Muir High Students Check Out Jet Propulsion Laboratory

A partnership between John Muir High School and JPL was finalized Thursday when 35 Mustangs shadowed scientists, toured the JPL campus, and learned about preparing for college

By Justin Chapman, Altadena Patch, 4/30/2011

Dozens of John Muir High School students in the Business, Arts and Media, and Engineering and Environmental Science Academies were treated to an informative, entertaining, and educational field trip to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory all day Thursday, where they individually shadowed a JPL scientist, toured the campus, and learned about preparing for college through such methods as applying for scholarships and starting their college essays early.
The event marked the first collaboration between JMHS and JPL in more than six years (even though the two institutions are less than three miles apart), and was organized by many individuals, affinity groups, and sponsors at JPL who coordinated and planned the excursion with officials and JMHS administrators. Everyone involved considered it a big success, including the 35 students who participated, and discussion is already underway to continue the collaboration between JPL and JMHS.
"I spearheaded the idea of bringing Muir students to JPL," said Erik Berg, Program Manager of ManTech International Corporation, an engineering firm that has a subcontract with JPL. "It was an idea I had, trying to get JPL more involved with the school. I've been marketing this around JPL to different affinity groups within the Diversity and Inclusion Committee."
He said that once Becky Campos, the head of that committee's Recruiting Subcommittee, heard about the idea, she jumped at the opportunity and took ownership of it, bringing all of the affinity groups together to make this day happen. They also have partners in the Pasadena Educational Foundation, such as Judy Turner and Cyrice Griffith, who were instrumental in coordinating everything from the school district side.
"So we have these two partners, this large collaborative team that came together," said Berg. "And it just came together nicely. We were hoping to have at least 30 students and 35 participated. We also have many more interested JPL people that want to participate in this, which is very exciting."
He said that the sponsors that were there that day were asking, "Can we do this again soon? The time that we had went by so quickly." The event lasted from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"It's getting a lot of momentum and the school really needs support and opportunities like this for work-based learning, career exploration, and occupational experience, so we're hoping that we can replicate this with a new batch of students and maybe some new sponsors and continue to do it," Berg said.
One of the three assistant principals at JMHS, Charles Park, explained the Academy program at Muir and selected three students to speak with Patch about their experience that day. They shadowed JPL scientists and learned about things that can't be taught in the classroom, as well as the benefit of taking ideas and concepts from the classroom to the real world.
"I chose three students who usually don't get interviewed and aren't always the ones to be the spokespersons for our Academy," Park said. "But I think you also have a good cross section because these are students representing three Academy programs: Arts and Media, Business and Entrepreneurship, and Engineering and Environmental Science. Our academy is now only three years old, but our advisory board has really grown, and we have some JPL employees who sit on our advisory board who helped put this together."
For the most part, according to Park, the students choose the academy program they want. They have three choices if they attend JMHS. Every student has to choose an Academy program, whether they're in business, environmental science or engineering. By default if they don't get into their first choice, they get into their second choice, and each of the three assistant principals manage one Academy program.
Students are also required to take extra courses for the Academy, complete community service and internship hours, and finish a senior project about the environment at the end of the four year program. After all that hard work, they receive a medallion stating that they graduated from their intensive specialized Academy program.
"The scientist I followed was in Project Support," said 16-year-old Francisco Ortiz, a sophomore at JMHS who is in the Engineering Academy. "She sets up business meetings for her clients. I learned how organized the whole system of JPL is, and how they work. I wouldn't have learned in the classroom how to build the things they do and how precise they have to be. There can't be any mistakes. Any mistake can cause a big effect to the project so you have to be precise."
He added that he still needs to think about what profession he wants to pursue, but he plans on looking into his options as much as possible.
Veronica Serrano, a 17-year-old senior in the Environmental Science Academy, said she learned a lot by following a JPL scientist who specializes in design.
"I learned about everything from space shadows to the fact that JPL is planning to go to Mars soon, which was amazing," said Serrano. "The scientist I followed is designing everything that's going to go up to Mars. It was incredible to see. I definitely want to pursue this as a career. That's why I was interested in the Academy at Muir, actually. I've been in the program for three years."
Jaleyah Lathal, a 16-year-old sophomore in the Business and Entrepreneurship Academy, said she followed a scientist who works in a field that is not her chosen career choice, but she learned how connected all the different professional fields are.
"I followed Bill Chapman, who's in Logistics," said Lathal. "He was involved in the process of sending out the spacecrafts. What I learned here that I couldn't learn in the classroom or the Academy is how much the science and engineering within spacecrafts has to do with the business aspect. There is a financial need to support projects: how to build spacecrafts and who represents it and that sort of stuff. The science side of it is not my chosen career choice, but it's an interest. But I'm definitely interested in the business side of it."
They all agreed the experience was quite an eye opener for them. But it was also an eye opener for scientists, organizers, and others at JPL. At the end of the event, six JMHS graduates who now work at JPL spoke to the students about how they got to work at such a fun and important place.
"There's a partnership now that's been formed between Muir High and JPL," said Berg. "And we understand that JMHS is the most diverse and the most impoverished of all the schools in PUSD. I think this school has the greatest need in the district. And it's only two and a half miles from JPL, which is another thing that opened a lot of eyes for the JPL people when I would discuss these facts. So the plan currently is that this partnership is going to continue to exist with John Muir High School."

