I.E. Job Corps Center to have graduation Friday

A graduation is scheduled from 3 to 4 p.m. Friday at the Inland Empire Job Corps Center, 3173 Kerry St., San Bernardino.  Fifty-five graduates will be recognized for completing training in their respective trades, from culinary arts to landscaping to office assistant work.  Keynote speaker will be Wes Kriesel, CEO and president of Trusted Coaching.   Information: 909-887-7154; 909-887-7126.

AutoTrader.com, LANG form automotive classified partnership

The Los Angeles Newspaper Group has formed a new partnership with AutoTrader.com to power online automotive classified listings.  The new agreement allows users on LANG’s nine daily newspaper Web sites, including dailybulletin.com and sbsun.com, to have instant access to the Internet’s largest automotive marketplace where they can search for new and used cars and local dealer information.

Site users can also research and compare vehicles, view videos and read consumer reviews.  In addition, the partnership will allow local AutoTrader.com dealers to showcase their inventory on LANG’s Web sites and reach up to four million potential car shoppers in Southern California each month. This is incremental traffic over and above what is already generated on AutoTrader.com.

LANG President and Chief Executive Officer Fred Hamilton said, “We’re extremely pleased to offer this new service to our loyal readers and online users, who represent millions of local customers for automotive products and services. Adding AutoTrader.com will help us drive even more traffic to our sites and make them even more content-rich and useful.”

Commenting on his company’s rationale, AutoTrader.com President and CEO Chip Perry said, “We find that these local media properties have very loyal readers — both in print and online. By partnering with local media like LANG, we can expose our auto listings to even more people than we already attract in local markets by tapping into that loyalty. Local automotive dealers win because there are even more people looking at their listings, and visitors to the local media’s site benefit by getting expanded local and national auto listings from AutoTrader.com.”

LANG’s new AutoTrader.com partnership is being launched simultaneously with the redesign of its “AUTOS” online channel, which now offers a new look, easier navigation and more robust content. According to LANG’s vice president of interactive, Dan Vigil, “The partnership exemplifies our vision to be the community’s hometown home page.”

“The content of AutoTrader.com will make LANG Web sites the place to go not only for starting your day, catching breaking news while it happens or finding out what to do, but also for the largest selection of vehicle inventory from dealers and private sellers,” Vigil said.

According to Hamilton, the Auto Trader partnership enhances the unique local content offered on LANG Web sites.  “As the ultimate hometown home page, our goal is to be the source for virtually anything our readers need, from late-breaking news and information, to autos, jobs, real estate and more,” Hamilton said.

Rancho Cucamonga forum to feature local businesswomen

BeautiControl and Necessary Nutrition LLC will host the Chain of Confidence Women’s Forum from 6-9 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Four Points Sheridan in Rancho Cucamonga.  The event aims to unite “local women and community leaders to inspire and support one another while benefiting the community,” according to a news release.  The event will feature a panel of confident women including inspirational speaker and author Ursula Mentjes; Linda Smith, the founder of 4D College in Colton; Gwen Thibeaux, entrepreneur and author; Robin De-Ivy, certified nutrition specialist; and beauty expert Elise Rainey. The event will be moderated by Fran Boytos, national director for BeautiControl.  Information: 951-259-5198; www.iechainofconfidence.com

DataQuick releases home sales, median prices for January

Southern California home sales eked out a modest gain in January compared with a year earlier but fell sharply — as they normally do — from December. The median price paid rose above the year-ago level for the second consecutive month, but fell 6 percent from December as foreclosures and lower-cost inland markets claimed a higher share of sales, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 15,361 new and resale homes closed escrow last month in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties.  That was down 31.2 percent from December’s 22,328, but up 0.9 percent from 15,227 in January 2009, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego.  A decline in sales between December and January is normal for the season. On average, sales have fallen 28.4 percent between those two months since 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin.

Last month the sales pattern shifted a bit, with a greater portion of transactions involving distressed properties and lower-cost inland homes.  Meanwhile, sales in many pricier areas lost some of the steam they had built in recent months, though high-end sales still outpaced the year-ago level.  The median paid for all Southland houses and condos sold in January was $271,500, down 6.1 percent from $289,000 in December but up 8.6 percent from $250,000 a year earlier. It was the median’s second consecutive year-over-year increase. On a month-to-month basis, the median had increased or held steady for eight consecutive months before dropping 6 percent in January compared with December, according to the report.

