From the daily archives: Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Story About the Amusement Park at Neverland Ranch

BY Gene Carl

Three rides from the King of Pop’s private amusement park will be featured at this year’s California Mid-Winter Fair. The three attractions include The Wave Swinger, The Spider and The Zipper. The rides are being provided by Helm & Sons Amusements which purchased the rides from Jackson last year. All of the rides are “kiddie rides” making them ideal for children.  All of the rides were either sold or leased to Michael Jackson for his “Neverland” Santa Barbara County ranch. The singer bought the property from real estate developer William Bone in 1987 for $19,500,000. The amusement rides, petting zoo and other family-oriented attractions were later added by Jackson. Jackson also spent several million dollars out of his own pocket to pave roads and parking lots so that chartered buses could safely make it to the ranch. These buses brought in thousands of children, many with life-threatening diseases such as various forms of cancer, who used the facility for free. According to, Corey Oakley, the manager, for Helm & Sons Amusements. While Dave and Debbie Helm own the various rides at this year’s fair, their dad is the one who knew Michael Jackson for many years and was a consultant and assisted in the creation of Neverland. Helm & Sons has always had a confidentiality agreement with Michael Jackson and never exploited and took advantage to use any marketing to talk about their rides which were used by Michael Jackson. Upon his death and just prior to that the dismantling of the amusement park at “Neverland,” many carnival companies became in possession of equipment purchased through auctions and used that to say they had a Michael Jackson ride. Upon his death, Helm & Sons felt comfortable being able to say this is a part of history because this was a ride once owned, once ridden and once enjoyed by Michael Jackson. This gave people a sense of history, to be  able to touch the rides and take a picture in front of the various rides. While Helm & Sons, have been involved with “Neverland,” Michael Jackson Productions, and Michael Jackson Enterprises, for many years, this is the first time that they have actually talked about it. The three rides from “Neverland” at this year’s Mid-Winter Fair include the Wave Swinger which was custom-made in Germany for Debbie Helm’s father who was a carnival owner. This ride was leased to Michael Jackson and operated at “Neverland” for about eleven years. It was brought back into the Helm family and is now on the midway at the fair. It’s a swing ride and oscillates and turns and holds about 48 people. The other ride is called The Spider but is also called The Black Widow. It was recently refurbished. It’s an older style ride that has a lot of spinning action and is themed around the black widow spider. It’s a beautifully lit ride that is kind of old-school but still gives you the same thrills. This ride was at “Neverland” for many years. It was one of the first rides Michael purchased. There was beautiful landscape around it and it was one of the rides Michael enjoyed quite a bit. The other ride is The Zipper. This was the original Zipper that was at “Neverland” for a number of years. That’s pretty much the story of the three rides that were at “Neverland.” They are all now at the California Mid-Winter Fair and have signage and people with cameras can take pictures in front of them.

According to Corey Oakley, all of the people involved with Helm & Sons have had a chance to be at “Neverland” Ranch, at some point or another. Most people have heard about it but haven’t been there. One thing interesting at “Neverland” is that there was a full-scale locomotive that was there on regular train tracks that would take you from The Treehouse and the movie-screening area to the amusement park and then to the Zoo and kind of make a loop. The train has been sold as well as the train station that was beautifully decorated. Michael Jackson would go out to the park if he had a party or family over. Helms & Sons Manager Corey Oakley said, “I had the occasion to see him one time by himself on the Wave Swinger. It was kind of a surreal moment. He was out there enjoying himself on the ride just as a kid would.”  A substantial part of the flat area at “Neverland” was covered with asphalt and was devoted to bus parking. When Michael wasn’t there, which was quite often, schools from Los Angeles and throughout Southern California would bus people in and the kids would get the opportunity to ride all the rides at the amusement park. There were always from 12 to 17 rides at “Neverland” and the kids really enjoyed the atmosphere there. It was a beautifully landscaped, manicured park with lots of flowers. Millions of dollars was spent on the look and the feel of it with rides kind of sitting in the middle of it. People relate to Michael Jackson in different ways. Some people relate to his music, some to his troubles,  and others like his dancing, etc. Everyone has heard about the amusement park that Michael had at “Neverland.”  Now you can be a part of that by actually riding on one of his rides, probably riding in the same seat that he used.

