Category: Compton’s Own

Tennis Greats Venus, Serena Williams Returning to Compton

Serena and Venus Williams will be honored at the Healthy Compton Community Festival, Nov. 12. Photo: quotesgram.com

Tennis stars honorees of ‘Healthy Compton Community Festival’ at MLK Transit Center, Nov. 12

COMPTON — Professional tennis greats and Compton natives Venus and Serena Williams, will be returning home, Nov. 12, as honorees of the Healthy Compton Community Festival, to unfurl at the MLK Transit Center Plaza focusing on free health screenings, celebrity workouts, sports clinics, and healthy cooking demos.

The event occurs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The sisters confirmed their appearance with the following joint statement:

“We are so excited to return to Compton for Mayor Aja Brown’s Healthy Compton Community Festival. Compton will always be our home and we can’t wait to spend the day with the community at this inspiring event.”

According to Brown the Healthy Compton initiative is an ongoing effort to promote health and wellness in the Compton community.

“I’m so excited to be able to be able to welcome home Venus and Serena Williams back to Compton for this year’s festival,” she said. “The Williams sisters are tennis superstars and champions on and off the court. They continue to be role models for millions of young people around the world and they got their start right here in Compton.”

For more information and/or to register as a vendor or participant visit www.comptoncity.org/2016hrcfestival.asp.

Compton-based construction company grows from ground up

Kevin Ramsey earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering. Two major construction contracts for cement work awarded to his company, Alameda Construction Services, include the Galen Center and USC Village. Photo by Gus Ruelas

USC alum Kevin Ramsey began his construction company in a garage; now he’s a major subcontractor for the university and his daughter, also a Trojan will soon enter medical school

By RON MACKOVICH, Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — The easiest way to catch Kevin Ramsey is by cell phone when he’s navigating traffic between his Alameda Construction Services company in Compton, and various projects around Los Angeles. A frequent stop is USC Village, where Alameda Construction has poured tons of concrete.

A small, minority-owned company, Alameda, has employed scores of Cement Masons Union employees to build the sidewalks thousands of students will traverse when USC Village opens next fall. More than 50 percent of Alameda’s union workers live in the city of Los Angeles, a distinction that earned the company acclaim for exceeding local hire requirements.

“USC is a great outfit,” said Ramsey, who earned a master’s degree in civil engineering with specialization in construction management from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in 2002. His company completed much of the concrete work when the Galen Center was under construction in 2005.

“When you’re a small company, you get local workers,” Ramsey said. “We’re in Compton. We do most of our work in L.A. Our workers come from where we work and live. So it helps to be local.”

With equipment to maintain, supplies to purchase, payroll to meet and new jobs to bid, Ramsey’s schedule is full. USC Village has kept him busy for well over a year.

“We started out on the work widening Jefferson [Boulevard],” Ramsey said. “When we finished that, they gave us another job and we moved to onsite concrete.”

Alameda Construction is one of more than 150 companies that have worked on the USC Village development, which has produced 4,800 construction jobs.

Starting small, staying local

Ramsey started his business by doing remodeling work in 1992 with an older, experienced contractor and friend named Harry Edwards. Ramsey worked out of a garage, and money was tight – especially when he wasn’t paid on time for work he had completed.

“If we didn’t get paid, I would do the best I could to pay the guys,” Ramsey said. “Then me and my wife, we lived off her income until some money came in. It was tougher back then. It’s still tough. You want bigger projects, but you don’t want to over-extend yourself.”

Within a few years, Ramsey and his partner graduated to bigger jobs.

“I was doing most of the paperwork, Harry was doing the construction part,” Ramsey said. “We had all these jobs going. We got a couple of city contracts, and I incorporated Alameda Construction in Compton in 1997.”

After Edwards died, Ramsey carried on and expanded. His projects included the Alameda Rail Corridor.

“That was our first taste of big public works jobs,” Ramsey said. “We didn’t make a lot of money off that, but we were learning how to do something. Over at USC when we did the Galen Center, that was another big job for us that got us into doing larger projects. We did all the concrete outside the building. We did the alleys down Flower, Jefferson and the front of Figueroa, the steps — everything outside.”

A decade later, Ramsey’s Alameda Construction is building concrete walkways around USC Village.

