$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.

Community Christmas Concert on Dec. 13 in Hacienda Heights

The 14th Annual Community Christmas Concert will be held Saturday, Dec. 13,  at 7:30 p.m. in Hacienda Heights.

The concert will be held at Saint John Vianney Catholic Community Center at 1345 Turnbull Canyon Road. It will be produced by Michael Gribschaw, Director of Music at the church.

Eight choirs will perform including: St. John Vianney Adult Choir – Christine Leong Brydges, Director; St. John VIanney Children’s Choir – Christine Leong Brydges, Director; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Eric W. Bladh, Director; Saint Matthews United Methodist Church – Elaine Ono, Director; Los Altos High School – Jeffrey Fahey, Director; Wilson High School – De John Brown, Director; Mesa Robles Middle School – Amanda  C. Benavides, Director and Los Angeles Philharmonic Choir – Hui-Chen Lee, Director.

Audience will participate by singing Christmas Carols.The choirs will combine to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from the “Messiah”, under the direction of Christine Leong Brydges.

The concert is free to the public and refreshments will be served after the concert.

A free will offering will be taken for the East San Gabriel Coalition for the Homeless. In 2013, $3,020 was raised for the coalition.

Pitfalls of turning Puente Hills Landfill into a park

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Building a park on top of 130 million tons of Los Angeles County’s trash can be tricky.

“There is a 3 percent settlement rate per year,” said Michael Hughes, a longtime Hacienda Heights resident and Puente Hills Landfill neighbor who has been waiting for this moment for more than 30 years. “So they can’t put much in terms of permanent infrastructure, which is unfortunate.”

Last week, the county Board of Supervisors made the first move toward turning the shuttered Puente Hills Landfill near the intersection of the 605 and 60 freeways into a regional park of about 600 acres by accepting $814,000 from the county Sanitation Districts, the former operators of the landfill.

The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation will use the money to hire a parks designer who will gather public input and sketch several designs as part of an overall master plan for the new Puente Hills County Regional Park, said Russ Guiney, director of county Parks and Recreation.

Most likely, the planner will take “a practical approach,” Guiney said, staying away from ball fields and buildings and instead, as Hughes puts it, focus on “trails and trees.”

That’s because for the next 25 years, the top of the landfill overlooking Whittier in the south and Hacienda Heights to the east, where as much as 13,000 tons of trash were deposited per day for 57 years, can be unstable as household garbage decomposes and the surface shifts.

“On the top-fill area of about 200 acres the landfill is sinking slowly as it compacts. It will take some time for everything to settle,” Guiney said.

Read more in Steve Scauzillo’s story PARK.

Caltrans lists closings for 60 Freeway paving project

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close portions of SR-60 from the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) to the Orange Freeway (SR-57) separation, as part of a pavement rehabilitation project.  Closures are as follows and subject to change.

 Monday, November 10, through Friday, November 14

Eastbound SR-60

  • 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. – Up to three lanes between I-605 & Azusa Avenue
  • 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. – High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane CLOSEDbetween I-605 & Azusa Avenue

Westbound SR-60

  • 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. – Up to three lanes between southbound SR-57 & Azusa Avenue
  • 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. – HOV lane CLOSED between southbound SR-57 & Azusa Avenue

 Friday, November 14, through Saturday, November 15

Eastbound SR-60

  • 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.   – Up to three lanes between I-605 & Azusa Avenue
  • 7 p.m. to 9 a.m.     – Seventh Avenue on-ramp CLOSED
  • 12 a.m. to 8 a.m.   – HOV lane CLOSED between Seventh Avenue & Hacienda Boulevard
  • 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. – Connector from north- and southbound I-605 to eastbound SR-60 CLOSED

Westbound SR-60

  • 12 a.m. to 4 a.m.   – Up to three lanes between southbound SR-57 & Azusa Avenue
  • 10 p.m. to 11 a.m. – Fairway Drive and Old Brea Canyon Road on-ramps CLOSED
  • 12 a.m. to 8 a.m.   – HOV lane CLOSED between southbound SR-57 & Nogales Street
  • 11 p.m. to 10 a.m. – Connector from north- and southbound SR-57 to westbound SR-60 CLOSED

Detours will be posted. New pavement will improve mobility and enhance safety for motorists.  Flatiron West Inc. is the contractor on this $121.5 million project which is expected to complete late 2014.

Newton Knights show Goodwill in Hacienda Heights

From Newton Middle School

“Newton Middle School Knights DO GOOD for the Hacienda Heights community!  NMS students have a long history of high academic achievement but also of demonstrating a sense of pride and responsibility to their local community.

It’s not uncommon to see middle school kids donning Newton Knights spirit shirts marching up and down the major boulevards picking up trash on weekends, combing through nearby beaches clearing litter, and hosting canned food and toy drives near the holidays to support underprivileged families and kids.

This month, Newton has partnered with Goodwill Southern California to support the great work that the organization does to enhance the quality of life for individual with disabilities, U.S. Veterans, and local troubled youth by assisting them to become productive and self-sufficient through education, training, and job opportunities.

To promote this important purpose, students have set the goal of filling 20 large bins with donated goods to be given to the Goodwill!  Students will collect all kinds of items including artwork, bedspreads, CDs and DVDs, clothing, shoes, accessories, computers, cookware, small appliances, holiday decorations, sporting goods, and much more.

The Hacienda Heights community can help by bringing donations to Newton Middle School between November 12th-November 15th.  The last chance to make donations is Saturday, November 15th by 2:00 pm.

Come by, and turn your discards into someone’s treasure!  For more information, contact Principal Angela Lin at 626-933-2401.”

