the creation of the foundation.

Having graduated from college just six months before the accident, Andrew had to cope with the reality of being a quadriplegic and how his life focus would have to change. He credits his then fiancé Kirsten and his family’s support for getting him over the rough spots and helping him to fashion a new reality for his life. Kirsten stuck by him during his years of recovery and, as his wife, encouraged him to begin an outreach program that would support others suffering from spinal cord injuries.

The first project of his newly formed 501(c)(3) foundation involved delivering Christmas care packages to the disabled at a Northridge hospital. The program expanded to include mentoring, numerous educational networking groups, and grants that would help fund the construction of projects such as home ramps and modified vehicles.

After Andrew’s 2010 visit, Rotary donated towards the building of a ramp for a wheelchair-bound youngster named Tyler. At Wednesday’s meeting, Andrew reported that, as Tyler grew, more modifications were added to the home to accommodate his growth.

Today, the Triumph Foundation delivers 150 care packages to patients in 18 different hospitals and supports various health and security networks that address not only physical, but emotional needs of the disabled as well.
The Santa Clarita Valley Quilt Guild was formed by a group of quilters in 1990 and currently has a membership of over 120. The members are dedicated to giving back to the community, while also perpetuating the art of quilting for future generations. Members regularly donate quilts to provide comfort for people in need.

In recent years the guild has worked with local school children to produce anti-tobacco themed quilt blocks, which were pieced into a large quilt and auctioned to raise funds for Henry Mayo Hospital. The Guild has also donated quilts that accompany the keys to each home sold in the new Vets Habitat for Heroes Housing project off Centre Point Parkway.
In addition to this year’s $2,000 donation to the SCV Food Pantry, Rotary annually provides Thanksgiving turkeys for the Pantry’s families. This year an extra $300 check was added to help stock the Pantry’s grocery shelves.

Located on Railroad Avenue in Newhall, the Pantry’s mission is secure donations, then package and distribute nutritious food to qualifying residents in the SCV. The organization’s overall goal is to help struggling families with current and future hunger challenges, while also maintaining active partnerships with other organizations throughout the community.
The Greer-Passick Nursing Scholarship can be traced back to the early ‘70s when a family established a start-up grant to the nursing program at College of the Canyons. Rotary took the project over and began making annual donations in memory of two of its members, Ivan Passick and Robert Greer. This year, the foundation was proud to award two $1,000 scholarships to the college. Recipients, chosen on the basis of financial need and academic merit, were Jennifer Anderson and Ashlyn Carr.

The donations and community service projects are business as usual for the local professionals — their way of celebrating 57 years of the national organization’s motto, “Service Above Self.” Oh yes, and president Wendi Lancy promises a birthday cake next week on the actual anniversary of the club’s founding, which was May 31, 1960.

COC Spring Electronica Concert

| Community | May 20, 2017

The College of the Canyons music department will present its spring “Electronica Musique & Multi-Media” show on Wednesday, May 31 at the Black Box Theatre.

The free concert will feature the innovative sounds created by 18 COC students enrolled in various music courses, such as Music 142 (Electronic Music Production) and Music 146 (Electronic Music for the Stage).

“Come and marvel at the sounds and sights of interactive works combining synthetic with real voices,” said Dr. Bernardo Feldman, chair of the college’s music department. “Attendees will be able to immerse themselves within the musical textures bursting with boundless sonic energy and be transported by an array of hypnotic and enigmatic videos.”

The original music will be performed in conjunction with the movements of COC dance students under the direction of Phylise Smith.

“The show will challenge your senses with the sophisticated and cutting-edge music that is both intellectually challenging and exquisitely beautiful,” Feldman said.

The concert will take place at 7:00 p.m. at the college’s Black Box Theater in the Performing Arts Center.

Admission is free and open to the public. Space is limited.

Last fall, Electronica was performed in partnership with Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico en Los Angeles (UNAM-LA) at UNAM-LA’s Downtown L.A. location.

For more information about the annual Electronica Musique & Multi-Media Concert, visit www.canyonsPAC.com.

Art Exhibit Opens at Westfield Valencia Town Center

| Community | May 19, 2017

A new art exhibit opened at Town Center Art Space at Westfield Valencia Town Center this week. “The Intermissions” is a free show featuring the works of Lucas Novak.

Inspired by 20th century artists Henri Matisse and Wassily Kandinsky, Novak’s work in the exhibit will include oils, acrylics, fabric and clay. Some paintings are mounted on canvas, while others make use of the color and texture of wood panels.

“In the battles of life, there is loss, persistence, and liberation. Some of these episodes, more dramatic than others, serve as pillars or beacons in our own timelines. Then there are the lulls or periods of recovery from and preparation for past and future battles — the necessary intermissions in between that may feel nameless but impact us nevertheless, often in more important ways than the memorable events of our pasts,” says Novak. “Sometimes we meander along our amorphous, cracked, or abstract thoughts. Our plans for the future are never definite and our memories constantly change. Nothing lasts forever.”

The Town Center Art Space is located at 24201 W. Valencia Blvd. in Santa Clarita, next to Sisley Restaurant. The pieces will be on display through September 15, 2017, and a free public reception will be held on Wednesday, May 24, from 6-8 p.m. During the reception, guests will enjoy light appetizers and live music while also having the chance to meet Novak and see the art featured in the exhibition.

For more information about current and upcoming exhibits in the Santa Clarita Valley, visit SantaClaritaArts.com.

Zonta Presents Awards to Grant and Scholarship Winners

| Community | May 19, 2017

More than $16,000 was awarded last week to local women and non-profit groups at an annual event hosted by Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley. Club members gathered at the Embassy Suites in Valencia with recipients, who were chosen by committees based on applications received.

Clarissa Michael, a 19-year-old Canyon High School graduate and College of the Canyons student, received the 2017 Jane M. Klausman award, presented by committee co-chairs Cheryl Wasserman and Karla Edwards. Michael is headed to Loyola Marymount University in the fall, where she will earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting in two years. She is taking an accelerated three-year program at LMU, which places her on track to earn a master’s degree and become a Certified Public Accountant. She currently works as a bookkeeper for a Santa Clarita business and hopes to accept an internship in a “Big 4” firm once she completes her studies. Clarissa received $2,000 from the local Zonta Club, and her application has been forwarded to District 9, where she could win an additional $1,000. The district winner’s application will go on to Zonta International, where 12 women will be chosen to win an additional $7,000.

Zonta member Phyllis Walker, 2016 JMK Committee chair, recognized Marianne Gaviara, last year’s Klausman winner, for also winning the District 9 award.

Co-chairs Gloria Mercado Fortine and Mary Ann Dortch presented the Young Women in Public Affairs awards.

