Teacher mini-grants; Rotary honors Theuer; LMU public safety; YMCA ‘Kids Need Heroes’ event; Babe Ruth seeks coaches

By unanimous vote of its board of directors, the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the new “Architectural Design Vision” for modernizing the terminals at LAX.

The chamber has always supported modernization of LAX as a gateway to Los Angeles. This, the chamber says, will in turn help to attract the booming tourist industry and businesses that employ the high-paying professional service jobs of the future.

The chamber says it has opposed and will continue to oppose plans that would add vehicular access to anything other than the east side of the airport or do damage to the Westchester Business District.

“Indeed, we have also spoken out against plans to move runways towards the community while simultaneously pointing out that LAWA [Los Angeles World Airports, the city airport agency] focus on runways was misplaced,” said the chamber in a written statement. “It is the experience the traveler has on the terminal side of the gate that counts toward competitiveness, not the configuration of runways.

“As stated by J.D. Power, the customer satisfaction experts that rank cars who has exhaustively studied LAX and concluded in 2005 that LAX ‘falls way short of meeting customer expectations ranking 68 of 76 global airports in overall airport satisfaction.’

“We need new terminals, not new runways and applaud LAWA and executive director Gina Marie Lindsey for their willingness to work with the chamber to offer a design meeting the needs of the community.”

The chamber indicated that the key to the new Capital Improvement Project is that while modernizing passenger facilities, it protects the community from new vehicular access to LAX terminals from the north (Westchester), West (Playa del Rey) or south (El Segundo). There is no “West Terminal” nor is there a “Ring Road” in the plan, which the chamber and community groups vehemently opposed. The plan also leaves intact the Westchester Business District.

“We agree with those at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce who have said, ‘We owe it to our millions of residents and visitors to design a solution now to modernize LAX and improve the competitiveness of facilities so that we can compete with the rest of the world’ — this is the solution,” said chamber president Christina Davis.

TEACHER MINI-GRANTS —— Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Westchester and the Playa Sunrise Rotary Club, the 12th annual “Teacher Mini Grant” awards were handed out recently to 56 teachers at 11 area schools. The grants, totaling more than $14,000, will go to pay for a variety of items schools and teachers alone cannot afford.

The schools whose teachers received grants include St. Bernard High School, Westchester High School, Orville Wright Middle School, St. Jerome School, St. Anastasia School, Visitation School, Westchester Lutheran School and Kentwood, Loyola Village, Paseo del Rey and Westport Heights elementary schools.

This year’s largest donor was Howard Hughes Center/Equity Office, which made a $5,000 donation to the program. John Hartz, vice president of construction, helped present some of the grants to the winning schools.

Other donors included Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, the Jim Bunch Memorial Fund, LAX Travelodge Hotel, Jan Davis of Superb Tech, Inc., Tony Ciancimino, Lisa Schwab of Cantalini’s Restaurant, Donna Lasman and William Botch, Howard Pollack of Rainbow Acres Natural Foods as well as a donation made in honor of Patricia Lyon’s birthday.

In addition, both Rotary Clubs contributed funds to the program.

ROTARY CLUB HONORS THEUER — On January 15th, the Playa Sunrise Rotary Club honored local resident John Theuer with its annual Community Service Award as part of its Greek Dinner, which was held at the Playa Vista CenterPointe Club and sponsored by Playa Vista.

The fundraising event featured Greek dancers, an array of Greek food and an award presentation to Theuer recognizing his many efforts to support the community.

Theuer’s company, Panda Restaurant group, is said to be “the largest quick-service Chinese food operator in the world,” with over 625 Panda Express locations in 36 states. Theuer was appointed chief financial officer in July 1999 after serving as vice president of finance and controller for five years.

He has taught continuing education classes at Loyola Marymount University for the Hotel/Restaurant Certificate Program and the Management Certificate Program, and has dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours to the community through Westside Neighborhood School and as chairman of the board for the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce.

KIDS NEED HEROES — The Westchester Family YMCA will host its Second Annual “Kids Need Heroes” event at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, February 17th, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 5985 Century Blvd. in Westchester. California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. is scheduled to present Robert Abernethy with the Hero of the Year Award and Karen Dial with the Community Pillar Award.

Tables of ten are available for $1,250, and individual seats are $125. Information, West Enterprises at (310) 227-8100.

LMU PUBLIC SAFETY MEETING — Loyola Marymount University (LMU) will hold a community meeting focusing on public safety. It will be the public’s opportunity to meet LMU’s chief of public safety, Hampton Cantrell, and learn about the LMU Department of Public Safety’s new community initiatives, meet the community investigators and hear an update on the new Associated Students of LMU Party Smart campaign.

The event will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, February 7th in The Living Room, at Malone Student Center on the Westchester campus. Specific directions will be available at the Lincoln Boulevard entrance.

Light refreshments will be served, and free parking will be available in LMU’s Lot D.

Information, director of community and government relations Clarence Griffin, (310) 338-7854 or ce griffin@lmu.edu/.

BABE RUTH SEEKS COACHES — Westchester Babe Ruth, coming off one of its finest seasons in which the league’s 13-year-old All Stars finished third in the nation, is seeking community volunteers to manage and coach during the 2009 season.

“If you have that special gift to effectively communicate to young adults, we’ll teach you the finer points of the game,” said Babe Ruth president Chris Lynch. “Make lifelong friendships within the community and have an impact on a young player’s life.”

Information, Lynch at (310) 529-3307 or Clynchr@sbcglobal.net/.