Anaheim Hills Review | Issue 7 | Apr-May 2023

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From the Publisher

One of my favorite perks of publishing the Anaheim Hills Review is the opportunity to provide you readers with an inside look at the careers and lives of inspiring individuals who make Anaheim Hills such a great place to live.

In this issue, we visit with Anaheim’s new Mayor Ashleigh Aitken, who made history when she took office last November as the city’s first female mayor. With her background growing up in Anaheim and as a trial lawyer for two decades, which you can read about on pages 2-3, you will see that our new mayor has the necessary skills to benefit the Anaheim Hills community and greater Anaheim.

You will also see on page 4 another female leader, Alicia Valadez, who recently assumed the role of Anaheim Chamber of Commerce’s Chair of the Board. Like Mayor Aitken, Alicia brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and love of the city of Anaheim to her new position. She is the granddaughter of Don Miguel González Jimenez, who 35 years ago founded the Northgate Market Grocery chain, along with her father, Miguel González Reynoso. Alicia grew up in the family business that she continues to work for, in addition to her new role at the chamber.

With the weather warming and brightening after many restorative rains, we in Anaheim Hills are blessed with wildflower shows lighting up our now lush hillsides. Many of these views are being immortalized by local photographer John Luciano. Read his story, including about his nature photography, on pages 12-13.

I hope you enjoy springtime and all the outdoor activities that the beautiful weather has to offer.

Sincerely, Mike

in collaboration with:

Anaheim Mayor, Ashleigh Aitken

Last November, Ashleigh Aitken made Anaheim history and recognizes the symbolism doing so brought.

“I am honored to be Anaheim’s first female mayor,” says Aitken. “As the mother of three daughters, I want them to know that all avenues are open to them and have every girl in Anaheim equate the role of mayor with a woman. It’s important to have females in leadership, as we often look at our communities through a different lens.”

Having grown up in Anaheim, Mayor Aitken decided to run because she “truly loves” her hometown and had parents who “raised me to give back to my community.”

The election campaign proved enlightening, especially with “all the amazing residents and community groups that I crossed paths with along the way,” she says. “There

are so many streets I would have never walked, and friendships that may not have started, if I were not a candidate for mayor.”

A trial lawyer for more than 20 years, Aitken is counsel at Santa Ana personal injury firm Aitken Aitken Cohn. Previously, she served as a former federal prosecutor in the Central District of California, where she prosecuted armed bank robbery, narcotics, mail and wire fraud, firearms and other federal crimes.

She served two terms on the Anaheim Community Services Board and was chairwoman from 2011-2013. While there, Aitken helped secure funding for local nonprofits. She was Orange County Bar Association president in 2015 and started a committee to increase free legal support for veterans and military families.

From 2012 to January 2023, Aitken served on the OC Fair &

THE 6 TH EDITION: April / May 2023 Anaheim Hills REVIEW News For The Neighborhood Jim Cain , Anaheim Hills Community Council 5753-G Santa Ana Canyon Rd / 714-342-5437 Anaheim Hills Review © 2023 Mike Escobedo Design. All rights reserved. The material herein contained cannot be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of Mike Escobedo Design.
www. AnaheimHills CommunityCouncil .org
Anaheim Hills R EVIEW Find out What’s Happening at:
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Events Center board of directors and was chairwoman in 2015.

After graduating Rosary High School in Fullerton, Aitken obtained a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and History from Boston College and a law degree from USC’s Gould School of Law.

“My dad (Wylie Aitken) always represented the little guy, some-

one who was hurt and needed an advocate,” she says, about following in her father’s work footsteps.

“I try to practice his compassion and empathy in all aspects of my career.”

Mayor Aitken’s law experience influences her being an effective mayor. “My background as a prosecutor and trial lawyer has shaped my leadership style. I believe in debating the relevant facts, and

when someone sees the issue in a different way, I don’t challenge or attack their motives.”

Making a difference in people’s daily lives is among the most fulfilling aspects of serving the local community as mayor. “Whether advocating for more library hours, cleaning up litter in parks, or reading to students in our local schools, I am most at peace when I’m working in the community and listening to residents,” says Aitken.

