Cypress celebrates Arbor Day

On Saturday, April 19, Cypress community members and City officials celebrated Arbor Day at Evergreen Park located at 9300 Moody Street.In attendance was Cypress Mayor Leroy Mills who also served as the Master of Ceremony. Other dignitaries in attendance included Mayor Pro Tem Rob Johnson, Councilmember Prakash Narain, M.D., Councilmember Doug Bailey, and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva.As part of the celebrations, trees were planted in recognition or in memory of a loved one. In 1990, the Friends of Cypress Recreation and Parks, a non-profit corporation, created the Tree Donation Project. Mayor Mills thanked and recognized Brian Sunley, President of Friends of Cypress Recreation and Parks for his organization’s efforts.A total of 12 trees were donated for the 2014 project. To date, the tree donation project has planted 351 trees throughout the City. Tree donors this year included: Mary Kay, Inc., USHIO America, Inc., the Basham family, Cypress Church, Woman’s Club of Cypress, Do Your Part, Cypress & La Palma Youth Action Committee, Christie Digital Systems USA, Inc., Soroptimist Cypress, Kiwanis Club of Cypress, and the Cypress Police Officers’ Association.Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva presented the City with its Tree City USA award. The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Forestry program and USDA Forest Services. This program is a national program that provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across America.Communities achieve Tree City USA status by meeting four core standardsof sound urban forestry management: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day. The City has been awarded the honor of Tree City USA for 25 years.For information regarding the City’s Recreation Programs visit www.ci.cypress.ca.us, or call 714-229-6780.

Nonprofit gives deserving young people smiles for a lifetime

Smile for a Lifetime scholarship recipient Bree Smentkowski saw her new smile for the first time after two years of wearing braces at Boulton Orthodontics on Tuesday.The Smile for a Lifetime Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides free orthodontic treatment to individuals aged 11-18 who demonstrate financial need.“I was nervous that it would be a lot of work to take care of the braces and it would be difficult and unusual, but everything’s been better than I actually thought it would be,” said Bree Smentkowski, 15.When the process was complete, Bree Smentkowski not only had a new smile but a new attitude.“I feel definitely more confident now with my new teeth and more confident in myself with being able to talk to people about it,” Bree Smentkowski said.Bree Smentkowski’s new smile yielded not only surprise from her but an emotional reaction from her mother.“I wanted to cry,” said Diana Smentkowski, Bree Smentkowski’s mother. “There’s hope for people who can’t afford braces and they can actually go through the process to get braces for their children when it’s very expensive and long process.”Scholarship recipients are selected by a panel of board members based on the strength of their application form, essay question answers, and letters of recommendation.“Orthodontic treatment depends largely on patient compliance and so it’s a nice tool to help to see if we’re going to be helping these kids because if it goes bad, then we could be doing more harm than good,” said Dr. Bart R. Boulton of Boulton Orthodontics.As a Cypress resident since childhood, Boulton feels that giving back to the community is important, and his office has been a part of Smile for a Lifetime for three years.“A smile is how you greet the world and it’s not just the vanity or the aesthetics of it; it’s to see kids have confidence especially in your teenage years because it’s a rough go for any kid,” Boulton said. “Having an organization that facilitates the connection between patients who really need that treatment and connecting them with orthodontists. It provides a very valuable treatment and long term effect on these kids’ lives.”Though Smile for a Lifetime has over 100 chapters all across North America, what’s unique about Orange County’s chapter is that it’s run through its corporate sponsor Ormco, an OC-based company that manufactures the brackets and wires the patients use.With the help of Ormco, Smile for a Lifetime’s Orange County chapter can give young people with financial need more beautiful and healthier smiles.“Having a healthy bite has long term effects like preventing migraines and headaches, improves facial structure so…your face is set for aging beyond treatment,” said Brandy Lewis, Director of Product Management, Digital Platform at Ormco. “Also with orthodontic treatment, there’s a self-esteem aspect. Our patients are in high school, college, even junior high. It can be a rough time for those who need to improve their smile a little bit.”The foundation not only ensures that its patients smile for a lifetime but that they make their communities smile as well.“Our philosophy is a pay it forward philosophy so often times those recipients of orthodontic treatment pay it forward by doing community service projects in their local community,” Lewis said.For more information about the Smile for a Lifetime scholarship, visit www.ocs4l.org.