Five local women who have faced life-changing situations will share $7,000 in Virginia Wrage Memorial Scholarship grants. Virginia Wrage Committee co-chairs Barbara S. Cochran and Jaci Hoffman joined Randy Wrage, son of the program’s namesake, in presenting the awards to Lisette Ferguson, Jennifer Campbell, Jennifer Kennedy, Kelly Ongle and Annelie, who chooses to use just her first name.

The Virginia Wrage Memorial Scholarship is named for a former Zonta member who re-started her life as a flight attendant in her 50s and followed her dream for several years before succumbing to cancer. The club developed the memorial scholarship program in her name shortly thereafter and has maintained it every year since her death.

Lisette Ferguson became a single mother two years ago after leaving an abusive marriage. Finishing school became imperative for the Stevenson Ranch resident. When she obtains her business degree from National University in March 2019, she will work to become a certified fraud examiner. She hopes eventually to work for the FBI and then run her own business. She will use her scholarship to help cover a school loan.

Jennifer Campbell is a Castaic resident and single mother who enrolled at College of the Canyons to become a registered nurse. Last year she was diagnosed with Chiari malformation type 1, a congenital defect that went undiagnosed until then. Due to complications from subsequent surgeries and the disease itself, Jennifer suffers regularly from headaches, hearing loss and tinnitus. There is no cure for her condition, but she perseveres so that she can set a good example for her four-year-old son. She plans to purchase school supplies and books with her Zonta scholarship.

Valencia resident Jennifer Kennedy believes that surviving breast cancer two times has made her a better person. Now she can serve others and understand exactly what they are going through. She was 32 years old when she first heard the devastating news, and more than two decades later, she received the diagnosis again. Jennifer turned her pain into her passion and created Footprints in Pink, a resource for women, caretakers and families going through breast cancer. Footprints in Pink offers its free services locally and nationally to all patients, helping them find free products and financial resources and deal with other aspects that affect them and their families. Her Zonta scholarship will allow her to expand her services to aid more breast cancer victims and their families.

Ongle’s life-altering experience began at age 20, when her son suffered a stroke in utero, leaving him gravely disabled for life. In 2009, she gave birth to another child, who was diagnosed with autism. A resident of Valencia, Kelly has returned to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education with an emphasis in special education. The scholarship will help pay for her studies at the University of Laverne. She expects to graduate in 2019, although she would eventually like to earn a Ph.D. in special education.

Canyon Country resident Annelie, who prefers not to use her last name, developed a passion for flying in junior high school, but life took her on an extended plan to achieve that dream. In July 2016, she passed the written FAA test and flew her first solo flight two months later. While working 30 hours each week and homeschooling four daughters, Annelie manages to attend Glendale Community College and volunteer in the community. With her scholarship, she will begin her second phase of pilot training, after obtaining her private pilot license. Her eventual goal is to become a commercial airline pilot.

Four local young women are sharing $4,000 in scholarships offered by the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley. Mary Gooneratne received the Young Women in Public Affairs Award locally and her application has been forwarded to Zonta’s District 9 for further competition. In addition, Joyce Kim and Sabrina Pin accepted cash awards as runners-up in the YWIPA competition locally.

The top Young Women in Public Affairs award was granted to Gooneratne, a senior at William S. Hart High School. She expressed a desire to work in government and hopes to use a college education to pursue a cybersecurity-oriented career with the National Security Agency. Her dream is eventually to enroll in law school and then direct her cybersecurity career toward foreign intelligence and policy.

Ranking at the top of her class academically, Mary served as president of her high school speech and debate team for two years and as vice president of the Key Club. She was an active volunteer in the last presidential election campaign and personally helped raise thousands of dollars for her candidate. She is concerned about issues that impact women, such as equal pay, forced marriages, female genital mutilation and female literacy around the world. She received $1,000 as the local winner and is eligible for another $1,000 if she is selected as the District 9 winner. That winner will go on to international competition, where 10 young women will receive $4,000 each.

Runner-up Joyce Kim is a senior at Golden Valley High School, where she is studying international relations and political science. She aspires to become a diplomat or ambassador. As yearbook editor-in-chief, she instituted a cultural spread, interviewing students from different countries and highlighting their cultures and traditions. She worked on a Santa Clarita City Council election campaign and was happy to see a woman running for higher office.

Hart High School senior Sabrina Pin is also a runner-up. She is interested in pursuing a career in public service or politics, and hopes to obtain a law degree. She intends to study public policy with a minor in computer science at Duke University. Throughout her high school years, she has been involved in Associated Student Body, California Girls State, swim, and the speech and debate team. She also was involved with the California YMCA Youth and Government, a model legislature and court program. In her junior year, she interned for a State Assemblyman, listening and responding to constituent concerns. Sabrina’s involvement in speech and debate, particularly in Public Forum debate, has sparked her interest in international relations. She has debated everything from foreign involvement in Iran to development aid in sub-Saharan Africa.

Four non-profit agencies dedicated to serving the Santa Clarita Valley are sharing $5,500 in Community Grants. Award checks were presented by committee co-chairs Suzie Alziebler and Judy Penman to William S. Hart (WISH) Foundation, Domestic Violence Center, SCV Senior Center and College of the Canyons Foundation.

Zonta’s mission is improving the lives of women and girls through service, advocacy and awareness, and successful grant writers focused on specific programs that meets those goals.

The WISH Foundation grant will help fund a proposed Girls Who Code Club at Rio Norte Junior High School, aiming to advance the academic and economic status of young women by encouraging them to enroll in computer science courses at the high school and college levels and eventually pursue computer science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers.

The Domestic Violence Center will use its grant to support its local shelter for victims of domestic violence and their families. The center has been servicing the local community for 12 years and is in much need of repairs and maintenance. The grant will go toward materials needed to modernize the kitchen and give it a much-needed renovation to make the room a welcoming area for women and children to fix their meals and gather in an positive environment.

The SCV Senior Center grant will be used to create an “Empowering Senior Women” workshop series. In three separate seminars, experts in the field of aging will provide comprehensive, leading-edge information, resources and support to senior women to give them tools to become proactive and maintain good physical and mental health.

College of the Canyons Foundation will use its grant to establish a domestic violence advocates training project. The goal of the program is to train 12 COC students to become domestic violence advocates, who will use their training to provide service back to the SCV Domestic Violence Center. They will also design action plans and devise strategies to inform others of this issue and how to confront it. Once trained, these 12 young women will serve as campus mentors to educate others to the signs, dangers and effects of domestic violence.

Now and Then: Fleeting Memories of the Alamo Foundation

| Community | May 18, 2017

Good and evil. Black and white. Those contrasts ran through my mind while reading about the recent death of infamous cult leader Tony Alamo. Tony, his wife Susan, and a disparate collection of lost souls inhabited the SCV for a few brief years in the early ‘70s, adding a bit of colorful perplexity to our sage brush-covered canyons. The evangelical couple reigned over a cadre of young homeless people “rescued” from drug-infested streets in Los Angeles. They established a headquarters north of the Soledad Canyon/Sierra Highway junction that professed to grant salvation through hard work and strict religious practices.

