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OW Staff Writer

Stories by OW Staff

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Social workers ordered to trial involving death of Palmdale boy

Two former social workers and their supervisors were ordered this week to stand trial on falsifying records and child abuse charges involving the death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy whose mother and then-boyfriend are charged with his murder. The social workers and two of their supervisors—Stefanie Rodriguez, 31, Patricia Clement, 66, Kevin Bom, 37, and Gregory Merritt, 61—were fired from their jobs following an internal investigation into the May 24, 2013, death of Gabriel Fernandez.

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‘Safe schools’ improvement plan

The Lancaster Planning Commission has been reviewing a number of high-profile projects during the past few months. In November, the commission reviewed the Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Home Ordinance, subsequently recommending it to the city council for further study and its eventual vote of approval. The decision made Lancaster the first city in the state to mandate ZNE standards for new homes.

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Measure H gets final approval

Measure H, a quarter-cent Los Angeles County sales tax voted on the March 7 ballot to fund anti-homelessness programs, maintained the two-thirds majority needed for approval in a final ballot tally released this week.

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Officials urge pet licensing; more dog parks approved

Animal care and control field officers this week traveled through the streets and parks of Palmdale, Llano, Pearblossom and Littlerock to enforce pet licensing and spay/neuter laws. Dog and cat owners in unincorporated areas of the county are required to license and microchip their pets. Dogs and cats must also be spayed or neutered, with some exemptions for competition, breeding and service dogs and pets with health problems.

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Search for missing hiker, senior from Lancaster

Authorities this week sought public help to find a man who went missing nearly a year ago when he said he was going hiking in the Angeles National Forest. Michael Patrick Flynn, 63, is White, 5-feet-4 inches tall, weighs 145 pounds, and has blond hair and blue eyes. He has a chipped front tooth.

Rain shouldn’t halt water conservation

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is continuing its campaign to remind residents that water conservation should remain a part of their daily lives.

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Trace Adkins at The Amp

Trace Adkins will appear Saturday, July 29 at 8 p.m. at the Palmdale Amphitheater. Adkins is one of the most popular artists on the country music circuit. He has powered countless hits to the top of the charts having sold more than 10 million albums. His hit list includes “You’re Gonna Miss This,” “Ladies Love Country Boys,” “Songs About Me,” “Every Light in the House,” “Hillbilly Bone” (with Blake Shelton), and “Just Fishin.”

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Fashion makeover for LASD

The Sheriff’s Department is spending $300,000 on items it says will make deputies look more professional in their jobs and could help make them safer, but the deputy’s union is not impressed. The taxpayer dollars won’t go toward tools such as higher-quality ballistic vests, backup guns or body cameras.

Black job shortage is ‘crisis’

Widening inequality, rising housing costs and a lack of opportunity have led to a critical shortage of jobs in the Black community that has hit the crisis level, according to a new study from researchers at UCLA. The findings were discussed Tuesday evening at Holman United Methodist Church in West Adams where more than 100 residents along with numerous social justice organizations joined community leaders to address the ongoing issue of high Black unemployment here and across the nation.

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New honor for Ridley-Thomas

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will join a list of luminaries on May 12 when he receives an honorary degree during the 2017 graduation ceremony at USC. The university announced this week that Thomas will join comedy star Will Ferrell, Academy Award-wining actress Helen Mirren and other high achievers who will receive honorary degrees from USC for their contributions as civic, academic, scientific and arts leaders as part of this year’s commencement ceremony, the university announced this week.

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Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project

Construction Notices

Street closure for falsework on Hornet Way at Imperial Hwy. Walsh-Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC) will continue a full northbound and southbound street closure of Hornet Way at Imperial Hwy through March 24, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., Monday through Friday.

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Convictions upheld in 2013 murder of 7-year-old girl

A state appeals court panel this week upheld the convictions of two brothers for the September 2013 car-to-car shooting in Palmdale that fatally wounded a 7-year-old girl. In a ruling Monday, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected a contention by attorneys for Jesus and Carlos Peralta that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that the murder of Desirae Macias and the attempted murders of three other people in the car with her were willful, deliberate and premeditated.

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Supervisor Barger wants rocket plant cleaned up

The Board of Supervisors this week joined Ventura County and the city of Los Angeles officials in pressing for a full clean-up of a contaminated site once used for developing rocket engines and nuclear reactors in Simi Valley. The Santa Susana Field Laboratory is a 2,668-acre complex of abandoned industrial research facilities in the Simi Hills owned by Boeing, NASA and the Department of Energy.

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Guilty plea in sword killing

An actor who appeared in the children’s television series “Power Rangers Samurai” has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for his roommate’s stabbing death just over two years ago.

Lackey seeks more focus on mental illness training

Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) wants to foster a better assessment of the mentally ill by law enforcement. Consequenty, he’s working with Assemblyman Melissa Melendez of the 67th District (western Riverside County) to secure $15.7 million in funding to train front-line law enforcement officers on how to better interact with people suffering from mental illness.

