Quick hits: Lady Bug fire suspect pleads guilty

Babatsunian Olunkunle, arrested last October in connection with the small August 2009 Lady Bug brushfire in the Angeles National Forest, pleaded guilty in Pasadena Superior Court last week to one felony charge of recklessly causing a fire to forest land and on Friday was sentenced to two years in prison.

But with credit for time served and good behavior, said Los Angeles County Deputy District Atty. Sean Carney, the 26-year-old native of Nigeria was released from county jail on three years' parole and into a transitional living program.

Forest officials traveling on the Angeles Crest Highway just days before the Station fire broke out noticed smoke rising above the trees and extinguished a small fire about 100 feet from the road. Olunkunle fled the scene, leaving behind a bag of rice and a coffee can filled with water, according to Carney.

Olunkunle's mother, Taiwo Olunkunle, has said her son began living in the forest after experiencing unspecified personal problems.


Skate park unveils 'chill' new half-pipe

The La Cañada Flintridge Skate Park will celebrate a grand re-opening Tuesday for the official unveiling of a new 20-foot half-pipe.

The Cornishon Avenue haven for local skateboarders first opened in July 2001, but since that time has undergone more permanent improvements.

The new steel half-pipe replaces a 16-foot wooden version and is a definite improvement, according to a handful of local boarders passing through the Valley Sun parking lot.

"It's chill because it's bigger and it's metal, so it's smoother and you get more speed off of it," said Jonathan Barton, a seventh-grader at La Cañada High School.

That means the new half-pipe, said classmate Desi Perez, "is easier to do tricks on."

For all of its benefits, a boarder can't live on skate parks alone but must also roam sidewalks and parking lots to discover naturally occurring obstacles — or so says frequent park user Troy Austin, also in the seventh grade, but at Rosemont Middle School in La Crescenta.

He said the park's smooth concrete surfaces and steel ramps are almost "too perfect" to use all the time.

Mayor Donald Voss will lead a ribbon cutting ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at the park, located at 4490 Cornishon Avenue.

Skaters must sign a liability waiver and wear kneepads, elbow pads and helmets before enjoying the park.

For more information, call (818) 790-8880.


Artists' donations sought for schools' auction

The La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation this week announced it will incorporate an art exhibit and auction into its annual fund-raising spring gala, which this year will be a masquerade ball. The event's date has been set for March 19 at the Pasadena Convention Center.

Local student or professional artists willing to donate pieces of work to the auction are asked to contact Paris Cohen at gala@lcfef.org. All proceeds of the sales will benefit the foundation, which in turn supports the arts and other programs within the La Cañada Unified School District.

LCUSD prepares for Open Enrollment Act

La Cañada Unified on Tuesday began preparing for out-of-district students who may attempt to transfer to LCUSD under the Open Enrollment Act.

Senate Bill X5 4, also known as the Open Enrollment Act, gives students attending one of California's 1,000 lowest achieving schools the chance to apply for a transfer to any school with a higher Academic Performance Index score.

The district adopted a new policy under which Open Enrollment transfers must apply between March 15 and April 20. The applications will be accepted or denied by May 13. Applicants can be denied if the student would "negatively impact the capacity of a program, class, grade level or school building."

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