Moorlach to talk at State of the County Luncheon

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who represents the Second District, will be the featured speaker at the annual State of the County Luncheon at Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach on Feb. 7 at 11:30 a.m.Moorlach will focus his remarks on the Second District, which includes portions of Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Seal Beach and Stanton as well as unincorporated areas of Rossmoor, Sunset Beach and Surfside.“We are delighted to have Supervisor Moorlach start this tradition of a county update as it applies to our general area from Costa Mesa to La Palma,” Cypress Board Chairman Tim Keenan said. “We are appreciative of what our Board of Supervisors does and the interaction we have with John Moorlach as our Supervisor. He attends a number of our events and activities. We are looking forward to a great turnout for this luncheon as all cities are encouraged to participate.”There will be a reception from 11 to 11:45 a.m. with the luncheon set for noon. Tickets for the luncheon are $30 with tables of eight at $240. Reservations as well as sponsorship opportunities are available through the chamber office at 714-827-2430.The event also will feature a printed program for those businesses wishing to advertise. Advertising rates and additional information on the luncheon can be obtained through the chamber office or online at www.cypresschamber.org

Council approves deed restrictions

At the request of golf property owner Mr. Christo Bardis, and in an effort to respond to resident concerns about Measure “A” that is on the ballot in the up-coming special election, two Restrictive Covenant Agreements were approved by the Cypress City Council during its Monday, May 13, meeting.The Restrictive Covenant Agreements are the product of a collaborative effort between Bardis and a resident group called “Citizens for Responsible Development”. The two agreements limit the types of uses permitted in the three planning areas identified in Measure “A” (Planning Areas 1, 10, and 11) to primarily residential development. In addition, the agreements would require enhanced noticing to those property owners within the area bounded by Ball Road to the north, Cerritos Avenue to the south, Walker Street to the east, and Bloomfield Street to the west, assuring full public participation in any applications for development on the property subject to Measure “A”."The fully executed Restrictive Covenant Agreements are great examples of democracy in action," said Mayor Prakash Narain, and demonstrate that cooperation and good will between a private property owner and community residents results in a win-win for all involved." They are also an example of how, through a cooperative, civil, and an orderly political process, Cypress residents successfully engaged in a process that makes our City a community of progress and prosperity, and a great place to live, work, shop, and open a business. Once recorded, both Agreements will be posted on the City's web site for the entire community to review.Shepard Law Attorney Jack Rubens said the covenants grew out of the Katella Avenue conflict in the city."The concern about Pro Logis has caused concern about Measure A, not withstanding that Measure A involves another property with different proposed uses," he said. "When the group Citizens for Responsible Development raised concerns, our client began to meet with them and city staff to negotiate the terms of this agreement and provide further assurance that proposed uses for Measure A will, in fact, will be the uses that will occur on the property, and in some cases prohibit uses proposed by the measure, particularly warehouse and distribution facilities."Residents will receive notice of any project with the Measure A property."All these restrictions are designed to provide assurances that Measure A will be what it says to the residents," Ruben said. "This will expand the permitted uses on these parcels and provides development standards for those uses. There has been alot of misinformation out there and I want to clarify this for the record. This is all part of the current zoning standards in the city and offers nothing new."The economic benefits will help the city with its own daily challenges."The city's own independent analysis said there will be at least $412,000 of annual net revenue generated by projects within the Measure A site, and will generate about 500 jobs," Rubens said. "It will also generate $1.25 million in park fees for badly needed parks in the area."The group also plans on starting the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) before the election as a show of good faith."We participated in these agreements and approve of them in substance and strongly encourage the city council to vote in favor of the restrictive covenants," Citizens for Responsible Development President Steven Mauss said. "The caveat is that an independent counsel confirms that the documents are enforceable."George Pardon publicly thanked the property owners and city council for their diligent work to put the deedrestrictionsin place."I encourage the council to vote in favor of the deed restriction and gain insurance that they are enforceable," he said. "That has been one of our biggest issues because of the language in the measure. The property owner has met with us numerous times and their willingness to work with us has been extraordinary."Los Alamitos resident Jay Ivler said since his last council visit he has heard a number of troubling things."Measure A is a 160 plus page directive, which if passed by the voters will become law," he said. "Section five, paragraph A, entitled implementation says the city shall take no action that is inconsistent with this initiative. If the residents approve Measure A it becomes the law governing the area. You, as a council, are required to carry out the will of the people and carry out all of the provisions approved, which includes warehouse and distribution. The limitations on the land use proposed in this agreement are inconsistent with Measure A, and the city shall take no action that is inconsistent with this agreement."Ivler called the restrictions sideshow misdirection carried out by multiple players."Nothing done here by negotiation can change the law," he said. "As Measure A states, the city shall take no action inconsistent with the law, so these sideshows are just misdirection to shut down the opposition."City Attorney William Wynder said the restrictions are enforceable."Our office has carefully reviewed the documents and we are satisfied that it is fully enforceable," he said. "The covenants are entered into prior to Measure A's approval and will become the law when Measure A takes effect.The covenants will run with the land."They will be recorded and enforceable regardless of who owns the property," Wynder said. "All title reports obtained by a perspective development will show the restrictions. The city has the full power to enforce the covenants."The next Cypress City Council meeting is Monday, May 27.

