Olde School Candy.

Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop brings its Americana-laced brand of old-time treats and off-the-wall sodas to Orange County with a new store in San Clemente.



SAN CLEMENTE -(CA)- South County residents now have a place to fulfill their midday urge for Swiss crème-filled chocolates, Turkish taffy, bacon-flavored soda, gigantic Japanese jaw breakers – and even lollipops with a real scorpion inside.

Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop, a nostalgic chain of about 20 Americana-loaded franchises in four states, has opened its first Orange County store at 107 Avenida Del Mar in San Clemente.

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Orange County’s first nostalgia-themed Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop is open in San Clemente, offering at least 400 soda flavors and more than 500 types of candy from more than 20 countries. Checking out the taffy are Taj, 4, and Jude Roghair, 6, of San Clemente.

Rocket Fizz features old-fashioned chocolates, lollipops, gum, licorice and taffy as well as hard-to-find sweets you might have become addicted to on your vacation to France, Germany, Japan or almost anywhere else.


Co-owners and cousins Rusty Hadjilou and Tim Teymoorian opened Sunday but this week were still filling shelves with as many as 400 flavors of soda and 500 types of candy from more than 20 countries.

Not sure about bacon, Buffalo wing, corn or pumpkin soda? Hadjilou and Teymoorian say they’re working on offering soda tasting so you can try the latest flavors, like Orange Nuclear Bomb, as well as old favorites Grandpa used to drink.

Hadjilou, whose parents live in San Juan Capistrano, owns a Rocket Fizz with another cousin in Sherman Oaks. He said he and Teymoorian decided on San Clemente for its small-town atmosphere, and they waited several months for the “perfect location” to become available.

Hadjilou says his biggest weakness is Australian blueberry licorice. Teymoorian can’t stay away from the sour kick of War Heads.

“We specialize in hard-to-find items,” Hadjilou said. “The fun part so far has been the input from the community and their suggestions of what we should carry. There’s always a story behind it.”

He said he welcomes anyone to come in with a challenge.

Joy Sacco, who’s originally from New Jersey and now lives in San Clemente, found an old favorite in the store – candy cigarettes.

“As kids, every day after school we’d stop and get candy somewhere, so it’s fun to see some of it here,” Sacco said.

Even if your allowance hasn’t kept up with the times, Rocket Fizz has taffy for 15 cents a piece and many other individual candies for less than 40 cents. Most specialty sodas go for $1.49. And if you just can’t resist the urge to splurge, huge, cartoon-style lollipops sell for $24.95.

If memorabilia is more your thing, the store sells replica stickers, movie posters, ads and signs from decades gone by.

Rocket Fizz is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily, though permanent hours haven’t been decided yet.


A 21-inch nonpressurized line damaged by a pile-driving contractor for Caltrans is to be fixed in seven or eight days, Caltrans says. Meanwhile, San Juan Capistrano has set up an above-ground temporary replacement to carry the damaged line’s 2 million gallons of waste per day.

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO -(CA)- A section of sewer line in San Juan Capistrano that apparently was damaged by a pile-driving contractor for Caltrans will be repaired in the next seven or eight days, a Caltrans spokeswoman said.

San Juan maintenance workers doing a regularly scheduled sewer-line inspection last Wednesday discovered a large amount of gravel and sand, plus reduced waste flow, at a manhole beside I-5 near theCalifornia Department of Transportation‘s freeway widening project at San Juan Creek Road and Camino Capistrano, according to San Juan Capistrano Utilities Director Keith Van Der Maaten.

Article Tab: A temporary sewer line placed by the San Juan Capistrano Utilities Department empties into a manhole at the Capistrano Home Center near where an underground sewer line was damaged during work on an I-5 widening project at San Juan Creek Road and Camino Capistrano.
A temporary sewer line placed by the San Juan Capistrano Utilities Department empties into a manhole at the Capistrano Home Center near where an underground sewer line was damaged during work on an I-5 widening project at San Juan Creek Road and Camino Capistrano.

