Volume 29 Number 46
■ Athletes Saving Athletes held a ‘Relay the Message’ event. AA3. ■ Del Mar receives another positive audit. AA2.
■ Solana Beach resident named ‘Volunteer of the Year’ A1. ■ Award-winning author, journalist shares tips for happiness. A6.
■ SD Jewish Academy students organize ‘Walk to End Genocide’ A8. ■ Local gardening expert to speak at lecture and plant sale. A12.
CV planning board approves new plans for PHR Middle School By Karen Billing The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board approved the San Dieguito Union High School District’s (SDUHSD) new configuration plans for the district’s Pacific Highlands Ranch Middle School at the planning board’s Feb. 27 board meeting. The board voted 11-1 in favor of the school district’s plan with one abstention. Christian Clews voted against the proposal and Hollie Kahn abstained. Planning board chair Frisco White recused himself from the vote as his architectural firm is working with SDUHSD on a future project. The original Pacific Highlands Ranch community plan was for the community park to be joint-use with the middle school and be a total of 20 acres. The proposed layout on Village Center Loop Road was Canyon Crest Academy, the middle school, the middle school fields and commuSee SCHOOL, page AA2
DM to apply for funding for River Path Del Mar extension
Beach Boys Bruce Johnston, John Stamos, Mike Love and Jacquelyne Love. Photo/McKenzie Images
‘Mardi Gras with the Beach Boys’ event benefits arts programs at Cathedral Catholic High School By Diane Y. Welch On Saturday evening, March 1, 500 guests at “Mardi Gras with the Beach Boys,” a fundraising affair to benefit the arts programs at Cathedral Catholic High School (CCHS) and Notre Dame Academy, sang along with, and danced to, a medley of music from the nostalgic hits of the Beach Boys with actor John Stamos as guest percussionist. Held at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, the event was a sell-out. (See event photos next issue.) Using a carnival theme, volunteers – led by event chair Janet Cruzon with Debby Rosenberger and Jennifer Kelly – set up dramatic table decor and arranged scores of silent auction items for a 5:30 p.m. reception, which was followed by dinner and a private concert in the Aragon Ballroom. Two members of the Beach Boys — Michael Edward Love and Bruce Johnston — arrived early in the afternoon while the event preparations were underway to rehearse and to meet and greet with the press. Love, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, who is a strong proponent of private schools and especially the arts in education, spoke about the event and why he was there. “My wife, Jacquelyne, and I often try to help private schools with their fundraisSee BEACH, page AA3
By Kristina Houck During a special meeting Feb. 28, the Del Mar City Council authorized the city manager to apply for grants to extend River Path Del Mar. In a 3-0 vote, council members permitted City Manager Scott Huth to apply for a $150,000 grant from San Diego County’s Community Enhancement Program. Funded by a portion of the county’s transient occupancy tax revenues, the deadline to apply for the grant was March 1. In case the application is not successful, the council also authorized Huth to apply for funding from the county’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Program. There is no application deadline for NRP funding. “They say opportunity — you’ve got to be prepared to take advantage of it,” said Councilwoman Sherryl Parks, who led the meeting. Mayor Lee Haydu and Deputy Mayor Al Corti were absent.
See PATH, page AA3
CV planning board green lights stop sign for Medical marijuana problem intersection on Worsch Drive ordinance passes with new restrictions By Karen Billing San Diego City Council passed new regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries on Feb. 25. Last April, the council kicked back then-Mayor Bob Filner’s ordinance that would have allowed dispensaries in more areas of the city, including locally at Flower Hill Promenade, Del Mar Heights Village on Mango Drive and the future Pacific Highlands Ranch Village Center. Council directed city staff to draft a new ordinance, going back to the language similar to the city’s 2011 Medical Marijuana Consumer Cooperative ordinance, taking many community commercial zones off the list. Per the new regulations, collectives are not allowed to operate within 1,000 feet of schools, public parks, churches, playgrounds, residential care facilities (drug/alcohol rehabilitation centers), child care facilities or other dispensaries. The 1,000-foot buffer was an increase from the original ordinance’s 600 feet. There also will be a 100-foot buffer from residential zones and no more than four dispensaries will be allowed per district. According to Mel Millstein, a representative for Council President Sherri Lightner, the closest possible locations for dispensaries in this area would be in Sorrento Valley off Roselle Street. An office area off El Camino Real is also a potential spot, but Carmel Valley Community Planning Board Chair Frisco White said it is highly unlikely that spot would be pursued. Dispensaries will have to go through the public process to get conditional use permits, including a recommendation from the planning board.
Beer tasting room to open in Solana Beach
■ For a variety of social events, see pages B2- B20.
March 6, 2014 | Published Weekly
By Kristina Houck A new beer tasting room will soon open in Solana Beach. In a 5-0 vote, the Solana Beach City Council on Feb. 26 approved a conditional use permit for a craft beer bottle shop and taproom in the city’s Beachwalk Center. San Diego BeerWorks will feature a retail shop, bar and seating area, as well as a food preparation area, restroom, and storage and office space. “It’s hard to deny the momentum of the American craft beer that we’re seeing all throughout the United States, particularly in California and San Diego,” said applicant John Holko. He and his wife, Jennifer Todd, own and will operate the shop. “San Diego really is ground zero for the American craft brew industry.” Beer won’t be brewed on site and beer won’t be served outdoors. In addition to beer, San Diego BeerWorks will also serve appetizers and snacks. “I think this is a great business idea. I think it fits well within the community as a whole,” Councilman Peter Zahn said. “I think the applicants are really tapping into a trend that will attract people to our community and retain people in the community. It’s a great fit with the rest of the Solana Beach business community.” Located at 437 South Highway 101 in Suite 107, the 1,550-square-foot shop will be open from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday. For more information about San Diego BeerWorks, visit sandiegobeerworks.com.