Chief of Staff Berenice Ballinas has worked with the Mayor in various capacities. She says Aitken is “a role model and mentor to myself and many women and girls in our community. She leads with compassion and empathy in all she does as mayor. She has a perspective to see issues and produce solutions differently. Mayor Aitken truly cares about the people she represents and puts their needs before special interests.”

According to Aitken, the benefits to living and working in Anaheim include “living by my parents and the house I was raised in. I like sharing stories with my kids of how Anaheim has

changed, but I can still take them to Angel Stadium of Anaheim, where I grew up going to games (a season ticket holder, she hasn’t missed a home opener in decades), and to eat at restaurants I enjoyed as a kid. Working at City Hall has been wonderful and has given me a chance to explore downtown and indulge in my favorite activity—eating.”

When it comes to the Mayor’s favorite memories of growing up here, she recalls “riding my bike on the Santa Ana River Trail. My dad and I would pack picnic lunches and bike until our legs hurt. I loved going to Disneyland as a kid. My mom always made us watch ‘Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln’ first, then I would run to my favorite ride—the Storybook Land Canal Boats. I uphold the same tradition with my kids to this day.”

Leisure time often includes participating in half marathons, especially RunDisney. “I try to play golf and I love animals,” Aitken adds. She is “the proud owner of dogs, cats, chickens and a desert tortoise that weighs more than me.” •

April / May 2023 www. AnaheimHills CommunityCouncil .org 3
Anaheim Mayor, Ashleigh Aitken PHOTO BY KRISTIN SMETONA
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Chairing the Chamber

Long before Alicia Valadez stepped into her new role as the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce’s Chair of the Board of Directors, she was ingrained in the local business community. Her grandfather, Don Miguel González Jiménez, and father, Miguel González Reynoso, founded the Northgate Market grocery chain. For the past 35 years, Valadez has worked in the real estate division of the family business.

Northgate González Market, which now operates 43 locations across Southern California with more than 6,000 employees, was founded here in Anaheim in 1980. Valadez has grown in the company to become the Government Relations and Leasing Manager, which perfectly blends her leadership and community relations experience.

Although Northgate Market now operates stores across Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties, Valadez has always considered Anaheim to be her top priority.

“Anaheim has always been home for us,” says Valadez. “We try to stay involved in the community with health and wellness programs, and have our store and its associates be part of local events.”

Just a month into her new role leading the Chamber’s Board of Directors, Valadez has already drawn inspiration from her work experience at Northgate Market. She is not the only descendent of her grandfather to continue the store legacy; around 30 second-, third- and fourth-generation members of the González family work at the corporate headquarters

Northgate Markets’ Government Relations & Leasing Manager, Alicia Valadez, has officially started her role as Anaheim Chamber of Commerce’s Chair of the Board. When she’s not running the markets or leading Chamber meetings, Valadez enjoys exploring all that Anaheim has to offer, from attending games at Angel Stadium to trying new restaurants with her family.

or across different stores.

“I have a huge family, and even though the Northgate Market community has expanded so much, we’re still close-knit,” says Valadez. “I hope the Chamber continues to be a full family and

works together like one as well.”

Valadez has served on the Chamber’s Board of Directors for six years and, in her time so far, has worked closely with Anaheim Chamber President and CEO Laura Cunningham to expand the organization’s reach.

“Alicia is an accomplished businesswoman who continues her family’s legacy of business being rooted in the community,” Cunningham says. “She has a proven track record of dedication to the business community and neighborhoods of Anaheim.”

This year, Valadez’s primary goal is to continue the Chamber’s momentum and introduce more businesses and community members to the Chamber. She has seen firsthand how local support can change the lives of small business owners, as her grandfather emigrated from Mexico and transformed a small liquor store building into a thriving chain of markets across Southern California.

“The Chamber is an incredibly inviting place, and we’re able to give businesses a push to get them on their feet,” says Valadez. “We’re all here to support our members and promote them, as well as give them access to a welcoming and helpful community.”

From Valadez’s perspective, Anaheim’s business district is unlike any other community in the area, with a wide variety of business types and the city’s iconic tourist attractions like Disneyland and the Honda Center. She also looks forward to the city being a part of the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

“Anaheim is a powerhouse,” she says. “It’s absolutely incredible, and I’m proud to be here.”

With hundreds of members spreading across Anaheim, the Chamber and its impact highlight the importance of a connected community.

