September 12, 2013 Issue

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Community Organizes to Shut Down Vernon Plant

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A “call to action” was issued this week by a group of residents, environmental activists and local elected officials intent on securing the permanent shutdown of a battery recycling plant in Vernon accused of emitting arsenic and other toxic chemicals into the air, potentially jeopardizing the health of hundreds of thousands of people who live and work in the area.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL:  Activistas Comunitarios Exigen la Clausura Permanente de la Planta de Exide en Vernon

“¡Ya basta con Exide!” (Enough already with Exide), Msgr. John Moretta of Resurrection Church said Monday at a hastily organized but heavily attended meeting at the church in Boyle Heights.

About 100 people attended the meeting on Monday night in Boyle Heights, which focused on shutting down the local Exide plant in Vernon. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

About 100 people attended the meeting on Monday night in Boyle Heights, which focused on shutting down the local Exide plant in Vernon. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

The meeting was convened in reaction to a Los Angeles Times’ story that cites findings in a South Coast Air Quality Management District health-risk report that more than 250,000 people living in Vernon and surrounding communities, including Boyle Heights, Maywood and Huntington Park, faced a “chronic hazard” to their health due to exposure to arsenic emissions from the Exide Technologies plant. Most concerning, was the possibility that children could suffer long-term neurological deficits from the exposure.

Regulators and Exide officials have said the company is cooperating with orders to clean up its act. Exide officials declined to comment, but in the past have said it has significantly reduced emissions since the tests published in the report were conducted.

Those assertions, however, have done little to convince area residents and officials that anything less than a complete closure of the plant is acceptable.

The Boyle-Heights based Resurrection Church Neighborhood Watch hosted the meeting and has a long and storied history of fighting issues they believe will bring harm to their community. A force to be reckoned with, members of the group helped defeat a proposal to build a prison in Boyle Heights, and more recently, plans by former Vernon officials to build a mega-power plant in the industrial city.

Elected officials from Huntington Park, Maywood, Bell, Compton, and representatives from the offices of Supervisor Gloria Molina and Los Angeles Councilman José Huizar attended the packed meeting, and expressed support for efforts to stop Exide from continuing to pollute.

AQMD officials have stressed that data in the report cited by the Times is an indicator of potential harm and not evidence that harm has already occurred. But many of those who spoke Monday see the shutting down of Exide as a “moral” imperative. Waiting around until the health risks become documented health problems is wrong, speakers said.

“Everyone should feel a moral obligation because it is a matter of life and death,” said one speaker.

According to Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) spokesperson Sandy Nax, a hearing earlier this month was postponed because Exide has agreed to address the issues DTSC identified in its suspension order.

“This includes addressing the leaking pipes, and addressing risks to the community from air emissions. We also asked them to take dust samples in the surrounding neighborhood to help us address any potential exposures that occurred in the past,” Nax told EGP in an email.

“We continue to investigate the site and evaluate their operations as part of its permit application process,” said Nax when asked what would happen if the company complied but residents still want the plant shut down.

AQMD Media Relations Manager Sam Atwood told EGP Exide has met the agency’s  deadline for submitting a draft Risk Reduction Plan, which he says outlines what equipment upgrades the company has made and how those changes have already reduced the risk to a level below the maximum levels allowed. Additional air pollution measures are also detailed in the plan, he said, noting that the AQMD is in the midst of a 60-day review of the plan, during which they will determine whether it should be approved.

The AQMD has also started its own testing of Exide emissions to see if they really have been reduced, Atwood added. Testing includes probing multiple smoke stacks and bringing samples back to their office in Diamond Bar for analysis, he explained.

Atwood said Exide is cooperating with regulators so it is unlikely AQMD would resort to the “last ditch effort” to seek an injunction to shut down the facility.

He emphasized, however, that municipal governments—unlike AQMD—have the authority to regulate land use and can decide whether they want businesses like Exide to operate in their municipality.

Vernon spokesperson Fred MacFarlane, however, took issue with that assessment on Tuesday. He told EGP that while the city can regulate some toxins emitted by businesses, certain toxins—emitted into the air—fall under AQMD jurisdiction and are out of the city’s control.

Vernon Councilwoman Luz Martinez, a freshman on the city council, said Tuesday she believes Exide is working toward getting things in order to stay in business.

