La Mesa/Mt. Helix

WELCOME, LA MESANS!

Our La Mesa section covers the communities of La Mesa and Mount Helix.  Click here to read some fascinating facts about La Mesa and Mt. Helix.  Click here for links to city services, activities, shopping, business groups, farmers’ market,  schools, library, hospital, service groups, theaters, transportation, utilities, weather and more in La Mesa.


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LA MESA PROVIDES UPDATE ON NEW POLICE CHIEF SEARCH

East County News Service 

Photo: LMPD station, via LMPD website

March 4, 2021 (La Mesa) -- The City of La Mesa today announced that it has hired executive recruiting firm Teri Black & Company (TBC) to conduct a nationwide search for its next Police Chief.

Former LMPD Chief Walt Vasquez retired last August. Capt. Matt Nicholass was named to serve as interim Chief since then. 

TBC was selected following the issuance of a Request for Qualifications and evaluation process by the City. According to the City, TBC has successfully recruited 10 police chiefs for California cities over the past 24 months. 


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UNION BANK WELCOMES FOUR-YEAR-OLD ARTIST TO LA MESA BRANCH TO THANK HER FOR HER MESSAGE OF HOPE AND HEALING

East County News Service

Photo:  from left to right: Andrea Soffa, Aviana Dobesh (Age 4) and Union Bank Branch Manager Carlton Hill at temporary Union Bank branch in La Mesa. Aviana and her family were invited on the morning of Feb. 24 to see Aviana’s “All you need is love” painting on display inside the branch. Aviana was presented with some art supplies and gifts as a thank you for her message of hope enjoyed by Union Bank employees and clients.

February 25, 2021 (La Mesa) - Earlier this morning, Union Bank La Mesa branch manager, Carlton Hill welcomed Aviana Dobesh (age 4), and her parents Andrea Soffa and Steve Dobesh to the temporary Union Bank branch in La Mesa. Hill, on behalf of Union Bank, wanted to personally thank Aviana for the artwork she created in the days following the fire that destroyed the bank’s branch in May 2020. The bank selected Aviana’s painting to be featured inside its temporary branch and on related marketing collateral. Her message of hope really resonated with the Union Bank team and brings smiles to the faces of employees and clients when they enter the temporary branch which opened on Jan 25.


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INDEPENDENT REPORT FOUND LA MESA PD LACKED PROPER PREPARATION FOR MAY 2020 RIOTS

By Alexa Oslowski 

Photo by Jake Rose:  suspect exits arson fire at Randall Lamb Building during May 30-31 riot in La Mesa

 

February 23, 2021 (La Mesa) - The long-anticipated independent report on the La Mesa Police and city’s responses to the May 30-31, 2020 riots was released and reviewed at the January 26 City Council meeting. The creation of the report included briefings from the City Council, City officials, the La Mesa Police Department (LMPD) Heartland Fire and Rescue Department, the Citizen Public Safety Oversight Task Force as well as community outreach, as ECM previously reported.


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NO CAUSE OF DEATH RELEASED YET FOR WOMAN FOUND IN LAKE MURRAY

By Alexa Oslowski

February 23, 2021 (La Mesa) - On February 7, the woman found floating in the water at Lake Murray was identified as Elena Lisowski, a 44-year-old resident of San Diego. The cause and circumstances of her death remain unresolved.

“Elena Lisowski was not reported as a missing person,” San Diego Police Lieutenant and Public Information Officer Shawn Takeuchi said in  response to an inquiry from East County Magazine. “This death case is not under the purview of the San Diego Police Department. Responsibility over this case was transferred to the Medical Examiner’s Office on the day the body was recovered.”

Lisowski worked in the restaurant business for nearly two decades and previously worked at Antica Trattoria in La Mesa and spent 15 years at Princess Pub in Little Italy. According to an online profile, she graduated from CSU San Marcos in 2006.


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HOMELESS MAN ARRESTED FOR ATTEMPTED RAPE IN LA MESA

East County News Service
 
February 18, 2021 (La Mesa) - A homeless man is under arrest for allegedly trying to rape a homeless woman in La Mesa on Wednesday afternoon.
 
La Mesa Police responded to a report of a man attacking a partially undressed woman on Amarillo Avenue. They found the victim, whose face was bleeding. She told police the man fled when she screamed, Patch.com reports.

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HELIX WATER DISTRICT TO VOTE WED. ON MOVING MEETINGS TO 2 P.M.

