Rhode puts skeet shooting on the map

WHITTIER - When one thinks of the Olympic games, we tend to think of track and field, swimming and gymnastics, amongst other mainstays of the once-in-every-four-year-competitions.Rarely, if at all, do we think of skeet or double trap shooting. Kimberly Rhode, a U.S. Olympian in skeet and double trap shooting, has effectively and convincingly changed this perception with her past and present performance(s) at these 2012 London Olympic Games. Rhode, a former Cal Poly Pomona student, has been front and center with her near perfect performance. Kimberly Rhode, born in Whittier and now residing in South El Monte, is a gold medal winning 2012 Olympian in women's skeet shooting. Rhode is the first American to earn individual medals in five straight Olympiads. Rhode won her gold medal on Sunday, July 29th, with a record tying score of 99/100 orange clay targets hit. Wei Ning of China won the silver medal with 91 hits and Danka Bartekova of Slovakia took the bronze medal with a score of 90. Rhode won a gold medal in the double trap competition at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, followed by a bronze medal in the same double trap competition at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Rhode then won the gold medal in the double trap competition at the Athens Olympics in 2004, earned a silver medal for her efforts in skeet shooting at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and won the same skeet shooting competition in London at the Royal Artillery Barracks on July 29th. What makes Rhode's story even more intriguing is that she plans to compete at the Rio de Janeiro games in 2016 and doesn't see her Olympic run coming to an end any time soon. Rhode loves the competition and at 33 years of age, can continue to compete on a high level for many years to come. Remember the name Rhode in 2016.

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

Warren runners not taking Downey lightly

DOWNEY - The Warren High School girls' cross country team has resumed summer practices after the C.I.F. mandated "dead period" and have picked up right where they left off.Coach Waldron maintains that "this has been the best summer we have ever had." Coach Waldron stated that there have been over 120 girls participating in girls' cross country this summer. Key returners from last year's team include Yajaira Zarate, Tiffany Hernandez, Lali Avila and Silvia Gonzalez. Coach Waldron also said Araseli Ochoa, a converted sprinter turned distance runner, and newcomer Elsa Vazquez will add to the Lady Bears' depth. Key departures from last year include Melissa Quintero to graduation and Azusa Pacific University on a cross country scholarship and Jaspreet Chauhan. In recent years Warren has dominated S.G.V.L. competition but were defeated by Downey early in the season. They bounced back with victories against Downey in round two of league competition and in league finals. According to Waldron, "last year was a wake up call." Waldron maintains that Downey has improved significantly and has "improved quickly in a very short period of time" and expects the Lady Vikings to be highly competitive again this year. Waldron believes that last year was a learning experience and "has put the wheels back on the wagon." Warren is certainly focused on winning league this season. Warren recently competed at Gahr High School in a two mile Summer Series race on Aug. 2.

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

Vikings to lean on experience

DOWNEY - The Downey High School boys' cross country team is gearing up for their fall season after ending their C.I.F. mandated "dead period" in July.Head coach Bob Gleason has several key runners returning from a league championship team. Manny Ramirez, Andres Velasco, Jose Martinez and Christopher Casillas all return with more speed and another year of experience under their belts. Junior Geovany Salinas and sophomores Anthony Lopez and Miguel Gutierrez are looking strong as well. Key departures from last year's squad to graduation include Enrique Munoz and Nestor Becerra. The Vikings were co-champs with cross-town rival Warren in 2011 but were Frosh-Soph and Junior Varsity league champions. Coach Gleason said that it was a solid year all-around for the Vikings and is looking forward to duplicating that success this year. Gleason maintains that all S.G.V.L. schools have solid athletes but Warren will provide the toughest league competition. Downey is returning from a 14th place finish at C.I.F. Finals last year. Coach Gleason said that this has been a solid Summer with about 35-45 runners attending workouts regularly. Coach Gleason also mentioned that several of these athletes working out with his cross country squad were athletes from other sports, such as track, who wanted to get in some extra conditioning. Downey will compete at the Woodbridge Invitational on September 15 and start their league competitions later in the month. Coach Gleason concluded by saying that he is looking forward to the challenge of building off of last year's success and is pleased to have a solid core of student-athletes to work with.

