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Explore the United States with the City of Santa Clarita

| Community | February 7, 2019

Have you ever wanted to explore Portland in the spring, see the leaves change colors in Vermont or experience Graceland at Christmas time? Now is your chance! Registration is now open for three spectacular multi-day excursions to exciting destinations around the United States.

The first excursion offered is a trip to the Oregon Trails and Portland Rose Festival and will take place June 6-11, 2019. Participants will explore Portland and the surrounding areas and visit the magnificent Portland Rose Festival during this six-day, five-night getaway. Other highlights include a tour of Portland, as well as visits to Mount St. Helens, Oregon’s Pacific Coast, Astoria and Multnomah Falls. The cost is $2,150 per person for double occupancy or $2,825 per person for single occupancy.
Residents can also enjoy the spectacular fall colors on the east coast with the New England Rails and Trails trip, taking place from September 28 to October 5, 2019. Visit Boston, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine on this eight-day, seven-night excursion that includes two rail journeys, as well as a trip to Woodstock, Quechee Gorge and a Casco Bay Cruise. The cost is $3,075 per person for double occupancy or $4,050 per person for single occupancy.

The final excursion of the year will take participants on a journey to the Music Cities for Christmas from December 6-11, 2019. Experience the holiday season in Branson, Mo., Memphis and Nashville on this six-day, five-night trip. Highlights include three holiday shows, as well as visits to Graceland, the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. The cost is $2,455 per person for double occupancy or $3,105 per person for single occupancy.

All three multi-day excursions offered by the City of Santa Clarita include round-trip airfare and first-class hotel accommodations. Costs associated with admission to attractions and sightseeing tours are also included, as well as some meals. A discount of $100 per person is available if the final registration payment is made by check.

Registration for each of the three excursions does not follow the City’s usual registration process. For detailed itinerary, registration questions or to receive a registration form, contact Jennifer Lindstrom, Recreation Coordinator, at (661) 250-3731.

Creativity Advocacy – Creativity Connection Conundrum

| Community | February 7, 2019

As a voice teacher, I work with my students to connect our different tones in order to sound fluid. We try to connect with the material we are singing. We connect with the audience when we perform live and also when we promote on social media. It could be said that these connections are constant in almost any art form and in a myriad of jobs.

We need the connection that comes from Creativity to function as humans.

Looking back over all of the Creativity Advocacy articles from this past year, it appears that Creativity is everywhere, all the time. We employ Creativity when we make art or when we solve problems. We touch the sacred source of Creativity when we connect with others. Life itself is Creative, and ironically, so is death. But the recurring theme woven throughout all of last year’s articles seems to be connection. The mission of Creativity is to connect us—first to our inner selves and then to the world—ultimately, to each other.

Often, and in fact currently, certain political agendas tend to disconnect us. Not only that, but misconceptions can sever our togetherness when it comes to our art. Creativity cannot fulfill the ultimate mission of connection when we are ill-informed or when we are disillusioned. Sadly, social media helps with these delusions. I have found many artists who are frustrated because they’re not making money off of their art and music. I have also met many people who don’t believe in Creativity because they’ve lost their relationship with their art. I call this a conundrum.

Over the past three years, I’ve been working on a book that delves into what Creativity is and what Creativity is NOT. The book explores the origins of Creativity as well as the purpose of all our interactions having to do with this powerful phenomenon. There’s also a chapter that offers suggestions on how to prevent social media from being a major malefactor of Creativity. A better understanding of Creativity directly contributes to our happiness and our fulfillment, which makes this book relevant for anyone desiring to live an intentional and fulfilled life.

If you’ve become more aware of Creativity’s presence in your life through these articles, I hope you’ll delve even deeper and preorder the book: The Creativity Connection Conundrum. You can email me at reneurbanovich@gmail.com.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 3:

CURRENT CLIMATE
American Idol, the show that premiered in 2002, has been very good for my business. I wonder if my phone would be ringing off the hook were it not for our recent obsession with talent shows. The debut season featured young Kelly Clarkson and audiences rooted for this small-town girl who’d received no training, had no familial support, no manager or agent—and their votes would transform her life in a moment. Her performance reflected innocent aspiration and raw talent. The collective voice of the dreamer was heard through Kelly Clarkson and overnight, American Idol changed the way we viewed stardom. Idol status could now be attained by the girl next door. If American Idol chose ten out of ten-thousand singers to make it to round two (odds that appear better than the one-in-a-million picks from a slush pile at a record label), then some wannabe pop singer from Paw Paw, Michigan with no financing and no business savvy might just stand a chance at stardom. This prospect would mean contestant hopefuls sleeping on the concrete outside hundred-thousand-seat stadiums while waiting in line for the first round of auditions, but if doing so was the new definition of “pounding the pavement,” it was a small price to pay. Being discovered had been “a thing” for decades, only now a television show would light the way.

Aside from Kelly’s talent, it was her charm and vulnerability that won over the masses. Text-messaging a vote to studio executives renovated the idea of audience participation. The observers could now be active rather than passive, as though 1950’s applause meters were installed in living rooms across America. Applause has been a form of power in most cultures dating as far back as Aristotle’s time. When popularity itself was under the scrutiny of the court, conventional wisdom cautioned against garnering support from the lowest common denominator of humanity. No such wariness now. In 2019, in place of slapping our palms, we have finger taps and ticks to gauge our reactions, and there’s no dispute that those thumbs-up “like” icons are what it’s all about.

Click! Next-scene: The X-Factor, America’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars—yet more yellow brick roads paved for promising starlets. I live in the heart of the entertainment industry, surrounded by actors, singers, writers, and producers. It can appear that life is one never-ending promotional hype in which everyone’s happiness hinges on the likes and shares of others. Every day, ritually, we count followers and build tribes. We re-tweet, snap and #hashtag before even visiting the toilet or brushing our teeth. Audience reaction has become a preoccupation over true artistic sensibilities. Some of my students excel in the social marketing arena more so than the talent arena, but are met with the most popularity because of their online appeal and dedication to fans. She who markets best wins?

Now and Then

| Community | January 31, 2019

by Linda Pedersen

SCV Newcomers who motor past the Santa Clarita Swap Meet on Soledad Canyon Road may not be aware of its storied history as a popular sports venue. The scrub brush adjacent to the Santa Clara riverbed was first developed as a rodeo arena in 1927 by the brother of a successful shoe magnate. It reached the height of its popularity in the 30s when cowboy actor Hoot Gibson used it not only as a rodeo attraction, but a site for Hollywood movie venues, as well.

Plagued first by the financial setbacks of the Depression and later by the 1937 floods, the site was forced into bank ownership. Local Republican politician William Bonelli breathed new life into the dirt arena by turning it into an auto racing attraction in 1939. Weekend crowds flocked from all over Southern California to watch their favorite drivers circle the dusty track (the track was paved twice, once in 1946, then again in 1956).

Dave Reeves was the picture of speed and agility during a Pit Crew Contest in the 1990s at Saugus Speedway.

It was on that track in the early 80s that a young racing fan named Dave Reeves took his place beside the rumbling car engines, grasping his newly acquired pit crew pass. Born in San Diego and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Reeves’ fascination with all things automotive began at an early age. As a toddler, Dave accompanied his father into the pits during pre-race festivities.

The senior Reeves, who eventually owned his own salvage yard, had a passion for racing and working on cars that just naturally led him to volunteer for pit crews in venues all over the state. That same passion enveloped Dave as the youngster stood next to the car drivers before the races, then later sat in the stands watching his father work on the cars during pit stops.

“I did the usual high school things as a teen,” said Reeves, “skating by in classes, playing basketball, and working at an assortment of jobs to earn spending cash, but every extra second was spent working on cars and watching or participating in the local stock car racing venues.”

In the mid 80s, Dave began building race engines, working for a professional who had developed a NASCAR-recommended restrictor plate engine for Chevrolet. (The device limits the power output of a motor to help safeguard against out-of-control speeds). That experience led to associations with Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress, and the chance to attend NASCAR races all over the states and in Canada.

