Australians visit Temple City in annual exchange

The Temple City Sister City Association invites seven Australian students to experience Temple City and America.

Written by LOUISA CHANG, Staff Writer/ Published on February 7, 2014 

On December 26, 2013, seven teenagers from Hawkesbury, Australia arrived in Temple City to participate in the annual student exchange program held by the Temple City Sister City Association. This year, the Australian student ambassadors were Jamie Anyon-Smith, Adam Clark, Jordan Pearson, Tim McAlpine, Thomas Refalo, Phoebe Tracey, and Bethany Tramontano. Their host siblings were Michelle Hubbard, Janabelle Peng, Louisa Chang, Billy McGavin, Nathan Franco, Keefer Sih, and Janelle Rivera.

During their month-long stay, the Australians toured local sites, such as City Hall and the fire station, and visited iconic tourist destinations, such as Disneyland and Universal Studios. They were also able to attend classes at Temple City High School with their host siblings on designated weekdays and the annual Temple City High School dance concert.

“The school system here in America is interesting,” said exchange student Phoebe Tracey. “It’s definitely different than it is at home in Australia.”

On weekends, the exchange students were given free time to bond with their respective host families. With this free time, the students visited various attractions, including the Santa Monica Pier, Olvera Street, Beverly Hills, and Six Flags. They also spent time together by relaxing, watching movies, and playing laser tag with all of the families.

The Australians returned home to Hawkesbury on January 26 to start the Australian school year.

For more information on the Temple City Sister City Association, visit www.templecitysistercity.com.

A hidden culture

Managing Editor’s Column for January 2014

Written by PROMISE LI, the Managing Editor/ Published on January 20, 2014

I was talking to a woman outside of the Metro station at Lake Avenue who told me a story about an old man whose throat was slashed open at a nearby station. Through encounters like these, I sometimes question the authenticity of the hyper-reality I live in: living in a quaint, safe, little town, and growing up with a hopeful generation of youth that is guilelessly directed towards security and success, who, if ever under those rare lapses of enlightenment, might realize the absurdity and bleakness of pursuing a future of conformity and comfort.

Beneath the façade of growth and peace, there is a brokenness that exists around us that we are sometimes too blinded to acknowledge, too blinded by our privileges and well-being, and too blinded by our individual pursuits.

We wait to receive and indulge in seasons of giving. Outside the consumerist commotion of holiday sales and warm family gatherings lay the true reality of our towns in which we have always neglected to notice. Yes, in the thriving communities of the San Gabriel Valley there are those who had been wandering for decades, victimized by random and repeating splurges of both physical and sexual violence, and broken for so long that one can see nothing behind their glassy eyes.

I never did truly stop to recognize this hidden culture of plight and suffering in our supposedly sheltered and privileged perimeters until now. I joined the staff of this publication to satisfy and cultivate my youthful desire to document, to explore, to discover.

In this season of truly exploring and communicating to more people in the streets, I must admit, my naiveté did take quite a blow. Understanding the desolation of life outside of the matrix we live in is only the first step; giving back to the community takes on a new meaning once one actually takes the initiative to give back to the community. Not until then would one realize that the issues of our society are even grittier, harrowing, and in need of aid than it seems.

Local business spotlight: URSpace Café

Newly opened restaurant UR Space serves an Asian  fusion cuisine in a chill, artsy atmosphere

Written by PROMISE LI, Managing Editor/ Published January 20, 2014

Newly opened UR Space on Las Tunas Boulevard offers a new, refreshing dine-out in Temple City.

The family-owned restaurant, owned by Art Institute sister graduates Charlene Lin and Rosanna Chen started the business early October as soft opening, and officially opened last December.

UR Space serves an Asian Fusion cuisine, combining predominantly Western dishes with an oriental spin, with items such as Japanese styled hamburger patty, macaroons, Salmon Benedict.

The restaurant has a unique and modern style and design, with a white, minimalistic overtone with   precisely placed artistic decor, and an open-air corridor in the middle section of the restaurant.

Operating Manager Michael Shih, Le Cordon Bleu graduate and resident of Arcadia for over 20 years, discusses about his experiences at UR Space.

“The family poured all their effort into this,” said Shih. “They wanted to provide a good dining environment for the town and they’ve spent two years exploring the different types of cuisines in the area and doing research to try to create a upscale dining experience for the town.”