By Miriam Raftery

February 12, 2021 (La Mesa) – Helix Water District Board President Joel Scalzitti wants to move public board meetings to 2 p.m.. The issue will be on the agenda on Wednesday, Feb. 17.


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HOMELESS PERSON FOUND DEAD AT AZTEC PARK IN LA MESA

La Mesa Police issue statement reminding public of how to get help for homeless people

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: La Mesa Parks and Recreation Department

February 12, 2021 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police report that a homeless man, 47, was found dead at Aztec Park Wednesday. The park is located at the corner of Morocco and Aztec Drive.

On social media, several residents had earlier voiced concerns about the individual, whom they mistook for a woman.

Laura Anne Maturo wrote that “the police were called numerous times and didn’t respond.”  She indicated that she spoke with the homeless person Tuesday night around 9 p.m..

LMPD issued a statement responding to concerns raised on social media. “The La Mesa Police Department did receive one calll regarding the man screaming in the park at about 1:30 p.m. on February 9th. Officers responded within 15 minutes. The man told officers that he had been having a nightmare and declined needing medical attention.”


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LA MESA CYCLIST KILLED IN EL CAJON COLLISION

By Miriam Raftery

February 11, 2021 (El Cajon ) – A La Mesa man, 32, died at the scene of an accident last night in unincorporated El Cajon.

The cyclist was riding an Electra Townie bicycle in the bike lane eastbound on Willow Glen Drive west of Dehesa Road around 7:20 p.m. when a silver Infiniti QX60 driven by an El Cajon man drifted to the right and struck the cyclist, who was ejected onto the roadway’s shoulder.

“Fire personnel were dispatched to the scene and pronounced the bicyclist deceased.  The driver of the Infinity was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash.  The bicyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision,” said Officer Travis Garrow with the California Highway Patrol.


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SHIRLEY WEBER SWORN IN AS SECRETARY OF STATE; SPECIAL ELECTION TO FILL HER SEAT WILL BE HELD APRIL 6

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via Governor's Twitter feed: Sec. of State Shirley Weber is sworn in by Gov. Gavin Newsom

February 8, 2021 (San Diego) – Former Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, PhD, made history last week when she was sworn in as the first black woman to serve as California's Secretary of State. A special election to fill the 79th Assembly District seat will be held April 6, with several candidates in the running.

“I am excited to be nominated for this historical appointment as the Secretary of State of California. I thank @CAgovernor  for the confidence in me. Being the first Black Woman in this position will be monumental and I am up for the challenge,” Weber posted on Twitter.


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LA MESA CITY COUNCIL SELECTS POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD MEMBERS

By Alexa Oslowski

 

February 7, 2021 (La Mesa) – In response to community concerns following several controversial police use-of-force incidents, the La Mesa City Council selected members for the 11-person Community Police Oversight Board at the Jan. 12 Council meeting. 


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LMSV LAUNCHES SCHOOL BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE, SEEKS MEMBERS

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photo: Creative Commons by SA-NC via Bing

 

February 3, 2021 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa-Spring Valley School District is establishing a Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee, as required by state law. The application form is available here and must be submitted by Feb. 19.


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HELIX HIGH SENIOR JOINS 2021 SDSU FOOTBALL SIGNING CLASS

Source:  goaztecs.com

Photo:  Josh Simmons via Pinterest

February 3, 2021 (San Diego) -  San Diego State head football coach Brady Hoke announced the signing Wednesday of two additional players to National Letters of Intent or Offers of Aid. Including the 23 that signed in the early signing period in December a total of 25 athletes will join the Aztecs for the 2021 season.


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COVID VACCINE SUPER STATION OPEN AT GROSSMONT CENTER IN LA MESA

East County News Service

February 2, 2021 (La Mesa) – A COVID-19 vaccination super station opened today at Grossmont Center in La Mesa. Operated by Sharp Healthcare, the The new walk-up clinic is vaccinating people from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Up to 1,000 doses will be administered daily, but the site’s capacity can be expanded to provide up to 5,000 vaccinations every day.

The clinic is located in the shopping mall at 5500 Grossmont Center Drive, between Wetzel’s Pretzels and the Ceramic Café.

This location will replace and expand the site Sharp HealthCare had been operating on Wakarusa St. Appointments made for that site transfer to the super station at the mall.


