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Combat Radio Brings Christmas to Kids

| Canyon Country Magazine, Santa Clarita Living | November 17, 2014

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combat radio cosplay and marinesSanta Clarita residents get to be involved in a special holiday event that has both celebrity sightings and a tremendous benefit to needy children. Combat Radio hosts an annual Christmas concert and toy drive for approximately 400 children and family members, who experience a “Polar Express” style bus ride to the event from Social Services and the Shelter for Domestic Violence.

Held at Salt Creek Grille in Valencia December 6, these children get a visit by SANTA along with some of Combat Radio’s celebrity guests, such as cast members of “Star Wars,” “The Avengers,” and almost 100 magicians and Cosplayers. Guests will have a complete brunch, a live music show and be a part of a live Combat Radio broadcast. Christmas trees and prizes are given away and EVERY child gets a present!

Donations and other proceeds assist with LSS/Social Services, including the purchase of Combat Radio’s two-disc Christmas CD featuring music and audio combat radio santa and childclips from previous guests, including the members of Oingo Boingo, Director TJ Scott (“Gotham,” and “Spartacus”) Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr, “Jaws” screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, Kat Dyson (guitarist for Prince and Shelia E), cast members from “Ben 10,” “Monster High,” “True Blood,” “Robotech” and many more. The CD set is available on iTunes when you donate to the cause at: http://www.gofundme.com/ACombatRadioChristmas.

Valencia is the venue for an earlier event on Saturday, November 22—the COMBAT RADIO/WESTFIELD CHRISTMAS CONCERT AND TOY DRIVE. The performance will feature many of the artists on the Combat Radio Christmas Album, also supporting its work with Social Services. The festivities will include the Oingo Boingo Dance Party, with some of the original members of the ‘80s alternative rock group and a Combat Radio concert broadcast from the stage (at “Combat Radio HQ” on YouTube) featuring some of their best celebrity regulars, and an epic “silent auction” included! Bring an unwrapped toy valued at approximately $10-$15 and receive a battery of raffle tickets. The action begins at 4 p.m. at Westfield Town Center, 24201 Valencia Blvd. in Valencia. You can tune in to Combat Radio at http://www.latalkradio.com/Combat.php and follow Combat Radio at twitter.com/combatradio.

combat radio santa Wall-E and kids

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November is National Adoption Month

| Canyon Country Magazine, Santa Clarita Living, SC Women | November 16, 2014

cb logoFAMILY FOSTER CARE & FOSTER-ADOPTION INFO MEETING

If you have ever considered the idea of foster parenting or adopting a child, an upcoming meeting can give you some specifics about the process. The Children’s Bureau invites individuals and couples to become Resource Families to care specifically for children during the reunification process with their parents. There are also children currently in foster care who are unable to return to their families of origin. Children’s Bureau encourages caring families to consider foster-adopting these children. Families who have the willingness, ability and resources to care for teenagers, older children and sibling sets are also invited. The monthly information meeting for those interested in learning more is on Saturday, November 22, 2014  from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at the Westfield Valencia Town Center Community Room (Level 1 by LOFT), 24201 W. Valencia Boulevard in Valencia.

Children’s Bureau encourages individuals (single or married), who are interested in helping children find the love, stability and support a family can provide, to contact Children’s Bureau. Qualifying families receive training, certification and support. For more information, call (661) 208-4212 or visit the website www.all4kids.org. An information packet or application may be requested by filling out a request form on the website, if desired. An application may also be printed directly from the website.

For 110 years, Children’s Bureau has been a nonprofit leader in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. More than 28,000 children and families are helped each year throughout Southern California with services that include school readiness, parenting classes, family resource centers, support groups, mental health counseling, foster care, foster-adoption and more.

