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Signal T R I B U N E “Hot August Sunset in Cal Heights” by John Royce See full picture on page 7. SERVING BIXBY KNOLLS, CALIFORNIA HEIGHTS, LOS CERRITOS, WRIGLEY AND THE CITY OF SIGNAL HILL Vol. 34 No. 13 Programs for intellectually disabled people threatened by state funding cuts Your Weekly Community Newspaper Nick Diamantides Staff Writer With a 4.25 percent cut in state funding, Advocacy for Respect and Choice (AR&C) needs to raise approximately $200,000 from individual and corporate donations in order to provide the same level of services it has provided to intellectually disabled people for many years. The AR&C facility is located on a four-acre site just east of the northeast corner of Stearns Street and Lakewood Boulevard. The organization leases the property from the City of Long Beach for $1 per year. The campus contains five buildings, which house the organization’s administration and the various programs. Some AR&C clients live with their families, and others live in group homes. Many of them are transported to and from the AR&C campus in busses and vans, or cars driven by family members. Others take public transportation, and a few of them drive themselves. Harry Van Loon, AR&C executive director, noted that approximately 400 individuals depend on the services provided by the organization, which offers four different programs to its clients. “In our supported-employment program, we get the clients to fill out the application and get them hired at various businesses in the area,” Van Loon said. “When they actually start work and are learning the job, we have our staff work- ing with them 100 percent of the time teaching them the job. As they become more proficient, we start the process we call “fading,” in which we gradually reduce the amount of time the job coaches are present. Debbie Jones, one of the supportedemployment job coaches, explained what she does. “I go out to many of the sites that we have out in the field, and I facilitate for the individuals for whom we have developed jobs,” she said. “We train the clients and build their self-confidence and determination and are there for them in case problems arise.” Clients who are unable to work at stores, factories, and other businesses work at the Work Activity Center on the AR&C campus for five and a half hours per day, five days a week. Much of what she said. “I come up with tasks that can be done by each individual after I assess the client’s ability.” Van Loon also described another AR&C level of service.“Our specialneeds program, which is part of the work activity center, is designed specially for people who have difficulty performing even the most simple tasks,” he explained. “We develop adaptive equipment to help them overcome their physical limitations so that they have access to the same paid work as those who do not have physical limitations.” According to Van Loon, the specialneeds program provides work and paychecks to people who have cerebral palsy, or seizure disorders, as well as those who are sight- or hearingimpaired. The program has more job AR&C clients do at the organization’s facility involves the packaging of small items that go on sale at stores throughout the USA. “We have job coaches in the center who walk around and observe the clients,” Van Loon explained. “If a client seems to be having a problem performing his or her task, the job coach helps them to overcome the problem.” Maryanne Peterson, vocational training supervisor, explained an important aspect of the Work Activity Center. “I break down the various jobs into steps,” coaches per capita than are necessary for clients who can function at higher levels. “Also, because of their physical limitations, we have attendants present also, who help them to use the restroom, to eat during the lunch break, and to do other things that might require assistance,” Van Loon said. According to Van Loon, most AR&C programs have a vocational outcome– paid work. “But we also have a Courtesy AR&C Much of what AR&C clients do at the organization’s facility involves the packaging of small items that go on sale at stores throughout the country. SH Oversight Board and CarMax await state’s final answer on disputed $6 million debt CJ Dablo Staff Writer Representatives of used-car retailer CarMax haven’t forgotten about that $6 million CarMax paid Signal Hill’s former redevelopment agency (SHRDA) four years ago, long before California state officials and lawmakers decided to shut the redevelopment program down. In fact, they’ve made it clear they want it back. It was an amount highlighted in a special meeting of the City’s Oversight Board last week when board members voted 4-0 to approve an obligation payment schedule that covered the period of January to June 2013. Chair Douglas Haubert and board members Tim Williamson and