Thanksgiving Dinner for Veterans in L.A.

| Community | November 17, 2017

The Veterans Advocacy Group of America is hosting a Veterans’ Thanksgiving Appreciation Dinner next week in downtown Los Angeles. A meal will be served to the veteran public on Tuesday, November 21 from 2:30 p.m.-5 p.m. at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall, located at 1816 S. Figueroa Street.

The Veterans’ Thanksgiving Appreciation Dinner & Celebration is for military veterans and their families and those currently serving the United States Military.

Bob Hope Patriotic Hall is an iconic part of the downtown Los Angeles skyline and serves as the home of the Los Angeles County Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, providing space for a variety of veteran services organizations and hosting events for veterans. This event will include a guest speaker, buffet dinner service and entertainment.

The Thanksgiving event is open to the public, and sponsorship/donations are welcome by contacting the Veterans Advocacy Group of America for further information. Contact Tova Barbour at 800-478-1927 or tbarbour@vaga.us. Visit the website at: www.vaga.us.

Afternoon T

| Community | November 17, 2017

by T. Katz

Q: The holidays are here and I’m just not feeling in the spirit. My spouse says I’m being too “Grinch-y,” but I’m really having a hard time being optimistic about everything. I’m worried about all that has to be done, like shopping, dinners, having family over and more.

A: The holiday season is a tough time for many people. For some, it can bring up tremendous anxiety, emotions from the past or just an indescribable fog that’s tough to see through. It’s madness to think that everyone should adopt a joyful disposition just because happy ads, jolly songs or sparkly things are put on display for a few months (now that Halloween night has added Christmas TV commercials to the evening). I’m sorry that you’re feeling so much pressure and having to bear the label of Grinch, which I don’t necessarily think you deserve. I’m certain your heart is much larger than his – or you wouldn’t be feeling so burdened by all that’s on your plate right now.

As a rule, I try not to take the pessimistic or optimistic view. The whole mug half-full or mug half-empty is too black and white for me. I find it best to see the shades of gray (Earl Grey, please. With a bit of cream, thank you). Honestly, if there’s anything in the mug at all, we should make an effort to be grateful. Note the word “effort” is underlined, italicized and bold. That’s because I know, from experience, that gratitude is a tough chicken plucker to get a grip on. We don’t come sliding, screeching and bawling into this world handing out Thank You cards. Gratitude is a thing we learn. We can learn, but we might forget and a forgetful mind (and heart) can be helped by having lists. So, start making lists! First, make a list of things, even the tiniest things, that you are thankful for. Tape that list somewhere you can see it every single day. Keep a pencil nearby to add to it when you discover new things that make your heart happy. Then, move on to the holiday lists. You mentioned dinners, family members and gift giving. Methinks it’s time you make your entire household aware of all that goes on in your head to make the holidays “happen” in your home. Grocery lists and recipes that magically appear, courtesy of you? Tape it up in the kitchen for everyone to see. Then the names of folks you get gifts for? Use a fancy font and put that list near the front door. You may find that your family’s appreciation for all you do lightens your load a little. It might also make it easier to ask for some assistance from them, then add their help to the list of things you’re grateful for. Take the lists down (before company comes) and tuck them away for next season. Then, hugs and kisses all around, under the mistletoe, from me.
xo – t.

PaintCare California Recycles 12 Million Gallons

| Community | November 17, 2017

The 2017 annual report of the California Paint Stewardship Program has released its results from the year spanning from July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017. PaintCare, the nonprofit organization implementing the program says that in the five years since its inception, 12 million gallons of paint have been collected and processed thanks to participants.

Highlights of the 2017 report include:
Established 803 year-round drop-off locations throughout the state for households and businesses to recycle leftover paint at paint retailers, government-run hazardous household waste (HHW) facilities, solid waste transfer stations and other volunteer locations.
More than 98 percent of California residents have a year-round drop-off site within 15 miles of their home, which exceeds the goal of 90 percent.
Managed paint from 313 municipal HHW drop-off events at 199 sites. PaintCare planned, promoted and held 10 paint-only drop-off events, an increase of five over the previous year.
Provided 313 large volume pick-ups (LVPs) from businesses, institutions and others that had accumulated more than 200 gallons of paint at their sites. PaintCare lowered the threshold to qualify for an LVP to 200 gallons early in the year.
All efforts led to 3,464,149 gallons of total collected and processed post-consumer paint during the year. Of this total, 94 percent was reused or recycled back into paint, another product, or used for another purpose other than landfill disposal.
About 4 percent was reused (given away to someone who could use it).
Recycled approximately 1,925 tons of plastic and metal paint cans.

“After five years, it’s really become clear how far paint recycling in California has advanced,” said Jeremy Jones, PaintCare’s West Coast program manager. “PaintCare is now collaborating with the Mattress Recycling Council to host cooperative events and our partnerships with household hazardous waste programs, counties, cities, and community organizations continues to deepen each year.”

For the full report, visit https://www.paintcare.org/wp-content/uploads/docs/ca-annual-report-2017.pdf.

The California Paint Stewardship Law, supported by paint manufacturers and signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in September 2010, established the program to decrease the generation of postconsumer architectural paint, promote using up leftover paint, and manage the paint in an environmentally sound manner for collection, transportation, processing, recycling and proper disposal. There is no charge for dropping off paint at a PaintCare location.

Until PaintCare, local government-run household hazardous waste sites were the primary programs for collecting leftover paint. PaintCare drop-off locations cannot accept aerosols or other chemicals. Jones said residents should continue to take other “non-paint” chemicals, such as pesticides and paint thinner, as well as paint in aerosol spray cans, to their local HHW programs.

All brands of unwanted house paint, stain and varnish that are labeled and in original containers may be dropped off at PaintCare locations, even if they are 20 years old. Retailers participating in the program accept program products from all households without residency restrictions, as well as from most businesses. Costs for the PaintCare program are covered by a nominal fee that has been added to the price of new paint, stain and varnish sold in California. The fees vary by container size: 35 cents for pints or quarts, 75 cents for one-gallon containers, and $1.60 for five-gallon containers.

To find the nearest PaintCare drop-off locations and to learn more about the types of products that are accepted, visit www.paintcare.org/california.

