O.C. car sales up 7 percent in August

Orange County motor vehicle sales in August were 7 percent higher than the same duration in 2014, according to information launched by the Orange County Auto Dealers Organization.

“August was an additional wonderful month,” said John Sackrison, executive director of OCADA. “If you contrast Orange County to the nationwide degree, which was up 2.9 percent, we’re even more than double that– which is a great sign of how solid Orange Region’s economic climate corrects now.”

Car sales have actually been vigorous all year. In the initial half of the year, they boosted 6 percent as compared to the same period last year. As well as the prompt speed of vehicle sales continued right into the summer season.

Sackrison added that 7 percent is a huge amount of growth when you keep in mind August sales last year consisted of component of Labor Day weekend break, a key buying weekend break.

Light vehicles saw a 14.3 percent increase in sales. Lincoln had a solid month, with a 246 percent increase in sales, or 32 added motor vehicles. Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, Honda, Infiniti, Volkwagen as well as high-end brands Porsche, Land Vagabond and Mercedes all had strong months as well.

Light-truck sales are the result of even more building and also reduced gas prices, while a rise in deluxe sales recommends individuals are more certain in the economic situation, Sackrison stated.

Toyota sales held reasonably constant from the very same duration in 2014; the brand name represents a 17 percent share of the Orange Region auto market, the most of any kind of car manufacturer.

It had not been excellent information for all brands. Cadillac saw a 24 percent decrease in sales; Dodge saw a 16.6 percent decline; Ram saw a 10 percent decline and MINI saw a 38 percent reduction.

And also regardless of the general upward fad in car sales, some Orange County brand names had an inadequate month. Irvine-based Mazda The united state and canada saw a 11.8 decline in sales this August contrasted to the exact same period in 2013. Irvine-based Kia Motors The u.s.a Inc. saw a 10 percent reduction in sales year over year.

Contact the writer: hmadans@ocregister.com!.?.! or Twitter: @HannahMadans

A Focus on Fungi

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Mia Maltz, a Ph.D. student in ecology & evolutionary biology, takes soil samples from her restoration plots at Crystal Cove State Park.

UCI doctoral candidate seeks to maximize the health of native plants in restored environments

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Newswise — With its desolate hills and slopes overrun by non-native grasses and black mustard, the West Loma Ridge isn’t much to look at as you’re speeding down the 241 toll road. But closer inspection reveals an ambitious ecological effort to restore its native grasslands and shrubs.

It’s also where Mia Maltz, a doctoral candidate in ecology & evolutionary biology at UC Irvine, is trying to determine how what happens underground, at the root level, can enhance this restoration.

The 530-acre West Loma Ridge project area is one of several Orange County sites managed by the Irvine Ranch Conservancy where biologists – including those with UCI’s Center for Environmental Biology – are improving the long-term health of native environments.

Here, Maltz’s focus is on fungi, specifically a type called mycorrhiza (“myco” meaning fungus, and “rhiza” meaning root) that invades plant root systems. She explains that these fungi have evolved to help plants by growing into their root cells and increasing the root surface area available to absorb water and nutrients. In turn, plants give the fungi the sugars they crave.

“It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement that’s existed for hundreds of millions of years,” Maltz says.

Her West Loma Ridge fieldwork aims to identify the best types of mycorrhizal fungi for use in restoration projects. It’s influenced by a study that appears in Restoration Ecology, in which she and Kathleen Treseder, UCI professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and Maltz’s adviser, performed a large-scale analysis of published research on the effects of various types of mycorrhizal fungi on plants utilized in restoration efforts. They explored whether local types of fungi were more beneficial for native plants than the general commercial fungal blend often used by restoration biologists.

“We found that mycorrhizal fungi sourced from ecosystems with similar types of plants seem to be more beneficial for supporting plants and plant-fungal associations than the general commercial mycorrhizal fungi,” Maltz says.

