La Mesa/Mt. Helix

COUNCILMAN PARENT LOSES POLICE UNION ENDORSEMENT AFTER VOTE FOR POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD, ALSO DRAWS SCRUTINY OVER DONATIONS

By Miriam Raftery

October 15, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Police Officers Association (LMPOA) announced yesterday that it has withdrawn its endorsement of Councilman Colin Parent.  The LMPOA cites several reasons for its withdrawal, which was announced the day after Parent cast the deciding vote on a 3-2 Council decision to establish a police oversight board.  Parent joined with Mayor Mark Arapostathis and Councilmember Akilah Weber to pass the measure over the objections of the LMPOA, which had requested the ordinance first go through a meet-and-confer process so that the officers’ union could request changes.

The two Councilmembers who voted against the police oversight board,  Kristine Alessio and Bill Baber, have both been endorsed by the LMPOA previously.

Officially, the LMPOA offered these reasons for withdrawing its endorsement of Councilman Parent.  “Ever since he aggressively sought and received our endorsement earlier this year, Councilmember Parent has become untrustworthy and unreliable. Whether it was his lack of transparency with the citizens of La Mesa regarding the homeless housing facility, or his broken commitment to protect the rights of workers, we can no longer in good conscience continue to recommend to the citizens of La Mesa that Colin Parent deserves your vote.”


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LA MESA COMMISSIONS TO HOST EVENT ON YOUTH IN THE AGE OF COVID-19 OCT. 28

Source: City of La Mesa

 

Photo: CC by SA

 

October 15, 2020 (La Mesa) - The City of La Mesa Community Relations and Veterans Commission along with the Youth Advisory Commission have scheduled a round table discussion event titled LIVABLE LA MESA: Youth in the Age of COVID-19, to take place on Wednesday, October 28 at 6:00 p.m. The goal of the 90 minute virtual event is to foster a dialog on how changes due to COVID-19 have affected the everyday lives of families. Panelists from the La Mesa Spring Valley School District and the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency will be on hand to provide tips and tools.

 


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LA MESA HOSTS ANNUAL PARK APPRECIATION DAY

Source:  City of La Mesa

October 15, 2020 (La Mesa) - The public is invited to participate in the City of La Mesa’s annual Park Appreciation Day on Saturday, October 24, 2020 from 8:00 a.m. to noon.  Projects are arranged for households to remain socially distanced while helping beautify La Mesa parks and public spaces. Volunteers are requested to sign-up ahead of time for their project at http://bit.ly/ParkAppreciation2020  or by calling 619.667.1300.


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STUDENTS ROBBED AT GUNPOINT NEAR GROSSMONT HIGH: POLICE SEEK TIPS ON SUSPECTS IN BLUE NISSAN SENTRA

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 14, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police seek public help to locate suspects in a blue Nissan Sentra who reportedly robbed three Grossmont High School students in front of the Shell Gas Station on Murray Drive at 12:45 p.m. today.  
 
The students were walking near the station when the Nissan’s driver pulled into the gas station driveway, stopped na got out of the car. He demanded money from the students while a passenger pointed a handgun at the students.
 
After taking the students’ money, the driver got back into the vehicle, which appeared to have multiple passengers. The driver is described as a light-skinned Hispanic male around 17 or 18 years old with brown eyes, a mustache and groomed eyebrows, according to a police bulletin.  The second suspect is described as Hispanic, age 18-19, with wavy black hair with light tips, wearing an orange long-sleeved shirt.

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HIGHLIGHTS AND VIDEOS OF ALL SIX LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

 

 

Updated with highlights from all three participating candidates' statements during the forum, plus links to interviews with three other candidates who were not available for the forum.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: left to right: Allan Durden, Colin Parent, Mark Papenfuss, Kristine Alessio, Jack Shu, Laura Lothian

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) -- At East County Magazine's virtual forum for La Mesa City Council candidates last month, candidates offered their ideas for addressing the compelling issues facing the city including police/racial justice/public safety issues in the wake of protests and a riot, downtown redevelopment, housing, homelessness, budget priorities, COVID-19 relief and more.

Three of the six candidates running participated in the forum: Councilman Colin Parent, as well as challengers Allan Durden and Jack Shu.

To view video of candidate forum, click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH6GkbU9ayo&t=3085s

To read highlights of the forum, and more information on all candidates, scroll down.