But those claims are falling on deaf ears in the surrounding communities. Where else in Los Angeles is a risk to the health of 250,000 being allowed to continue, Moretta wants to know.

Participants in Monday’s meeting said they will develop a comprehensive action plan to shut down Exide. It will include weekly protests, letter and telephone campaigns targeted at elected officials, and unseating Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin who overturned Exide’s closure by the Department of Toxic Control.

“We want to hit them on every front …  get other affected cities involved: South Gate, Lynwood, La Habra …” City of Bell Councilman Nester Enrique Valencia said in Spanish.

Activists also called for fighting on the legal front, perhaps getting the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to sue the local Air Quality Management District (AQMD).

Exide is not the only polluter in Vernon, said Rafael Yarez, a local resident and environmental activist. He said residents are being exposed to other chemicals like ammonia and benzene that are being emitted by industries operating in Vernon.

“We have to get the EPA behind this and clamp down, not only on Exide, but also the rendering plants. There are so many issues and Exide is just one of them,” he said.

Industry and freeway traffic pollution are a cumulative threat to people’s health, with direct polluting sources hard to pinpoint, activist have said, acknowledging a point that is often used to deflect blame from one source of pollution as the total cause for poor health conditions, such as asthma or cancer.

Regulating agencies and elected officials need to do more to protect the health of children, who are the most vulnerable, speakers said.

In late August, the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council unanimously approved a resolution demanding the South Coast Air Quality Management District and Councilman Huizar take action to permanently close the plant. Huizar got his council colleagues to back an investigation of Exide’s impact on the city, as has Supervisor Molina in the county.

Several people told EGP following the meeting that they believe a loved one’s health has already been damaged by emissions coming from Exide.

“We are already dying. That company has blood on its hands,” Maria Morales, 56, whose husband previously worked in Vernon and now has several serious health problems told EGP.

Let the Fiestas Begin! ¡Que Viva East Los Ángeles! Hispanic Heritage Month Kicks Off

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(Pictured clockwise) 1.Riding on a parade float, actors reenacted the cry for battle that initiated the Mexican war for independence. 2.Several groups of horsemen rode down E. Cesar E. Chavez Avenue including men dressed in Mexican civil war costumes. 3.Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar dressed as a charro. 4.Aztec dancers presented the pre-Hispanic indigenous culture of Mexico in the parade. 5.Local students and dancers held their heads high performing for the crowds gathered for the only annual parade in East L.A. (EGP photos by Gloria Angelina Castillo and Fred Zermeno)

(Pictured clockwise) 1.Riding on a parade float, actors reenacted the cry for battle that initiated the Mexican war for independence. 2.Several groups of horsemen rode down E. Cesar E. Chavez Avenue including men dressed in Mexican civil war costumes. 3.Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar dressed as a charro. 4.Aztec dancers presented the pre-Hispanic indigenous culture of Mexico in the parade. 5.Local students and dancers held their heads high performing for the crowds gathered for the only annual parade in East L.A. (EGP photos by Gloria Angelina Castillo and Fred Zermeno)

 

Blazing heat could not squelch the enthusiasm of thousands of spectators who turned out Sunday to watch the 67th Annual Mexican Independence Day as it traveled down Cesar Chavez Avenue in East L.A, though many did seek refuge from the heat under an umbrella or canopy, or a shady area along the parade route.

Cheers and applause filled the air as colorfully dressed dancers swirled their skirts and tapped their feet to lively music with origins from the different regions of Mexico, also represented by beauty queens who smiled and waved at onlookers from one of the many parade floats or cars. Gleaming horses, ridden by charros (Mexican horsemen), pranced down the parade route, followed by drum regiments, cheer squads, classic cars ferrying elected officials and civic leaders down Cesar Chavez.

The parade commemorates Mexico’s cry for independence from Spain on Sept. 16, 1810, and marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S., which annually runs from Sept. 15-Oct. 15. The month long observance, started each year with a Presidential Proclamation, aims to highlight the culture, history, talent and contributions of people of Hispanic Heritage, which are deeply woven into the fabric of America.

The parade was organized by the Comité Mexicano Cívico Patriótico.

 

 

Boyle Heights School to Mark Centennial

September 12, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

The 20th century was still young when Malabar Elementary School in Boyle Heights first opened its doors.

The year was 1913 and women were fighting for the right to vote. Woodrow Wilson was president for part of the year; William Howard Taft took over in March. The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving the Federal government the right to impose and collect taxes, and in December of that year, the Ford Motor Company introduced the first moving assembly line.

