Family Seeks Answers From YMCA After Teen’s Drowning

Photo by Christian Leonard / News-Press
Mairena and Phil Jacobs (right) organized a protest Monday in connection with the death of their son, Colin, at a YMCA of the Foothills branch, saying the tragedy was preventable.

A Glendale family spearheaded a protest outside the offices of the YMCA of the Foothills this week to demand information about their son’s drowning death at the organization’s La Crescenta facility.
Colin Jacobs, a 19-year-old USC student, died on July 1 while on duty as a summer camp counselor at the YMCA branch in La Crescenta. A longtime volunteer for the organization, he was less than two weeks away from his 20th birthday.
Now, two months later, his family and friends say the YMCA of the Foothills has yet to explain the circumstances surrounding Jacobs’ drowning, or provide any promise to change its policies, saying that better practices might have avoided the tragedy.
On Monday, about 50 people gathered with signs in front of the organization’s La Cañada Flintridge location, which was chosen because it hosts the YCMA’s administrative offices, though it is not the site where Jacobs drowned.
“It could have very easily been prevented,” Phil Jacobs said of the death of his son, adding that Colin Jacobs could have suffered a seizure in the pool. “It was a very, very senseless death to somebody who was so focused on what he wanted to do and helping others. … He was an all-around great kid. He didn’t deserve this fate.”
The tragedy was referenced in a newsletter from YMCA of the Foothills CEO Vince Iuculano that was posted on the organization’s website on July 6. The statement included few details, saying that “out of respect for the family and the ongoing investigative process with the authorities, we can only share a limited update.”
But the Glendale family, which includes Colin’s mother, Mairena, and sister, Amber, said that it did not request that the YMCA withhold information — and that in fact family members have sought more details.
Phil Jacobs explained that the family contracted an attorney to speak with the YCMA’s attorney, hoping to arrange a meeting between the family and the nonprofit organization. But then, he said, the YMCA’s representative stopped responding to emails.

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City Sees Appeal in Possible Sustainability Commission

Glendale is a step closer to forming a sustainability commission, with municipal staff members working on an ordinance to craft the panel at the direction of the City Council, which voted Tuesday on the matter.
Though the potential commission’s goals aren’t yet set, David Jones, who was recently hired as Glendale’s first sustainability officer, suggested that it serve as an advisory board to the council on a variety of environmental subjects.
Jones told council members that the commission could advise on topics including transportation, biodiversity, responses to climate change, air quality and environmental justice. Similar commissions in nearby cities, including Burbank and Pasadena, commonly help guide their city councils on these subjects, he explained, and also tend to handle community education.

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Beirut Tragedy Keenly Felt by Local Expats

Photo courtesy city of Glendale
City Hall was emblazoned with the colors of the Lebanese flag last week, in tribute to the connections many Glendale residents have to Lebanon.

Mike and Rosalie Tcholakian were enjoying morning coffee on Aug. 4, but the notifications that kept their phones buzzing soon halted the couple’s daily routine.
Checking the devices’ screens, they saw the shaky cellphone footage of smoke rising from a warehouse near the port of a faraway metropolis — the images at first speckled by what looked like fireworks — and then a sudden, overwhelming blast whose soundwave was captured only as distortion. The scene was so jarring that it captured the attention of a world that had spent most of the year singularly captivated by a pandemic.
However, the Tcholakians did not have the privilege of simply waiting for news to trickle out. For hours, Mike Tcholakian fruitlessly used WhatsApp — a signature mobile app for any expatriate — to try to rouse anyone from his childhood home of Beirut. An uncle eventually accepted one of his calls, though he was unable to speak.
“At least he finally picked up,” Rosalie Tcholakian said, as if reliving the release of tension from that moment.

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Alex Theatre’s 95th to Be Celebrated by Glendale Arts

Photo courtesy Zaw Studios
The Alex Theatre will be celebrating its 95th birthday in September, with a virtual event bringing a number of speakers to illustrate the institution’s past, present and future.

Glendale Arts is standing by its mission of bringing the community together through the arts and entertainment, even at a time when restrictions mandated by this unprecedented moment in history have meant that the “together” element of the equation must be achieved virtually.
The nonprofit management company of the Alex Theatre is hosting an online celebration to honor the historic performing arts and entertainment center’s 95th birthday on Saturday, Sept. 5, from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. to raise critical funds needed to preserve the Glendale landmark. The fundraiser will also ensure that the team of professionals who operate it are “able to continue providing programming and services to thousands of beneficiaries ranging from emerging artists and independent promoters to other local nonprofits and neighborhood businesses,” according to Glendale Arts CEO Elissa Glickman.

