Help Needed for Family Ousted by Fire
On New Year’s Eve, we had several family members and friends over at our home in La Crescenta and were having a great time when a call came in. Our friends, Dean and Lucy Witkop, were told that their house was on fire!

They rushed out the door while we stood there, stunned, not really knowing what to do. My husband is a firefighter for L.A. County so he made some calls and was told that the fire had been going on for 55 minutes and it was a full-blown one.

We drove [to the Witkop home] and were totally unprepared for what we saw. Their beautiful house – full of amazing decors because they travel a lot and bring home things from everywhere – was all gone! We quickly salvaged what we could: pictures, passports, important documents, etc.

While Lucy scrambled about getting as much of her precious personal items out, Dean just kept shaking his head in disbelief.

The last few days we’ve been able to have nice, long talks with the Witkops over our kitchen counter since they had to move in with us for awhile. What struck me the most about this couple is that while they are obviously faced with seemingly insurmountable financial challenges in front of them (insurance will only barely cover the loss of their dwelling), they continue to have such a positive, upbeat spirit. Not once have I seen them wail, bitterly complain or panic. Their faith in God remains intact and the show of love and support, pouring in from friends and family from all over – according to them – keeps them buoyed up.

Of course there are many painful moments, like looking at pictures of how their house once was, for example, which brings on tears. Yet for the most part, they are remarkable to watch as they go through what
could very well be everyone’s worst nightmare.

“We are all alive! That’s what counts!” they keep saying. Their two sons living with them were also at New Year’s Eve parties at the time of the fire and even their dog escaped, cared for by a neighbor till they arrived.

Dean is a former pastor and Lucy is a special education teacher at Crescenta Valley HS who cares deeply for her students with all kinds of learning and physical disabilities. They are also active part-time missionaries having participated in church outreaches to Africa, Mexico and also Skid Row in downtown L.A. in recent years.

In every way, they represent the best kinds of people here in La Crescenta and it is my hope that the community will give back to this couple that has given so much of their time and money so freely to others in the past. If any of the readers of this newspaper would like to donate money to this wonderful couple, please email me at: phugo@gusd.net. I will let you know how.

In conclusion, while it hurts to see my friends go through such a horrific tragedy, it warms my heart to see so many from our community already rally around them and offer different ways of helping.

On behalf of the Witkop family, thank you so much!

Pia Hugo
Pia Hugo is a Social Science teacher Crescenta Valley High School

He’s PO’d at the PO
Is it any wonder that the U.S. Postal Service is bankrupt? A visit to the La Cañada Flintridge facility will spell out volumes. There on any typical day one will find one or two clerks totally immersed in complicated transactions with people who could have easily prepared all their paperwork at home before tying up a clerk for as long as a half hour in some cases.

At the US Post Office you will often find two clerks studiously avoiding looking up to observe the 12-14 people in line, refusing to ring the bell behind them that could summon clerks from the rear to help out by filling in the three other empty unmanned stations.

There you will find clerks who instead of apologizing to irate customers, become defensive and retort with, “I only work here; talk to the Postmaster.” Can anyone imagine a Federal Express agent talking to a customer with this tone of voice? Can anyone imagine a line of 14 people piling up at Federal Express with agents not caring about customers? Can anyone possibly imagine a Federal Express or United Parcel agent having a customer stand on a long line to pick up a package when there is a perfectly functional set of lock boxes where packages can be placed for box holders to pick up their packages, unassisted, with a provided numbered key?

The Post Office is broke because they won’t give up the government culture in which they have been raised. The Post Office is broke because its unionized workers are free to behave in ways that private business employees would not dare behave for fear of being fired.

The days of a multi billion-dollar deficit post office culture are coming to a close. It is really time to privatize the post office by selling the service to Fed Ex or UPS or some other responsible private entity that can provide customers with the service the public demands and deserves.

Am I the only one who has observed the generally poor and indifferent customer service we receive from the U.S. Postal Service? Isn’t it time for the free market when it comes to postal service?

Al Restivo
La Cañada Flintridge

Remembers When
I would just like to say I was born in the ’50s and grew up in La Crescenta. I would like to add three other businesses I remember being in the Montrose Shopping Park that are also gone.

Cozette’s, which was a children’s clothing store, [where my] mother used to take me shopping as a child. Dorsey’s Department Store [was] another store I frequented as a child and JC Penney, which was on the south side of the street, is now a restaurant I believe. At that time, JC Penney was very small, not like the JC Penney you see today in malls.

I also love to read Jim Chase’s column. I remember him from school and he’s a great writer.

Thank you for the great articles.

Stephanie Garsow
La Crescenta

Questions Need for Gun Law
While factually correct, the Weekly’s part on Portantino’s gun law missed a lot of points [“Just A Few of the New California Laws,” Dec. 29].

There was no need for the law. It was a power play and showpiece for a gun grabber. Look at FBI, California State and L.A. County statistics. You should have Lexus Nexus, too, which would help. There have not been shootings, deaths or any mayhem by the folks who carried an empty firearm. Most of those folks gathered at restaurants, pizza parlors, etc. to practice their freedom. Most carried a semi-automatic, which has a big hole in the butt of the gun where the clip goes. They were smart enough to not put an empty clip in the gun. They still could have had one round in the chamber, but they are hard working types that cannot afford the folly of doing that.

As to getting a carry permit in California: again correct, but do not try it in L.A. City or County, Orange, San Francisco, San Diego, etc. The mayors, city councils, police chiefs and sheriffs do not trust us. They fear an honest citizen that is armed. If you are Rosie’s kids’ bodyguard or other celebrity you qualify. No questions asked. If you go to Diablo, Fresno, Bakersfield and other rural counties you can easily qualify, especially if you are out of town. The sheriffs there know that they can be 30 or more minutes away.

At least we have not been disarmed in our homes. There are still some of us that can deliver six rounds into a two-foot circle at 25 feet faster than another person can dial 911.

Tom Suter
La Crescenta