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La Mesa News Briefs – Aug. 24, 2018

Local group receives grant

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) awarded The Casa de Oro Alliance with a $500,000 grant to improve the Campo Road business corridor in East County.

The money is part of SANDAG’s Smart Growth Incentive Program, funded by the half-cent Transnet tax. It will be used to design a plan on how to upgrade the area that has been in decay, according to Bob Yarris, the Alliance’s chairman.

“We desperately need a specific plan with comprehensive design guidelines to put an end to the chaotic, unorganized proliferation of high-risk adult businesses,” Yarris said.

SANDAG voted unanimously to approve the grant that board member and La Mesa City Councilmember Kristine Alessio thinks will benefit surrounding communities.

“As Casa de Oro is right across from my house, the jurisdictions run very close,” said Alessio, who is also on the SANDAG board. “I am so thrilled with this citizens group, I am so thrilled with the county of San Diego and Supervisor Jacob and I am so thrilled that they are getting this.

“I grew up wandering around Casa de Oro, and it has changed. And I look forward to it once again…being the city of gold,” she said.

The Casa de Oro Alliance was formed after the East County Youth Coalition assessed the liquor stores along Campo Road and found that all of them were out of compliance with state regulations, according to the group’s website. When the youth coalition presented its results to residents and business owners in Casa de Oro, the community mobilized into the Alliance.

“I look at Campo Road and I’ve seen this go on for 20 years,” said Roy Davies, an Alliance member and Mt. Helix resident. “This has been truly a community effort.”

The grant application said the money would be used to develop a specific plan for the Campo Road corridor, including a form-based-code and design guidelines, and would establish a framework to guide future private investment to transform the area into an inviting, compact, walkable and bikeable environment.

For more information about Casa de Oro, visit

Ice arena reopens

Following renovations that kept it closed nearly all of July, The Kroc Center Ice Arena has reopened with a new floor and new Olympia ice resurfacing machine, named Joan’s Jett. The ice machine got its name from a contest held on the Kroc Center Ice Arena’s Facebook page.

The new ice resurfacing machine (Facebook)

Sessions on the ice cost $10 per person, including skate rental. Open skate sessions are available at varying times on Mondays, Wednesdays and weekends. For more information, visit

Sharp opens new heart center

On Friday, July 27, Sharp Grossmont Hospital announced the name of the Burr Heart & Vascular Center at its ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The facility was named in recognition of La Mesa residents and EDCO owners Ed and Sandy Burr, who donated $5 million toward the facility — the largest gift ever made to the hospital.

The biplane cardiac catheterization lab in the new heart and vascular center is used for complex neurological, cardiac and interventional radiology cases (Photo by Cece Photo)

“We believe in giving back to the community where we have been fortunate to grow our business for many years. EDCO and Sharp Grossmont Hospital have both had a huge presence in East County for decades,” said Ed Burr. “We have grown together and will continue to thrive for many years to come. Sharp Grossmont has been there for us when we needed it, so it is our honor to support a cause that has such an impact on so many of us in East County.”

The Burr Heart & Vascular Center at Sharp Grossmont Hospital is the only dedicated cardiovascular center in East San Diego County. The whole project cost $115 million in total and features 71,000-square-feet and three floors of services including three cardiac catheterization labs, multipurpose operating rooms and expanded pharmacy and lab areas.

The center will also offer a variety of diagnostic tests, treatments, services and surgeries to benefit patients with congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease and atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm).

For more information about the Burr Heart & Vascular Center, visit

Stuff the Bus campaign a success

More than 231,000 school supplies were donated throughout San Diego County in the six-week Stuff the Bus campaign, conducted by the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) and San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU), for students experiencing homelessness.

“It is powerful to see the generosity of our community when it comes to supporting students who need it the most,” said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools in a press release. “As a father myself and a long-time educator, I know what a difference it makes to be able to start a new school year with a backpack full of supplies. Being ready to learn lays the foundation for a bright future for every child.”

A Stuff the Bus campaign bus (Courtesy SDCOE)

This year, Stuff the Bus filled the requests of 40 school districts and 21 charter schools. Homelessness affects all of San Diego County, from urban city centers to suburban school districts, from the mountains to the border to the coast. Homelessness for school-age children can mean living in a shelter, living in a car or trailer, or sharing a residence with other families. More than 22,000 school-age children were identified as homeless during the 2016-17 school year.

Stuff the Bus included an online component, collection bins at SDCOE and SDCCU sites, iHeartRadio promotions at several local Walmart stores, including Grossmont Center and the signature feature – two brightly decorated school buses roaming the county collecting donations.

The massive task of sorting the hundreds of thousands of supplies and stuffing backpacks with grade-appropriate materials was covered by volunteers and employees from SDCOE and SDCCU.

Some of the items collected include 6,096 backpacks, 35,280 pencils, 23,992 markers, 12,360 packs of notepaper, 17,486 pens and 7,380 glue sticks.

“San Diego is such a generous community,” said Dr. Michelle Lustig, SDCOE’s director of foster youth and homeless education services. “Not only do our friends and neighbors take the time to buy supplies or make monetary donations, they also give their time, sorting through the hundreds of thousands of school supplies and filling backpacks, all to make sure the most vulnerable children in our community can start the school year right.”

Source: La Mesa Currier

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