Friday, February 29, 2008

The Walnut & Walker stop sign is installed

The Daily Bulletin reports that the stop sign requested by the family of the late Paul Roberts has been installed at Walnut and Walker (after the City Council approved the action, despite staff statements that the traffic didn't justify a stop sign), and that people are honking their horns in gratitude.

Now I'm assuming that the Ontario City Council will be obligated to pass out earplugs to the nearby residents because of the noise from the car horns.

Seriously, with all respect to the Roberts family, I still haven't seen any evidence that this is the proper solution for this intersection. Just because it feels good doesn't mean that it's right. Any driver who would hit a skateboarder would probably run a stop sign.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Logan's Candy

125 West B Street, Ontario CA 91762.

Best time to come is during the Christmas season, when you can see how candy canes are made.

The owners are the parents of the late Hannah Rowley, whom I've blogged about before.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Understatement of the Day

The following sentence appeared in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (and probably in the San Bernardino Sun).

Police Detective Jeff Higbee thinks there's much more to the story of the death of Santiago Contreras than has come out so far.

You can say that again.

Police Detective Jeff Higbee thinks there's much more to the story of the death of Santiago Contreras than has come out so far.

Yes, it bears repeating.

Incidentally, if you want to understand the difference between bloggers and reporters, I can illustrate it now.

  • Early this morning I drove down Jacaranda, after debating for several days whether or not I wanted to do this. My intent was not to ask grieving people "How do you feel?" or even to take pictures, but just to get a feel for the area. As I suspected, the Jacaranda neighborhood is a nice neighborhood, with nice homes with nice cars and trucks. This illustrates the fact that, whatever the motivation for the Contreras kidnapping and murder, it could happen anywhere. There's a personal note also, since my German exchange student has a friend that lives a few blocks away, on the other side of San Antonio.

  • The Daily Bulletin went about things a little bit differently. Someone (possibly staff writer Monica Rodriguez) went to Jacaranda yesterday afternoon and interviewed residents. First the journalist started with the Contreras residence, but no one answered. Then the journalist talked with a neighbor, 79 year old Josefina Orellana, who told the reporter (in Spanish) that Santiago Contreras liked to work on cars at his home, and that the neighborhood is (understandably) scared after what happened.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Santiago Contreras Coverage from

One of my commenters (actually, on this blog, my only commenter so far) alerted me to G. T. Houts' coverage of the Santiago Contreras story at

The second update to the story includes a photo taken by Houts by Crestline, on SR 138 between Old Mill Road and Camp Seeley - or, more specifically, "just off Highway 138 near Call Box 138-388." Houts has included a map of the area in which Contreras' body was found.

The map below shows the approximate distance between Contreras' home and the location where his body was found. (Starting and ending locations are not exact.)

View Larger Map

NOTE: It turns out that you have to click on the "View Larger Map" button in the lower left corner to see the starting and ending locations.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Santiago Contreras Found Dead

My Google Reader feeds include an item from the San Bernardino Sun. According to the feed, a body with gunshot wounds was found in the Valley of Enchantment (off Highway 138) early Sunday morning. Fingerprints showed that it was the body of Santiago Contreras, who had been kidnapped on Monday.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Guasti under construction

The Post Office has moved to a temporary building a block northeast of here. Many businesses have moved out.

What's the business behind the Santiago Contreras story?

I've been following the little tidbits from the Santiago Contreras kidnapping story, and, like everyone else, I'm still a little mystified.

The assumption in a home invasion and kidnapping is that money has something to do with it, so I've naturally been interested in the business angles in this story.

First reports indicated that Contreras was a mechanic. Well, I could see someone getting upset over a botched oil change, but not to that level.

At the same time, it was noted that Contreras made extra money with a food cart. Now I myself am a little leery of push carts, and I could see someone getting mad about getting sick from something bought at a push cart, but again, I can't see a multi-person home invasion and kidnapping arising out of this.

Then there was another report that referenced a struggling food truck business in Mexico. Now this sounds like a little more money might be involved.

But when you really want to talk about money, then there's another business that comes to mind. The Daily Bulletin posted this on their website last night:

Contreras' brother-in-law was held for ransom in Mexico earlier this year in a drug-related incident, said police Detective Al Parra....

The brother-in-law - whose name was not released, but who previously lived in Ontario - traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, several months ago, where he was kidnapped and held until his family paid a ransom....

When Contreras' brother-in-law came back to the United States, he moved to Los Angeles County. He was deported in October to Mexico after he was arrested on suspicion of drug possession, Parra said....

