Monthly Archives: April, 2019

Titans Get Rematch With Moors for CIF Opener; Lady Titans Host Wild Card Game Tuesday

Speedy center fielder Charis Chung and her Lady Titan teammates will host Saddleback Valley Christian on Tuesday, April 30 in a CIF Division 6...

Straight to the Top

It all started as an innocent suggestion courtesy of a curious high school counselor, but two San Marino High School girls had an experience last month that will be rivaled by few. Erina Widjaja, a senior, and junior Megan Lan took a tip from college and career counselor Hiyas Mutia and attended She Leads, a two-day entrepreneurship conference for high school girls that was hosted by the Snapchat social media messaging application and held at its Santa Monica headquarters. There, 150 likeminded young ladies actively engaged in discussions with female entrepreneurs, participated in design thinking and ideation exercises, and discussed and developed product...

Residents’ Town Hall Meeting to Address Local 710 Projects

In numerous meetings over the past several months, San Marino residents and city staff have been working to build consensus on the viability of traffic projects related to $32 million in tax funding from Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) that was reserved for the city in December 2018. The funds are meant to address traffic impact due to Metro’s decision to not construct the 710 tunnel project. The project aimed to link the 710 and 210 freeways via a proposed tunnel that would have run from Alhambra to Pasadena. Currently being considered in San Marino are five projects with the funding: Huntington Drive intersection work ($12 million), Huntington Drive signal synchronization ($7 million), work in front of school sites on Huntington Drive ($6 million), work along Sierra Madre Boulevard ($4 million) and San Gabriel Boulevard signal synchronization ($3 million). In previous meetings with residents, the Public Safety Commission and city staff have taken in their feedback on concerns with traffic on local streets, losing on-street parking along Huntington Drive and pedestrian safety. “We have taken to heart the public’s concerns and believe we can resolve them without resorting to eliminating parking, increasing speeds or endangering kids,” said City Manager Dr. Marcella Marlowe in a news release from the city this week. Some residents have expressed concern about the possible effects of the proposals. Citizens For San Marino, a group of residents interested in maintaining the quality of life in the city and promoting neighborhood safety, will be holding a town hall meeting on Monday, April 29 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Hill-Harbison House at 1841 Alhambra Road in San Marino to discuss the issues and hear from both residents and city officials in a Q&A format. The group formed after a spate of burglaries in 2017, according to resident and group member Dr. Ghassan Roumani. After gathering residents and encouraging them to take simple actions on their own properties like leaving a car in the driveway and installing alarms, Roumani said the burglary rate decreased dramatically. “I thought if we work with police and form a residents group or citizens group, we can increase the awareness of the neighbors and maybe we can help,” Roumani told The Tribune. Roumani hopes to inspire a similar level of awareness and unity with approaching the 710 project funding. Fellow resident Dr. Raymond Quan has presented his data findings on Metro’s environmental impact report for the project at city meetings in regards to the Metro traffic reports. He also served as a member of the No 710 Action Committee and has been a close follower of the 710 Coalition. “We must look this gift horse in the mouth,” said Quan. Roumani said that the percentages that Metro has shared in regards to traffic congestion predictions with the projects and without the projects don’t hold up. “Every surface street is going to be affected with the pollution, which is huge,” said Roumani. “The quality of life is going to be affected everywhere in the city, so we’re asking residents to come to the meeting to discuss it more.” In the State Route 710 Study by Metro titled Alternative Analysis Report published in December 2012, Metro outlined several alternatives to the 710 tunnel, one of which included Huntington Drive. In a flyer for the town hall meeting April 29, the group shared concerns that “if Huntington Drive is chosen as the alternate road to the 710 extension, it will dramatically increase traffic on San Marino streets by a whopping 64 percent on some of our residential streets. The traffic speed on Huntington Drive will also increase by 16 percent, to about 55 mph. These changes will have serious adverse environmental and safety consequences, irreversibly compromising the quality of life of our residents.” “All my neighbors here on the same street think it’s crazy because they looked at the numbers and 64 percent increase in traffic, you can’t afford it,” said Roumani. “It’s just not acceptable.” The town hall meeting is slated to be attended by Mayor Dr. Steven Huang, members of the City Council, Chief of Police John Incontro and Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne. Residents will also be answering questions, including Quan, Roumani and longtime traffic safety advocate Stephanie Johnson, who founded the Los Robles Neighborhood Association and worked with Metro to have their major bus line from Long Beach to Altadena rerouted from Los Robles Avenue to Fair Oaks Avenue. Roumani expressed a sense of hope that residents and city officials will come together and find a solution that will protect and maintain the city’s quality of life. “South Pasadena, Pasadena and El Sereno—they all stood there fast and fought against it and they won and we should do the same,” expressed Roumani on the Metro 710 funding. “We owe it to San Marino.”

