By Robin GOLDSWORTHY and Brandon HENSLEY
The last issue of the year offers a chance to reflect on those events that impacted the Crescenta Valley. This was a year that provided plenty of opportunity to lend a hand – whether to our neighbors who suffered loss due to fire or to an iconic tree in danger of being felled. Typical of those who live and work here, the community rose to each occasion, which is why most consider it a privilege to call the Crescenta Valley “home.”
•Tragedy occurred on New Years Day when 49-year-old Joo Lee was the victim of a hit and run while crossing Montrose Avenue to pick up his daughter. Lee passed away a few days later at Huntington Memorial Hospital. The driver was never identified. A memorial fund was established to help the entire Lee family.
•It might not have been this century’s dust bowl, but Foothill residents were forced to bite the dust while workers from the All American Asphalt Co. and L.A. County Public Works repaved Foothill Boulevard from Briggs to Pennsylvania.
•After years of planning, and $14.5 million later, the La Crescenta Library opened to rave reviews. The building, located on the corner of Foothill Boulevard and La Crescenta Avenue, incorporated native stone from the area in its design, making it a true la Crescenta building, one everyone in town can be proud of.
•There were no levees to break, only debris basins to overflow. Early February saw the worst of the rain season hit the Crescenta Valley area as more than 40 homes were damaged by the substantial mudflow and debris of the heavy rains. The lasting image of the season? Vehicles carried all the way down Ocean View Boulevard by mud and onto Foothill Boulevard.
•It was announced Dr. Richard Sheehan would be taking over as the new Glendale Unified School District superintendent July 1, replacing the retiring Michael Escalante. This would only be the start of a tough year ahead for the district, as it battled parents and protesters over teacher layoffs and budget problems.
•Glendale Police Chief Ron DePompa stood before the Glendale City Council and talked about the heavy drug environment at Crescenta Valley High School. DePompa called it a “gateway environment,” and spoke about the gang 211C, named after the law enforcement code for robbery. It was that kind of year for police officers, and they continued to educate the public about teen drug use and also fought Proposition 19 in the midterm elections.
•The CV Town Council pushed their agenda of volunteerism all year and at Arbor Day at Two Strike Park the volunteer spirit was on full display. L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich was on hand to commend those who helped during the 2009 Station Fire. Town Council President Cheryl Davis said that to her, CV stands for Community Volunteerism. It would take several more months, though, for the community to volunteer and fight to save a local iconic figure.
•Longtime CV High principal Linda Evans announced her retirement April 18. She had been with the Glendale school district for 36 years as a teacher and principal. Evans’ announcement was part of an exodus for many teachers at CV, who retired in June as well. Evans was replaced by Rosemont Middle School principal Michelle Doll. “Linda has done an amazing job in her time at CV,” said former GUSD superintendent Michael Escalante.
•Drivers on Foothill Boulevard saw a sea of red one April morning, as children from the Chamlian Armenian School walked with family members along the street and wore red shirts that said, “Accept the facts. Accept the truth.” The walk was to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide and to connect generations of Armenians.
•It was not the best year to live on Las Palmas. A house fire on the 3600 block of the street broke out on May 4. It took around an hour for firefighters to contain the blaze, although there was potential for tragedy. A man was in the house at the time and the door was locked. Neighbors could not get in, but firefighters eventually pulled him to safety. It would not be the last time Las Palmas would have a fire.
•While eighth graders from Rosemont made the move to CV High this year, so did their principal. Michelle Doll was introduced as CV’s new principal in May. Doll was only at Rosemont for two years, but said she had to apply for the CV job once it became available. “And what a unique opportunity I will have to transition with my students,” she said.
•Montrose Shopping Park got a kick when Trader Joe’s had its lease approved to build a new store on the west end of the shopping park. The store will be a single story, and have 14,670 square feet. Company Vice President Doug Yokomizo said, “It will be one of our first stores designed and built from scratch.”
•A memorial was held at CV High on May 27 for eighth grader Tyler Sikora, who collapsed on one of the school’s basketball courts a week earlier. When he was seven months old, Sikora was diagnosed with petrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle becomes too thick for blood to leave the heart. Results showed Sikora died due to his condition.
•About 100 residents and teachers gathered outside the home of Glendale school board president Greg Krikorian in late May to protest the massive layoffs of teachers that were expected. The hour-long vigil was an attempt by the Glendale Teachers Assoc. to display their displeasure with proposals of layoffs and increased class sizes.
•Crescenta Valley High School bid farewell to not only Principal Linda Evans but also 15 other teachers and staff, including former athletic director Jim Beckenhauer, in a ceremony at the school. “When I think about Coach Beck, three words come to mind: pride, tradition and honor,” said teacher and coach John Nelson. Altogether, 74 staff members from GUSD retired in 2010.
•The Station Fire damaged many areas in 2009, but a victory was made this past summer in the name of patience and perseverance. Deukmejian Wilderness Park reopened to the public after nine months of assessment and restoration after the fire. Most of the park was still closed off, but residents took what they could get. They could at least go hiking and enjoy the beautiful view once more.
•A La Crescenta landmark was in danger of dying in 2010, and residents continually rushed by its side to save it. The Moreton Bay Fig Tree, on the 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard, almost had its roots cut in order for construction to continue in the next-door lot. A compromise between the developers and the community was made and the tree, which is over 100 years old, was safe … for the time being.
•The Glendale Teacher Assoc. and the GUSD met for a fact-finding hearing to settle their contract dispute, but no solution came. The school calendar had also not been finished by this time. It looked like if the dispute were to be settled, it would be in the 11th hour.
