Utility Project On Victoria Avenue Gets Boost From Local Organization

View of Victoria Avenue from Maude to Washington (Source: Riverside Renaissance)

One of Riverside’s unique features is the historic Victoria Avenue, which owes its existence to the vision of Mathew Gage, who developed the Gage Canal that made the vast acres of orange grove plantings which came to be known as Arlington Heights possible. To help promote land sales in Arlington Heights, Matthew Gage had developed a beautiful dual carriage way road, named for Britain’s Queen Victoria and modeled after Riverside’s landmark Magnolia Avenue. Victoria Avenue was designed with a wide median, separate travel lanes for east and westbound traffic, and spacious parkways on both sides.

As land use in Arlington Heights became more residential and groves began to disappear, citizens became concerned about preserving this unique avenue as a city amenity. On June 11, 1969, Victoria Avenue was declared Cultural Heritage Landmark #8 by the Riverside Cultural Heritage Board and in October 2000, Victoria Avenue was added to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.

Founded in 1990, an organization dedicated to the preservation and beautification of Victoria Avenue called Victoria Avenue Forever came together to help preserve, restore and beautify Historic Victoria Avenue through community volunteer efforts, education and advocacy. Victoria Avenue Forever is a public benefit nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation that raises funds for trees and other plants, organizes tree-planting and tree-care activities, and informs the public about the history and value of the plantings on the avenue. The group has established an endowment fund with The Community Foundation called the “Victoria Avenue Historic Restoration Project” to help provide for the ongoing care of Victoria Avenue.

The organization recently demonstrated its commitment to beautifying Victoria Avenue with a $1.3 million donation from the Victoria Avenue Historic Restoration Project fund, that was approved by the City Council on September 18, 2012 to help fund a Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) project that will bury utility lines along Victoria Avenue between Maude and Washington streets. This donation will significantly reduce the cost for RPU to a little less than $601,000 of the total $1.9 million for the project. The Victoria Avenue Historic Restoration Project Fund has helped fund 4 similar projects from 1995 to 2009, with the greatest contribution amounting to about $1.5 million in 2004.

According to the Press Enterprise, “putting Victoria’s electric lines underground was spearheaded by Dan Hays, brother of the late Howard H “Tim” Hays, former owner, publisher and editor of The Press-Enterprise. The Hays family also has been a major donor to the restoration project, giving about $475,000.” The Hays family was honored at the City Council meeting for their contributions and dedication to the restoration of Victoria Avenue.

The work of Victoria Avenue Forever to promote one of Riverside unique and historic roots reflects the tremendous impact collaborations across sectors can have on our community. As a result of their commitment to restore the beauty and heritage of Victoria Avenue, Riversiders can enjoy the vast tree-lined parkway and beautiful multi-use trail year-round.

Read more about the donation in the September 17, 2012 Press Enterprise Article.

Learn more about Victoria Avenue Forever and how you can get involved on the organizations website.

Sister City Art Exchange Builds Connections Across the Border

Riverside has established Sister City relationships with 7 different cities around the world. These relationships are important to the community because they foster opportunities for educational development and cultural exchanges for residents and businesses in Riverside.

In 1976, the City of Riverside created a Sister City relationship with Ensenada, Mexico centered on municipal cooperation, public safety and health, as well as building art alliances. Over the years, there has been continuous support for these art alliances through partnerships between the Riverside Community Arts Association (RCAA) and the International Relations Council of Riverside.

RCAA has organized five sister city cultural exchange projects with Ensenada over a four-year period. The most recent exchange includes art work from 21 Riverside area residents, and was the focus of an August 22, 2012 Press Release from RCAA published in the Press Enterprise. Mark Schooley, RCAA’s executive director, and coordinator of the project, has organized cultural exchanges between Riverside and three of the City’s international sister cities – Sendai, Ensenada, and Jiangmen since 2007.

The following is an excerpt from the Press Release describing the exhibits currently on display in Ensenada:

“The Road of Art” features works by 21 Riverside area artists and works by students from Riverside’s Arizona Middle School, along with works by youth from HeART Enterprises community youth program. The exhibit is taking place at the Riviera Cultural Center.

“The exhibit features some of the best artists from our region, and showcases the diversity of our Riverside artists,” according to Schooley. The other two exhibits are at the Terra Peninsular Center, an environmental organization that works on ecological research and advocacy in the Baja region.

On view at the center are 22 artworks created by Schooley during his trips to Ensenada to work on sister city activities. Also, an exhibit titled “Nature’s Way” by 10 artists from the group, Plein Air Artists of Riverside, is on view. This artist’s group paints in outdoor settings exclusively and is affiliated with the Riverside Art Museum.

