John Eggers from Boy Scout Troop 927 completed his “Eagle Project” by installing speed bumps in the Carl E. Nielsen Youth Park parking lot in Westchester. This was the last major step prior to Eggers receiving the prestigious Eagle Scout Award, the highest award in Scouting.

The goal of the project was to reduce vehicle speeds and make the parking lot safer for players and parents as they walk to the field. The speed bump installation was done in one day by Scouts from Troop 927 and other volunteers in the community, and was funded by contributions from the Westchester Rotary Club, Playa Vista and the Nielsen Park’s three primary users — soccer, baseball and softball.

The speed bump effort followed a 2005 project at the site in which volunteers undertook the arduous task of paving what had been a dirt lot to avoid major fines from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD).

At that time, Jim Slater, Playa Vista’s director of off-site construction, took on the huge task of serving as project coordinator for the parking lot project and dedicated countless hours, along with several other Playa Vista employees, including Randy Johnson, Sibyl Buchanan and Cliff Ritz, to making sure the project was successful.

John Ziegler, an architect with the design and architectural firm of AC Martin, took the conceptual plans for the project and turned them into working drawings for the city.

Neighbor Robert Mogck routinely stopped by the Youth Park to clean up construction debris and busy himself with odd jobs during the course of construction; while another neighbor, Bob Neiwirth, coordinated the final design work and helped obtain all necessary city permits.

Glenn Stronks of the Youth Foundation, a nonprofit group that sponsors organized sports for youths, was on-site almost every day to make sure the project was moving forward in a timely manner, while staying on budget.

With the help of David Kissinger, then-Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski’s deputy for airport relations, the city process moved along smoothly.

In addition to in-kind donations from companies like Playa Vista, Parkwest Landscape, Northwest Excavating and RTRI Consulting, the paving project received significant cash donations from the Westchester Vitalization Corporation, the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey and Catellus.

NEIGHBORS RAISE FUNDS TO FIND SILAH BOYS — A group of Westchester students set up a table outside the Vons supermarket in Kentwood Saturday, September 6th, to try to increase community awareness about the Silah boys who were allegedly abducted from their fathers’ home in Westchester July 2nd and have not been seen since.

On that day, while on a court-appointed visit with their fathers, Alex and Zaven Silah along with their cousin Greg Silah were allegedly abducted. What makes this so worrisome is the alleged criminal activities of their fathers. Not only are the police looking for the men, but also a number of people who have left threatening messages in voicemails. The children are purportedly in imminent danger, and police say everything is being done to locate them before they and their captors are found by the wrong people.

The main purpose of the effort on September 6th was to increase awareness and hand out information, but the community was so touched by the story that the students were able to raise more than $1,200 to help fund the search effort being conducted through the Association for the Recovery of Children (ARC).

For more information about the Silah boys, www.findthesilahchildren.com/. To donate to Operation Silah through the Association for the Recovery of Children, www.associationforthe recoveryofchildren.org/about_ARC.html/.

FIGHT FOR JESSICA — The tenth Annual Fight for Jessica benefit will be held on Saturday, September 27th, at the Marina del Rey Marriott Hotel. Themed “A Decade of Devotion,” the event will include a silent auction beginning at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner and a program.

Seats are $65 per person and can be purchased by calling (310) 649-6125.

All proceeds will go to benefit the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation.

The event is being held to raise funds and awareness about a devastating neurological condition know as Niemann-Pick Type C. The rare disease has been afflicting Westchester’s Jessica Leoni, 11, for more than ten years. For nearly eight years, Jessica grew up normally, but in May of 2005, she suffered her first seizure and since then, her health has continued to decline.

For more information on the event or on the Fight for Jessica, www.fightforjessica.com./

BOOSTERS HELP DAPS SWIM — Recently, the Venice-Marina Lions Club hosted a barbecue and pool party at Lion member Sue Levitt’s home to congratulate the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Area Deputy Auxiliary Police Services (DAPS) members for learning how to swim.

Deputy Auxiliary Police Services is an outreach youth program for boys and girls between the ages of nine and 13 that helps develop a positive relationship with police officers, but many have not learned how to swim.

Drowning accidents are a leading cause of injury-related deaths in children. In 2007, more than 1,200 drowning deaths occurred in the United States among those younger than 20. Not long ago, drowning was the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths among U.S. children between one and 19 years old.

As a way to help combat swimming tragedies during the summer, Pacific Area’s Deputy Auxiliary Police Services program initiated a swimming course with the help of the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. The program started with 22 youngsters nine to 13 years old who could not swim.

After a five-week course given by Recreation and Parks in conjunction with Deputy Auxiliary Police Services advisors — Officers Kristan Zalokar and Darrel Matthews — 18 Deputy Auxiliary Police Services members learned to swim.

The Pacific Area Boosters Association sponsored the entire swim program. The four other juveniles have overcome their fear of water and are only a few weeks away from passing their swimming test themselves.

The party was held to congratulate them on their accomplishments.

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