Treseder adds that use of the former resulted in heartier, larger (by about 35 percent) and more drought-tolerant plants, the kind that can thrive in dry, degraded sites.

“This is significant because a key measure for the success of a restoration project is the percent of native plant cover, which correlates directly with plant weight,” Maltz notes. “A little bit of fungi can help plants get established and then continue to proliferate and persist in the landscape – providing long-term benefits to restored ecosystems.”

Matt Major, a restoration project manager for the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, says that at a degraded site such as West Loma Ridge, integrating mycorrhizal fungi taken from similar ecosystems shows promise, but he adds that the topic is debated among restoration ecologists and practitioners. “This is an evolving part of habitat restoration science, and Mia is on the leading edge,” he says.

Maltz says the potential impact of the analysis finding should invite further exploration. That’s why she’s on West Loma Ridge inoculating the reintroduced chia, tarweed, black sage, wishbone bush and California sagebrush with native mycorrhizal fungi.

Major and Megan Lulow, a senior field ecologist at the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, helped initiate the project, and Amanda Iaali , a UCI Earth system science major, has performed a lot of the associated field and lab work.

“Land managers, such as restoration ecologists, can incorporate this [study] information into their best management strategies,” Maltz says. “An initial investment in these mycorrhizal fungi can provide benefits for up to several years in the field.”

Along with her work at West Loma Ridge, Maltz manages a second project at Crystal Cove State Park, where she sees how specific restoration methods influence fungal communities. In addition, she looks into how fungi – which naturally break down organic compounds – could be used in bioremediation efforts, such as cleaning up pollution spills.

It’s all part of a robust research program overseen by Treseder, who’s nationally recognized in the field of ecosystem ecology. She aims to build an understanding of the role fungi can play in bolstering ecosystems affected by global change.

“Local fungi are a cheap, sustainable way to restore endangered ecosystems,” Treseder says. “Mia is leading UCI’s campaign to harness the potential of these hidden players, and I’m so excited about her work.”

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Real estate creating 1 in 4 new O.C. jobs, half of previous boom’s pace

Real estate-related industries are creating roughly 1 in 4 of Orange County’s new jobs.

But that’s nowhere near a peak – and that balance is potentially good for the economy. Let me explain, using my trusty spreadsheet and Employment Development Dept. stats:

• Real estate related industries – my tally of jobs in brokerages, construction, lending, design shops and janitorial firms – employed 237,400 workers last month, up 11,800 in a year – a change of 5.23 percent.

• All Orange County bosses employed 1.54 million workers in August, up 48,500 jobs or a change of 3.25 percent.

• That means real estate equaled 24 percent of the jobs created in the past year. Since 1990, my real estate grouping accounted for 17 percent of all job growth.

• This is a stark contrast to the last boom time. Real estate hirings equaled half of the jobs created in the three years ended June 2006.

No slight to the often volatile real estate sectors, but Chapman University economist Esmael Adibi thinks the broader base to the current economic expansion and related hiring patterns should give it more staying power. When real estate ran out of steam in the middle of the last decade, the entire local economy suffered.

“This is steady, strong growth,” Adibi says.

As for Orange County’s real estate sectors, here’s how August employment trends went, ranked by year-over-year job growth:

• Construction employed 91,600 workers last month, 2,700 from July. In the past year, 7,500 jobs have been added, a change of 8.92 percent.

• Architectural and engineering services employed 27,100 workers last month. That’s down 300 in a month. In the past year, 2,100 jobs have been added, a change of 8.40 percent.

• Lenders, primarily mortgage makers, employed 39,200 workers last month. That’s down 10 workers in a month. In the past year, 900 jobs have been added, a change of 2.35 percent. Since the recessionary bottom, 8,000 jobs have been added.

• Real estate sales and leasing employed 38,900 workers last month. That’s down 100 in a month. In the past year, 800 jobs have been added, a change of 2.10 percent.