By Karen Billing The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board approved a stop sign for a problem intersection on Worsch Drive where it turns into Carmel Park Drive at Santa Nella Place. The board voted 12-1, with one abstention, at its Feb. 27 meeting and the sign could be in place within the next 45 days. The sole dissenting vote was vice chair Manjeet Ranu who said this problem exists throughout Carmel Valley and they can’t continue to just throw up stop signs. “A stop sign is one way to deal with calming traffic, but there are many different ways to solve this issue,” Ranu said. Ranu said they should aim to solve these issues through design, such as necking down a street or creating a pedestrian refuge island that can actually enhance the look of a neighborhood as well as slow traffic. He said he knows those design solutions cost money and take some time but he suggested that it is perhaps time to put Carmel Valley’s big, wide roads on a “diet.” Planning board chair Frisco White agreed and proposed that the board form a subcommittee to take a comprehensive look at design solutions for Carmel Valley’s streets. He said the community does have available Facilities Benefit Assessment (FBA) funds for those kinds of improvements. Neighbor Joe Rossettie spearheaded the effort for the Worsch Drive stop sign and See INTERSECTION, page AA3
Del Mar school district receives nutritional services update; lunch sales continue to increase By Karen Billing At their Feb. 26 meeting, the Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD) board members munched on the herb-roasted chicken, sushi rolls and jicama sticks that their students enjoy as they received an update on the district’s nutritional services department and lunch vendor Choicelunch. Choicelunch has been the district’s vendor since 2011, offering up healthy and quality food options that families can pre-order on their computer or smart phone. The district is one of 270 that Choicelunch caters to statewide and in San Diego, DMUSD is one of Choicelunch’s few public school clients. As the board heard in the nutritional services department update, lunch sales continue to increase in the 2013-14 school year as compared to 2012-13. As of Jan. 31, lunch sales have increased from 887 in 2012-13 to 904 in 201314, bringing the total yearto- date meals served to 87,719. The average lunch price is $5.15 and the district also offers free or reduced price meals for lower income families and foster children. Of the lunch participants, 18 percent receive free and reduced lunch in the district. Choicelunch now offers 17 entrée options to
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Del Mar receives another positive audit
By Kristina Houck Del Mar once again received a clean financial report after its latest audit. An independent third-party accounting firm, Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C., stated in its report that the city kept its books properly during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013. “We did find your accounting records to be in order,” said the city’s auditor Ken AIImam at the March 3 council meeting. “All of our tests checked out and they supported a conclusion that your financial statements are fairly stated in all material respects.” The firm performed 400 hours in audit tests, evaluating and confirming the city’s internal controls, cash and investment balances, capital projects, and more. At the end of June 30, 2013, the city had more than $97.7 million in total assets and nearly $11 million in liabilities. “The liabilities of the city are very small, especially in comparison to other cities that we audit,” AI-Imam said. Del Mar’s general fund of more than $11.9 million indicates the economy has improved. The city’s three main sources of revenue — property taxes, transient occupancy taxes, and sales and use taxes — were higher than the previous fiscal year. In fact, the city received $937,141 more than originally projected, said Del Mar Finance Director Teresa McBroome during her financial report to the council. Del Mar’s general fund expenditures totaled more than $12 million — $525,032 less than what the city had budgeted. The savings left more than $2.1 million in the city’s reserves, she added. “I want to thank staff and all their efforts to maintain the budget and keep track of everything very carefully,” said Councilman Terry Sinnott. “We’re very proud of our finance department,” said Mayor Lee Haydu. “Ever since I’ve been on council we’ve had great audits.”
SCHOOL continued from page 1 nity park, and then the residential community of Airoso. The school district now plans for the 15-acre middle school campus to be in the center of the proposed park, with 7.8 acres of facilities open to the community on the other side of the school, adjacent to Canyon Crest Academy. That would leave the community park at 13 acres with a shared parking lot with the middle school. John Addleman, SDUHSD director of planning services, said rather than having the middle school have joint use of the community park, they were able to purchase seven additional acres by the Pacific Highlands Ranch Fire Station to supplement CCA’s ballfields. The new orientation provides for a buffer between the middle school and high school campuses, as well as provides a more economical way for the district to maintain its fields. Addleman said a nice connection will be made from the park to the middle school’s track and field and hardscape courts (including basketball courts)
that will be open for public use. “We’re trying to give parks and recreation the biggest park they could have by giving up some of our visitor parking. We wanted to create the community connection between the park and the middle school and provide the park some relief by having access to that as well,” Addleman said. “I think this really is the best solution.” Resident Ken Farinsky said he worried that the park is losing something because the middle school field is so disconnected, but he was glad that the field would be open to the public as CCA’s field, tennis courts and track have not been. Karen Dubey, who lives in the Airoso community, said she liked the plan. “I’m usually a community plan purist but I like how you’ve honored the intent of the community plan,” Dubey said. Dubey also commented that a big concern for the community is school traffic, especially with the two schools side by side and the addition of the Solana Beach School District’s new Solana Ranch Elementary across the street.
Addleman said they do not intend for CCA and the PHR middle school to have the same start times and that they will also utilize a “zero period” option which allows students to start and leave a period earlier. Addleman said the plan is for the campus to begin construction in May through August of this year, with the first classroom building expected to be ready for students in fall of 2015. Pacific Highlands Ranch (PHR) has long been in need of field space for residents and PHR’s first park, recently renamed Solana Ranch Park (formerly Gonzales Canyon Neighborhood Park), is set to open at the end of this year. The park’s playground was also recently named The Scott Tillson Playground, in honor of Tillson, a long-time Carmel Valley planning board member and advocate for the Pacific Highlands Ranch community’s growth. Tillson passed away in 2011 after playing a big role in the 2010 passage of Proposition C that untied PHR’s development from the completion of the Interstate 5/SR-56 connectors.