In the early 1990s, Dave graduated to a paid track position as a weekend crew chief at the Saugus Speedway and got the chance to drive in some of the officials and mechanics races. Then in 1994, Reeves worked on the Hobby Stock car driven by local resident John Schultz, who won that year’s Saugus Speedway championship. It was at the victory banquet held at the Odyssey Restaurant that Dave first met Schultz’s sister Cindy, and was impressed not only by her beauty, but her shared passion for the racing scene. Two years later, Dave and Cindy married and set up housekeeping in the Santa Clarita Valley. The couple has spent the years since organizing their time around Dave’s work in the salvage business, his venture into his own business in 2008, stock car racing, community activities, and raising four sons, Sean, Zack, JohnMichael, and Jeremy.

Business Owner Dave Reeves

As Dave’s business, Reeves Complete Auto Center Inc, grew, so too did his involvement in stock car racing, taking him to championship races in Bristol, Charlotte, Daytona Beach, Pensacola, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.

While stock car racing ended at the Saugus Speedway when the grandstands were condemned in 1995, Reeves continued to participate in local races held at tracks in Irwindale and Kern County. His twenty-year-old son JohnMichael, who works with Dave at his Auto Center, followed his dad into the pits, working as a paid crew member.

In 2015, Reeves began sponsoring stock cars in the Southwest Touring Series and Modified Series. He became a personal endorsement sponsor in 2018 for racer Derek Thorn, who drove a Sunrise Ford to a championship in the NASCAR K&N Touring Division. He has also sponsored Linny White in the Spears Southwest SRL Tour, and Rod Johnson Jr. (grandson of Donnie Johnson, owner of one of the cars driven by Saugus Speedway legend “Roarin’ Oren Prosser”) in the SRL and Modified Touring Divisions.

In addition to stock car racing, the Reeves family is also passionate about community service. Dave and his sons are the first to volunteer at SCV Rotary fundraisers that support both local and international service projects, and Cindy is the event coordinator of vendors at the annual Indian Powwow held at Hart Park. Youngest son Jeremy is currently serving a church mission in Calgary.

7th Annual SCV Charity Chili Cook-off Set to Sizzle

| Community | January 31, 2019

Kick off spring by attending the 7th Annual SCV Charity Chili Cook-off. This year’s event benefits the Shelter Hope Pet Shop and St. Bonnies Sanctuary/Lange Foundation. The cook-off begins March 21 at 6 p.m. and will be held at The Oaks Club of Valencia (formally TPC) located at 26550, Heritage View Lane Valencia, Calif. 91381

Attendees will enjoy tasty chilis prepared from 45 local cooks. The event also features live music, dancing, a silent auction, a photo booth, “Kids Korner” and more. General admission is $25 until February 14, and will go to $30. VIP tickets are available in advance for $65, which includes early entry at 5:30 p.m., preferred parking, a drink ticket, souvenir glass, swag bag and hors d’oeuvres provided by Salt Creek Grill and Wolf Creek Restaurant. VIP tickets are only available online in advance.

“Every year the SCV Charity Chili Cook-off gets bigger and more popular,” said event co-chair Steve Portaro. “This year we’re hoping to make a significant contribution to both animal rescues.

In addition to dozens of exceptional chilis, a few vendors are setting up to sell their goodies and help with a contribution to the charities. Also featured will be The Lucy Pet Surf Wave Machine, where participants will be able to see dogs surf and ride the waves. Both charities will have rescues on site looking for their new best friends and loving homes, so guests can actually start the adoption process right there and then.

“Nothing brings the Santa Clarita community together quite like the annual SCV Charity Chili Cook-off,” said event founder Nicole Stinson. “We are really excited about this year’s event, it’s also a chance for our families to get to know each other, and network, and it’s all to support two great charities.”

To purchase tickets visit scvcharitychilicookoff.com. For event updates, follow the event on Facebook. For sponsorship inquires or questions regarding the event, call Nicole at 661-816-4234 or Steve at 310-800-3064.

Lowest Crime Rate on Record in Santa Clarita

| Community | January 31, 2019

Crime rates are the lowest on record in Santa Clarita history. The city attributes this decrease to the efforts of deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

According to the numbers, part one crimes – which include homicide, rape, robbery, burglary and arson – have been reduced by 20 percent from 2017 to 2018. The figures indicate the lowest crime rate on record, surpassing numbers from 2014, which were the previous lowest crime stats on record in Santa Clarita.

“Since incorporation, one of the City’s top priorities has been the safety of residents. Santa Clarita has consistently been ranked as one of the safest cities in the nation, but we are always working with the sheriff’s department to ensure we stay vigilant and work together as a community to keep it that way,” said Mayor Marsha McLean.

Crime stats for 2018 have shown robberies are down 26 percent, burglaries are down more than 16 percent, grand theft autos are down 30 percent and assaults are down nearly 25 percent.

“This significant decrease in crime is extraordinary given the challenging environment for law enforcement created by recent legislation and initiatives. Assembly Bill 109 and Propositions 47 and 57 were intended to decrease the state prison population; however, the reality has been a rise in crime in communities across California,” said City Manager Ken Striplin.

“Despite these new challenges, we’ve been able to tackle crime through proactive efforts, crime suppression operations and all-around dedication of our Sheriff’s Deputies,” said Captain Robert Lewis of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. “We also heavily depend on the community to be our eyes and ears and report any suspicious behavior. This partnership has played a major role in our effectiveness.”

Santa Clarita Celebrates Another Year of Filming

| Community | January 25, 2019

Santa Clarita had another successful year of location filming in 2018, with the Film Office recording 547 film permits and 1,376 location film days, which generated an estimated economic impact of $32.9 million to the local community.

This is the fifth consecutive calendar year the Santa Clarita Film Office has recorded more than 500 permits, over 1,300 film days and $30 million or more in estimated economic impact generated from location filming alone. Not included in the reported numbers are the film days and economic benefits from filming that takes place on certified sound stages, which do not require a film permit.

“It’s been another great year of filming in Santa Clarita. It’s no wonder why our City is one of the preferred destinations for film production and location filming in the Los Angeles Area,” said Mayor Marsha McLean. “Filming remains a critical part of our business community and local economy by supporting high paying jobs and companies involved in the industry.”

More than half of the filming days in 2018 were attributed to television production alone, many of which were from shows locally based in Santa Clarita including “Future Man,” “Good Trouble,” “Goliath,” “Mayans MC,” “NCIS,” “Santa Clarita Diet,” “Shooter,” “S.W.A.T.,” “Untitled Suits Spin-off” and “Westworld.”

TV shows weren’t the only productions taking advantage of Santa Clarita film locations in 2018. Numerous feature films were also shot in the area last year including A Quiet Place, Bird Box, Call of the Wild, Captain Marvel, Ford vs. Ferrari, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Vice and more, in addition to countless commercials, music videos, still photo shoots and online content.

Santa Clarita is consistently one of the most filmed places in California because it offers thousands of film-friendly locations that can double for almost anywhere in the world, more than 20 sound stages, over 10 movie ranches, a one-stop shop Film Office, low cost permit fees and expedited permit processing, in addition to being located within the industry’s coveted “30-Mile Zone.”

Several other factors have contributed to the continued success and appeal of filming in Santa Clarita including the City’s own Film Incentive Program and Movie Ranch Overlay Zone. The Santa Clarita Valley has also benefitted tremendously from the California Film and Television Tax Credit Program, as numerous approved projects have filmed on location in the area.

For more information about filming in Santa Clarita, visit FilmSantaClarita.com or contact the Film Office at (661) 284-1425. For an insider’s view to filming in Santa Clarita, follow the Santa Clarita Film Office on Instagram (@FilmSantaClarita).

Creativity Advocacy – To Toss, or Not to Toss?

| Community | January 25, 2019

Last week, after cleaning out our house of thirty years, we loaded up the truck and made a visit to the Goodwill. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the long line of cars in front of me, since it was January and most people begin the New Year with a good purge. I also should not have been surprised that there before us lay an enormous mound of couches, dressers, desk chairs, bags of clothes and toys. Rain had been pouring on and off for days, which soaked this expansive pile as well as the workers.

Yikes, I thought, what a mess!

