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A Silent Hero Heads For Texas, Leaves Big Boots To Fill

khts_editorial5blurThe following is an editorial written by Carl Goldman, Co-owner of KHTS Radio

She is one of our Santa Clarita Valley silent heroes, the one who is always there when we need her, the one who pulls up her sleeves and does the hard work. I’ve known Stephanie Weiss since my wife Jeri and I moved to Santa Clarita in 1990 to purchase the local radio station.

Stephanie was a tough cookie. As owner of her own PR firm, she represented a number of local businesses who we needed as clients. Stephanie wasn’t about to hand advertising dollars over to us until we proved worthy. As time progressed she became one of our biggest supporters and for that, we are forever grateful. Stephanie taught me that giving back to our community didn’t necessarily mean in dollars.

She represented a number of our shopping centers long before there was a Westfield Valencia Town Center. Stephanie taught me that promotional events also meant supporting our non-profits. Whether it was creating the Valley’s first Emergency Expo or creating an annual Christmas in July as a fundraiser for the SCV Food Pantry, Stephanie’s heart was always focused on how to give back. At all these events, Stephanie wasn’t just managing the troops. She was the one pulling up her sleeves, leading the charge. She was the one lifting the bales of hay to protect the precious snow from our unbearable July mid-day heat so Santa Clarita toddlers could enjoy the experience.

Stephanie was the one who twisted my arm and persuaded me to join the board of our local Red Cross. She had the foresight to realize how well that knowledge and experience would serve me, our radio station and our Valley when the 1994 Northridge Earthquake hit. At the time, we were KBET AM-1220. Our emergency coverage during the earthquake and throughout our months of recovery won countless regional and state awards, which eventually lead to the formation of the Santa Clarita Valley Disaster Coalition.

Throughout the earthquake and our numerous other local disasters Stephanie has continued to guide, support and assist, behind the scenes.

Stephanie’s greatest contribution to our Valley is her work with our youth. A number of years ago, she became involved in Action. She uncovered another jewel in our valley, Cary Quashen, leader of Action. Through her coaching, marketing skills, community connections and unrelenting drive, Stephanie took Action from a small, little-known troubled teen support group to the most precious asset in our valley, an asset that has saved and continues to save thousands of our challenged teens. For those unaware of this treasure, I invite you to tune in to KHTS AM-1220 every Monday at noon, where Stephanie and Cary share, along with teens, parents and siblings, the obstacles overcome to get back on track. There’s a wealth of compelling stories sitting as audio podcasts on our radio station website, www.hometownstation.com. The show should be required listening for every parent in our valley.

On October 1, 2007, tragedy struck the Weiss household. Stephanie and Jim’s daughter, Tatiana, died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism, associated with a foot injury suffered a month earlier. She was a few days shy of 28. Her promising career in theater was tragically cut short. Most of us would retreat from life. We’d pack it in, take time for ourselves. Not Stephanie. She worked harder than ever, continuing to assist other families with their teenager challenges.

I’m sharing these thoughts about Stephanie because after more than half a century, we are going to lose her. Stephanie, along with her husband Jim, are moving to Texas on September 1st. Stephanie has been one of the threads who make the Santa Clarita Valley so unique. We are a community who rolls up our sleeves and gets the job done in a way like very few other communities, kind of how Stephanie does it. Although our population is now over 280,000 residents, we are still very much like a Mayberry RFD. In fact, as a young child, Stephanie learned to ride a horse weaving through the ranches and turkey farms of Sand Canyon. She’d often ride past the farm house used in the hit television show of that era, Lassie. She has shared many stories with me of a time and atmosphere in our valley difficult for me to even imagine.

For a number of years Stephanie and her husband Jim have talked about moving to Texas. Each time she’s mentioned it, I’ve said, “sure,” with more than a little touch of sarcasm. It was impossible for me to imagine Santa Clarita without Stephanie and Jim Weiss. Now, she’s assured me its true and the day of their departure is fast approaching. I can’t begin to express the void we’ll have when Stephanie and Jim actually leave.

We are so fortunate to live in a community like Santa Clarita. The fabric of our valley will be missing a couple of sturdy strands next month. Our teenagers of tomorrow and their parents, those who have yet to envision challenges they may face in their future, will be missing an anchor, one whom could assist in navigating them through their future crisis. Our valley will miss two strong pairs of hands who have always been there to do the heavy lifting during local emergencies. And most of all, our valley will miss two of the nicest, most caring, giving citizens of Santa Clarita. We will miss you Jim and Stephanie. Texas has no idea the gift they are receiving.