Altadena Garbage Contract Delays: New Service Likely to Start in Fall

County officials explain the delay as routine

By Dan Abendschein and Justin Chapman, Altadena Patch, 4/29/2011

A new public garbage service contract scheduled to start in July will now likely not begin until sometime in the fall, according to county officials.
That contract would make Athens Services the franchise provider for Altadena trash service would result in a monthly charge of $18.06 per household for basic services, according to county documents.  Currently, Altadena is serviced by various private providers with different rate structures, but the Athens contract would force residents to get their service through the company.
Natalie Jimenez, a spokeswoman for the County Department of Public Works, said that there isn't any significant reason why the department has not yet brought the contract to the County Board of Supervisors.
The internal review process took longer than expected," said Jimenez, who said she expects the issue to come on to Board of Supervisor's agenda by mid-May.
Jimenez said that because the contract's start would also be delayed, the county will have time for public outreach on the new garbage service.
Initially, county officials had withheld the terms of the new contract, but revealed the details after an Altadena Patch public records request.
The $18.06 monthly service charge will cover once a week automated trash collection and recycling service with each customer receiving one 96 gallon refuse container, up to two 96 gallon green waste containers, up to two 96 gallon recyclable containers, and a 64 gallon manure container. The second containers and the manure containers are available only by request, but don't raise the price of service.
Additional 96 gallon containers beyond that go for $5 each and additional manure ones for $10. Customers will be billed through the mail on a quarterly basis, and there is a 25 percent senior discount.  Homes on streets that are difficult to access could cost $22.57 per month.
Annual rate increases would be done by a formula that is heavily dependent on the Southern California portion consumer price index (CPI) that is used to measure cost of living increases. There could also be an increase depending on the cost of diesel and on the fees charged by the waste facilities that Athens used  (the formula that would be used can be viewed at right).
The terms of when there would be an increase were set by county officials when they put out a request for proposal for the contract.
The contract would run for seven years with county officials having the option of extending the contract on the same terms for three additional years.
Other features of the new trash contract will include:
  • Three on-call bulky item collections per year in unlimited quantities, including certain electronic device
  • Collection of excess green waste that is bagged and bundled ten times a year
  • Semi-annual electronic waste and clothing drop-off events
  • An annual curbside cleanup event in unlimited quantities, and free container roll-out services for qualified customers.