Correction! And You Didn’t Make Any Money?

| Community | November 16, 2017

When the market goes down and you lose money as a result, it’s called a “correction” — as if it wasn’t right for you to make money! Why does Wall Street use that term for a downturn in the markets? Well, we think it’s a way for them to soften the idea that you actually lost money. Let’s face it — when people are scared about losing money, what do you think their instinct is to do … sell? Maybe, for some. But if we all did that, how could the markets exist? Let’s just say the financial world would look different. And just maybe the layer of people “managing” your money would not be necessary. It has been my opinion that Wall Street’s job is to keep your money, not keep your money safe. And that does not necessarily mean they are making you money.

Why is it that your broker makes money even when your account is “corrected,” or loses money? I think the system was designed this way to make sure Wall Street always gets its piece. Many years ago, an investor would sit with his/her broker at the end of the year and review the account’s performance, then write a check for “management” services. If the account was up in value, chances are the check was already made out. And if not, well, my guess is the broker had a difficult time getting paid. Nowadays, the money is deducted right from your account. This way, brokers don’t experience a loss — excuse me, “correction” — when you do.
If you really think about it, Wall Street gets paid if your money is at risk. If the market is up, you win, and they get their fee. If the market is the same, you didn’t win. … Don’t worry, they get their fee. But, when the market is down, and you lose money, they STILL get their fee? That’s just not good math to me. Why are you the only one losing money two out of three times, when you are the one who saved it? My contention is that most people are just too busy to pay attention, or they’re conditioned to think this is “normal” or “it’s just the way it is.” I can tell you that is not the way it has to be, at least not in my practice.

So, who is really benefiting from your retirement account? I hope you asked yourself that question. My belief is that your retirement money should have a purpose – to help fulfill the meaning of your life. After all, weren’t you the one who sacrificed and didn’t spend this money so you could enjoy retirement? This money is yours, not your broker’s. I have seen many a financial professional lose sight of that over the last two decades. In some cases, you earned this money when your broker was still in elementary school. Now, that doesn’t make they’re doing anything wrong with your money, but how can they, or anyone, care about your money as much as you do?
I know my answer.

What can you do to regain control of your retirement and make sure you’re not being taken by hidden fees? First, start by taking inventory. Gather your account statements so you know who is holding your money. Next, ask the right questions. You might say “fee,” but what about expenses, charges, or deductions? Different words mean different things. I have seen more than just simple “fees” chip away at gains. Last, ask yourself if the total cost of your accounts is commensurate with the value you receive from this company or broker. You wouldn’t part with cash for something you didn’t receive so, why is your retirement account any different?

If you can’t figure it out on your own, you’re not alone. I suggest you find a professional that specializes in protecting your principal and your gains without the fees or risk, at least for part of your money. They should be able to uncover if you are paying hidden fees that eat away at your gains, and find solutions that meet your retirement needs.

Remember, this is your retirement. Make sure it’s protected!

Arif Halaby is a Certified Estate Planner in California and President/CEO of Total Financial Solutions, Inc., a financial and insurance services company in Santa Clarita that prides itself in protecting principal, eliminating fees, and designing higher income strategies. 661-753-9683

Wonderland Art Exhibit at SCAA Gallery

| Community | November 16, 2017

The Santa Clarita Artists Association Gallery will be participating in Sip N’ Shop and Light up Main Street events on Nov. 18, 2017. Sip N’ Shop will be from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. followed by the tree lighting activities. The new Wonderland exhibit runs through December 30.

“We change out the art every six weeks — so come often. Included are original works, prints and hand-crafted artwork in various sizes and affordable price ranges,” said Scott Parker, coordinator. “There are many beautiful pieces on display to enjoy … and take home with you.”

SCAA Art Gallery is located at 22508 6th St. in Old Town Newhall, between Railroad and Main. The gallery is open Thursdays and Fridays 6-9 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays 3-9 p.m. Look for signs along Main Street to announce gallery openings.

In addition, SCAA artists will hold a Holiday Boutique on Dec. 2-3, 2017 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at Home Care Services, 23340 Cinema Drive, Suite 5 in Santa Clarita. Small fine art, gifts for all, jewelry and one-of-a-kind crafts will be available for purchase. Patrons will be entertained with live music and refreshments. For more information, contact LyndaFrautnik@yahoo.com.

SCAA is the only non-profit fine art association in Santa Clarita since 1989. For inquiries, visit SantaClaritaArtists.org or call 661-313-5316.

Memorial Scheduled for Longtime Resident Dennis Marazzito

| Community, Obituaries | November 16, 2017

Members of the Marazzito family, who settled in Canyon Country more than 50 years ago, are grieving the loss of Dennis Marazzito, 67, who died Monday, November 13, 2017 after a long battle with heart disease. Dennis and his wife of 31 years, Rose Marazzito, owned The Drifters bar on Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country.

He was born in New Jersey on March 15, 1950 to Emily and Joseph Marazzito. Following graduation from William S. Hart High School in Newhall, Dennis joined the United States Marines.

Always an advocate for the needs of children, Dennis and Rose raised funds every year to purchase and donate 10-20 bicycles for the holidays. He placed barrels at The Drifters to collect toy donations, which were filled to the brim, and every holiday the couple served free meals to anyone from the community who gathered. Dennis never wanted anyone to be alone or hungry on a holiday.

Services will be held on Saturday, November 18 at Heart of the Canyons Church, 24551 Valley Street in Newhall. A viewing will be held at 9 a.m. and a service at 10 a.m. Interment will follow at Eternal Valley, 23287 Sierra Highway in Newhall. The family welcomes visitors to attend a reception held in his honor at 2 p.m. at VFW Post 6885, 16208 Sierra Highway in Canyon Country.

Dennis and Rose

Dennis is survived by his wife, Rose; his children, Dennis, Joey, Sheri, Angela, Barbara Ann, and Jessica; and 11 grandchildren, including the youngest, Hendrix. He is also survived by four siblings, Barbara, Joe, Eddie (Bridgett) and Lydia (Sid) and many more family members.

“There must be a big job for Dennis in heaven,” says the Marazzito family. “He will be missed by so many, because he touched so many lives. Dennis, you are and always will be a legend. Rest in peace.”

Old Town Newhall Draws Holiday Shoppers

| Community | November 16, 2017

There is a lot more than tree lighting at this weekend’s holiday event in Old Town Newhall. Every year, thousands of residents fill Main Street beginning in the afternoon for special holiday shopping at the Old Town Newhall Sip N’ Shop and Light Up Main Street event.

On Saturday, Nov. 18 from 2-6 p.m. downtown shops are open to let residents and friends make their Christmas purchases early, rolling out their Christmas décor in full. Adult visitors can stroll and shop while they sample wine beverages, non-alcoholic drinks and appetizers.

