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Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market brings jobs, joy and more business

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New employees laud giant retailer’s commitment to job creation

By Chris Levister

Hurricane Isaac had just swallowed parts of the swamps of South News Orleans Tuesday and the storm delayed Republican National Convention was finally in a full throated roar, but you wouldn’t know it judging from the conversations outside this new Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market located at 2045 Highland Avenue in San Bernardino. Less than 24 hours before the store’s Wednesday grand opening, this group of new Wal-Mart associates are preparing to attend a mandatory orientation and training meeting. Their chatter is more about the retailer’s trademark green shirt policy and the joys of finally landing a job in a down economy.

“This is a good day the Lord has made; I’m rejoicing and leaping for joy,” said cashier Meka Allen who has not held a steady job since 2009. Cashier Desteenie Simmons has been on the unemployment line since 2010. “People like to bash Wal-Mart but I think there’s a lesson here on who really cares for the working class in this country,” said Simmons. A lot of big businesses make elaborate promises about creating jobs but in reality they are steadily shipping jobs overseas, keeping wages low and boosting their own profits.”

“Some people claim they don’t treat their employees fairly – that’s just not true,” said former employee, Mavis Wesley. Wesley now a bank manager worked as a cashier and stocker at two Wal-Mart locations while attending college in Texas. “Those paychecks however small helped me get an education. In the process, I learned valuable lessons in finances, retail management, merchandising and customer service. Oh, and the associates and mangers are like family,” she added.

For Kevin D. who holds a college degree the Wal-Mart job offers a helping of dignity, a paycheck and a lesson in the art of tuning out “empty political rhetoric.” “So far, the political debate over jobs involves attacking the other guy, rather than advancing any real solution. Wal-Mart is not about blaming. They’re putting people like me to work,” he said sliding his earphones across his ears. “I just tune the political noise out.”

Wednesday, the world's largest retailer opened a new store in the former Highland Galleria that has been vacant for several years and like their new associates, many businesses around it couldn't be happier. They're hoping the new Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market will help revitalize the area bringing more customers in who are willing to spend money at their stores, too.

“You can already see the resurgence” said Jawanza Arief, who owns a carpet and flooring store nearby. “Businesses are sprucing up, getting ready for an influx of customers, said Arief after working out at the new Planet Fitness center next to the neighborhood market. “Staples and Joann’s Fabrics and Craft store moved out and left a big void. With vacant store fronts through the years it has been a challenge. It shouldn't be a problem anymore.” “I'm really happy to see Wal-Mart fill in more empty spaces here and it should mean more walk-ins for me. More business is going to be good,” said Jim Fuller who manages a fast food restaurant in the center. “I’ve seen this shopping center go from boom to bust. Looks like it treading upward again,” said Candice Duban. She manages a nearby hair salon. Wal-Mart first opened Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets in 1998, and now operates 200 stores across the country. The smaller store format is designed to provide quick and convenient shopping for groceries, pharmacy items and general merchandise. The 42,000-sq-foot San Bernardino store, which will be open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, will feature a self-serve deli, a self-serve bakery, including a cake case, a wide variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as meats, cheeses and prepared foods. In addition to the fresh produce and bakery items, the store will carry a full line of groceries, including frozen foods, meat and dairy products, gluten free and organic items.

Shoppers will also appreciate the convenience of the store’s pharmacy, along with a full selection of health-related products and a health and beauty area. Additional areas include baby supplies, household items, stationery, paper goods, pet products, hardware items and a Celebration Station, where customers can buy gift wrap and gift bags, greeting cards and party supplies. Customers can also print their own digital photos at the store.

“San Bernardino is proud to be the site of the 200th Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.  Wal-Mart is a valued member of our business community and the opening of another store here demonstrates the confidence this company has in our city and community,” said Mayor Pat Morris. “The new store will not only revitalize an existing shopping center, bringing added customers to nearby existing businesses, but will create approximately 65 new local jobs, generate critically needed sales tax revenue for the city and provide fresh, affordable groceries to many families for years to come.” All Wal-Mart stores and Neighborhood Markets participate in the Pay with Cash program. This allows customers to order online at HYPERLINK "http://www.walmart.com/" \t "_blank"www.walmart.com and pay for the items with cash at all stores in the U.S. Wal-Mart is the first major retailer to offer online purchases without the need for banking services or a credit, debit or prepaid card.

