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DOWNEY — A few weeks ago, the United States Army and several other branches of our military hosted the Second Annual Downey Career Military Day at Calvary Chapel High School.
Downey Unified School District and the city of Downey participated along with several other local schools to let high school students learn about the opportunities available to them in the military.
Other branches that participated were the Air Force, Marines, National Guard, Navy, Coast Guard and the Army Reserves.
Calvary Chapel School hosted the event which included over 250 students from Calvary, Warren and Downey High. Students had signed up to hear information about potential educational scholarships and career opportunities. Students were provided materials and encouraged to ask questions and to learn about their interests.
The Career Military Day collaboration was started last year by a meeting hosted to bring our community together. Trustees Martha Sodetani and Donald LaPlante represented DUSD and Mayor Rick Rodriguez along with Councilmember Alex Saab represented Downey. The event was initiated by former mayor and current Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Mario A. Guerra.
General Milley, Army Chief of Staff, is known for saying that “while the military may not be for everyone, the chance to explore the opportunities is something each student should have available to them”. Students heard directly from each branch and also from guest speakers talking about leadership and where they were in their lives based on where they started.
Rodriguez gave a talk along with Dr. John Garcia while Guerra was the emcee. Staff Sergeant Ricky Padron and retired Drill Sergeant Rick Rodriguez Jr spoke about their careers in the military and the benefits they receive today from those experiences.
Saab alongside DUSD Board Trustees Giggy Saab and Sodetani were also in attendance and participated in talking with our students along with Assistant Superintendent Roger Brossmer.
Some interesting facts: most people do not know that the U.S. Army is the largest provider of scholarships in the country and the second largest employer in the world. There are over 150 career choices and 99% of jobs have a civilian application. Almost 7000 soldiers received degrees last year while serving. As CASA, Guerra gives four different multiyear scholarships known as the Minuteman Scholarships and encourages local students to inquire about their availability.
There are several benefits to both the individual and to the nation by serving, Guerra said. Soldiers become better citizens and impact the world around them. Soldiers develop the maturity and self-discipline private industries seek. Soldiers are highly trained professionals and hold certifications that qualify them for private-sector jobs. They get leadership training with every promotion with increased responsibility. Veterans are more likely to vote, to volunteer, and be involved in their communities.
There are many challenges today for keeping our all-volunteer military. 50% of our youth admit they know little to nothing about military service. 71% of youth do not qualify for military service (obesity, drugs, health problems, misconduct, aptitude) . Only 1% of the population currently serves; and veteran population is declining.
“So it is vital to help our youth make informed decision and learn about their future opportunities,” Guerra said. “Thank you to Downey and for the Los Angeles Army Battalion for making this day possible.”
Who needs Beverly Hills art galleries when we have trendy Olive RestoBar in the Promenade in Downey!
Three local artists recently invited the art-loving community to sample an exhibition of their current work at the Olive. Every seat in the restaurant was filled, every table was taken. This time, the patrons came for the food, nibbling on starters like tomato crostinis and hot fresh pita bread with green sauce. But next time they’ll come for the art.
The night was balmy for February, and the small but tasteful exhibit was staged on the eastern edge of the Olive’s outdoor patio seating area so diners could admire the art while they sipped their craft cocktails. Argentine-born Monica Pucciarelli’s wildly fanciful females were placed side by side with Carolina Del Toro’s unusual photographs of magnified objects and her husband Jorge’s paintings. Look for the alligator – Carolina’s says they are her husband’s hidden signature touch.
The sophisticated Mediterranean infusion ambiance of the Olive RestoBar starts with Sam, its Egyptian owner, said the Olive’s Crystal, who greeted us at the door. The Bar is elaborately stocked with unusual items, even the most expensive tequila, Rey Sol Tequila, a bright orange intense color that is made from the blue agave and comes encased in its Bustamente-designed crystal decanter. More moderately priced drinks are The James Dean cocktail, like a whiskey sour, and the fruity and sweet Blackberry Mojito. Try Chapo y Kate, a tequila-based drink.
