Canyon Beat: 

An Abbey--normal year

January 2016

Marta Abello and Jeff Wilson perform at Christmas in the Canyons.

By Michelle Mainville

The dichotomy of canyon life was strikingly evident as residents enjoyed the season with family, friends and festivities, while the old year went out in a flurry of changes and wild weather. As Canyonites celebrated, nature and the Norbertines persisted in altering the canyon landscape.  The  well-attended  fifth  annual Christmas in the Canyons craft fair consisted of about 35 vendors, live music, soup and chili, beverages, and plenty of holiday cheer. Wagon rides and photos with Santa highlighted the event, which was orchestrated by Tom Smisek, Chad and Linda Kearns, and Mary Schreiber. No word yet from the organizers as to the profit, if any, or which community organization might benefit. Thanks go out to the many volunteers!


2015 went out like a lion, with wild winds wreaking havoc throughout the canyons on the last weekend of the year. Silverado resident Chay Peterson’s car roof was crushed by a falling oak branch, and shattered window glass added to her debris cleanup as she prepared for her annual New Year’s Day hike and community potluck.

Down canyon, some folks were touched by the lighted nativity and Christmas scene displayed under one of the remaining trees on the future Saint Michael’s Abbey site; others saw the electrical connectivity and major infrastructure as a sign of impending and unwelcome changes to the rural canyons. Curbs, bridges, drainage 

channels and paved roads, clearly out of character and compliance with the Sil-Mod Specific Plan, as well as the first major changes to the two-lane Silverado Canyon in almost a century, have left many residents concerned.

Merging Ahead

Last September, the Norbertines held a gala to raise funds for their infrastructure, including, according to their website, a left turn lane with a merging lane. This road alteration differs from their previous plan, but does not yet include any stoplights. The Norbertines have proceeded with the roadwork “in a way that keeps one lane of traffic always open,” on a two-lane road, “out of respect for their neighbors.” In one move to be good neighbors, they have altered their entrance plans to protect the cactus wren population. However, the coming year promises to bring the largest alteration to the canyon vista since the mining days, with full-scale construction plowing ahead once the roadways are completed.

Site plans include a church, convent, dormitories, gymnasium, pool, sports fields, a cemetery, guest cottages, orchards and agricultural areas. While selectively following the Sil-Mod Specific Plan, several special use permits have instead followed the less restrictive Orange County General Plan. Currently, the site is a barren, graded contrast to the surrounding vistas, but according to the Norbertines’ building application, “in built condition, no new retaining walls or grading scars will be visible to the public,” and, “It should be recognized that both the applicant and the community share the goal of screening the ‘viewshed’ to and from Silverado Canyon Road.”

Market makeover

New Silverado Canyon Market owners Jeff Hoagland and Deanna Spangler are making positive alterations to one of our most important community resources. The  shopkeepers  are  excited  to make changes in both their personal and professional lives. The two are engaged to be married, and have decided to start their new lives together as joint business owners. 

A night of insomnia led Spangler to discover that the local market was on the market. Hoagland, a former mortgage and real estate broker, was tired of corporate America. Spangler, a talented hair stylist and owner of Studio 37 Salon in Huntington Beach, took a chance and, “Next thing you know, we are signing papers as the new owners,” according  to Deanna. The inspiration for  the purchase came from the fact,  that they, like many, fell in love with the canyon the first time they drove up here, and have “always enjoyed getting out of the hectic city to enjoy the tranquility of the area just a short drive away from home.” 

They have worked hard to stock all of the necessities and special product requests residents desire.  Since the market is only 1,000 sq. ft., “It is difficult to carry everything, so there is a lot of trial and error involved.” Check it out if you haven’t, to find a well-stocked, clean store with new signage, bistro tables, and fresh landscaping.  They have also improved their beer and wine selection, and now carry the local Hamilton Oaks winery selections. Fresh-brewed coffee is available Monday – Friday, 6-10 a.m., served by long-time resident Mel Flegal. In the true spirit of being good canyon neighbors, Spangler states, “Our main goal is to keep the rustic feel and bring the community together, as well as to become a destination for tourists wanting a short getaway from the flatlands.”  Future plans include improvements of both the interior and exterior of the store, as well as a deli with an outdoor patio.