1. L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar with his posse on horse back having a great time at the 67th Annual E.L.A. Independence Parade. (Photo courtesy of Malabar)

1. L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar with his posse on horse back having a great time at the 67th Annual E.L.A. Independence Parade. (Photo courtesy of Malabar)

The Mexican Revolution was raging on and four years later the U.S. would enter World War I.

At Malabar Elementary, the first of many generations of students would start their education.

On Sept. 20, current and former students, faculty and families, and several local officials will mark Malabar’s centennial milestone with a community celebration that will include live entertainment and a walk down memory lane.

A committee of volunteers has spent the last year researching the school’s history and digging through archives looking for old photos and other memorabilia. They also spent a lot of time searching for alumni from years ago, according to Rosa Overstreet, a veteran Malabar teacher who is part of the Centennial Planning Committee.

Some of the school’s former teachers and alumni will be the guests of honor at the celebration, she said. Pre-recorded interviews of others with ties to the school, along with displays of old photos and memorabilia will also be part of the festivities, Overstreet said. Some of the people interviewed are now in their 90s, she told EGP.

Much has changed at the school, in the world, and in the Boyle Heights neighborhood since Malabar opened 100 years ago.

Today, Boyle Heights is predominately Latino, but for a good part of the 1900s it was more diverse, Jewish, Japanese, Mexican immigrants, Mexican-Americans and African-Americans residents lived, worked and went to school side by side. Overstreet told EGP the racially restrictive housing at the time in downtown Los Angeles and other communities, caused the diversity in Boyle Heights.

She said many of the alumni they have spoken with remember everybody really “getting along.”

Malabar students from each grade level having been practicing different dances to perform on the special day, to pay homage to the school’s multi-cultural history.

Vintage photos located by centennial celebration organizers are already up on the school’s website, including photos of the original four-classroom schoolhouse being built. The original building is still on the school site, along with several building additions over the years.

The public is being invited to add any old photos they may have of Malabar to the school’s photo archive display; photos will be scanned and returned to the owner.

The Malibar Elementary Centennial event will take place Sept. 20 from 9am to 12:30pm at 3200 E Malabar St, Los Angeles, CA 90063.

Money raised through grants and donations are being used to fund the event.

 

For more information, contact Malabar Elementary at (323) 261-1103. 

 

Activistas Comunitarios Exigen la Clausura Permanente de la Planta de Exide en Vernon

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Un “llamado a la acción” fue emitido esta semana por un grupo de vecinos, ecologistas y funcionarios electos locales enfocados en asegurar el cierre permanente de una planta en Vernon de reciclaje de baterías de autos acusada de liberar arsénico y otros químicos tóxicos al aire y el suelo, lo que tiene la potencial de arriesgar la salud de cientos de miles de personas que viven y trabajan en la zona.

Read this story IN ENGLISH: Community Organizes to Shut Down Vernon Plant

“¡Ya basta con Exide!” dijo monseñor John Moretta de la Iglesia Resurrección el lunes en la reunión bien asistida en la iglesia ubicada en Boyle Heights.

“¡Vamos a sacar la basura tóxica!” grito Doelores Mejia, quien estaba disfrazada de traje de materiales peligrosos. (Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo)

“¡Vamos a sacar la basura tóxica!” grito Doelores Mejia, quien estaba disfrazada de traje de materiales peligrosos. (Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo)

La reunión fue convocada en respuesta a una nota por el diario Los Angeles Times, que cita las conclusiones de un informe por South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD o AQMD por sus siglas en inglés), que más de 250.000 personas enfrentan un “peligro crónico” a su salud debido a la exposición a las emisiones de arsénico de la planta de Exide Technologies. La nota indica que los más afectados son las personas que viven y trabajan en Vernon y las comunidades circundantes, como Boyle Heights, Maywood y Huntington Park. Más preocupante, es la posibilidad que los niños en estas comunidades podrían sufrir efectos neurológicos debido a la exposición.

Los reguladores y funcionarios Exide han dicho que la compañía está cooperando con la orden de reducir su contaminación. Representantes de Exide se negaron a hacer comentarios, pero en el pasado ha dicho que han reducido considerablemente las emisiones desde que se realizaron los ensayos publicados en el informe.

