Archive | July, 2015

LHPD, Moto-United host motorcycle event Saturday

LHPD, Moto-United host motorcycle event Saturday

Posted on 31 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Taylor Engle
La Habra Journal

La Habra motorcycle dealership Moto-United, in partnership with the Traffic Bureau of the La Habra Police Department will host an educational event covering motorcycle safety on Saturday from 4-7 p.m.LHPD Motor

Moto-United is located at 321 E. Imperial Highway, the site of the former LeBard & Underwood dealership.

This event welcomes adults as well as children, as there will be opportunities for the children to get their pictures taken on a motorcycle and to interact with motor officers. The motor officers will be available to answer questions, provide motorcycle advice, and perform demonstrations. The LHPD will also have on display their DUI Command Post trailer, commercial enforcement truck, and police motorcycles.

There will also be booths set up by various safety apparel and safety course companies, including Helmet House, Tucker Rocky, and Fox. Moto-United will be hosting helmet and riding gear give-aways throughout the event and providing refreshments and information for the attendees. Food trucks will also be available to the attendees.

“We’re expecting a really good turnout. We’ve gotten excellent feedback from our advertising and we’re expecting hundreds of people to show up,” said office manager of Moto United David Miller. Moto-United will be doing the hosting and making sure everything runs smoothly.

The last event Moto-United hosted similar to this had a turnout of approximately 400 people. They are expecting a comparable turnout.

“We really want to increase awareness about the importance of motorcycle safety,” said Moto-United owner Chase Smith. “Most motorcycle fatalities are due to rider error and lack of protective gear. We want to provide the proper information and gear to get these fatalities down to zero.”

The goal of this event is not only motorcycle safety but to form a proper collaboration between the La Habra Police Department, Moto-United, and the community.

“Motorcycle riding is a passion for many people out there. Our intent is to have a great opportunity for the public to interact with professional motorcycle officers, so we can promote the vital safety aspects for riders and motorists, alike,” said La Habra Motor Sergeant Jim Tigner. “Police motor officers are some of the most trained and experienced riders out there and they enjoy talking to other riders to promote safety. We want to make riders more aware of the importance of their safety gear and share some techniques for collision avoidance.”

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data in 2013, motorcyclists nationwide made up 14 percent of vehicle related fatalities, a five percent increase from 2004. Motorcycle collisions in 2013 resulted in 475 fatalities and 13,143 injuries. The fatality rate per mile for a motorcyclist is sixteen times greater than a regular vehicle occupant.

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La Habra delays vote on water increase

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La Habra delays vote on water increase

Posted on 22 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

The La Habra City Council decided to delay voting on a possible rate increase to water, sewer and refuse fees at its meeting Monday.
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Gomez urged the council to delay the vote to ensure the public had the proper notification and ability to comment on the possible increase.
He explained that due to a filing error by the city staff, the residents might not have the proper 45-day notification of the potential increase.
“It’s a matter of transparency and doing the right thing for the people of La Habra,” Gomez said.
Notification will be sent out in the next water bill as well as advertisements in local publications.
If residents would like to voice their comments about an increase they are welcome to contact and email the city.  More information can be found on the city’s website.

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Heights council contemplates commercial center

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Heights council contemplates commercial center

Posted on 22 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal

A shopping center with a coffee shop atmosphere, a place where the community can congregate and the possibility of the city’s first commercial real estate development — La Habra Heights city officials voted, 4-1, to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement (ENA) with Prism Realty Corp. of Orange County, who may be interested in breaking the city’s rural barriers and opening up such ventures.

Future site?: The La Habra Heights City Council approved researching the possibility of developing the city’s first commercial site located on the corner of West and Hacienda Roads. There are currently no plans to develop the land and the council will continue  to discuss it at future meetings.

Future site?: The La Habra Heights City Council approved researching the possibility of developing the city’s first commercial site located on the corner of West and Hacienda Roads. There are currently no plans to develop the land and the council will continue to discuss it at future meetings.