The Ensenada cultural exchange will also be showcased during the October 4, 2012 Long Night of Arts & Innovation celebration from 6 p.m. to midnight with an exhibit on traditional arts and crafts from the Kumiai tribe of Northern Baja California.

The City of Riverside’s Sister City program reflects the community’s commitment to creating cross-cultural relationships based on art, education, information and trade exchanges. As a City of Arts & Innovation, Riverside is proud to participate in Art Alliance programs like those in Ensenada, which allow the City to promote a culture of lifelong learning for all through innovations in art, music, and cultural expressions. 

Read the full RCAA Press Release from the Press Enterprise.

Learn more about Riverside’s Sister City Program. 

Municipal Auditorium Rededicated To Celebrate Completion of Renovations

Riverside Municipal Auditorium before the renovations.

The Riverside Municipal Auditorium has long served the City of Riverside as both a premier entertainment venue and a historic gem in the heart of Downtown. To celebrate the Auditorium’s heritage, the City of Riverside hosted a rededication ceremony on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 followed by tours of the newly renovated building.

The Mission/Spanish Revival building located at 3485 Mission Inn Avenue was originally opened on November 12, 1928 and served as a memorial to 87 service members from Riverside County who died in World War I.  On March 31, 1978 the Municipal Auditorium was added to the National Registry of Historic Places .

The Auditorium recently underwent a nearly one year restoration effort, which began in October 2011 and was completed this summer at a final cost of $9.5 million. The retrofit preserved the integrity of the facility with seismic work throughout, including re-roofing, and new electrical, plumbing and communication systems. In addition, the exterior façade and walls were restored. While the Riverside Convention Center undergoes renovations, the Municipal Auditorium will serve as the main venue for major events. (Click here to view images of the renovation project from Stronghold Engineering)

Riverside is proud of its historical heritage and the rededication after the Auditorium’s renovation demonstrates the City’s commitment to preserving our history while also providing unique high-quality entertainment venues in our Downtown. Riverside is a location of choice to live, work and play because it continues to preserve and respectfully develop its historical heritage and spaces into undeniably inviting places that create a cultural oasis for visitors, residents and artists to enjoy year-round.

Read the full September 18, 2012 Press Release from the City of Riverside here.

For more information about the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, visit the Riverside Convention and Visitors Bureau website.

Local Business Owners Come Together To Support Their Community

(Photo Credit: Rich Linton, Freelance Photographer, Press Enterprise) Anthony Torres (from left, clockwise) Phillip Schoeny, John and Christine Perez with a small portion of the Top Ramen donated for Riverside’s City Mission on Aug. 17, 2012.

Riverside is known for its unique and diverse communities who come together around common interests and concerns.

Local business owners in the Arlington Park area, John and Christine Perez, Phillip Schoeny, and Anthony Torres have truly embraced this quality of a unified city through a series of events they hosted to give back to their community.

An August 27, 2012 article in the Press Enterprise by Rich Linton puts the spotlight on these Riversiders and their commitment to supporting their neighbors. The following is an excerpt from the article:

When John and Christine Perez took over as the franchisees of the Der Wienerschnitzel adjacent to the park on Magnolia Avenue in May 2012, they knew immediately they wanted to donate their time by promoting public-assistance programs.

“Anytime you do something positive for your community, it’s a good feeling,” John Perez said.

After first sponsoring a blood drive in honor of slain Riverside police Officer Ryan Bonaminio in June 2012, Perez enlisted help for planning future events from his business neighbors, Phillip Schoeny, owner of Frank’s Auto Repair, and Anthony Torres, Manager of Star Auto Parts.

On Friday, Aug. 17, they partnered for the second time with LifeStream, holding a second blood drive while at the same time collecting food donations for the Riverside City Mission.

“We contacted the mission to see what they could use,” explained Perez. “They told us they really needed Top Ramen.”

Perez, Schoeny and Torres papered the Arlington area with event flyers and an advanced announcement in The Press-Enterprise advised that hot dogs and ice cream would be given to anyone donating blood or dropping off a package of Top Ramen.

After the first hour of the event, several cases of food were piled high and there was a long line up of people waiting in the 105-degree heat to donate blood.

The three-business owners all agreed that the food and blood drive was a success.

“What a great feeling to know that we have helped out someone who may have gone without a meal,” Perez said.

Read the full article about these generous Riverside business owners here.

