Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Police bust Claremont heroin dealers

According to a CPD news release from yesterday evening, 2 residents were arrested for drug possession and sales. On Monday evening, an anonymous citizen called police to report what they thought were subjects in a parked car smoking narcotics on the 400 block of Norwestern Drive. Police responded and found 3 subjects related to the vehicle.

Cameron Thompson, a 19-year-old Claremont resident, was found to be in possession of heroin and was arrested. Shayne Gillispie, 20-year-old Claremont resident, was arrested and taken to
Pomona Valley Hospital based on the officer’s belief that Gillispie had swallowed packaged heroin at the time of the initial contact. While at the hospital, Gillispie regurgitated approximately 15 balloons of heroin. A third subject was released at the scene.

A search warrant was served at Gillispie’s residence where additional heroin and other evidence were located. A search was also conducted at Thompson’s residence where additional evidence including bindles of cocaine were located. Thompson is currently being held at Claremont PD jail for possession of cocaine and possession of heroin; bail is $10,000. Gillispie is being held at Claremont PD jail for possession of heroin for sale; bail is $30,000. They are scheduled for arraignment at Pomona Court on December 30, 2009.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dutch Elm on Indian Hill to be removed

One of Claremont's oldest and most revered trees will have to be removed after a contractor cut through many of its roots.

Located on the southeast corner of Indian Hill Boulevard and 10th Street, the Dutch Elm tree has been providing shady cover for travelers on Indian Hill for over 100 years.

On Monday morning, an independent contractor of the city was working on the installation of a traffic signal at Indian Hill and 10th Street when he sliced through several major roots of the elm tree.

According to a city news release, "the root cutting was done without notification or authorization from the City. The policy of the City is to never grant permission to cut roots over 2 inches in diameter without proper inspection and approval from a licensed arborist."

The Dutch Elm trees located along Indian Hill Boulevard are the last of their species west of the Mississippi River.

The city contracted 4 independent arborists to assess the damage. They found that the 20 percent of the roots were damaged beyond repair and the stability of the tree has been compromised.

Construction on the installation of the signal has been halted until further notice by the City. According to Assistant City Manager Tony Ramos, the city will be seeking compensation from the contractor.

Upon hearing the news, Mayor Pro Tem Linda Elderkin went to see the tree one last time this evening before it was removed.

"I am just very sad about this," Elderkin said. "I am really devastated. As will everyone in this neighborhood be. There is really no way to compensate for the loss of a tree like this."

The tree will be removed tomorrow morning beginning at 9 a.m.

Update on CST student Walt Staton

Claremont School of Theology student Walt Staton will not be spending time in jail. At a hearing on Monday in Arizona, Staton agreed with a federal judge that he would in fact complete his 300 hours of community service.

As covered in the Wednesday, December 16 edition of the COURIER, Staton was cited by federal authorities for "premeditated littering" last year. Working with the humanitarian organization No More Deaths, Staton would leave fresh jugs of water for people traversing the US/Mexico border in Arizona.

Staton was originally assigned to complete 300 hours of service involving picking up litter on public land. He complained that there aren't many organizations doing trash pickup near Claremont. He would need to travel some distances to get to beaches and big cities, costing him even more times and gas money.

To avoid spending 25 days in jail, Staton and the judge agreed that he could do his community service in Claremont or surrounding cities.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Claremont Museum of Art will close at year's end

Sad news from the Claremont Museum of Art. The Board of Directors last night voted to discontinue operation of the museum and place the permanent collection in a secure storage facility.

In October, the Claremont Museum of Art nearly shut down but was able to secure roughly $30,000 from the city to stay open throughout 2009. Museum officials argued to the city council that the extra time will give them a chance to secure more donations so it could remain open. They were hoping to raise about $213,000 for operating expenses for 2010.

Museum volunteers had a telephone campaign and were able to secure $26,255 in pledges. But the money would only keep the museum open for about 6 weeks.

"Without any immediate prospects for additional donations, we don't see any way to continue operation in The Packing House location. Therefore we will not collect the pledges," according to a Museum news release.

