Mission College Opens Sunland-Tujunga Campus April 10, 2017

Mission College opens satellite campus in Sunland-Tujunga.

Mission College President Monte Perez, Ph.D. welcomed city officials, community leaders and members of the public to the new Sunland-Tujunga Campus at a ribbon-cutting event held Tuesday, March 28th. The new campus is located at the Commerce Center, 7200 Foothill Boulevard, Tujunga, CA. Classes for the first eight-week semester officially open on April 10th, 2017.

Crediting Nina Royal, chairperson of the Mission

Mission College President Marco Perez, Ph.D.

College Sunland-Tujunga Campus Committee for her perseverance, Dr. Perez spoke about the hard work that went into planning and coordinating city approvals to open the new campus. Present at the event were former Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, LAUSD Trustee Ernie Moreno, STNC President Krystee Clark, and many others who were instrumental in bringing the community college to Sunland-Tujunga.

Nina Royal began working on bringing Mission College to this area in 2007 by helping to get Measure J passed, which was to provide funding for a satellite college in Sunland-Tujunga. The principle location selected for the campus was the former K-Mart property, now vacant, however in order to open, Royal says the K-Mart property will have to go through some legal issues. “The hope is that the campus will expand to that site sometime in the next few years,” says Royal. “Meanwhile, we need to populate the classes because that will further validate the need for Mission College in this region.”

Chef Louis Eguaras, Department Chair of Mission College’s Culinary Arts Program, stated that he hopes by opening this satellite campus, students can get a start in classes for menu planning, sanitation safety and nutrition. At Mission College’s main campus, 700- 800 students are currently enrolled in the Culinary Arts program which prepares them for a job in many top restaurants and hotels in Southern California and across the country.

In addition to the Culinary Arts program, the initial schedule of classes includes art, music, computer applications, and English as a Second Language. Mission College is a fully-accredited community college offering both credit and non-credit courses.  Students can enroll by going online to:

Pat Kramer, aka “Writer For Hire,” writes content for websites, blogs, press releases, resumes and many other tools to help businesses brand themselves. Pat is a contributing writer for Crescenta Valley Weekly. Read more at:


Drug-fueled crimes and fear-inducing encounters with methamphetamine users in the Sunland-Tujunga community will be the focus of the next Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Watch meeting, taking place on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 6 p.m. at North Valley City Hall, 7747 Foothill Boulevard, Tujunga. This meeting brings together residents who have experienced run-ins with those on drugs and families who need resources to deal with their meth-afflicted family members, with the Los Angeles Police Department Senior Lead Officers, and their SMART and PET Teams which provide services to those with mental health issues and drug addictions in Los Angeles and L.A. County.

Whether or not a resident has reported a crime, this information can be very valuable as it will provide direction on what to say and what “not” to say to amped-up individuals whom they may encounter on their street or property. “Knowing what to do to protect one’s property and to ensure one’s peace of mind is the utmost concern of our community,” states Jon von Gunten, Neighborhood Watch representative to the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council. “Of course it’s always best to document individuals who may be committing a crime, but if that puts you in harm’s way, then it’s best to protect your safety first.”

This meeting was organized along with Region 1 (Sunland) representative Pat Kramer, who has received numerous calls from stakeholders in north Sunland, as well as in other parts of the Sunland-Tujunga community regarding this growing issue. “Residents are angry and they have a right to be,” says Kramer. “In some cases, their property has been damaged or stolen or they have personally been threatened by individuals who we suspect were trying to generate money for their drug habit. We can’t turn our backs on this issue any longer. There has to be a course of action that makes people feel safe and if it isn’t being addressed by the LAPD, then it needs to be by some other agency.”

The Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council holds regular board meetings on the second Wednesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at North Valley City Hall. Additionally, the Neighborhood Watch, which is a division of STNC, holds three monthly meetings to address crime issues:

The Tujunga – specific Neighborhood Watch meeting takes place on the first Tuesday of every month at McDonald’s restaurant, 6510 Foothill Boulevard, in the children’s play room, at 8:30 a.m. with Senior Lead Officer Gloria Caloca.