Publicly, Tony and Susan were enigmas, contrasts in style and temperament. Susan often dressed in long, white dresses or pants suits. From a distance the white garb, coupled with her long, blonde locks, gave her an ethereal look. However, up close, she more closely resembled a bleached-out version of Morticia Addams. In his dark suits and slicked down hair, Tony looked like the stereotypical Mafia Don. They were a study in black and white – and, as it turned out, good and evil. Their community appearances were rare, but at one chamber event, they stepped out of a dark limo dressed in their black and white personas to deliver an Alamo Foundation entry to a Fourth of July parade.

And what a dramatic entry that was! About 100 of their young cult members marched at the end of the parade, carrying crosses and belting out an impassioned rendering of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” A fellow curbside spectator nudged me with his elbow as the singers passed by exclaiming, “Those Alamo kids really know how to raise the Holy Spirit!”
“Those Alamo kids” provided the public “face” of the foundation. As in most cults, they had turned all their worldly goods over to the Alamos in the name of salvation. That included a variety of cars that were then painted red, white, and blue and adorned with the Alamo logo.

At one time or another, several of the cars would be parked at the foundation’s gas station located at the corner of Sierra Highway and Friendly Valley Parkway. The young acolytes not only pumped gas, but would also clean a motorist’s windshield. Many in town commented skeptically that this colorful façade did little more than cover the real workings of a cult, even though there were no overt signs of individual oppression or abuse.

While reading Alamo’s obituary, I mulled over several questions. Were the former music promoter and the once-aspiring actress truly converts to the “Jesus Movement”? Did they start out with good intentions – a crusade to uplift their followers with the word of God? Can a cult ever deliver the salvation it guarantees? And if so, when, in the case of the Alamos, did things go so horribly wrong?

In 1976, the Alamos left our valley to relocate their “ministry” in Susan’s Arkansas hometown and expand their foundation’s outreach. The gas station closed and the red, white, and blue cars disappeared, but a church continued to operate in the Agua Dulce-Acton area, and Alamo literature would sporadically appear on cars’ windshields. The cult was mostly forgotten until a few disturbing Midwestern newspaper stories began filtering back to the SCV.

One of the most bizarre stories came after Susan’s death in 1982. The grieving widower, who preached that his wife would be resurrected, recruited some beefy cohorts, sneaked into the cult mausoleum in the dead of night, and stole her coffin. Upon hearing the report, The Signal Newspaper editor Scott Newhall cynically commented to co-workers that Alamo had become a poor man’s Juan Peron. Scott’s words conjured up eerie images of Alamo carrying Susan’s coffin around, much as the Argentinean dictator did when “Evita” died.

Susan’s death did result in a resurrection of sorts. Subsequent news stories reported that the foundation “died” and was replaced by a tax-exempt corporation called the Music Square Church. The “church” became most notable for being investigated for tax evasion. Alamo was personally investigated as well, becoming more famous for frequent arrests involving his multiple child brides than as a redeeming pastor and savior.

In 2009, newspaper stories reported on Alamo’s final criminal conviction, which resulted in a 175-year federal prison sentence for sex crimes against children. Charges also included the beatings and starvation of young male and female members of the church.

A recent, tersely worded paragraph from SCV History.com may well sum up Alamo’s ultimate legacy: “ . . .Alamo, aka Bernie LaZar Hoffman, was convicted in 2009 of transporting children across state lines for sexual purposes. He was given the maximum allowable sentence. He died in a federal prison facility in North Carolina, with about 167 years left on his sentence.”

Susan and Tony are gone, but remnants of the Alamo Foundation live on. According to a Wikipedia article, there are more than 30 properties to be dealt with, including the church in the Acton area.

And every now and then, disgruntled SCV shoppers return to their cars to find Alamo pamphlets stuck under the windshield wipers or blowing around the parking lots.

Mugzey Muzic Hosts Ladies’ Night Out

| Community | May 18, 2017

If you stopped by the post office last Friday afternoon, you probably noticed the crowd filing into the store a few doors down. If you walked a little closer, you would also see people enjoying live music, fried chicken, and a guy in drag. Suddenly, your errands took a strange turn. But for Mugzey Muzic, that might as well be just another Friday afternoon.

Most people walk into a music store to pick up guitar strings or a song book. Mugzey is a music store by day, but on special evenings it doubles as a spectacle of live music and entertainment. Friday night was Ladies Night Out, a free event featuring talented local musicians and headlined by Mrs. Smith, the shredding comedian-musician-drag queen featured on America’s Got Talent.

If you attended, you most likely bumped shoulders with the famous inventor of the Wah-wah pedal and rock ‘n’ roll sound pioneer Del Casher, who happened to show up sporting a red turtleneck-sailor hat ensemble. After entertaining the crowd with old stories and wit, he strapped on his guitar and began an impromptu jam-session with a 13-year-old drumming prodigy. You know — Mugzey things.

For the price of a cup of coffee, you could enter a raffle to win an Ibanez electric guitar. And for the price of attending, you could grab a plate of food and mingle with fellow music lovers … or just listen alone in the corner with your chicken leg.

Mugzey Muzic hosts events like these frequently, maintaining a tight community of local musicians and music fans from all around the Santa Clarita Valley. To find out more about Mugzey Muzic and events, visit their website at www.mugzeymuzic.us or visit their facebook page.

Oaks of Hope

| Community, Sand Canyon Journal | May 15, 2017

Like many local families know, addiction is something that, once planted, can take root and grow. And grow. And grow.

Statistics show opioid abuse is rising across the nation. And closer to home, the last few years the numbers of deaths by drug overdose in Santa Clarita have averaged about one per month.

But there is a family in Canyon Country who decided to slow the pace of the problem. And they hope their idea can take root and grow faster than the rate of addiction.

Teri and Greg Gault turned their Sand Canyon home and its expansive grounds into a residential detoxification center, which they opened last fall. The house is now the site of a chemical dependency treatment program that focuses on motivating change and helping patients develop a healthy, therapeutic lifestyle of recovery.

Oaks of Hope is licensed for a partial hospitalization program, or PHP. Clients go to the house-turned-treatment center Monday through Friday for six hours of groups. Intensive outpatient treatment is not available through their program, which is a stage where people in recovery find a sober living home.

Oaks of Hope admits patients in the initial stages of recovery. “We’re the first point of contact — that’s detoxification,” Teri Gault explained. “Detox is usually anywhere from 5-10 days, depending on what their condition is. Then detox plus residential is about 30 days.”

The patients take part in a minimum of six groups a day, and on weekends they go on outings. There are speaker meetings, which is often a place for members of the program to find sponsors. Most of the treatment uses the 12-Step Program, such as Celebrate Recovery, which is Christian-based.