Ramsey served as president of the National Association of Minority Contractors’ Southern California chapter for several years and is still active with the organization. He said there are misconceptions about how minority businesses are awarded contracts.

“It’s not a gift,” Ramsey said. “It’s not like you can just bid on a job, wave your minority certification and think you’re going to get work. You need a good track record.”

USC Village: Already a family gathering place

Ramsey’s daughter Christina thinks of her dad when she walks by USC Village. She and her father often met there briefly over the past year.

“She had an apartment around the corner from the site,” Kevin Ramsey said. “She’d walk by, we’d stop and talk. I’d give her a hug, we’d talk a little and then she’d run off to class.”

“I remember the first time it happened, it caught me by surprise,” Christina said. “I saw someone who was the same stature as my dad, but he wasn’t facing me. As I got closer, I realized it was him. I hit him with my lunch pail. He was surprised. He was talking to his workers. I asked him, ‘Hey are you working here?’ It was also nice seeing the workers with the Alameda shirts on; it was a reminder of him.”

Christina Ramsey is graduating with a bachelor of science degree in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from the USC Keck School of Medicine. She plans to move on to medical school next, and USC Village is already a memorable place even though it won’t open until next fall.

“I feel a sense of pride, that my dad accomplished something this big,” she said. “When I walk by I immediately think of him. He helped build that, and I’m part of it too. I guess we’re part of history now.”

Dominguez High Students Headed to MESA Nationals

Jennifer Barrientos and Azucena Castro
Jennifer Barrientos (center) and Azucena Castro (wearing award-winning prosthetic arm design) celebrating their First Place win at the state MESA competition. At rear is MESA advisor Emmanuel Ikeokonta. Photo: courtesy CUSD.

Prosthetic design wins state competition, sends students to nationals; others encouraged to pursue STEM fields


COMPTON (MNS) — Two of Compton Unified School District’s best and brightest have advanced medical prosthetics technology one giant leap with the design of a low-cost prosthesis that won First Place overall in California’s statewide competition for Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA).

Dominguez High School seniors Jennifer Barrientos and Azucena Castro will be heading to Ogden, Utah in June to represent CUSD at the national MESA competition — an historic first.

According to the national, non-profit Amputee Coalition, a consumer educational organization representing people who have experienced amputation or are born with limb differences, “Each day, more than 500 Americans lose a limb,” a reality that gives immense credibility to the prothetic design by Barrientos and Castro, whose affordability carries tremendous future-design implications.MESA features several categories for grades 6-8, as well as 9-12. Barrientos and Castro entered the Prosthetic Arm Challenge category, where teams of 2-4 people were challenged to design and construct a prosthetic arm according to strict guidelines, produce a technical paper on their design, and present an academic poster to a panel of judges. The completed product had to come in under a budget of $40.

Per the MESA competition guidelines, “The Prosthetic Arm Challenge involves the development of a low-cost prosthetic device to complete a set of pre-defined task. Teams are tasked with research, design, construction, testing, and competition using a trans-radial prosthesis designed to complete the following tasks:

•  Distance Accuracy Task: greatest distance and accuracy achieved by throwing bean bags into the Target Zone in the fastest time.
•  Object Relocation Task: fastest time achieved by placing all objects into and removing all objects from a specified container.
•  Dexterity Task: greatest number of bolts and nuts correctly placed and secured onto the testing device in the fastest time.
•  Design efficiency: greatest ratio of device performance to device mass.”

Barrientos and Castro fashioned their prosthesis using a mailing tube, duct tape, rubber bands, a synthetic belt, claw, and eraser. The combined value of the items was $25.

Of their achievement, Castro said, “It’s really exciting because it’s the first time Dominguez High has made it this far. I hope that our accomplishments can influence others in the community to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.”

Barrientos acknowledged the hard work involved to create a winning design:  “[It] really pays off. If you have the persistence to do something, it doesn’t matter where you come from or where you live,” she said, adding, “Mr. Ike [student MESA advisor Emmanuel Ikeokonta] always pushed us to do great things. He’s always been there for us.”

“Jennifer and Azucena are very dedicated, hard-working go-getters who are never scared of the level of work it takes to be successful,” said Ikeokonta. “These girls are not just students to me; they are like my adopted children.”