Newhall CHP Holds a Big Open House Party.
The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise | Friday, February 23, 1968.
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On a quiet morning, five days before Christmas, the more than 100 officers and station staff members of the Newhall Highway Patrol office left the dingy and cramped hollow block building on the west side of Highway 99 with which they had become so familiar, for a new, modern office almost directly across the street.
Just this Wednesday, the Highway Patrol held a big open house in its new facility, and civic leaders, along with dignitaries from local, state and federal governmental levels came from far and wide.
The new Highway Patrol office externally isn't the most magnificent edifice gracing the countryside, but its 5,500-square-foot interior, brightly colored, and decorated with oil paintings, somehow doesn't look like a police station.
There was an aura of obvious pride on the part of what seemed like scores of Highway Patrol officials and local CHP Captain Sam McDaniel as the horde of guests were welcomed to the new, $165,000 building.
It was evident by the speeches and spiffyness of the Highway Patrolmen that the CHP had come a long way in Valencia Valley [Santa Clarita Valley] since it first occupied a small room in the Newhall Sheriff's substation on San Fernando Road.
The Newhall Highway Patrol office, while occupied by only 70 traffic officers and their higher-ups, actually was built to accommodate 150 men, which is ultimately the number most CHP officials believe will be needed to cover the byways and highways of Valencia Valley.
The ceremonies began with the traditional flag rites and the playing of a recorded version of the national anthem. Officer James Lamb acted as master of ceremonies, and though he did so nervously, he played out his role well. He told Signal reporters he hadn't known he was going to emcee the affair until he reported for work that same morning.
Lamb introduced to the audience the various guests on hand, many of whom are retired or acting Highway Patrol commanders. In addition to the CHP officers themselves, a whole flock of county officials were introduced.
The main speaker at the ceremonies was R.A. Kridler, who is the Deputy Commissioner of the Highway Patrol from Sacramento.
Kridler, a man obviously experienced in public speaking, presented a prepared speech in which he outlined the need for superior Highway Patrol techniques and manpower throughout the state.
"The large crowd gathered here this morning is indicative of the interest of the people in this area in our highway transportation system," Kridler said. He went on to point out that a full one-sixth of the state's economy depends in one way or another on the business of transporting people or commodities on California highways.
But Kridler's speech included some grim statistics to back up the need for a high caliber patrol force, and a responsible public.
"Last year in California we motorists killed each other at a rate of 1 person every two hours, or an average of more than 13 each day for a grand total of 4,830 people in the entire year. Nationally, nearly 53,000 were killed at an economic cost of more than $10 billion.
"Highway engineers and traffic enforcement officials refer to the mileage death rate, or the number of people killed per 100 million miles of travel, as a measure of highway safety. Last year in California that rate was slightly over 5 — one of the lower rates in the nation.
"In 1933 the safety rate was 13, so we have made some progress during the past 34 years.
"However, if we just stand still and hold our mileage death rate where it is today — 5 — the number of persons will climb to about 5,700 by 1970, to perhaps 6,750 by 1975, and to as many as 7,800 by 1980 — a truly appalling toll. The death rate must be reduced still further.
[*Actual numbers for 2016, California: 0.99 safety rate; 3,623 deaths — Ed.]
"This, then, is the challenge we face.
"It is a challenge that is being met in part by we of the California Highway Patrol, whose members are dedicated to the task of improved safety on our public highways and to providing the best possible service to the motoring public of California.
"And, most importantly, it is a challenge to you and me — to all of us — the general motoring public. For in the final analysis we, as men and women, determine how safe these highways will be by the very manner in which we use them — by how well we observe the driving rules — which really are only rules of safety and good manners and — finally, how well we accept our responsibility to drive our motor vehicles by the same basic principle that we live our lives — the Golden Rule.
"We must accept that challenge."
Another highlight of the ceremonies was the presentation of a merit award (a check for $25) to traffic officer Frank Celentano. Celentano received the award for having suggested a money-saving way to handle the long forms patrolmen use in their required inspection of tow trucks.
Captain Sam McDaniel, throughout the ceremonies, beamed with pride in his new office. The station is indeed one of the newest in the state's CHP chain. Though built to state specifications, the office is being occupied on a ten-year ground lease from a private party.
Looking somewhat awed by the whole thing was Newhall Sheriff's Commander Joe Enger. He seemed to be amazed, and almost jealous, of the dispatch with which the new Highway Patrol office had been built. Though Captain Enger's staff is small in comparison with Captain McDaniel's, he probably left the new CHP installation with some misgivings. He had to return, of course, to his little station in downtown Newhall, where the office is so cramped it almost looks like Times Square on New Year's Eve.