El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Gary E. Mitrovich

Todd Owens and his volunteer crew have been picking up trash in Lakeside – one street at a time – for almost a year and a half now.

So, is this working – is Lakeside any cleaner now than it was in July 2017?

“I think so,” said Todd, just before he let out on his continuing quest to make his community a little better place to live. “I mean, we were picking up 100 bags of trash every time at first. Now, we’re averaging about 30 bags a day. So I think we’re having an impact.”

While Lakesiders have been wrestling with the El Monte San Mining Project and, to a lesser extent, the Food-Scraps-to-Energy Project set for Moreno Valley, a third major project planned for the community is quietly winding its way through the process.

The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is currently in the midst of its required 30-day public comment period for their Draft Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration. The deadline for public input is Oct. 15, a date fast approaching for a major plan that could impact Lakeside for years to come.

Lakeside residents made a good showing on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at the public comment meeting for the El Monte Sand Mining Project. About 500 folks filled the Lakeside Community Center and dozens spoke out against the project. Others protested with signs, applause and shout-outs. If any were in support of the project, they did not make themselves evident, though the mastermind behind the sand mining – Bill Adams – was identified in the audience.

He sat stoically and silently throughout the meeting.

The third annual Touch-A-Truck Lakeside Edition is now one for the books.

The popular local event was held from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16. While the attendance had yet to be tallied at press time, estimates put the number at about 1,700 people, somewhat higher than last year.

After a decade of dormancy, the Kiwanis Club is returning to Lakeside.

Kiwanis is a worldwide organization active in more than 80 nations with some 600,000 members. The group is dedicated to improving the lives of children, “one community at a time,” except in Lakeside, where Kiwanis faded away back in 2005.

A longtime Lakeside organization closes: After nearly 50 years of operation on Willow Road, the Calvary Ranch Drug and Alcohol Recovery Facility will be closing down. The surprising announcement came through a letter sent out from Paulette McAloon, co-founder of the ranch. Ms. McAloon thanked her faith partners for their support over the past 47 years.

“Calvary Ranch has been like a home to many people, whether they were struggling with addiction, attending our church or just visiting for the day,” said McAloon in the letter.

Another land use controversy has arisen in Lakeside, this time in the Moreno Valley.

The scenario has a familiar feel: the BioGas Corporation wants to build a food-scraps-to-energy plant on Highway 67 as part of a mandate to increase renewable energy sources the county. The community is against the idea and has lined up to oppose the plan.

It is a case of good news and bad news for the Van Ommering Dairy in the El Monte Valley.

Bad news first: the last dairy in Lakeside is no longer milking cows for commercial purposes. The good news? The local business icon is not going anywhere.

Longtime Pastor Bob Mentze of the Lakeside Community Presbyterian Church is stepping away from the pulpit after 34 years of service.

A native of San Diego, Mentze graduated from Crawford High School and then San Diego State University. He went to seminary at San Francisco Theological. His first call was in Escondido, at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, serving as an associate pastor for more than six years. 

It may not be too much of a stretch to say that if you live in Lakeside, you have heard of Edna Kouns.

Edna is an icon of the community and its most senior citizen – and she recently celebrated her 104th year.

This past weekend, a close group of friends and family gathered to honor Edna at her Lakeside home of 82 years where she still resides. The party could have been ten times larger, but the family takes care not to wear out the longtime resident.