CdM Today

Corona del Mar's Toastmasters Group Aim To Perfect the Art of Public Speaking

It's 7 a.m. in the back room of Coco's in Corona del Mar, and the crowd is all ears, waiting for the speeches to begin at the regular meeting of the Harborlites Toastmasters club.

"It's daunting, it's scary — but don't get scared," President Andy Pais tells the group, which includes some visitors as well as longtime members. "Toastmasters gets you pumped. It's not just public speaking, but leadership, and organization."

The group is part of the international Toastmasters organization, which began in a YMCA in Santa Ana in 1924. Today, the groups have 260,000 members in about 12,500 clubs in 113 countries, according to Toastmasters International's website.

The Corona del Mar group meets for 90 minutes over breakfast every Thursday, following a schedule that includes impromptu speeches by randomly selected members, along with prepared speeches and then evaluations that cover everything from grammar, body language and timing. About two dozen people are full-time members.

Rutherford Maule, a private chef, visited a recent meeting and received rave reviews for his off-the-cuff speech that incorporated the word that day — gizmo.

"I'll be back for sure," Maule said.

He hopes to improve his speaking skills in order to make it on "The Next Food Network Star," a reality show that picks a winner who combines cooking, teaching and television skills.

Other visitors said they hoped to perfect work presentations, or to improve their skills in dealing with the public.

"Toastmasters has helped me build confidence when speaking to people, either one on one or in groups," said Tim Krueger, a Corona del Mar real estate consultant who has been a member for two years. "The one thing that has helped me the most is hearing other club members speak. There is a wealth of knowledge from every club member and they all bring something different to the club. It's a great place to learn and grow."

Members include business leaders, lawyers, medical professionals and others who have varying levels of expertise. Membership is $40 per month, and visitors are invited to drop by. For more information, visit the group's website.


New holiday parking rates double revenue at beach lots

Newport Beach made twice as much parking revenue on Memorial Day and July 4 this year compared to last year, in spite of gloomy weather, fewer cars and a sewage spill that affected beach attendance, city officials said this week.

This winter, the Newport Beach City Council voted to increase parking fees at the Big Corona State Beach lot from a $8 to $10 weekday/weekend rate, to $15 with a $25 peak rate for Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day holidays. City officials hoped to bridge a budget gap by shaving costs and finding ways to boost revenue.

"It doesn't make me happy to make people pay more money to visit the beach," said City Manager Dave Kiff. "But I'm afraid it's a necessity if we are to maintain levels of service there, including police, lifeguards and EMS response."

Heather Flaherty, Newport Beach parking lot supervisor, said the city took in $16,500 on Memorial Day this year, compared to $8,010 in 2009. This year, there were 660 cars with the lot full from 12:55 to 3:30 p.m., while last year there were 801 cars with the lot full from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On July 4, she said, the city took in $16,050 from 642 cars, with the lot full from 1:45 to 4:45 p.m. compared to last year, when the city took in $7,610 from 761 cars with the lot full from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.

The increased rates have not had a negative impact on business at the parking lots, said Tara Finnigan, a Newport Beach spokeswoman.

Some people mention it but then they go ahead and pay the fee and park, Flaherty said.


Athleticism Moves A Mile From Corona del Mar Location

A Corona del Mar athletic training business has moved its East Coast Highway location a mile away to the Newport Beach Athletic Club, the owner said.

Athleticism closed its space at 2747 E. Coast Hwy. at Goldenrod Avenue in order to expand and make use of the extensive facilities at the Athletic Club at 1367 Avocado Ave., said owner and fitness expert Justin Frandson.

"It's a great move," Frandson said. "There is a lot of energy over there. It's a perfect fit for us and for them."

The new Athleticism space is in an area that formerly was very underused, Frandson said. He and his clients also will have use of the athletic club's training equipment and rooftop track, he said.

Frandson works with professional athletes, including surfer Jordy Smith, along with the Newport Harbor High School volleyball team, but he also works with clients who have finished physical therapy but need to build strength and with kids who are working on balance and coordination. His Corona del Mar location was open for five years.


Cyclist Ahead of Victim: "I Braced For Impact"

The cyclist killed on Spyglass Hill Road on July 15 was one of four riders who tried to avoid a truck blocking two lanes of traffic, according to one of the riders.

"We came down the hill and started yelling 'Truck! Truck! Truck!'" said James Weaver of Tustin. "The truck was basically blocking both lanes at a 45-degree angle."

Weaver and two other cyclists were able to swerve first to the left, then to the right, and make it safely past the truck, he said.

Michael Nine, 43, collided with the truck and later died of his injuries

The crash occurred just before 8 a.m. Thursday during a regular weekly ride for a group of cyclists from the Tustin area, Weaver said. That day, about 25 cyclists left a Kean coffee shop in Tustin, headed through Irvine and Newport Coast toward Fashion Island, where they planned to turn around and head home.

The group had crested the hill on Spyglass Hill Road and were near the exit-only, gated road to the Harbor Ridge development when the crash occurred.

Police said the truck was in the southbound, uphill lane when Nine lost control and collided with it. Investigators continue to examine physical evidence and interview witnesses, which could take weeks, said Lt. Bill Hartford.

Weaver said he spoke briefly to an investigator after the crash, and he hopes to clarify what he claims is an inaccurate portrayal of the collision.

He said that most of the riders were unable to see what happened, as police said. But he himself was inches away, the first of four cyclists to come around a curve and see the truck blocking their path, he said.

"Coming around the bend, we had to make a split decision," Weaver said. "There was no way of stopping."

At first, they started to veer in front of the truck, into oncoming traffic lanes, he said. But the truck began to pull forward, so they aimed to pass behind it on the right, he said.

"I braced for impact. I literally missed the truck by leaning," he said. Two other cyclists also cleared, but Nine did not.

"I just heard the noise," he said. "It sounded like a bike hit a car. I knew it was bad."

Weaver said they were riding about 40 mph — the speed limit. It took him about 300 yards to be able to stop, and by the time he walked back to the crash site, a cyclist in the group who is a doctor had begun medical care.

The driver of the stake-bed truck was arrested on suspicion of driving with no license and has been detained by immigration authorities.

Weaver said the driver seemed to be trying to move out of the cyclists' way. "It was horrible timing," he said.

On Saturday, two days after the crash, Weaver and other cyclists from the group gathered at the scene for an informal memorial. He said they saw several cars attempt to pull into the Harbor Ridge neighborhood at that spot, then correct and head back into the traffic lanes when they realized there was no entrance there.

"There should be a sign, or 'No Left Turn' painted on the street," he said. "It is like a race track — cars flying down the hill. It's extremely dangerous."

The group has reconfigured their course, he said, so they will no longer ride along Spyglass Hill.

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