Local Man’s Journey from Iran

| Gazette, News | April 12, 2013

By Andrew Thompson

Persia Restaurant







When Homayoun Daryani took over ownership of Santa Clarita’s Persia Restaurant, he wanted to make the cuisine as authentically Persian as possible. At the time, less than one percent of his customers were actually Persian, so Daryani and his wife worked to overhaul the restaurant’s menu to correct the nuances of some dishes that their Persian customers knew were just not right.

“After our change, now we [get] all the Persian customers,” Daryani says. “Because they come, they know the food, they are comfortable… they are happy with it.”

Daryani was able to fine-tune his restaurant’s menu, in part, because the very cuisine he now provides is the same cuisine with which he grew up.  Daryani, after all, was born and raised in Iran.

For the most part, Daryani looks back on his experiences in his home county with nostalgia.

“Always, when you look back to everything, everything looks like a…good experience,” Daryani says of his childhood.  “Everything looks like fun.”

But Daryani’s youth was far from idyllic. In 1979, while Daryani was in his early teenage years, revolution hit Iran.  Shortly after, when Iran and Iraq became embroiled in an eight-year war, Daryani mostly managed to avoid the conflict because he attended college.  However, all that changed just before his final semester, when the government made an emergency decision: anyone who wanted to graduate from university would have to serve.
“When they called me back…at the beginning, of course, you are scared, you don’t know what to do,” Daryani says. “And, emotionally, you are attached to your family, to everybody.”

Daryani, photo by Robyn Preston Photography

But Daryani says his fears melted away when he actually arrived at his post.

“That was a complete different feeling,” he explains. “Because then they teach you that you are a savior of your country. You are fighting for your country, for your people, for your beliefs.”

Because of his engineering background, Daryani was sent to work on the naval craft that would ultimately patrol the rivers near the border. He says he derived particular enthusiasm from the fact that he had a higher rank (as a former university student), and was therefore able to lead and guide the other soldiers who were entrusted to his care.

But not all of Daryani’s memories were so pleasant.  There were also times when he was forced to see firsthand the brutal effects of the war.

“We would see the missiles coming, and [they] would destroy a whole block,” Daryani recalls. He adds that bombs sometimes dropped within five hundred feet.

“We used to run there and see what can we do [to] help – because the emergency system is not that great – so people would go and find other people, bringing them out of the…[rubble] and everything.”

Fortunately, peace was declared seven months after Daryani was called. Daryani was able to finish his degree, then complete the remainder of his military service working in factories.

When Daryani first attempted to acquire a visa to come to the United States, his application was denied, so he returned to his life in Iran. He worked, he married, he even had children; but it was while raising his first child, a daughter, that Daryani decided that it was time to try again to head to the United States – this time for good.

The move actually involved several trips and took a few years, but eventually, the entire family ended up in America. In 2003, they settled in Santa Clarita and purchased a Middle Eastern market. Then, in 2006, they bought Persia Restaurant. The couple has owned the restaurant together ever since.

Like many business owners, the Daryanis were hit hard by the recession. Their market closed after more than 10 years, and even their restaurant has struggled, at times. The difficulties can be particularly hard, Daryani says, when he thinks back to the quality of life he once enjoyed with his family back in Iran.

“We had a very nice and relaxing life. But…we basically left that,” he says. “I came almost with nothing to this country…hoping for the best,” he adds.

Still, Daryani doesn’t regret his decision.

“When I look back…I miss those [days] back in Iran,” Daryani says. “But I am not sorry for my move. Because now, the opportunities that…[are] upon us…in front of my kids, are…wide open.  And also, for ourselves…starting from zero, to here – I think this is a big grow. And I would never be able to do that in Iran.”

Even amid the hard times, however, Daryani and his family have managed not only to keep their restaurant in business; they have actually grown it through their determination.

“I think the only thing that made us to stay in business…was our hard work, being behind it day and night, working it as a family business,” Daryani says.

Daryani gives particular credit to his wife, who he says has been a true partner. He also says that, in addition to being a family-run business, Persia Restaurant has many employees who he considers to be family, as some of them have worked at the restaurant for several years.

“They have been very patient with me,” he jokes.

But Daryani’s commitment to his customers and to his quality are perhaps equally responsible for his restaurant’s success.

Daryani points out that, even as the prices of many ingredients have doubled, he has managed to keep his food prices relatively consistent.  Daryani also takes care to ensure the quality of those ingredients, and regularly uses expensive items like saffron, the most expensive spice in the world.

Darnyani also touts the flavor and health benefits of his restaurant’s cuisine. His rice, he says, is prepared in a special two-step process that makes it extra-fluffy and removes starch. Also, his restaurant almost never uses frying products; he only uses healthy oils like olive oil, and his dishes are often high in protein (his boneless chicken tenders and lamb dishes are particular specialties).

Persia Restaurant hosts events, including live music every other Friday, a belly-dancing show on Saturdays, and a buffet every Monday through Saturday from 11:30 to 2:00 p.m. But Daryani says that Persia Restaurant is perhaps most distinguished by an additional service that he literally goes the extra mile to provide. Persia Restaurant caters, and Daryani says he has made deliveries to areas as far as Bakersfield, Santa Barbara, and Marina Del Rey. Meanwhile, he has earned a reputation for being able to serve up to 500 people with food that is of the same quality as that which customers would receive in his restaurant.

Kabob Trays

Daryani recognizes the challenge of gaining new customers in a country in which some styles of cuisine reign supreme and many people seem wary to try new things. Nevertheless, he’s sure that no one who tries his dishes for the first time will leave disappointed.

“That’s impossible, [for] someone to not like our food,” he says.

Still, Daryani admits that customers will have to see for themselves what it is that he’s offering.

“People have to come and try it,” he says.  “Until then, they don’t know…what they’re missing.”

Persia Restaurant is located at 27600 Bouquet Canyon Road, Suite 100, in Santa Clarita. The restaurant can be found across from Haskell Canyon Road and the Albertsons shopping center.  For more information, visit www.persia-restaurant.com or call the restaurant at 661-513-0077.

Triumph Foundation’s 2nd Annual Wheelchair Sports Day

| Gazette, News | April 11, 2013

Saturday April 20, 2013 from 9am-5pm.

