Archive | February, 2017

Powder Canyon restoration on track

Powder Canyon restoration on track

Posted on 24 February 2017 by La Habra Journal

Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal A friendly walk: The restoration project going on at Powder Canyon continues. The project, managed by the Habitat Authority and funded by Southern California Edison is now in the seeding and planting phase where nearly 40 native plant species will be planted in the 53 acres of trails along the canyon.

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

Powder Canyon in La Habra Heights is in the middle of an environmental restoration project.
The project, run by Habitat Authority and started in October, is in collaboration with Southern California Edison. It was brought on due to SCE’s Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, which is a series of new and upgraded high-voltage electric transmission lines and substations that will be stretching through the Angeles National Forrest and down into the San Gabriel Valley area.
SCE agreed to consolidate most of its habitat mitigation requirements from Project segments 7 and 8 of the TRTP onto the Habitat Authority’s Preserve, which includes Powder Canyon.
According to Andrea Gullo, Executive Director of the Puente Hills Habitat Preservation Authority, 60 acres total will be restored to native habitat consisting of 53 acres of coastal sage scrub and seven acres of oak and walnut woodlands.
Gullo added that coastal sage scrub is a plant community made up of several different plant species and supports the coastal California gnatcatcher, a bird protected by the Endangered Species Act.
The habitat restoration in Powder Canyon started in October and  included weed clearance by goat grazing. This has been  followed by the  killing of standing weeds and reducing the weed stored in the soil.
This needs to be done before seeding and planting.
According to Gullo, locally collected seeds will be used as much as possible for seeding and plant propagation followed by five years of maintenance.
Locally collected seeds have a greater chance of survival, ensure that the right subspecies are used, and ensures that hybridization will not be introduced into the area.
She added that temporary irrigation will be used for two-three years during maintenance to help establish the plants. The end result will be a self-sustaining native habitat.
There are several benefits of this project. The area will be restored back to its native habitat increasing the native habitat available for dependent animals.
Converting weeds to native habitat will increase the enjoyment of recreational users of the Puente Hills Preserve, and in particular Powder Canyon.
Also, the community will be safer from wildfires. Flashy fuels, estimated to make up the majority of the 60-acre site, will be removed. The restoration site will continue to be managed in perpetuity with funding by SCE used to establish a long-term management endowment.
Fall/Winter 2017/18 – Seeding and planting
2018-2023 – Plant maintenance and establishment
In addition, nearly 40 native plant species will be used.
The day to day coordination of the project is done by Habitat Authority Ecologist, Lizette Longacre. The project is regulated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and funded by SCE.
The Puente Hills Habitat Preservation Authority  is a local government joint powers authority which manages 3,870 acres of hillsides in Whittier, Hacienda Heights and La Habra Heights.

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New LH City Hall set to open

New LH City Hall set to open

Posted on 23 February 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

After a slight delay due to the recent rains,  the new La Habra Civic Center is nearly open for business.
The rains caused the start of the move to the new city hall to be delayed from February 17 to March 2.  The new civic center is set to be open and operating on March 7.
While most of the construction was complete, some of the exterior work, including concrete and paving in the parking lot, had to be delayed to allow for proper draining.
The move in the middle of the week will be a bit of a challenge. The city will try to keep basic city departments open while others move.  This will not cause a delay in permits or water bills, etc.
Beginning March 7, the former city hall will remain open for regular business while the administration and personnel departments pack and move.
City hall will close March 3 to allow other city departments the opportunity to pack and move.
Saturday and Sunday, March 4 and 5, the moving company will continue to move items to the new City Hall.
Both city hall buildings will be closed Monday, March 6 to allow for staff to unpack and set up the operations in the new building. The former city hall will remain permanently closed.
The US Post Office will move to its new location in the city hall complex during the weekend as well. The current post office will be closed and not reopen.  The new post office is set to open Tuesday, March 7.
The city council will hold its meeting on March 6 in the new Council Chamber (the one-story building on the southeast corner of Euclid Street and La Habra Boulevard.
The city hall will stay closed Tuesday, March 7 to allow staff to finalize setting up. The new civic center complex will be open to the public on March 8.

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LH native looking to make it big in music

LH native looking to make it big in music

Posted on 23 February 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Genesis Miranda
La Habra Journal

La Habra may seem like a small city, but great things can come out of a close community. For Juan Pablo Castillo, known by his artist name JP Castillo, La Habra was a major stepping stone and a great memory for his singing career.

