La Mesa News Briefs – Feb. 24, 2017

A Super party

Family and friends of Levine Toilolo gathered at Dave & Busters in Mission Valley to cheer him on in his Super Bowl debut playing for the Atlanta Falcons.

Toilolo is a Helix High School graduate who went on to play for Stanford University before signing to the Falcons in 2013.

The tight end played for 21 snaps during the game, but was nearly ignored by Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Perhaps that is the reason the New England Patriots overcame the greatest deficit in Super Bowl history (28-3 at halftime) to beat the Falcons 34-28 in overtime — also a first in Super Bowl history.

(l to r) Michelle Maeva, Tiana Young, SeZanne Samatua, Stephanie Sherman, Tiffany Young, Paige Tutogi, Teresa Young, Anna Young, Thomas Tutogi, Tisha Young-Tauanuu (Photo by Jeff Clemetson)

La Mesa named Tree City USA

The Arbor Day Foundation, in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management, has named La Mesa a 2016 Tree City USA for the 37th consecutive year.

La Mesa achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

“Tree City USA communities see the impact an urban forest has in a community first hand,” said Dan Lambe, President of the Arbor Day Foundation in a statement to the press. “Additionally, recognition brings residents together and creates a sense of community pride, whether it’s through volunteer engagement or public education.”

Trees help to improve the visual appeal of a neighborhood, increase property values, reduce home cooling costs, remove air pollutants and provide wildlife habitat, among many other benefits.

More information on the program is available at

Residents honored on Walk of Fame

La Mesa held a ceremony Feb. 13 honoring four residents by placing bronze plaques bearing their names onto the La Mesa Walk of Fame on sidewalks along La Mesa Boulevard between Spring and Fourth streets. Honorees include Mary Alice Brady, Ron Brady, the late Mary-Em Howard and the late John B. Reed.

Mary Alice Brady is a champion of programs and services for children with a history of involvement creating the Boys & Girls Club in La Mesa, Grossmont Hospital, and the East County YMCA. Ron Brady is a local businessman, community leader and philanthropist who has supported the East County Boys & Girls Club, YMCA and Grossmont Hospital.

A plaque honoring La Mesa resident Mary-Em Howard (Courtesy City of La Mesa)

Mary-Em Howard served at local hospitals, sponsored tree plantings to honor citizens and was a charter member and officer of La Mesa Beautiful and the La Mesa Historical Society.

John B. Reed, Jr., also known as JB, was a building contractor, served as special building inspector for the La Mesa’s Springs project, sponsored many kids’ baseball teams, built La Mesa’s first Little League field, was a longtime La Mesa Lions Club Member and served on the Boys Baseball of America board.

La Mesa resident wins Super Bowl trip

Donald and Marilyn Gustavson enjoyed a VIP trip to Super Bowl LI (Courtesy of Visa and Union Bank)

Donald Gustavson of La Mesa was the grand prize winner of Union Bank’s “From Sofa to Stadium Visa Super Bowl LI Sweepstakes.” A Union Bank customer for almost 40 years, Gustavson received a four-day, three-night trip to Houston to watch Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium on Feb. 5.

The prize included airfare, hotel accommodations, ground transportation, a prepaid Visa gift card for $250, VIP passes for two to the NFL Experience, game day tickets for two to Super Bowl LI and Super Bowl LI merchandise.

After watching the first half in the stands, Gustavson and his wife were escorted to the field for the half-time show. Gustavson is a big football fan and played football on a championship team in high school in New Jersey.

“I can’t thank Union Bank enough. It was a dream come true for my wife and me to go to the Super Bowl,” said Gustavson in a press release.

Anesthesiologist sues Sharp Grossmont Hospital

Dr. Patrick Sullivan, a longtime anesthesiologist, is suing Sharp Grossmont Hospital for wrongful termination. The suit claims the hospital’s actions came after Dr. Sullivan blew the whistle on a series of incompetent and unethical practices he alleges the hospital has been making to its patients.

Dr. Sullivan alleges that Sharp Grossmont Hospital understaffed the hospital, ignored mismanagement in the Women’s Center, and prohibited physicians from accessing life-saving drugs in a timely manner. Dr. Sullivan alleges that the hospital violated the privacy of many female patients by placing undisclosed cameras in their operating rooms and recording them during surgery.