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WOMAN ASSAULTED BY STRANGER IN LA MESA

East County News Service

January 31, 2021 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police are warning the public about an assault in the 4300 block of Date Ave. near Acacia around 8 p.m. on January 28.   The female victim described the suspect as a tall white-or light-skinned male around 6 feet 2 inches tall with a thin build. 


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SEEDS OF CHANGE: LA MESA RECEIVES $30,000 GRANT FOR COMMUNITY GARDEN

By Alexa Oslowski

 

Photo: raised bed garden, Creative Commons by SRL

 

January 28, 2021 (La Mesa) -- La Mesa's first community garden will soon be sprouting up in MacArthur Park, near the community center and the city's downtown village.

 

The San Diego Foundation has granted $30,000 in seed money to build the garden, according to a press release issued by the city.


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STAR TREK ACTOR BEAMS INTO LA MESA COUNCIL MEETING TUESDAY TO HONOR JAPANESE-AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST FRED KOREMATSU

By Miriam Raftery

January 24, 2021 (La Mesa) – This Tuesday, January 26th, the city of La Mesa will proclaim January 30th as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties. The proclamation honors the late civil rights activist, who fought for the rights and freedoms of Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps during World War II.

During a 6 p.m. City Council meeting held via Zoom, special guests beaming in remotely will include Korematsu’s daughter, Dr. Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute as well as actor George Takei, best known for portraying Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (right) in the original Star Trek TV series and later, Captain Sulu in Star Trek: Voyager. 


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: WINTER BLACKBERRIES

January 15, 2021 (Mt. Helix) -- Global warming and climate change are affecting growing seasons.  ECM editor Miriam Raftery was surprised to find ripe blackberries in mid-January in her backyard on Mt. Helix in unincorporated La Mesa. Blackberries normally ripe in midsummer and go dormant in winter, but this vine never lost its leaves.

Several readers have shared that they were startled by mid-winter harvests of peppers and tomatoes this month.


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PASSAGES: GOODWILL EXECUTIVE FROM LA MESA DIES OF COVID-19

East County News Service

January 16, 2021 (La Mesa) – Bob Kruse, 62, a La Mesa resident who oversaw over 50 local Goodwill sites as Director of Facilities, has died of COVID-19.


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NEW RANCHO HELIX DE ORO FIRE SAFE COUNCIL OFFERS FIRE-SAFE TIPS

By Miriam Raftery

January 14, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) --Under the authority of the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County, the Rancho Helix De Oro is a newly formed fire safe council dedicated to educating and preparing our community in order to avoid devastating fires. The group has created an educational fire-safe flyer  (click link to view flyer) with information including tips for fire safety, an evacuation map, who to call during an emergency, and how to get emergency notification for the communities of Rancho San Diego, Mt. Helix and Casa de Oro.

The new group was formed with support from then-County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, the Grossmont-Mt. Helix Improvement Association, Valle de Oro Planning Group, Casa De Oro Alliance, and community members in collaboration with San Miguel Fire and Rescue, Cal Fire, San Diego County Sheriff, San Diego Gas & Electric, and the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County.


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PASSAGES: KELLY LYNNE CAMERON, MEDICAL WORKER AND ROLLER DERBY PLAYER, KILLED WHILE JOGGING IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Kelly Lynne Cameron with her husband, Tom Hovde, via GoFundMe

January 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – A 54-year-old woman killed while jogging in her La Mesa neighborhood has been identified by the  county medical examiner as Kelly Lynne Cameron. A GoFundMe site set up to help her family indicates she was a front-line medical worker and athlete.


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WEEKLY FREE MEAL PICKUPS FOR ALL CHILDREN AGES 2-18

By Miriam Raftery

January 9, 2021 (La Mesa) – Starting January 11, The La Mesa-Spring Valley School District will have curbside meal pickups on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 17 of its school campuses. (See list below).  The packs are available to all children ages 2-18, whether or not they are students in the district.

For more information, call (619) 668-5764 or visit www.LMSVSchools.org.  Below are the schools offering curbside meal pickups each Monday, excluding holidays:


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PASSAGES: WYATT OAKS WINERY CO-OWNER, PARTNER IN LA MESA WINE WORKS, DIES OF CANCER

East County News Service
 
January 8, 2021 (La Mesa) – Gavin McClain, the winemaker and co-owner of Wyatt Oaks Winery along with his wife, Stacy, has passed away of cancer.  He was a partner in La Mesa Wine Works, along with the owners of San Pasqual Winery.

