El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Gary E. Mitrovich

When your phone rings at four in the morning, it’s rarely good news. When Ben Clevenger’s phone rang on March 26, 2016, he decided not to answer it. Ben is one of the owners of the Eastbound Bar and Grill in historic Downtown Lakeside. Noting the call was from the business’ security company, he felt he didn’t need to answer. But when the wife of one of his partners called shortly thereafter, Ben picked up. He heard the words no business owner ever wants to hear: his place was on fire.

What is STEM? It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. STEM is an idea of teaching students these four basic areas as an integrated curriculum, rather than four separate subjects. The United States has always been a leader in these fields, but it seems fewer students have been focusing on these subjects in recent years. So, in an effort to motivate and inspire students to excel in these subjects, the STEM initiative was established in 2009.

If you were fortunate enough to have visited Lakeside’s VFW a few weekends ago, you would have seen some remarkable art displayed. The Woman’s Club of Lakeside presented its 24th Annual Children’s Art Show on February 10 and 11. Students from all over Lakeside – from Kindergarten to 12th grade – entered the event designed to showcase the incredible talent in our local schools. Exactly 1,111 pieces of art were submitted – the largest number yet.

On Feb. 2, 14 men and women proudly graduated from the East County Drug Court. The completion of the 18-month program was celebrated with friends and family in a well attended ceremony at the Lakeside Community Center. The occasion was one of joy and hope as each graduate embarked on a positive course for a better future.

It appears a mountain lion has taken up residence on Rattlesnake Mountain, in the Winter Gardens community of Lakeside.

Rattlesnake Mountain is the common name of the peak north of Pepper Road and west of Winter Gardens Boulevard (where the Christmas star is seen every year). Much of the mountain is permanent open space (overseen by the Center for Natural Lands Management) and most of it is in the City of Santee, known as the community of Sky Ranch. But the eastern slope and the homes along Golden Ridge Road is Lakeside.

Lakeside residents and the community in general have been waiting many years for the restoration of Lindo Lake, the namesake of our fair town.  The Lindo Lake Subcommittee has been working diligently for months now, trying to mold the many and often disparate ideas into one realistic and doable plan. The plan is now at the 90% stage. It’s almost done.

On the evening of Jan. 6, the El Capitan Stadium Association hosted a “Steaks and Steins” dinner to kick off their yearly sponsorship drive for the 53rd Annual Lakeside Rodeo in April. Their motto of “Working together for the youth of Lakeside” was reflected in the number and variety of community organizations in attendance. Their respective leaders shared ideas and what their organizations do for Lakeside.

Nothing starts a new year off right than a quick review of the past year. It’s always interesting to see how far we’ve come and startling to realize how quickly time passes. So here’s a little “Around Lakeside” perspective, covering some of the things we covered in 2016.

Santa Claus and his wife visited the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds this past Saturday, much to the delight of hundreds of kids and their parents. The cloudy brisk morning felt as much like winter as we get here in the San Diego region, which only added to the excitement and joyous holiday spirit. Children of all ages were treated not only to a visit (and a photo) with Santa, but to a hot meal, some holiday entertainment, and wagon rides — all for free.

There’s something about this time of year that brings out the joy of “small town” living. Whether we are here by choice or by circumstance, the holidays remind us of how fortunate we are to live in Lakeside. Leave it to the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our good fortune with its annual Spirit of Christmas event on Dec. 3.