The Sunland – specific Neighborhood Watch meeting takes place on the first Wednesday of every month at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices training room, 8307 Foothill Boulevard, in Sunland at 8:30 a.m. with Senior Lead Officer Cesar Contreras.

The combined Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Watch meeting takes place on the 3rd Tuesday of every month at North Valley City Hall, 7747 Foothill Boulevard, Tujunga at 6 p.m. Parking is in the rear parking lot on Wyngate.

For more information on what STNC can help you with, contact Jon Von Gunten, STNC Neighborhood Watch Rep at:, Pat Kramer, STNC Region 1 Rep at: or Ana Orudyan, Region 1 Rep at:

To report a crime, call: 911 for any emergency or a crime in progress. Otherwise, call the LAPD FOOTHILL STATION: 818-756-8861, for guidance, admin & follow-up. Additionally, you can contact 877-ASK-LAPD (877-275-5273) for other non-emergencies.

Additionally, here are some helpful phone numbers and emails to have on hand:

Call Senior Lead Officers for non-emergencies like suspicious or dicey people, excess noise, illegal parking, and speeders: 818-756-8866.

GANGS, DRUGS: Lt. Solano: 818-897-6081 or email:

NARCOTICS: Det. Coyle, 818-834-3136,

TRAFFIC: Officer Flores, (818) 644-8142,

Remember to report every crime factually to LAPD: Accurate reports help with getting more police cars and officers!


Sunland-Tujunga Branch Library to Celebrate 90th Anniversary

Libraries should serve as not only an educational resource, but also as a cultural resource for the community, says Ardem Ardashes Tajerian, manager of the Sunland-Tujunga Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. And on Saturday, Decemtujunga-station-1ber 10th the S-T Library will host a celebration with music and art to celebrate its 90 year history. At 12:30 p.m., there will be a marionette show, and at 1:30, a ceremony attended by dignitaries to mark 90 years of library services. At 2:30, the 3-piece jazz band “Soul Purpose” will entertain the public and at 3 p.m., there will be a crafts event on weaving. Tajerian sums up the celebration by saying, “We are celebrating the past and looking forward to the future.”

Mr. Tajerian joined the S-T branch in June after a long history in the Van Nuys branch. His idea, in creating this event, was to embrace the history of the Sunland-Tujunga community. “The Los Angeles Public Library has been in the communities of Sunland and Tujunga for 90 years,” he says. “Originally, there were two little stations in both communities. The Sunland station was a storefront at 8412 Foothill Boulevard in Sunland while the Tujunga station was located at 7212 Valmont. In 1952, they were merged into the current location at 7771 Foothill Boulevard in Sunland. This building is the second one on the current site, built when the first needed to expand.”

For those who enjoy reading, a library card is a valuable investment. Not only can you borrow books, music, and movies but you can also access many of the L.A. Public Library’s data bases (there are 183 of them) to peruse newspapers and archives, science encyclopedias, art encyclopedias, biography encyclopedias, and databases for business and economics, careers, and even auto repair manuals. Access to the online resources is via the website:

The S-T Library now hosts a collection of 52,000 volumes of books. Over the past three years, about 104,000 visitors have enjoyed its resources each year. In addition to serving as a lending library with books, magazines and newspapers, DVDs and e-books, the branch has many online research data bases available for library patrons, including a free version of (accessible at the library, itself). Additionally, there are educational aids for all age groups from grade show to college, including online tutoring (available in English and Spanish for a variety of subjects), resume preparation services, computer classes, job search databases, and one to one adult literacy classes.

second-sunland-tujunga-branch“The libraries of today have changed,” notes Tajerian. “What I want to do with this celebration is let the community know that we have not only traditional library services but also many other new and exciting services.”