New way to finance energy-efficient home improvements available to Solana Beach residents BY KRISTINA HOUCK Solana Beach property owners have a new way to finance energy-efficient improvements for their homes. Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, loans allow homeowners to make renewable energy upgrades to their properties with low-cost, tax deductible financing paid through their property tax bill. The Solana Beach City Council in October opted to participate in the Home Energy Retrofit Opportunity, or HERO, program. The program launched in the coastal community, as well as the San Diego communities of Carlsbad, Lemon Grove, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista, on Feb. 10. Renovate America, the San Diego-based financial firm funding the program, launched HERO in 18 California communities in 2011. Today, the company works with more than 100 cities throughout the state to administer and manage the program. “We want to create an avenue that gives all homeowners access to products that are available on the market that can save people money, as well as lower the energy that’s used and the water that’s used,” said JP McNeill, founder and CEO of Renovate America. “It’s a good thing. It makes people feel good and it makes us feel good.” There are more than 150,000 energy and water
There are more than 150,000 energy- and water-efficient products that are eligible for HERO financing, including solar power systems. Photos courtesy of Sullivan Solar Power. efficient products that are eligible for HERO financing. Upgrades may include energy-efficient appliances, cooling and heating systems, water heaters, windows, photovoltaic systems and many other products. Improvements are financed with bonds issued through a Joint Powers Authority. Solana Beach is an associate member of the Riverside HERO program through Western Riverside Council of Governments. “Never before have you been able to finance your solar system through your property taxes,” said David Savarese, director of project development at Sullivan Solar Power, a registered HERO contractor. “HERO allows homeowners to go solar for zero money out of pocket.” HERO first launched its residential program in December 2011 in Riverside County. Norco resident Curtis Showalter used HERO to fi-
nance his solar power system, which was installed by Sullivan Solar Power in July. “It was a simple process,” Showalter said. “You didn’t have to jump through hoops.” The installation of the 42-panel system on his home means Showalter no longer has a monthly energy bill. “It’s a full 100 percent generation system. I don’t have any electrical use from Edison at all at this point in time,” said Showalter, a husband and father of two. “And it’s a fixed rate for 20 years. So for the next 20 years, I will pay the same rate I’m paying now. Even though Edison’s prices are going up, my rates stay the same.” The HERO program is voluntary for property owners. Solana Beach is not obligated to repay the bonds or pay any delinquent assessments levied on participating properties. “Ideally, we want the program to be made available to every resident in the state of California,” McNeill said. “But we’ve got to get every city and county to opt into the program. Ultimately, our objective is to lower energy usage and water usage, save people money, create jobs and lower our carbon emissions.” For more information about the HERO program, visit www.heroprogram. com.
Man arrested for allegedly robbing a gas station in CV By City News Service A 35-year-old man was arrested after allegedly robbing a clerk at a gas station in the Carmel Valley area Feb. 27. The robbery took place about 7:50 p.m. at the Carmel Valley Shell station at 3060 Carmel Valley Road, said San Diego Police Department Officer David Stafford. According to Stafford, the suspect walked into the gas station, pulled out a gun and demanded money from the clerk. The suspect then took the cash and fled eastbound driving a black Dodge Ram. A description of the suspect — about 35 years old, standing 6 feet 2 inches tall, heavy set, wearing a black jacket and black pants — and his getaway car were broadcast to police. Officers then spotted the suspect in the area of Shoal Creek and Ted Williams Parkway, Stafford said. The man was taken into custody without incident and was to be booked on a charge of armed commercial robbery, according to Stafford. No one was injured in the robbery.
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‘Relay the Message’ The Athletes Saving Athletes’ “Relay the Message” walk/run was held at Cathedral Catholic High School on March 2. The event was open to all ages of the public to see how many laps they could walk or run in an hour, and raise funds and awareness about Advocates for Injured Athletes and the importance of athletic training. At the event there were also demonstrations on CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Athletes Saving Athletes was created by Advocates for Injured Athletes, an organization co-founded by Beth Mallon and her son Tommy after Tommy suffered a life-threatening neck fracture in 2009 while playing lacrosse at Santa Fe Christian School. For more information, visit injuredathletes.org. Photos/Jon Clark; More photos online: www.delmartimes.net.
Becki Casas (Canyon Crest Academy student vocalist), Trevor Brown (graduate of the Athletes Saving Athletes program), Beth Mallon (founder, Advocates for Injured Athletes), Tommy Mallon (co-founder, Advocates for Injured Athletes)
Eileen and Steve Kuzmack
Conor Kuzmack, Ethan Reyes, Ethan Kuzmack, Josh Thompson Jill and Avery Hamilton
Laurie Jabbar, Lisa Morris, Adrie Morris, Karen Creelman, Carolyn Singer, Stacey Styrt
Stefan Thomson, Reed Meyer, Cullen Bedingfield, Logan Zeigler
Jaimey Danielson, David Bailey
Stephanie Williams, Brittany Peterson Mike Wright, Chrissy Greco
CV planning board asks 5K race to stay out of residential neighborhoods By Karen Billing The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board threw a detour into Grace Point Church’s plans for a 5K run, voting unanimously to prevent the race’s route from closing major streets or going through a residential neighborhood. The board did support the
Kristen Kittscher, author of ‘The Wig in the Window,’ to appear at Solana Pacific School HarperCollins author Kristen Kittscher will be discussing writing and her middlegrade novel, “The Wig in the Window,” with Solana Pacific Elementary School’s media center classes on Thursday, March 13. The night before her school appearance, Kittscher will be doing a book signing at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 12, at The Yellow Book Road, an independent children’s bookstore located at 2750 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego, CA 92106. Situated in Point Loma’s Liberty Station, The Yellow Book Road is across the street from Ace Hardware. Nearby restaurants include Corvette Diner and the new Stone Brewing Co. location. Past author appearances in the store have included Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Tom Angleberger, author of the Origami Yoda series, and picturebook author Jon Scieszka. To be included on The Yellow Book Road’s mailing list for future events, visit the store or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
continued from page 1
ing goals and we really like doing events like this one. It’s a party with a purpose,” said Love. The couple established an artscentric private school in Lake Tahoe, their primary residence, a few years ago, said Love. This is a return show for the Beach Boys. The Loves’ daughter, Ambha, is a senior at CCHS, having joined the school two years ago when the Beach Boys played a similar fundraising event. “This time we wanted to help out specifically to raise funds for music programs, because, as you know, a lot of schools, both public and private, are challenged when it comes to funding the arts,” Love explained. School president Steven Laaperi, who was also present, commented, “We have a wonderful athletic and academic program and now we are focused on ex-
panding our arts program, especially our music and theater curriculum. The goal is get straight ‘A’s’ across the disciplines,” said Laaperi. The Beach Boys celebrated their 50th anniversary with a tour in 2012. This spring marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the hits “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “I Get Around.” Next year will be half century anniversaries for “California Girls” and “Good Vibrations,” all songs which were part of the line-up for the evening’s concert, along with “Kokomo” which was released in 1988. Co-written by Love with John Phillips (of the Mamas and the Papas), producer Terry Melcher and singer Scott McKenzie, it went to number one on the Billboard Charts. Joining the Beach Boys band on stage was actor and musician John
Stamos, who has been a longtime fan of the group and has played with them since 1985 through six of his television series, said Johnston. Stamos — who initially found fame as lead character Jesse in the sitcom “Full House” — plays guitar, drums and other percussion instruments. Johnston had driven down from his home base in Santa Barbara for the event. He spoke of the timeless appeal of the Beach Boys hits. “Music has no wrinkles to it, it doesn’t age like we do,” he joked. Johnston, who has raised four children and has three young grandchildren, said that he misses being around kids, and fundraising events like these help him reconnect with them and make a difference.
