Quiet zone at Walnut/Industry RR tracks starts Monday

The city of Walnut will hold a celebration at 10:30 a.m. today,  April 22, at Valley Boulevard and Old Ranch Road in Walnut to celebrate the first day of the new railroad quiet zone.

Mayor Mary Su, as well as other Walnut council members and officials from Rep. Edward Royce’s office and Assemblyman Curt Hagman’s office as well as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Industry Station will be at the ceremony.

Operators of 15 trains a day that barrel through the town on the Union Pacific Railroad Co. tracks will not be permitted to routinely sound their horns along a three-mile stretch called a “quiet zone. ”

The restriction are scheduled to go into effect on April 22 for both Union Pacific freight trains and Amtrak passenger trains crossing Fairway Drive, Lemon Avenue, Brea Canyon Road and the Benton Feed Yard, said Upendra Joshi, project engineer with CNC Engineering, the outside firm contracted by the City of Industry.


Walnut revels in Mt SAC improvements

Lately, Walnut has really been stepping up its acknowledgment of Mt. San Antonio College.

For example, at the last City Council meeting, the Council honored both the Mt. SAC women’s and men’s basketball teams. Both finished in first place.

Last Friday, Mayor Mary Su stole the show at the dedication of the newest Mt. SAC building, the $25-million Design Technology Center by calling the school “UC Walnut.”

Here is more on the new DTC at Mt. SAC:

Mt. SAC’s new Design Technology Center mixes animation with TV, architecture, graphic design

Posted:   04/13/2013 06:47:41 PM PDT
Updated:   04/15/2013 09:55:37 AM PDT


Chelsea Thompson, 23, of Walnut, A Student Tech., works on her project in the new Design Technology Center, during the Dedication & Open House Event, at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Friday, April 12, 2013. (Correspondent Photo by James Carbone)

P.J. Butta, the Instructor for RTV11A Radio Production Class, teaches his class in the new Media Room in the new Design Technology Center, during the Dedication & Open House Event, at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Friday, April 12, 2013. (Correspondent Photo by James Carbone)

Mayor Mary Su calls Mt. San Antonio College “UC Walnut.”

Of course, no two-year school can match the prestige of the University of California. But with the opening of Mt. SAC’s new $24.5 million Design Technology Center, Su’s rallying cry – enthusiastically shouted at the dedication ceremony Friday afternoon – may not be so far-fetched.

In terms of facilities, the red brick facade gives it that look of a USC building or UCLA’s stately edifices. The concept involving integrating architecture, interior design, graphic arts, photography, radio and TV production and animation in one, two-level, 63,000 square-foot building gives students the ability to work across related disciplines – a cutting edge learning mode that goes beyond what’s practiced in older, four-year institutions.

No separate silos of learning in this building, said Dean of the Arts Division Susan Long.

“We are hoping to create synergy,” Long told the gathering of dignitaries, faculty and students inside the DTC’s towering atrium. “Say an animation student created a film. She would come to the broadcasting student to voice it.”

John Samson has bounced from job to job in the food industry and the theater world. Finally, the 32-year-old came to Mt. SAC to follow his dream of becoming a voice-over actor. He’s taking radio production class in the brand new Design Technology Center and learning to manipulate state-of-the-art computer


programs in order to breathe life into his cartoon characters. 

“This keeps me in tune with today’s industry,” he said, referring to the building’s high-tech toys. “I am making my own tracks. My own demo reel.”

The open, environmentally-friendly building designed by HMC Architects looks like a bridge between the old campus and the newer parts of this growing college, the largest single-campus community college in the state of California with 52,750 total students on campus, about half those full-time.

Animation student Naomi Tirronen, 22, of Diamond Bar, will be connecting her experiences at Mt. SAC to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena this fall. She got accepted to the prestigious, four-year art school the same day the DTC was dedicated.

“Ultimately, I’d like to work for Sony as an art director,” she said, after demonstrating the computerized light tables that form neat rows in the Design Lab and are adorned with gleaming Apple Macintosh computers.

