Staff Writer Coming at a time of the year when serious college and high school runners are starting to think about the upcoming cross country season, the Monmouth Park Four-Mile Road Race is the perfect opportunity to measure their fitness. Dover Township’s Scott DeFilippis, a graduate of St. John Vianney, Holmdel, who will be a junior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, used a mid-race surge to pull away from the field and score a 20:15 victory for the race around the Oceanport thoroughbred track. DeFilippis was the co-captain of the Volunteers’ men’s cross country team last fall, and his win in Oceanport is a good indicator that he is ready for a big collegiate season. Coming in second was Nick Pellegrino (20:40), a sophomore at Monmouth University, West Long Branch. It was an encouraging run for the Marlboro High School grad. After he had a solid freshman cross country season with the Hawks, Pellegrino’s track season was shortened by a stress fracture. His strong run at the four-mile event was a positive sign that he is well on his way back and ready for cross country. Flemington’s Michael Walker was third (20:43); Matt Kootman was fourth (20:44); and Point Pleasant’s Brian Kerwin finished fifth (21:01). Kerwin, a graduate of Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, was the 1999 NJSIAA state cross country champion. He is a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind. Kerwin finished just ahead of ex-Ocean High School star Lou Raffetto (21:14). Fair Haven’s Scott Patterson was seventh (21:54), and Red Bank’s Eric Escorsia was ninth (22:11). Age group winners were: 14 and under, Tim Riley, North Brunswick (23:546); 15-19, Pellegrino; 20-29, Walker; 30-39, Escorsia; 40-49, Michael Mooney, Jackson (22:31); 50-59, Tim Tidy, Bridgewater (24:51); 60-69, Pat Cosgrove, Elizabeth (26:49); and 70 and up, Len Cheringal, Paramus (37:08). Spring Lake’s Alicia Kelly proved that the Monmouth Park race isn’t exclusively for college and high school runners. The veteran road racer followed up her win at the Spring Lake Five with a resounding win at Monmouth Park. Kelly posted a 23:09, easily capturing the women’s race. Danielle Barajas was the runner-up (24:19), followed by an ex-Howell High School star who will be a sophomore at the University of Michigan this fall, Lindsey Gallo (25:07). Belmar’s Christine Corey was fourth (25:12), and Christy DeFillipis finished fifth (25:33). Allison Halsey of Middletown was ninth (26:56), and the Highlands’ Dawn Ciccone, 11th (27:33). Jenny Krystopowicz, who will be a senior at Rumson-Fair Haven High School this fall, was 13th (27:40). The Bulldogs have the potential to be one of the top teams in the state, with Krystopowicz as one of the team’s top harriers. Age group winners were: 14 and under, Jennifer Clausen, Jackson (28:09); 15-19, Gallo; 20-29, Barajas; 30-39, Corey; 40-49, Ciccone; 50-59, Patricia O’Hanlon, Jersey City (31:25); and 60-69, Gloria Jenkins, Mount Holly (35:26). In the special one-mile run, Aberdeen’s Thomas Walsh was first in 5:06, while Marie Walsh won the women’s mile with a 6:09. The big race on the road racing calendar is Saturday’s George Sheehan Classic, the five-mile run through Red Bank that starts at 8:30 a.m. Running legend Bill Rodgers, a four-time winner of both the Boston and New York marathons, will be the guest sports celebrity and will speak at the Runners Forum tonight in Marine Park at 7:30 By tim morris
The Hazlet Wrecking Crew U12 Monmouth-Ocean Soccer Association team edged the Point Pleasant Thunderbirds 1-0. The halftime score was 0-0, with Hazlet pressuring the Thunderbirds’ goal. In the second half, the Wrecking Crew finally cracked the Thunderbird defense with Conor Monaghan scoring the lone goal of the game off a rebound of a shot by Danny Fortier, assisted by Dan Pella Pietro. The Crew shut out the Thunderbirds with the great hustling defense of fullbacks Nick Dulin, David Gonzalez, Ryan McCabe and Sean Wentz, along with excellent goaltending from Brian Hedges and Matt Rodriguez. The midfield play was dominated by halfbacks Corey Hahn, Dustin Hanos, Kevin Hedges and James Ricchione. Tyler Prata and Andy Herschman were not able to attend the game. The Wrecking Crew is coached by Bill Wentz and Steve Monaghan. The River Plaza-Lincroft Chargers will hold open registration for Pop Warner football and cheerleading April 19 from 7-9 p.m., and April 20 from 10:30 a.m.