Local Nonprofit Transforms Blighted Park Into Urban Oasis

Over the last 19 years a local organization has changed a dangerous park into a bastion of art, music, education and a family-friendly space for the public

By Justin Chapman, Highland Park-Mt. Washington Patch, 4/22/2011

On Saturday, April 23, La Tierra de La Culebra Park in Highland Park was bristling with life. Adults danced to live music while children scampered about or worked on arts and crafts projects. The small urban oasis located on South Avenue 57 bore little resemblance to the place that was once written off as a haven for illegal dumping, gang activity and prostitution.
Since 1992, the nonprofit organization ACLA (Art.Land.Community.Activism.) has slowly but surely worked to foster the transformation of the park from eyesore to community asset.
The property was once privately owned, but was abandoned years ago. In 1994, ACLA acquired the property through Adverse Possession laws, more commonly known as Squatter's Rules. In 2004 they sold the land to the City of Los Angeles, which gave ACLA a 25-year, no-cost lease, giving them almost total freedom to do what they wanted with the space. It is now essentially a privately run park on public land.
ACLA's two co-executive directors, Efrim Chiavetta and Nancy Zuniga, now live in one of the buildings on the property owned by ACLA founder and current chair of the organization's nine-member Board of Directors, Tricia Ward.  The rest of the park is run by teenagers. 
At the park, ACLA host shows, classes, workshops and unpaid internships that mainly relate to business administration, community organizing and maintenance of the park and the organization, according to Chiavetta.
"In terms of the real work that we do, like mentorship, leadership development, and those kinds of programs, that's just kind of a daily ongoing program," said Chiavetta. "A lot of people ask us about what kind of classes and programs we have, and since we're still such a small organization, we're running on such a small budget, we don't have staff, and we're completely volunteer supported, really the program is maintenance and sustaining the organization itself."
Although hundreds of kids have come and gone since Chiavetta joined ACLA four years ago, he said he has a core group of about 60 to 80 teens and young people, aged 14 to 22, with whom he works on a regular basis, as well as about a dozen reliable teenagers who help him run the place.
"They do everything from grant research--some of them write grant proposals for me--to grounds maintenance to … pretty much all the events that happen here are partially if not entirely organized by teenagers," he said. "I'm mostly here to offer logistical support. More and more kids are coming from Highland Park, but I've got kids coming in from Hollywood, Pasadena, all over the San Gabriel Valley area."
The next big event in store at the park is another all-ages, teen-organized show. Tickets are $5 at the door and the bands, which include 13c13d, The Shrine and Grapes and Nuts, will perform on Saturday, April 30, at 7 p.m. 
ACLA also hosts a Midnight Picnic during  the Second Saturday of every month for NELA Art's Second Saturday Gallery Night.
Because of positive events and outreach programs such as these, Chiavetta has had no problems with the neighbors or the police, except for a few noise complaints here and there when the music gets too loud too late.
"The cops come when there are noise complaints," he said. "As far as we're concerned as a 501(c)3, we're allowed to have public events as fundraisers and things like that. It's also written into our lease that we're allowed to do that, too. But even when the cops do come by they say, 'We get it. We see you got a good group of kids, it's a healthy environment, etc., but it's just really loud and we have to respond to noise complaints.'"
He said even the local neighborhood has responded positively to ACLA's mission at the park. They appreciate the organization's zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and drugs on the property.
"The neighbors are all really supportive of what we're doing," said Chiavetta. "I think there is not as much awareness in the neighborhood of what we're doing because the place kind of has a stigma to it and a history that has been difficult to remove. But in the last year or so I think we've been doing a fairly good job of that."
Chiavetta said that when he and Zuniga first moved into the front house a few years ago, there was still some gang activity going on.
"It took me just going out there at two or three in the morning and talking to these guys and saying, 'Look, this is who I am, this is what I'm trying to achieve, I'd really appreciate your cooperation.' Just gaining respect and meeting people, that was vital to turning this place around."
He partially attributes that success to opening up the streetside of the park by removing the fence there so that anyone passing by can see that it's a clean, public space.
"Even having those swings in there is enough to show people that this is a public space," he said. "We're getting more and more families back to the park in the afternoons, a lot more parents are letting their kids come here and play alone, as opposed to it being seen as a gang hangout. Which I'm really pleased about."
The property itself is quite beautiful to explore. It's built on an incline so it includes several different levels and even a stone trench walkway that was built to line up with the summer solstice. Well-drawn graffiti with good taste lines the walls. They are currently undergoing construction on what will become a large graffiti wall. For bigger projects like that, ACLA needs city approval, which Chiavetta said has been the most frustrating part.
"When we sold the land to the city in 2004 we had a number of sites at that point," he said. "Our other one, that is an actual park property called Spiraling Orchard, just between downtown and Echo Park. That site was completely privately owned just like this one was at the time. We decided that we would experiment with two different models, keeping one completely privately owned and then one as a private-public partnership, to see which one was a more effective model for facilitating the change that we wanted to see happen. As it turns out the private model is much more effective. It's been kind of frustrating working with the city."
Regarding La Tierra Park, part of which is known as Ghetto Grounds, the only thing ACLA has to work with the city for is if they make any permanent changes to the property, such as the construction happening on the upper level of the property for the new graffiti wall.
"That has to go through the city, which is why it takes so long," said Chiavetta. "I've been trying to get that construction done for the three or four years I've been working here. So that process is really, really frustrating. There are a lot of things we can do, a lot of structures we can build, if we just call them temporary art installations. We have a lot of freedom, but when it comes to doing major work at the park, it's been difficult."
The other property ACLA owns, Spiraling Orchard, is a work in progress. It's about 12,000 square feet and will eventually be a performance space for live music and theatre and a professional art gallery. Chiavetta said the plan is to transfer a lot of the activity they're doing at the Highland Park space that they don't have room for to Spiraling Orchard. Once that's built, they also plan on building a low-income housing unit in the neighborhood right next to it.