Estas afirmaciones, sin embargo, no convencen a los residentes y los funcionarios del área que cualquier esfuerzo menos que un cierre total de la planta es aceptable.

El grupo de Vigilancia Vecinal de la Iglesia Resurrección (Resurrection Church Neighborhood Watch), donde tomo lugar la reunión, tiene una larga historia de luchar contra los problemas de justicia ambientales que podrían dañar a la comunidad. El grupo es una fuerza a tener en cuenta y ayudaron a derrotar una propuesta para construir una prisión en Boyle Heights, y los planes de ex funcionarios de Vernon para construir un incinerador en la ciudad industrial.

Funcionarios electos de Huntington Park, Maywood, Bell, Compton, y representantes de las oficinas de la Supervisora Gloria Molina y del Concejal de Los Ángeles José Huizar, así como miembros del grupo de justicia ambiental Communities for a Better Environment asistieron a la reunión.

Funcionarios de AQMD han subrayado que los datos del informe citados por el diario LA Times es un indicador del daño potencial y no es evidencia del daño que ya se ha producido. Pero muchas de las personas que hablaron el lunes creen que el cierre de Exide es un imperativo “moral”. Esperar hasta que los riesgos de salud se conviertan en problemas de salud documentados es inaceptable, dijeron los oradores.

“Todo mundo debe sentir una obligación moral, porque es una cuestión de vida o muerte”, dijo uno de los oradores.

Según Sandy Nax, portavoz del Departamento de Control de Sustancias Tóxicas (DTSC), una audiencia a principios de este mes fue aplazada debido a que Exide se ha comprometido a abordar las cuestiones identificadas en la orden de suspensión de DTSC.

“Esto incluye hacer frente a las fugas en las tuberías, y hacer frente los riesgos a la comunidad por las emisiones al aire. También les pedimos que tomen muestras de polvo en el vecindario para ayudar a abordar las posibles exposiciones que han ocurrido en el pasado”, Nax dijo a EGP en un correo electrónico.

“Continuamos investigando el sitio y evaluaremos sus operaciones como parte del proceso de solicitud de permiso”, dijo Nax cuando se le preguntó qué pasaría si la empresa cumple con los requisitos, pero los residentes aún quieren el cierre de la planta.

Sam Atwood, portavoz de AQMD, dijo a EGP que Exide ha cumplido con una fecha de limite de AQMD para presentar un borrador Plan de Reducción de Riesgos. El plan indica cuales mejoras al equipo la compañía ya ha hecho, y cómo esos cambios han reducido los riesgos a un nivel por debajo de los riesgos máximos permitidos. Medidas adicionales para reducir la contaminación del aire también se describen en el plan, él dijo, señalando que el AQMD está en medio de una revisión de 60 días del plan, durante cual determinarán si debe ser aprobada.

AQMD también ha comenzado a tomar sus propias muestras de las emisiones de Exide para ver si realmente se han reducido, añadió Atwood. Las pruebas incluyen sondear varias chimeneas y traer muestras a su oficina ubicada en Diamond Bar para su análisis, él explicó.

Atwood dijo que Exide está cooperando con los reguladores por lo que es poco probable que AQMD recurriría al “último esfuerzo” para solicitar una orden judicial para cierre del establecimiento.

Él destacó, sin embargo, que los gobiernos municipales—a diferencia de AQMD—tienen la autoridad para regular el uso del suelo y pueden decidir si quieren empresas como Exide para operar en su municipio.

El portavoz de Vernon Fred MacFarlane, sin embargo, dijo a EGP el martes que mientras que la ciudad puede regular algunas toxinas emitidas por las empresas en la ciudad, algunas toxinas—tales como emisiones a la atmósfera—caen bajo la jurisdicción de AQMD y están fuera del control de la ciudad.

La concejala de Vernon Luz Martínez dijo el martes que cree que Exide está trabajando para hacer las cosas bien con el fin de mantener la planta en operación.

Pero estas afirmaciones no consuelan a las comunidades circundantes. ¿Dónde más en Los Ángeles se permite que continué un riesgo que puede perjudicar la salud de 250.000 residentes?, quiere saber Moretta.

Los participantes en la reunión del lunes dijeron que desarrollarán un plan de acción integral para cerrar la planta de Exide. Este incluirá protestas semanales, campañas de enviar cartas y hacer llamadas telefónicas dirigidas a los funcionarios electos, y destronar al juez del Tribunal Superior de Los Ángeles Luis Lavin quien anuló el cierre de Exide por el Departamento de Control de Sustancias Tóxicas.