“The Chamber is strong, and our Board is committed to helping businesses of all sizes and industrie s,” says Cunningham. “When businesses succeed, the whole community thrives.”

As Valadez settles into her role for the rest of 2023, she is most excited to keep working with the Chamber staff and Board of Directors.

“It’s been great to be able to relate to all these other business owners and share our experiences,” she says. “Even at our 8 am meetings, everyone is smiling and ready to make an impact.” •

Anaheim Hills R EVIEW 4 Find out What’s Happening at:
Anaheim Chamber of Commerce 2099 South State College Blvd., #650 / 714-758-0222 www. AnaheimChamber .org
K NOW T HE N EIGHBORS by Yuki Klotz-Burwell

Celebrating the Chance Theater for 25 Years

This year, the Chance Theater celebrates its 25th anniversary as a leading Orange County destination for thespians and theater lovers alike. Known for offering a variety of theater performances and education outreach programs, the theater has become an integral part of the area’s creative landscape.

“It’s essential for every community to have a professional theater company that does impactful work in an intimate space,” says Managing Director Casey Long. “That's exactly the role we want to play in Orange County.”

Aside from the breadth of full-length plays and musicals the theater company produces each season the Chance Theater, also offers its flagship Speak Up community program. The series is dedicated to empowering people from all walks of life to find their voice and has specific programs for teens, youth on the autism spectrum and veterans.

“Over a six-week period, we help people build confidence using theater tools to tell their storie s,” says Artistic Director Oanh Nguyen. “At the end of the session, we put on a show, and our students recognize their stories matter and deserve to be heard.”

Nguyen finds it deeply rewarding to witness the educational programs’ direct impact on their participants. He has seen students feel confident and comfortable sharing stories they haven’t even told their families yet, all from feeling empowered by the power of theater tactics.

“There is something so special about audiences being in the same room listening to the same story together,” he says. “Theater can change lives.”

The tight-knit, life-changing community that the Chance Theater cultivated was still kept together during the pandemic, but the company was no exception to how hard closures hit the entire performing arts industry.

“We held Zoom play readings, virtual workshops with Broadway actors and produced talkbacks about Broadway shows that were available on-demand,” says Nguyen. “People come to the Chance

Theater to stay connected, so we wanted to continue offering that.”

The feelings of isolation and loneliness were felt far and wide in the theater community and even inspired the writing of “Matinicus,” a play about a lighthouse keeper’s young daughter that will premiere at the Chance Theater next month. The play was inspired by the true story of Abigail Burgess, who was known as a 19th-century heroine for her solo efforts in running her father’s lighthouse during a disastrous winter storm in Maine.

“Our community was isolated during the pandemic, and we almost felt like we were on our own island s,” says Long. “‘Matinicus’ is about that isolation, as well as the sacrifices you make for the betterment of others, sometimes even others you may never meet.”

“Matinicus” was written by Jenny Connell Davis, who was the theater’s 2016 Resident Playwright.

The Chance Theater also produced her show “Dragon Play,” and Davis appreciates the wide range of work the company provides.

“The theater offers a lot of different entry points for people of all ages and levels of theater experience, as well as styles,” she says. “They serve the entire community and have built a theater ecosystem in a way that is healthy and affordable to people all over Orange County.”

The Chance Theater is currently running “Colonialism is Terrible, But Phở is Delicious,” a three-part comedy that explores a combination of the history of Vietnam and cooking, as well as commentary on colonialism. Tickets are available at

“In a time when theaters everywhere are recovering from the pandemic and the effects of inflation, it’s so important for communities to support their local theater s,” says Nguyen.

“We’re grateful to be here in Anaheim and keep the live theater experience thriving.” •

Chance Theater at Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center

5522 East La Palma Ave., Anaheim / 888-455-4212 / https:// ChanceTheater .com

5 www. AnaheimHills CommunityCouncil .org April / May 2023
PHOTOS BY KRISTIN SMETONA / Managing Director Casey Long stands in the Chance Theater’s box office. Long is also a founder of the theater, and has directed four shows. Development Director Erika C. Miller sits in the lobby of the Chance Theater. With the theater’s mission of supporting the local theater community, the team has expanded its programs to host events for sketch comedy groups and local artists to write their own plays. Showcasing the stage set for an upcoming production (from left), are Executive Artistic Director Oanh Nguyen, Development Director Erika C. Miller, Managing Director Casey Long, Technical Director Masako Tobaru and Production Manager Bebe Herrera. Every year, the Chance Theater runs several shows, including world renowned musicals and locally written plays.