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NO CHARGES FILED BY D.A. AGAINST OFFICER WHO STRUCK PROTESTER IN HEAD WITH BEANBAG DURING LA MESA RIOT

East County News Service

January 8, 2021 (La Mesa) -- San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan’s Office announced yesterday that a La Mesa police detective, who fired a beanbag round that injured Leslie Furcron during a protest that turned into a violent riot in La Mesa, will not face state criminal liability for his actions. Read the DA’s detailed review here.

Furcron was struck in the forehead and left blind in one eye after throwing a can toward officers during a confrontation in which others were hurling rocks. She has filed a civil lawsuit against the city of La Mesa over her injury.


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REWARD FOR INFO ON GUNSHOT VICTIM DROPPED OFF OUTSIDE GROSSMONT HOSPITAL

East County News Service
 
January 5, 2021 (La Mesa) – Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in the fatal shooting of Jose Santos Acevedo Torresdey, 36.  A red Honda sedan dropped off Torresdey on December 30 at 6:55 p.m. in the ambulance lot outside of the Sharp Hospital Emergency Room, then left.  The driver is unknown.
 
Torresdey suffered a gunshot wound in his chest. It is unknown who shot him, or where he was shot.  He was prounounced dead after lifesaving measures were performed by hospital staff.

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TASHA WILLIAMSON, EX-MAYOR HOPEFUL, AT HOME AFTER COVID BOUT: THANKS ICU

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  At a La Mesa press conference in June, Tasha Williamson called for the firing of Matt Dages, the arresting officer of Amaurie Johnson “because he lied on his report.” On Monday, the District Attorney’s Office charged him. Photo by Chris Stone

January 4, 2021 (San Diego) - Tasha Williamson, the social justice activist who ran for San Diego mayor and who also organized racial justice protests in La Mesa, San Diego and other communities, was recovering at home Monday after a frightening bout of coronavirus that saw her thanking ICU staff.


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CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST EX-LA MESA POLICE OFFICER MATT DAGES FOR FILING FALSE REPORT IN AMAURIE JOHNSON CASE

By Miriam Raftery

January 4, 2020 (La Mesa) -- San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that a criminal charge has been filed against a former La Mesa Police Officer in connection with an arrest of Amaurie Johnson, 23, near the Grossmont trolley station in La Mesa. The criminal complaint alleges that on May 28, 2020, Officer Matthew Dages, 30, filed a police report that contained false information.

The incident was shown in a video that went viral on social media, sparking racial justice protests. The Dages incident occurred three days after the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis triggered nationwide protests and two days before a riot resulted in looting, vandalism and the burning down of three buildings in La Mesa.  The Johnson arrest has been likened to the fuse that ignited a powder keg of explosive rage over mistreatment of black suspects by white police officers.


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PEDESTRIAN FATALITY IN LA MESA

East County News Service
 
January 1, 2021 (La Mesa) — A 54-year-old woman  was struck by a Subaru WRX and killed yesterday around 3:25 p.m.  
 
La Mesa Police Department and Heartland Fire responded within minutes to multiple calls reporting the collision in the 4700 block of Harbinson Avenue. First responders rendered aid, but the pedestrian sustained multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

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SUSPECT ARRESTED, CHARGED WITH MURDER OF MAN AT LAKE MURRAY SHOPPING CENTER

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Di'Marcus Lavonne Mayes, murder victim, courtesy of his family via LMPD

December 21, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police today announced the arrest of Alexander Cesar Nghiem of San Diego. He is charged with murder of Di’Marcus Lavonne Mayes, 29, who was shot multiple times in his upper torso on December 11th.

La Mesa Police responded to calls reporting gunshots in the parking lot of the Marketplace at Lake Murray Village, 5600 Lake Murray Boulevard.  Officers found Mayes unresponsive and performed CPR and other medical aid until medics arrived.


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HELP A SMALL BUSINESS SURVIVE SHUTDOWNS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON: NAIL SALONS, HAIRDRESSERS AND PERSONAL CARE PROVIDERS NEED YOUR TLC

By Miriam Raftery

December 17, 2000 (Santee) -- The shutdowns from the Coronavirus pandemic have hurt many especially small businesses. Our nail salons, hairdressers, restaurants, and personal care businesses have been paralyzed, especially now during their busiest time of the year.  Many who have the means to help don’t know what to do.  Take-out orders are being placed to help local restaurants, but what about the personal care business owners and employees?

Here are some ideas to help these vital businesses survive.


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