Cities

LA MESA POLICE ISSUE WARNING ABOUT PROTEST SATURDAY, CITY BANS OBJECTS THAT CAN BE USED AS WEAPONS IN AREA AROUND PUBLIC BUILDINGS

By Miriam Raftery

July 31, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Police Department has issued a press release warning of a protest planned Saturday, August 1 starting at 3:30 p.m. by organizers who have not responded to inquiries from LMPD. In addition,  City Manager Greg Humora has issued an emergency order banning many weapons and objects that may be used as riot tools in a restricted area around civic buildings from noon tomorrow through 5:30  a.m. Sunday. Banned items including sticks on protest signs, bats, guns, knives, explosives, glass bottles, spray paint, and many more objects.

A flyer circulated online touting the protest over police use of force issues indicated that “civil disobedience” was planned and urged participants not to bring children, indicating the event is for age 18 and up. The flyer has prompted uneasiness among downtown merchants, some of whom have boarded up storefronts in anticipation of potential civil unrest once again.


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EAST COUNTY CITIES AND COUNTY ISSUE CURFEW ORDERS

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

May 31, 2020

In a bold move to avoid a repeat of the devastation and violence in connection with Saturday night’s riots which took place in East County San Diego, several cities and the county issue curfews for tonight. Below is the full schedule.

All law enforcement, fire, medical personnel, and members of the news media are exempt from the curfew. Individuals traveling directly to and from work, seeking emergency medical care, fleeing dangerous circumstances, or the homeless as exempted from the order.


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A MEATY CHANGE: COUNTY FAIR’S FFA MARKET ANIMALS TO BE JUDGED & AUCTIONED VIRTUALLY DUE TO COVID

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo, at left, courtesy of Taryl Townsend)

April 21, 2020 (Lakeside) – For East County kids who raise pigs, cattle, sheep or goats through the Future Farmers of America program, a highlight each year is the live auction of their animals at the San Diego County Junior Fair. But due to the fair’s cancellation  amid the COVID-19 quarantine, the Eastern San Diego County Junior Fair’s market animals auction will be held virtually on May 14.

 Don Dyer of Alpine, president of the Eastern San Diego County Jr. Fair (ESDCJF) Lakeside division says the judging, typically done in person, will be switched to online video presentations of the animals. 

Virtualstockshow.com will facilitate the judging and then the sale of the animals,” Dyer told ECM. “The exhibitors will make a 90 second video showing their market animals which will be evaluated and placed by the fair’s judges. Exhibitors will sign up and submit their videos on Saturday, May 9th.  Judging will happen on Thursday, May 14th, and the auction will be held online on Saturday May16th starting at noon.” 


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PETCO FOUNDATION PROVIDED A VALENTINE SURPRISE FOR SAN DIEGO HUMANE SOCIETY STAFF

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

February 15, 2020 (San Diego) - Petco Foundation provided a $250,000 grant valentine surprise to staff at the San Diego Humane Society on Gaines Street on Feb. 13.

“As part of our mission we have committed $10 million to making a difference to shelters and pets during the valentine day week,” said regional field program manager Bill Gialenes with the Petco Foundation.  The $10 million will go to animal welfare organizations across the country.

Two hundred staff, guests, and volunteers gathered for lunch followed by the presentation of an oversized check for $250,000 to Dr. Gary Weitzman, president/ceo of the San Diego Humane Society from Gialenes.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: OPEN LETTER TO SANTEE COUNCIL MEMBER LAURA KOVAL - PUBLIC INTEREST MOTIVATES PRESERVE WILD SANTEE

By Van Collinsworth, Director, Preserve Wild Santee
 
January 14, 2020 (Santee) -- At the last meeting, the new Vice-Mayor Laura Koval waited until after I had addressed the council and returned to my seat to suggest that Preserve Wild Santee and/or other environmental organizations work is financially motivated. To be clear, and as has always been the case, I will engage with any council member at the podium to address their directed remarks, as I did with the mayor. From my perspective, waiting until I cannot respond to make this suggestion of financial motivation, demonstrates the weakness of your position.
 

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WHY IS IT SO HARD TO SHUT DOWN ILLEGAL POT SHOPS?

By Miriam Raftery

December 19, 2019  (San Diego’s East County) – Although personal use of cannabis is legal in California, each city and county has the right to ban or restrict sales.  But closing down illegal pot shops has become a challenge for law enforcement and a headache for neighbors, since the process often takes months and once closed, illegal dispensaries often pop up again nearby or even in the same building repeatedly.