Parra said he has no physical proof to back up his allegations, but said "it appears to be some type of Mexican drug cartel involvement," Parra said.

Oh, and one other thing:

Parra said Contreras, like his brother-in-law, is not in the United States legally.

Not that this makes any difference to future president McBama, whoever it may be.

[25 FEBRUARY - this story has a sad ending. Note that the second link is a result of a comment to this very post.]

Friday, February 22, 2008

InsideTheIE on Ontario

Now that I've started this blog, I'm making the rounds of some of the local blogs/pages for Ontario to make sure that I'm accessing all of the available information on our fair city.

One of the sites that I'm revisiting is InsideTheIE, which uses the description "What to do and where to go when you're in the Inland Empire." It's not really targeted for dynamic information updates (it's not going to have the latest Santiago Contreras information), but it is a good source for general information about the Inland Empire.

You can access separate feeds for each Inland Empire city, including Ontario. Back in June 2006, Ghostpainter wrote a post that described the history of Ontario, California. This is a brief, but fairly good introduction to the city for those who don't know anything about it.

But I strongly urge you to read Ghostpainter's story about the mule cars. That's probably the best story about Ontario's early history - especially the part about the farmer who eventually bought the mules (see the second to last paragraph).

Expanded coverage. Don't all swoon at once.

Second try...

I have now implemented the capability to post to the mrontario blog from my mobile phone.

Theoretically, this allows dynamic, real-time coverage.

In all actuality, it probably just provides another outlet for me to post my stupid pictures of trash cans. (But in this blog, they'll be Ontario, California trash cans!)

But I'll try to post some real-time coverage also.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ontario City Council Gives the Go Sign


The Ontario City Council hadn't released last night's meeting minutes the last I checked, but my good buddy Andrea Bennett has reported on what happened regarding the Walnut and Walker sign issue.

In a 4 to 1 decision, the City Council decided to put a stop sign at the intersection, overriding staff who had said that the decision was not justified.

The only dissenter was Jason Anderson, who said after the meeting, "Staff said it was not justified. I've seen a lot of pedestrian losses in my line of work. All those people didn't get stop signs." (By day, Anderson is a Deputy District Attorney with San Bernardino County.)

Mayor Paul Leon sided with the majority, noting, "More than half the accidents at the intersection were broadside collisions, which can be controlled by an all-way stop. With the growth of south Ontario, the need is coming to that end of the city... Do we have to wait any longer?"

Ontario-Tijuana Business Connections

If you've been following along in this blog, you've seen the post that notes that Santiago Contreras was apparently involved with a food truck business in Mexico.

Meanwhile, I've placed a post in my mrontemp blog that discusses Tijuana kidnappings of people on the U.S. side of the border.

Let's look at something more pleasant (although possibly undesirable, depending upon your point of view) - Ontario-area businesses investing in Mexican operations. This was discussed in an August 2004 article in Hispanic Business. A few of the points:

  • There are different labor laws in Mexico, which means that you can't just out-and-out fire somebody.

  • It's possible to incorporate a business in Mexico, but the process can take between two weeks and two months.

  • As of 2004, the minimum wage in Tijuana was $4 a day (something that I've touched on before), although factory wages are higher - a whopping $10/$11 a day.

Santiago Contreras Update

Remember when I originally said that kidnappings were more of a Third World phenomenon? Well, KNBC reports a possible Tijuana connection in the Santiago Contreras abduction. Ontario detective Jeff Crittenden is quoted as saying, "We do believe there is a connection to Tijuana. We don't know if it's business or family members."

And the business is characterized by KNBC as follows: "Relatives told police that Contreras had connections to a struggling food truck business in Mexico."

[25 FEBRUARY - this story has a sad ending.]

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More on Santiago Contreras

The KNBC website has additional details on the Santiago Contreras kidnapping (see previous post).

  • Contreras is apparently not a multi-millionaire, but "a mechanic who makes extra money with a food cart."

  • Contreras "may have anticipated something...[he] parked his car around the corner before approaching his front door."

[25 FEBRUARY - this story has a sad ending.]

Walker, Texas Ranger - is a stop sign truly the best solution for Walnut and Walker?

This is why I get disappointed in people who assume that Iraq and Obama and McCain and the unemployment rate are "real" news.

I submit that things that happen in localities are often much more relevant to our personal lives than things that happen inside the Beltway or inside the Green Zone.

Take this story from January, in which the Roberts family, grieving over the November 13, 2007 death of Paul Roberts at the corner of Walnut and Walker avenues in Ontario, was circulating a petition to install a stop sign at the intersection of Walnut and Walker. According to the article, however, Ontario's city manager Greg Devereaux noted that a stop sign was not justified at the intersection, due to state standards.