The DTC is just one of a new building or more a year during the last 10 years. With Friday’s dedication, the college will have just about spent the $221-million from Measure R, a bond measure approved by local voters in 2001 that helped fund about a dozen new facilities. It will now begin tapping into a $353 million facility bond monies from Measure RR, approved by voters in November 2008. The college also will get $132 million in state matching funds.

Up next is a new Astronomy Dome atop the Science Laboratories Building – a $775,000 project – that opens May 17, followed by the Early Childhood Education Center sometime in the fall, said Mt. SAC President and CEO William Scroggins. The 33,800-square-foot project just east of the DTC is actually four buildings that will house 162 children plus act as a working classroom for students in early childhood development.

A Measure RR bond sale will raise $250 million cash for even more new projects, including a new Business & Technology Building and a first for Mt. SAC – a 2,300-space parking structure.

The marrying of technology with curricula is the heart and soul of Mt. SAC, Scroggins told the gathering. And the DTC is the latest example of that practice.

“We are preparing students for what they will see in the industry. And it is a moving target, so we have to stay current,” he said.

That would include Professor Hector Rivas’s animation and gaming class. Rivas, who spent 15 years at Disney animation studios, says some students will get a certification and that’s enough for an entry level job. Others, like Tirronen, will go on to a four-year university.

A returning student such as Samson is another part of the Mt. SAC demographic. Many are enrolling in community college for re-training after being laid off. Some want to realize a childhood dream.

“The dreams are not about new buildings,” Scroggins said. “But about the mission of Mt. SAC. Here (in the DTC) you’ll see training opportunities that will look like where students go to work. That’s the heart of Mt. SAC.”

Covina YMCA is sold; employees to vacate by April 2

After 67 years, the San Gabriel Valley YMCA will no longer operate out of its building in Covina.

The struggling nonprofit sold its facility on Rowland Street on Wednesday for $1.2 million to businessman Michael Hsu, said CEO Craig Cerro.

Hsu wants to turn the facility into a basketball training center for young people, Cerro said. He also may be willing to revamp the pool and lease it to the YMCA.

“He just needs to get his health department license and when he gets that worked out, we plan to offer swim lessons there. That is our plan with the buyer,” Cerro said Friday.

Cerro stressed that the San Gabriel Valley YMCA – an institution that has existed for 100 years – is not closing.

Instead, it is decentralizing. By offering programs at local schools and private dance studios throughout the San Gabriel Valley, it can still provide recreation and fitness classes for young and old but in a way that meets today’s harsh economic realities.

“We will be the YMCA without walls,” Cerro said.

For example, the Y has offered weight management classes at the Neighborhood Christian Fellowship on Arrow Highway. Summer swim programs have moved south to Los Altos and Wilson high school pools in Hacienda Heights.

The organization will be offering kids’ art, yoga, gymnastics and dance classes starting May 7 at its Puente Hills YMCA branch, 1603 S. Stimson


Ave., Hacienda Heights, Cerro said.


The Hacienda Heights office will be the home of the YMCA’s new corporate offices, he said. Movers will pack up the Covina offices on Tuesday, moving day.

On April 6, the Hacienda Heights Kiwanis Club will hold a service day at the office. More than 200 volunteers are expected to work on renovating and cleaning up the Stimson Avenue facility.

The YMCA is looking to lease or purchase a new piece of property in the same area, Cerro said.

“There has been a request to do more service in Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights,” Cerro said. He said the YMCA board wanted to offer more programs on wellness to combat obesity and diabetes. The Y recently received a $25,000 grant from Coca-Cola to institute wellness programs, he said.

Many in Covina were saddened last May when the YMCA put its Rowland Street gym, pool and facility for sale. On Friday, board members tried to reassure the community.

“We will continue to serve the community of Covina in many different ways,” said David Hall, YMCA board member and a member of the Mt. San Antonio College Board of Trustees. “It doesn’t require us to have a gymnasium to do that. ”

Cerro would not say exactly how much equity the YMCA realized from the sale. He said there would be cash available after the YMCA pays off some loans. Hall said: “It infuses the organization with equity built up over many years. It puts us on a more solid financial footing to provide these services. ”

Both said the YMCA was losing business to after-school daycare centers and after-school programs at public schools. It also faced stiff competition from private health clubs.