La Mesa/Mt. Helix

MEET THE CHIEF: LA MESA POLICE HOST FIRST OF FOUR COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS THURSDAY, JULY 29

By Miriam Raftery

July 27, 2021 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Police Department has announced a series of four town halls for residents to meet newly appointed Police Chief Ray Sweeney and police staff. Each two-hour discussion is described as a community conversation and listening session.

The sessions, all on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., are:

July 29           Rolando Elementary School

August 5  Lemon Avenue Elementary School

August 12  Maryland Avenue Elementary School

August 19  Northmont Elementary School

LA MESA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO SEXUALLY ABUSING WOMEN AT U.S. EMBASSY IN MEXICO

By Miriam Raftery

July 26, 2021 (La Mesa) – Brian Jeffrey Raymond, 45, of La Mesa has pleaded guilty to "sexual abuse and admitted to the abusive sexual contact of numerous women, as well as photographing and recording dozens of nude and partially nude women without their consent during his career as a U.S. government employee" while working at the U.S. embassy in Mexico, according to a U.S. Justice Department press release.  The release indicated that some of the women who have accused Raymond lost consciousness.

LIBRARY EXPANSION ON AGENDA FOR LA MESA CITY COUNCIL

Agenda also includes proposal to create a task force to promote arts and culture in La Mesa

By Miriam Raftery

July 25, 2021 (La Mesa) – A proposal to form a task force to look at options for an expanded library will be on the agenda for the La Mesa City Council on Tuesday, July 27.   You can submit comments up to 300 words  to be read aloud at the Council meeting by the City Clerk; comments must be received by 4 p.m. Tuesdy at comments@cityoflamesa.us. Live public comments can also be made via Zoom.

The current La Mesa Library was originally intended as an interim step, after the old library was torn down to make way for a new police station. But the cash-strapped city never raised the anticipated funds for a larger, contempoary library and county matching funding evaporated. But many residents are advocating for the city to live up to its promises to residents.

The issue has sparked lively discussion on the La Mesa Happenings forum on Facebook.

CROWDED FIELD OF CANDIDATES RUNNING FOR LA MESA CITY COUNCIL SEAT

By Miriam Raftery

July 25, 2021 (La Mesa) – Candidates have until August 6 at noon to file papers to run for La Mesa’s City Council in a November special election. The field is growing crowded, with eight candidates who have pulled papers to run so far, though one told ECM he has decided to drop out.

The candidates are vying to fill a vacancy left by Dr. Akilah Weber's election to the state Assembly. The election follows a turbulent year that included civil unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic.

In alphabetical order, the eight candidates who have thus far filed papers to run  are:

LAMPLIGHTERS THEATRE PRESENTS “THE LAST FIVE YEARS” JULY 23-AUG. 15

East County News Service

July 24, 2021 (La Mesa) – Live theatre returns at Lamplighters Theatre after a 15-month closure due to COVID-19.  Lamplighters presents “The Last Five Years,” Tony-Award winner Jason Robert Brown’s poignant and smart contemporary musical of five years in the relationship of an ambitious young writer, Jamie, and his struggling actress wife, Cathy. The show runs July 23 through Aug. 15.

FOUR WOMEN RUNNING FOR LA MESA CITY COUNCIL, FIFTH CANDIDATE DROPS OUT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left to right: Mejgan Afshan, Letitia Dickerson, Patricia Dillard, and Laura Lothian

July 20, 2021 (La Mesa) – So far, the lineup of candidates seeking to serve on La Mesa’s City Council have one thing in common: all are women who filed papers to run for a vacancy on the Council left when ex-Councilmember Akilah Weber won election to the state Assembly.  Dr Weber, a Democrat, was the first Black woman to serve on the Council.

The filing deadline opened July 12 and will close on August 6, so more candidates may yet file. The candidates who have filed to run so far are:

LA MESA RESIDENT PLANS 50 ROUNDS OF GOLF IN 50 DAYS IN 50 STATES TO RAISE MONEY FOR CLEAN WATER WORLDWIDE

By Angela Kurysh

Photos courtesy of Clay Phillips

July 17, 2021 (La Mesa) – Fifty rounds of golf in 50 states in 50 days. Yes, you read that right. 66-year-old La Mesa resident and avid golf lover Clay Phillips has planned out a detailed nationwide trip where he will be playing rounds of golf in each state for a good cause. He will be challenging himself as a golfer, but also making this experience more than that. Phillips’ initial goal is to raise money for clean water worldwide, by having his friends, family and followers join him on his journey via social media and donate to the cause.

