El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Cynthia Robertson

The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce helped Cucina Basilico, one of its newest members, hold a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on July 19 at the restaurant. Owners Francesca and Danilo De Corato and their partners Stefano and Sara Panzeri had nearly 60 people attending a warm, welcoming dinner party.

On July 17, La Mesa Beautiful presented 13 La Mesa residences with the Spirit Award. Each of them were recognized for beautification of their yards without using grass using drought tolerant landscaping.

The Spirit Award is so named, President Sharon Fitzpatrick explained, for the spirit of community demonstrated by these individuals. The award winners were each given a new permanent sign that can be placed in the yard or on a fence where others will see that the yard has been recognized by LMB.

When individuals and companies in East County need to throw a good party, who do they call? Continental Catering, located in La Mesa, has been the go-to place for memorable events. Established 32 years ago, the catering company how has 20 full time and 80 part time employees. President and owner Denise Jermyn, who also calls herself a peanut butter connoisseur, is the brain behind the company.

A little more than ten years ago, Khem Kharel opened a small Italian and Indian eatery in the strip mall at the corner of El Cajon Boulevard and Baltimore Drive. The place was always chockfull of diners lured in by the delicious aromas. 

The people especially raved about the Nepalese menu items. As a result, Kharel, who is a native of Kathmandu, Nepal, decided to concentrate on Himalayan cuisine. In January 2012, he officially opened Himalayan Cuisine, expanding the restaurant space to 5,885 square feet.

Something brand-new got a jump-start in La Mesa on April 30. GodStrongDance, a dance venue of contemporary Christian music, debuted at the American Legion in La Mesa. Its creator Patty Loy was DJ for the evening, playing familiar songs such as “Greater” by Mercyme.

All the people on the floor below her were smiling and clapping—and dancing. 

Contrary to its funny-sounding name, no sour faces can be found on the people who play pickleball at the Lakeside Community Center. There are, however, a lot of healthy laughs and big smiles, as on the evening of May 1 when about 25 players gathered to play.

Debra Childers, founder of Feeding the Flock, has friends everywhere. And those friends are always willing to help those who have less than they do. Wherever she goes, from church to lunch meetings, from Wells Park in El Cajon to Smart and Final stores, not only does Childers get lots of smiles, she ends up with a bounty of blessings and armloads of food for whoever needs them.

“We’ve grown so big that we have to have a fundraiser now, our first really big one for the public,” said Childers.

It was another history-making weekend in Santee from April 22 through April 25. Volunteers had the unique opportunity of painting a panel of six murals on the Magnolia Street bridge underpass next to the Walker Preserve Trail along the San Diego River. Renowned mural artist Lori Escalera oversaw the work of the volunteers. 

“This is cool,” said Maya Clark, a Santee resident. She was painting berries on one of the panels. 

Photography by Scott Streit and Gerald Tietje are featured in this month’s exhibit, “Focus on Nature: Beaks and Peaks” at Mission Trails Regional Park in the Visitor’s Center. The beauty of the photographs in this exhibit proves that photography is indeed art.

Favorite subjects of both Streit and Tietje are birds. Streit said that bird photography is so much more than pointing a camera and shooting.

El Cajon resident Sue Slaughter has a mission in mind. She wants to educate as many people as she can about the beauty and purpose of monarch butterflies. It all started when she purchased a monarch chrysalis at a nature event just a few years ago.

At first she thought the chrysalis was dead because nothing happened for a week. Then all of a sudden it started changing colors.