Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Zebras and Beatles” part of our future?

More than 40 years ago, a Beatles' album cover ignited mystery and intrigue in its depiction of the Fab Four walking in full stride across a "zebra" crosswalk. The iconic photograph showed John, Paul, George and Ringo walking single file in the crosswalk, with its alternating black and white stripes.

Window to the future

In Beaumont, a well-traveled zebra crosswalk between the Civic Center and the Police Department represents the gateway to a new chapter in the city’s life. You will find it on Orange Avenue, between Sixth and Seventh streets. Orange Avenue has been blocked off under a plan to build a Civic Center Campus where all municipal facilities will remain in the heart of downtown. Pedestrians can now stroll peacefully across the city’s striped crossing and dream about what lies ahead: a more vibrant downtown, a more convenient City Hall and more public parking.

In the coming years, Beaumont’s dream of having all city facilities in one central location—Civic Center, fire department and police department — will become a reality. The block of Orange Avenue will remain permanently closed and will become a public promenade area with landscaped planters and illuminated at night with attractive, energy-efficient lighting. City employees and visitors alike will stroll back and forth beneath covered walkways in a peaceful, inviting atmosphere as they travel between buildings conducting business that might include anything from licensing a dog to updating a passport.

Civic Center Campus

The new Civic Center Campus is starting to take shape. Work has begun to turn the old Summit Elementary School site into a home for the Beaumont Police Department, Animal Care, Code Enforcement, Public Works and Engineering and the city’s computer department. There will be more public parking, as well as an improved, secured parking area for police cars and other city vehicles.

Can you hear it?

So if you’re strolling across that zebra crossing in Beaumont and hear the echo of hits from the Abbey Road album like “Come Together” and “Here Comes The Sun,” close your eyes for just a moment and it will be 1969 all over again! Or maybe it’s the soundtrack of our future, as Beaumont moves closer to a new Civic Center Campus where we can all come together and appreciate the sunny days ahead.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Among the Best and Brightest

Robert Starr is a young computer wizard who could someday help change the world through the use of supercomputers. While he has an odyssey ahead that will require intense study, Starr will forever cherish the support, encouragement and friendship of the Beaumont - Cherry Valley Rotary Club.

With the help of his local Rotary Club, Starr received a $26,000 Ambassadorial Scholarship award by The Rotary Foundation. He will soon be earning his master's degree in high performance computing at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Founded in 1583, the University is recognized for its high performance computing program.

"Robert will be a terrific goodwill ambassador for Rotary and will help further international understanding and friendly relations," said Arlon Brubaker, past president of the Beaumont - Cherry Valley Rotary Club.

A supercomputer is one of the latest, fastest or most powerful computers in the world. They come with immense processing power and are incredibly sophisticated. Among its nearly endless uses, supercomputers can simulate how a tsunami would impact a coastline or a city; test the aerodynamics of the latest military aircraft; and model the effect of proteins on Alzheimer's disease, Cystic Fibrosis and many kinds of cancer.

Hometown scholar

Starr grew up in Beaumont and is the son of Ken and Sharon Starr. He is 2007 graduate of Beaumont High School who will earn his bachelor's degree this spring in computer science and business administration from Chapman University in Orange. A counselor at Chapman University suggested that he apply for the Rotary Scholarship. Starr will leave in September to study in Scotland.

"This is a chance of a lifetime," Starr said. "I am very thankful that my local Rotary club and Rotary International sponsored me."

Ambassadorial Scholarships, which date back to 1947, are the Rotary Foundation's oldest and best known program. Since that time, more than 40,000 people from about 100 nations have studied abroad and represented Rotary and their respective homelands. In 2009-10, the foundation awarded nearly 700 scholarships totaling more than $16 million.

Before receiving his scholarship, Starr was interviewed by local Rotarians and by Rotary officials at the district level, which includes Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Rotary officials at the national level awarded the Ambassadorial Scholarship.

This is the second Ambassadorial Scholarship that the local Rotary Club has sponsored. Two years ago, the Club sponsored Clint Lorimore who went to Singapore to study international terrorism. Lorimore, who once served as former Governor Schwarzenegger's field representative in the Inland area, is now working on his doctorate degree.

Bright future

As he prepares for a year-long master's degree program, Starr dreams about harnessing the power of technology for good in the world and fostering Rotary's core values of high ethical standards and international understanding, goodwill and peace among all people. With today's supercomputers operating on the petaflop (that's one quadrillion operations per second!), the possibilities seem endless for out hometown computer whiz with a bright future ahead.

Podcasts: Beaumont Stays Connected

Beaumont is always searching for new ways to stay in touch with its citizenry. Now, because of our latest effort, you'll have access to audio podcasts of Beaumont City Council meetings on the web! These podcasts will be added to the city's website within one week of the council meeting.