District Introduces New HMS Assistant Principal

Saying it’s “a true honor and a blessing to be here,” Daryl Topalian was introduced at Tuesday evening’s meeting of the San Marino school board as the next Assistant Principal of Huntington Middle School. Topalian will replace Rick Barclay, who resigned in December 2018 to find a job closer to home following the birth of his first child. Topalian has served as assistant principal, activities director and athletic director at Oak Avenue Intermediate School in the Temple City Unified School District. He has over twenty-four years of experience at the elementary, middle and high school levels. “He is a high-energy guy,” a former co-worker of Topalian’s said on Tuesday afternoon. “He interacts really well with middle school students. You got a good one.” Topalian has a Master’s Degree in school counseling from Azusa Pacific University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian education from The Master’s College. During his address at Tuesday’s board meeting, Topalian glanced towards a group of HMS students who were assembled to receive recognition for their recent Science Team exploits. “I am looking forward to working with you,” said Topalian, as the students returned smiles. Topalian was selected from a pool of 62 candidates and was chosen due to his “extensive experience as a middle school administrator, his demonstrated commitment to working with teachers, staff, students and the community to continuously provide a successful school climate,” according to HMS Principal Alana Fauré. During his introduction, Interim Superintendent Loreen Kleinrock said Topalian “constantly looks on the bright side and fosters a positive school climate,” according to his research. “I am very excited to have been selected as the new Huntington Middle School assistant principal and am committed to developing a strong sense of community and rapport with students, teachers, and parents,” Topalian said. The school board also approved by a 4-0 vote a State-mandated curriculum for health and sex education in accordance with the California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA), which will go into effect for the 2019-20 school year. The subject matter—which must be taught for one year in middle school and another in high school—will include topics such as the nature of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and how they are prevented, treated and transmitted; contraception, abstinence, pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes; sexual orientations, same-sex relationships, gender expression and identity; sexual abuse and violence; and sexual harassment and human trafficking. Jason Kurtenbach, the San Marino Unified School District’s executive director of curriculum and instruction, said at a previous school board meeting that the classes will be taught in 7th and 10 grades, in accordance with state mandates. School Board President Lisa Link asked Kurtenbach is he had received feedback from the community and Kurtenbach indicated there was little, though one parent, Morsan Chan, spoke during the public comment section of Tuesday’s meeting and urged the board to vote against the proposal. The board also heard the first reading regarding a possible loan for $6.8 million the district might arrange to overcome cash flow shortages. The program, called a TRAN loan [Tax and Revenue Anticipation Note) was explained by Chet Wang, the district’s financial advisor, and will be voted on at the board’s meeting on Tuesday, May 14. The board also congratulated Huntington Middle School’s award-winning Science Team and mentioned winners of the Reflections contest, though none were in attendance.

Lady Titans Drown RHL Foes–Again

“Consistency” is an attribute one might think would benefit a golf or tennis team, but San Marino High School girls’ varsity swim Coach Mark Barr said it is that specific virtue that has helped the Lady Titans cultivate four consecutive Rio Hondo League championships, the most recent coming last week with a 128-35 win over Monrovia. During the streak, San Marino has won 20 consecutive league dual meets and heads into the RHL finals as the favorite to win that competition as well. Head Coach Mark Barr has been involved in the school’s swim and water polo programs since the last century, but is still impressed with his charges’ recent success. “All four years, I honestly thought that La Cañada had a better team,” said Barr, who came to the school in 1997 and became the full-time girls’ varsity head coach ten years later. “They were deeper, but we found a way to win. Twice we swam them after their spring break and that really helped us. But this year, it was after our spring break and La Cañada is as deep as they have ever been and I thought we would have some problems. But we were able to hold them off and win.” “Hold them off” might be an understatement, even for the famously humble and understated Barr. At this year’s meet that was held at La Cañada, the Lady Titans charged out to a substantial lead. But the Spartans took the 100-meter breaststroke to tie the meet with just one event remaining. Fortunately, Barr was able to watch his powerhouse 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay team of Kali Villaluna, Sophia Yao, Dora Chang and Sabrina Wang work their collective magic to snag an 84-82 win and keep the streak alive. The 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay team is undefeated in 2019 and has already qualified for CIF action. Villaluna, Yao, Chang and Wang also are undefeated in the 4 x 50-meter medley relay and the 4 x 50-meter freestyle relay team of Ellie Chen, Siouxsie Lennox, Blake Pak and Grace Emmanuelee is also undefeated and headed to CIF. “We only have two seniors and a low number of swimmers is typically not good for a swim team,” Barr said. “But they are really consistent and we have a very deep talent pool from which to draw.” Ellie Chen and Claire Chiu are the two seniors. Chen has excelled in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle, pretty much guaranteeing points for the Lady Titans. “Ellie really shows up for meets,” said Barr. “I’m not saying that she doesn’t work hard in practice, but she definitely has an extra edge when we are in a meet. I admire her competitive nature.” On the other end of the spectrum are “two great freshmen,” in Barr’s estimation. Aside from starring in the relays, Sophia Yao, and Sabrina Wang are solid in individual events, with Wang starring in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle and the 100-meter butterfly. Villaluna has also pre-qualified for the CIF meet in the 50-meter freestyle, the 100 backstroke and the 100-meter freestyle. Chang is qualified in the 200-meter individual medley, the 100-meter butterfly and the 100-meter backstroke. Yao has qualified in the 200-meter individual medley, and the 100-meter butterfly and breaststroke. And Pak, a sophomore, can pack her bags to attend the CIF meet in the 100-meter butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke. Emmanuelee will also be representing the Royal & White in the 500-meter freestyle and the 100-meter butterfly. “This is a really good group, but they have continued the tradition of hard work and dedication that has been a part of this program for several years,” Barr said.