The group has several more events planned in the future and Riversiders could not be happier to have such a strong display of Riverside pride and a culture of supporting those in need. While rich in history, Riverside is also rich in future – our city has made significant advances in everything from science and engineering to culture and society. The uniqueness of Riverside comes from its people, “Riversiders” and its unique partnerships. Making Riverside a place known for Intelligent Growth, a Catalyst for Innovation, a Location of Choice, and a Unified City for the Common Good – to help create a better quality of life for all.

SmartRiverside Receives Award for Excellence in City-Business Relations

SmartRiverside was awarded the Helen Putnam League Partners Award for Excellence in City-Business Relations by the League of California Cities on September 5, 2012 at the League of California Cities Annual Conference & Expo held in San Diego. The award recognizes SmartRiverside’s collaborative efforts to engage with the leadership of Riverside’s private, nonprofit and labor sectors to address issues in the community.

Established in 1982 by the League of California Cities, the California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program recognizes outstanding achievements by California’s 482 cities. These winning cities have made unique contributions to community residents and businesses, contributions which have resulted in lower costs or more effective delivery of services.

The purpose of the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program is to recognize and promote the outstanding efforts and innovative solutions by city governments to:

  • Improve the quality of life in local communities.
  • Implement efficiencies in service delivery and operations.
  • Provide services responsive to the local community.

Through the innovations of SmartRiverside, the City is providing free internet service citywide, bridging the digital divide by providing low income families in Riverside with free PCs and free technology training, and attracting & retaining graduates and high tech businesses in record numbers. SmartRiverside has already provided 5,500 free PCs and plans on giving away 11,000 by 2015.   Its members are collaborating on global business opportunities, incubating start-ups, commercializing ideas and inventions, and providing mentoring and funding to new businesses. Through their outstanding work, SmartRiverside has demonstrated its commitment to serving as a catalyst for innovation in our community and promoting the City of Riverside as a location of choice to live, work, and play.

Read more about the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence.

Mayor Loveridge Receives League of California Cities Lifetime Achievement Award

The following includes excerpts from a September 5, 2012 Press Release from the League of California Cities:

Mayor Loveridge accepting the League of California Cities 2012 Past Presidents Lifetime Achievement Award

The League of California Cities honored Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge’s distinguished career in public service with the 2012 Past President’s Lifetime Achievement Award on September 5, 2012 during the opening session of the organization’s Annual Conference and Expo.

The League’s Past Presidents’ Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 1996 and is presented annually to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions over a lifetime of public service. Robin Lowe, former City Council member from the City of Hemet and 2011 League of California Cities past president announced the award at the League conference. She spoke on behalf of the past presidents saying, “Ron Loveridge has actively blended the academic and practical sides of politics to the benefit of his students, his city and the larger local government community in California and across the United States. It’s an honor to recognize Mayor Loveridge for his extraordinary service.”

In his acceptance remarks, Mayor Ron Loveridge commented on why public officials run for office, “….we run to make a difference, to make our cities better places.  Personally framed, it is an extraordinary opportunity.  We can see the consequences of our own work.”  Loveridge, known as a skilled collaborator, also said, “…it is not a solitary effort…You work together, as partners, as members of team.”

Mayor Loveridge (third from left) at the League of California Cities 2012 Annual Conference & Expo held in San Diego, CA.

“Mayor Loveridge is the embodiment of public service. He has devoted himself to thoughtfully advocating for policies that strengthen cities and his work was instrumental in the successful passage of Proposition 1A in 2004,” said League Executive Director Chris McKenzie. “The League’s Past Presidents selection of the Mayor is testament to his unwavering dedication to living a life of service to cities.”

Mayor Loveridge has served the City of Riverside in public office since 1979, first as a member of the City Council and then as Mayor in 1994. For the past 32 years he has effectively led and championed initiatives to address Riverside’s greatest opportunities and challenges. Throughout his term as Mayor, he has played a pivotal role in the strategic and political landscape of our region, state and nation serving in an active leadership capacity on the boards of the League of California Cities, California Air Resources Board, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Southern California Association of Governments, Western Riverside Council of Governments, and National League of Cities.

Mayor Loveridge has been one of the greatest Champions for our Vision with Seizing Our Destiny to be “Known for Intelligent Growth and as a Catalyst for Innovation, a Location of Choice, and a Unified City for the Common Good”

In his call to action at the Mayor’s State of the City in January 2009, Mayor Loveridge urged for the development of a new economic development strategic action plan that would guide the City in its economic development efforts.  His call led to the coming together of Riversiders and thought leaders in Spring of 2009, to initiate a strategic visioning process with the goal of being forward looking and highly aspirational. The result was a modern plan for economic development, “Seizing Our Destiny”: The Agenda for Riverside’s Innovative Future, and a community-driven campaign that builds on the City’s existing strengths to create an even better place to live, work and play for future generations.

