Sharon Plump is a Groundskeeper with the Facilities Department at Cerritos College.  When she is mowing, edging, and trimming, Plump is smiling – even when no one is looking.  This woman’s mantra is, “I love my job!”

Johnny Paycheck’s Country music hit “Take This Job and Shove It!” chronicles an employee who hates his job, has had enough of the boss, and tells him so in no uncertain terms.  This song became the battle cry of the American blue collar, white collar, no collar worker in the 1980s.  Plump’s  uniquely positive, upbeat attitude toward her work makes her the antithesis of Paycheck’s antagonistic employee.

Passion for gardening and the outdoor life began when Plump was eight.  She learned her gardening and landscape skills from her grandmother.  When she graduated high school, Plump took a job as a bank teller.  It took one day for her to realize she was in the wrong business.  Even though she is a people person who is eager to serve, she found it very difficult to deal with difficult people and their money.

Plump left the world of high finance and took a job with a landscape company.   She likes to challenge her body so being a groundskeeper allowed her to be outside, gardening, and interacting with people.  “Gardening is a free stress reliever,” says Plump.

Plump was serious about her new career, taking classes and obtaining certificates in landscape maintenance.  Even when she was employed at other southern California colleges, she always had her eye on Cerritos.  She knew about the college because her mother was a Cerritos College graduate.  When an opportunity to work with the Cerritos Facilities Department was posted, Plump did not hesitate to apply.

Sharon Plump was the first woman groundskeeper hired by the Cerritos College Facilities Department.  Facilities Manager Tom Richey is very proud to have been the one to hire her.  “Sharon is one of my best hires,” says Richey.  The boss is also proud to let you know that Plump was awarded Employee of the Month after only six weeks – faster than anyone else in the department.

Richey recognized a special spirit in Plump.  He assigned her to the college Quad so that she could interact with students who hang around the Student Center, especially the athletes.  Plump may be maintaining grass and flowers, but garden fairy is also scattering the spiritual pixie dust of her positive attitude and timeless wisdom.



Plump and fellow teammate Donnie Hawkins believe it is important for employees to make the effort to reach out and show students and teachers respect by developing relationships.  Students often thank them for their hard work, letting them know how much they appreciate what it takes to make the campus clean and attractive.  “One little girl brought me a box of my favorite chocolates,” Plump revealed, “just because she thought so much of what I did for her campus.”

The Facilities Department company jackets are emblazoned with the words Facilities Team.  Richey says it takes a lot of work to communicate the vision of the department to employees these days, “Everyone has a different idea of what the work is.”  Older people have a different view of the job than younger people.  Communication is the key to getting the job done.  Not only does Richey have to communicate his vision to his team, but he also has to get the college instructors and Trustees to realize the vital role of his department.



Plump and Richey share a core vision – that their facilities department is the foundation of the education process at Cerritos.  Without the work of custodial, plumbers, groundskeepers, painters, and tradesmen, the campus would not be well-maintained, would not be a comfortable work and study environment, and no one would want to be there.  Plump points out the people judge the inside of a college campus or restaurant by the way it looks on the outside.  She believes that people make snap judgments based on appearance.  “Sometimes, they don’t even make it inside because of the way it looks on the outside.”

Sharon Plump and the Facilities Department Team work very hard to make sure everyone who steps on the Cerritos College campus will like what they see, want to come inside…and decide to stay.



The Small, Small, Small World of Southern California Area Historical Miniature Society

Buena Park, California.  April 12, 2014

The SCAHMS show was in town this weekend at La Quinta Inn of Buena Park.   SCAHMS is part a world-wide group of people who create and show amazing miniatures of everything from people to military ordnance to the fantasy figures of popular science fiction and beyond.  This annual event takes model making to a whole new level.