LHH Councilman Roy Francis cast the lone no vote for the ENA, while the other four elected officials expressed curiosity and some interest in what plans Prism Realty has to offer the city, citing no immediate intention on allowing the commercial real estate developers to purchase the land.
“I don’t think there’s any harm in getting information from that group (Prism Realty),” LHH Mayor Pro Tem Kyle Miller said. “It doesn’t require us to approve or take any action, so if they’re interested, I’m interested in hearing what they have to say.”
The private investor, Costa Mesa-based Prism Realty, approached the city in December 2014 concerning the parcel of land located near The Park on the corner of Hacienda and West Road, according to Ben Kim, the city’s principal planner.
The approved ENA is a guarantee from the city for 180 days to not entertain any other offers from other companies who may want to purchase the 2.99 acre vacant parcel of land, which the city purchased from Los Angeles County around 2004.
The ENA also includes the option of extending the agreement to an additional three more 180 day periods of exclusivity.
“Everything that Prism does during this ENA period will likely help to improve the fair market value of the property,”  City Manager Shauna Clark said.
The property, which was purchased by the city for a new fire station and city hall, is currently not up for sale, but once the city hall and the fire department were built in its current place, the land became known as surplus, Clark said.
If officials decide to begin the process of selling the property, the city needs to declare the property surplus to other government and quasi government entities, which include low cost housing developers, surrounding cities, the county, water districts and school districts, Clark said.
“Those other governments then have first right of refusal to purchase the property for their own use. They have to pay fair market value,” Clark wrote in an email.
After tallying the lone no vote for the ENA, Francis expressed concern in opening up the doors to Prism Realty by allowing the company to outline the details of its plans to the city.
“When I ran for city council both times, I said I would do my best to uphold the general plan. The general plan says there’s no commercial development,” Francis said. “My feeling was, you know, take it to the voters. If they want to change it, okay.”
Residents who took to the podium explained some other possible unintended consequences of opening up to the possibility of commercial development in LHH.
“Realistically if we allow one area to be developed for commercial real estate, there’s no way for us to say no to anywhere else in the city,” LHH resident Scott Thomas said.
Thomas also expressed concern about added traffic and the spending required to maintain the roads from the added traffic.
“This is not compatible with our lifestyle in the Heights. This is not compatible with our goals in the Heights as I have always understood them,” Thomas said.
LHH Mayor Michael Higgins seemed open to the possibility of adding an asset to the city with potential revenue.
Currently the city has only one commercial area, a real estate office.
“I can envision a project that could enhance the rural aspect,” Higgins said.
Except for Francis, council members entertained the idea of listening to what Prism Realty had to offer for the vacant land sitting unused in a heavy traffic flow area.
“It’s a parcel of land by itself just sitting there vacant. It really doesn’t have much value,” LH Heights Councilman Brian Bergman said.
A place for the neighborhood community to gather and discuss ideas in a project designed to blend in with the city, if done right, could serve the community well, Miller said about how he envisions the property being developed.
But even if city officials entertain the idea of selling the property to Prism with the intention to develop it commercially, the city would need a zone change.
“The lot is zoned for public facilities (PF). No one, except another government, could acquire and do anything on that lot without a zone change,” Clark said in the email. “A zone change is an extensive process involving planning, public hearings, the planning commission and eventually the council.”

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GUEST COLUMN: Relief & the rest of time

Posted on 22 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Amanda Bishop
Political science and history student at
Biola University