lies use the Santa Nella culde-sac as a drop-off spot for children as the court abuts a pathway that leads right into Carmel Del Mar School. Pedestrians on the west corner of Santa Nella face a completely blind corner due to the curve. They have to venture out nearly halfway into the lane of oncoming traffic to see if any cars are coming up the hill. “It isn’t just about kids. Residents cross the street to use the trail or to go shopping,” Rossettie said. “It’s just not a safe intersection.” During public comment at the meeting, a married couple (the Hornblowers) who have lived in the community for 28
years, said they do not feel it is a problem intersection. They said the majority of the people do not speed and there is not a need for a stop sign. Another resident who spoke up in favor of the stop sign agreed that it is a small community and speeding isn’t constant but the cars that do speed, paired with the line of sight issues, create enough of a danger to warrant a stop sign. The board’s approval of the stop sign included that some signage be posted ahead of the stop sign to help residents adjust to the change initially and continue to serve as a reminder moving forward.
has secured a long-term lease of a parcel from the North County Transit District at the corner of Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Drive. The city has also worked in partnership with the San Dieguito River Valley Regional Open Space Park Joint Powers Authority and the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy on the development of the trail. The project is estimat-
ed to cost $470,000, Huth said. The council has already budgeted $20,000 for the project. “We’re happy to lend support however we can,” said resident Bill Michalsky, chair of the San Dieguito Lagoon Preservation Committee. “This will be a great step forward. “I wish us luck … I hope we strike gold.”
INTERSECTION continued from page 1 presented a petition last week signed by 105 people, 85 of them residents and frequent pedestrians, and 20 who have a vested interest in the issue, such as Carmel Del Mar Elementary School Principal Eileen Delaney. Rossettie became serious about pushing the issue after a December 2013 accident at the intersection that almost resulted in children getting hit by cars. The portion of Worsch Drive features a downhill and a curve going south and Rossettie said people can pick up speeds there very quickly. Many fami-
PATH continued from page 1 The existing trail runs along the south bank of the San Dieguito River from Jimmy Durante Boulevard to the coast. The project will develop the portion of River Path Del Mar from Jimmy Durante Boulevard to the Old Grand Avenue Bridge. To provide parking for the extended path, Del Mar
idea of Grace Point’s Faith in Action Run as long as the organizers tweak the route so it won’t inconvenience local residents. According to Marjolein Grootenhuis, missions director for Grace Point Church, the run is planned for Sunday, May 4, setting off from the church off Del Mar Heights Road. The race will support Love146, an international organization that fights child exploitation and trafficking. “We think it creates community when people come together around a common goal,” Grootenhuis said. “We want to encourage people to be instruments of change.” Hollie Kahn, the neighborhood 4/4a representative on the board, had concerns about the proposed route going on Winstanley Way, looping around on Sword Way. The expected race draw of 600 people on a residential street would be very intrusive, she said. The board agreed that the route should be kept out of the neighborhoods and more on Lansdale Drive and Del Mar Heights Road. The board also vetoed an out and back route on Del Mar Heights Road with a turnaround just past Sycamore Ridge due to the lane closures that would be required on Del Mar Heights Road. The board encouraged the church to consider an earlier start time than the proposed 8 a.m. start for the 5K and 9:30 a.m. for the one-mile fun run.
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Young sports anchor inspired by father’s legacy. Page 2
Community Thursday, March 6, 2014
Author Meg Wolitzer discusses book ‘The Interestings’ Page 13
Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito names Solana Beach resident ‘Volunteer of the Year’ By Kristina Houck Solana Beach resident Terry Lingenfelder will be honored as “Volunteer of the Year” by the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito at the second annual Youth of the Year Gala Aug. 8 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Lingenfelder, 87, has volunteered with the nonprofit organization for more than 40 years. “It is a big honor and was a big surprise,” said Lingenfelder, who moved to Solana Beach from Del Mar in 1983. “There’s other people probably more deserving. It’s an honor they selected me.” A member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito’s board of directors since 1971, Lingenfelder served as board president 1979-1981 and 1999-2001, and has served as chairman of the foundation board since 2012. “This award is in recognition of Terry’s outstanding leadership, dedication and tireless efforts in sustaining and expanding our mission at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito,” said David Crean, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito. “He is a strong promoter, supporter and major contributor to all programs and activities that we offer. We could not have been as successful as we are without his vision, involvement and hard work for over 43 years.” Lingenfelder has played a mayor role in the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito’s financing and fundraising initiatives. In 1974 — just his third year on the board — he helped launch the organization’s longest running fundraising event, Bucks for Boys & Girls. “It was kind of a scary situation at first, but we had a lot of great accomplishments,” said Lingenfelder, owner and president of Terral Investment Company, which launched in 1963. “We were very successful. We had that party for just over 40 years and we earned over $4 million over that period.” Lingenfelder also helped lead the board’s first major
Terry Lingenfelder Courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito capital campaign in the mid-1980s to build a swimming pool at the organization’s Harper Branch on Lomas Santa Fe Drive. “Swimming pools were nonexistent in North County, at least in our area,” Lingenfelder said. “We live on the water and the whole idea was that it would be great to teach kids how to swim.” The organization broke ground on the project before it had raised the $350,000 needed for construction and maintenance of the pool for two years, Lingenfelder noted. “We wanted to show the public that we were going to build the pool and complete a project they could be proud
of,” he said. “If that pool saved one life, one child’s life — there’s no amount of money that could equal the value of that life at all.” The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito has since built a nationally recognized aquatics program. In 2005, Lingenfelder was instrumental again in securing major donors for the Share the Dream Campaign, which raised more than $8 million to renovate the Harper Branch and Pardee Aquatics Center in Solana Beach. With his company’s offices located across the street from the center, Lingenfelder is reminded every day about the programs Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito offers children and teenagers in the community. Founded in 1966, today the organization serves more than 21,000 youth in the San Dieguito community through its seven branches. “I think the best part is to watch some of these young kids start out from nothing and 25 years later, come back and say, ‘The Boys & Girls Clubs helped make me what I am today,’” Lingenfelder said. “That’s why we do what we do — so all young people can have a chance.” The gala will take place Aug. 8 at the Infield Pavilion at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The event will feature horse racing, silent and live auctions, dinner, dancing and entertainment. In addition to Lingenfelder, the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito will honor its Youth of the Year. Proceeds will benefit programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito. “It’s more fun to give than receive,” Lingenfelder said. “It makes you feel good inside when you give somebody the advice or help they need.” “Get involved and become a doer,” he encouraged others. “Help your community be better.” For more information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito and the gala, visit bgcsandieguito.org.
