Around Lakeside – Dianne Jacob on Lakeside, Oma’ Pumpkin Patch is back and the Lakeside River Park Conservatory

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Dianne Jacob on Lakeside

As part of her regular “Coffee with Constituents” program, Supervisor Dianne Jacob met with residents of Lakeside on Friday, September 30, at the Willowbrook Country Club. Among the topics and information shared:

Dianne Jacob on Lakeside

As part of her regular “Coffee with Constituents” program, Supervisor Dianne Jacob met with residents of Lakeside on Friday, September 30, at the Willowbrook Country Club. Among the topics and information shared:

Area crime stats are down 19 percent since 2012. That’s the good news; the bad news is that crime has gone up 9 percent here in the past year. Captain Anthony Ray, appointed the Santee/Lakeside Commanding Officer back in May 2016, says a major reason for this rise in crime is due to an increase in auto thefts and car prowls (thefts from vehicles). The answer to the problem is simple: lock your car doors and don’t leave valuables in your car. These are crimes of opportunity, targeting any area where you find cars. That would be retail centers, apartments, parks, groceries stores, etc. With the holidays on the horizon, residents need to take heed and get into good crime prevention habits immediately.

A traffic signal is coming soon to Wildcat Canyon and Willow roads. Ms. Jacob had been against such a signal; she wanted a more holistic approach to the traffic issue there and she believes that has been achieved to a degree. The Board of Supervisors has approved a two-phase plan that should have a positive impact on the problem. Phase one includes the signal light and safety improvements on Wildcat Canyon Road north of Willow. The second phase will involve safety improvements south from Willow Road to Mapleview Street. Note the term “safety improvements.” This involves added signage and possible restriping of the current road. It is not a capacity project nor will any streets be widened at this time. No timeline was discussed. Still, it is pretty good news for area residents and commuters traveling that narrow highway. If we could just get people to slow down …

A property has been identified for the new Lakeside Branch Library and the County is in negotiations to obtain it. The location was not shared but will be announced when the purchasing process has been completed. There are no plans now for the old library building and any proposals are “a ways off.”

If you have a well that has gone dry, you can contact Ready San Diego at 858-565-3490 or go to their website at www.readysandiego.org/emergencywater. An Emergency Water Distribution Program is available for well-water residents of San Diego County that do not have access to running water due to a dry well.

The coming Equestrian Center planned for Willow Road and Moreno Avenue is in the environmental review process, which should be done by next summer. There is funding in the budget for this.

A Homeless Task Force has been formed for the East County. The County contributes money to homeless programs. They have also increased PERT (Psychiatric Emergency Response Team) resources, a program of specially trained deputies who are paired with licensed mental health professionals. The Sheriff’s Department now fields 40 teams around the county, eight of those in the east county region. These teams are invaluable in effectively dealing with issues surrounding homelessness in our county. The Sheriff’s Department also runs a Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) to address the problem.

Not Quite Lakeside But Related: The County is actively working with Caltrans and the City of El Cajon to deal with the Bradley Avenue/Highway 67 interchange debacle. Though a state responsibility, Ms. Jacob has sat down with the involved entities to put a plan and funding in place to remedy the situation. Relief is still a few years away.

The next Lakeside Revitalization Meeting, led by Supervisor Jacob, will be held on Thursday, Oct. 27, at the Lakeside Community Center, 9841 Vine Street in Lakeside. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. Plan to be there for a couple of hours.

Oma’s Pumpkin Patch in its 17th year

It can’t be October in Lakeside without Oma’s Pumpkin Patch in the El Monte Valley. The popular seasonal event is now up and running. It all began back in 2000 and has pleased thousands of kids and adults alike in the past 17 years. “Oma,” the Dutch word for grandmother, honors Gerry Van Ommering, the wife of the original dairy owner. She was known as Oma to all.

Gerrit and Gerry Van Ommering had both grew up on dairy farms in The Netherlands. They arrived in San Diego County as newlyweds in 1953. By 1955, they had moved to Lakeside and opened their own dairy. At that time, there were six dairies in Lakeside and about 130 in San Diego County. By contrast, today the Van Ommering dairy is one of only three left in the entire county.

David Van Ommering and his wife, Brenda, now run the dairy operation. David is the youngest of Gerrit and Gerry’s four children. David and Brenda, in turn, have three of their own children (Jonny, 20, Jordan, 18, and Juliana, 11) who help on the farm and in the Pumpkin Patch when they are not attending school.

Oma’s Pumpkin Patch is an annual highlight and family event for them and the community. The Ommerings look forward to it every year, but this year Brenda is more excited than normal. That’s because they have added a few things, such as new slides and even an expresso bar (hosted by Genteel Coffee Company and Justin Esselstrom).

Weekday mornings at Oma’s are filled with student field trip groups. School kids, “mommies” groups, Church groups, and Scout troops join in on the fun. Brenda has been taking group reservations since last June and is booked full. In fact, Brenda suggests families come in the afternoon (or on Saturdays) if you’re not part of a reserved group. Of course, families need not make a reservation.

Admission is $10 per child and $5 for adults (ages 14 and up). Each child receives a pumpkin and a water bottle with their admission and can participate in all the activities – and there are a lot of activities. Playground equipment (with swings, etc.), Cottonseed Mountain (for kids to climb up and slide down), a sand pile with toy trucks and tractors, the Hay Bale maze, a Petting Corral, and pedal cart and tricycle race track, just to name a few. All are “kid-powered games,” said Brenda, “nothing plugged in.” You can also enjoy a covered hayride that tours the farm grounds. The ride runs every half hour.

Over the years, folks from all over the region and even the world have visited Oma’s Pumpkin Patch. Guests have arrived from as close as Orange and Imperial counties to as far away as Germany and even Australia.

The 17th Annual Oma’s Pumpkin Patch is open now through Oct. 29. It runs five days a week, Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (it is closed on Sundays and Mondays).

Once then pumpkin patch closes, the Van Ommerings will have a few weeks to prepare for their next annual event: the Christmas Tree Farm. That opens the day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 25) and runs until Dec. 17.

For more information you can visit their website at omaspumpkinpatch.com.

Lakeside’s River Park Conservatory

On Oct. 1, Cindy Collins of Lakeside’s River Park Conservancy spoke about the organization to a small but interested group at the Lakeside Library. Cindy is the Membership and Volunteer Manager at LRPC. She shared a few facts about her organization and what it has to offer the community.

The LRPC was established in 2001, a year before its partner organization, the San Diego River Conservancy. Its mission is basically to restore and preserve the San Diego River in the Lakeside area while offering recreational, educational and cultural opportunities. 

On the educational front, the LRPC has a PowerPoint presentation for any group that is interested. They also offer free golf cart tours. Up to three people at a time can take a guided 90-minute tour of the river park. Though the tour is free, please call for reservations – (619) 443-4770. 

The LRPC is always looking for volunteers for a variety of projects and events. They are currently in need of more “Gate Keepers” to secure the trailheads on Riverside Drive and Channel Road. For safety and security reasons, the gates are locked each night, to reduce vandalism and other potential crime. The specific days that need coverage are Friday mornings (to open) and Saturday and Sunday evenings (to close). Contact Cindy Collins for more information (cindyriverpark@yahoo.com).

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