Further investigation revealed that a 21-inch nonpressurized sewer line adjacent to the Capistrano Home Center at 31896 Plaza Drive was damaged during pile-driving work by project contractor Beador Construction, according to Tracey Lavelle, spokeswoman for Caltrans District 12.

The sewer line runs beneath I-5 carrying 2 million gallons of San Juan Capistrano’s total 3 million gallons of waste output per day. The exact extent of the damage is unknown, Lavelle said, though she added that no leaks or public exposure to sewage have occurred. No interruption of service to homes and businesses is expected during the repair, she said.

According to Van Der Maaten, all costs associated with the repair are to be paid by Caltrans.

In the meantime, San Juan Capistrano has placed an above-ground temporary sewer line to divert flow around the damaged area. It runs several hundred yards beneath the I-5 overpass and along San Juan Creek, extending to a manhole at the Capistrano Home Center, with the same capacity as the existing line.

Van Der Maaten said the city is monitoring sewage flow around the clock, with two pumper trucks on standby from a local contractor and six more available from San Clemente, the South Coast Water District and the Santa Margarita Water District if they are needed.

Businesses at the Capistrano Home Center – which includes Dunn-Edwards PaintsComfort Gallery MattressLA Carpet and Renaissance Home Furnishings – said the sewer-line damage has not affected business, despite a lingering tell-tale odor.

Renaissance Home Furnishings owner Dennis Penman, who will mark 13 years at the location next month, said he’s more concerned about a sound wall to be built that he said will cut off the view of his business from the freeway.

“The city has been great through all this (freeway project), but then you could ask me about Caltrans and I would have a lot more to say,” Penman said.

Former Marine Corps mortarman Cole Bent, 20, of San Juan Capistrano has had a lot of help from the community as he battles back from surgery to remove two brain tumors.


SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO -(CA)- Cole Bent has big plans. A book on Egypt sits on his nightstand in San Juan Capistrano to help him prepare for his planned visit there. He plans to go to South America as well, though he doesn’t have a book about it yet.

This might not be unusual for a lot of 20-year-olds, but for Bent and his parents, Brian and Rivka, and his younger sister, Esther, it’s big news.

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Cole Bent receives physical therapy at the Ole Hanson Beach Club in San Clemente, where he gets donated pool time.

It has been about seven months since Bent, an Eagle Scout and former Marine Corps mortarman, was diagnosed with ependymoma, a form of cancer mostly seen in young children. Surgeons at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo removed two golf ball-size tumors from alongside Bent’s brainstem March 14, four days after he blacked out during a tennis game. Doctors told him before the surgery that his chance of survival was 20 percent.

His comeback owes much to his neighbors in the community, who have helped him and his family at every turn.


Having been told by his doctors that physical therapy would be essential to his recovery, Bent’s family decided to move him into Esther’s room and find help for him. Bent was experiencing poor stability, swallowing, coordination, strength, balance and sight, as well as a 30-pound weight loss within three months after the surgery. His mother thought getting him into a swimming pool would be a good place to start therapy.

The Ole Hanson Beach Club in San Clemente was the first stop, and within a short time, Bent was in the pool and working out, courtesy of Vickie Mierau, a retired aquatic therapist, using pool time donated by swim instructors Debra Thurn and Kayne Schroeder.

That was just the beginning of the community effort, Rivka Bent said. As the family began the endless task of copying and faxing medical records, insurance claims and other documents to providers, the Marine Corps and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Bill and Susan Odelson of Paper Annex in San Juan Capistrano ran “Cole’s tab,” which always has a zero balance.

Then there are the good Samaritans all over south Orange County whom the Bents know only by their first name: Greg at Staples, Buddy at Frio Yogurt, Arthur at The Old Barn, to name a few.

Even man’s best friend has made a mark – Galena Creek Kennels Siberian Huskies in Roseburg, Ore., gave a therapy dog, Piper, as a companion for Bent’s therapy.

