LEAP TO LITERACY
Nodileen Nowell-Thornton may be a relatively new reader, but the Don’s
Restaurant and Coffee Shop waitress is positively eloquent when she
describes the gratitude she has for the Burbank Public Library’s adult
literacy program and her longtime tutor, Barbara Weiss.
“She has been a true friend to me,” Nowell-Thornton said. “She’s
someone I feel I can talk to and confide in.”
Nowell-Thornton, a native of New Orleans, has come a long way since
she arrived in Southern California five years ago with a second-grade
reading level and an undiagnosed learning disorder. She has earned her
General Equivalency Diploma and plans to attend community college.
The hard work she put into learning to read and write, and the help
she received along that road, are truly an inspiration to anyone
struggling with literacy.
A chance conversation and a strong will to help have led to an effort
that will feed at least 200 people in North Hollywood Park on
After speaking with a woman who came in to Grady’s, where she works as
a bartender, Burbank resident Stephanie Willmes decided to organize her
own meal for the homeless in the park this year. In the weeks since, her
plan has mushroomed. Now at least a dozen people are involved in the
effort, which will include the distribution of clothing and toys in
addition to a hearty holiday meal of turkey, yams, string beans and more.
“For 15 years, I have been inviting people to my house if they didn’t
have a place to go,” Willmes said. “So I thought, ‘Why don’t I extend it
to the park?’ ”
A POSITIVE NOTE
Musically-inclined students from Burbank High School were among two
groups of Southern California teens selected to take part in a program
that gave them an up-close-and personal look into the lives of
The Burbank students and students from Westchester High School spent
several hours at Third Encore Studios in North Hollywood, listening in to
a pre-tour rehearsal by jazz musician David Koz and his band and
questioning the musicians about their musical styles and life on the
road. The program was sponsored by the Grammy Foundation, the nonprofit
arm of the Recording Academy.
Burbank High ninth-grader and saxophone player Eduardo Basso said the
visit convinced him that life as a struggling artist might not be all
“It’s more fun than working in an office,” he said.
GOOD BYE MR. GOOD NEWS
After 17 years of keeping us informed of the good deeds performed by
our city’s service clubs, longtime Leader columnist Bob Young has called
Although it is hard to fault Young, who is 88, for wanting to spend
some quality time with his wife, Claire, the absence of his column will
leave a sizable gap in the editorial section of this newspaper as well as
in the Foothill Leader and Glendale News Press where he has also
contributed. And though someone will be named soon to follow in his
footsteps, it is unlikely they will be able to fill his shoes.
“Bob’s an icon,” said Jack Ricketts, a member of the Burbank-Magnolia
Park Optimist Club. “Through his efforts, service clubs have got the best
publicity. He has helped them become stronger.”
Indeed. Good luck Bob and thanks a lot.
A SENSELESS CRIME
According to friends, an errant pool cue triggered the argument that
led to the fatal shooting of Miguel Angle Hernandez outside the Golden
Co-workers of Hernandez said he accidentally hit Jose Luis Triana with
the stick after taking a shot in a game of pool. The two men argued and
police say Triana retrieved a gun from his car and waited for Hernandez
outside the bar. When Hernandez, who leaves a wife and 5-year-old son,
stepped outside the bar he was shot four times in the chest and stomach.
It was a senseless and brutal act that, if he is convicted of
first-degree murder with special circumstances, could lead to a death
sentence for Triana.
Ed Pressley, the owner of Steven’s Grinding Company, where Hernandez
worked, said the machinist was going to supervise a new facility in Los
“He had a good future here,” Pressley said. “He was the happiest I had