Three other candidates were unable to participate in the forum due to schedule conflicts, but provided separate video interviews via Zoom, which are posted below, along with highlights of their statements:


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KRISTINE ALESSIO RUNS ON HER EXPERIENCE, OFFERS POLITICAL INDEPEDENCE ON LA MESA CITY COUNCIL

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – East County Magazine held a video interview via Zoom with Councilwoman Kristine Alessio, since she could not participate in our recent candidate form. She is one of six candidates running for two seats on the La Mesa City Council.

A native of La Mesa, she’s served on the Council since 2012 and was previously a planning commissioner. She holds a law degree and has been the city’s representative on SANDAG. She is also a former board member on the East County YMCA and East County Boys and Girls Club.  As candidate not aligned with a political party, she says she can represent all La Mesans, equally and fairly. She says La Mesa needs experienced leadership in the COVID-19 pandemic, a business friendly environment, public safety and preservation of neighborhood character.

Scroll down for highlights, or click here to view the full video interview:   https://youtu.be/GU7MibN3GlI


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LAURA LOTHIAN AIMS TO BRING BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE TO LA MESA CITY COUNCIL

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – Laura Lothian is one of six candidates running for La Mesa City Council. ECM recently held a video interview via ZOOM with Lothian, she since was unable to participate in our candidate forum due to a scheduling conflict.

A realtor with a business in the downtown village, she is running to bring a business perspective to the City Council. She wants to reduce regulations and provide more freedoms for business owners. Beautifying the village area is also a priority of hers. Lothian serves on the La Mesa Village Association board  and has previously run for both council and mayor.

The interview covered a wide range of issues including the needs of local businesses, beautifying  La Mesa, police issues, housing and homelessness, and more.

Scroll down for highlights of our interview, or click here to view the full video interviewhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HCss3QqeEk


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MARK PAPENFUSS AIMS TO HELP LA MESA FORGE A NEW PATH

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – Mark Papenfuss, one of six candidates running for the La Mesa City Council, missed our candidate forum last month due to a family emergency but participated in a separate interview on Zoom.

 He shared his views on ideas for La Mesa’s downtown village, improving racial justice and public safety, housing and homelessness, the pandemic, and the need to in his words, help La Mesa “rise from the ashes” after a riot and fires by forging a new path for the future.  He touts his business experience and the need for leaders who are free of conflicts of interest or developer donations.

Scroll down for highlights from our interview, or click here to view the full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugPdqOtqHCY&feature=youtu.be


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DECEPTIVE MAILERS TARGET VOTERS IN GROSSMONT-UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa – El Cajon) – Republican Jim Stieringer, who is running for the Grossmont Union High School District’s Area 2 seat, has sent a deceptive mailer to some voters in La Mesa, El Cajon, Mt. Helix and Casa de Oro.  It reads, “East County Voters – Let’s support our progressive team!”  The flyer includes photos of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, as well as Democratic Congressional candidates Ammar Campa-Najjar and Sara Jacobs, Democratic Assemblymember Shirley Weber, and Stieringer.

There are three candidates in the race. Although this is officially a nonpartisan race and party affiliations do not appear on the ballot, both major parties have made endorsements. Elva Salinas, the incumbent and a community college professor, is the only candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party as well as the teacher’s union. The other two candidates, Stieringer and Justin Slagle, have both been long-serving Republicans but only Slagle is endorsed by the GOP.

Stieringer also refers to himself as the “high school district’s newest member” on the flip side of the mailer. He fails to mention that he lost reelection as a GUHSD trustee to Salinas in 2016 when the district shifted from at-large elections to trustee districts.


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LA MESA-SPRING VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION, PART ONE: AREA 4

By Robin N. Kendall

Photo:  Area 4 candidates Emma Turner, Abu-Bakr Al Jafri, and Sarah Rhiley

October 7, 2020 (La Mesa-Spring Valley) -- Two out of five trustee seats will be on the ballot this year for certain residents of the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District. One seat is held by current Board President Dr. Emma Turner, who is running for re-election against four opponents in Area 4. This area includes Bancroft, Sweetwater Springs and Loma Elementary Schools. Five candidates are running, and three sent in responses to our questionnaire.  Scroll down to view responses from Emma Turner, Sarah Rhiley, and Abu-Bakr Al-Jafri.