Featuring wheelchair hockey, basketball, quad rugby, handcycling, racquetball, and more.


Santa Clarita Sports Complex Gymnasium

20870 Centre Pointe Parkway

Canyon Country, CA 91350.

Come participate in this FREE event.  We will have many extra sports wheelchairs and equipment to use, coaches and clinic instruction to teach you how to play the games, and lunch for all athletes.

OPEN TO ALL!  No matter who you are or what your ability, everyone can get in a wheelchair to participate in this fun-filled day bringing awareness, inclusion, and excitement to the community.

Check out our Facebook Event page here:  http://www.facebook.com/events/527327553977584

Real Estate Q & A

| Gazette, News | April 6, 2013

Getting Your Offer Accepted In Today’s Market
Dear Coach, 
I have written multiple offers on properties and I cannot seem to get an offer accepted. Is my agent the problem?
Dear Consumer,
It depends. In today’s market, where inventory is so low, it is challenging, at best, to get an offer accepted. There are anywhere between 10-27 offers being submitted, on many properties, the first day they are listed.  With only one house to sell, one family will get a home and the other 9-26 will keep looking. The most I’ve heard so far is about someone who wrote 27 offers before making a purchase. It is probably not the agent’s fault. However, there are things the agent can do to ensure a solid offer is written, as well as things you, as a buyer, can do to make sure you offer the strongest terms possible. 
First of all, don’t nickel and dime the seller to death. Pay for your own termite inspection.  It’s less than $100. You can also pay for your own home warranty, which will cost $350-$450, depending on the size of the property.  With the current competition, a “low ball” offer will not accomplish your goal. Of course, if the property is listed too high, your agent should advise you accordingly. In addition, make sure you have chosen an agent who is well connected in the real estate community. Sometimes it’s a matter of working with a listing agent who will give you first rights on a property before it is marketed to the public. A full-time professional is important in this market and he/she should be willing to write letters to homeowners in the areas of your search asking if they have considered selling, and then follow up with a knock on the door.  
Becky Sill is a local real estate coach. You can reach her at (661) 373-3875

New Fire Chief for Santa Clarita

| Gazette, News | April 5, 2013

Assistant Fire Chief Dean G. McGuire has served in the Los Angeles County Fire Department for 33 years. Chief McGuire was born in Los Angeles, and attended Inglewood High School and El Camino College, where he majored in accounting and minored in physical education before deciding to become a firefighter.

After working as a paramedic for 10 years, Chief McGuire served as Captain of several fire stations in the Santa Clarita Valley, where he became well acquainted with the natural fire hazards in the community.

Chief McGuire was promoted to Battalion Chief in 2006, and worked for three years serving the communities of East L.A., as well as two years as the Chief of Homeland Security. Before his promotion to assistant chief, McGuire again served the Santa Clarita Valley as a Battalion Chief in the Battalion 22 office in Canyon Country.

The Assistant Chief has responded to numerous fires and emergency incidents impacting the Santa Clarita Valley and beyond, including the Station Fire, the Buckweed Fire, the Simi Fire, the Calabasas and Marple Fires, the Cooper Fire and many others. McGuire has served as a Strike Team leader, responsible for 140 firefighters protecting and saving homes in many of the incidents mentioned.

Chief McGuire elected to continue his career as the assistant chief in the Santa Clarita Valley over other offers to serve closer to home. “I have a great regard for this community. I am well acquainted with the vulnerabilities our residents face in the fire prone areas, and it is a pleasure to work with the highly skilled firefighters who live and work in this valley.”

Six Things You Should Know When Looking for a Web Designer

| Gazette, News | March 29, 2013

By Warren Schulz

Most business people know they need a website, but have no clue how to go about putting one together. How do they even find a web designer? Are web designers the same as graphic artists? Do they need to hire a separate person for that? Do web designers help with writing the web site? So many questions; where do you go to find the answers?
Here’s a quick guide to finding a qualified web designer to create your site:
Have an idea of what you need on your website. How will you use your website? Many people use theirs as the main link to their company. Others use their site as a complement: You’ve met me, now check out my site. How many pages do you want on your site? What will each page say? Do you have any ideas about how you want each page to look?
Freelancer or large firm? Do you want to work with a freelance developer or a large firm? There are positives and negatives to each. A larger firm has employees with varied skills and a large body of work; however, they often charge more and tend to be more bureaucratic. A smaller firm, or a single freelancer, usually offers lower prices and better one-on-one communication, but their body of work is generally smaller, and if they have a large backlog of orders, your project will have to wait.
Referrals. If someone you know recommends a web developer, check it out. Find out what it was that they liked about the web designer and see if that developer meets your needs. Don’t let the fact that the developer isn’t local be a stumbling block. The Internet and telephone are wonderful inventions.
Check out the developer’s site.
Its look. Is it attractive? Easy to navigate? Organized logically? Are there any broken links (that don’t work)? How quickly does the site load? Look at the portfolio on the site. Do you like what you see? Does he or she only design websites or can they do software development and database design? The best developers know how to create a site, maintain it, market it and promote it. Does this developer do it all?
Testimonials. What do the customer testimonials say? If person’s full name or company name is included, contact them and ask what type of experience they have had with the developer.
Communication. Don’t just rely on email to contact the web developer. Speak to them directly to gauge their personality and see if they are willing to bounce ideas between the two of you. Ask as many questions as possible and see if you like the answers. For example, who will own the website? (Hint: it should be you — not the web developer or a third party). Who will maintain it, and at what cost?
Find the best price. Many web developers don’t post their prices online, but that shouldn’t stop you. Contact them directly. Give them a few parameters or specifications, so they can provide an accurate estimate, which you then can either accept, refuse or counter offer. The developer also has the option to reject your counter offer. You’ll also need to know when the project costs are due, if a percentage of the payment is due up front, and your payment options.
Read the fine print. Insist on a contract; it protects you and the developer. Make certain the contract includes:
Deadline guarantees
Developer’s availability
How much more you’ll pay for changes to the project
If the developer will take care of any programming bugs you may find once the work is done
Again, that you are named as the website owner
The computer language it is to be written in (for example )
All legal and compliance issues if you are a part of a regulated industry.
Once you’ve chosen the web developer you are going to use, make sure you keep the lines of communication open. Remember, you are the one who is going to have to live with the website, so make certain it’s what you want and represents your business the way you’ve always envisioned it would.
For more information on how to find the right web developer contact Warren Schultz at warren@tapsolutions.net or call him at 818-281-7628.

