VOLUNTEERS with the Emerson Avenue Community Garden will be honored by the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce with the Brookfield Residential/Playa Vista Spirit Leadership Award.

VOLUNTEERS with the Emerson Avenue Community Garden will be honored by the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce with the Brookfield Residential/Playa Vista Spirit Leadership Award.

By Geoff Maleman

The LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce will honor Ernest Roberts of PVJOBS, The Ratkovich Company, the Los Angeles Business Journal and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at its annual City of Angels Awards.
The event will be held on Thursday, April 18 at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel, 5855 W. Century Blvd. in Westchester and will begin with cocktails at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. In addition, for an extra charge, attendees can join a VIP reception that includes hosted cocktails and appetizers with the honorees beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Seats are $125 per person or $250 per person, including tickets to the VIP reception.
“This is our opportunity to recognize those individuals throughout Los Angeles who have made a meaningful and positive impact on our city,” said chamber President/CEO Christina Davis. “We have an outstanding line-up of honorees who have, each in their own way, made their mark on Los Angeles, and we are excited to honor them.”
In addition to Roberts, The Ratkovich Company, the Los Angeles Business Journal and Ridley-Thomas, the chamber will honor the Emerson Avenue Community Garden with the Brookfield Residential/Playa Vista Spirit Leadership Award, recognizing those who have made a significant contribution to improving the Westchester community.
The Emerson Avenue Community Garden was selected by the chamber, Brookfield Residential and Playa Vista, and will be presented with $5,000.
Roberts is the executive director of Playa Vista Job Opportunities and Business Services (PVJOBS), a workforce development non-profit dedicated to assisting local, at-risk and multiple barrier citizens in attaining self-sufficiency through meaningful, career-track employment. He was hired in 1998 to manage and oversee operations of PVJOBS, which has grown to a major community-based organization with over 120 collaborating non-profits.
The organization has filled more than 4,500 construction-related positions with persons who were formerly incarcerated or suffered other employment barriers.
Ratkovich is the president/CEO of The Ratkovich Company, a Los Angeles development firm that has developed 15 million square feet of office, retail, entertainment and residential projects, including 17 buildings that are listed or eligible for listing on the National Register for Historic Places. Located at the Hughes Industrial Historic District at Playa Vista is the enormous hangar in which aviator Howard Hughes constructed the famous Hercules airplane, more commonly dubbed the “Spruce Goose.”
The award-winning Los Angeles Business Journal, led by owner and publisher Matt Toledo, is a weekly Los Angeles-based publication that examines the many ways that the Los Angeles economy operates. The paper, which has a circulation of over 19,000 online and over 22,000 print subscribers, covers the community’s dynamic business and financial scene.
Since being elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 2008, Ridley-Thomas has been a tireless advocate for his constituents on a variety of fronts, including transportation, job creation and retention and local hiring, according to the chamber.
He has worked to jumpstart the opening of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital and is widely regarded as a strong advocate of neighborhood participation in government decision-making. Ridley-Thomas’ political career was preceded by a decade of service as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, which followed a brief but successful five-year stint as a high school teacher.
Since the Jan. 17, 2011 groundbreaking at the Emerson Avenue Community Garden, volunteers have worked tirelessly turning a neglected, weed- and debris-covered acre of land located on the campus of Westchester’s Orville Wright Middle School into a community garden. Through the group’s efforts, a portion of the area is designated for the students of Orville Wright, and for the first time in more than a decade, students have their own garden where they have planted fruits and vegetables and can learn about healthy eating, gardening and about being stewards of the environment.
The non-profit has also created community garden plots, an “outdoor classroom” seating area, a meditation garden and it has plans to create a handicap accessible pathway. The group is currently waiting to finalize its use agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District, which will allow more than 30 garden plots to be raffled to community members, as well as open the garden to the public after school hours and the weekends for tours, gardening and to utilize as a community pocket park.
Information on the City of Angels Awards, (310) 645-5151.

When an officer pulls you over for speeding should you admit to speeding, make up a sob story about why you were exceeding the speed limit or pretend you were driving the posted limit?
Your answer could be the difference between getting a warning and paying a hefty fine.
Chief Alan Kerstein will be the featured speaker at the Rotary Club of Westchester meeting Wednesday, April 24 and his presentation will focus on, “How to Avoid a Ticket.”
The meeting will begin at 12:10 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Airport, 5985 W. Century Blvd. in Westchester; and admission, including lunch, is $20 person.
Kerstein has served as the chief of police for three large police departments since his retirement from the Los Angeles Police Department in January 2000 after a 31-year career. He was a commander in operations at the West Bureau prior to his retirement and worked a variety of assignments within the LAPD including the command of patrol, detective, and traffic divisions.
Kerstein taught traffic school for nine years and regularly speaks to community and civic groups on traffic enforcement and personal safety. He is a court-qualified expert on crowd control and traffic enforcement and is often called upon to testify in criminal and civil trials in those areas.
For more information or to reserve a seat at the luncheon, Bob Smith at (310) 643-9350.

On Saturday, April 20, Orville Wright Middle School will host an e-waste drive from noon to 4 p.m. at the campus, 6550 W. 80th St., in Westchester.
Visitors will be able to drop off electronic waste items and garage extras, which will be recycled locally and profits will go to benefit the school.
Items accepted include computers, monitors, laptops, televisions, printers, cell phones, fax machines, VCR/DVD/Blu Ray players, game consoles, stereos, cameras, scanners, appliances and more. Battery recycling will also be available on site.
In addition, visitors can bring expired credit cards and used gift cards to be punched into guitar picks. All recycling services are provided by Mission Recycling.
For those planning to bring appliances or other large items, Jeannine Giesregen at Jgiesregen@yahoo.com or (310) 623-7520.