Photo courtesy JP Castillo
Local talent: LHHS graduate JP Castillo releases his first single while preparing for his EP album.

Castillo came to the United States from Costa Rica when he was only 8 years old. He and his family moved around quite a bit through cities like Southgate, Norwalk, Paramount and finally La Habra.
Coming from a musical family, it’s no wonder why Castillo has a love for music and the stage. His mother was a singer and his father was a drummer.
Growing up in a religious family, Castillo was trying to figure out his own path. In school he tended to be timid and shy. “I was trying to develop my relationship with God,” Castillo said.
It wasn’t until Junior year of high school, at La Habra High School, where Castillo met David Montoya. Montoya became the choir teacher and one of Castillo’s most memorable encounters.
Prior to Montoya, Castillo said there was no established choir class or program. The summer of his sophomore year the school offered vocal classes. But it wasn’t until Montoya came to the school that a choir program began.
When the choir was formed, Montoya wanted to create a group of student leaders, which Castillo formed part of.  “[Montoya] is a very happy person, he treated us all as individuals,” said Castillo.
During one of the many competitions Castillo attended with the La Habra High School choir, he ended up being the only male vocal. And much to his surprise he won the award for “best male solo.”
It was there at La Habra High School where Castillo developed relationships with Montoya and his classmates; and he learned vocal skills that would stay with him until this day.
“I am very grateful for that and [Montoya] opened up a whole new world for me,” said Castillo.
After high school Castillo attended Fullerton College for a couple of years, first as an instrumental major and then as a vocal major.
He formed part of the “Cabana Boys” as their drummer and later as a vocalist.
Performing with the “Cabana Boys” Castillo said he loved the energy he received from the audiences.
Although he ended up dropping out of college, Castillo’s opportunities as a singer soon followed.
After accompanying a friend to an audition at Disneyland, Castillo ended up auditioning himself and landed a job offer from Disney. It was his first professional job offer and he knew he could not let this go.
Unfortunately at that moment, Castillo was undocumented and waiting on his paperwork to arrive. He explained his situation to his potential employers and thought he would have to let it go.
Luckily all of his documentation and paperwork arrived a day before he would have had to sign paperwork for the job offer and he landed the job with Disneyland. He formed part of the High School Musical cast as the main singer and as Aladdin.
“I’m a bold person. It took a lot but it was a great experience for me,” said Castillo. “Passion must be converted into discipline.”
After that experience, Castillo went on to Osaka, Japan to work for Universal Studios and stayed there for about a year in a home studio he created for himself.
He also traveled to Europe to participate in a Michael Jackson tribute show called “Thriller Live” in London.
“I never lost my focus,” Castillo said.
Soon after, Castillo received a call from a friend who said he would be forming part of a Jackson reunion tour and that he had recommended Castillo as a vocalist.
He later received a call from Jackie Jackson himself who then invited Castillo to form part of the team.
They toured Japan, Canada, the United States and parts of Europe.
“It was an experience I will never forget,” said Castillo. “I can’t even say it was a dream come true because I never even dreamt this would happen.”
Other experiences Castillo has had are touring with artists like Prince Royce and Jennifer Lopez.
Castillo has since then landed a record deal with the label Crossover and has released a single titled “Tu Ausencia” featuring fellow artist Gotay.
He is currently working on his second single to be released sometime in the next few months and his EP album which he hopes to release later this year.
“I am an artist that wants to inspire people,” Castillo said. “Inspire all the young people to reach their goals. We all have a purpose.”
JP Castillo’s music can be found on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as @JPCastilloMusic.

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Sonora 'Splash Brothers' lift Raiders to best record since ‘09

Sonora ‘Splash Brothers’ lift Raiders to best record since ‘09

Posted on 20 February 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Rarely does one high school basketball team possess a pair of the top three-point shooters in the county. Having a trio, virtually unheard of.

Sean Murphy

In Sean Murphy, Kevin Marlow and Lucas Everett, the Sonora Raiders possess a tandem of sharpshooters, each of whom confident they are the best. And based on the numbers they have posted this season, it’s hard to argue. The trio could be right, perhaps only rivaling each other as Orange County’s top marksman.
Some high school teams don’t post their players stats, as to not give opposing coaches a scouting advantage. But based upon the data available, Marlow, Murphy and Everett comprise three of the top five three-point shooters in Orange County this season.
Everett, a junior, lead everybody with 82 three-pointers this season and finished a robust 45% from behind the arc. He made at least five in a game 12 different times this season. Perhaps his best night came against San Dieguito Academy early in the year when he knocked down eight in one game.
Not to be outdone, Murphy drilled 10 the next night against Animo South Los Angeles to close out the Crean Lutheran tournament. He finished the season with 72 made on 35% shooting.