G.I.’d Go (for Some Frozen Yogurt…): Catching a Local Business Owner on the Silver Screen

| Gazette, News | March 28, 2013

By Andrew Thompson
Santa Clarita residents who see G.I. Joe: Retaliation this weekend may be in for a surprise if they happen to venture into Valencia’s Planet Yogurt. After all, they just might find one of the characters from the film looking back at them from across the counter.

That’s because the movie’s “Israeli President” is actually Brooklyn-born actor Robert Catrini, who owns the Valencia frozen yogurt store.

G.I. Joe was “a terrific shoot,” Catrini says, and he has plenty to compare it to: Catrini has acted in dozens of films, and recently wrapped up his 50th guest-star role on network television. He also regularly does voiceover work, and even boasts experience on the stage.

This wouldn’t be the first time that one of Catrini’s roles has led to public recognition. He recalls one experience in which a grocery store cashier caused a scene while scolding him for throwing Buffy (of vampire-slaying fame) out of his classroom in a recent episode of the famous T.V. show. Catrini says he explained to her that it was only television, and that he had merely done what the script had called for; the woman couldn’t be consoled. (Hopefully, those who recognize him in his store in the coming weeks won’t be quite so committed to suspending their disbelief.)

Despite his numerous successes, however, Catrini remains humble. He constantly points to others as contributors to his good fortune, and seems to keep his career in perspective with no trouble at all.

“I’m a kid from Brooklyn who catches a break every now and then,” he says. “And people in Hollywood have been very

Catrini with Actress Paula Malcomson at the Bow Wow Event in Beverly Hills

nice to me.”

That kindness, coupled with Catrini’s dedication to his craft, have undoubtedly led him to his unusually high frequency of work today. Yet, Catrini never had the advantage of an early start. Growing up, in fact, Catrini kept his interest in acting all to himself.

“It was something I wanted to do all my life…but I never said anything to anyone,” he recalls.

It wasn’t until one night at the movies in 1993, when he recognized the name of a stand-up comic from New York at the beginning of a film, that his lifelong interest received that final, necessary push.

“Heck, if [he] can do this, I can,” he remembers thinking to himself. When he left the theater, he decided to see if his wife agreed.

“I asked her – I said, ‘What would you say…if I decided to become an actor?’” Catrini says. “And she didn’t even bat an eyelash; she said, ‘I think you’d be great!’”

Knowing that he had his wife’s support, Catrini began to take the necessary steps to launch his acting career. First, he found a drama coach, whom he still considers his mentor today, and whose support in those early days had a great influence on him.

“She essentially told me, ‘If you give this up, you’re a fool,’” Catrini recalls.

So he didn’t.

After years of study, Catrini began to audition regularly. He booked his first stage part before he even had a headshot or resume, and from there he proceeded to land 13 other leading theater roles in a row. Commercials and extra work followed, as Catrini spent time gaining on-set experience while paying his dues.

At last, however, Catrini found himself so focused on his acting career that he and his wife decided to take a drastic step: they sold their successful New York deli so that he could focus on getting his SAG card. Once he had achieved that (in a relatively quick nine months), all Catrini had left to do was to make it onto some of New York’s biggest shows. After he won roles on both Cosby and Law and Order in the same week, Catrini knew that it was time to face the inevitable: it was time to head for L.A.

In California the acting successes continued, as Catrini maintained his steady level of work. But it wasn’t long before Catrini and his wife began to feel that familiar entrepreneurial itch.

“We wanted to do something and create something,” Catrini says. “We just didn’t really feel like doing another New York deli, like we had back east.”

One day, while enjoying frozen yogurt at a store that had a line out the door, Catrini had an important realization: the business was not only immensely popular, but also easily run by a small crew. Intrigued by the possibility of being able to manage a new business while still having the flexibility to go on auditions and take acting jobs, he decided to do some research into the concept himself. After more than a year of consideration, it was decided: Catrini and his wife were going to open their own frozen yogurt store.

But Catrini didn’t want to be “just another yogurt shop” in the already populated market. Instead, he sought to elevate the concept, taking every element of his business to a higher level of health, taste, and comfort.

As a result, Planet Yogurt only serves Dannon’s YoCream, which Catrini says he believes is both the best-tasting and the healthiest frozen yogurt around. He emphasizes the importance of his yogurt’s probiotics, proudly displaying on the wall of the store the National Yogurt Association’s Live and Active Cultures Seal – an honor that recognizes the yogurt he sells as exceeding a minimum requirement of 10 million cultures per gram. And Catrini takes additional measures to ensure the quality of his yogurt by keeping it pure. He refuses, for example, to adopt the practice of pumping his yogurt up with air.

Yet, Catrini’s commitment to providing a quality experience extends beyond just his product. His store contains five large TVs offering a variety of selections, from news to sports to Pixar and DreamWorks films for the kids. He has made coffee, tea, and hot chocolate available in response to customer requests. The interior of the store includes a small table with children’s games, and Catrini says he’s working on putting chess and checkers boards outside. For those chillier nights, Planet Yogurt offers patrons blankets to keep them warm if they choose to take their place on the store’s expansive patio, which features comfortable camping chairs rather than the usual metal or plastic.

“We wanted something so comfortable that people could sit there and stay for hours – and that’s exactly what happens,” Catrini says.

It’s all part of creating a welcoming environment, Catrini explains – and perhaps it’s appropriate given his two-career devotion that he sums up his store with an analogy from the television world he knows so well.

“You know, Cheers – the place where everybody knows your name – we wanted to create the Yogurt experience equivalent of that,” Catrini says. “We want to be the yogurt shop where everybody knows your name,” he adds with a smile.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation hits theaters March 28, 2013. Planet Yogurt is located in the Promenade Town Center Plaza (the shopping center around Pavilions) on the corner of McBean and Magic Mountain Pkwy, between Tilly’s and zpizza. To contact the store, call 661-254-2471.