How concerned should residents be about an illegal marijuana operation in their neighborhood?

Unlike licensed dispensaries that are subject to inspections, state and local regulations, illegal dispensaries may sell marijuana that is adulterated with contaminants and is dangerous to customers. Some illicit dispensaries locally have also been caught selling other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamines.  They may sell drugs to minors. The operators may create hazards to neighbors by tapping illegally into electricity, overloading circuits, and if manufacturing hash oil extracted from marijuana, utilize drums filled with flammable chemicals that can and have exploded, causing fires locally.

At times, illegal dispensaries  have engendered other crimes. Robberies and shootings have occurred; illegal operators tend not to report these crimes to police.  Corruption has also allegedly happened locally. Former Rancho San Diego Sheriff Captain Marco Garmo has been indicted for allegedly tipping off his cousin, an illegal dispensary owner, on raids by law enforcement, among other federal charges that he faces.


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EL CAJON PROPOSES RULES ON CITIZENS’ FREE SPEECH AT MEETINGS, DOCKLESS SCOOTER LIMITS AND FINING ILLEGAL POT SHOP OWNER

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

January 7, 2019 (El Cajon)--The El Cajon City Council is set to get back to work headfirst after nearly four weeks of holiday vacation on Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. Among other items, Council will be addressing free speech by citizens at open comment session, blocking the development of a previously shuttered illegal marijuana dispensary, and regulating dockless vehicles within city limits.


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LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS HOSTS SPOOKY CAMPOVER OCT. 26-27

East County News Service

October 19, 2018 (Alpine)--Come for a wild and ghoulish night under the stars with the rescued exotic animals of Lions Tigers & Bears in Alpine on Friday night, October 26th through Saturday morning, October 27th.

The annual Spooky Campover at this world renown non-profit animal sanctuary is a family favorite. Enjoy pumpkin carving, s’mores, campfire songs, special animal feedings and more.  A costume contest will be held Saturday morning, followed by a special feeding visit to watch the big cats and bears enjoy their pumpkin treats.


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KALASHO CLAIMS ON "LIES VS. FACTS" CAMPAIGN PIECE ARE DETACHED FROM REALITY



By Miriam Raftery

October 5, 2018 (El Cajon) -- In his latest campaign piece titled "The Lies vs. The Facts", El Cajon Councilman Kalasho has made claims that are so outlandish that most can best be described as detached from reality. He urges voters to "don't believe what you hear in the press," despite well documented news articles in East County Magazine, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Reader, and multilple network TV stations on his actions.

His piece derides as “fake news” reports that he is guilty of wrongdoing and fraud, faces sexual harassment claims deemed true by a judge, is accused of threatening people with an attack dog, is under investigation, and paid business fines.

Here are the actual documents from official government agencies, court records and more proving that all of these facts reported are the media are not "fake news," but provably true:


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ECM EXCLUSIVE: KALASHO VIOLATES SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT IN FEDERAL LAWSUIT, PLAINTIFF MARK LANE SAYS



 

Lane claims he and other users are still being blocked and cannot leave comments on Kalasho’s Facebook page

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

October 5, 2018 (El Cajon) -- The peaceful strains of Kumbaya between San Diego activist Mark Lane and El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho could be over.

East County Magazine has exclusively learned that Lane’s attorney, Cory M. Briggs, is planning to inform Southern California U.S. District Federal Court Judge Jeffrey T. Miller that Kalasho is continuing to block Lane and others from his Facebook page in spite of a settlement agreement signed last week between Lane and Kalasho that he would stop the practice.


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SHOOTING DEATH IN LEMON GROVE

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 7, 2018 (Lemon Grove) --  Shortly after midnight, sheriff's deputies saw a man and woman inside a vehicle parked in the middle of the street  in the 7400 block of Pacific Avenue, in  Lemon Grove. When the deputies investigated, they found the man bleeding from what a witness described as a gunshot wound, says Lt. Rich Williams with the Sheriff’s homicide unit.

Deputies called for Lemon Grove Fire Department personnel to assist and began providing first aid.

“The man was seriously injured and soon stopped breathing. Deputies performed CPR until relieved by fire department personnel,” says Lt. Williams. However dDespite lifesaving efforts, the man was pronounced deceased at about 12:39 a.m.


