• by Winston Chua

    The San Gabriel City Council Tuesday night gave ear to some
    of the City’s disgruntled residents, who are upset about the prospect of
    additional traffic, noise and air pollution that may come from buses being
    parked at San Gabriel High School.

    Alhambra Unified wants to use SGHS as a terminal for their
    buses because the District wants to expand Central High School. The meeting
    Tuesday was filled with fewer outspoken residents than two weeks ago, when
    throngs of residents loudly protested the City’s meeting.

    “I think there’s still an opportunity for AUSD to recognize
    the significant impact that the busing has on San Gabriel and its residents,”
    said San Gabriel Councilman David Gutierrez. The city leader is bothered by the
    District’s apparent resistance to disclose certain pieces of information.

    Attorney Lisa Kranitz provided the Council with a verbal
    update and said it would be difficult to win a legal battle against the
    District, which had prepared a negative declaration in June of 2008. The
    statute of limitations in this case far exceeds the 30 days San Gabriel had to
    appeal the approval.

    Kranitz also indicated that the District may have already
    complied with CEQA, or the California Environmental Quality Act. Unfortunately,
    CEQA statutes do not require residents to have notice, but merely a notice
    published in a newspaper.

    Trying to find a middle ground, the District has moved the
    bus parking 150 feet further from San Gabriel residents, placing the buses in
    Alhambra city limits. This move means that the District does not have to create
    a site plan.

    “We need the District to exhaust every possible
    alternative,” said Gutierrez.

    by Winston Chua

    San Gabriel – Encouraged by anti-smoking advocates and
    residents, the San Gabriel City Council Tuesday night adopted a resolution to
    approve license fees for Tobacco Retailer licenses. In addition, the City is
    inches away from officially prohibiting smoking in City parks and recreation
    areas.

    Robert L. Kress, the City’s attorney, made the suspension
    and revocation penalties, and the Council agreed that local laws needed to be
    enhanced to protect the public’s health, “especially that of the more
    vulnerable youth,” according to language of the new ordinance.

    The new laws will take effect at the next Council meeting in
    two weeks. The evolution of the strict stance the City has taken now denies
    tobacco retailers’ licenses if vendors sell tobacco products without required
    tobacco retailers’ licenses or fail to display licenses in prominently visible
    locations.

    Tobacco products include any manufactured substance made
    from tobacco plants, including cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, chewing
    tobacco and smokeless tobacco or product s prepared from tobacco and designed
    for smoking or ingestion.

    The seller of tobacco products shall require
    government-issued photographic identification if a purchaser reasonably appears
    to be under 27 years of age. These products may not be sold to anyone under 18
    years of age.

     

    by Winston Chua

    Sierra Madre Tuesday night issued mandatory evacuation
    orders to residents of 300 homes to evacuate their properties and find lodging
    with friends or evacuation centers. Via E-blasts, flag systems, message boards
    and television announcements, the City looks to move their residents to safety.

    Because L.A. County took the City when it declared a state
    of emergency, Sierra Madre does not have to make such a declaration for itself.
    La Canada and La Crescenta are also included.

    Before being included in L.A. County’s declaration, Sierra
    Madre in January declared a state of emergency because of heavy rains. Such
    declarations mean the City can get assistance with personnel, equipment and
    possible grant money, to clean out basins and streets, for example.

    Residents in Sierra Madre were just weeks ago given
    officially permission from the City to return to their homes. But that was
    before the recent onslaught of more mud and debris flows. Residents of Sierra
    Madre were evacuated in 2008 in the Santa Anita fire, one year before being
    evacuated in the 2009 Station Fire.

    ...Read More

    by Winston Chua

    SAN GABRIEL – The San Gabriel City Council Tuesday night
    agreed to place stricter requirements and penalties to tobacco retailers in the
    City. The purposes of the adaptations include promoting the health of those who
    live in San Gabriel as well as protecting minors.

    Anti-smoking activist Roy Rossell said, “The triumph for
    evil is mankind doing nothing. You are doing something great for the community;
    something courageous and historical.”