Kevin Marlow

Marlow, who was the Raiders leading scorer, made a total of 68 threes and shot 35% as well. Had his battery-mates not outdone him, Marlow would own the school record as well. He hit seven against Central Gwinnett (Georgia), and six in the final regular season game against Fullerton this year.
Raiders assistant coach Jason Stein also pointed out Marlow’s uncanny ability as a clutch shooter.
“Kevin hit two huge three-pointers in the closing minutes of regulation against La Costa Canyon in the semi-finals of the Torrey Pines tournament,” Stein said. “Then he hit another big three against Santa Fe Christian in the finals of that same tournament to take home the tournament MVP.”
“And of course, Kevin hit the game winner against Sunny Hills in overtime too,” Stein added.
Beyond the incredible numbers and records each has posted, perhaps the trio’s most resounding endorsement is that they made a believer out of their coach Mike Murphy.
For nearly three decades Murphy has built Sonora into one of the top high school basketball programs in Orange County with a traditional inside-out, pressure defense and ball control philosophy.
But then his son Sean joined the team last season. He and the rest of the trio have shot the ball so well the past two years that they forced Murphy to adapt his approach.

Lucas Everett

“We practice it all the time so if we’re in the game and ever get an open look, [coach] Murph is never going to tell us not to shoot,” Marlow said. “So if we get a good look we’re going to take the shot.”
“Yeah he is real old school guy,” Marlow said. “He would love it if we threw the ball inside every time down the court.”
“He’s never coached three shooters like this,” Sean said of his dad. “After the second half of league last year though, he started to figure it out.”
“I think it was kind of hard for him to expand his thinking at first, but after he got used to it, it worked out really well for us.” Marlow added. “He realized how we could shoot the ball and how it expands the offense, so I think he was more open to that this year.”
“I feel like him changing the way he’s coached his teams in the past has helped us out a lot, because we have all shot the ball pretty well this year,” Sean added.
Sure, making seven, eight or even 10 threes in a game certainly helped the trio sway their passionately old-school coach to release the reigns.
But coach Murphy admitted it was their work off the court that impressed him the most.
“We’ve played 100 games since last year, so I’ve seen them play enough to know I have to let them shoot the ball, that’s what they do,” coach Murphy said. “The faster we play, and the more possessions there are, the better our chances are to win.”
“They work at it, they make those shots for a reason,” Murphy said. “They are always in the gym shooting.”
Murphy said the trio practice so much that he actually has to protect them from overdoing it sometimes. He referenced perhaps basketball’s all-time perfectionist, Kobe Bryant saying not to take more than 600 shots a day to prevent his shoulders from injury.
Aside from their commitment to putting in work, Murphy believes all three truly have a gift to shoot the basketball.
“A lot of it is God-given, they can really shoot the ball and they all get hot, it’s not just one of them, it’s all three,” he added.
After playing his first two seasons at Canyon High School, Sean made the transition to play under his dad his junior year. Sean has flourished at Sonora and helped his pops notch the most regular season wins in over a decade.
Needless to say, both are confident they made the right choice.
“I remember last year when Sean hit five in a quarter, and I was thinking, oh my God this is the game of his life, then last summer he did it every other game.” Murphy said. “It’s really fun coaching your son, I’m glad I got the chance to do it.”
He admitted it was stressful and a rollercoaster of emotions, but concluded it was one of the best experiences in his nearly three decades at Sonora.
It wasn’t just Murphy who began to take notice of the talented shooters on his team.
Game by game, opposing coaches echoed the same takeaway — we knew it was going to be tough stopping all three shooters — nearly every coach admitting how unusual it was to face a team with that many talented shooters.
Despite their best laid plans, opposing coaches had a tough time stifling the trio this year. Behind Marlow, Murphy and Everett’s blistering shooting from beyond the arc, Sonora (25-4) finished with its best record in eight seasons.
“This team shoots the ball as good or better than any team I’ve ever had,” coach Murphy said.
“It’s a ridiculous number how many threes they have made,” coach Murphy said. “You know for a coach like me, who’s old-school, I like to see the ball passed more, but I also encourage those guys every time they’re open to shoot it.”
Marlow and Murphy both plan to play basketball in college next year. Murphy is leaning towards Irvine Valley College.
“I’m not going to stop playing until somebody tells me I have to,” Sean said.
Marlow hasn’t decided on a school, but is talking to several universities right now. The returning Freeway League MVP also carries a 4.3 GPA, which should certainly give Marlow plenty of options.
Fortunately, coach Murphy won’t lose all three, as Everett will be back next season for his senior year at Sonora.
Despite the disappointing ending Friday night, they all agreed the past two seasons were a success. Competing together in sports gives you something much more important than wins and losses, or shooting percentages and records.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Sean concluded. “I love these guys, they’ll be my friends for life.”