Mr. Natural

Outdoorsman Christopher Nyerges has made a life of exploring the urban wilderness

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 4/21/2011

Over the past several decades, Altadena’s Christopher Nyerges has lived the life he’s written so passionately about in numerous books, magazines and newspapers — that of a philosopher outdoorsman traversing an increasingly urbanized wilderness, 
a man able to survive off the land in any given situation.
“In a survival situation, you’re either prepared or you’re not,” the fit and trim 56-year-old Nyerges said recently. “And most people are wholly unprepared. That being said, I look at failure, which most people try to avoid, as a good thing. Failure from the standpoint of character-building means that you have your weaknesses exposed, and if you’re smart, you then do something about it.”
Nyerges, who writes the Outdoors column for the Pasadena Weekly, once edited and wrote for the now-defunct Wilderness Way magazine, along with several other publications. He’s also appeared on a number of TV shows and has penned 10 books about survival strategies in various settings. His best seller is “How to Survive Anywhere: A Guide for Urban, Suburban, Rural, and Wilderness Environments,” which is popular primarily because it covers the basics of just about any given survival situation a person could find themselves in.
“I teach old-fashioned skills that people have lost because we’ve become more specialized and technologically advanced,” said Nyerges. “Although that has its plus sides, it makes us more dependent on devices and other people. There’s a generation coming up that doesn’t have a clue how to do things.”

