Author: The Argonaut

Westchester Y volunteer honored

On Friday, June 4th, West-chester Family YMCA members and guests gathered at a dinner honoring the spirit of volunteerism to show that volunteers really do “Rock.” The inaugural Volunteer “Rock”ognition Awards Dinner and Dance spotlighted special individuals, groups and businesses that demonstrate the critical role volunteerism plays in building strong kids, strong families and strong communities. Six dedicated volunteers of the Westchester Family YMCA and two outstanding organizations that best exemplify the spirit of volunteerism were honored. Honorees in the category of Outstanding Program Volunteers were Bob Neece, Service; Allan Mylander, Aquatics; Helen Rupp, Healthy Lifestyles and Mario Lafaurie, Camping/Youth & Government. In addition, Covenant Presbyterian Church was honored as Outstanding Community Partner, and Arden Realty, Inc., was honored as the YMCA’s Outstanding Business Partner. Honored as this year’s West-chester Family YMCA Volunteer of the Year was Mike Arias of Arias, Ozzello & Gignac LLP. Arias has been an active member and volunteer of the Westchester Family YMCA for over ten years, serving as chairman of the Board of Managers, Golf Tournament chair, Financial Development chair and Major Gifts chair. Arias also has served as a volunteer coach and mentor and has offered legal counsel to the branch on several occasions. His dedication to the YMCA, his willingness to help others and his generous spirit made him a natural to receive the award. The highlight of the evening was...

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Mayor signs $5.4 billion budget for fiscal year beginning July 1st

Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn Thursday, May 27th, signed a $5.4 billion budget for the City of Los Angeles for the fiscal year that begins Tuesday, July 1st. The city budget had been approved by the Los Angeles City Council Monday, May 24th, after making what are being called “minor revisions” to the mayor’s proposed budget. A week earlier, Monday, May 17th, the City Council gave preliminary approval to the budget but cut many of the mayor’s proposals. The council restored several small departments that the mayor had proposed eliminating and restored money for business tax reform. The City Council also increased the mayor’s proposed reserve fund for emergencies. After the City Council’s preliminary approval of the budget May 17th, the mayor said he was “pleased” with his budget and intended to approve the budget without any changes after the City Council’s final approval. “These are tough times and we have to be careful in the future but I think the (City Council) was prudent with what we submitted,” Hahn said after the City Council’s preliminary approval May 17th. “I firmly believe the recommendations are consistent with the priority outcomes I identified in my proposed budget and have the broad support of those we serve,” Hahn said May 17th. The seven-inch-thick city budget includes slight increases for police and fire services, street improvements, libraries and a city after-school program...

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Vandals cause destruction, disruption at wetlands site

Friends of Ballona Wetlands has its sign back where it belongs. The organization’s informational sign that normally sat alongside Culver Boulevard in the Playa del Rey area was vandalized and dragged to a creek in the wetlands. Volunteers Desmond Crumwell, Michael Beverly and Douglas Mercer — and led by Juan Alvarado — retrieved the sign from the creek. Sign painter Bud Harris of Bud Harris Signs cleaned the sign and the group reinstalled the sign where it had earlier been. “It must have taken three strong guys to lug that sign to the creek,” said Friends of Ballona Wetlands president Ruth Lansford. “Strong, but not too bright. In the process, they mowed down a swath of sensitive wetland vegetation.” The Friends organization has recently gone through a period of vandalism with its other informational signs. Signs required by the state Coastal Conservancy in compliance with a restoration grant have been stolen, Lansford said. A wetlands restoration trailer was also broken into and several dozen expensive binoculars that had been donated by supporters of wetlands restoration were stolen. Lansford suggests that the large Culver Boulevard sign that was lugged to the creek was probably too large to be loaded into a vehicle and taken away. Police reports have been filed on all losses and the police are taking an interest in continuing vandalism at the wetlands, Lansford said. The organization’s...

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Host families sought for foreign students

International Student Placements is seeking family hosts to provide a private bedroom and meals for foreign students who will be attending Santa Monica and West Los Angeles Colleges. Each student would pay the host family $700 a month for room and board. International Student Placements is a 12-year-old organization based in Los Altos, near San Francisco. “We have several international students who want to attend Santa Monica and West Los Angeles College this fall and we need an equal number of homes for them to stay in,” said Frances Sotcher, International Student Placements area coordinator. “It can be a very rewarding experience,” Sotcher said. Information, Sotcher, (310) 827-3618 or by e-mail to...

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Video games donated for use by hospital patients

Hospital stays for some children and teens can now be partially about fun and games at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. Activision — a Santa Monica-based developer of interactive entertainment software — has donated many of its popular video game titles and ten television monitors and game consoles to the medical center’s pediatrics unit. Activision plans to supplement the donation with new software and may upgrade its donation when the new Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital — to be located in downtown Los Angeles — is completed and ready for occupancy in 2007. The response from patients at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center had been overwhelmingly positive, according to Graham Fewtrell, director of women’s and children’s services at the hospital. “It helps pass the time and can actually be therapeutic for the patients,” said...

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