Easy Choice, WellCare Community Foundation give $5,000 to Orange County Food Bank

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG), a leading provider of managed care services for government-sponsored health care programs, announced today that the WellCare Community Foundation gave $5,000 to the Orange County Food Bank on behalf of the company’s Easy Choice Health Plan. The donation will help provide nutrition for those in need as part of the food bank’s “Hope for the Holidays” campaign. In addition, Easy Choice associates collected and donated 475 pounds of food through an employee food drive, and more than 30 associates volunteered at the Orange County Food Bank on Dec. 10 to help pack food boxes. “Support like WellCare’s can significantly expand our ability to serve those in need and energize others to give,” said Mark Lowry, director of the Orange County Food Bank. “It also helps to close the gap between what people need and what we are able to provide.” “The Orange County Food Bank is a vital part of the social safety net which helps to ensure that low-income families and seniors do not have to worry about whether they’ll have enough to eat,” said Rick Desai, chief operating officer for Easy Choice Health Plan, a WellCare company. “At Easy Choice, our mission is to help our members lead better, healthier lives, and that involves supporting nonprofits that strengthen the communities where our members live.” The Orange County Food Bank distributes food to nearly 400 local charities, kitchens and community organizations. Every month, the food bank delivers more than 23,000 food boxes to low-income seniors and produce bags to more than 1,300 low-income elementary school students to ensure they have healthy food to eat at home. “Time and time again, I’m overwhelmed by our community’s willingness to take an active role in making our neighborhoods and cities a better place for all,” said state Sen. Janet Nguyen, who was on hand for Easy Choice’s Dec. 10 check presentation to the food bank. Sen. Nguyen, whose 34th District includes Garden Grove, where the OC Food Bank is located, advocates for people and companies to give back to their communities. In this effort, Sen. Nguyen launched “Kind California,” an initiative that seeks to encourage residents to perform random acts of kindness. To learn more about this initiative, visit www.facebook.com/kindcalifornia. For more information about the Orange County Food Bank, call (714) 897-6670 or go to ocfoodbank.org. Contributions can be dropped off Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the food bank, 11870 Monarch St., in Garden Grove. As of Sept. 30, 2015, WellCare and Easy Choice Health Plan serve approximately 32,500 Medicare Advantage members and 57,500 Medicare Prescription Drug Plan members in California.

Emergency planning at JFTB

When disaster strikes anywhere in California and sometimes even across the country, a small building located on the Joint Forces Training Base can become an epicenter of response and reaction.The California Emergency Management Agency (Southern Region) headquarters is run on a day-to-day basis by only a dozen or so employees. When a major disaster strikes, response and support teams from any and all necessary departments are called into action. The Southern Region, which runs out of two small modular buildings on JFTB, brings them all together.There two major functions of the Cal EMA: maintain a State Emergency Plan and coordinate the state's Mutual Agency System. Many other functions fall under the control of Cal EMA, with the primary purpose to coordinate any needed services in the event of a major disaster.Emergency response always begins at the local level. Cal EMA might also be called upon to coordinate the response of California responders out of state. California services were called out to New Orleans in response to Hurricane Katrina.