•Glendale city officials said the building in the 3600 block of Verdugo Road – sometimes known as Starship Verdugo – could change ownership but would likely stay a medical office because of its use permits. The building came under fire for its lack of keeping business tenants and for its unique design that does not fall in line with the architecture of the rest of the valley.
•The dog days of summer finally brought good news to Glendale school district teachers. The last 48 teachers notified in March that would be laid off were able to keep their jobs. Financial help on the federal level helped, and class sizes were reduced to 24.5-to-1. “It is a relief but it has been very stressful,” said teacher Yvonne Quinonez of the year-long roller coaster ride.
•The construction project next to the Moreton Bay Fig Tree hit a snag when it was discovered the building would be too high at completion because of the land’s steep grade. The developer’s grading permit was suspended. Many residents were happy at the news because the unpopular design the building had in its blueprints.
•Community members remembered the Station Fire on its anniversary, which began Aug. 26, 2009. It was the largest fire in Los Angeles County history and wasn’t contained until October of that year. The fire burned more than 160,000 acres, and two L.A. County Firefighters lost their lives.
•It wasn’t quite Fahrenheit 451, but six days into the fall season, 113 degrees was plenty hot enough for Southern California residents as they experienced the hottest day in the area since records started being kept in 1877. Customers of Glendale Water and Power in Crescenta Valley found themselves without power for a while, but that was mostly due to maintenance problems, not from the heat.
•Former CV Falcon football coach Gordon Warnock passed away at age 79. Warnock guided the Falcons to Southern Section Football championship in 1973. “When you work for the betterment of young people with such a great staff,” Warnock said in 2008, “ it doesn’t seem like work at all.”
•Preparations for the next stormy season were underway as L.A. County Public Works began a project that would increase six of the area’s debris basins. In total, the projects ran a $1.2 million price tag.
•On Oct. 7, CV High School celebrated its 50th anniversary with an open house. The property used to be home to Clark Junior High, but that school was moved above Foothill Boulevard, and the old location was expanded and renamed Crescenta Valley High School. Fifty years later, the school’s motto of “Pride, Tradition and Honor” still rings true.
•Another fire on Las Palmas occurred as smoke filled the sunny October sky. The fire began on the roof near the front entrance. Damage was so great the home was considered a total loss. The owners were not home at the time of the fire, although their dogs were in the backyard. Unlike the home, the fire left them unscathed.
•Supporters of the CV Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition donated time, money and elbow grease to prepare a local teen center. The Fire House sits on the grounds of St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church and offers teens foosball, pool, video games, homework help and a place to “just hang out.” “This is for all the youth of the community,” said Vicar Bryan Jones. Though owned by the church, The Fire House is not a religious-based facility.
•A blaze cut short a birthday celebration at the Hopeton home of Adrienne Moradkhanian. A couple of hours into the party, the house lights began to flicker and then guests began to smell smoke. L.A. County Fire responded, battling the blaze all night.
•A string of local burglaries may have ended with the apprehension of a La Crescenta resident. Anders Goodman, 24, was walking down the street carrying a duffle bag similar to one that had been stolen when deputies stopped him. Goodman was out on parole at the time of his arrest.
•What seemed like a demolition derby in the 4800 block of Maryland Avenue woke residents in the early morning hours and left several cars smashed on the residential street. It took some time, but eventually the suspected offenders were arrested.’
•The CV Town Council welcomed new members after 1,303 ballots were cast for the annual election. Cheryl Davis retained her seat and Harry Leon and Dr. Young Seok Suh were voted in as full members with Charles Beatty, Odalis Suarez and Charly Shelton installed as alternate members.
•The CV Arts Council held a Paint Out, inviting artists to offer their interpretation of the Crescenta Valley. Dick Heimbold took first place with his entry, “Berolina Bakery.”
•Capt. Ted Hall and Engineer Arnie Quinones, who died defending Camp 16 during the Station Fire, had the Angeles Forest Highway rededicated in their honor.
•The battle of the Moreton Bay Fig tree on the 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard pitted community leaders against the owners of the recently purchased property on which the tree sits. Property owner Jinny Nam had approved the cutting of the iconic tree, and some damage had been done before local activists intervened.
•Local food drives – including BNI, the CV Sheriff’s and annual Thanksgiving Day Run and Food Drive Event – received enough donations of food and toys to help dozens of families in need in the foothill community.
•The body of missing hiker Michelle Yu, 49, was found on Mt. Baldy in the Angeles National Forest. Members of the Montrose Search & Rescue Team were part of the rescue efforts.
•Everybody seemed to enjoy the Montrose Christmas parade as an estimated 30,000 folks poured onto Honolulu Avenue to enjoy over 3,500 parade entrants from horses to jockeys. Parade Chairman Steve Pierce credits the help of about 150 volunteers with moving the event along.
•Former CVHS principal Mike Livingston is enjoying the one that didn’t get away – a 405-lb. tuna caught off the coast of Baja, Calif. Livingston’s catch will most likely land him in the record books.
•Homes in the foothill community decked the halls – rooftops – and yards – with holiday splendor, ushering in the 2010 Christmas season. A couple of the homes still have active displays including 3500 Santa Carlotta Ave. “I have an FM transmitter. There is an antenna on the roof. I am playing the music from my laptop,” explained teenager Will Richards who coordinates his family’s annual display.
•What’s that smell? turned out to be more than 300 marijuana plants growing behind the locked doors of a business in the 2500 block of Honolulu Avenue. Det. Toby Darby said that it was the smell that drew police to the building.
•The foothill community held its collective breath as relentless rain pounded the area. Thankfully, the efforts that public works had put forth over the last several months emptying the debris basins seemed to help as little to no damage was reported during the mid-month downpours.