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Top: “Wagons of Yesteryear”  miniatures by C. Reed West

Center and Right: “Mayan Warrior” flat miniature by Penny Meyer

Bottom:  Best of Show: “Huey In Maintenance” by Oliver Doering


Thirty-two years ago, artist Penny Meyer was hired by Testor Models to revamp model kit assembly pages to make them more appropriate for American model enthusiasts.  One day, she saw her boss sculpting a little Chinese Boxer from the early 1900s.  He told Meyer there were miniature model kits for every genre of human existence throughout time.  Once she learned there was an entire universe of tiny people to paint, Meyer was hooked!

When Meyer entered the world of historical miniatures, she was one of only three women involved in the hobby.   There was a period of adjustment for the guys, but women of all ages are now involved in this unique art form in all of its genres, especially in the creation of fantasy figures.  Models come as three-dimensional figurines, flat meta, bas-relief sculptures, and half-rounds.  Meyer paints flats, which compliment her talents as an illustrator.  Depending upon the complexity of a piece, it can take 40 to 80 hours for her to finish one piece, which would then sell for around $600.

Historical miniatures are extremely fragile pieces of art.  Artists “hover” over their work because even bumping a display table could mean disaster.  In the case of this year’s SCAHM Best of Show winner, Oliver Doering, any damage to his piece would represent the loss of five years of his life.

Doering’s “Huey in Maintenance,” a Huey helicopter torn apart for repair, is a hybrid of model kit pieces and hand-made pieces.  Doering is humbled by the fact that the Huey has won Best of Show twice in a row.  For him, building the models is more than a hobby, it’s a lifelong passion.   He would consider donating the Huey to a museum for people to enjoy, but would never sell it.  “I can’t sell it,” says Doering, “It’s a part of me.”



PDS Gypsy Awards 2014

PDS Gypsy Awards 2014


Vizcaya, Miami, Florida

Vizcaya, Miami, Florida

His mother took dictation on small sheets of carefully folded paper.   Two year-old Joe Yakovetic provided the pencil sketches for his first picture book.  Neither of them realized it was the beginning of the young artist’s distinguished career.  From Long Island to Los Angeles, the long and winding road led Yakovetic to create fine art, sculpture, set designs, costumes and theatre designs for the likes of Disney, Honda and Warner Brothers.

“I never really thought about being an artist, it just happened. “ In his youth, Yakovetic used art to embellish school assignments, amuse friends and amaze adults.  At 16, he worked for the Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park as an artist.  When he joined the trade show circuit, it was a dream come true.  The money was good and according to Yakovetic, “I was young, small of stature and, as a caricaturist, I was fast.  People thought I was a wunderkind.”

“My parents weren’t sure about my having an art career until they saw my first check.  I earned almost as much as my dad did in a month.”  That income stream enabled Yakovetic to put himself through Cal-State Fullerton where he earned a BA in Fine Art with a Theatre Minor.

From the beginning, Yakovetic’s amazing ability to imitate all styles of art was a source of frustration for his professors.  “They kept telling me to develop my own style.”  Fortunately, that skill is the very thing that enables Yakovetic to work as an artist – whatever style of art you want, he can do.

While working as a contract artist/designer for Disney, Yakovetic created a series of still life paintings for the Disneyland Gallery.  Instead of Mickey Mouse, he painted artifacts from the movies.  Yet, there in the shadows of the scene, would be a hidden Mickey, a Tinkerbell or the image of Walt Disney.

“I understand why people are drawn to my Disney art,” mused the artist, “but my other work…there is a spark that draws them into the world I create, into a moment in time, into a space that resonates with God.”

That resonant chord is what draws people to the Yakovetic Fine Art web site.  Yakovetic has a line of licensed fine art paintings from the iconic movies “Gone With The Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz and It’s A Wonderful Life.”

“One of my favorite pieces is “The Stuff Life Is Made Of” featuring Ann Rutherford.”  While Rutherford (Corrinne O’Hara) was making the movie, the sign at Twelve Oaks had a profound impact on her.  It warns not to squander time “for that is the stuff life is made of.”  The quote made such an impression on the young actress that she was never again late for anything.

When asked what he wanted people to see in his work, Yakovetic paused, then his voice broke, “I want them to know that nothing I do on my own is in that painting.  I want people to see God in whatever I have created.  It is God who gets the glory.”