“The best anti-poverty program is a job,” President Obama stated during a discussion on poverty at Georgetown University this spring. He’s not the first to observe this in the United States.
But what about abroad? Could it be that the jobs created by businesses are the antidote to extreme poverty?
In 2011, Yale and the Brookings Institution teamed up in a study of global poverty. The results were exciting: from 1981 to 2011 extreme poverty dropped from being the reality for most people (52%), to less than an eighth (15%) of the global population.
What caused this great success? The Yale study found national growth in businesses was central. According to the study, “The poor countries that display the greatest success today are those that are… pursuing sensible and strategic economic policies to spur investment, trade and job creation.”
As is pointed out by the international investors at Norfund, “There are no examples of countries that have achieved lasting improvements of living conditions without economic growth.” In fact, business investment is essential for “economic growth and long term, sustainable poverty alleviation.”
Economic growth through businesses is a key component of lifting people out of poverty. Yet charitable organizations often take a different tack: Donate your cash, outdated cell phone, and gently used clothing. Buy our product and we’ll give a poor kid in Africa shoes. Allocate part of the national budget to government-to-government aid.
If business and job creation are at the core of eradicating extreme poverty, why do we continue to champion secondary means of addressing the issue?
I think we are misdiagnosing the problem. We try to ‘fix’ chronic poverty with temporary relief.
Relief is a useful, even critical, tool for immediate needs following a crisis. If my heart stops suddenly, I need the relief provided by a defibrillator. But once the immediate crisis has passed it’s fatal to continue jolting me with electricity. I need to switch to a longer term solution, perhaps eating cheerios and other heart healthy foods. Similarly, relief is not suited to the longterm work of development and when used as such, often does more harm than good.
Sometimes when we encounter extreme poverty we see it as if it were a defibrillator situation. “People don’t have shoes. We must get shoes to them right away!” We flood the needy area with free shoes from a non-profit, driving the local shoemaker out of business. But once the charitably donated shoes wear out, the problem resurfaces. We’ve misdiagnosed the problem and thus offered the wrong remedy.
We can better respond to chronic poverty with sustainable development. Organizations like HOPE International and Kiva fight for sustainable solutions by providing financial services for people in poverty. They are empowering businessmen and women who create jobs and wealth in communities.
To that end, here are some questions to ask before giving to a charity:
1. What kind of help is needed here, relief or development?
2. Does the relief/development provided match the need? (You wouldn’t send blankets to people suffering from a drought.)
3. Is this organization trustworthy? Check it’s www.charitynavigator.org rating.
It’s time to put away the defibrillators and switch to a sustainable development diet, for the long term health of our world.

Amanda Bishop is a senior at Biola University double-majoring in political science and history. A La Habra local. She studied international development through a program in Washington, D.C. last semester. She is currently interning for the micro-enterprise non-profit HOPE International.

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Advance! opens doors to new assistance offices

Advance! opens doors to new assistance offices

Posted on 22 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Taylor Engle
La Habra Journal

Advance! hosted an open house at its new location in the Friends of Family Health Center building on July 16.
Previously located on La Habra Boulevard, they have been at the health center since March.

Advance! Open House

Advance! Open House

Advance!, an organization devoted to providing students with information and assistance in the college application and financial aid process, was founded in 2002.
The nonprofit group offers an array of services, including but not limited to helping students with their personal statements and essays, helping students apply for financial aid and scholarships, and helping students figure out which schedules and programs will work best for them at the college of their choice.
All of their services are free.
The first year Advance! opened, they helped 51 students.  The organization had a desk and four chairs—not even a computer. So far for 2015, the staff has met with 1,093 students and has helped 811 of those with their financial aid and/or college applications.
The staff is made up of volunteers, interns, and part-time employees devoted to helping make college a reality for aspiring students.
“About 90% of the students we see are first-generation college students, and our staff reflects that,” said Co-founder Fred Lentz. “Everyone on our staff is bilingual, first-generation college students who come from a low-income family. They are a prototype of the kind of students we help.”
Much of the staff started out as interns and decided to stay on board.
“I got officially hired in January,” said former intern Veronica Phillips. “I love it here and decided I wanted to stay as long as I can.”
The new office, a 1,400 square foot space, is much roomier than the staff was used to. It contains an office for Lentz, an office for treasurer Habib Captan, a large computer area for the students to work, a kitchen, and a conference room.
The open house was meant as a platform for the staff to demonstrate to the community the services that Advance! offers, introduce the community to the new office space, and provide refreshments.
Slideshows filled with pictures of the staff in action were playing throughout the open house.
There was also a bulletin board with pictures and information on Advances! services and events, along with basic information on CSUs and UCs for inquiring students.  Advance! also took the opportunity to inform attendants about La Habra Goes To College, an annual event to inform students and parents about the college process which will be taking place September 27 at the La Habra Community Center.
“This organization is so great because it gives students the realization that there is a believable path they can take to have a future in college,” said board member and La Habra City Councilwoman Rose Espinoza.
Phillips explained that Advance! has also helped students from all over Northern Orange and Los Angeles Counties. She added, that “the numbers just keep climbing.”

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Friends of Family opens new dental clinic in LH

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Friends of Family opens new dental clinic in LH

Posted on 22 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Taylor Engle
La Habra Journal

Friends of Family Health Center celebrated the grand opening of the new dental clinic on July 15.  There were appetizers, wine tasting, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and an informative tour of the facilities.