According to Corey Oakley there were times when Helm & Sons were called by Michael Jackson to augment some equipment and add some extra pieces when he was going to have a big birthday party for his nephews or a party for the record company and Helm & Sons would bring in four, five or six other pieces and set them up temporarily for the weekend or for two weeks and then they would pull them out. These were rides he did not have such as a new super ride. Maybe he didn’t want to buy it so he would rent it from time to time. This is something Helm & Sons did six to eight times a year. In regards to “Neverland,” it’s in an interesting place. It’s in a valley. When you go in, you can’t see it anywhere except from above. It’s not a big flat lot like you would see at the Mid-Winter Fair grounds or Disneyland. There are hills and small mountains. Some areas were cut out and a pad was poured and a ride was set on top of that area. The bumper cars were in a house, a bumper car building. You went inside and rode the bumper cars. That building was about 70 feet by 150 feet. You went inside and stepped down to the floor for the bumper cars. That was a permanent structure. All the rides were looked at with the idea, “What’s the best setting for this?” As far as size, at “Neverland” where the rides were was about half the size of the carnival lot at the California Mid-Winter Fair. Then you went down into another valley and there was the Zoo and you went over here and there was the Train Station and there was the house. You could see the amusement park from inside of Michael Jackson’s house. “Neverland” was a place for kids to come and feel super-special. Everyone got popcorn and cotton candy and other food items even though Michael Jackson was not there 90% of the time. He opened the park up and shared it.

 

Seize Half-Ton of Marijuana, Intercept 17 Illegal Immigrants

San Diego — U.S. Customs and Border Protection marine interdiction crews in San Diego stopped two smuggling attempts last night, seizing a boat filled with nearly half a ton of marijuana in Mission Bay and stopping a boat off of Leucadia, Calif. with 17 illegal immigrants aboard.

At approximately 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night, a CBP Midnight Express interceptor vessel,

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CBP stops a 36-foot panga two miles off the coast of Leucadia, Calif., with 17 illegal immigrants on board.
CBP stops a 36-foot panga two miles off the coast of Leucadia, Calif., with 17 illegal immigrants on board.

crewed by three marine interdiction agents, was on routine patrol when the agents spotted a suspicious boat tied up to a dock in Mission Bay. The 25-foot Formula powerboat, with a small cuddy cabin, appeared abandoned.

After boarding the vessel, agents discovered packages of marijuana inside the cabin and hidden within the floor. The marijuana weighed 997 pounds and is worth an estimated half a million dollars.

CBP seized the vessel, which is registered in California, and narcotics.

Early the next morning, at about 3:30 a.m., a CBP vessel on patrol crewed by two marine interdiction agents and a border patrol agent spotted a 36-foot panga, a small Mexican fishing boat, about two miles off shore from Leucadia, Calif. When the CBP vessel approached, the panga fled from law enforcement authorities. After a brief pursuit, the panga stopped and agents brought the vessel and 17 persons on board to shore.

U.S. Border Patrol agents took custody of one 16-year-old boy, 12 men, and four women, all of whom are Mexican citizens and illegal immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents continue to investigate the smuggling incident.

 

El Paso, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel working at the El Paso and Presidio ports of entry encountered two unusual drug concealment methods Tuesday. CBP officers found drugs hidden in a chess board and an engine manifold.

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A CBP officer at the El Paso port of entry begins removing marijuana-filled bundles that were hidden in a chess board.
A CBP officer at the El Paso port of entry begins removing marijuana-filled bundles that were hidden in a chess board.

The chess board marijuana seizure was made at the Paso Del Norte international crossing in El Paso just before noon Tuesday when a 2003 Dodge Stratus entered the port from Mexico. CBP drug sniffing dog “Lady” alerted to the trunk of the car at the primary inspection station. CBP officers examined the vehicle and located a chess board in the trunk. The game was X-rayed which showed bundles contained within the board. CBP officers opened the board, revealing 18 marijuana-filled bundles weighing 18.6 pounds. The driver of the car, a 32-year-old Juarez man, was turned over to the El Paso Police Department for prosecution.

“Drug smuggling is not a game, despite the appearance of this failed effort,” said William Molaski, CBP El Paso port director. “CBP officers remain vigilant knowing that even the most innocent looking item could pose risk.”

CBP officers working at the Presidio port of entry made a 9.6 pound cocaine seizure late Tuesday night after a 2001 Dodge 1500 occupied by a family of six entered from Mexico. CBP officers initiated a search of the vehicle and located a compartment in the manifold of the vehicle. CBP officers X-rayed the vehicle and spotted an anomaly in the appearance of the engine where the non-factory compartment had been spotted. CBP officers opened the compartment and removed five cocaine filled bundles.

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A CBP officer at the Presidio port of entry removes cocaine-filled bundles from the manifold of a truck that entered the port from Mexico March 2.
A CBP officer at the Presidio port of entry removes cocaine-filled bundles from the manifold of a truck that entered the port from Mexico March 2.

“Smugglers went to great lengths to conceal this drug load within the engine of this vehicle,” said John Prewit, CBP Presidio port director. “The smuggler was also traveling with family members, which is something that we are seeing more and more in the drug smuggling community.”