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

Charles Franklin Brown passes away

DOWNEY - Charles Franklin Brown passed away on July 29 in Downey.He was born in Salt Lake City on Oct. 25, 1918 to Charles Franklin Brown and Almeda Perry. He received his early education in Brigham City and later moved to Logan where he graduated from Logan High School in 1937. He continued his education at Utah State University, graduating in May of 1941 with a degree in civil engineering. That was an eventful month - he married his high school sweetheart, Mabel Bott, they graduated and he accepted a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Corps of the U.S. Army Reserve. He was ordered to active duty with the regular army for one year, but that one year stretched into five. He was assigned to Air Force Headquarters of the 507th fighter group as an anti-aircraft specialist when they received word that Japan had surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945. The family, which now included daughter Linda, moved to Southern California after the war where Charles began a career with the Southern California Gas Company. He eventually became superintendent of distribution for the southeast division located in Downey. He retired in 1986. Charles was an active member of the LDS church and was a baritone with the Southern California Mormon Choir and William Hall Chorale. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Southern California Mormon Choir in 2008. He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Almeda (Wallace) Christensen and May (Russell) Heiner; and brothers, Elliott (Elynor) and Bert (Jean). He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Mabel, and their daughter, Linda (Richard) Allen, five grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held Saturday, Aug. 11, at 2 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Downey. Interment will be at Logan City Cemetery in Logan, Utah.

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

PSAT/SAT classes for Downey students

DOWNEY - The Assistance League of Downey is again offering classes this fall for DUSD students preparing for the PSAT and SAT."We have had enormous success with this program for high school students planning to attend colleges and universities," an Assistance League representative said. "The quality of instructors that teach the class, the course itself in preparing the students to become familiar with and take practice SAT tests, and hints on how to take tests are key factors in their success." The seminar will consist of five sessions on the follow Saturdays: Sept. 15, Sept. 22, Sept. 29, Oct. 13 and Oct. 20. The classes prepare students for the PSAT administration on Oct. 20 and the SAT on Oct. 6, Nov. 3 and Dec. 1. Cost is $50 for the five sessions (including textbook) if paid before Sept. 1. The cost increases to $70 on Sept. 2. To sign-up for the classes, call Maru Montero at (562) 927-2303.

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

Property tax seminar at library

NORWALK - A free seminar titled "Property Taxes 101" will be held at the Norwalk Regional Library on Sept. 13 from 6-7:45 p.m.The seminar will cover annual property taxes, supplemental property taxes, reassessment exclusions, homeowners' exemption, online forms and tools, and more. Carol Quan of the Los Angeles County Assessor's office is scheduled to speak. The seminar is sponsored by the County of Los Angeles Public Library, Century 21 Realty Masters and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. RSVP by calling (323) 219-9199 or e-mail c21teamAM@gmail.com.

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

After-school program taking sign-ups

DOWNEY - Registration for the fall semester of Kids Konnection, an after-school tutoring and enrichment program for kids in grades 1-8, is now open.Applications are available in the First Presbyterian Church of Downey's office. The first day of the new semester is Sept. 17. Volunteer tutors for academics, music and sports are needed. If interested, contact Alfredo Delgado at (562) 861-6752.

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

Symphony's Garden Party

DOWNEY - The Downey Symphony will host its fifth annual Garden Party on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 16, featuring a catered dinner, beautiful setting, live auction items and live music.This is an important fundraising event for the orchestra's Music in the Schools program that touches more than 17,000 children in our community every year. Invitations to the Garden Party will be mailed on Aug. 8. For more information, call (562) 928-4122.

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

Food trucks stopping at church

DOWNEY - Four food trucks will be at La Vina Christian Center in Downey on Aug. 10 from 6-10 p.m.There will also be live music and performances. Confirmed food trucks include Flippin' Yolk, El Burger Luchador, Rancho A Go Go Barbecue and Haleiwa Shave Ice. The church is at 9625 Lakewood Blvd.

********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

El Pollo Loco

The El Pollo Loco at Firestone Boulevard and Woodruff Avenue is expected to stay open as it undergoes extensive remodeling, city officials said this week. The restaurant was closed earlier this week as workers stripped the building and gutted its interior. ********** Published: August 09, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 17

Brossmer to seek re-election

DOWNEY - Roger Brossmer, more than halfway through a term as Downey mayor that has seen the City Council balance its budget and approve the $170 million Tierra Luna Marketplace development at Downey Studios, will seek reelection in November. Brossmer officially kicked off his reelection campaign last Thursday with a party at the home of former mayor Kirk Cartozian.

"It's been a tough year as mayor," Brossmer said. "But in tough times we need leaders who are capable of making tough decisions."

Brossmer represents the northwest section of Downey known as District 3. He is eligible for a final 4-year term on the City Council. There are no other announced candidates for District 3.

"Hopefully I'll run unopposed," Brossmer laughed. "But we will be fundraising, walking the neighborhood. We will be in full campaign mode...Hoping doesn't help."

The last year has seen a boom in economic development in Downey led by the 77-acre Tierra Luna project, which is expected to create 3,300 jobs and $4.2 million in annual tax revenue.

