Archive | September, 2013

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Athlete Spotlight: Blaine recognizes her time to shine

Posted on 30 September 2013 by La Habra Journal

by Nathan PercyDSC_0002 copy
La Habra Journal

While injuries plague just about any team during the course of a full season, sometimes those who fill in and increase their level of play can make everyone forget that a star was injured in the first place.

Whittier Christian outside hitter Deanna Blaine has always made an impact for her team, but with fellow outside hitter Kylee Wolfe out with a nagging shoulder injury, Deanna knew it was time to play a bigger role and she turned in a dominant week.

“I know that some of our players are hurt, so I knew this was my chance to step up,” she said. “It was a chance for me to lead the team and do my job as a senior, to encourage my teammates and be a strong hitter.”

The senior devastated opposing defenses with 38 total kills in two matches, including 22 in a four-set match against Rancho Cucamonga at home, last Thursday.

In addition to her powerful swings, Deanna has been a big part of the back line and has also provided a huge boost with her serving as she continues to progress at Whittier Christian.

“She’s done a great job and she’s really come into her own as far as her offense is concerned,” said Shawn Hunter, Whittier Christian head coach. “She’s always been good with ball control and defense and she’s always been an aggressive offensive player, but now she’s taking that aggressiveness and putting the ball in the right place at the same time and that’s difficult for opposing defenses to handle.”

As a three-year starter, Deanna brings plenty of experience to the table, but she says her main points for success are keeping a positive mindset and striving to be consistent.

So when the Lady Heralds started this season with a loss at Los Osos, Deanna realized that they faced a good team, but tried to keep spirits up.

“Even though we lost, I was still confident in the team,” she said. “They were good, they’re a strong team, but we won CIF last year, we’re still a really great team. I thought that even though we lost that match, it didn’t change who we are, it just woke us up.”

In addition to that mindset, Deanna works hard in practice to further develop her skills.

Again, the word consistency comes to mind as her coach recognizes the effort level being put in every day.

“It’s been progressive, there hasn’t been a moment where all of a sudden it showed,” Hunter said. “She’s always had a great volleyball mind and great court vision, she’s just been developing over time.”

Because of her efforts in practice and in matches, Deanna has committed verbally to Loyola Marymount University.

The decision has made her season that much easier, giving her one less thing to worry about while she’s out challenging opposing back lines.

“The environment feels homely there, it’s not completely like school, it’s happy, it’s friendly, it’s safe,” she said. “The team up there was welcoming too, they immediately opened up to me.”

Her verbal commitment is the culmination of eight years of hard work in the sport of volleyball.

And while her skills and attitude have played a major factor, Deanna has a big motivating factor when it comes to sports.

“My dad is my biggest role model,” she said. “He was a giant football star, he broke records, he was a quarterback and I want to live up to him. I want to make him proud and say ‘That’s my daughter!’.”

In the classroom, Deanna has taken a major interest in Anatomy.

“I just like how we work, how we’re put together,” she said. “I like finding out how we react to different aspects, heat, cold, illnesses and the like.”

Though the majority of her time is spent in school or practicing, when Deanna has a free moment or two, she enjoys hanging out with friends and watching scary movies.

But when she’s on the court, it’s all about maintaining consistency and positive reinforcement as league play approaches.

While Deanna has accomplished many things along with her teammates at Whittier Christian, she is keeping her mindset for the remainder of her senior year as simple as possible.

“I just want to finish the season and be happy with it, no regrets,” she said. “I just want to leave it all on the court and be satisfied.”

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Shorthanded Highlanders struggle to keep up with Edison

Posted on 30 September 2013 by La Habra Journal

by Nathan PercyLogo_to_Deb
La Habra Journal

Playing without two starters, the La Habra water polo team fell behind early and couldn’t recover in a 15-6 loss to Edison, Monday afternoon at Huntington Beach High.

The Highlanders were without key contributors in Sean Pedersen, out due to an eye injury suffered during practice, and Maverick Chen, also out with a right wrist contusion.

