Monthly Archives: June, 2019

Leaving A Musical Legacy

A lifetime devotee of classical music, former San Marinan Edward Judd Zobelein tuned in to KUSC Classical 91.5 FM religiously. Now, other listeners can...

Public Safety Commission Takes in 710 Feedback at Special June 24 Meeting

The San Marino Public Safety Commission heard from numerous impassioned voices in regards to school safety and future plans during a special meeting on Monday, June 24 at San Marino Community Church in order to gather additional input on proposed traffic projects with $32 million in Measure R tax funding as part of the Metro 710 North Project. The topic centered around the presentation and discussion of questions previously posted by the community at input gathering meetings. With around 70 residents present, several also shared both ideas for the projects and desires to see all projects rejected. The commission reminded residents of its purpose to collect information for the council and that it will be the council’s decision on whether to accept all, modify or reject all proposals. 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). To date, the San Marino City Council has not made a decision on acceptance of the reserved Measure R funds. The topic is set to be heard on Wednesday, July 10 as an item on the regular City Council meeting agenda at City Hall at 6 p.m. According to City Manager Dr. Marcella Marlowe, city staff’s recommendation, in alignment with the Public Safety Commission’s recommendation, will be that the City Council direct staff to “refine the existing projects in a way that addresses community interests.” “From there, if that is indeed the Council’s course of action, staff will refine the projects and partner with the Public Safety Commission in August to do more community engagement on the refined projects,” Marlowe noted in an email to The Tribune. “Once received, we will take those recommendations to the Council in September for official acceptance or rejection.” At the June 10 Town Hall on the subject, Marlowe clarified that the process of the projects started around a year ago when the City Council appointed a resident of the community to be the 710 advisor to staff. Marlowe and Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne then worked with the resident to compile a list of suggestions that they felt that Metro “would be willing to create a placeholder financial support for with the understanding from Metro, at the time, that these would just be placeholder projects and we could then come back to the community.” Out of the list, Metro selected the five projects that are currently being discussed. At the Monday meeting, resident Stephanie Johnson spoke to the commission that in a spirit of “transparency,” she wanted to make note that the resident and 710 advisor was Hal Suetsugu, former transportation manager for South Pasadena and currently president of Evan Brooks Associates, Inc. (EBA). EBA notes on their website that the company is a “full-service strategic planning firm offering project management, grant writing, transportation planning, community outreach, and environmental compliance services for public agencies to assist in achieving their desired capital program, operations efficiency and project development goals.” Johnson noted that the company does traffic-related work with Metro. “He’s very much involved in Metro and I think on the good side for that is that he’s got a lot of knowledge and information that will be helpful to the city, but I think in all fairness to the public to refer to him as a resident, I’m a resident, to refer to him as just a resident, he’s an expert in transportation and also he does have business interests with Metro,” said Johnson. Later in the meeting, Suetsugu shared with the commission that he wanted to clarify that his former Metro work and South Pasadena participation came second to his interest in San Marino. He called the proposed projects “very modest” with a lack of five lanes in each direction on Huntington Drive and diagonal parking maintained. He shared that signal synchronization would be a “good opportunity” to fund as it is 30 years old and within 10 years funds will be needed to replace the signals. “This is a good opportunity,” said Suetsugu. “One thing that everyone is missing out on is that with this signal synch, we gain control over those signals. We don’t have control right now.” Suetsugu also noted that school safety was a primary focus of his in assisting with the projects along Huntington Drive. “My heart is with the schools,” said Suetsugu. “We’ve been working 20 years to try and get those right turn pockets for our kids to come into the parking lot. It’s causing a lot of traffic and congestion. That’s something that you guys should think about.” Resident Brad Ball received a round of applause from residents in the meeting when he shared a request that the City Council delve deeper for a better traffic study, in light of the Metro options presented. “If feels as though what we’re all trying to do in less than 50 years, more like 50 weeks, is figure out the plan when all that traffic wasn’t going to go through the tunnel, through the freeway,” said Ball. “So suddenly now, a river has been tributaried into all these other directions without a plan because the dam wasn’t built.” Additional information on the 710 Measure R funding, question responses and meeting notes are available through the front page of the city’s website at