View Larger Map

According to the Daily Bulletin, the Roberts family request will be discussed at tonight's City Council meeting. Item 11 (of 11) on tonight's City Council agenda is as follows:

Meeting Date: February 19, 2008
Section: Administrative Reports

Discussion, possible action.

In other words, let the citizens vent at a late hour and continue the discussion to another time.

In all fairness to the city, the occurrence of a death on a public road does not automatically dictate that a stop sign, or a street light, or traffic calming obstructions, or perhaps a road closure, are required, although Cheryl of Montclair has determined that stop signs are the obvious solution:

[W]e need Stop signs all up and down Walnut there. It was just a matter of time now maybe the city will do something about it.

John Bisnar of the California Injury Blog agrees with Cheryl:

We support this family’s tremendous effort to make sure that their neighbors don’t suffer the tragedy and heartbreak they suffered....

City leaders must stand up for their residents. It seems as if the city recognizes that this is a dangerous intersection that is not conducive to pedestrian safety. They could be held liable if such incidents were to happen again and they did not take the steps needed to ensure pedestrian safety at that dangerous intersection.

But what if the city puts up a stop sign and a driver ignores it and kills someone else? Just because a stop sign is put on a road, the road isn't necessarily any more safe. Just ask the driver of a Chevrolet sedan in Midland, Texas on November 6, 1963. This driver ignored a stop sign at an intersection and killed a classmate, Michael Douglas. The name of the driver was Laura Welch, but she later married some dude who later owned the Texas Rangers baseball team.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Ontario, California Kidnapping of Santiago Contreras

You think of kidnappings as things that occur in the third world, but the San Bernardino County Sun reminds us that it can happen here.

Santiago Contreras was kidnapped in front of his family Monday afternoon at 2:20 pm. The family itself had been held hostage for several hours, awaiting Contreras' arrival.

At the time that the article was posted, a motive was not known.

The kidnapping took place in southwest Ontario, on Jacaranda Street near Cypress Avenue.

View Larger Map


[25 FEBRUARY - this story has a sad ending.]

Ontario's "Tent City"

I was traveling when this story (again by Andrea Bennett) was printed in the Daily Bulletin last Friday, but the story Tent City Growing: Ontario's homeless enclave becomes regional haven was certainly an eye-opener.

According to the article, an airport-adjacent area (Cucamonga Avenue and Jefferson Street) was designated as a location for the city's homeless last July. Hundreds of people from around the region live there today, a matter which concerns Mayor Paul Leon, Councilman Jason Anderson, and San Bernardino County Supervisor Gary Ovitt. Leon:

We've always been willing to accept responsibility for the homeless in Ontario, but we cannot take on the burden of all the homeless of San Bernardino County.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Either things are all wet, or I'm inadvertently starting the Andrea Bennett fan club

David Allen is going to be jealous. I start my brand new blog, dedicated to my empire, and I haven't referred to any of his writings yet. Instead, for the second time in a row, I'm referring to something that Andrea Bennett wrote.

In this case, she wrote about the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors' approval of "a $20million water park and outdoor amphitheater to operate on unused land at Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park."

It's claimed that prices for this water park will be lower than for Raging Waters.

So will the new park have its own version of incorrect advertisements, directing people to go where the 10, the 210, and the 15 meet?


Ontario, California receives the attention it deserves

Andrea Bennett is reporting on "the buzz" about Ontario - it's going to be featured on a major TV show!

OK, not that major a TV show.

According to Bennett, the KVMD show "Spotlight" will shine its light on Ontario, including Ontario Mills Mall, Graber Olive House, and other local highlights.

To find out more about television powerhouse KVMD, go here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Down on the 91743, Guasti fades away

In one of my older blogs, my fictional radio station had a fictional mailing address on the 25th floor of a high rise in Guasti, California. At the time this was a joke, because Guasti certainly didn't have any high rises at the time.

This could be changing. In a February 11 post in his blog, David Allen noted that many of the businesses that inhabited Guasti a few short years ago have moved or disappeared - among them the Homestyle Cafe (now in south Chino on the way to the prison) and the Filippi Winery tasting room.

I've written about Guasti before - or, more accurately, about Secundo Guasti, the man who founded the self-sufficient community. A fascinating man, and a fascinating place, now set to disappear in airline madness.

Alpha Test

Consider this an alpha test post for the blog mrontario, intended to cover various things in the city of Ontario, California. Just testing out a few things, including a link to a post in my regular blog mrontemp that explains some of the reasons why I'm creating this new blog.

More later.