Posts Tagged ‘san juan capistrano’

The 44,000-square-foot, $16 million facility will have a main theater with seating for 450, a ‘black box’ teaching theater with about 130 seats, a dance studio and large rooms for orchestra, band and choral groups.

A ray of diving light for St. Margaret's enters the new performing arts center.


SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO- (CA)- St. Margaret’s Episcopal School Headmaster Marcus Hurlbut, who oversees 1,240 students across preschool, primary, middle and upper divisions, says he feels blessed that only a small family of skunks has managed to interrupt the school’s construction of a 44,000-square-foot performing-arts center on its San Juan Capistrano campus.

“The construction superintendent got chased out of the building one night by the skunks,” Hurlbut said. “We are sure they are still living on the campus somewhere … we have quite a nocturnal population.”

St. Margaret’s 44,000-square-foot performing-arts center is scheduled for completion in May.

At a time when many segments of education, business and government are cutting back, St. Margaret’s students, parents and supporters have responded to the theater project with a can-do attitude, Hurlbut said. “We’re building, and we have people who buy into it – literally.”

When completed at the end of May, the new facility is to have a main theater with seating for 450, a more intimate “black box” teaching theater with about 130 seats, a dance studio and large rooms for orchestra, band and choral groups.


School arts director Darcy Rice said the center will feature 11 soundproof practice rooms for tutoring and instruction in a design in which even the lobby will be put to work showing off students’ artwork.

“St. Margaret’s values the arts, and for students, it’s essential that it’s studied.” Rice said. “The faculty works hard so that students are in some way touched by the arts. We want students to be artistically involved … to experience art.”

It all starts here.

For students in behind-the-scenes roles such as stage design and prop building, a large shop, work area and scenery storage room will sit alongside a costume-making room for the school’s productions and a rental program in which St. Margaret’s provides costumes for other productions across the county.

On Monday afternoon, workers assembled metal-framed free-floating “clouds” which, when installed high above the main stage and lined with wood, will have electric controls used to “tune” and enhance sound according to the performance.

Details like that, as well as a central audio control room where students will be able to record with professional quality, bring the price tag for the center close to $16 million and the construction time to more than a year.

Practice makes perfect.

Hurlbut said the center, contracted to Torrance-based Del Amo Construction, is on schedule and on budget.

Though St. Margaret’s expects to get the keys to the new building in May, the school will spend the summer afterward moving in. It has not set a firm schedule for productions. Hurlbut and Rice hope to work in community events as well as school performances.

“We’re not sure exactly what it will be yet, but I know it will be good,” Hurlbut said.

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After protesters turned out to a similar event in August in San Clemente, a power-plant ‘open house’ at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center leaves some visitors convinced that ‘nuclear power is fine.’ Others have concerns about their chances in a radioactive emergency


SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO- (CA)- Southern California Edison, operator of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, visited the San Juan Capistrano Community Center on Thursday evening for an “open house” on how the power plant works, along with a primer on emergency planning and security.

About 70 people attended for a dinner buffet, children’s activities and a tabletop tide pool featuring sea creatures found in the tidal zone around the plant.

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Mary Bierce of San Clemente and Norma Lelli of Dana Point try to locate their homes in relation to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station on an Interjurisdictional Planning Commitee map illustrating a protective zone used to determine emergency action in case of an accident at the plant. SONGS’ operator, Southern California Edison, held a public “open house” in San Juan Capistrano on Thursday evening to explain how the plant works, as well as its environmental impact, security and emergency planning.

A similar exhibit in San Clemente in Augustattracted protests from San Onofre opponents who want the plant shut down pending improvements in safety and crisis planning. Thursday’s event in San Juan had no such protests.

San Juan is about 10 miles north of the plant; San Clemente about 2½ miles.

San Juan Capistrano architect Gerald Muir, 63, who was born and raised in south Orange County, said he attended to gain more knowledge of nuclear power. He said he was impressed by the intricacy of the plant’s electricity generation.

“I’ve never been adversely concerned about it,” Muir said. “Nuclear power is fine, but I would like to see more solar.”

Mary Bierce of San Clemente and Norma Lelli of Dana Point stood in front of a map illustrating theInterjurisdictional Planning Committee‘s 10-mile protective zone surrounding SONGS. They were trying to locate their homes in the emergency planning and evacuation area outlined by the committee, which consists of many government, industry and volunteer agencies. Bierce and Lelli concluded their chances of getting out of the area would be slim in the event of a radioactive release at SONGS.

“It’s going to get real goofy in San Juan with everyone going north” from San Clemente, Dana Point and north San Diego County, Lelli said.