Brave New World is hosting a day of activities from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., including special sales and a chance to meet graphic novelists.

Total Financial Solutions on Main Street will have a donation opportunity for visitors from 4-8 p.m. Community members can bring in items for the non-profit For the Troops, an organization supporting the American military with “We Care” packages. Frequently requested items include non-perishable foods; socks, hygiene products; batteries; and entertainment, such as DVDs, CDs, books, etc. For the full list of items, including restrictions, visit ForTheTroops.org.

The Sip N’ Shop event is followed by the annual Light Up Main Street tree lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. Food trucks will be on site selling sweet and savory options and Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available for photos from 6-9 p.m.

In terms of vehicle traffic, Lyons Avenue will be closed from 2 p.m. to midnight between Railroad Avenue and Walnut Street. Main Street will be closed from 4 p.m. to midnight between Lyons Avenue and Market Street. Both Walnut Street and Market Street will remain open to through traffic. Detours will be made available.

There is free public parking at the Old Town Newhall Library, the Newhall Community Center and several lots on and around Main Street. A free shuttle service from Newhall Community Center to Light Up Main Street will continuously be available from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. to allow for easy access to the event. The Newhall Community Center is located at 22421 Market Street.

To find more information about Light Up Main Street and Sip N’ Shop, visit OldTownNewhall.com.

Giving Thanks Giving

| Community | November 16, 2017

An annual event that pools together the generosity of many local church members provides a hot meal, entertainment, clothing and crafts for those in need. Giving Thanks Giving is a morning of activities and a luncheon serving thousands of individuals each year on Thanksgiving Day.

Several churches get involved, including Heart of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, collecting donations of clothing, blankets, shoes, toys, books and more, which are handed out to visitors to the event. This year it will be held from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 23 — Thanksgiving Day — at Newhall Public Library, 24500 Main Street in Newhall. For more information, contact Marc Botello at 661-388-8917 or find Giving Thanksgiving SCV on Facebook.

Community Needs Survey to Allocate Grant Funding

| Community | November 16, 2017

The City of Santa Clarita’s annual Community Needs Assessment survey is now available and residents are encouraged to share their opinions. The Community Needs Assessment, which is used to determine how to best allocate Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, is available online from November 10 through December 22, 2017, at santa-clarita.com/Housing.

Each year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides the City of Santa Clarita Community Development Block Grant funding to benefit lower-income residents. The City’s Community Needs Assessment allows residents to weigh in on how funding should be distributed to housing, supportive services, community facilities and infrastructure, and economic opportunities.

Some of the key results of last year’s Community Needs Assessment are:

Supportive Human Services – Youth Activities, Anti-Crime Programs and Mental Health Services
Community Facilities and Infrastructure – Homeless Shelters, Youth Centers, Parks and Recreational Facilities
Housing – Affordable Rental Housing, Energy Efficient Improvements and Senior Rental Housing
Economic Opportunities – Job Creation/Retention, Employment Training and Start-up Business Assistance

For more information on the Community Development Block Grant Program or the Community Needs Assessment survey, contact Terasa Sullivan, project technician for the City of Santa Clarita, at 661-255-4368. The survey is available on the City’s website at santa-clarita.com/Housing.

Holiday Boutiques in the Santa Clarita Valley

| Community | November 16, 2017

A free boutique will be hosted by Acton Faith Bible Church Women’s Ministry on Saturday, December 2, 2017 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The public is invited to the event, which is the church’s 20th Annual Christmas Boutique. It will be held at High Desert School, 3620 Antelope Woods in Acton. There will be approximately two dozen vendors featured and raffle items will be available. Baked goods and lunch may be purchased as well. For more information, email Diane Fisher at DJFisher128@gmail.com.

Home Care Services will hold a free holiday boutique hosted by the Santa Clarita Artists Association on Saturday and Sunday, December 2-3, 2017. Artists and vendors will sell handcrafted gifts, small paintings and jewelry to shoppers from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Home Care Santa Clarita is located at 23340 Cinema Drive, Suite 5 in Valencia. For more information, visit SantaClaritaArtists.org.

Asbestos & Lead: Facts and Dangers Property Owners Should Know

| Community | November 10, 2017

by Jenee Child

Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC and General Contractors Avoid Costly Fines

If your home or building was built before 1985, you may be in danger of breathing in asbestos containing materials (ACM) or lead if you remodel or hire a contractor after having water, mold, vehicle or fire damage to your property.

Because of its high-insulation characteristic, asbestos was often added to construction materials in the 1980s. Although ACM materials were no longer being manufactured in 1985, they were still being sold, stored and used in construction. Lead was also used in paint in homes and buildings constructed prior to 1978. Residential homes and commercial buildings built before 1985 should be tested for asbestos, and any constructed before 1978 should be tested for lead prior to removal of wall, ceiling, flooring or roofing materials.

Testing labs employ trained professionals who specialize in identifying lead and asbestos. Asbestos can be found in vinyl floor tiles and floor mastic; drywall or drywall patching compound; wall texture; insulation for furnaces, stoves, pipes and electrical; some roofing shingles and mastic, as well as siding materials. Asbestos is most commonly found in ceiling textures such as “popcorn” or “cottage cheese,” which are also known as “acoustic ceiling materials.”
Although the amount of asbestos found in our communities today is becoming scarce due to laws and regulations, Cal OSHA regulates asbestos and lead removal and sets strict guidelines for contractors to dispose of them as hazardous waste. Failure to do so can result in costly fines. Contractors who are not certified to remove asbestos and lead materials can cross-contaminate a home or building, deeming it to be an unsafe environment for its occupants.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Most exposure today comes when old insulation or tiling is disturbed during construction projects … and proper precautions are not taken to avoid breathing in dust.”

The only way asbestos can affect your health is if the fibers are disturbed, become airborne and are inhaled.

Jenee’ Child is CEO and founder of SOS Solutions Inc., which offers scheduling of certified testing labs and contractors to remove and properly dispose of asbestos and lead for homeowners at no charge. SOS also provides free project management services to electricians, plumbers, HVAC and other contractors who are not certified to handle, remove or dispose of materials containing asbestos, lead or mold. Contact SOS at 888-589-1868 or visit TrustSOS.Solutions.

