La Mesa News Briefs – Oct. 28, 2016

Heartland Fire & Rescue appoints new fire chief

The cities of El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove, whose jointly managed fire departments make up the Heartland Fire & Rescue Service, have selected Colin Stowell as its next Fire Chief. The city managers for the three cities, Douglas Williford of El Cajon, Yvonne Garrett of La Mesa, and Lydia Romero of Lemon Grove, made the announcement that Stowell will begin serving in this capacity beginning Nov. 7, 2016. Stowell replaces Chief Rick Sitta, who retired on Aug. 12, 2016.

Colin Stowell

Chief Colin Stowell

Stowell, 49, will be coming from the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, most recently as Assistant Fire Chief. In this role, Stowell has overseen the Emergency Operations Division, which includes 48 fire stations and 845 sworn personnel, the Training Division, special operations (haz-mat, bomb squad, air operations, etc.), lifeguards, and emergency medical services.

Stowell graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration and a certificate in Fire Protection Administration. He also obtained an associate’s degree in Fire Science from Miramar College and a Fire Officer Certification from the California State Fire Marshall. Recently, Stowell received the designation as an “Executive Fire Officer” from the United States Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Stowell has worked for the San Diego Fire Department since 1988 in a variety of roles. These include serving as Fire Captain from 2002–2007, Fire Battalion Chief from 2007–2012, Deputy Fire Chief from 2012–2015, and Assistant Fire Chief of Emergency Operations since 2015. Additionally, Stowell has served on the San Diego All Hazards Incident Management Team since 2007 and is the acting Incident Commander and Operations Section Chief for the team.

Stowell’s starting salary as Fire Chief will be $175,302.

Hydration station

Early this month, the La Mesa Rotary club presented a year’s supply of water to the Police Department of La Mesa to show their support “in these difficult times,” according to the group’s publication The Tattler.

h2o-photoRotary Club president Steve Looser and eight other members made the first delivery. The bottled water is stored in a refrigerator in the garage where an officer can grab one as they are dispatched to a call.

Upon receiving the hydrating gift, one officer reportedly said, “this is one of the best additions to the department.”

“Apart from the practical aspects, it shows the officers that the community cares and is a great morale booster,” said Rotarian Robert Ridge in a press statement.

Hispanic Leader of the Year

On Oct. 17, the La Mesa Chamber announced that one of its members, Lilly Pigg, owner of Lily’s Mobile Homes was chosen as the 79th Assembly District’s Hispanic Leader of the Year in the business category.

Pigg came to America from Mexico at the age of 17 and attended college in El Centro. She desired to create a life and profession in the United State and opened her business, Lily’s Mobile Homes in 1999. Pigg’s commitment to her community leads her to hire those that may be forgotten or overlooked by other employers such as seniors and those that overcome struggles in their lifetime.

The Hispanic Leader of the Year awards are in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month which takes place from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 each year. These awards provide an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the significant contributions of Hispanic Americans to our communities and to commemorate the rich heritage and history of this important cultural group.

Pigg received her award with other honorees on Oct. 12 at the Sherman Heights Community Center from Assemblymember Shirley Weber.

Sharp Grossmont nurse honored


Alyse Straub

Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Alyse Straub, MSN, RN, PCCN, was recently honored with a 2016 West Regional GEM Rising Star Award. The GEMs (Giving Excellence Meaning) recognize nurses in various fields and are presented by, the largest print and digital magazine dedicated to registered nurses. The Rising Star Award honors nurses who have worked in health care for less than five years, but have been identified by their colleagues as nursing’s best and brightest.

“I have passion to make my workplace the best and safest place to work, as well as for patients to receive the best care,” said Straub in a press release. “It feels great for my work to be recognized.”

A clinical nurse, Straub began her career in the Telemetry Unit at Sharp Grossmont this year and quickly became an asset to her team. She is a member of the Shared Governance Unit Practice Council and serves as its chairwoman. She has also been involved in several projects that address patient safety, healthy work environments and staff recognition.

This has been a banner year for Straub, who in May was also honored as Sharp Grossmont’s Nurse of the Year. has publicly recognized and celebrated nursing excellence, making it part of its mission. After nearly three decades, the GEM Awards program is the largest and most prestigious of its kind in the nation. Nurse leaders act as judges to evaluate and score all nominations. Finalists, regional winners and, ultimately, national winners are recognized.

Grossmont High School opens new buildings

On Sept. 28, Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) held a building dedication ceremony for the new student support services and arts classrooms buildings on Grossmont High School campus.

The $10.9 million project involved the demolition of several outdated structures, including the original administration building, old auto shop, classroom building 100, student resource center, special education office buildings and other ancillary structures.

A new two-story, 12,200-square-foot Student Support Services Building consolidates activities into a single location to enhance student/staff interaction, according to a press statement form GUHSD.

Another two-story, 11,640-square-foot Arts Classroom Building was constructed to create new district standard instructional spaces for ceramics, metals, 2-D art, photography and digital arts, as well as a classroom and store for the ASB and a special education classroom.

Extensive site work was completed to provide new accessible pathways, additional parking and a revamped bus drop-off area, site lighting, security cameras and a new ADA restroom building to support the student population during the day and stadium events after hours.

Participating in the building dedication ceremony were Dr. Tim Glover, GUHSD Superintendent; Dan Barnes, principal of Grossmont High School; School Board Trustees Jim Stieringer and Dr. Gary Woods; a representative from the Student Governing Board; GHS’ head school counselor, as well as students and staff from the arts department.

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