Thursday, May 31, 2012

Claremont seeks new commissioners

Photo courtesy of city of Claremont
Claremont is looking for residents with an interest in the city's decision making process to apply for appointment to the city's various commissions. Applications are being sought for those willing to fill potential end-of-term vacancies. 

Those interested should stop by the city clerk's office, located within City Hall (207 Harvard Ave.), to fill out a form. Applications will be taken through Thursday, June 14, at 6 p.m. For more information call 399-5460. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Claremont's Run for the Red: a reporter's reflection

Photo courtesy of
 Steven Felschundneff
Memorial Day is a holiday that brings together family and friends, whether with an afternoon barbecue, trip to the beach or dip in the backyard swimming pool. It brings with it a feeling of summer, of nostalgia, memories hanging with friends and family around a bonfire or picnic table.

“A sense of camaraderie,” added Linda Troyer, chatting with my father and me in the Monday morning sunshine before we embarked on the Claremont Red Cross’s Run for the Red.

As my father and I stretched and then took off from the starting line for the 3.1-mile trek around the Claremont Colleges, Ms. Troyer’s words had me reflecting in a more meaningful way on my own life.

When my editor had asked me if I was interested in not only covering the Run for the Red, but participating as a runner, I was immediately up for it despite my lack of long distance endurance. I’m by no means a runner, growing up dancing and pirouetting rather than racing, but enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone especially when it comes to exercise.

My thoughts turned to my father, a man who is known for his love of adventure, border lining on diehard at times. We always joke about my dad’s compulsion with exercise, his daily grueling bike rides and past marathons, his notorious “short” hikes that would end up taking us half the day to complete, and usually earned us a Slurpee at the local 7 Eleven. On this day so cherished by families, I thought, why not ask my dad to participate in an old pastime with me.

My dad was immediately up for our spontaneous morning date, as I knew he would be. He loves the opportunity to engage in exercise with his 5 children at any chance. We got our microchips and bibs and made our way to the race.

Though my dad could easily speed ahead of me, it was nice to have him there by my side coaching me along the Claremont Colleges route, which in itself brought back a lot of memories to both of us. As we passed through the track I remembered daytrips to the Pomona College field where we kids would participate in personal competitions or dad would help us swing from a rope that used to be attached to a nearby tree.

“Remember that tree?” my dad asked as we jogged by the lawn in front of Bridges Auditorium. Many a lazy Sunday afternoon after church we would lounge in the shade of those trees with a Little Caesar’s pizza, running around and eventually begging my parents to take us to the little koi pond at Scripps. We even have a family Christmas photo with all of us kids hanging out of the tree like monkeys.

My dad pointed out buildings where he took classes while studying at CMC, then Claremont Men’s Colleges, and I in turn shared about new buildings that have been added since I began writing at the COURIER over the past year. We again reflected as we passed the CMC dorms, where my dad used to live and where my family to this day continues to gather for a Frisbee match before watching the fireworks at the annual Fourth of July celebration.

Though I am by no means a runner, I felt energized by these thoughts. Instead of focusing on the labor of the run itself, I was able to take a moment to enjoy the father-daughter bonding time.

Crossing that finish line side-by-side with my dad reminded me of the importance of my family and loved ones. It reminded me of the good times, even the little things, in my past that continue to weave the fabric of who I am today. It conjured up an often uttered, but never overused saying: “Keep your loved ones close because you never know when they will be gone.” Whether soldier or first responder, accountant, cook or homemaker, may we always remember, and find inspiration in, our loved ones’ sacrifices and zest for life. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Local weekend art auction to benefit beloved nonprofit

National nonprofit Learning Ally, formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, will host its 20th Annual Milford Zornes Memorial Art Event this Sunday, June 3, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. The yearly event, which includes an art auction featuring watercolors, jewelry, fabric art and more, will take place at Harvey Mudd College’s Galileo Hall on Twelfth Street and Dartmouth Avenue in Claremont.

Proceeds from the admission, donations and purchase of the original artwork will help provide audio textbooks and related programs for 300,000 students nationwide with vision impairments and learning disabilities. More then 50 artists will be featured at the event.

In addition to the auction, guests who purchase opportunity tickets will be eligible to win a limited edition signed print by Milford Zornes, a $100 money wreath and other prizes.