All-in-all, the Highlanders had eight active team members, meaning just one sub for the entire game.

Edison jumped early, taking a 6-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Highlanders played from behind throughout.

“The key thing I was looking for was for our guys to keep fighting through,” said David Edwards, La Habra head coach. “It was fleeting for a while, but overall I thought they did pretty well. The other key was outside shooting, I still feel like it was hesitant at first. I was upset with the fact that we weren’t attacking smart and when we did, some of the other guys were being lazy and stacking up defenders right behind guys who were attacking the cage.”

With their leading goal scorer sidelined, Grant Harris and Michael Weir stepped up and accounted for all La Habra goals.

Harris led the Highlanders with four goals, most coming from outside shots while Weir did his work inside.

“Those two as seniors need to start pulling their weight,” Edwards said. “Mike has really been stepping up in every game, so I’m happy to see that consistency. Grant is hit or miss sometimes, so to see him take set a couple times and step up overall is a good feeling. Hopefully we see more of that.”

But the Highlanders had a hard time keeping up with Edison, defensively, as the Chargers used quick passing and counterattacks to gain the advantage.

Alec Niederland led the charge with five goals, four of which came in the second half. Justin Harrison, who was dominant against the Highlanders last year at the two-meter, added four goals for Edison.

The Chargers also took advantage of exclusions, scoring four goals with the man-advantage.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders landed just one goal with the advantage.

“I still feel we’re rushing with the advantage,” Edwards said. “They’re not trusting the offense and guys are trying to be a hero or take shots they shouldn’t take.”

Five different Chargers scored in the first quarter as Edison jumped out 6-1. Weir put in La Habra’s only goal on a five-meter penalty shot.

In a low-scoring second quarter, Harris got his first goal, but the Highlanders trailed at half, 7-2.

Edison pulled away again in the third quarter behind Niederland and Harrison, who put up two goals each. The Chargers sealed it in the fourth quarter with two goals on the man-advantage.

Chargers goalkeeper Nick Halloran made nine saves.

Despite the lopsided score, Edwards believes that facing a tough Division 1 school will help his team when it comes to playing the top contenders in the Freeway League.

“It prepares us well, [Edison] is fast, they love to counter and they love to drive, so that will be important for us to be able to handle and maintain our stamina,” Edwards said. “We were down three subs, but we can’t be running out of steam this fast. That’s a key thing, they need to look inside and find opportunities to push past fatigue on defense.”

The Highlanders play in the Canyon Tournament this weekend before starting league play Oct. 8, at Fullerton.

Edwards hopes to have both Pedersen and Chen back from their injuries before league play starts.

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LH celebrates Oktoberfest

Posted on 29 September 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Jennifer Nguyen
La Habra Journal

For the first time in the city’s history, La Habra will be having an Oktoberfest celebration later this month, joining other cities around the world in celebrating this 203-year-old tradition.Web_Octoberfest__018
The event takes place Sept. 28 and 29 in the Imperial Promenade, located at Idaho Street and Imperial Highway. Traditional German dishes, such as sauerkraut and sausages, will be featured at the festival. For a variety and to embrace other tastes there will also be Italian, Mediterranean and Asian Fusion cuisines as well as tamales, Salvadoran pupusas and a wide range of desserts.
Admission into Oktoberfest is free, and attendees can purchase food and beverage tickets.
Alcohol will also be served at Oktoberfest, making this the first time in La Habra history that a public event is serving alcohol. In terms of drinking regulations, all IDs will be checked, and attendees can only get one beer at a time rather than multiple drinks at once.
Individuals who have consumed too much alcohol will be asked to take it easy; those who should not be consuming alcohol, on the other hand, will be asked politely to leave, said Chamber of Commerce CEO Mark Sturdevant.
For convenience there will also be taxicabs available for those who need a designated driver.
To ensure event and community safety, the chamber will have private security present, both in uniform and non-uniform, monitoring everybody who comes to the festival.
“[This] also minimizes the impact on the city’s police resources,” said Capt. Jeff Kepley, operations division commander of the La Habra Police Department.

