• by Winston Chua

    A new Volkswagon dealership is slated to arrive across the
    street from where the Fossilman’s ice cream parlor is located, on the north
    side of Main Street,
    according to Alhambra Chamber of Commerce executive director Owen Guenthard.
    The property and sale have been approved through the city. Volkswagon is not as
    troubled as General Motors or Ford and is in the midst of expansion.

    Businesses
    have been impacted by the economic slowdown, although Guenthard said there have
    been no major closings. Target, Costco and the Home Depot appear to be doing
    fairly well and able to avoid massive layoffs, even though those companies have
    slowed down nationally. Guenthard said that for companies with extra money, now
    is the best time to start a new business.

    Local
    restaurants continue to offer package deals, where children’s menus have a
    variety of options for under two dollars. Several restaurants have cut costs by
    eliminating extra shifts or abandoning the chamber’s membership altogether. Businesses
    who wish to promote or share what is new in their development are encouraged to
    meet with the chamber each Friday morning of the month at 8 a.m. for just $5.
    These meetings are used to introduce themselves to the chamber and also build
    networking bridges between existing businesses. They meet in Alhambra’s Almansor Court.

    PASADENA, Calif.
    – NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has imaged a wild creature of
    the dark — a coiled galaxy with an eye-like object at its center.

    The galaxy, called NGC 1097, is located 50 million light-years away. It is
    spiral-shaped
    like our Milky Way, with long, spindly arms of stars. The “eye” at
    the center of the galaxy
    is actually a monstrous black hole surrounded by a ring of stars. In this
    color-coded
    infrared view from Spitzer, the area around the invisible black hole is blue
    and the ring of
    stars, white.

    The black hole is huge, about 100 million times the mass of our sun, and is
    feeding off gas
    and dust along with the occasional unlucky star. Our Milky Way’s central black
    hole is
    tame by comparison, with a mass of a few million suns.

    “The fate of this black hole and others like it is an active area of
    research,” said George
    Helou, deputy director of NASA’s Spitzer
    Science Center
    at the California Institute of
    Technology in Pasadena.
    “Some theories hold that the black hole might quiet down and
    eventually enter a more dormant state like our Milky Way black hole.”

    The ring around the black hole is bursting with new star formation. An inflow
    of material
    toward the central bar of the galaxy is causing the ring to light up with new
    stars.

    “The ring itself is a fascinating object worthy of study because it is
    forming stars at a very
    high rate,” said Kartik Sheth, an astronomer at NASA’s Spitzer Science
    Center. Sheth and
    Helou are part of a team that made the observations.

    In the Spitzer image, infrared light with shorter wavelengths is blue, while
    longer-
    wavelength light is red. The galaxy’s red spiral arms and the swirling spokes
    seen between
    the arms show dust heated by newborn stars. Older populations of stars
    scattered through
    the galaxy are blue. The fuzzy blue dot to the left, which appears to fit
    snuggly between
    the arms, is a companion galaxy.

    “The companion galaxy that looks as if it’s playing peek-a-boo through the
    larger galaxy
    could have plunged through, poking a hole,” said Helou. “But we don’t
    know this for
    sure. It could also just happen to be aligned with a gap in the arms.”

    Other dots in the picture are either nearby stars in our galaxy, or distant
    galaxies.

    This image was taken during Spitzer’s “cold mission,” which lasted
    more than five-and-a-
    half years. The telescope ran out of coolant needed to chill its infrared
    instruments on
    May 15, 2009. Two of its infrared channels will still work perfectly during the
    new
    “warm mission,” which is expected to begin in a week or so, once the
    observatory has
    been recalibrated and warms to its new temperature of around 30 Kelvin (about
    minus
    406 degrees Fahrenheit).

    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
    Calif., manages the Spitzer Space
    Telescope mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science
    operations are conducted at the Spitzer
    Science Center
    at the California Institute of
    Technology, also in Pasadena.
    Caltech manages JPL for NASA. Spitzer’s infrared array
    camera, which made the observations, was built by NASA’s Goddard
    Space Flight
    Center, Greenbelt, Md.
    The instrument’s principal investigator is Giovanni Fazio of the
    Harvard-Smithsonian
    Center for Astrophysics.

     

    By Winston Chua

    The Alhambra Beauty College is busy with activity.
    Blow-dryers, combs, salon chairs an scissors all fill the air as customers and
    stylists do their best to make the world a more attractive place.

    As San Gabriel Valley residents brace for the worst
    in these trying economic times, there is a bright spot: the $3 haircut.

    “I love it,” said Alhambra Beauty College director
    Jennifer Hong. “I want to see people look good.”

    Jennifer and her husband Peter are owners of the
    haircut salon that boasts the cheapest price in Alhambra, if not the entire San
    Gabriel Valley. They can afford to offer haircuts this low because many of the
    people who will cut your hair are students.

    The Hongs said they are not in it for the money, but
    more to give students the opportunities to succeed in cosmetology.

