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Bargain Bob shops for the functionally fine and gently used

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Bargain Bob’s functionally fine and gently used footwear.

YUCAIPA, CA – About 20 years ago I paid $279.99 for an Ektelon racquetball racquet. And least you think I traveled the pro circuit and needed such a finely strung instrument let me assure you, I didn’t impress many with my play.

Back then I bought nothing but the best – regardless of the cost. Now I regret my squandering ways. That fancy racquet improved my game not one single point over what a $39.99 racquet would have done.

There was a time when I flashed my credit card and eagerly opened my wallet gobbling up new stuff like a ravenous pig slopping at the feed trough. New clothes, new shop tools, new (expensive) basketball, racquetball, dress, and running shoes, new Nikon cameras and lenses – I spent thousands. Let me rephrase. I wasted thousands.

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Extra pounds no problem for pleasingly plump runner

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Kirstie Anderson with sons, Cayden, 8, and Cavin, 5, after she won the Tinsel Triathlon 5-kilometer race.

YUCAIPA, CA – I pride myself in staying in good shape. I work out at a fitness club. I walk and jog with my dog about four miles, three times a week. So yeah, I think I’m pretty fit.

But I couldn’t imagine lugging around an extra 20 pounds while sweating and straining through the rigors of my workout. But that didn’t appear to be much of a problem for one pleasingly plump young woman in the Hemet, Central County United Way, Tinsel Triathlon 5-kilometer race, last Sunday.

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Following In Dad’s Footsteps

Friday, December 18th, 2009

The Hunhoff family of South Dakota and California has a long tradition of men’s fastpitch softball pitching.
Courtesy Photos / Lori Hunhoff

HARRISBURG, SOUTH DAKOTA – If he were to call it quits and chuck his bat, glove and spikes in the closet and say, “I’ve been there and done that,” no one could really blame him.

For after all, Benjamin “BJ” Hunhoff – in the lingo of fastpitch softball – indeed has been there and done that.

He’s played and won at the international, national, and state championship levels. He’s collected a showcase full of most valuable pitcher and player awards.

By now if you’re thinking, let’s let the “old man,” ease back into his recliner and enjoy his well-deserved retirement, here’s the catch:

BJ Hunhoff is just 20-years-old. His fastpitch rocket is nowhere near leveling off, much less coming to a landing.

His thirst to compete, his drive to improve, his love of the game, and his desire to follow in his dad’s footsteps remain as strong as ever.

And it all started with John Hunhoff. BJ’s dad and the man he calls, “my hero.”

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The Show and Tell of a Farmer’s Life

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Cow BellsLR.2
When Dan Healy’s great grandfather came to America from Ireland in 1868, he brought this cowbell with him.
Story and Photo By BOB OTTO

CALIMESA, CA – There’s no doubt, Dan Healy loves stumping his buddies at Uncle Ray’s Donut Shop in Yucaipa when they gather for their daily coffee klatch.

“Do you know what this is?” or “Have you ever seen one of these?” he’ll ask while lifting up and brandishing some unusual looking object. It’s as if Healy’s playing a game of show and tell.

One morning the 79-year-old retired high school teacher walked in carrying what looked like some sort of antique paint scrapper. We guessed the scrapper part right. But what it was used for, we had no clue.

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Vintage cars the envy of the neighborhood

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Photos By Bob Otto / Freelance Writer & Photographer

CALIMESA, CA – When Dan Healy backs either one of his cars out of his garage, some of his neighbors turn a bit green with envy. For one of those cars is a 1961 Chevrolet Impala convertible, while the other is a 1924 Ford Model T. Two vintage automobiles that turn heads wherever Healy drives them.

But what’s even more impressive is the history behind Healy’s collection. They’ve been in the family for a combined 133 years. Since they first rolled off the car dealers’ showroom floors.

Healy’s late wife, Beverly, bought the Impala from her father, who owned a Chevrolet dealership in Toluca, Illinois. When Beverly saw the white Impala with black convertible top and wide, white-stripped tires, she wanted it.

“I was single at the time and with her when she bought it new in the fall of 1960,” Healy said. “It was parked in the showroom and she said, ‘I like the looks of that car.’”

And so it seems, do others. Healy says he will never sell the car, but one potential buyer made a strong pitch. “This guy said he would give me $100,000,” he said. “I told him no, but he said, ‘name your price.’”