• Building supply stores employed 10,100 workers last month. That’s down 200 in a month. In the past year, 200 jobs have been added, a change of 2.02 percent.

• Janitorial and other building management services employed 30,500 workers last month. That’s up 300 workers in a month. In the past year, 300 jobs have been added, a change of 0.99 percent.

Contact the writer: jlansner@ocregister.com

Climber survived an avalanche at Mount Everest – now he’s showcasing photos in Brea to raise money for quake victims

Kuntal Joisher reversed from where he stood at base camp on Mount Everest and also saw death riding the substantial white wave that filled the sky.

There was no place for the experienced hill climber and also professional photographer from India to run. And only seconds to respond to exactly what he calls “a snow tidal wave.”

“Greater than concern, I was sad that this was visiting be the end,” Joisher says. “My heart simply sank.”

The ground had actually simply quit trembling from a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25. Joisher as well as others at base camp made it through the temblor only to listen to the loud boom that signified the start of the avalanche roiling behind them.

Joisher, 35, really did not die that day, many thanks to a fellow mountain climber’s quick reasoning.

It was his second effort to come to be the initial vegan mountain climber to scale the globe’s tallest mountain. The avalanche of 2014 that eliminated 16 Sherpas aborted his initial shot.

Joisher wishes to climb Mount Everest in the future, but first he is placing his time right into aiding Nepal recuperate from the earthquake.

Recently, he gave a standing-room-only talk at the REI store in Tustin that attracted gasps at the beauty of his photos of Nepal as well as Mount Everest as well as at the terror he experienced in the avalanche.

Joisher is going to Orange County at the invitation of a good friend that has arranged a fundraising display and sale of his photography Thursday night at the California Facility for Digital Arts in Brea.

Joisher’s barrage story is well known through a virtually three-minute video shot on an apple iphone by the same young German climber who conserved his life by informing him to take a breath from pockets of air inside his coat.

The video has been checked out nearly 23 million times on YouTube.

The barrage originated from a peak following to Everest when an ice obstruct the dimension of a football stadium broke out. At the very least 20 individuals died; 6 times as numerous were hurt.

Joisher shared some estimations on the barrage: 1.4 million heaps of snow traveling at a velocity of 170 miles per hour with an influence equivalent to 2 kilotons of TNT when it hit the ground.

“So, yeah,” he told the viewers of concerning 80 people, “this is exactly what took place that day.”

But the toll from the barrage fades in comparison to the destruction in Nepal from the quake: greater than 9,000 individuals dead and over of 23,000 hurt.

A bad nation, Nepal is struggling to recover from the harm as well as displacement.

Joisher’s talk at REI set the stage for the photo exhibition in Brea, which will certainly profit an Orange County-based charity called Empower Nepali Girls.

Equip Nepali Girls, founded by Cal State Fullerton professor Jeffrey Kottler, concentrates on supporting ladies as well as young women in Nepal which are at risk of being injected early marriage, sold as sex slaves, or deserted as orphans. Several of the gals aided by the charity lost their houses and also colleges in the earthquake.

Sara Safari, a neighborhood advocate of Empower Nepali Girls, also dealt with the REI gathering with her own story regarding the day of the quake.

Safari, that resides in Irvine and instructs electric engineering classes at Cal State Fullerton, also was on Mount Everest, attempting her first climb. She had visited increase funds for Empower Nepali Girls.

Safari, 34, was above base camp at 20,000 feet when the quake struck. She swayed extremely on a putting up metal ladder secured to a 90-degree ice wall surface as hill debris flew around her.

“The noise of the ice breaking was like an airplane removing by my ear,” states Safari, that feared tumbling right into sharp ice here but left unscathed.

Safari as well as Joisher both did exactly what they could in the days after the quake to aid out– delivering coverings, ladling soup, fetching clinical materials.

Their efforts have not quit.