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Raiders CIF run ends after falling to Coyotes

Raiders CIF run ends after falling to Coyotes

Posted on 18 February 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Unlike Sonora, Calabasas didn’t get the luxury of a first round bye, but that didn’t seem to bother them one bit. In fact, the Coyotes felt playing twice this week helped keep them sharp in their 80-69 victory over the Raiders, who conversely appeared out of sync after the week off Friday night.
“I always believed instead of getting a bye I like playing first, and if we get a win that ultimately gives us momentum coming in,” said Calabasas guard Jack Roggin.
In Calabasas, the Raiders ultimately met a team that thrived in this particular matchup. The Coyotes have been more successful against fellow shooting teams like themselves, and have also had more success on the road versus home.
“All season long we have been winning on the road, that’s been our identity,” Roggin added.
The Raiders on the other hand, played extremely well at home, posting a 9-0 record this season coming in. However, the Raiders uncharacteristically struggled from the perimeter.
“It was one of those games where our shots just weren’t falling, I know Lucas had a good game, but it takes the whole team,” Kevin Marlow said. “I don’t think we played badly or anything, they just played a better game tonight, you have to give credit to [Calabasas], they are a great team.”
The Raiders pulled to within one a couple minutes into the third quarter when Sean Murphy nabbed a pair of offensive rebounds and finished the putbacks. But that was the closest they would get the rest of the night.
Calabasas began to pull away in the fourth as Sonora went cold from the perimeter.
Bryce Rutledge got to the line and hit one of two, then stole the inbound and dished to Lucas Everett for the easy bucket to cut the Raiders deficit to 72-65 with :35 to play.
Calabasas converted their free-throw attempts down the stretch though and their hustle finally sealed the victory.
They did miss a couple free-throw attempts on consecutive possessions, but instead of the Raiders coming down the court to cut into the lead, the Coyotes grabbed the offensive rebound and went right back to the line both times.
Calabasas’ 1-3-1 zone defense kept Sonora out of sync most of the night.
“That’s our identity right now and that’s the way we stop shooters,” Roggin said of Calabasas’ effort. “We knew they had three guys that literally make five threes a game, so that was our game plan with the zone to slow them down.”
The Raiders offense fell into the trap of swinging the ball back and forth around the perimeter with very minimal dribble-penetration into the paint. This allowed the Coyotes to keep a lot of pressure on the Raiders’ shooters, who had trouble getting open looks.
Roggin lead all scorers with 19 points, and shot 5-8 from downtown.
“We are not a big team, so there’s a lot of shooting,” Roggin said. “We know that’s what our biggest factor is, to keep hitting threes or we might get out of the game.”
The Raiders leading scorers were, Everett with 17, Carter with 16 and Marlow had 14.
Outside of Everett, who went 5-7 from beyond the arc, the rest of the team had an off night shooting. Everett will be the only starter returning next season.
Carter, Marlow, Murphy and Rutledge all plan to continue playing college ball in 2018.
Despite the early exit, Sonora finished the season with their best overall record in eight years at 25-4.

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Raiders repeat Freeway League Finals success

Raiders repeat Freeway League Finals success

Posted on 12 February 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Sonora may have graduated many of their top wrestlers from last season, but that didn’t stop David Carrizosa’s Raiders from dominating the 2017 Freeway League Finals tournament Friday night.

The Raiders finished with seven individual titles a year ago, last night they crowned six league champions. The Raiders will also be sending 12 wrestlers to CIF next Friday, which tops the nine qualifiers each of the previous two seasons.

One of the biggest surprises of the night was the 112-pound champion, Sonora freshman Richie Herrera. Carrizosa was certainly impressed with his Herrera, who joined the Raiders starting lineup for the first time this season after an injury last week.

“I knew Richie was good and we were confident he would place, but for him to win it, and the way he did was pretty incredible,” Carrizosa said.