Girl Scouts to Recognize U.S. Troops at Farmers’ Market

| Community | November 10, 2017

The College of the Canyons parking lot is host to busy shoppers every Sunday for the Santa Clarita Farmers’ Market. In addition to representatives from hundreds of growers, next week’s market will also introduce the community to a patriotic booth set up by Girl Scout Cadette Troop 50332. On Sunday, November 19 from 8:30 a.m.-noon, Kaitlyn Jizmejian and Kiley Gustin, 13-year-old eighth grade students from Rancho Pico Junior High School, and fellow cadettes will appear at the market with the intention of building awareness of U.S. troops that are deployed globally.

The Girl Scouts will have free holiday greeting cards available for farmers’ market patrons to sign and send their gratitude to the soldiers. According to Girl Scout officials, both girls were inspired by Emily Hood, founder of Greetings4Troops, who started this program when she was 10 years old; Hood has now written and sent a total of 1,508 cards to the troops.

“The girls want the community to know no matter how young or old you are, taking the time to stop by their booth to write or draw a message will help our soldiers know how much we support them and how proud we are of them and their service to our country,” said Stacey Gustin, Kiley’s mother and supporter of the Girl Scouts.

Both Jizmejian and Gustin are working towards their Silver Award, the second highest award a girl can achieve in the Girl Scout program. The Silver Award empowers young girls to identify a cause they believe in and develop a plan to take action to build awareness or make a change within their community.

“We are so happy to welcome these amazing young women to our market,” said Karen Schott, operations manager of the Ventura County Certified Farmers’ Market Association. “We fully support their efforts in bringing awareness to our troops and also wish them the best of luck in their goals of achieving higher levels within the Girl Scouts organization.”

The Ventura County Certified Farmers’ Market Association has been operating the Santa Clarita Certified Farmers’ Market since 1993 at the College of the Canyons, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road in Parking Lot #5, on Sunday mornings from 8:30 a.m.-noon, rain or shine.

For more information on the Girl Scouts’ participation or about the Ventura County Certified Farmers’ Market Association, call 805-529-6266 or visit the website at www.vccfarmersmarkets.com.

Film Noir Comedy Opens at COC

| Community | November 10, 2017

The curtain rises Friday for the latest College of the Canyons theatre department production, “Kill Me Deadly,” a spoof on gumshoe detective films.

Seventeen students star in the play, running weekends at the Black Box Theater at COC, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road in Valencia. The schedule is as follows: Fri/Sat Nov. 10-11 and 17/18 at 8 p.m. and Sun Nov. 12 and 19 at 2 p.m.

General admission tickets are $12. Tickets for students and seniors are $6. The college’s theatre department is offering free tickets to high school teachers and their students. For ticket requests, email david.stears@canyons.edu. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the box office at 661-362-5304.


Should I Payoff My Mortgage Before I Retire?

| Community | November 9, 2017

This is probably one of the most common questions I am asked when people come in to my office: “Should I withdraw money from my retirement account and pay off my house mortgage?” Besides these dollars being taxed as ordinary income, (usually the highest of the available types), you may be moved to another tax bracket on your regular income or cause your social security to be taxed. After all, if you need $100,000 to pay off your mortgage, you may have to withdraw as much as $150,000 (taxable), just to pay the state and federal income taxes. Should you still withdraw it and pay off your house?

That depends on many factors. Here are a few areas that clients have found to be the top questions to consider when this decision needs to be made. First, consider whether or not you plan on living in this house for the rest of your life. If it fits your needs, then it could be the “rest of your life” house. Is it a single story home with an accessible driveway, backyard, and interior layout? Is it close to your children and grandchildren? Can you afford the ever-increasing costs to live in California?

Another area to consider is how much other money you may have available to earn interest and help pay for your lifestyle for the decades to come. You may need to have more money coming in each year, and that is going to take more than a small pension and social security. Do you have other sources of income, such as rental property or business income? Do you have enough for emergencies and regular home repairs? This is going to take cash because you cannot remove a piece of drywall or carpet and go to the grocery store to exchange it for food or medicine.

Finally, one of their top considerations revolves around healthcare. In today’s mixed up world, we have found that healthcare has become unpredictable, both in costs and in coverage. The co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses only seem to go up every year, leaving many people to wonder if they really have health insurance at all. Make sure you have enough money to buy the best health insurance you need. By withdrawing money from your retirement account and spending it on your house mortgage, those dollars are gone forever and cannot earn interest ever again.

Solution: So, the answer to the question is: It depends on your personal situation. However, with interest rates still near all-time lows, the cost to borrow money is very inexpensive. If savings interest rates increase over time, then we can expect it to be even more mathematically favorable to keep the house mortgage and your savings. As long as you can make the payment with your income, my clients have always preferred having cash on hand. A predictable and safe income strategy is always the secure way to go.

Arif Halaby is a Certified Estate Planner in California and President/CEO of Total Financial Solutions, Inc., a financial and insurance services company in Santa Clarita with offices extending to the San Fernando Valley, Simi Valley, and Antelope Valley. 661-753-9683

Increasing Your Bottom Line Through Your Company’s Culture

| Community | November 9, 2017

The first time I heard the phrase “company culture” was when I was working out at a local gym. I had asked about having one of the trainers coming to my house and was told that it was not part of the company’s culture for trainers to go off site to serve a client. This intrigued me, so I looked up the official definition and found that …

Culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires.

This made me take pause with the culture of my online business, where all of those who assist me are independent contractors residing in four countries on two continents. Whereas we don’t have specific rules regarding interaction and behavior, I do have a company meeting twice a month to check in on everyone and their progress on the various projects we are involved in at the current time. And I have monthly calls with two others who assist me to discuss new ideas and projects that I wish to create and implement in the near future.

Obviously, it’s very different when you run a brick and mortar business and see your employees each day. Now that we are closer to the winter holidays, this may be an excellent time for you to think about creating a company culture and traditions that would be meaningful to all of you at your location. Here are some thoughts on how to get started right away:

Time off during the holiday season. Perhaps you want to implement a program where people may take off two hours to do some shopping or other personal errands. Maybe employees could cover each other during this time, or a seasonal worker (family members are good candidates) could pick up the slack.

Bonuses for exceptional work. If your business is typically slower during these last several weeks of the year, perhaps you would offer a bonus to those going “above and beyond” during this time. The holidays are hectic for everyone, so turn them into a positive and rewarding experience.

