Culinary Artist, Chef & Local Restaurant Operator Gets Rave Reviews at International Food Event

(Based on the Press-Enterprise article by Laurie Lucas published on August 23, 2012)

The City of Arts & Innovation has creativity flowing everywhere, especially in the kitchen of downtown restauranteur and chef, Marla Cohen.  On August 23 the Press-Enterprise reported that Cohen’s spice concoctions are getting high remarks and orders from 23 states and Canada after a recent international food trade show in Atlanta.

Cohen and business partner, Lyn Cloninger, owners of Phood on Main in Downtown Riverside, are examples of how Riverside continues to be a center of creativity while fueling its innovative economy.

Read the full August 23, 2012 Press-Enterprise article here.

Riverside Honors Its Olympic Champion With “Tyler Clary Day”

Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Includes excerpts from an August 23, 2012 article by Alicia Robinson in the Press Enterprise.

Tyler Clary, who raced to a gold medal in the pool at the London Olympics, will be sharing his success with local swimmers and supporters on Sept. 8 at the Riverside Aquatics Center.

In his first Olympics, Tyler Clary won gold and set the Olympic record for the men’s 200-meter backstroke with his time of 1 minute, 53.41 seconds.

At their September 4th meeting, the Riverside City Council will declare September 8th “Tyler Clary Day” and launch a celebration of his victory, culminating in an event on Saturday hosted by the City of Riverside and Riverside Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The two-hour community-event will be held at the Riverside Aquatics Complex, 4800 Magnolia Avenue, beginning at 10 a.m. and is open to everyone.  The Poly High marching band will lead guests into the complex, where cheerleaders will be lined up along the pool deck. Clary will meet with swimmers of all levels from Inland Empire swim clubs. There will also be a formal presentation by Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge and members of the Riverside City Council.

American flags will be handed out, children from local swimming and diving teams will get a chance to ask Clary questions, and video of Clary’s winning race will be shown during the two-hour event. Clary also will have a few moments to speak, and residents will be able to meet him and get photos, said Debbi Guthrie who heads the bureau’s sports commission.

Tyler Clary’s Olympic success reflects the high-caliber of athletes in Riverside. He adds his name to the list of Poly High School Olympic medalist alongside: Cheryl Miller, a member of the U.S. women’s basketball team that won gold in 1984; her brother Reggie Miller, a member of the U.S. men’s basketball team that captured gold at the 1996 Games in Atlanta; and Cynthia “Sippy” Woodhead, who attended Riverside Poly as a freshman and sophomore, and won silver in the women’s 200-meter freestyle at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

The swimming community and Riverside as a whole could not be more proud of our hometown hero Tyler Clary and there is no better place to celebrate a world-class athlete than at the state-of-the-art Riverside Aquatics Center, the home of the Riverside Aquatics Association. It will be a homecoming for Clary, who swam for the Riverside Aquatic Association as a youngster.

Read the full article from the Press Enterprise.

McKenzie-Ransom Real Estate Team Is Telling Riverside’s Story

Charlotte McKenzie and Connie Ransom are true champions for Riverside!

Charlotte McKenzie (left) and Connie Ransom (right)

The mother-daughter real estate duo have lived in Riverside for over 40 years and are very familiar with the City and each neighborhood’s history, character and diversity. They also have 14 years of experience in the Inland Empire Real Estate Market and are committed to providing the best possible service to their clients. The Ransom McKenzie team is able to put their knowledge of the local market to work when introducing new Riverside residents to the city and when helping their sellers sell quickly.

Not only are they expert Realtors, they are experts in Riverside.

The team became certified Riverside Realtor Regents as members of the inaugural class of the Riverside Realtor Regents Certificate Program. This program was implemented by the City of Riverside, along with the Inland Valley Association of Realtors recognizing certified realtors as ambassadors and the first point of contact for the City. In addition to connecting with city leaders and learning more about the schools, recreation, arts and other features that make Riverside a great place to buy a home, realtors who complete the program are listed on the City’s Web Site as “Certified Realtors,” can join marketing efforts promoting Riverside housing, among other benefits.

As champions for Riverside, the Ransom McKenzie team are helping to tell Riverside’s story through their daily work as realtors. The team has begun “Blog Riverside”, a blog on their website that features stories about what makes Riverside unique and why the City is such a wonderful place to live, work and play. Their post on August 16 was a spotlight on quality of life in Riverside and provided a great commentary on the current efforts underway to ensure the highest quality of life for all Riversiders.