One of the ways the library supports itself is through book donations and purchases at its onsite book store, manned by volunteers of The Friends of S-T Branch Library. The bookstore is open most days starting at 10 a.m. and offers quality used books at bargain prices.

Tajerian hopes this outreach event helps lay the groundwork to bring in new library patrons – people who may not be aware of the resources available. “I’d really like to emphasize that this is a hub for education and culture for our community. I want people to know that the library is here for whatever educational or leisure needs they have.”

Pat Kramer, aka “Writer For Hire,” is an award-winning business, PR, marketing and ghostwriter who has had more than 1,000 articles, news stories, feature pieces and entertainment write-ups published in major business, news, medical, entertainment and trade journals. She currently focuses on writing persuasive and informational content for companies and business professionals to help them achieve specific goals.

McGroarty Chili Bowl Fest Returns for the Holidays

Every year, hundreds of people flock to McGroarty Arts Center in Tujunga to buy a new handmade chili bowl and try a variety of tasty chili recipes while getting an chili-bowlsearly start on holiday shopping. This year, the 14th Annual Chili Bowl Fest (held Saturday, Dec. 3) and the Holiday Art & Craft Faire
(Dec. 3 and Dec. 4) will be offering several new features: The weekend event will be expanding to the upper parking lot of McGroarty where there will be outdoor seating and a live band performing, and on Sunday, the Faire will be devoted to the spirit of the holidays. Santa Claus will be present to take photos with children, holiday carolers will serenade everyone with good cheer and holiday cookies will be available for the kids to paint.

As a special attraction, there will be a comedy fundraiser on  Sunday fritz-coleman-headshotevening featuring NBC Channel 4 meteorologist Fritz Coleman in his one-man show “Defying Gravity,” described as a hilarious glimpse into one man’s journey from childhood to “old age.”

“The show presents an hour and a half of laughing hard and reflecting on what it’s like getting older,” said Coleman. “Getting old isn’t pretty but it sure is funny!”

The single performance of Defying Gravity will be held at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4 at the Ice House, 24 Mentor Ave. in Pasadena with 100% of the proceeds going to the McGroarty Arts Center. Tickets are $15 and $22 for the 180-seat room. After Coleman’s show there will be an auction of services and prizes, donated by local artists, to raise money for McGroarty.

Coleman said his participation in the annual fundraiser for the McGroarty Arts Center comes from his interest in supporting the arts.

“I have three children and it has been sad to watch arts programs in schools diminish over the last 10 years, or so. I think the nurturing, creative programs at McGroarty have never been more necessary than they are right now. This event will be a chance for folks to help sustain this jewel of a facility. Plus… I promise… it’ll be the most fun you’ll ever have being philanthropic!”

Best known for his professional career as a weatherman, Coleman has been honing his standup comedy routine in clubs through the decades. He has also been named “Best Weatherman” in nearly every major paper in Southern California and has won numerous honors and awards for his dedication to his community.

Dawn Jenkins, Community Relations Committee chair at McGroarty Arts Center, added, “This year, in addition to the chili fest, bake sale, and Holiday Faire, we will be serving craft beer and featuring live music by an outstanding Los Angeles band. There will be ample seating under tents outside in the upper parking lot. There will be artists and vendors, inside and outside the building on both days, and we’ll have a golf cart transporting people from the street up to the top of the driveway.”

For those who have never attended the Annual Chili Bowl Fest, it’s a very popular event. (Parking is limited at McGroarty so plan on parking on the street  or – better still – carpooling with others to this event). Those who want to enjoy a bowl of chili can select the bowl of their choice for $15 from a dazzling selection of colorful ceramic bowls (bowls are also sold separately for $12) then fill up from an assortment of eight or 10 chili varieties, made by volunteers from the Sunland-Tujunga Rotary Club.

A slice of fresh corn bread comes with each bowl of chili as well as a variety of condiments. Also available for purchase are soft drinks or some of the scrumptious desserts baked by volunteers.