Museum officials say they will continue to work on rejuvenating the museum within the next few years "as the economy improves." Your last chance to visit the museum will be on December 26 and 27 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

I will have more details to follow in an upcoming edition of the COURIER.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter bloom

Thanks to reader Andrea Eldridge for sending in this photo of a holiday Yucca. Eldridge took the photo while hiking at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 14 of the one and only blooming Yucca on the Wilderness Trail. According to Eldridge, the Yucca normally bloom in late summer here. "Nature's holiday anomaly," she said.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Posting comments

After getting a bunch of spam comments on my posts, I've made some settings changes to how comments will be posted. The good news is it will be much easier for people to share their thoughts and post comments.

To post a comment, simply click on the "Comments" link below the post. Type what you want to say and click on the menu by "Comment as." In the drop down menu by "Name/URL," you can choose to type in your name (preferable), your URL or click on "Anonymous." Hit "Post Comment" and you're done!

The comment won't publish right away. I'll received an email notifying me that I've got a comment to review. As long as they're not spam or have vulgar/slanderous language, I will post all comments. I will not edit any comments.

So feel free to share your thoughts. The COURIER City Beat is meant as a forum for COURIER readers and I want to hear what you have to say.

School Board votes for second time against nurse Cindy Estep-Tonan

At last night's Board of Education meeting, the CUSD Board voted to bring charges against Estep-Tonan to seek her termination. Board member Steven Llanusa was the lone voice of opposition on the Board, while Beth Bingham did not vote, citing a conflict of interest because she presided over Estep-Tonan's wedding.

In his first vote as a Board Member, Jeff Stark voted against the longtime school nurse along with Mary Caenepeel and Hilary LaConte. Stark was sworn in shortly before the closed session report on Estep-Tonan.

According to an article for tomorrow's paper written by my colleague Landus Rigsby, Estep-Tonan was "shocked" over Stark's vote. The issue of her employment status first came Before the board at the November 19 meeting when Stark was still sitting in the audience.

“I'm shocked and I don't know how Jeff Stark could have voted if he just came onto the board,” Ms. Estep-Tonan said. “They've rushed through this and I guess this is what they do to people they don't like. Justice will be served though.”

For a full report, be sure to read Saturday's issue of the COURIER.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Board to re-vote on Cindy Estep-Tonan's job

More developments are unfolding in the case of Cindy Estep-Tonan, the longtime nurse for the Claremont Unified School District who was recently let go by the district.

According to Linda Hunt from the Superintendent's Office, who spoke with my colleague Landus Rigsby, the Board of Education will take a re-vote on Estep-Tonan's employment status on Thursday night at the Board Meeting. For more details on the whys and hows, we'll have a full story in Saturday's paper.

The School District has apparently changed the format of their Board meeting agendas after receiving some criticism from the public. During the last meeting, many people arriving at 7 p.m. wanted to speak on behalf of Estep-Tonan, but the Board had already voted earlier during closed session.

While the lack of clarity on the agenda certainly didn't help, it is standard protocol for public comment on closed session items to take place before the closed session.

Here's page one of the most recent agenda with the new format. Below that is page one of the November 19 Board meeting. It's nice to see that the School District is willing to make timely adjustments in reation to concerns brought forth by the public. Hopefully, it will help avoid any potential confusion in the future.

Those interested in commenting on Estep-Tonan at Thursday night's meeting should arrive by 6 p.m.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Before he was mayor

This young Claremonter looks ahead to a bright future. Do you recognize this Webb School freshman? Photo was pulled from the COURIER archives.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Bulletin's botched article

The Claremont COURIER has set up its own Youtube account. As we venture further into the multimedia world, we'll upload videos that we shoot onto Youtube and you'll be able to view them from a link on our website.

We didn't shoot this video, but its content relates to the COURIER, newspapers and accuracy in reporting.

At the November 24 city council meeting, the council received a final report about the August 27 health care debate and recommendations for reform after Claremont police mishandled the situation.

Among the recommendations are a new rental agreement for similar forums taking place on city property which includes information about public meetings and security procedures.

During public comment, the council also heard from Zephyr Tate-Mann, President of the Democratic Club of Claremont. See video below.