“Some people don’t want to do 12-step and they don’t have to do 12-step. There are a lot of ways to get well,” Teri said. “The clients come first. We really care about them. We want to challenge them. It comes down to one word that comes to me a lot, which is ‘submission.’ If they want to submit to the treatment plan, they have a really good chance of making it, and we have a lot of good results.”

So far, 18 individuals have “made it” through the program at Oaks of Hope and they range in age from 19-54. “We have a fantastic clinical team,” Teri said. “But also it’s a great home — this place is meant for recovery. My friends, everybody would say, ‘There’s just such a good feeling here.’ That’s the Lord.”

Before Greg and Teri Gault and their two sons created Oaks of Hope, the house was their residence. After they made the necessary preparations and got a home occupation permit, it was transformed into a place of recovery and they moved to a four-bedroom rental property in Canyon Country.

“I’m so content with it,” Teri said. “It’s kind of amazing, leaving after living here for eight years, and now I get to come here every day (where) I see people coming in and people getting well.”

Oaks of Hope is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a high-end neighborhood. There is an outdoor gym, a swimming pool and a full-time chef.

What motivated the Gaults to open Oaks of Hope was their watching family members suffer the consequences of addiction.

“I have a brother that I lost to meth-related heart failure and he was only 29,” Teri said. “And I have another brother who was in and out of incarceration. He’s sober now. He’s one of my key staff members.”

Oaks of Hope is a residential detox center for chemical substances and alcohol. “In 2008 in the Santa Clarita Valley we started having a lot of black tar heroin,” Teri said. “But now it’s gone more towards ‘benzos,’ which is Xanax. We’re seeing that coming from everywhere.”

Doctors, nurses and therapists work with patients at Oaks of Hope, who all have psychological evaluations, and sometimes they are referred to a higher level of care. Sadly, there are times when individuals are referred to treatment facilities, but never show up. One woman who was referred to Oaks of Hope overdosed the night before being admitted.

“Her name is Audrey,” Teri said. “We have a chair that our clients sanded and painted that sits in our room and the empty chair reminds everyone that you need to get help, because nothing good comes from drug abuse.”

When you discuss the range of drugs that are affecting the lives of addicts, Teri can reel off a long list, including Fentanyl, heroin and elephant tranquilizers.

“When people are on heroin it’s a game changer. But the good news is, with treatment there are a lot of ways to get well. They’re going to find something that makes a difference,” Teri said. “If you want it, it’s here.”

For more information about Oaks of Hope, call 866-705-HOPE.

Laina McFerren, Eric Stroh Named 2017 Man, Woman of Year

| Community | May 12, 2017

The final winners of the 2017 Woman and Man of the Year awards were announced last week at an annual recognition dinner held at the Hyatt Regency in Valencia.

Laina McFerren and Eric Stroh were announced as this year’s winners and will each receive $1,000 to donate to the non-profit organization of their choice. A total of 16 women and 12 men were nominated by local non-profit groups; McFerren was nominated by SCV Child & Family Center and Stroh represented Carousel Ranch. The event was chaired by Jim Lentini, 2016 Man of the Year, and Lois Bauccio, 2016 Woman of the Year, and the winners were selected by a committee of former winners.

McFerren, founder and co-owner of Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company, has volunteered for the Child & Family Center Foundation for 12 years. She has served on the organization’s board of directors for 12 years and chaired the board from 2012 to 2013. She served on the Child & Family Center Executive Committee for 10 years and worked on the non-profit’s Taste of the Town for 19 years — three years as co-chair, 12 years on the committee and 19 years as an exhibitor. She also has served on the Guardians of Hope Committee for one year and the Kid Expo Committee for nine years. She also has served on the Santa Clarita Jazz Festival Committee for three years.

Stroh, who is vice president of Santa Clarita Concrete, has volunteered for Carousel Ranch for over 11 years, serving as president and vice president during that time. He also served as creator and chair of the How the West Was Won Trap Shoot.

The final winners were chosen based on overall volunteer effort, years of service, impact on and commitment to the nominating organization. The committee looked at the impact the nominee has made on the nominating organization and the community, and other contributions made by the nominee that should be considered in the selection. Those contributions can include special personal effort, in-kind or intangible contributions, and outstanding leadership. This year’s honorees will now become chairs of the committee which will organize the 2018 event.

Other nominees for this year’s award, chosen by their non-profits for outstanding service and leadership, include:

Mary Ann Bennett, SRD Straightening Reins Foundation; Jane Bettencourt-Soto, Forged by Fire Foundation; Ann-Marie Bjorkman, SCV Boys and Girls Club; Marianne Cederlind, Carousel Ranch; Tami Edwards, Rotary Club of SCV; Diane Green, SCV Disaster Coalition, Sandra Ann Hardy, Girl Scouts of Greater LA; Tracy Hauser, SCV Senior Center; Pam Ingram, Soroptimist International of Greater SCV; Janine Jones, American Cancer Society; Gloria Mercado-Fortine, Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers; Janice Murray, Circle of Hope; Susan Reynolds, Domestic Violence Center and Boy Scouts; Christine Sarro Sexton, Zonta Club of SCV; and Doris Marie Zimmer, College of the Canyons Foundation.

Man of the Year Nominees included Alan Ferdman, Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers; Tom Hough, Boy Scouts of America; Taylor Kellstrom, Circle of Hope and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles; Jonathan Kraut, Domestic Violence Center; Nick Lentini, Child & Family Center and Rotary Club of SCV; Randy Moberg, College of the Canyons Foundation; Bruce Munster, SRD Straightening Reins Foundation; Kirk Nelson, American Red Cross; Todd Stevens, SCV Senior Center; Chuck Strong, American Legion Hall; and Jim Ventress, SCV Boys and Girls Club.

June Bloom Art Show at Oakmont

| Community | May 12, 2017

Visitors to Oakmont Senior Living in Valencia will get a chance to see the work of 20 local artists during an upcoming exhibit. The Santa Clarita Artists Association will host the June Bloom Art Show on June 3 – 4, 2017 in the lobby and courtyard at Oakmont, featuring displays of fine art, food and live music. Guitarist Steven Gudino will entertain on Saturday and Balladeer CKay Walker on Sunday. Gourmet appetizers, pastries and drinks will be served all day, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. The event is free to art lovers and friends.

“We at Oakmont Senior Living look forward to being a venue again this year for the June Bloom Art Show and are excited to support our local artists,” said Mary Dembkowski, marketing director for Oakmont. The residents at Oakmont enjoy meeting and chatting with the artists, viewing their artwork and listening to music, staff members say.

Oakmont Senior Living is located at 28650 Newhall Ranch Road in Santa Clarita. Call 661-347-0051 or visit Santaclaritaartists.org.

Amgen Tour of California Traffic Advisory

| Community | May 11, 2017

Local residents are being made aware of temporary traffic changes on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 during the Men’s Stage 4 Finish of the Amgen Tour of California professional bicycle race. There will be various road closures in effect through the afternoon hours.