BON APPETIT! LA MESA EXTENDS OUTDOOR DINING UNTIL JULY 2022

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Miriam Raftery: Outdoor dining at Antica Trattoria in La Mesa

July 15, 2021 (La Mesa) – Expanding onto sidewalks and parking lots provided salvation to many local restaurants and shops during the pandemic, when indoor dining was banned or capacity limited.

To help local businesses recover financially over the next year, La Mesa’s City Council recently voted to extend temporary outdoor permits in public spaces for restaurants and stores through July 16, 2022.

LA MESA CHOOSES RAY SWEENEY AS NEW POLICE CHIEF

By Alexa Oslowski

Photo: Chief Ray Sweeney, via City of La Mesa

July 10, 2021 (La Mesa) - La Mesa announced on July 1 that Captain Ray Sweeney will serve as the new La Mesa Police Chief, effective immediately. The selection was made by City Manager Greg Humora. Sweeney has served as a Captain in La Mesa Police since 2015 and has previously served in the United States Army and the Army National Guard.

“After a comprehensive and thorough recruitment process, I am confident Ray Sweeney is the leader we need to advance our Police Department and sustain our professionalism and focus on best practices to deliver for our community. The La Mesa Community will benefit from his immediate familiarity with our City and Police Department while also leveraging his strong character and clear vision for effective community policing,” City Manager Humora said in the press release.

This appointment comes almost a year after former La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez announced his retirement would start in August 2020, just months after La Mesa’s controversial stops of Amaurie Johnson and racial justice protests that turned into riots in May 2020.

DO YOU WANT TO RUN FOR LA MESA CITY COUNCIL TO REPLACE DR. WEBER?

Candidates can file from July 12 through August 6

By Alexa Oslowski

July 9, 2021 (La Mesa) - On November 2, La Mesa will be holding its all-mail ballot election to replace Dr. Akilah Weber, who left the City Council to serve as the 79th District State Assemblymember. The person elected will serve until the end of Dr. Weber’s City Council term on November 8, 2022.

The nomination period opens on July 12, 2021, and closes on August 6, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. Candidate packets will be available in the City Clerk's Office, which is located at 8130 Allison Avenue in La Mesa. To schedule an appointment to obtain a Candidate Packet, please contact the City Clerk's Office at 619-667-1120.

NEW BARBERSHOP, STUDIO CUTZ, OPENS IN LA MESA

By Briana Gomez

July 3, 2021 (La Mesa) -- Studio Cutz, a new barbershop in La Mesa located at 7520 El Cajon Blvd.,  had its ribbon cutting ceremony today.

The shop is offering $20 haircuts all week until July 4 with a valid I.D.

La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis and Reverend Shane Harris of the People’s Association of Justice Advocates participated in the grand opening and praised owner Aydarus Sakawe.

“He’s mindful of the youth. He wants to encourage everyone to not only come and get a haircut, but he’s a member of the community and wants to serve the community, and so we’re so happy to have Studio Cutz coming to La Mesa,” Mayor Arapostathis said.

PETER PAN JUNIOR THEATER CELEBRATES 30TH ANNIVERSARY WITH PRODUCTIONS OF PETER PAN JUNE 28-30 AND JULY 1-3

East County News Service
 
June 27, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Peter Pan Junior Theater will return to Neverland with performances of Peter Pan on June 28-30 and July 1-3 at the Ray and Joan Kroc Salvation Army Performing Arts Center (6611 University Ave., San Diego, just east of La Mesa). Shows start at 7 p.m., plus 1 p.m. matinees will be offered on July 2 and 3. 

GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE DISTRICT AND SHARP HEALTHCARE CELEBRATE 30-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP

Original lease to operate Grossmont Hospital signed in 1991; voters have since extended to 2051 

 

June 24, 2021 (La Mesa)  — Thirty years ago, the Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD) leased operations of its La Mesa public hospital to Sharp HealthCare, initiating a public/private partnership that local voters extended through 2051. 