Anaheim Hills Florist

When Carol Dolan opened Anaheim Hills Florist & Flower Delivery in 2018, she fulfilled a lifelong dream of running her own flower shop. The role has put her at the helm of countless milestone events like weddings, holidays, births, achievements and other celebrations.

“We are very passionate about what we provide to our customers when we’re designing and delivering that bouquet of well-being,” says Dolan, whose affinity for flowers runs deep. Her family owned a commercial landscaping business, so plants have been in her life a long time.

Dolan’s first job was at 17th Street Florist in North Tustin, a place where she grew to love the artistic flair of floral design. Her expertise expanded in the coming years to being an event specialist and floral entrepreneur.

“Individually, each flower is unique—no two are exactly alike,” Dolan says. “In the hands of a passionate, artistic floral designer the arranged outcome can be magical.”

Charmian Walker of Orange, a floral designer at the shop for 1 1/2 years, also worked with Dolan at 17th Street Florist when they were teens. Walker says that Dolan provides her designers with a positive, supportive environment conducive to the creative process.

“I can relax and get into my design bubble,” she says. “I’m heavy on emotion and intention. If I’m doing something specific for someone, I read the card message and let my intuition and creativity take over.”

Walker says that Dolan values her connection with customers

and the community. “She is all about creating something for her customers where they almost feel like family,” says Walker. “For Carol it is not always about the bottom line. It’s about making sure something goes out the door as good as it can be.”

Dolan spent years focusing on raising her two children with her husband, Brian, and traveling around for his 23-year-career in the U.S. Marine Corps. Carol owned and operated an events-based company, and had the opportunity

to work with designers and flower shops throughout the country. Then when her children were grown, she decided to finally go after her dream of owning her own business. In 2018, she and Brian opened in Canyon Plaza, becoming the only florist in Anaheim Hills.

“Brian and I really had fun building this start-up flower shop—from picking the Anaheim

by Melissa Pinion-Whitt

Hills location, to selecting the state-of-the-art refrigeration, to choosing the shop design and everything in-between,” she says.

The shop provides floral arrangements and other decorations for a wide variety of life events.

“My team and I find it rewarding to decorate venues throughout Orange County, including beautiful homes, restaurants, golf courses, churches and wedding venues,” says Dolan. “Recently we had fun decorating the Disney Hotel for a CPA/tax firm’s 450-guest New Year’s celebration.”

Anaheim Hills resident Sandee Collier has been a customer since the flower shop opened. “I just love it there,” she says. “They are very friendly and knowledgeable.”

Collier calls on the shop to provide flowers for her annual Christmas party, which draws 200 people from Chapman University, members of the Orange Community Master Chorale and Collier’s church. She also had Dolan’s shop provide flowers for her husband’s 80th birthday party at the Orange County Mining Company.

“Flowers provide an immediate impact on happiness,” says Dolan. “Who doesn’t love to receive a fresh, exquisitely designed arrangement of flowers? Flowers are a natural and healthy moderator of emotions. As such, we are honored to interact with customers during their most rewarding and joyous occasions, as well as their somber and sad occasions. We feel very privileged to be a part of a family’s time of loss by providing beautiful florals as they commemorate and celebrate the life of a loved one.”

Anaheim Hills R EVIEW 6 Find out What’s Happening at:
For Carol Dolan, owner of Anaheim Hills Florist & Flower Delivery, designing with florals to honor events and milestones brings her great joy.
PHOTO BY KRISTIN SMETONA Anaheim Hills Florist & Flower Delivery 5753 East Santa Ana Canyon Rd., #D / 714-265-7755 https:// AnaheimHillsFlorists .com Impacting Happiness in

the Hills

Anaheim Hills Golf Course

Known for its gorgeous treelined fairways, The Hills, Anaheim Hills Golf Course is a local favorite for dedicated golfers. Now those using the course can enjoy an elevated experience thanks to new changes at the facility.

In January 2022, the American Golf management company, which had been managing golf course operations for three years, also took control of the food and beverage department for The Hills. When they did so, they brought on Brian Penny as Director of Food and Beverage.