Riders will enter Santa Clarita via eastbound Highway 126. The bicyclists will then travel the south lanes of the Old Road to Magic Mountain Parkway, where they will enter the City of Santa Clarita proper using the eastbound lanes of Magic Mountain Parkway. The race will finish on eastbound Magic Mountain Parkway between Auto Center Drive and Citrus alongside the Westfield Valencia Town Center.

The following are approximate times for road closures on Wednesday, May 17:

•5 a.m. closure of eastbound Magic Mountain Parkway between Auto Center Drive and Citrus Street

•2 p.m. to 5 p.m. closure of westbound Magic Mountain Parkway between Auto Center Drive and Citrus Street

•Approximately 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. rolling closure of southbound Old Road from 126 to Magic Mountain Parkway and Magic Mountain Parkway to Citrus Street. The rolling closure can vary from 15 to 30 minutes. The roadway is closed just ahead of cyclists and reopens immediately once cyclists and support vehicles pass.

•Businesses on Tourney Road should use Valencia Blvd. between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Community members are advised to plan ahead and avoid the areas of the Old Road and Magic Mountain Parkway between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to avoid impacts from the race. Riders are expected to cross the finish line around 3:45 p.m., although the actual timing of the finish may vary.

For more information about timing and locations of road closures, visit SantaClaritaTourofCA.com or call (661) 255-4347. For additional details or questions about the Amgen Tour of California Men’s Stage 4 Finish in Santa Clarita, contact Evan Thomason, Santa Clarita Economic Development Associate, at (661) 286-4167 or ethomason@santa-clarita.com.

Local Elk’s Lodge Celebrates 50th Year

| Community | May 11, 2017

Five charter members of Santa Clarita Elks Lodge #2379 gathered on Tuesday night to share stories from the early years of the service club. Nathan Beverly, Bruce Fortine, Bob Tallant, Jim Williams and Bob Gill, who is also a charter officer, remembered old friends, meetings and pranks from yesteryear.

Founded on November 15, 1967, this year the celebrating will continue with: a roast for longtime Elks member Jay Larkins Sept. 9; a Friday night special menu and entertainment by “Mr. Music,” Richard Roeloffs, on Oct. 13; and a commemorative dinner on Nov. 18 honoring the Lodge’s 50 years of service to the community.

The Elk’s Lodge is at 17766 Sierra Hwy, Canyon Country, CA 91351. Phone: (661) 251-1500

City to Hold Meet and Greet With New Police Chief

| Community | May 11, 2017

The public is invited to meet Captain Robert Lewis, the new head of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, next week. An Open House Meet and Greet with Captain Lewis is scheduled for Thursday, May 18 from 5-7 p.m. at City Hall in the Century Room, at 23920 Valencia Blvd. in Santa Clarita. The event is free and open to the public.

Captain Lewis, who brings more than 30 years of law enforcement experience with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, replaced Captain Roosevelt Johnson in March. After three years at the post, Captain Johnson was promoted to commander.

Captain Lewis returns to the Santa Clarita Valley station after spending the last year as a lieutenant at the Training Bureau in the Advanced Officer Training Unit. He began his law enforcement career in Santa Clarita as a law enforcement intern and was most recently assigned to the Santa Clarita Valley station from 2007-2014. In his career, Captain Lewis has also worked throughout Los Angeles County, with assignments in Malibu, West Hollywood and Altadena.

Captain Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in science, vocational and occupational studies from California State University, Long Beach.

“As a longtime resident of the Santa Clarita Valley, I am looking forward to serving the community I call home,” said Captain Lewis. “I welcome the opportunity to meet with residents and find out their top public safety concerns, as well as share my priorities for keeping the community safe.”

Captain Lewis and his family reside in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Tax Loophole

| Community | May 11, 2017

By Christopher D. Munchhof

The United States tax code is complicated. Too complicated. Those of us in the tax preparation industry like it that way. You hear a lot about loopholes and the rich taking advantage of them, but that’s a storyline that I think is grossly exaggerated. Regardless, aren’t there any loopholes for the poor? Yes. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, there’s at least one.

The Affordable Care Act utilizes the IRS to help keep track of tax credits paid in advance to those who purchase insurance through Covered California and qualify for assistance in paying their premiums. When someone applies for health insurance on the Covered California website, they provide an estimate of the income they expect to earn through the coming year. Based on that estimate, Covered California determines how much of the insurance premium will be paid out of pocket by the applicant and how much will be paid with an advance of the Premium Tax Credit.

When that individual files a tax return the following April, Form 8962 will be used to reconcile the difference between the Premium Tax Credit the taxpayer already received (through advanced payments to their insurance provider) with the amount of Premium Tax Credit they should have received based on their actual income for the year. If the taxpayer’s actual income was more than the amount they estimated when initially applying at Covered California, they will need to pay back some of that credit. If he or she earned less than estimated, the taxpayer will actually receive an additional credit in the form of an increased tax refund.

The “loophole” comes into effect because, based on income, the amount of Premium Tax Credit a taxpayer will have to pay back might be limited to only a fraction of the overpayment. It took a couple years of the law being in place, but I really noticed this year that taxpayers have caught on. Now many individuals are intentionally understating their income when they apply for an ACA policy to receive a larger monthly credit throughout the year, knowing they won’t have to pay the entire amount back. For example, a married couple with two kids earning $70,000 a year could understate their income on their Covered California application and receive an extra $400 per month in premium assistance or $4,800 per year. Once they file their tax return and report their actual income, the $4,800 overpayment in Premium Tax Credit will be apparent, however based on their income, the law only requires them to pay back $1,500 of it. This gives them a $3,300 savings by receiving a tax credit they were not technically entitled to.

Additionally, when parents share a Covered California policy with an adult child, the law allows the taxpayers to divide the Premium Tax Credit among each of the taxpayers on the policy in any amounts they choose. This allows the parents to allocate the entire Premium Tax Credit to a young adult who may have very low earnings and, therefore, reduce the amount of tax credit to be repaid to as little as $300.

The amount of Premium Tax Credit individuals would have to pay back was limited by Congress to assuage ACA applicants’ fears that they may be hit with a large tax bill when they file their taxes. Taxpayers who do attempt this strategy run the risk of paying the entire amount back if their income is higher than certain levels. There is also the damage they will cause to their sense of morality for intentionally misstating their income.

Christopher D. Munchhof is a licensed tax professional, investment adviser, life insurance agent and 30-year Santa Clarita resident. You can reach him directly by emailing chris@free-financial.com.

The 29th Annual Memorial Day Event – Eternal Valley Memorial Park

| Canyon Country Magazine, Community | May 9, 2017

Rosie the Riveter and other heroes from World War II will be remembered on Monday, May 29, 2017 at Eternal Valley’s 29th annual program. The community will gather for the tribute to veterans at 10 a.m. at Eternal Valley Memorial Park & Mortuary, 23287 N. Sierra Hwy in Newhall.

