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Five days after the beach’s landmark stump bearing an American flag proved too stubborn for about 200 people trying to relocate it away from the threat of high surf, heavy equipment donated this afternoon moves it in 30 minutes.

By DAVID BRO / SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER

SAN CLEMENTE – (CA)- Heavy equipment arrived Friday afternoon at Poche Beach and moved a landmark flag-bearing driftwood tree stump to higher, safer ground after hundreds of people had tried unsuccessfully last weekend to move it themselves.

The 6- to 7-ton tree stump across from the Palm Beach Park mobile-home community in San Clemente has flown an American flag since somebody placed one there soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The flag has been replaced periodically through the years by residents of Palm Beach Park and others.

Article Tab: meintel-management-constr
A bulldozer operated by Tommy Sherman of TS Grading is guided Friday by Mark Meintel of Meintel Construction Management as it moves the 6- to 7-ton flag-bearing tree stump up a berm to a safer place on Poche Beach.
The trunk had become increasingly threatened by high surf that had moved it about 200 feet and sometimes submerged the flag under the waves.

San Clemente resident Joe Wilson organized an effort last Sunday to relocate the stump to higher ground on property owned by Palm Beach Park. More than 200 people tried for three hours to move it by human power and a lot of rope, but the stump was too heavy and too imbedded in the sand. They did manage to tilt it and place plywood boards under it to prepare it for the heavy machinery.

On Friday, it took a bulldozer volunteered by Mark Meintel of Meintel Construction of San Clemente about 30 minutes to relocate the stump and its flag farther from the water’s edge.

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Out for a cruise with Evelyn.


SAN CLEMENTE -(CA)- Brooke Bedard of San Clemente knows firsthand what Relay For Life is all about. She remembers five years ago, when she was 13, arriving home from Shorecliffs Middle School in San Clemente with a numb arm and a bad headache.

She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A week later, she had a room at CHOC Children’s hospital getting chemotherapy and worrying about losing her hair. Chemo and radiation treatments took down the tumor wrapped around her trachea, and now, at 18, she’ll be studying business marketing at Chico State University in the fall.

In the meantime, she was captain of the “All Night for the Fight” team at this weekend’s San Clemente Relay For Life, an annual fundraising walk/run for the American Cancer Society in which members of teams take turns traveling the track at San Clemente High School’s Thalassa Stadium for 24 hours to raise pledges from donors. It’s one of many such events held around the country each year.

Just hav'n fun out here boss....

From 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday, 46 teams totaling 480 people participated in San Clemente, raising $29,187, the event’s website said Sunday. Donations can still be made online here.

The teams spent Saturday morning before the event setting up themed “campsites,” illustrating, honoring and remembering those who have cancer, survived it or succumbed to it. There were crafts, live music and games such as “Ta Ta Toss,” a breast-cancer-awareness activity in which participants could make a “basket” by throwing ping-pong balls into decorated bras mounted on a board.

Greg Roberts of San Clemente Presbyterian Church‘s “Stampeding for a Cure” team, honoring 5-year-old cancer patient Taylor Uresti, said the team’s focus is to provide emotional support not only for people with cancer but for their families as well.

It doesn't look like 30 miles, but that's what the odometer says...

“When we get tired (during the relay), we can rest,” Roberts said. “Families with cancer are battling 24/7. We’re out to support each other.”

Shea Weber of Dewey Weber Surfboards in San Clemente remembers how Japanese surfer Shu Oikawa, who died in 2007 at age 40 from stomach cancer, would bow before contests with his hands together and in a very serious tone exclaim, “I will defeat you.” Then he would break into a big smile and laugh.

“Shu loved the ocean and surfing,” Weber said. “Language and culture were no barrier for him in sharing that love.”

That's Shu in the photo...

Jessica Forino, 18, a 2011 graduate of Aliso Niguel High School, helped organize members of Aliso Niguel’s girls cross country team for the Relay For Life. The event’s motto, “Celebrate, remember and fight back,” is a good description of what a cancer patient’s life is like, she said. It’s even comparable to her team’s experience during the 24 hours of the relay, she added.

“Every part of the day is a different emotion,” Forino said. “We are all together walking the track, sharing, living our lives together. At the end of the day, it’s dark, and with the (traditional) candlelight vigil, we remember, we have tears, and tomorrow, when the sun comes up, we go back to the fight.”

There is always something to do.

For Bedard, though she’s won several battles, the war isn’t over yet. She still has the little tattoos used to register the radiation machines, and she goes for check-ups about every four months. Bedard looks forward to when the check-ups will be once a year. To her, hospitals represent a form of imprisonment.

“You have to know you’re going to get through it,” she said. “I appreciate everything now. I remember I came back to school with a wig, but looks don’t matter. It’s what’s inside.”

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70 year old legacy.

SAN CLEMENTE -(CA)- Retired Brig. Gen. Fred Flo, 92, and his wife, Lucile, 91, a retired schoolteacher, have definite ideas about marriage, and they should know: They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary Saturday at San Clemente Villas, the senior assisted-living home where they live.