The following is an excerpt from that post:

The City’s tagline has been in use for 3 years now and we’re beginning to see the benefits of living in the City of Arts & Innovation. In the past, Riverside has been a mecca for home buyers who came here solely for the affordable homes.  When compared to LA or Orange County, we were always the more affordable option. But there is a new force driving the economic development of Riverside and the Inland Empire as a whole these days.  The region seems poised for a lot of exciting changes and developments, all of which are sure to enhance our quality of life.

It is not just a question of supporting the arts, it boils down to a question of supporting the quality of life here in the Inland Empire.  Mayor Loveridge credits the City’s strong support for the arts as a key boost and energy driver for our City’s Renaissance efforts as we create a city that is the place to be not just because of affordable housing, but because we have a quality of life which makes it enjoyable to be here.

We couldn’t agree more. Arts & culture, education, and entertainment are key reasons to love Riverside.  We currently have a sustainable network of art, music, entertainment and education.  With the positive things going on in Riverside, it is a wonderful place to call home.  The California Arts Council is taking notice, The Culver Center of the Arts is continuing to produce innovative arts projects, The Fox Performing Arts Center is bringing a variety of performers to town, and the Universities are growing and expanding, including plans for UCR’s Medical School.  All of these efforts will continue to enhance our quality of life here in the City of Arts and Innovation.

Through their work in real estate, Charlotte McKenzie and Connie Ransom are proud to tell Riverside’s story and share why the City is a location of choice and a wonderful place to call home. We would like to hear how you are telling Riverside’s story too.

Click here to read “Blog Riverside”.

Learn more about the Ransom McKenzie Team.

State Reports 25,000 Jobs Created in the Inland Region Over the Last Year

The main goal of the City of Riverside’s Economic Development Action Plan is to help business create jobs and an August 17, 2012 article from the Press Enterprise shows that there has been significant improvement in employment numbers and the region’s economy is showing signs of significant growth.

The following is an excerpt from the Press Enterprise article by Jack Katzanek:

A report from the State Employment Development Department released Friday, August 17 found that almost five years to the month after Inland Southern California’s job market began what resulted in a huge contraction, the region’s economy is now showing further evidence of recovery. An estimated 25,000 jobs have been created in San Bernardino and Riverside counties in the last year, the State Employment Development Department reported. The year-over-year increase of 2.2 percent is the largest for any month since the recession started in 2007.

All the growth is coming from the private sector. State and local governments and schools have reduced their payrolls by a little more than 1,000 jobs in the last year, according to the state data.

“The really crucial thing is that we added 26,000 private-sector jobs,” Redlands-based economist John Husing said. “The private sector is almost acting like it’s a normal year, and not just a normal recovery year.”

The Great Recession officially started on the national level in the fourth quarter of 2007, based on a decline in the country’s gross domestic product. But Inland Southern California was already going through an economic decline before that, because home values were declining and developers were backing away from expansion plans.

In July of that year, employment was coming off more than a decade of eye-opening growth and peaked at about 1,278,000 payroll jobs in the Inland area. That was the last gain for more than four years, and in the 12 months after that about 55,000 jobs had hemorrhaged away.

The state reported there were about 1,146,900 people drawing paychecks from Inland companies last month, meaning the region is still more than 130,000 jobs off its peak.

Growth was reported in the logistics, health care, leisure and hospitality sectors. Also, the office-based professional and business service sector is 13 percent ahead of last year.

There was also a 4.4 percent jump in construction jobs in the Inland area, a figure that appears to be in line with data released earlier this week by the National Home Builders Association that indicated that more single-family homes in California are being completed and that the number of permits sought by developers is up sharply.

The growth in the region’s employment numbers shows that Riverside is on track in its main goal of helping businesses create jobsThe City’s Economic Development Action Plan aligns with the goals of Seizing Our Destiny to make Riverside a location of choice in which highly skilled workers and quality businesses want to move to, stay, and grow. The strong economy and well-developed workforce in Riverside improves the community’s overall quality of life and contributes to our vision of a unified city that encourages innovation and fuels intelligent growth

ExploreRiverside for more information on our great City of Arts and Innovation!

Read the full article from the Press Enterprise.

Riverside Welcomes Larry Vaupel As New Economic Development Manager

Larry Vaupel, Economic Development Manager, City of Riverside

Riverside City Manager Scott Barber announced today, August 22, 2012 the appointment of Larry Vaupel as the City’s Economic Development Manager.  Mr. Vaupel comes to Riverside from Illinois where he has worked in economic development for 19 years, most recently as Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council.  As Economic Development Manager, Mr. Vaupel will manage the City’s programs to help businesses create jobs for our community.

