Azusa’s Cool Kutz (or ‘cuts’ to the less hip folk) for Kids attracts more than 200 shaggy haired children and my secret back to school success plan

Apparently, Azusa’s Cool Kutz for Kids was a success, so says a press release I got yesterday.

The event aimed to give children preparing for their first day of school a free hair cut to relieve some burden off the parents while giving kids the opportunity to look sharp on the first day of school.

More than 200 children showed for the event, which features Azusa based barbers and hair stylists performing to cuts.

And then they sent them off to school with fancy new hair-dos, a lesson in charity, and the mistaken knowledge that cuts is spelled kutz.

And if you are going to spell cuts funky for alliteration purposes (or just to be hip) why not go all the way and spell cool “kool.” Just saying.

(As a side note, when I was in grade school I would often wear my old clothes and would put off getting a hair cut for the first week of school when EVERYONE else was looking all clean and new. Instead, I would wear all my new duds and got my hair did on the second week when everyone else’s new shine had already begun to dim.)

Here is a snippet of Azusa’s press release:

AZUSA, Ca–September 1, 2010–On Sunday, August 29, Azusa Mayor Pro Tem, Robert Gonzales kicked-off the second annual “Cool Kuts for Kids” free back-to-school hair cut event at Memorial Park in Azusa. Over 200 school-aged children from Azusa and Irwindale showed-up to received free professional back-to-school hair cuts from stylists and barbers who daily work in Azusa.
“I can’t begin to express the immense senses of gratification that overcame me seeing all those kids with their “Cool Kuts” and smiles,” said Gonzales. “They are now ready to face the new school year with some very special free back-to-school goodie bags that every child received with their “Cool Kut.”
This year’s “Cool Kutz for Kids II” was sponsored by Azusa Mayor, Joe Rocha and Council Member, Uriel Macias, as well as Target Stores, Vulcan Materials and Azusa’s Fraternal Order of Eagles, Aerie 2810. Target Stores donated free gift cards, Vulcan Materials contributed free dictionaries and backpacks and the Eagles Aerie 2810 donated some much needed school supplies.

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Azusa Rosedale community has new (kind of) ownership

The much troubled Rosedale community in Azusa has some new owners.

Christopher Development Group and Brookfield Homes Southland Group have partnered to take control of Rosedale Land Partners in a deal that closed escrow Tuesday afternoon, according to a statement.

Brookfield is the real new player in this deal and will assist Christopher Gibb’s company in completing the 517-acre community. Gibbs was originally part of Azusa Land Partners, the first joint venture that started the Rosedale project. At that time, Gibbs was with PLC Land Company.

Much of the community has been on hold for about two years because of the housing market collapse.

The original community project was opened in 2006 by Azusa Land Partners with 1,250 homes planned, 10 parks, a local school, fire station, and a recreation center.

Today much of the amenities aren’t finished or haven’t been started and only 125 homes are built and occupied.

In July, the Agres Group confirmed it had purchased a portion of the project and hoped to start building 96 news homes later this year.

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Azusa referedum still in waiting mode

Azusa citizens anxious to learn the fate of a referendum effort aimed at stopping an Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan will have to wait a bit longer.

The Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office said they have no estimated date to finish confirming the alleged more than 2,532 signatures gathered to put the referendum on a ballot. The group needs 1,650 confirmed signatures from registered voters in Azusa.

Azusans Against Mining Expansion submitted the signatures on Aug. 19 to the Azusa city clerk, who handed over the signatures to the county recorder’s office.

The referendum, if approved, would either be part of a special election or future city election. Its goal is to strike down the development agreement associated with Vulcan Materials Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan.

The referendum group believes that by terminating the development agreement, the use permit approved for Vulcan would also be nullified. City officials believe the permit would still exist, but the city would lose out on various benefits, including taxes from Vulcan.

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Azusa Target now accepting applications


The economy is saved! The new Target being constructed in Azusa is now accepting applications for jobs.

OK, so maybe the economy still has a long way to go, but for those in need of work you can now apply for future jobs at the Target in Azusa. The city posted a link to the stores job site this weekend and you can apply for jobs with the company via its website.

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Azusa Mayor Joe Rocha announces (early) he will seek reelection


About two weeks ago at an event with some of his supporters and friends, Mayor Joe Rocha announced he will seek reelection in March.

Rocha said he normally announces his campaign before the political season hits full throttle because he runs a “grass roots campaign.” He needs early word of mouth in order to be competitive because he won’t ask for political contributions, he said.

“It makes me uncomfortable in these economic times to ask people for money for signs,” Rocha said to me in a phone conversation today.

He said he will run on his record and use friends around town to ask others to support his campaign.

He hasn’t heard of anyone running against him (neither have I) and it wouldn’t be surprising if he was once again unopposed. Rocha is regarded by many in the community as being someone who votes with his heart as much as his mind. He is actively involved in the community and a vocal advocate for the needy and veterans.

He is also accessible. I have heard numerous stories from people calling on Rocha or him visiting people at their homes (without him trying to draw attention to it) to help with a problem or offer some counseling.

Those efforts have made him many friends in the community that would make it difficult for a challenger to run against him.

In addition, he was the only council person to vote against the Vulcan Materials Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry mining proposal. How that would play out in an election is yet to be seen.

Besides Vulcan, major topics in the next election would be getting a grocery store, downtown development and bringing a quality hotel to Azusa, Rocha said.