LHJ Friends of Family Dental Clinic

LHJ Friends of Family Dental Clinic

Executive Director of the La Habra Community Collaborative Sandi Baltes organized the event at the request of Friends of Family Health Center founder and chairman Albert Barnett, M.D.
Councilman Jim Gomez and President of the La Habra Chamber of Commerce Mark Sturdevant were in attendance to cut the ribbon and recognize the health center for their hard work and dedication to the community.
“We are so excited to be able to serve more people of the La Habra community,” said Friends of Family CEO Bahram Bahremand.  “I thank the board members of the center for making this possible. We are just trying to do a good thing for the city and its residents.”
The Friends of Family Health Center is a nonprofit organization that has been providing La Habra residents with high-quality affordable healthcare regardless of insurance.  Prior to the grand opening, the dental clinic only offered pediatric services.  It will now provide dental care to both children and adults.
The clinic has expanded from being a three dentist practice to four.
“The new office is great; renovations have been made and we have more space,” said Dr. Susan Wang, who has been a dentist at the clinic for six years.
Immediately following the ribbon cutting, guests were given a tour of the new clinic by the dentists and managing staff.  The staff wanted to make sure the guests were shown around the office and made aware of the different services they have to provide.

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LH Heights  ranked Top 10 safest city in the state

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LH Heights ranked Top 10 safest city in the state

Posted on 22 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Shanin Thomas
La Habra Journal

(Link added)La Habra Heights – According to a recent analysis, the city of La Habra Heights was ranked tenth on the list of safest cities in California.
The analysis, created by ValuePenguin which is a website that provides visual tools to explain data and research, included the most recent Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Crime Report to determine the safety of California cities. Heights Landscape BW
La Habra Heights is ranked seventh in cities ranging in population from 5,000 to 20,000, ultimately ranking 10th overall.
In order to efficiently rank over 400 California cities, the data collected involved property crimes, like burglary or arson, and violent crimes, like murder or assault.
Almost 100 years ago the city of La Habra Heights was simply an avocado grove. Gradually it has become a charming, secluded area of unique residences.
“It gives me great pleasure knowing that the city of La Habra Heights is recognized as one of the safest cities in California,” said Michael Higgins, La Habra Heights mayor. “The report is only one of the confirmations that the city is moving in the right direction. Our city can never be too safe.”
La Habra Heights does not have sidewalks, curbs, or street lights and most residents often feel comfortable enough to decide not to lock their doors.
Real estate agent and longtime resident, Jan Fiore, said that this may be the exact reason why the city is safe.
She said that the combination of no streetlights, curbs, or sidewalks does not seem inviting to criminals.
“This is not a place where criminals want to be because they cannot get in and out quickly,” she said.
Most residents living within the La Habra Heights boundaries stay for a long amount of time.
Additionally, no two homes in the city of La Habra Heights are the same.
“You can create whatever you want,” Fiore said. Basketball courts, large gardens, horse stables, or anything else a residence may want can be allotted in a home in La Habra Heights, while still being near major cities, schools, and shopping centers.
Higgins and La Habra Heights’ council members said they try to prevent problems within the city before they happen. Still, the mayor believes it is not just one organization or individual that has created such a safe environment.
Organizations, council members, city managers, and volunteers are all accredited to maintain public safety and the quality of living in this unique city, he said.
“It takes good city management and good residents combined. Without everyone working together it does not happen and we are fortunate to have this combination of people,” Higgins said.
Kyle Miller, La Habra Heights Mayor Pro Tem, said that he and the council members tackle their goals of public safety on a day to day basis.
Because the council members have set such high goals, this is not the first time the city of La Habra Heights has been listed as a top city.
According to the California Policy Center, La Habra Heights was named one of the least financially stressed cities in California last year.
Higgins also said that he will be receiving an award on behalf of the city’s accomplishments from the Joint Powers Insurance Agency (JPIA) due to its limiting liability.
He said he is personally satisfied and proud to have accomplished these honors.
“We all try to make this the best place to live,” Higgins said.

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LH builds on moving more and staying healthy

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LH builds on moving more and staying healthy

Posted on 22 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Taylor Engle
La Habra Journal

“Move More, Eat Healthy La Habra,” an initiative developed to improve the overall health and living of the La Habra community, has seen great results since its start in November 2014.  The city has collaborated with the La Habra Community Collaborative, local college universities, Whittier PIH, and St. Jude Medical Center to create a five-year plan to develop healthy habits that are easily accessible and affordable to the community.