According to a report in The San Diego Union-Tribune, Scott Evans, Grossmont’s chief executive, denied the allegations in an email to the hospital’s governing board. The report states that Evans wrote, “Sharp Grossmont Hospital did not retaliate against Dr. Sullivan because of the concerns he raised.” The statement noted that Dr. Sullivan left the staff voluntarily, according to the article.

Although Dr. Sullivan was not fired, he claims he was forced from his position for voicing his concerns by being removed from several memberships in hospital committees and by being the target of false rumors. In a statement, Sharp said the cameras are a standard feature on the rooms’ laptop computers and were not activated, according to The Union-Tribune.

Boys & Girls Clubs hold annual fundraiser

The Boys & Girls Clubs of East County will hold the Conrad’s Supper Club fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Omni San Diego Hotel, 675 L St. in Downtown San Diego.

The fundraiser, formerly known as the Children’s Ball, is now in its 51st year. The event has been renamed in honor of the late philanthropist Conrad Prebys, who donated millions of dollars to several causes, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of East County.

La Mesa residents Ron and Mary Alice Brady, donors and namesake for the soon-to-be-built Brady Family Clubhouse on the campus of La Mesa Arts Academy, will be honored at the event.

The dinner will feature a seafood buffet and the Republic of Music will provide live entertainment. Items in a fantasy drawing will include a vacation in Italy for two, passes to Disneyland, custom creations from Blumenthal’s Jewelry, $1,000 cash and a designer table.

Items included in a live auction will include a suite at an upcoming San Diego Padres baseball game, solar panels from ASI Hastings and a surfing trip to Puerta del Mar in Baja Norte, Mexico. About 350 people are expected to attend and tickets begin at $325 per person. To RSVP, call Samantha Olsen, director of development, at 619-440-1600 or visit

Donations sought for Lake Murray Fourth of July

Permits have been secured and donations are now being accepted for the Lake Murray Fireworks and Music Fest, set to return to the Navajo community on July 4. The event is planned for 2 to 9 p.m. at the Lake Murray Community Park, 7001 Murray Park Drive.

The goal of the fundraising committee is $76,000 to hold both the music fest and the fireworks display, but the event can be scaled to size if the goal is not met. Major donors so far are Stormberg Orthodontics, $15,000; and Life Deck, $1,000. FBS Property Management and Windmill Farms have pledged $2,500 each.

Anyone can contribute to this family-friendly Fourth of July event by visiting the GoFundMe page at

All funds are tax deductible and are processed by the San Carlos Lake Murray Recreation Council (EIN: 26-3688156). For more information, visit

Contract awarded for Prop G work at Sharp Grossmont

The Grossmont Healthcare District selected Swinerton Builders to complete the Heart & Vascular Center at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. This is the final contract for the project, and funding was the result of the voter-approved Proposition G, a $237 million bond measure for hospital improvements from more than a decade ago.

The contract awards $10.2 million to complete construction of the surgery floor of the new Heart & Vascular Center. The contract is about $1.7 million below the original estimate for the project.

The Sharp Grossmont Heart & Vascular Center (Courtesy of Sharp Grossmont)

Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2018. Once complete, about $8 million worth of medical equipment will be added to the facility.

Doctors at the hospital will be able to perform a wide array of surgeries including open-heart surgery, image-guided surgery, and a variety of endovascular interventional procedures.

GUHSD begins California Thursdays nutrition program

Each Thursday, students in the Grossmont Union High School District are now able to eat healthy, freshly prepared meals made with California-grown produce and fresh ingredients. It’s part of an expanding statewide program called California Thursdays.

Students are offered healthy, freshly prepared meals made with California grown food. Grossmont Union High School District kicked off its program at Grossmont High School in January and began serving weekly California-sourced meals to its remaining high school campuses in February.

Grossmont Unified High School District board member Dr. Gary Woods and Grossmont High students taste-test the new healthy food served on Thursdays. (Courtesy of GUHSD)

What started as a pilot program with 15 school districts in October 2014 has expanded to 71 districts in 28 counties across the state.

Other school systems nationwide have also begun such programs including some in Minnesota and New York, and the Nebraska Department of Education is exploring the program as well.

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