There's also Downey Gateway, the food court at Firestone Boulevard and Downey Avenue expected to open before the end of the year; The View housing project downtown, construction of which could begin this winter; and Stay Gallery, a city-funded art house on Downey Avenue that celebrated a soft launch last week.

But Brossmer's term as mayor hasn't been without turmoil and controversy. Earlier this year the city laid off more than a dozen workers, and budget cuts forced the fire department to take a fire engine out of service, increasing firefighters' response times.

Two weeks ago, the City Council commissioned a study to consider contracting with L.A. County for fire protection services.

Such votes are at times unpopular but in the best interest of the city, Brossmer said.

"We're living in Seattle -- it's raining all the time now," Brossmer said. "But I've learned that just because you do the right thing, you can't ignore the consequences."

********** Published: August 02, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 16

Downtown housing complex moves forward

DOWNEY - Construction of The View, the affordable housing project proposed for downtown, could begin this winter after the development was approved for more than $8 million in federal tax credits, city officials announced this week. The View was one of only 12 developments in Los Angeles County to have been selected by the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee to receive $8.8 million in federal income housing tax credits.

The tax credits were the final piece of financing necessary to move the project forward, city officials said.

The 50-unit complex will offer two- and three-bedroom apartments, a community center, gardens, computer lab and controlled access gates. It will be marketed to low- and moderate-income families.

If construction begins later this year as tentatively scheduled, it would open by summer 2014. Housing applications will be available in 2014. City leaders hope the housing development will place more people downtown to shop and eat, while providing affordable housing options.

"This new development will be a great addition to our city and will help further our commitment to revitalizing our Downtown area," Mayor Roger Brossmer said in a statement. "We are excited for this project to be underway as it will provide working families affordable rental homes with close proximity to Downtown Downey jobs and nearby services."

The View is slated to have 35 2-bedroom units with proposed rents from $516 to $895, according to an application filed with the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, and 14 3-bedroom units with rents from $591 to $1,030. The development will generate about $508,000 in annual rent, city officials estimated.

For project-related questions, call James Kim with developer National Community Renaissance at (909) 483-2444.

********** Published: August 02, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 16

Pastor launches effort to thank 1 million vets

DOWNEY - Candie Blankman, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Downey and author of "Forged By War: A Daughter Shaped By a World War II POW Story," a vivid account of her dad's tribulations during the Bataan Death March and after, is calling on everybody to say "Thanks" to the dwindling number of WWII veterans as well as all service personnel she estimates at 1 million, in the period between July 4 and Veterans Day."It only takes 30 seconds to walk up to a person and ask their name and say, 'Thank you for your service'", she says. The next thing one should do, she stresses, is go to her website, thankamillion.org and register that you said 'Thank you' to so-and-so, preferably with their e-mail address. There is a place on her website, she points out, to even tell a brief account of one's encounter and these she also posts on the website. "We've got to get people to understand what these veterans had been through," Blankman explains. "They went through a lot." This grass roots initiative, 'Thankamillion', is an original idea of hers, she says, because "We are losing 1,000 WWII veterans every day, and time is slipping away to tell them how much we appreciate their service." "I am a hopeless optimist and an idealist," Blankman goes on. "That's why, I'll be honest, although I've had only ten takers to this point, I'm not giving up. I am speaking about it and passing out flyers and cards wherever I go to speak or encounter people. I know that once it gets started it will take off." For Pastor Blankman, who came to First Presbyterian Church of Downey in 2003, the initiative is nothing less than a crusade. It's clear she cares deeply and strongly about the veterans and service personnel who will be honored on Veterans' Day. And it's evident it's her way of honoring the memory of her dad.

