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UPDATE: Long-serving SCV volunteer Connie Worden-Roberts dies at 83

Posted: August 12, 2014 6:17 p.m.
Updated: August 12, 2014 6:58 p.m.

Connie Worden-Roberts

 

Connie Worden-Roberts, the Santa Clarita Valley volunteer powerhouse who helped establish the city and create many of the amenities residents know today, died Tuesday following a long illness. She was 83.

Arriving in the Santa Clarita Valley around 1970 — a time when the new planned community of Valencia was just getting established — Worden-Roberts became a local expert on transportation issues.

She was perhaps best know as the Santa Clarita Valley’s “Road Warrior” for her tireless efforts to improve driving around the area, where roads were then few and far between — and not always aligned with each other.

She worked to establish the city of Santa Clarita and was instrumental in launching the still-continuing cleanup of the valley’s 1,000 acre brownfield, the Whittaker-Bermite site.

Worden-Roberts was born in Minnesota in 1930, according to her son, Leon Worden. Her history of service began at a young age as she helped raise her siblings, Worden said.

She later moved to California, her son said, and came to live in the Santa Clarita Valley around 1970.

Worden-Roberts helped to found the Santa Clarita Valley Transportation Management Association and the Valley Industrial Association. The latter’s original focus was transportation.

“In listening to people, the biggest thing they complained about was traffic and the lack of sufficient roads,” Worden-Roberts said in a 2008 interview with The Signal.

She was appointed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich to the North County Transportation Coalition and served as co-chairwoman of the SCV Transportation Alliance and as chairwoman of the League of Women Voters in Los Angeles.

A believer in local governmental control, Worden-Roberts was part of the Canyon County Formation Committee, which attempted twice in the late 1970s to form a separate county in the Santa Clarita Valley.

When those efforts failed because approval from the rest of the county was required, Worden-Roberts joined others in the cityhood drive. Her name was among the eight others on the original petition to the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission for cityhood.

Worden-Roberts gathered 2,000 out of the 24,000 signatures needed to put the vote to the people and, with others, celebrated the formation of the city on Dec. 15, 1987.

She was later appointed to the city’s first Planning Commission by Dennis Koontz, one of the five members of the first Santa Clarita City Council.

“I had the privilege and the honor to appoint her as my planning commissioner,” Koontz later recalled. “And with the city starting out, with a lot of work to do, I couldn’t have picked, and I don’t think the city could have picked, anyone better than Connie Worden-Roberts.”

Worden-Roberts also served on the William S. Hart Union High School District board, the North County Citizens Planning Council, the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital speakers bureau, the Friends of Hart Park, the SCV Parade Committee and the Placerita Canyon Nature Center Association.

She was a special assistant to both the president of HR Textron and to Assemblywoman Marian La Folette.

She also played a key role in the environmental cleanup process of the contaminated Whittaker-Bermite brownfield through her influence in the Whittaker-Bermite Citizen Advisory Group.

“It was Connie Worden-Roberts who was the person who took the initiative to use the (Department of Toxic Substances Control) law to form a ‘Community Advisory Group’ to press DTSC and Whittaker to get the contamination of the community’s drinking water wells stopped, and the source of the contamination cleaned up,” one former resident posted on a Signal website story in May. “Connie understood how important it was for the community to protect its natural clean water supply.”

Under her leadership, the poster wrote, the advisory group “publicized the facts and held the state’s feet to the fire in terms of prioritizing the cleanup of the drinking water wells and enforcement of the toxic cleanup laws against the polluter.”

Worden-Roberts also took on a vital position in the Connecting Communities project, which was a partnership between community leaders and business people who worked to increase broadband Internet access in Santa Clarita.

The Cross-Valley Connector, which opened to the public on March 27, 2010, is also a product of her legacy because of the immense contributions she made to its construction.

During her decades of community participation, Worden-Roberts has received numerous recognitions, including SCV Woman of the Year in 1975; “Woman of the Year” awards three times from the state Legislature; a Lifetime Achievement Awards from the SCV Press Club; the Founder’s Award in 2011 from the Valley Industry Association; and The Signal’s “51 Most Influential” award several times.

The city of Santa Clarita awarded her a “Key to the City” in May to recognize her decades of achievement.

“She is the driving force of Santa Clarita and, without her, you would not be living in Santa Clarita,” Mayor Laurene Weste said during the ceremony. “She was the linchpin of city formation.”

Weste also called her the greatest volunteer in the history of Santa Clarita.

“I care very much about how the growth occurs in our valley, and certainly in our state, and once you obtain some understanding of it, the people ask you to continue to serve,” said Worden-Roberts in a 2008 interview with The Signal.

 

 

 

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