Actress Joanna Daniels Loves Lucy Live at Segerstrom Center

“I Love Lucy, Live on Stage” is coming home to Southern California with a stop at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, March 18 – 23. The show premiered in Los Angeles at the Greenway Court Theatre, playing to packed houses from October of 2011 to February 2012 before moving on to Chicago and eventually (April 2013) touring theaters across the county to rave reviews.The LA Examiner calls it “An absolutely brilliant and utterly engaging tribute to that iconic television show” and from the Chicago Sun-Times, “Those nostalgic for 1950’s America will have their internal time clocks rewound.”Sirena Irwin as Lucy and Bill Mendieta as Rickey play the legendary Ricardo’s. The likable pair has been with the show since its L.A. conception and continue their ‘tongue in cheek’ antics on tour.But it wouldn’t be “I Love Lucy” without lovable landlord cronies Fred and Ethel Mertz. I had an opportunity to chat with Joanna Daniels, who plays the character Ethel, joined the cast in Chicago, and is now on the road playing Lucy’s wacky sidekick.In “I Love Lucy, Live on Stage” spectators are taken back to 1952, as members of the Desilu Playhouse studio audience, viewing live tapings of the show in real time. A host explains how TV, which was in its infancy back then, works and the sequences are interspaced with commercial jingles.As director Rick Sparks explains, “We wanted to honor this great legacy and yet do more than simply put ‘Lucy’ on stage and so we used a bit of artistic license – occasionally tweaking the on-camera action and creating an in-studio world that includes commercials, a trivia contest and other things that make people feel part of the show.”“I Love Lucy, Live on Stage” started as a cherished tribute to the beloved Television show and has grown to fill all sizes of theatrical venues.According to Joanna Daniels, “the production has evolved to suit bigger houses and it’s exciting to travel from city to city to see what their theater offers.” It’s also important to retain the intimacy of a small TV studio with a live audience – what Sparks labels “a valentine to the ‘I Love Lucy’ show.”The show is billed as a play with music. The storylines are, of course, pure Lucy-style; comedy but there is a live band on stage, representing Ricky’s Band as well as back-up for the singing commercials. According to Daniels, “the episodes, ‘The Benefit’ and ‘Lucy Gets Her Eyes Examined’ were chosen because of the music.”She continues, “Another consideration was episodes that prominently featured the Ricardo’s and Mertz’s. By using less well-known segments of the show, the producers felt people would be more open in their ideas of what to expect and better able to involve themselves in the stories.”The actors strive to represent the iconic characters remembered by fans. To this end, Daniels studied, as did the other actors, old episodes of the “I Love Lucy” show.“None of us are impersonators, we’re actors, Daniels said. “I watched the old shows to get Ethel’s mannerisms down pat. She looks down a lot, raises her eyebrows and puts her hands on her hips. Our job is to stay true to the originals without becoming carbon copies. Sure, I bring some of myself to the role I play while keeping my character familiar and this can be tricky as well as challenging.”After 300+ performances, Daniels has found herself acting like Ethel after hours. She says, “In my home Lucy reigns. I’ll find myself inadvertently acting like Ethel and my kids (ages 6 and 10), who have seen the show many times, will parry with Lucy-like riposte.”The interaction between the Ricardo’s and the Mertz’s was as important to the success of the sitcom as it is in the stage production.The principles in the show have become friends onstage and off, Daniels said.“I work really well with Lucy (Irwin) because we are both similar to our theatrical counterparts. We are comfortable with one another. It’s the same with the guys. Fred and Ethel bicker, that’s the part, but we have great camaraderie when the lights dim. We have a wonderful working environment and the relationships are good on and off stage.”Daniels believes that the characters would make terrific friends in real life because they are so much fun.“With Lucy as a friend there's never a dull moment and I love Ethel’s personality,” Daniels said. “She’s always up for adventure, spontaneous and can be talked into anything. Ethel is more than a ‘sidekick.’ She’s funny and witty in her own right. Playing her is an honor and reasonability – I get the chance to show her true colors.”Daniels likes so much about “I Love Lucy, Live on Stage” that she has a whole list of reasons to see the production, starting with the cast.“I’m really fond of everyone from the host to the Crystaltone Singers to the band.” She continues, “the costumes are signature fifties style, the set is such a good studio reproduction – so reminiscent of that ‘new-fangled’ thing, Television, the fans and their positive reaction and the sharp, comedic writing that has stood the test of time.”Audiences attending “I Love Lucy, Live on Stage” can expect to have a good time. The show delivers.“We, the actors don’t take this lightly,” Daniels said. “Lucy is Americana at its finest. It has meant so much to so many over the years. We want to make it special to those who come to the show.”“I Love Lucy, Live” is light hearted entertainment to be enjoyed by all ages, what Daniels calls “comfort food, a big TV dinner, lovingly bought to audiences in living color.”“I Love Lucy, Live on Stage” is at the Segerstrom Center For the Arts from March 18 – 23, 2014. For tickets and Information contact the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, California 92626; by phone 714-556-2746; or online at SCFTA.org.

