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OW Staff Writer

Stories by OW Staff

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Call for ban of LASD drone; activists cite privacy issues

Activists this week called on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to ban the sheriff’s use of a drone, which the county’s top cop said he plans to use in search-and-rescue, bomb detection, hostage situations and other critical incidents to keep the public and deputies safe. Protesters—gathered on the steps of the county Hall of Administration to launch a Drone-Free LASD/No Drones, LA! campaign—said use of the unmanned aerial craft is a “giant step forward in the militarization of local law enforcement” and called on the supervisors to intervene.

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Civil rights exhibit through March

MOAH:CEDAR is hosting through March 4 a rare look at the people and events of the Civil Rights Movement with the exhibition “Love, Peace and Equality” by photographer W. Kenneth Coleman. Coleman, who resides in Lancaster, is a freelance photographer whose professional career has spanned six decades.

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State proposes new rules for Aliso Canyon facility

State regulators this week issued a series of proposed regulations under which Southern California Gas Co. would be able to resume injecting natural gas into the Aliso Canyon storage facility, but at reduced amounts and lower pressure levels than the Gas Co. requested. A final decision on whether the injections can resume will not be made until after a pair of public hearings are held next month, allowing residents to comment on the proposed safety procedures and operating restrictions.

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PATH offers services

Representatives from PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) on Jan. 23 will be present at the Palmdale City Library from 10 a.m. to noon to provide referral services to local agencies who may provide help with a variety of homelesness-related issues. The organization will return to the library on Feb. 6 and 27 at the same time period.

Local tax service shuttered

The owner/operator of a Palmdale tax preparation business faces trial March 7 on federal charges that he prepared and filed phony federal income tax returns on behalf of his clients. Oscar D. Alcerro Jr., 31, owner of Juniors Tax Service Inc., was arrested this week by special agents with the Internal Revenue Service on an indictment returned last month by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Following his arrest, Alcerro was arraigned in federal court and released on a $25,000 bond. As a condition of his release, Alcerro was ordered not to prepare tax returns.

Researchers to track nearby mountain lions

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors this week approved $4,500 in funding for three GPS collars to track mountain lions in the Tehachapi Mountains. The money comes from fines charged for fish and wildlife code violations.

High Speed Rail meeting

Local business owners and stakeholders can find out more about the proposed California High Speed Rail and its affect on the Antelope Valley at a special open house from 3 to 6 p.m. Jan. 25 in the Lancaster Council Chambers, 44933 Fern Ave.

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Donate blankets on Sunday

The cold, rainy weather this weekend may serve as a reminder that there are an increasing number of homeless individuals and families in need in the Antelope Valley. Lancaster’s World Mission Church of God will try to assist these persons with a Sock and Blanket drive on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at 45313 23rd Street West.

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Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas hosted Empowerment Congress summit

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas marked the 25th anniversary of the Empowerment Congress, a national model for civic engagement, by urging all citizens to continue the fight against homelessness,

New King hospital fetes first year since reopening

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors this week took a victory lap on the success of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, which has been fully operational for more than a year.

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BET biopic ‘The New Edition Story’

Tanya Hart remembers

TV host, producer, and radio personality Tanya Hart had the foresight to agree when New Edition music producer Maurice Starr, asked her to do a story about the group in 1982 on her popular Boston television show, WBZ-TV’s “Coming Together.” This exposure helped launch New Edition into a 30+ year career which has yielded Bell Biv Devoe, hit records, numerous awards and now a biopic on BET entitled “The New Edition Story.” The three-part series premiere airdates are Tuesday, Jan. 24 through Thursday, Jan. 26. The miniseries chronicles the ups and downs of legendary music group New Edition from their humble beginnings in Boston to individual solo success.

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Tanaka begins prison sentence

Former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka surrendered this week to federal authorities in Englewood, Colo., to begin serving a five-year prison term for his conviction on obstruction of justice charges.

Care Harbor providing free health care

Care Harbor happens once a year where hundreds of physicians provide free medical, dental and vision care to the uninsured, undesired and underserved. The Reef is happy to be hosting Care Harbor, January 20-22 where all these services are being provided right here in South Los Angeles. I have attached the flier to distribute to the constituents you serve as this will be an event that everyone that does not have insurance in South Los Angeles should take advantage.

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Feds will retry Lee Baca

Federal prosecutors announced this week they plan to retry former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca on corruption charges stemming from his alleged involvement in an effort to thwart a federal probe of misconduct by sheriff’s deputies in the jail system. On Dec. 22, a six-man, six-woman jury deadlocked on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice against the 74-year-old former lawman. Jurors said the panel was split 11-1 in favor of acquittal.

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Expected ruling on ‘Pillowcase’

A judge in Santa Clara County is expected to rule today on whether to revoke the conditional release of a serial rapist who lived in a home near Palmdale for about two years before being taken back into custody for allegedly violating the terms of his release. Superior Court Judge Richard Loftus—who presided over a two-day hearing—is being asked to decide whether to recommit Christopher Hubbart, the so-called “Pillowcase Rapist,” to Coalinga State Hospital for at least one year.