Alex Cherniss were absent from the meeting on Aug. 23. That evening, the Oversight Board approved just over $12.2 million in outstanding debts and obligations for the six-month period from January to June 2013. Signal Hill’s Finance Director Maida Alcantara confirmed Wednesday that these financial obligations will be paid in part by redevelopment property tax and in part by bond proceeds. The payment schedule that outlines the recognized obligations will be forwarded to the state’s Department of Finance for ultimate approval. According to a staff report, from late 2007 to mid-2008, CarMax had paid the former redevelopment agency $6 million towards the property acquisition of six acres in Signal Hill. The used-car retailer had proposed to build an auto superstore on the west side of the Signal CELEBRATING 35YEARS OF EXCELLENCE Come join us! Save the date! Friday, September 14 Starting at 4pm Owners of BK Car Wash for 35 yrs, Sheldon & Shell Grossman Music & Entertainment Food•Networking Dancing•Gifts•Prizes Fun for the family Bixby Knolls Car Wash 577 E. Wardlow Rd. & Detail Center @ Atlantic Avenue • 562-595-6666 see AR&C page 15 Hill Auto Center, according to a June staff report from Ken Farfsing, who serves as both the Oversight Board’s chief administrative officer and Signal Hill’s city manager. The $6 million amount is one of several debts and financial obligations that the California Department of Finance had previously rejected for payment earlier this year, Farfsing confirmed in his August staff report to the Oversight Board. Out of Signal Hill’s former redevelopment agency’s list of outstanding debts and financial obligations that City officials have asked the Department of Finance to reconsider paying, CarMax’s $6 million is the largest amount under dispute that may be owed back to a prisee OVERSIGHT page 14 Postal service moves ahead with plans to close processing center in SH Some first-class mail service switches from overnight to two-day delivery Sean Belk Contributing Writer In recent months, the United States Postal Service started implementing changes to first-class mail service in which mail delivered outside of a specific service area now arrives in two days rather than overnight, according to postal service officials. The new standards come as a harbinger to major cutbacks to postal operations set to soon go into effect. By early next year, the postal service plans to consolidate 140 of the country’s mail-processing centers, including operations at 2300 Redondo Ave., which serves Long Beach and Signal Hill residents and businesses. The postal service estimates that moving the Long Beach processing and distribution services to a facility in Los Angeles will save more than $16 million annually, while resulting in the reduction of about 680 postal service positions. Earlier this year, the postal service had put the decision to consolidate operations on hold in hopes of Congress enacting legislation to give the organization a more “flexible business model” during current times of: declining first-class mail volumes due to more people making Saturday Sunday Monday 79° 79° 81° 81° Partly cloudy Lo 62° Partly cloudy Lo 64° Partly cloudy Lo 62° Mostly sunny Lo 68° transactions online; rising retiree benefit costs; and shrinking revenue. But no such legislation has passed, and, on May 17, the postal service announced that it was going forward with the consolidations. In July, the postal service completed the transfer of mail-processing operations from Pasadena to the Los Angeles facility, located at 7001 S. Central Ave., according to Richard Maher, spokesperson for USPS in Los Angeles and Orange counties. He said no other consolidations in the greater Los Angeles area are to occur until Jan. 1, 2013 to avoid disrupting delivery during the November elections and the holiday mailing season. Mail-processing operations in Long Beach are to be merged with Los Angeles by February, Maher said. However, he added that the Redondo Avenue facility is for now keeping its post office open, continuing to offer P.O. box services, bulk business mail drop-off and retail services, such as postage sales and money orders. Maher said the goal is to maintain existing service levels during consolidations, adding that the transfer of mail processing should be a seamless transition for most regular see POST OFFICE page 15 File photo By early next year, the United States Postal Service plans to consolidate 140 of its mail-processing centers, including operations at 2300 Redondo Ave. (above), which serves Long Beach and Signal Hill residents and businesses. Weekly Weather Forecast Aug. 31-Sept. 4, 2012 Friday August 31, 2012 Tuesday 81° Sunny Lo 66° This week’s Weekly Weather Forecast sponsored by: THe Wine CounTRy 2301 Redondo Avenue, Signal Hill (562) 597-8303


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