********** Published: August 02, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 16

Global warming: a skeptic's point of view

Last week this column summarized author Bill McKibben's perspective on global warming expressed in a recent article for Rolling Stone magazine, a gloomy view of humanity's future on a planet heating up due to an unprecedented amount of atmospheric CO2.James Taylor, senior fellow for environment policy at the Heartland Institute, has an opposing view. Like McKibben, Taylor obtained an Ivy League education, as well as a law degree from Syracuse University. Widely interviewed by the major media, he's also managing editor of the Heartland Institute's "Environment & Climate News." In a July 18 editorial for Forbes Magazine, Taylor lampoons statements by what he calls "global warming alarmists" who describe recent Western U.S. wildfires, drought conditions, and current crop conditions as "what global warming looks like." Taylor references two recent studies demonstrating that U.S. wildfires are currently at a 3,000 year low and on a 35-year downward trend. Likewise, Taylor quotes a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report which, according to Taylor, states that "a number of tree-ring records exist for the last two millennia which suggest that 20th century droughts may be mild when evaluated in the context of this longer time frame." Finally, Taylor disagrees with opinions assessing adverse crop conditions, stating in the article that "global warming is creating ideal weather that is producing record crop yields." One feature of Taylor's article is that he provides links to several of the academic studies referenced therein. The first link, for example, is to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences--certainly an unassailable source--entitled "Long-term perspective on wildfires in the western USA." Sure enough, the opening paragraph mentions "a slight decline in burning over the past 3,000 y[ears]." However, as the reader plows through the scientific jargon of the entire study, concluding remarks contain the following statement: "The divergence in fire and climate since the mid 1800s CE [Common Era] has created a fire deficit in the West that is jointly attributable to human activities and climate change and unsustainable given the current trajectory of climate change." Instead of reinforcing Mr. Taylor's statement, the study projects a future that actually contradicts his fundamental assertion. Regarding drought, a 1999 NOAA Paleoclimatology study entitled "2000 Years of Drought Variability in the Central United States" confirms that some droughts over the last 2,000 years were in fact more severe than the 20th-century droughts in the 1930's and 1950's. But the study abstract concludes with this statement: "The authors' assessment of the full range of past natural drought variability, deduced from a comprehensive review of the paleoclimatic literature, suggests that droughts more severe than those of the 1930s and 1950s are likely to occur in the future, a likelihood that might be exacerbated by greenhouse warming in the next century." Here we have a second instance in which the actual conclusions of an NOAA study contradict Taylor's assertions referencing such a study. Finally, with respect to crop conditions, Taylor faults Al Gore for mistakenly labeling current crop conditions as adverse. But in the linked article Taylor refers to, the statement comes not from Al Gore, but from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has "named 1,000 counties in 26 states as disaster areas--the largest declaration in history--as a result of the recent drought, wildfires and other extreme weather events threatening agriculture and many other industries across the entire country." (This USDA declaration is confirmed by numerous other websites.) In summary, it appears that Mr. Taylor either did not read the entire articles he was referencing, or that he willfully misrepresented their actual conclusions. Dereliction or deception? In either case, his biased viewpoints do not serve the public interest.

********** Published: August 02, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 16

Janeen Marie Milton

Janeen Marie Milton, 39 was born to Jim and Julie Hood, September 21, 1972 in Downey, California. Janeen lived the first eighteen years of her life in Downey and graduated from Downey High School. Janeen eventually moved to Apple Valley to make her life. Janeen loved singing for the Lord. On July 25th, 2012 Janeen lost her battle to breast cancer and went home to be with her Lord. Janeen is survived by her father, Jim Hood and Mother, Julie Hood, her brothers, Jason Hood and Jeff Hood, her husband, Robert Milton, Jr. and their son, Spencer. A celebration of life will be Saturday, August 4, 2012, 11:00 AM, at Victorville First Assembly, 15260 Nisqualli Rd. Victorville. Services entrusted to High Desert Funeral Chapel and Cremation. 760-244-1400. Please sign Janeen's online guestbook at highdesertfuneral.com. ********** Published: August 02, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 16

Downtown art gallery is 'here to stay'

DOWNEY - In order to show their appreciation for their many donators, supporters, friends, family members, and the Downey artists who have made their dream a possibility, Downey Art Vibe (DAV) threw a private party at their Downtown gallery space on Friday, July 27. The night also marked another important milestone: the official release of the gallery's name. The space, located at 11140 Downey Avenue, will be called Stay Gallery, symbolizing DAV's commitment to getting young professionals and artists to stay in Downey and contribute to the cultural renaissance the group is leading.

Despite its unfinished floors and gutted ceiling, Stay Gallery impressed the party's over 100 attendees, many of which donated $10 or a bottle of wine for future occasions. As is often the case with DAV events, the thumping music, mostly young, well-dressed crowd, and vibrant atmosphere makes you forget you're in Downey, a city that seems fully asleep by 10 p.m. each night. The DAV party lasted late into the night and according to Stay Gallery director, Valentin Flores, the party's late start was intentional.

"We wanted this event to feel intimate and private because it really was about thanking everyone who has shown us love over the past year," Flores said. "We intentionally started late and put caution tape over the front door and requested that our guests enter through the back. A lot of curious people were peeking in to see what was going on because they weren't used to seeing that much activity or foot traffic at that hour Downtown. It was our way of showing the community how future events would go and the potential Stay Gallery has for reinvigorating the city's nightlife."