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Not guilty plea in Owen death

A parolee accused of shooting a Lancaster sheriff’s sergeant responding to a burglary call, then pumping four additional shots into the veteran lawman once he was down, pleaded not guilty this week to a murder charge. Trenton Trevon Lovell, 27, of Lancaster, is charged in the Oct. 5 killing of Sgt. Steve Owen. Lovell, who is being held without bail, is due back in court Feb. 15 for a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

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Court declines foster review

The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to review the case of a Santa Clarita family fighting to regain custody of a 6-year-old foster girl of partial Choctaw lineage who was relocated by social workers so she can live with relatives in Utah. The girl, Lexi, was taken away from foster parents Rusty and Summer Page on March 21, 2015, after about four years living with the family. The move was made under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which was enacted in the 1970s to help protect the interests of Native American children.

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Free sand made available

The series of storms that have drenched California over the past few weeks mean that local flooding, mudslides and debris flows are a distinct possibility. Therefore, Lancaster officials have made available stockpiles of sand placed at strategic locations to allow residents to fill sandbags in preparation for more wet weather.

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Animal neglect alleged in Acton

A complaint filed with the USDA alleges that scores of animals were neglected or mistreated at a five-acre Acton facility operated by the entertainment industry’s leading animal training and handling firm. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed the complaint on Dec. 28 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, claiming violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act involving the shelter, nutrition and medical treatment of animals owned by Birds and Animals Unlimited, (BAU), according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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MWD has new plan that could save more water

A large-scale effort to purify wastewater and inject it into groundwater basins could feasibly produce enough water to serve 335,000 homes, according to a study released this week by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). The Palmdale Water Reclamation Project has been at the forefront of water recycling and is inviting the public to take a free tour of its facility on Feb. 25 to see how high-quality recycled water can be used for agricultural and landscape irrigation, thereby freeing up more drinking water. You must RSVP by Feb. 22 by calling (562) 908-4288 or email lburgess@lacsd.org.

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MLK service activities scheduled

The cities of Lancaster and Palmdale have scheduled a variety of activities focusing on service to the community in celebration of Martin Luther King Day. In Lancaster, the 2017 MLK Day of Service will begin tomorrow with a series of volunteer projects. Officials expect more than 1,000 volunteers to complete local service projects throughout the community. Volunteers can register online through the city’s OneLINC volunteer management program.

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Local Ralphs under fire for store uncleanness

Members of the community are outraged after pictures posted on social media showed that a Gramercy Park Ralphs Grocery store is being kept in “filthy” condition. The photos, posted by community member Kandice Hill, were taken at the Ralphs located at 1730 W. Manchester Ave. on Jan 4. and later posted to her Facebook page. The post has sense been shared thousands of times.

Empowerment Congress celebrates 25 years

The Empowerment Congress, a distinctive and deliberate national model of civic engagement built on the core principles of participatory democracy, reciprocal accountability, and intentional civility, is a dynamic partnership among neighborhood groups, residents, nonprofit organizations, businesses, religious institutions, and community leaders within the diverse communities of Los Angeles County’s Second Supervisorial District.

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First African American to join space station

Jeanette Epps will be the first African American astronaut to join the International Space Station (ISS) according to an announcement made by NASA.

President Obama makes farewell speech

President Barack Obama said goodbye to the nation Tuesday night, during an emotional farewell address. He spoke of his presidency, touching on both the higher and lower points, and remained hopeful of the future of the nation.

Macy’s to lay off thousands will expand Century City store

In conjunction with restructuring store operations, Macy’s Inc. last week announced that it will lay off more than 10,100 employees and expand its Westfield Century City, Los Angeles, store (a 155,000 square-foot store to open in spring 2017; Macy’s previously operated a 136,000 square-foot store in this location which closed in January 2016).

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Volkswagen AG Agrees to Plead Guilty and Pay $4.3 Billion

Volkswagen AG Agrees to Plead Guilty and Pay $4.3 Billion in Criminal and Civil Penalties; Six Volkswagen Executives and Employees are Indicted in Connection with Conspiracy to Cheat U.S. Emissions Tests

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Dylann Roof sentenced to death

Dylann Storm Roof the mass murderer and White supremacist convicted of perpetrating the June 17, 2015, Charleston church shooting, has been sentenced to death.

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Clemson Tigers beat Alabama in National Championship

The Clemson Tigers are college football’s national champions after they beat Alabama’s Crimson Tide in the exhilarating National Championship on Monday night in Tampa, 35-31.

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NBA All-Star Chris Paul Spreads Holiday Cheer

NBA all-star player Chris Paul spread holiday cheer at The Grove, where he hosted 25 students from Baldwin Hills Elementary School’s LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program as a part of a special charity event for Feed the Children.