The $20 admission includes entry to the art auction, gourmet hors d’oeuvres, wine and other beverages. Opportunity tickets will also be available. For tickets or to make a donation, please contact Jamie at or 949.4316. Tickets will also be available at the door. For more information, visit

Photo courtesy of Gillian Izhar. Nancy Arce (left) holding a plate by Paul and Eric Darrow, of Claremont. Ms. Izhar displays a painting by Martha Underwood, long time local artist, now deceased.  Both pieces will be available at the Milford Zornes Memorial Auction, Sunday June 3, from 2 to 4:30 p.m.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Elizabeth Taylor collection at The Diamond Center

The Diamond Center, located within the Claremont Village, will be holding its annual Estate and Antique Jewelry Sale tomorrow, May 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday, May 21, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Along with more than $1 million in estate and antique jewels, items from the collections of Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne, Tony Curtis, Bette Midler, Cher, Bob Hope, Mia Farrow, Mary Pickford and Bernie Madoff (funds to benefit victims) will be featured in this event.

Reservations are recommended. Contact The Diamond Center, located at 147 Yale Ave., at 399-9133 or visit 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Two arrested in weekend DUI crashes

A 20-year-old female was arrested after crashing into a police car Saturday evening at Towne Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. The Claremont police officer driving south on Towne  transporting an arrestee when a woman driving north made a left turn in front of the officer causing the vehicles to collide. Both the officer and his passenger suffered injuries and were transported to Pomona Hospital for medical attention. Both were later released. The 20 year old was arrested for driving under the influence and the Pomona Police Department is conducting further investigation.

A solo vehicle crash in the 1200 block of Base Line Road had a similar turnout Sunday night. A 39-year-old man driving a Honda CRV drove off the road and onto a sidewalk, striking and shearing off a fire hydrant. The man admitted he had “drank too much” and after being transported to Pomona Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, was arrested for driving under the influence.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Joslyn Center to host community meeting this Tuesday

Claremont residents are invited to the city’s next Neighborhood Forum this Tuesday, May 15, at the Joslyn Senior Center from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The Neighborhood Forums provide residents with the opportunity to speak with members of the city council in an informal setting. Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali and Councilmember Joe Lyons will be present to give a report on the latest city happenings, as well as to answer questions. The Joslyn Senior Center is located at 660 N. Mountain Ave. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wilderness Park to close for fire training starting this weekend

The Claremont Hills Wilderness Park will be closed this Sunday, May 13, through Wednesday, May 16 as the Claremont Police Department, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and the Claremont Park Rangers  participate in a joint brush fire response training exercise with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. 

Participants in the 3-day training program will practice cutting fire lines in the hillside, placing hoses and putting water on simulated fires. Air units from the Los Angeles County Fire Department will also take part in the exercises. 

The Wilderness Park will close Sunday, May 13 at dusk and will reopen to pedestrians on Wednesday, May 16 at 3 p.m. For more information, contact Lisa Marrujo at 399-5490 or   

Monday, May 7, 2012

Police, Wilderness Park for council review tomorrow

Two ongoing hot button topics for the city of Claremont—police unions and the Wilderness Park—are on the agenda for Claremont City Council Tuesday night, May 8. The discussion begins at 6:30 p.m.
After months of back and forth debate, impasse and failed contracts, the council will meet to approve a memorandum of understanding with the Claremont Police Officers Association (CPOA). The potential approval comes nearly 6 months after other employee unions were able to make an agreement.
Originally proposed the same contract as other employee groups, which would have the officers paying their full Public Retirement System contribution in 3 years time, police repeatedly rejected the offer because of the low Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA). Because of past pay reductions and the intensity of their jobs, police felt a higher COLA was warranted.
Last month, after a long impasse, the city presented the police with an offer that included receiving a COLA slightly higher than what was given to other employee groups. However, in an unexpected turn for CPOA President Detective Rick Varney and members of the negotiating team, the CPOA general membership rejected the contract by one vote, 19 to 18.  
Another viable alternative was presented to the CPOA by the city, this time with a work-related equipment reimbursement of up to $400 annually for 40 employees. The cost is estimated at $16,000 over the period of the contract. CPOA members approved the new offer 26 to 4 in a vote finalized Wednesday morning, according to Det. Varney.
“We’re ready to move on,” he said.
The final say rests with the council, who will vote on whether or not to approve the memorandum of understanding. According to the report, the proposed CPOA contract will cost the city $435,352 with a total savings projected at $746,914. Savings were calculated based on employees taking over the responsibility of paying the PERS, previously paid for by the city.
If the CPOA contract is approved, the Claremont Police Management Association (CPMA) will be the only Claremont employee group without an agreed-upon contract.
In addition to the CPOA contract, the city council will once again revisit the issue of expanding parking at the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. In late March the Claremont City Council approved the construction of a new lot near the Wilderness Park entrance on North Mills Avenue.
The council is now being asked to vote on expanded parking to be constructed on the west side of Mills Avenue—north of the fire station and south of Mt. Baldy Road. The lot would hold an estimated 46 additional parking spaces and would be subject to the same paid parking policy implemented with the previous lot: $3 a day for both Claremont residents and nonresidents with the option of a $50 annual pass.
Other items being reviewed by the council include whether or not to maintain the Community and Human Services decision to leave the name of Cahuilla Park as it is written, as well as the relinquishing agreement with Caltrans for ownership of Claremont’s portion of Foothill Boulevard. Labor negotiations with the CPOA and CPMA will take place in closed session prior to the general meeting, which is open to the public.
Closed session begins at 5:15 p.m. with a brief period for public comment beforehand. The council will reconvene for the regular open session at 6:30 p.m. The full meeting agenda can be accessed on the city’s website