Calling all Performing Groups

| Gazette, News | March 24, 2013

Are you part of a band, jazz group, dance group, or singing group? Looking to perform at a venue for 100 – 300 people? There is an open invitation to all local performing arts groups to join the SummerFest at Rivendale this July and August.
The SummerFest includes local theatre, music and dance performances and is hosted by the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival.
Rock bands, singers, a capella groups, theatre performances, jazz groups or dance groups are invited to join the stage for the festival, which will open July 12 and run through August 4. There are still performance dates available for local groups that are interested in performing for an evening outdoors.
So far, this year’s SummerFest includes performances by The Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival, The Tribe Theatre Company, SCV Concert Band, and the SCSF Apprentice Company. Other possibilities in the works include a series of children’s programming and other music performances.
“We’ve been performing Shakespeare in the Park for the last three years at Rivendale and are now inviting other local groups to join us for a bigger festival,” said David Stears, Executive Director for SCSF. “We hope to make Rivendale a place for a full summer cultural festival here in our valley.”
The Festival will be held at the Rivendale site, located at the entrance of Towsley Canyon and is co-sponsored by the City of Santa Clarita. Groups interested in participating in the SummerFest should contact SCSF at info@scshakespearefest.org.
For more information about SCSF visit www.scshakespearefest.org or follow at facebook.com/SCShakespeareFest
SCSF is a 501(c)3 non-profit public benefit organization

Henry Mayo News

| Gazette, News | March 23, 2013

New NICU Receives Award

The Kim and Steven Ullman Neonatal Intensive Care Unit team at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital was honored recently with a Santa Clarita Elks Lodge Community Service Award. The award recognizes outstanding service organizations in our community. The hospital is one of the life-saving organizations that the Lodge honors, along with the Sheriff’s Department, CHP, Los Angeles County Fire Department and others.

Since Henry Mayo’s new $6 million state-of-the-art NICU facility opened in June 2012, the highly-trained staff has responded to the special needs of 105 tiny patients. The 11-bed, 4,369-square-foot NICU features highly-specialized equipment and ensures that critical care for newborns is available in the Santa Clarita Valley. The NICU team of neonatal nurses, respiratory therapists, and support staff is led by a board-certified neonatologist.

“Our highly-trained staff of neonatal nurses, respiratory therapists, nutritionists, social workers and doctors works as a team to deliver measured care to babies at a critical juncture in their early lives,” said Sukshma Sreepathi, MD, the unit’s medical director. “We are in constant communication with parents to ease their anxieties and keep them informed of their baby’s treatment regimen.”

Patients have made statements that validate the choice of the award recipient. “The nursing staff at the NICU has a mother’s touch and soothed our nervous hearts,” said Elizabeth and Charles Perez, parents of baby Justin, one of the NICU’s first patients. “They provided our new family with a healthy, happy and beautiful new beginning.”
For more information on Henry Mayo’s Maternity Services, call (661)253-8227.

Grief Support Group

Each person responds differently to the death of someone who has been important to them. And although grief is a normal and necessary process to help one adjust to a loss, it’s not a process that has to be endured alone. For that reason, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital is hosting a Grief Support Group to help all those who are mourning and grieving the death of an adult loved one.

The purpose of the group is to offer a safe environment for people to share their feelings, discuss their fears, learn more about the grieving period, and begin the healing process. Elizabeth Tarantini, LCSW will be the facilitator. The group will meet the first and third Wednesday of each month. The first meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 17 from 6 to 8 p.m., in the HR building, Room 2, at Henry Mayo. Some of the topics to be explored during the sessions include:

•Factors that make the grief experience unique
•Typical myths about grief and mourning
•Ways to help you heal from the pain of loss
•Feelings and reactions to a significant loss
•How to handle special days and holidays

Admission is free. For more information, call (661)200-1306.

ABOUT HENRY MAYO – Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital is a 238-bed not-for-profit acute care hospital serving the Santa Clarita Valley since 1975. Services include trauma, emergency, intensive care, neonatal intensive care unit, maternity, surgery, nursing, wound care, behavioral health, and acute rehab, as well as cancer, cardiology, imaging, lab, digestive, respiratory services and physical and occupational therapies. Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital is located at 23845 McBean Parkway in Valencia.


| Gazette, News | March 21, 2013

You may have heard of the annual TED conference, which brings together high profile thinkers, such as Bill Gates, Jane Goodall and former President Bill Clinton. Ideas worth spreading – that is the mission behind TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), and now, other independently organized ventures known as “TEDx.” Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue locally,” according to www.ted.com/tedx.

This spring, College of the Canyons will make its first venture into the world of TEDx with TEDxCollegeoftheCanyons, an independently organized event licensed by TED and focused on the topic of connectivity. Held on April 18, 2013, the focus will specifically center on how connected communities can increase the well-being of individuals and, as a result, improve global welfare.

“At COC, we have a culture of connectivity within the campus and throughout the community,” said Jia-Yi Cheng-Levine, COC professor and TEDx faculty advisor. “The purpose of this conference is to reach a new level of human well-being worldwide, by challenging humanity to promote the increase of intellectual discussion and to develop new approaches and methods of connectivity.”

TEDxCollegeoftheCanyons will follow TED’s well-known format of 18-minute presentations from various speakers, as well as other performances and demonstrations. Attendees will also have opportunities to view acclaimed TEDTalks videos of past conference speakers, as part of the day’s activities.

Dr. Satinder Dhiman, author of “Seven Habits of Highly Fulfilled People,” will be speaking at the conference on the topic of connectivity in relation to oral tradition and sustainability. Other speakers will include John Makevich (Director of Distance and Accelerated Learning at College of the Canyons), Barbara Goldberg (Founder of Wells Bring Hope), John Milburn (Director of the Employee Training Institute at College of the Canyons) and John Lewis Parker (award-winning songwriter, producer and music executive).

TEDxCollegeoftheCanyons will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, April 18 in Mentry Hall Room 305, located on the college’s Valencia campus.

Conference admission is $15 for students and $25 for non-students, if registered by Saturday, March 30. Beginning on Monday, April 1, admission will be $30.

TEDxCollegeoftheCanyons is hosted by the college’s TEDx Club and is sponsored by COC Associated Student Government (ASG), the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Young Entrepreneurship Program (YEP) and Logix.

