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Bob Kellar visits the Senior Center

Councilman answers questions about the city of Santa Clarita and senior issues in the community

Posted: January 11, 2009 9:14 p.m.
Updated: January 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Bob Kellar, far right, addresses a variety of issues ranging from future plans for the center to how to avoid scams.

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Four seniors sat in Activity Rooms 1 and 2 at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center Wednesday afternoon, the first to arrive in anticipation of Bob Kellar visiting the center and offering an hour of his time to address the senior community and answer any questions.

"I've known Bob Kellar for years. He is such a wonderful man," one woman commented to another.

"I've never met him, but I hear that he's the only one from the council that gives a hoot about us seniors," the second woman replied.

More and more seniors trickled into the wide, naturally lit room, occupying nearly every seat in it.

Diana Sevanian, R.N., Senior Center Director of the program, invited Kellar to start the year off properly with information pertaining to the city of Santa Clarita and senior issues in the community. As the first lecture in the Health and Wellness lecture series, it was a good opportunity for seniors to voice their concerns, comments and questions regarding anything they could think of.

Councilman Kellar joined the city of Santa Clarita as a first-term councilman in April, 2000. His resume also includes serving the city as mayor in 2004 and 2008.

Kellar started out his hour discussing a popular topic splashed in the headlines of every newspaper across the nation; a topic affecting every American from coast to coast: the bleak economy.

"Let me tell you, no one is escaping this," Kellar said.

Kellar explained that the government in general (city, county, state and federal) is certainly not enjoying dealing with the issue. He also quickly assured everyone that the government on every level is working hard to find a solution.

Regardless of the government and its progress toward fixing the economy, Kellar also encouraged everyone to take part in the solution. American citizens shouldn't solely rely on the government to fix it, he said. They need help, and they will need help throughout.

"We need to do everything we can to be a part of the answer in this difficult time," Kellar said.

Jobs opportunities are one of the key parts to the solution, Kellar explained. A lot of projects across the nation were forced to forfeit their building plans, which caused job opportunities to fall through the cracks.

Kellar reassured seniors the city of Santa Clarita was not stuffing a cork on any planned projects that would improve the city.

"We're not jeopardizing the city," Kellar said. "The Cross Valley Connector is underway as we speak."

He projected Santa Clarita Valley residents will be able to utilize the connector 14 months from now.

"Another (way to stimulate the economy) is shopping local," Kellar added. "It is so important to keep our money within the city."

Kellar expressed his excitement for 2009. "I'm hoping people will start paying attention," he said. "We can't afford to make any more mistakes. We, as America, we need to pay more attention in every level of government."

Kellar expressed his distaste for 2008 and what happened toward the end of the year.

"I am disgusted. This is not a partisan comment," he said. "It's about lack of representation and the irresponsible conduct by people in power. Look at what they've done. These are people who failed to follow their oath."

Despite his disrespect for the actions of these people in power, no one escapes responsibility.

"I hate to say it people, and I don't want to offend anyone because that is never my intention," Kellar continued. "But ultimately, it's our fault. Everyone carries a certain amount of responsibility for electing the people who have essentially taken America off the road."

The American people need to return to certain basic principles, Kellar said. These principles need to be revisited and reestablished.

Certain cities in California, including Victorville, recently celebrated a new addition to their seal: the phrase "In God we trust." Kellar expressed a desire to accomplish something similar for the city of Santa Clarita.

"It's a universal statement," he said. "It's your God. And my God. This country was founded on the appreciation of God. We need to bring that back. We need to go back to the basics. Understanding the principles that this great nation was founded on."

Keeping it local
Kellar, although aware most seniors already knew, announced the center would receive $75,000 this year.
"I will continue to vote to support the seniors of the Santa Clarita Valley," Kellar said. "How could I not? This is a great program."

Senior Bill Stehle raised his hand and asked what exactly the $75,000 would be used for.

The money will mostly be used to update the facilities at the center, according the Kellar. He also mentioned building another center in Canyon Country.

Senior Harry Gratz asked about senior housing.

"We're not where we want to be, but we're getting there," Kellar said.

Other topics of discussion included where seniors get funding in the first place, the option of electing a city mayor and property taxes negatively affecting seniors.

Rent control was one of the hot topics actively discussed among the group.

"This is a big topic," Kellar said. "Particularly in the mobile homes. It's a big concern."

Mobile home owners have taken great advantage of the residents living in their communities, Kellar said.

As a city, he said it was possible for rent control to be enacted, but expressed some concerns as well.

Like most things in this world, there are always disadvantages.

"I have to be honest. (Rent control) scares me to death," Kellar admitted. "It's a violation of the free enterprise system. There are other problems that result from it."

Kellar was open-minded to different ways to resolve the problem.

"I'm not trying to ignore the issue, we just need to come up with something new and efficient."

He also gave important tips for seniors.

"Be careful with these reverse mortgages," he said. "Do not touch that piece of paper. Do not do it! You'll lose everything."

Seniors also made suggestions on how the center can be improved and suggested additions to the senior community.

Sevanian suggested a local Veteran's Museum, specifically noting there is a vacant building across from the Veteran's Historical Plaza, on the corner of Walnut Street and Newhall Avenue.

"How perfect would that be?" Kellar asked. This wasn't the first time Kellar heard a suggestion about a veteran's museum, and replied with, "We're playing with the idea."

Sevanian also suggested some type of therapeutic pool seniors can take advantage of for physical fitness, especially those with weak joints.

The room erupted with comments agreeing with Sevanian. Kellar, in accord with the room, suggested the pool be built right there at the Senior Center.

"These are all things to think about," Kellar said. "They are great ideas."

After the lecture, seniors were invited to the cafeteria where a Wii was set up, ready to be played.

The Wii is a home video game console released by Nintendo. One of it's distinguishing features is the Wii Remote, a wireless controller which detects movement in three dimensions.

One of its more popular games is Wii Sports where players participate in virtual games of tennis, bowling, boxing, golf and baseball.

Kellar stopped by to play a round of Wii bowling before leaving.

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