“We’re going to have to make friends with someone who has a boat,” Bierce said. “I think we should go down to the harbor and get started.”

San Onofre opponents also believe evacuation plans are inadequate and that the emergency planning zone should be extended to a 50-mile radius around the plant.

The city of San Clemente is seeking federal funding assistance for a planned project to extend Avenida La Pata north to San Juan Capistrano to provide another evacuation route besides I-5 and Pacific Coast Highway.

San Clemente resident Clay Gable said he felt comfortable with his knowledge of nuclear power but attended Thursday’s event to learn more. He said he’s glad he did after hearing Edison engineers describe the plant’s triple-redundant cooling system. Now, he’s more convinced than ever of the need more nuclear power, he said.

“Nuclear power is fine,” Gable said. “We need to be more energy-independent from the Middle East.”

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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.”

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The City of San Juan Capistrano and their Summer Concert Series with Travis Nelson and The Rough Stock Band….

Sweet Home Alabama or something like that...

Hey, Cowgirl up....

Sache left and Sache right....It's all good in Olde San Juan tonight....

Hey Daddy, you can dance....

There's game face and Dance face and these gals have it down serious....

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Crime scene tape.

Its Friday morning and usually assignments during this time of the year are graduations, municipal construction projects pushing for completion before summer or previews for summer events like the Ocean Festival in San Clemente or the Summer Concert Series for Dana Point of San Juan.

I had been up until late, or rather early in the a.m. shooting grad nite for the first class of San Juan Hills High School; the event with its super secret location took place at a golf course in San Clemente and went on all night although I left around 3 a.m. after the break dancers made their appearence.

I was up getting the shots cropped and captioned when I got a tip about  a jewelry heist gone wrong at the Costco Plaza in the Capo Beach area where San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point meet.  It seemed that two of the alledged assailants were down and another had escaped.  With great effort I finished my shots and got them into the photo desk and was out the door 15 minutes later for the 6 or 7 mile drive to Monaco Jewelers.

The scene of the crime.

I went back streets pulling into a spot where I knew it was safe to park and yet I would not be too far away.  Several dozen Costco employees milled about in small groups on the safe side of yellow crime scene tape.  A few Orange County Sheriff deputies were here and there, armed with shotguns and AR-15’s, the cousin of the M-16, I knew it was serious enough.  Slipping under the tape, I got through after checking my press pass, the large parking lot normally filled with cars and people, held only a small percentage of what should have been a busy morning before the first real weekend of the summer.

OCSD was thick on scene.

I quickly got some preliminary shots before meeting up with a Channel 9 cameraman that had just got hold of a guy whose wife, according to him, worked at the jewelry store and was still inside the store, getting de-briefed by investigators.  He held up his phone with text messages they had exchanged before the OCSD shut them down; thankfully she was okay but shaken up.  Apparently, several robbers had entered the store and were shot by someone affiliated with the store and they were dead and OSCD had now surrounded the Costco with the belief that a third robber had run in to escape.  Across the parking lot I could see several deputies covering the doors, while others massed a few feet away with what looked like to me, preparation for a push inside.

Most likely not his grocery list.

We didn’t get much further as the OCSD began an organized sweep to get the press out and I could not escape; fortunately I had all my shots.  Another OC Register shooter, Ken Steinhardt, had arrived and so I left to get my shots into the desk.  The OCSD worked on locating the third man for several more hours before determining that he had escaped in the first minutes with a get away driver.  Later in the day, investigators confirmed two dead in the store.  Sam Gangwer stayed into the afternoon to get shots of the medical examiner removing the bodies.  It was interesting to see how many deputies were on scene in the relaxed dress of what must have been their day off but got called in as back up for the man hunt and as has been my experience with sheriff deputies in general they were serious and calm and I was able to get my work done with very little interference.

This appears to be the second incident in a year for Monaco Jewelers as they were robbed over a long weekend last summer when thieves dug in, opened the safe, getting away with almost 6 million dollars in gold.  Ouch.

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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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SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO (CA)-Ray Brewer, a HUD field director, led the assembled 400 people or so, in the pledge of allegiance, and it was at that moment that what should have been a Norman Rockwell scene turned into something more like Alice in Wonderland.  The atmosphere had been building up to that time and I wondered what would happen next.  The city of San Juan Capistrano had offered the Community Center to host a foreclosure prevention workshop with the participation of HUD, the FHA, California Home loan Lenders (Wells Fargo, HSBC and Chase) along with various NGO organizations like the OC HOPOC, the NHSOC, and the Orange County Legal Aide Society.