“We are still experimenting and working on perfecting our menus, service, and quality control. We constantly ask our customers their thoughts, and no doubt, we’ve gotten extremely positive responses. Most of them said the restaurant reminded them of the diners in places such as Old Town Pasadena and Santa Monica,” he added.

He also said that they chose to open UR Space in Temple City because it was “more quiet, and less overflowing and crowded like the other surrounding towns.”

UR Space Café is located at 9619 Las Tunas Drive, Temple City, CA 91780.

An interview with School Board Member Vinson Bell

Bell shares his thoughts on becoming a School Board member and what he has in mind for the school district.

Written by ALBERT CHEN, Assistant Editor and KRISTY HSI, Assistant Editor/ Published January 20, 2014

Temple City School Board Member Vinson Bell, who was sworn into office last December, recently spoke to The Temple City Voice about his plans for the school district.

A father of a Cloverly Elementary School student and an active parent volunteer for the past four years, Bell cited his daughter as the reason why he ran for the school board.

That alone gave me valuable insight about how public education works,” Bell says. I have also participated in many other functions such as being part of the district’s Measure S bond campaign to help improve the    infrastructure at all of our schools.”

Bell is a member of the graduating Temple City High School class of 1990 and wants to pay his education forward.

“It is as much a sense of duty and the pride that I have for our district that fuels my passion to pay it forward for our future generations,” says Bell. “From a personal perspective, I see my role as a board member as an opportunity to take my turn and serve our school children. My depth of knowledge and experience day in and day out around the schools equips me with the understanding as to how I can play a positive role in helping TCUSD prepare for the future.”

Bell believes that TCUSD is a strong, well-organized school district, however, he sees issues and problems resulting primarily from miscommunication. He acknowledges the most important role of a board member as having the foresight and planning that will successfully guide TCUSD.

He states, “It is our job to ensure that our future generations graduate from TCUSD with the right tools to help them be competitive not just in their potential college years but also in real life.”

Temple City fires city manager

Breaking: the city council unanimously votes to fire Jose Pulido at a special meeting on January 13.

Written by PROMISE LI, Managing Editor/ Published January 20, 2014

The city council of Temple City unanimously voted to terminate City Manager Jose Pulido’s contract effective February 12 at a special meeting on Monday, January 13.

The unexpected decision gives the former city manager a paid 30-day administrative leave and a severance package valued at approximately $103,000, which is equivalent to Pulido’s six-month salary. Pulido had a base salary of approximately $207,000, and received bonuses for three consecutive years of more than $50,000 in total.

In a subsequent press release, Mayor Cynthia Sternquist commented that the city council and Pulido “enjoyed a productive working relationship” but it was mutually agreed that “stronger leadership was needed to lead Temple City into the future.”

Pulido began his service with Temple City in October 2009. He was responsible for reorganizing City Hall, as well as spearheading efforts to redevelop Temple City’s Rosemead Boulevard. Prior to joining the city, he worked in the cities of San Fernando and Montebello.

Last October, Pulido was ranked the third-highest paid city manager of the five local cities that The Temple City Voice surveyed.

Administrative Services Director Tracy Hause was appointed interim city manager.

Casa del Rey bids farewell to Temple City

After dedicating nearly 43 years of quality Mexican cuisine to Temple City, Casa del Rey’s owner, Art Rey has decided to close the doors.

Written by NATALIE JIN, Editor-in-Chief/ Published January 20, 2014

As mom-and-pop shops closed down with the downturn of the economy, Casa del Rey was one of the few withstanding family-owned businesses on Las Tunas Drive.

However, in recent years, slow business has affected the restaurant, and last December, Art Rey, the son of founders, Alicia and Guillermo Rey, decided to close the original Temple City branch.

“Letting this branch go was a hard decision, but we are going to consolidate the branches into the Sierra Madre restaurant,” Rey says. “I grew up here. I started working here since I was 14.”

The Rey’s founded the family   restaurant in 1971, and for four decades, have been serving the people of Temple City quality, lard-free Mexican cuisine. The Rey’s take extreme pride in the quality of their food, using the freshest produce and providing daily fresh-made salsa and chips.

The quality of the restaurant’s food is not compromised by its taste. Casa del Rey receives accolades from many who do give the restaurant a try.

