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VALLEY NEWSWATCH

February 21, 1996|Sharon Bernstein

ASH WEDNESDAY: As Muslims celebrate the end of the reflective period of Ramadan, Catholics and Protestants mark the beginning of Lent today with the observance of Ash Wednesday (B1). . . . Second-grader Philip Doyle, above, is marked with the sign of the cross during a lesson about Lent, a time of prayer and study leading up to Easter.

RESILIENT: How do companies survive after losing the defense contracts that were their lifeblood? Columnist James Flanigan (D1) examines the question today by looking at Natel Engineering in Chatsworth. . . . Natel once made components for Stinger missiles until defense budgets declined. Then it found new customers for its electronic skills. The result: Natel now employs more people than it did at the height of its defense work.

DOG'S DAY: Harley the biker-dog has his day in Van Nuys Municipal Court today. Harley's owner, trainer Jeremiah Gerbracht, got a $200 traffic ticket for tooling around Woodland Hills with the Siberian Husky astride the gas tank of a Harley-Davidson. . . . Gerbracht's lawyer says the citation should be overturned because the law only prohibits "a person" from straddling the tank.

RAIN, RAIN: Worried about flooding? Here's how to get sandbags. They're available at fire stations, although the L.A. City Fire Department has only the bags, not the sand, said spokesman Jim Wells. Home-improvement stores sometimes sell sand, and some people just use soil or sand from the beach. "Just fill them and tie them up," Wells said. "Place them in certain positions to divert the water from running into your house." And don't bother taking the bags down after the rain stops. You can use them next year too.

MORE TIPS: During and after heavy rains, it's important to keep children away from washes, creeks or other areas of running water, Wells notes: "Teach them to stay away."

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