Volunteers from the Salvation Army Riverside Corps, Humana Inc., organizers from KaBOOM! and the community helped to build a playground in Riverside on Saturday. The playground went up in about five hours with the help of 200 volunteers. Efforts like this reflect the Seizing Our Destiny’s unified citypillar by bringing the community together for a common interest of creating a safe place for kids to play.
The customized, multigenerational playground, funded primarily by Humana Inc. (a health and wellness company), was created with personal drawings and input from local community members – from children to seniors – during a special design event in September. It includes senior-focused and adult elements, including fitness stations and walking paths, to promotegood posture, balance and flexibility – as well as more traditional, kid-friendly equipment to create a multigenerational space.
The 2,695 square-foot playground is at the Salvation Army Riverside Corps Community Center.
A major study by Southland air quality officials has found that reductions in toxic emissions have cut residents’ cancer risk from air pollution on average by more than 50 percent since 2005.
“Air pollution controls on everything from cars to trucks to industrial plants have dramatically reduced toxic emissions in our region,” said Barry Wallerstein, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. “However, remaining risks are still unacceptably high in some areas,” Wallerstein said. “We need to maintain our commitment to reducing toxic emissions so that everyone can breathe healthful air.”
SCAQMD’s Multiple Air Toxics Study IV (MATES IV) found that the average cancer risk from air pollution across the region declined from 1,194 in 1 million during MATES III in 2005 to 418 in 1 million in 2012-13 using similar methods of analysis. The risk reduction follows a trend of declining toxic emissions in the region since the first MATES study was conducted in 1987.
MATES IV found that diesel particulate emitted from diesel trucks and other diesel-powered vehicles and equipment was responsible for 68 percent of the total cancer risk. Fully 90 percent of the risk is due to mobile sources, which includes everything from cars and trucks to ocean-going ships, locomotives, aircraft and construction equipment.
Information like this is important to quality of life issues in our area. Seizing Our Destiny’s location of choice pillar deals with our unmatched landscape and ability to hold year-round outdoor activities. Riverside must remain a livable and healthy community.
Forbes just released a list a of America’s “Coolest” Cities, and Riverside ranked #8. How do you define “cool”? According to Erin Carlyle, Forbes staff, “We sought to quantify it in terms of cities, partnering with Sperling’s BestPlaces to rank the 60 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Metropolitan Divisions (cities and their surrounding suburbs, as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget) based on six data points we weighted evenly.” The six data points used to rank the cities include: arts and culture, reacreation, diversity, local eats, population age, and net migration.
Although many might dispute that Riverside should be #1 on the list, being ranked one of the “coolest” cities in the country is an outstanding representation of our beloved city being a true location of choice. Riverside has proven to be an attractive place for all types of residents, workers, professionals, entrepreneurs, and visitors. Riversiders take pride in our beloved city with countless opportunities to be entertained, amazed, and inspired. That is why the City of Riverside will continue to become a location of choice for people and organizations from allover the world.
For thousands of families across the Inland Empire, swimming lessons are a luxury they can’t afford. That’s why Kaiser Permanente and the City of Riverside teamed up to start Operation Splash, a program that primarily provides discounted or free swimming lessons for low-income children and adults. Operation Splash exemplifies Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar, as we are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all. Riverside is dedicated to increasing safety and awareness and providing services for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.
The program began seven years ago in part to help keep children safe and prevent drowning. Officials have reported four drownings and 38 near-drownings across the Inland Empire this year. The seventh year of Operation Splash kicked off two weeks ago at Sippy Woodhead Pool at Bobby Bonds Park on Riverside’s Eastside, with Kaiser providing a $55,000 grant to pay for the lessons. Overall the grant is expected to underwrite classes for about 1,300 children, teens and adults, provide 1,000 swim passes for low-income families, give 400 older residents swim lessons and provide 100 junior lifeguard scholarships for youths at seven pools in Riverside.
Operation Splash instructors are certified lifeguards, capable of teaching children as young as 6 months old how to swim and be safe in the water.
“It makes us feel safer knowing our kids know how to swim,” said Kathy Ngo, whose 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son receive lessons as part of the program. “During the summer if they go to the beach or the pool, not knowing how to swim could be very dangerous. My kids seriously didn’t know how to swim at all when we started. After only two weeks they were able to breast stroke, butterfly, freestyle – almost every stroke.”
Riverside Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey recently said the program has served more than 20,000 citizens since its inception.
Artnival 2014 was a great opportunity not only in terms of serving a traditionally underserved population with a free, family-friendly event, but also as a cross-county promotional effort. Approximately 300 people attended the event over the course of the day. The Riverside Arts Council assisted The Community Foundation with the culminating activity of its Arts Regranting Program Inland Empire (funded through The James Irvine Foundation).
Victor Valley had a musical petting zoo, with one of the students served through the program there to demonstrate instruments for children and to guide them in trying the instruments out for themselves. The High Desert Cultural Arts Foundation had an exhibit of the work created by students, as well as a drawing workshop and a performance of work created in their children’s theatre workshop. The group from tps had an exhibit and a workshop.