Those inside the event, such as Mayor Roger Brossmer and Councilmember Fernando Vasquez, who donated the gallery's lighting, were able to view original pieces by local Downey artists who spent the previous day - and in some cases, night - working on murals that were painted directly onto the Gallery's white walls. DAV member and local artist Jamie Lennon Rowland was responsible for one of the most popular pieces at the gallery, which featured a series of iPhone screens displaying fictitious text message exchanges between two unknown sources. The conversations touched on the social impact of 'everywhere' technology, which is resulting in our inability to connect with art - or other people - in a sincere way.

Rowland, a Downey native, is in no way shocked by the early success of the unfinished Stay Gallery. "Some people might think it's out of the blue, but other artists in town that I know are saying, 'Finally!'" Rowland said. "I'm anxious for the official opening. It's going to be a beehive of activity and a true cultural center."

Another local artist, 'Cheese' had an explosively colorful mural in the center of the gallery. In graffiti-style lettering using splashes of magenta and mustard yellow, the word "Stay" was the focal point of the piece. Cheese, who met Flores in photography class, was also celebrating his 23rd birthday the day of the event and the young artist was thrilled by the changes DAV is bringing to the city.

"What they're doing is amazing. I never thought this scene would be possible in Downey," Cheese said.

According to Councilman Vasquez, 15 years ago the scene on Friday night wouldn't have been possible. In many ways what's happening is the perfect storm: the presence of a young, ambitious, and energetic non-profit, the city's desire for cultural change, and the quickly shifting demographics in the city of Downey. Not only is there more diversity than ever before, but according to the 2010 United States Census, almost 40 percent of the city is under the age of 24.

As the name of their gallery suggests, these are the young people DAV is trying to convince to stay in the city, contribute to its renaissance, and help build Downey's tomorrow. Artist Alina Wilson is a DAV member who has showcased her work at many of the non-profit's local shows. She grew up in Downey, but moved to Huntington Beach partly because of the city's lack of an arts scene. With the opening of the gallery and the increased interest in cultural programming, Wilson is now seriously considering moving back.

DAV isn't trying to create a youth movement, however; they're trying to create a cultural movement.

"This isn't just about being young; it's about bringing real change to the city. We're very sensitive to what the people of Downey think and when we were testing our brand's name, it was 50/50: 50 percent loved it and 50 percent were unsure of it. When they came to the event, however, they got it. It clicked. It's about getting people to stay and give back to our community in a more meaningful way," Flores said.

Downey Arts Coalition member Carlos Durazo, who has an MFA in fine arts, has been painting longer than some attendees at the event have been alive. For 35 years the painter has been working on his craft and after spending the last decade in Downey he was hungry for an arts scene that didn't require a drive to Downtown Los Angeles.

"I've been trying to get more involved in the community and I'm always looking for opportunities to contribute to the cultural aspects of the city. Downey Art Vibe and their gallery are providing that opportunity to me and many other local artists. I'm very excited for the potential here," Durazo said.

DAV still plans to officially open Stay Gallery's doors sometime in September, but in the coming weeks the gallery will be a flurry of activity. The floors will be finished and the floor area near the gallery's entrance will be emblemized with the Stay logo, the loft space will be built, track lighting will be installed, and ivy will be planted outside, among many other improvements. Creative director Gabriel Enamorado, who is responsible for all of the gallery's visuals and logos, is currently working on t-shirt designs for the gallery that will be sold both online and inside Stay. Enamorado feels that having transparency with the local community is important, which is part of the reason the office space that will be above the gallery will feature glass doors.

"When we're all finished I want people to be able to walk into the gallery and see what we're doing, see what we're working on," Enamorado said. "That kind of transparency is very important because we're here for the community and we always want to be available to them."

This willingness to invite the public in will also be reflected in on Aug. 4 when the Downey Farmers' Market will move from its current location to Downey Avenue, between 2nd and 3rd Streets. DAV is inviting shoppers to visit the gallery and take a look at the progress that's been made in the eight weeks since Flores was handed the keys in early June.

"Things are obviously still coming together, but we want to invite the community in and let them see firsthand what we've been up to," Flores said. "We might as well because like our front window now says, 'We're here to stay.'"

********** Published: August 02, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 16

Free admission at space center Aug. 26

DOWNEY - In honor of her foundation's 20th anniversary, philanthropist Dr. Mary Stauffer is sponsoring a free admission day at the Columbia Memorial Space Center on Aug. 26.From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., anyone can visit the space center at no charge. The Mary R. Stauffer Foundation is a strong support of academics, having provided thousands of scholarships to students in the Downey Unified School District. The foundation also funds numerous programs for local schools and community organizations. For more information about the free event, call the space center at (562) 231-1200.

********** Published: August 02, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 16