Downeyites in the know have been coming here since the Olive opened, enjoying entrées like lamb shank with a mole-like sauce that pairs beautifully with the tender lamb and smooth mashed potatoes. If there’s room, one can order the chocolate chip gelato and mascarpone tiramisu.
The Olive appeals to the taste buds of the palate, while the art stimulates the artist’s palette, of colors. “As a little girl in Mexico,” said Carolina, “I remember looking forward to the times the Indigenous people, Huichol, from my state of Nayarit, would come down from the Sierras to sell their arts and crafts. So beautiful, and very colorful!”
A small state in western Mexico, Nayarit lies between the forested mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Pacific Ocean. Just south are Matanchen Bay’s surfing beaches, while north is Mexcaltitlán Island, considered the birthplace of Aztec civilization.
“Having a large family in a small town, most parents at that time would not usually encourage, nor support the arts,” said Carolina, “because it was believed that art was not going to put food on the table. Though now, I get 100% support from everyone in my family, whether I sell or not!”
Carolina’s favorite subject is “Mother Nature's ‘paintings,’ from a small flower to a vast landscape. She posed beside a black and white photograph that looked like an abstraction but actually was the curve of a magnolia petal, many times magnified.
“Every time I look at Mother Nature colors, patterns, shapes through my lens,” said Carolina, “that is when I find myself most at peace with it. And, whenever I exhibit my images, I always hope more than one viewer will feel the same.”
I love talking about Jorge's amazing talent,” said Carolina.
“He started ceramics while in elementary school,” Carolina said. “He had a friend whose father had a ceramic shop and he remembers hardly waiting to get out of school to go "play" with clay. He says he started making miniature sculptures, like an inch or two in size.”
“Now he has converted the garage into a studio, and owns about five different size kilns.”
“His favorite subject is reptiles,’ said Carolina, ‘but he loves animals in general. Especially those in danger of extinction. In fact, most of his sculptures portray either an extinct animal, like the White Rhino, or one in danger of it. His intention is to create conscientiousness about the beautiful creatures we share our planet with.”
Jorge pointed out the hovering spirit faces in one of his paintings on display at the Olive. “They represent our ancestors and power,” said Jorge. “The pyramid in the center is Mayan and it means strength.”
A whirling figure center-front in the painting captures the swastica-like shape that stood for creation for the Mayan. For the Incas and Aztecs it represented the four seasons due to its four arms, the center symbolizing the sun. Found in many Mesoamerican works of art, this motif must have circulated widely geographically. Persistence revealed to this viewer the alligator, embedded in one of the bent arms of the swastika, its scaly green tail making up the lower part and its open jaws covering the upper limb.
Two artists living together must be fun, but maybe challenging. Is Jorge sometimes late for dinner, because he is absorbed in making a project? “Yes!” says Carolina. “And, not just for dinner. There have been instances when I get ready to go someplace, and wait for him to come back from the studio.”
“But, when he does a few hours later, it's only to apologize because he had forgotten while being absorbed by a new piece he had started. This, at times, was hard for me to understand,” said Carolina, “but eventually, I got used to it. Because it's still happening!” She laughed.
But when Carolina gets absorbed in her own work, do they both go out for dinner? “Yes,” she says. “This is happening more often than not. But, we also plan our outings specifically to talk about projects. Especially his, which absorb more time than mine.”
“Jorge and I were invited to show today, by our friend and DAC board member, Patrizia Monica Pucciarelli,’ said Carolina. And this exhibit is the brainchild of Pat Gil, President of the Downey Arts Coalition.”
Pat and her husband Gil soon arrived, as did Argentina-born artist Monica. “I loved to use colored pencils in high school, when I started to doodle on paper,” Monica said. “The one person who truly inspired and encouraged me to create my very first painting on an actual canvas and made me believe in my gift, was a very good friend who is now my husband.”