Community Groups Benefit from Grand-Opening Grants. As part of the grand-opening celebration, Wal-Mart and the Wal-Mart Foundation will present several grants to local community groups. Two of the recipients are W and W Community Development for Education and the Central City Lutheran Mission for hunger relief. Additional funds will be available throughout the year for local organizations that serve the community and impact causes Wal-Mart customers care about. Interested groups can visit HYPERLINK "http://foundation.walmart.com"http://foundation.walmart.com for more information. The retailer is on track to open a second Inland region Neighborhood Market in Upland this fall. The store’s are among 14 scheduled to open in California by the end of the year, including 10 in the southern counties. None are planned for Riverside County.

Governor Brown Appoints UC Riverside Chancellor to Student Aid Commission

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By Kris Lovekin

RIVERSIDE — UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy P. White, 63, has been appointed to the California Student Aid Commission by Governor Jerry Brown. The announcement came Friday from the Governor’s office as part of a wrap up of recent appointments to state commissions and boards. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is a $100 per diem.

The Student Aid Commission is responsible for administering financial aid programs for students attending public and private universities, colleges, and vocational schools in California. The commission provides analysis and leadership on the issue, in partnership with colleges, universities, financial institutions, and financial aid associations. The goal is to make higher education financially accessible to all Californians. Eleven of the 15 members are appointed by the Governor and represent segments of the State’s higher education community, students, and the general public. The Speaker of the Assembly and the Chair of the Senate Rules Committee each appoint two members as representatives of the general public.

White has been chancellor and professor at the University of California, Riverside since 2008. White is a product of California’s public education system, having attended public k-12, community college, two Cal State Universities, and the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his doctorate in the physiology of exercise. He was president and professor at the University of Idaho from 2004 to 2008. He served in multiple positions at Oregon State University from 1996 to 2004, including dean, provost, executive vice president and interim president. He served as professor and department chair at the University of California, Berkeley from 1991 to 1995 and professor and chair at the University of Michigan from 1977 to 1991. He lives in Riverside.

Our Children Sing Holds Annual Program

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By Deborah Ealy

‘Our Children Sing’ will hold their annual program at Norman F. Feldhym Library on September 8, 2012 at 2 pm. This year’s recipient of The Alice F. Page Award will be The San Bernardino Public Libraries. ‘Our Children Sing’ is an annual program held in San Bernardino around September 11th of each year. This event was founded by the late Alice F. Page, community leader, entrepreneur, and peace major in September 2002. The “Our Children Sing’ program allows a venue for many of the talented youth in the schools, churches, and gang-riddled communities to come together in peace to celebrate one another without the fear of violence. In this world of grown-up wars, national rivalries, and teen and young adult gang violence, Page believed that we should start our peace outreach by reaching out to our children while they are still young and impressionable and teach them how to work, play, fellowship, perform, and communicate with one another without resorting to violence.

After the devastating events of 9-11, Page felt that she could no longer sit idly by without doing something, anything, to help in the fight against violence and in the push towards peace. She began her fight by reaching out to numerous public officials and people of influence in the city and state in an effort to bring about a National Day of Peace which would be observed annually on September 11th; - just one day of peace when there would be no guns, no violence, and no fighting. She felt that there was no better time to observe this Day of Peace than on the memorable anniversary of the day that our nation was forever transformed and we honor the thousands of lives that were lost.

Page worked tirelessly to bring about peace and non-violence one step at a time, starting here in her own backyard. She measured her own success not by her own wealth or comfort, but by the lives she touched on a daily basis. Like the heroes of 911 she knew that she needed to do something to make the world a better place. She chose to put her words, her beliefs, her dreams into action and stepped forward with a plan to promote peace.

Participants for Our Children Sing include: The Rockstarz from The Rock Church and World Outreach Center, Jayon Dumas from New Hope MBC, Gloria Chavez and The Ballet Forklorico Cultural Group,Pastor Joshua Beckley, Elder Larry Ealy, Garrett Ostrinski, Bronique Martindal, JuuMani Chess, and the Master of Ceremonies will be Terrance Stone from The Young Visionaries. We must remember why our children sing. They are not just singing because their group was invited. They are not just dancing because their parents and friends are watching. They are not here just to support another community event. They are not performing just to showcase their talents. No: they dance, they perform, they sing for peace.


Charles Bibbs Named Official Artist for Leimert Park Book Fair

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The Leimert Park Village Book Fair Planning Committee has named world renown artist Charles Bibbs as the official artist for the 2011 Leimert Park Village Book Fair (LPVBF).

Bibbs unveiled his work, "The Reader II," in celebration of the book fair's fifth anniversary on Saturday, June 25, from 10:00 am - 6:00 pm. “The Reader II” will appear on all LPVBF marketing and event materials.