“As a group, we’re trying to increase the quality of the food and beverage operations here at The Hills,” says Penny, who came to the club with 13 years’ experience working at Tustin Ranch Golf Club, where he had ascended to the same role as Director of Food and Beverage. “We are raising the

expectations of the clients by offering new and fun ways for them to enjoy the golf course.”

The move to The Hills placed Penny in charge of several of the establishment’s facilities, including a world-class culinary kitchen run by former Newport Beach Country Club banquet chef Jesse Gonzalez, a bar and grill and a 350-person ballroom offering a full view of the 18-hole golf course.

According to Penny, a large part of the business model at The Hills is event and reservation based. Each event is personally tailored to the wants and needs of the clients. Occasions celebrated at The Hills include everything from weddings and quinceañeras to private dinners and golf events.

“We’re a destination for private events in the Inland Empire and Orange County,” says Penny. “This neighborhood is prime and looking for places to go for premium events. We recently hosted a wine dinner and other events such as an Elvis tribute.”

Later this year, there will be an expansion to the patio for an even better restaurant experience. Other renovations are also in the works on the clubhouse area, and a driving range remodel began March 27. The latter is expected to finish by the first week of May.

“We’re completely shaving down the range and resodding the area,” says PGA, General Manager Steve Donar. “There really weren’t target greens before. There was just an open field to hit into. Now there are targets more aligned with specific clubs. Targets will vary from 50 yards to 250 yards.”

They are also undertaking a perimeter landscaping project. “The landscaping will have a Spanish-Mediterranean theme,” Donar says. “We’re including a lot of drought tolerant native plants. The whole thing is going to tie in. The landscaping will go from the entry driveway all the way to the back of the clubhouse.”

While The Hills offers The Players Club membership program, the grounds are not exclusive to members, which means the public can visit and use the golf course.

“A lot of people think we are private, but we are a public golf course,” says Penny. “You don’t have to be a member to be here. We’re making a new commitment to involving the community in the golf course.” •

The Hills, Anaheim Hills Golf Course 6501 Nohl Ranch Rd. / 714-998-3041 www. AnaheimHillsGC .com
From feasts to fairways, The Hills, Anaheim Hills Golf Course offers dining, catering and 18 holes of golf. Pictured enjoying outdoor dining are (seated from left) Crystal Garcia, Madison Hasbun and Nallely Villegas, with Chris Trangia and Brian Penny (back right). PHOTO BY KRISTIN SMETONA
7 April / May 2023 www. AnaheimHills CommunityCouncil .org
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9 www. AnaheimHills CommunityCouncil .org April / May 2023

Summer Classes Begin June 12 Fall Classes Begin August 21

Old-Fashioned Values

To earn the title of Contractor of the Year 2022, it took Ron Dymek hard work and good oldfashioned values. For the owner and founder of Dymek’s Freedom Plumbing , that’s how he operates every day of the week.

“I started plumbing back in 1972 and learned the trade by doing it,” says Dymek, whose company is based in Anaheim. “My father was a journeyman plumber. In 1973, I also began flipping homes and did the plumbing in those houses with my father’s guidance.”

At the time, Dymek also worked for Roto-Rooter, a name now synonymous with the plumbing industry. When the company first opened its doors, they were solely a drain cleaning service. In 1988, Roto-Rooter saw an opportunity to expand services, and Dymek became their first ever full-time plumber. Still, they were cautious about moving into the adjacent field of business.

“It sounds funny when you think about it, but they needed to see the numbers on paper to see if full plumbing would make money for them,” says Dymek.

After a year of testing, the expansion of services was implemented. Dymek helped the company build the curriculum and criteria for hiring plumbers. He taught longtime plumbers drain cleaning and service installation, while teaching existing drain cleaners without plumbing experience how to perform those services.

The company’s change in direction had a cost, though. The

new equipment and training proved too expensive for RotoRooter to be comfortable with the short-term investment for long-term growth.

Dymek saw the writing on the wall. “We started seeing that they were closing this office and combining that office. It was a matter of time before they were going to call me in,” he says. “Rather than being demoted, I took the option to leave and start my own business.”

The result was Dymek’s Freedom Plumbing, a veteran and family owned business.

