2010 was definitely an interesting year. Budget cuts, crime, the accomplishments and the foibles of our government and the overall spirit of our community made reporting the news one of the most interesting jobs on the planet.
Some news outlets have come up with a Top Ten series of news items; we’ve chosen to give you a summary (with a little editorializing in some places) of what kept us talking this year.
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We’ve noted some people who have left us, either by shuffling off this mortal coil or by moving on in the charity or business world. We’ve also taken note of some of our more unique happenings. Whatever. Let the “What A Year” Review commence:
The “every 10 years” U.S. Census was taken in 2010, with an office in Valencia, offering hundreds of temporary jobs to those who found themselves out of work. Along with the counting came scams and warnings.
LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich wants people to make informed choices when they are picking a nursing home for a loved one, so, just like the restaurant rating system he helped create, skilled nursing facilities will now have to post a letter grade in accordance with their federal Medicare evaluation. This goes into effect on Saturday.
Jan. 12 – The largest auto theft ring in LoJack history was broken in Castaic, with detectives seizing more than 35 stolen vehicles, heavy equipment and recreational vehicles during a 10-hour search warrant operation. Most of the recoveries were made from a 60-acre parcel near Faimham Street and included a Bobcat Skid-Steer loader stolen from Mission Cemetery. Property and vehicles recovered had a value well over a million dollars.
Jan. 16 – 11 people filed for seats on the Santa Clarita City Council: Harrison Katz, David Gauny, David Galvan, Johnny Pride, Daniel Hernandez, Frank Ferry, Laurene Weste, Marsha McLean, TimBen Boydston, Henry Schultz and Kenneth Mann. Mann dropped out of the race early on, Katz was characterized as the youngster with some good ideas (watch for him in the future), both Pride and Galvan had run-ins with the law (Galvan’s charges of impersonating a police officer stuck, Pride moved to Europe after being accused of inappropriate conduct with young girls and only garnering 357 votes), Daniel Hernandez claimed to be a special government operative, but if he gave us proof, he’d have to kill us. TimBen Boydston and David Gauny ran a good race and had many vocal supporters, but it was McLean, Weste and Ferry who came out on top – Ferry by only 32 votes more than Gauny, making the election a teachable moment. With 32 precincts and 32 votes coming between the two, it was proof that every vote does count.
Jan. 18 – Three-foot waves and 80 MPH winds closed Pyramid Lake.
January was also the month that a long national nightmare started for Councilman Bob Kellar who got caught up in the excitement of a Minuteman rally in Valencia and uttered the phrase “proud racist.” Of course, the comments were taken out of context, but it began a long series of talks and votes on immigration issues. In May, Kellar wrote a letter supporting Arizona’s proposed legislation upholding federal immigration laws, including a provision that allows law enforcement officers to question an arrestee’s citizenship.
In March, the City Council voted to support House legislation making English the official language of the United States; the installation of 350 miles of double fencing on the Mexican border; un-funds ACORN; denies in-state tuition to illegal immigrants; upholds current immigration laws; denies automatic citizenship to children of illegals bon in the U.S. (introducing the term “anchor babies” into the vernacular) and increases the penalties for smuggling people into the country.
In May, LAUSD and LA County officially boycott Arizona; Antonovich disagreed vehemently. In July, the US Supreme Court blocked the Arizona legislation because some parts are allegedly unconstitutional.
DOWNSIZED: Newhall Land moves from its landmark building in Valencia to smaller, newer quarters on Springfield Court near the I-5 freeway.
CLOSED in 2010: Bristol Farms, Margo’s, Ethan Allen, Warehouse Discount Center, Do It Center, Play It Again Sports
Jan 27 – Deputies arrest a suspect outside LA Fitness for stealing things out of people’s cars. Cops say that this theft ring operated around health clubs in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys, Burbank and North Hollywood for months. Suspects stole items that were largely in plain sight. Stop me if I’ve said this before….don’t be a victim.
This was a pattern that repeated itself over and over in 2010. In June, another burglar became a guest of the County after a crime spree that involved victims leaving things where they could be seen, often behind unlocked doors or windows. Again, a little less temptation, a little less crime…
Feb. 12 – LA Superior Court rejected a lawsuit over the expansion of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, clearing the way for construction to start in March. As of December 30, the parking lot construction was well underway.
Feb. 17 – Four Newhall teens arrested after an 11-month investigation. They were responsible for 377 incidents of tagging in parks, schools, busses and trails; one 15-year old suspect was found responsible for 240 of those incidents. Damages exceed $100,000. And yes, parents can still be held liable.
