So Cal Edison, Green Home Builder plan green home in Walnut

Following the success of the award-winning original ABC (Affordable,
Buildable, Certifiable) Green Home at the Great Park in Irvine, California,
Green Home Builder magazine, Southern California Edison (SCE) and Habitat
for Humanity will break ground on a new ABC Green Home 2.0 in Walnut  on June 9.

The project demonstrates that a solar-powered, sustainable home can be built
using available materials, technology and appliances at a cost that is
competitive with conventional housing.

Implementing numerous sustainable building practices, the ABC Green Home 2.0 will continue its high-performance themes brought to life by the original project and maintain the principles of being affordable, buildable and third-party certifiable.

The high-performance home is being developed by Green Home Builder magazine, supported by SCE and built by Habitat for Humanity. Noted design team members include The KTGY Group Architecture + Planning, Urban Arena, Gouvis Engineering Consulting Company, and Ripple Creative Group-all part of the original team from the original ABC Green Home.

Ybarra Academy discusses social issues in Rowland Unified

The elementary student snuggled in his nest of newspapers, trying to get comfortable. Victor Sepulveda, 12, offered him more papers to use as a blanket at Ybarra Academy of Arts and Technology in Walnut.

Sixth graders throughout the sprawling Rowland Unified campus were presenting their International Baccalaureate projects for their final grades. Each team of students delved into a important issue to explore the problem’s cause and possible solution.

Victor was making a poignant point about poverty in Brazil. His team had also built a small cardboard shack to represent the homes of poor families in the South American country. He had a parent join three students in the paper house.

“Many children don’t go to school there,” the IB student explained. “They often work 9 hours straight in dirty jobs and get paid 58 cents an hour.”

Across the campus, another team was talking about the plight of the homeless in America. Phoebe Sales, 12, Rachel Song, Amber Delpina and Carmen Miranda, all 11, decided to reach out to the homeless in our area.

“We wanted to make blessing bags to give out,” Carmen explained. “So we’re giving a bag to each student to make a small care package for the homeless.”

Students lined up to put soap, band aids, combs, water and tissues among other items into the blessing bags. They included a small card of encouragement.

“The sixth graders spend a couple months working on their projects. They do all the research, compile information and create an activity to share with the younger students,” said IB coordinator Mariela Moscal. “Their presentations have been very professional.”

Another team of six graders explored the issue of social stereotypes. They wanted their classmates at Ybarra to realize some of the prejudices they may find in the outside world.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story ISSUES.

City of Walnut drops red light traffic cameras

The only red light cameras in Walnut have hit a stop sign. The City Council voted unanimously to allow a contract with RedFlex Traffic Systems to expire on May 27.

The controversial cameras were installed in 2007 at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Amar Road, next to Mt. San Antonio College. Since then, the digital detectives have caught thousands of unwary motorists, with many complaining about the city’s photo enforcement program. In fact, the city issued more than 5,000 citations in 2013, according to RedFlex reports.

There was no discussion of the consent calendar item, but later Mayor Tony Cartagena said, “the statistical review of the RedFlex camera program did not reflect a reduction of traffic accidents, nor could the data support the cameras made the intersections safer.”

“A great number of residents and public officials here and in other cities no longer support them,” Cartagena added.

During the public comment earlier, RedFlex Program Director Robert Warner disagreed and asked for a one-year extension.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story CAMERAS.

Former Walnut woman convicted of killing husband and dog

A former Walnut woman was convicted Monday of stabbing to death her husband and the family dog.

A Pomona Superior Court jury on Monday found 46-year-old Socorro Mora guilty of the Oct. 19, 2011 second degree murder of 47-year-old George Mora, cruelty to an animal for killing Snowflake the dog and corporal injury to spouse for attacking her husband on Sept. 13, 2011.

The jurors deadlocked on the charge she tortured her estranged husband.

Mora faces more than 20 years to life in prison when she returns to court June 24.

Deputy District Attorney Taraneh Saba said she can’t say why Mora killed her husband.

“But there was a long history of her being jealous,” Saba said.

At one point, she said Mora thought her husband was having an affair with a co-worker but he wasn’t.

She said Mora called the co-worker who later quit. Mora also called the employer and pretended to be someone else in order to get the woman’s address. Saba said Mora got her husband fired from his job.

“She was totally obsessed,” Saba said.

There was evidence the couple were sleeping in separate rooms by September 2011, she said.

Mora attacked her husband on Sept. 13, 2011, scratched herself and claimed he did it. The prosecution said George Mora’s arms were scratched and bleeding. He later got a restraining order.

Read more in Ruby Gonzalez’s story MURDER

Recycled water fights drought in Walnut Valley and Rowland

Drought resistant garden graces roof of recycled water reservoir in Walnut Valley Water District

Drought resistant garden graces roof of recycled water reservoir in Walnut Valley Water District

You can’t drink it and you can’t bathe in it, but recycled water is a vital part of the solution to our ongoing drought.

Walnut Valley and Rowland Water Districts are adding it to their arsenal as they strive to ensure water service at reasonable rates.

“More than 60 percent of our customers’ water usage is outside the home,” explained Mike Holmes, Walnut’s general manager. “Most of that is used for landscaping, and you don’t need potable water for that.”

So the two local water districts have banded together to build recycled water systems to serve large commercial users such as golf courses and cemeteries. It is also used in our city and county parks.

Walnut water officials say they deliver 537 million gallons of this “drought-proof” water every year. That’s a half-billion gallons of water that don’t have to be imported from Northern California.

