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Last Chance: If you always wait until...

Last Chance: If you always wait until the last moment to do your Christmas shopping, your day has arrived. But most malls will close earlier than usual. Some sample hours--Media City Center in Burbank: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Northridge Fashion Center: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Panorama Mall: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

* 1997 PORTRAIT: It was a year in which bank robbers brought terror to a North Hollywood neighborhood, a firefighting hero went home, a subway tunnel finally arrived, elderly rest home residents were turned out into the night and popular policeman Mark Kroeker, above, was denied the top job. The Valley’s notable moments are remembered in photos. B6-7

* MOM’S HELPER: New mom Chris Morley of Valencia turned a problem--no relatives nearby to help her through the first difficult weeks of parenthood--into an opportunity--a business that helps hospitals establish mother’s helper programs. D1

* L.A. UN-UNIFIED: Former teacher Stephanie Carter has helped lead the battle to dismantle the Los Angeles Unified School District and give the Valley its own school authority. Carter is one of the Valley 10. B1

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