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Probation officer in ‘beat down’; another accused of lewd acts

A supervising deputy probation officer accused of ordering an attack by other officers on a teenage boy at a juvenile hall in Sylmar pleaded not guilty this week to a felony assault charge. Timothy Boundy, 41, pleaded not guilty yesterday in agreeing to help carry out two additional attacks.

Sandra Brown named acting U.S. Attorney for seven-county Central District

Sandra R. Brown has been named the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, making her the top federal law enforcement official in the most populous federal district in the nation, it was announced this week. Brown took charge of the office on Saturday after former U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker resigned her position. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had asked that dozens of remaining Obama- appointed U.S. attorneys—including Decker—step aside to make way for appointees of President Donald Trump.

USC professor named first Black Federal Reserve Bank president

Raphael Bostic, a professor at the USC School of Public Policy, was named Monday president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, making him the first Black leader of a regional federal bank. “He is a seasoned and versatile leader, bringing with him a wealth of experience in public policy and academia,” said Thomas Fanning, chairman of the board for the Atlanta bank. Bostic also has significant experience leading complex organizations and managing interdisciplinary teams. He is a perfect bridge between people and policy.”

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Banks to host ‘America’s Got Talent’

NBC announced this week that Tyra Banks will host its long-running summer hit talent competition “America’s Got Talent,” replacing Nick Cannon, the host for the past eight seasons. “Since I was a little girl, I’ve been obsessed with grandiose acts and performers who make the seemingly impossible possible,” Banks said. “I love how ‘AGT’ brings that feeling into everyone’s home, capturing the best of people who come out and give it their all to make those big, fierce and outrageous dreams come true.

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Officer assault conviction upheld after death of South LA woman

A three-judge appeals court panel this week affirmed the felony assault conviction of a veteran Los Angeles policewoman who kicked and shoved a handcuffed female arrestee who died shortly afterward. Mary O’Callaghan, 51, was sentenced on July 23, 2015, to a maximum of three years behind bars, with 16 months to be served in county jail and the last 20 months suspended.

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Palmdale Playhouse to launch ‘Sounds of the City’

The Palmdale Playhouse, located at 38334 10th St. East in Palmdale, is launching Sounds of the City, a new community program that gives professional and semi-professional performing artists of music, vocal, instrumental dance and theatrical arts the opportunity to perform at the Playhouse.

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Tap for well-being at Palmdale City Library

The Palmdale City Library will host a free workshop on Meridian Tapping on Thursday, April 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Chimbole Cultural Center’s Lilac Room, located at 38250 Sierra Highway, next door to the library.

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Apply for festival vending

Applications are being accepted for commercial vendors at the 26th Annual California Poppy Festival scheduled April 22-23 at Lancaster’s newly renamed Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park.

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California Connections Academy Capistrano opens enrollment

Tuition-free online public school sees enrollment figures rise in 2016

As technology continues to revolutionize American education, the number of students turning to virtual and blended learning programs continues to grow. In fact, from September 2015 to September 2016, California Connections Academy at Capistrano saw student enrollment increase by 17 percent. The school, serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade who reside in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties, is now enrolling new students for the 2017-18 school year during the open enrollment period and will be hosting free digital and in-person information sessions throughout Southern California for interested families to learn more.

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‘The Big One’ continues to loom

Southern California could be overdue for a major earthquake along the Grapevine north of Los Angeles, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. The research found earthquakes happen there on average every 100 years, the Los Angeles Times reported. The last major temblor occurred 160 years ago, rupturing 185 miles of the San Andreas fault.

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Young men of color targeted for coding workshop

TXT teaches coding and entrepreneurship skills

In the Summer Coding Leadership Academy, African American and Hispanic and other boys of color will learn to code using HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Python. Students learn in an immersive experience where young men develop as technology leaders by learning computer programming, entrepreneurship, design and public speaking.

Disturbance at 24 Hour Fitness ends with deputy involved shooting

A man in his 40s was mortally wounded by deputy gunfire in the Ladera Heights area, authorities said. The shooting occurred at 11:05 p.m. Tuesday in the 5000 block of Slauson Avenue, said Deputy Kimberly Alexander of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.

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Homeless tax, Measure H, to appear on the ballot

Approval of Measure H would authorize the County of Los Angeles to impose a one-quarter percent special transactions and use tax on the gross receipts of any retailer from the sale of all personal property in the incorporated and unincorporated territory of the County.

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SpaceX plans 2018 moon flight

While the local region still maintains the moniker of “Aerospace Valley,” Hawthorne-based SpaceX announced ithis week it plans to send two “private citizens” on a trip around the moon late next year aboard its Crew Dragon spacecraft.

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Work slowdown at AVTA

A series of contingency measures have been put into place by the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) because of a labor slowdown involving its employees.

Vote this weekend in Lancaster

Lancaster is among seven locations around the county that will host polling places this weekend to cast early ballots for Tuesday’s local elections, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean C. Logan said this week.

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Apply for congressional internship

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) is accepting internship applications for his summer Internship Program.

