2022: the year in feature stories

by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com

At the beginning of 2022, we asked Claremont how it was being impacted by the surging COVID-19 Omicron variant.

City manager Adam Pirrie emphasized Claremont and its businesses would continue to follow guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Claremont Craft Ales CEO Simon Brown closed the company’s indoor tasting room and only offered curbside pickup; Fit Rituals owners Tasha Bell and Bernadette Legranp reduced its gym’s class sizes by 50%; and The Diamond Center owner’s Ray Lantz increased testing among his employees.

About a month later we profiled some of Priceless Pets Rescue Claremont’s newest tenants: a group of purebred beagles. The pups were rescued from a Virginia-based breeder. After Priceless Pets transported them to its Chino Hills facility, the pups were made adoption ready. Thirteen beagles arrived at the Claremont shelter, with four being adopted before the story, “Priceless Pets Rescue need help rehoming hundreds of beagles,” went live. The nine remaining pups, Talladega, Tiana, Tink, Tilly, Tonya, Tori, Tortuga, Trevor and Traveler were all eventually adopted.


On February 16, Darya Harris, store manager of Priceless Pets Rescue in Claremont, pets Tilly, a beagle recently saved from a Virginia-based breeding facility. COURIER photo/Andrew Alonzo


In March, weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, Claremont resident Cynthia Cross explored ways to help a Ukrainian family in need, 6,200 miles away. By booking stays through Airbnb at properties owned by her pen pal, Ukrainian citizen Dmitry Volkov, money was sent directly to Volkov’s bank account after the scheduled stay. Cross’s act of kindness allowed Volkov to support his family, mother and friends.

In April, 13 residents gathered at Cahuilla Park to voice their concerns regarding traffic safety at the first in-person meeting of the Claremont Safe Streets Coalition. The coalition’s founder, Nona Tirre, decided to call the meeting after noticing an increase in perceived unsafe driving practices throughout the city.

In May, following the alleged leaked opinion from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito that signaled the Court’s intent to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Claremont College’s 5Cs Reproduction Club organized a protest march.

In June, Pulitzer Prize-winning freelance photojournalist Amanda Andrade-Rhoades discussed her coverage of the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The Claremont native’s photos and ground coverage was included in the Washington Post’s comprehensive coverage of the attempted coup called “The Attack,” which won the Pulitzer for public service reporting. Andrade-Rhoades was a COURIER intern in 2012.


Scripps College graduate and Magna Cum Laude Samantha Cain Bloomfield excitedly shows all, and the Scripps College cameraman, her diploma case after her name was called during the 92nd annual Scripps College commencement. The Encino, California native graduated with honors with a B.A. in philosophy. COURIER photo/Andrew Alonzo


In July, the COURIER welcomed its new editor, Mick Rhodes.

Also in July, we profiled the work of three Friends of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park who did field research on monarch butterflies for the Monarch Joint Venture. About a mile into Johnson’s Pasture, the researchers looked for signs of monarch life with the goal of gathering data to help the city with allocating grant funding and decision making for future wilderness park projects which may affect the monarch population. Every week, the group reports its findings to the MJV’s Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program.

In mid-August, teachers allowed the COURIER into their classrooms about a week before the new Claremont Unified School District school year kicked off. Mountain View Elementary School’s sixth grade teacher Maureen Free got emotional when asked what she was looking forward to most.

“Just being together. We all miss that,” Free said. “We miss the kids. But just that fullness of the school year, that hope that comes with the first day of school, I’m most excited about that.”

On August 31, students returned to CUSD campuses.

September was crunch time to get candidate profiles out to the public before mail-in ballots arrived to Los Angeles County voters. The COURIER profiled Three Valleys Municipal Water District Division III candidates Jeff Hanlon, Javier Aguilar, and 19-year incumbent Brian Bowcock, as well as each candidate for Claremont City Council and Claremont Unified School District Board of Education.

In October, Claremont Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 40th Village Venture.

That same month, Scripps College professor Martha Gonzalez was honored as one of 25 winners of the 2022 MacArthur Fellowship, which is also referred to as the genius grant. The MacArthur Foundation awards the prestigious fellowships to those making strides in disciplines like art, science and academics. The prize came with an $800,000 stipend to be awarded over the next five years and will support Gonzalez’s future projects like music with her Grammy-winning Latinx band Quetzal.

In November, the story of Ezer, a three-year-old beagle and basset hound mix, was turned into a children’s book by his owner, Marisa Nicely.

The community also learned that 69-year-old Claremonter Donald DeLano was hanging up his gardening gloves after 31 years of service as the Pomona Fairplex horticulturist. He cited health concerns as his reason for departing. The man who began The Farm at the Fairplex in 2012 officially retired on November 30, 2022.


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