STEAMConnect hosting first conference at Qualcomm in San Diego on March 28 STEAMConnect, in collaboration with site sponsor Qualcomm, is gearing up for its first STEAM Conference from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, March 28, at Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall. The event will bring together arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in a way never done before. Three-hundred people from across California, along with STEAM leaders from Chicago, Texas and Atlanta, are expected to attend. The conference is expected to attract a broad range of attendees from a network of more than 750 students,
teachers, administrators, nonprofits, business leaders and policymakers from Southern California who are engaged in STEAM, which includes science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The opening session will feature commentary from government officials and video messages from San Diego Congressional representatives Susan Davis and Scott Peters, as well as state Sen. Carol Liu, who chairs the California State Senate Education Committee. The session will also include perspectives from leaders of California arts
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and STEM organizations: Craig Watson of the California Arts Council and Chris Roe of the California STEM Learning Network. Attendees will also enjoy interactive exhibits, engaging performances and workshops by Qualcomm, STEAM Carnival by Two Bit Circus and NASA JPL. For more information, visit steamconnect.org/events/ steam-conference-2014.
Debbie Carpenter 858-735-0924
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MARCH 6, 2014 - NORTH COAST
From San Diego to Spokane, young sports anchor inspired by father’s legacy BY ROB LEDONNE It’s a Tuesday afternoon in Spokane, Wash., and Bryan Fenley has some rare time off. “My workdays are typically full of adrenaline,” said Fenley, who is the weekend sports anchor and a reporter for KREM, the city’s TV news affiliate. Fenley, who grew up locally and only graduated from Santa Fe Christian High School in 2007, is the youngest person at the station. “When I was first applying for jobs, I thought I’d shoot big and send my tape out to some medium-size markets,” Fenley explained about his decision to submit to KREM. “My boss wound up liking my tape and voice, and he gave me my big break. I’ll be forever grateful.” Fenley covers both local and national sports in Spokane, and has a deep passion for his profession; a passion that stretches back to his childhood and is rooted in tragedy. When Fenley was just 11 years old, his father, Joe, was diagnosed with cancer. “My dad grew up so poor some nights he didn’t even have food on the table,” Fenley said of his family’s roots. “He battled through his upbringing, got a degree, and was able to become so successful he was in charge of a company (Gateway Freight Services) which, at its apex, had 1,000 employees.” His father’s illness turned Fenley’s family (which includes sister Grace and mother Gigi) upside down, and rocked his teenage years. “His sickness really affected us a lot, but it’s how I got into sports,” he remembers. “When he was ill, all I could do was watch sports with him. We were big local sports fans. Since my dad went to Ole Miss, we are big Ole Miss fans as well. We watched hours and hours of sports.” Even if Fenley didn’t know it at the time, a seed was planted and his interest in sports journalism grew from there. “My dad had to fight for his life growing up, and then
Sports anchor Bryan Fenley Courtesy photos
fight with cancer,” said Fenley. “The will to fight to be successful has lived on in me since.” When Fenley was just 16, his father died from the disease and while the first few years were full of grief, he fought through it and realized he needed a new start. The new beginning he was looking for emerged in 2007, when Fenley joined the freshman class at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a hobby hosting a show at the college radio station led to his current gig. “There was a producer from the local NBC station there, and I had this urge to get on the air so bad,” Fenley said. Fresh out of college, Fenley started writing sports copy for WXII in Winston-Salem, NC (a top market), and from there found himself in Spokane. “So many kids want to get into sports, and I can’t tell you how many people doubted me and told me I couldn’t make it,” says Fenley. “There were so many critics and I used that as fuel.” The critics that doubted Fenley must be having second thoughts now, as he has taken KREM by storm and is living his dream in the process. “Every day we’re shooting, writing, and editing pieces with the players, stars and coaches that me and my dad used to watch every day,” Fenley. said Throughout it all, Fenley said his mom, Gigi, has been nothing but supportive through the good times and bad. “She’s nurtured me through this process and believed in me,” he says. “She’s been my number one teammate through this battle, and is always on the frontlines fighting for my dreams.” For now, Fenley’s happy in Spokane but has lofty goals. “I took the terror, the heartbreak, and the moments of pain in my dad’s fight with cancer and used it to conquer my dreams,” Fenley sums up. “It all comes down to him.” Follow Fenley on Twitter @BryanFenley. If you’re in Spokane, check him out most nights on KREM-TV, Channel 2.