My house looked like a similar mess, truth be told. The contents of every closet, every trunk, every cupboard and drawer seemed to have been upchucked into the living room with no rhyme or reason. We mulled through keepsakes and photos, children’s finger-paintings and a half–century’s worth of birthday cards. Which mementos should be kept for another ten years? Which should be tossed?

Suggestions ran the gamut from each of my millennial children—1) take a picture of each item and save it in the cloud so it doesn’t take up valuable real estate 2) rate each item by the joy sparked from feeling it in your hands, then only save those that rank highest
3) toss everything; nothing matters and 4) buy new trunks and make room for more!

The words of Shakespeare via the overly romantic Juliet, “Parting is such sweet sorrow…” come to mind. But the sweet becomes bittersweet when I know I may never again even remotely remember the pieces before me. My memory is limited, after all. Indeed, that there is a word for feeling good and bad at the same time offers me relief that I am not alone (like the line at the Goodwill).

Naturally, I am well aware that this act of reflection is highly Creative, because I deem myself a Creativity expert! Going through old photos and diaries connects me with my past. Reflection is the final stage in the Creative process, and one that is overlooked much of the time. By connecting with our past and thus our inner realm, we are engaging Creativity, ultimately bringing depth and meaning to our daily life instead of operating on a superficial level. We learn from our reflections, too, which help us in our self-development (and yes, I’m still self-developing in my mid-fifties). All of this Creative activity whilst cleaning up a huge mess is overwhelming.

There is an old saying that requires a hand motion. If I make a fist and hold it tightly, I cannot open my hand and receive anything new. There’s a funky play on opposites at hand (no pun intended).

Holding on and letting go mirror the idea of the word bittersweet. Married opposites.

Opposites are everywhere in art, Creativity and life! Heraclitus, the great Greek philosopher, suggests “harmony consists of opposing tension like that of the bow and the lyre.” The tension between opposites seems to actuate us—even though these tug-of-wars are unseen, hidden, they often drive the world of the seen.

So, for me, I had to 1) destroy the house before I could organize it. 2) emotionally re-connect with some items before I could disconnect myself from them.
3) save some mementos via digital photography so that I could release them to the trash. 4) drive to Fillmore to buy more trunks for whatever is coming next.

The bittersweet nature of life with all of its changes is nothing new. I realize that I’m a part of something greater than that of my little daily life, as is evidenced by the myriad of people and their trunk loads full of donations. The unity of opposites is an activating force and helps me feel less overwhelmed by the mess I seemed to have made.

Incidentally, after my drop-off, I parked and then scoped the inside of the store, scoring a perfect black bookshelf for my studio. Someone else’s discard became my treasure.

January: The End of the Past, and the Beginning of the Future

| Community | January 24, 2019

By Natalia Radcliffe
Contributor

For those following the Gregorian calendar, January is marked as the first month of the year.

For many people, this month is a time of New Years resolutions. It is an opportunity to reflect on past years and create new goals for the future.

Ever wonder why we choose January, rather than any other month of the year, as the time to do this?

Perhaps it is merely a coincidence, perhaps not.

According to britannica.com, the root of the word January is derived from the name Janus, who, in Roman mythology, was the “god of all beginnings” (“Janus”).

The deity is often depicted as having two faces, representing the ability to look both backwards and forwards.

People worshipped him at the start of the New Year, both calendrical and agricultural. It is no coincidence, then, why we choose January as the month to reminisce about the past and plan for the future.

We are merely living up to its origin, after all.

Walk To Support Local Kids with Cancer at College of the Canyons

| Community | January 24, 2019

If you received the unimaginable news that your child had cancer, would you know where to turn? Support exists right here in the Santa Clarita Valley with the Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Childrens Cancer.

To help support the foundation and families battling pediatric cancer, the Michael Hoefflin Foundation (MHF) will host the 9th Annual Walk for Kids with Cancer, on Saturday, March 16 at College of the Canyons Cougar Stadium. For more information or to make a donation, go to www.mhf.org. Co- Presenting sponsors of the Walk are Boston Scientific and Scorpion.

The annual fundraiser offers hope to those who may feel there is none. All funds raised from the walk go directly to support the Michael Hoefflin Foundation and its services. Last year’s event raised $85,000 this year, the Foundation hopes to raise $100,000.

“The only way we can fight pediatric cancer is by banding together,” said Gillian Stone, executive director of MHF. “Every year, so many generous neighbors from throughout our community come to participate in and support this event. To all of you, we are forever grateful.”

Throughout the year, the Foundation provided help to families in many ways, including gas and grocery assistance, support group meetings, and family outings – aid crucial to families dealing with the emotional and unexpected financial burden of cancer.

The Michael Hoefflin Foundation for children’s cancer is a public non-profit 501(c) (3) foundation serving children and families touched by pediatric cancer in the Santa Clarita and surrounding valleys. For more information, contact the organization at (661) 250-4100 or go to www.MHF.org.

Afternoon T

| Community | January 24, 2019

Q: I went to a party the other night, and the whole night I worried I wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t dressed right, like I just didn’t deserve to be there. How do I get over the feeling that I’m not worthy enough?

A: You suited up and you showed up, so major points for bravery, friend! I know that wasn’t easy to do. Many a time I’ve cried in my closet, agonizing over the perfect outfit for an event and it was never about the clothes. It was the overwhelming sensation that I wasn’t good enough be invited. So, I feel your pain sister/mister! There’s a saying that sometimes you have to “Fake it, ‘til you make it!” You can look around a room of 100 people and plenty of them may stand tall and look like they own the joint, but emotionally they are working hard to stay upright and not letting the fear of being found a fraud squash them.

Calculating our self-worth is a tough one, mostly because we tend to do the math wrong. We let outside forces influence the numbers, and then do ourselves a bigger disservice and count from the outside in. We then gather all that gobbledygook up and are left with a paltry bit of business that doesn’t add up. No wonder we feel worthless. What we believe we’re left to assess, doesn’t have much value. Again, that’s because the numbers are wrong. I’m going to ask that you go all forensic accounting, to get to the truth of the emotional embezzlement you’ve been experiencing.

Put your hand up and tick off these five erroneous measurements of self-worth, one at a time: 1. Appearance. 2. Net Worth. 3. Who You Know. 4. What You Do. 5. Achievements/Accomplishments. Now, close your hand. It all went away, didn’t it?! All five crushed into the palm of your hand, no longer seen. While your closed, clenched fist is still there, strong and important – we don’t see the fingers you assigned those units of measure to. Your self-worth cannot be calculated by things that can be taken away or by the measurements imposed by others.

We’re going to switch from math class to language now. The dictionary defines self-worth as a noun meaning “the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person; self-esteem; self-respect.” Boils down to self-worth’s an inside job – another noun meaning task, work, assignment, etc. Self-worth takes self-work in order to fully understand, accept, respect and love yourself and hard work takes two hands! For each finger, I want you to say something good about yourself and repeat those things a few times a day, so you commit it to memory. Then, think of a few more positive things to say and do every single day – and just keep adding, until you reach a googolplex. Might take a lifetime, but when all is said and done, you’ll discover your worth and others will, too. It’ll all add up eventually.
xo – t.

City to Celebrate New ‘Pace’ Bike Share Program at Iron Horse Trailhead

| Community | January 24, 2019

The City of Santa Clarita will host a ribbon cutting event on Thursday, January 31 at 10:00 a.m. to celebrate the Pace Bike Share Program launch at the newly opened Pace Bike Share Station at the Iron Horse Trailhead. The event is free and open to the public.

“We are happy to celebrate this new City amenity that is already being utilized by our residents,” said Mayor Marsha McLean. “The new bike share program is an excellent way to enjoy our miles of trails, make last mile connections and get around town in a green and healthy way.”

The initial Pace Pilot Program features 12 outdoor stations and 50 bikes located throughout the City. Users can locate and rent Pace bikes by using the Pace app, which is available as a free download for both iOS and Android devices. The program enables riders to view Santa Clarita from a new perspective, while utilizing green transportation alternatives.

City staff continues to develop programs that boost tourism activities and enhance recreation and transportation opportunities for residents.