City Getting Prepped For July 4th Fun

The City of San Marino is expecting a large turnout at its annual smorgasboard of activities that are scheduled for July 4 to acknowledge the anniversary of America’s independence. The San Marino Tribune will again proudly co-sponsor the 15th annual J.P. Blecksmith Memorial 5K Walk & Run on Thursday, July 4. An Independence Day tradition, the event will begin at 8:00 a.m. in the northwest corner of San Marino Avenue and Huntington Drive. The race honors the memory of United States Marine Corps 2nd Lieutenant and San Marino resident J.P. Blecksmith, who gave his life during the war in Iraq. The J.P. Blecksmith Memorial 5K Walk & Run supports several charities, including the J.P. Blecksmith Leadership Foundation at Flintridge Prep, where J.P. graduated high school in 1999. A scholarship is awarded annually in his name to a deserving senior. The event also benefits the USC Marshall School of Business Masters of Business for Veterans program, a fully accredited 1-year graduate degree created specifically for military veterans, those on active duty and reserve personnel. The cost of the event is $25, which includes an official race t-shirt and commemorative finisher’s medallion. Registration is available at or on race day beginning at 6:45 a.m. and closing at 7:45 a.m. Later that evening, Lacy Park will be the location for the city’s annual entertainment and fireworks extravaganza. Wristbands are required for admission and cost $5 for residents and $15 for non-residents with children age two and under free of charge. Wristbands are required for entry into Lacy Park beginning at 7 a.m. Sales of wristbands will take place through Wednesday, July 3 at the San Marino Recreation Department, which is open Mon. -Thu. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the Crowell Public Library, which is open Mon. -Thu. from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri. - Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. and at City Hall, which is open Mon. - Thu. from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Friday from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. On July 4, wristbands purchased at the park will cost $20 for both residents and non-residents while children 2 and under are free. 7 a.m. – Lacy Park opens (Virginia entrance only) 8 a.m. – J.P. Blecksmith Memorial 5K Walk & Run begins 3 p.m. – St. Albans entrance opens and food booths open 3:30 p.m. – Check-in for Rotary Parade begins at 1400 block of San Marino Avenue 4 to 8 p.m. – Family Fun Zone open 4:45 p.m. – Rotary Club of San Marino parade starts 5 p.m. – City Club Pavilion opens Completion of Parade – 6:30 p.m. – Introductions of San Marino City Council, San Marino School board members and San Marino National Little League All-Stars 6:30 to 8:15 p.m. – Entertainment on the Independence Day stage 8:45 p.m. – Presentation of Colors by San Marino Girl Scouts National Anthem, America the Beautiful and God Bless America 9:05 p.m. San Marino Presents “Celebrate America” Fireworks show

Robotics Team Getting Busy at Summer Camp

Titanium Robotics held another week of its popular summer camp. The third week of sessions was extremely busy for members in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, programming and CAD alike. Every member of every field was engaged and immersed in new tasks and jobs. Starting on Wednesday, June 19, CAD (computer aided design) and mechanical engineering began building prototypes to exemplify the framework for the new mechanism the team wishes to incorporate into the robot for the next competition. Newcomers in mechanical engineering split into two groups, each building their own model of the same mechanism in order for every member to get familiar with how the mechanism would work and the logistics of building it. CAD members split into two groups as well, and alternated between working in CAD and mechanical engineering. This was done in order to allow members of CAD to become accustomed to the mechanism and how it is built in order to create the drawings in the best way. Electrical engineering moved on from the electrical board to pneumatics on last year’s practice robot and programming continued their introductory lessons. The third week of Titanium Robotics’ summer camp finished up on Thursday, June 20, with a mentor review. Five mentors—one a teacher at San Marino High School and the other four alumni of the team—heard presentations from the incoming team members about the specifics of how the mechanism is designed to work during the actual competition. Mentors asked several questions and gave helpful feedback and insight for both newcomers and returning members to revise their original design and create new prototypes. This mentor review was designed not only to engage newcomers into the revision process and to come up with new ways to improve on the last design, but also to expose incoming team members to the meticulous and repetitive questioning and redrafting team members do together during the actual competition season with the goal of coming up with the best design possible. Returning team member Marcus Chua is extremely excited with the progress incoming team members have made and the opportunity summer camp gives new members to learn and returning members to teach. Marcus remarked, “Having the opportunity to be able to teach so many kids who are interested in fields in STEM is amazing, and I think that our summer camp is a great way to introduce students to the world of robotics.” During the fourth week of summer camp, team members are going to review the suggestions provided by mentors and come up with ways to refine and enhance the mechanism’s current design, and hopefully develop others.