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A Renaissance in Riverside Mission Inn Hotel and Spa

| Canyon Country Magazine, Santa Clarita Living | November 15, 2014

riversideMI_Christmas lights

by Marilyn Hackett

Mission Inn

Mission Inn

Riverside?  That’s not a city that immediately comes to mind as a get-away spot. If you leave around 11:00 a.m. you can manage it in 90 minutes. I was raised in Riverside. I go there to see my Uncle Wes and Cousin Wanda. When I return there I don’t search out my old schools and houses where I grew up. My parents have passed, so childhood milestones passed with them. But, there is one place I do search out while visiting family: The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa.

The Mission Inn has never been a mission. It started in 1876 as a 12-room adobe boarding house. The Inn grew

Spanish Patio

Spanish Patio

as orange crops once made Riverside the richest city in the United States. Mission revival architecture and lush landscaping transplant you immediately to Spain, Tuscany or the Yucatan. In the distance you can see the Mt. Rubidoux Cross, where the first sunrise service in the country took place in 1909. I used to hike up there at Easter with a blanket and a thermos of hot chocolate.

This National Historic Landmark and member of the Historic Hotels of America occupies an entire city block. Famous aviators, celebrities, Albert Einstein, Teddy Roosevelt and the U.S. Presidents of my generation (except Barack Obama) have stayed there. Book a tour and learn about the clock tower, music room, gardens, Tiffany stained glass windows in the chapel, bells from A.D.1247, a rotunda and spiral staircase, tavern, museum, art galleries, a Presidential lounge and the two macaw lovebirds. Enjoy shopping at the pedestrian mall—literally one step outside the hotel. Stop by the Fox Theater, where “Gone with the Wind” had its premiere.

There are four restaurants serving steaks, Italian, Mexican, and comfort meals. A modern style bar, 54 degrees, is a recipient of the Bacchus Award for the most outstanding wine selections. For steak, dine at the luxurious AAA 4-star rated “Duane’s.” Our server, Dave, brings back the days when you are served with charm, grace and dignity. The food is outstanding. You can keep busy two full days and nights at the Inn just eating and working out at the state-of-the-art fitness center. Do not miss the experience of Kelly’s Spa, ranked #10 in Conde Nast Traveler’s “Top 50 Hotel Spas in the United riversideSpa HallwayStates.” The eucalyptus steam and cold cucumber face towels are complimentary to each guest of the hotel. You can spend the entire afternoon at the pool, Jacuzzi, outdoor spa patios and in the tranquil sitting lounges. Carmen is a Swedish massage “ther-artist” (a therapist that elevates what she does to an art).You’ll levitate on the warmed table, massaged with hot fragrant oils by the glowing fireplace.

All the Staff at The Mission Inn have taken on the roles of guardians of the estate, welcoming you sincerely, with no false airs of pretentious sophistication. When I leave Riverside, I come away renewed from my visits with family and my old friend, The Mission Inn. Visit The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa during the Christmas Holiday, when it is lit up in a world famous display of lights.

For more information, contact The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa at WWW.MISSIONINN.COM.

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Have You Got Sciatic Pain?

| Canyon Country Magazine, Santa Clarita Living | October 24, 2014

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Pills or muscle relaxers can’t correct the nerve compression caused by a bulging disc or the pelvis.

Sciatica is a distracting pain that begins in the lower back/ pelvis and extends down one or both legs. It typically worsens with periods of sitting or standing.

The pelvis is most often involved and, at times, it also involves the discs. One important point is that a disc bulge and/or herniated disc on an MRI can be pain-free, while pain could come from an alignment condition. Most surgeons look only to to the disc bulge and not the alignment of the pelvis. Physical therapists will often focus on the muscles, therefore the sciatica can be misdiagnosed, which makes treatment unsuccessful.

Sciatica is the results of cumulative damage causing nearby nerve irritation and inflammation. The pain appears in the leg, but the culprit is often the lower back! This debilitating condition often gets worse with time and can cripple active people without treatment. So, before taking any harmful medication, having a dangerous surgery or doing physical therapy without results – ask yourself … is it worth the risk of getting increased pain that may worsen your condition? Why not try something less invasive.