The other trustee seat was filled by Jim Long, whose term has expired. That seat will be filled by a newcomer from Area 5 which includes Avondale, Rancho, and La Presa Elementary Schools, as well as STEAM Academy and Kempton Literacy Academy. The Area 5 race will be covered in part two of this series.


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GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE DISTRICT AND CHAMPIONS FOR HEALTH HOSTING FREE DRIVE-THRU FLU SHOT CLINIC THIS SATURDAY MORNING

East County News Service

October 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – This Saturday, October 10, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Grossmont Healthcare District is partnering with Champions for Health and County of San Diego to provide free flu shots to the East San Diego community. To reduce the chances of a severe COVID-19 and flu combination, receiving this season’s vaccination is more crucial than ever. Everyone qualifies to receive a free flu shot, including those uninsured or underinsured, pregnant women, and children 9 years of age and older. Fresh produce distribution and giveaways for kids also available while supplies last.           


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DRIVE-THROUGH HALLOWEEN TRICK OR TREAT WITH LA MESA POLICE AND HEARTLAND FIRE

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 8, 2020 (La Mesa) – Spooked by COVID-19?  La Mesa Police Department and Heartland Fire, which serves La Mesa, invites children to don costumes and enjoy a Halloween Drive-Thru Trick or Trick event on Saturday, October 31 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the police station parking lot.

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LA MESA-SPRING VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION, PART TWO, AREA 5

By Robin N. Kendall
 
October 8, 2020 (La Mesa-Spring Valley) -- Voters in the southern part of Spring Valley will have a choice of four candidates to fill the open seat for trustee on the La Mesa Spring Valley School District Board. The seat was previously filled by Jim Long, whose term has expired. This part of the district is called Area 5 and includes Avondale, Rancho, and La Presa Elementary Schools, as well as STEAM Academy and Kempton Literacy Academy.

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GROSSMONT UNION HIGH SCHOOL TRUSTEE ELECTION: AREA 2

By Robin N. Kendall
 
Photo: GUHSD Area 2 candidates Elva Salinas, Jim Stieringer, and Justin Slagle
 
October 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Voters in East County’s Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) Area No. 2 will need to study the candidates carefully to choose their next trustee. Three candidates with divergent views will help chart the course for the area’s teens and next generation of workers and college students. 

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LA MESANS SHARE CONCERNS OVER PROTEST AND RIOT RESPONSE IN VIRTUAL LISTENING SESSION

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 7, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa residents voiced their concerns over the La Mesa Police Department response to the May 30 civil unrest and riot, also offering suggestions for future improvements in an online listening session held last night by Hillard Heintze, the firm hired by the city to conduct an independent investigation. 

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LA MESA CREDIT UNION ROBBERY SUSPECT IN CUSTODY, CASH RECOVERED

East County News Service

October 3, 2020 (La Mesa) – A suspect accused of brandishing a knife and demanding cash from a teller during robbery of the Navy Federal Credit Union on Grossmont. Blvd. in La Mesa on September 30 is in custody.

After the robbery around 10:02 a.m., the suspect fled the scene in a vehicle with an undisclosed amount of currency. He was located driving away from the area by responding La Mesa Police Department officers and followed to the 4500 block of Winona Avenue in San Diego, where a traffic stop was initiated.


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REVIEW OF NICETIES - HISTORICAL DIVERSITY AT THE MOXIE THEATRE THROUGH OCT. 4

By Kathy Carpenter

October 3, 2020 (La Mesa) - Moxie Theatre finds a way to bring us entertaining digital theatre with Niceties by Elenor Burgess. The play is powerful, thought provoking, emotionally challenging entertainment--perfectly timed for the climate of the country.


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LA MESA POLICE RELEASE NUMEROUS PHOTOS OF SUSPECTS WHO LOOTED PIERRE’S JEWELERS ON MAY 30-31

25 arrests made so far, including 4 La Mesa residents
 
East County News Service
 
September 29, 2020 (La Mesa) -- As a result of the civil unrest event that occurred in La Mesa on May 30th – May 31st, 2020, over 50 crimes, including arson, vandalism, burglary, and theft, were reported by victims and documented by the La Mesa Police Department. Although the exact amount of damage is still being calculated, it can be reported that these crimes resulted in millions of dollars of losses to victims in the local area.

