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Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 - 8:30am
  • Council Says Yes to Senior Funding: Last night, the City Council unanimously approved $3 million toward the construction of a new senior center to replace the existing, aging one on Market Street. The Signal
  • It's Like Looting Without the Fires: SCV law enforcement says they've seen a new trend emerging in theft, called "swarming," where individuals will swarm a location and quickly grab as much merchandise as they can. Detectives suspect the method may have played a role three times at two Valencia sunglass stores. The Signal
  • Looking for a Few Good Volunteers: The SCV Sheriff's Station is looking to bolster the ranks of its reserve deputy program. Hats off to the members of our community who sign up to do essentially the same job as paid deputies, but for $1 per year. KHTS
  • Money in the Pipeline: The Castaic Lake Water Agency putting a $16.7 million grant of drought relief-related funds toward three projects: Installation of an disinfection system at its Valencia treatment plant, and improvements to the agency's stored water facilities in Kern County. The Signal
  • The Other Drug Problem: Consumer advocates are calling for increased regulations to stem over-prescription of pyschotropic drugs to foster children, particularly poignant after a recent study found 1 in 4 foster teens are prescribed psych meds. Daily News
  • Max Is in Town: Max Enforcement, that is. The CHP's stepping up patrols for the holiday, starting today at 6 p.m. Please don't be an idiot. If you drink don't get behind the wheel of a car. And in general, drive like someone else's life depends on it. SCVNews
  • Open Invite for Open Space: The city is dedicating more open space, this time at the mouth of Towsley Canyon, next Wednesday at 10 a.m. City Briefs
  • Hotel Planned for Newhall: A developer is planning to construct a 42-room boutique hotel on the empty lot across from the Canyon Theatre Guild in downtown Newhall. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this would be the first hotel on Main Street since the Southern Hotel burned down many moons ago. The Signal

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Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 - 8:30am
  • Newhall Gets a New Neighbor: Our local radio station has finally officially announced a poorly-kept secret: They are moving to downtown Newhall in 2015, into the space once home to our beloved Newhall Hardware. Sharing the building with Total Financial Solutions, KHTS is also planning to include a coffee shop space as part of the remodel. KHTS
  • Saying Goodbye: Gladys Laney was a teenager when the St. Francis Dam disaster occurred. On Monday morning, the SCV Senior Center volunteer and historian passed away at 104. KHTS
  • Crime on the Rise: While recently released figures point to dropping crime in city limits, the unincorporated areas of SCV have seen an increase over the past year, particularly in burglaries. The Signal
  • The Season Begins: The SCV winter shelter opened on Monday, giving more than 20 people a meal and a warm, safe place to stay for the night. The Signal
  • Burglaries Appear Connected: Detectives have linked a 45-year-old Albuquerque woman arrested last week to three residential break-ins in Valencia. The Signal
  • Red Flags for the Holiday: It's a windy week, with a red flag being issued for our brittle, dry valley as winds whip through it. If you see smoke, report it. Daily News
  • New Super for Sulphur: The Sulphur Springs School District has named a new superintendent, a veteran teacher and administrator from Ventura County who helped roll out 17,000 iPads to students and staff. KHTS
  • Continuing to Ask Questions: "The documents exist – and have been sent to the Regional Planning Commission – to prove Chiquita Canyon Landfill accepted the type of material that is specifically prohibited for dumping there. The test well data that have been released show all manner of toxic chemicals being dumped there. Does this make a 'good neighbor?'" Darryl Manzer continues his crusade against seeing Chiquita Canyon Landfill expand ever more and do our valley a disservice. SCVNews