Company party. A few years ago I was in the office of a friend who has an insurance agency and asked when their holiday party would be held. It turned out they hadn’t done that for years, and the employees missed it terribly. With the permission of the owner, and on short notice I arranged a special lunch at a local restaurant where all of the workers (there were six in all) could invite one guest and exchange holiday cards. This was a big hit and lots of fun, with minimal expense, compared to typical holiday gatherings.

Employee of the month. This one never gets old, and reminds me of when I gave three or four awards each month in my elementary school classroom. The idea is to single out someone for a specific trait or accomplishment, and to recognize everyone during a one-year period. Certificates printed on parchment paper are quick and inexpensive, and the memory lasts a lifetime.
Finally, remember to say “thank you” and “I appreciate you” to the people who work for you. You may think they already feel appreciated, but hearing you say it out loud reinforces your company’s culture in a way that cannot be replicated. It will also trickle down and make your workplace one that people look forward to coming to and being a part of in a special way. And when it comes time to hire someone new, you can bet they will hear about the culture of your company before they finish their interview.

Improving your company culture will most like increase your bottom line and make for a happier overall experience every day. I’d love to hear how you are using this information to increase your own bottom line and to become a company that employees brag about to others in the community.

Connie Ragen Green lives in Saugus and has been working exclusively on the internet since 2006. Rethinking the Work Ethic: Embrace the Struggle and Exceed Your Highest Potential is her fifteenth book and has been released by Hunter’s Moon Publishing in June of 2017. All of Connie’s titles are available in paperback at Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, at your local bookstore, and also for Kindle. Find out more by visiting http://HugeProfitsTinyList.com and download an audio recording for 2017 at http://NewRulesforOnlineMarketing.com.

Questions? Email Connie at crgreencrgreen@yahoo.com and be sure to put Home Business Question in the subject line. Your question and answer will be included in a future article.

Nola Aronson Celebrates 30 Years in Business

| Community | November 9, 2017

A local audiologist reached a 30-year milestone in her practice last week. On November 2, 2017, Nola Aronson of Advanced Audiology celebrated 30 years of business in the Santa Clarita Valley. The celebration was attended by 350 members of the community who have each played an important role in creating a business that has lasted three decades.

The room was filled with chatter as patients, nonprofits and dignitaries mingled over food provided by Bonefish Grill. Lance Allyn provided music and the microphone was open for people to speak. Representatives from multiple non-profits spoke about what they do in the Santa Clarita Valley and the importance of sponsors. It echoed the devotion to the community Nola has shown over the last 30 years. For the staff of Advanced Audiology, the celebration provided a way to catch up with patients, who Nola says are the backbone of Advanced Audiology and, largely, the reason her practice has succeeded.

Letter from Help the Children

| Community | November 9, 2017

How can you help us help the struggling children and their families in Santa Clarita? We have three immediate needs that enable us to give that hand-up to our community members in need.

If you have a truck, SUV or minivan, and have the time, we need drivers to help pick up donations. If you are retired, semi-retired or just care about others, please consider helping us as a driver.

If you are financially blessed, please consider donating. We are touching the lives of 10,000 families with our resources each year; and we can only do that with your help! The average cost is $11 per family per year. How many people would you be able to help? If every resident of Santa Clarita donated fifty cents per year our overhead to continue to give hope to these families would be fully funded!

Our resources are dedicated to SCV families at or below the poverty line, single parents, families escaping abuse, veterans and the homeless.
If you are shopping, we are very low on: peanut butter, jelly, canned fruit, canned meats such as chili/stew/hash, canned pastas and both hot and cold cereals.

For more information on these opportunities to keep Santa Clarita hunger-free, or how you can partner with our community outreach, contact Help The Children at either (661) 702-8852 or michael@helpthechildren.org.

Now and Then – Mother was a Fullback

| Community | November 9, 2017

The Greek philosopher Plato believed that there were two worlds – an unseen world of forms that was the ideal, and the apparent world, which patterns itself after the ideal, but is constantly changing. Thus, there is the “perfect chair” somewhere above us in the firmament, while there are myriads of varieties of chairs here in the physical world.

If modern soccer were around in Plato’s time, he most likely would have envisioned his prototype of the ideal soccer player. Now there are millions of soccer players, all with their own shapes and forms. In 1977, some of those took the form of women who made up a team called “The Santa Clarita Valley Spurs.” They were a mixture of heights, weights, and ages – one, barely out of her teens, but the majority were mothers, whose closest link to a soccer ball up to that time had been standing on the sidelines cheering for their sons and daughters.

A few of them eventually ventured on to the field to help their husbands coach a sport that was relatively new to the American psyche. From this nucleus, a fledgling team began to emerge, inspired by one of their ranks whose husband was a soccer whiz.

Ernie Mendez, a coach and member of a recreational men’s soccer team, could maneuver around frustrated defenders like a spinning sprite, conjuring up magical feats of ball “handling” with his feet. His wife Eugenia encouraged Ernie to use his skills to teach a group of enthusiastic matrons the difference between a goal kick and a corner kick; and to resist the urge to catch the ball with their hands whenever it bounced their way. Not an easy undertaking for some whose gut reaction while running down the field to intercept a pass was to stick out an arm, rather than a leg.

Luckily for Ernie, there were a few who had spent a semester or two in school learning some of the basics of the game. There were also some who excelled in other sports and used their athletic abilities to make up for their often awkward attempts to tame the black and white sphere with their feet. After a few months of Saturday afternoon teaching and work-out sessions, a fairly cohesive team emerged that was eager to test newly acquired skills against teams from other areas.

The author is on the bottom right

In 1979, the team began burning up the San Fernando Valley soccer fields in the B Division of the Tri Valley Women’s Soccer League – a division that included women in roughly the same age group. (While none of the players came close to being classified as “over the hill,” when one of them mentioned “36,” she most likely was talking about her age, not her measurements).

The season ended with an impressive second place in the division following a narrow defeat by the San Fernando Valley Charlie Browns. On a frosty February evening in 1980, the Spurs joined other soccer teams at a Tri-Valley awards banquet held at the Knollwood Country Club.

Goalie Lori Soper, the “kid” on the team, was the evening’s big winner, receiving a certificate for having the lowest number of goals scored against her in league play. Lori was helped in this impressive feat by a solid line of defenders which included Diane Martin, Doris Armstrong, Joan Hofferber, and Barbara Lawless (and yes, even this columnist. (My sons used to joke, “How often can a guy say his mother was a fullback?!”)

The halfbacks who helped keep the ball from slipping beyond midfield included Peggy Stratton, Carla Morning, Fran Bodman, Lynn Gabrielson, Carol Garcia, and Linda Roth.