Nature’s way
Nyerges became interested in backpacking at age 10, and his interest in all things outdoors blossomed from there. Since 1974, he has taught classes at Pasadena City College, Los Angeles City College and Glendale Community College. He’s also taught survival techniques to a wide variety of local groups, including schools, churches and Boy Scouts — a total of 35,000 people, by Nyerges’ estimate.
He also runs the Glendale and Highland Park farmers markets and teaches survival workshops on weekends as part of his School of Self-Reliance. As ambitious as he is, though, Nyerges said the workload isn’t overwhelming. He simply loves what he does.
“I haven’t canceled classes in a long time because the classes are always full. People are looking for reasonable, sensible, non-fanatical answers,” he said. “Unfortunately, most people like fantasy more than reality. Some things are useful, like a fishing pole, but we fill our spaces with things that ultimately clutter our minds.”
As one of Nyerges’ survivalist classes got under way one recent Saturday morning, this one on using an ancient skill to create ornamental gourds, about 15 people gathered at one of the picnic tables near the entrance to Hahamongna Watershed Park, saws, pencils, sandpaper and files in hand. 
As Nyerges started the session, a couple of people — among them 16-year-old Piero del Valle, who travels from Palmdale to attend Nyerges’ classes — began building a fire with a bow to keep the group warm.
Nyerges demonstrated how to clean, cut and empty the gourds of their seeds, which are edible when cooked, then explained how to smooth the edges of the newly made bowl with files and sandpaper.
Bob Schneider, a 15-year-old from the San Fernando Valley, said he has been coming to Nyerges’ workshops for about three months, and shares the lessons he learns with the skateboarding collective he is a part of in the Valley.
“The [workshops] have been extremely informative, especially when Christopher takes us on walks to learn about edible food identification,” said Schneider. For instance, gourds belong to the same family of vegetables as squash, cucumbers, melons and pumpkins, but are not edible. However, their seeds are, and the plant itself can be turned into many types of household items — bowls, vases, canteens, even pieces of art. “I can now make a whole meal from things I find in nature, and that’s pretty cool,” Schneider said.
During his courses, Nyerges works with individuals and explains to the group the historical significance of whatever project they’re working on. For instance, he explained, ornamental gourds have been used in this way for thousands of years in Africa and in the pre-colonial Americas, particularly in what is now the Southwestern United States.
“I’ve worked with Christopher for about eight years now,” said Gary Gonzales, del Valle’s uncle. “I gotta say the most important thing he teaches people, the essence of his message, is how to be self-reliant in any given situation.”
Ready for anything
The gourd workshop attendees each made their own unique item, reinforcing Nyerges’ central belief that skills needed for surviving in the wilderness have practical applications in the urban world.
“People are so dependent on retail stores,” said Nyerges. “If some sort of catastrophic event were to happen, or if you find yourself living in some sort of isolated society, people will become much more creative in terms of the everyday things that they view as having only one use and that’s it. Just look at all the stuff that’s thrown away every trash day. People are so wasteful, and that’s why we’re in the situation we’re in right now.”
Patty Dwyer, who works with the US Forest Service and has been attending Nyerges’ classes for 15 years, said she’s learned much from the seasoned outdoorsman.
“He really is a wonderful guy,” said Dwyer. “He’s a great instructor, he listens to people and he knows what he’s talking about. 
I use the outdoors skills he teaches me almost every day.”
Nyerges’ workshops cover a wide variety of extremely useful skills. 
This Saturday he’ll be showing participants how to make two kinds of shelter in the forested area of Hahamongna, the types of emergency shelters that can be carried in a backpack, and what to do in your own backyard in the event of an earthquake. 
Next Saturday, Nyerges will conduct a workshop on one of the most fundamental skills he says everyone should master: building fires. Participants will practice using the bow drill, hand drill, plow, pump drill, batteries, flint and steel and reflectors.
“I always liked the idea of making more out of less. It is possible to live quite well without a lot of wealth. You don’t necessarily have to be frugal, but you just have to know what you’re doing. Buy bargains, don’t waste things, learn how to barter, be part of a community.”
Nyerges couldn’t help but make “what if” comparisons in terms of what’s happened in Japan and the types of calamities that could occur here.
“That’s the kind of thing I’ve always emphasized people should prepare for,” he said of the deadly earthquake that sparked a ruinous tsunami. 
“But also any kind of catastrophic event, especially living in an urban area, and having a low impact either by choice 
or necessity.” 

To learn more about Christopher Nyerges, visit 

Canyon Area of Sierra Madre Now Zoned R-C

During last night's meeting, the City Council unanimously approved Ordinance 1313, which changes the canyon area from R-1 Residential to the new R-C Residential Canyon Zone and implements new regulations in the area