Joisher’s visit below was prepared by David Reeve, a marketing consultant from Brea that fulfilled Joisher years earlier when he was living and functioning in the Usa. Reeve is not a mountain climber, yet he is a fellow photographer.

Claims Reeve: “I am struck when I see impressive digital photography by a man with an incredible tale.”

At the fundraising event, prints of Joisher’s photos of Nepal will cost $125 and other images placed on aluminum plates will offer for $300.

Joisher encourages hill climbers, hikers and those which love the adventure of traveling to assist the people of Nepal recover by checking out the nation.

“The most sustainable method to rebuild is to add to the economy so they could restore themselves,” he states. “It will certainly be a life-changing encounter. Despite such destruction, the people of Nepal are all set to invite everybody.”

Get in touch with the author: twalker@ocregister.com!.?.!

An unstoppable voice: Irvine 13-year-old goes from school talent show to major-label recording artist

Skylar Stecker is a picture of poise as she rests with Kathie Lee Gifford as well as Hoda Kotb on the “Today” show earlier this month. Talking with the hosts, she with dignity accepts a wonderful praise– that she advises them of a young Jennifer Lopez– before singing her new solitary, a catchy R&B-inflected pop track called “Crazy Beautiful.”

Skylar is a 13-year-old from Irvine however you would certainly never ever understand it from the calm, awesome way she handled this moment, her initial network tv look coming a few weeks prior to an additional turning point– a debut cd labelled “This Is Me” on the Interscope/Cherrytree label– arrives on Friday.

You ‘d certainly never ever visualize that just four years ago while living in Wisconsin she ‘d never ever sung in public whatsoever, or that the suggestion that she sing rather than play the piano for a school ability program had her in splits when she obtained residence from the 3rd quality that day.

“I was going, ‘Please do not ruin! Please do not mess up!’ in my mind,” Skylar claims of what she really felt when an educator asked her to sing “Possibly” from the musical “Annie” instead of play it on the piano.

Skylar’s mom says the family entered into the skill show with small desires.

“We simply placed on our brave faces,” Kara Stecker claimed. “And also she wound up obtaining an applause.”

Notes Skylar: “Yeah, obviously it went very well.”

Apparently it did.

Yet so, as well, did her subsequent endeavors into YouTube cover songs, national anthems sung anywhere from intermediate schools to substantial sporting activities stadiums, and also eventually the transfer to Orange Region where her new-found dream– to sing her very own songs in recording workshops and on phase– lastly reached fruition.

Never undervalue the resolution of a 9-year-old that understands just what she desires as well as has the chops to support it up.

“It seems so unusual and when I tell the tale I sound crazy,” Kara Stecker states. “I was so appreciating the typical life as well as here my daughter, that is 9, is convincing me that she’ll die if she can not appear right here and sing.”

* * *

The Steckers were a sports household, not a doing arts clan. Skylar’s father, Aaron Stecker, fulfilled her mommy at the University of Wisconsin when they were both 18 as well as he was a running back on football group.

After university, Aaron Stecker spent a decade as a journeyman in the NFL, relocating the household to Tampa, Florida, where he invested 4 years with the Buccaneers as well as Skylar was born, to New Orleans and also the Saints and also Atlanta and also the Falcons before he hung up his cleats as well as the family moved house to Wisconsin.

After the first success of the ability show, though, Skylar was hooked on doing: “I just loved it a lot and I simply recognized that that’s exactly what I wanted to do forever,” she states.

Her mom figured she could sing in the talent program each year. Skylar had different plans, as well as undertaken convincing her father and mothers to aid her discover means to obtain her voice out to the general public once again and once more and again.

“She’s always like, ‘Follow your desires,'” Skylar claims of her mom. “It’s spectacular to have that assistance around.”

A strategy emerged rapidly, instinctive and also clever.

Tip No. 1: Place a collection of cover tracks on YouTube. “We set that up and my father’s like, ‘Why are you doing YouTube?” And also we resembled, ‘It’ll pay off, believe me,'” Skylar states.