    To sell tobacco in the City requires a valid tobacco retail
    license. One way to violate the conditions of that license is to sell tobacco
    products and paraphernalia to minors. Should this be the case, they will have
    their license suspended for 30 days. If the retailer violates conditions for a
    license a second time within a span of five years, the license will be
    suspended for up to 90 days. A third violation in that time span will result in
    a revoked license.

    The City plans to explore the fees of licensing in the near
    future, which will detail the who, what, when and where of the implementation
    and annual fees.

    Wesley Reutimann said that true change happens when laws are
    enforced.

    ...Read More

    by Winston Chua

    ALHAMBRA – The
    19th Annual Lunar Year Festival will take place on Saturday, Feb. 6
    on Valley Boulevard, in between Garfield Avenue and Almansor in Alhambra. Event
    coordinator Pinky Chen expects that there will be at least 25,000 people there.

    “It started with the idea to preserve culture, for all
    peoples and for all generations to experience together,” she said.

    Chen has been the event’s organizer for the past 13 years
    and said the best part of the event is sharing with non-Asians a crucial part
    of Chinese culture. The event, free to the public, is a way for the Asian
    community to share their culture with people who want to know more about Asian
    celebration.

    The event, brought by the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce, The
    China Press, Phoenix TV and Wells Fargo, will feature Chinese dance, Kungfu,
    more than 250 booths and H1N1 shots. The University of Southern California
    medical school will offer their time, services and resources to the community
    as well.

    Unlike in previous years, the parade has been cancelled.
    Organizers note, however, that there will be no shortage of activities and
    exhibits there, like tasting gourmet café, floral exhibitions, drawings,
    costumes, piano, violin, games and raffle contests.

    People at the parade will have photo opportunities with the
    Tournament of Roses Queen and Court.

    ...Read More

    by Winston Chua

    ALHAMBRA – Two
    local high schools recently received the honor of being named as two of
    “America’s Best” schools, according to the U.S. News and World Report. The schools
    ranked in the top 3 percent among 21,000 public high schools examined.

    “It’s
    an outstanding program,” said Quoc Tran, Alhambra Unified’s director of
    education equity. “It is quite an accomplishment for a high minority school
    district to be able to maintain that level of consistency.”

    Alhambra
    faces unique tests because 64 percent of its students come from
    socioeconomically challenged conditions and 30 percent of its students have
    limited command of the English language. Minorities make up 95 percent of the
    student body. For several years now, Tran, who tracks performance among various
    ethnic groups and tries to enhance education for all students, said that
    excellence for the high schools is just par for the course, even amidst
    obstacles.

    Arcadia
    High School was also honored as one of California’s top schools.

    “This honor
    by US News and World Report is yet another testament to the hard work and
    dedication of the faculty and staff at Arcadia High School and is a recognition
    of the wonderful students and families in our community,” said Craig Wiblemo,
    assistant principal for curriculum and instruction at Arcadia High School.

    The Report partly based their decision on a school’s ability
    to prepare students for college-level work based on Advanced Placement tests,
    statewide tests and International Baccalaureate tests. That was part of a
    three-step U.S. News process that analyzed education methodology for its
    student body as well as their minority and disadvantaged students.

    Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and
    Technology was rated the top school in the nation for not only intensive
    science courses in DNA science, neurobiology, and quantum physics, but also
    education in social responsibilities like conservation and ecology.

    Not everyone was thrilled with the choices selected, as
    people expressed their opinions online asking why their schools were not
    chosen. Alhambra and Arcadia high schools each received the Silver Award. La
    Canada was one of the few schools in Southern California to achieve the Gold
    Award, representing .5 percent of those surveyed.

    ...Read More

    ALHAMBRA – Hundreds of people made their way down to the
    West San Gabriel Valley YMCA this past Saturday to take advantage of the free
    services provided by the YMCA, Edison, Alhambra and Garfield hospitals, the San
    Gabriel Valley Medical Center, Arcadia Methodist and the University of Southern
    California. Volunteers took time out of their busy schedules to help the
    largely Asian American contingent evaluate their health.