Los activistas también dijeron que lucharán en el frente legal, y pedirán que la Agencia de Protección Ambiental federal (EPA) demande a AQMD.

Sin embargo, Exide no es el único contaminante en Vernon. Rafael Yarez, un residente local y activista ambiental, dijo que los residentes están expuestos a otros productos químicos como el amoniaco y el benceno que se está emitiendo por las industrias que operan en Vernon.

“Tenemos que conseguir que la EPA se involucre y tome acción contra esto, no sólo es Exide, sino también las plantas de transformación. Hay tantos problemas y Exide es sólo uno de ellos”, él dijo.

Las agencias de regulación y los funcionarios electos deben hacer más para proteger la salud de los niños, que son los más vulnerables, dijeron los oradores.

A finales de agosto, el Concejo Vecinal de Boyle Heights aprobó por unanimidad una resolución que exige a AQMD y el concejal Huizar a tomar medidas para cerrar definitivamente la planta.

Después de la reunión varias personas dijeron a EGP que creen que la salud de seres queridos ya se ha dañado debido a las emisiones procedentes de Exide.

“Ya nos estamos muriendo. Esa compañía tiene sangre en sus manos”, dijo María Morales, de 56 años de edad, cuyo marido trabajo muchos años en Vernon y ahora tiene varios problemas graves de salud.

Hispanics Honored as Leaders In Their Fields

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The Hispanic Heritage Foundation handed out its annual awards last week to personalities from the world of film, sports, music and education, many of them supporters of efforts to bring about comprehensive immigration reform.

The awards, created in 1987 to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, were presented Sept. 5 at a gala held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The event included performances and speeches by some of the artists most beloved by Hispanic Americans.

“The Hispanic Heritage Awards are proud to honor yet another inspiring group of Latino leaders,” said Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, announcing award winners  “The Hispanic community has made significant contributions throughout history on America and the world and will continue to do so in the future on a much larger scale.

Actress Eva Longoria, whose causes have often taken her to the nation’s capital, received the foundation’s Community Service Award. Mexican musical group Los Tigres del Norte was recognized as a “legend” in the entertainment world.

Los Tigres front man Jorge Hernandez, in an interview with Efe said the band, along with the nonprofit’s other honorees, visited the White House earlier in the day where they discussed the need for immigration reform, and for Congress to vote to legalize the status of millions of Hispanics who have been living in the U.S. for years without authorization.

“It’s important for this community, even if it takes time, it should be done to help these families without a home,” said Hernandez, who plays the accordion and sings on the award winning and popular winning recording “Thank you, America Without Borders.”

The foundation’s design award was presented to Spanish chef Jose Andres, who after more than 20 years living in the U.S., is now one of the most renowned chefs in the country.

“I am Spanish, proud to be, but in America I am Latino or Hispanic, and we are a big family that united can accomplish many things,” Jose Andres said.

“[Immigration]  Reform is necessary because we have immigrants who been denied the right to become full citizens which is unjust, because this society runs thanks to these immigrants,” he said.

The award for “Vision” was given to Mexican singer Lucero, who said it’s time for the country to recognize the importance of the Hispanic community. “Parts of this country would not function without the work of this community,” she said. Actor Diego Luna, who just finished shooting and directing “Chavez”, a biopic about Chicano labor leader Cesar Chavez, received the group’s “Inspira,” or inspiration recognition.

Luna told Efe that it is “amazing” that a movie had not yet been made about Chavez, who led a historic struggle for farm workers in California and is one of the most important Hispanic leaders in U.S. history.

“Things have changed for the better for the Hispanic community, a community very important to the growth of this country. Immigration reform that is necessary and inevitable,” said Luna.

Colombian Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya also picked up an award, in his case for his long career as one of Latin America’s top racecar drivers, and for excellence in the sports field.

Miami Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho received the award for education, while Voto Latino President Maria Teresa Kumar received the organization’s annual Leadership Award.

The gala featured performances by top Latino artists, and was filmed for broadcast Sept. 15 on MundoFox. Check local listings for times.