Bent, a lance corporal in the weapons section of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines based at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, began to experience nausea, dizziness and problems with concentration after his unit was deployed to Afghanistan in June 2010. Three months later, a visiting medical officer noticed his problems and sent Bent home a month ahead of his unit.

Bent was discharged in early February before he knew about his actual condition, his family said. He is still working out the details of his separation from the Marine Corps and currently does not have veteran’s benefits.

Brian Bent, an artist specializing in fashion and design, has been able to cover much of his son’s $1.5 million in medical-treatment costs through his employer’s insurance, Anthem Blue Cross, though the family is still facing a pile of unpaid household and ancillary medical bills.

“I wish I had a spare $50,000 lying around,” Rivka Bent said. “I could sure use it.”

Though he moves slowly and speaking is tiring for him, Cole Bent’s condition is improving by the day – not that he’s giving himself a choice. He has a medal he wants to pass on to someone else who is recovering from a crisis.

The medal was given to him in June by double amputee Harry Snowden of San Juan Capistrano, who received it after completing his first lap around the Saddleback College track on prosthetic legs in 2009. Snowden was given the medal by stroke survivor Fermin Camarena, who is paralyzed on one side of his body and is now a recumbent-bicycle competitor. He received the medal for completing the 2008 Loma Linda University Medical Center Poss-Abilities 5K Walk/Run/Roll triathlon.

Bent met both at Saddleback College while he was taking a physical-therapy class. The medal is engraved with the names of its recipients, along with the year they got it.

“We are focusing on the good things, like the fact that this whole thing happened here and we can help Cole, and how appreciative we are of our community,” Rivka Bent said. “It really takes a village.”

Film Stories Festival presented by student-founded Flashbulb Entertainment rewards top high school and college filmmakers, as judged by a Hollywood writer and director.



SAN CLEMENTE -(CA)- High school and college filmmakers got their turn in the spotlight Monday evening as Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens in San Clemente hosted the third annual Film Stories Festival, featuring 10 student-made short films.


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Film Stories Festival director Zack Roman, 20, left, of San Clemente stands with Brian Ivie, 20, of San Clemente, president of event sponsor Flashbulb Entertainment, at Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens in San Clemente on Monday evening. The third annual Film Stories Festival featured 10 student-made short films with categories for high school and college.

The festival, organized and sponsored by San Clemente-based production company Flashbulb Entertainment, is meant to help student filmmakers get started in an industry that can be financially challenging, according to Flashbulb founder and president Brian Ivie, 20, a graduate of San Clemente High School.

“Our goal this year is to promote student filmmakers by rewarding creative, lasting stories before aesthetics, where winners receive scholarship prizes to pursue their artistic passions,” Ivie said. “In the end, we hope to help fulfill the dreams of young people who might otherwise be forced to forfeit those dreams for financial reasons.”

Hollywood writer and director Stephen Suscojudged the entries, awarding the $500 high school scholarship award to 2011 Capistrano Valley High School graduate Kevin Clark for his 14-minute film “The Thief and the Liar,” which he wrote, produced and directed. The 2010 film is a 1930s-set avant-garde take on real-life bank robber Willie Sutton.

Clark used social media to fund the $1,000 cost of the project, which took six months of planning and two days to shoot, followed by two weeks of editing. The biggest challenge, Clark said, was maintaining the look and feel of the time, including slang, the set, props and borrowed newsreel footage.

Clark said he would do it differently now, in light of what he learned working on the film and other projects since.

“At first, I just told the actors what I wanted,” Clark said. “Now, I’ll listen and let them relate to the role on their own.”

The Best of Fest prize as well as first place in the college category went to UCLA master’s recipient Erick Oh for his eight-minute animated film “Heart.” His prizes totaled $1,500.

The festival was in conjunction with Casa Romantica’s “Salute to Hollywood” exhibit on the evolution of filmmaking, which includes photos, costumes and other memorabilia through Oct. 23 at 415 Avenida Granada.

Moving into position.


