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'09 year in review, February: Officials said home sales increased

Cheaper prices bring hope local economy would rebound

Posted: December 20, 2009 10:12 p.m.
Updated: December 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Editor's note: This is the second in a 12-part series taking a look at 2009 news in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Along with heavy rains, February brought at least one ray of hope that the local economy would begin to rebound in 2009. City officials announced home sales in Santa Clarita have been increasing steadily over the last few years, thanks to cheaper home prices.

Authorities raided L&M Optical West in Valencia. Sheriff's deputies arrested 55 employees who officials said stole Social Security numbers and falsified green cards to gain employment. The Mexican Consulate negotiated a plea deal with the district attorney for the suspects in March.

At College of the Canyons, enrollment for both the winter and spring semesters increased. The rush of new students was due in part to high rates of unemployment and limited enrollment at state schools, officials said at the time. Enrollment at private schools in the valley also increased while public school districts faced steep budget cuts.

In honor of Black History Month, dozens of photographs and paintings symbolizing the black experience in the United States were displayed at William S. Hart Park's Hart Hall.

"The key is to get people to understand the evolution of the African American struggles," said Albert L. Ewing, Hart Parks recreation services leader at the time.

The art chronicled the history of black people's struggles and triumphs, from slavery to the present, through oil paintings, photos and acrylic art. After the display was taken down, the art collection was sent to local schools and churches.

Before the month was finished, Santa Clarita residents got a first-hand look at seven time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong as he paddled through the city. It was the third time in as many years Santa Clarita was selected as location for a stage of the Amgen Tour of California.

City sees increase in home sales
Feb. 1 - The first of the month brought promising news for the city's housing market. Plummeting interest rates and home prices resulted in a 10 percent increase in home sales in Santa Clarita in 2008. The number of houses sold increased from 1,194 in 2007 to 2,194 last year.

Sheriffs arrest 55 in identity theft sting
Feb. 6 - Santa Clarita Sheriff's deputies arrested 55 people for identity theft. All the suspects were accused by deputies of using stolen Social Security numbers for employment at L&M Optical West, officials said at the time.

Suspects charged in ID theft case
Feb. 9 - The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office charged 44 suspects with ID theft, false personation and using false documentation to get hired at L&M Optical West. The Mexican consulate worked out a deal with the D.A. in March to reduce charges against the suspects for a guilty plea.

Enrollment up at private schools
Feb. 14 - Enrollment at three private schools across Santa Clarita increased for the 2008-2009 school year as public schools faced massive budget cuts. Enrollment increased at Santa Clarita Christian School, Trinity Classical Academy in Newhall, and Legacy Christian Academy, school officials said.
"It's one of the biggest jumps (in enrollment) we've ever had," said Derek Swales, Santa Clarita Christian School principal at the time.

Tow truck assault results in arrest
Feb. 16 - A man was arrested and charged with felony assault after he attacked a tow truck driver who was taking his car to the impound lot, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Deputies said at the time. Mario Giovanni threatened the tow truck driver with a baseball bat and then tried to drive his vehicle off the truck before being arrested, deputies said at the time.

Tour of California peddles through SCV
Feb. 21 - Lance Armstrong raced his way through Santa Clarita, which hosted the final stage of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California. The race began in Northern California and ended in Pasadena. It was the third year in a row Santa Clarita had been chosen to host a stage of the event. The tour will skip Santa Clarita this year.


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