“He bought me a large canvas,” said Monica, a self-taught artist. “And “brushes and paint. And he said ‘You can create something awesome.’ Ever since then, I never stopped loving to paint. It’s longing engraved deep in my soul.”
Monica’s pictures look like women in dreams or fantasies. Did she ever do "naturalistic" work, like photographic realism? “I have never felt attracted to naturalistic work,” said Monica. “Why? I always seem to seek to paint that which does not exist in the real or modern world. There’s something extremely fascinating in letting your subconscious guide your paintbrush to express itself in creating something which only exists in your soul.
“My artistic style developed over the years as I painted more and in a subconscious way. I seem to always be inspired by the Women Goddess and eras gone by. I believe this shows in my figures and colors and has obeame more and more recurrent in my work. In that respect, I think I began to develop a personal style which is even now, ever-changing slowly.
“When I start a new painting,” Monica said, “I don’t always have a pre -conceived idea of what I will create. Colors seem to choose themselves, but I always love the earth tones as they evoke a more timeless look or era.” Her gorgeous mane of flame-colored hair accompanied her natural preferences.
“So many artists mean so much to me,” said Monica, “but the one that come to mind is Gustav Klimt, my first inspiration. Inspiration also comes from my life, my past, an encounter, a moment, a shadow, a song, a story, the rain.”
Several of Monica’s paintings and collages stood on a wire mesh screen partition. Her work is contemporary figurative and mixed media is her preference both on canvas and paper. “I was born in Mendoza,” Monica said, “a cosmopolitan city in Argentina. We have tree-lined streets, a sunny climate and excellent wines - over 500 wineries. I’m already missing our Fiesta Vendimia, the Grape Harvest Celebration.”
Argentina’s malbec, a red wine in the merlot and cabernet tradition, grows successfully nowhere in the world but Cahors, France, and Mendoza, making that city now one of the Nine Wine Capitals of the world. Monica’s s parents live in Orange County but they thought the soft Downey evening air was still too cold for them to come out to a February showing.
“The paintings that emerge from me reflect different aspects of my soul,” said Monica, “each piece has its own history, its own past. Painting, it is an extension of who I am and each new piece of art is a new learning experience.”
“I draw inspiration by listening to different types of music,” Monica said. “seeing images by artists from the past. I seek to evoke mystery in my art. Rarely do I go into a painting with a preconceived idea. The first brush stroke takes me where I need to go; the colors seem to choose themselves."
Unlike Monica’s Napa-like wine country upbringing, Jorge and Carolina come from Mexico, from Jalisco and Nayarit respectively, and they met here in Huntington Park, at a Catholic Youth Organization get-together where Carolina was speaking about friendship and love. She spotted Jorge in the rear of the auditorium, and three years later they were married. We are on our 38th year,” said Carolina proudly. Her parents held back, but Carolina knew that Jorge, winner of several prizes for art while still in high school here, was destined to be a great artist.
While Jorge’s ceramics are too delicate to bring to this exhibition, Jorge expects to be working with a foundry where he will be casting metal sculptures that can be put on view in public places in Downey.
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CERRITOS — The Cerritos Library welcomes the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, which will present William Shakespeare’s rollicking “The Comedy of Errors” at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 22 in the Skyline Room.
The family-friendly event, which is free, includes audience participation and a question-and-answer session with the cast at the end of the show.
Since its debut in 1594, “The Comedy of Errors” has delighted audiences worldwide with its farcical tale of the mistaken identities, chaos and confusion that reign when two sets of twins, who were separated at birth, unwittingly end up in the same town.
The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s “Shakespeare on Tour” program travels the state annually to present one of the bard’s classics to community centers and schools throughout the state. The program is in its 31st year.
The Cerritos Library is located at 18025 Bloomfield Avenue. For more information, call (562) 916-1342.
