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Mayor Leano makes special appearance at Condit—podcast

by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com

At 10 a.m. last Friday, Claremont’s Mayor Jed Leano made a special appearance at Condit Elementary School to give thanks and city-branded pencils to Sue Felton’s second grade class for their recent, thoughtful assignment about last month’s windstorm.

Following the blistering winds on January 21, which toppled over 300 trees and cut power to thousands of residents’ homes, the students were given an assignment to illustrate and briefly describe what had happened in their own backyards.

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“I just wanted, right away, to address their feelings and we had just talked about the City of Claremont and how its slogan was the City of Trees,” Felton said. “We talked about the wind damage and we decided to write letters to the city…just expressing our sorriness for all the damage that it caused. And I wanted them to be able to express damages that occurred at their houses also so were able to deal with all those emotions.”

The 24 students each wrote letters to the city, which they sent home with Mayor Leano’s son, Welles, also a Condit second grader, last Tuesday. Some of the artwork by students depicted fallen trees and greenery, trees on homes and a student’s overturned trampoline, one of Mayor Leano’s favorite drawings, he said.

“It was so sweet,” he  said holding the green folder of letters. “They all expressed very sincere sympathy over what had happened. I shared with the city council meeting and my colleagues that these young kids wrote these letters and I wanted to give them a special thank you and recognize their effort above all.”

Mayor Leano said the drawings and letters touched the hearts of city staffers and council members. The letters are currently on display at Claremont City Hall at 207 N. Harvard Avenue.

When Mayor Leano appeared on the campus last Friday, the second grade class was asked to describe what happened during the windstorm. After hearing from the children how devastating the windstorm was to them and their families, Mayor Leano, thanked and bestowed upon each student a Claremont city-branded pencil for their thoughtful letters.

“What I hope [my appearance today] does is, it shows all of them not only the spirit of community, but [also] a sense of civic duty. That when you take pride and ownership in the community where you live, then you care about how it looks and how well we’re taking care of people. Something like writing a letter and making a drawing, it is the first step in taking part in that kind of community,” Mayor Leano said.

“They certainly put in a lot of thought and then they added some beautiful drawings so I thought that they needed to be recognized for that and to tell them that it was noticed by the city,” the mayor added.

Mayor Leano’s appearance came on a special school day as the children were participating in superhero day. Most of the students seemed to enjoy the day, and many were either dressed in full costume, with spiderman being the clear favorite, or had make-up markings on their face to depict the superhero they represented.

Before leaving, Mayor Leano left the children with a lesson about real-life heroes. He reminded the students that when they see police, fire, community workers, and Edison employees, to name a few, to thank them for their round-the-clock service as it’s been a very tiring week of cleanup efforts.

“By the time the letters arrived on Tuesday, we were in day four of full-blown crisis mode. People were tired, exhausted, overworked and this was a beautiful gesture to lift their spirits. They needed it and it meant a lot to everybody who saw it,” Mayor Leano said last week. “I think it was important for the kids to realize that … everybody’s working and helping. I wanted to share with them that this effort is all hands on deck and their letter is a part of that effort.”

Mayor Leano said the city does not yet have a cost estimate for the total damage caused by the windstorm. He did say, however, that during the first week of February the city will submit paperwork to the Offices of emergency services regarding their initial damage estimate.

“I have been communicating with state officials on that process. We don’t have that estimate completed yet but we will turn it in and then we will work directly with the state to come up with [that],” Mayor Leano said. “We do know that the total tree count is somewhere close to 350 and the actual cost is obviously dependent on a lot of different factors, but that’s what we know right now.”

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