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


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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


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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.

Walnut, Diamond Bar schools moving toward layoffs

Walnut Valley uses teacher concessions, future layoffs to balance budgets

By Steve Scauzillo,Staff Writer

twitter.com/stevscaz

The Walnut Valley Unified School District will use a combination of concessions from teachers and classified employees, as well as layoffs to balance its budget for the next three years.

Last week, the school board ratified a new contract for 650 certificated teachers and is awaiting approval of a contract with its classified employees. But savings from those contracts, combined with additional monies from the state as a result of voter-approved Prop. 30 in November, will not be enough to send the financially troubled district into the black.

By March 15, the district will have notified between 10 and 15 teachers of layoffs for the 2013-14 school year which begins Aug. 19, said Superintendent Dean Conklin.

“The new budget plan includes a combination of reductions (i.e. layoffs) and furlough days. These changes along with the benefits associated with the passage of Prop. 30, move our fiscal situation from a negative certification to a positive certification,” Conklin said.

The school board will designate the laid off teachers at its next meeting on March 6, he said. “We need to get smaller,” he said.

WVUSD will realize $12 million in savings over the next 2 1/2 years: $4 million shaved from teacher, management and classified salaries; $4 million in additional cost-of-living monies from the state and $4 million from layoffs, he said.

The cutbacks will move the district from a negative declaration to a positive declaration.

“The future is looking bright and we are thrilled to be moving beyond our financial challenges,” said Board President Helen Hall in a news release.

First, the district’s teachers voted 444-19 to reduce salaries by 1.09 percent by the end of May via mandated furlough days. Four furlough days for the 2013-14 school year and for the 2014-15 school year amount to a 2.2 percent salary reduction.

Larry Taylor, president of the Walnut Valley Educators Association, wrote on the union website that the teachers “have stepped forward and placed students first and themselves last, in an effort to mitigate the financial calamity of the WVUSD.”

In addition, the district has received a tentative agreement from the Classified School Employee Association representing about 500 classified non-teaching employees.

Finally, cost-of-living adjustments being forwarded from the state amount to $4.2 million for the next 2 1/2 years.

The district is also making plans to spend some $39.8 million it will receive from sale of surplus property in Diamond Bar known as “Site D.” However, that will only be realized upon close of escrow with Lennar Homes, the developer/purchaser. Funds may be used to pay off long-term debt obligations, to free up general fund debt service commitments and to fund capital facility projects and technology infrastructure, according to a district news release.

The district must close a $4.3 budget million deficit by the end of June, and erase projected deficits of $5.71 million for 2013-14 and $7.2 million for 2014-15. It must submit a revised budget plan to the Los Angeles County Office of Education showing balanced budgets with the requisite 3 percent reserves by the middle of March, Conklin said.

If accepted by LACOE, the district’s revised spending plan will reverse the negative certification to a “positive” one, meaning it can meet its financial obligations for the remainder of this year and the next two full school years.

WVUSD – which includes schools in Walnut and Diamond Bar – is the only district in the San Gabriel Valley to file “a negative certification.” With a 906 API score for 2012, it is also one of eight in the county and one of 19 in the state to reach the 900 mark.

steve.scauzillo@sgvn.com

626-544-0843

 