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MARCH 6, 2014 - NORTH COAST
Commentary/Opinion Education Matters: Teacher training vs. time in the classroom: How Del Mar walks the tightrope of what she described as Vargus recommended
By Marsha Sutton Last week’s column discussed the Del Mar Union School District’s balancing act as it tries to provide professional development for its teachers without negatively impacting students and impeding learning in the classroom. Tiffany Kinney and Gina Vargus, co-presidents of the Del Mar California Teachers Association, discussed the discomfort some teachers have with the training. Kinney, a DMUSD classroom teacher since 2000, said teachers are unsettled “because we want to do such a good job. I know what works really well and now I’m having to use some of that but I’m having to add some of the other [techniques].” “Veteran teachers haven’t felt like a first-year teacher in a long time,” said Vargus, who has been teaching in Del Mar since 1991. “You have to think on your feet, and you don’t
k n o w h o w l o n g somet h i n g ’s going to take, a n d Marsha Sutton y o u don’t know where your kids are going to be at the end of your [lesson] plan, and maybe it’s not such a great plan and I’ll have to go back and rework that.” Despite scattered criticism that pulling teachers from their classrooms for the training sessions is not in the best interests of students, Kinney and Vargus said the training definitely puts students first. “It’s really preparing them,” Kinney said. “What we’ve heard over the last several years is that kids are coming out of college not prepared to be workers and … they’re not independent thinkers,” Vargus said. “I think this gives kids ownership of
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that.” Former Del Mar parent Melissa Myrhum vehemently disagreed. “Absolutely not,” she said, when asked if the focus on staff development in Del Mar is placing kids’ interests first. “The priority is not the students.” Myrhum, who moved to the Del Mar district in 2011 with three children, two of whom were in fourth and fifth grades at the time, took aim at DMUSD superintendent Holly McClurg who in 2011 was assistant superintendent under then-superintendent Jim Peabody. “She doesn’t have her client’s best interests at heart, and that’s the kids,” Myrhum said, of McClurg. Myrhum said the schedule has meant lost time for students and adversely affects learning, and said substitute teachers are often just babysitters. “You cannot continue to pull these teachers out and expect a great result,” she said. “It’s terrible for the learning environment.” Myrhum took her complaints first to the principal, who she said told her nothing could be done. Then she spoke with McClurg, who she said justified it repeatedly, “to the point where I was so incredibly frustrated.” After that she talked to Peabody, who she said told her, “It would be too hard to fight the unions to get all of this changed.” She said she told him it was McClurg, not the teachers, who was mandating all the staff development. “But I guess it was easier for Peabody to blame the union,” she said. “All this development, that was her baby,” Myrhum said of McClurg. “She wasn’t going to let go, no matter how much criticism she got.” Myrhum is not alone. One frustrated parent, exasperated after two years
lost learning time for her children, protests this year by pulling her kids out of school on the days when their classroom teachers will be absent for training. In an interview in January, McClurg defended her emphasis on staff development, saying teacher training is “the most powerful thing, [by] empowering our teachers how to teach as effectively as possible.” She said she has no regrets about the professional development, “not for a moment.” “Teaching is grounded in solid research,” McClurg said. The district encourages teachers to do some of their training over the summer, to minimize lost classroom time, but McClurg said attendance can’t be compelled per the district’s contract with teachers. “I don’t make apologies and I think it’s absolutely the right work,” she said. “That said, we are trying to determine the best possible ways to train our teachers and keep our teachers in the classroom as much as possible. I do realize when they’re not there, it’s a substitute and that is one of the pieces we take into consideration.” Benefiting the kids Kinney and Vargus acknowledged that many parents were initially unhappy about all the professional development during school hours. But parents who at first objected are coming around, once they become aware of how the training and new standards will benefit the students, Kinney said. “We’re starting to see parents becoming more and more comfortable with it,” she said. “Also, when we go to the staff development, we are getting things we can use the next day when we walk into the classroom.”
that parents attend informational sessions. “The parents who have attended the evenings have been just wowed by the information they’re getting,” she said. “It is getting the word out about how valuable it is, how great it is for kids.” “It’s our job as professionals to explain the value of this professional development – why it’s of benefit to the children,” she said. Kinney said teachers know in August the dates they are required to be out of the classroom for training for the coming school year. She suggested that teachers secure substitute teachers well in advance and call the ones they trust, to ensure consistency and confidence that the lesson plans will be followed. Although teachers are not required to find their own subs, “it’s in your best interest and it’s in your children’s best interest,” Vargus said. “And it’s in your best interest to find someone who knows how you run your classroom and someone who wants to come back.” “I’ve always felt personally that it’s been my responsibility,” Kinney said. “If I’m going to be out, I need to find someone to cover my job.” Vargus and Kinney said they know the capable subs and try to book them early. They also rely on student teachers who are not just place-holders but are motivated to follow lesson plans closely and do real teaching. Because all districts have to prepare for the Common Core roll-out this fall by training teachers for the new standards, finding qualified substitute teachers is a county-wide problem, they said. Teachers not resistant Kinney and Vargus said teachers are not resistant but simply uneasy.
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“It’s not about going to the training at all – it’s about making sure that in your absence things run smoothly for the kids,” Vargus said. “Any time we’re not there, we want to make sure it’s a day just as if we were there … which is impossible to replicate. So there is stress about that.” When asked to comment on the controversy, former DMCTA president and Ocean Air fifth-grade teacher Katrina Campbell refused to discuss the issue, writing in an email, “I am not interested in speaking to anyone in the media. I prefer to focus solely on my students.” Carmel Del Mar fourthgrade teacher David Skinner, who served as president of the DMCTA before Campbell, did speak to the issue, saying in an email, “I don’t feel I am being pulled out of the classroom an unreasonable amount of time, but I know other teachers feel differently.” Skinner said the Common Core roll-out “has been a bit rocky” but is not sure how it could have been done better, given the delay in the state’s approval of adequate instructional materials. “We are going in the right direction in my opinion,” he said. “I am thrilled we are finally looking critically at how we teach and learn mathematics in DMUSD. The real shame would be reversing course just because we haven’t been perfect in our application of the Common Core standards and how to teach them.” He said parents and teachers need to understand why the professional development is important and effective. “We need to explain what we are doing and keep doing it,” he said. “I think the research backs us up.” Myrhum doesn’t disagree that training for teachers is important. “Everybody needs to continue their education, teachers included,” she said. But the way it’s provided, and the consequence of lost class-
See EDUCATION, page 15
A5 MARCH 6, 2014 - NORTH COAST
High school students encouraged to enter International Bipolar Foundation’s essay contest The International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) is launching a global essay contest to erase the stigma associated with mental illness through education. The contest is part of the foundation’s mission to address the impact of bipolar disorder and is open to all high school students. The first-place winner will receive $500, and the second-place winner will receive $100. Students may choose one of the following topics: •How is mental health perceived and addressed in your community, both culturally and socially? •How can you support a friend or loved one who may be dealing with bipolar disorder? •How does media impact the stigma of bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses? Entries will be judged by a panel of authors who write about bipolar disorder and mental illness. The winner will be announced in May, which is Mental Health Month. High school students throughout the world are invited to participate. For more information about the International Bipolar Foundation or to receive the essay rules and registration form, contact Ashley Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Social Media, Sexting & Exploitation: It’s Not Going Away’ topic at Family Forum’
“Social Media, Sexting & Exploitation: It’s Not Going Away” will be the topic at the March 26 San Dieguito Academy Family Forum. The event will be held from 6:30-8:15 p.m. at the Media Center at San Dieguito Academy High, 800 Santa Fe Drive Encinitas, CA 92024. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from students, cyber-education specialists and counselors about components of digital life, social media profiles, responsibilities and one’s “digital trail “ in this panel presentation. There will be time for questions and answers. This event is free and open to the public. Middle school and high school students are welcome. Seating is limited – reservations are required. Spanish translation is provided. RSVP to email@example.com. Sponsored by the San Dieguito Academy Parent Foundation.
