Jerry’s Journeys – from Issue of October 3, 2012

So many people ask me on a regular basis about the corner of Rosemead Blvd and Las Tunas. This is a story that has gone on now for almost seven years complete with all the things associated with a slow moving project: greed and corruption, Grand Jury, felony convictions, prison sentences, and to top it off a bad economy. I think we would all agree that Temple City is not in the same boat as Bell, Cudahy, and Vernon. It put us on the map but not in a good way.

The developer of the Gateway Project (Rosemead and Las Tunas) had told the Council in January that they would release the names of proposed major tenants for the 3.7 acre project in February. We are still waiting. I contacted the owner, Randy Wang a few months ago when they began moving the same dirt around again. I said that I would like to create a photo blog of progress during the next 18 months of construction. He welcomed my offer and told me I could come on the site but I would need a hard hat. I went to Home Depot and made the purchase including a bright yellow vest (I looked like something on Sesame Street). I took many photos of piles of dirt and that is where it ended. Now my grandkids enjoy wearing my yellow hard hat when they get in my car.

People have also asked me, “can’t the city force him to do something?” The short answer is no. It was part of the settlement agreement to end proposed litigation. I would not believe Randy Wang even if his tongue came notarized. I have more faith in the tooth fairy and the city completing the Rosemead beautification project and even the development of the old Alpha Beta site on Temple City Blvd before the Gateway project commences. How unfortunate that Temple City is stuck with this ill-fated project on one of the busiest corners in the San Gabriel Valley.

We now have a Council that subscribes to a high level of transparency and an adopted code of ethics. We have gone from wanted posters to being the poster child at municipal government conferences for a city that turned itself around. Gone are the days of the good ol’ boys club at City Hall. City Hall is no longer closed on Friday’s, they are open from 7:30 to 6 five days a week. When it comes to new development, or businesses wanting to come to Temple City, the Open for Business sign is out with a cooperative staff (with name badges) willing to help.

Let me just list a few things that have changed in three short years: a new council dedicated to transparency, televised council meetings, actively pursuing grants, park improvements, re-commitment to the downtown business district, solving parking problems, opening a cooling center during severe heat, social media presence, pride in ownership through Community Preservation, an award winning city magazine, a major beautification of Rosemead Blvd, bringing on a committed staff beginning with the City Manager, support staff including interns. The city was tested during the devastating windstorms of 2011 with a resolve to be a city well prepared for any future disasters.

Clyde Harp, who may be the last member of the 1949 team that frantically dug and then squeezed down a nearly 100-foot deep, 26 inch round shaft in a desperate effort to rescue 3-year-old Kathy Fiscus from a well, died September 23, 2012.

He was 88, and his wife Sandra Harp said, “That was the one and only great big drama in his life,” Harp said of the failed rescue effort in San Marino that riveted TV audiences nationwide and is famously the medium’s first live coverage of unfolding news on April 9 and 10, 1949. Television was in it’s infancy, as much of the family was following the events of April 9 and 10, 1949 on live KTLA TV. Clyde was in his Temple City home glued to the coverage. No one noticed when the 25-year-old father of five children left his Temple City home at 11 p.m. to volunteer the expertise he’d gained as a kid digging cesspools. No one in the family realized he’d gone until he showed up on TV the next morning being interviewed as he emerged from the shaft.

They called them ‘sand hogs’, Sandra Harp said. “And Clyde, being Clyde, could dig faster than almost anyone else. He competed with himself.”

He worked for Mark and Dorothy Nottingham who lived in the first condominiums built in Temple City at Broadway and Temple City Blvd. Mark was a famous Temple City millionaire businessman and Kiwanian known for being in a “stinky” business. He invented what was affectionately known as the “Honey Bucket”, better known as the portable toilet used mostly at construction sites. Many years ago when the ficus trees were planted on Las Tunas Dr, Mark would water the new trees with his trucks.

Temple City councilmembers at a Special Meeting on September 25 voted to continue the animal control services contract with the San Gabriel Valley Humane Society (SGVHS) until June 30, 2013. Staff had prepared a 105 page report recommending the services of the Pasadena Humane Society (PHS). Many volunteers were present at the meeting to voice their support of the 88 year-old San Gabriel institution. No one from the PHS was present for the meeting.

I remember getting my first dog from the SGVHS 60 years ago. When we were looking for a rescue dog almost 3 years ago we visited PHS and SGVHS. It was like going from the Ritz Carlton to Motel 6. Admittedly, SGVHS touts it’s services as “no kill” for the last three years. PHS can not say that. Also, PHS has been endowed with millions of dollars. The tipping point seemed to be two things, PHS serves seven cities with several hundred thousand residents. SGVHS presently serves only San Gabriel and Temple City. The argument was made, “if my dog was lost in Temple City, why would I have to go to PHS seven miles away when SGVHS is a little over a mile away”. SGVHS has nine months to continue to sell their services with improved and timely reporting.

See you soon..as I bring you information on Measure S.

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