$10,000 reward paid to four witnesses of St. Vianney fire

Following the successful conviction of Gregory Shiga, who was arrested in 2012 for intentionally setting fire to St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Hacienda Heights, a $10,000 reward was distributed to four witnesses who came forward with information that led to the suspected arsonist’s arrest.

“I’m thankful these individuals came forward with their critical eyewitness accounts of the fire at St. John Vianney,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. “Justice has been served and the residents who chose not to stand by and let their community suffer at the hands of an arsonist are being rewarded for their information. If you witness a crime in your community, please report it immediately to law enforcement.”

Shiga was found guilty of four counts of aggravated arson and one count of burglary. He is currently serving 18 years to life in state prison, and has been ordered to pay $8,926,837.78 in restitution to the church.

Hacienda Heights Community Center has family Christmas

The new Hacienda Heights Community Center will hold a family Christmas party on Dec. 10. The holiday event is sponsored by the L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation as well as the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Lowes.

Beginning at 11 a.m., children will enjoy food, music, games and soccer. There will also be magic tricks by Pun and Alex Thal.

A special screeing of “How to Train Your Dragon 2” will be shown at 1 p.m. , courtesy of DreamWorks Animation.

The Make A Wish Foundation will bring 100 children to the fun. Registration begins at 10 a.m. At 3 p.m., Santa will stop by to distribute toys to the boys and girls.

The center is located at 1234 Valencia Ave. in Hacienda Heights. For more information, call 626-333-3250.

County cleaning out storm debris

  • Photo by Watchara Phomicinda

    Photo by Watchara Phomicinda

  • The Los Angeles County Public Works Department began Tuesday to remove 45,000 cubic yards of mud, rocks and debris from county flood control facilities. The cleanup is part of the plan to help foothill communities prepare for future storms.

    A caravan of dump trucks cruised up Sierra Madre Boulevard to Easley Canyon Drive in the hills above Glendora. The foothill city has seen mud slides from previous storms.

    The big trucks took turns inching up the narrow access road to the Hook Debris Basin at the foot of a steep canyon. County workers used radios to keep the convoy moving.

    • Photos: Work crews remove mud and debris from Englewild debris basin in Glendora

    They crawled down into the 40-foot-deep basin, where a backhoe dug down into the sediment. A bright, yellow bulldozer piled the dirt up so a frontloader could fill the waiting rigs.

    “We clean out the catch basins every year, but we thought we would start while we have some good weather,” explained Bob Spencer, Chief of Public Affairs for L.A. County Public Works.

    Spencer said the county plans to remove 8,000 cubic yards of mud and debris from this large catch basin. It will then move on to the Englewild and Harrow Debris Basins further east in the mountains.

    • Video: Crews clear Glendora basin

    Tall concrete pilings served as a giant rake to prevent giant boulders and trees from flowing downhill to the expensive homes just below.

    A 30-foot-tall tower with side slits siphons off the water, draining it into the flood control channels. A large concrete spillway served as a backup should the basin overflow.

  • Read more in Rich Irwin’s story DEBRIS

Mt. Calvary Lutheran School collects 7,000 boxes for kids in Diamond Bar

Operation Christmas child boxes
In November, Mt. Calvary Lutheran School in Diamond Bar collected more than  7,000 boxes for Operation Christmas Child and packed more than 1,000 boxes.
These are boxes filled with small toys and useful items that will be shipped to many different developing countries to children who may not get any presents for Christmas.

Working on packing boxes

California health reform is accelerating change

By Deborah Schoch and Lauren M. Whaley, CHCF Center for Health Reporting

Dr. Hector Flores marvels at the impact of health reform on his Montebello family practice. The number of uninsured patients, he said, has been cut almost in half.

For Flores, who describes himself as “a Latino who grew up uninsured and knowing what it’s like to live one illness away from the poorhouse,” the federal law nicknamed “Obamacare” is a huge success.

Not all Californians agree, especially those who found their premiums going up or their favorite doctors not covered under new policies. But as the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) enters its second year, few dispute that it is swiftly changing how health care works statewide.

The story of health reform in the Golden State is one of accelerating change, with both ominous and hopeful aspects.

California leads the nation in embracing the ACA. It enrolled more people than any other state this year, approximately 3.6 million, driving down the state’s uninsured rate from 17 percent to 11 percent.

Covered California — the state’s new marketplace, where health insurers compete for customers and the federal government offers subsidies on premiums — expects to enroll another 500,000 people by the time the current signup period ends Feb. 15.

Read more in HEALTH.

Ling Ling Chang named Assembly Republican Whip

Assembly Member Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) has been appointed by Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen to the position of Assembly Republican Whip for the 2015-16 Legislative Session.

“I’m very excited that Republican Leader Olsen has asked me to take on this new role,” said Chang. “I came to Sacramento ready to take on many challenges for California and my community.  Having the opportunity to serve as a Republican Whip will enable me to better serve my constituents as I work with my colleagues to advance Republican solutions to provide better schools for every student, encourage more job opportunities in every community, and reform state government.”