Chiropractors have had concentrated and specialized training in this particular area. Fortunately, improving joint motion in the lower back with a program of chiropractic adjustments has produced results for many people. It all starts with a consultation and thorough examination. If we think we can help, we’ll tell you. And if we don’t think we can help, we’ll tell you that too and refer you to someone who we believe is able to give you satisfactory results.

For more information, contact Dr. Jessica M. Ekengren D.C. at Ekengren Chiropractic, 28212 Kelly Johnson Parkway. Ste. 120 in Valencia; (661) 254-9400/Fax (661) 254-9495.

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Local Dentist: Inflammation Kills

| Canyon Country Magazine, Santa Clarita Living | October 22, 2014

Research shows there is a direct connection between oral pathogens and acute heart attacks and strokes, says Peter Elloway, DDS. The same pathologic bacteria found in diseased gum pockets are consistently found in the blood clots causing strokes and heart attacks. The gum pockets are the portal of entry to the rest of the body, a pathway to seriously affect vital organs.

According to research, says Dr. Elloway, increased systemic inflammation also is instrumental in the advancement of diabetes, chronic inflammatory diseases and increase in preterm birth rates.

Dr. Elloway is offering a free evaluation, which enables patients to learn more about his use of laser dentistry. To schedule an appointment, call 661-259-8755.

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Earthquake – What About the Big One?!?!

| Santa Clarita Living | September 17, 2014

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Every newsworthy California temblor also shakes up discussions at the water cooler. Nobody seems more vulnerable than store owners – especially those with lots of breakables.

“It reminds us where we live,” said Guy Lelarge, owner of Valencia Wine Co. in Santa Clarita. “Are we prepared? No. If a big one hits, I lose a lot of wine.”

Without the power to predict the magnitude, business owners often just roll with the punches and hope for the best.

“Most bottles are in racks, so it’d have to shake pretty hard to bring it down. It makes me drink more wine, as the owner,” joked Lelarge.

Fonzie Diaz from Bella Venezia Home & Decor in Santa Clarita is equally positive about the outcome of an earthquake in the future. “Truth be told, everything in here is so incredibly heavy and solid, I would really prefer to be here in an earthquake,” said Diaz.  “Probably the wall art I’d be worried about, because there are mirrors and what not.”

If you’re in the insurance business, you have likely already analyzed the possibilities.

“First you worry about the safety of the individuals and then you worry about the safety of your home,” said Richard Paul Aguilar of Richard Paul Aguilar Financial Services.

“When you buy a house in California you are offered earthquake insurance and have 30 days to accept. Most people do not buy earthquake insurance,” said Aguilar. “It’s costly, the deductibles are very high. Those who do are … concerned consumers. There’s a cost, but they understand the value.”

Insurance agent Greg Nutter remembers a time when the cost was actually a bargain.

“I’ve been in the insurance business for 25 years,” said Nutter. “An earthquake policy 25 years ago was $100 a year for $100,000. After the ‘94 quake, it became a State (of California) thing.”

Though it has its similarities to other forms of insurance, an earthquake policy has a unique target. “It’s not for the cracks and scratches, it’s catastrophic insurance,” said Aguilar.

The real question is — is the SCV ready for a big quake?

“I think Santa Clarita has a good action plan in force,” said Aguilar. “That’s the City. But the residents – no.”

The thought of “the big one” doesn’t rattle Nutter at all. “It is what it is,” he said. “The bottom line is, for someone buying a new house, if they’re putting the minimum down payment, don’t buy earthquake insurance.  If you own your house outright, I tell people you have to have earthquake insurance.”

“I’ve thought about it lots of times,” said Diaz. “A few small ones – not like what recently happened in Northern California. We’ve been very, very lucky.”

Caltech Earthquake Seminar
Caltech Administrator Margaret Vinci will hold a free presentation on the different magnitudes, threats & warning systems associated with natural disasters. Hosted by the City of Santa Clarita, no registration is required for the informational meeting, held on September 18 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Old Town Newhall Library,
25000 Main Street in Newhall.