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SYRIAN REFUGEES FIND HOME IN EL CAJON, BUT FAMILY REMAINS TORN APART

 

By Briana Gomez

August 1, 2018 (El Cajon) – Houda Al Sidnawi arrived in the United States in 2016 with both of her parents and her two younger sisters, now 16 and 10. The family left Syria in 2012 at the brink of the civil war and immigrated to Egypt where they obtained appropriate documentation to enter the United States on refugee visas.  


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LEMON GROVE SETTLES SUIT ALLEGING RETALIATION AND FREE SPEECH VIOLATIONS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Updated March 31 with Councilman Jones' comments.

March 26, 2018 (Lemon Grove) -- Last week, many Lemon Grove residents were surprised to hear a citizen speaking during public comment at a City Council meeting reveal that the city had settled a case  filed by a former contracted city worker.  The worker alleged that Councilman Jerry Jones and City Manager Lydia Romero violated his free speech rights and retaliated against him for comments he’d posted on social media criticizing Jones.

East County Magazine has obtained a copy of the settlement and release agreement from the city in response to a public records request.


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SEE SMOKE? FIREFIGHTERS TRAINING AT VALHALLA HIGH SCHOOL THIS WEEKEND



By Miriam Raftery

November 18, 2017 (Rancho San Diego)--San Miguel Fire District along with Heartland Fire Rescue and Santee Fire Department will be conducting fire and rescue training this weekend at Vahalla High School, located at 1725 Hillsdale Road in the Rancho San Diego area of unincorporated El Cajon.

The fire rescue drill will be Saturday November 18 and Sunday November 19 from 9am to 3pm.  Smoke machines will be used during training - neighbors might see smoke coming from the school during these training events.


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EL CAJON POLICE OFFICER TO STILL FACE CIVIL COMPLAINT IN ALFRED OLANGO CASE; CITY OF EL CAJON DISMISSED FROM LAWSUIT

 

By Paul Kruze

August 29, 2017 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man last year will still have to face a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of Richard Olango Abuka, the father of the shooting victim, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune article published on August 25. At the same time, U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia Bashant dismissed the City of El Cajon from the case, saying that there was not enough evidence to argue that the department’s policies or decisions may have in some way contributed to Alfred Olango’s death.


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HELIX WATER SETS SPECIAL MEETING JAN. 18 TO FILLL BOARD VACANCY AND VOTE ON MOVING MEETINGS TO EVENINGS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left:  Directors Mark Gracyk and DeAna Verbecke offered opposing views on how board vacancy should be filled

January 5, 2016 (La Mesa) – At a packed meeting yesterday,  Helix Water Board members aired differing views on how to fill a vacancy left by the resignation last week of newly elected member Lu Tejeda. Tejeda cited conflicts of interest raised by his job with a contractor. 

The new board majority pushed to appoint Dan McMillan, whom Tejeda narrowly edged out by just 185 votes in the four-man race. Both ran on a platform of reigning in rising water rates. 

Director DeAna Verbecke dissented, calling for the district to accept applications and conduct interviews with all interested parties in an open meeting before making an appointment. 


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EL CAJON POLICE DEPARTMENT RECEIVES GRANT FOR SPECIAL TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT AND CRASH PREVENTION

Source:  City of El Cajon

October 31,2016 (El Cajon)--The El Cajon Police Department has been awarded a $170,000.00 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for a year-long program of special enforcements and public awareness efforts to prevent traffic related deaths and injuries.  The El Cajon Police Department will use the funding as part of the city’s ongoing commitment to keep roadways safe and improve the quality of life through both enforcement and education, according to a release issued today.

“The El Cajon Police Department is looking forward to working with OTS, our partners in Law Enforcement, and our community stakeholders to reduce injury and death related to traffic collisions,” stated El Cajon Police Lieutenant Randy Soulard. “With an emphasis on the prevention of pedestrian and bicycle-related collisions, we will work collaboratively using a multi-pronged approach in addressing education and enforcement aspects of collision reduction.”


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DEMONSTRATIONS CONTINUE OVERNIGHT IN EL CAJON: TEAR GAS DEPLOYED AS PROTEST TURNS VIOLENT

 

2 men wanted for stealing photojournalist’s $15,000 camera Wednesday night

By Miriam Raftery

September 30, 2016 (El Cajon)--Demonstrations continued overnight in El Cajon over the killing of Alfred Olango Tuesday by police.

  After receiving several 911 calls of 50-70 protesters blocking cars and breaking car windows, police declared an unlawful assembly. 10 News reports that tear gas and pepper balls were deployed by police. The station posted video of the incident and reported that protesters also knocked a motorcyclist off a motorcycle. Glass bottles were also thrown at officers. Two arrests were made, according to police.

