Children's author stresses importance of reading

DOWNEY - Children's author Scott Sussman will visit two Downey elementary schools next month to present his wildly imaginative presentation as part of Read Across America.Originally of Orange County but now living in Rome, Italy, Sussman is author of "Silly the Seed" and "Mark and the Molecule Maker." His message to students is "Reading is Succeeding." In addition to offering his unique perspective on how reading can make you happier and more successful in everything you do, Sussman often has students begging to read more books. "The key is to reach kids while they're learning to read, before they link the idea of reading strictly to school," he said. "With the right perspective, they'll be more likely to develop a lifelong interest in reading." Sussman will be at Rio Hondo Elementary on March 4 and Price Elementary on March 6.

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Vendors sought for veterans fair

WHITTIER - Rose Hills is seeking vendors to participate in its Veterans Resource Fair on March 24.The one-day event is designed to provide information, support and services to U.S. military veterans. The fair will be held in conjunction with a concert and homeless veteran burial service to commemorate Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. Participants are sought who provide services including individual and family counseling, education and training, employment help, financial matters, government programs, healthcare, legal and business matters, housing and more. Organizations interested in participating should contact Bonnie Quintanilla at (818) 681-5777.

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School bands to perform in mega concert

DOWNEY - More than a dozen bands from Downey schools will perform at an all-day concert Feb. 23 in Warren High School's gym.The concert begins at 10:30 a.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Scheduled to perform is the Griffiths Middle School band, East Middle School band, West Middle School band, Sussman Middle School band, Sussman jazz band, Warren High concert band, Warren High ensemble, Warren High jazz bands, west Middle School jazz band, Warren High color guards, Downey High color guard, West Middle School percussion and Warren High percussion. Food and drinks will be sold by the Warren Band Boosters.

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Romantic comedy opens at CSULB

LONG BEACH - "Jack Goes Boating," an endearing romantic comedy of love, friendship and the charm of the ordinary, will be presented March 1-16 in the Players Theatre at Cal State Long Beach.Set in the entirely ordinary world of working class New Yorkers, "Jack Goes Boating" revolves around Jack, a reggae-loving limousine driver slowly starting down a path of self-improvement. Jack's coworker, Clyde, and his wife, Lucy, set Jack up on a blind date with Lucy's chatty but fragile colleague Connie. As Jack and Connie's relationship takes shape, Clyde and Lucy's own marriage begins to unravel, leading both couples to reconsider the future state of their unions. Director Jeff Paul explains that the "depth of the storytelling and the richness of the [writer Bob Glaudini's] piece lies in the characters." The characters "mostly play by the rules," says Paul. They must navigate "things that lie beyond their own experience, but lack the instructions." The tensions between rules and imagination; doubts and expectations, lend a profound undercurrent to the deceptively simple narrative. "Jack Goes Boating" opens March 1 and runs for 14 performances, closing March 16. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. on March 9 and 16. Tickets are $15 general admission and $12 for seniors and students. Parking is available next to the theater for $5. For more information, call (562) 985-5526 or go online to

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Chamber mixer Wednesday at Hackers

DOWNEY - The Downey Chamber of Commerce is hosting a mixer this Wednesday from 5-7:30 p.m. inside Hackers at the Rio Hondo Event Center.The mixer is in support of National Heart Month and participants are urged to wear red. The mixer is free and open to the public. For more details or to RSVP, call Kathy at (562) 923-2191.

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'Princess for a Day' event March 2

DOWNEY - The annual "Princess for a Day" for girls ages 5-10 will be held March 2 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Downey Elks Lodge.The event is presented by Miss Downey Royalty in association with the Downey Rose Float Association. Girls will be pampered with hair and make-up sessions, and enjoy arts and crafts. They will also learn a creative movements routine, take photos and have lunch with the Miss Downey court. All girls take home a royalty T-shirt and tiara. Participants should wear a pink shirt to the event. Cost is $25 if pre-paid before March 1 or $30 for same-day registration. The event is limited to 125 girls. To register, contact Jennifer at (562) 714-5658 or e-mail Proceeds from the event benefit the Rose Float.