Sources:
Valencia Wine Co.: Valenciawine.com
Bella Venezia: Bellavenezia.biz
Richard Paul Aguilar: Richardpaulaguilar.com
Greg Nutter: Insurancesantaclarita.com

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Halloween Pawsome Pet Tips

| Santa Clarita Living | September 16, 2014

A favorite holiday for people can be a doggone nightmare for our pets! The following tips will keep you and your kids safe for Howl-a-ween.

Trick-or-Treat candies are pawsitively toxic for pets. Chocolate — especially dark chocolate – can be lethal for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include increased heart rate, diarrhea and vomiting. If your pet experiences any of these, see a vet — stat!
Keep pets confined inside and away from the door. Not only will your doorbell be constantly ringing and your door creaking open and closed on Halloween, but spooky strangers will be dressed in crazy costumes and screaming for their candy. Your furry friend is not a fan and will be especially territorial and stressed out.
Keep outdoor cats inside for several days before and after Halloween. Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents. In fact, many shelters do not release black cats for adoption during the month of October as a safety precaution.
Wear pet-friendly and approved Halloween costumes. If you do decide that Fido or Fifi needs a costume, make sure it isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict movement, hearing, vision or the ability to breathe, drink, eat, bark and meow. Do a Halloween dress rehearsal with the costumes to make sure pets are not in distress, allergic or show abnormal behavior. As an option, fun bandanas, bows and bling will work just fine for those “party poopers.”

Make sure that your pet IDs are ON THEM and the microchip information is up to date.

After all the howl-a-ween festivities, how about a pet spa day?

Hollywood Mobile Pet Grooming: (888) 665-7766 or visit www.gohollywoodgrooming.com.

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Pet Sitting — Paradise or Perilous?

| Santa Clarita Living | September 15, 2014

Most of us have wondered, at one time or another, what animals say and do when humans aren’t around. There have been books, movies and plays written about it. Those who might know most about that scenario are the pet sitters, who normally have one or two strange-but-true stories to tell.

“The most unusual thing I ever pet sat was a frog and some fish,” said Trina MacDonald, a certified dog trainer and owner of All Four Paws Pet Care in Santa Clarita. “Normally, though, it’s cats and dogs.”

Like most pet sitters, MacDonald goes to the client’s home to feed, walk and care for the animals. “They’re much happier at their own homes,” she said.

Nikki Ledingham of Got Paws Pet Sitting and Dog Walking in Santa Clarita goes to the homes of clients with a free consultation, where she meets them, the pet(s) they’ll be caring for, and gets to know the routines and “lay of the land.” One of her four-footed clients was named “Spike.”

On her first pet sitting visit, the pet sitter took Spike for “a brisk walk around the neighborhood, and then returned home so I could feed him his dinner,” said Ledingham. “As I was walking toward the pantry to retrieve a can of dog food, I heard a voice croon from down the hallway, ‘What a pretty girl!’”

The house was supposed to be empty, except for Spike. “I was shocked to hear a voice,” said the pet sitter, “not to mention a bit afraid for my safety, because this person was trying to hit on me!”

Ledingham called out, “Hello?” and the voice responded with, “Hello!”

As it turned out, Spike’s owner had forgotten to mention her pet parrot, Molly, because she wouldn’t require any special attention during the short weekend that the owner would be away.  “A few heartbeats lost and a few grey hairs later – just another day as a pet sitter, a job that is certainly never boring!” she said.

Another Got Paws sitter encountered a rattlesnake in the backyard of a client’s home. “Brave and industrious, she killed the snake just as it was getting ready to strike the dog,” said Ledingham. “Death by decapitation – via a pooper scooper-wielding, eight-months-pregnant Got Paws pet sitter!”