Budget woes: school districts increased class sizes, downsized number of staff positions; courts closed; deputies lost overtime and department brass got back behind the wheels of patrol cars and answered station phones.
Speaking of crime, the year in drugs:
Feb. 24 – A domestic violence call leads to a $600K pot bust on Baker Canyon Road in Castiac. The grow house was the scene of the violence, but a second location was found on Hume Canyon Road.
April 27 – Krissy McAfee, mother of Trey Daniel Allen, calls out the City Council during a meeting about the problem of heroin in our community. Son overdosed, she claims sheriff doesn’t care. Councilman and former LAPD Sgt. Bob Kellar asks Captain Paul Becker to come up with a plan to address the problem. Since then, a special group, the “J Team” has been formed and is working on rousting drug dealers and cutting off suppliers.
August 31 – A marijuana grow house is found on Via Telino, where more than 300 plants are found and suspect rousted from his filthy surroundings. He’s in bigger trouble for stealing power, as house wires had been juryrigged to boost 110 power to 220. Grow lights confiscated in raid are cleaned up and find new life at Golden Valley High School in the AP science lab.
The City Survey was finished; we like public safety, graffiti removal and public parks. We don’t like the dearth of nighttime entertainment or traffic congestion. Apparently we are more upset with traffic than we were in 2006. We want a Cheesecake Factory and a Nordstroms and a high-end steakhouse. We also don’t buy cars here because we get better deals and choices outside the city.
March – two astonishing things happened: Buck McKeon announced he’d run for reelection and Valencia Co. launched the “Awesometown” campaign. Hmmm.
The Revolving Door Of Administration:
- Out: Sheriff’s Captain Anthony LaBerge (promoted to Commander)
- In: Sheriff’s Captain Paul Becker (here from Homicide)
- Out: Larry Mankin as CEO/President of SCV Chamber of Commerce
- In: Ed Masterson, Charles Gill as interims, Theresa Kingerly hired in December
- Out: Hart District Superintendent Jaime Castellanos retires
- In: Former Muroc District Superintendent Robert Challinor hired
- Out: Brad Berens, Executive Director of the SCV Senior Center
- In: Jim Morgan, new Executive Director hired
- Out: COC Spokeswoman/PIO Sue Bozman retires
- In: Her job is being shared by several staff members with John McElwain holding the reins
- Out – Circle of Hope Founder Colleen Shaffer, takes Programs Director slot
- In: Executive Director Ray Tippet
- Out: Jay Thomas as President of Six Flags Magic Mountain
- In: Bonnie Rabjohn, returning to the park where she used to handle PR
- Out: Hart District PIO Pat Willett
- In: Education Advocate and Marketing Expert Gail Pinsker
- Out: Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission Executive Director Sandor Winger
- In: Paul Novak, former Planning Deputy for LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich
- Out: Judy Fish, Superintendent of Saugus School District (at end of school year). No replacement named yet.
- Out: George Runner from the 17th District Senate seat, elected to the Board of Equalization 2nd District seat.
- In The Running: George’s wife Sharon, who declares her candidacy for his seat in the upcoming Feb. 17 special primary election.
Good news department: Two tow truck drivers decide to get involved in the search for an elderly man in Canyon Country; passing his picture between drivers and deputy sheriffs. Man is found, slightly injured, on a hillside near the river, but he’s OK. All in a day’s work.
March 16 – Groundbreaking for Newhall Library. Still part of the county system. No clue at that time what a HUGE political football this would become. In July, library surpluses were discussed as the gateway to upgraded services, foreshadowing the city’s intention to take over library operations from the county. Later that month, union organizers provided a sea of red T-shirts for protestors asking city officials to reconsider their decision. County librarians draw line in the sand; refuse to finish renovations of JoAnne Darcy Library in Canyon Country, even thought they’d already been funded. August 25, the official vote is taken and contractor LSSI is hired. Citizens’ group is formed to fight takeover, advisory panel (of nearly 40 people) is formed by city to advise on library services. Citizen’s group files a lawsuit claiming LSSI will violate their privacy with information used to obtain library cards. Judge throws lawsuit out as being without merit.
- March 17 – Parks Commissioner Ed Redd is found dead in his Canyon Country home.
- April 9 – Deputy Timothy White, former kidnap victim made famous in movie “I Know My Name Is Stephen”
- April 16 – Former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates
- June 17 – Plastic Surgeon Edward Pechter dies at home of a heart attack.
- August 2 – Former Assemblyman Keith Richman dies after cancer battle
- September 4 – Editorial Cartoonist Paul Conrad; a gallery showing of his work had just opened at College of the Canyons
- December 6 – LA County Economic Development Corporation head Jack Kyser. He had retired June 15.