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Lynwood upgrades traffic signals

LYNWOOD - The upgrading of all the traffic signals along Atlantic Avenue-from as south as Arlington Avenue to the most northern traffic signal at Abbott Road-has begun.The city says the Atlantic Avenue Traffic Signal Improvement Project is going to change the experience of driving experience of everyone who drives through the city of Lynwood. The upgrades include new electrical wire, new modern traffic signal poles, replacement of traffic signal lights to 12-inch LED, installing traffic detectors and ADA upgrades. When completed, the upgrade will allow the city to properly synchronize each and every traffic signal along Atlantic Avenue to improve traffic flow, say city officials. In addition, the signals at Bullis Road and Imperial Highway and on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Wright Road will also be upgraded. Once all of these traffic signals are upgraded the city will begin looking into upgrading all of the traffic signals along Imperial Highway and on along the entirety of Long Beach Boulevard within the city. "Some of these traffic signals are 60 to 70 years old," said Josef Kekula, interim director of public works. "The city has spent a lot of time and hours maintaining them and fixing them. As the city spends a lot of man-hours on fixing the shorts at these lights, a lot of time and maintenance and fixing them, this upgrade will shorten the time spent on fixing them all the time. This upgrade will help standardize and modernize everything in the traffic signal and improve traffic flow." "All of the lights will be upgraded with detectors as well," he added. "Once we're done with all the signals, drivers will notice how much more efficient traffic is going to flow throughout the entire city."

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H. Salt Fish & Chips

Despite its boarded up windows, the owners of H. Salt Fish & Chips in Downey ensure residents that the restaurant is open for business. A car crashed through the restaurant last December after the driver mistakenly hit the accelerator instead of the brake. The accident caused extensive damage to the restaurant's exterior but there were no injuries. ********** Published: February 14, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 44

Gangs Out of Downey

Gangs Out of Downey president Dr. Dan Fox presents Lt. Mark McDaniel of the Downey Police Department with a check in support of the school resource officer that is on the campus at Downey high schools. ********** Published: February 14, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 44

Elderly woman dies after falling asleep with cigarette

LOS ANGELES - L.A. County firefighters warned residents to check their smoke detectors after an elderly woman died in Los Angeles when she fell asleep while smoking in bed.Authorities said the lit cigarette sparked a fire inside the apartment home, which had no working smoke detectors. "Our investigators determined that this fire was actually caused by the victim herself when she fell asleep in bed with a lit cigarette," said Fire Capt. Tom Richards, public information officer for L.A. County Fire. "The smoke alarms in her home were not working, so no one was able to hear the smoke alarm go off. This is really a tragedy." According to fire statistics, 70 percent of all fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms.

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Band instructor charged with sexual assault

DIAMOND BAR - A 33-year-old assistant band instructor was arrested Tuesday for allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old female student.The alleged assault took place during the summer of 2006 when Albert Anthony Morales lived in Diamond Bar. The student was attending Sunny Hills High School at the time. Morales had been tutoring band students, specifically as a percussion instructor for the past 13 years. He has taught or volunteered at Diamond Bar High School (1998-2000), Sunny Hills High (2004-09) and Diamond Ranch High (2012-13). Detectives are asking other possible victims to come forward and call Sgt. Dan Scott or Lt. Carlos Marquez at (877) 710-5273.

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Crime Report

Thursday, Jan. 31At 3:00 p.m., park staff at Dennis the Menace Park discovered that someone had forced entry into the recreation office and storage room. The suspect(s) stole miscellaneous items and office supplies. Detectives are investigating.

Saturday, Feb. 2 At 4:00 a.m., officers responded to an apartment in the 8200 block of Telegraph after receiving a report of someone being assaulted with a knife. Officers arrested an 18-year-old female resident for assault with a deadly weapon after determining that she stabbed another female in the apartment during a domestic argument. The victim's injuries were not life threatening.

