Bits 'n' Pieces

Southwest Offers Flights to New Orleans

Southwest Airlines is now offering weekly nonstop flights on Sundays from Long Beach Airport (LGB) to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY), just in time for Mardi Gras season.

Southwest’s flights to New Orleans – utilizing the airline’s Boeing 737 fleet – depart LGB at 12:30 p.m. on Sundays and arrive at MSY at 6 p.m. The return flight departs MSY at 4:55 p.m. and arrives back at LGB at 7:15 p.m. Originally scheduled to be a seasonal service only through March, Southwest has extended the service through their currently published schedule of July 10.

In addition to the new Sunday flights, Southwest offers daily service throughout the year between Long Beach and New Orleans through connecting or same-plane service on the airline’s point-to-point network.

Southwest Airlines first began service from LGB in 2016 and has continued to increase its presence at the airport since then. Including New Orleans and added service to Orlando starting in July, the Dallas-based airline will fly nonstop to 17 U.S. cities from LGB.

American Quits LGB

In response to the regional pilot shortage affecting the airline industry and soft demand, American Airlines has decided to end service this spring in Long Beach as well as Columbus, Georgia and Del Rio, Texas, according to an American Airlines spokesperson.

American will stop flying to Long Beach after Feb. 28 and Columbus and Del Rio after April 3.

The airline said it intends to contact affected customers to “offer alternate arrangements.” Regional airlines have been hit particularly hard by a shortage of pilots as they try to ramp up after the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because mainline carriers such as American and United tend to recruit from regional carriers such as Mesa and SkyWest with higher pay and better benefits.

American flights currently account for about 6% of the total operation at LGB, with three daily flights between Long Beach and the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in Arizona, via Mesa Airlines.

American will continue to operate more than 145 daily flights to 52 worldwide destinations from the Los Angeles International, Hollywood Burbank, Ontario International and John Wayne Airports.

Higher Gas Bills Expected

January natural gas bills are likely to be shockingly high. An unprecedented cold snap across the nation in part has caused natural gas market prices in the west to more than double between December and January – to the tune of 128% since December.

As a result, SoCalGas (SCG) customers can expect to see higher gas bills in the coming weeks.

While SCG doesn’t set these prices (they’re set by regional and national markets), nor does SCG actually profit from rising prices, they want customers to know that “this may be a shock and a hardship for some.”

If your residential peak winter bill was around $65 last winter, you can expect to see bills closer to $160 this year. Similarly, if it was around $130 last winter, customers can expect to see bills around $315 this year. These increases are primarily due to increases in the price of gas and to a much lesser extent increased transportation rates.

For more information on bills and how to lower your costs, visit socalgas.com/ManageHigherBills

Aquarium on Wheels Returns to Service

For the first time since the pandemic, the Aquarium on Wheels has returned with its educators and animals aboard the more than 30-foot outreach truck and is now accepting bookings.

The newly remodeled truck includes a large tidepool habitat, where you can touch California marine life such as small sharks, sea stars, urchins and anemones. Educators can also bring life-sized inflatables of a great white shark and elephant seal to schools and communities as part of the program. The Aquarium on Wheels features new interactive educational classroom and auditorium programs led by aquarium educators where PreK to 12th-grade students can dive into ocean learning.

The Aquarium on Wheels is available for bookings in Southern California regions in 2023 helping to make the aquarium more accessible to those who cannot visit. “The aquarium is committed to broadening the reach of our programs. We are thrilled to bring the ocean to classrooms and ignite curiosity in learners of all ages through hands-on encounters with tidepool animals and in-person programs with our educators,” said Jennie Dean, Aquarium of the Pacific vice president of education and conservation.

One of the first stops for the Aquarium on Wheels was at William F. Prisk Elementary school in Long Beach. Approximately 80 students explored tidepool habitats aboard the truck and participated in the classroom programs led by aquarium educators.

“We’ve really been looking forward to this awesome opportunity for our Kids’ Club Winter Break Camp students to have this hands-on experience with the Aquarium of the Pacific’s marine life. Many of us take for granted Long Beach’s close proximity to the Pacific Ocean; our hope is that this visit by the Aquarium on Wheels will ignite their imaginations and inspire these kiddos to dive deeper into learning about our marine habitats,” says Allison Thompson, Prisk Kids’ Club Supervisor, William F. Prisk Elementary school.

Aquarium on Wheels classroom programs available are Under the Sea Shapes (PreK to Kindergarten) and Amazing Animal Adaptations (Kindergarten to eighth grade). Auditorium programs available for Aquarium on Wheels visits are Pacific Journeys (Kindergarten to eighth grade) and Under the Sea Shapes. All these interactive programs support Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

The aquarium also provides educational materials as teacher resources for students to get the most out of their Aquarium on Wheels learning experience. The Aquarium on Wheels mobile tidepool can also be booked for community events and birthday parties.