Mr. Vaupel was chosen following a highly competitive national recruitment.  City Manager Scott Barber said “I’m excited to have Larry join our team as we employ modern economic development strategies to increase the community’s quality of life, fuel intelligent growth, encourage innovation and position Riverside as the location of choice.”

Mr. Vaupel holds a Masters of Public Administration from Northern Illinois University and a Bachelor of Science in Government from Liberty University and is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Administration at Northern Illinois University.  Mr. Vaupel’s varied background includes planning and economic development positions in four cities, including serving as director of economic development for two of them, working as director of planning and entitlements for a private development company and operating his own real estate company, in addition to his present position with the Greater Livingston County EDC.

Mr. Vaupel fills the position previously held by Tricia Braun, who relocated to Madison, WI.  Mr. Vaupel will begin his new position in Riverside on September 10.

Read the full August 22, 2012 News Release from the City of Riverside.

Local Students Participate In RAM’s First Ever Student Curator Program

Documentary photo of the Mobile Mural Lab youth workshop held during the exhibit’s opening reception. Source: Riverside Art Museum

With a thriving community of artists, art galleries, museums and performance venues, the City of Riverside can most certainly be called Creativity Central.  The City serves as an artist’s haven constantly buzzing with an unmatched array of cultural opportunities.

One major hub for creativity in the City of Arts and Innovation are the local universities, which serve as a constant source of young artistic talent. The Riverside Art Museum (RAM) has launched a new pilot program called the Student Curatorial Council, which hopes to connect with this talent base and engage local students with the creative and professional processes involved in curating a museum exhibit.

The following is reproduced from RAM’s press release published in the Press Enterprise:

The Student Curatorial Council pilot program was launched in conjunction with RAM’s groundbreaking summer exhibition, “You Are Breathing In It! Alternative Art Practices.” The Museum’s Curatorial Council has given four locally based students, ranging from undergraduates to PhD. candidates, a firsthand experience working with contemporary artists and curators.

The students have worked alongside museum staff and “You Are Breathing In It!” artists and curator Karla Diaz to plan, execute, and write about their related exhibition programming component.

“This project represents an important step for RAM to better engage our region’s university students in a meaningful way,” says Drew Oberjuerge, RAM executive director. “Not only is our summer exhibition geared towards students, we have created spaces for them to reflect on and expand our programming.”

“We hope that this experience is an important stepping stone in their careers as artists, curators, and art critics. We look forward to continuing this type of project to showcase the talent and intellect of students like these.”

The curators gained firsthand experience writing and editing didactic text; working within a limited budget; coordinating loan forms and contracts; and helping with exhibit installation.

The participating curators are Michaeline Anderson, a Cal State San Bernardino graduate currently completing her masters in Art History at UCR; Lydia Young Ha Kim, a recent graduate of California Baptist University who will enter the Claremont Graduate University in the fall for museum studies; Carolyn Schutten, currently completing her PhD. in Public History at UCR; and Zaid Yousef, currently completing his bachelors at UCR in Studio Art and Art History. (Click here to read the full biographies of the participating curators)

“Working on the RAMSCC has been an intellectual adventure!” Yousef said. “This exhibition in particular provokes an intellectual responsibility to articulate the fundamental core of our practice.”

The exhibition includes documentary photos of the Mobile Mural Lab youth workshop held during the exhibit’s opening reception, curated by Young Ha Kim, abstract enamel paintings by artist-curator Yousef, the Polaroid photographs of Inland Empire-native photographer Theodore DeHart , curated by Anderson; and a sound installation of artist Luz María Sánchez’s “2487,” curated by Schutten.

“RAM is thrilled to be able to offer these young curators an opportunity like this,” says Kathryn Poindexter, curator and coordinator of the program. “We are incredibly impressed with the depth and variation of thoughtful artistic responses that the students have produced to accompany this exhibit.”

The Curatorial Council artwork will be on view in RAM’s alcove hallway, atrium exhibition wall, glass cases, and upstairs mezzanine hallway through Sept. 26.

Unique programs like the Student Curatorial Council promote opportunities for creativity and lifelong learning in the community. This creative culture in Riverside is an important attribute of our high quality of life and helps to establish a diverse and dynamic community for all to live, work, and play.

Read the full August 15, 2012 Press Release from Riverside Art Museum as published in the Press Enterprise.

Four RUSD High Schools Receive Upgrades to Athletic Facilities

Construction of the new pool at Romona High School.
Source: Ramona Aquatics

Includes excerpts from the August 11, 2012 article from the Press Enterprise by Dayna Straehley.