This family oriented Artnival event is a great portrayal of seizing our destiny’s unified city pillar. Riversiders from all backgrounds came together to be a part of the event and join in the fun. People are brought together around common interests and concerns, while the unique character of Riverside’s neighborhoods and diverse communities are celebrated and valued.
Events such as this have the power to have a far greater impact than numbers will show. One of the teenaged performers from the High Desert Cultural Arts Foundation is autistic. Until just a few months ago, she was non-verbal. When she began the program funded by The Community Foundation, she began to speak. At Artnival, she sang a number with her mother. No one in her family would have ever imagined that she would be able to stand up on a stage in front of a group of people, much less sing a song. Through Park and Rec’s sponsorship of this event, this girl was provided a therapeutic opportunity that will have a lifetime’s worth of benefits.
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside has scored three times recently with Conde Nast Traveler magazine. In the publication’s 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards, with nearly 80,000 taking part in the survey, the historic inn made the Top 25 list in the highly competitive best hotel list for Southern California.
It’s in the company of Beverly Hills’ The Peninsula (No. 1) and L’Ermitage (No. 7) ; Los Angeles’ Hotel Bel-Air (No. 3); Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas (No. 22) ; and San Diego’s Tower 23 Hotel, which missed matching its name by coming in at No. 24 . The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa was No. 25. A separate survey for Top 50 Hotel Spas in the United States has Kelly’s Spa at the Mission Inn rated No. 10. The Readers’ Choice Awards were announced in November.
The magazine more recently recommended The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa as a romantic vacation proposal destination, where suitors can arrange for a walk along the inn’s rotunda staircase that winds up at a small table with candles, champagne and roses for popping the question as flowers rain down. All of the outstanding rankings, and vast selection of sites and activities at the historic Mission Inn, make this destination a true location of choice. In the heart of Riverside, The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is an elegant place where anyone can go relax and have a good time.
The inn’s largest draw has been the annual Festival of Lights, a Thanksgiving week-through-New Year’s celebration. The 21st edition featured 4 million lights decorating the inn along with holiday-motif characters on its balconies. An estimated 50,000 people attended the fireworks opening, and the festival attracted shoulder-to-shoulder crowds during its run.
Duane Roberts, co-owner and CEO, also moved to add restaurants to the inn’s standing lineup of the Mission Inn Restaurant and the Presidential Lounge. Duane’s Prime Steaks and Seafood just earned its 18th consecutive AAA four-diamond rating, which Roberts believes is unmatched.
The inn “is not a chain operation, so we are able to do special things, and we are able to do things the way we want to,” Duane Roberts said.
(Excerpts from this post were taken from an article written by Ross French, and published today on UC RiversideThursday, February 6, 2014.)
During his time at UC Riverside, Cory Butner was what Student Recreation Center Associate Director Mike Eason describes as a “gym rat.” Whether it was working as a SRC staff member in the weight room, playing basketball, or working out himself, when Butner wasn’t in the classroom pursuing his degree in statistics, he could likely be found within the walls of the Student Recreation Center.Now just eight years after earning his degree and six years after taking up the sport of bobsledding, the 32-year old, 6-2, 210-pound Yucaipa native is representing the United States as a pilot of a two-man bobsled at the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The two-man competition is scheduled for Feb. 16 and 17 at the Sanki Sliding Center.
“Being a part of this team is the best thing to happen to me,” Butner said. “I’m really excited to be representing the USA on the big stage.”
Butner is currently ranked fifth in the world and is in the midst of a strong 2013-14 World Cup campaign that has seen him record bronze medal finishes at Lake Placid on Dec. 14, 2013, and Winterberg, Germany, on Jan. 3. He also has three fourth-place finishes, including the most recent event on Jan. 25 at Schönau am Königsee, Germany. In 2012-13, he won silver medals at the Park City World Cup and Lake Placid World Cup. He finished ninth overall in the competition at the Sochi track and finished the season ranked eighth in the world.
“Most people don’t know about 95 percent of the stuff that goes into racing. You only get to see 5 percent of what we do on TV once every four years,” he said. “Four years for four minutes of racing to prove to the world who is the best.”
A basketball and track athlete at Colton High School, Butner didn’t play intercollegiate sports at UCR, but fed his desire for competition in the weight room and through intramural sports. He credits his sister, Charity — who played volleyball at UCR and graduated in 2000 — with giving him the idea to pursue the bobsled following his graduation in 2005. It’s great to hear stories like this of former UCR alumni. He is truly a champion and reflects the community’s creative side with a desire for lifelong learning.
Several hundred runners and walkers traversed the scenic streets of Riverside Saturday, Jan. 11, for the 2014 Citrus Heritage Run. With the combination of great weather and a perfect location, runs like this are very popular here. As Riverside continues to shine as a Location of Choice, people will come from surrounding areas to participate.