By Justin Chapman, Sierra Madre Patch, 4/4/2011

After years of various committee hearings and debate, at last night's City Council meeting, in one fell swoop the council members without discussion unanimously approved changing a large portion of the canyon area of Sierra Madre, which used to be classified R-1, into an R-C Zone, or Residential Canyon Zone. The approval was the second reading of the Canyon Zone Ordinance No. 1313, which added a few changes to the first reading that took place at the March 8 council meeting.
The canyon region since 1972 over the development of special regulations, ever since the city's first general plan created a specific canyon land-use designation. 
Ordinance 1313 amends portions of the General Plan Land Use Map in and near the canyon, adds Chapter 17.30 to Title 17 of the Sierra Madre Municipal Code, establishes a Residential Canyon Zone, amends the Zoning Map, and makes related amendments to Chapter 17.22 and 17.60 of the Municipal Code.
The ordinance stated that the R-1 zoning requirements were "ill-designed for the canyon, and have created unnecessary obstacles to property owners from improving their lots without applying for a variance." It claimed there was a need for zoning standards that allow "reasonable development of properties located while preserving the unique character and natural environment of this area and preserve the overall quality of life for its residents."
The canyon area defined by the five member Canyon Zone Committee, which was created by the City Council in January 2009, is the city area with streets that include Sturtevant Drive on the south, Churchill Drive on the west, Skyland Drive to the top of Brookside Lane at the north end and Alta Vista to the east.
The Canyon Zone Committee held 12 monthly meetings as well as two community outreach meetings in February and March 2010 and hosted a walking tour of the canyon. The committee also conducted a with the Planning Commission last November to put the final touches on the proposed ordinance.
As stated in a by Patch contributor :

"In 2008, canyon residents, frustrated with city building codes and zone requirements that they did not feel they could accommodate, were instrumental in opening the discussion for standards asking for the completion of a draft that would apply only within the canyon zone."

Now, the final draft for development standards include floor area limits with Conditional Use Permits for total square footage exceeding 3,000 square feet: building set-back, height, angle of rooflines and floor area definitions. Lot size, parking, walls and fences, accessory structures and limits to the percentage of lot usage are a few among the many other items covered in what is now zoned R-C.

The changes included since the March 8 meeting are:

  • 1) The area within a flood control channel shall be included in the lot area used to calculate the allowable floor area (Section 17.30.130A);
  • 2) Bridges, covered by a solid roof, shall count towards the maximum lot coverage of fifty percent of the area of the lot (Section 17.30.120);
  • 3) Bridges, covered by solid roof, shall be included in the definition of building floor area (Section 17.30.130); and
  • 4) Language revised under Section 17.30.130(A)(4) from "less than 7'6" " to "7'6" or less."
Click to see a PDF file of the rest of Ordinance 1313.
That ordinance, which takes effect 30 days after its passage last night, also stated that the "proposed changes are consistent with the General Plan in that they will help preserve the Canyon area of the City, protect the environment and obtain a balance between developed areas and the natural canyon areas."

Hundreds Turned Out for the Annual Huck Finn Fishing Derby

The fishing competition for kids was the biggest it's ever been this past weekend. About 400 people participated in the event, in which the city fills two small lakes with water and 600 lbs. of rainbow trout, that begin in the 1970s