The celebration begins with a fly-over by vintage planes from the Condor Squadron completing the Missing Man Formation, which symbolizes veterans who lost their lives. The Marine Corps League of Simi Valley and the Vietnam Veterans of America will present a flag ceremony this year.

Guests will hear music from the 1940s and World War II memorabilia will be on display, including uniforms from members of the WAVEs. They will also honor the lost by reading the names on the Veterans Memorial Wall at the conclusion of the Tribute to Veterans.

A light lunch will be served, hosted by Eternal Valley Memorial Park. Golf carts will carry visitors to and from the ceremony site and the parking areas.

For more information, contact Sharon Ventrice at ten.labolgcbs@ecirtnevs or call at 661-755-8629.

Afternoon T

| Community | May 5, 2017

by T. Katz

Q: Being late a few times to things doesn’t make me rude, does it? My boyfriend says it does.

A: Being tardy now and again happens (flat tires, lost keys, traffic snafus, etc.) and people are usually forgiving. Being habitually late is a whole other kettle of smelly fish. Methinks your boyfriend is a man of few words, unlike Eric Clapton, who strung a bunch together and set ‘em to chords when he wrote You Look Wonderful Tonight whilst waiting on his girlfriend to get ready for a party, to which they were tardy. He could have just said, “Babe, you’re being rude.” Cutting his record sales way down.

In my house, our family motto is: “To be early is to be on time; to be on time is to be late; to be late is unforgiveable.” Punctuality shows respect, of self and the person/people waiting on you. It is often thought that those who are habitually late are just arrogant, disrespectful and downright rude, and that they think their time is far more important than the people waiting for them. But the opposite is more often true. Those who are constantly tardy may feel so unworthy and unimportant that they sabotage their own time (and, unfortunately, the people who wait for them) in subtle ways. They might change shoes, hair or make-up a half dozen times to feel better about their visage, which can result in lost minutes or even hours. They may fiddle around with piddly tasks that distract them from getting out of the house on time. Pauline Wallin, PhD., a psychologist in Camp Hill, Penn., says: “People who are chronically late are often wrestling with anxiety, distraction, ambivalence, or other internal psychological states.” When seen in that light, one can understand that the behavior doesn’t stem from arrogance or a penchant for rudeness.

While deep-seated issues may be contributing to your tardiness (and there’s no shame in seeking professional assistance), let’s give you three things to help in the meantime:

1. Make To-Do Lists and Schedule Your Time. For two weeks write down everything you need to do in a day and the estimated time to do it. You may find you’re not leaving enough time to get things done, or get easily distracted from one task to the next.
2. Plan Early Arrivals. Make your arrival 15 to 20 minutes BEFORE you’re supposed to arrive and be honest about the time it takes to get there.
3. Embrace Early Arrivals. Use your 15 to 20 minutes for good. Clean out/catch up on texts, emails and calendar.

Remember, in school and employment, being late is a punishable offense: Demerits, demotions, de-stinkeye, oh my! Do it enough socially, and folks may stop inviting you places, or maybe do what I do –- issue invitations with the correct time to everyone BUT you, altering your time by at least half an hour. That sort of begs the question which one of us is being more rude, doesn’t it?

xo – t.

Now and Then: Sorry, Wrong Number

| Community | May 4, 2017

The malicious practices of hackers, spoofers, and phishers turned our lives into a series of movie titles last week.

Scene One: “The Prelude to a “Perfect Storm”
Things started routinely enough the week before with a trip to a local provider to make some changes in our Internet-TV-phone bundle. Following in the footsteps of our tech-savvy children and friends, we decided to give up our landline in favor of our cell phones.

We renegotiated a communication package, unplugged our four wall phones, packaged them up neatly in a box, and banished them to the rafters above the garage — a veritable wasteland of outdated technology and home improvement discards that (in my husband Tom’s words) “we might need again someday.”

A friendly tech arrived the following Monday and “rewired” our outdated communication system – a process that required moving furniture and embarrassingly cleaning up years of undisturbed lint and dust bunnies. We settled in with a new list of TV channels and programs to memorize and a vastly improved internet connection. By Thursday we were well on our way to technological sophistication — a sharp television picture and a new routine of moving our cell phones from room to room to outdoors, as we went about our daily routines. (Any good inventions out there for a woman whose wardrobe is sadly deficient in pocket-friendly apparel?)

Scene Two: “Gaslight”
Then it began. A Thursday morning email alert arrived from “Citi Bank” advising me that a payment I authorized from my designated account would soon be withdrawn (complete with dollar amount, confirmation number, and a link to click on for further instructions). Lately, I’ve been receiving quite a few similar email notices purportedly from other established providers. The terms “hack, “spoof,” and “phish” have become old friends. I closed the email, went to the Citibank website, and dialed a customer service number.

Confusion arose when I was asked for my Citibank user number and password. I told the representative that I had signed up on a hotel site for a card that would give me credit each time I booked a room at its participating hotels. When the card arrived in the mail, calling a Citibank phone number activated it. I did not have a Citibank user name and password. We decided that the information I gave on the hotel site was what she needed. But that wasn’t all. I also needed to recite the telephone number I was calling from.
Scene Three: “High Anxiety” – the Frustration Begins
I gave the rep my cell phone number. There was a pause. The rep informed me that it was not the correct number. Another pause, then the light dawned. I told her she must have our landline number, which we had cancelled because cell phone technology made it superfluous. That may well be, the rep informed me, but her company did not recognize cell phone numbers. Another pause, only now a very awkward pause. When I replied that our two cell phone numbers were the only numbers we had, the rep said she would do some investigating. I was put on hold for five minutes. When the background music stopped, the rep returned saying there was a problem and she would have to call me back.

I hung up and waited. And waited. And waited. Two hours later, my computer chimed and a new email appeared. It said, “We’ve identified possible fraud on your account. Charges may be limited until we hear from you. We need you to call us right away.” An 800 number and a case number were included.

I picked up the phone, dialed, and gave a new rep the information from the email. He was very polite and asked me to verify my account. I was back to the previous routine – only this time there was no “I’ll investigate and call you back.” Instead, he said, “If you have no landline for identification, no further action can be taken.” At that point, my blood pressure began to rise and I asked if he wanted my Social Security or driver’s license numbers (cynically, I added to myself: or maybe a blood sample). He assured me that the company did not use such information. I then suggested that the only recourse would be to cancel the card.

Scene Four: “Catch 22”
The rep’s retort was that I could not cancel the card without a landline number because he had no provision for calling cell phones. It was then that my husband and I looked up the address of the local Citibank branch and drove to Saugus.

Surprisingly, in spite of coded bank identifications and our IDs in hand, the calls made by personal banker Keri Shulman, then manager-vice president Sofia Prevoo, it elicited the same response: no landline, no recourse. Sofia’s requests to speak to managers, then managers’ managers, and supervisors, all ended in similar stalemates. By now, close to two hours had passed. If not for the conscientious and courteous attentions of Keri and Sofia, I would have been tearing my hair out. Half jokingly, Tom suggested maybe we needed to walk across the street and order a couple of margaritas at El Presidente. It became clear that a wall existed between the banking and the credit card operations and getting through that wall wasn’t easy.