Temple City resident Erica Wang says, “I’ve never really tried Casa del Rey until I heard they were closing, and I don’t eat Mexican food often. But now that I have, I’m quite sad that they’re closing.”

However, as the demographics of Temple City slowly changed within the last decade, the shops on Las Tunas have changed as well. Slowly, local mom-and-pop shops have gone out of business,   replaced by boba (an Asian tea with       tapioca drink) houses and Chinese       cuisine, demonstrating the gradual movement of the Asian community to Temple City.

Rey notices the cultural  transformation on Las Tunas Drive, and suggests that the demographics have also affected Casa del Rey’s business.

“I think the demographics have changed the last 10 years, and that does have an impact on our business” Rey says, noting the gradual trickling in of the Asian population and Asian-geared food chains on Las Tunas Drive. “Mom-and pop-shops like ours just aren’t as popular anymore.”

After Casa del Rey closes this February, the restaurant lot will be          remodeled into a Japanese sushi bar.

The original Temple City location will remain open until Valentine’s Day weekend.

Those who miss Casa del Ray’s Mexican cuisine can visit their Sierra   Madre location at 31 N Baldwin Ave, Sierra Madre, CA 91024.

Students decorate floats for Rose Parade

The New Year’s Rose Parade featured floats that were worked on by many of Temple City High School’s students

Written by ANDY CHUANG, Staff Writer and CLAIRE CHOW, Staff Writer / Published  January 10, 2014

This past winter break, students from various clubs within Temple City High School volunteered hours of their time and effort towards helping decorate some of the 45 rose floats that appeared in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.

The Rose Parade is one of the world’s most popular parades with approximately 800,000 spectators attending the event and around 84 million people from around the world watching the parade via television.

The high school students volunteered at one of the four professional float-building companies approved by the Tournament of Roses. They spent an afternoon performing multiple important tasks ranging from sorting flowers and filtering seeds to gluing them onto the floats.

Temple City High School Junior Vivian Liu described her experience working on the eHarmony float as well as the RV Generator float from Honda.

“I volunteered with Key Club and I worked at the Rosemont Pavilion with Phoenix Decorating Company,” said Liu.  “It was a tiring job; I had to climb across beams, a few feet above the ground, and I had to fit in tiny places to get all of the details onto the float.”

Although these tasks were grueling and at times repetitive, the majority of the students had a great time volunteering.

Temple City High School Senior Tiffany Luong commented, “After volunteering, I was pretty tired for just working a few hours, but it was pretty cool to see how the float was being made. The jobs they gave us were tedious, but with friends it can be fun.”

When the floats are finished, they generally carry upwards to 160,000 flowers and weigh around 6 tons of pure beauty.

Students share their Christmas experiences

The spirit of Christmas is brought to life through the celebration of family traditions and warm, beautiful environments.

Written by ELLE LAM, Staff Writer / Published January 10, 2014

With its joyful grace, splendor of colorful lights, and festive jingles, Christmas is the one heartwarming time of the year when family and friends gather together in front of tall, decorated trees and goodie-filled stockings.

In celebration of the holidays, many families cultivate their own personal traditions. Whether it is simply spending the day designing gingerbread houses or watching classic Christmas movies, these developed traditions shed cheerful light upon all.

“Every Christmas, my entire family gathers around the fireplace and sings Christmas carols while enjoying each others’ company,” said Temple City High School Sophomore Elizabeth Tang.

Temple City High School Sophomore Wesley Chen overlooks the materialistic aspects of Christmas and cherishes the reconnections brought about by the holiday, as well.

“Every Christmas, I look forward to spending time with my family and close friends,” commented Chen, “It’s a great feeling to see everyone having a good time and enjoying each others’ company.”

Along with long-lasting family customs, Christmas is well-known for the high anticipations it brings. Many look forward to the galore of ornaments and the shining, sequined wreaths that eternalize the Christmas spirit.

“Every Christmas, I look forward to bejeweling my house with a bunch of Christmas decorations,” says Temple City High School Sophomore Nikki Leon, “I love the classics like the lights, the tree filled with ornaments, the stockings stuffed with goodies, and of course, the nutcrackers. I think the decorations are what make Christmas, well, Christmas.”

While Christmas always comes to an end, the memories, traditions, and hopes always stay with those who cherish them.