Scoring attacks for the Spurs were led by Lorraine Bowman, Susie Hermann, Wendy Schroeder, Anita Affa, Dana Barnett, and Eugenia Mendez.

All the players received trophies from Coach Mendez before taking to the dance floor to perform some other fancy footwork. When the team members weren’t dancing or talking about league play, they were discussing a two-week trip that a few had signed up for at the end of the season. The trip included an international soccer adventure in New Zealand the following month – an encouraging sign that not all athletic opportunities are reserved for youngsters.

Following their success in the ‘70s, the team moved into the ‘80s, honoring their coach by adopting the name of “Ernie’s Angels.” The women and significant others also maintained close friendships off the soccer field long after competitions were over. They planned private get-togethers and field trips, and participated in fundraisers for the youth soccer programs – the catalyst that had brought them together.

Soccer, and women’s soccer in particular, has come a long way in the United States since those early days. Now posters of pony-tailed stars often adorn teens’ walls alongside those of rock bands. The stars of today may well be the epitome of Plato’s ideal, but for a while, there was a variety of players from Plato’s “apparent world” right here in the Santa Clarita Valley who still have little gold soccer trophies gathering dust in their closets.


You are Self-Employed and Think You are Going to Retire Some Day? Only if You Plan Properly.

| Community | November 3, 2017

You were told the secret to becoming wealthy in the United States was to own your own business. Then one day you take the big step and set out on your own, only to find out there seem to be many entities against you. Your possibility of success starts to diminish when regulations, extra taxes, and expenses that you never thought of become your reality.

The original plan was to make lots of money and save it for your future – that early retirement on the beach. However, for some months there wasn’t even enough money left over to earn a paycheck, let alone set some aside for a rainy day or that beach house. Some taxes can be twice as much when you are self-employed. When regulations change, there is no one but you to pay for those “upgrades.” So, how can you live the “American Dream” and still save for an early retirement?

Most small business owners find that making their own decisions and being their own boss are some of the driving forces behind the choice to leave the “rat race.” The first decision you make should be regarding your retirement. You have to realize it is only you who will take care of you (and your family). It might sound simple, but you need to just start.

Begin by setting aside at least 20 percent of your income each month into a retirement vehicle. This can be a SEP-IRA, sometimes called a “Self-Employed Pension.” These may have different names, but the point is that you can save much more than the $5,500 ($6,500 if you are older than 50 years) per year that is allowed in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). If you are going to use an IRA, then consider a Roth. This post-tax money is going to be needed to help lessen taxes later on.

Next, if you have 0-2 employees, consider a personal private pension. This can allow you to set aside tens of thousands of dollars per year, all pre-taxes. This is exactly what it sounds like, your own private pension. You get to decide when and how much you want to withdraw. It can provide a lot of flexibility, but if you start it, be prepared to continue for at least five years. Canceling early means the IRS can add tax penalties, which can be high.

You may also want a standard 401(k) plan that allows you thousands of dollars to be deferred each year and has simpler administration requirements than a pension plan. You can hire a company and they handle everything except the funding.

Finally, the ability for you to deposit larger and unequal payments into a plan for later income may be a feature you need. This flexibility is found in utilizing a cash value life insurance policy. By adding money to this policy, where the emphasis is on tax-free supplemental retirement income later, you can lessen the death benefit portion. Consequently, this lessens your cost. These policies are contracts and can offer benefits that include long-term care, critical illness, and chronic illness riders. These “living benefits” can often come at an additional cost, so look at the fine print.

If you are looking for a straight life insurance policy, you still cannot go wrong with a term life insurance plan. Buy as much as you can afford and for as long as you are able. Shop around and look at all of the policies’ features and benefits. Price is not always an indicator of the best policy for your needs.

By protecting your business income when you are working, you allow time for your business to grow and eventually make you money for the rest of your life. Your retirement is not an event, it is a lifestyle. If you are ill or cannot work, the riders in the insurance policies described above can help. But if you are like most small business owners, you put yourself last, behind your employees and customers. That means you’re waiting to save for your own retirement. Well, “later” may never come, so start now.

Arif Halaby is a Certified Estate Planner in California and President/CEO of Total Financial Solutions, Inc., a financial and insurance services company in Santa Clarita with offices extending to the San Fernando Valley, Simi Valley, and Antelope Valley. Contact: 661-753-9683.

Local Elks Lodge Celebrating 50 Years

| Community | November 3, 2017

by Phyllis Walker

The public is welcome to attend the 50th Anniversary Dinner Celebration for Elks Lodge 2379 on Saturday evening, November 18, 2017.

Community leaders chartered Elks Lodge 2379 on November 15, 1967 and Elks members have been caring and sharing in the Santa Clarita Valley since that time. Today, 700 local Elks members work together to honor our veterans for their service to our country, honor our flag, offer scholarships, recognize and honor exceptional individuals in the community, support two Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout Troop 2379 and a Venture Crew, provide dictionaries to third grade school children, and ongoing fun and family gatherings. The monthly calendars are filled with events and sharing for people of all ages in the community.

The Elks organization is a national fraternal order, with more than 1,900 lodges and approximately 800,000 members across the country. Elks Lodges are places where neighbors come together, families share meals, and children grow up. Elks invest in their communities through programs that help children grow up healthy and drug-free, meet the needs of today’s veterans, and improve the quality of life. Local members have served the Elks proudly at the local, district and state levels; numerous trophies have been received for their efforts on display at Elks Lodge 2379. Their mission, among many things, is to inculcate the principles of “Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity; quicken the spirit of American patriotism; and serve the people and communities through programs demonstrating that Elks Care and Elks Share.”

At the celebration on November 18, cocktails will begin at 6 p.m. and the dinner and program begins at 7 p.m. at the Santa Clarita Elks Lodge, located at 17766 Sierra Highway in Santa Clarita. The attire calls for dressy cocktail clothing. Tickets are $25 each and include a commemorative book that chronicles the past 50 years, plus glassware and a replica of the original Lodge pin. Call the Lodge Office to RSVP by November 15: 661-251-1500.

For more information about the Elks, contact Phyllis Walker at 661-251-1172.

Now and Then: ‘Politricks’ and Treats

| Community | November 3, 2017

Halloween: masks, candy, homemade ghostly decorations – and revelers, young and old, choosing their favorite fantasies and living behind new personae for a few hours during October’s “witching hours.”