-noon at the Charger Field Clubhouse at Nutswamp Park. Football registration is open to children ages 5-14 as of Aug. 1. Cheerleading spots are available for children ages 5-14 as of Aug. 1. Original birth certificates and a copy, plus a wallet-sized photo are required. For more information, call (732) 842-0007. The Holmdel Stallions will be holding tryouts for the 2002-03 travel soccer season for boys and girls ages 7-18. Tryouts will be held at Ackerson Park behind Indian Hill School of Holmdel Road May 18 starting at 8 a.m. For further information call the Stallions hot line at (732) 933-8384. Mark Schofield, of Middletown, is a member of the New Jersey Rocket Tier 1 Bantam Major Team, a youth hockey team, that will travel to Colorado Springs, Colo. to compete against 11 other teams in the USA Hockey Tier I National Championships this week. The team qualified March 16 by defeating The Philadelphia Junior Flyers Youth Hockey Team, 2-1 and 3-2, in the best of three games to become the Tier 1 District Representatives to the National Champion-ships. Previously, the team won the Atlantic Youth Hockey League’s regular season championship. Mark, 14, plays center for the team. A freshman who plays varsity at Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, he also played on Team New Jersey for the Quebec International Tournament, and played on the Olympic Junior Hockey Festival Team as an alternate. Under the leadership of head coach Jim Dwyer and assistant coach Bernie Sanders, the Rocket Tier 1 Bantam Major Team amassed an impressive record of 43-11-7. In league play, the team finished 14-2. Tonya Keller Women’s Softball League is looking for teams and/or players for games Tuesday nights in the Middletown area. For more information, call Janice at (732) 335-0034, Colette at (732) 241-6787, or Fran at (732) 495-4739.
Michael Cavalier, a freshman at Bentley College (Waltham, Mass.) participated in the Division III National Championship Rugby tournament at Wake Forest University on April 21-22. The Bentley Falcons, who have won 45 consecutive games, captured the Division III title for the second straight year by defeating Allegheny College 85-0 in the semi-final and then edging Furman University, 11-10, in the championship game. Cavalier was a starting safety and wide receiver for Middletown North football team in 2004 and 2005 and lettered four years for the Lions’ winter and spring track teams (sprints, hurdles). Bentley hopes to return next year and make it a three-peat in 2008. The Hazlet United Soccer Association will be having travel team tryouts in early June for the spring 2008 season. All players must have a parent or guardian present, and must wear shin guards and cleats. For teams not listed, contact the Coach Residency. To find out tryout schedules, go to www.hazletsoccer.org. A Holmdel Stallions U11 boys soccer team, the Wizards, is looking for travel soccer players. The Wizards compete in the National 1 Flight of MOSA. Any boy with travel soccer experience looking to join a team of skilled players and born after July 1996, contact Tom at (732) 739-9780.
Horsemen in New Jersey got the best of all gifts — the guarantee that there will be racing at the Meadowlands Racetrack in 2012.On Dec. 20, the New Jersey Racing Commission awarded Jeff Gural and partners the license to operate harness racing at the Meadowlands. On Dec. 23, the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority’s Board of Commissioners ratified the 31- year lease.“I think about where we were and how hard all of this was,” said Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association President Tom Luchento in a press release. “But from the brink of disaster last year, I think now we’ll be better off in the long run. We finally have something concrete.“It was a long and arduous journey,” Luchento added. “I don’t consider us at the finish line yet, but the best news is that racing is on, beginning Jan. 6, 2012 at the Meadowlands. There couldn’t be a better Christmas present.”The agreement with the New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC (NMRLLC), headed by Jeff Gural, turned over the operations of Meadowlands Racetrack on Dec. 24. The NMRLLC has been responsible for all costs of operating and managing the Meadowlands Racetrack since June 1.“This is a great day for the racing industry, its fans and the people of New Jersey as we take a tremendous stride forward in achieving Gov. Chris Christie’s goal of a self-sustaining racing industry in the State of New Jersey,” said NJSEA Chairman Mike Ferguson. “I want to publicly congratulate Mr. Gural and his team and the tireless efforts of the NJSEA management and governor’s office in bringing this day about.” RollWith Joe named Horse of the Year RollWith Joe, the New Jersey Standardbred Horse of the Year for 2011, is a 21st century champion with his own website [rollwithjoe.com] and Facebook page.However, the 2011 Meadowlands Pace winner earned his honors the old fashion way — on the racetrack, retiring after his Nov. 12 victory in the Messenger Stakes with a career record of eight wins, six seconds and three thirds from 23 starts and earnings of $1,805,102. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture will honor Roll With Joe, who was nominated by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey, at the 55th Annual New Jersey Breeders Awards Luncheon 1 p.m. Jan. 15 at Charley’s Other Brother, Eastampton Township.The son of Cam’s Card Shark-Classic Wish started life with high expectations. His full brother, Bettor’s Delight, had won more than $2.5 million on the track before he retired to stallion duty in 2002 and his three-quarter brother, No Pan Intended, was 2003 Horse of the Year, banking more than $1.5 million.When Roll With Joe passed through the sales ring at the 2009 Lexington Selected Sale, he was hammered down for $100,000 with his breeder, Joe and Joann Thomson’s Winbak Farm in Chesapeake City, Md., retaining an interest in partnership with owners Thomas Grossman and Michael Kimelman of Blue Chip Bloodstock, Inc. of Wallkill, N.Y.; Stephen Demeter of Tarrytown, N.Y. and Sheila Baird and Scott Kimelman’s Not to Worry Stable of New York City.Among the colt’s stakes highlights in 2011 was his neck victory in the $1 million Meadowlands Pace on July 16, in which he paced the mile in 1:48.2 in what would be his first pairing with driver Ron Pierce since a baby race on June 17, 2010. Pierce would subsequently be at the lines for victories in the $500,000 Battle of Brandywine on August 21 at Chester and the $401,000 Messenger at Yonkers as well as second-place finishes in the Little Brown Jug and the Breeders Crown. In the $500,000 Breeders Crown for Three-Year-Old Pacers at Woodbine, “Joe” was nosed out by Betterthancheddar. Roll With Joe helped to make a career year for well-respected trainer Edward Hart of Middletown, N.Y., whose season’s bankroll surpassed $2 million for the first time.Tickets for the luncheon are $27.50 each and should be ordered no later than Jan. 3 from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Markets & Development, Horse Industry, PO Box 330, Trenton, NJ 08625. Call 609-984-4389 for further information and menu selections.
Gabriel Jesus is ready to put what he has learned from Sergio Aguero into practice as he takes his place in the Manchester City side.Premier League champions City will be without their record goalscorer Aguero in the coming weeks after the Argentina striker suffered a thigh injury at the weekend.His absence will mean an opportunity for Brazil international Jesus, who has largely been kept in the wings by the brilliance of Aguero this season.With Aguero sidelined until after the derby against Manchester United on December 7, that will start with Tuesday’s Champions League clash at home to Shakhtar Donetsk.Asked what he had learned from Aguero, Jesus, who has scored five goals in eight starts this season, said: “A lot. Sergio is a great guy and top player, so I had to do that, learning with him.“I am not happy because Sergio is injured. Of course I don’t like it when my friends are injured but I work here every day and I am ready to play.“When I decided to come to City I knew it was going to be hard because we have Sergio, who is the top scorer of the club and he scores every game.“I knew this but here I have a chance to play with Pep (Guardiola), with top players at a great big club. That is why I came, to enjoy and learn.”Jesus made an immediate impact when he arrived at City from Palmeiras in January and even supplanted Aguero in the team for a spell.But injuries hampered his progress and Aguero’s form since has made it difficult for the 22-year-old to get back into the side.Manager Pep Guardiola, who prefers to play with one striker, has been impressed with how the Brazilian has handled that situation.Guardiola said: “To cope with that is not easy for Gabriel, but there is no other striker at this level who can be so humble and accept this situation as Gabriel.“I’m not happy that he doesn’t play. He never missed or failed one training session in a bad condition or for bad behaviour. That’s why when he says he wants to learn, it’s the truth.“Sometimes the players say that to be gentle with the manager or with the media, but that’s the reality. He’s an incredible guy in those terms.“Of course we are going to miss Sergio because we need him and unfortunately we’ve had a lot of problems this season with injuries – big ones with Leroy (Sane) and (Aymeric) Laporte.“But meanwhile we have Gabriel and (Raheem) Sterling, who can play in that position, so we are going to live without him for a while.”Avoiding defeat against Shakhtar will see City book their place in the last 16 for a seventh consecutive season.Guardiola said: “The position we have is good, we have 10 points, but we are not qualified. We have to do our best to go to Zagreb (for the last game) with the job done and that’s what we’ll try to do.”