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FIRM INVESTIGATING LA MESA CIVIL UNREST HOSTS COMMUNITY LISTENING SESSION OCT. 6

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 27, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa residents are invited to participate in community listening session on Tuesday, October 6 at 7 p.m.  Hillard Heintze, the firm hired to conduct an independent investigation into the civil unrest and rioting that occurred on May 30 wants to hear your feedback and recommendations.

The meeting will be held online via Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings. Click here to register. If you have any questions, email Robert Boehmer at robert.boehmer@hillardheintze.com.


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COUNTY SUPERVISORS WITHDRAW HOMELESS PROJECT IN LA MESA AFTER CITY’S CONCERNS OVER LACK OF TRANSPARENCY, BACKDOOR DEALINGS

By Miriam Raftery and Briana Gomez

September 24, 2020 (La Mesa) – By a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors voted to withdraw its application for state grant funding to convert the Holiday Inn motel on Parkway Drive in La Mesa into a Homekey transitional living and long-term supportive housing facility for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.


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A SMALL TOWN’S HISTORIC LANDSCAPE: HISTORY OF THE THREE BUILDINGS LOST ON MAY 30TH REVEALS LA MESA’S INTERTWINED COMMERCIAL PAST

The following article on the buildings that burned during civil unrest in La Mesa appeared in the Fall Issue of Lookout Avenue, newsletter of the La Mesa Historical Society.  It is reprinted here with permission.  To learn more about the Greater La Mesa area’s history, visit lamesahistory.com or their Facebook site.

By James D. Newland, La Mesa Historical Society

 

Photo, above: First National Trust/Piggly Wiggly Building (1942), 4767 Palm Avenue, Edmund Dunn, master builder. Randall Lamb Engineering, rehab designers. May 2020.

 

September 20, 2020 (La Mesa) - Almost immediately after the tragic destruction of three recognizable commercial buildings on the evening of May 30th-31st, the Society and myself began to receive requests for information on the history of the three iconic architectural staples of downtown La Mesa’s historic landscape.  Upon gathering the stories of each of these prominent, long-standing commercial buildings it became clear that they had unrecognized historical connections to each other, as well as with other buildings and sites within downtown’s contextual history.

Photo, right: Imperial Savings/Chase Bank (1973), Richard George Wheeler, architect. 4791 Spring Street, May 2020.

For more recent La Mesa residents the presence of these three commercial buildings, the First National Bank/Piggly Wiggly Market (1942) at 4757 Palm, the Imperial Savings/Chase Bank (1973) at 4791 Spring, and the Southern California First National/Union Bank (1974) at 4771 Spring may have had little personal connection.  Unless you were a customer of the two banks or a client to the Randall Lamb engineering firm that had masterfully rehabilitated that Palm Avenue building, you may not have ever gone inside any of them.

Photo, below: Southern California First National/Union Bank (1974), 4771 Spring Street, Russell Forster, architect. May 2020.


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LA MESA OKTOBERFEST GOES VIRTUAL OCT. 2-4 WITH STREAMING OOMPAH BANDS, BREWMASTER TASTINGS AND PARTY PACKS TO GO

Now you can lounge in your lederhosen at home, or shop specials in the village

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

August 25, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Since 1973, the La Mesa Oktoberfest has been attracting Oktoberfest revelers from across San Diego and Southern California for three free days of festive live music, German food, and steins filled to the brim with German and Craft Beer! In light of  COVID-19 safety protocols, the La Mesa Oktoberfest this year brings you a reimagined weekend of festivities, keeping with this La Mesa tradition with a free La Mesa Oktoberfest Online that you can savor at home—or an optional “Party Pack” upgrade.


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DINING AL FRESCO AT ANTICA TRATTORIA

By Miriam Raftery

September 19, 2020 (La Mesa) – Antica Trattoria is one of the latest restaurants to set up space outdoors for aficionados of fine Italian foods to enjoy al fresco dining amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  My husband feasted on Cioppino, a seafood stew that originated in San Francisco, while I enjoyed Parmigiana Di Melenzane, a Sicilian-style eggplant dish. Both were excellent.

The restaurant has created a raised wooden deck with latticework side and outdoor lighting in the parking lot at its location on Lake Murray Blvd., a relatively quiet street at nighttime.  There are also tables along the walkway in front of the restaurant.