Friday, May 4, 2012

Three arrested in attempted Claremont burglaries

Three men wound up in jail following an attempted burglary scheme last Friday, April 27, in the 2200 block of La Paz Drive. Witnesses say the men were going door-to-door in what is suspected to be an attempt to identify occupants. One witness claimed he had answered his front door and one of the men asked to check out his backyard for a dog that had gotten loose. The witness suspected the lie and refused, instead calling police. Other witnesses saw the men jump into one of the backyards.  Investigation later revealed that the men had attempted to enter the home through the back door, but were unsuccessful, according to Lieutenant Shelly Vander Veen. Claremont Police located the men in a Dodge Stratus on Base Line Road, west of Indian Hill Boulevard. Jerome McWilliams, 20, of Victorville, Lester Powe, 18, of Rialto, and Darnell Batts 24, of Colton, were arrested for attempted burglary and conspiracy.

A subsequent search of one of their homes revealed a stolen firearm from a residential burglary in Rialto. Upon further investigation a count of gang enhancement was also added, according to Lt. Vander Veen. 

See Saturday's COURIER for more from the police blotter. 

Hughes Center closed, reopens tomorrow

The Alexander Hughes Community Center, at 1700 Danbury Road, will remain closed today as Golden State Water Company conducts maintenance.

The center will reopen tomorrow, Saturday, at May 5, at 8 a.m.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Donate blood this weekend, score free tickets

All those donating blood on Sunday, May 6 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Claremont Presbyterian Church will receive vouchers for 2 free tickets to a Galaxy soccer game and 2 complimentary VIP tickets to the Laugh Factory.
To take part in the blood drive donors are asked to contact Ruth Auld of Claremont Presbyterian at 625-7288 or visit the Red Cross website at and enter the sponsor code: clrprs.
Donors are reminded to bring identification. For more information, call 1-800-RED CROSS (733-2767). Claremont Presbyterian Church is located at 1111 N. Mountain Ave.

Claremont's Friday Nights Live is back

Friday Nights Live is returning to the Claremont Village this weekend. 

Sponsored by the city of Claremont, Chamber of Commerce, the Tolkin and Village Marketing groups, the live music event will take over the Public Plaza starting this Friday, May 4, through Friday, October 28, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Weekly Friday performances will also take place in front of the Chamber of Commerce, located at Second Street and Yale Avenue. 

Residents are invited to bring folding chairs and enjoy the free weekly events, which include music from rock, folk, blues and acoustic performers. Kicking off the series this weekend at the Public Plaza is Lost Ravelers, a Beatles Tribute band. A little bit of soul presented by Solid Ray Woods will take place at the Chamber of Commerce. 

The Claremont Plaza is located at 101 S. Indian Hill Blvd. For more information, contact the Claremont Chamber of Commerce at 624-1681 or at

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Learning Ally looks to Make a Difference

Volunteers will crowd the streets of Claremont this Saturday, May 5, for the city’s first annual Make a Difference Campaign, bringing together dozens of local nonprofits in a national day of service. The free volunteer fair and recognition celebration, sponsored by the Claremont Senior Program and Committee on Aging, will take takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Claremont Depot.

“It’s a way to make sure the community is aware of all the volunteer opportunities available to them,” said event co-organizer Sandy Hester. “We want to provide easy access for [residents] to learn more about different organizations and ways they can volunteer and give back.”