Photo  by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal Getting fit: As part of the Move More, Eat Healthy campaign and in collaboration with St. Jude Medical Center, the elementary schools, like Ladera Palma pictured here, are building “Fit Rooms” to help battle childhood obesity.

Photo by Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal
Getting fit: As part of the Move More, Eat Healthy campaign and in collaboration with St. Jude Medical Center, the elementary schools, like Ladera Palma pictured here, are building “Fit Rooms” to help battle childhood obesity.

According to last year’s fitness gram, which measures the physical fitness of students in elementary school and junior high, La Habra was ranked as the third worst in Orange County.
“When this collaborative team started out, we voted on three objectives to focus on fixing: teen pregnancy, juvenile crime, and child obesity,” said Executive Director of the La Habra Collaborative Sandi Baltes. “We branched off into teams to focus on each objective, which is how the ‘Move More, Eat Healthy La Habra’ campaign began.”
The campaign has taken off with extraordinary results in La Habra.  Since its start, La Habra has hosted 21 healthy lifestyle classes and 10 community events (three of which took place at schools) to spread the word about healthy living.
The La Habra High School nursing program volunteered at the Citrus Fair and various health fairs passing out forms to encourage residents to commit to certain health and fitness goals for the year. La Habra received 1,776 healthy lifestyle goals from residents.  Additionally, 1,444 residents have participated in the healthy living events and classes.
Thus far, classes have been taught by Baltes, Elite Fitness owner and Collaborative chairman Rebecca French, and local health and nursing college students to educate parents on nutrition while simultaneously providing children with fitness classes.  The classes have been done at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Friends of Family Health Center, the Children’s Museum, and the city’s parks.
Excellent turnout and feedback from the classes encouraged the “Move More, Eat Healthy” campaign to be infused in La Habra’s Summer Youth Program.  The kids’ summer Nutrition Program, available for children ages 4-13, sets goals every week related to exercise, eating the proper amount of fruits and vegetables, drinking enough water, and reading.
“Our main emphasis is literacy, but we always tie it into nutrition,” said Co-director of La Habra’s Parks and Recreation Summer Camp Nutrition Program Cindy Krueger. “One week we were reading a book about a bunny, so then we went to a garden and picked carrots and made smoothies. Our lessons always go hand in hand with nutrition.”
The camp has already seen progress and change in the participating children, who are becoming more aware of making healthy decisions
“We’re starting to see kids choose watermelon as a snack instead of Cheetos,” said Co-director of the program Marie Brown. “The idea of ‘healthy body, healthy mind,’ makes it so important for literacy to be tied in with nutrition.  Our goal is to see more education on nutrition and fitness in schools.”
Along with the progress that has been made for healthy living in a classroom setting is the fitness centers that have been installed at Guadalupe and Montwood Parks.  La Habra was among four cities chosen by St. Jude for health grants.  So far, the city has used the grant to build community gardens for vegetables and fruits, install fitness equipment, and hire a consultant to acquire more grants.
“The city recently received another grant from St. Jude for a traffic plan,” said Recreations Manager David DeLeon. “We’re planning to make adjustments that will allow for more biker and walking paths.”
The collaborators at St. Jude are very impressed with La Habra’s passion and commitment to the health campaign. La Habra has been recognized for two out of three designations with the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) campaign, which recognizes cities in Orange County that adopt healthy eating and living in their community and is in progress for the third.
“I tell other cities about La Habra’s progress,” said St. Jude Healthy Communities Outreach Director Barry Ross. “Our goal is that the healthy choice is the easy choice for residents. La Habra is definitely an example.”
St. Jude Medical Center has record of park usage before the exercise equipment installations and is hoping to see a great improvement over the next few months.  According to surveys conducted by St. Jude, La Habra has a 70% rate of residents who go to their local park at least once a week. The community gardens and equipment are intended to improve that percentage.
“Move More, Eat Healthy La Habra” has seen great influence throughout the community and has even more plans for the future. The University of Health Sciences plans to provide a fitness expo in January 2016 along with other physical training in La Habra parks.  Additionally, there will be a city Variety Show taking place on September 19. Residents are encouraged to contact Martha Lester at (562) 6972762 for more information on participation.
Finally, the healthy campaign encourages readers to make a fitness goal and write to us here at the Journal describing your progress. You can choose one of the following goals: drink more water, eat five fruits or vegetables a day, or exercise 30 minutes a day, or make a goal of your own.  The “Move More, Eat Healthy La Habra” campaign wants to see nothing but progress from residents in their healthy lifestyle decisions.