By Justin Chapman, Sierra Madre Patch, 4/3/2011

Fun was had by all this past weekend as the annual Huck Finn Fishing Derby, which is held at the Sierra Madre Holding Basins, experienced its biggest turnout yet. According to Adam Matsumoto, Recreation Supervisor for the City of Sierra Madre and the city's liaison for the event, more than 200 kids participated, and including parents about 350 to 400 people were in attendance.
"This is definitely the biggest turnout we've ever had," said Kyle Schnurr, Events Specialist for the city.
The event, which has been conducted by the Community and Personnel Services Department every year since the 1970s, began Friday night when people camped out next to the two small lakes (or large ponds) that the city fills each year for the event by letting water flow down through a gate by the Santa Anita Dam, near and Dapper Field. During the campout, which was sold out for the first time ever, a bonfire was held and marshmallows were toasted.
Schnurr said they started filling the two lakes last Monday. James Carlson, Management Analyst for Public Works, said about 600 pounds of rainbow trout, which are purchased from Jess Ranch in Apple Valley for $2,000, were released into the lakes on Friday.
On Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., only kids are allowed to fish in the Huck Finn Fishing Derby. There are four age groups, ranging from three to 15 years old, in which kids compete for a total of 14 trophies: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place for each age group as well as Largest Fish and Smallest Fish. The kids are limited to catching three fish for the competition, so winners are determined by the highest total combined weight of the fish they catch. Every participant, however, receives a certificate for participating, which includes their name and the weight of their fish.
"People were complaining that the fish weren't biting for the first couple of hours," said Schnurr. "It's really hit or miss, however. Last year people were catching fish left and right."
As the day went on, though, kids caught plenty of trout. Sabrina Haag, who is 6-years old, caught two fish on her first two tries.
"I'm excited because  they were my first fish I've ever caught," she said. "It's very fun, but it was hard to pull the fish in so my dad helped me a little."
Madison Cardella, an 11-year-old who caught a fish and is on the fishing club at Santa Fe Middle School, lives in Monrovia but drove over from Fontana with her family to participate for the first time in this event.
"I taught her how to cast the reel and that kind of stuff," said her mom, Debra Cardella, to which Madison replied, "Oh sure, mom, take all the credit for the fish I caught."
As for the fish that are not caught during the competition, family fishing began after the derby and continued all day Sunday. During the family fishing portion of the weekend long event there is no catch limit. Then during this week teens from the nearby 's teen fishing program get their chance to try to catch the remaining fish.
"We usually catch them all," said Carlson. "The lakes retain some water most of the time, but they are drained significantly after the derby. So there'll probably be some old grumpy rainbow trout flopping around after that."
Matsumoto said they try to get as many fish out as possible. He said that the $2,000 fee to buy the fish from Jess Ranch comes from donations made by local civic organizations, as well as the money made from the derby admission and campout fees. Schnurr explained that several civic and volunteer organizations also help put the event together.
"We have volunteer fishing guides from the Huck Finn Committee, headed by Chris Campbell, who are local residents that supply fishing gear for those who don't have their own rods or equipment," she said. "They also show the kids how to set the reel and rod, put on the bait, and how to cast their line."
The city's Fire Department and lifeguards were on hand in case of any injuries or other emergencies. Fortunately their services did not need to be utilized during the derby. The Sierra Madre Civic Club, the Kiwanis Club, and the Interact Club also help plan and organize the event. There were also several Cub Scout troops participating.
"This is the first year we've participated," said Scoutmaster Mark Abernathy of Cub Scout Den 4 Pack 110 from in Sierra Madre. "The kids are doing it for a Fishing Belt Loop. They have to rig a pole, put on the bait, and fish for at least half an hour. We taught them the basics at a meeting two weeks ago. We told them that once they turn 16 they have to have a fishing license in order to fish. We talked limits and safety. We also brought bamboo sticks to use as poles if they wanted, because bamboo poles are a little more primitive."
After the derby ended at 11:30 a.m., kids lined up to have their fish weighed and receive their certificate of participation. As the organizers tallied up the winners, Matsumoto called out raffle ticket numbers that were given to the kids when they signed up for the event. Several kids won fishing rods and other equipment that were donated by local residents and civic organizations. Then came the Winners' Presentation.
And the winners are…(drum roll):
In the 3-6 age group:
1st Place, Caysen Sullivan; 2nd Place, Nathan Sanchez; 3rd Place, Max Reynolds
In the 7-9 age group:
1st Place, Brandon Wong; 2nd Place, Griffith Simmon; 3rd Place, Isabella Moreno
In the 10-12 age group:
1st Place, Conrad Oakes; 2nd Place, Sampson Sly; 3rd Place, Sofia Cimino
In the 13-15 age group:
1st Place, Destiny Miller; 2nd Place, Kristin Shigenaga; 3rd Place, Grant McComb
The Smallest Fish trophy went to Kaila Rillorta. Her fish weighed 2.2 ounces. The Largest Fish trophy went to Destiny Miller, who also came in 1st place in the 13-15 age group. Her fish weighed a whopping 2 pounds and 7.4 ounces.
Congratulations to all the winners as well as all the other kids who participated in the family fun event.