After eating, guests can stroll through McGroarty’s historic rooms to see local artisans’ crafts, such as creations in glass, woven pieces, unique jewelry, homemade soaps, candles, decorative artwork, handmade cards and beautiful pottery.

Whether guests come for the chili, the bowls, to shop for unique gifts or to experience some laughs at the Ice House, all will contribute to the ongoing operations of McGroarty where classes are held all year round in the arts, drama, yoga and other performing arts.

The McGroarty Arts Center is located at 7570 McGroarty Terrace in Tujunga. For more information, call (818) 352-5285 or visit

For advance tickets to the Ice House show, go to or purchase a ticket at the door.

“Story Map,” a Living History Event, Takes Place at Bolton Hall Museum

Bia portrait2By Pat KRAMER

A unique four-part workshop aimed at creating a “living history” for Sunland-Tujunga will be introduced by Bolton Hall Historical Society Artist-in-Residence Bia Gayotto on Thursday, Sept. 8 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be four interdisciplinary workshops combining performance, art, community participation and documentation in an effort to create a living archive and map of the Rancho Tujunga area and the surrounding areas of Shadow Hills, Sun Valley and Lakeview Terrace.

For the purpose of accuracy, the artists are seeking participants who can offer a variety of ethnic experiences, both past and present, for this multigenerational project. Additional workshops take place on Sept. 15, 22, and 29 with each running 90 minutes starting at 4:30 p.m. There will also be a wrap party on Oct. 16. Through word of mouth, the artist hopes to build a network of community members, artists and volunteers who contribute to the overall project.

Gayotto, a native of Brazil, was awarded the grant for this project by the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Cultural Affairs. Since 2003, she has created collaborative projects that have engaged residents all over the world. These include projects for AIR Taipei, Taiwan; Banff Centre, Canada; Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, California,  “Threewalls” in Chicago, Illinois; and a video series at Los Angeles International Airport called “Somewhere in Between” that was made possible with the support of DCA.

“Somewhere In Between” documents how people navigate between two or more places and cultures. To capture the diversity of Los Angeles, the artist conducted interviews with 14 residents who live along the iconic Route 66 connecting Pasadena to Santa Monica, and who identified as belonging to two or more places or cultures. The map documenting that event was made by designer Juju Yeo who will also be collaborating with Gayotto as part of the Story Map series at Bolton Hall Museum.

“My goal,” said Gayotto, “is to create a multi-layered portrait of the area using methodologies that involve engagement through stories and shared histories. It is part of my process to place ‘open calls’ inviting community members to participate in my projects. This promotes a multifaceted collective experience which often helps people feel connected to each other and, as a result, can be more accepting of cultures different from their own.

“Rather than being at the center, I see myself as a catalyst creating an environment in which people come together to participate in a shared activity.”

Anyone interested in participating in one or more of Gayotto’s living history workshops is asked to bring historical photographs or objects that they are willing to donate to the Bolton Hall archives to illustrate their contribution to the story. Bolton Hall Museum is located at 10110 Commerce Ave. in Tujunga. There is no cost to attend the workshop and everyone, ages 13 and up, is welcome. For more information, email or visit:

You can also read my feature story in the Crescenta Valley Weekly:



Categories: News




Crowds Turn Out for Sunland-Tujunga Parade and Family Fireworks Festival

Photos by Kresse ARMOUR LAPD cadets carried the S-T parade banner.

Photos by Kresse ARMOUR  LAPD cLAPD Motorcycle Corp entertained the crowd.adets carried the S-T parade banner.


Somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 people staked out a viewing spot along Foothill Boulevard in Sunland on July 4th to witness one of the longest parades the community has seen. Temperatures in the 80s contributed to a very pleasant day for the 80-plus businesses, organizations, dignitaries and equestrians participating in the Independence Day parade hosted each year by the Sunland-Tujunga/Shadow Hills Rotary Club.

Rotary Club President Sabrina Swofford-Godinez called the parade a huge success.

