Tuesday, July 27, 2010

City Council meeting tonight

In its last meeting before the summer break, the city council will have a lot to discuss. The open session meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the city council chamber.

The council will consider a proposal by a private operator, Children's Source, LLC, to run the city's preschool and Tiny Tots programs. With the recent budget cuts, funding was no longer available for the city to subsidize the programs. The lease agreement would allow the operator to use the city's facilities over the next 5 years.

The owner of boutique gift shop Three French Hens is interested in taking over the vacant retail space in the Village West parking structure. Owned by the city, the retail space was recently vacated by Bedol What's Next and is available for lease. The council will be asked to approve the terms of the lease agreement.

Two Packing House businesses have applied for funding from the city for business improvements. The city has a CDBG job creation grant to attract new businesses and support business expansion in the city that create new jobs in town.

The Hip Kitty Jazz & Fondue Lounge wants to expand into the former art gallery space located in the Packing House. The Packing House Wine Merchant also wants to expand into the former Claremont Forum bookstore space. Both are requesting $50,000 from the city as the projects would create 2 full time equivalent jobs for the businesses.

The council will also consider relaxing the city's code on business signage to allow businesses more freedom to advertise and promote themselves. If approved, the amended ordinance would:

-Allow businesses to have freestanding identification signs in addition to building-mounted signs.
-Permit multi-tenant center signs if included as part of a center sign program.
-Establish that the city will adopt a multi-tenant center sign enhancement program to promote more effective identification of tenants.
-Allow center identification signs that have only the name of the center in addition to the multi-tenant signs.
-Remove distance requirement for freestanding freeway-oriented signs and permit the identification of more than 3 tenants on freestanding freeway-oriented signs.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

DUI Checkpoint this Friday

The Claremont Police Department will hold a DUI checkpoint this Friday at an undisclosed location in the city. Drivers will be stopped long enough to ensure they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, have valid driver licenses and are wearing their seat belts. Funding for the checkpoint came from the California Office of Traffic Safety. The checkpoint will run from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

CGU announces new President

Claremont Graduate University announced Professor Deborah Freund as its 15th president in a news release on Wednesday morning, bringing to an end a search process that began in February 2009 when former CGU President Robert Klitgaard announced his resignation.

Freund was vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and provost at Syracuse University from 1999-2006, and has held the title of distinguished professor of public administration and economics from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs since 2004.

“To be asked to lead an educational institution of such distinction and accomplishment as CGU in these changing times for higher education is a challenge and a privilege,” Freund said in a released statement. “Meeting such challenges going forward will be possible because of the dedication, talent, and enthusiasm of CGU's trustees, faculty, students, alumni, and staff.”

Look for the full story in Saturday's edition of the COURIER.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

COURIER mentioned on Jeopardy!

Last night, a contestant on the popular game show This is Jeopardy! spent his interview time on the show talking about the COURIER's Police Blotter.

This week is Kid's Week on Jeopardy! featuring contestants in the 12-year-old age range. Host Alex Trebek asked contestant Ethan from Woodland Hills what he likes to read. Ethan explained how his grandmother lives in Claremont and he enjoys reading the "Claremont Police Blotter" when he comes to town to visit her. He said he likes reading about the strange crimes people get involved in and finds it entertaining.

Thanks Ethan for the nice plug for the COURIER on national TV.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More info on last week's high speed chase

For those following the news about the high speed chase on Base Line Road, here's a bit of background information.

Last Tuesday morning, a Claremont police officer attempted to pull over a silver BMW on Base Line Road near Padua Avenue for not having a license plate. The officer was not aware at the time that the car had been stolen. Rather than pulling over, the driver sped off, heading eastbound on Base Line.

At Benson Avenue in Upland, the driver ran a red light and crashed into 2 vehicles, killing one man and injuring another. One witness said the car was moving about 55 miles per hour at the time of the collision.

The man who died as a result of the crash had strong ties to Claremont and people in the city. William Blanchard, 76, grew up in the famous Gumby house in Claremont, attended Webb School and graduated from Pomona College. His father was a music professor at Pomona for many years.

The driver is Brett Fagan, 25, of Covina. He is being held at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

According to Kenneth Ford, Chief Deputy Regional for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Fagan was released from prison on June 2 after serving most of his 2-year sentence for a previous auto theft. He was not a part of California's controversial early release program.

He was on parole and in violation of his parole at the time of the accident, police said. Fagan faces charges that include murder, auto theft and felony evasion of police.

A memorial service will be held this Saturday for Blanchard beginning at 11:15 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Upland. The church is located at 262 N. Euclid Ave.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Claremont man accused of weapon's smuggling

First there was the donut shop ivory smugglers. Now Claremont has another accused smuggler, this time in heavy weaponry.

Joseph O'Toole, 79, is accused by federal prosecutors in Florida of attempting to broker a deal that would send as many as 2000 AK-47s to Somalia, a country with a UN-imposed arms embargo since 1992.

Today, Somalia is known for its lawlessness that has allowed piracy to flourish in the waters off its coast.

O'Toole and a co-conspirator, Israeli national Chanoch Miller, were both arrested in June in Florida. According to the indictment, the men unknowingly communicated their flight and payment plans for the weapons deal with an undercover agent from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Many in the community know O'Toole as a friendly man who is active and involved in the community. He ran for city council in 1997 and has been a vocal opponent of the Base Line affordable housing project in recent years. I even wrote about O'Toole a couple months back on an unrelated topic here.

His arraignment hearing is tentatively scheduled for July 9 in Ft. Lauderdale. A more detailed report of Mr. O'Toole's alleged crimes will appear in Saturday's edition of the COURIER.