9/11 Anniversary Observed Across Los Angeles County

September 12, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Events were held throughout Los Angeles County on Wednesday, including aboard the U.S.S. Iowa and at Dodger Stadium, and at Monterey Park City Hall to mark the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The city of Los Angeles’ memorial service was held at the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Frank Hotchkin Memorial Training Center in Elysian Park.

“At the same time we remember those who lost their lives on that fateful day in 2001, we should also take a moment to think of the first responders and service members who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was scheduled to be at the event.

The Los Angeles Dodgers paid tribute to first responders before last night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. The National 9/11 Flag from the New York Says Thank You Foundation was unfurled in center field by first responders, including two members of the New York Fire Department.

There event was to include a joint helicopter flyover by the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Fire Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department.

An observance in honor of first responders killed in the immediate aftermath of attack also took place aboard the U.S.S. Iowa, the decommissioned battleship that now serves as a floating museum docked in San Pedro. All first responders attending the ceremony were welcome to tour the battleship for free following the ceremony.

Monterey Park’s annual observance was held at City Hall. It included presentations by the city’s fire and police departments and speeches by elected officials.

A remembrance ceremony conducted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, California Highway Patrol and U.S. Forest Service was held at the Fallen Heroes Memorial at the Antelope Valley Mall in Palmdale.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles marked the anniversary with an interfaith build day in Long Beach, with volunteers from churches in Rancho Palos Verdes, Long Beach and Hawthorne.

Some like it Hot, Peppers That Is

September 12, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Boost the flavor and nutrition of your favorite recipes by growing your own sweet and hot peppers.  You’ll not only save money, but you just might find that your family will enjoy the planting, tending, cooking and eating of something they helped grow in the garden.

You can grow peppers in a pot, add them to your flower gardens or dedicate a portion of your vegetable garden to growing your favorite varieties.

(Melinda Myers, LLC)

(Melinda Myers, LLC)

Look to your family’s favorite recipes when selecting peppers to add to your garden. Include a few Anaheim hot peppers for your chiles rellenos, soups and stews.  Add a jalapeno or serrano for your favorite Pico de Gallo and salsa recipes. Or try something new like Cajun Belle Pepper, an All-America Selections winner. Selected for its unique flavor and suitability for the home garden, it combines the sweetness of bell peppers with a mild, but spicy heat of a hot pepper.

Whether this is your first or fortieth garden consider implementing some unique garden design ideas. Bonnie Plants’ Spanish mobile site (m.bonnieplants.com/es) offers several garden designs, including a 4 x 4 foot salsa, sweet and spicy and kids’ garden. The plans include a few extra vegetables like onions, cilantro and tomatillos to help complete your favorite recipes.

Once you have your list of plants, select a sunny location with well-drained soil.  Dig several inches of compost, peat moss or coir into the top eight to twelve inches of soil.  This improves drainage in clay soils and increases the water holding ability in sandy soils.  Add a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer at planting to provide most of your plants’ fertilizer needs for the season. Or feed regularly with a liquid plant food according to label directions.

Plant peppers 18 inches apart in the garden.  Water thoroughly.  Then spread a thin layer of straw, shredded leaves or evergreen needles over the soil surface to help suppress weeds, conserve moisture and keep the roots cool during the hot days of summer.

Or grow a pepper and a bit of cilantro or a few flowers in a large container with drainage holes.  Fill with a well-drained potting mix and add a slow release fertilizer if the potting mix does not include one, and use a liquid plant food to supplement later in the season. Water thoroughly until the water runs out the bottom.  Check containers daily and twice a day in hot weather. Water when the top few inches of soil start to dry.

Check the soil moisture in the garden every few days.  Water often enough to keep the soil moist around new plantings.  After a few weeks, start watering less often until you are watering thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil is crumbly but slightly moist.  That’s about once a week for those gardening in clay soil and twice a week for those with sandy soil.  You’ll need to water more often in hotter weather.

And once the fruit reach full size and are fully colored, you’ll be harvesting and enjoying your own homegrown peppers in your favorite recipes.

 

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening.  She hosts the nationally syndicated “Melinda’s Garden Moments” which airs on over 130 TV and radio stations throughout the U.S. 

Fiestas Patrias! Hispanic Heritage Month Calendar of Events

September 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

CaminArte: El Grito de Boyle Heights

Fri., Sept. 13-3-10pm—Art, Music, Culture & Much More at Mariachi Plaza. Admission is free. Presented by the Boyle Heights Farmers Market & El Merkado Negro. Take the Metro Gold Line to Mariachi Plaza: 1st Street between Boyle Ave and State St.