To register in advance for TEDxCollegeoftheCanyons, please contact Jia-Yi Cheng-Levine at (661) 362-5806 or visit www.TEDxCollegeoftheCanyons.com.

At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED
TED is a non-profit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The annual TED conference invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. Speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Long Beach, California, along with a TEDActive simulcast in Palm Springs; the annual TEDGlobal conference is held each summer in Edinburgh, Scotland.

TED’s media initiatives include TED.com, where new TEDTalks are posted daily, the recently launched TED-Ed platform for students and educators, the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide, and TEDBooks, short e-books by speakers that elaborate on a single idea originally presented on TED’s stage. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities. Follow TED on Twitter or on Facebook.

For more information about the TED conference concept or to watch videos of past presenters, please visit www.ted.com.

Held in Long Beach, Calif., the annual TED conference is traditionally focused around a central theme or idea, and has featured a wide range of high-profile and influential speakers in its history. Renowned in academic and intellectual circles, TED conferences have been described by attendees as “the ultimate brain spa” and “a four-day journey into the future, in the company of those creating it.”

New Faces in City Council Race

| Gazette, News | March 21, 2013

Danta Acosta at press conference and rally on March 18 in front of City Hall

Dante Acosta has officially thrown his hat into the ring for City Council. At a press conference and rally held in front of City Hall on Monday, March 18, he briefly outlined why he is running for office. Before a crowd of about 30 friends, family, veterans groups, seniors and local media, Acosta formally announced his run, claiming a desire to “serve the community that has so graciously served” him and his family. He added that he feels that “it’s time for new energy and a new perspective at City Hall.” Acosta said he wanted to keep his speech brief and outline his policies at another meeting. (photo by Christopher A. Weaver)

The election to determine new Santa Clarita City Council members is over one year away and there are three seats up for re-election. Sitting Councilman Frank Ferry will not seek re-election, therefore, two of the seats will have incumbents running against challengers. The incumbents, Marsha McLean and Laurene Weste, are expected to seek re-election.

Alan Ferdman is a longtime Santa Clarita resident and community advocate who recently announced that he will be running for Santa Clarita City Council next year. Ferdman moved to Canyon Country in 1965, and has a consistent history of community involvement and volunteering. As the chair of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee since 2002, he said he is running for City Council to be instrumental in maintaining Santa Clarita’s family friendly lifestyle, reducing traffic congestion and bringing high end jobs to the Santa Clarita Valley. Ferdman strongly expresses a belief in open government and wants to hear from the community. He can be contacted at electalanferdman@gmail.com or 661 713-9344.

First in a Series Featuring Members of our Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

| Gazette, News | March 8, 2013

Jon Gardner

by Andrew Thompson

As a young man, Jon Gardner never even thought about entering the insurance field. Instead, shortly after earning his bachelor’s degree in marketing from California State University, Northridge, Gardner found himself working as a retail manager.

“You know how you work retail in college,” Gardner jokes.  “I did, at least.”

But that job came with one major drawback that simply couldn’t be ignored: “I just got tired of working every weekend,” Gardner explains.

So, when the opportunity arose to interview for an insurance position that worked a typical Monday-to-Friday schedule, Gardner decided to go for it.

“They basically brought me in to be a claims adjuster,” Gardner recalls. “They said, ‘Well, you might be going down to downtown L.A. and trying to convince these guys that are, like, six-foot-four, three-hundred pounds to give you information – how does that make you feel?’”

His answer was simple: “It feels like I don’t want to be a part of this at all!”

Indeed, Gardner decided to turn down the offer.

When that same company called him again two weeks later – this time offering him the position of underwriter – Gardner faced uncertainty of a different sort.

“I had no idea what an underwriter was,” Gardner admits. “But, I’m like, ‘Alright!’  So I went down and interviewed for that, and I got the job.”
(“And it’s basically the person who looks at policies and says, ‘Yeah, we’ll take it,’ or ‘No, we won’t,’” Gardner clarifies.)

Even Gardner acknowledges that the story of his getting into the insurance field is a funny one, but the story goes from merely amusing to fascinating when one considers the current state of Gardner’s career. Over the last 24 years, Gardner has not only continued working in the field that he basically happened into all those years ago; he has also become one of the most respected professionals in the Santa Clarita Valley.

For thirteen years, Gardner worked his way up the ladder in the corporate office, gaining knowledge and earning some impressive credentials along the way. (Gardner currently holds a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation – which required the passing of 10 national exams – and an MBA.)

Then, in August of 2002, Gardner decided to start his own agency. In the 11 years since, Gardner has built that agency up from the ground, all the while establishing himself as one of the most successful insurance agents in the city; Gardner has been voted the “Best Insurance Agent” in the Santa Clarita Valley by The Signal four years running.

The reasons for his success are many and varied, but there are perhaps a few that stand out. For one, Gardner says, he believes he developed a steady work ethic, thanks to the influence of his parents. For another, he claims, he has always recognized that he has a responsibility to those who depend on what he does. Thirdly – and perhaps most importantly of all – Gardner says that he has developed a somewhat unique approach, which focuses on helping and informing individuals however he can, rather than simply trying to make a sale.

“I’ve turned to a lot of people, and I say, ‘You know what? I can’t do better than what you’ve got,’” Gardner explains. “But, if I can’t…here’s changes you might make on your current policy with another company…you might look at this, this, and this, ‘cause I can see those as weaknesses in what you have.”

That willingness to be of assistance by sharing his knowledge has gone a long way toward helping Gardner build a special trust with so many of those who have sought his advice. And it’s a trust that’s especially important, Gardner says, in a community like Santa Clarita.

“This Valley wants to do business with people who they know, and they want to build a rapport with you,” Gardner explains.

For that reason, along with others, Gardner believes he has greatly benefited from his involvement with the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce. Gardner became a Chamber member in 2003, and he has grown more and more involved with the organization ever since. In recent years, Gardner has served as a Chamber Ambassador and even worked his way up to the position of Ambassador Co-Chair before finally being asked to serve on the Chamber’s Board of Directors – primarily, he believes, as a representative of small businesses.

“The Chamber is about 85 percent small business, so I think they wanted…to have some more representation there, and that’s just kind of a passion of mine,” Gardner says.

