El Cajon, CA
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Articles by BJ Coleman

Mary England, president and CEO of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce, knows how to throw a business-friendly party. The second annual Spring Fling Business Expo on April 28 was proof of that.

The festive evening gathering, held at the La Mesa Community Center, brought together guests and members of the chamber, who provided drawing prizes to attendees who dropped off business cards at their display tables.

Mission Federal Credit Union has sponsored the annual ArtWalk in Little Italy for 32 years. The 2016 staging of the event occurred over the weekend of April 30-May 1, taking over 15 street blocks for a free, festive and fun showing of artworks from over 350 local, national and international artists. Several artists from East County were there, showing impressive displays of a variety of art pieces.

Where does inspiration for good artwork come from these days? Try asking that question of a budding youthful artist from El Cajon named Jayden Crenshaw. Recently turned 11, Crenshaw might say that inspired art comes from those experiences you enjoy most from living.

Crenshaw loves gaming. And he loves the imagery and graphics he sees as he plays.

Artists, quite notoriously, must take on other jobs in addition to their true passion for creating art, at least until their artwork becomes famous. But local artist Mikaela McLeish discovered an ingenious way to combine the two, earning money from a paying job that allows her to paint at work. In her position as an artist for the business Paints Uncorked, she leads events that make a social occasion out of an evening of art lessons, often staged as fundraisers for charities.

The Olaf Wieghorst Museum and Western Heritage Center is dedicated to preserving and extending appreciation of Western art and culture. In service of programs forwarding that mission, on the evening of April 19, the museum hosted its “Off the Wall Party” gala.

The freshness of spring invites nature’s creatures to venture out, exploring and enjoying the landscape’s greenery and other possibilities for new growth. And springtime usually arrives early each year in locations around the Southwest. That was one major purpose for El Cajon’s Cuyamaca College as site of the 23rd annual Spring Garden Festival on April 23. The no-admission-charge celebration of Western outdoor life attracted an all-ages crowd. Varied events on the morning-through-afternoon schedule also brought in money to support college programs.

The medium was a rarity. At the end of the night, though, she was dead, ruthlessly murdered. But the play was well done.

Marlene D. Best is a longtime East County resident, currently living in Jamul, who has been traveling for business for quite awhile. Not so much, and not so far, anymore.

April 6 is notable in the history of the Olympics, as that day 120 years ago marked the opening of the first modern Olympic games in Athens. The sporting contests had not been held for over 1,600 years, but are now staged every four years. This year is one, with the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympic Games being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during August 5-21, and the companion Paralympics for challenged athletes over the days September 7-18.

La Mesa resident Megan Stockham could tell you about the benefits and challenges of being a military veteran. Formerly an electronics technician with the U.S. Navy, Stockham became a full-time student at Grossmont College, working as a nanny to earn money supporting her studies, while her husband continues serving in the Navy. On a recent college class field trip to the Salton Sea, Stockham was seriously injured. She was swallowed up to her waist in a collapsing thermally heated mud pit, which caused severe burns to her legs.