Dymek runs the business with his son Chris, his wife, Shaun, and a great office staff, along with an armory of 10 vehicles and 25 employees. “Our office manager Cecilia has been on our team since 2004,” says Dymek, who believes that honesty is the best policy, and says most plumbing issues can be solved with a little preventative maintenance.

“You can call us to work at the home of your parents or grandparents and not have to worry we’re going to upsell and recommend unnecessary services like many companies do,” he says. “Seventy to 80 percent of the time all that’s needed is general maintenance cleaning or spot repair.”

Dymek’s Freedom Plumbing is also licensed to perform service on sewer and gas lines. This allows them to leave the property and work in the street to fix more extensive problems, making them a one-stop shop for plumbing issues of any size. “We’re just as

Anaheim Hills R EVIEW 10 Find out What’s Happening at:
K NOW T HE N EIGHBORS by Nathan Carter
Preparedness is key at Dymek Freedom Plumbing. Pictured here readying one of the company’s trucks and preparing tools and materials for the day are (from left) AR Manager and CSR Tina Parr, Reports Manager Krista Dymek, Field Manager Chris Dymek, Owner Ron Dymek, Office Manager Cecilia Galvez and Javier Gonzalez.
April / May 2023 11 www. AnaheimHills CommunityCouncil .org

Goodnight Anaheim

Photographer John Luciano spent much of his youth fishing and exploring the towering pines and peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains with his family. It’s a pastime he shares with Ansel Adams, the legendary photographer he considers one of his heroes.

“I grew up loving the outdoors,” Luciano says. “At a young age my dad and grandfather would take me on fishing trips to the Eastern Sierras. This was essentially Ansel Adams’ backyard.”

Luciano is an award-winning photographer who lives and works in Anaheim Hills. He shoots a wide variety of photos, specializing in nature, sports and event photography. He also works in the finance industry.

Luciano’s photographs have been used by the Orange County Register, Rotor Magazine, Expedia, Kayak, as well as OC Sports Zone. He was named a Canon RAISE champion in 2020 and a division winner at the Orange County Fair in 2016.

Luciano’s passion began at Irvine High School in the 1980s when he took a photography class. He dreamed of one day having his own darkroom to develop film, a dream that shifted once the era of digital photography arrived. Luciano kept busy as a four-year letterman in track and served as a coach there while attending California State University, Fullerton.

As an undergraduate, he pursued investment and corporate finance, though his interest in photography remained. He credits his finance career with helping him continue his work as a photographer, even when the pandemic forced most art sectors to scale back or close.

He serves as a shutterbug photographer for Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine, where he found himself at the height of Covid-19 shooting competitions in the gym with no one else present except athletes and coaches.

“As the pandemic eased, I found it fulfilling attending many different sports and get lots of joy capturing the reactions of fans and athletes— especially during monumental CIF games where the stands are full,” he says.

R EVIEW 12 Find out What’s Happening at: T ALK O F T HE H
Anaheim Hills
by Melissa Pinion-Whitt

Michele Forster, Director of Marketing at Crean, considers Luciano a valuable asset to the school. “John seems to have limitless energy and is always so willing to capture special moments,” Forster says. “His artistry comes through in the beautiful photos that he takes.”

Marketing Media Associate Julia Lange agrees. “His images capture the hearts of our students and immortalize each of their high school experiences,” she says.

Luciano has taken photos from the dugout of Anaheim Stadium, photographed ballet at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa and captured golden fall aspen trees in the High Sierras. As an FAAcertified drone pilot, Luciano captured a blue whale and calf off Dana Point in 2022, a highlight of his year. He has even taken wedding photos, though he considers that to be among his most stressful assignments because of the intensity of such occasions.

While Luciano’s skills are diverse, he often finds himself returning to one of his favorite types of photography: nature. He says that Adams and wilderness photographer Galen Rowell are big influences on his work in the outdoors. Both used unconventional approaches to achieve unique results.

“In the darkroom, (Adams) used handmade tools to manipulate the tonalities to bring his vision to life,” Luciano says. “Essentially, this is what Photoshop allows us to do now digitally. Galen Rowell’s body of work is similarly stunning—except in color.”

For the last six years, Luciano has photographed nesting bald eagles in Orange County, capturing tens of thousands of images, including “headshots” of each hatched eaglet.