Read the full Press Release from the League of California Cities.

Read full Press Release from the City of Riverside.

Long Night of Arts And Innovation Celebrates Riverside’s Best and Brightest

“Presenting The Best of Arts & Innovation in Riverside”

The City of Riverside invites the community to join in the celebration of our City’s title as the World’s #1 Intelligent Community at the inaugural Long Night of Arts & Innovation. This event is free to the public and is coming up on October 4, 2012 (6:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight).

The event showcases the best of what makes Riverside so exceptional with individual exhibits, presentations, demonstrations and artistic performances in downtown venues. As one of the City’s signature events, there will be participation from our universities, businesses and our performing and visual arts community. All are designed to entertain, inform and attract participants to the arts and sciences.

The Long Night of Arts & Innovation features an extensive list of top-notch presenters and line-up of sponsors. Watch the sneak previews of our amazing artists and innovators!

The concept of the event is inspired by the successful Long Night of Science by our Sister City – Erlangen, Germany, which showcases the city’s accomplishments in the arts and sciences to residents, build pride in the city, and encourage youth to seek careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The event is an open house involving the city’s government, university and research centers and attracts about 30,000 residents. Mayor Loveridge was inspired by this event after his trip to Erlangen in October 2011 and created a task force to recreate this concept in our own City. (Click here for a brief article about the 2011 Long Night of Science)

The City of Riverside’s Long Night of Arts and Innovation brings alive Riverside’s vision of being a location of choice and a unified community for creative, entrepreneurial, dynamic and diverse people. The event will present Riverside’s talented artists, performers and strong leaders that serve as catalysts for innovation. They exemplify profound discoveries and creativity in the arts, technology, research and business innovation. 

Learn more at www.riversideca.gov/longnight/.

View the complete program here.

Like the event on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest news!

Riverside is Getting Healthy Together with Start R.I.G.H.T. Challenge

To promote healthy living and shine a light on some of the great wellness activities offered in Riverside, the City of Riverside and its partners are hosting the first-ever, city-wide Start R.I.G.H.T. (Riverside Is Getting Healthy Together) Challenge. The Challenge kickoff event on Saturday, September 15, will begin at 9 a.m. at White Park in Downtown Riverside. The event will include Challenge registration, information booths, Zumba and fitness demos, free screenings, and Mayor Loveridge will announce the winner of the title of “Riverside’s Fittest Neighborhood,” which is given to the winning neighborhood of the Walk Riverside Competition.

“We are excited to offer a program like this here in Riverside,” said Stephanie Smith, Director of Health Education for Riverside Community Health Foundation and Chair of the Start R.I.G.H.T. Campaign & Challenge Committee. “Other cities have achieved great success with similar programs, and we hope that happens here.” Oklahoma City’s “OKC Million Challenge” helped city residents to lose one million pounds collectively, and local cities like Chino and Fontana have also launched city health initiatives.

The 8-week Start R.I.G.H.T. Challenge will offer participants access to free health education, nutrition, and fitness activities, as well as a free online tracking tool through fitfreshfunriverside.com. Participation in the Challenge is free and open to anyone 18 and older who lives or works in Riverside. There will also be prizes for the person who participates in the most Start R.I.G.H.T. activities and a cash prize for the top three people who lose the most weight during the Challenge! Registration for the Start R.I.G.H.T. Challenge began on September 1st at FitFreshFunRiverside.com.  In order for participants to be eligible for prizes, they must enter the competition by September 25, 2012. The Challenge ends on November 17.

“The Start R.I.G.H.T. campaign represents the culmination of Riverside’s efforts to become a more fit, fresh, and fun community. By challenging Riversiders to eat, move, and live right for eight weeks, we hope to encourage lifelong habits of healthy living across the City,” said Mayor Ron Loveridge.

As part of Fit, Fresh & Fun, the Start R.I.G.H.T. Campaign and Challenge are part of a city-wide initiative to motivate and provide the education for Riverside residents to start living healthier lifestyles, with the ultimate goal of reducing Riverside’s obesity and overweight percentages. The Start R.I.G.H.T. Challenge is led by Riverside Community Health Foundation.

From gorgeous parks to fresh farmers markets, yoga classes to bicycle clubs, Riverside has truly become a community of movers and shakers. On any given day, you can find hundreds of options for getting active and celebrating your life! The Start R.I.G.H.T. Challenge is a wonderful opportunity for Riversiders to enjoy the high-quality multi-use trails, parks, recreational facilities and services that connect neighborhoods throughout the City.

For more information about the Challenge and partnership opportunities, contact Stephanie Smith at 951.788.3471 or at news@fitfreshfunriverside.com.