But Gardner’s list of contributions to the organization goes on. He also, for example, currently chairs the Chamber’s Micro-Business Group, a meeting group for business owners with five or fewer employees that explores a variety of topics related to the management of a small company.

“I’m actively involved in what the Chamber does – [I] wholeheartedly believe in it,” Gardner stresses. “I mean, when you think about it for a small business…you see all the opportunity to meet other people – plus the education aspect of it, which is pretty much free… how can a business not be a part of it?” he asks.

Yet, not all of the benefits of Chamber membership are strictly business-oriented, Gardner notes. In fact, Gardner claims that being involved with the Chamber has made him a part of not only a vast professional network, but also a community of people that includes individuals whom he now counts among his closest friends.

“[There’s] nothing more fun than walking around and saying, ‘Oh, hi, so-and-so!’ ‘Hi, so-and-so!’” walking through the mall or a restaurant,” Gardner says, referring to the connections he has made through his Chamber involvement.

“My kids even make fun of me,” he adds. “They’re like, ‘Daddy, you don’t know somebody here?’  You know?  And it’s like, ‘Well, I don’t know somebody everywhere.’”

Still, Gardner says, the value of such a network is not lost on him.

“It’s kind of cool,” Gardner states. “It’s fun to work and live in the same town.  So…that’s kind of…the good part of doing what I do.”

To get in touch with Gardner, please feel free to contact him at jon@jongardnerinsurance.com. For more information on the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce, please visit www.scvchamber.com.

Developer Jim Backer Plans for Local Development 2nd in a 3-part series

| Gazette, News | March 7, 2013

Last week in the Gazette & Free Classifieds we looked at Jim Backer, “The Man” behind JSB Development’s proposed project in Canyon Country – specifically, his background in history. It’s a point that is especially relevant, considering Backer’s plans to begin construction at one of the most historic locations in the Santa Clarita Valley.

II. The Plan

In 1860, Thomas Mitchell became the first permanent white settler in Santa Clarita when he decided to call a ranch in Soledad Canyon his home. Today, standing by what’s known as the Vista Canyon site – a vast expanse of dust and ragged bushes, rabbits and the occasional roadrunner darting by – you can almost imagine Thomas and his wife, Martha, forging their way on the same unforgiving desert land. That is, if you can ignore the sound of the cars whizzing by on Highway 14 behind you.

You can also imagine, if you try hard enough, how the land will look as the massively ambitious Vista Canyon community, a development complete with homes, stores, hotels, a town center, a corporate campus, four miles of trails, a 10-acre park, a new Metrolink station, and a community garden – all of which JSB Development plans to build there.

It’s a plan that JSB Development has been working on for quite some time, but seeing that it becomes a reality has not always been simple. The process of acquiring the land took many years, Backer says – and even when the entire property had finally been purchased in 2006, the company’s plans for it were not yet fully cemented. In fact, Backer admits, his company’s original intentions for the land were not nearly as grand.
“Our initial plan for Vista Canyon was…just homes,” Backer says. “Homes and maybe a little park and some trails, and that was it.”

But when they presented their plans to the local residents, recalls Backer, he and his colleagues realized that Canyon Country residents were ready for something more.

“They said, ‘You know, what we really don’t have over here is, we just don’t have a center and we don’t have a place to eat and we’d like some more restaurants and we’d like a few shops closer to us,’” Backer explains. “They just said, ‘Hey, it’d just be nice if you kind of looked, you know, a little more broadly.’”

They did, and over time, the current Vista Canyon plan was born. But Backer says that the involvement of the community in the design of the development didn’t end there.

“There are probably – I don’t know – half a dozen to a dozen things that I can directly point to you in this plan that came directly from a meeting with the communities,” Backer says. “And we had almost 80 community meetings, in one form or another…(and) all of them involved Vista Canyon and what it was going to be and what it could become.”

One of the important suggestions of the community, explains Backer, had to do with the development’s overall look and feel. “They kept saying, in Canyon Country, ‘We want this to reflect our community,’” Backer recalls. And that meant something clear: a more rural design that honored the area’s pioneer history, rather than the Mediterranean style used in other developments, such as Valencia Town Center.

Other community suggestions led to the development of a road pattern that both directs commuter through traffic away from the rural Sand Canyon Road and leaves the adjacent Santa Clara River open to view. In fact, traffic and transportation considerations were one of the major issues JSB Development faced. That’s partly why the company, at the request of the City, agreed to take advantage of the development’s proximity to the Metrolink tracks by relocating the Via Princessa station to the development.

“A lot of what, you know, downtown L.A. and parts of L.A. are trying to do, they’re trying to create these – these centers around Metrolink stations,” Backer says. “Well, we get to create it from the ground up.”

But to paint the project as all about urban planning would be to ignore the obvious history of the site – something Backer would never do. That’s why he emphasizes the importance of measures such as keeping the graveyard overlooking the land, in which its early tenants rest, intact. Backer also hopes the community will make use of the planned River Education Center.

“(The Center is) kind of another way to, again, draw upon the history of the area and feature that,” Backer explains, “but give the community something that they can use forever, which is a meeting center, a meeting area.”
It’s just one of the many aspects of the plan that the company is hoping will both honor the past and be of additional use to the development’s future population. The project could be “shovel ready” as soon as this spring, Backer says, when it wraps up the few administrative and other tasks that remain uncompleted. And with the economic climate looking the way it does today, Backer believes that the time is right – that local residents are ready for Vista Canyon to arrive.

But Santa Clarita, Backer is sure to point out, is also special for its California history. “This area has really participated in just about every California boom there’s been…gold, oil, railroads, the movies, freeways…” Backer says. “So, it’s got a very rich history, I think.”

And that’s where, for both Backer and the city, the past meets the present. Because Backer always considers the history of the places in which his company builds.

“Real estate has nothing if not history,” Backer says, commenting on the appropriateness of his original degree. “Nothing. Real estate is all history.”

But the decision about when construction will begin may not be in the company’s hands at all.

Next Week: What are we waiting for?

To view the project, visit www.jsbdev.com or www.vistacanyon.com.

Vet or Vampire?

| Gazette, News | March 1, 2013

I love blood. Blood is fascinating stuff! Blood tells the story of what goes on on the inside of our pets’ bodies. It’s an “insider’s glimpse” at how everything in their bodies is working.

