CITY ROUNDUP: Nix Center exhibits honored

The Nix Nature Center’s interior exhibits recently received the exhibit design world’s highest honor "” first place in the National Assn. for Interpretation’s 2007 Interpretive Media Awards Competition. The award was announced Nov. 8 at the organization’s national workshop in Wichita, Kan.

The Nix Center’s “Full View" entry was one of 97 in the national competition, which promotes excellence in natural, cultural and historical interpretation.

Prepared and submitted by Laguna Canyon Foundation and exhibit consultants The Acorn Group and SoLa Creative, the entry, “Full View: Nix Nature Center, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park," was praised by judges for its originality, beauty and simplicity in focusing on different views and perspectives of the local landscape.

“The use of the entire building as a portal to the landscape is such a simple and brilliant one that it seems all visitor centers should be doing this," said one judge.


Laguna Canyon Foundation’s Interpretive Exhibit Working Group, staff, consultants and Orange County Parks developed the nature center’s exhibit program. The “Full View" concept explores Laguna Coast Wilderness Park through the eyes of scientists, artists, historians and park advocates and employs the building itself as a portal to encourage visitors to explore the outdoors.

“We were winners from day one working with such a talented team of advisors and professionals in partnership with O.C. Parks," said Mary Fegraus, who represented Laguna Canyon Foundation on the project.

“O.C. Parks is delighted to see such a prestigious honor go to the Nix Nature Center," said Parks Director Parker Hancock. “The nature center provides the perfect gateway into Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. This is a great example of how the county can successfully partner with nonprofit groups to maximize learning experiences at our facilities."

The Nix Nature Center is at 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Little Sycamore Canyon Staging Area. Hours are daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For additional information, call (949) 923-2235 or visit www.ocparks.comlagunacoast.


City Hall to be closed two Mondays in a row

This year, because the Christmas and New Years holidays each fall on a Tuesday, City Hall will be closing Monday and Dec. 31, City Manager Ken Frank announced. City employees will be taking vacation time for these two days, which are not city holidays.

Essential services such as police, fire, lifeguards, bus service and other functions will be provided. Signs will be posted at all City Hall entrances indicating the holiday closure dates.

Cold weather shelter opens at St. Catherine’s

St. Catherine’s Catholic School has been operating the Emergency Cold Weather Shelter for homeless people at the school gym since Dec. 19, City Manager Ken Frank announced Thursday. The school’s Christmas vacation runs Dec. 9 to Jan. 1.

The shelter is due to open at the United Methodist Church on Wesly Drive Jan. 2.

The shelter is operated at Laguna Beach churches when temperatures reach into the 40s.

Velasquez to speak at Woman’s Club


Susan McNeal Velasquez will be the guest speaker at the Jan. 17 evening meeting of the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club.

A Laguna Beach resident, Velasquez has facilitated personal development seminars for more than three decades. She has inspired and guided individuals and professionals from all walks of life to success along their chosen paths. She is also a mother, grandmother, educator, businesswoman and author.

Velasquez will also autograph copies of her most recent book, “Beyond Intellect," which will be available for purchase.

This program is jointly sponsored by the Woman’s Club and the American Assn. of University Women as a service to the women of the community. Doors will open at 7:15 p.m. for socializing and refreshments. The program will begin at 7:45 p.m. The clubhouse is located at 286 St. Ann’s Drive, Laguna Beach.

Fundraiser nets nearly $30,000 for fire relief

The Peppertree Lane’s firestorm relief fundraiser Nov. 14 raised more than $14,000 to benefit the victims of the recent California wildfires. With matching funds from Peppertree Lane, $28,966 was presented to the Orange County Red Cross.

Rick Sadleir at Partners Bistro fed about 100 guests an array of hors d’oeuvres ranging from seared ahi and shrimp to pulled pork on biscuits and stuffed mushrooms. Gelato Paradiso served handmade gelato and La Rue du Chocolat provided chocolate-covered strawberries. The Saloon also served beverages and was the scene of the opportunity drawing. Prizes included gift certificates to Sorrento Grille, French 75, Savannah Supper Club, Zoolu, The Montage, Gelato Paradiso and six shawls from Sutton Place. Other donations were from Andrus Plumbing, The Saloon, Watkins Insurance, Atlas Showroom/Corpus Clothing, the Saloon and Budweiser.

Gary Hogan and the Hollywood Comb-Overs played music.


Sutton Place Boutique was open for private shopping. The owner, Anita Beaton donated 25% of sales to the cause.

Volunteers included Kim Bailey, Mary Anne Henderson, Vicki Spani, Diane Long, Meghan Rowe and Anne Cummings.

Harman district director named staffer of year

Sen. Tom Harman’s district coordinator, Cynthia Determan, was chosen by her fellow Republican staff members to receive the annual “Donald Award." This honor is awarded annually to one Republican legislative staffer who works for an Orange County elected official for the state of California.

“I am hard-pressed to think of a more deserving recipient for this year’s Donald Award than Cynthia. I have been impressed with her tenacity, charisma and work ethic. Cynthia has been a true asset to my organization, and I am honored to have her managing my district operations," Harman said.

Determan has previously worked for former State Sen. Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside) and U.S. Reps. David Dreier (R-San Dimas). She has a long history in media relations for corporate and government entities spanning from California to Washington D.C.

The Donald Award is named for Don Gilchrist, a former Administrative Assistant to State Sen. John Lewis. It is given to an individual who portrays a strong presence in the community, puts others before him- or herself, and upholds Republican principles.

Determan is the 11th recipient and the second staffer from the 35th Senate District to receive the Donald Award. She works in Harman’s district office, 950 South Coast Drive, Suite 240, Costa Mesa.