    Students from such cities as San Gabriel, Pasadena,
    Montebello and Monterey Park study such subjects as cosmetology, or commit
    their lives to become estheticians (skin care) or manicurists.

    “My wife has always been interested in education,”
    said Peter, of how his wife became involved with the college. “She has passion,
    patience and loves to train people.” Jennifer spent the vast majority of her
    life in Taiwan, studying business management and accounting before coming to
    the States in the mid 80s. Her husband Peter came in 1982 before he studied law
    in Loyola Law School.

    Founded in 1927, the hair cut place is one of the
    first accredited institutions to teach cosmetology, which is technically
    defined is the study and application of beauty treatment.

    There are three main programs offered by the beauty
    college. One can choose to study cosmetology, become an esthetician or a
    manicurist, although the competition to become a manicurist has increased
    because of competition from Vietnamese vendors.
    The cosmetology program is 1600 hours, to become an esthetician requires
    600 hours and to become a manicurist takes 400 hours of training.

    And for the bulk of those 80 years, there has been by
    far no better place to get a good haircut for less money.

    “I love it,” said Enas Almamani, 21, a student who is
    thankful for the program. “For me, it’s about putting smiles on people’s
    faces.”

    Peter and Jennifer are also trying to put smiles on
    their students’ faces as well. They not only teach beauty, but the business
    behind the beauty.

    “In this economy, it’s a tough environment to
    survive,” said Peter. “We must teach the students how to cope with it.”

    That means encouraging students to improve their
    English skills and giving them lessons on management and sales. Financial
    scholarships and grants are also available to qualifying students.

    There is reasonable concern for those who do not want
    a bad haircut, but Jennifer said that students spend up to 450 hours practicing
    on dolls and wigs until a teacher deems them competent enough to cut real hair.
    And if a customer still isn’t satisfied, a more experienced instructor will
    gladly straighten out the loose ends. If there is one thing that is different,
    said Peter, it is that sometimes students will cut the hair a little slower and
    more carefully than surrounding salons.

    Still, the service has attracted faithful customers,
    who have kept coming back to the college for more than 20 years.

    Looking good is of the utmost importance to the
    college. And being presentable in today’s job market is as important as ever.

    ...Read More

    ARCADIA – There’s the good news and the bad news to the preliminary
    budget report released by Gov. Schwarzenegger last Friday, according to school
    Arcadia board member Joann Steinmeier and Superintendent Joel Shawn.

    First, the bad news for the City, according to School
    Services, is that the State has recommended slashing administration staff so
    that there are merely four to five percent of district positions in the
    administrative department.

    “We can’t run the district without administrators. It makes
    no sense,” said Steinmeier. “There are only so many hours in the day.” The
    administrators shoulder the responsibility of pursuing high academic standards,
    as well as helping teachers better do their jobs and in dealing with the
    public. She said the district must have people moving the school forward.

    Arcadia Superintendent Joel Shawn reported on his blog that
    there will be $1.5 billion cuts in 2010-11, with $1.2 billion aimed at “school
    district administrative costs.” There are no details as to how the state would
    achieve these savings. He said, “For Arcadia this is projected to be an
    additional loss of about $2 million.”

    Despite the bad news, Shawn said one positive aspect of the
    budget report was the avoidance of midyear district-level cuts to K-12
    education. The State has not given indication so far that there will be mid
    year cuts, something the District has had to deal with in the past. The
    governor has had to make reductions in payments to schools during the winter.

    Preliminarily, there will be little change to Prop. 98
    funding, which provides most of the general funding for schools. The Cost of
    Living Adjustment (COLA) is being reduced by .38 percent. The State is expected
    to take $23 per student, totaling $230,000 from Arcadia.

    For now, in both San Gabriel and Arcadia, these factors are
    just an indicator of where things might head. Board members emphasized that
    these are preliminary reports; May is when the rubber meets the roads. In that
    time, the legislature gives the “real working document.”

    If things progress the way they seem to be moving, Arcadia
    may choose not to fill any of the 15 teaching positions that will be vacated at
    the end of the school year. That is the number of teachers retiring, and
    classroom sizes look to rise.

    ...Read More

    by Winston Chua

    San
    Gabriel – Happy birthday dear….Los Angeles? It is that time of the year, when
    since 1982, people have begun the march to Los Angeles from San Gabriel, the
    birthplace of Los Angeles, largely because of the late T. Willard Hunter.

    It is called Los Pobladores, or
    “Walk to Los Angeles.” Last year around 500 people made the historic nine mile
    journey from the San Gabriel Mission to El Pueblo Monument, home to the world
    famous Olivera Street, where throngs of gatherers warmly greet those who are
    willing to make the three hour journey. This year people will celebrate the
    mission’s 238th birthday, and Los Angeles’ 228th, which
    was founded on Sept. 4, 1781 and at the time called El Pueblo de la Reina de
    Los Angeles.

    “It’s the birthplace of Los
    Angeles. The best part about the walk is retracing the steps. You realize this
    road was not paved, there were no Reeboks to walk in. It is an important sense
    of history and the community,” said Cynthia Smith, historian and San Gabriel’s
    administrative services manager.