Retired Army Brig. Gen. Fred Flo, 92, and his wife, Lucile, 91, celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary Saturday at San Clemente Villas, a senior assisted-living community, with friends and family.

Hands made for each other.

Fred, who had plenty of experience giving orders during 40 years of active and reserve duty in the Army from 1939 to 1979, says his best advice for a married couple is to listen. Lucile says patience is vital.

The key to staying together is to work at being together, they say.

“I saw her playing ping pong with a fraternity brother,” Fred recalled of the first time he saw Lucile. “She had great legs, and I knew right then I would ask her to marry me.”

Lucile remembers the day outside the library at UCLA when Fred finally popped the question.

“I knew we would get married, but he sure took long enough to ask,” she said.

Photos of Photos.

Fred saw duty at Guadalcanal in World War II and later in the Korean War, earning the Silver Star and Bronze Star during his service.

He says the hardest part of his military career was being apart from Lucile. No one but her could have put up with him and made it work, he says.

“She did so much to keep the family going; I can’t say enough for her,” Fred said.

They raised two children, Eric and Betty, and have two grandchildren, Eric and Kristin, and several great-grandchildren.

Lucile acknowledges there were a few disagreements along the way, but she says dealing with that likely made her good at getting second- and third-graders to behave during her 25-year teaching career.

During Fred’s Army service, the couple had eight houses, the last one in Mission Viejo, Lucile says. But they had a motto to live by and fall back on, Fred says.

“I’ll build it and she’ll paint it,” he said. “And that’s what we did. “We’re a team.”

SIDE NOTE:  Originally, I had hoped to use the photo below—but the web and the format for the newspaper in tabloid style would not work, so I just kept it cropped for the web, which again, likes the wider shot as opposed as the tall shot.  The Royal wedding of Prince Andrew and Miss Middleton had just taken place and it was my inspiration to use the American flag, the formalness of the room, along with the American Gothic quality of their posing and somehow to mimic our own “Royal Wedding” and so….

The Royal Couple and Family.

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The circle of love at this years Swallow's Day.

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, -(CA)- The 53rd Annual Swallows Day Parade went off without a hitch on Saturday morning in San Juan Capistrano.  The parade is meant to celebrate the return of the swallows from their winter homes in South America.  The swallow is a small migratory bird that typically builds their distinctive homes inside the Spanish tile roofs of the city or beneath the eaves of more modern homes in the area, using mud and grass collected after spring showers.

Good manners go a long way, cowboy.

More than 150 entries participated this year which began promptly at 11 a.m. but not before a real horse drawn stagecoach from Spurs and Satin of California, a crowd favorite, cleared the way, acting out  robberies and gunfights in the street as they fired blanks from their six shooters into the air.  The parade led off with a banner and the last USMC Mounted Color Guard still active in the Marine Corps, led by Gunnery Sgt. Pete McConnell on his wild mustang “Rookie.”  The 1st Marine Division Marching Band Followed in addition to an element from the 1st Battallian/11th Marines, San Juan Capistrano’s adopted Marine Unit.

This girl was having a good time and it shows with her big smile.

This year’s Grand Marshals, Art and Maria Galindo, owners of the popular southland chain of Mexican eateries, “Las Golandrinas,” which translates to “the swallows” in Spanish, rode in a white horse drawn carriage, waving to the crowd and having a great time.  The Juaneno Band of Mission Indians walked the parade in native and ceremonial dress.  Area educational institutions like the Mission Parish School and St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, participated in cowboy, Indian, charro, friar with some in animated springtime flowers, bees, lady bugs and fairy costumes.  The “San Juan Capistrano Ballet Folklorico,” in addition to “Mariachi San Juan,” came with trumpets, violins, guitars and gutarrones, a traditional large and tub shaped mariachi guitar like instrument, playing and singing while performers danced in unision wearing colorful Mexican dresses.  Horse groups of all types paraded including Charros, a type of Mexican cowboy, and riders from Rancho Mission Viejo in western wear.

The Grand Marshals; Art and Maria Galindo.

San Juan Capistrano Fiesta Association organizers expressed concern that it would rain on their parade but remained positive and their enthusiasm carried the day beneath some cloud cover but not a drop fell.

Mom's are always there when you need them.

Many parade participants stopped to wish friends and family along the route including one horseman from the ‘El Viaje de Portola” who stopped across from the Mission San Juan Capistrano to hand out beads to a family member and chat.  He was admonished with hoots and hollers from other cowboys in the group to catch up.

This guy should be in the movies.

“I am coming, I’m coming…” He shouted  back but not before seeing someone else he knew and stopping again to chat and hand out more beads.

No one gets away with anything at the Swallow's Day Parade.

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George Fortin and his amazing machine.