Well, that’s how it used to be. Granted, the candy is still here, but so many other dynamics have come into play over the years! One of the more dramatic changes has involved home decorations – they have taken on a whole new dimension, becoming more and more elaborate. Back in the 1960s, it was unique to see a house with little more than a few grinning jack-o-lanterns adorning the front porch.

(I do recall one ingenious family that rigged a giant homemade spider in the tree above their front porch. The teenagers inside took great pleasure lowering the fuzzy creature over the heads of the unsuspecting trick-or-treaters hustling up the sidewalk to ring the doorbell. Squeals, then giggles of relief from the costumed characters rewarded the teens’ trickery. The “victims” were then treated (revived?) with large chocolate bars for “surviving” the arachnid ambush. (Those ingenious teens might be subjected to a lawsuit in today’s litigious society.)

The jack-o-lantern is still the decoration of choice, however, there are now myriads of orange, purple, and black twinkle lights being sold in bulk at stores, along with life-size witches, ghouls, skeletons and Frankensteins – many complete with moveable arms and cackling sound effects. (Where do homeowners find the space to store these decorations when the holiday is over? Most of us barely have room for the Christmas trimmings.)

And what about masks and costumes? Forget the uproar over political masks – this year, the

PC police widened the ban on costume choices. One politically correct commentator issued shame warnings to anyone who would choose to dress up like a Tyrolean mountain climber, a Flamenco dancer, a Geisha, or a fearless Cossack, condemning the use of any and all cultural representations. She didn’t mention the region of Transylvania, so the verdict must still be out on whether celebrants should be considered racist for wearing vampire attire.

Then there’s the subject of trick or treating – it’s not surprising that many neighborhoods have seen the decline of the holiday’s traditional door-to-door visits. Criminal activities in the past, some very real, some urban legend, have prompted parents to ban the practice in favor of group parties at clubhouses and community “spook fests.” Also popular are “trunk-or-treat” get-togethers featuring line-ups of spookily decorated car trunks containing all kinds of sweet treats and plenty of adult supervision.

Decorations, costumes, and political correctness aside, the Canyon Theatre Guild added a bit of ghoulish entertainment to the season with its October production of “The Addams Family,” a musical romp featuring many of the favorite cartoon characters penned by Charles Addams in 1938.

Executive artistic director TimBen Boydston reported that the show, directed by his wife Ingrid with assistance from Musette Caing, broke attendance records for the Main Street theatre venue. Little wonder, since the Broadway comedy appeals to adults and children alike (even though many of the double entendres escape the youngsters in the audiences).

Once again, the quality of singing and acting emanating from the stage was amazing. The play, featuring headliners Bryan McCravy (Gomez), Savannah Marie (Morticia), and Skylar Cutchall (Wednesday), combined the many diverse human emotions espoused in the musical number “Happy Sad,” not only in the song’s lyrics, but in the presentation’s dramatic family interactions as well. Tying the action together and moving the scenes along with humorous antics that had the children and adults in the audience laughing out loud was Eduardo Arteaga as Uncle Fester.

The production was sparked with unique artistic touches delivered by the entire ensemble – all adding to enthusiastic applause from the audience. Since the play proved popular enough to warrant an extra Sunday afternoon performance, it might also have inspired a myriad of Addams family costumes the following Tuesday night. While gloomy black attire, long, drab overcoats, and blinking light bulbs might raise the hackles of the fashion police, surely they are innocent enough to fall under the radar of the PC police!

In any case, it will be interesting to see what the country’s political and cultural climate will have in store for us next October!

Can the Red Dust Firefighters Use Damage Your House?

| Community | October 27, 2017

by Jenee’ Child

With devastating wildfires raging late in the season in both Northern and Southern California, you may wonder about the red tail of dust trailing behind airplanes that fly over wildfire areas. It may surprise you to know that its purpose is not to extinguish flames from wildfires.

It is called Foscheck, more commonly known as “slurry.” It is a phosphorous mixture comprised of 85 percent water, 10 percent fertilizer (ammonia phosphate and sulfate ions), and 5 percent ingredients (iron oxide for color, clay or bentonite).

Fire needs fuel, oxygen and heat to burn. Although water extinguishes all three components, it isn’t always the best application, because water runs down hillsides, evaporates quickly, and soaks into the ground. The slurry retardant works best in extinguishing wildfires. Because of its sticky properties, slurry coats vegetation and soil.

When the fire interacts with the retardant, a chemical reaction occurs that creates only carbon and water that prevents flammable combustion. Slurry’s main purpose is to create containment lines by coating vegetation areas in front of wildfires to prevent it from spreading. Slurry also cools the fire, allowing firefighters to get closer and extinguish it from the ground.

The added red dye allows ground crews to see the areas where slurry has been dropped. It is in these protected areas that firefighters begin creating “firelines” to clear vegetation and brush, minimizing further burn potential. The vibrant red color also allows tankers to visually see the areas that have already been protected and to drop more slurry where needed.

Once slurry coats vegetation, the water evaporates. However, the fertilizer is left behind and absorbed into the ground. After it rains, the slurry residue washes away while the fertilizer restores the burned land and vegetation. Slurry is completely safe for human contact, but can be harmful to animals and fish, which is why there are “no-drop zones” allocated for areas with sensitive plants, vegetation, animals and bodies of water. Creating these zones is a precautionary measure to protect both land and wildlife.

If slurry affects your property, quickly calling professional cleaning contractors can prevent the red dye from leaving a permanent stain. Immediately cleaning slurry also ensures pets are safe. Oddly enough, using soap to clean slurry causes further damage. Your home or building property insurance policy may cover the cleaning costs and to remove ash and smoke odor from inside your home or building and around your property.

Jenee’ Child is CEO of SOS Solutions which provides free help to home and building owners in scheduling reputable fire restoration contractors that specialize in smoke deodorization and cleaning of ash, soot and slurry associated with fire damage. For more information, visit the website at www.TrustSOS.Solutions/Fire-Damage-Restoration. You can call SOS Solutions for free help by calling

Bowman Teacher Ravinder Athwal LifeChanger Award Nominee

| Community | October 26, 2017

Science teacher Ravinder Athwal, an instructor at Bowman Continuation High School, has been nominated for the 2017-2018 National LifeChanger of the Year award.

Sponsored by the National Life Group Foundation, LifeChanger of the Year recognizes and rewards K-12 educators and school district employees who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership.

