La Mesa News Briefs – May 27, 2016

Grossmont wins lawsuit

On May 5, Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman ruled in favor of the Grossmont Unified High School District and effectively ended a $42 million injunction brought on by backers of a planned high school in Alpine.

“This is a win for the students, teachers and the taxpayers of East County, as our Governing Board can now resume their efforts to see that the taxpayer’s dollars are put back to work for the benefits of our schools and the students that we serve,” GUHSD Superintendent Ralf Swenson said.

The Alpine lawsuit sought to keep the district from spending money from Propositions H and U on classroom and other facility improvements in order to build a high school in Alpine. The Alpine school backers pointed to language in the propositions that listed a new school in Alpine as one of the projects to be funded, however the district argued that the language also said all projects were conditional and also that the new school had to meet a district-wide condition of enrollment that it met briefly but never maintained.

Adding to the controversy was the fact that Alpine plans to leave the Grossmont district and unify with the elementary and middle schools there, which would take money from GUHSD.

The Alpine backers have been quoted in other publications saying that they are prepared to appeal Judge Pressman’s decision.

Volunteers needed for city boards and commissions

The city of La Mesa is looking for a few good men and women to volunteer for positions on the city’s boards and commissions.

Applications are now being accepted for various positions until the deadline for submissions — 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 2. Applications must be turned in or sent to the City Clerk’s office at La Mesa City Hall, 8130 Allison Ave. Applications may be obtained at City Hall or from the city of La Mesa website,

The La Mesa City Council will be interviewing applicants for appointments to the city’s advisory boards and commissions at its meeting on June 28. A total of 29 vacancies will become available on the Aging and Veterans Commission, Building Codes Review Board, Community Services Commission, Design Review Board, Environmental Sustainability Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, Human Relations Advisory Commission, La Mesa Community Parking Commission, Personnel Appeals Board, Planning Commission, Traffic Commission and Youth Advisory Commission.

“The mayor and City Councilmembers value the input from our community volunteers,” City Clerk Mary Kennedy said in a press statement. “By serving as a member on one of the boards or commissions, residents have an opportunity to assist in the decisions that affect their neighborhoods and city.”

Further information can be obtained from the Office of the City Clerk, 619-667-1120 or by visiting the city’s website.

Chase Avenue Elementary joins summer nutrition program

Feeding America San Diego and the San Diego Unified School District have partnered to offer food and resources to children and families at outdoor events throughout the summer.

The Summer Fun Café program will distribute bags of fresh produce; conduct CalFresh (SNAP) outreach and pre-screenings; and provide nutritional education and demonstrations at various sites throughout the county.

Special Kids Community Pantries will serve each of the four regions of the county once a month from June through August. Chase Avenue Elementary will participate in the program on the following days: June 30, July 22 and Aug. 10 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Clown around for charity

Despite what it looks like, when it comes to raising money for charities, Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego isn’t clowning around.

The charity will be raising money to support families while their children are hospitalized, the morning of Thursday, June 23 for its annual Red Shoe Day fundraiser, which employs volunteers dressed in wacky costumes throughout San Diego County collecting cash donations into iconic, giant red shoes.

Volunteers are still needed for the following intersections in La Mesa, from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m.:

  • Grossmont Center Drive/Fletcher Drive
  • Center Drive/Jackson Drive
  • University Avenue/70th Street
  • University Avenue/La Mesa Boulevard (west of Spring Street)
  • Spring Street/state Route 94

To participate in this unique fundraiser, businesses, families, groups and individuals can form teams or join existing teams to staff intersections. San Diegans who are unable to volunteer at an intersection can support the Ronald McDonald House by donating on June 23 at Red Shoe Day intersections or in McDonald’s restaurants from June 5 – 26. Community members can also participate online by creating a personal fundraiser page to collect donations from friends and families.

The need for the Ronald McDonald House’s services far exceeds the charity’s capacity. More than 15,000 family members visit San Diego’s Ronald McDonald House each year to receive meals, lodging and other supportive services while their child is hospitalized for serious, often life-threatening, injuries or illnesses. The respite provided by the Ronald McDonald House enables families suffering from medical crises to focus their attention on helping their child heal.