It’s not the easiest thing trying to be the best player on the court and be the perfect father to your kids, but this is what these PBA players are striving to do day in and day out, amid the grueling playoff grind or a frustrating campaign.For Father’s Day, we asked eight PBA personalities to reflect on the best and most challenging things about being a dad.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Best: After a loss, knowing that my wife and my baby are there for me makes me happy.Most challenging: It’s splitting time between your family and basketball. When games end late, sometimes I don’t take them with me to the games anymore. So sometimes we don’t have time. Sometimes I don’t see my daughter when she wakes up when we have practice. It’s really one of the challenges being a father and a basketball player.Marcio Lassiter, San Miguel BeermenPhoto by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netBest: I’ll start with the good stuff. It’s a blessing to have the kids running around and you see the joy in their faces. Also trying to be there for the kids and just see them grow everyday—because they grow fast each day, these guys grow like bean sprouts. They shoot up to the air—it’s cool to see. It may be challenging at first, but at the end of the day, it’s great. To see Monta get into school programs, you cherish those things.Most Challenging: The hardest thing I remember [is when I had] my first one, Monta. I didn’t know what’s going to happen, it was a new experience. The first one is the most challenging part, and if you get two or more it’s a process. It’s a long commitment, for the kids, so they always have a father figure to look up to.Gabe Norwood, Rain or Shine Elastopainters ADVERTISEMENT Best: The fun part is having kids and having a family.Most challenging: Of course, the challenging part is the obligation to provide for them. That’s the hardest part. You work because you want to provide for them.Ranidel de Ocampo, TNT KaTropa For Ina, portraying a zombie is like an ‘out-of-body experience’ Duterte’s ‘soft heart’ could save ABS-CBN, says election lawyer Best: Giving time to my family is the best, especially with these boys, seeing them watching my games, and also inspiring them. We’re blessed to be in this position and we’re grateful that we’re inspiring our kids and also the other children by playing basketball.Most challenging: Time management is very challenging. It’s really hard, especially if it’s the playoffs. You want to spend time with them, but at the same time, you have to balance it with rest.Joe Devance, Barangay Ginebra Best: The best part of being a dad is waking up and seeing them, being with them everyday. It’s always a blessing. In today’s world, you really don’t know what’s going to happen. I cherish every second I’m here with them with my beautiful wife.Most challenging: I just want to continue being a better father, a better husband, and a better person. That’s what I strive to do.Marc Pingris, Star Hotshots Best: The happiest part of me is the time I spend with my family, when I get to take care of them. It’s amazing feeling.Most challenging: The most challenging thing is how to be the best father in your kids’ eyes. So when you achieve that, you’re complete as a father. It’s like winning the championship. Nothing beats the feeling when your kids see you as the best dad. —Compiled by Bong Lozada, Randolph LeongsonSports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next China reports 17 new cases in viral pneumonia outbreak Swing Out Sister back to PH this April Best: When I see my kids happy. I go out there and work hard for them, so even when I’m tired, they give me the happiness and the strength to work harder.Most challenging: Number one most challenging thing is disciplining your child. I grew up without a father, so the first thing my taught me was discipline, so that’s what I’m trying to teach my kids too so that one day, they will know what’s right and wrong.Mark Barroca, Star Hotshots Gerald: Just because I’ve been bashed doesn’t mean I’d stop working LA Tenorio, Barangay Ginebra End of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legend Missile-capable frigate BRP Jose Rizal inches closer to entering PH Navy’s fleet Best: Best part is being able to guide and shape the lives of your own flesh and blood.Most challenging: Part of having 2 kids means totally different personalities, different was to communicate and different interests.Nash Racela, TNT KaTropa Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite LATEST STORIES Ai-Ai delas Alas on Jiro Manio: ‘Sana pinahalagahan niya ang naitulong ko’ Trump’s impeachment defense, prosecutors dig in TNT import Smith day-to-day as SMB Finals series looms MOST READ View comments
MORE STRUCTURED Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says infrastructure and professionalism are going to be key components if Jamaica is going drive its sports tourism product to the next level. Bartlett says sports tourism in Jamaica has grown and is currently at a stage where it is more structured, and he revealed that his ministry is working along with Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange in the sports ministry to get approval for the development of the product. “Tourism is driving sports and entertainment as a big part of the network. One of the big reasons people travel is for sports, which is worth some three to four trillion dollars globally, and we think this area we can tap into,” he told The Gleaner at the launch of the Pan American Handgun Championship at Emancipation Park recently. “We have become more structured, as policy is very important, it helps define the perimeters in which we can operate and the minister of sports (Grange) and ourselves (Ministry of Tourism) are very close to bringing that to Cabinet for approval, and that will be a huge technical and theoretical arrangement that will give people space within which to operate,” he said. However, in order to be attractive and have a huge impact on the global audiences and visitors, Bartlett says developing the infrastructure and setting professional standards are going to be compulsory. “Once that (parliamentary approval) is through we will look at the infrastructure that is needed. We cannot talk about sports tourism in any serious way unless we have infrastructure. We need larger stadiums, more sporting venues, training grounds and proper accommodation that are all specialised for sports activities. “We have to know that professionalising a lot of areas is going to make our product attractive to the world. We are attracting some of the finest (international athletes) and that’s very important. And with technology we get Jamaica into the living room of millions of people. But people are accustomed to seeing performances everywhere, so they want the best performances and we have to be the best at all times. “All of that requires investment, and the investment has to be incentivised and placed in some kind of fiscal arrangement. But we must be more purposeful in terms of the investment,” he added.