“The chamber has a reputation for properly managing their events with little or no need for police response. I am confident that this event will be the same. Of course, if the police are needed to handle an incident, we are staffed and ready to respond.”
The  popular Oktoberfest attraction known as the “Chicken Dance” will also be featured at the festival. There will also be live music performances at Oktoberfest, including a German band that will be playing some traditional German music. With respect to surrounding residential areas, the music will be intentionally pointed towards commercial areas to minimize the impact of the sound. The music will also be stopped at 10 p.m. on Saturday.
Attendees are also encouraged to dress up in traditional German costumes, such as a lederhosen or a dirndl, which is a traditional dress worn by women in Germany.
“We’re hoping for people to join in on that, have fun and dress up a little bit, Sturdevant said. “We might do a spontaneous contest and give things away.”
According to Sturdevant, one of the reasons the chamber will be holding this event is to help the local economy.
“That’s our mission. Our hope is that if people don’t find what they want at Oktoberfest, they can then go to the other businesses nearby, like Chipotle, Corner Bakery or the pizza places,” he said. “At a minimum, they become aware that those things are there.”
All of the proceeds from this event will go to non-profit organizations, such as the Gary Center, the La Habra Boys & Girls Club, Rosie’s Garage, Goodwill Ambassadors and the La Habra Community Collaborative. A portion of the money raised through the Chamber of Commerce from this event will be put towards scholarships as well.
For more information about the La Habra Oktoberfest, call (714) 257-5480 or visit www.LaHabraChamber.com.

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Heights looks for new trash service

Posted on 29 September 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal

Stuck at a negotiation impasse, La Habra Heights officials resolved in the September council meeting to open a bid for the city’s waste-hauling services. The aim is to garner better services for lower prices for the community.  Seal_La Habra Heights
The city council passed a resolution to stop negotiations with Haul-Away-Rubbish Service Co., Inc. after decades of trash service to over half the residents in the Heights. This opens the door for other waste collection services to stake claim on the territory.
“It will make the process more competitive … and certain companies maybe will offer additional services that aren’t currently being offered,” said Assistant City Manager Gabriella Yap, who was instrumental in the negotiations.
Haul-Away resisted offers from the city that staff deemed fair, and the city was “willing to try and meet” at a middle range, a report on the negotiations concludes. The report states that Haul-Away and the city fell short on a contract in part because of green waste requirements, administrative cost recovery and rate structure.
The city has an obligation to divert waste whenever possible, the report says.  It continues: “We felt that if residents needed additional carts for green waste, which is very likely due to the large lots in the city, the rates Haul-Away wanted to set could be a disincentive to do so.”
Haul-Away believes they already provide adequate green trash service for a fair price to the community but at a high cost to the trash company, said Morrie Beliakoff, president and one of the representatives of the company who spoke at the council meeting.

“I don’t know how much more free things we could do,” Beliakoff said.
Also, costs to the city piled up during the talks with Haul-Away. The city hired a consultant to prepare an agreement with the trash company, incurring administration fees, which also include city attorney fees and staff time.
In negotiations, the city asked Haul-Away to cover these costs, which most city council members at the meeting agreed is not unusual. Haul-Away refused to pay the costs even after price adjustments.
During public comments on this matter, some members of the community expressed concern about the city gouging Haul-Away, but City Manager Shauna Clark fired back at these concerns.
“The last number put on the table by the city was $25,000,” which is not nearly enough to cover the costs, Clark explained, countering a community speaker’s claim that the city sought the full $80,000 in administration fees.
However, at this same meeting, the city council passed an ordinance amending the municipal code regarding solid waste, also termed the “Integrated Waste Management ordinance.”
The ordinance, which is an amendment to the municipal code chapter 4.3, requires all residents and commercial businesses to maintain mandatory waste pickup.  Currently, the city allows for community members to self-haul their trash with proper permits. However, 150 to 200 estimated residents do not subscribe to waste-hauling services, and the city staff is unaware of any issued permits.
The city believes it can obtain the best rate for trash services if all residents were required to subscribe to the city’s waste-hauling agreement, according to the agenda report titled “Ordinance Mandating Collection of Solid Waste and Recyclables.”
City council members expressed concern about bidding for other services and forcing Haul-Away to compete in an open market because of what Councilmember Michael Higgins describes as pleasurable experiences with the company.
“I have no complaints about them. I would’ve preferred them to continue on in this community,” said Higgins. “I’m distressed a little bit that these negotiations have been going on for approximately two years and we haven’t been able to come together with an agreement.”
According to city documents, the process leading to the commencement of a service provider will conclude on May 1, 2014. At this time, the best bidder for the waste collection services will be chosen.