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Escaping Cuba

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Escaping Cuba

Posted on 22 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

One La Habra resident shares his action-filled story of human will and his  determination to escape capture and his perseverance to rejoin his family and start over in the United States.

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

After 54 years, the United States government opened the doors to relations with the government of Cuba. The doors to the Cuban embassy opened in Washington D.C., and next week the US will open its embassy doors in Havana. However, for one La Habra resident, the government of Cuba will

Determination: La Habra resident George Duarte suffered 10 years of imprisonment in Cuba. His story ,“The Caribbean Alcatraz,” explained how his spirit was never broken.

Determination: La Habra resident George Duarte suffered 10 years of imprisonment in Cuba. His story ,“The Caribbean Alcatraz,” explained how his spirit was never broken.

always be a closed door.
The story of George Duarte is a testament to the drive and determination of the human spirit.  In an effort to join his mother in the United States, Duarte was arrested trying to leave the Communist island country and spent the following 10 years of his life locked up as a political prisoner in Cuban prisons.
“I have no regrets,” he said. “I did what I had to do.”
Duarte explained that he had a will that wouldn’t allow him to be stopped by the Castro government.  He was imprisoned, with others, because he tried to leave the country and emigrate and join his mother in the US.
He escaped from captivity three times in the 10 years, spending days and nights in sugar fields, traveling the countryside and dodging Cuban authorities as much as possible.
“When I was in the first prison, La Cabana, I said to myself that I wouldn’t be here more than three months,” he said.  “I escaped the first time after two and a half months in prison.  I never accepted my sentence.”
However, escaping the prison was just part of the challenge. The island of Cuba acted as a natural prison itself.  Duarte even titled his memoirs “The Caribbean Alcatraz”, relating to his exploits trying to escape the island.

George Duarte with his daughter Lizette, who as Miss La Habra 2012.

George Duarte with his daughter Lizette, who as Miss La Habra 2012.

