La Mesa Beautiful recognizes award-winning drought-tolerant landscaping

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The city of La Mesa has a name to live up to—Jewel of the Hills. The non-profit organization called La Mesa Beautiful helps it do that. Since 1974, the organization has worked to preserve and increase the beauty of the city, giving special recognition to buildings, businesses and residents that have beautified the public and private places of La Mesa.

The city of La Mesa has a name to live up to—Jewel of the Hills. The non-profit organization called La Mesa Beautiful helps it do that. Since 1974, the organization has worked to preserve and increase the beauty of the city, giving special recognition to buildings, businesses and residents that have beautified the public and private places of La Mesa.

On Oct. 13, La Mesa Beautiful held its 38th Annual Awards Luncheon by Cupids Catering at the La Mesa Community Center. After a rousing Pledge of Allegiance, La Mesa Beautiful President Sharon Fitzpatrick announced that this year’s winners would receive a sign to be placed on their property.

“In past years, when people received the awards, they went home and put it up on their walls and nobody would see it. So this summer we began giving out signs to the award winners. That way, people can stop, look and ask about La Mesa Beautiful,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick explained that the focus of this year’s awards is low water usage. “We want to recognize people who use beautiful drought-tolerant landscaping,” she said.

This year’s winner for Best Design in Single Family Residence went to Sylvia and Fares Nasri. “Sylvia did most of the work,” Mr. Nasri said when they accepted their award. 

For the Best Use of Color award in a single-family residence, the award went to Connie Ottinger and Joe Hartley.

“Joe promised me a rose garden. And I painted the murals,” Ottinger said. 

Chuck Muse, vice president of the Helix Water District, presented Julie and Stan Rone with the award for Best Design and Low Water Usage for a single-family residence.

Julie Rone said that she and her husband had moved to their house on El Paso Street four years ago. The former owner had a triangle garden already in place. The Rones planted several succulents.

“It’s been trial and error, a true challenge in not using water,” Julie said.

Muse presented another award to Taylor Long for Best Color and Low Water Usage at his home.

“I noticed this house four years ago,” Long said. “The yard was overgrown, it looked like a condemned house before I came in. 

“I designed the porch and everything, gave it new life. I’m very glad there’s an organization like this.”

The award for Best Low Water Landscape for a multi-family residence went to Laura and Bob Duggan, owners of Pine Street Cottages. 

“We had to bite the bullet and fix up everything,” Duggan said. “We could not have done it without our landscaper Pablo. And so I am giving this award to him.”

Chuck Muse presented yet another award, this one to Brigantine Seafood and Oyster Bar for it’s landscaping. 

The award to a public facility went to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Vanessa McCombs, owner of Harloff Automotive, presented the award to Beverly Horton, the church’s administrative assistant. 

“All credit for beautification of the church grounds goes to George Mercer, our landscaper,” Horton said.

“The church always looked really good during the La Mesa Beautiful annual plant sale in May, but once the plants were gone, it did not look good at all,” Mercer said.

He landscaped the Ram Batt Memorial Garden, named after a parishioner who had donated a lot of money to the church.  He also replaced the concrete of the patio; formerly, it had been so cracked and broken that people could easily trip on it.

Now the church grounds are as pretty as a picture, complete with a strawberry tree in the center of the patio.

“And there are little strawberries growing on the tree,” Horton said.

La Mesa Beautiful also gives scholarships. This year’s recipients were Cuyamaca College student David Boggs and El Capitan High School student Trayen Lerario. 

Cindy Knox received a Past President Recognition Award for having presided over La Mesa Beautiful for fifteen years.

Finally, the Citizen of the Year Award went to several people for the Legacy Park Project. City Manager Yvonne Garrett; Councilmember Kristine Alessio; Jim Smith, owner of Timeless Treasures, and Mayor Mark Arapostathis were presented with the award by Fitzpatrick.
“La Mesa Beautiful wishes to thank all those people—including all the volunteers—who worked on and brought about our new Lookout Park,” she said.

For more information about La Mesa Beautiful, go to www.lamesabeautiful.org.

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