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Our community: Sweet home La Habra

Posted on 29 September 2013 by La Habra Journal

I experienced something interesting.  I recently ran into someone that went to La Habra High school with me.  We were (and are) friends, and we had chatted a few times in college. We also saw each other at one of the class reunions.  However, it had been a while since the last time we saw each other.
She lives out of the area and was commenting on La Habra.  The fact that it has changed so much.  I paused, thought about it and finally agreed with her that it has.  But she quickly followed up with the fact that it still feels like home.
La Habra really has that feel.  We sometimes forget or don’t see that. It took me to hear it from someone who hadn’t been in the community for a while. It has changed, but still remains like home.  The city itself changes and develops, but that “home-like” feel of the La Habra community is what makes many residents stay for multiple generations.  It is a welcoming, supportive and active community.  There are examples of this all around.
I was lucky enough to attend the ceremony by La Habra Pop Warner where they presented a bench at Estelli Park to memorialize the loss of Joseph Quezeda. He was taken from the community two years ago in an auto accident.  The members of the Quezada family were on hand for the memorial and I thought about how active the family has been, and continues to be, in the community.  I was touched by the outpouring of the Pop Warner family and so proud of our community to have made this memorial possible, and thought that something like this shows how supportive the community can  be, just like home.
The first Otoberfest is this weekend.  The event is put on by the Chamber of Commerce and is a way to showcase some of the tastes of La Habra and a way to celebrate the community. Events like this, the Citrus Fair, the Corn Festival, the parade, OLG’s La Fiesta are all “extras” that the city and community organizations do for the residents.   They don’t have to do it, but they do. They do it for the residents and by doing so, make the community become more welcoming; just like home.
Advance! on to College, an organization that for the last 10 years has been working very hard to help those young men and women in our community get a better chance of going to college.  Rosie’s Garage, which helps local students do better in school by providing them resources and assistance that they might not have had otherwise. These, among other groups, help our youth find success in academics and help create opportunities for a better future. These are some things that  help show that the community is dedicated to our children; another aspect that helps La Habra feel like home.
Living in the community and interacting with families like the Quezadas, being active in organizations like Pop Warner and taking part in the many activities, we tend to just take it for granted as that is what is supposed to happen. It sometimes takes input from friends and others from outside the community to remind us how lucky we are to be in such a caring community and call it home.
—The Editor

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Heights Fire happy with Downey dispatch

Posted on 29 September 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Jennifer Nguyen
La Habra Journal