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Open Horse Show popular at Yucaipa Equestrian Center

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Photos and Story BY BOB OTTO

YUCAIPA, CA – Twenty long years had passed since Tracy Beck had seriously ridden and competed in horse shows. But she showed no rust from her time away from the show arena, as she and her partner, Stormy, claimed back-to-back blue ribbons Saturday at the Yucaipa Equestrian Center.

The Morgan Horse Show Club of Southern California hosted an Open Horse Show at the popular equestrian center, which drew competitors from throughout southern California.

And Tracy and her 11-year-old daughter, Madison, were two of the riders who performed well in the event. And mom and daughter shared Stormy, whose birth name is, “JJ SK’s Spring Storm” in several of the 42 events.

Tracy and Madison’s delighted smiles and the strokes and hugs they lovingly bestowed on Stormy – owned by James and Sandra Flanagan of Shamrock Morgan’s in Ramona – showed their pride in the 10-year-old beautifully mannered Morgan.

“His canter was perfect, he was gorgeous,” Tracy said after winning blue ribbons in the English Pleasure age 16/Over, and English Country Pleasure events. “He was consistent and steady, and he walked well.”

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Marine Corps hero defiantly “salutes” the enemy

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Iron Mike
This photograph depicting Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Michael Burghardt’s defiance was taken by Jeff Bundy for the Omaha World-Herald. It adorns the walls of homes across America and that of Col John Gronski, the Brigade Commander in Ramadi, who has hailed the image as an exemplar of the warrior spirit.

RAMADI, IRAQ– United States Marine Gunnery Sgt. Michael Burghardt is known as ‘Iron Mike’ or just ‘Gunny’. He is on his third tour in Iraq. He has become a legend in the bomb disposal world after winning the Bronze Star for disabling 64 IEDs and destroying 1,548 pieces of ordnance during his second tour.

Then, on September 19th he was blown up.

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A true hero

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

The word, “hero” is bandied about often. Unfortunately, far to often in the world of sports. Michael Jordan hits a game-winning jump shot to win the NBA championship, and he’s glorified and elevated to Superman status.

The Pittsburgh Steelers win the 2009 Super Bowl, and the city embraces their conquering heroes with a gaudy parade where delirious, screaming fans revere their warrior-heroes for the splendid feat they’ve accomplished.

But let me tell you about a real hero: Irena Sendler.

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A sea of red, white and blue greets Iraq veteran

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

“Peace begins with a smile …” – Mother Teresa
By Çonnie Bickman / Cannon Falls Beacon

CANNON FALLS, MINN – Iraq Army veteran, Gunnar Swanson, recently walked 1,000 miles from Dallas, Texas to Northfield, in “A Soldier’s March for Peace” (ASM4P) project to raise awareness and funds to help kids affected by war.

He spoke at schools, YMCAs and other groups of kids as he traveled, with Cannon Falls being the last stop on his ASM4P speaking tour.

Missy Klapperich, who organized the Cannon Falls school appearance, introduced War Kids Relief directors, Dina Fesler and Gunnar Swanson, and quoted Mother Teresa in saying,

“Peace begins with a smile,” adding, “and after you listen to these two humanitarians, you will be smiling too.”

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www. War Kids Relief.org

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Royals claim second consecutive national championship

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Royals ChampsLR

WINSTON, MISSOURI – Imitation and lots of practice go far in developing athletic skill. And that includes learning how to windmill a softball underhanded.

10-year-old Craig Lewis and his brother, Jacob, 8, will vouch for that.

On August 1-2, the two brothers pitched their Northwest Missouri Royals age 10-under boys’ fastpitch softball team to an Amateur Softball Association (ASA) National Championship at Caswell Park in North Mankato, Minnesota.

The Royals marched through the four-team national tournament undefeated (5-0) and knocked off the Garden City, Minnesota / Key City Big Dog, 12-2, in the championship game to claim their second consecutive national championship in the 10-under division.

But as well as the boys pitched in allowing two runs and six hits in the entire tournament, they had plenty of help in the hitting and defensive sides of the game. The Royals hitting machine outscored its opponents by a 59-2 margin.

And the defense was nearly flawless committing but one error the entire tournament.

Head Coach, Eric Lewis praised the support of the parents – especially the dads of whom many are former or current fastpitch players.

“Several of the dads played fastpitch together on the old Road Runners / Thunder teams of northwest Missouri,” said Lewis, who is the Winston High School principal, athletic director, and coach of the boys’ softball and basketball teams.

“Our parents all were very dedicated. They and the boys’ sisters threw a lot of batting practice at home to help these baseball players make the transition to fastpitch.”

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