To learn more about the Pace Bike Share Program in Santa Clarita, go to RidePace.com or contact Evan Thomason, Economic Development Associate, at (661) 286-4167.

Public Library Receives High-Speed Internet Connection Upgrade

| Community | January 24, 2019

Customers visiting a Santa Clarita Public Library can now enjoy one of the fastest internet speeds available, thanks to an upgrade to the internet connection made possible through a grant from the State of California and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC). The upgrade is part of the CENIC High-speed Broadband in California Public Libraries Project.

The Santa Clarita Public Library branches are now connected to California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity 3,800-mile fiber optic network operated by CENIC. The high-speed broadband connection has increased the Santa Clarita Public Library’s internet speed tenfold, from 100 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps (1 Gigabit). The connection services public computers at all branches of the Santa Clarita Public Library, including personal computer devices used by customers.

“This upgrade is going to help our customers immensely. We average around 8,000 hours per month of computer usage across all of our library branches. Our computers are used by our visitors to apply for jobs, conduct school research, find information and connect with the world. It’s crucial that we provide both reliable and high-speed access to information resources our customers need so they can be successful in their goals,” says City Librarian Shannon Vonnegut.

Hardware costs for the project were covered through a grant from the California State Library. The city anticipates to see a cost savings of 93 percent on monthly service when federal discount rates are applied.

More information on the CENIC project is available at cenic.org. For more information regarding the Santa Clarita Public Library upgrade, contact City Librarian Shannon Vonnegut at svonnegut@santa-clarita.com, or at (661) 799-6132.

Lynne Fearman Oil Demo at Barnes and Noble

| Community | January 19, 2019

An oil painting demo by Lynne Fearman will be held on Monday, February 18 at the meeting of the Santa Clarita Artists Association (SCAA). This event is free, open to the public and meets at 6:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, located at 23630 Valencia Blvd.

For this demonstration, Fearman will be using a palette of three colors and white.

“This will be slightly different from most because my triad will be primarily in the cool tones,” Fearman said. “I will show how, with this limited palette, one can create a dynamic and exciting painting.”

Over the years, she has garnered numerous awards for her work and has had pieces featured in both the Riverside Art Museum and Pasadena Museum of History. She was commissioned to create “Bearlovian Paradise” as a permanent art installation for the Monrovia Library in 2010.

A professional artist for over 30 years, Fearman won the Award of Excellence in 2018 at the National Oil Painters of America Convention during the “Wet Painting” competition. She received the Grand Prize for the Los Angeles Plein Air Festival and was invited to participate in the Washington state Plein Air Festival, “Paint the Peninsula!”

Fearman is an active member of Mid-Valley Arts League, (president from 2006-2008), California Art Club, California Plein Air Painters, Oil Painters of America, and American Impressionist Society. She is the location master for the Thursdays En Plein Air group in the San Gabriel Valley. For more information about Lynne Fearman, visit www.LynneFearman.com

Attendees are encouraged to arrive early, as the event is expected to be standing room only by 6:30 p.m. To learn more about SCAA, visit www.SantaClaritaArtists.org.

Doing Business the Old Fashioned Way: Face to Face

| Community | January 18, 2019

Long ago, before the internet, television, broadcast radio, the telephone, email, smart phones or even the printing press were invented, business owners got the word out about what they had to offer in a unique way. They actually had to talk to people in person. Gasp! That’s right, meeting prospects and clients in person was the old fashioned way – and it worked.

I propose bringing back this ancient art of communication during 2019, to at least the partial exclusion of modern day methods. Are you up to it? I believe it will be worth your while. How about if I challenge you to do the majority of your business and marketing in person and/or by telephone (not your smart phone) for the next 30 days?

With the magic of technology, telecommunications, and more in the online world, it may be difficult to imagine having to connect with your prospects and clients face to face or on the telephone. But it can be done, and here are some ideas on how to accomplish this task.

Now, I know what you are thinking; “Most of my clients do not live anywhere near Santa Clarita; many are on the other side of the world. Even if I call them on the telephone it won’t be enough to do business in a way that makes sales.”

For the purposes of this challenge, let us assume that you will only be reaching out to people within a specific mile radius from your office, or within a certain driving distance. Yes, this was what it was like many years ago.

To get started with marketing the old fashioned way, access your list of prospects and current customers and clients in the database you have for this purpose. Is it only available online? Print out a hard copy quarterly so you may access it quickly if need be. For reference, I worked for Security Pacific National Bank and Liberty Mutual Insurance in the days when everything was printed as a hard copy each day and no one had a computer or terminal at their disposal, and this was during the early 1990s.

I believe this style of doing business requires a bit more preparation. If you call someone and agree to meet them at their office in an hour and the traffic is backed up, you wouldn’t be able to send a text message or call from your smart phone in the car.

By now, you may be asking, “What is the purpose of this exercise? We have advanced technology at our fingertips. Doesn’t it make more sense to use these innovative tools to do business?”

Yes. And no. Meeting in person to do business has become a lost art. It is one that is worth revisiting, I believe.

Let’s assume you have made a call to a new prospect and they agree to meet with you. When you show up at their office or other meeting place the first thing you do is shake their hand. This gives you an immediate connection with them and them with you that cannot be replicated through a phone call, email, or text. Next, you make some small talk about your family, your vacation, and anything else that comes to mind. This allows you to find some commonality before you begin discussing business.

We tend to do business with the people we know, like, and trust. It is worth your time to connect with people in person so they have the opportunity to learn more about you as a person, rather than as just someone offering them a product or a service.

Where do you meet people to better establish your relations? I thought you’d never ask. Reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce, attend meetings of service organizations (Rotary is my first choice), and visit local referral groups. You will even find there is some overlap with the people who are a part of these groups. These are the ones who understand the value of face to face communication and relationship building. Shake their hand and introduce yourself.

Connie Ragen Green lives in Saugus and has been working exclusively on the internet since 2006. Kids and Money: Teaching Financial Responsibility and Values to Children is her latest book and was released by Hunter’s Moon Publishing in July of 2018. All of Connie’s titles are available in paperback at Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, at your local bookstore by request, and also for Kindle. Find out more by visiting http://HugeProfitsTinyList.com and download an audio recording for 2018 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.

Business Insights: Your Master Skill to Success

| Community | January 18, 2019

By Michael D. Preston

Are you headed in the right direction?  When you come to a fork in the road – do you know which way to turn?  Life and business can be challenging enough when you can answer those questions – let alone when you cannot.

When I first sit down with clients, the place we start – in fact, the place we MUST begin, is by setting goals.

When I present on this topic I make the point of stating that goal setting is perhaps life’s most important activity (outside of breathing).

Is that overkill?  Maybe. The point is to grab their attention and help them understand from the beginning that there is NO success until you can clearly define what success means to you.  How do you get somewhere if you don’t actually know where you are going?

I know people that have more money than they will spend – yet they don’t feel successful. Why?  Because they don’t get to spend time with their family or loved ones. They are prisoners in their role as owner. Why? They didn’t set the right goals.

In truth, they really didn’t set ANY goals. They just believed in working hard and dismissed the working smart; just a feeling that they would like to be better tomorrow than they were yesterday.

This attitude is better than nothing, and is often what propels us forward to the success we actually do achieve – but it is selling ourselves far too short of our potential.

You may have heard the adage – you can’t hit a target if you don’t know where it is.

And make no mistake – what seems like an easy question can be a significantly difficult quest. I have seen some take months to answer. But once answered, they become filled with enthusiasm and drive – because they now know what they want and what they need to do to achieve it!

So, if setting goals is so powerful and important, why is it that so very few actually take the time to do it, and do it right?

There are many reasons for this; most don’t realize the importance, and often, they don’t really know how.  My goal is to solve both of those issues right now.

So today, I am going to give you a quick system for setting your goals that will almost seem too simple – but I promise it will have an incredible impact on your life and business if you apply it properly.

It’s called setting “SMART” goals.

“SMART” is a quick and easy system to make sure we structure our goals properly, as well as include the parts of goals that keep us on track.