Herrera blanked La Habra’s Oscar Alcala 6-0 in the semifinal round, then defeated Jacob Romo of Fullerton 13-2 in the championship.

Sonora also won the next three weight classes, Isaiah Perez at 120 pounds, Joe Lopez at 126 and Hiwad Stanekzai at 132. Both Perez and Stanekzai are now two-time league champions.

Stanekzai pinned both his semifinal and championship round opponents in less than a minute to earn Freeway League Tournament MVP of the lower weights.

Carrizosa said that Stanekzai has been a talented wrestler for a long time, but he thinks that it all came together for him the last couple weeks because he was able to devote more time on the mat. Stanekzai is a senior honor student, so earlier in the season he focused a lot of his time on applying and interviewing with colleges.

La Habra finished with one champion, 170-pounder Brandon Murray, who edged out Troy’s Tommy Hoover.

Sonora (224) finished first in team points, with Fullerton (202) in second and Troy (190) not far behind.

Sonora and the rest of the Freeway League qualifiers will travel to the Inland Empire for the CIF-SS Championships next Friday.

 Carrizosa is optimistic about his team’s chances next week, but admitted he doesn’t have one or two returning champs or top-seeds like he had the previous few years, so everybody must wrestle their best if they want to have a chance to qualify for the Master’s and State Tournaments.

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Raiders secure 5th straight title on Murphy's 600th win

Raiders secure 5th straight title on Murphy’s 600th win

Posted on 04 February 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Sonora closed out the regular season with a wire-to-wire 77-48 victory over Fullerton at home Thursday night to capture their fifth straight Freeway League title, and seventh in the last eight years. The win also ranked has Sonora Head Coach Mike Murphy’s 600 career win.

Coach Mike Murphy prepares the Freeway Leage Champion Raiders team.

The Raiders forced five turnovers and raced out to a 14-2 lead within the first three minutes of the opening quarter. Sean Murphy and Kevin Marlow each hit a three-pointer, while Austin Carter poured in a pair of buckets in the paint.

Junior Lucas Everett said the game plan all along was to build a big lead early, so all of the seniors could get a chance to play in their final home game.

“We wanted to try to get them as many minutes as possible,” Everett said.

Coach Murphy said that they wanted Senior Night to be the funnest game of the year, and it certainly fit the bill.

“It’s Senior Night, we got all the seniors in–most in the first half–and most of them scored, so it was just a really fun night,” he added.

Fullerton never cut the lead to single digits the rest of the way. The Indians had an opportunity with :28 left in the first half, but after Stone Sinek’s shot rimmed out, the Raiders hustled down the court in the waning seconds and Murphy found senior Michael Lopez for a corner three that splashed through the net right at the buzzer to extend the lead to 43-29 at the break.

The Raiders iced the game in spectacular fashion early in the fourth. Marlow hit back-to-back NBA range threes, then came up with a steal and found Carter hustling down in transition for a crowd-pleasing, two-handed dunk that gave the Raiders their biggest lead of the game 73-45 with five minutes to play.

Marlow lead all scorers with 24 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals.

Carter finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds and a couple assists. Perhaps most impressively though, he was still diving on the floor and going after every loose ball with the Raiders up by more than 20 points in the final quarter.

“Austin has an unbelievable motor, that’s what is so appealing about him to all of the colleges,” coach Murphy said. “He is probably the most talented player on the floor every night, and he plays as hard or harder than anybody out there.”

Sinek paced his season average with 15 points for Fullerton, with 12 coming in the first half.

The Raiders finished the regular season with a 25-3 record and went 9-1 in league, with the lone loss coming against La Habra.

“This team shoots the ball as good or better than any team I’ve ever had,” coach Murphy said. “And they’ve just got a lot of grit, they’re tough, they battle and beat teams they shouldn’t beat.”

Sonora will find out who their first round playoff matchup will be against on Sunday, when the CIF brackets are released. Murphy acknowledged that Division 1-AA will be a tough brackett, be feels confident his team can make a run at the title.

“I don’t think there is any team that we can’t compete with, so we are excited about the playoffs,” he added.

It wasn’t just the boys who dominated Senior Night at Sonora.

Earlier in the evening, the Lady Raiders ended the regular season with a wire-to-wire win of their own, defeating Fullerton 60-17.

Coach Melissa Barajas’ team finished second in the Freeway League with a 19-7 record overall and 8-2 in league. The girls only losses were to the league champs, Troy.

Barajas and the Lady Raiders will also find out their CIF matchup on Sunday.

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