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Congratulate your senior and support Dollars for Scholars with a sign and balloons Do you know any seniors graduating from Torrey Pines High School? Make them smile by giving them a “Congratulations TPHS Grad” yard sign and balloons. “Congratulations TPHS Grad” is a 18 X 24 yard sign and gold mylar balloons. The sign and balloons will be delivered and placed in the front yard during the week before graduation. A gift card which says “GOOD LUCK AND CONGRATULATIONS” will accompany each delivered order. Deliveries will be made only to Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe and Solana Beach. Anyone wishing to order the yard sign without balloons and delivery must pick up the order at the school on June 10, between the hours of 2:30 and 6 p.m. All proceeds go to support TPHS Dollars for Scholars Senior Scholarships. To place your order, please visit www.tphssf.org.
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MARCH 6, 2014 - NORTH COAST
Author and award-winning broadcast journalist shares keys for happiness at Viewpoints event By Diane Y. Welch Students dressed in Reality Changers t-shirts welcomed guests to the Viewpoints speaking event at the Fellowship Hall of the Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe on Sunday evening, Feb. 23. The big draw for the Reality Changers â€” students who will be the first generation in their respective families to go to college â€” and for the 175 people in the audience was guest speaker Hugh Hewitt, invited to appear by Connie Pittard and Paige Vanosky, both Viewpoint committee members. Hewitt is an attorney, law professor, author and an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist, best known as the host of his nationally-syndicated radio show which is heard in more than 120 cities across the United States. Relaxed, in an informal setting on stage, Pastor Jack Baca led the conversation with Hewitt who created an uplifting atmosphere. With wisdom and humor, Hewitt recollected people, places and events from his life in the media and gave sage advice to the audience about how to achieve happiness. During his lengthy career Hewitt has interviewed more than 20,000 people, many of them globally acclaimed, such as the Pope, the Dalai Llama, Buzz Aldrin, A-list actors, famous politicians, and more. His reflections on these interviews led him to publish, â€œThe Happiest Life: Seven Gifts, Seven Givers and the Secret to Genuine Successâ€?â€“ a book that describes seven simple habits that anyone can adopt: encouragement, energy, enthusiasm, empathy/patience, good humor, graciousness, and gratitude. The bookâ€™s message formed the platform for much of Hewittâ€™s speech. Seven key relationships further help forge happiness, said Hewitt. A spouse, parents, teachers, family members,
chapter on teachers Hewitt recollected his interview with Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss. When Hewitt asked Dreyfuss if he had any regrets about his career Dreyfuss answered that he really wished heâ€™d been a high school teacher in Indiana. Hewitt praised Dreyfussâ€™s value placed on teachers and told the audience, â€œTeachers get levels of satisfaction out of what they do that are off the charts for happiness levels.â€? Hewitt also talked about developing a family GPA â€“ ranking your relationships within an extended family â€“ and how improving this grade will also improve happiness. Being humble and displaying gratitude will make you a happier person, too. Hewitt recalled his conversations with Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Carol Burnett and Andy Williams who, despite their riches, never forgot their roots and were grateful to those who opened doors for them in their respective careers. â€œPeople will give you breaks,â€? commented Hewitt, especially directed to the students in the audience. â€œBe open to what comes along and you will find yourself doing extraordinary things.â€? Hewitt shared that he was hired, as a 22 year old in 1978 to help Nixon with the Presidential Library in Yorba Linda. An audience member asked, â€œWhat did you really think of Richard Nixon?â€? Quick to respond he said, â€œThe best boss I ever had!â€?
Hugh Hewitt Photo/ McKenzie Images friends, co-workers, and church members comprise the list. â€œIf you practice these seven habits in these seven contexts â€” unless you are stricken with illness or disaster â€” you will almost certainly be happy!â€? Hewitt said. Highlighting his
Hewitt said that Nixon was a genius, who was brilliant in foreign affairs, and a key figure in 20th century history, despite his notoriety. Hewittâ€™s strong opinions on politics brought laughter from the audience, â€œSnowden should be executed... after a fair trialâ€?; Ronald Reagan was â€œmisunderestimated and Biden has perfected itâ€? and â€œBill Maher is rotten and corrosive,â€? he joked. In closing, Hewitt advised everyone to commit to lifelong learning, to choose good friends and to read a lot. And in following his own advice â€œto giveâ€? he spent time after the program in a private meeting with the Reality Changers students and the organizationâ€™s founder, Christopher Yanov. The event was co-sponsored by the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation. Christy Wilson, executive director, gave notice that the next speaker will be Dr. Maurizio Seracini (date to be announced in an upcoming issue of this newspaper). Viewpoints brings well-known, engaging speakers to the community to â€œInform, Inspire and Impactâ€? audiences. Visit http://villageviewpoints.com/ for information on future Viewpoints event.
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R. Christian Minson of Del Mar Toastmasters wins Club Level of the International Speech Competition
Winner R.Christian Minson (right) and his mentor Doug Kinnear (left).
Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. Toastmasters has a global network of 14,350 clubs in 122 countries with a total of 292,000 members. One of the largest clubs in the San Diego County area, Del Mar Toastmasters began over 25 years ago with a few members and has grown to an average membership of 70 people. The public is welcome to attend any meeting and learn about developing their speaking and leadership skills. Del Mar Toastmasters meets every Friday morning at St. Peterâ€™s Church in Del Mar at 7:30 a.m. For more information, please call 760-497-4092.