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HOMELESS HOUSING PROPOSED AT HOLIDAY INN: LA MESA HOLDS SPECIAL MEETING MONDAY, SUPERVISORS REVOTE TUESDAY ON PROJECT PUSHED THROUGH WITHOUT NOTICE TO CITY OR RESIDENTS

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

File photo: cart at a homeless camp in Spring Valley

Updated with information on additional actions La Mesa has taken in the past week and will consider this week to help its homeless residents.

View background report provided to council members

September 17, 2020 (La Mesa) – The state and county want to convert a Holiday Inn in La Mesa to provide 139 units of transitional housing for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless due to COVID-19.  Supervisors initially approved an application to the state for the “Homekey” project on Sept. 15 with no prior notification to the city of La Mesa, residents or businesses nearby. 


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MEDICAL EXAMINER RELEASES NAMES OF EAST COUNTY CRASH VICTIMS AND BODY FOUND ON HIKING TRAIL

East County News Service
 
Photo: Kiana Taylor's Facebook, SDSU Class of 2020, tossing her graduation hat in May 2020
 
September 17, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The County Medical Examiner has released the identities of victims who lost their lives in several East County accidents over the past two weeks including two lives lost in a fiery multi-vehicle crash near La Mesa, a pedestrian killed in El Cajon, a missing Lake Morena camper found dead in Hauser Valley, a Borrego pickup truck driver killed in a rollover crash, and a motorcyclist who died at the scene of a crash in rural Alpine.
 
Kiana Taylor, 22, of Poway died September 11, 2020 after a vehicle fire resulting from a collision on Sept. 9 that occurred at the intersection of 70th Street and El Cajon Boulevard in San Diego, on the border of La Mesa.  A vehicle entered the intersection and struck her vehicle, causing it to collide with other vehicles and catch fire. She was transported to UCSD Medical Center, where she died two days later of burns and abdominal blunt force injuries. 
 
Casey Diane Hargis, 22, of San Diego was a passenger in the same vehicle in the accident above when it was struck, pushed into other vehicles and burst into flames. After 911 was called, she was transported by paramedics to UCSD Medical Center and died the next day of vascular injuries from pelvic fractures.

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VIEW INTERVIEWS WITH LA MESA COUNCIL CANDIDATES KRISTINE ALESSIO AND LAURA LOTHIAN

By Miriam Raftery

September 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – ECM held ZOOM virtual interviews with La Mesa City Councilwoman Kristine Alessio and realtor Laura Lothian, who were unable to attend our candidate forum last week. The candidates discussed the major issues facing La Mesa including the city’s response to protests, housing and homeless, downtown redevelopment, help for local businesses, racial justice and policing and more. 


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2020 LA MESA CITY COUNCIL VIRTUAL CANDIDATE FORUM SEPT. 23 HOSTED BY METHODIST CHURCH

East County News Service

 
September 9, 2020 (La Mesa) - Six candidates. Two seats. Find out where La Mesa’s City Council candidates stand on important issues.

 

La Mesa First United Methodist Church will host a Virtual La Mesa City Council Candidate Forum on Wednesday, September 23, 2020, at 6:45 p.m. The forum will be held via Zoom and moderated by Pastor Christian DeMent.


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SHOW TIME! EAST COUNTY MOVIE THEATERS REOPEN

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 3, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The  magic of movies on the big screen returns after months of shutdowns due to COVID-19. 

Two major theater chains, Reading Cinemas International (NASDAQ: RDI) and Regal, announced reopenings this week of cinemas including several locations in East County (La Mesa, El Cajon and Rancho San Diego) featuring long-awaited new-release films.

Both chains have also rolled out new procedures to protect guests  in compliance with CDC health guidelines and state safety regulations.


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LA MESA RENTAL ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAM APPLICATIONS CLOSED

Source: City of La Mesa

September 2, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Due to high demand for La Mesa's Rental Assistance Program, Home Start has closed their application form as of 6:00 p.m. on Monday, August 31.

Residents whose applications are currently under review will be contacted by a Home Start representative within the next two weeks for follow up.


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LA MESA VILLAGE ASSOCIATION TO IMPLEMENT DECORATIVE FLAGPOLE BANNERS IN DOWNTOWN LA MESA VILLAGE

Source: La Mesa Village Association
 
September 2, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Village Association (LMVA) has announced that they are coordinating the installation of lamp post banners along La Mesa Blvd. between Acacia and 4th Street in the heart of downtown La Mesa to further promote the City of La Mesa, local downtown businesses and events as well as bring additional beautification to the Village.

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