Budget: Hart District cuts funding for 8th Grade graduations. An outraged community takes to the streets. Student Hunter Kozak of Sierra Vista Junior High mounts a campaign to put on a private ceremony. Two weeks later, the district makes another budget cut: report cards are now given to students at school instead of them being mailed home. To save district money, we return students to the honor system. Now that’s progress!
March 27 – With a hearty “ho” to the horses pulling a Wells Fargo wagon, the City Council rides across the newly-completed Cross Valley Connector. City hosts celebration barbecue in parking lot on the other side.
April 1 (no, this is not a joke): William S. Hart gets his own U.S. Postal Service 44-cent stamp. Not a Joke #2: Hart’s stamp is honored as Grand Marshal of SCV Fourth of July parade.
Cashing in on the city’s success with tribute bands at Concerts In the Park, Tributefest is launched May 1, featuring gourmet food trucks and beer gardens.
April 28 – Two inmates working in the laundry at Pitchess Detention Center escape but don’t get very far. They stop a guy and ask him for clothes, are found hiding near an industrial building in Castaic. They were in jail for home invasion robbery and are in a much stronger prison now, as guests of the state.
April 28 – Deputy Cameron Glover is killed in an off-duty motorcycle collision on McBean Parkway, leaving behind a pregnant wife. Community shows unified support; bring baby items to Santa Clarita Station and make monetary donations to help his family; law enforcement and fire fighters pack the Performing Arts Center for his funeral.
April 29 – Legionnaire’s Disease found in one wing of building at College of the Canyons, which launches a major educational campaign on the disease and quells rumors quickly. School undergoes thorough cleansing, gets clean bill of health.
May – Wayne Crawford and Mary Ann Colf named as Man and Woman Of the Year
May 4 – Mysterious planes buzz the Santa Clarita Valley; dozens of residents alarmed, Air Force denies ownership of planes until KHTS reporters Jeremiah McDaniel and Philip Long uncover proof from FAA logs. Three weeks later, Air Force admits planes were theirs, but deny any unusual maneuvers that were witnessed by residents.
May 14 – Distraught woman commits suicide by jumping out of brother’s car and off Via Princessa bridge, landing on bridge support near railroad tracks.
May 26 – Santa Clarita Sanitation District launches a quest for higher fees to cover expenses and explore building a new wastewater treatment plant near the Ventura County border allegedly required because of chloride levels in water traveling to strawberry and avocado farmers. Residents alarmed, as are board members Mike Antonovich and Laurene Weste, who encourage people to send in ballots and turn out to protest at meeting. Decision to raise funds now put off until spring 2011. In the meantime, Newhall County Water officials propose the formation of a stakeholders’ advisory committee to explore more recent data and possible solutions.
May 30 – PFC Jake Suter of Stevenson Ranch is killed in Afghanistan. Community turns out by the thousands to line his funeral procession. McKeon speaks at his memorial
June 3 - McKeon holds a virtual Town Hall Meeting at Santa Clarita City Hall with video connections to Victorville and Palmdale that turns into a heated argument between participants on issue of immigration. He also introduces Republican program, “America Speaks Out”
June 10 – The Senior Center loses two of its Home Delivered Meals trucks, one to extensive damage done to break down the parking lot fence and the other stolen. Suspect leaves DNA evidence in the damaged truck, is tracked down and arrested; stolen truck recovered in the Sand Canyon area. Fence fixed, but comes down about a month later when a massive oak falls over and damages fence and Senior Center building.
July 4 – In a tragic accident, Matilde Juarez Garnica was killed while she watched fireworks over the Valencia Town Center when Melissa Brown ran a red light, hit an SUV turning into a shopping center driveway and was propelled into the crowd, crushing Garnica and injuring others nearby, including some of her children. Traffic investigators re-created the accident and counseling was offered to witnesses. Brown was not arrested. The community held fundraisers to help the Garnica family.
July 6 – City Council votes to increase campaign contribution limits from $360 to $1,000
July 13 – Assemblyman Cameron Smyth welcomed another constituent, his new baby daughter.
July 14 – Romero Canyon was picked as site for new Castaic High School. Consultants and experts gathered and commenced feasibility studies.
July 26 – Chick-fil-A opens in Valencia.
July 30 – The Crown Fire burns thousands of acres and destroys homes in Leona Valley and Antelope Valley, skirting the SCV, but affecting traffic on the 14. Two weeks later, a Saugus youth accidentally sets off a brush fire while smoking marijuana in a canyon near his home. No homes are damaged in that fire.