Just last week the new Minister of Public Works, Mr. Gyude Moore, confidently told the Daily Observer that the road projects, especially those of the Red Light to Gbarnga and Gbarnga to Ganta, were on stream and that two reputable Chinese companies were doing the work.But last Friday our Bong County Correspondent Marcus Malayea sent the grim report that a serious crack had been discovered in the crucial Konola Bridge near the border linking Margibi and Bong counties. Correspondent Malayea interviewed the Chinese contractor, CICO, to find out what had happened. They told him that the bridge was 51 years old and that they had recently repaired it; but it had been damaged by heavy trucks that exceeded the prescribed 50 tons. However, the contractors said they would soon repair the bridge again.Being 51 years old, the bridge was clearly not built by the Chinese, who were nowhere around in 1964. In fact, that was during the Tubman era, when Liberia maintained diplomatic relations with the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan. So CICO is not responsible for the bridge’s current condition, though the company did in fact recently repair it as part of its ongoing contract. We suggest that the Public Works Ministry undertake a complete reassessment of that bridge, to determine whether it needs reinforcement and for how long, or whether to demolish it and build an entirely new, reinforced one, that will be able to withstand the heaviest of trucks. This will undoubtedly call for substantial new financial resources. But the government has no choice but to make an urgent decision on what to do about this bridge, because it lies smack in the middle of the highway from Paynesville Red Light to Gbarnga. This is the only corridor leading to Central and Western Liberia which comprise the nation’s breadbaskets—Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties; and Southeastern Liberia, through which a lot of agricultural produce passes en route to Monrovia. So this highway is indispensable to travel to and from the Liberian hinterland.There is yet another major bridge that must be rebuilt. It is the bridge that is closest to the Margibi-Bong border. A temporary steel bridge was erected there by UNMIL forces to facilitate the free flow of travel after Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) bombed the concrete structure during the civil war. This was the beginning of the notorious Taylor’s destruction of Liberia’s infrastructure that threw the country 50 years backward. But Taylor was not alone in the hateful and vicious destruction of Liberia. Several other warring factions joined in the deliberate, destructive assault on the country they call their motherland. These included Alhaji Kromah’s ULIMO that destroyed almost everything in sight in Lofa County, including the Lutheran-built Currans Memorial Hospital in Zorzor, and the Lutheran Training Institute in Salayea, both in Lofa County.This is a political subdivision which Alhaji Kromah claims is his own county. He claims he hails from Kolahun. Three times ULIMO bombed the hospital and school and three times Dr. Walter Gwenigale, a Lutheran- trained surgeon and medical director of Suakoko’s Phebe Hospital, had to raise funds from European and American Lutheran and other sources to renovate these institutions. Phebe, too, was bombed three times by NPFL and other warring factions and Dr. Gwenigale had to plead with the same sources to help him rebuild it.The foregoing is just a little piece of history to remind these warlords of the grave damage they and their supporters did to their so-called motherland. It is the bombed bridge at the Margibi-Bong border that is being rebuilt. We have reliably learnt that a new bridge is in the CICO contract, because the temporary steel bridge built by UNMIL cannot be relied on for much longer. We trust that what we have said about this aspect of our deliberately destroyed infrastructure will serve as a reminder to those wishing for more trouble in Liberia. More trouble and instability are very COSTLY.By the same token, we make an urgent appeal to all those in or near power in Liberia to realize that honesty and integrity on their part will save us from more trouble, which we most certainly do not need any more of. A hint to the wise is quite sufficient. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Dear Editor,Allow me to express my heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones in Wednesday’s gruesome accident. These persons are ordinary people who use buses to go to work or home. They have no other option than to use these buses. They would have held their breath every day in those minibuses until, at last, those same buses took their breath away. We know how unruly the bus drivers and conductors behave when passengers ask them to lower the music or reduce speed. I want to appeal to the authorities to introduce 45-seat buses so that this road carnage will come to end. That is the only solution to put an end to these killing machine minibuses. Besides, let these big buses commute with a scheduled time and stop only in bus stations. An immediate introduction of big buses with time and bus station is needed to resolve road fatalities. Let us put an end to the minibuses which have killed enough people thus far. If the Government cannot afford these buses, at least allow the private companies to import these big buses so that our people can be safe and alive. I have written letters to the Editor on this subject before but no action. I beg, let this letter not go in vain.Sincerely,Kevin Ram