At one point, one of the credit card reps asked if we could give him the telephone numbers of relatives that he could call to verify our identities. We shook our heads in frustration — our closest relatives had long ago given up their landlines for cell phones. It was now past closing time, and the only concession the man would give was that we would be contacted with some kind of solution in the next 48 hours.

Scene Five: “The Sound of Music”
We clutched our cell phones close to our bodies and waited for them to ring. The silence over the next four days was deafening. Monday morning found us once again in the comfortable offices at Citibank. Sofia was ready. She was not going to end the call without a permanent resolution. She asked for a supervisor, went through her coded branch numbers, and explained our dilemma once more. I was asked again to provide relatives’ telephone numbers, only now the supervisor explained that he didn’t have to have a landline, simply a number that was affiliated with a Citibank account. Luckily, our daughter-in-law had one such number. Then it was only a matter of minutes before our cell phone number was accepted and our account was validated! Instantly, a heavy rock lifted from my shoulders, our 4-day phone odyssey was over!

We came away from the experience with four conclusions:
If you decide to give up your landline for cell phones – and that landline is tied to an account – call the account holder to update the phone information before canceling the landline.

It is commendable that the Citibank credit card division has such high security standards and is conscientiously doing its best to protect its clients from fraud. Unfortunately, the perverted hackers and spoofers who derive more pleasure cheating people out of their hard-earned dollars than working honest jobs have necessitated a rigid policy that punishes innocent consumers.

Thank goodness SCV Citibank has courteous and efficient professionals like Keri Shulman and Sofia Prevoo!

Don’t give up on brick and mortar. Without them, I’d still be on the phone. Being face to face with a provider really helps.

Zonta Sponsors Lunafest on May 11

| Community | May 4, 2017

All eyes are on women at the Zonta Club’s annual Lunafest, and this year’s festival features nine short films by, for and about women. On Thursday, May 11 from 6-9 p.m. a screening of the films will be held at the Canyon Theatre Guild, 24242 Main Street in Newhall.

“These films will compel discussion, make you laugh, tug at your heartstrings and motivate you to make a difference in your community,” said event co-chair Sue Hayward. “They are incredibly diverse in style and content.”

The screening includes: “Another Kind of Girl,” following the life of a 17-year-old girl who meditates on how her refugee camp has opened up new horizons and given her a sense of courage that she lacked in Syria; “Family Tale,” redefining the meaning of family through love, loss and determination; “Free to Laugh,” a documentary that explores the power of comedy after prison; “Join the Club,” which deals with a writer’s dilemma of whether or not to join a networking club, as the issue unfolds during one therapy session; “Ninera,” a story that looks at the bitter irony many nannies face: raising the children of strangers for a living while their own children are virtually left to raise themselves.

Other films include: “Nikosi Coiffure,” in which a woman escapes into a hair salon in Brussels after a fight with her boyfriend in the street; “Partners,” where professional and life partners confront how intertwined their lives have become; “The Honeys and the Bears,” in which members of a synchronized swim team for seniors describe the freedom of the water; and “The Third Dad,” about a daughter, 10 years after breaking all ties with her father, sets out to find his grave – and redemption.

For $10, guests will be able to purchase one of a limited 300 tickets for an opportunity drawing that will be held at the event (winners do not need to be present to win). Committee members are still assembling a list of prizes for the drawing, but already have completed 13 baskets, some worth over $500. Raffle tickets are $10 each or three for $25 and can be purchased online or from individual committee members.

This will be the seventh time that the local Zonta Club has been a Lunafest host, and the number of guests increases each year as word spreads throughout the community, according to event co-chair Barbara Meyer. In addition to supporting Zonta’s local and international service projects, Lunafest has raised more than $1.2 million for the Breast Cancer Fund, the event’s main beneficiary, and for other women’s non-profit organizations.

Lunafest is a nationwide film festival which features short films by, for, and about women. It was conceived by the creator of LUNA Bar, Kit Crawford. Kit was diagnosed with breast cancer and throughout her fight appreciated enormously the support she received from the Breast Cancer Fund. Now a proud survivor in the fight against breast cancer, she wanted to give back to the Breast Cancer Fund while highlighting women’s issues and celebrating their strength.

Lunafest, established in 2000 by LUNA, makers of the Whole Nutrition Bar for Women, connects women, their stories and causes through film. A portion of the proceeds from these films help support The Breast Cancer Fund, which is dedicated to eliminating the environmental causes of breast cancer affecting one in eight women. The remaining proceeds from this event are used to support Zonta Club’s programs and projects to improve the lives of women locally and on an international level.

Admission of $45 includes the film screening, pre-screening patio reception with appetizers and one glass of wine, and movie-type snacks. Guests also will receive a swag bag loaded with gifts from local merchants and service providers.

Guests can purchase electronic tickets and raffle tickets for this year’s event, available at www.scvzonta.org by clicking on Events, and then Lunafest. Tickets and raffle tickets can also be purchased in person from Zonta Lunafest Committee members.

Hart District Video Award Winners

| Community | April 28, 2017

A student at Golden Valley Junior High was chosen to co-host the Student Television Network Awards show last week in Anaheim, where several William S. Hart Union High School District students became winners in various categories. Jimmy Warshawsky produced an audition video for the emcee spot, competing with hundreds of other students around the country.

Earlier in the year, Golden Valley TV was chosen as one of seven programs from around the country to contribute a segment on this year’s STN featured documentary on physical disabilities. The film premiered at the convention and is now at PBS for possible airing across the country.

Students from four different high schools and two junior highs in the Hart District were honored at the awards. Nearly 3,000 students and teachers attended this year’s convention, which is held annually in different cities across the country. The award categories range from film and TV to video, with students working throughout the year at their schools on their projects.

Arroyo Seco Junior High: Third place in Music Video (Producers: Katie Garibay and Ruby Petty)

Canyon High: Third place in Silent Film (Producers: Arianna Bogue-Aleman and Francisco Simplicio)

Hart High: First place in Commentary (Producer: Kassie Matthews); honorable mention in Silent Film (Producers: Joe Brennan and Tyler Lasdon)

Placerita Junior High: Honorable mention in Silent Film (Producers: Ben Cole, Elizabeth Nebelsky, Collin Necessary, Zach Riley and Jacob Walker)

West Ranch High: STN Film Excellence Best Live Action (Connor Williams and Skyler Brigmann); Best Directing (Connor Williams and Skyler Brigmann); second place in Nat Sound Package (Johanna Jenneman, Hannah Watts and Heeli Lounibous); third place in Convention recap (Producers: Skyler Brigmann, Joel Yoon, Max Lin); third place in Crazy 8 Film (Skyler Brigmann, Josh Orris, Joel Yoon, Christian Jackson, Hannah Watts, Ryan Knudsen, Tom Mulry)

New Gold Ribbon Designation for Schools in Hart District

| Community | April 28, 2017

Among California’s middle and senior high schools, five within the William S. Hart Union High School District have been named Gold Ribbon Schools by the California Department of Education. Canyon, Golden Valley and Hart high schools earned the award, as did Rancho Pico and Sierra Vista junior highs.