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November 3, 1934 - February 19, 2019
Betty Jean Connor-Latronica-Hixon, passed away peacefully at her home with her husband of 34 years, Jim Hixon, by her side on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at 3:09 PM. She was 84.
Betty was born in Mobile, Alamaba in 1934. Her family moved to New York City and resided there until the untimely passing of her father, a shipyard worker. Her family then relocated to Youngstown, Ohio where her mother remarried. Betty resided there until she met and married Raymond Latronica in 1955. They moved to the Los Angeles, California in 1955 and purchased a home in Norwalk in 1956 where they raised their three children and she resided until her death.
Betty worked for Thrifty Drug Stores for 25 years and was grateful for and proud of her union affiliation. She had a fun-loving, dynamic personality. She taught ballroom dancing in the 1950’s and 60’s and enjoyed dancing for many years thereafter. She enjoyed outings at the beach, golfing and organizing golf tournaments.
She was a resident of the greater Los Angeles area for 64 years. She was preceded in her death by her first husband, Raymond Latronica, her sister Linda Campbell, her brother, Roy Case, her daughter in-law Terri Latronica, and her son Ollie Latronica. She leaves behind her loving husband Jim Hixon, her sister Marie Bevis, her daughter Allison Minugh, her son Patrick Latronica, 6 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.
April 27, 1927 - February 17, 2019
Vickie Augimeri, age 91, passed away on February 17 at her home in Downey, with her children and family at her side. Vickie had been a Downey resident since 1953, when she moved here with her husband Pat, and where she raised her five children. Vickie was active in many local organizations: she was the tour director for the Downey Newcomers Club for a number of years, planning and organizing excursions for the group to museums, cultural sites, theatrical performances and casinos throughout Southern California. She worshipped at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, was part of the Catholic Women’s Guild, and served many times as room mother for her children at Our Lady school.
Vickie worked for many years during the 1970s and 80s at Downey City Public Library. She enjoyed her library work, and to improve her skills she enrolled in and completed a certificate program for library workers at Rio Hondo College. She also completed a certificate program for travel agents at the same school.
Vickie was an avid reader and traveler. She made several trips to Europe, with Italy being one of her favorite destinations. She also enjoyed several family trips to Hawaii and Alaska.
Vickie is survived by her five children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Her husband Pat passed away in 2012.
Memorial services are being handled by Miller Mies Mortuary in Downey. A rosary will be held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Downey on Monday, March 11 at 4pm. A mass of Christian burial will be held in the Chapel of the Risen Christ at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Culver City on Tuesday, March 12 at 12:30pm.
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DOWNEY – The Warren High School softball team currently has an overall record of 4-1 and will begin San Gabriel Valley League play when they travel to Lynwood to play the Lady Knights on March 26th.
The Bears will travel to Downey on April 4th for the first of their two cross-town rivalry games and will then host Downey on April 22nd to complete this year’s away and home series.
The Bears were defeated by La Mirada in the Savanna Showcase at La Mirada 3-2 in 8 innings on February 9th and then defeated Villa Park 6-0 on February 12th. Warren defeated Santa Fe at Santa Fe 3-2 in 8 innings on February 19th and defeated La Serna 4-0 and Culver City 6-4 in a doubleheader on February 22nd.
The Bears finished the Savanna Showcase Tournament with a record of 4-1. Warren played Mayfair at Warren yesterday (score unavailable at press time).
The Bears are scheduled to play at La Serna next Tuesday and will travel to La Palma Kennedy on March 19th for a doubleheader against the Fighting Irish before they start league play.
Warren finished last season with an overall record of 17-13 and were 6-4 in league play. The Bears were defeated by South Hills at South Hills 4-3 in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 2 playoffs. Coach Starksen, her staff and players are all looking forward to softball season.
Gahr and cross-town rival Downey will once again be the teams to beat in league play.
DOWNEY SOFTBALL: The Downey High School softball team currently has an overall record of 0-2 and will begin San Gabriel Valley League play when they travel to Paramount to play the Lady Pirates on March 26th.