Record dry brush combined with a triple-digit heat wave forecast for this week has put firefighters on alert ahead of the searing Santa Ana winds expected to begin next month. Despite a cooler-than-normal summer, Los Angeles area firefighters have prepared for the worst as brush moisture plunges below critical dryness levels. “The forecast for a big fire season will finally reach fruition,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Ca ada Flintridge. “The bottom line is, the more persistent the high pressure, the high probability of Santa Anas. “The summer came in like a lamb but is going out like an angry dog.” With 135 square miles of dense mountain brush and limited access to fire equipment, city fire stations are beefed up daily with air patrols made throughout the region. An hour before dawn Monday, Councilman Tom LaBonge joined Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to hoof it to the top of Mount Hollywood. The sweeping views of Los Angeles, as expected, were glorious along the newly reopened hiking trail. But the scorched earth from last spring’s Griffith Park wildfire pointed to dangerous days ahead. “It’s such a special spot,” LaBonge said after his 29-minute trek to the 1,625-foot summit. “There’s no public space that I know in the world like Mount Hollywood. “Normally this is the worst month for fires in our history. We’re not out of the woods.” “We’re expecting a worst-case scenario because of the (dry) fuel that’s out there, and we haven’t had a big fire in quite some time,” said Los Angeles fire Capt. Al Valle, commander of air operations at Van Nuys Airport. “We’re in a state of readiness.” City and county fire departments have two 2,200-gallon Erickson Air-Crane helitankers deployed alongside smaller water-dropping choppers in the San Fernando Valley. The city helitanker, leased this month, will extend its service by seven weeks because of drought. Ten county foam-spraying trucks were added to the fleet. In addition, two fixed-wing SuperScoopers are expected to arrive from Canada on Thursday as the mercury rises into the 100s this week. Area fire departments say they have been especially rigorous in forcing residents and businesses to clear excess brush. “The rain shortage has limited the amount of moisture in the brush, making it more easily ignitable and less controllable,” said county fire Inspector Frank Garrido. “We’re doing everything we can to mitigate safety hazards in advance of the fire season and the expected Santa Ana winds.” The winds, which normally blow between September and March, howled into this spring, culminating in the nearly 1,000-acre brush fire last May that blackened Griffith Park. Forecasters expect the high pressure system now hovering over Arizona and New Mexico to shift to northern Nevada – the source of the dry Santa Anas that have fueled fires over the years from Bel-Air to Santa Clarita. And with dry weather seasons come a greater chance of Santa Ana winds. Los Angeles last year got 3.21 inches of rain during the driest season ever. In advance of the coming heat wave, firefighters in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties continued to battle a vast wildfire that has burned more than 240,000 acres, or 375 square miles, since July 4. Wary predictions about Santa Anas didn’t stop eager city officials from trudging up Mount Hollywood to celebrate three Griffith Park trails – Mount Hollywood, and Vermont and Royce canyons – reopened to the public. The 1.2-mile Mount Hollywood Trail, from Griffith Observatory to the peak, had been closed since the May 8 fire. Other trails in burn areas remain closed indefinitely. From there, LaBonge turned through the early morning haze to ponder from the Vincent Thomas Bridge to the Valley to the great Pacific Ocean. He said one cigarette or spark from a barbecue – both now banned in city parks – could set the entire horizon ablaze. “In the months ahead,” LaBonge said, “we must be diligent. … Hopefully, with a little luck, we’ll make it through.” firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3730160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!