CBP officers arrested the driver of the vehicle, 30-year-old Gerhard Knelson of Walsingham, Ontario, Canada. He was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents to face federal prosecution. His wife and four children were released and allowed to continue their journey into the United States.

While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

 

City of Holtville

Monday,

March 1

UNKNOWN CAUSE:

It was reported that an unknown subject had broken a window on the North side of the home, its unknown if this incident was a burglary attempt, or a vandalism case. The home owners were advised of their options, a report was taken.

COOL IT:

It was reported that an argument has broken out between a mother and son pair. The caller states that the mother is ill and that the son has been known to have a short temper, both parties were contacted, they were both advised on their options.

FORCED ENTRY:

It was reported that the caller’s gate has been pried open. The caller arrived to find the backyard gate barely opened. No one was found in the area, the caller was advised of his options.

Tuesday,

March 2

PANHANDLIN’ AND REFUSIN-’ TO LEAVE:

It was reported that a male subject is pan handling outside in-front of a local gas station. The male subject was asked to leave but he refused to, the subject was  sent on his way by an officer, the caller was advised to call back should he return.

POOR FORD:

It was reported that the caller’s Ford truck, was stolen sometime last night, the caller stated that it had a lot of stickers most of which were sport related.The caller was advised of his options.

GOOD BYE WINDOW:

It was reported that the caller’s home’s window was broken, a few electronic items were taken, the caller has no idea who could have done this, a report was taken on the incident, the caller was advised of his/her options.

Wednesday,

March 3

SATELLITE RADIO:

It was reported that a subject had broken into the caller’s vehicle, to steal a hundred dollar satellite radio face plate  from his dash board, the caller as advised on his options, a report was made.

LOOKING ODD:

It was reported that a tall male subject was walking around the alley in the afternoon. The subject was looking intensely into people’s backyards, he was not found in the area, the caller was advised of his options.

City of El Centro

Friday,

February 26

I LOVE YOU, BUT I PAID FOR IT:

A female subject called police to report that her husband had taken her vehicle without permission. The caller stated that her husband has a suspended California Driver’s License. The caller was advised of her options.

IRATE BROTHER:

A female subject called police to report that her brother and her mother were arguing, and now her brother is starting to throw things around the house and nearly hit the mother. The young man was counseled and the caller was advised of her options.

Saturday,

February 27

SISTER BRAWL:

Someone called police to report two female subjects fighting in the street. The two subjects were contacted, and happened to be sisters. They were separated although both subjects were uncooperative. They were sent home.

COUPLE’S BLUES:

Somone called police to report a couple having an argument. The caller believes that the situation could escalate into a full-blown fight. Both subjects were contacted, and the male half agreed to leave for the night.

Sunday,

February 28

DEEP ISSUES:

A female subject called police to report that her bi-polar brother is fighting with their mother yet again. The caller started to worry after his brother tried to hit her mother. The caller’s brother agreed stay with his uncle for a while.

NEIGHBOR PROBLEMS:

Somone called police to report that an ongoing argument with his neighbors is escalating. The caller was advised to take the matters to  civil court and both parties were counseled.

Monday,

March 1

PUFFED OUT CHESTS:

Somone called police to report a group of teenagers in the street having a heated argument. The caller was afraid that a fight could break out. The group was dispersed and sent home.

STAY OUT OF MY YARD!:

Somone called police to report a man repeatedly tresspassing on their front lawn. When question, the man stated that he was looking for a friend. He was sent on his way.

Tuesday,

March 2

BUSTED:

Someone called police to report a subject trying to steal items from her front yard. The subject fled the scene as soon as he noticed he was being watched.  The caller was advised of her options

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:

A female subject called police to report that her husband had come home intoxicated and tried to start a fight. The husband struck her with a plate on her face and fled the scene through the alley. The caller was advised to call back if he returns.

City of Brawley

Friday,

February 26

FOUND IN

THE KITCHEN:

A female subject called police to report finding an unknown subject in her kitchen. The caller hid in a closet after seeing the subject. The caller was contacted and the situation was handled.

BULLIED AROUND:

Someone called police to report that her son is being picked on every day after school. When the caller confronted the bully, the bully’s mother threatened her. An officer was able to handle the situation.

Saturday,

February 27

HIT AND RUN:

Somone called police to report that someone had just hit their vehicle and fled the scene. The caller did not see the other vehicle. The damages on her own were not too severe. A report was written.

PARKOUT:

Someone called police to report that an unknown subject had jumped her fence and was in her back yard. The subject appeared to be taking some sort of short cut. The caller was advised to call back should they return.

VANDALIZED:

Someone called police to report that their vehicle had been vandalized. An officer inspected the car door’s lock and handle and found them to be broken. Nothing was missing from inside the vehicle. A report was taken.

