We lost an anchor of our community on Tuesday evening with the passing of Connie Worden-Roberts.
Connie Worden-Roberts died at 5:50 p.m. last night in Canyon Country. Anyone involved in Santa Clarita since its formation 27 years ago knows Connie.
When Jeri and I purchased our radio station, AM-1220, in 1990, the first two boards I joined were the Red Cross and the now defunct Canyon Country Chamber of Commerce.
Of course, Connie sat on both those boards. Back in the early '90s Connie's mantra was, "We will have gridlock on Soledad if we don't build a cross valley connector."
Photo by Gary Choppe | Click to enlarge.
For those new to Santa Clarita, back then, there was only one way to get cross town, Soledad Canyon Road.
The Cross Valley Connector was a futuristic dream. Whites Canyon had no bridge. Newhall Ranch Road ended in dirt at Bouquet Canyon Road (in both directions).
In the early 90s, the busiest intersection in Los Angeles County was where Wilshire and Santa Monica cross.
The second and third were the Bouquet/Soledad/Valencia/San Fernando Road four way intersection (No. 2) and Sierra and Soledad (No. 3).
In those days, our radio station sat at that intersection.
We didn't dare leave the station during rush hour, as we'd watch cars sit for many, many lights to make that left turn from Sierra to Soledad. And that was when our Valley had a mere 120,000 residents (we are now closer to 300,000) and no one from outside our valley had any reason to venture in.
Connie never missed an opportunity to warn us of the dangers of gridlock. I used to tease her and call her Connie Gridlock-Roberts. I may have teased, but I knew she was right.
Connie fought hard to turn our Cross Valley Connector from a dream into a reality. I imagine she had just as much passion and drive as one of the founding community leaders pushing for Santa Clarita to become a City back in 1987.
Connie: Front and center at a groundbreaking for the cross-valley connector in 2008. Click to enlarge.
In later years, Connie fought hard to expand the 5 Freeway. She pushed to keep the traffic lights on the Cross Valley Connector down to a minimum. Connie was Woman of the Year in 1975.
Connie's son, Leon, followed in her footsteps with his community involvement. Leon now heads up our valley's public access channel SCVTV and its news website.
He has been devoted to his mom during the three decades I have known both of them.
Connie was so passionate about our valley. She didn't like receiving awards or recognition. She just wanted what was best for us.
This morning, as I drive cross-town to my first meeting it will be one of three or four trips I'll end up taking today across our Cross Valley Connector. Connie's image will be hovering over me each time I make that trek.
I know when I stop at that first traffic light, she will be frowning at me.
I will dearly miss Connie.