Rocha was first elected Mayor in 2007 when he defeated incumbent Diane Chagnon, leaving behind his council seat.

He then ran unopposed in 2009 for his first reelection campaign.

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Azusa councilman (incorrectly?) clumps school board with city


It was a quick comment, maybe one said in the moment, but there were some whispers and shaking heads on Monday night after one of Uriel Macias comments on the budget.

The city was about to vote on their budget and Macias was commending city staff in explaining how Azusa was in good shape.

Macias said it was good to see Azusa having a balanced budget when you see other cities and school boards cutting, and “we don’t have that in Azusa.”

Well……while the city isn’t laying anybody off, the Azusa Unified School Board sure has. In May, 22 teachers lost their jobs.

In fact, in this instance, it was those other cities that were able to hold onto teachers: Baldwin Park Unified, Hacienda La Puente Unified, El Monte Union, Covina-Valley Unified, El Monte City, Glendora Unified and Charter Oak Unified school districts all avoided layoffs.

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Politics or sincerity regarding Azusa helmet issue?

At last night’s Azusa City Council meeting there was a bit of politics … and it had nothing to do with Vulcan. (I know, right! Who would have guessed?)

The issue dealt with an 8-year-old child who is in the hospital after he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle Friday evening. He was not wearing a helmet.

I haven’t received an update today on the boy’s condition, but the last I knew he was still being treated in critical condition in the hospital.

Two speakers during public comment directly spoke to the issue of helmet safety, City Council regular Mike Lee and former council candidate Paul Naccachian.

Both speakers were critical of laws regarding helmets for children riding bicycles and asked for more efforts, stronger laws and raised awareness.

When the council responded to public comments, Mayor Joe Rocha said the city has taken great efforts to provide helmets to residents who can’t afford them.

But it was Angel Carrillo that added some political fervor.

Carrillo said it was in poor taste “that some people would try to turn this into a political issue and try to spring board off it.”

Being that Mike Lee isn’t a political candidate, it would seem the comments were directed toward Naccachian. If Naccachian runs again for council in March 2011, he would be facing off against Carrillo and councilman Uriel Macias.

“In context of two people speaking, I could see how people would believe it was indirectly toward me,” Naccachian said. “I was just being sincere.”

While he was critical of the council, his intent wasn’t too use the issue as a political maneuver, he said. The issue is one of importance to the community and his point was that work to date hasn’t worked, as evidence by the most recent accident.

“My outspokenness has never been about my desire to take public office,” Naccachian said. “I think they missed the whole point.”

Azusa councilman honored for his work with sewer systems

It isn’t exactly Time’s Person of the Year, but for a guy who spends a lot of his time trying to figure out how to create more efficient sewer systems in Los Angeles, being the Trenchless Technologies Person of the Year is, as he put it to me, a pleasant surprise.

Azusa Councilman Keith Hanks, who doubles as a civil engineer for the Los Angeles Public Works department working on sewer systems, was recognized by Trenchless Technologies recently in a piece written for the business magazine.

The piece is a little inside baseball and if you are like me, a lot of it might as well be in French.

But it does offer a lot of background on Hanks, including his engineer filled family, how he climbed the ranks in his business, and the fact he has traveled the world in search of new technologies, as well as other items of interest.

Gonzales named Azusa Mayor Pro-Tem

Azusa Councilman Robert Gonzales was named Mayor Pro-Tem at Monday’s council meeting. Uriel Macias held the post for the last year.

Azusa’s Mayor Pro-Tem title is a rotation between council members and Gonzales has never held the distinction prior to this. He will serve as the Mayor Pro-Tem for one year, according to city documents.

Gonzales lost his a bid for the City Council in 2007, coming in third behind Macias and councilman Angel Carrillo.

He was appointed to the council that year to replace the seat vacated by Mayor Joe Rocha who went from his council position to Mayor in 2007.

Gonzales then had to run again for council in 2009 and won reelection.

They huffed and they puffed and a new law was created

Disclaimer: Bad joke ahead

Question: How do you defeat the big, bad wolf?
Answer: make huffing illegal

OK, so that was really bad.

But in Azusa, they are trying to clamp down on the practice of huffing (not the big wolf variety, but young kids getting high on aerosol cans).

Here are a couple paragraphs from tomorrow’s story.

Officials are trying to cap the practice of using aerosol cans to get high by passing a law that prevents minors from carrying the cans in Azusa.

The cans are sometimes used to get high by inhaling its noxious fumes, which is often referred to as huffing.

At a summer city beautification project where volunteers walked areas to pick up trash, a large amount of aerosol cans were found in concealed hangouts by Citrus Crossing, a shopping center at Citrus Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.

It was at that time when Councilman Robert Gonzales thought it would be best to take action. Over summer, he presented the option of making a new city law that would make possession of the cans by minors illegal.

“Our goal is not to hammer the kids, but to stop those who are on this path before they get into more serious crimes and drugs,” Gonzales said. “Back when I was a kid they had glue and white out. Kids nowadays are pretty smart and they are finding different ways to get into trouble.”

The city attorney reviewed laws to see if Azusa officials would be within their rights to make possession a misdemeanor offense in Azusa.

At the City Council meeting Tuesday, officials unanimously approved the measure, citing it would be a tool to both police and school officials.