Since switching to the Downey Joint Powers Communications Center (also known as Downey Dispatch) on July 23, the dispatcher services have been working “very well” for the La Habra Heights Fire Department, said Fire Chief Doug Graft.LHH_Fire_3_4C
One of the main reasons behind the La Habra Heights Fire Department contracting with the city of Downey is that Downey Dispatch has a minimum two-member staff—a call taker and a dispatcher. The number of staff members can expand as incidents increase. This allows Downey Dispatch to handle multiple calls at the same time.
Before the move, La Habra Heights had only one staff member per shift responsible for both taking phone calls and dispatching the firefighters.
In addition, dispatchers are also fully trained to provide callers instructions before emergency personnel arrive at the scene. Callers would be guided step-by-step in potentially life-saving actions such as CPR, bleeding control, aspirin intervention and the Heimlich maneuver when needed.
“These pre-arrival instructions are crucial because the first few minutes following an emergency have potential life-saving implications,” said Graft.
Recordkeeping of incident information has become more streamlined than in the past as well, said Graft.
Roy Francis, mayor of La Habra Heights, said he was “all for it” when he first heard about the discussion and plans between the fire department and Downey Dispatch. But he expressed concern about where the money would come from. The start-up costs that were allotted by the city council ranged from $40,000 to $60,000.
“When Chief Graft took over, he was able to rework the budget to where we had the money to enter into discussions with Downey,” said Francis. “I was happy to learn we were successful. Overall, I feel this was a good move for the fire department.”
Established in July 1975, the Downey Joint Power Communications Center uses state-of-the-art technology, including utilizing a Next Generation alarm system, which allows processing of all call data—from landlines and mobile phones—to be automatically plotted on a map. Callers will soon be able to text 911 as well.
Downey Dispatch currently provides fire communications and dispatch services to Santa Fe Springs, Downey and Compton. It is also housed in an essential services building, allowing the center to still function during disasters.
“So far, everything has been beyond expectations,” said Ryan Weddle, communications division chief of the La Habra Heights Fire Department. “We have been extremely happy with being a part of the Downey Dispatch system, and we continue to make small refinements to improve things on our end.”

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Westridge golf facility set to get a face lift

Posted on 29 September 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Jennifer Nguyen
La Habra Journal

Manarino Sports & Entertainment announced earlier this month that La Habra’s Westridge Golf Club will undergo a $1 million renovation, which is set to be completed by the end of October.Westridge_4C
Located at 1400 S. La Habra Drive, at the intersection of Beach Boulevard and Imperial Highway, the Westridge Golf Club boasts an 18-hole, 6,300-yard layout with a two-level driving range, a restaurant and bar, and two ballrooms that can seat up to 500 guests.
The golf course itself has been over-seeded, and over one thousand trees and shrubs will be planted to enhance the overall look of the course. New green mowers have also been purchased to help keep the grass well-maintained and the surface contoured, said Westridge Golf Club Assistant General Manager Erik Manarino.
The driving range has already been completed with brand new mats, turfs, leveling tee boxes, balls and ball dispensers, targets, retaining wall and lighting, a new patio deck, and a new range office.
Westridge’s greenside bunkers have also been refurbished.
The Pace of Play program has been revamped as well, requiring rounds to be played in no more than 4 hours and 15 minutes.
The clubhouse also underwent upgrades to its main entrance, bar and restaurant, restrooms, patios, pro shop, and banquet facilities.
The goal of the renovations is to create a more private club and family-friendly atmosphere with the amenities, decor, and service that golfers, families, friends, diners, and sports fans want and need, said Manarino.
“People can expect a country club atmosphere where the facilities will exceed everyone’s expectations, a place where everyone is welcomed and is treated like a member,” he said.
The golf club remains opened during the renovations as well.
Established in 1999, Westridge has brought together U.S. and international golfers for many years. The golf course was designed by Robert Muir Graves, who has also worked on many other golf courses throughout California such as Boundary Oak in Walnut Creek, La Purisima in Lompoc, and the Quail Lodge Golf Club in Carmel.
Headed by Jim and Erik Manarino, a father and son duo, Manarino Sports & Entertainment signed its first management contract with the golf club in October 2012. The management team is headed by Jim Manarino, who owns Manarino & Associates.
A grand re-opening ceremony is currently in the works. No exact date has been set yet, but customers could expect the celebration to take place in November, said Manarino.

