Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Problems Back Home in River City.
Published in The Signal, 2-19-2006.

Darryl Manzer, 2004     Thanks for sending some warmer weather my way this last week. Winter has now returned, but 67 degrees in February in Tidewater, Va., is always welcome.
    Spring is just around the corner. Daffodils are starting to grow. I can't wait. I know y'all need some rain in the Santa Clarita Valley, but the Chamber of Commerce has voted against it again. How can they advertise "Sunny California" when it isn't?
    What a week in your valley it has been. The city of Santa Clarita lost the court appeal on the Cemex gravel mine; there were more riots at the county jail; Castaic Union School District is hiring another superintendent and some folks think they didn't spend enough time and money looking for a new school leader; and Magic Mountain wants to look more like Disneyland.
    You have a whole mess of problems out there, and I'd like to help you solve some of them.
    First problem: Cemex — Stop the lawsuit. Haven't the lawyers made enough money already? I admit the judge doesn't appear too fair. But just because Santa Clarita never got to sit down with all parties involved and work out a "deal" doesn't mean they get a say now.
    Really! Don't you know that Los Angeles County has you in mind and heart every time the Board of Supervisors votes on something in the SCV? What has the environment got to worry about anyway? And quality-of-life issues near the Cemex mine? Not a problem. None of the county supervisors live near the place.
    Second problem: Jail riots — Where in the world is Sheriff Lee Baca when you need him? Sacramento? Washington, D.C.? News of the riots in Castaic made the local television and news pages here in Virginia. I'll bet your sheriff read about the riots in the Sacramento Bee or Washington Post.
    If he had to travel anyplace, it should have been to Phoenix for a conference with the sheriff of Maricopa County. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of that county seems to have a few great ideas about controlling prisoners. Of course, Sheriff Joe doesn't have the California court system to contend with. (I'll bet Sheriff Joe Arpaio could control the California courts, too).
    My solution? Elect Joe Arpaio the next time you vote. Maybe Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi could provide some insight on how to start chain gangs, too.
    By the way, isn't it amazing that the deputies on duty at the jail kept the death and injuries as low as they could and, thank God, did it without any single deputy being killed? For the low pay they get and danger they have on the job, it would be good to have some "on scene" leadership, too. Sheriff Baca, where were you? How about six months ago? Didn't you think your policies at the jail could have been improved?
    Third problem: Castaic school superintendent — Problem solved. The school board hired from within the district. Saved all kinds on money and seems to have hired a well-qualified individual with in-depth knowledge of the Castaic schools.

Spillikin Corners
The writer and his sons pose for a tintype in Spillikin Corners at Magic Mountain in the late 1970s. (Click photo to enlarge.)
    Some people just can't be satisfied, anytime. If you don't like what the Castaic school board did, vote them out next election and get some new folks on the board. I think they did the right thing. We live in a republic and elect our reps to do the work. They did their work. Now get over it already.
    Fourth problem: Magic Mountain — Resolution pending ... for now. Maybe.
    There is a tintype photograph in my living room taken at Magic Mountain many years ago — years before the Six Flags Co. bought Magic Mountain. The whole western town was replaced. I don't know what's there now, but I do know that a whole area for families was removed. Magic Mountain became a place for teenagers only.
    Maybe that is about to change. I just hope that if the place shuts down, it won't return to being a stockyard. If y'all think Cemex is going to cause dust and noise, you're a newcomer to the SCV. Way back when, on a quiet evening, you could hear and smell that stockyard all the way to the Saugus Café.
    Comments? Gripes? Just want to say hello? E-mail me at and let me know what you think. Communication is a two-way street. I'd like to hear from both of you.

    Darryl Manzer lived in the Santa Clarita Valley oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s as a teenager. He now lives in Virginia.

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