Four Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) high schools – Poly, North, Ramona and Arlington – have begun major improvements to their athletic facilities this summer. The upgrades are greatly needed as there have been no renovations made since the schools were originally built, which was in the late 1950s for Ramona High, in the mid-’60s for North and Poly, and in the early ’70s for Arlington.

The high schools are receiving more than $44 million in upgrades, paid mostly with Measure B bond money that Riverside voters approved in 2001 for school construction projects, which cannot be used for salaries or other operating costs. Additional funding to augment the cost of the projects is coming from redevelopment money and community development block grants from the City of Riverside and some other sources.

All of the schools are getting artificial turf football fields where freshman and junior varsity teams can compete. Teams, marching bands and other student groups can practice on the artificial turf all day, all year, without tearing it up like natural grass, said Assistant Superintendent Kirk Lewis.

Poly High School

Poly High is getting the biggest pool, 50 meters, with solar heat from the roof of a shade structure, with a wave design, over the planned bleachers.

“The solar is a good deal,” said Kevin Hauser, Assistant Director of facilities projects for Riverside Unified School District. “It pays for itself very quickly.”

The $13.6 million project also includes locker rooms, restrooms and a snack bar next to the pool. A new softball dugout and team room will be built next to the new softball field. A football practice field with artificial turf and a rubberized track is being graded.

Construction at Poly started in April 2012 and is scheduled for completion in May 2013.

North High School

North High School broke ground on the improvements July 25. Construction workers quickly demolished the old pool, track, restrooms, bleachers, basketball courts and football field.

The $13.6 million project includes a new football stadium with a nine-lane rubberized all-weather track and press box. The old pool will be replaced with a new 25-yard by 30-meter pool. The school has six new tennis courts and two more will be built, finished with a playing surface in U.S. Open Blue, Hauser said.

The facilities are to be completed by next July 2013.

Ramona High School

The new 25-yard by 30-meter pool at Ramona High will be ready in mid-October, Hauser said. That pool also will have solar heat installed on top of the shade structure over future bleachers. Like the other pools, Ramona’s pool deck will be wide enough for parents to set up portable shade canopies while they watch their sons’ or daughters’ swim meets or water polo matches.

Eight new tennis courts are also being built at Ramona. The $5 million project began in March 2012 and is to be completed in November 2012.

The district stadium at Ramona High was done in 2010, as were rebuilt fields for baseball, softball and physical education.

Arlington High School

Lush green new grass is growing in the summer heat on new baseball, softball and junior varsity and physical education fields at Arlington High.

“This used to be a wasteland out there, a nasty dirt lot,” Hauser said, referring to a 7-acre neglected agricultural department area with a lean-to shed. The agriculture department ended in 2003.

The $12 million, 13-month project also includes dugouts, a concession stand, ticket booth, restrooms and walkways. All the athletic fields were redesigned to take advantage of the additional space, with storm-water retention areas in unused corners, Hauser said.

Separate deluxe batting cages for baseball and softball will be installed soon, Lewis said.

Work began last January 2011 and is to be finished in February 2013.

In a news release from RUSD, Board of Education President Gayle Cloud said she hopes the new facilities will encourage even more world-class athleticism. “If our old facilities produced Olympic champions, think about the future possibilities,” Cloud said.

Riverside is a location of choice for high quality education and the improvements to RUSD’s athletics facilities will help Riverside’s schools continue to be leaders in developing world-class athletes who excel both on the field and in the classroom. 

Read the full article from the Press Enterprise.

Operation Splash Gets Everyone in the Pool

Source: Press Enterprise, Rich Linton/Freelance Photographer

Includes excerpts from the article written by Rich Linton published in the Press Enterprise on August 4, 2012.

Kaiser Permanente’s Operation Splash program partners with parks and recreation agencies throughout Southern California, primarily aiming to decrease the frequency of drowning by offering free swimming lessons. This collaboration between Kaiser and the City of Riverside Parks and Recreation Department provides the community with a great way to cool off from the heat and enjoy a safe swim in the City’s pools.

“Operation Splash is designed to get kids and families active by enjoying the water and being safe,” said Cory Seale, a Kaiser Permanente COO.

The program goes beyond just teaching water safety but also supports the local community. With 10 years of continued support and donations by Kaiser Permanente to Operation Splash, the shelter-based kids at Riverside’s Operation Safehouse were able to use citywide pools at no charge again this year.

Operation Safehouse operates a Riverside emergency shelter for youth in crisis, providing programs and counseling dealing with peer pressure, family problems, drug addiction and abuse. Residency at the shelter is touted as an alternative to living on the street. While in residence at the shelter, the teenager’s identities are secret and guarded for their own protection.