Aug 4 – Proposition 8 – which defines marriage as between a man and a woman in California - is overturned by a federal judge; decision is stayed until case can be analyzed again in December.
Aug. 11 – The Bridgeport lighthouse is declared off limits to photographers, setting off a firestorm on social networks and incidents of late night shenanigans involving digital “art.”
August – Gourmet food trucks find their way over the hill and start feeding the Facebook/Twitter faithful in Newhall, then participate in an “Awesometown” truck fest, followed by more trucks in Newhall. This trend could continue…
September 3 – Antonio Rodriguez sentenced to death for the torture-murder of 6-year old Desarie Saravia, his girlfriend’s daughter, who was molested and beaten to death in a restroom at Hasley Canyon Park in Castaic.
Sept. 23 – Draft One Valley One Vision presented to the public, series of city staff meetings to explain each segment commence.
Oct. 1 – Jury selection begins in murder trial of Michael Dean Stephens, accused of killing Josh Pipho Nov. 24, 2007 in a Stevenson Ranch altercation. On November 9, Stephens was found guilty of murder with sentencing scheduled for December 2, later postponed to January 20. He faces at least seven years in prison.
Oct. 6 – A female student at Hart High stabs another female four times in an argument over a relationship. Injuries are not life-threatening, the attacker is taken to Juvenile Hall.
Oct. 7 – The Amgen Tour of California organizers announce they will return to Santa Clarita May 22, 2011. On Nov. 17, the city announces that it will host the Trifecta, a triple running/cycling/triathlon competition June 2-5, 2011.
October 8 – Proving it’s all in the headline, 1,456 people clicked on the story “Chinchilla Arrested For Methamphetamine and Extacy Possession” to read about another case of good police work. Deputies Dubin and Jones arrested 29-year-old Belter Chinchilla, a previously deported felon, for drug possession in Newhall.
Oct. 11. Firefighters found a body when they were cleaning up a small brush fire near Templin Highway in Castaic. The body, which was burned beyond recognition, was found to be that of a black woman possibly in her 30s. Traces of burlap was found around the body and it was allegedly bound in some sort of restrictive substance. Her identity has yet to be determined.
Oct. 22 – Three people are killed in a plane crash in Agua Dulce and three horses are put down because of injuries and burns from the resulting fire.
Oct. 23 – A teen volunteer is run over by a hay wagon carrying passengers during Heritage Haunt, a Halloween-themed fundraiser for the SCV Historical Society. His injuries turn out to be minor.
November 4 – The skeletal remains of Fullerton student Lynsie Eklund are found on the grounds at LARC Ranch. Chris McAmis, who is in custody as a suspect in her 2001 murder, told authorities he killed her in his Whittier apartment and buried her body on the ranch where he and his father were working on a construction project.
November 2 – Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley declares victory in the race to become California’s Attorney General over his opponent, San Francisco District Attorney Kamela Harris. Three weeks later, he concedes the race to Harris, who earned nearly 75,000 more votes.
November 18 – Environmental Health officials announce that the majority of rabid bats found in Los Angeles County were found in Santa Clarita. Residents are warned not to touch bats on the ground and call Animal Control if they see one.
November 24 – Congressman Buck McKeon, who has been the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, is named as the Chair of the committee, beginning with the new session of Congress January 2011.
December 4 – City Councilman Frank Ferry has been hospitalized since November 30 with a life-threatening infection after surgery to remove a cyst from his pancreas. Family is summoned, but Ferry responds to intensive treatment, is moved to a private room the second week of December and is expected to make a complete recovery.
December 20 – And to cap the police blotter for 2010, a story that is repeated around Christmas dinner tables around town: Chatsworth resident Aaron Tanner argues with his mother as they drive towards Santa Clarita, he stabs her and pushes her out of the car and on the freeway near the I-5/Hwy 14 split; travels to Newhall Avenue, where he hits a car in the Park and Ride lot, then pushes a woman out of the driver’s seat of her PT Cruiser, stealing the car which has the woman’s 4 year old son in the back seat. Deputies broadcast a description of the car, which is quickly spotted on Carl Boyer Drive, where Tanner has rear-ended one car and backed into a tree. When deputies run to the abandoned vehicle to check on the child (who is fine), Tanner steals the patrol car and leads what seems like every deputy in town on a lights-and-siren wild chase across the Cross Valley Connector into the developing River Park housing tract, where he crashes through a retaining wall and 100 feet down into the riverbed, rolling the patrol car that bursts into flames. As he crawls for the shotgun that has been thrown from the car, deputies subdue him and he bites all 9 of them. The emergency room was very, very busy that night.