At 3:00 p.m., a woman was robbed of her purse while waiting for a bus at Imperial & Lakewood. The suspect, who was wearing a black mask, approached the victim from behind, pushed her down and grabbed her purse. The suspect then ran from the scene. The victim was not seriously injured. Detectives are investigating.

At 5:00 p.m., officers arrested a 29-year-old Downey man in the 11600 block of Adenmoor who was wanted for assault with a deadly weapon relating to 2006 Downey PD case. Officers were alerted to the suspect's whereabouts by WE Tip and arrested him without incident.

Sunday, Feb. 3 At 7:00 a.m., officers arrested a 19-year-old man from Lynwood after he assaulted his girlfriend during an argument in the 10400 block of La Reina. The suspect was booked for aggravated assault and transported to the Los Angeles County Jail.

Saturday, Feb. 9 At 1:00 p.m., officers responded to 8200 block of Pivot St. regarding a report of a commercial burglary. Once on scene, officers discovered that an unknown suspect(s) forced entry into the vacant building and removed approximately $20,000 worth of copper wiring. Detectives are investigating.

Sunday, Feb. 10 At 5:30 p.m., a 90-year-old male Downey resident was reported missing from his residence on Imperial Hwy. According to the reporting party, he walked away and suffers from dementia. He was subsequently located a few hours later at the Kaiser hospital on Imperial Hwy in the City of Downey.

Tuesday, Feb. 12 At 2:00 p.m., Officers responded to the Rio San Gabriel riverbed regarding a robbery. Officer spoke with two victims who reported they were robbed by two suspects on bikes. The suspects demanded the victim's property and rode off with the loss. No injuries were reported. Detectives are investigating. Information provided by Downey Police Department.

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Storytime Festival at library

DOWNEY - The Gypsy Johnson Auxiliary of the Assistance League of Downey will hold its Storytime Festival from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 23 at the Downey City Library.Informal book readings to children in the pre-school through fifth grade, face painting, and a puppet show by the Assistance League's "Kids on the Block" are all part of the festivities. Every child who attends the event will receive a free book as part of the League's commitment to help promote childhood literacy.

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Child immunizations Feb. 20

DOWNEY - Children ages 4-18 can receive free immunizations Feb. 20 from 3-6:30 p.m. at Price Elementary.St. Francis Medical Center will administer vaccinations for chicken pox, hepatitis A and B, DTP, tdap, MMR, polio, meningococcal and HPV. All immunizations are free and no appointment is necessary. A parent or guardian must accompany children. Parents should bring their child's immunization card with past immunization history.

********** Published: February 14, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 44

Barely one year old, L.A. Buns at center of downtown revival

For many restaurants, their location can be just as crucial to their success as the food they're dishing out. When the gourmet burger shop L.A. Buns first emerged in February of 2012 promising the "best buns in L.A.," it was unknown whether the tiny restaurant's stellar, made-to-order food would be enough to overcome what at that point was still considered a "cursed" location.

The hole-in-the-wall located at 8237 2nd St. had previously been a hamburger stand and Lebanese restaurant, both of which closed without much notice.

L.A. Buns owner, Mike Gavica, has proven that if you make great food, it doesn't even matter if you're eclipsed by Porto's two-story parking lot: the people will come. February 12 marks the restaurant's one-year anniversary and Gavica plans to thank his many loyal patrons, some of which drop in daily for one of the restaurant's indulgent dishes, by offering the first 50 customers a free menu item.

In the scheme of things a one-year anniversary is a small milestone, but it feels big for Gavica, who opened the family business without any prior restaurant experience around the same time he and his wife had their first child.

"It's been harder than I thought it would be," Gavica said. "There was so much I didn't know; so much I had to learn. Add to that dealing with family members and young employees, having 14-hour days, and trying to spend time with your wife and one-year-old, it all gets compounded."