Former Walnut star basketball player found shot to death in Irvine

[BYNAME]By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
[BODY]Walnut High School faculty and students gathered at the school on Monday to hold a candlelight vigil for 28-year-old Monica Quan, a former Walnut High student-athlete found shot to death in a car along with her fiance, 27-year-old Keith Lawrence, on the top floor of a parking structure at an upscale condominium complex in Irvine Sunday night.
Authorities say they have no motive or suspects in the killing.
Quan graduated from Walnut in 2002 and earned a basketball scholarship to Long Beach State. She coached briefly at Diamond Bar High School, according to Dean Conklin, superintendent of Walnut Valley Unified School District
She eventually graduated from Concordia University in 2007 with a degree in exercise and sport science and completed her master’s in 2009.
Officers found the couple’s bodies after someone reported seeing Lawrence slumped over the wheel of his vehicle.
Quan was found in the front passenger seat and Lawrence was in the driver seat, Irvine Police Lt. Julia Engen said.
“It doesn’t appear they were robbed,” Engen told the Orange County Register. “There’s no obvious motive.”
Quan was in her second season as an assistant women’s basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton. Lawrence and Quan played basketball at Concordia University.
“The loss of any member of the Titan family causes our community great grief, but the loss of one of our own under these circumstances is indeed tragic and heart-wrenching,” CSUF President Mildred Garcia said in a statement Monday. “We hope that Monica’s family and friends will feel and be comforted by our support during this difficult time.”
Quan, the daughter of Sylvia and Randal, was a four-year varsity basketball standout at Walnut, earning All CIF-Southern Section, All-Baseline League and all-area honors during her four-year prep career.
Quan, a member of the Walnut High Hall of Fame, set schools records for most three-pointers during a season (59)and game (7), while averaging 15 points, six assists and three steals her senior year.
Walnut High School Principal Jeff Jordan remembered Monica for her “bubbly personality and for her competitiveness on the basketball court,” Conklin said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
Mike James was the Walnut girls basketball coach for two years while Quan was there. James coached Quan her freshman and sophomore years before moving on to Diamond Ranch, where he is currently the girls basketball coach.
James followed Quan’s career after she graduated and maintained a relationship with his former player.
“It’s devastating news,” James said. “I had to take a step back and gather myself. I hadn’t talked with her in a couple months and she just got engaged.
“She was a young coach and her future was in coaching and it was was going to be bright. Her goal was to be a college coach and she was one of the brightest and smartest kids in the world. She had everything going for. It’s unthinkable what happened.”
Walnut athletic director Jerry Person remembers Quan well. It was his first year as Walnut’s athletic director when Quan was performing her magic in 2002.
He was floored upon hearing the news Monday.
“I couldn’t believe it, I’m still in shock,” Person said. “She was very tenacious. She had real good skills on the basketball court and off the court she was just a great young lady. You could tell she was going to be something special. It’s horrible what happened.”
[TAG1]The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Staff Writers Steve Scauzillo and Ruby Gonzales contributed to this story.

Diamond Bar holds meet and greet for new park

Lennar Homes held its meet and greet with neighbors Saturday, Jan. 26, to help determine what will be included in a new, two-acre park.

The park is part of a proposed 200-house development on what was known as Site D, at Brea Canyon Road and Diamond Bar Boulevard.

The land was sold by Walnut Valley Unified School District for $40 million. The district hopes the escrow will close by July.

Meanwhile, the developer is moving to ready the property. That included a tour and a discussion with neighbors on what the new park will look like.

 

Read the story in the www.sgvtribune by clicking the link below or copy and pasting to your browser

http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_22454181/40-million-residential-project-moving-forward-diamond-bar

Diamond Bar city attorney quits

Diamond Bar city attorney resigns after 17 years with city; City Council to meet Friday morning

DIAMOND BAR – Citing personal reasons, the city attorney for Diamond Bar has terminated his contract after 17 years, according to City Manager James DeStefano.

Michael Jenkins, a founding partner with Jenkins & Hogin, submitted his letter of resignation dated Jan. 16 to the City Council, which will meet at 7:30 a.m. Friday in a hastily-called special session at the Grand Conference Room at City Hall, 21810 Copley Drive.

The City Council will discuss the city attorney situation in closed session and is not expected to announce any action, DeStefano said.

Apparently, the decision took the City Council by surprise.

“It has been a good relationship,” said Councilwoman Carol Herrera. “We don’t know what the reasons are. We will discuss it tomorrow,” she said on Thursday.

DeStefano has advised the City Council he would like to begin a search for a new city attorney as soon as possible, he said during a phone interview Thursday.

“He (Jenkins) has terminated his service agreement with us,” DeStefano said, emphasizing that the city did not initiate the action. “The meeting is for the City Council to provide me with direction on what steps to take in providing them with a new legal firm.”

Jenkins gave the city until April 17 to find a new legal firm. Until then, associate John C. Cotti will serve in his place, DeStefano said. Jenkins also is city attorney for Hermosa Beach, Rolling Hills, West Hollywood and the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District, according to his website.

 

Special Diamond Bar City Council mtg on Friday, 7:30 a.m.

I’m not exactly clear on what this is about, but I’ll give you what I know so far:

The Diamond Bar City Council will hold a special meeting at 7:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 25, to discuss the contract for the city attorney.

On the official agenda, it says the City Council will meet in closed session “for the purpose of discussion of  … public employment city attorney.”

The current city attorney is Michael Jenkins.

The meeting will be held in the Grand Conference Room, at
City Hall, 21810 Copley Dr., Diamond Bar, Calif.