 

SMART is a pneumonic that stands for:

Specific

Measurable

Aligned With Your Values

Realistic

Time Bounded

The key here is to make sure that all of these things are included in our goals.

For example, you wouldn’t say, “I want to grow my business.”  What does this mean?  What can I do to make this happen?  There is no direction.

What if I said, “I want to grow my commercial sales by 30 percent in the next 12 months?”  Now I have something to work with.  I have a starting point and an end point. I can begin to build a plan to close the gap between where I am and where I want to be.  It is Specific, I can Measure it, it Aligns With My Values, I feel it is Realistic and not just some number I picked randomly, and I gave myself a Deadline – making it Time Bounded.

While this may seem simple, the answers to these questions can be tough to determine.  Often times, a lot of thought, analysis and soul searching are required.  Who do you want to be?  What would you like to accomplish? The fact that we get to answer these questions for ourselves in this country is a blessing and one we should take advantage of.

And while we often think of goals in terms of revenue or profit, take time to set goals in every aspect of your life.  These can be in areas such as financial independence, health and fitness, family and relationships, spiritual, philanthropy, etc.

And when you set these goals, remember that this isn’t a prediction. It isn’t like the weather where we hope it all happens. No.  Make it a proclamation!  You are going to make these things happen.  You have decided what you want and how you will be moving forward and regardless of the obstacles. This is your path!

And this isn’t just a process, it is a mindset. Work to get the most out of every situation by asking yourself before you undertake anything what your goal actually is.

So dig deep into your potential, accept nothing less than your best, and push yourself to create the life you always wanted.

Remember what Michelangelo said, “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it!”

Happy New Year, and here’s to making 2019 your best year ever!

Michael D. Preston is a CA licensed Business Broker who is committed to helping business owners increase their valuation and sell their business for the most money possible.  You can contact him at 310.994.7037 or email him at Michael@InflectiveGrowth.com.

 

 

Doctor’s Diary: Snippets from the Frontline

| Community | January 17, 2019

Hospice care not reflected in healthcare statistics

By Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

Some healthcare agencies and hospitals are shuffling elder seniors into hospice at a rapid rate because it is profitable. Statistics revealing this are hidden, and those exploiting these patients are aware of this loophole.  Investigation is a challenge.

When a patient passes away, a death certificate is completed by a doctor verifying cause, as well as other vital data. It is very specific and may be used for insurance and U.S. statistical information (like Life Expectancy).

But it does not designate whether the ill patient was on hospice.

Many agencies are legitimate, but not having this data allows some to take advantage shifting patients into end-of-life care.

There are ways to discover these statistics, like checking with Medicare (CMS) or the public health department.

Much more difficult is breaching the legal barrier around hospitals like:
-how many in-patients are placed on hospice;
-transfers out of the ICU or ER with new end-of-life designation;
-the decreasing hospital “age of death” and increasing mortality compared to previous years;
-the increasing number of Palliative Care consults.

Knowing trending statistics might reveal agencies and hospitals who are solely looking after their bottom line instead of patients.

Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

Understanding and Filing Taxes Workshop

| Community | January 11, 2019

By Phyllis Walker

A workshop, hosted by Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley, will help participants understand the basics of filing taxes. Attendees will learn how incomes taxes are calculated, become aware of common errors and omissions that could cost money and obtain answers to income tax questions and the impact of tax law changes in 2018.

This free LifeForward workshop is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday January 19 at the Child and Family Center Education Building located at 21545 Centre Pointe Parkway, Santa Clarita, CA 91350.

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) Laura and David Troost are CPA’s who provide services at Laura Troost LLC and have almost 40 years of combined experience. Together, they will share their expertise and knowledge with the audience. Both speakers are back by popular demand. Note that no child care will be available for this workshop.

Participants are not required to register in advance. Spanish translation can also be provided with prior request. The basics of income tax preparation shared by the SMEs will be very informative with valuable information to attendees because of changes in the tax laws for the year of 2018.

Previous workshops in the series have helped women and attendees learn how to improve relationships and communicate more effectively, increase feeling of self-worth, select career options and pursue meaningful employment, deal with anger management and stress, set budgets and manage money, maintain healthy eating and exercise habits, and advice before, during and after a divorce. Workshops are designed to help participants believe in their unlimited power and potential, build the skills necessary to succeed, and be the powerful women they are meant to be. All are welcome to attend this event.

Zonta offers nine free LifeForward workshops, on a monthly basis (with the exception of June, July and December), in collaboration with Single Mothers Outreach, Domestic Violence Center, Returning Women Veterans and Veterans’ Wives, and the Los Angeles County Department of Child & Family Services serving foster mothers. KHTS AM-1220 is a co-sponsor of the series with Zonta.

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

Afternoon T

| Community | January 10, 2019

Q: It’s the start of the new year and I’ve already got a lot of anxiety about accomplishing any of my goals, because of all the variables around me. If everything doesn’t align just right for me this year, I’m afraid I’m going to fail. Again. How do other people do it?

A: One of my favorite sayings is “Want to make the universe laugh?: Make plans.” There is no such thing as perfect timing and having your ducks align just so, in their row, in order to succeed. If you succumb to this way of thinking, you’re quite likely going to end up with one of my least favorite maladies (not that any are good): WouldaShouldaCoulda Disease. The outcome of it is that you will sit in repose, looking back on your life and wonder what it all would have, should have and could have been… if only. That’s just terrible and more than a little sad, my friend. It’s certainly not the habit of highly successful people.

You speak of failure, the absolute polar opposite of success, which concerns me – because it sounds like you link a positive outcome to things out of your control. To succeed in/at life isn’t a matter of whether the perfect events/people/funding/(fill-in-the-blank) are or aren’t properly packaged and presented to you. Life isn’t about luck, even if it seems that way (Darn you, social media!). You might also have obstacles to navigate or obligations and/or people to take care of. If you do, that can drain resources, time and emotion and it may feel like you can’t move forward, if everything isn’t perfect.

Spend some time in the Biography section of the library (nicer than scrolling info. on a screen, I think), you’ll see rows of people’s success stories. Folks who rose above their circumstances to do exceptional things, in politics, science, entertainment – whatever it was they felt the drive to excel at. Now, I don’t know what YOU gauge success by, whether it deals with money or power, but I’m so hoping you are building on a solid foundation:

Health – Being wealthy won’t mean much if you’re not healthy. Inside and out. So, manage that to the best of your ability. Make daily healthy choices.
Wisdom – No matter how smart you are, there’s more to learn. Seek out mentors or information on others you consider successful. Educate yourself.

Persist – Try, try again. With a smile. Winston Churchill said, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” Just keep trying.

Ponder – What would you want people to say, if they wrote your story? To the core of your being, what matters most? Integrity matters.

Remember, who you are tomorrow begins with what you do today. When your head hits the pillow at night, ask yourself if you hit all four cornerstones of the above-mentioned foundation. If so, then it was a successful day. Repeat this formula all the days of your life, because success is typically seen… looking back.

xo – t.

Volunteers Needed for 2019 Homeless Count in Santa Clarita

| Community | January 10, 2019

Volunteers are needed to help count Santa Clarita Valley’s homeless population on Tuesday, January 22 at 7 p.m. as part of the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. The homeless count is organized annually by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). Volunteers are needed to assist with a point-in-time count, which is an unduplicated count on a single night of people in the community who are experiencing homelessness.

The count includes both sheltered and unsheltered populations. Santa Clarita Valley’s count will take place on January 22 with training taking place at 7 p.m. and the count beginning promptly at 8 p.m.

“It is extremely important that our city received the resources necessary to help our homeless population. Therefore, I encourage anyone who can spare some time to volunteer for this important count,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean. “The results of our local homeless count help paint a picture of what the homeless population looks like in Santa Clarita. This allows local governments and organizations to better understand what resources and services are most needed for individuals in our community who are experiencing homelessness.”

As part of the registration process, volunteers will be assigned to report to one of two sites for training: The Centre, located at 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway, or American Legion Post 507, located at 24522 Spruce Street. To volunteer, register at TheyCountWillYou.org.
The results of the annual count are utilized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the County of Los Angeles to determine the amount of funds that will be allocated to local homeless programs. In addition, city officials and community partners will utilize this information to inform future programs and initiatives targeted at helping the most vulnerable members of our community.

