District to Reopen Schools for Youngest Students

Nearly eight months after shuttering its campuses to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the La Cañada Unified School District is ready to reopen its doors to young learners after getting the green light from Los Angeles County.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette notified parents late last week that county officials granted the district waivers that allow students in transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade to return to campus for limited in-person instruction. La Cañada, Palm Crest and Paradise Canyon elementary schools are set to reopen on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
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Cameras Help Net Local Arrests

Photo courtesy Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station
Deputies from the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station apprehended two suspected car thieves in La Cañada Flintridge this week, thanks in large part to alerts from the city’s recently installed Flock Safety cameras.

Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies arrested two suspects in the theft of a car and recovered the vehicle on Tuesday afternoon with the help of the city’s recently installed license plate-reading devices, known as Flock Safety Security cameras, which alert law enforcement to previously flagged vehicles.
At about 1:20 p.m., deputies were informed about a stolen white Nissan Sentra in the La Cañada Flintridge area, officials said, and Deputy Gregory Afsharian spotted the vehicle near Gould Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. He conducted a traffic stop as the car entered the Trader Joe’s shopping center.
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Flu Shots More Important This Year, Health Experts Say

Photo courtesy USC-VHH
A local resident gets a flu shot during a recent drive-thru event at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. Experts are strongly urging people to get flu shots this year, especially because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, especially, is the time to make sure you get your flu shot, according to local experts.
It’s not likely that you’ll find a doctor who won’t urge a patient to get an annual flu shot in a normal year, mind you. However, the world has even more reason to keep hospital beds open at the moment because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Any way that we can prevent any kind of respiratory illness is important,” said Patricia Sung, manager of infection prevention at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. “Even under normal circumstances, it’s pretty important to get the flu shot.”
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Konstantine, Schultz Win Council Seats

Nearly a month after Election Day, the final ballot results from Los Angeles County are in: Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz are expected to join the Burbank City Council in December.

Anthony soared into first place early in the ballot count process, with 17,529 votes as of Monday, Nov. 30 — when the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk certified the results. Schultz maintained a consistent lead for the second open council seat, with 13,105 voters having cast a ballot for him. The pair will be sworn in to the City Council at a reorganization meeting on Dec. 14.

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October Figures Show an Easing of Unemployment

The unemployment rate in Burbank fell to 12.2% in October, according to preliminary data, dropping to half of the peak levels reached in May — good news that contrasted with restrictions on commercial activity that were ordered in the last few days because of a resurgent COVID-19.
Approximately 7,200 Burbank workers remained unemployed last month, according to the California Employment Development Department, down from 9,500 (16.4%) in September and a height of 13,500 (23.9%) in May. Burbank’s February unemployment rate was 5.1%.
The joblessness rate in Los Angeles County also continued to fall to a similar level, reaching 12.1% in October.
Statewide, the unemployment rate descended to single digits for the first time since the pandemic began, falling from 11.1% in September to 9.3% in October. The motion picture industry, which has a major presence in Burbank, saw a 6.8% increase in employment, though it had 30.8% fewer workers than a year ago.

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A Veteran Photographer’s Gallery of Experiences

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Mitchell Haddad’s portfolio includes a number of pictures of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, who spoke at the Gibson Amphitheatre in 2007. Haddad said that while he was rarely intimidated by public figures he photographed, he was often excited to work near them.

Mitchell Haddad loves the Dodgers enough to get arrested.
Growing up in Burbank, he would sneak into ballgames at Dodger Stadium by flashing fake tickets at the usher and hoping he wouldn’t get caught. Once, as a 17-year-old, he did, while trying to steal Hank Aaron’s uniform from the clubhouse. A security guard found him attempting to open the door with a butter knife.
Haddad, a John Burroughs High School alumnus, recalled in an interview that his mother wasn’t upset when she picked him up at the police station. In fact, she tried to explain her son’s behavior to the officers.
“He just loves baseball so much,” she told them. Haddad didn’t realize until decades later that his mother thought he had only been trying to sneak into a game early.
That love of baseball would cause him to return to the ballfield. When he was older, he walked into Dodger Stadium again. This time, he was armed with a Nikon camera and a fake press pass. Once he got in, he was free to take pictures of his heroes as he pleased.
And then, yet later, he started getting paid.

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BUSD’s Verdict: Distance Learning for Entire Year

For the past month, Superintendent Matt Hill warned of the possibility that Burbank Unified School District students would need to continue distance learning for the remainder of the academic year.
The recent surge of COVID-19 cases made that a reality on Monday.
BUSD officials had held out hope that students might be able to safely return to campus for in-person instruction in the second semester, but Hill this week sent a message informing parents, students and employees that the district has decided to commit to distance learning.

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BHRC Gathers Art for Exhibition Denouncing Hate

Photo courtesy Burbank Human Relations Council
The Burbank Human Relations Council will hold an exhibition of posters online. The pieces will also be viewable at the Geo Gallery from Monday, Nov. 30, to Friday, Dec. 11.