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Children’s Museum looks to take guests to Ancient Egypt

Posted on 29 September 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Lauren Davis
La Habra Journal

ChildrensmusuemThe mysterious and exotic sights of Egypt will descend upon the Children’s Museum at La Habra on Oct. 1.
The “Egypt: Land of Ancients” exhibit will be the museum’s third and last changing exhibit of the year. It will include models such as the Nile River, pyramids, temples and an archeologist’s camp.
The exhibit’s hands-on experience will allow children the chance to bargain for goods in the marketplace, enter the ancient tomb of Paneb, touch a model sarcophagus and participate in many other activities.
Lovely Qureshi, the museum’s managing director, said that even though the exhibit is hands-on, the museum also holds guided tours for local schools.
“They will go through the different factions of the exhibit, and they will learn about how ancient Egypt was and how they conducted their marketplace,” Qureshi said.
The exhibit’s theme is based on surveys from teachers, members of the museum and local school curriculum standards. Certain educational themes, such as vocabulary, music and mathematics, are taken from the curriculum and incorporated into areas of the exhibit.
One aspect of the exhibit will include a temple with a scribe school in it, allowing children to learn how to write their name in hieroglyphics. There’s also an area that teaches them how to perform math problems using hieroglyphic numbers. The marketplace will allow children to count and sort items into different baskets.
Qureshi added that the complete preparation of the exhibit took approximately four months, with the installation of the exhibit lasting four weeks.
Lisa Reckon, the museum curator, said that although the exhibit will be hands-on, it will also be an immersive exhibit that allows visitors to walk straight into the environment. Qureshi stated that not only will visitors who attend the exhibit engage in something that is very unique, but they will also engage in something that is different from what they may normally experience every day.
“They will be able to learn about historical references regarding Egypt, how people lived, and what kind of civilization it was,” Qureshi said.  “So many centuries later, we are still studying and learning about this culture.”
Reckon said that although the museum creates three changing exhibits a year, next year will be the beginning of only two changing exhibits per year.
“We have been more successful, and we have had exhibits lately that probably could have done longer runs and people would have been very happy with it,” Reckon said. “That is another reason why we are going into a longer run.”
Reckon added that funding for the changing exhibits occurs through a museum guild that is run by employees from the museum gift shop.
“The proceeds from the gift shop fund the changing gallery,” Reckon said. “They also do little fundraisers throughout the year, and every once in a while we will get a donation for it.” For more information, please visit www.lhcm.org

Museum bus gets OCTA makeover

An Orange County Transportation Authority bus that has been on display at the Children’s Museum at La Habra for two decades has been renovated. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place Oct. 7 to reveal the improvements.OCTA_bus
Visitors will see “Buster the Bus” and its new upholstered bench, driver’s seat, interior paint and exterior upgrades. Tim Shaw, a La Habra councilman and an OCTA board member, stated that his proposal to update the bus eventually brought OCTA staff to the museum to view things themselves.
“It has been 20 years, and obviously anything would get worn out,” Shaw said of the popular exhibit.
The bus is currently being renovated by OCTA’s mechanics and was sponsored by MV Transportation, Inc.  Beth McCormick, the general manager of transit at OCTA, stated that MV Transportation, Inc. is an international company that has provided public transit services to agencies like OCTA.
McCormick added that the bus is not only a fun exhibit for both adults and children, it is also a great tool for parents to help accustom their children to public transit.
“It makes it more real for kids because it is so hands on,” McCormick said. “Parents don’t have to worry about other passengers on the bus. They can take their kids there and they can get them acclimated.”

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Community comes out to clean up creek bed

Posted on 29 September 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Gigi Gradillas
La Habra Journal

(From Left to Right) LHHS students Lesley Hart, Briana Soto, Elizabeth Garcia, Anakin Tancre and Aaron Gallarea.

(From Left to Right) LHHS students Lesley Hart, Briana Soto, Elizabeth Garcia, Anakin Tancre and Aaron Gallarea.

Nearly 70 volunteers came out to lend a hand Saturday in cleaning up Coyote Creek on Beach and Imperial. For nearly four hours, volunteers  climbed down rocks, picking up trash, and some even went into the water to clean up the rubble.
Cities throughout California took part in cleaning up waterways and beaches. La Habra participated in the annual California Coastal Cleanup under the direction of Melissa You, coordinator of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.
“I’ve noticed that the litter gets less and less because we tend to clean it up every year and all the volunteers come out to help with everything,” she said.
Among the large group of volunteers were the La Habra Leos, Boy Scouts, and many La Habra residents.
“They’re glad to be doing something about it. They want their community clean,” You added.

