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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

Thanksgiving Day.

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?’ ”


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

professional musicians.

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

that bad.

“It’s more fun than working in an office,” he said.



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

it quits.

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.


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

seen him.”