 

Rio Hondo to Host Latino Heritage Celebration

Sat., Sept. 14 – 1-4pm—Rio Hondo College is hosting its first-ever Latino Heritage Celebration. The event is free & open to the public, and will feature entertainment from Folklorico dancers, mariachi, food & more in the Rio Hondo Quad: 3600 Workman Rd., Whittier 90601.For more information, call (562) 908-3492.

 

(City of Los Angeles)

(City of Los Angeles)

Mexican Independence Weekend Festival on Olvera Street

Sat. & Sun, Sept. 14-Sept. 15 -11am-6pm—The annual celebration at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument includes live music, dancing, carnival games, rides, exhibit booths & great fun for the entire family. Olvera Street restaurants & shops with be open for you to enjoy. Festival runs 11am to 6pm Sat & Sun; On Mon. Sept. 16, live entertainment from 12 noon to 6pm. No cost to attend. Olvera Street is located in Downtown L.A., across from Union Station. $5 (cash only) parking all day, every day in Lot #5, 711 Alameda St. 90012. For more information, visit, www.elpueblo.lacity.org.

 

¡Mexican Independence Day! at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes

Sun., Sept. 15 -12 Noon-4pm—¡Viva Mexico! Sept. 16 marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence. Celebrate this monumental day in history at LA Plaza in Downtown LA, across from Olvera Street. Enjoy live musical and dance performances by Resurrección Mexican Folklorico, Ballet Coco, and more! Prepare your own pico de gallo  in LA Plaza’s culinary arts workshop and plant beds of cilantro in our garden. Visit the exhibition LA Starts Here! Event is free & open to the public. For info, go to http://lapca.org/.

 

Bell Gardens Fiesta at Veterans Park

Mon, Sept. 16 -3:30-5:30pm—Learn about and celebrate Mexico’s Independence with tons of games, trivia, and a huge piñata. Cost is $2 per child. Time: 3;30-5:30 pm. Park is located at 6662 Loveland St.

 

Hispanic Heritage Month: The Latino Author Summit at the University of La Verne.

Sat, Sept. 21 – 10am-5pm—Event, hosted by nonprofit Latino Literacy Now (LLN) & the University of La Verne, the event will feature dozens of Latino authors & is being held this year in lieu of LLN’s annual Latino Book and Family Festival. All-day event will cater to middle school-college-age youths, teaching them about leadership, scholarship & publishing opportunities and mentorship. A small feria/fair will include food, drinks, music and exhibits. The 3rd Latino Books into Movies” awards will take place at 4pm in Ballroom A of the Campus Center. University is located at 1950 3rd St., La Verne 91750. For more information, visit wor call (858) 603-8680.

 

Fiesta en México at the Anthony Quinn Library in East Los Angeles.

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 4-5pm—Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by learning about Mexican dances from different regions of Mexico. Free & open to the public. The library is located at 3965 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. LA 90063. For more information, call (323) 264-7715.

Monterey Park Literacy Program Receives Increased Funding

September 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

After being recognized as having one of the most successful adult education programs, funding for a Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library literacy program to help students master the English language and pass the citizenship exam, will nearly double thanks to an increase in funds it receives through the U.S. Department of Education Workforce Investment Act (WIA II).

Revenues for the Literacy for All of Monterey Park (LAMP) Program, will increase from $47,518 to $85,279 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Through LAMP, both children and adult students are taught English in classes ranging from beginning literacy to Advance English Conversation. Students currently pay $20 per class per semester, which begin in August and January.

Jose Garcia, acting senior clerk at the library, told EGP the increase in the funds is due to the significant academic improvements by ESL and citizenship students, based on testing administered in the beginning and at the end of the semester.

The funds obtained through the Department of Education will be used to buy materials for the class, including books, which are provided to students at no cost, said Garcia.

The LAMP program has 13 English as a Second Language (ESL) volunteer instructors who teach Sundays through Thursdays. Last year alone, over 1,400 students were taught Basic English and reading skills that made it possible for them to pass the test required to become U.S. citizens. Since the program began in 1984, it has helped 1,500 adults become U.S. citizens.

The Bruggemeyer Library is Monterey Park’s public library located at 318 S. Ramona Ave., Monterey Park, CA 91754. For more information about the program, call (626)307-1333.

 

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