“Charles Bibbs is a national treasure and we are thrilled to have an artist of his caliber create our signature artwork,” commented LPVBF Executive Director Cynthia Exum. The Leimert Park Village Book Fair will take place in the lot adjacent to the Vision Theatre, 3341 43rd Place in Los Angeles, California 90008.

The LPVBF 2011 line-up includes over 100 authors, exhibitors and vendors, including many of the top African American authors and celebrity speakers.

“Every year we’ve grown bigger and better,” says Exum. “This year, we’re very excited to have many amazing authors and celebrities guests and expect over 5,000 festival attendees. We’ve also organized some very relevant panel discussions that touch on a variety of current issues in our community. There’s definitely going to be something for everyone at this year’s book fair.”

Applications for the author’s tent and vendors are still available online at www.leimertparkbookfair.com or by calling (323) 730-0628.

Bibbs' works displays a unique, strong and stylized quality done in a combination of abstract and realistic interpretations of a contemporary subject. Using his ethnic heritage as inspiration, along with a mixture of realism and fantasy, he has developed a distinctive style. A native of Southern California, Bibbs' exposure to African and Native American art, which both have a distinct spiritual motivation, is strongly reflected in his works. “My most important goal is to make profound aesthetic statements that are ethnically rooted, and at the same time, arouse spiritual emotions within us," says Bibbs.

Mr. Bibbs is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, presented by the African American Chamber of Commerce; a Community Recognition Award from the National Council of Negro Women; a NAACP Freedom Community Award; an Appreciation Service Award by the California State Assembly.

His work has been exhibited at museums around the country and overseas. A partial list of Bibb’s art collectors are Frankie Beverly, Najee, Steve Harvey, Dr. Bernard and Mrs. Shirley Kinsey, Marc Brown, Earl Graves, Queen Latifah, Drs. Frank and Marsha Glover, Dr. And Mrs. Charles Mitchell, the University of Arizona and Fox Searchlight Pictures. Charles Bibbs will also be on hand at the Book Fair to meet and greet festival attendees. For more information on the event, visit www.leimertparkbookfair.com or call (323) 730-0628.

The book fair is produced by Cynthia E. Exum and Associates in partnership with Los Angeles City Councilmember Bernard C. Parks, 8th District, and in association with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and City of Los Angeles.

Gov. Signs Assembly Member Carter’s Bill Targeting Foreclosure Blight

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Black Voice News Staff Report

In the Riverside San Bernardino-area, one in every 155 housing units had a foreclosing filing in June 2012 according to a report by RealtyTrac.

Now a bill giving homeowners who have recently purchased a foreclosed home additional time to remedy any code violations and would help compel the owners of foreclosed property to pay for upkeep has been signed into law, the State Attorney General’s office announced Monday. Governor Jerry Brown has signed Assembly Bill 2314, which was sponsored by local assembly member Wilmer Carter (D-Rialto). The bill provides additional tools to local governments and receivers to fight neighborhood blight caused by vacant homes, said officials with Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office.

“The foreclosure crisis has had a devastating impact on many families and communities,” Harris said through a news release. “This legislation will help victims of the crisis who remain in their homes, but have been forced to endure the negative economic, health and safety consequences of blight in their neighborhoods.”

In Walnut, there were 155 foreclosures reported in July, according to RealtyTrac.com. The entire county had 57,570 total foreclosures last month. “We need solutions to the problem of blight which threatens the health and safety of California communities hit hardest by the mortgage crisis,” Carter said. “AB 2314 will ensure that local jurisdictions continue to have the tools to prevent and fight neighborhood blight due to foreclosures.”

The new law is part of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, which builds upon and extends reforms first negotiated in the recent national mortgage settlement between 49 states and leading lenders, according to Harris’ office. Harris secured up to $18 billion for California homeowners in that agreement and built a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force to investigate crime and fraud associated with mortgages and foreclosures, state officials said.

In July, two key parts of the Homeowner Bill of Rights were signed into law. Those bills, which came out of a two-house conference committee, provide protections for borrowers and struggling homeowners, including a restriction on dual-track foreclosures, where a lender forecloses on a borrower despite being in discussions over a loan modification to save the home, according to Harris’ office. The bills also guarantee struggling homeowners a single point of contact at their lender with knowledge of their loan and direct access to decision makers, officials said. Other components of the Homeowners Bill of Rights are pending in the state legislature. These will enhance law enforcement responses to mortgage and foreclosure-related crime, in part by empowering the Attorney General to call a grand jury in response to financial crimes spanning multiple jurisdictions. A bill to provide enhanced protections for tenants in foreclosed homes has passed both houses and is awaiting action by Governor.

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BVN National News Wire