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AROUND THE VALLEYS

Valley Glen Los Angeles Valley College can now take its job training program to those who need it most with its mobile manufacturing technologies lab. The newly refurbished lab contains $200,000 in office mills and lathes and computerized simulators to upgrade the skills of employees at Valley manufacturers; retrain workers who have lost their jobs; and to show high school students what manufacturing is about. The school rolled out the 40-foot lab for the first time at the third annual Aviation Career Day at Van Nuys Airport at the end of April, and invited students at the Valley College campus to take a look on May 13. “We just want people to see it so they know that it is available,” said Lennie Ciufo, the job training director at Valley College. The school purchased some of the equipment for the lab, while Haas Automation Inc. in Oxnard donated machines as well. Funding comes from a U.S. Department of Labor grant. The equipment is the office models of the larger permanent machines that Valley College offers through its job training program. The original targets of the mobile lab were employees at San Fernando Valley manufacturers in need of upgrading their skills. Adding the retraining of workers who have been laid off came along only when job losses began to occur. For example, the lab will be taken to the Harman International Inc. campus in Northridge where more than 300 manufacturing jobs will be phased out over the next year. The college has already started computer skills training and English classes for the workers losing their jobs, Ciufo said. “If we can do a good job of training maybe we can avert some of the layoffs,” Ciufo said. Even with the loss of jobs, Southern California still remains among the top manufacturing areas in the country. A common complaint among manufacturers in the San Fernando Valley is the difficulty finding qualified people to come work with them. The perception remains that the work is dirty and backward. In bringing the lab to high schools, Valley College wants to change that perception. With the computerized machines on board, a student can engrave a keychain with their name. Information will also be available on the types of careers manufacturing offers, Ciufo said. San Fernando Valley Burbank Concert: Burbank Music Academy hosts a fundraising concert “Rockin’ For the Arts” on June 14 at the Starlight Bowl. The concert features bands made up of academy students, adult bands and special guests. Proceeds will benefit the family of Raulito Ochoa who was diagnosed with leukemia and has been in and out of Childrens Hospital; and the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles Fund for Austin Cook, who died in November. For more information contact (818) 845-ROCK. Calabasas Festival: The awards ceremony for the Method Fest Film Festival will air on two area cable providers. The 85-minute ceremony is made available through its producer Charter Communications and the video-on-demand service of Time Warner Cable. Footage from Method Fest airs on Charter channel 980 under the Community Interest tier. On Time Warner, turn to Channel 1 across its Southern California service area. Charter and Time Warner are both media sponsors of the festival. Canoga Park Contest: Congressman Brad Sherman presented the 27th annual Congressional High School Art Competition awards May 4 at the Canoga Park Youth Arts Center. Best-in-show was awarded to Austin Tallynn Carpenter, a sophomore from Valley Alternative High School. Austin, who edged out 64 other students, received an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., compliments of Southwest Airlines and Time Warner Cable, to attend a June ceremony with Congressman Sherman. Her painting will be displayed at the U.S. Capitol for one year. Crystal Gutierrez, a junior from High Tech High School, and Thilina Fernando, a sophomore from Valley Alternative High School won first place in the categories of photography and painting, respectively. The runner-ups’ artwork will hang in Congressman Sherman’s Washington, D.C., and Sherman Oaks offices. High Tech High was also awarded a $400 Arts Grant from Gelb Enterprises for having the most contest entries. Chatsworth Recycle: Planet Green hosts a two-day electronic waste collection at its parking lot in Chatsworth on June 13 and 14. Residents can drop off televisions, computers, monitors, keyboards, cameras, inkjet and toner cartridges, wires and cables, video game consoles and telephone equipment. Any private information residing on hard drives will be destroyed using a state-of-the-art disk-wiping process. Planet Green, a remanufacturer and recycler of printer cartridges and cell phones, is located at 20724 Lassen St. Encino Derby: In an exclusive agreement with LA Derby Dolls, online social community and gaming site Urbaniacs.com is bringing a Derby Doll alter ego to its online community. In exchange for the fun new character on the site, Urbaniacs is cosponsoring LA Derby Dolls summer camp for teenage girls. “Adding the LA Derby Dolls avatar to Urbaniacs.com has already appealed to a new group of online gamers, notably young women,” said Josh Fisher, developer of Urbaniacs.com. Northridge Awards: The Alumni Association of California State University, Northridge, awarded sophomore Natalie Torbati, 19, a Best Buy gift card for creating the association’s official new slogan, “You’ve Got Connections.” This marks the first time that a student has created a slogan for the association. It will be featured on the CSUN Alumni Association’s homepage, in the Northridge magazine and in newsletters set to go out in the upcoming fall 2008 and spring 2009 semesters. CONEJO VALLEY Agoura Hills Launch: Family-run business Tifa Chocolate has opened its new store, Tifa Chocolate & Gelato, at 5013 Kanan Road in Kanan Village in Agoura Hills. “We are so excited about the opening of our new location. We have some really fun activities planned for the grand opening all centered around chocolate and gelato, of course,” said Mike Ashamalla, owner of the store. Tifa Chocolate specializes in sales of hard-to-find chocolates from around the world. Thousand Oaks KCLU: Larry Hagman of “Dallas” and “I Dream of Jeannie” fame and his wife, Maj, will host a celebration in honor of National Public Radio station KCLU May 31, at their Ojai ranch. The casual gathering is slated from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hagmans’ Heaven Ranch. Guests can roam the grounds, enjoy the view and meet other KCLU supporters. KCLU serves more than 70,000 listeners in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and is a community service of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. Tickets for the “Spring into Summer” event are $150 and are partially tax-deductible. Various packages and sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, call (805) 493-3684. ANTELOPE VALLEY Palmdale Purple Day: The American Cancer Society’s “Paint the Town Purple” event May 1 created awareness for the 2008 Relay for Life fundraiser. Purple ribbons, bows and a banner filled Palmdale’s Poncitl & #225;n Square to raise consciousness. Many local businesses took part in the festivities as well. The official Relay for Life kickoff took place at the Larry Chimbole Cultural Center. The run will be the weekend of Sept. 20 and 21 at Highland High School; teams forming now. DryTown: DryTown Water Park & Mining Company, the Antelope Valley’s only water park, opened May 24 for its third season. “New this year will be our ‘Sundown at DryTown’ events where we open the park from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday evenings from July 11 through August 1,” said DryTown Water Park Manager Eric Dombrowski. Lancaster Honor: The National Kidney Foundation of Southern California honored Kaiser Permanente physician Phillip J. Tuso at its 29th annual Gift of Life Tribute Celebration Dinner on May 18. Dr. Tuso received the “Spirit of Nephrology Award” for his dedication to the Foundation to Improve Renal Nutrition, which he founded to help patients with kidney disease live longer and healthier lives through proper nutrition and education. SIMI VALLEY Simi Valley Remembrance: Holocaust Remembrance Day was observed May 4 at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Simi Valley. The Mount Sinai Shoah Quilt has been 18 months in progress and is comprised of memory squares from families all over the world. During the event, Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple dedicated the Shoah Quilt of Memory and gave the kenote address.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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