The Aquarium on Wheels is wheelchair accessible and can serve up to one hundred individuals per hour. It is available for bookings on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, the public can visit aquariumofpacific.org/education/aow or call (562) 590-3100. The Aquarium on Wheels is made possible through support from Marathon Petroleum Corporation.

Library Launches Youth Poet Laureate Program

The Long Beach Public Library (LBPL), in partnership with the Arts Council for Long Beach and supported by Urban Word NYC, is launching the inaugural Long Beach Youth Poet Laureate (YPL) program after two years of planning. Applications for the program, which brings Long Beach youth the opportunity to enact positive change in their communities through their activism and art, opened Jan. 10 to Long Beach residents ages 13 to 18.

The YPL program, which began in New York in 2008, has expanded to more than 70 communities across the nation. YPL participants from around the country have gone on to compete in national poetry competitions, start independently owned publishing presses and most notably, as seen with Amanda Gorman, perform at a presidential inauguration.

The application period for the YPL program will close on Feb. 21. Youth interested in applying are asked to submit a YPL application, curriculum vitae noting their civic and social engagement experience and a portfolio of five poems.

“As an advocate of language, literature and culture, Long Beach Public Library is eager and prepared to help equip local youth with the tools necessary to craft and carry their creative legacies into the future,” said Library Director Cathy De Leon.

“Poetry is more than words. It is the creative effort to use expressive language and find a way to a person’s mind, heart and soul,” said Arts Council Executive Director Griselda Suárez. “The Youth Poet Laureate program will change the city by way of young imagination. This is a much needed art form at this time.”

For more information, visit the LBPL website or call (562) 570-7500.

Taboada New RLA Chair

The Rancho Los Alamitos (RLA) Foundation Board of Directors’ annual meeting in December resulted in the following leadership for the next term: Effective Jan. 1, Henry Taboada will serve as board chair, and Deborah Castro as vice chair, filling the seat Taboada previously held. Douglas Charchenko will continue in his role as Foundation Board treasurer.

Henry Taboada is a former city manager for Long Beach and has served on RLA’s Board for seven years. His leadership for RLA has been invaluable, particularly with the city, and his work on RLA personnel, finance and DEIA initiatives.

Deborah Castro has served on the board for eight years. She is the CEO of Long-Beach-headquartered Creative Productions, a marketing and strategic communications agency with clients across public, private and nonprofit sectors. Douglas Charchenko is a Retired Head of Fixed Income for Wedbush Securities and oversees the finance and investments for the Rancho.

The Wall That Heals

The Wall That Heals, a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial along with a mobile Education Center, is coming to Hawaiian Gardens, March 22-26 at Fedde Middle School and will be open 24 hours a day and free to the public. The Wall That Heals honors the more than three million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed forces in the Vietnam War, and it bears the names of the 58,281 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.

The Wall That Heals is transported from community to community in a 53-foot trailer. When parked, the trailer opens with exhibits built into its sides, allowing it to serve as a mobile Education Center telling the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the divisive era in American history.

The three-quarter scale Wall replica is 375 feet in length and stands 7.5 feet high at its tallest point. Visitors will experience The Wall rising above them as they walk towards the apex, a key feature of the design of The Wall in D.C. Visitors are able to do name rubbings of individual service member’s names on The Wall.

The mobile Education Center exhibit includes: digital photo displays of “Hometown Heroes” – service members whose names are on The Wall that list their home of record within the area of a visit; digital photo displays of Vietnam veterans from the local area honored through VVMF’s In Memory program which honors veterans who returned home from Vietnam and later died; video displays that teach about the history and impact of The Wall; educational exhibits told through items representative of those left at The Wall in D.C.; a replica of the In Memory plaque; a map of Vietnam and a chronological overview of the Vietnam War.

The exhibits tell the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall and the era surrounding the conflict, and are designed to put American experiences in Vietnam in a historical and cultural context. The 2023 national tour is generously sponsored by USAA.

Since its debut in 1996, the exhibit has been on display in more than 700 U.S. communities in addition to an April 1999 tour of the Four Provinces of Ireland and a visit to Canada in 2005. The Wall That Heals is a program of VVMF, the nonprofit organization that built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1982.

The Wall That Heals is the only traveling exhibit affiliated with The Wall in Washington, D.C. and includes the largest Wall replica that travels the country. Two VVMF staff members lead volunteers on site, educate visitors and students, and ensure the reflective atmosphere of The Wall. More information can be found at: www.thewallthatheals.org. About VVMF The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) is the nonprofit organization that built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall) in Washington, D.C. in 1982.

VVMF continues to lead the way in paying tribute to our nation’s Vietnam veterans and their families. VVMF’s mission is to honor and preserve the legacy of service in America and educate all generations about the impact of the Vietnam War and era through programs, ceremonies and education materials. To learn more about VVMF, visit www.vvmf.org or call (202) 393-0090.

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