 

Hacienda Heights Community Center offers weeklong party

Hacienda Heights residents will celebrate the grand opening of the new $21 million community center with a week of special events and performances.

The fun begins 11 a.m. Saturday with the dedication by Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe and civic leaders. Residents will be able to tour the amazing center at 1234 Valencia Ave., just off Turnbull Canyon Road.

Then Hacienda Height’s own Grammy Award winning Mariachi Divas will perform on the outdoor stage from noon to 2 p.m. Founder Cindy Shea lives just down the street.

Residents will enjoy a free lunch from local Mexican, Hawaiian and pizza restaurants. Children will be entertained with many games and face painting.

“It’ll be a great day for the community to come out and celebrate with us,” said the center’s new director Susan Brown with the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.

On Saturday night, a dinner dance will serve as the inaugural ball. The cost is $10 for an Italian dinner of pasta and salad. Couples 21 and older can then dance to a live band.

On Sunday, everyone can kick up their heels at the big country Western barbecue and dance from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We’ll have activities for cowboys of all ages. Live entertainment by Del Rio, a mechanical bull, games and face painting,” Brown bragged.

For $7, residents can enjoy a Western BBQ of chicken and ribs. Then they can work off the extra pounds by learning how to square dance and line dance in the center.

On Monday, a community showcase will take to the new stage from 6 to 8 p.m. Brown said the center has scheduled the Ballet Folklorico and hula dancers, as well as a guitar class to perform.

Trio Ellas will perform from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday. The three women combine traditional mariachi, romantic boleros, bluegrass and rock. Their Latin Pop album “Noches Angelinas” was nominated for a Grammy Award. The concert is free, but seating is limited in the 500-seat auditorium.

Thank you, thank you very much. Elvis takes the stage in a tribute concert on Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are only $5.

“We looked months to find some great acts,” Brown explained. “And David Hoover puts on a great Elvis show.”

Kids rule the night on Halloween. A free Halloween carnival will take over the lush grounds with lots of games and entertainment.

But beware, maties! Pirates will battle on the outdoor stage at 6 p.m. The award winning pirate troupe specializes in action and comedy with sword fighting, pistols and breakaway bottles.

“I’m friends with Ted Shred, an actor and stunt coordinator who started the group with nine other pirate enthusiasts,” Brown said. “They put on a great show.”

Then families will move inside the auditorium to see Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” until 9 p.m.

On Nov. 1, the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District moves into the community center for a district wide open house from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The local school district provided the land for the new community center.

“The district is excited about the ongoing partnership we have with the county,” said School Superintendent Cindy Parulan-Colfer.

She said the open house will feature performances by musical groups from many of the local schools. Each school will also have a booth.

The weeklong celebration concludes that evening with a production by the STC Foundation and Dance Impressions.

“They’ll perform a colorful variety of Chinese dances, including the lion and dragon dance,” Brown said. “I’m not sure how much they will be charging at the door, but it will be worth it.”

 

 

New Hacienda Heights Community Center blends beauty, utility

New Hacienda Heights Community Center blends beauty with utility.

New Hacienda Heights Community Center blends beauty with utility.

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

The new Hacienda Heights Community Center is an amazing place. And its beauty isn’t just skin deep. The $21 million edifice has been designed to serve multiple uses.

“That’s what I like best about the new community center, it can do so many things for so many different groups,” agreed Joe Mendoza, Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation deputy director.

The center sits on Turnbull Canyon Road. Hacienda La Puente Unified provided seven acres at the old Hillgrove Elementary School.

“The district is excited about the ongoing partnership we have with the county,” said School Superintendent Cindy Parulan-Colfer.

She said the new community center will showcase many school events and performances, including the district’s big open house on Nov. 1.

Next week, the spotlight will shine on what Mendoza calls “the granddaddy” of community centers. The 21,000 square-foot-center has its grand opening 11 a.m. Oct. 25.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe has been a longtime supporter of the project.

“This is one of the rare times that the actual building is even more impressive than the architect’s renderings,” Knabe said. “I love the flexibility in the design. At the community input meetings, everyone wanted the center to be as flexible as possible, and I’ve think we’ve done that with the new center.”

Visitors will discover a visually stunning structure rising from lush landscaping. The three-story high auditorium pulls the eye up to the cantilevered roof front.

Theater patrons will be impressed with the 6,400 square foot auditorium. Center Director Susan Brown demonstrated how the plush stadium seating automatically retracts into the back wall.

“This allows us to use the space for banquets and conferences,” Mendoza pointed out. “We can even divide the auditorium into three separate rooms with folding partitions.”

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story CENTER.

Puente Hills Habitat leads hikes in Sycamore Canyon this week

Puente Hills Habitat will host several hikes this month in these locations:

 Saturday, October 18th - Sunset Bat Hike, 5pm to 7pm

The Preserve is often a great place to watch for emerging bats in the early evening. Let’s take in a 2 mile hike in the late afternoon light, as long shadows stretch across the landscape. We’ll show you some of our bat houses, discuss bat feeding habits and benefits, and search the skies for some of the bats living on the Preserve. FAMILY-FRIENDLY: a good choice for those with children who like to hike. No dogs.

Thursday, October 16th & 23rd- 10,000 Steps Hike, 5pm to Sunset

Join Docent Maria in a 4.7 mile strenuous fitness hike that amounts to about 10,000 steps! The hike begins Black Walnut Trail   curbside.  It leads you through the Schabarum Trail and back again. Be ready for this fitness hike, bring water and wear hiking boots and long pants. Snakes are a factor on these less visited trails. Pedometers optional.