Aside from her nice comments about the COURIER, she had some strong words for Daily Bulletin reporter Wes Woods II. The original Bulletin article she refers to is no longer on their website but I do remember reading it and noticing several mistakes.

I certainly don't think Woods was trying to slander Rudy Mann, as Tate-Mann questioned. I assume he just made an error and confused the 2 parties. Reporters are sometimes writing so much information so quickly that mistakes get made. We're human too.

Still, if an error appears in an article, it's the responsibility of the newspaper to correct it. Reporting on the health care reform debate, the COURIER printed some incorrect information about what happened. We followed up with a detailed, corrected article.

It seems the Bulletin already printed a correction on the "confusing" article. See below. Apparently it did not address all the errors in the original story, causing Tate-Mann to lash out at Woods and the Bulletin at the meeting.

I wonder if the Bulletin plans to run a second correction following Tate-Mann's comments. I certainly haven't seen anything in their paper about it.

*** Correction, November 13 ***

A Nov. 8 story about an incident at an Aug. 27 town hall meeting in Claremont was confusing. After Riverside resident Charles Cox shouted, he was escorted from the meeting room. When Claremont resident Rudolph David Mann tried to prevent Cox from re-entering the room, Cox fell and placed Mann under citizen's arrest. Police cited Mann but the District Attorney's Office did not file charges. Mann asked a police officer to arrest Cox at the scene, but the officer declined to do so.

City to help set up new restaurant

At long last, the large empty space in Village West will be filled. Casa Moreno Grill, a Mexican restaurant, will take over the vacant unit just south of the public plaza.

At last night's city council meeting, the council agreed to provide a grant of $150,000 to help the restaurant owners with initial setup costs. The money comes from a job creation and business incentive grant program and will help create 6 new full time jobs and 4 part time jobs.

Restaurant owners will be spending $285,000 for set up and have received a contribution of $94,500 from their landlord.

It hasn't been easy to find a tenant to fill that location, which has sat empty for 2 years. City officials hope the restaurant will bring in more foot traffic to Village West, helping neighboring businesses that have struggled.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

IVHS seeks donations for new adoption center

We received the following press release from the Inland Valley Humane Society. The organization is hoping to raise money for a brand new adoption center and is looking for donors for this project.

The Inland Valley Humane Society & S.P.C.A. is building a brand new adoption center and hopes to raise $1.5 million to meet the needs of this project.

IVHS partnered with the Rancho Cucamonga-based agency, Ignite Design & Advertising to develop a capital campaign that will raise donations for the construction and renovation. The campaign is called "A Different Kind of Homeless", and it highlights the process through which IVHS saves animals' lives and puts them in loving homes. The campaign also communicates how donations for the project will allow the organization to continue helping these animals.

"IVHS has always played a valuable role in the community," said Ignite President Chris Wheeler. "We wanted the impact of that role to resonate within this campaign and move the community members to give back."

IVHS is a full-access animal shelter serving communities all across the Inland Empire. The facility takes in nearly 17,000 sick or injured animals annually, then helps save their lives and find them loving homes.

For more information about the Inland Valley Humane Society & S.P.C.A. and how to donate, please call (909) 623-9777 or visit the IVHS Web site at
MEDIA: To schedule an interview with IVHS Operations Manager Jim Edward, please call (909)623-9777.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shop Claremont

'Tis the season for holiday shopping. I wrote an article about the business climate in Claremont for today's issue. Some business owners are optimistic, hoping that the worst of the recession is behind us. At the same time, other businesses are closing their doors.

What all Claremont merchants would like for Christmas is for local residents to do holiday shopping in their stores. Dollars spent here generate sales tax for the city and more money for city services. It will also help our stores stay open and keep "For Lease" signs out of the Village.

The city has even posted an online business directory on its website to help you easily find all of your shopping needs. So don't forget to shop Claremont this holiday season.

On a personal note, I have a great gift idea for Christmas. My cat had 4 kittens in October and I'm still trying to find homes for 2 of them. See adorable photo below.

They were born and raised right here in the community and are great with people and other cats. Anyone interested in giving them a good home, feel free to contact me at Happy holidays!