I have to admit, some days I feel more like a vampire than a vet. Sometimes it seems like we draw blood samples all day long! It got me thinking about how far we have come in veterinary medicine when it comes to the detection of diseases early in the process. What a huge difference that can make in not only the quantity, but, more importantly, the quality of life of our pets.

Blood also helps us plan for and prevent anesthetic complications before they happen. At Advanced Care Animal Hospital, any patient that will undergo an anesthetic procedure, regardless of their age, must have pre-anesthetic blood work. The type of test is going to vary depending on the age of the pet, the health status, and the procedure. For example, a young dog, under a year of age, undergoing an elective anesthetic procedure, such as a spay, will have a small blood panel run to check her liver, her kidneys and her red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. This allows us to confidently anesthetize her, and rule out some of the more common congenital diseases that pets can be born with. Those include liver shunts in small breed dogs, polycystic kidney disease in some breeds of cats, etc.

If your pet is middle aged or older, a more extensive panel and urine test will be required. Pets age much faster than we do, so their natural organ degeneration and age-related diseases take place much more quickly in them. It is very important for me to know if your middle aged or geriatric pet has any mild liver, kidney, or heart disease, which may not be apparent on physical examination or in their behavior at home. This allows me to tailor the anesthetic protocol that’s best suited to them. For example, a pet with mild kidney dysfunction might benefit from anesthetic drugs that are not metabolized by the kidneys, and a longer post-operative time on intravenous fluids, along with very careful monitoring of their blood pressure while under anesthesia. A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug would probably not be a good choice as part of the analgesic, or pain management plan, for that pet’s surgery, and a more “kidney-friendly” drug would be used in its place.  A pet with elevated liver enzymes would probably benefit from an anesthetic drug that is metabolized mostly in the lungs, and intravenous fluids that contain dextrose, while under anesthesia. The pre-anesthetic testing that we perform has very important information that helps us better ensure a successful, and non-detrimental anesthetic procedure for a pet.

In addition to its value for anesthetic considerations, the yearly blood and urine panel we recommend for pets over five years of age is tremendously important to know how things are “on the inside” of your pet. I often hear clients say, “He doesn’t need a blood test, he’s healthy!”. While we certainly hope that that is in fact the case, and that their blood test is completely normal, or “boring,” most chronic diseases start with minor changes in a pet’s “baseline.” A dog or cat in the very early stages of chronic kidney disease will most likely not show any symptoms at all. However, early detection of kidney disease can greatly improve both the quantity and the quality of a pet’s life, with relatively minor changes – a different diet, perhaps a supplement, or an antacid. Those are medical interventions that have little impact on the day-to-day life of your pet, and your wallet, but can make a huge difference.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a pet in the end stages of a chronic disease, who could have had a much longer, much higher quality of life, if only the disease had been identified and treated in the early stages.

The cost of a yearly comprehensive baseline blood and urine profile for a middle aged or geriatric pet is under $200, and worth a great deal more than that in the value of the information it will provide. For about the cost of a candy bar a day, you will be providing your veterinarian with an “insider’s look” at your pet, which goes well beyond what our eyes, ears, and hands can tell us from a physical exam.

So, the next time your pet comes in for a check-up, and I recommend a blood test, please don’t think I’m a vampire! I just like blood!

Dr. Gillen and staff

Dr. Amanda Gillen is the owner of Advanced Care Animal Hospital in Canyon Country. Contact her at (661)  263-4334 or visit www.advancedcareanimalhospital.com.

Developer Jim Backer Plans for Local Development 1st in a 3-part series

| Gazette, News | February 28, 2013

Part 1, The Man

By Andrew Thompson

“Yeah, I’m a big fan of Lincoln,” admits James S. Backer, and the evidence seems to support his claim.  A sketch of the 16th President greets guests in his office. A quote from the man welcomes visitors to the website of his company. If you ask him, both Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field “really captured the essence” of their characters in the recent film – and with his history degree from Stanford, he should probably know.

But it’s not through his knowledge of history that Backer is making his mark. Instead, James Backer – Jim, as he’s called by those who know him – is being recognized for the way that he’s shaping his own community today.  After all, Backer is one of those rare individuals who can honestly say he’s helped build a city – from the ground up.

Backer is the founder and president of JSB Development, a real estate development company headquartered in Valencia. Among his impressive contributions to Santa Clarita is his involvement in the development of Valencia Town Center, Valencia Commerce Center, Centre Pointe Business Park, River Court, and Tourney Place – to name a few.

Backer has been shaping the Santa Clarita community for more than 28 years, but this city hasn’t always been his home.  Though a native Californian by birth, Backer spent much of his early life in the Midwest; Omaha, Nebraska, was his childhood home.

“I had a lot of interest in art when I was growing up,” Backer says, reflecting on how his childhood experiences may have led him toward his current career. His drawing skill has come in handy, he says, considering the importance of design in his field. “We essentially try to buy dirt and create something that people want to buy or lease from it,” he jokes.

Backer has always enjoyed working with people, he says. From an early age, he tended toward positions that involved leadership or problem solving, including heading his high school newspaper and interning at the Senate while in college. But it wasn’t until late in his Stanford career that a fateful meeting with a university trustee, who happened to be the chief executive officer of the Newhall Land and Farming Company, placed Backer on the path toward a career in real estate development.

“We got to talking, and about a month later I was flying down here (to Southern California) after I graduated,” Backer says. When his parents asked him what he expected out of his journey, Backer prophesied correctly. “I think he’s gonna offer me a job,” he told them, “and I think I’m gonna take it.”

That job landed him in Santa Clarita in 1984, and he’s been a part of the community in one way or another ever since. During the course of his tenure at Newhall Land, Backer learned as much as he could about his industry as he helped the company gradually shape Valencia. There were other stops for Backer along the way, including extensive travels both domestically and abroad, an MBA program at UCLA, a two-year stay with another L.A.-based company, and a job overseeing a large project in Sacramento – but it all led up to one thing: the founding of his own company in 2000.

For the last 13 years, JSB Development has played a major part in bringing project after project to fruition, gradually forming the modern landscape of the Santa Clarita Valley.  But Backer’s building of the community includes more than simply putting together brick and mortar. Backer has also been actively involved with a number of non-profits, including the SCV Education Foundation and the Foundation for Children’s Dental Health.