“LAPD Sgt. Ojeda ensured that we had great police coverage and a very safe parade,” she said. “Our grand marshal Brian Schneider was the celebrity of the day and he deserved it. We were thrilled to have Congressman Adam Schiff, Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, and Kevin James, president of the State Assemblywoman Patty Lopez waved to the crowd. Los Angeles Board of Public Works, riding in the parade. It was a lot of fun and we really appreciate everyone coming out to celebrate this awesome day with us.”

State Assemblywoman Patty Lopez waved to the crowd.

Congressman Adam Schiff rode in the S-T Parade.

Congressman Adam Schiff rode in the S-T Parade.

The parade started promptly at 10 a.m. with a flyover by an LAPD helicopter and this year’s LAPD cadets carrying the ceremonial banner. A special LAPD Motorcycle Corps then impressed the crowd with its skilled maneuvers and flashing lights, providing the parade dignitaries with a thrilling escort.

The parade lasted two hours as each entry turned the corner from Summitrose onto Foothill Boulevard to begin the one-mile stretch. Among those riding in festively outfitted vehicles were entries from the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council, Little Landers Historical Society, the American Legion, the Boy Scouts and Girl

Scouts, the Verdugo High School baseball team, Tujunga Little League, McGroarty Arts Center, Honorary Mayor Tom Smoker and New Heaven on Earth Ranch.

Other colorful entries included Maggie the Donkey, the Shamrocks Motorcycle Club, Tujunga’s Oldest Rock, several children’s dance groups, Berkshire Hathaway Realty and a wealth of colorful riders on horseback.

Many entities contributed to keeping the costs down for the Rotary, which amounted to about $1,500 for putting the parade into motion. The STNC paid for the Rotary’s rented golf carts, Burbank’s The Sign Studio provided free car signage, and many others donated their time and effort to help make this year’s parade a success.

As evening approached, the gates opened at Verdugo Hills High School, the site of the Family Fireworks Festival, put on by the Sunland-Tujunga Shadow Hills Community Fund and the S-T Chamber of Commerce.

Brenda Fortune, a community fund member and director of the Sunland-Tujunga Chamber of Commerce, spent months setting up the Family Fireworks Festival, which drew an estimated 2,100-2,300 people. Her role as coordinator involved bringing in the food trucks, signing up volunteers, getting donations from local businesses, making sure the power was “on” for the lighting and sound, getting the stage built, and then making sure Pyro Spectacular was ready to go when the lights went down.

“Everything went really smoothly,” said Fortune of her role with Community Fund President Dan McManus and S-T Chamber President Michael Moncreiff in putting the event together. “It was a mellow event and we made all of the money we expected to make to provide matching grants next year to Verdugo Hill High School clubs and organizations to pay for different projects. We were very pleased with the turnout.”

With tickets selling for $8 (children under a certain age got in free), the Family Fireworks Festival provides an affordable place each year for families to celebrate the holiday in a safe way. The cost of admission included games for the kids by community member Phillip Powell, and face painting by the Whittier Clowns. For the adults, music was provided by the bands Positive Source, Thunder Tap, Revolution Road, and Ceile Borman and Tropical Punch, with Borman singing the national anthem. Shane Coleman, of “Heroes of Life,” ran the soundboard to bring the entertainment and fireworks to life.

To cover the costs required for this event, several businesses stepped forward, including DIY (Do It Yourself Center) in Tujunga, which acted as a major sponsor, C&M Printing, Vons, Mark’s Lock and Key, Albertsons and Athens Services. Additionally, volunteers from the YMCA, STNC, and S-T Chamber, among other service organizations, helped with ticket sales, while VHHS girls’ softball coach Eddie Marquez and several other coaches provided gate security.

As the night set in, U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff and Assemblywoman Patty Lopez spoke to the families about the importance of honoring the nation’s history before fireworks lit up the night sky at 9 p.m. with a spectacular display of dazzle.

LAFD “Hot Shots” marched in the parade.

LAFD “Hot Shots” marched in the parade.