Duarte’s book  details his story and challenges as an architectural student who tried to leave the country and ended up spending 10 years as a political prisoner, but never giving up hope to join his family.
His exploits of escaping from the prisons made friends start to compare him to the noted French prison escape artists and called him the “Cuban Papillion.”  It even garnered him the respect of his captors.
“When Lieutenant Breto picked me up after my third escape, he was friendly,” Duarte explained.  He spoke highly of me to the chief of the police department that I was at. He said  ‘this is the guy who escaped from me from Camp Fajardo a few months ago and planned a tremendous escape from Taco Taco.”
Duarte didn’t start out wanting to become a notable escape artist.  He tried to get a visa to leave before the Castro regime clamped down on Cubans wanting to emigrate from the island.  However, Duarte missed the final boat to the US.
“I took three buses to get to the dock,” Duarte explained.  “The boat left that morning and I missed it. After that day, I was a dynamo! I felt I had to get out of here no matter how.  And I was going to do it. “
Life as a political prisoner was not easy. It meant maximum security prisons and long hours of work in the labor camps.
The prisoners themselves banded together to support each other.  Many of the political prisoners were professionals, doctors, lawyers, priests, and many others who did not support the Communist government’s belief and mission.
They learned from each other and held classes that taught each other various skills to pass the time.  Duarte himself said he learned French while in captivity.
However, after his escape attempts and recapture, life became harder for Duarte.
He was sent to the maximum-security prison Pinar del Rio and was placed into a dungeon that was referred to as “the toaster.”
The cell was a windowless 10x10x10-foot room with an iron door.  It was called the toaster because it shared a wall with the prison’s ovens.
“It was so dark that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face,” Duarte explained.
After his eyes became adjusted he saw three concrete bunks and a hole in the ground.
He explained that he also saw something else.
“After my eyes got used to the dark, I saw a dark spot along the wall,” Duarte explained. “It was moving.  It was thousands of roaches.”
Duarte spent the next two weeks battling the roaches until he could declare victory.
While in the toaster he was served three condensed milk cans of water to drink and two condensed cans of food each day.
Duarte said he spent the days walking to get tired to sleep.
He explained that he used to visualize himself somewhere else.  He used it to pass the time and to motivate him to get through the captivity.
One time he imagined himself in a nice suit in a nice car driving to perform at the Tropicana.  He said the vision was so real that when he saw himself introduced on stage, he started singing classic Nat King Cole songs.
“So, imagine, a guy in his underwear and wearing boots in the dark pretending to have a microphone and singing ‘Stardust,’” he said with a smile.  “I was living for the moment.”
He explained that after he finished the song he heard a voice though the walls, “Hey politico, do you know ‘Smile’? Can you sing it for me?”
So, he sang and realized that he wasn’t alone.  He spent the remaining nights entertaining unknown prisoners through the walls of the dungeon.
While he entertained to pass the time, he never forgot his goal to escape, and continued to plan another escape.
Duarte explained that his drive to escape was due to the desire to join his mother and to see his daughter, who was 5 years old when he went to prison. According to Duarte, her mother married a man who worked for the government and she limited her daughter’s visits to the prisons to see Duarte. He said he saw her four times in his 10 years of captivity.
When Duarte was finally released and allowed to go the United States, he asked his daughter, then 16, to come with him.  She declined and decided to stay in Cuba, where she still lives today.
Duarte also details how his faith gave him strength.  Despite the challenging conditions, his faith never waivered and he points to times throughout his exploits where he feels that God intervened.
“I was in a sugar cane field at dusk surrounded by guards on horses and soldiers with German Shepards and a corporal with a machine gun ready to shoot me,” he described.  He felt that he was going to die, but was ready for it.  He even cussed out the corporal who pointed the gun at him.  It would have been very easy. After all, what is one more dead prisoner?  However, Duarte said that God intervened and the chief of the camp, saved his life. He told the corporal to “leave him alone.”
“What is that?  It’s the hand of fate, ”Duarte explained about the camp commander.  “So he helped me survive.  Then, I escaped from him.”
Duarte’s imprisonment finally came to an end in October 1979 when President Jimmy Carter negotiated the release of political prisoners in Cuba, in exchange for money.
At the age of 39, Duarte said he was “born again”  when he landed in the United States.  He reunited with his mother,  built himself up as a general contractor and became a US citizen.
He runs his own contracting business with his wife Liz and daughter Lizette. He is currently looking for a publisher to commercially publish his memoirs.  However, he will sign copies of his book for anyone who is interested.
Duarte’s story of perseverance and commitment to family and freedom is something that he feels many will find inspiring.
“I’m proud of what I went through and how I behaved,” he said. “I want to share my story with everyone.”

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Crest Lock and Key: Moving forward with customer service

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Crest Lock and Key: Moving forward with customer service

Posted on 22 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Taylor Engle
La Habra Journal

As the last building standing on property that used to be home to two car washes, the iconic little building on the corner of Beach and Whittier Boulevards was finally torn down.LHJ Crest Key_0004
Crest Lock & Key Service moved to its new location on Whittier Boulevard on July 6.
Once operating out of the walk-up wooden shack on the corner, they are now in a 1000-square foot showroom.
Crest Lock & Key Service was encouraged by the city to move locations because the city has plans to redevelop the vacant land around that area.
Owner Todd Faro said he was given only a few weeks’ notice and was lucky enough to find a location close to the former.
Faro and his corporation are the second owners of Crest Lock & Key Service; it was previously owned for about 40 years by Dave and Anne Stevens, who gave the store a mom-and-pop feeling.
They were well-known and liked by the La Habra community throughout their ownership.  Faro’s corporation took over about three and a half years ago; they also own three other lock-and-key services in Orange County.
Faro has been extremely happy with the customers and the regular business of Crest Lock & Key Service.
“The shack was a fabulous location, but we wanted to offer more services,” Faro said. “I think this showroom will be one of the nicest lock shops in Orange County.” Crst Key
The showroom will allow customers to walk into the shop and browse the displays, which wasn’t a possibility at the walk-up shack.  Keys, locks, and various security items will be on display for customers to view more properly and make their purchasing decisions.
“The showroom provides us with the opportunity to offer more keys, safes, locks, and security-related projects for purchase and viewing,”  Faro said. “But one issue with moving is that people who only come in once a year will think that we went out of business.”
In order to spread the word about Crest Lock & Key’s new location to loyal customers and newcomers, Faro will be offering one free house key with any purchase over the minimum value of $4.
No matter the location, Faro’s customer service will help keep the community locked and secured.

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