Rail officials host webinar

The High Desert Corridor (HDC) Joint Powers Authority (JPA) conducted a live webinar yesterday in anticipation of the release of the HDC Rail Ridership and Revenue Forecast Results.

No injuries in rural blaze

A first-alarm fire earlier this week destroyed a home in a rural area just outside Palmdale but no one was hurt.

Reward offered in holiday hit-run

County officials asked for the public’s help this week—and offered a $20,000 reward—in identifying a driver who killed a teenage girl in Canyon Country the day after Christmas.

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Angels Flight scheduled to reopen

The historic Angels Flight railway, which has been closed since one of the two rail cars came off the tracks in September 2013, will reopen by Labor Day with a new operator, city officials announced this week. Thanks to a 30-year agreement with the ACS company, the short funicular on Bunker Hill will be upgraded and renovated, and safety improvements will be made, including the installation of an emergency walkway along the short route.

Incumbent likely to win in mayor’s race

There are 11 candidates who have thrown their hats into the ring seeking a spot in the May election against Eric Garcetti.

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Katherine Jackson claims abuse

An attorney for Katherine Jackson’s nephew said this week he wants to take the deposition of the Jackson family matriarch, who’s currently in London, before a hearing is held on whether to extend a temporary restraining order against his client. Ronald Rail said Trent Lamar Jackson has a right to have his counsel cross-examine Katherine Jackson, whose lawyer, Julianna Edwards, said her 86-year-old client will not return home until the order is extended.

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Price expected to win big March 7

Curren Price is expected to win going away in his city council re-election bid on March 7. He’ll face opponents Jorge Nuno and Adriana Cabrera in the Ninth District race.

Hotly debated Measure S tackles building, zoning laws

Measure S is a citizen-initiated ordinance which if adopted, will amend city law to impose a maximum two-year moratorium on certain development projects, with specified exceptions;

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Leaked memos draw protests about immigration crackdown

Local activists and elected officials this week lashed out at newly released memos outlining planned federal efforts to crack down on people living in the country illegally, saying the directives set the stage for mass deportations. “The administration’s immigration executive orders will have serious negative consequences for our country, ripping apart families and crippling our economy,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, said. “As we work to reform our broken immigration system, we should be focusing on deporting those who are a threat to our country, not on those who are contributing members of our communities.”

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Prospective jurors await Baca trial

Jury selection began this week for the second trial of former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca on federal corruption charges for allegedly conspiring to obstruct an FBI probe into possible abuse of inmates in the county jail system. Two groups of about 125 potential panelists each began going through early stages of the selection process in the downtown federal courthouse. Jury selection, which marks the start of a trial, could last through Monday.

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New guidelines in place for Lancaster home builders

Lancaster has established a notable footprint in the alternative energy arena. In frequent reference as being a “city of firsts,” the City Council recently introduced its Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Home Ordinance which mandates all builders install a solar system equal to two watts per square foot for each home built.

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Another cold snap tonight

Anticipating cold weather overnight and through Sunday in the mountains, in Santa Clarita and in the Antelope valleys, health officials warn residents to take extra precautions. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a cold weather alert for the mountains tonight through Sunday, for the Antelope Valley through Saturday, and for the Santa Clarita Valley Today.

Women, minorities make only modest gaines in Hollywood

Women and minorities have made modest gains in front of and behind the camera but remain significantly underrepresented as leading actors in films, as TV show creators, and as writers, according to a report released this week by UCLA. The “2017 Hollywood Diversity Report,” which will be released by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, analyzed 168 theatrical films released in 2015 and more than 1,200 television programs released during the 2014-15 season on broadcast, cable, digital and via syndication, the Los Angeles Times reported before the study’s release. What few gains the report found came from television.

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Supervisors blast Obamacare repeal

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this week to push back against the threatened repeal of the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare.

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JPL discovers ‘Earth-like’ planets

The search for extra-terrestrial life may have taken a leap forward this week, with news that a Jet Propulsion Laboratory-managed space telescope has confirmed the discovery of seven Earth-like planets, three of which are considered to be in the “habitable zone,” orbiting around a single star.

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Stern notice issued to motel

The city of Palmdale has filed a complaint for nuisance abatement and receivership in Los Angeles Superior Court against the Palmdale Inn, 217 E. Palmdale Blvd., for a long list of health, safety and criminal violations. The city issued a Notice and Order to Repair or Abate about two months ago ordering the motel to repair more than 400 city and state building code violations within 30 days. The property owner(s) have reportedly failed to respond to many of these directives.

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LA, Paris final Olympic bidders

Los Angeles’ effort to host the 2024 Olympic Games gained momentum this week with news that Budapest will be withdrawing from thecompetition, making Paris the only other bidder for the event.

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County Board of Supervisors eyes new homeless shelter

The Board of Supervisors voted this week to explore converting the National Guard armory in Sylmar to a homeless shelter. County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Kathryn Barger recommended leasing the facility to provide year-round, 24-hour crisis housing in the area.