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.

Caltrans closing portions of 60 Freeway for construction

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, October 13, through Friday, October 17

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, October 17, through Saturday, October 18

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
  •  Friday 11:59 p.m. to Saturday 5 a.m.  –FULL FREEWAY CLOSUREbetween southbound SR-57 & Azusa Avenue

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 fall 2014.

Hacienda Heights woman’s a big winner at Los Angeles County Fair

Francine Rippy of Hacienda Heights figures she has won more than 1,000 ribbons at the Los Angeles County Fair. And this year is no different for the 75-year-old, who won 24 blue ribbons.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, more than 60 years,” Rippy said.

Of course, she has had decades of experience canning and preserving food. She learned as a teenager, growing up on a farm in Santa Fe Springs, now the Hathaway Museum.

“We had fruit orchards, so I learned how to can preserves, jams and jellies,” Rippy said. “We also raised horses, chickens and the calves from our milk cows.”

This early experience has served the Hacienda Heights woman well over the years. Her jellies, jams and preserves consistently win blue ribbons at the Los Angeles County Fair. She says she has won sweepstakes award 13 times.

“She is dedicated to the craft of preserved foods and we are honored that she continues to share that talent and passion with everyone here at the Los Angeles County Fair,” said Shanell Fuquay, Community Relations Coordinator.

Fuquay said the fair’s records don’t go back very far, but Rippy has won the sweepstakes for easily the past 5 years or more. That would have to be a record, Fuquay said.

Today, Rippy receives fresh fruit from friends and neighbors. She keeps her canning utensils ready because you never know when berries will ripen. The avid canner just finished making some blackberry jam.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story RIPPY

Puente Hills Habitat celebrates 20th anniversary in Hacienda Heights

Puente Hills Habitat will celebrate its 20th anniversary at the Hacienda Heights trail head on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be fun crafts, face painting, displays and prizes. Winners of the photo and essay contests will be announced.

“We want to thank Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights and Whittier for their support over the past two decades,” said Executive Director Andrea Gullo.

The agency manages 3,800 acres in the Puente Hills Preserve. The park runs from the intersection of the 605 and 60 Freeways east to Harbor Boulevard.

Over the past two decades, the authority has purchased 1,888 acres of land for $30 million and manages land owned by Whittier and the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County. The money came from fees charged by the now closed Puente Hills Landfill.

The 20th anniversary begins at 9 a.m. with an easy 1/2 mile family hike led by a naturalist. Others can take a two-mile hike to learn about native herbs.

Habitat ecologist Lizette Longacre says hikers will explore the coastal sage scrub threatened with extinction in Southern California. The rare plant can be found in Hellman Park and the Arroyo San Miguel, as well as Sycamore and Powder Canyons.

“The preserve also has one of the largest stands of Walnut trees,” Gullo noted. “The California Black Walnut is the most common and can be found in Powder Canyon.”

Tall coast live oaks also grow on the park’s slopes and grasslands. The walnut and oak trees are important sources of food for the local wildlife.

“Several sightings of mountain lions have been confirmed,” said Gullo. “One of our rangers saw one in Sycamore Canyon.”

The big cats are drawn by many deer living in the preserve.

“We have a healthy ecology here, with lots of rabbits and deer,” Longacre agreed.

Bobcats, raccoons, skunks and coyotes roam the sprawling habitat..

“We put in Los Angeles’ first wildlife underpass,” Gullo boasted. “And it has really cut back on the road kill.”

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story HABITAT.

Postal workers protest plant closure in Industry

Here’s some news from the American Postal Workers Union:

“Members of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) will protest outside a Southern California postal plant scheduled for closure during a visit by the Postmaster General today.

The Postmaster General has announced a plan to close 82 mail sorting plants, which will end to overnight delivery of First Class Mail and cause the loss of thousands of jobs in communities across the country.

The City of Industry location is scheduled for closure on January 15.  Under Postmaster General Patrick J. Donahoe’s plan, California will lose more postal sorting plants than any other state.

California already has lost a dozen postal sorting facilities and USPS has announced five more closings scheduled for early 2015. The San Gabriel Valley plant employs 450 workers.

The closure of the City of Industry sorting plant will slow mail to more than 70,000 area businesses in 31 cities. Among those whose mail will be delayed are the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the City of Hope.

“Our members will be out in the sun on Friday to put some heat on the Post Office,” said Omar Gonzalez, APWU’s Western Regional Coordinator.  “The Postmaster General and his underlings have been lying to the American people. They like to use words like ‘overnight delivery of First Class Mail will no longer be guaranteed,’ when they really mean, ‘not a snowball’s chance in Hell.”

Added Gonzalez, “This is a terrible loss for this community. Because of the growth of e-commerce, cities and towns that keep sorting facilities will have a valuable asset in years to come and cities that lose facilities will be left in the dust. Local political and business leaders along with consumers should be up in arms over what Washington is trying to do.”

The American Postal Workers Union represents 200,000 employees of the United States Postal Service. The union is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

Hacienda La Puente Unified OKs design work on high school football fields

Los Altos High players scrambles for a first down.

Los Altos High players scrambles for a first down.

The Hacienda La Puente Unified School Board has taken the first step toward getting new artificial turf at three high schools, as well as a new swimming pool at La Puente High. The board voted to add the projects to its priority list and begin design work on the $23 million proposals.

“It was a great day because this is long overdue,” said Board President Gino Kwok after the meeting. “It’s a watershed moment because its important to our students.”

Members of the boosters club from all four high schools packed the board meeting.

“We had 26 speakers comment about the poor shape of our fields and the La Puente pool,” noted board member Penny Fraumeni. “They complained about strained and broken ankles suffered from gopher holes on the football fields.”

La Puente High already has artificial turf on its football field and track. But the original swimming pool is full of cracks, which leaks up to six inches of water every day, according to Fraumeni.

“We keep wasting taxpayers’ money trying to fix that old pool,” Fraumeni explained. “We could have put that money toward a new swimming pool.”

The new board member ran on a platform calling for a new football stadium at Wilson High School. After the election, she said she realized the district couldn’t afford a new stadium.

“So I worked with board member Kwok, who thought we can could afford to replace the football fields and tracks,” Fraumeni said.

Kwok said they fought to get the projects added to the priority list. He said board member Anthony Duarte expressed serious concerns about paying for the projects.

“I’m for replacing the fields and the swimming pool,” agreed Duarte. “But I also want to know how we’re going to pay for it.”

Gunman robs Hacienda Heights cell phone store

A masked man with a handgun robbed a cell phone store Saturday afternoon, officials said.

The heist was reported just before 6 p.m. at Bell Star Wireless, in the 16400 block of Colima Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Bob Boese said.

The robber entered the store and demanded money at gunpoint, Boese said. He fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, and was last seen running north on Punta Del Este Drive.

A man and woman working at the store were not injured, he added.

Deputies described the robber as a white or Latino man in his 20s, about 5 feet 5 inches tall and 130 pounds. He wore all-dark clothing and a mask.

The robbery was being investigated by detectives from the sheriff’s Industry Station.

Caltrans posts closures for 60 freeway this week

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, August 4, through Friday, August 8

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, August 8, through Sunday, August 10

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
  •  Friday 11:59 p.m. to Saturday 5 a.m.  –FULL FREEWAY CLOSUREbetween southbound SR-57 & Azusa Avenue

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 fall 2014.