Learn more about the Start R.I.G.H.T. Challenge and the Fit, Fresh, and Fun Forum here.

CBU Engineering Programs Earn Accreditation

The following is reproduced from an August 22 News Release from California Baptist University: 

California Baptist University‘s (CBU) bachelor degree programs in civil engineering (BSCE), electrical and computer engineering (BSECE) and mechanical engineering (BSME) received accreditation by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, the recognized accrediting body of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and technology.

The announcement came as an official electronic notification to university officials Aug. 20 and caps a process that began in 2006, when CBU hired Dr. Anthony Lyle Donaldson as founding dean of the university’s new engineering school.

“This accreditation is an important milestone for the College of Engineering and allows our graduates to compete on an equal footing with graduates from around the world,” Donaldson said. “Its achievement is a result of vision and a tremendous amount of work and support on the part of our faculty, staff, administration and community partners. Also to be commended are the students and families of the first several classes of students whose faith has been rewarded.”

The first class of engineering students began in the 2007-2008 academic year and graduated in 2011. Following ABET policy, CBU applied for accreditation immediately after that graduation. The ABET accreditation is retroactive to 2011 to include all graduates of the three CBU degree programs.

The program has grown from 53 students and one faculty member in the fall of 2007 to more than 350 students and 22 full-time faculty and staff in the fall of 2012. Degrees are offered in civil engineering, construction management, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering and engineering (with concentrations in bioengineering, business, global applications, pre-law and pre-med). Chemical engineering and graduate programs are in the planning stages for rollout soon.

As a location of choice for the high-tech industry, the City of Riverside catalyzes profound discoveries and creativity in technology, research and business innovation. The recent accreditation of CBU’s Engineering program will not only attract high-quality students to study at the institution but will also contribute to the strong nexus between the business community and universities in the City to provide an opportunity for greater collaboration in addressing the important issues facing the field of Engineering.

See the full August 22, 2012 News Release from California Baptist University.

Watch the Video below for more information about the CBU College of Engineering:

Completion Counts Two-Year Guarantee Helps 373 High School Graduates

With California’s budget cuts creating limited seats at Riverside City College (RCC), many students are finding it hard to enroll in the classes they need. However, through Completion Counts, RCC is now offering a two-year completion guarantee for eligible graduates of Alvord and Riverside Unified School Districts starting with the Class of 2012. The Guarantee has already helped 373 Riverside high school graduates register for the classes they need to graduate on time and complete their higher education goals.

The two-year guarantee is an invaluable opportunity for students who hope to earn an associate’s degree or transfer to a four-year university under the current budget crunched system because it gives priority registration to graduates from Riverside and Alvord Unified School Districts who meet the eligibility requirements. In order to participate, students must sign a contract, pass placement tests in English and math, cannot drop any classes and must meet other applicable deadlines. (View the full list of requirements and resources for the two-year guarantee)

Under the Two-Year Guarantee Riverside City College Guarantees:

  • Early registration for courses at Riverside City College (not valid for Moreno Valley or Norco Colleges)
  • Access to English and math courses starting your first term until your requirements are met
  • Access to 15.0 units each term based on your Student Education Plan
  • Two-year Student Education Plan (SEP) created with an RCC counselor
  • Follow-up student support services each term

Cindy Taylor, Director of Completion Counts, stressed the importance of the Guarantee for students in an August 27, 2012 Press Enterprise article by Dayna Straehly. “If we don’t get more kids graduating, we’re going to see more jobs pass us by” as a community, Taylor said.

This message was echoed by Riverside City College Chancellor Gregory Gray who also commented on the impact of budget cuts for students trying to enroll in required courses. Chancellor Gray said the district turned away about 7,000 students who wanted classes last year because of budget cuts at the Riverside City, Moreno Valley and Norco colleges. “So a seat is an extremely valuable thing,” Gray said.

The two-year guarantee is the result of Completion Counts, a $3 million Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant funded citywide partnership to raise college graduation rates by 2020. The grant is entering its final year and has created a solid framework of collaborations between the City of Riverside, RiversideUnified School District, Alvord Unified School District, Riverside City College and the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce that will continue to promote a college-going culture in Riverside.

Riverside has come together around the need to promote higher education in our community and ensure that our students are able to take full advantage of the opportunities available at any of the institutions of higher education within our city. The two-year guarantee reflects the commitment to lifelong learning and a college-going culture in Riverside by ensuring that students achieve their academic goals through accessible and efficient means. 

Read the full August 27, 2012 article from the Press Enterprise.

Learn more about Completion Counts and the efforts to improve college graduation and college-going rates in Riverside.