SAN CLEMENTE,- (CA)- After President Barack Obama said early in his presidency that we, as a nation, must start building things again, San Clemente real estate broker George Fortin went to work to build an electric go-kart from scratch in the garage of his Talega home.

In November, a year and $4,000 later, he finished the 20-horsepower, zero-emission vehicle he calls the Z-Kart. It uses six lead-acid batteries and has a range of 20 miles at speeds of 40 to 50 mph, depending on the gearing installed. With a frame built from recycled polyethylene, it weighs about 300 pounds and can be charged from a regular household electrical outlet in about three hours, Fortin said.

Fortin, 55, said he was inspired not only by the words of the president but also a personal conviction to live “greener.”

“If I can build this using common tools and stuff from local hardware stores, then think of what someone could build with better resources and an engineering degree,” he said.

WATCH A VIDEO FEATURING FORTIN AND THE Z-KART.

His parents learned quickly that no household appliance was safe from their son when he had a screwdriver in his hand. He took apart can openers and hairdryers and even made an electric scooter with the rotisserie motor from his dad’s barbecue.

Fortin, who grew up in Diamond Bar, began “engineering” go-karts when he was about 11, including secretly taking apart his dad’s first gasoline lawn mower.

But he didn’t get serious until he upgraded an old motorized minibike. He said all the adults in the neighborhood had off-road bikes and would regularly ride to the top of a particularly steep hill. Limited by the small motor on his minibike, he was unable to tag along. But he swapped his bike’s 3-horsepower motor for a Briggs & Stratton 8-horsepower model, and soon he was on top of the hill.

“The (bigger) motor was all in pieces when I got it, and when I had it on the bike it was so big, the spark plug came up through the top of the seat. But I made it work,” Fortin said. “Sitting on top of that hill … it was my moment.”

Fortin, who has no formal training in design or engineering, has never stopped making things, with dozens of self-propelled vehicles and go-karts made and pulled apart again – always salvaging the parts to make something better. Trial and error has shown him what works and what doesn’t, including gear ratios, chassis design, suspension and steering assemblies.

Fortin says he is driven by curiosity about how things work and making things people can use efficiently and safely.

“I am just a big kid,” he said.

His first Z-Kart had spoked bicycle wheels, but when the motor torque and tight steering tests kept tearing the wheels off, he redesigned it using dune-buggy wheels with motorcycle tires, along with other refinements.

“I really want to use my story to support making the garage a breeding ground for new ideas,” Fortin said. “Big corporate companies are too bogged down with stuff. The garage is a personal space free from negativity … and politics, where a person with the passion and an idea can be creative. Apple and Microsoft did it.”

Fortin said he has had about 155,000 hits on his YouTube videos featuring the Z-Kart, along with more than 4,000 emails from people inquiring about how to build it themselves. He also has been contacted by San Clemente-based chassis maker Swift Engineering to possibly help take the Z-Kart to the next level.

 

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Yellow Ribbon Cut Up.

SAN CLEMENTE-(CA)- Family Assistance Ministries officially opened its newly renovated Gilchrist House transitional family shelter in San Clemente, completing a three-month renovation after purchasing the building last year with the help of a city grant.

FAM board Chairman Nick Mastroni, Executive Director Mary Perdue and San Clemente Mayor Lori Donchak cut a yellow ribbon Thursday for the grand reopening of the 26-bed apartment building for single women and women with young children.

Residents are allowed to stay at the facility – one of three such shelters in the city – for up to 12 months while they find a job and learn life skills. The women come from a variety of backgrounds, including homelessness and domestic abuse. Some stay as little as three months before “graduating” to living on their own, Perdue said.

More than 400 women and children have been helped since the shelter was established in 2003, FAM says.

A year ago, FAM purchased the building, which it had been renting, with help from an $800,000 grant approved by the city in 2009.

“It’s our pleasure to support something so valuable as this,” Donchak said.

Funds to renovate and upgrade the facility were made possible by government redevelopment grants, said Denise Obrero, a housing specialist with the city. FAM received more than $200,000 for the renovation.

Just Hanging Out Waiting For Mom To Get Home.

The project was approved in July, and a contractor began the work in November, putting in new paint, tile floors, new cabinets in the bathrooms and kitchens and upgrading electrical wiring. Workers also completed parts of a roof that was unfinished since the structure was built.

FAM program director Lucy Stafford-Lewis said volunteers from the Seapointe Women’s Association, Community Presbyterian Church of San Juan Capistrano and a Girl Scout troop from Mission Viejo helped paint. Local resident Belisa Davis visited with her two daughters to pick weeds, clean up and haul away trash. Other volunteers decorated with curtains, wall paintings and furniture, Stafford-Lewis said.

“It’s been an amazing thing to see the before and after,” Stafford-Lewis said. “Everyone worked over the holidays and all the volunteers pulled through.”

Gilchrist House is named after late FAM founder Ellen Gilchrist, who “would be so pleased to know the energy that has gone into this home and into FAM,” board member Jim King said.

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