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From The Signal Archives: Black smoke, loud engines and high temperatures

Lila Littlejohn

Posted: September 9, 2010 8:41 p.m.
Updated: September 10, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Editor’s note: As The Signal celebrates 91 years of service to the Santa Clarita Valley, we offer this peek into the SCV of days past. Following is from the Sept. 10, 1971, Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise.

Never breathe air you can’t see ...
One of the lead stories on this date 39 years ago was about a Saugus woman who woke up every morning to smoky skies — brought to her by a munitions manufacturer who was burning waste material a stone’s throw from her backyard.
And it wasn’t Bermite.

The woman, who lived at 27902 Tenda Drive in Saugus, reported that a company named Flare-Northern was burning explosives and detonators in a hole in the ground, showering her house with soot, choking the air with smoke and creating who-knows-what kind of hazardous situation.

The woman had filed a complaint with the Air Pollution Control Board — a precursor to the state’s regional air quality management districts — but since the company had a variance, it was entitled to violate pollution standards.

Shades of the bad old days in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Jet-engine testing all night long
A companion editorial reminds longtime Santa Clarita Valley residents of the days when this area was considered a great place to blow things up, burn things down or rev things up.

New residents who moved to the valley, the editorial complained, “found plumes of smoke in the sky and occasional booms, the result of testing explosives here,” despite a county policy set in the 1950s that heavy industry be barred from the SCV due to its atmospheric tendency to trap and hold pollutants.

“Last month, North Oaks residents were subjected to a marathon ‘high speed’ test of a General Electric jet engine for the new mammoth DC-10 passenger jet, all night long. Residents could not sleep,” the editorial noted.

It scolded agencies that issued variances to firms just because those companies contracted with the federal government.

Bringing water to the SCV
The Sept. 10 issue of the paper also noted that the Castaic Lake Water Agency had authorized bidding for a pipeline to deliver water to the valley’s five water retailers.

“When completed about 1980, the pipe, a water treatment plant and a pumping plant will provide for a project(ed) population of 240,000 in Valencia Valley,” the article said. (“Valencia Valley” was The Signal’s preferred term for the Santa Clarita Valley in those days.)

The SCV is now served by a second water treatment plant. The relatively early construction of the plants are much of the reason the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District fees are so low compared to those of nearby communities.

Heat wave, 1971 style
This issue of The Signal reminds of us the mild temperatures we are enjoying this peculiarly cool summer of 2010.
The mercury reached 104 degrees the day before the Sept. 10, 1971, issue published, and it would reach 111 degrees later that week, according to the Sept. 13 issue.

Scott Newhall for mayor
Another front-page story reported that Lawrence Wade resigned as president of the Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber of Commerce so he could run Scott Newhall’s campaign for mayor of San Francisco.

Besides chamber president, Wade was vice president of the Newhall Land and Farming Co.

Scott Newhall, who owned The Signal, would not succeed at unseating Joseph Alioto, who served as mayor of San Francisco from 1968 to 1976.

Newhall would return to The Signal and write fiery editorials for which the paper became famous.


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