Nominated by his colleague, Eran Zeevi, Athwal has been teaching at Bowman for six years. His colleagues say he connects with students by building relationships and supporting them in their academic success. He participates in his school’s leadership and professional development teams, and also serves as the science department chair. In addition, he has been an intervention teacher for many years and teaches night classes to students over 18.

Recently, Athwal was one of 39 teachers selected from across the country to participate in NASA’s Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program, SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy). This mission is scheduled to take place next week onboard a Boeing 747 modified by NASA.

“Mr. Athwal is a persistent, passionate teacher who constantly thinks outside the box and tries new strategies to reach his students,” Zeevi said. “He is extraordinary with students, a team player with staff, and a well-respected teacher on campus. We’re very fortunate to have had him on our campus, teaching at-risk students for the past six years.”

Each school year, LifeChanger of the Year receives hundreds of nominations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Seventeen individual LifeChanger of the Year awards will be given during the 2017-2018 school year.

(1) Grand Prize Winner – will receive $10,000 to be shared with the winner’s school/district.

(4) Grand Prize Finalists – will receive $5,000 to be shared with each of their schools/districts.

(10) LifeChanger Award Winners – will receive $3,000 to be shared with each of their schools/districts.

(1) Spirit Award Winner – This award is given to the nominee whose community demonstrates the most support for the nomination. The winner will receive $5,000 to be shared with his/her school/district.

(1) Spotlight Award Winner – This award will be given to a nominee in a specific discipline each year. For 2017-2018, the award will be given to a nominee who works in a support role, such as a secretary, administrative assistant, or office manager. The winner will receive $5,000 to be shared with his/her school/district in fall 2017.

Winners are announced via surprise award ceremonies held at their schools. The grand prize finalists will also be honored at a national awards ceremony in spring 2018 in Bermuda, where the Grand Prize Winner will be revealed.

Winners are chosen by a selection committee comprised of former winners and education professionals. Nominees must be K-12 teachers or school district employees. To be considered for an award, nominees must:

*Make a positive impact in the lives of students
*Enhance their school or district’s atmosphere, culture and pride
*Demonstrate exemplary leadership at the school and/or district level
*Possess a proven record of professional excellence
*Show commitment to building a nurturing environment that supports learning
*Adhere to the highest moral and ethical standards
*A resource page with ideas for how to celebrate nominees can be found at http://lifechangeroftheyear.com/showspirit/.

To view Mr. Athwal’s LifeChanger of the Year nominee profile, or to nominate someone from your school community, visit www.LifeChangeroftheYear.com.

Now and Then – Changing Landscape in Downtown Newhall

| Community | October 26, 2017

In the winter of 2004 and the spring of 2005, a new word was introduced into SCV vocabularies. The word was charrette (sometimes written charette or charet). Charrettes were part of a months-long process introduced by the architects and urbanists of Moule & Polyzoides, who were hired to develop a unifying, specific plan for the Downtown Newhall area.

Those outside the process eventually learned that charrette was a French word for what the average citizen would most likely call a study session or committee planning meeting – and there were plenty of those scheduled to include the ideas and dreams of our local leaders and community members into Moule & Polyzoides’ final product.

If you’ve ever wondered about the impetus for the many improvements that have taken place in the downtown area over the years, look no further than the weighty document released in February of 2005. The Specific Plan incorporated input from studies of other “revived” downtown areas to compare and note their best characteristics. The process also included two 3-day interactive town hall meetings, and 12 days of public comment. The results were posted on the city website and were also available in printed form.

Undaunted readers found that the plan covered the general as well as the specific, outlining costs and timetables for each component in the transformation procedure. The Planning Commission continued the process, dissecting the document for presentation at a series of hearings designed to give the public a chance to comment and critique.

For veterans of the Downtown Newhall revitalization movement the Specific Plan was the latest in a series of actions begun in 1989 when the City of Santa Clarita created The Newhall Redevelopment Agency. The Agency’s goal was to “undertake redevelopment activities that remove physically and economically blighted conditions that inhibit and continue to plague economic growth in the city.”

The Agency’s redevelopment project area, established by the City Council in 1997, included the retail, industrial, public, and residential properties generally situated along the Lyons Avenue and then San Fernando Road corridors. Goals set by the Agency included “the creation of an attractive, memorable image that expresses Newhall’s history and character and enhances the role of Newhall as a community center.”

Before securing the services of Moule & Polyzoides, the Newhall Redevelopment Committee had reviewed other cities’ revitalization projects, conferred with development consultants, listened to concerns of the Old Town Newhall Association, and exchanged feelings and ideas on their visions for the area. Some of the resulting recommendations included façade beautification, street lighting improvements, and additional parking.

The Specific Plan took those goals into consideration and produced a visualization of a revamped Downtown Newhall and the steps necessary to turn the vision into reality – right down to underground utilities and designated street trees. The plan sought to transform the Downtown strip into an attractive, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented, economically vital center.

One of the most visual aspects of the plan stands where Main Street dead-ends at Lyons –the large, state-of-the-art public library. In 1997, the planners felt that the building should be balanced on the south end of Main Street by a museum that would help unite historic and civic value to the area – a children’s museum was one of the suggested ideas.

While the museum may remain a pipe dream, groundbreaking has already taken place and steel is in the ground for a 42-room hotel located near the entrance to Downtown Newhall on Railroad Ave. (next to Roger Dunn Golf and across the street from Newhall Ice Company). Internet and newspaper stories have reported that the Hotel Luxen will have two main stories and a penthouse.

It was inevitable that not all of the Specific Plan recommendations would be followed – times and people’s needs change. That seems to pertain to the plan’s provision to augment the limited parking areas with two strategically located “park-once” garages on the east side of Main Street. The garages have not materialized and ample parking for downtown shoppers and diners remains an issue. However, there will be a parking garage included as part of the Laemmle Theatre complex – a mixed-use development near the library.

The Laemmle addition to the Downtown Newhall vista is just one example of the evolving process that has resulted from the hours, days, months, and years of work put in by the Redevelopment Committee members (the Agency was dissolved in 2012 and the city became the Successor Agency), the Planning Commission, and the city officials since the launch of the Specific Plan 12 years ago. The success of their efforts can be measured in the new restaurants, landscaping, and boutiques that have sprung up on Main Street. If the excitement created by these improvements is any indication, more unplanned and unique surprises, such as the Rotary Clock near the Canyon Theatre, will continue to add to the character and visual landscape greeting motorists as they enter the downtown area.

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