Visit to register as a volunteer or set up a personal fundraising page to help support Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego.

Soroptimist conference impacts women 

Women throughout the county, including many from La Mesa, and as far away as Santa Ana, gathered on May 7 for this year’s Women’s Opportunity Conference.

The free event offered workshops and resources on education and job training opportunities, employment preparation, health and fitness, personal finance, building self-confidence, and safety and self-defense. Keynote speaker, San Diego Superior Court Judge Tilisha Martin, delivered a powerful message about challenge and triumph. Soroptimist regional governor Judi Dunnigan moderated the conference.

Attendees participated in prize drawings, received goody bags, and were able to apply for mini-grants to help them pursue their education or job training goals.

The conference was presented by Soroptimist International of La Mesa with major sponsorship from Soroptimist International of the Americas.

The goal of the annual event is to “inform, inspire, motivate, and connect women with opportunities to improve their lives, and live their dreams.”

Lake Murray artist wins award

Carol Thomason, an artist and resident of Lake Murray, won first place in the highly competitive May Member’s exhibit, “Parade of Colors,” at The San Diego Watercolor Society. Her painting, titled “Lines of Communications 246,,“ was given the honor by award-winning juror Ken Goldman who said the painting was “heroic” with solid design, color variation and texture.

Thomason uses fluid acrylics, watercolor, collage, pencils and watercolor crayons to create the mixed media paintings in her non-objective series she calls “Lines of Communication.” The series is about the internet, cell phones, computers — the communication technologies.

Using traditional design principles with an innovative, experimental approach, she creates compositions that draw one’s attention from a distance and textures that delight the eye up-close.

These paintings have won more than 70 awards locally and nationally in major exhibits with National Watercolor Society, American Watercolor Society, Western Federation of Watercolor Societies and San Diego Watercolor Society.

Local students join Fulbright Program

Nine San Diego State University students, including two La Mesa natives, were selected to teach and conduct research abroad in 2016-17 as part of the prestigious Fulbright Program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government.

Eighty-five SDSU students have been offered Fulbrights since 2005.

The Fulbright Program awards about 8,000 grants annually, enabling U.S. students and scholars to teach and study abroad and visiting students and scholars to study in the United States.

Raheal Mengisteab, a student from La Mesa studying undeclared, will serve as an English Teaching Assistant in the Czech Republic. She also plans to host monthly workshops to discuss race, class and gender issues in the United States.

Madison Sindorf, a La Mesa native studying linguistics, will serve as an English Teaching Assistant in Jordan. As a climbing instructor and trip leader, she will establish an outdoor education program providing a relaxed environment for students to use English outside of the classroom.

Acclaimed pianist performs at Sharp Grossmont

Zdislaw Juchum is a very grateful patient of Dr. Nassier Azimi, a cardiologist affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital. Juchum was so grateful for the outstanding care he received while being treated at Sharp Grossmont that he and his wife, Dr. Renata Ochabski, arranged to bring a celebrated concert pianist, Daniel Wnukowski, to perform at the hospital.

The Grossmont Hospital Foundation helped underwrite his performance, which took place in the hospital lobby on Wednesday, May 11, coinciding with Nurses Week. Patients, visitors and staff enjoyed an evening of classical music, including works by Beethoven and Chopin. Wnukowski performed for an intimate crowd of about 40 appreciative guests. Following his recital, the foundation hosted a reception where guests had a chance to meet the acclaimed Polish-Canadian pianist, who has played in prestigious concert halls throughout Europe, North America, South America and Asia. Wnukowski has performed with many orchestras, including the Polish Radio Orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia, Windsor Symphony and Southfield Symphony with conducters such as Jerzy Maksymiuk, Alain Trudel and David Amos. He has also performed in numerous International Festivals such as Chopin and His Europe in Warsaw, Poland; Festival Dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy; Chopiniana in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and the Pre-LSO Concert Series in London, England.

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