Step No. 2: Sing the National Anthem whenever and also anywhere you can. Kara Stecker suggested Skylar learn “The Star-Spangled Banner” and also eventually she was singing it for middle colleges, secondary schools, the University of Wisconsin Badgers’ hockey, football and also basketball games, and also lastly royalty gem of Wisconsin sporting activities, the Environment-friendly Bay Packers.

“I do not recognize if it even signed up for her that 18,000 people is different compared to 18 individuals,” Kara Stecker says.

Step. No. 3: Enter front of talent brokers who could take you to the following degree. At the advising of a local theater instructor, the Steckers concerned Los Angeles for the annual International Modeling & & Ability Organization convention, a possibility for any individual to obtain before representatives from 50 various agencies and reveal them what you’ve obtained.

Still merely 9 years old, Skylar won Finest Singer as well as Many Searched for After, the latter a homage to that 48 of the 50 companies at IMTA invited her to callbacks.

“It was much like an indicator (to Kara Stecker) that, like, ‘OK, now she has a genuine opportunity,'” Skylar says.” ‘I’m not just a mommy which thinks my child’s impressive, be ’cause every mother sort of thinks their child is fantastic.'”

Now came the hardest part, the part where Kara Stecker says individuals believed she and also and her household had actually shed their minds.

* * *

“I resembled, ‘Why do not ‘we simply leave to California?'” Skylar says. “I’m about to tell you they claimed yes, yet it wasn’t that easy.”

Kara Stecker claims her other half Aaron was against the plan, assuming Skylar was too young, and she believed it may be very well to wait a few years.

But Skylar was determined, and also her mother confesses her timing was best: Aaron Stecker had not been playing football more. There had not been a work linking them down.

So they chose to offer it six months and also see just how the entire family members– mom, daddy, Skylar and her little sibling Dorsett– suched as California. With simply a few bags as well as the household pets they rented a supplied home in Turtle Stone as well as headed west.

“It was not simply me but everybody loved it so considerably,” Skylar says. “And the climate most definitely aided, so thanks, The golden state!”

She signed with an agency, did a lot more YouTube covers, as well as eventually wrote her own material, determined to be a musician on her own quality.

“I recognize all these points (in my tunes) also though I have actually never experienced a lot of things that have to do with relationships,” she states. “It’s funny because when I’m composing my mom resembles, ‘That are these secret boyfriends that I do not know concerning?’ Exists something taking place behind the scenes?’ Which there never is.”

* * *

In November, with Skylar still simply 12 years old, her manager as well as her mother booked the Roxy on the Sunset Strip for a lunchtime Sunday showcase. Amongst those who caught the performance was Cherrytree creator Martin Kierszenbaum, that liked her and eventually executed her to his tag lineup that which additionally includes musicians such as Sting, Ellie Goulding, Feist and also Disclosure.

The household enjoys in Orange County as well as the Shady Canyon neighborhood due to the fact that it really feels a bit “Wisconsin-ish,” Kara Stecker, adding that the schools and also neighborhoods feel right for her and Aaron and the children.

“This Is Me” arrives on Friday with a record-release celebration at the Blessed Strike bowling lane in Hollywood. Skylar says she co-wrote the majority of the tracks the document that consisted of payments from prominent producers such as RedOne, the Rock Mafia as well as Jonas Saeed.

Next up? Ideally a tour, and then one more document.

She points out throughout discussion just how thankful she is for the assistance of her whole family members, and you get the sense of that grounded nature– “I’ve always been an old spirit,” she says at one factor– in the many things she indicates as her quick guide superstar leading the means ahead.

“The main point is staying true to myself as well as never ever altering for anybody else,” Skylar states. “Then I’ll be great. Since I’m myself, that’s which I was produced to be.”

Get in touch with the writer: 714-796-7787 or plarsen@ocregister.com!.?.!