Archive for April, 2008

    Mission  Viejo’s  City  Clerk,  Karen  Hamman,  has  been honored as City Clerk of the Year.  The award was presented Thursday in Bakersfield at the annual convention of the City Clerks Association of California.

    The City Clerk facilitates open government in many ways.  She keeps the public informed with agendas and minutes of public meetings.  She also provides city documents, video of City Council meetings, and other important information via the City’s website.  Her responsibilities also include providing documents to citizens and the media upon request, pursuant to public records laws.  In addition she serves as the City’s election officer and clerk for the Orange County Council of Governments.

    Dennis Wilberg, City Manager, disclosed the award stating: “She was chosen over 30 other finalists and was the number one choice on each of the judges’ ballots. The President of the [Clerks] Association made it a point to highlight the fact that Karen received two letters of recommendation from community activists, something that apparently has not occurred before.”

    The supporting letters were submitted by Larry Gilbert and Cathy Schlicht, long-time citizen watchdogs.

    Although she works reports to the City Manager and works with legal advice from the City Attorney, Karen has developed a reputation as an independent clerk not easily influenced by forces inside City Hall who may at times prefer to maintain secrecy or limit public disclosure. 

    Mayor Kelley noted Karen’s “wonderful personality and great way of interacting with people,” and plans to present Karen with a commendation at the May 5 Council Meeting.


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    South   Orange   County   families   are invited to the annual Fiesta de Agua Family Fun Day to enjoy a host of outdoor activities and learn about water conservation.  The Festival will take place from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday, May 3 at the Oso Reservoir.  It is hosted by the Santa Margarita Water District. 

    The festival’s new location centered at the Boy Scout camp on the banks of the reservoir will be a beautiful natural backdrop for activities including water education games.  Double-click the flier to enlarge.

    Other activities include nature hikes, a live reptile show, marksmanship demonstrations, fossil displays, bird watching, face painting, Scout demonstrations, Smores, campfire songs, kids’ crafts, community exhibitors, and firefighters and fire engines.

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     Last  week  the  MV  Dispatch reported a dump pile had been created by the City along scenic Oso Creek Trail. [Earth Day Dump]

    A couple days later, starting at approximately 8:23 a.m. on Friday, two workers began a cleanup by loading the items onto two pickup trucks, according to an observor.  It appeared the trucks headed to an official county landfill off Ortega Highway.


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    Spirit Day was ruined at Trabuco High today when full water bottles were launched into a crowd of students circling an outdoor courtyard (quad).  Students involved in throwing such items were suspended.  School officials, concerned about additional incidents and potential injuries, cancelled other Spirit Day activities.

    School officials also pointed to ‘vandalism’ which occurred before school as a warning of potential problems, but some students contended the toilet paper, streamers and erasable chalk were the same harmless elements used in sanctioned school activities.

    A student assembly with professional entertainment was one of the events cancelled, further inciting those who felt Principal Sullivan was overreacting to a few unruly individuals.  This caused more students to gather in the quad to protest the punishment of the whole student body for the acts of a few. 

    Part of the Spirit Day celebration is competition among grade levels known as Battle Of The Grades (BOTG). Those rivalries may have given rise to inappropriate actions by some students.  A video of the bottle throwing can be viewed by clicking here . . .

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    A Mission Viejo company, Early Impact, helps thousands of internet businesses take greatest advantage of Google’s shopping features.  Its software, ProductCart, provides online merchants with information and flexibility for successful websites.  Hundreds of Web design companies have chosen it as their e-commerce system for building online storefronts for their customers.

   “Knowing what combination of content works best on your e-commerce Web site’s home page is information all store managers would like to have,” said Massimo Arrigoni, CEO of Early Impact. “Google Website Optimizer can take a lot of the guess work out of the equation, and now it’s really easy for ProductCart users to take advantage of it.”

    EarlyImpact is a privately owned company started five years ago.  It has achieved its success with only a few employees.

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    Last night the City Council conducted a closed session to consider property discussions with Chabad Jewish Center.  The Center has been located for fourteen years in a former bank building at a strip mall located at Marguerite Parkway and Trabuco.  A few months ago Blockbuster vacated the center, and it has been rumored its former space will become a Persian supermarket. 

    Rabbi Marcus tells the Dispatch the Jewish Center is looking for approximately two acres of land to build larger facilities. He stated the Center was exploring all possible available land in the area.  It would like space for its school programs, special events, and community outreach programs.  A biblical themed playground for child day care is also on the wish list.  

    The parcel being considered by the Council is located within the 20-25 acres of open space along Oso Creek behind the Nadadores and Tennis complexes. The land is owned by the City.  In 1991 the Mission Viejo Company, on behalf of the Master Planned Community, designated that land for a golf driving range or for expansion of the Casta del Sol Golf Course. The designation was protected in a CC&R agreement signed by MVC’S buyers, recorded with the county, and still valid against successors in interest.

    The community has become increasingly concerned about consumption of its open space. A Right-to-Vote initiative is likely to be filed soon with the City Clerk.  If approved on a upcoming election ballot, the measure would require voter approval for most rezoning proposals.

    Until it can find land for expanson, the Jewish Center is looking forward to using the newly renovated Murray Center for larger events, such as a special music event scheduled in July. 

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    High school seniors from across the U.S. and Canada competed this month in Best Teen Chef Local Cook-off Competitions.  The winner of Orange County’s Competition was Esmael Majedi, a senior at Mission Viejo’s Trabuco Hills High School. He earned a $5,000 scholarship to attend The Art Institute.

    “I felt confident going into the competition and I just tried to stay calm,” Majedi said. “But when they announced me as the winner, I was completely shocked.”

    Esmael has been cooking since he was about eight years old. His first lessons came from his mother, but he later acquired a professional mentor, Dan John, the owner and head chef of Nebbia, a former Italian restaurant in Rancho Santa Margarita. When he’s not busy cooking or dreaming of his own restaurant, Majedi is an avid soccer player and fan.

    The regional events were sponsored by The International Culinary Schools at 31 locations of The Art Institutes throughout North America. Contestants were selected from applications which included a recipe and essay.  Final competitors were all given the same ingredients from which to create an unspecified culinary delight. 

    The 31 regional winners will meet in Las Vegas next month for the North American Championship which will be produced in partnership with TV’s Food Network.

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