The fifth annual event, which included an inaugural half marathon and one-mile kids’ run, was organized by the Riverside Road Runners, a running and walking club.
The addition of the half marathon – the most popular distance in running – made the event more attractive to people from outside the area, said club President Ed Ettinghausen.
“It makes it more of a Southern California race because people are willing to travel further than the typical 5 or 10K event,” said Ettinghausen, 51, of Murrieta.
He said the club imposed a limit of 800 participants to guarantee a quality run for each person. The event quickly reached capacity through online registration, he said.
Proceeds from the race help area high school students pay training costs and entry fees for the Surf City Marathon Feb. 2 in Huntington Beach and the LA Marathon March 9. In the past, the club has raised enough money to sponsor 10 to 12 students each year, Ettinghausen said.
Runners who finished the race received a medal. Participants who took part in the Nov. 10 Mission Inn Run and Oct. 12 Riverside Hometown Heroes Honor Run received an additional medal celebrating their completion of the three events.
John Story said he participated in the 5K to support his 9-year-old daughter, Renee, who belongs to the 100-mile club at Promenade Elementary School in Corona. She has logged 290 miles since Aug. 19, running 30 minutes every day before school.
“I love this course,” said Story, a Riverside resident. “There’s a lot of challenge to it. Running through the orange groves is relaxing to me, even though the hills are taxing.”
The race started on Victoria Avenue next to Arlington Heights Sports Park. Runners passed through California Citrus State Historic Park, then returned to finish near the starting line.
Story, 50, said running helps burn off some of his daughter’s excess energy.
“I got tired, but I kept running on and on until I was done,” Renee said. “I’m proud of myself.”
Michael John Stanley, 42, said he enjoyed the race but didn’t like that the 5K and half marathon shared the same route.
“It slows you way down,” he said. “You had to pass a lot of people who were in the way.”
Stanley’s 12-year-old daughter, Michaela May Stanley, said she was impressed with her performance.
“It was very difficult, but I did better than I thought I would do,” said Michaela, a member of the cross-country team at Woodcrest Christian Middle School near Riverside.
The community center at Riverside’s Villegas Park, where young people can box or play basketball and older folks gather in the mornings for coffee and conversation, is getting some long-awaited upgrades.
“We’ve been looking forward to it,” 76-year-old Harvey Zamora, a volunteer at the community center, said Thursday, Dec. 5.
Zamora and a handful of other old-timers from the Casa Blanca neighborhood were sipping coffee in a modular building that’s standing in for the now gutted community center. Built in 1972, the center will get new lighting, a game room and new office space, a more formal entryway with a lobby, and – most important, Parks Director Ralph Nuñez said – an expanded kitchen.
“Whenever there’s a community meeting, (or) something’s taking place, food’s always part of it,” Nuñez said.
The $3.4 million project should take about a year. It also includes redoing a soccer field, parking lot and several outbuildings, and will create a new courtyard for two monuments – one honoring men from Casa Blanca who died in military service, and another that memorializes Ysmael Villegas, the soldier killed in World War II for whom the park and community center are named.
The start of work is a relief for residents, who had to wait nearly two years while the project funding was in limbo, said Councilman Paul Davis, who represents Casa Blanca. Continued improvements to our park facilities is important in order for Riverside to remain a Location of Choice – an important aspect of Seizing Our Destiny. Providing spaces for the community to meet also helps to foster Riverside as a Unified City.
The Villegas Park improvements were intended to be a redevelopment project, and the city had issued bonds to pay for the work several years before state legislators dissolved redevelopment agencies in 2011. But preparing specifications and getting bids takes time, Davis said, and that process wasn’t finished when state finance officials stepped in to review all proposed expenditures of former redevelopment money.
Welcoming bicycles to the streets isn’t just an urban thing anymore. Increasingly, according to the new rankings of “Bicycle Friendly Communities” released by the League of American Bicyclists this week, suburbs are getting in on the act.
Places like Elmhurst, Illinois; Riverside, California; Montclair, New Jersey; and Dublin, Ohio; are among the 32 municipalities making LAB’s list for the first time this year. The list, which ranks towns and cities in a four-tier system from bronze up to platinum (the full list here, PDF), was inaugurated in 2003. It now includes 291 towns and cities in 48 states.
The City of Riverside, who adopted a Bicycle Master Plan on May 22, 2007, was ranked on the Bronze level. Bicycle enthusiasts have definitely been increasing here by the number of bicycle events including “Bike With The Mayor”.
Increasingly, Nesper says, suburban leaders are seeking out a “bicycle friendly” designation because they think it makes their communities more attractive to new businesses and residents. He cites Greenville, South Carolina, as another unexpected place that earned a bronze designation this year. Amenities like good bike infrastructure can help set a suburb or small city apart from its sprawling counterparts.
“What’s happening is that bicycling is an indicator of a high quality of life,” says Nesper. “It helps the community compete.” High quality of life is definitely a part of Seizing Our Destiny. Those interested in biking will consider Riverside a Location of Choice.