“I am very proud of all of our schools,” said Vicki Engbrecht, superintendent of the Hart School District. “These awards reflect the high level of professionalism our teachers and administrators have for education. They are constantly working creatively together to give every student the opportunity to have an excellent education. And these awards also say something about our community, because if it wasn’t for outstanding parental involvement, our schools, and more importantly, our students, wouldn’t be as successful as they are.”

The Gold Ribbon Awards recognize California schools that have made gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education. These include the California Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, California English Language Development Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.

“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing our new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “I look forward to travelling the state to honor these schools and to help share the programs, methods, and techniques that are working.”

Schools applied for the award based on a model program or practice their school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies, and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies. The award acknowledged elementary schools last year.

“I am very proud of our school, staff, students, community members and parents who all made this possible,” said Jason d’Autremont, principal of Canyon High School. “Being considered a Gold Ribbon Exemplary School for our Computer Science program goes a long way and contributes to the fulfillment of our mission to prepare all students for college or a career.”

Only 275 public schools across the state were honored with the Gold Ribbon Award. All of the award winners will be honored during regional ceremonies held in Costa Mesa, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, Visalia and Sacramento.

“This award celebrates the tremendous teamwork involved with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards,” said Erum Jones, principal of Rancho Pico Junior High. “Our classrooms have morphed into student-centered learning environments where students are meaningfully engaged with the curriculum. I am so very proud of this growth in our practice and the resulting impact it has had in regards to student achievement.”

New City Librarian Hired

| Community | April 27, 2017

A new Santa Clarita city librarian comes to the community with weighty credentials. Matthew Hortt is the newest employee at the Santa Clarita Public Library, overseeing programming and operations for its three branches — in Canyon Country, Newhall and Valencia.

Hortt brings with him 18 years of experience as a librarian in the public library system. Prior to being named city librarian, he served as library director for the Simi Valley Public Library and head librarian for Adult Services at the Henderson Libraries in Nevada. Hortt has a degree in Criminal Justice, a Master’s degree in Library Science and a Ph.D. in Public Affairs with an emphasis on fundraising and working with non-profit organizations.

“As a city librarian I look forward to becoming part of the Santa Clarita community and getting acquainted with our library customers,” Hortt said.

His main focuses for the Santa Clarita Public Library will be community engagement and continuing high quality programming and services for library customers, including expansion of the library’s digital resources. He is replacing former city librarian Kelly Behle, who recently accepted the position as library director for Simi Valley Public Library.


Chamber Chronicles: Recalling a History of Challenges

| Community | April 27, 2017

Bob Kellar remembers the date well.

“You mean July 5, 1995?” the councilmember asked.

Indeed. As the last president of the Canyon Country Chamber of Commerce, Kellar recalls the date he sat at a press conference announcing the unification of the Canyon Country Chamber with the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.

He also remembers the reason for the move.

Two years earlier, executive director Bonnie Barnard had made off with, according to Kellar’s estimates, between $75,000 and $80,000 over three or four years. She accomplished this by not paying taxes on the Handy Worker Program and instead keeping those monies. Later, the Internal Revenue Service got involved.

“We were not able to pay our bills,” Kellar said. “That’s what forced our hand. We were in a mess, make no mistake about it.”

Before the misappropriations, the Canyon Country Chamber “worked hard to represent businesses in Canyon Country,” Kellar said. Members would visit various businesses and survey what could be done to help their profits. These businesses were not necessarily chamber members, Kellar said.

“We were doing a form of economic development,” Kellar said. “The chamber lobbied for roads. We were very strong in the beautification of the area, and we’d give awards to businesses (who beautified the area).”

The big annual event was Frontier Days, a celebration of the Old West and Santa Clarita’s pioneering days. Attendance of more than 20,000 was common at the four-day event, which would feature a parade down a one-mile stretch of Soledad Canyon Road, country-western music and dance, concerts, a tractor pull, fake gunfights, carnival and a rodeo, which was located at the fairgrounds on which now sits the Vista Canyon development.

The event ran for 31 years, 29 in Canyon Country, and after the two chambers came together, at Saugus Speedway for a year and across the street (where River Village now sits) for a year.

According to an article in a festival program by Linda Pedersen, the early celebrations included donkey rides for the adults, plus muddy pig wrestling and greased pole contests for the children. There also was a Frontier Belle contest, in which the early winners had to demonstrate horsemanship.

Unfortunately, what chamber leadership failed to recognize was the possibility of a criminal in the midst. Barnard had been siphoning off funds for several years before Charlotte Tyree, daughter of Carolyn, the only full-time chamber employee, received a call from the bank informing them that a check had not cleared. That simple discovery led to a forensic audit that revealed the depths of Barnard’s wrongdoing. It centered on misappropriated funds from the Handy Worker Program, the same program now being run by the Santa Clarita Senior Center, which helps residents of low and moderate incomes repair their homes with work grants.

When the IRS came calling, Kellar met with the agent and assured him that, as a retired police officer, he was doing everything in his power to make this right.

“He got aggressive with me,” Kellar said. “He leaned in and told me, ‘You need to know that if we don’t resolve this, we’re coming after you.’”

Kellar said he sold a 1946 flatbed truck to help pay the costs.

Barnard never faced criminal charges. Instead, the two sides struck an agreement that if Barnard paid back at least $30,000, she wouldn’t be prosecuted. She did, and she and her husband, Grant, a bigwig with the Elks, moved to Palmdale.

“I don’t think her husband had a clue,” Kellar said. “I’m sure he was embarrassed.”

Grant Barnard died in 2011. There is a Bonnie Barnard listed as a member of the Palmdale Chamber of Commerce, but calls to the listed number were not returned.

Kellar believes that is the same Bonnie Barnard who caused such problems years ago. He knew the Barnards had moved to Palmdale, and he warned someone he knew not to let Bonnie near any money.

But the damage had been done. Adding to the problem was that the chamber did not carry directors’ and officers’ liability insurance, Kellar said, because no one saw a need.

Kellar and the leadership had no choice but to seek out the Santa Clarita Chamber to protect the Canyon Country members. Nine Canyon Country board members, including Kellar, became members of the Santa Clarita board; Carolyn Tyree went to work for the SCV Chamber.

“It certainly is a regret,” Kellar said. “We had every confidence in her. How many times have you heard this story? You have to always keep your guard up. There will always be somebody to play by different rules.”

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