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L.A. Zoo Visitors Can Marvel at Menagerie Again

Photo by Christian Leonard / Glendale News-Press
Visitors to the Los Angeles Zoo were able to see baby ape Angela and her mother, N’djia, once again as the facility reopened Wednesday. The coronavirus pandemic had prompted the zoo to close for more than five months.

For the first time in months, visitors to the Los Angeles Zoo are entering through its towering doors to coo over meerkat pups and baby gorillas, ending the zoo’s longest closure in its history.
But after being shuttered for 166 consecutive days while the COVID-19 pandemic raged, the zoo reopened with some major changes Wednesday. Perhaps most noticeably, far fewer guests are wandering the 133-acre zoo; the facility is accepting only 1,200 daily visitors, compared to its usual 4,000-13,000.
About 400 are expected to be at the zoo at any time. Guests, including members, must pre-purchase timed-entry tickets to enter. Those tickets are offered in two-week blocks, a policy that Denise Verret, the zoo’s director and CEO, said will allow administrators to adapt to the fluid nature of the pandemic.

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Eviction Moratorium Extended for a Month — Then What?

When Glendale officials again extended the city’s residential eviction moratorium this week, it was clear that they also are looking with more urgency for guidance and relief from Sacramento.
When the latest extension goes into effect Tuesday, Sept. 1, it becomes Glendale residents’ only protection from eviction, as the state Judicial Council’s pause on taking up eviction proceedings in courts is ending. The extension to Sept. 30 itself coincides with the expiration of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order allowing cities to implement the eviction protection measures.

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Car Stolen From Driveway Recovered

Deputies with the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station recovered a vehicle that was stolen after being left briefly unattended and running in a La Crescenta driveway last week.
According to the incident report, the victim parked his Honda Accord sedan in a driveway at a home in the 2900 block of Fairmont Avenue at around 5:25 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19, while visiting a client for work. He told deputies that he left the car running. Shortly after, he said he saw a man speed away with the car, west down Fairmont and turning north on Ramsdell Avenue. The victim added that he had to jump out of the path of the car while yelling at and trying to stop the thief.
Deputies located the car abandoned in the 4900 block of Ramsdell Avenue later that day; the victim’s cellphone and the vehicle’s keys were stolen, but the thief passed over the victim’s loose change, checkbook and gardening tools that also were in the car.
Nearby surveillance footage showed that the thief was a man was wearing a dark hat, a white T-shirt, dark shorts and a backpack.
Those with any additional information about this crime should contact the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station at (818) 248-3464.

After 33 Years, Beers to Exit

City Manager Yasmin Beers, (center) pictured here at last year’s Work Boot Tuesday event with the fire department, will retire after 33 years working for the city.

Glendale officials will begin searching for a new City Manager Yasmin Beers, (center) pictured here at last year’s Work Boot Tuesday event with the fire department, will retire after 33 years working for the manager after Yasmin Beers announced her pending retirement this week.
Beers, who has spent 33 years working for the city of Glendale in a variety of capacities, said in a statement that she will retire in October. She has served as the city manager since 2018, after having the role on an interim basis starting in November 2017.
“This was not an easy decision for me, and I am grateful to Glendale for the opportunity to serve all these years,” Beers said. “I thank the City Council and community for entrusting me with the position of city manager.”
Beers joined the city in 1987, when she was hired as a part-time employee in the city’s library department while completing high school and enrolled in college. She moved to gradually higher-level positions over more than three decades with the city, reaching the role of deputy city manager in 2000 and assistant city manager in 2010.
The City Council expects to discuss parameters of the search for a new executive during closed session at its upcoming meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

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City Takes Steps to Liven Up Artsakh Avenue

The city will continue exploring specifically how to revitalize the arts and entertainment district along Artsakh Avenue that includes Glendale-owned storefronts, and will likely identify locally based “destination” businesses to populate the pedestrian-friendly pathway.
In the meantime, economic development officials will put together a plan to bring in pop-up businesses to either take up a storefront for up to six months or set up an outdoor venue in which to operate. The experiences and successes of these short-term pop-ups would inform the city’s long-range decisions on the area once additions and updates to the plan for the avenue are completed as soon as 2022.
All that is the upshot of a special City Council meeting on Tuesday, when the panel engaged the services of consultants to help guide Artsakh’s evolution.

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Roadwork Will Smooth Way to Rail Depot

A construction bid for transportation infrastructure improvements easing residents’ path to Glendale’s train station was awarded by the City Council this week.
For $3,478,900, Long Beach-based Excel Paving Co. will begin to handle the project in October and is expected to wrap up work by February. The city received seven bids for the work, which will include road rehabilitation and, notably, the installation of bike lanes along numerous roadways.
These bike paths are intended to improve access to and from the city’s Larry Zarian Transportation Center, a link to the greater rail network in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is contributing more than $1.5 million toward the project.

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