The Burbank Human Relations Council is asking community members to drop off poster board art to be displayed at an upcoming exhibition as part of “United Against Hate” week.
Anyone in Burbank can submit an art piece, which must be made on standard poster board that is no larger than 28 inches by 20 inches. Pieces are being accepted today, Nov. 28, between 9 a.m. and noon at the Geo Gallery at 1545 Victory Blvd. Contributors can schedule other drop-offs by texting or calling (818) 860-2472.
The BHRC will then display the pieces, representing the theme “Stand Together Against Hate,” from Monday, Nov. 30-Friday, Dec. 11 at Geo. Only two viewers will be allowed at a time because of restrictions related to COVID-19, but the pieces will also be viewable on the BHRC website and Facebook page.

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Batman Statue Placed in Downtown Burbank

Photo by Oscar Areliz / Burbank Leader

Visit Burbank, along with Burbank-based DC and Warner Bros. Studios, unveiled a new
7½ -foot tall, 600-pound statue of Batman last week in the AMC Walkway of downtown Burbank.
Funded by Visit Burbank, this signature public art piece of the iconic DC superhero makes an ideal selfie spot in the city. The colossal statue will help showcase Burbank as a leading tourist destination and will exemplify the city’s status as the “Media Capital of the World.”
Since appearing in the pages of Detective Comics No. 27 on March 30, 1939, Batman continues to leave his mark in every form of entertainment imaginable. The Batman statue is based on a drawing by world-renowned comic book artist and the publisher and chief creative officer of DC, Jim Lee. The design of the fan-favorite superhero was then digitally sculpted by Alejandro Pereira Ezcurra. The final larger-than-life statue, made from bronze, was built by artisans at Burbank-based American Fine Arts Foundry and Fabrication.
When visiting the newly installed Batman statue, remember to practice social distancing and wear a face mask.

Road Kings Demonstrate Their Drive to Serve

From the time they adopted their charter in 1952, the Road Kings of Burbank have lived up to their mission of promoting and fostering automotive interests, assisting in the funding of local community and charitable organizations and supporting automotive education in local high schools.
The Road Kings have always been ready to gear up and roll in to help people and organizations in any way they can, but this year of the pandemic has proved to be a bumpy ride for the group, which has been unable to do its two annual car show fundraisers and other events that have raised more than $375,000 in the past decade alone.
“Everything we do as far as our fundraisers just stopped,” said longtime Road Kings member Don Baldaseroni. “Because of that, we had to look into new ways in which we could be supportive of our community.”

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Burroughs’ Boulanger Signs Letter of Intent

Photo courtesy JBHS
Burroughs senior Faith Boulanger will join the Cal State San Bernardino women’s basketball squad next year.

Faith Boulanger had an impressive 2019-20 campaign with the John Burroughs High School varsity girls’ basketball team, and the senior hopes to continue that success at the collegiate level after officially signing a national letter of intent recently.
The senior standout will play basketball for the Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes, who compete in NCAA Division II.
“Faith has had a tremendous positive impact on our program, both on and off the court,” said JBHS girls’ basketball coach Victoria Oganyan. “She has played various positions for us and contributed in multiple categories to help lead our team be successful. Her work ethic, commitment, unselfishness, leadership and high character have helped build on our program culture. We are so proud of her accomplishments thus far and are excited for her next opportunity both academically and athletically.”

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Alex Theatre: City’s Jewel Still Shines, Even While Dark

Photo courtesy Glendale Arts
The Alex Theatre, which is celebrating its 95th year, is the home to multiple resident companies. Above is a performance by the Los Angeles Ballet at the Alex in 2016.

It was with a different sort of fanfare that the Alex Theatre celebrated its 95th birthday this year.
There was no party, per se, no gala or soiree complete with the latest in ballroom fashion, trays of wine or special performances in the historic theater. In fact, since March, there’s been little-to-no action in one of the Jewel City’s greatest, well, jewels in its collection.
Save, of course, for the virtual telethon that served as the marathon birthday party for the venue, where its operating body served up $100,000 in donations to help the landmark soldier through the trials and tribulations of the coronavirus pandemic. While historic theaters throughout the nation, including elsewhere in Los Angeles County, face an uncertain future, the venerable Alex is already planning its centennial birthday five years ahead of schedule.
“Since COVID,” explained Elissa Glickman, executive director of Glendale Arts and, therefore, the Alex Theatre, “obviously we haven’t been able to do live performances and our effort has been focused on, how do we maintain our staff, maintain our 95-year-old building and how do we remain relevant?”
On top of the six-figure fundraiser from the birthday telethon, Glendale Arts has continued to otherwise seek prominent donations and funding. Federal coronavirus assistance and the Small Business Administration provided early loans and grants to help keep staff paid. In terms of relevance, the organization has endeavored to support its artists by launching an artist assistance program.
“We significantly ramped up our fundraising efforts,” Glickman said.
These efforts position Glendale Arts with the tools that will be necessary if they want to successfully pivot the Alex Theatre’s operations in the post-COVID era.

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