2008 Honorable Mention Stories
So much news, so little space...
As promised, there is a special Honorable Mention
compilation of news stories – things that got a lot of attention and are worth
The Palmdale airport got a shot in the arm early in the year
with United Airline’s service to San Francisco
and Las Vegas. The County
of L.A. even started a Palmdale
Flyer bus service. Unfortunately, in November, United became the seventh
airline to pull their service from Palmdale and the busses stopped running.
Fifth District Supervisor Mike Antonovich recently directed those in charge of
airports to come up with their plan for the property, since it doesn’t seem to
be working as an airport.
We’ve all driven past it hundreds of times and if we go to Hollywood,
we’ve seen the windowless white vans picking up the soon-to-be-faithful, but the
Alamo Ministries got a little attention from deputies and the FBI in September.
A visit to the compound on Sierra Highway
was made concurrent with a raid on Alamo’s Arkansas
compound, where several young girls were taken into protective custody. A
warrant was issued for Alamo’s arrest and the cops
caught up with him in Phoenix a few
days later. He’s currently in jail for alleged transportation of minors across
state lines for sexual purposes. No children were taken from the Saugus
complex in either the September visit or one in November.
Skateboarders taught the City Council a lesson on
negotiation when they showed up en masse at a meeting and asked for an off-site
opportunity to discuss the transition between the old skatepark at the
Caravalho Sports Complex and the new one scheduled to open in summer 2009. Their
willingness to talk and work with parks officials impressed Councilman Frank
Ferry, who facilitated the meet. Bottom line, what could have become a
vandalism or loitering problem (skaters with no park will still skate) turned
into a win-win situation for both the skaters and the city.
In the aftermath of the October 2007 fires, people wondered
how Jim Tindall, the severaly-burned caretaker from Heads Up was doing. The
optimistic Tindall came home from the Grossman
Burn Center in February and later
in the year, Habitat for Humanity volunteers, with some help from the Gas
Company, remodeled his family home in Newhall.
Some criminals got their due in 2008, including:
- Robert Wheeler, an Oregon
man convicted of killing an adult gift store clerk and going on a shooting
spree on New Year’s Day 2005, was sentenced to life in prison.
- Jacquelin Linares, whose newborn daughter was found in a
trash bin in the Polynesian Mobile
on May 1, 2006, was convicted
of murdering the girl and sentenced to 25 years to life in October.
- Michael Stephens was held to answer on charges that he
murdered Josh Pipho during a fight in Stevenson Ranch in November 2007. He goes
to court on January 7.
- Christopher Rosas, his wife Cynthia and brother Ralph Rosas were
taken into custody and remain encarcerated at three separate facilities on
suspicion of murdering Louis Campinelli, who was stabbed to death in a Soledad
Canyon Road bar in February 2006.
resident Keith Gilabert was sentenced to five years in federal prison for
investor fraud, committed through an investment company he set up.
- A Santa Clarita Transit bus driven by Veolia contractor David
Delape allegedly ran a red light and hit a vehicle on The Old Road in Stevenson
Ranch, instantly killing the female driver. After a long investigation, the CHP recommended manslaughter
charges be filed against Delape and a warrant was issued. Delape appeared in
court on Dec. 22 and was released almost immediately.
- And the driver of a truck that broke down right outside the
exit of the truck route tunnel, causing a multi-vehicle fiery crash in October 2007 that took
three lives and closed the tunnel to through traffic for at least a month will not be charged with
negligence, as the District Attorney felt liability could be traced to the
trucking company for which he worked.
Some crimes remain unsolved, such as the shooting of Anthony
Lombardi, a Valencia
resident who ran an ATM servicing business and was robbed and killed in his
driveway on September 16. His family has posted countless flyers and issued
appeals for help in finding his killer. A few days later, a passenger in a pickup truck was killed on Lyons Avenue
near the Old Orchard Shopping Center when a black SVU pulled up behind and a
man got out, demanding money from the truck’s driver and shooting the victim.
Detectives have no suspects in that incident.
On the highways, travelers going through a stretch near
Magic Mountain Parkway now drive through a portion dedicated to the four CHP
officers gunned down in the 1970 “Newhall Incident.” Family, friends and former
officers who worked with the late Officers Roger Gore, Walt Frago, James Pence
and George “Mike” Alleyn attended a ceremony in April at the Newhall Caltrans yard where
one of the largest commemorative signs in California
was unveiled as a tribute to the fallen officers.
The Transitional Care Unit at Henry
Mayo Newhall Memorial
Hospital was closed, eliminating a
critical skilled nursing facility despite the needs of the local senior
population. The hospital stated that the closure was necessitated by a need for
critical care patient beds. The City of Santa Clarita
responded by establishing bus service to the closest alternate facility in
Signal Publisher Jay Harn was ousted and escorted from the
building on September 9, with no reason given for his departure. Morris
Newspapers brought in Ian Lamont, a former publisher from the Media News Group
who also has expertise in reviving flagging businesses, to lead the staff.
William S. Hart senior Kari Hsieh was killed, along with 24
other passengers, on Sept. 12 in a horrific head-on crash between a Metrolink commuter
train and a Union Pacific freight train near Stoney
in Chatsworth. Along with the 25 casualties, 135 people were injured in the
collision, making it the worst train wreck in Southern California
in the last 50 years.
In the arts world, there was good news and bad news. In
November, the Canyon Theatre Guild signed a lease agreement with the Newhall
School District to renovate the circa
1940 auditorium at Newhall Elementary
School and use it as rehearsal and performance
space for its children’s programs. In December, the Santa Clarita Symphony
announced it would be canceling its 2009 season due to a lack of funding.
Santa Clarita deputies mourned the loss of one of their own
October 24 when Deputy Randy Hamson passed away from injuries he received in an
on-duty traffic accident in 2004.
October 24 was also the day that KHTS celebrated its fifth
anniversary of returning local control to the airwaves and producing all local
news, sports and community programming.
And on what could be called the “perfect storm” news day, an
arctic storm slammed the area with snow and freezing rain on December 17,
closing both the I-5 and the 14, trapping many workers in the valley and making
Metrolink numbers soar as they tried to get home to the Antelope
Valley. If that wasn’t enough, at
the same time roads were shutting down, a helicopter contracted to do tower
work for Edison crashed at Lombardi Ranch in Saugus,
killing a mechanic on the ground. Minutes later, deputies got involved in a
pursuit in Circle J where a suspect pointed a weapon at deputies resulting in
shots fired by law enforcement, but no injuries. Three suspects were arrested
in that incident.