Gavica contends that he's still "figuring it all out", but he's having fun while doing it and it appears as if his customers are more than happy to come along for the ride, especially if the restaurant's evolution continues to result in delicious food and increased attention for Downtown Downey's revitalization efforts.

Channel 7 News will be at L.A. Buns on Friday, February 8 between 2 and 3 p.m. to film a segment.

"It's shocking to me, but people are coming here from Santa Ana, Anaheim, L.A. - from all over just to try the food and a lot of time it opens them up to what's going on around town, stuff they wouldn't have found out about otherwise," the 29-year-old said.

The young restaurant owner is of course referring to the downtown area's increased efforts to build an arts scene and create some semblance of a nightlife in Downey, which is considered by many to be a sleepy suburb offering little to do past 10 p.m.

Gavica's introduction to the downtown arts scene began in an unusual way: when street artist Bumblebee created a piece outside the restaurant literally as tall as the building itself featuring a young girl cutting her own hair. Slowly but surely, at first just by virtue of being located downtown, Gavica's restaurant became ingrained in the effort to revitalize downtown.

When comedy nights began to get sponsored by The Avenue Press at the Epic Lounge hookah bar next to L.A. Buns, the crowd eventually made its way over to Gavica's restaurant for a late-night bite. When the Downey Arts Coalition began hosting a monthly movie night at the Lounge, Gavica gladly offered his services to the hungry masses. At first it was accidental, but during his second year of business, the restaurant owner wants to be more intentional about his efforts to give back to the community.

"I really had no idea the arts scene in Downey was this strong," Gavica said. "My first year was really spent figuring out the business and getting used to running it, but I want my second year to be about becoming a bigger part of the scene and helping to fundraise for some of the local arts organizations because once you're helping one, you're going to be helping all of them."

A few months back Gavica mentioned to his brother Marcus, who works at L.A. Buns, that he was interested in partnering up with Stay Gallery for a fundraiser. Before long Stay Gallery executive director and Downey Art Vibe (DAV) co-founder Valentin Flores caught wind of Gavica's interest and gave the restaurant owner a call. In a matter of weeks the gallery and the restaurant decided to collaborate on the creation of a menu item, with 30 percent of the proceeds being donated to the gallery.

This is how the Stay Gallery Chicken Sandwich was born, featuring grilled chicken, slow-roasted tomatoes, avocado, L.A. Buns' spicy slaw, white American cheese, and "Stay Secret Sauce," a blend of aioli and pureed California peppers all piled onto high onto one of Gavica's signature brioche buns. The sandwich was offered at a fundraising event January 31, but Gavica will continue to sell the sandwich until he's run out of the ingredients that comprise it. As of the first week of February, Gavica sold over 70 of the sandwiches to benefit Stay Gallery, which will be hosting a photography exhibit on Friday, February 8 from 6 to 10 p.m. featuring the work of local photographer & philanthropist J. Arthur Morris.

The next year will be a new chapter for L.A. Buns and by extension, for downtown. Gavica plans to focus on social media this year, hoping to create more buzz around downtown events and new menu items, including the Watts Tower Burger, a massive BBQ bacon cheeseburger topped with onion rings. L.A. Buns already features artwork by local artist and DAV member Don Lamkin, but moving forward Gavica would like to feature the Los Angeles-centric photography of Stay Gallery creative director Gabe Enamorado.

L.A. Buns is also in talks with Downey High School and Warren High School for future fundraising opportunities and is discussing the possibility of a Stay Burger with Flores. Given the popularity of the restaurant's buffalo chicken fries, Gavica's brother Marcus is also kicking around the idea of launching an L.A. Buns food truck that will solely offer French fries with interesting toppings, like chorizo and queso fresco.

"I can't help but feel this is a really great time to live in Downey," Gavica said. "I grew up here, went to school here, but I can feel things changing. I'm excited to see the Lock & Key Social Drinkery open up. I want to check out the sports bar that's opening where Granata's & Tapas was. I want to keep seeing this art scene growing. You know you're in the right spot when there are so many exciting things going on around you."

Story by Tina Vasquez.