The original agreement was designed to ensure Grossmont Hospital would remain competitive in attracting new patients, technologies, and services in the face of a rapidly changing healthcare environment.  

Since that time, the partnership has guided development and completion of several major improvements in and around the facility, simultaneously increasing quality and access to care. 

FORMER LA MESA EMPORIUM SITE IN LA MESA VILLAGE SELLS FOR $1.85 MILLION

East County News Service

June 23, 2021 (La Mesa) – Location Matters, Inc. has announced sale of a retail building at 8371 in the heart of La  Mesa’s downtown village for $1,850,000.  The buyer is Whissel Realty Group, a family-owned real estate company that plans to move its corporate office to this location. 

VETERAN’S PHOTOS COMMEMORATED AT WESTMONT OF LA MESA

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Photo (L) of photographer Kay Devine and veteran Doug Beach and unidentified videographer courtesy of Westmont of La Mesa. 

June 22, 2021 (La Mesa) – Veterans witnessed their photos commemorated on an Honor Wall at Westmont of La Mesa during a ceremony held June 14.

The veterans hailed from the Navy, Army, Air Force, and the Coast Guard.

THE LA MESA CLASSIC CAR SHOW RETURNS TO DOWNTOWN LA MESA THIS SUMMER

Hosted by the La Mesa Village Association and presented by Johnny B's

Source:  La Mesa Village Association

Photos courtesy CeCe Canton Photography

June 21, 2021 (La Mesa) - The La Mesa Classic Car Show rolls back into downtown La Mesa this summer after being put on hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The car show will feature pre-1974 cars, trucks and vans that will be parked along La Mesa Boulevard between 4th Street and Spring St. for the public’s viewing pleasure. The Classic Car Show is a free, community event that will be held every Thursday beginning June 24, 2021 - August 26, 2021 from 5 – 8 p.m.

I-QUE BBQ: A SMART NEW EATERY IN LA MESA

By Henri Migala
 
Photo, left:  owners and employees at I-Que BBQ, by Miriam Raftery
 
June 18, 2021 (La Mesa) -- Very few things are better than really, I mean REALLY, good barbecue. And one of those things is really good barbecue served by delightful, engaging and endearing people. That’s exactly what you get at La Mesa’s newest barbecue restaurant, I-Que BBQ.
 
Located at 8733 Broadway in the small strip of shops near I-HOP, at the juncture of Spring Street and Broadway close to the SR-125 and SR- 94 interchange, I-Que BBQ enjoys a prime, convenient spot for both motorists and residents.

LA MESA OFFERS FREE SUMMER CONCERTS IN THE PARK

Source: City of La Mesa

Photo: Creative Commons image CC by NC via Bing

June 10, 2021 (La Mesa) – You’re invited to come to enjoy a line-up of local bands at La Mesa’s “Sundays at Six” free summer concert series. Grab a picnic and lawn chair and relax in the outdoor amphitheater at Harry Griffen Park located at 9550 Milden Street from 6-7 p.m. Sundays starting June 20 through July 25. 

SUMMER CRAFT FAIR JUNE 11-13 IN LA MESA

East County News Service

June 10, 2021 (La Mesa) – Ready for some summer shopping? A summer craft fair presented by The Applecrate and Traveling Treasures will be held at Helix High School in La Mesa (7323 University Ave) this weekend.  Items for sale will include home décor, birdhouses, succulents, gardening items, Americana, vintage goods, jewelry, baby items, glassware, summer specialties, food and more.

ABC RUNS DECOY OPERATION IN ATTEMPT TO REDUCE UNDERAGE DRINKING

By Ray Sweeney, Acting Chief of Police
 
June 9, 2021 (La Mesa) -- Agents of the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), along with the La  Mesa Police Department, cited 3 clerks for selling alcohol to minors on June 4, 2021. The actions were the result of a minor decoy operation in which minors, under the direct supervision of department agents, attempted to purchase alcohol from 16 retail licensees in the City of La Mesa. 
 
