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.

Hacienda Heights student a finalist in $10,000 video contest

Hanna Koh of Hacienda Heights, left, and Mio Larasati of Indonesia pose with video crew. (Photo courtesy of Hanna Koh)

Hanna Koh of Hacienda Heights, left, and Mio Larasati of Indonesia pose with video crew. (Photo courtesy of Hanna Koh)

Getting a mariachi band to perform a Barry White cover is difficult. Especially when the director doesn’t speak Spanish and the band doesn’t understand English.

But it sure can make a great viral video. A video that may win $10,000 for Chris Onesto of Whittier, Charles Lee of Los Angeles and Zak Marx of Burbank.

The three students at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena decided to enter a video competition. They were joined by several other student teams, which included Hanna Koh of Hacienda Heights and Emmett Sutherland of Pasadena.

Tequila Avion collaborated with the Art Institute of Design on the project. At the end of July, the company will announce the winning viral video as well as a winning commercial and award team members $10,000 each.

Read more in VIRAL.

Caltrans posts closures on 60 pavement 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, July 14, through Friday, July 18

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, July 18, through Sunday, July 20

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.