Part of the January median’s drop from December can be explained by the shift toward a higher portion of Southland sales occurring inland: The percentage of sales that were in the Inland Empire rose to 35.2 percent, up from 32.3 percent in December and the highest since it was 36.3 percent in May 2009.

Absentee buyers — mostly investors and some second-home purchasers — bought 22.3 percent of the homes sold in January. It was the highest for any month since at least 2000. San Bernardino County saw the highest percentage — 30.2 percent — sold to absentee buyers last month.

In San Bernardino County, a total of 2,252 homes sold in the month of January, down 11.1 percent from the previous January. The county’s median home price dropped slightly from December’s value of $154,000 to land at $150,000. That was 7.4 percent lower than the median price in January 2009.

In Riverside County, 3,162 houses were sold in the month, down 4.8 percent from January 2009. The median home price was unchanged at $195,000.

In Los Angeles County, the median home price rose slightly to $325,000. Home sales saw a 15.4 percent uptick, coming in at 5,228.

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Rancho Cucamonga chamber to host panel discussion March 3

The Rancho Cucamonga Chamber of Commerce will hold a panel discussion regarding the Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act, scheduled for the November ballot.  According to a news release, the measure prohibits the state from taking or borrowing local taxpayer funds dedicated to public safety, emergency response, transportation and other vital local services.  The event is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. March 3 at Antonino’s Ristaurante Italiano, 8045 Vineyard Ave., Rancho Cucamonga.  Information: 909-987-1012.

Rancho Cucamonga wine franchise expands into Yorba Linda

The Winery at Main Street in Yorba Linda will open this spring as a franchise of WNI West in Rancho Cucamonga. This is the fourth franchise to open in the area and the eighth in the United States, according to a news release.  It will be located in historic downtown Yorba Linda, approximately one half-mile from the Richard M. Nixon Library.  In a news release, company President Ken Lineberger said “We are enthusiastic about the expansion of our winery franchise system. Wine is a growth industry in any economic environment. We are proudly introducing winemaking to urban areas across America.”  Other locations are The Wine Tailor in Rancho Cucamonga, Wine Down in Chino Hills and The Canyon Crest Winery in Riverside.  Information: 909-921-5431.

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IRS slates Saturday hours Feb. 20 to help struggling taxpayers

Seven Southland Internal Revenue Service offices will be among 200 nationwide that will open for business from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 20, including the office at 290 N. D St., San Bernardino.  “IRS employees will answer questions for taxpayers on the full range of tax law provisions, such as the new allowance for $2,400 of tax-free unemployment compensation benefits,” according to an agency news release. “Free tax preparation and electronic filing for those who earn $49,000 or less will be available.”  Other Southern California locations are in Los Angeles, San Diego, El Centro, Santa Ana, El Monte and Bakersfield.  Information: 800-906-9887; www.211.org

Controller urges fix to state’s chronic budget shortfalls

State Controller John Chiang recently released his monthly report covering the state’s January cash balance, receipts and disbursements.  The month’s receipts rose above the governor’s 2010-11 budget estimates by $1.28 billion, or 18.6 percent.  “The positive receipts are welcome news, but the state cannot be lulled into a false sense of security,” Chiang said in a news release. “Our chronic budget shortfalls require credible and sustainable fixes in order to protect taxpayers, local governments and state funded programs.”  The state now is projected to dip below its minimum $2.5 billion cash cushion March 30, and will not return to safe levels until April 16.  Year-to-date receipts are ahead of budget estimates by $459 million, or 1 percent, but state payments also went out faster than expected. Disbursements through Jan. 31 were $586 million ahead of projections.  January’s financial statement and the summary analysis can be found on the controller’s Web site at www.sco.ca.gov

Upland chef named ‘Chef Educator of the Year’ for western U.S.

Jeffrey Brown of Upland, a certified executive chef and certified culinary educator, received the 2010 American Culinary Federation Inc. Western Region Chef Educator of the Year Award earlier this month.  Brown is an associate professor at the Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona.  “The 2010 ACF Western Region Chef Educator of the Year Award pays tribute to an active culinary educator whose knowledge, skills and expertise have given culinary students leadership and guidance for the future,” according to a news release.  Brown will vie for the national title against three other candidates in August at the 2010 ACF National Convention in Anaheim.

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