Erik Ennabe of Doggy Duty US in Santa Clarita ran across the same troublesome reptile on a pet sitting job. “I walked into a backyard and I got wacked in the face by a rattlesnake. Not high on the list of things pet sitters encounter,” he said.

The snake had bitten his client’s pet — a weiner dog (dachshund) weighing only about 10-12 pounds.

“There were a couple of things in my favor,” Ennabe explained. “I have an extremely detailed pet sitting software … it had the vet history.  Before panic set in, I knew which vet to contact. Second was the emergency response, (which says) make sure the dog is stable, wrap it firmly to reduce blood circulation so venom doesn’t go through the body.  Then I secured the other pet in its crate.”

Also on top of the emergency process were the dog’s owners. They had a release on file with the vet for anti-venom treatment. While those owners thought of everything, Ennabe had one pet sitting scare, when he spent hours searching for the dog he was supposed to be caretaking. “It’s funny, in hindsight,” said Ennabe. “The dog would play with a chew toy behind the toilet. Silently.”

The dog owners didn’t tell Ennabe about their pet’s preference, and the bathroom was the last place he expected to find a hiding animal.

A miscommunication was also at the heart of a pet sitting situation experienced three years ago by Raul Castro of Santa Clarita Pet Nanny. “An old client of ours had just moved, so he left me a key to his new house in a hiding spot. The bad news was, the key did not fit the lock!” said Castro. “I tried calling him, but the call went directly to voicemail. I started looking for open doors – I went around to the backyard and the two dogs were there, but the sliding glass door was locked. I looked to the side … and noticed a doggie door. Luckily, one of the two dogs was large, so the door was just big enough for me to squeeze through, and I did.”

There are always built-in problems, partly due to the physical nature of the job, such as “the occasional phone that drops out of your pocket while on the job,” said Ledingham. “If you’re lucky, just the screen cracks. If you are unlucky, it plops into the poop you were leaning over to scoop up or, worse yet, flies out during a hearty game of fetch and into the deep end of the pool!”

Like most businesses, the biggest challenge may be marketing your services. “Building the pet sitting business from scratch,” said Ennabe, who left a job in Ventura and moved to Santa Clarita a year ago with his wife and baby. “But, pet sitting brought me back to my true love – I get to be a stay-at-home father.”

Sources:
Nikki Ledingham Got Paws Pet Sitting and Dog Walking
www.scvgotpaws.com

Trina MacDonald All Four Paws Pet Care
www.allfourpawspetcare.com

Erik Ennabe Doggy Duty U.S.
www.doggyduty.us

Raul Castro Santa Clarita Pet Nanny
www.scpetnanny.com

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14th Annual Bow-Wows & Meows Pet Fair

| Santa Clarita Living, Spotlight News | September 15, 2014

Canine Stunt Show

Canine Stunt Show

Filling the park with pets and pet lovers for the 14th year, Bow-Wows & Meows will present its annual attractions, including The Extreme Canines Stunt Show and The Fun Dog Show, with competitions for “best vocalist,” “mystery mutt” and “pet-owner look-alike.”

Always emphasizing the importance of adoption, the Pet Fair, held in William S. Hart Park on Sunday, October 12 beginning at 11 a.m., will have more than 200 dogs, cats, puppies and kittens from all six Los Angeles County Animal Shelters. They will be discounted to $30 and ready to go home, all spayed or neutered, immunized and microchipped.

Sponsored by Natural Balance, Petcurean, Animal Medical Center and Santa Clarita Animal Hospital, the fair will feature:

Community education presentations on Spay & Neuter at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.
Personalized ID tags and children’s bracelets
Huge “Super Raffle” at $1 per ticket
Food Truck Court with dining options                             (including vegan and vegetarian)
Shopping opportunities
Low-cost vaccines from TAGS
Free microchips from The Lucy Pet Foundation and               Free Rabies vaccines from TAGS
County pet license renewals

Aliyah_Baby_Liza“Adoption is not only cost-effective, it saves shelter animals and reduces the overpopulation problem created by irresponsible breeders and pet stores,” said Yvonne Allbee, founder of Bow-Wows & Meows, Inc. “Our goal is to give every homeless pet a second chance at a wonderful life at the fair and send the shelter trucks back empty.”