DANA POINT – SWAT team members who responded to reports of a rifle shot at an apartment complex in Dana Point on Wednesday afternoon left after determining that there was no one in the unit they were focusing their search on.

A neighbor about 9:20 a.m. reported seeing a man fire a single shot from what looked like a rifle outside a four-unit apartment complex in the 34100 block of The Street of the Amber Lantern, authorities said.

Nearby residents were evacuated as the Orange County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team arrived at the scene, sheriff’s Lt. Steve Doan said.

Negotiators were unable to contact the man, who witnesses say was last seen running upstairs into an apartment.

The SWAT team entered the apartment about 2 p.m., Doan said, finding it unoccupied. It wasn’t immediately clear if there were any weapons in the apartment.

Authorities have not yet determined whether a firearm was actually shot, or if there was an explosion.

“We don’t believe it was aimed at anyone,” Doan said.

Authorities believe that they know the man’s identity, but have not yet located him.


After several hours Orange County Sheriff Deputies entered the dwelling and found it empty.

OCSD suit up and brief.

OCSD sniper moves up the street.

Not your typical Dana Point street view.

A member of the OCSD SWAT looks for his Juliet.

Sing, Sing a SONGS.

About 250 people turn out in San Clemente to talk to employees of the nuclear plant about its operation and safety. Some people who said they were unsure about nuclear power beforehand say they still are afterward.


SAN CLEMENTE -(CA)- Jenessa Stemke felt so strongly about attending Monday evening’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station“open house” in San Clemente that she rode her bicycle from Riverside.

Stemke, 23, is too young to remember the Chernobyl nuclear-plant accident in 1986 in the former Soviet Union but says she became aware of the dangers of nuclear energy after the damage to the Fukushima plant in Japan after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Now she is determined to find out as much as she can.

Article Tab: R.J. Prescott, right, a licensed nuclear operator who works for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, has a disagreement with Gary Headrick, left, of San Clemente Green over Headrick's poster depicting the 30-foot-tall sea wall at San Onofre as incapable of protecting against the type of tsunami that damaged Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant.
R.J. Prescott, right, a licensed nuclear operator who works for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, has a disagreement with Gary Headrick, left, of San Clemente Green over Headrick’s poster depicting the 30-foot-tall sea wall at San Onofre as incapable of protecting against the type of tsunami that damaged Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Her mission Monday, she said, was to speak face-to-face with people who run the San Onofre plant about 2½ miles south of San Clemente. The self-described fanatic for sustainable energy said she left the event unconvinced that the energy San Onofre provides to Southern California homes and businesses is safe for residents.

According to the plant’s operator, Southern California Edison, San Onofre’s two nuclear reactors are capable of generating 2,200 megawatts of power, enough to meet the needs of 1.4 million homes at a given time.

“It’s located near an earthquake fault, and (an earthquake) is coming,” Stemke said.

Edison has said the plant was designed to withstand a magnitude 7 earthquake – more than the largest quake the nearest fault (five miles from the plant) was expected to produce at the time the plant was planned. Its first reactor was commissioned in 1968.

Stemke also expressed concern about San Onofre’s documented safety violations.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission letter dated Sept. 1, 2010, stated that while SONGS passed its “regulatory response,” the NRC sited 33 human-performance issues along with 19 “problem identification and resolution” issues. The same letter cited continued concern about employees’ fears of retaliation from supervisors in reporting safety problems at the plant.

SONGS spokesman Scott Andresen estimated about 250 people attended the three-hour event at the San Clemente Community Center, where about 50 plant employees were on hand to talk with attendees about how nuclear energy is made, security, waste disposal, safety, evacuation routes, emergency preparedness and siren alerts. In addition, there was a dinner buffet as well as children’s face painting and crafts.


The “open house” was the third in a series of such events in the past year. Previous exhibits were held in Oceanside and at San Clemente High School. Another is planned for Oct. 29 at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center.