For more information, residents can call: City Clerk Tommye Cribbens at: 909-839-7010.
-steve scauzillo

626-544-0843

Moving the green movement into the cities

Steve Scauzillo: Moving the green movement to the cities

Posted:   01/19/2013 06:17:55 AM PST
Updated:   01/19/2013 07:18:54 PM PST

 

Grand Park, a new urban green space in the civic center area of Los Angeles on January. 12, 2013. (SGVN/Staff photo by Steve Scauzillo)

I hate to get all bourgeois on you, but the eye does not lie.

The last time I ventured into the civic center area of downtown Los Angeles was to spend the day with the protesters of Occupy L.A. for a story. Their pitched battle with banks and government began and ended on the south lawn of City Hall. The place was a dynamic confluence of ingenuity and civil disobedience. The squatters, the solar arrays, the organic cannabis and carrot plants, the smells are forever etched in my brain – one of the most incredible views of downtown I can ever recall.

But after they were unceremoniously removed by LAPD, the grounds looked like Charlie Sheen’s hotel room after an all-night party.

Last Saturday, as I walked the new landscaping at City Hall, the eye couldn’t escape the native plants, the decomposed granite pathways, the new trees and greenery. It looked darn good – like a great city’s landmark should.

But the most striking changes that registered with me and my wife, Karen, came as we walked the steps and terraces of the county’s new Grand Park, a 12-acre urban space stretching from iconic City Hall on the east to The Music Center on the west.

In Google map terms, it goes from Spring Street to Hope Street.

When your feet reach Hope Street, the views of the Art Deco City Hall are breathtaking. The other not-so-architecturally significant buildings seem to have been given a face-lift by the new park, revitalized by the plants, public art and the Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain.

Olive trees and Japanese cherry trees are just a few of 140 species of plants that mix together in a way, well, in a way that Angelenos themselves do. The new park is a terraced landscape with a performance lawn for concerts and group yoga, an event lawn for music and book festivals, farmers’ markets and gourmet food trucks, and a fountain plaza that includes a Starbucks, an ATM and the modular Metro Red Line Civic Center station.

Still, the first thing that strikes the eye are not the plants or the fountain, but the magenta tables and chairs. The design choice by architecture and landscape architect Rios Clementi Hale Studios may be the icing on this tiered cake.

The lawn furniture are moveable, so you can arrange them in a circle for a group chat or drag one off to the side for some me time.

While the park does not pack the wallop of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Central Park in Manhattan, it definitely has made an impact on downtown Los Angeles. It’s part of the transformation of downtown L.A. that’s been going on for a couple decades.

Green, urban spaces turn me on. They are shafts of light piercing an urban/suburban darkness. They can be the only lawn a family can spread out and have a picnic. They can be the only space a kid can run with his dog and be safe.

Grand Park is not just a park for attorneys, clerks and city and county employees to sip lattes in between court cases. It’s a tremendous green oasis in L.A. for all of us. Yes, check your Google maps. I’d bet many of us live closer to Grand Park than you’d think. And on weekends, the drive is traffic-free.

Or leave the car in the garage and take Metro’s Silverline from El Monte or the Orange Line from the San Fernando Valley. The Gold Line light-rail from Pasadena or Montebello works just fine as well. And you save on parking meters.

I like it better when there’s no planned activity at the park. But that’s me, always seeking solitude.

After wandering the Grand Park, we headed for a french dip sandwich at Cole’s on East Sixth Street.

The end of a perfect day.

The environmental movement needs to think more about greening up our cities. It’s where the people are at. And though a green space in the middle of buildings may not be a natural ecosystem, it is saving a species: our own.


Steve Scauzillo covers the environment and transportation. He’s the current recipient of the Aldo Leopold Award for Distinguished Editorial Writing from The Wilderness Society. Follow him on Twitter @stevscaz/twitter.com or email him at steve.scauzillo@sgvn.com.

26 Remembered

St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Hacienda Heights will hold a candlelight vigil tonight, 7 p.m., to remember the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

The night of prayers and candle lighting takes place on the one-month anniversary of the senseless shooting in which a lone gunman killed 20 first-graders and six staff members inside the Newtown, Conn. school.

Monday night’s event, “26 Remembered,” is organized by Pastor Lowell Edward and will be held outside, on the grounds.

Cards will be provided to write encouragement notes.

The church is located at 15653 E. Newton St., in Hacienda Heights.

-steve scauzillo