Congressman Ken Calvert (R-44) appeared to greet the attendees and while Calvert’s demeanor was genuinely in awe with the turnout, his presence brought a communal low growling buzz that started when they began the announcement with “Congressman.”  Thankfully, everyone remained calm but just barely so.  Curiously, the organizers were very relaxed and easy to work with although very direct in that they insisted on the utmost respect and consideration for participants.  It wasn’t a point too far away for me as the parent company for The Orange County Register, Freedom Communications, and for whom I was freelancing today, was in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings.  The intimate mechanics of trying to hold onto one’s home was obvious to me and deserved any matter of compassion and understanding I could give.

I did not originally think that there would be that many people at the event.  Foreclosure isn’t something that happens in America, even if national news said it was up, besides, watching it on national news is something that happens to people everywhere else like, snowstorms, tornados and hurricanes. 

Peter Scheldon, a staff reporter, was to write the story and so I waited outside the entrance, looking for a photo angle of the crowd.  My assignment was to shoot interviewees that agreed to have their photo taken for the article.  It didn’t take long for people to notice my cameras and a calm un-easiness carried itself back through the line.  A man walked out from the line seeking an empty bench at the side of the door and exclaimed:

“…Oh look, we can get our picture taken and they’ll put us in the crime blotter…”


It was impressive that so many people had brought their children although I wondered if it meant that the current economic downtrend would continue and instinctively, parents had thought to make it a learning experience.

Most people, obviously tense and in different stages of grief and uncertainty, were relieved to get some help and direction; it seemed likely that not everyone expected good news but at least something was being done and they were not alone. 

Scheldon, the reporter, arrived and in the midst of his interviews, I shot their faces as they poured out the months and years of dealing with struggle, stress and wonder.  It occurred to me that the people I saw were a mix of all the people I would usually see at any event I was assigned to shoot.  In fact it was not hard to imagine the people I would shoot this day were overwhelmingly the same people I would see helping out at any other assignment at a church, community or sports event.  This was the middle class and not what anyone would assume to be an “at risk” group of people.

There was one gentleman interviewed that sat silently and patiently waiting for his turn with a counselor.  He was not scared nor afraid but simply concerned and clear in his intention to get some help; this was not a man that was used to having an issue like this and having to share it.  He had been interviewed  by Scheldon and so I asked permission to keep shooting him, which I did.

He sat in the main room, waiting his turn, listening to the speakers that talked about anything from the government’s position on loans, fraud and bankruptcy.  I noticed he was not as talkative as several others that were interviewed but he was an old tree; confident, gracefully proud and sadly curious to what had to be for him, a new experience.

I followed him to where he sat down and spoke with a counselor.  I got a few shots, trying to be as unobtrusive as I could with two huge cameras and a blinding flash.  He held firm, wavering a bit beneath uncomfortable questions from the counselor but answered unblinkingly.  He had my attention and more importantly, my respect; this man is tough I thought as I imagined what it would be, to look across a pile of papers and face the help he needed.

I was done with my shots and I waited to catch his eye.

Thank you and good luck.” I said, and I meant it.


“Thanks!” he said, looking up for a moment before setting his eyes back on the attorney sitting before him and without bothering to look up he added, “I’m going to need it.”

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A competitor in the steer wrestling competion at the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo, on Saturday, does his stuff.

INBETWEEN: A competitor in the steer wrestling competion at the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo, on Saturday, does his stuff.







The 8th annual Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo kicked off on Saturday, in San Juan Capistrano.  It is billed as having the largest purse of any national 2 day rodeo.


The event was very well organized and brings 30 or so of the best rodeo cowboys in the U.S. as welll as any number of loccal or “circuit” contestants.  The stands were full and there was plenty to see and do.  Food booths and all types of western styled things were available: from jewlry, dresses, shirts, leatherwear to ready framed photos.  There are a lot of organizers and donors and they are treated right in their own tent with catered food long with a great side view of the event. 


Upwards of $200,000.00 in prize money was up for grabs for the best of the best in several categories.  The rodeo contines on Sunday and should be just as much a good time as the first day.  Plenty of parking is available. 

A young cowboy works the rodeo.

COWPOKE: A young cowboy works the rodeo.

A rodeo competitor in the bronco riding, makes adjustments after a wild ride.

TOUGH: A rodeo competitor in the bronco riding, makes adjustments after a wild ride.

Don't try this at home.

AIRTIME: Don't try this at home.

Rodeo clown, Seth "Shorty" Gorham, takes job seriously.

BULLBAIT: Rodeo clown, Seth "SHorty" Gorham takes his job, of distracting bulls from fallen cowboys, very seriously .

A cowboy at the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday afternoon.

OPEN SKY: A cowboy at the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday afternoon.

The story in the OC Register:

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