As Republican Whip, Chang will be charged with mobilizing member votes on important legislation, acting as a liaison between members and leadership, and helping to coordinate strategy within the Caucus.

Chang, the first Taiwanese-American Republican woman to be elected to the State Assembly, was first elected to the Diamond Bar City Council in November 2009 and served as the Mayor from 2011-2012. Before her election to the CityCouncil, she held a variety of positions in local government, including service as President of the Walnut Valley Water District, and as a member of the Diamond Bar Parks & Recreation Commission. Chang brings business sector experience as well, developing software products for the health information management industry.

“Ling-Ling Chang is politically savvy, intelligent, and hard-working,” said Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen, of Modesto.  “She has a proven track record of success in local government and community activities.   She will be an effective advocate in advancing our message.”

Steve Tye named mayor of Diamond Bar, candidates sought

Steve Tye has been selected as the new mayor by the City Council, which also has decided to appoint someone to fill Ling-Ling Chang’s seat since she has been sworn into the California Assembly.

Councilman Tye was nominated by Nancy Lyons and unanimously approved by his fellow council members. Lyons was named mayor pro tem.

Diamond Bar Mayor Steve Tye

Diamond Bar Mayor Steve Tye

The council thanked outgoing mayor Carol Herrera, who has served as mayor five times. “You exhibit great leadership and we’re grateful for it,” said Mayor Tye.

“You were a wonderful leader for us this year and we really appreciate it,” agreed Lyons.

“You did a great job this past year in leading our city,” Councilman Jack Tanaka said.

The council had 60 days to take action to fill the remaining three years in Chang’s term, which expires in November 2017. It discussed the matter at Tuesday’s council meeting.

“We could appoint someone to fill her seat or call for a special election,” said Mayor Tye.

The city has faced similar situations five previous occasions. It decided to appoint a replacement four times, while calling for a special election in 2005.

Since Los Angeles County will not be holding an election in June, Diamond Bar can’t consolidate the special election with the county as it does with the regular municipal elections in November. The city would have to pay for all the costs, including election materials and equipment, ballots, precinct workers and vote tabulations.

“Should the City Council choose to call an election to fill the seat vacated by former council member Chang, it is estimated the city would incur election-related costs of approximately $150,000,” said Deputy City Manager Ryan McLean in a report.

Diamond Bar seeks applicants for city council seat

The Diamond Bar City Clerk’s Office is now accepting applications to fill a vacancy on the Diamond Bar City Council.

This vacancy resulted from the recent resignation of Ling-Ling Chang, who last month was elected to represent the California Assembly District 55.

During its regular meeting of December 2, 2014, the City Council voted to start to the process to fill the vacancy by appointment by soliciting applications from qualifying candidates. To qualify, candidates must be a United States citizen, a Diamond Bar resident and a registered voter 18 years of age or older.

City Council interviews with selected candidates followed by Council deliberation and discussion is tentatively planned for the week of January 5, 2015, followed by a vote on the appointment any time before January 30, 2015.

Applications are available on the City website www.DiamondBarCa.gov/councilvacancy and at City Hall (21810 Copley Drive). For more information or to request an application by mail, call the City Clerk’s Office at 909.839.7010. The deadline for applications is 4:30 p.m. on Friday, December 19, 2014.

Los Altos High lineman hit by car isn’t Superman


By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer

There’s not too many people who can take on a car moving at 30 miles per hour and win. Los Altos High School lineman David Tolmachoff is one of the exceptions.

The experience wasn’t by choice. It certainly provided a scare and lots of pain. Yet the unintended consequences like adding to Tolmachoff’s almost folklorish presence at school have been priceless for his teammates and coaches.

Tolmachoff will get one last chance to add to his legacy Saturday when the two-way standout lineman leads Los Altos against Colony in the CIF-Southern Section Central Division championship.

“We really just keep him around for the entertainment value,” Los Altos head coach Dale Ziola said of Tolmachoff. “But he’s a huge asset to the team. We’re glad he’s on our side and not someone else’s side.”

And yet despite all of the big sacks while playing defense and opening huge holes for running backs while playing offense, the thing Tolmachoff’s coaches and teammates are likely to share are the time he took on a moving car and won.

On May 21, the day after Los Altos’ school year ended. Tolmachoff and teammate David Jimenez were on campus to meet with University of Colorado recruiter Jim Jeffcoat. Following the meeting, Tolmachoff headed home on his bicycle. What happened next could have been tragic.



“I was right in front of the school, normally I cross (the street) right in the same spot and I guess I didn’t see the car because once I pulled out, there was a (Toyota) Scion and I took it head on,” Tolmachoff said. “After that, I just remember being airlifted and the lights in the hospital. I don’t remember anything beside that.”

Scoreboard: Tolmachoff 1, Scion 0.

Box score: Tolmachoff: Concussion, broken jaw, scrapes, bumps and bruises. Scion: Totaled.

The photo of the dented and cracked Scion are in Ziola’s phone and he shows them as a story prop. Whomever hears the story and sees the picture of the car usually laughs in amazement. But the day of the accident still haunts Ziola.

Read more in Aram Tolegian’s story LINEMAN.