El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

More shade and power are coming to Santee, courtesy of a partnership between Sportsplex USA-Santee, SolarTech and the City of Santee.  The partnership had a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 27, under the new solar carport attended by guests, Sportsplex staff, city officials, SolarTech executives and the San Diego- East County Chamber of Commerce executives and staff.

Grossmont College’s student fundraiser “Salsa under the Stars,” held on April 13, featuring Manny Cepeda and his Orchestra Classic Salsa Band, offered up the basics of dancing the salsa, a concert listening to Cepeda’s own musical creations and more, all under the stars.

“I’m going to strut my stuff,” said master of ceremonies and student, Ali Aldhalimi. That he did, cracking jokes and espousing passionate introductions.

The dance instructors started the evening off by teaching moves for the classic salsa and others.

The Santee Teen Center will be moving to Big Rock Park Community Services Building and open for business on June 13.  Currently, it is located on Santee Lakes Recreation & Preserve. June 12 is the official last day of school for the Santee School District. There will be no lapse in coverage.

“Originally, in 2001, we were in the Food 4 Less strip center,” said Chris Myers, recreation coordinator for STC. “In 2006 we moved to Santee Lakes.” 

“I ran fast and looked for pretty eggs,” said 4-year-old egg hunt participant Ava Karagianes of La Mesa.  Karagianes was at the Santee Lakes’ Spring Eggstravaganza, held on Mar. 25,  with her mother Lauren and other friends. Lake Five was the focal point of the event.

The Eggstravaganza also offered fun for adults. Family-man Rolando Serrano of San Carlos landed the win in a men’s hula hoop contest.  

It is not just overcoming or managing where to advertise or overseeing day-to-day operations for some entrepreneurs.  For Olandra Ruiz, Sonia Gutierrez and family, it is also overcoming a family history that includes their brother’s murder, homelessness, and more. These entrepreneurs, Ruiz and Gutierrez, opened Natural Delights Juice Bar in La Mesa in the Rancho San Diego Village in November 2016.

Santee United Methodist Church sent a team of two to the First Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Lego League – Southern California Robotics League Qualifying Tournament, or scrimmage, on Feb. 24, at Legoland in Carlsbad. 

Monte Vista High School students, volunteers, and parents participated in the Monte Vista High School Community Clean-Up Day on March 3.  The one-mile route started at the 7-Eleven,  located at 10049 Campo Road, and finished at Butler’s Coffee in the Casa de Oro area in Spring Valley.

Hundreds turned out for the celebration of life and memorial service for retired County of San Diego Sheriff’s Sergeant, Donald Albert Parker, held Mar. 2 at El Cajon’s Shadow Mountain Community Church. Parker passed away from brain cancer on Valentine’s Day. 

“I saw what they did for people.” said Cy Young winner, former San Diego Padres’ pitcher Randy Jones, explaining the motivation for his involvement with the El Cajon’s Home of Guiding Hands, “I saw them help them out.” Jones was at his signature fundraiser for HGH, the Randy Jones Run/Walk for Independence 5K on Feb. 17 at Crown Point Park.

La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis was at the La Mesa Library on Feb. 9 to participate in its Career Day Storytime, along with La Mesa Police Officer Daniel Paugh.

“I wanted to do something fun for the families and community members,” said Veronica Estrada, a librarian II in charge of youth services at the library. Estrada also puts together the regular story times that are typically held Tuesday and Friday.