National Make a Difference Day, the country’s largest one-day community service event, inspired the Claremont Make a Difference Campaign. The countrywide event, held in October, lasts for only a day, but the spirit of service has been a tour de force for Claremont residents, continuing well past the new year.

Since the event kicked off at last year’s Village Venture, retirees have collaborated with local groups in an assortment of volunteer opportunities, from painting benches to serving meals. Those volunteers and their organizations will be honored at this weekend’s fair.

Among the organizations featured on Saturday is Learning Ally (formerly Reading for the Blind & Dyslexic), a nonprofit providing audio textbooks to the visually impaired, individuals who are dyslexic or with learning disabilities.

A New York librarian founded Learning Ally shortly after WWII as a means of helping visually impaired soldiers receive an education. “Veterans blinded from the war could not take advantage of the GI bill because they could not read,” explained Gillian Izhar, Learning Ally board member.

The nonprofit began recruiting volunteers to record textbooks on tape. Since then, thousands of books have been recorded for hundreds of Learning Ally participants. As the program adapted its recordings from cassette tapes to cds and even Smartphone applications, it has also grown to accommodate not only the visually impaired, but those with learning disabilities.

For Ms. Izhar, who has been volunteering with the program for 5 years, hearing the stories of those who benefit from this kind of service reinforces her purpose. She was recently touched by the story of a 23-year-old woman who moved to the United States from Colombia. She lost her eyesight from Glaucoma at age 4. Her mother moved to the Unites States in hopes of giving her daughter a second chance. Nineteen years later, with help from Learning Ally’s audio textbooks, she is preparing to graduate with her bachelor’s degree.

“You look at the stuff she has been able to do and it makes you feel like you are actually making a difference, like you are doing something worthwhile,” Ms. Izhar shared. “It’s the greatest thing.”

Collaborating with Claremont’s Make a Difference Campaign was a natural decision, as the local nonprofit relies on the work of its volunteers and strives to further market its expanded services, according to Ms. Izhar.

“It’s not just about the volunteerism, it’s also about the outreach,” she said. “A lot of people are unaware of the services we offer.”

Books range from history and business to advanced math and physical fitness. Claremont volunteer of 28 years Dick Newton often lends his voice to books about business, economic and real estate, though he says he’ll read just about anything “as long as it’s not too difficult.” Despite the sometimes tedious work, the end result holds special meaning to Mr. Newton.

“I think it’s a very worthwhile type of activity,” Mr. Newton said. “You feel directly connected to the people you are volunteering for.”

New Claremont volunteer Chris Freeberg began work with Learning Ally after attending the Make a Difference Campaign kickoff in November. Recently retired, Mr. Freeberg was looking for the same sort of connection felt by Mr. Newton, and a way to honor his lifelong roots in volunteerism.

“I came across [Learning Ally] when it was still located in the basement of the Claremont colleges, and thought that it was something I’d be interested in. But the job I had was a 24 hour job. I was always frustrated because I could never find a definite 2-hour block for me to volunteer,” Mr. Freeberg said. “I found myself suddenly retired. This was finally the time to give back.”

Though eager to volunteer, Mr. Freeberg quickly learned that recording was not as easy as he had first imagined.

“I’ve always been accused of being pretty loud, but I was actually having trouble reaching the right mark for volume,” he said, “but the staff here is great. I am very comfortable asking them questions. There is always at least one staff member here to help just in case.”

Beyond providing him with a renewed sense of meaning, Mr. Freeberg feels Learning Ally has provided him with a way to help others beyond the borders of his hometown.

“It’s actually pretty unique to do something locally like this that has potentially a global impact,” Mr. Freeberg said. “I feel a certain amount of pride contributing to this effort.”

In addition to those recording the textbooks, Learning Ally looks to recruit volunteers to check the audio recordings for errors and to help with the organization’s fundraisers, including the annual art auction this coming June.

“Participating in your community in whatever way you enjoy it is something that everyone should do,” Mr. Freeberg said. “It’s very satisfying to feel you are a little more connected to those around you.”

Learning Ally will be one of about 18 organizations present at Saturday’s fair. In addition to the informational booths, fair participants will be able to enjoy live mariachi music, refreshments and a presentation on “The Value of Volunteering” by Pomona College Professor Eleanor Brown at noon. For more information on the Make a Difference Campaign and fair, call the Claremont Senior Program at 399-5488.