Those who sold to the minor face a minimum fine of $250, and/or 24 to 32 hours of community service for a first violation. In addition, ABC will take administrative action against the alcoholic beverage license of the business where alcohol was sold to a minor. That may include a fine, a suspension of the license, or the permanent revocation of the license.

LIVE COMEDY RETURNS TO EAST COUNTY AT SPACEBAR CAFÉ

By Miriam Raftery

June 5, 2021 (La Mesa) – Looking for laughs after a year of quarantining? At the Spacebar Café and Wine Bistro in La Mesa announces Friday night comedy as well as live on June 25th featuring top local talent.

LA MESA RECOVERS FROM RIOT ONE YEAR AGO

By Miriam Raftery 

Photos by Henri Migala, Jake Rose, Miriam Raftery, Paul Kruze and Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

June 5, 2021 (La Mesa) – A racial justice protest on May 30, 2020 erupted into a night of looting, vandalism and the burning down of three buildings in La Mesa’s historic downtown district, shocking and terrifying the community.  One year later, however, the city has made strides toward accountability, healing racial rifts, helping businesses that were harmed, and moving forward with rebuilding plans.

LA MESA CITY COUNCIL PLANS FOR SPECIAL ELECTION TO REPLACE DR. WEBER

By Alexa Oslowski

May 31, 2021 (La Mesa) - The La Mesa City Council is on track to fill  Dr. Akilah Weber’s former seat with a special election, but the date remains uncertain. The vacancy occurred after Dr. Weber won a special election to the state Assembly, filling a vacancy left when her mother, Shirley Weber PhD, was appointed Secretary of State.

The Council has until a June 18 deadline to announce an appointment process or call for an election, under the city charter. But on April 27, the Council meeting ended in no decision after a 2-2 vote, with Mayor Mark Arapostathis and Councilman Bill Baber in favor of an election and Councilmen Jack Shu and Colin Parent in favor of an appointment.  So the Council agreed to postpone its decision until the May 11 Council meeting.

On May 11, a still divided Council agreed to monitor the California Secretary of State's office for announcements of the recall election for Governor Gavin Newsom, since a special election for Dr. Weber’s seat would be less costly if timed to coincide with the statewide recall race and should also generate higher voter turnout.

STATE SENATE PASSES BILL TO REVOKE LICENSING FROM POLICE OFFICERS CONVICTED OF SERIOUS CRIMES OR FIRED FOR MISCONDUCT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Bill could revoke licenses from officers such as fired LMPD officer Matt Dages, who is charged with falsifying a police report after a stop involving Amaurie Johnson.

May 28, 2021 (Sacramento)  -- California may soon become the 47th state to require decertification of police officers who conduct serious offenses, an action aimed at ending the option for “bad apple” officers to move to another law enforcement department and potentially reoffend.

The bill would create a new state license for police officers which could be revoked if an officer is convicted of a serious crime or is fired due to misconduct, including violating a person’s civil rights.

LA MESA TO HOST VIRTUAL FLAG DAY PARADE

Source:  City of La Mesa 

May 27, 2021 (La Mesa) - The La Mesa Flag Day Parade will not be held again this year but the annual tradition will be brought to life through a new online event. For this year’s salute to “Old Glory," a two-week long virtual event will run from Monday, May 31 through June 14, 2021. The first 100 households to sign up to participate will receive a take-home kit with activities, themed accessories and a guide to participating in tasks to complete their Flag Day Virtual Parade bingo card. Completed cards can be submitted for an opportunity to win great summer prizes.

LA MESA CHAMBER WELCOMES WINE WORKS AFTER REOPENING

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Sandra Small

May 22, 2021 (La Mesa) - La Mesa Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting to welcome its newest member, Wine Works. The La Mesa winery and tasting room recently reopened to the public after the pandemic shutdown.

GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE DISTRICT HOSTS GRANT FUNDING WORKSHOP TO SUPPORT HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS

Virtual workshop kicks off new grant cycle for nonprofits serving East County

East County News Service

May 21, 2021 (La Mesa) -  Grossmont Healthcare District has announced a free public grants workshop from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Tuesday, June 8, ahead of its upcoming grant cycle opening on July 1, 2021.

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