    “I think it was a good idea for the YMCA to sponsor such an
    event to promote better health,” said Jasmine Chung, the AMCP Director of
    Asthma Awareness at the USC. “Preventative care is one of the most practical
    ways to minimize hospitalizations and expensive medical care.”

    She was one of about 30 students from USC’s pharmacy school.
    The fair was filled with screenings as well as education, from asthma handouts
    and posters, for example, to teach people how to take care of themselves. H1N1
    vaccination were offered, Arcadia Methodist put on a diabetes seminar and the
    San Gabriel Arts Association made some colorful displays.

    The practicality of prevention could save money for
    California in the long run. YMCA public relations director Chin-Ho Liao said,
    “We will be saving costs for the state in the future by providing medical
    checkups and exams in case people get more serious diseases.” This was the
    second year the fair has been held.

    USC students tested people for diabetes by pricking fingers
    and taught how eating breakfast with starches might alter glucose levels. Other
    USC students took blood pressure and explained what normal systolic and
    diastolic pressure was (roughly 120/80) and how important it is to exercise
    three times a week for about 30 minutes per day.

    “General screenings are one of the best ways people can go
    about taking care of themselves and making sure they catch problems in the
    early stages,” said Chung.

    Health care workers also tested for pain, bone density,
    cholesterol and also screened people for whether or not they were capable of
    becoming a bone marrow match for people with potentially fatal conditions.
    Those who wanted more comprehensive exams were given referrals to free and
    low-cost health clinics in Los Angeles County.

    San Gabriel Fire Department paramedics Chris Fetner, Sean
    Irwin, Steve Wallace, Greg Fierro and firefighter Cuong Tran also lent their
    support at Saturday’s event. An health fair like the one in Alhambra will be
    taking place on Chinese New Year (or Tet) in Garden Grove on Feb. 13 and 14 at
    the Garden Grove Park.

    by Winston Chua

    ARCADIA – Motivated largely by the difficult experience she
    had in dealing with her aging father, Arcadia native Tamara Kato chose as her
    career to improve the quality of life to all seniors. She realized there was a
    lot she and her family had to do, including providing home health care, to
    sustain her father’s high quality of life.

    Kato is helping lead a massive food drive with the company
    she represents, the Comfort Keepers, which is partnering with the Foothill
    Unity Center. Her organization is part of a larger effort by her parent
    company, Sodexo, to fight the war against hunger.

    “We want to highlight that seniors need to eat every day of
    the year, to raise awareness that there are plenty of people who are suffering
    from undernourishment and malnutrition,” said Kato.

    The effort will last until March in the following local
    locations: Whole Foods Market in Pasadena; Pavilions in Arcadia and South
    Pasadena; Bristol Farms in South Pasadena; and Villa Gardens in Pasadena. There
    will be large bins with which to collect food at those locations.

    Comfort Keepers is a large organization with more than 600
    U.S. offices that help seniors receive care from the comfort of their home. The
    organization also has offices as far as the Philippines, Portugal and
    Singapore.

    This past Saturday, representatives from both organizations
    held a booth inside the Whole Foods Market on Foothill Drive in Pasadena,
    adjacent a large bin they hope will be overflowing with canned goods. Along
    with Kato were Raina Martinez, outreach and volunteer services director for the
    Center and Whole Foods marketing supervisor Heather Barnard.

    The Center is working to help families and seniors avoid
    hunger, providing them with nutritious meals and foods. Last year the group
    distributed more than 3 million pounds of food to more than 3,100 unduplicated
    very low-income families in the San Gabriel Valley.

    Comfort Keepers and Foothill Unity Center work together in
    spite of their different objectives. Comfort Keepers, serving seniors from San
    Gabriel to La Puente, provides care for the elderly, so they do not have to
    leave their homes. Foothill Unity Center provides food for families through
    pick-up or delivery distribution.

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