Whatever work he does in his career or for his community, Backer admits his Christian faith and love of family are what truly drive him. And, although his career and nonprofit work would seem to make him a busy man, Backer is especially devoted to spending time with his three kids.

“I get the pleasure of, you know, going on campouts with my son and coaching my son in baseball, and…trying to make sure (my daughter) gets to ride a horse once in a while,” Backer says with a laugh.  “That’s the…the treat of life.”

And in Backer’s eyes, Santa Clarita is a rather unique place to raise a family. “I think people (in Santa Clarita) have a lot of focus on their kids, and…I think family is important out here,” he says.  “It’s a pretty small community,” he adds, even going so far as to say that in some ways, the city has an almost-Midwestern feel.

Next Week: JSB Development’s
upcoming project

The Reel Story: Canyon Country Businesses Question Limited Film Selections at Local Theatre

| Gazette, News | February 21, 2013

By Andrew Thompson
It’s the weekend, and you’re finally looking forward to unwinding with a little entertainment on a Friday or Saturday night. There are plenty of options, but you know just what you want to do: at last, you’re going to go see that movie that everyone you know has been talking about.

Anticipation builds as you begin to arrange the evening, but sinks as soon as you go to purchase the tickets – your theatre, somehow, is not showing that blockbuster film that all of your friends and coworkers have already seen.

It’s an occurrence that some local residents are saying has become all too common at the Edwards Canyon Country Stadium 10 on Soledad Canyon near Sierra Highway. And, while it can perhaps be marked down as a mere inconvenience by your typical moviegoer, some local business owners say that it has developed into a significant problem.

George Thomas is the owner of Route 66 Classic Grill, one of several restaurants in the shopping center that share the theatre’s parking lot. He says he has been observing the effects of the theatre’s selections since he opened his restaurant in the 1990s, with the results most evident in the drastic changes between crowd sizes from one weekend to another.

“In our center, we notice a correlation between lack of sales, lack of business – on Friday and Saturday night, we’ll say – versus, when there is a big motion picture that came out…that does play here,” Thomas claims. “And it’s really kind of sad, because this goes on pretty regularly.”

Thomas says that when a popular film opens at the Edwards 10 theatre, the local businesses and restaurants enjoy the patronage, not only of Canyon Country customers, but also of residents of Valencia who appreciate the Canyon Country theatre’s relatively easier access to parking and somewhat less chaotic crowds. But he argues that the effect is reversed when a film only opens at the Edwards Stadium in Valencia.

“When a big picture comes out and it’s only playing in Valencia, we’re like a ghost town that weekend,” Thomas says. “And for a couple weeks after that.”

Kevin Bodeau, the general manager of nearby Oggi’s Pizza and Brewing Company, says he’s aware of the issue as well. “The movie theater out here usually gets stuff that, I would say, [is] not the best,” says Bodeau. He, however, doesn’t appear to be quite as concerned by the impact on his own restaurant.

“Weekends are our busiest time, so we’re usually a packed house,” Bodeau says. “But, I mean, we have seen a little tail off.”

As far as he can tell, Bodeau says, the problem doesn’t seem to affect as many of the large films as others seem to believe. “If it’s a super, super big movie…they’ll play it at both theatres,” Bodeau claims.

There are, he admits, some notable exceptions. Lincoln, one of the most talked-about films of the Academy Awards season, has never played at the Canyon Country theatre, according to both Bodeau and Thomas. Neither has the recent Denzel Washington film, Flight. Also, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Les Misérables, and Zero Dark Thirty are all currently showing in Valencia only.

Of course, there is the occasional film that plays in Canyon Country, but not in Valencia. Argo is one current example, although that particular film did play in the Valencia Stadium at a previous time. “We have a tendency to get some of the bizarre movies,” Thomas says. “The, uh, 3D movies, the, um… kids’ movies that are fantasy-type movies – we seem to get all of those.”
The blockbuster films geared toward adults are what the theatre most regularly lacks, Thomas claims, and those are the films that he believes would draw the largest crowds for his restaurant.

Thomas says that he has spoken with one of the theatre managers regarding the issue, and states that the manager confirmed the theatre itself has no input on the choice of films offered there. “It’s done by the corporate office,” Thomas says, “and, you know…they probably have a formula to figure this out.”

Managers at the theatre were contacted for comments during the writing of this story, but ultimately all questions were referred to the media department of the corporate office. That corporate office belongs to Regal Entertainment Group, the company that owns both the Edwards Canyon Country 10 and the Edwards Valencia Stadium 12 theatres, as well as 538 other theatres across 38 states and the District of Columbia. Representatives of Regal were contacted as well, ultimately resulting in the release of the following statement:

“Regal theatres offer a wide variety of film options, from blockbusters to limited release selections. Our theatres also feature various technology formats, including IMAX, RealD 3D and RPX. The availability of seats and screen count also factors into the variety of film selections we can offer at each location.”

Still, Thomas – who hadn’t heard the statement at the time of his speaking – feels like he’s simply left guessing when it comes to the company’s reasons for not always showing the biggest films.

“I can’t imagine them saying, ‘Well, it’s not worth it for us to show it in both theatres,’ because that doesn’t make any sense,” Thomas says.

He says he’s even convinced that films would do well if released in Canyon Country after a short delay. “Lincoln, from what I understand, was busy in Valencia up until the day they pulled it,” Thomas says. “And, probably, if Lincoln was playing here – we would probably get a decent turnout even though it’s already been playing in Valencia for several weeks.”

It’s particularly frustrating, Thomas says, considering the kind of promotion that he sees for that particular film. “It’s not only the advertising,” he says, “it’s all the…shows that, you know, talk about the making of a picture like that.”

Thomas laments that he still hasn’t seen the film, unable to catch it at the theatre across town. But he’s not giving up on the matter. Instead, he says, he’s even asking the local Chamber of Commerce to get involved on behalf of the restaurants and other businesses in the area.

“Maybe we can get the Chamber to throw in their weight to try to convince the corporate office to throw us a bone and, you know, have some of those good movies play here,” Thomas says.

Until then, Thomas jokes, he guesses he’ll just have to catch films like Lincoln on DVD.

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