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Top Cover Stories of 2016

Porter Ranch gas leak becomes one of nation’s largest disasters It’s been a little more than three months since natural gas began leaking in Porter Ranch. The glaring lack of information disseminated to residents, nearby communities and the Los Angeles Basin, in general, has led to uncertainty about everyone’s long-term health.

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Top Cover Stories of 2016

King Day: A day on, not a day off On April 8, 1968, four days after Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, U.S. Rep. John Conyers (an African American Democrat from Michigan), and U.S. Sen. Edward Brooke, (an African American Republican from Massachusetts), introduced a bill in Congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday. More than a decade later, after years of sermons, lectures and meetings by a number of preachers, politicians, activists and celebrities, the bill was first brought to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. It fell five votes short of passage.

Notable African American Deaths in 2016

Ralph David Abernathy III. March 17. Son of civil rights activist Dr. Ralph Abernathy. A former Georgia state senator, he died from complications due to colon cancer two days before turning 57. Colonel Abrams. Nov. 25. R & B and dance music singer who had several hit songs including “Trapped” and “I’m not Gonna Let You.” He was 67.

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Edison Intl. offers scholarships

Each year, Edison International through its $1.2 million Edison Scholars Program, awards $40,000 scholarships, paid over four years, to 30 high school students planning to major in STEM fields. These professions include mathematics, engineering,

Court upholds Tanaka sentence

Disgraced lawman to surrender to the federal government in January

A federal appeals court has denied an effort by the former second-in-command of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to remain free while he appeals his conviction on obstruction of justice charges.

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Women’s issues will be focus of five-year study by the county

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently voted unanimously to create a five-year initiative to support women and girls.

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Sales tax combatting homelessness will be placed on March ballot

The reconstituted Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a plan to put a quarter-cent sales tax to fund the fight against homelessness before voters in a special countywide election in March.

Reward doubled in Compton shooting

The Board of Supervisors accepted $10,000 in reward money from the family of one of two men shot to death at a gas station in Compton and updated rewards in two unrelated fatal shootings.

Young service employees not receiving adequate work hours

Nearly all 18- to 29-year-old service workers in Los Angeles County are failing to get enough work hours, according to UCLA researchers, who urged officials this week to create policy fixes.

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Sales tax combatting homelessness will be placed on March ballot

The reconstituted Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan to put a quarter-cent sales tax to fund the fight against homelessness before voters in a special countywide election in March. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas teamed up with Supervisor Janice Hahn to recommend the tax, a measure Ridley-Thomas had pushed for in July, but failed to garner enough support to pass.

Fire displaces three families

Three families were displaced from their homes earlier this week, after a fire destroyed a common attic in a Santa Clarita apartment building.

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‘Holiday Lights Tour’ planned

Santa Clarita Transit tonight and tomorrow evening from 6 to 9 p.m. will offer a special “Holiday Lights Tour” of some of the most fanciful Christmas decorations in town. Tickets on the Hometown Trolley or one of the Dial-A-Ride vehicles are $3, available on a first-come, first-served basis, or may be obtained for free with a donation of canned food or other essential items for the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry.

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Young service employees not receiving adequate work hours

Nearly all 18- to 29-year-old service workers in Los Angeles County are failing to get enough work hours, according to UCLA researchers, who urged officials today to create policy fixes. The vast majority, 96 percent, of workers in that age range with service jobs—like food service and retail—experience challenging scheduling practices, including on-call work, fluctuating hours and little or no advance notice of work hours, according to a new report by the UCLA Labor Center and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

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Break-in at post office

Sheriff’s detectives launched an investigation this week into a burglary at an Acton post office in which two mail trucks and a master key were stolen.

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County pushes for legal aid for undocumented immigrants

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted this week to push for state legal aid for undocumented immigrants facing deportation. The issue was part of a discussion of the county’s 2017-18 state legislative agenda.

‘Hidden Figures’ of space race

The African American Book Club at the Palmdale City Library will meet on Dec. 20 and discuss on Dec. 20 Margot Lee Shetterly’s “Hidden Figures.” The discussion will begin at 6:45 p.m.

Kids living in filth, dad booked

Authorities have removed four children under 5 years old from a debris-filled Lake Los Angeles home and arrested their father on suspicion of child endangerment.

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Volunteer for Day of Service

The city of Lancaster is accepting public applications to volunteer for the 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 24, 2017.

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City wants to reduce DUI

The city of Palmdale is encouraging residents to turn on their headlights today as part of the Lights for Life campaign that remembers those killed or injured by drunk or otherwise impaired drivers.

Kingdom Day Parade invites queen applicants

Today is the deadline for those interested in entering the contest for the queen and royal court of the 32nd annual Kingdom Day Parade. The contest is open to girls 17 to 24 years old who are full-time students, and active in the community. Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. to the Congress of Racial Equality at 6230 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 500-A, Los Angeles 90048 or via e-mail at Sabra@kingdomparade.org.