William Tabata climbs down to join his son Brandon in the creek cleanup.

William Tabata climbs down to join his son Brandon in the creek cleanup.

Mayor Rose Espinoza mentioned how  important community involvement is in regards to this specific project.
“If it weren’t for these ordinary citizens pitching in, this wouldn’t happen,” Espinoza said. “It gives them pride because they have a say in the community as well, which is important. It’s not just the city officials and administration…the city is them and they tell us how proud they are of our community and they are willing to put in the work for it.”
The amount of trash was unbelievable to some, one local Boy Scout in particular. Andrew Trujillo, 9, said how crazy it was to see that much trash there was in one spot.
Among the debris were bottles, electronic devices, blankets, athletic equipment, and much more. They were all properly disposed of. Trujillo agreed that it is important to keep areas like Coyote Creek clean. When asked why he came out to participate, Trujillo said, “To clean up trash for the city”.
Volunteers all had one mindset going into this, which was stated by La Habra Leo, Alexander Carmona, age 17, “I like to keep our planet safe. I want our planet to be healthy,and  have our future kids be healthy”.

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Architecture firm uses Web to help build projects

Posted on 29 September 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Jennifer Nguyen
La Habra Journal

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 12.16.02 AMContext isn’t just your average architectural firm. Employees there are trying to “save the world from bad design” as well.
Located at 2411 W. Whittier Blvd., Context has been creating, developing and designing projects since 2011. Context’s creations, from wall-mounted systems to shelving systems, each include unique designs and structures to fit each client’s needs for business, office space or home.
The team, headed by CEO Diego Pirona, includes Jesus Deloya, director of digital fabrication; Kurt Snyder, who manages specifications and logistics; designers Edgar Agudelo and Milton Garavito; and lead designer Steven Costanzo. Pirona, who has had at least 20 years of experience in architecture, formerly taught part-time at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. This is where he first met Snyder and Deloya. They later met Costanzo through mutual friends.
The company’s major clientele have included Mission Foods, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Lumber Liquidators. But serving those in the local community is still a particular focus at Context.
“People locally have to know what we’re doing. I can’t understand reaching out globally without doing it locally first,” said Pirona.
In addition to large projects for big businesses, Context also creates smaller pieces of work, such as skateboard decks, space dividers and wall art panels. These smaller-scale projects are especially aimed at people who cannot afford large-scale installments and displays.
An example of this would be a piece called “Samurai Girl,” which is a miniature wall art panel made from maple veneers with a detailed design of a young girl in samurai gear backlit by rays of sun. The design is carved into a piece of wood.
According to Pirona, the job of designers and architects is to decipher all the ideas clients have and “funnel them.”
“That’s a challenge,” said Pirona. “We’re working with each individual’s library, so we have to quickly interpret that. We want to funnel it into, ‘okay, this is what we have as options,’ and they choose the options.”
Earlier this month, the company started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds that will help them get a Computer Numerical Controlled  machine, which will allow them to start producing the full line of designs without the need to rely on outside sources.
“One of the big things about Context from the very beginning was the idea of creating cool stuff that’s affordable, and that’s one reason why we’re running the Kickstarter,” said DeLoya, designer and director of digital fabrication at Context. “Since we fabricate outside, it’s going to raise the prices. Prices would go down if we do it all in-house.”
The funds will also help the company purchase more workspace, allowing Context to fit the machines needed and to start fabricating designs.
“The only way we’ll succeed is if we start to grow, and Kickstarter is just part of that,” said Pirona. “There’s many businesses, without fail, that don’t reach out; they don’t ask for help. This is our time to step it up. Sometimes, you have to step out of your comfort zone. You never know what will happen.”
Currently, the company is working on award displays for the American Institute of Architects, which will be used at the 2013 Monterey Design Conference. This is an annual event that brings together some of the world’s leading architects and designers.
At Context, staff members see themselves as more than just a product. As Costanzo explained, they are a philosophy, constantly evolving. “Anything we can dream, we can make it work.”

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