Peck Named by Chu as San Marino’s ‘Woman of the Year’

Her dossier reads like a “what’s what” of community volunteerism, and last Saturday afternoon, longtime San Marino resident Marilyn Peck was named “Woman of the Year” by Congresswoman Judy Chu for her many contributions to the community. Peck has served two-year terms as president of both the San Marino Historical Society and the San Marino Garden Club, served three two-year terms as president of the board of trustees for the Crowell Public Library, and is the incoming president of the San Marino Women’s Club. She has also served on the board of trustees for San Marino’s Old Mill, the Lacy Park Beautification Committee, and was a member of San Marino’s Bicentennial Committee. Among her most ambitious projects, Peck originated an essay contest in all five schools in San Marino before the Crowell Public Library opened. Members of the board of trustees read 1,600 essays—three times each—before selecting grade level winners. Winning essays were on display on the walls of the new library on opening day. She also served on the committee establishing the Crain Memorial Art Gallery at the library in memory of the former our city librarian, who...

Council Improves Policy for Small Wireless Facilities

At the April 10 meeting at City Hall, the San Marino City Council adopted with additions a resolution that amended application requirements and development standards for wireless telecommunications in the public right of way (ROW) and small wireless facilities. A strong showing of residents were present at the meeting. The City Council added points to the resolution that wireless companies may not install small wireless facilities within 200 feet of any private or public school, residents within 500 feet of the proposed installation must be notified and mock ups, or life-size replicas of the small wireless facility, must be installed at the proposed site before the facility is installed. Several residents spoke in support of the changes and commended the council and city for their protective measures and advocacy efforts. Resident Miriam Nakamura-Quan...

Board to Interview Supe Candidates April 26, 27

The San Marino school board met on Tuesday with James Guerra and Mike Escalante of JG Consulting/Escalante & Associates, the executive search firm retained by the San Marino Unified School District to assist in the hiring process for a new superintendent, to review the applications of potential candidates in an effort to pare the list down from the 45 who applied for the position. The board has set aside Friday, April 26 to interview candidates and Saturday, April 27 for second queries, both during officially noticed meetings. The board hopes to have a new superintendent hired by the end of May, according to Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Linda de la Torre, who also said that the district received applications from interested parties across the nation. The board is seeking a replacement for former Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss, who resigned in August, 2018 to take a similar position at the...

SMFD Conducts Annual Inspection, Audit

With keen attention to detail, the San Marino Fire Department (SMFD) conducted its annual inspection and audit of the department’s apparatus, equipment and records on April 15, 17 and 19. This is the second year the SMFD has undergone the rigorous inspection and audit led by Fire Chief Mario Rueda and his command staff. In that time, each of the three shifts of the department undertook the work to cover all areas of the station which included verifying compliance with city and department policies, procedures, record keeping, safety equipment maintenance and checking the condition of the apparatus, equipment and quarters. “Most importantly, we’re ensuring that every part of our maintenance system is being carried out as per policy,” said Rueda. “Our maintenance system is really designed so that 100 percent of the time, when we get an emergency in town, when we jump on the apparatus, we go to respond and we go to use our tools and equipment, that it all works.” On April 17, Rueda and Battalion Chief Mark Dondanville checked over each piece of gear from personnel of Engine 91 and Rescue Ambulance 91 and from there moved on with flashlights alongside Battalion Chief Chris Szenczi and Fire Captain Russ Wilcox with clipboard to check the quarters, kitchen and other internal spaces. No corner was left unchecked. Rueda explained that prior to last year, the annual audit and check had not be done since 2010. Although few members of the public may see the inside of the station, he views each detail as an essential part of the process to maintain safety, wellness and culture as well. On top of the annual check, the fire department undergoes daily, weekly and monthly checks as well. “I think it’s an important part of making sure as a public safety agency that we do our due diligence, to make sure, like I said 100 percent of the time, we go to push the start button and everything works like it’s suppose to,” Rueda explained.

Lin Smashes Two School Records, One Meet Mark

Tristan Lin, a senior at San Marino High School, broke two school records and one meet record—while barely missing another—at last weekend’s Mount San Antonio College Meet of Champions. Lin recorded a time of 1:49.79 in the 200-meter Individual Medley, just shy of the meet record and besting Scott Farley’s SMHS-record time of 1:50.33. Lin also broke the school record and meet record in the 100-meter Breaststroke at Friday’s preliminary heat with a time of 55.74. The previous school record was set in 1991 by Mike Mason in 1991. Tristan swam a time of 55.58 in the finals to set a new meet record as well. Both times were automatic All-American times and Lin won both events at Saturday’s finals.
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