Posted by Josh Premako   |   1 Comment »
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Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 - 7:30am
There are a few things our City Council doesn’t do very well. Public art solicitations and digital billboard schemes come to mind. But broken promises aside, the city has become quite good at purchasing strategic pieces of land for the sake of protection, and then putting that land to good use. Keeping open space open, while accessible to the public to enjoy. Buy some choice land at the right time, at the right price, in a way that protects that land from future development, and opening up trails through that land that welcomes us to explore and appreciate our natural surroundings. Open space is more than just a ridgeline to be appreciated in the abstract, from afar, but something to connect with. We have a great mechanism in place, and it’s going to be a gift that keeps giving for a very long time. 
Tonight's council agendas give us a little taste of the city at its best. I don’t know if any of the property in question is being purchased using open space funds or if it will come with the ironclad promise of preservation, but it gives us some great cause for optimism. It’s just the sort of thing that we could all use following the contentious and divisive digital billboard ordeal.
I’ll have more to say later about the importance of the Measure S vote, and you can believe I’ll have a few words for Bob Kellar attributing its loss to voter stupidity. You can also be certain that there will be a long list of public speakers that will be there tomorrow to remind the council of its loss on election day. Some will be especially gracious, some (ahem) less so. 
But let’s look at what we have going on. The biggest news is sitting in the closed session agenda. The council will be giving the City Manager direction on negotiating with the federal government on the price of a large piece of land that appears to make up most, if not all, of the Cemex mine that’s been looming over our head for parts of the last three decades. We have no idea whether the feds have an offer on the table, or the council is just setting a price range in case we have the chance. But at the very least, it’s an indication that there is reason to believe that there’s something behind the recent optimism on Capitol Hill for a deal to stop the mine. Barbara Boxer's bill has the support of Dianne Feinstein in the Senate and Buck McKeon has gotten back into the act and introduced a companion bill in the House.
To this cynical observer, it’s long seemed that McKeon’s inaction on Cemex owed a lot to his own ambitions within the Republican Caucus. Part of being a good soldier for the party means not making a stink over the pet issue in your district.  It’s the reason why I was concerned over Tony Strickland’s claim during the campaign that he would be in a more influential role than Steve Knight would be on day one. It seemed to me that McKeon was a lot more effective for SCV when he was on the sidelines—fighting for SCV more than his own position in the pecking order. 
But at any rate, there are no more ladders to climb for McKeon, and perhaps he has a chip or three to cash in his final days in office. Whether this will be McKeon's last big score or Knight’s first, there is a real sense that this might happen after all. And I’m sure President Obama’s recent declaration of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (that happens to be adjacent to the proposed mine) has helped too, however unintentional.
This may wind up costing the city millions of dollars. Enough to make you wince. And we can’t be reckless and jump at any figure, it’s hard to overestimate the value of preventing this once-inevitable mine once and for all.
The closed session also includes a donation of land in Sand Canyon, some negotiations over some land that appears to be adjacent to the Cemex site and some other land in Quigley Canyon that I can’t locate. All good news, it seems.
Since it’s closed session, we won’t know what transpired. So let’s keep an eye on these green shoots sprouting from the ground and hope something comes of it.
The lone item of new business on the agenda for the main meeting is for the city to pitch in $3 million towards construction of a new Senior Center. The County would also contribute $3 million. The most likely (but not quite final) location would be adjacent to a new home development along the Cross Valley Connector, where Golden Valley Rd. becomes Newhall Ranch Rd. (but in SCV fashion, not only does the street change names mid-stream, but Golden Valley will make a 90° turn up the hill and continue to Plum Canyon where it will, of course, change names again). 
Soledad Canyon pic ©City of Santa Clarita

Posted by Mike Devlin   |   3 Comments »
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Monday, November 24th, 2014 - 8:30am
  • Serving Help: If you can get past the lack of copy editing, good info in this story about a tennis fundraiser this weekend for the winter shelter. KHTS
  • Speaking Of: Jim Holt talks to Michael Crosby (who I had the opportunity to meet and photograph last winter), who discussed what the shelter has meant for him. The Signal
  • More Freedom for a Deal: The Hart district is hoping that using a waiver from the state Board of Education will help sell off two of its buildings in the Centre Pointe Business Park, which have been sitting unused. The Signal
  • Today in History: Another person I wished was around when I worked at The Signal. This day in 2003, the legendary editor Ruth Waldo Newhall died at 93. SCVHistory
  • The Healthcare Problem: "I don’t think that to be taken care of by the government for my health is a Democrat or Republican or a Libertarian issue, but a human issue." Anne Marie Whalley opines on the need for a different approach to how we view healthcare. The Signal
  • We Are Driving Change: "The Los Angeles-Orange County area accounts for 34 percent of the state's population, with over 13 million residents and rising, but it accounts for close to 40 percent of the zero emission vehicles on the road in the state." Despite all the gridlock, a new report argues we're on the forefront of changes. LA Observed
  • Be an Aware Parent: Everybody's favorite Deputy Josh Dubin will be leading a discussion on teens and social media next week at Placerita Junior High. KHTS
  • Canyon Replacement Expected Soon: The Hart District expects to have a new principal for Canyon High School soon, after Principal Mike Kuhlman was tapped to serve as the district's assistant superintendent of educational services. The Signal

