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Briefly Speaking… June 12, 2008

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A bird’s eye view on news and events around the area.

The California Community Foundation has awarded $280,000 in one-year fellowships to 15 outstanding emerging and mid-career artists working in painting, photography, collage, drawing, sculpture and multimedia. Four emerging artists each received $15,000 felllowships and 11 mid-career artists each received $20,000 fellowships. “We are honored to help this talented group of artists focus on their creative passion and inspire new audiences,” said Antonia Hernández, president and CEO at the foundation. “We are confident they will have a positive and lasting impact on people’s lives.” Fellows were selected by a panel of local artists, curators and arts experts from a pool of 432 applicants. To learn more, visit

The North Long Beach Community Action Group (CAG) has been recognized with the “Neighborhood of the Year” award at the recent annual conference of Neighborhoods, USA. The Historical Society of Long Beach is proud to be a partner in their work. Together with the Historical Society of Long Beach, CAG created the North Long Beach Archive to provide a permanent home for the photographs, oral histories and other materials they continue to collect.
A team of educators and researchers visiting local schools to help determine whether the Long Beach Unified School District will win public education’s biggest prize, the national Broad Prize for Urban Education, praised schools here for their significant and steady gains in student achievement. The school district last month was named, for a fourth time, as one of five finalists for the prize, which recognizes the best urban school district in the nation. Only one other school system nationwide has achieved this honor more times than Long Beach — Boston, a five-time finalist. “It’s amazing to have been a finalist for four years. What that shows us is clearly there is purposeful strategic work going on,” Broad Foundation spokesperson Erica Lepping (pictured above) said during a news conference at Millikan High School. Long Beach is now competing with four other school districts for the Broad Prize, which will be announced Oct. 14 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

On Monday, June 9, Councilmember Suja Lowenthal led the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency’s demolition of Jack’s Liquor at 256 Long Beach Boulevard, in downtown Long Beach. The 10 a.m. demolition also included the One-Stop Office Furniture Store, High Gain, and Life Steps. The four properties are being cleared to make room for the Downtown Redevelopment Project Area’s Broadway Block project, which will include residential and commercial developments, as well as a public art center. As part of a recent Redevelopment Agency study on its impact on public safety, crime statistics for Jack’s Liquor were obtained from the Long Beach Police Department. According to the statistics, between 2004 and 2007, Jack’s Liquor was the site of 86 violent crimes, 137 narcotics violations, and 375 property crimes; in total, 1,775 incidents were reported at the address during the three-year period.

The California Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation (CCRF)—a foundation established in 2007 to improve the quality of lives for children and their families with rehabilitative needs—donated speech therapy equipment to the pediatric rehabilitation department at Miller Children’s Hospital. This year the CCRF is participating in a fundraising campaign called, “Benefiting Kids-Sense-Abilities” to assist in developing a therapy program for autistic children at Miller Children’s Hospital. In its first year the CCRF held a fundraiser called “Giving Children Voices.” The purpose of this campaign was to allow children who are unable to speak independence through devices which are appropriate for their physical and cognitive levels. The CCRF has also provided funding for speech therapists to complete a training program. The CCRF was able to raise enough money to make this a successful program at Miller Children’s Hospital and the only one in our region with these devices. “This allows the speech therapist to help pick the best device and best type of buttons so the patient can be successful in communicating,” said Kimberly BeDell, MD, chief medical director of pediatric rehabilitation at Miller Children’s Hospital.

The Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners has announced that Long Beach hit a new 10-year record low for water consumption in May, with use dropping to 8 percent below the 10-year average. Long Beach is six percent below the 10-year average for the entire year. The City of Long Beach has been operating under Declaration of an Imminent Water Supply Shortage since September of 2007.
“What this means is that we’ve essentially moved into a world where even in normal years, we don’t have enough water,” said Kevin L. Wattier, general manager of the Long Beach Water Department. “Without a more aggressive effort to implement extraordinary conservation, among other important longer term, permanent solutions, southern California is currently positioning itself for catastrophic failure in the event of a protracted drought.”

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Briefly Speaking… June 12, 2008