 “A large group of demonstrators marched through the streets throughout the evening and into the early morning hours,”said Lieutenant Rob Ransweiler.

Police are also investigating theft of a $15,000 camera taken forcibly from a photojournalist.   A video viewed by 250,000 people on social media has led to identification one suspect, San Diego News Video reports.  Public help is requested to identify a second subject shown at the end of a video here: https://www.facebook.com/SDNVtv/videos/918156954956981/


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UNREST GROWS IN EL CAJON: MAN KILLED POINTED VAPING DEVICE AT OFFICERS,HAD CRIMINAL RECORD

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Jonathan Goetz also contributed to this report.

Photo, left, by Rebecca Williamson, during vigil at shooting sight this evening

September 28,2016 (El Cajon) –Amid mounting tensions and protests this evening,  El Cajon Police released updates in yesterday’s fatal shooting of Alfred Okwera Olango.  

The updated information reveals the Olango, an El Cajon resident, drew a vape smoking device from his pocket and pointed it at officers. The release also indicates a Psychiatric Emergency Response Team was unavailable due to being dispatched to another call.

A 10 News investigation found  Olango had a criminal record including  a 2005 arrest in Colorado as a felon in possession of a firearm—a semi-automatic pistol in the vehicle he was driving. He also pled guilty to receiving stolen property and driving under the influence in 1999, as well as selling cocaine in 2001.

In this confrontation, however, Olango did not have a gun or any other weapon.  The Ugandan refugee who came to America  after death threats to his famliy was shot and killed after his sister called officers for help due to her brother's erratic actions.

Tonight, crowds clashed with police.  While organizers of a march and vigil sought to keep the peace, some protesters reportedly threw bottles at police and chased a counter-protester wearing a Trump hat after he shouted racial slurs.


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EL CAJON MAKES PROGRESS ON BUDGET AND HOMELESSNESS, STALLS ON DISTRICT ELECTIONS, REJECTS LOCAL HIRING REQUIREMENTS

 

By Jonathan Goetz     

June 27, 2016 (El Cajon)—Last Tuesday, the City of El Cajon adopted a new annual budget, announced its participation in the East County Homeless Outreach Team and recertified its Property and Business Improvement District.


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COUNTY SETS HEARINGS ON REDISTRICTING PROPOSED BY GROSSMONT UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT

 



By Miriam Raftery

Updated March 31 with new info from the County Office of Education.

March 15, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – The County Committee on School District Organization will hold six hearings to get public input on the Grossmont Union High School District’s proposed shift to electing governing board trustees by districts.  The GUHSD board voted 4-1 to adopt a controversial map and seek a waiver of a public vote despite opposition from members of the public who spoke, some alleging gerrymandering to oust a dissenting board member and break up a vocal minority voting block, as ECM reported.

The six hearings are set for March 17 in La Mesa, March 28 in El Cajon,  April 4 in Alpine,  April 5 in Jamul, April 6 in Lemon Grove, and April 11 in Lakeside.  The public can testify at the meetings and also submit written comments up until April 7.  The County’s committee will vote to approve or disapprove the district’s request at its April 13 meeting. The Alpine hearing was added after ECM and community members asked that Alpine be added as a location due to the many controversies involving the Alpine area.

For the full schedule of meetings, rules and details, click "read more" and scroll down.

To view the San Diego County Office of Education hearings announcement in English, Spanish and Arabic, click here.

To view data on the GUHSD redistricting plan including demographic details and maps, click here.


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LA MESA - MT. HELIX SEPTEMBER ACTIVITIES

By Kristin Kjaero

September 1, 2015 (La Mesa) – The delights of the summer are concluding to be supplanted by a rich selection of community offerings for fall. The final performances of the theater and concert season are joined by a variety of classes for every interest, a health fair, a craft fair, e-waste recycling, and outdoor nature and recreation activities galore.


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LA MESA POLICE DEPARTMENT RECEIVES GRANT TO FIGHT ALCOHOL-RELATED CRIME

Submitted by the La Mesa Police Department

The La Mesa Police Department has been awarded a $34,363 grant from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to battle alcohol-related crime. This is important to the City of La Mesa in order to increase protection for youth and to keep our community safe.