Volunteers will be paired into teams and drive to designated areas within the Santa Clarita Valley to conduct visual tallies of individuals who are homeless. The time commitment is roughly three to four hours. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age.

Since 2005, LAHSA has been coordinating the Homeless Count across Los Angeles County. This count includes 85 cities and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. Last year’s count identified 45,043 homeless individuals and families, unsheltered and sheltered, living in Los Angeles County, which represents a four-percent decline from the year before. The 2018 Homeless Count included 161 individuals in Santa Clarita.

Once again, to volunteer, register at TheyCountWillYou.org. For questions, call the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority at (213) 683-3333 or Rebecca Widdison, Management Analyst for the City of Santa Clarita, at (661) 284-1407.

Always Advocating Alan – The City’s Lighting District Circus Would make P.T. Barnum Proud

| Community, Opinion | January 3, 2019

This is the third installment of my City of Santa Clarita Lighting and Landscaping issue trilogy. Part 1 spoke to the Lighting Assessment District proposed changes and ballot, in general terms, and raised a lot of questions. As a result of that column, Ms. Lujan, the City of Santa Clarita’s Communication Manager responded, with what she titled “Clarifications,” and invited me to give her a call.

I took her up on her offer, but unfortunately, it was the end of the week, and we did not have sufficient time to address our mutual concerns. So, even though I took exception to some of the information she presented, I decided to wait a week before responding. Instead, I wrote a Part 2, which followed the issue over the last year. I studied and used information from past council meetings, Engineers Reports, and postings on the city website. The narrative I provided shows the lighting issue has been piecemealed in front of the city council for over a year. Our council members knew -or should have known – all about it.

Now, a week has passed, with “not one additional word” coming from the city. So, I believe it is appropriate to respond with my “Clarifications to their Clarifications.” Since several of the city’s comments address the same part of the issue, I decided to group them, using quotes from their response.

To start, the city’s comments stated, “The $2.8 Million is a subsidy. Ongoing assessment revenues are not adequate to support all streetlight operational and reserve funding requirements. This creates an annual funding gap of $2.8 million, which the city covers with general property tax revenues.”

While the statement is partially true, I used information from the 2006 Lighting District Engineers Report to understand how we ended up in this situation. What the “Plans and Specifications section” revealed was, prior to the incorporation of the City of Santa Clarita, street-lighting services were provided by a special benefit district administered by the County of Los Angeles named CLMD 1867, which is funded by ad valorem property tax revenue, with a rate set by Proposition 13. On July 24, 1979, County Lighting District LLA-1 was formed. LLA-1 boundaries were wholly within the City of Santa Clarita’s borders and included the boundaries of CLMD 1867 within it, as 1867 relative to the city boundaries was a smaller district.

As of July 1, 1998, all Street Light Districts within the city have been under the jurisdiction of the City “Streetlight Maintenance District No.1 (previously LLA-1) and No.2 (previously CLMD 1867) respectively. It is (and became) the city’s responsibility to prepare and levy the annual assessments necessary to maintain the streetlights within the District.”

“The ad valorem portion is handled thru the County Auditor and the State Board of Equalization and is not acted upon by the City Council.” In addition, any new development would also be required to annex into District No 1, which is not supported by ad valorem tax revenue.

The above information provides an understanding as to why the city’s two Streetlight Levy(s) are different. It has nothing to do with someone not paying their fair share. In one case, District No 1, the Levy pays their entire street lighting cost, while in District No 2, the levy makes up the difference, between the amount ad valorem revenue provides, and the remaining cost. Why? Because it was planned that way and has been managed that way from the start. In both cases, the revenue is obtained as a part of your property tax bill, with the ad valorem amount determined and provided by the County, not the City. As stated in the February 23, 2018 agenda item 11, “ad valorem revenues …. the city has ALWAYS included in its streetlighting budgets.”

As it turns out, the 2018/19 Engineers report shows the entire cost of Street Light Operations and Maintenance at $4.9 million, supported by current revenue of $5.9 million. Even if you add in the bond debt to purchase the street lights and the conversion to LEDs of $268,409 per year, there are enough funds to support the district without any further increase to either assessment levy. The city’s assessment increase justification narrative is flawed. There is no emergency.

In reference to my question about money being transferred out of Fund 359, the city responded by stating, “The $4,444,513 transferred out of the Streetlight Assessment Fund is necessary to correct budget appropriation from the Ad Valorem Fund to the Streetlight Assessment Fund.”

Interesting, but misleading. The amount “transferred out” was $4,503,503, not $4,444,513. While the $4,444,513 expenditure was authorized by the Council on Jan 23, 2018 to pay for the Tanko Lighting Contract, for conversion of Streetlights to LEDs, what happened to the remaining $58,990 which you did not account for? Also, why was $464,352 transferred out of the Ad Valorem Account and then moved into the Assessment Account? This appears to be a shell game, where the public must find the “pea.” Since the information does not provide insight into the extent of the costs or a balance associated directly with either assessment levy, but displays a composite of both, it raises more questions as to the necessity to raise Levy A (Dist. 2) or maintain the level of Levy B (Dist. 1).
The city insists, “Street lighting and landscape services are both components of the City’s Landscaping and Lighting District.” Mr. Tonoian was quoted in the Gazette on December 13, 2018, as stating, “these votes cannot currently be separated … because again, street lighting and landscape maintenance are part of the same district.”

In this case, the city is using semantics to confuse the issue. Lighting and Landscape assessment levy(s) were not even described in a single district Engineers Report until 2017, after the current city plan was conceived. Prior to that, they were in two separate documents. Even then, each assessment levy is unique, and was initiated by showing a “special benefit” to a set of properties. Votes are to be weighted within the boundaries of each assessment levy. It makes no sense from a legal perspective, or otherwise, to claim a property owner who falls within one assessment levy should be able to have their vote counted to influence a different assessment levy. It makes no legal or moral sense; it’s just nonsense. The idea of combining the vote of several separate assessment levy(s), with some getting a decrease and some being charged more, is simply a way to influence the election’s outcome.

The city further asserted, “Anticipated Operational savings will pay down these bonds and allow the city to pass along future savings by reducing the streetlight assessment in equally among all property owners.”

That is just pure spin. With the total cost of bond principal and interest repayment of $26 million, and a projected savings of $22 million over 30 years, there will be no savings to pass on. Then, long before the 30-year payment plan will reach a climax, and you can bet there will be another bond to install new more highly technical cost-saving equipment.

The city talks to LMD Assessment reductions by saying, “The Property owners within some local LMD zones, previously financed local park maintenance with funds from their LMD assessment and their property tax. This two-tiered funding created an inequity.”

I’m sure they mean property owners CURRENTLY finance park maintenance within their LMD, because this initiative has not yet been accepted. The city should provide names and locations of the 13 parks where funding for maintenance is being removed from LMD assessment roles. Then, explain how these residents were funding the parks with both assessment and general ad valorem property tax funds. Are these parks available for use by the general public? Are any of the parks inside a gated community? Because any parks not fully available to the public should not be financed with taxpayer dollars. Then tell us where the proposed maintenance funding is going to come from. Will it be a special fund, or the general fund? Until we know all the answers, we should have no problem rejecting the proposal.

The city went on to say, “No pending development projects have been included in this ballot process.”

But in the Gazette article on December 13, 2018, Ms. Lujan is quoted as saying, “Developers whose projects are not yet developed but are within the affected areas appear to get as many votes as units they’ll build.” So, Ms. Lujan, what does “no pending development projects” really mean? Please say it in plain English. Will developers get to vote based on what they are entitled to build, or what they have built?

In addition, the November 13, 2018, Agenda item 8 Staff Report tells of staff negotiating the assessment rate for Vista Canyon Ranch (LMD Zone 32), where the developer desires to include additional landscape area in their LMD. Since this project has not yet been built, how many votes is this developer getting?

Lastly, the city indicated, “Items placed on the Consent Calendar can be discussed at Council Meetings. A member of the public can speak on a consent item to get clarifications, ask questions or raise issues.”