The two water districts receive recycled water from the County Sanitation Districts’ Pomona Water Reclamation Plant. Recycled water is the name given wastewater that has been treated extensively. After being tested and certified by the Department of Health Services, the recycled water is safe for irrigation purposes.

One of Walnut’s last projects was a new 1 million gallon reservoir for recycled water at the district’s Parker Canyon facility. Even the roof of the semi-submerged reservoir was recycled, holding a garden that helps it blend into the Puente Hills.

And the Rowland Water District installed a new recycled water line along Fullerton Road, running from Industry under the 60 Freeway to the Queen of Heaven cemetery.

“In addition to buying water from the La Habra Heights Water District, recycled water will help us guarantee service to our customers at a reasonable rate,” said Rowland’s General Manager Ken Deck.

Read more in my story RECYCLED

Walnut residents rue new parking structure at Mt SAC

Residents of Timberline came out Thursday night to protest Mount San Antonio College’s plans for a new $45 million parking structure across from their homes in Walnut.

The community college says the five-story garage will solve some of the parking problems at the bustling campus. Neighbors claim it will cause more traffic, crime and pollution.

Mt. SAC presented plans for a large parking garage with 2,200 parking spaces. The structure would be sited on the current 600-spot parking lot along Mountaineer Way at the north-west edge of the campus.

The proposal brought out the ire of homeowners across the street.

“We have been impacted by Mt. SAC’s quest to become the biggest community college in California. You keep adding, adding and adding students,” complained Linda Hiti.

Hiti said Mt. SAC students park in front of their homes on Granite Wells Drive, leaking oil and leaving their garbage.

“Walnut has been a good neighbor, but you keep growing to the detriment of the city,” Hiti concluded.

Mt. SAC President Bill Scroggins disagreed: “California is growing, growth is going to happen.”

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story PARKING.

Walnut Military Support Group plans event at Diamond Bar Center

The new Walnut Military Support Group will honor our military men, women and their families on April 25 from 6:30 p.m. to midnight in the Diamond Bar Center at 1600 Grand Ave. in Diamond Bar.

The event will feature a buffet dinner, entertainment and dancing. A silent auction will offer items like the use of a vacation house in Arizona.

Proceeds will be used to provide personal support to help make a difference in the lives of our military and their families. The new committee is partnering with the City of Walnut.

In the future, the support group hopes to extend its services to neighboring cities. Tickets are $30. Call Kris Aguilar at 909-519-6465.

Incumbents Pacheco, Su win hard-fought Walnut City Council race

Incumbents Robert Pacheco and Mary Su swept to victory Tuesday night in one of the most contested and expensive races in city history.

Pacheco, 79, the elder statesman who served on the City Council and then in the state Assembly only to return to the city last year, and Su, 55, the eight-year incumbent and a leader in the Asian community, won by a wide margin.

In a victory speech at Pacheco/Su headquarters Tuesday night, the former assemblyman denounced the big spenders and an attempt to influence the Walnut election from Sacramento.

“We want to make this city grow and make it free of bad influences,” he began. “They tried to take us down and they failed big time! Walnut is ours! It is the people’s city.”

A relieved Su said: “I’m really thankful for the Walnut residents who still believe in me.”

The pair easily defeated challenger Betty Tang, 46, the president of the Chinese American Parents Association.

With all votes counted and two seats up for grabs, Pacheco was the lead vote-getter with 2,114 votes, Su had 2,095 votes and Tang trailed with 1,659. Write-in candidate Dino Jimmy Pollalis had 139 votes.

The Walnut City Council race could be one of the most expensive in San Gabriel Valley history, with three of the four candidates spending $275,000, campaign records show.

A boatload of campaign dollars from across Southern California fueled a flurry of negative campaigning in the form of attack mailers and nasty emails.

Read more in Steve Scauzillo’s story ELECTION.

Assembly Republican leader apologizes for her involvement in Walnut City Council race

By Staff Writer Steve Scauzillo

The leader of the Republican Party in the state Assembly said her $5,000 contribution to a political action committee opposed to City Council candidate Mary Su was a mistake, according to Assemblyman Curt Hagman.

Assemblywoman Connie Conway, R-Visalia, who is running for state Senate, apologized to Su on Saturday after this news organization revealed Conway was one of only two contributors to the Long Beach-based Taxpayers For Quality Education, Su said.

Conway told Su and fellow Republicans in Sacramento that she thought the money would be used to fight SCA 5, a constitutional amendment that would reinstate affirmative action in public universities, according to Su and Hagman, R-Chino Hills.

“I know Connie. I talked to her and asked her straight up. She thought it was for another purpose,” Hagman said Monday during an exclusive interview. “She thought it was to oppose SCA 5.”

SCA 5 is a measure authored by West Covina Democrat state Sen. Ed Hernandez that would return affirmative action to school admission decisions. While the bill initially sailed through the state Senate, it faced opposition from more conservative Asian-American groups who feared its return would displace Chinese-American students.

Conway did not return several calls and messages Monday left on her cellphone.

Read more in SORRY

Walnut Valley Women’s Club installs garden of pinwheels to fight child abuse

In support of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Walnut Valley Women’s Club planted a garden of pinwheels at Los Angeles County Fire Station 61 at the corner of Lemon Avenue and La Puente Road in Walnut on Saturday.

The garden was done by Project Manager Joe Hahn,  with help from Jerry Burgh and Ray Sevilla.

The pinwheels will remain throughout the month of April. “Pinwheels for Prevention,” is a program that promotes the message that “All children deserve an equal chance to thrive and grow.”