Jack McQueen Dies; Was 56-Year Resident

Jack McQueen May 29, 1928 June 21, 2019 Sherman “Jack” McQueen, a 56-year resident of San Marino, passed away peacefully on Friday afternoon, June 21, 2019 with his family by his side. He was 91. McQueen was born to Sherman J. McQueen and Ethel Morrison in Monrovia, California on May 29, 1928. McQueen landed his first job in commercial radio as a junior reporter at a Los Angeles radio station while still in high school. McQueen attended Monrovia-Arcadia-Duarte High School (MAD). This school had special meaning to McQueen because his father was the schools structural engineer. After high school and a year of Occidental College, McQueen joined the United States Army where, while living in his Monrovia home, McQueen commuted to Sunset Blvd. and Gower St. in Hollywood. He worked the midnight to 8:00 a.m. shift to reach his fellow soldiers in the Pacific for Armed Forces Radio. He also covered stadium events in the Los Angeles area that were broadcast live over the AFRS. Returning to civilian life, McQueen attended Citrus College before working as a radio newscaster in Chicago and...

City Council Plans for Wooden Rose Arbor

Despite initial city staff recommendations to rebuild the Lacy Park rose arbor out of steel, the San Marino City Council voted for plans to move ahead with a lumber option at its June 12 meeting at City Hall. The lumber reconstruction costs—with engineering and plans to faithfully resemble the previous arbor—is expected to cost $350,700. Council Member Ken Ude was the sole no vote, citing concerns on the price. “I’m lukewarm on the project and financially more conservative,” said Ude. “So I think we should complete what the total plan looks like before we decide to spend that type of money.” The decision by the City Council includes a directive to the city manager to prepare plans and specifications for a lumber rose arbor replacement, advertise for construction bids and return to the council “as soon as possible” with a recommendation for funding options and an award of a construction contract. The council previously designated $200,000 as a placeholder in the fiscal year 2019-20 budget for the rose arbor and established a rose arbor donation fund. At the meeting, the council also discussed creating an endowment to cover ongoing maintenance and care, to possibly be kicked off during the city’s 90th anniversary of its founding in September. San Marino Director of Parks and Public Works and City Engineer Michael Throne shares detailed plan options for the Lacy Park rose arbor to...

School District Facing $2.5 Million Deficit for Upcoming School Year

The San Marino Unified School District is predicting a $2.5 million budget deficit for the upcoming 2019-20 school year, according to a report that Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Julie Boucher presented at last week’s school board meeting. Increases in salary due to contractual longevity steps, health benefits, and state-required increases in the amount of funding the district must pay into the California State Teacher Retirement System (STRS) and California Public Employee Retirement System (PERS), mean that the SMUSD will have to find a way to trim expenses in the upcoming school year. The SMUSD has already made a $1.3 million transfer from its cash flow fund, a $300,000 transfer from its deferred maintenance fund and a $36,000 transfer from a post-employment benefits trust. But that still leaves a gap of more than $856,000 to fill, which Boucher listed in her report as “TBD,” and could include staff reductions or other cost-saving measures. According to Boucher, the district is projecting declining enrollment the next two school years. Recent pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten class sizes are smaller than San Marino High School’s graduating class of 2019. The State of California funds its public schools based on average daily attendance. Under California’s school funding process, school districts that have a large percentage of students who are classified as either Economically Disadvantaged, English Language Learners or Foster Care children receive significantly greater amounts of basically unrestricted money per student than does the SMUSD, leaving the district as one of the lowest funded districts in the State. Last year, the District also paid $7 million for special education, more than 16% of its $43 million total budget. By law, the federal government is required to fund 40% of the cost of a district’s special education expenses, however, the federal government simply chooses to ignore this requirement, funding less than half that amount. According to Interim Superintendent Loren Kleinrock, “Basically, because of the State’s failure to provide adequate funding, for San Marino, the State has put this district and the few others like it into a recession.” If things don’t get better, the district will face a $2.5 – $3 million deficit in 2020-21. The board also heard the second reading of a report on proposed changes to the district’s homework policies, which prompted the attention of three residents who spoke out on the matter. Susan Flanagan, a San Marino resident and retired Carver Elementary School second grade teacher, said she believed homework was important to students. The district’s Academics Advisory Committee has recommended reductions to homework throughout the district. Flanagan feels it is an important tool and has spoken out on tbe matter before. “The maximums are reasonable and consistent with other high-performing districts,” she said. “Homework reinforces basic skills. You cannot expect children to develop critical thinking skills without reinforcement through homework.” Amy Yee, a mother of four students in local elementary schools, said she approves of homework and thought a 5th grader would not be prepared for the sixth grade without homework. She said that proposed time limits on homework “undermine the teacher’s judgment, especially if the teacher feels the need to use homework to expand on things,” Larry Yang, the father of two elementary school students, said that a proposed limit of 20-30 minutes of homework per day was “too rigid” and felt more time was acceptable. Following substantial discussion on the matter, the board agreed to revisit the subject on or after July 1, when new Superintendent Jeff Wilson is in office. The board also heard the first reading on a proposed fee schedule for the district’s facilities and heard a progress report on the new Barth Athletics Center at Huntington Middle School. Gerald Schober, the construction manager at the Barth site, said the project is under budget by $1.1 million with a grand opening set for Saturday, August 10. The meeting marked the first for Grace Davis, San Marino High School’s new student representative to the school board. Davis, a senior, replaces Alyssa Escamilla, who served an unprecedented two-year stint before graduating in May.