It is a good thing we can! If it was not for James Farley, Steve Petzold, and myself rising to the podium to challenge this issue, the street light assessment election would have taken place without a word of comment, clarification or adjustment. Items raised during Public Participation, or from the consent calendar, and spoken to by the public rarely get a staff presentation, and just as rarely get their questions answered.

I recommend a NO VOTE on this issue. As taxpayers, we deserve to be told the complete story, have our questions answered, and be treated with both honesty and integrity.

On December 31, KHTS and the Signal reported, “Santa Clarita Officials To Consider Terminating Landscape, Lighting District Fee Assessment Increase,” at the January 8 City Council Meeting. While this is very encouraging news, we are not at the finish line yet. It is important for us to show up at this city council meeting to share our objections and concerns and “seal the deal” by having our city council terminate the current assessment election process.

I look forward to seeing you at 6 p.m. on January 8 at City Hall. In the meantime, rest easy and have a very happy and safe New Year.

Afternoon T

| Community | December 27, 2018

Q: Once again New Year’s Resolutions are upon me and, like before, I’m feeling overwhelmed by the idea of changing all my bad habits overnight. Why do I always feel this way?

A: Of course, you feel the way you do. You’re already OVER it before you’ve begun! I know this, because overwhelmed and overnight, terribly intimidating words, are in your first sentence. What you’re proposing to do already feels like a completely impossible task. Feeling overwhelmed by the idea of doing something overnight is a pretty common recipe for failure. You want to make good choices, which is admirable, and I like that about you, so I’m going to ask you to take “bad” off the table. In order to take positive steps forward, I’m going to need you to like you, too. Even a little bit, to become your best coach AND cheerleader.

Since I don’t want you to give up before you even begin, I’m going to ask a simple question: How do you eat a field full of corn? While the obvious answer might be “One cob at a time.” The real answer is “One kernel at a time.” (Side Note: I used to say “elephant” instead of “corn” but I’m kind of leaning toward a plant-based diet these days. I’ve also removed barbecue sauce from the answer. Too much sugar.) Now, it’s quite possible that you’re feeling pretty full after all of the holiday food that’s been rolling out for months. So, tiny bite sized pieces of anything should be a welcome idea! If you’re truly unhappy with habits you want to change, then you must-must-must approach it with the same “too full” and ‘fed-up” mindset. Then, it’s one bite at a time. One choice at a time.

Perhaps you’ve decided you want to incorporate more physical activity into your life. You could buy an expensive gym membership or commit to a daily boot camp, but that all-or-nothing prospect to suddenly add daily 5 a.m. workouts to fit into an already busy schedule is overwhelming. It’s quite possible that by week two you’ll find that intense pace difficult to keep. A more manageable expectation might be to add a brief walk after lunch. Bring lunch to work/school and bring walking shoes, too. If you have an hour for lunch, time yourself. You may find that eating typically takes only 15 to 20 minutes. Set another timer and after eating walk for 15 minutes. The next week choose to add 5 to 10 minutes. If you miss a day, that’s not the end of your ability to make good decisions. You’ll get another day’s opportunity to make the next right choice. Honestly, your life should be a string of the next right choices. If it’s dietary habits you wish to change, it’s the same idea. Make each next choice better than the one before. Make lunch healthier than breakfast and dinner better than that. Life is after all a banquet, one bite at a time. Barbecue sauce optional.

t.

City Receives Public Works Awards

| Community | December 27, 2018

The City of Santa Clarita has been recognized by the American Public Works Association (APWA) with five Public Works awards in 2018. The city received the “Outstanding Public Works Project of the Year” award for the Old Town Newhall Parking Structure and the “Best Environmental Project” award for the completion of the Heritage Trail from Gateway Ranch to Wildwood Canyon, from the APWA High Desert Branch. The city also earned a trio of awards from the APWA Southern California Chapter for Enhancing Pedestrian Safety and Traffic Flow Through the Use of Electronic Blank-Out Signs (“Creative and Innovative”), the Newhall Ranch Road Bridge Widening (“Transportation”) and the Heritage Trail from Gateway Ranch to Wildwood Canyon (“Recreational and Athletic Facilities”).

The City of Santa Clarita adopted the Old Town Newhall Specific Plan with the vision of turning Newhall’s historic core into an Arts and Entertainment District. To support the parking demand, a seven-level, 152,000-square-foot Parking Structure with 372 stalls was built. The Old Town Newhall Parking Structure also incorporates a rooftop space for community events with views of the Santa Clarita Valley.

The City of Santa Clarita partnered with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and William S. Hart School District to develop plans and construct the Heritage Trail from the city’s Wildwood Canyon Open Space to Gateway Ranch Open Space. The design team consisted of a group of 12 senior volunteer trails crew, averaging 70 years old, and 32 high school students from the local William S. Hart School District, along with a school teacher. The entire process took three weeks from design to trail completion and the city donated $9,000 to the project, compared to the more than $200,000 it would have cost for private construction.

The city is utilizing Electronic Blank-Out Signs at major crosswalks, railroad crossings and intersections to improve traffic flow and travel time, reduce vehicle queues and improve pedestrian safety. Electronic Blank-Out Signs turn on to alert motorists of pedestrians entering crosswalks and trains approaching railroad crossings, and also assist the city in modifying lane assignments by time of day.

The Newhall Ranch Road Bridge Widening over San Francisquito Creek is a project that is providing an additional travel lane in each direction, as well as a raised median, barrier-protected sidewalks, a bike trail and a trail connection underneath the bridge. The result is increased safety for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists through this highly-traveled stretch of Newhall Ranch Road.

The American Public Works Association is a nonprofit, professional association of public works agencies, private companies and individuals working to promote professional excellence and public awareness of public works through education, advocacy and the exchange of knowledge. The Southern California Chapter includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The High Desert Branch includes Antelope Valley, Victor Valley and Santa Clarita areas. To learn more about the Southern California Chapter, visit southernca.apwa.net. To learn more about the High Desert Branch, visit apwahdsoca.com.

For more information about the City of Santa Clarita’s Public Works Department, contact the city at (661) 259-2489.

O Christmas Tree – A History of Tree Tradition

| Community | December 21, 2018

by Natalia Radcliffe

What comes to mind when thinking of Christmas? Perhaps it is the smell of fresh cookies baking in the oven. Or maybe it’s sitting on the couch with your hot chocolate while watching a Christmas movie.

For most people, Christmas also brings memories of a Christmas tree, decorated with beautiful ornaments, lights and presents underneath for family and friends.

The Christmas tree has been a long-standing tradition in the United States for many years. However, the roots of this tradition are not found in the Christian religion, as people might think, but in pagan traditions.

According to an article published by britannica.com, thousands of years before the United States was even settled, the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews used evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to signify eternal life. European pagans commonly used trees in their worship, as well.

When Europe converted to Christianity, Christmas trees and evergreens evolved to represent more Christian-themed views. For example, Scandinavians used Christmas trees to shelter birds that came their way, and decorated their dwellings with evergreens during the New Year to ward off the devil.

Christmas trees were also a custom in Germany. People would place a Yule tree at the entrance or inside their houses throughout the winter months.

It was here in Germany where the modern Christmas tree was born.

The inspiration came from a medieval play about Adam and Eve, particularly from the main prop, the “paradise tree,” which was a fir tree with apples representing the Garden of Eden.

The Germans would set up this kind of tree in their homes on Christmas Eve.

Back then, December 24 signified a day of feast, celebrating Adam and Eve. People decorated their trees with wafers and candles. The wafers represented redemption, and the candles were a metaphor signifying Christ as the “light of the world.”

Another decoration that would be in the same room was a “Christmas pyramid.” Similar to the Italian tradition, Ceppo, this decoration was shaped like a triangle and made of wood. There were shelves on different levels where little figurines could be placed. Evergreens, candles, and a star for the top often adorned it.
By the 1500s, the Christmas pyramid and the paradise tree had combined into what is recognized as the modern Christmas tree. However, it was not until the 1800s when the Christmas tree became a treasured tradition in America.