It's just a quick mouse click to Beaumont's website, http://www.ci.beaumont.ca.us/., followed by a quick download.

The podcasts are a great way to catch up on town happenings, and you'll hear it all when you tune it, including the tapping of the gavel as the meeting starts. Mayor Brian De Forge, Mayor Pro Tem Roger Berg, and council members David Castaldo, Nancy Gall and Jeff Fox will offer firsthand reports about the community. City staffers will discuss topics that affect the lives of every resident, merchant, and visitor. You'll also hear your elected representatives discuss informative, wide-ranging issues and then cast their votes.

Staying in touch

Even if you can't attend all the council meetings, the podcasts offer an easy and convenient way to learn about the goings on. The City Council and the city staff would like to invite each of you to attend our next council meeting on January 18th - whether you're able to join us in the Council Chambers or listen at home on your computer to the podcast a few days later.

Podcasting is a relatively new way of reaching people. A reporter for The Guardian newspaper received credit for coining the term in 2004. He combined "pod" from Apple's iPod and "broadcasting," even though recordings also can be heard on computers or any digital music player, not just iPods.

The future

If some of you wonder why we're reaching out this way, it's because we believe Beaumont's future depends on sharing the City's views and seeking out a broad base of ideas and opinions from everyone in town. This form of technology will help us all stay connected as we lead our busy lives. At the moment, city staff also is studying the idea of using video to give you a seat at council meetings - even if you can't be there in person. We're proud to say that the idea came from the Beaumont Cares Awareness Team.

Stay tuned

So, if you click on "City Council Podcasts" for December 21st, you'll hear all about community events like Winter Wish and the Christmas Light Parade. You'll learn about buying tickets to the February 19th Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre at the Civic Center to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. And you can learn more about the "Name that Bridge" contest for our new trestle bridge. You'll get acquainted with Planning Commissioner Richard Bennecke, who was reappointed to a four-year term at the meeting, and you'll learn about the commission's newest member, registered civil engineer Nathan Smith.

Please stay tuned as we bring you the latest on the City of Beaumont. We hope you will enjoy learning about your city in action during these podcasts.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A very likable 2011 Citizen of the Year

The honor, the accolades and the recognition are wonderful. But it's enough just to be embraced by the community.

Donna Franco, 2011 Citizen of the Year in the Pass, says actress Sally Field's famous Oscar acceptance line for the Best Actress in the 1984 film "Places in the Heart" ("I can't deny the fact that you love me! You like me.") quickly comes to mind.

And just like an Oscar winner receiving that treasured gold statuette, longtime community volunteer Franco will accept her award and give a speech on January 27th. It's a night when people from throughout the Pass will turn out to honor one of their own.

It's the 57th Annual Installation Dinner for the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce.

Devotion to community

Many of you have seen Franco's smiling face at the pancake breakfast during the Cherry Festival. Or maybe you've spotted her timing log-sawing contests at the Oktoberfest. Many of you catch a glimpse of scurrying about buying, wrapping and delivering Christmas gifts to deserving families for Winter Wish. Or you see her volunteering at the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce and serving as an elected director for the Beaumont-Cherry Valley Recreation and Park District. She has an unwavering spirit for volunteerism.

"She just dives into anything that will help our community," said Kathy Munyas, the chamber's executive director.

Bruce Murrill and Lyle Millage, who donate many hours of community service to the Pass, nominated Franco for the honor.

"Donna does so much," Murrill said. "She gets the work done - plain and simple. This is a richly deserved honor for a very special person."

Helping the Pass

Many in the Pass caught their first glimpse of Franco in 1972 as she cheerily rang up their groceries at the old Alpha Beta. By 1981, Franco and a girlfriend opened up a cake decorating business in town, and she got involved with the Chamber. Over the years, Franco has served as director, vice president and president. By 1999, Franco retired and became a nearly full time volunteer for the community. She answered phones and questions at the Chamber and spent countless hours on beloved community projects. And through it all, she avoided the limelight - until now.

"The volunteers do it all and make things successful," she said. "I just help organize.'

Come support the dinner and honor one of Beaumont's most dedicated volunteers!

What: 2011 Beaumont Chamber of Commerce Installation Dinner

Date: January 27th

Time: Cocktails: 5:30 p.m. Dinner and program: 6:00 p.m.

Where: The Grand Oak Steakhouse & Bar, the Highland Springs Resort, 10600 Highland Springs Ave., Cherry Valley

Cost: $40.00 per person (reservations and payments in advance. Checks should be made payable to the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, 726 Beaumont Ave., Beaumont Ca 92223)

Information: 951-845-9541