Cypress student gets a high-five from Obama

There aren’t too many folks who are lucky enough to get an invite to the White House and have an opportunity to meet the President of the United States. Well, Cypress High School student Kayla Briet recently had that opportunity.To Briet, it was a chance of a lifetime to meet and high-five President Barack Obama. Briet, a senior at Cypress, stamped her plane ticket to the nation’s capital when she was selected as a finalist in the first ever White House Student Film Festival contest.That’s a pretty impressive achievement for someone who didn’t train her hands for video and movie-making until her sophomore year. Since then, Briet has made over a dozen videos; some based on science, and some are featured around technology and others around music. Her latest video, however, outshines them all.Briet was chosen for her video infusing an education platform blended in with technology. According to the White House website, it received over 2,500 submissions. The White House Student Film Festival centered on why technology is important in the classroom.“I’m very passionate about the arts and science,” Briet said. “This one (video) is promoting technology in the classroom. I had to talk to a lot of my friends and my classmates…I did all of the writing for the video. I think that science and education is storytelling. Science establishes critical thinking and creates new ideas. I think that creativity and science go hand-in-hand. I really love science…I’m trying to invent new things.”Briet said she spent about 12 hours editing and 12 hours reporting on her science video. Briet is a self-confessed science geek. She has a heart for the arts as well as science and wants to be able to incorporate both into her life as she makes the transition to college.“I always love to inspire others,” Briet said. “Technology gives us the ability to learn. More importantly, it gives us the ability to see the world and see other cultures.”Seeing the world in a more rounded and bigger scope could have a lot to do with Briet’s exposure to the arts and other cultural environments. Briet’s grandfather is a space engineer. Her father, Gary Wiskigeamatyuk, is a Native American with a linage rich in historical foundings. Wiskigeamatyuk currently performs a Native American show at Knott’s Berry Farm.Briet has found her own way in the world, determined to make her mark to help others. In the meantime, she can always brag about going to the White House and slapping palms with President Obama.“He was such a gentleman,” Briet said. “He walked into the room and gave his famous smile. It was crazy. It was surreal. He was super nice. He gave all of us a high-five. I was super nervous. It was very nerve-wrecking. It was the most nerve-wrecking experience of my life.”

La Palma City Council approves five goals for 2013

The La Palma City Council conducted its annual goal setting process and approved five priority goals for 2013. The goals were set on Jan. 2 and Jan. 8 and approved on Jan. 15.“Over the next year, the city council will have to make difficult decisions and these goals help ensure those decisions are guided by community priorities and sustain our vision for La Palma,” La Palma Mayor Steve Hwangbo said.The goals are utilized by the organization in setting priorities and judging its success. Goals are reported quarterly and these reports will also be available on the website as the year progresses.The goals are listed on the city website as the following:1) Create proactive economic strategies, which includes: attracting and retain businesses to increase revenues and employment opportunities; and creating a well-defined Action Plan to achieve the goal2) Communication/engagement, which includes: increasing involvement from the community by expanding communications and outreach efforts; keeping an open dialogue with employees and keeping them informed; maintaining support and confidence, the process must be open and transparent; and implementing an engagement/outreach plan regarding the city's financial situation.3) Maintain quality of life, which includes: continual city events; analyzing school alternatives to allow all La Palma kids to go to La Palma schools and advocate for solutions; funding plan for future streets improvements; and stronger and more effective code enforcement, identify the need for assistance and connect with resources.4) Maintain high public safety levels, which consists of the following: maintaining critical and frontline services.5) A balanced budget, which will require: reduced personnel costs; reduced General Fund expenditures; finalized city fees; a review of reserves policy; a staff plan in February; and a develop plan to fund unfunded liabilities.