Downey was defeated by Lakewood at Lakewood in a doubleheader on February 19th 12-0 in the first game and 4-0 in the second game. The Lady Vikings also hosted South Torrance at Downey yesterday (score unavailable at press time).
Downey will be competing in the Best of the West Tournament tomorrow where they will play Murrieta Valley at 9:30 a.m. in their first game and will then play San Marcos at 1:30 p.m. in their second game. The Lady Vikings will then travel to Esperanza next Tuesday to play the Lady Aztecs.
Downey is also scheduled to compete in Bullhead City next week with games scheduled on March 7th, 8th and 9th. Coach Garcia, his staff and players are all looking forward to the start of the 2019 softball season.
Downey finished last season with an overall record of 24-7 and was the S.G.V.L. co-champion with Gahr, respectively. The Lady Vikings were defeated by San Dimas 2-1 in the second round of the Division 4 playoffs. Gahr and cross-town rival Warren will once again be the teams to beat in league play.
DOWNEY BASEBALL: The Downey High School baseball team currently has an overall record of 1-6 and will begin San Gabriel Valley League play when they host Dominguez at Downey on March 11th.
The Vikings were defeated by Cantwell-Sacred Heart at Cantwell-Sacred Heart 7-2 on February 11th in their season opener. Downey also competed in the Loara Tournament February 12th-23rd. The Vikings were defeated by Cypress 8-5 in 8 innings on February 12th, were defeated by Villa Park 4-0 on February 18th and were defeated by El Modena at El Modena 2-1 in 10 innings on February 19th.
Downey was defeated by Pacifica at Pacifica 1-0 on February 21st and was defeated by San Clemente at San Clemente 4-3 on February 23rd. The Vikings finished the Loara Tournament with a record of 0-5.
Downey defeated Narbonne 5-0 on February 25th in their first game of the Downey Tournament and hosted Long Beach Poly yesterday in the same tournament (score unavailable at press time). The Vikings will host Glenn later today.
Coach Gonzalez, his staff and players are all looking forward to the 2019 baseball season. Downey finished last season with an overall record of 17-14 and were 8-2 in league play. The Vikings were defeated by Santa Fe at Santa Fe 8-4 in the first round of the C.I.F. Division 3 playoffs.
WARREN BASEBALL: The Warren High School baseball team currently has an overall record of 6-1 and will begin San Gabriel Valley League play when they host Paramount at Warren on March 11th.
Warren split a doubleheader against Troy at Warren on February 12th. The Bears won the first game 5-3 but were defeated in the second game 8-7. Warren competed in the Newport Elks Tournament February 14th-21st where they finished with a record of 3-0. The Bears defeated Santa Ana Valley 24-0 on February 14th, defeated Estancia 13-2 on February 18th and defeated Santa Ana 7-0 on February 21st.
Warren defeated Nogales at Warren 10-0 on February 22nd and defeated El Rancho 8-0 on February 25th in non-tournament play. Warren is currently competing in the Long Beach Poly Classic where they played Bell on Wednesday (score unavailable at press time) and will play South Gate later today. The Bears are also scheduled to play a doubleheader against Hoover of Glendale tomorrow at Hoover. The first game is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. and the second game is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.
Warren finished last season with an overall record of 20-9 and were 7-3 in league play. The Bears were eliminated in the wildcard round of the C.I.F. Division 3 playoffs by Bellflower at Warren 1-0. Coach Pearson, his staff and players are all looking forward to the 2019 baseball season.
Everybody sneezes. Some sneezes are barely perceptible, others are loud and distinct, and still others come in multiples. Why do we sneeze? What’s happening when we sneeze?
