New Owner To Give News-Press ‘Some Good News’

State Sen. Anthony Portantino
State Sen. Anthony Portantino

By Anthony Portantino
Special to The News-Press

Folks needed some good news and the continued publication of the Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader was just what the doctor had ordered. Every small town needs a forum for local news and community interests to be covered and discussed. The absence of a community newspaper makes robust public discourse far more difficult and far less public.
The announcement by the L.A. Times that the News-Press and Leader were originally to be closed deeply affected Glendale and Burbank. Residents and business owners expressed disappointment and fear that issues which would benefit from the sunshine provided by local media coverage would be kept out of the public forum.  Continue reading “New Owner To Give News-Press ‘Some Good News’”

Local JPL Engineer Joins Pandemic Fight by Creating Life-Saving Device

Photo courtesy NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory A few members of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory team that created a high-pressure ventilator tailored to COVID-19 patients, which was just green-lit by the FDA on Thursday, pose with the prototype, including Michael R. Johnson (second standing, from left).
Photo courtesy NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
A few members of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory team that created a high-pressure ventilator tailored to COVID-19 patients, which was just green-lit by the FDA on Thursday, pose with the prototype, including Michael R. Johnson (second standing, from left).

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory made headlines recently after announcing its scientists — in just 37 days — have developed a high-pressure ventilator prototype tailored for coronavirus patients, which was given the green light by doctors at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, one of the epicenters of the disease in the United States.

JPL — home base to many Glendale-area engineers, physicists and researchers — noted that one local resident in particular served as a critical member on the JPL team that created the life-saving device, called VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally). The device has been created to free up the nation’s limited supply of traditional ventilators with the intent they may be used on patients with the most severe COVID-19 symptoms. Continue reading “Local JPL Engineer Joins Pandemic Fight by Creating Life-Saving Device”

Local Resident Plays Key Role at USC-VHH During Pandemic

Mary Virgallito
Mary Virgallito

Mary Virgallito’s fingerprints are all over USC Verdugo Hills Hospital.
Her title as infection preventionist means this isn’t a literal statement — she’ll sooner sanitize and wipe down a window than smudge a handprint on it — but rather metaphorical. Whether it’s food prep, janitorial service or surgery, if it happens at USC-VHH, it’s because the Glendale nurse gave it the thumbs-up.
“This involves every single aspect of what we do, even on the finance side,” Virgallito explained in a phone interview. “It’s something that I never really expected but you get a flavor for every aspect of how a hospital functions. You have to have a snapshot understanding of all of the disciplines. It’s really comprehensive. Many times people will ask me what I do and it’s hard to answer them in one sentence.” Continue reading “Local Resident Plays Key Role at USC-VHH During Pandemic”

Mayor Reflects on Armenian Genocide, 105 Years Later

Vrej Agajanian
Vrej Agajanian

By Vrej Agajanian
Special to the News-Press

On April 24, 105 years ago, 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children were murdered by the Ottoman Empire. Year after year on this day, hundreds of thousands of Armenians around the world usually join together to demand justice and pay respect to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. However, due to the extraordinary circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic and in this time of social distancing, April 24 was very different than in years past: No marches and no large public gatherings. Continue reading “Mayor Reflects on Armenian Genocide, 105 Years Later”

Portantino: ‘Every Idea’ on the Table for Recovery

In a recent public appearance — well, virtual public appearance — state Sen. Anthony Portantino offered a glimpse at what reopening California is slated to look like and how Sacramento is trying to prepare for it.
One of the few crystal clear details is that it’s going to be expensive. The state senator noted how on March 16 alone, state lawmakers appropriated through SB89 $1 billion in general fund dollars for the state’s disaster response to the COVID-19 pandemic and added in another $1.4 billion from the existing disaster response line item. Another item, SB117, applied similar relief to the state’s school districts that largely shut doors in March. Continue reading “Portantino: ‘Every Idea’ on the Table for Recovery”

Newspaper’s ‘Remarkable Legacy’ Will Be Preserved

Charlie Plowman
Charlie Plowman

For 115 years, Glendale residents have been able to read, enjoy, admire and sometimes disagree with what has appeared in their community newspaper, the Glendale News-Press.
I am pleased to be the new publisher of this esteemed publication, having been passed that torch by the previous owner, the California Times (the parent company of the Los Angeles Times).
When it was announced about two weeks ago that the final issue of the News-Press was upcoming, I simply couldn’t bear to see that happen. I felt that this newspaper’s remarkable legacy, dating back to 1905, needed to be preserved. To put the Glendale News-Press launch in historical perspective, Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States, having followed William McKinley. As a nation, we were still nearly a decade away from becoming involved in World War I. That’s quite a history. Continue reading “Newspaper’s ‘Remarkable Legacy’ Will Be Preserved”

On the Town: Ascencia continues to help the homeless during the coronavirus pandemic

In 2018, Ascencia staff members read the names of 12 homeless people who passed away while on the streets the year prior. The staff members were outside Forest Lawn in Glendale.(Ruth Sowby Rands )
In 2018, Ascencia staff members read the names of 12 homeless people who passed away while on the streets the year prior. The staff members were outside Forest Lawn in Glendale.(Ruth Sowby Rands )

“Ascencia is not closed,” said Laura Duncan, the organization’s executive director. In fact, Duncan continued, “One hundred beds have popped up” for Ascencia’s homeless residents.

Currently, the organization’s staff cares for 45 men, women and children in Ascencia’s emergency shelter and 226 at-risk families in housing.

“We are grateful that our community shows up with donations of meals, cleaning supplies and funds,” Duncan said. “But we will continue to need the support of our community to get through.”

Since Ascencia’s annual gala, which had been scheduled for March 30, has been postponed, funds for essential services that would have been raised through the gala must now come from somewhere else.

A recent email to supporters listed meal donations needed for the 45 shelter residents who must shelter-in-place. That’s three meals a day, seven days a week.

Community members may email Faith Riley at friley@ascenciaca.org for questions or to coordinate dropping off groceries. Hygiene donations may be coordinated through Habon Nur at hnur@ascenciaca.org.

As of now, Ascencia’s general funding is being diverted to accommodate the coronavirus crisis. Many accommodations are now in place:

Outreach teams are working with Glendale, Burbank, West Hollywood, northeast Los Angeles and the County of L.A. to place people in temporary shelters and identify those displaying any symptoms for further care.

Ascencia case managers continue to work with clients remotely.

Ascencia’s hospital liaison continues to work with hospitals to identify high-cost, frequent hospital users.

Ascencia‘s housing location navigator continues to develop relationships with property owners and place people in permanent housing.

Ascencia’s emergency shelter continues to provide a safe place for 45 men, women and children. With the “Safer at Home” order extended, even more community support is needed.

For the past month, “95% of meals have been covered by the community,” according to Duncan.

Ascencia’s staff members are offering programs and services to clients via Zoom so that mental-health needs may be met, at least in part.

What is needed immediately are meals, masks and used computers — especially those with cameras for Zoom programs.

Also needed are volunteers for Ascencia’s new virtual volunteer program. For more information, email info@ascenciaca.org.

Ascencia made special mention regarding its client Daniel Johnson. He died in March — Ascencia’s first loss to COVID-19. Johnson was 52 years old. He lived on the streets of Glendale for over three years. He originally came to Ascencia during its 2012 winter shelter program.

Johnson was given monthly case management and maintained housing stability in Alhambra for almost two years before his passing.