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LA MESA SEEKING VOLUNTEERS TO SERVE ON VARIOUS COMMISSIONS

August 14, 2015 (La Mesa) -- Applications are being accepted for several openings on the City’s Aging and Veterans Commission, Environmental Sustainability Commission, La Mesa Community Parking Commission, and Historic Preservation Commission.

 

“The Mayor and City Councilmembers value the input from our community volunteers,” said Mary Kennedy, City Clerk. “By bringing new ideas to the table and representing the community, you will be helping your City government make the best most informed decisions possible for the benefit of the entire community.”


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CONDITIONS MUST BE MET BEFORE LA MESA OKTOBERFEST PERMIT WILL BE ISSUED

Concerns raised over merchants group's solvency and credibility during heated hearing

By Kristin Kjaero

August 3, 2015 (La Mesa) – Whether or not there will be an Oktoberfest 2015 is in the hands of the La Mesa Village Merchants Association (LMVMA).

On Tuesday, the Council voted 4-1 to grant conditional approval for this year’s Oktoberfest, with Council member Ruth Sterling voting against. The deal requires the LMVMA to pay all outstanding debt plus a 25% security deposit and meet a scheduled list of new requirements giving the City oversight of LMVMA’s outside contracts for the event, before an Oktoberfest permit will be issued.

If all deadlines are met, Oktoberfest 2015 will be smaller and shorter: two days instead of three, closing an hour earlier, and held only in the downtown area east side of Spring Street. However, if any deadline is not met, Oktoberfest will be automatically cancelled with no further Council action required--and no refunds.


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PEDESTRIAN SUFFERS FATAL INJURIES IN CRASH

August 2, 1015 (La Mesa) -- Yesterday at approximately 8:42 p.m., the La Mesa Police Department received a report of a pedestrian that was struck by a vehicle in the 7500 block of El Cajon Boulevard. 

The pedestrian/victim (61 year old male) was walking across westbound lanes of traffic when he was struck by a 2-door sedan. The driver of the sedan remained at the scene and was cooperative with the investigation. Alcohol was not a factor in the collision.


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LA MESA - MT. HELIX AUGUST ACTIVITIES

By Kristin Kjaero

August 1, 2015 (La Mesa) – What a vibrant community we live in! August boasts five free concerts, three free movie screenings, two theater productions, the annual Helix High All Class Picnic, and the annual heART of Mt. Helix. There are free clubs for every age and interest at the La Mesa Library, a broad range of activities at the La Mesa Adult Enrichment Center, and a number of classes at the La Mesa Community Center start in August. For those who love nature there are a number of activities as Mission Trails Regional Park and the Water Conservation Garden, and for the fitness oriented there are several walking groups, aquatics, and even a boot camp. Get out and find your bliss, and while you’re at it meet your neighbors.


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POWER OUTAGES AROUND THE COUNTY

July 18, 2014 (La Mesa) -- There are numerous power outages right now around the county, including San Carlos, El Cajon City Heights and Poway.

Information about service interruptions and estimates when power will be restored can be found on

SDGE's Outage Map.


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VILLAGE MERCHANTS BEGIN SELLING BOOTHS FOR OKTOBERFEST

No permit, no debt repayment plan yet, but the clock is ticking

By Kristin Kjaero

June 9, 2015 (La Mesa) – Although the City Council sent them back to the drawing board with a requirement that means they must come up with a repayment plan for $37,229 they owe the City before any new special event applications from them will be processed, the La Mesa Village Merchants Association yesterday evening sent e-mails to all 2014 Oktoberfest vendors soliciting applications and payments for booth rentals for a 2015 Oktoberfest.

The e-mail states, “Even though it was very hot during the day, the event was a great success. We hope that you feel the same way and will consider joining us again this year.”

The Merchants group owes the City $33,996 for Police, Fire and other support services provided for the 2014 Oktoberfest, and said at the last City Council meeting that they’d spent the revenue from it on Christmas in the Village instead of paying back the City’s General Fund.

The e-mail gives the vendors a date, time, fees for booth rental (ranging from $500 for crafters up to $2,100 for food vendors plus $100 cleaning deposit), and where to send their checks, but does not mention the debt issue or problems with their previous application which triggered a City Council policy change regarding special event applications and permits.


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FIREFIGHTERS FLIP FOR CHARITY

May 26, 2015 (La Mesa) -- The annual pancake breakfast is stacked up to be a fun time for the whole family, Sunday June 7 from 8:00 a.m. to noon at the La Mesa Fire Station #11 in the city's civic campus (8034 Allison Ave, La Mesa).


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