Christmas trees had been around in North America since the 1600s, but weren’t popular. Many people thought the idea of a Christmas tree was strange, and the New England Puritans were stringent when it came to celebrating Christmas.

According to an article published on history.com, in 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts even made a law which made any observance of December 25 that did not include going to church a “penal offense.” People were fined for hanging decorations, singing carols, or doing anything else that did not just consist of going to church.

This perspective changed in the 1800s with the combination of two variables. One of these consisted of German and Irish immigrants coming to America and dulling the Puritan influence. The second involved Queen Victoria of England.

A popular queen, she and her husband, Prince Albert, a native German, were featured with their children in the Illustrated London News gathered around a decorated Christmas Tree. The tree featured toys, gifts, candles, candies, popcorn strings, and cakes hung from the branches.

After this, Christmas trees swelled in popularity. Ornaments were being sold as early as the 1870s in the United States and Britain.

By 1890, electric tree lights were also available for purchase, thanks to Thomas Edison’s assistance. Artificial trees became popular 40 years later with people living in areas where fresh trees were hard to come by. The first were composed of brush bristles, and by the late 1900s, aluminum and PVC plastic trees were being sold.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association’s website, Sears, Roebuck & Company were selling artificial Christmas trees by the late 1800s. For 33 limbs, it was 50 cents, and for 55 limbs, it was a dollar.

For those of us who prefer live Christmas trees, Americans will buy between 25-30 million of them to decorate their houses this year, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.

Merry Christmas and happy decorating!

From Musical Rags to Musical Riches

| Community, Entertainment | December 20, 2018

by Natalia Radcliffe

September 1, 2013. Lisa Marie Presley was performing at the El Rey Theater in California.

The brother and sister from Castaic were just ordinary fans in the crowd like everyone else. That is, until Presley recognized them from YouTube and invited them up on stage to perform.

In that moment, Nicole and Scotty Lomaglio knew what career to pursue.

“We were so taken aback and it was just the most amazing thing and she gave us the most amazing support at the time and we thought to ourselves, ‘This is it. This is what we want to do,’” said Scotty.

Nicole, 21, and Scotty, 17, have been in the music industry for more than five years. They currently write, produce, record, edit and mix their own songs. Their story is instructive to others who dream of a career in music.

“You can find studios, but they charge way too much for your time and it’s just a whole hassle,” Scotty said. “So we decided to just build our own studio.”

This studio only consists of a few square feet in their house, but that does not bother them in the slightest.

By day, it is a typical family room. A big long couch separates this room from the kitchen. A coffee table sits in front of the couch, and a computer rests on a small desk in a corner under a window.

By night, the simple family room is turned into a recording studio. The table is moved out of the way, headphones are put on, and a mic is pulled out. The siblings had always known they wanted to make music.

Nicole had a passion for writing and singing, and in kindergarten she could be found writing short stories or poems. Her house was often filled with the sound of the latest song stuck in her head.

At age 11, Scotty signed up for guitar lessons. He picked it up so fast he could play almost any song in no time. His teacher ended up recommending that he perform at open mics. There was a slight problem, however.

“I needed someone to help me sing, because I’m not a good singer, I can only play,” Scotty said with a smile. “So Nicole, my sister, suggested that we become a duo, and she can sing and I can play guitar.”

That arrangement turned out to be successful, and the siblings were finding themselves considering the possibility of music as a career.

They created a YouTube channel in August of 2013 featuring covers of different songs, including those of Lisa Marie Presley. When they went to see her perform at the El Rey Theater, she invited them on stage to perform with her. It was in that moment they knew this is what they wanted to do.

After that day, they immersed themselves in the music industry and have never looked back.

“It was fairly easy based on their talent and abilities,” said Ursula Lomaglio, Nicole and Scotty’s mother. “I could tell they had the talent to do it.”

The road has not been smooth, but the siblings have no regrets.

“There were people who were super encouraging and super supportive and then people who were negative about the idea of us being young,” said Nicole.

“I’m happier to be older now, because I feel like we are taken more seriously, but I wouldn’t have wanted to spend our teenage years any other way, because playing is what we love to do.”

They released their first EP, Unchartered Waters, in 2014. This was the first time the duo used a recording studio, as they had a friend who owned one.

“It didn’t take very long, maybe like a month, to narrow down which songs we wanted to include,” said Nicole.

They eventually chose three songs: The Rise of the Storm, Barefoot Traveler, and Stricken.

“I felt these songs could resonate with people,” said Nicole. All three are uplifting and positive, meant to brighten people’s days and provide hope in darkness.

The following years were spent updating their YouTube channel with new covers, performing at different venues and meeting as many people as they could within the business.

Nicole also attended College of the Canyons where she took four classes, along with her workload as a homeschooler. The classes included writing for journalism, music publishing, playing the piano and vocal health.

“This was right when Scotty and I started playing live and actively pursuing a career in music. I wanted to gain some of my own perspective and knowledge in a classroom setting and learn some tricks for the business side and then for the performance side,” said Nicole.

She had to drop out early, however, as the workload from her classes, plus her homeschool curriculum, in addition to playing at shows and writing songs, proved to be too much. Even though she did not finish the classes, she did gain knowledge from them, skills she could use in furthering her career.

Their newest single, #Queen, was released on October 5, 2018. It was based on one of Nicole’s past relationships.

“I feel like a lot of girls nowadays sadly don’t have the confidence that should be instilled within them to say what they want and what they expect out of relationships and how they expect be treated with respect,” said Nicole. “I kind of wanted to write a female empowerment anthem that focuses on self-confidence and reminding anyone that they should feel and be treated like royalty.”

“We kind of wanted it to be more of a bad-ass song, honestly,” said Scotty.

Musically, they were inspired by the sounds of trip-op music, “which is halfway between hip-hop and trap, and we thought, ‘this is such a cool genre, can we write a song like this?’” said Scotty.

The song came together fast. Nicole wrote the lyrics in the span of one night, and when it came time to record and produce, the process only took one week.

“Every time Nicole would sing a lyric, I would try to add an element musically that would emphasize what she was singing,” said Scotty. “I added a whole bunch of sound effects, like crashes and wind sounds, just to accompany the lyrics.”

The siblings have had a busy year performing at different venues. The two that stood out most were their performance in Simi Valley for a Fourth of July celebration and the House of Blues in late October. They love the attentive crowds and engaging the audience while they are performing.

However, their career does not just consist of performing. It takes work to come up with the lyrics and music of a song.

Nicole is the one in charge of coming up with lyrics. Inspiration hits anywhere, anytime.

“Usually, it involves being out in fresh air, hiking, or being on the beach. I’ll get hit with a random line and I’ll pull out my phone and jot it down,” said Nicole. “Those are the spontaneous moments when inspiration just hits you like while you are having a cup of coffee. If I actively sit down and go ‘I’m going to write a song,’ I will jot out a short story first, to lay the foundation, and then pool lines from that and turn them into lyrics.”

For Scotty, he taught himself production, editing and mixing. The internet was his source of knowledge.

“I started looking up on YouTube all these tutorials,” said Scotty.  “I spent a good chunk of my time at the end of 2015 to the beginning of 2016 learning how to record, produce, mix and master.”

Nicole and Scotty are planning on releasing their next single, Can Be Beautiful, in December.

Five years have passed from the days of the El Rey Theater, to performing at the House of Blues.

“A lot of iconic bands played at the House of Blues,” said Nicole, “either in their early years or when they are already established. It’s like one of those milestone venues.”

October was their second time playing there, and they absolutely loved the experience. Compared to the crowd of 20,000 at the Simi Valley fireworks show where they had preformed earlier in the year, the crowd of 200 seemed downright small.

But just as there was something special in performing in front of thousands of people, so there was something special with the intimacy of performing in front of hundreds.

“While we were playing #Queen, I taught the audience how to sing the chorus,” Nicole remembered. “The people in the front were dancing and singing along, even the guys. People sitting down at tables were even coming up to dance. It was the most fun, interactive experience we had with an audience.”

From rags to riches. This sibling music duo are now living their dream. “I feel like every day we accomplish another goal of ours,” said Nicole. “Every day I feel fulfilled.”

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