Luciano also takes time to give back, serving as photography judge at Canyon High School in Anaheim Hills, Running Springs Elementary School in Anaheim Hills and Rancho Bernardo Middle School in Yorba Linda, among others. He also volunteers for the Anaheim Hills Fourth of July celebration and other Anaheim events as a photographer.

For more information, visit www. GoodnightAnaheimHills .com

Old-Fashioned Values

happy to take on a small project as a large one,” he says.

Dymek has also been a longtime member of Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors of Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino (PHCC-ORSB). He has been on the board of directors for several years, currently serving as treasurer.

The board serves as a networking and informational organization and also helps develop future journeymen through a four-year scholastic and apprenticeship course. Currently, six of Dymek’s apprentices are in the program.

“We train and promote from


within our company,” he says. “That gives employees loyalty to us, because we’re investing in their futures. We look at it as not 25 employees, but 25 families working for us.”

At the end of the day, it’s hard work and honesty that sets Dymek’s Freedom Plumbing apart from the others. “God blessed our business,” he says, “and we’re doing really well. Old-fashioned values using today’s technology is our motto. It’s trademarked.”

And that’s how you win a Contractor of the Year award. •

Dymek’s Freedom Plumbing 2921 East Miraloma Ave., #17 / 714-632-8989

• April / May 2023 13 www. AnaheimHills CommunityCouncil .org
John on location in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Warm-Season Crops

Now is the time to start preparing for your warm-season crops, including everybody’s favorite— tomatoes—along with peppers, squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, and the list goes on. These are all easy to grow and can be very productive.

Plant vegetable plants from 4inch pots in your garden when the soil begins to warm in the middle of April through May when the nighttime temperatures begin holding at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or above.

If you prefer to start these plants from seed like I do, seed them indoors 4-6 weeks ahead of when you plan on putting them in the garden.

Seeding indoors is best done with grow lights. Once the plants reach 3 to 4 inches tall, harden them off before planting outdoors, which refers to leaving them outside for increasing intervals every day as they acclimate to living in the garden.

Crops like corn, beans, okra and pumpkins prefer even warmer soil and should be grown

by direct seeding from late May through June. For best results, plant eggplant from transplants, rather than seed, in late May or early June.

Some fun facts to consider about tomatoes. Botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit (edible flesh surrounding seed.) However, as tomatoes grew in popularity in the mid- to late1800s, people wanted them all year, so they were imported from Central and South America, along with various vegetables. In the 1880s, a 10 percent tariff was levied on imported vegetables, including tomatoes. Tomato importers protested, as they were importing a fruit. After much disagreement and the fact that the government was losing taxes, the dispute made its way to the Supreme Court where it was decided that since a tomato was “consumed like a vegetable and grown like a vegetable,” it would forevermore be a vegetable and was taxed accordingly.

A few tips on planting tomatoes. Look closely at the stem of

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young tomato plants and you’ll see fine, hairlike structures. These develop into roots, providing support and nutritional uptake, so the more of them you plant in the soil, the better. If planting a 12inch tall potted tomato, clip off all but the top 4 to 5 inches of leaves and plant it deep. Once the plant starts growing, conserve the tomato’s growing energy by removing suckers, which refers to new growth in the crotches where the leaves meet the stem. Stop after a few weeks, because at that point the tomato will be growing quickly, and the task will be nearly impossible. To ensure airflow to the bottom of tomato plants

where disease tends to form, keep the last 10 to 14 inches of stem free of leaves.

When you harvest tomatoes, never store them in the refrigerator. The flavor component Z-3Hexanoyl is completely negated and gone forever below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Store homegrown tomatoes at room temperature upside down. Airborne bacteria have a harder time entering the smooth skin compared to the stem end. Enhance the flavor even further by picking and “decanting” them on the counter for a few days.

Now go get gardening!

For help with any garden, landscape or pest problem, contact our Master Gardener Hotline at and check out our website at www. MGOrange for scientifically researched, peerreviewed information. It is a great tool for gardeners at any level. •

Orange County

Brian Hale is an Anaheim Hills resident and has been a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener in Orange County since 1999. Over the years, he has been involved with many aspects of the Master Gardener program. Currently, he spends most of his time with the Propagation Team and is a member of the Speakers Bureau. This includes doing presentations for private and public venues.

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