Some liken a sneeze to a reboot of the system; a reset of the nasal environment. Sensory receptors in the nose are activated by mucous, germs, dust, pollen, animal dander, or pollutants. The activated receptors then send signals to the brain stem. The resulting sneeze expels mucous along with the irritants, and this reflex protects us from the particles that might otherwise enter our lungs. It clears our nasal passages so that we can keep on breathing. It happens when we’re sick, allergic, or even anxious. The bottom line is that sneezing is a part of our immune system, and helps to keep our body safe by clearing away bacteria, viruses, and more.
Are sneezes controllable? Certainly there is some degree of conscious control; just compare your public sneeze to your private sneeze. At the beginning of the sneeze, when the nose’s sensory receptors first become irritated, it is often possible to stifle it by pinching the nose and shutting the mouth. The next part of the sneeze involves inhaling deeply, and an involuntary blink (perhaps in order to protect our eyes?) and exhaling explosively. At that point, it’s too late to stop, but not too late to shield others. Saliva and whatever accompanies it is shot out at a speed of 30 to 40 mph or more. Due to the force involved, and the very small size of the particles, they can be hurled 5-20 feet away, or even farther. It’s no surprise that a sneeze is an effective way to send germs into a large area, and to spread infectious disease. That is why we are taught to sneeze into a tissue or into an elbow, and why we are reminded to wash our hands with soap and water (or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) after sneezing and throughout the day.
Sneezing styles vary. The strength, sound, and volume of a sneeze depend on the strength of the abdominal muscles, the lung volume, and the size of the windpipe or trachea. The contents of the sneeze might be mostly expelled through the mouth, or might mostly come through the nose.
Injuries from sneezing do occur. The most common is muscle strain. Rarely, a violent sneeze has lead to stroke, miscarriage, car accident, broken blood vessels in the eyes, retinal detachment, and fainting. There are rare reports of hearing loss and vertigo as a result of a ruptured eardrum – likely caused by stifling the sneeze.
Some people sneeze multiple times. Perhaps those with chronic sinus disease or allergies require more sneezes to completely clear the nasal passages. In a few extreme cases, a teenage boy sneezed three to six times a minute for more than a month, and Guinness World Records lists a 12-year-old girl who sneezed about a million times over a year and finally stopped after more than two years.
One unusual sneezing trigger, affecting up to 35% of us, is looking at a bright light. This trigger seems to run in families. Perhaps it’s a result of a crossover of nerve signals, such that the nerve stimulated when the eyes see a bright light also stimulates the nerve responsible for the sneeze reflex. Similarly, plucking eyebrows may trigger that nerve and lead to a sneeze.
Working out may lead to sneezing; it certainly does for me. During a long hard run, I breathe large volumes of air (including allergens) and dry out my nasal passages. This leads to the creation of mucous, which leads to sneezes.
In some cultures, sneezing is a sign of good luck - which becomes bad luck if two people sneeze at the same time. Other cultures hold that a sneeze means that someone is talking about you behind your back. Saying “God bless you” may stem from the belief that with a sneeze, the soul (which presumably resides in the head) exits the body, and that by saying this, you are protecting the person who sneezes.
Your next sneeze is inevitable, so God bless you all!
Dr. Alan Frischer is former chief of staff and former chief of medicine at Downey Regional Medical Center. Write to him in care of this newspaper at 8301 E. Florence Ave., Suite 100, Downey, CA 90240.
DOWNEY – Military veterans and active duty personnel will be honored at a “Salute to the Armed Forces” breakfast Saturday, April 6, at First Baptist Church of Downey.
Guest speakers include state Sen. Bob Archuleta; Mario Guerra, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army; and Paul Reinhard, a former Green Beret.
Mayor Rick Rodriguez will deliver an opening prayer and Edwin Huber, a Scoutmaster with Troop 351, will help present our nation’s colors. Julie Simpson will perform the national anthem and a rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and Kathy Bee will sing “I Am an American.”
There will also be a showcase of military vehicles.
Admission to the event is $5. RSVP by calling (562) 923-1261, ext. 226 or email email@example.com.
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