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Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 - 2:57pm
This may be one of our busiest weeks at work, deep in the throes of handling multiple appeal campaigns for some great nonprofit organizations. That said, here I am, back from spending the first half of the day in the office, and bringing you some weekend briefs.
  • Turkey Day Hurdles: Nearly a decade after it first started, the annual Thanksgiving feast for the less fortunate in downtown Newhall, started by Roger and Shannon Hasper, has hit some potholes. The Haspers handed off running the event to South Valley Church, who have had to relocate to the Newhall Library parking lot after the city wanted $3,000 for a "traffic study" if it were held in Newhall. The story cites a 2003(!) farmers market crash in Santa Monica as a factor behind the traffic study the city decided was necessary. The church has also been told they cannot serve cooked food donated by the public. The Signal
  • Another Day, Another Bill: Hot on the heels of Sen. Barbara Boxer's bill aimed at ending the Cemex issue once and for all, Congressman "Buck" McKeon introduced yet another bill. KHTS
  • PAC Leader Resigns: After only a little more than a year and a half, the executive director of the performing arts center at COC has resigned. Evy Warshawski arrived in March 2013 to replace Adam Philipson, who now manages Red Bank, NJ's historic Count Basie Theatre. The Signal
  • Helping Hand for the Senior Center: Tuesday's City Council agenda includes a request for the city to set aside $3 million toward the construction of a new senior center. As a former SCV Senior Center employee, I can tell you that this valley needs a new facility for its growing senior population. Agenda
  • Einstein Again: Also on Tuesday's agenda is the expected official denial of Albert Einstein Academy's proposed Rye Canyon school site. Agenda
  • Cats of the Magic Kingdom: There is an Instagram account devoted to the feral cats that roam the grounds of Disneyland. LAist
  • Muy Bueno: Nice profile on the folks behind Solita, the latest eatery to open at The Patios, in a space that has seen two flawed and failed Mexican restaurants. My wife and I gave Solita a try last night and we were very happy. This is their first weekend being open, and they were slammed, but the staff was still very friendly, the drinks and food were delicious, and it was an all-around good experience. Here's hoping Solita is here to stay. The Signal
  • Changing Positions at City Hall: Armine Chaparyan, formerly the city's director of redevelopment and interim city clerk, is leaving for a position with San Gabriel. Stepping in as city clerk is longtime city staffer Kevin Tonoian. KHTS

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Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 - 2:13pm
Forgive my sparse output lately. Apparently, post-election writer's block in an annually recurring condition. Sooner or later, it will back to our irregularly programmed schedule. But for now, we're continuing a yearly tradition by expanding on 2013's "Five Ways to Make Thanksgiving More Delicious by Thinking SCV." Please enjoy and have a great Thanksgiving.

1. ABH: Always Buy Huntsinger

The Hunstinger name used to carry a lot of weight in this town. Huntsingers were on the Hart and (original) COC boards. But all these years later, this locally-owned turkey farm raises consistently delicious turkeys. They've never let me down, so a few years ago I resolved to never buy anything else. It used to be a thing you'd order at Gelson's or the butcher, but these days, you'll find a few in most local grocery stores. A little pricey, but always worth it. (Pic from their website. I hope they don't mind)

2. Give back and donate to the Downtown Newhall Thanksgiving Meal

When he owned his bike shop in Newhall, Roger Hasper hosted a free Thanksgiving for the community, first in his parking lot, then on Main Street. Roger kept it alive after closing his shop, but he moved to Indiana earlier this year, where he’s still doing great things. Here in the SCV, Newhall’s South Valley Church is keeping the important event alive. There are some changes this year: the city’s traffic concerns moved the event to the Newhall Library parking lot, and the County says they can’t serve food donated by the general public. But you can still help. You can donate money for food, you can donate clothes (clothing drive ends tomorrow), or you can volunteer.
They’re calling it Giving Thanks Giving 2014 and it runs from 9am to 1pm on Thanksgiving, and as always, it's free.