Dan and Tina McIntosh moved to San Clemente from Minnesota a year ago. They were wondering more about earthquakes until they signed real estate papers acknowledging their new home’s proximity to SONGS. They attended Monday’s event because of curiosity about nuclear power. Their biggest safety concern, they said, is whether the plant is secure against a terrorist attack.

“We don’t feel fearful,” Tina McIntosh said. “We wanted to see how it works.”

Jeff and Daisy Howell of Capistrano Beach said they support nuclear power and attended Monday because they wanted to find out more about how the generators work.

“I am a visual person,” Daisy Howell said. “I have to talk to someone. … I learned the new sirens have seven different sounds now.”

Gary Headrick, a leader of environmental group San Clemente Green, a vocal opponent of nuclear power, joined 10 to 15 people with similar views in lining the entrance to the Community Center to hand out information and hold up colorful placards describing their opposition to SONGS.

“I am reporting to the NRC the safety concerns of seven people at the plant because they are afraid of retaliation,” Headrick said.

Sylvia Hassard-Johnson of San Clemente said she hasn’t made up her mind yet about nuclear power. Her husband, Jerome Johnson, a FedEx pilot, said he’s in favor of it. The couple have two elementary-school-age children and wanted them to check out the exhibit for themselves.

Hassard-Johnson said that although much information from both sides of the issue is available online and in print, it’s good to see the people involved.

Still, she wasn’t relying on what she saw and heard at the exhibit Monday. “They (SONGS) are going to say what they want us to hear,” Hassard-Johnson said.

She said she’s still waiting to learn more about San Onofre’s safety preparedness, especially after Fukushima, and its effects on the environment.


A helping hand from Dad.



CAMP PENDLETON -(CA)- More than 700 Marine families at Camp Pendleton received free back-to-school supplies, clothes and shoes over the weekend, courtesy of area chapters of the Assistance League, a national nonprofit organization.

For several hours Saturday and Sunday, families, assisted by personal shoppers, made the rounds at the San Onofre Community Center at the Marine base, selecting notebooks, pens, paper, hygiene kits with toothbrushes and toothpaste, and two complete school outfits for boys and girls from kindergarten to 12th grade. Goods worth about $75,000 were distributed.

Marine kids hit the rack.

Marine Sgt. Natan Nagler helps his son Andrew, 6, pick out a pair of jeans during the Assistance League’s back-to-school charity event at the San Onofre Community Center at Camp Pendleton.

“It’s brilliant; the families are so grateful,” said former British Royal Marine Anthony Kay of Oceanside, now a U.S. Marine Corps community-service recreational assistant at Camp Pendleton. “The organization, with time slots and appointments, makes everything run smoothly.”


Already a long day and it's only been 15 minutes.

Ann Steinhilper, Assistance League of Capistrano Valley chapter chairwoman for Camp Pendleton, said six other chapters also participated to make this year’s back-to-school event the biggest since it began five years ago. The Laguna BeachSaddleback Valley, Temecula Valley, Rancho San Dieguito, North Coast San Diego and Inland North Coast (San Diego) chapters joined Capistrano Valley, each working about 50 hours over two weeks to assemble the project. Steinhilper said each chapter was responsible for selecting, purchasing and delivering goods to the Community Center, using money raised throughout the year at fundraisers and donation drives, as well as through grants for nonprofits.

Shaylee Wallace, 13, of Oceanside welcomed the effort with a big smile, saying what a help the new clothes would be this school year.

Danielle Kidder, 12, attended with her father, Marine Staff Sgt. Warren Kidder of the 7th Engineer Support Battalion. She said she was happy with the two new tops she got, especially a bright purple sweat shirt.


New jeans are definitely worth a big smile

Sheri Burns, a Marine Corps community-service worker who has a son in the Marines, said there’s no doubt the event raises the spirits of Marine families and expresses how the surrounding community appreciates what the Marines do for their country.

“It’s just a good thing to do, and giving things is another way for people to say ‘Thank you’ to the families of the deployed Marines,” Burns said. “It really helps out.”