Sunday,

February 28

IDLE THREATS:

Someone called police to report a subject in the area panhandling and threatening people who don’t give him anything. The beggar was sent on his way and advised to not return.

FRESH PAINT:

Someone called police to report finding fresh graffitti in the area and seeing three men leaving the area. The graffiti was recorded and the caller was advised to call back should they return

Monday,

March 1

KEEP IT DOWN:

Someone called police to report a large group in the alley cursing and yelling and possibly starting a fight. The group dispersed when an officer arrived.

SMELLS LIKE DRUGS:

Someone called police to report a strong odor of marijuana coming from a neighbor’s house. Officers attempted to contact the neighbors, but found no one home.

FIGHT TIME:

Somone called police to report two males in a physical fight. When contacted by an officer, they refused to cooperate. The two subjects were counseled and advised to keep away from each other.

Tuesday,

March 2

OUCH:

A female subject called police to report that her father was trying to harm her son. It was unclear why the father was upset with the boy. The two males were counseled.

City of Calexico

Friday,

February 26

INJURED DOG:

Someone called police to report witnessing a dog being hit by a car. The caller stated that the animal is still alive and is lying in the road. Animal Controll picked up the animal and handled the situation.

BROKEN IN:

Someone called police to report that his vehicle had been broken into and an Ipod Touch and Ipod Mp3 player, along with a few school books were missing. The caller was advised of his options.

Saturday,

February 27

REFUSE THEN COMPLY:

Police responed to a fight between a married couple. The female half had asked her husband to leave the house, but he refused. An officer made contact with the husband and asked him to spend the night elsewhere. He complied.

KEEPING ME UP:

Someone called police to report that the neighbors dog had been left alone and was barking uncontrollably, keeping the caller awake. The caller was advised to call back should the barking continue.

Sunday,

February 28

ALWAYS WEAR

PROTECTION:

Someone called police to report spotting a few kids riding an electric quad with no helmets. Officers contact the mother of the children who stated that they are being supervised and are only riding on the sidewalk. She was advised to get the kids some helmets.

CANINE TROUBLES:

Someone called police to report a dog outside their fence trying to bite them and not letting them leave. Animal control was contacted.

Monday,

March 1

STARTING SOMETHING:

Somone called police to report an unkown male subject in dark clothing starting trouble in the area. The man was gone before an officer arrived.

REFUSE TO LEAVE:

A female subject called police to report a male subject being abusive and refusing to leave. An officer made contact with the subject and sent him on his way. He was asked to not return.

Tuesday,

March 2

LOITERING:

Someone called police to report a homeless subject loitering in the area. An officer contacted the subject and sent him on his way.

 

Here are the top animals in the Market Competition that was completed Sunday:

BEEF
FFA Champion: Lesly A. Larios, Holtville FFA
FFA Reserve Champion: Kyle Peek, Holtville FFA
4-H Champion: Preston Hutchinson, M&M 4-H
4-H Reserve Champion: Kaycee Larios, SW Valley 4-H

LAMBS
FFA Champion: Vanessa Mejarado, El Centro FFA
FFA Reserve Champion: Julia Whittle, Brawley FFA
4-H Champion: Ben Abatti, Holtville 4-H
4-H Reserve Champion: Amy Sanchez, SW Valley 4-H

SWINE
FFA Champion: Colby Ashurst, El Centro FFA
FFA Reserve Champion: Alison Cameron, El Centro FFA
4-H Champion: Caleb Ashurst, McCabe 4-H
4-H Reserve Champion: Emily Jackson, Mt. Signal 4-H

SUPREME GRAND CHAMPION: COLBY ASHURST
RESERVE SUPREME GRAND CHAMPION: CALEB ASHURST

GOATS
FFA Champion: Lesly Larios, Holtville FFA
FFA Reserve Champion: Chelsea Van Bebber, Holtville FFA
4-H Champion: Blaike Turner, Verde 4-H
4-H Reserve Champion: Matthew Solorio, Tri-City 4-H

CALVES
FFA Champion: Haley Hamby, Brawley FFA
FFA Reserve Champion: David Magana, Calexico FFA
4-H Champion: Austin Ball, McCabe 4-H

4-H Reserve Champion: Ian Vasquez, M&M 4-H

SUPREME GRAND CHAMPION BEEF: PRESTON HUTCHINSON

RESERVE SUPREME GRAND CHAMPION BEEF: KAYCEE LARIOS

SUPREME GRAND CHAMPION LAMB: BEN ABATTI

RESERVE SUPREME GRAND CHAMPION LAMB: AMY SANCHEZ

RESERVE SUPREME GRAND CHAMPION: BLAIKE TURNER

SUPREME GRAND CHAMPION: HALEY HAMBY

RESERVE SUPREME GRAND CHAMPION: AUSTIN BELL

 
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