3. Go to the Sunday Farmers' Market at COC

If you're reading this on Sunday morning, stop what you're doing and go to the Farmers' Market at COC. Buy anything you were going to buy at the store. Everything will be better. It's really as simple as that. Also, Fuji apples are in season. Thanks to Larry McClements for the pic.

4. Invite them over

Do you know someone that doesn't have a place to go on Thanksgiving? Doesn't matter why. Reach out and invite them over. You'll be happy, they'll be happy (and thankful). The shoe might be on the other foot one day.

5. Make bread that tastes like SCV (if you know)

Nothing says an SCV Thanksgiving like bread that literally tastes like SCV. If you happen to keep a sourdough starter, you're already set, no matter its original birthplace. If you don't have any, you might want to ask around. The delicious labor-of-love/movement/community/inside joke that is Scott Ervin’s Speakeasy Bakery actually had its origin when, for a post-Thanksgiving family dinner, I asked about local pies. Banter ensued and Scott offered up an apple pie, clandestinely. Ever since then, if you know, you know.

6. From her house to yours, or: don't let gluten stop you

I discovered Allison Needham years ago when she wrote food columns for the Signal. She was great, so great that I nearly gave up my first opportunity to be published (food writing for a short-lived SCV weekly) because I thought I couldn't compare. A few years ago, she was diagnosed with celiac disease and she had to say goodbye to gluten forever. This year, she got approval from LA County to open Ginger & Fox, her home-based gluten-free bakery here in SCV. I asked, and she still has a little room for additional Thanksgiving orders, and the menu is right here.

7. Compare with with (thousands of) neighbors

About two years ago, the SCV Foodies Facebook group started almost as a joke, by Todd Wilson. A year later it had 300 members. In the last year, it’s grown to over 3,000 members and spawned a website. Apart from all the general goodness, there’s this thread dedicated to Thanksgiving recommendations

8. Forage for SCV's native purple sage

No herb says Thanksgiving like sage. One Thanksgiving, I spent the better part of an afternoon in an unfamiliar town searching grocery stores for some fresh sage. My family thought I was crazy, but I couldn't compromise. But did you know that a variety of sage is native to the SCV? I Heart SCV tells us all about it (with all the witty detail you'd expect), including easy directions on where to score some of your own.

9. Reflect on the first SCV Thanksgiving

Years later, still a great read: here's Jeff Wilson's piece on the earliest meetings between Europeans and Native Americans in what we now call the Santa Clarita Valley.

Honorable mention: Make this ridiculously amazing creamed corn with Lombardi's corn

Here's an entry from last year, that I'm including simply because I'm an evangelist for this recipe/gadget. I think Lombardi's has closed for the season, but I haven't been able to confirm. Tapia Brothers isn't selling corn at COC Farmers' Market, but you can get some at their stand in Encino, or you can also try Forneris Farms in Mission Hills. Otherwise, you can probably find corn at some grocery stores. Grocery store corn isn't as good, and we're pretty late into the season, so you'll probably want to add a little bit of sugar to make up for the loss in sweetness.

What is more Claritan than going to Lombardi's Ranch in the fall? You can keep your adorable pumpkin patch pictures. For me, Lombardi's Ranch is about Thanksgiving. They close for the season on the day before Thanksgiving, where I like to get a bag full of corn and make this very simple creamed corn recipe from the very famous Chino's Family Farm near San Diego. Just corn, butter and maybe a little salt. With some good, fresh corn, your family will be stunned. It works best if you get one of these things.

Posted by Mike Devlin   |   3 Comments »
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Friday, November 21st, 2014 - 7:30am
Sorry folks, there's no brief today, but tune in tomorrow for a special weekend edition. 

Posted by Josh Premako   |   1 Comment »
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It's your computer in the sense that you've accessed too many stories using it. I'm not saying...
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RE: Alleged Illegal dumping of toxic substances in Chiquita Canyon landfill Darryl Manzer...
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Why can't we have more than one Senior Center to serve this large community and aging population? ...
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It's my computer....when I access the Signal it immediately goes to the subscription page, even...
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Forget about those damned digital billboards. They are dangerous and serve no good to anyone in...
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Yes please keep linking - I haven't hit my limit yet this month and have been able to read...
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Great post Mike. Tapia told me they will have corn up until the Sunday before Thanksgiving at the...
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After some of the comments in the Signal after the 4th of July tragedy, I can see why the city...
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