    In
    1981, as a member of Los Angeles’ bicentennial
    celebration committee, Hunter, who passed away in June, conceived the idea of
    reenacting the September 1781 nine-walk of Los Angeles’ original settlers from
    San Gabriel Mission to found El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles. This
    year’s walk is dedicated to Hunter, a renown author, minister, orator and
    historian.

    The original settlers to what is
    now Los Angeles were made up of a group of 44 racially diverse people,
    including families, who descended from Native American, African, European and
    Filipino descent. They were known as the Pobladores, and like Angelinos today,
    made up a racially diverse group. Unlike Angelinos today, their life was made
    up of work on vineyards, orchards, spiritual centers or places to facilitate
    tanning hides.

    They were mostly poor farmers
    and soldiers who were recruited from northwest Mexico by Felipe de Neve,
    Governor of the Californias. They rested after the walk and were outfitted and
    oriented by Governor de Neve for their new homes along what is now known as the
    Los Angeles River.

    Joining the modern day version
    of the group will be San Gabriel’s city leaders, both city and district wide.
    The San Gabriel City Council will walk, and walkers in the past have included
    the mayor of Los Angeles and Mike Antonovich.

    While the history of San Gabriel
    is unlike any other, Smith acknowledges that it has not always been positive,
    especially in relations with the native Tongva.

    When she said, “There is no need
    to shut the door on the past,” she meant that history’s lessons are always
    important.

    September’s mostly downhill walk
    will begin at 6:00 a.m. sharp from the San Gabriel Mission and move west along
    Mission Drive. Taking place on a Saturday, the event is sandwiched between the
    days of La Fiesta de San Gabriel, typically celebrated by thousands at the
    Mission. Will you have to walk a full nine miles back to celebrate the
    Mission’s birthday. Thankfully, there will be public bus transportation on the
    hour every hour for under $2.

    The birthday walk was revived in
    1981 when Willard Hunter gathered crowds to celebrate the city’s 200th
    birthday. Since then, Smith said that the crowds who come to walk have been
    very strong in number. The Second World War curtailed the walk until that
    point.

    Smith said that there are three
    major events in the history of San Gabriel. Most recent is the birth several
    years back of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, whose mother church is the San
    Gabriel Mission. The other two are the walk to birth Los Angeles and the
    founding of the mission itself.

    ...Read More

    by Winston Chua

    SAN GABRIEL – Let’s cut
    to the chase. San Gabriel is not the only city facing tough choices when it
    comes to education. But it is facing difficult choices.

    It is seriously considering increasing class sizes,
    from a 20:1 ratio to a 23:1 ratio. School board member Steve Svorkin vows to do
    everything in his power to stop that from happening. Svorkin is the city clerk of the San Gabriel board who wants
    to maintain the high level of education that San Gabriel students are
    accustomed to seeing. But he said that that is not going to happen by laying
    off teachers.

    “Like all school districts the state budget crisis is
    hurting us. We struggle with balancing kids’ needs and reducing expenses,” said
    Svorkin. San Gabriel has had to layoff 20 teachers already, and possibly more
    on the way.

    In response, Svorkin, who is actively involved in
    policy making and uniting members of nearby schools, proposed some creative
    ideas to offset those expenses and shared them with the Tribune.

    One idea is to erect a marquee on high school
    property that can both announce upcoming school functions like homecoming or
    football games and also generate revenue from advertisers who wish to promote
    their companies on the marquee itself.

    Another idea is to request that all school board
    members stop nonessential travels to events like conferences or meetings that
    sometimes take place as far as Washington D.C. Another idea is allowing film
    companies access to school facilities.

    Svorkin is also open to reducing school
    administration in San Gabriel’s central district office to preserve the jobs of
    teachers. He also proposes furloughs, unpaid days off for teachers when they
    normally would be paid, like holidays as a means of “sharing the pain.”

    Finally, there is the idea of a parcel tax, like the
    one approved of by the cities of San Marino, La Canada and South Pasadena.

    In San Marino, voters passed a $795 per parcel tax
    that was used to offset the $5 million cut in state funding for the upcoming
    school year. In San Marino, around 70 percent of voters assented to the
    measure. The move in San Marino is said to generate $4 million, according to an
    article by Mitch Lehman.

    Svorkin is the secretary treasurer to a coalition
    that involved 91 school districts called the Los Angeles County School Trustees
    Association, which even includes community colleges.

    If nothing is done, the state will likely cut countless
    dollars in education spending and the consensus to stop the bleeding is to
    increase class sizes and reduce the staff. Staff pay, according to Svorkin,
    makes up 85 percent of the budget. Svorkin hopes he can have some influence in protecting
    jobs and maintain the standard of education in classrooms.

    “The San Gabriel community should be actively
    involved to shrink class size, to step up and offer help, whether by
    volunteering or donating,” said Svorkin. Increasing class size, he said, would
    make a negative significant impact.

    ...Read More
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