El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Marcus Luttrell, the man the book and movie ‘Lone Survivor’ were based on, was just one of the speakers at Clever Talks, on May 16, at the NBPL Admiral Kidd Catering and Conference Center. 

A La Mesa resident, Hillary Manalac, is vice-president of Clever Talks. She is one of the forces behind creating this event and organization.

“I was born in National City, moved to La Mesa a decade ago,” said Manalac. “Chris (Soriano) and I were journalists.  He was working in Arizona, we met at an Asian journalism association.”

Lakeside, Los Angeles, San Diego, Calexico, and more were ‘in the house.’ 

‘The house,’ this time, was a house of worship named Christ Community Church in El Centro, California. On the evening of May 8, some audience members drove hundreds of miles to see a comedy show with a headliner by the name of John Crist.

Hyde Art Gallery, located on El Cajon’s Grossmont College’s campus, held their last art show for the academic year 2017-2018. 

The show, a student art show, runs from May 7-25.

On May 15, the gallery held a reception, catered by the college’s hospitality students, with an estimated 300 in attendance according to Alex DeCosta, director of the gallery.

Categories included sculpture, jewelry, painting, drawing, ceramics, photography and digital photography.

Grossmont College’s music department provided music.

Frog-leg beetle in that floral bouquet or terrarium?

That is one of the options for customers at Danielle Sanchez’s The Floral Craft; a floral shop located on Fletcher Parkway next to Flour Power Bakery. That beetle, and others, are on display in a glass case, at her shop.

Taxidermied bugs are just an option for Sanchez among all the creations she crafts. Weddings, dog-house roses, an everyday pick-me-up bouquet, are all within her abilities and inventory.

Encore Capital Group, Inc. and the San Diego Habitat for Humanity (SDHH) partnered with the City of El Cajon to build themed playhouses and construct fences in a vacant lot on El Cajon’s Ballantyne Street. Dozens of volunteers traded in their Saturday morning, April 28, to volunteer on what is the sixth annual Global Volunteer Day for Encore. It was also National Rebuilding Day.

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.