15th Annual Blecksmith Run Is July 4

The San Marino Tribune will again proudly co-sponsor the 15th annual J.P. Blecksmith Memorial 5K Walk & Run on Thursday, July 4. An Independence Day tradition, the event will begin at 8:00 a.m. in the northwest corner of San Marino Avenue and Huntington Drive. The race honors the memory of United States Marine Corps 2nd Lieutenant J.P. Blecksmith, who gave his life during the war in Iraq. A San Marino resident, Blecksmith received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, where he was a four-year member of the Midshipmen football...

Robotics Summer Camp Rolls On In Week Two

Titanium Robotics hosted the second week of its renowned summer camp on Wednesday June 12 and Thursday June 13. This week was focused on allowing newcomers the opportunity to begin to work more independently and propose their own ideas. The first day, incoming team members working in mechanical engineering had a competition in which each person designed and made their own small cars to be raced down a ramp. Participants were allowed to design their cars however they wished, as long as it fit onto the ramp, and were able to use whatever materials they felt would be the most speed efficient to build their car’s parts out of. Once they were finished, mechanical’s newcomers raced their cars down a track and were timed. This year’s winner set a new record for the fastest time. During the second day of summer camp this week, CAD (computer aided design) and mechanical engineering got to work to start the design process to modify last year’s competition robot, Galacc, to prepare it for the team’s next competition. Newcomers, with the guidance of returning team members, solidified a design plan for CAD to begin “CAD-ing” the mechanism and for the mechanical field to start building prototypes. The goal of the new mechanism is to be able to perform the tasks of two different mechanisms that were originally separate on Galacc. Throughout the duration of both days, graphic design began creating t-shirt designs for the team, programming continued with their preparatory lessons, and electrical engineering continued making their circuit board and began practice work on last year’s practice robot. Engineering President Edmond Wen commented, “It’s really exciting to see all departments working full swing on their respective projects for a combined goal. I’m also extremely proud of all the students— cabinet and non-cabinet— who’ve stepped up to teach this summer.” Members, new and returning, are always actively interested and participating in every aspect robotics entails and are excited to see what the next week of summer camp will have in store.

Gilmore Completes 7-Day Bicycle Ride for Charity

As far as crime statistics are concerned, Lompoc ranks a little below average for both the state of California as well as the nation, but don’t try to tell that to San Marino jeweler Steve Gilmore. “Someone stole my helmet,” Gilmore reported shortly after finishing his recent 470-mile bicycle ride down the Pacific coast. Gilmore explained his end-of-the-workday routine and mentioned that he rinsed his helmet and set it out to dry. The next morning, Gilmore was the one left hanging. Luckily, Gilmore had someone driving his chase car who happened to have an extra helmet, saving time and some money, which can rightfully be added to his charitable contribution. Gilmore was riding on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of his sister, Gail Zotovich, who lost her life to a brain tumor. Gilmore gas so far received and donations adding up to $17,000 and is, of course, still accepting donations. While his ride from San Francisco to San Marino had exactly one more theft than his 2017 cross-country trek that went from Santa Monica to New York City, there was another data point that was quite welcome: “I had zero flat tires,” he said. “Zero.” He accumulated 13 flats during his 25-day, 2,900-mile effort but none during his recent 7-day, 470-mile foray. There is no reason to think that Gilmore—who completed the transcontinental ride at the age of 60—is even close to being finished. “It will have to be something epic, to top the cross-country ride,” Gilmore said. “Not sure what, but there will be something.” Gilmore has created a special commemorative sterling silver charm which he will give to those who make a tax-deductible donation of at least $200. Gilmore’s online donation link can be found at or he can be reached by calling (626) 482-0495.
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