Leashed, well-behaved dogs of all breeds are welcome to attend the fair with their owners. Shuttled parking is available for people/pets by Hart Park for just $3 (main park entrance).

Since it began in 2001, the Valencia-based Bow-Wows & Meows, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, has adopted out more than 1,500 shelter pets at its annual fairs.

“Last year, the community adopted over 170 pets at Bow-Wows & Meows. This year, we have a goal of hitting or exceeding the 200 mark. With the catfantastic $30 adoption fee and the wide selection of dogs, cats, puppies & kittens to choose from plus six additional rescue groups, we believe that’s totally possible,” Allbee said.

She encouraged pet lovers to get involved by spreading the word about Bow-Wows & Meows through social media via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BWMPetFair) or Twitter (@BowWowsPetFair).

“It’s so easy to make a difference for these pets. Tweeting or Facebooking alone can make a huge impact by bringing more adopters to the fair, helping us save as many lives as possible,” Allbee said. “We can also use volunteers to help pass out posters and flyers in the community prior to the fair. For more information, visit our website at www.BowWowsAndMeows.org.”

Fair1Bow-Wows & Meows Pet Fair, Sunday, October 12 at William S. Hart Park, 24151 Newhall Avenue, Newhall. 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Free. For more information, visit www.BowWowsAndMeows.org or call (661) 297-5961. Hart Park offers shuttled parking for people/pets for just $3 and free parking remains available in the surrounding community areas.

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The Secret Life of Driving Instructors

| Santa Clarita Living | September 12, 2014

by Martha Michael

One teenaged student driver in Santa Clarita was behind the wheel when the instructor directed him to pull into a fast food drive-thru line. Another local driving instructor had his student pull into a convenience store so he could run in and get some food. On his way out of the car, the instructor joked to the 16-year-old about buying him beer. These are crazy recollections from driving students, but what could the instructors reveal, if truth be told?

One Instructor’s Conclusions
#1 – A large number of internationals take driving lessons.
Ernesto Casillas of Genesis Driving School has been an instructor for 22 years. He has taught students from India, Egypt, Thailand, The Philippines, Japan, China, Russia, Ukraine, Bangladesh and Turkey – and those are just the ones he can remember off the top of his head.
“I’ve taken people from different types of backgrounds. I’ve learned different types of languages,” said Casillas, who memorizes words in his students’ native tongues so they can communicate during lessons.

He recently trained a Korean woman who didn’t speak English. “I would tell her, ‘Slow down, slow down, slow down,’ and she would answer me in Korean. She didn’t know what I was saying,” said Casillas. “I had to write down how to say ‘right turn’ and ‘left.’”

One of Casillas’ first questions for internationals is to ask how long they have been driving. “Some people say they’re professional drivers in their country,” he said. “Then they look at the lines we have in the middle of the road and don’t know what to do.”

A typical problem for foreign-born clients is making left turns, said Casillas. “When we don’t have an arrow, they don’t move into the intersection. They start paying attention to the cars on the side instead of the cars in the oncoming traffic.”

With all of his experience teaching clients from around the world, Casillas is able to make some comparisons with driving in the United States. “I went to Egypt … they actually get in the way of cars on purpose. In countries like England, New Zealand – they have to drive for many months before they can get a driver’s license. There they spend thousands of dollars to get a driver’s license,” he said. “Some say to me, ‘If you can drive in my country, you can drive anywhere.’”

#2 – People who are battling age & issues with illness drive too.
An older woman signed up for training with Casillas. He said that she had gone to the Department of Motor Vehicles to take the written driving test for renewal, but because she was using a walker, the DMV required her to also do the behind-the-wheel driving test again.

“She knew she was going to have to stand a lot in line, so she took a walker,” said Casillas. “She was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, even when I would correct her.”