“We try to provide outside activities for the kids to enhance their social skills,” explained Shelter Director, Jackie Moot. “In addition to swimming providing a good stress-release, it’s also a great social group activity.”

Public activities have included neighborhood Walks with the Mayor, hiking Mt. Rubidoux and now swimming during the summer.

A 17-year-old Safehouse resident, Marquize, was recently able to overcome a fear by going to a city pool during a field trip. “I must have stared at the diving board for 30 minutes before I took my first ever jump off of one,” he said.

Counselors and volunteers at Safehouse all agreed that the group field trips to the pool promote positive effects. “They get a break from their problems and they get a chance to be away from the confines of the shelter,” explained volunteer, Antonia Hebel.

Additional grants for Operation Splash in 2012 include:

  • North of the River Recreation and Park District, Bakersfield
  • Friends of Chula Vista Parks and Recreation, Chula Vista
  • Desert Recreation District, Coachella Valley Recreation and Park District, Indio
  • City of San Bernardino, Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, San Bernardino
  • City of Ventura, Community Services Department, Ventura
  • City of Los Angeles, Parks and Recreation Department

Operation Splash represents the strength in our community of partnerships that work to improve the quality of life for all Riversiders. The collaboration between Kaiser Permanente and the City of Riverside provides a space for community groups in Riverside like Operation Safehouse to not only teach water safety but to also provide an opportunity for local youth to enjoy the socialization and summer fun of a day at the pool. Community collaborations like Operation Splash are the key to a unified city and make Riverside a wonderful place to live, work, and play. 

For more information about Operation Splash, contact the City of Riverside Parks and Recreation Services Department at (951) 826-2008.

Watch the video below to learn more about Operation Splash:


UCR Proposes Creative Approach For New On-Campus Arena

Artist rendering for a new on-campus sports arena at UCR.

Includes excerpts from the Press Enterprise article on August 4, 2012 written by Allan Steele.

The City of Riverside is known for world-class recreation facilities and creative leaders who embrace an entrepreneurial spirit. This is evident in UC Riverside’s hire of Brian Wickstrom as the University’s new athletic director. In the 11 months since he was hired, one of the top priorities on Wickstrom’s to-do list was finding a way to get an arena, the “C-Center” built on campus.

Although, this isn’t exactly a new goal. Before UCR, before its move to Division I more than a decade ago, started discussions about collaborations that would help to build a multi-purpose facility that could host concerts, minor league hockey and school athletic events and also serve as an entertainment hub in the region. Several variations of arena designs were even drawn up over the years, but nothing materialized. The economic downturn didn’t help.

Fast forward to recent developments, things may be starting to change at UCR thanks in part to a creative approach by Wickstrom and the possibility of a $30 million infusion from Chinese investors. After discussions with school supporters, administrators, developers, real estate experts, and anyone who would listen about how to get the ambitious project off the ground, a mention from an architect about a federal program called EB-5 piqued Wickstrom’s interest.

“We turned over rocks looking for things that might work,” Wickstrom said of trying to find a way to fund an arena project. “We knew we had to get a little creative.”

Source: Press Enterprise Staff Photographer, David Bauman.
UCR athletic director Brian Wickstrom stands over plans artist renderings for a new on-campus sports arena.

EB-5 is a federal program designed to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors, who in return for their money, get a green card and a pathway to permanent U.S. residency.

The program has been used to help fund projects in Temecula, Murrieta and San Bernardino and even the Rose Bowl has pursued EB-5 funds to help with renovation costs. It’s believed UCR is the first university to use the program for an athletic facility project.

After a visit Wickstrom made to Shanghai, China there was enough interest in the C-Center project that an estimated $20 to $30 million was committed, said Jeff Hopkins, president of the Hopkins Group, an Irvine-based company that has put together EB-5 funding for local projects and is working on the C-Center funding.

“You typically relied on bond money or fundraising,” Hopkins said of past ways to finance a large project like the C-Center. “Given where we are in the economy, especially at the state level, this project would not get built through traditional way of funding.”

A site feasibility report and further approval is needed but the hope at UCR is that the $30 million from EB-5 could kick-start construction on the project and also kick-start fundraising once potential donors see the building actually becoming reality. Investors would be paid back once the arena starts generating revenue. Naming rights, sponsorships and more donors will continue to be courted.

This creative approach to secure funding for such a major investment for UCR is an example of the way Riverside’s leaders act as Catalysts for Innovation. UCR hopes to provide a world-class recreation facility that will not only host the University’s athletic events but will also serve as a regionally distinctive destination showcasing sports and entertainment events that will  attract visitors from across Southern California.

Read the full article from the August 4, 2012 Press Enterprise Article.