Casillas got a reaction at the DMV when he brought a favorite student in to take her driving test. She had cerebral palsy.

“She was one of the best drivers I’ve ever had,” he said. “She was between 61 and 65 years old. She passed her driving test.”

She was previously a licensed driver, said Casillas, but her vehicle was hit from behind by a car and when police came and saw that she was drooling and couldn’t speak, they took away her license.

“Mute, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, with any of those types of cases, I have to adjust,” he said.

Casillas used a white board to communicate with his client who had cerebral palsy. He doesn’t take his job lightly and he sees their journeys through to the end.

“I take it personally, you’re investing money in me,” said Casillas. “I don’t bring anyone who isn’t ready. They’re putting their lives in my hands.”

#3- People in California are some of the safest drivers.
“In California we are very lenient,” said Casillas. “I find the people in Santa Clarita very willing to learn … I’d say around 97 percent of teens do practice with their parents and they do listen to the lesson plan I have for them.”

“Lillian” was one of Casillas’ students, a 61-year-old journalist with the New York Post. Lillian was a former resident of Staten Island.
“She told me, ‘In New York we could’ve done this already. You have a lot of respect for pedestrians,’” he reported that she said.

Surprising Facts
Because of the new law allowing all Californians to obtain a driver’s license, Kristine Bistline of High Desert Driving School has been getting an increasing number of calls inquiring about lessons. Other clients come from such scenarios as older adults that the DMV randomly tests, and those who call to do brush-up lessons.

“A lot of them wait until they fail,” said Bistline. “Then they get sent to Driver’s Safety.”

High Desert has a two-hour “evaluation class” at a rate of $60 per hour, where older drivers can preempt possible failure of the driving exam, and eliminate the hassles if a person has his/her license revoked. “They have to have their eyes checked, make sure they don’t have any dementia. They have to go to San Bernardino or Van Nuys to see a caseworker in driver’s safety,” said Bistline. “I’ve written letters for attorneys, because they want to take their licenses away.”

Bistline is a past president of the Driving School Association of California, the second female president since 1953. She also won the “Woman of the Year” award from the Driving School Association of America, which includes Great Britain, Japan and Guam.

With a background that extensive, Bistline is a good source for little known driving facts.

“Did you know you can drive barefooted?” asked Bistline, who has owned the driving school for 25 years.

High Desert offers a four-hour road trip course, where new or soon-to-be drivers can get extensive freeway experience. “A lot of kids don’t know you can stop on an onramp,” she said.

If massive trucks are blocking your entrance onto a freeway, for instance, you can legally stop your car completely.

“And the carpool lane – during certain hours of the day you can’t treat it as a regular lane,” explained Bistline. “And you can’t enter or exit unless the lines are broken. You’ll get two tickets for two violations – a double ticket.”

One of the most widely talked about rules and regulations, particularly among parents of teens, involves the “new driver” restrictions.
“On a permit, you must always have an adult 25 years old or older,” she said. “For one year you can’t transport other children under age 20. You can transport only your own siblings for school or specific immediate need, employment purposes or a medical purpose.”

When asked about notes from a fellow parent allowing a child to ride with a new driver, Bistline said, “There’s no such thing – a note can ONLY be used for a specific family member. And between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. they can’t be on the road at all.”

Bistline used to be active in legislation. When the older Sen. Pete Knight was in office, she was responsible for getting the second brake put into driving instruction cars. “I would hear about these other driving schools and they’d be involved in serious crashes,” she said.

Safety just makes sense to Bistline. “I’m motivated. I share the road with these kids,” she said. “Parents would ask me if their child needs more lessons. I would say, ‘I’d put my baby in the back seat with them,’ or I’d say, ‘I wouldn’t let my daughter ride along with them – you need to consider an extra lesson or two.’”

Another key area to explore with driving instructors: the law beginning January 1 allowing all Californians to obtain driver’s licenses. That’s a topic for next time!

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