MARCH 6, 2014 - NORTH COAST
Del Mar Toastmasters held its annual International Speech Competition on Feb. 21 as part of the Toastmasters worldwide competition. R. Christian Minson, competing against five advanced club speakers, took first prize with his speech, â€œBig Boys Donâ€™t Cryâ€? and represents the Del Mar club at the next level, where the best of six clubs in the area will compete. The area level competition takes place on Tuesday, March 11, at 6 p.m., with a social at 5:30 p.m. The location for the competition is The La Jolla Commons, 4747 Executive Drive San Diego, 92122 (Hastings Building, 1st floor). The public is welcome to attend. Admission is $2.
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Solana Beach CERT members to discuss how to prepare for disaster at March 11 Solana Beach Library event Are you or your neighborhood prepared if a disaster occurs? Do you know what the risks are? Join Solana Beach CERT (Community Emergency Response Team Members) residents Vickie Driver and Linette Page on Tuesday, March 11, at 6:30 p.m. in the Solana Beach Library when they show attendees how to prepare in the event of a local disaster. They will also share basic information on how to distinguish if your fire extinguisher is expired and
CERT Team members Linette Page and Vickie Driver. how to use it; how to prevent a fire in your home; and how to prepare a home disaster kit.
CERT team members train and attend a 24-hour program with the Solana Beach Fire Departmentâ€™s EMTs and are certified through the Solana Beach Fire Department. Because the Fire Department may be overwhelmed with the extent of damage in the event of a natural disaster, there will be a need for all residents to engage in helping themselves during a fire, earthquake, terrorism or a flu pandemic.
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MARCH 6, 2014 - NORTH COAST
San Diego Jewish Academy students organize third annual ‘Walk to End Genocide’ March 23 By Kristina Houck After learning about the genocides in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in his eighth-grade Jewish studies class, Zander Cowan wanted to do something to help. Now a junior at San Diego Jewish Academy, Zander is once again organizing a walk to raise awareness, support and hope for survivors of genocide. “We want to bring across a powerful, yet positive message about spreading genocide awareness,” said 17-yearold Zander. He and his classmates, Ilana Engel and Naomi Suminski, are planning the third annual Walk to End Genocide on March 23 at Nobel Park in La Jolla. More than 6 million people have lost their lives to the genocide and mass atrocities in Sudan and DRC, according to Jewish World Watch, which is sponsoring the walk. After studying the Holocaust and learning about ongoing genocides in eighth grade, Zander and his fellow students raised $1,700 for JWW by selling blue rubber bracelets stamped with the words “Decide to End Genocide.” “We said, ‘We’re not just going to sit around and get really upset about this issue,’” he recalled. “We wanted to do something about it.” As freshmen, Zander, Ilana and Naomi organized the first walk at their campus. The inaugural walk had 100 walkers and raised $5,000 for JWW. Last year, the trio expanded their efforts by reaching out to other high schools and religious institutions. About 175 walkers raised $7,500 during the second annual walk at Ocean Air Community Park in Carmel Valley. “Genocide is not just a one religion, one race issue. It affects a broad base of faiths and ethnicities,” Zander said. “We reached out to church groups and other ethnic groups and clubs. That’s how the walk grew.” With Congresswoman Susan Davis as honorary walk
Organized by San Diego Jewish Academy students, the third annual Walk to End Genocide is set for March 23 at Nobel Park in La Jolla. (Above, l-r) Naomi Suminski, Zander Cowan, Ilana Engel. chair this year, organizers hope to raise $10,000 and increase participation to 300 walkers. Davis or a representative from her office is scheduled to speak. Other speakers are still being confirmed, Zander said. Proceeds will fund JWW programs. Founded in 2004, the nonprofit organization educates others about genocide, and establishes relief and development projects to empower and alleviate the suffering of survivors.
Women and girls who have fled the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, are particularly vulnerable to rape while collecting firewood for cooking. One of JWW’s projects equips refugee women with solar cookers so they can use energy from the sun to heat meals and avoid the often dangerous walks to collect firewood. It costs $40 to supply one family with two solar cookers. The cookers will be on display during the walk. “It’s really exciting because you sow the seed that’s your idea. It can only be grown and nurtured and turn into this tree after a bunch of other people have embraced it,” Zander said about the walk. “It gives me hope to see a lot of other people are passionate and as engaged in this as I am.” The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 23 at Nobel Park, located at 8810 Judicial Drive in La Jolla. Registration includes a T-shirt and costs $20 for adults, $15 for students and $5 for children ages 5-11. Children 4 and younger walk for free. This year’s event will include two one-mile walks at 10:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Beginning at 11 a.m., a rally and action fair will feature informational booths and hands-on projects. One of the projects is SDJA’s butterfly project. Through the educational art program, the school aims to create 1.5 million ceramic butterflies to represent the number of Jewish children killed by the Nazis during World War II. “The walk is a local grassroots student-led event,” Zander said. “It would be great to get as much local support as possible.” For more information and to register for the walk, visit walktoendgenocide.org. To learn more about Jewish World Watch, visit jewishworldwatch.org.
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By Joe Tash Ellis Ruley may not be a household name, but Glenn Palmedo-Smith aims to raise his profile. Ruley was a black artist who died under mysterious circumstances in 1959 in Connecticut, where he had lived his entire life. Palmedo-Smith, 62, a long-time local resident, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and writer, is fascinated with stories of people and events either forgotten or under-appreciated by society. â€œEvery project Iâ€™ve done, every book, is the voice for those who canâ€™t speak for themselves,â€? said PalmedoSmith. Palmedo-Smith has long been interested in Ruleyâ€™s story; he wrote a book about the artist in the 1990s, and later shot principal footage for a documentary. The project was shelved for other endeavors, but now PalmedoSmith hopes to complete the film in time to air over public television stations during Black History Month in February 2016. He is seeking to raise $500,000 to complete the film, which would then be donated to PBS for airing across the country. Ruley was a laborer who had no formal art training and came to painting in his late 50s. His frozen body was found on his driveway in 1959, and authorities ruled the death an accident. Palmedo-Smith said troubling signs, such as an unexplained head injury, suggest foul play might have been involved. Ruley may also have drawn the wrath of local racists due to his marriage to a white woman. More than 50 years after his death, Ruley is considered an important African-American folk artist, whose paintings have been shown both in traveling exhibitions and in museums, including the Smithsonian Institution, said Palmedo-Smith.
Erin Weidner, hostess Gigi Fenley and Glenn Palmedo-Smith with Ellis Ruleyâ€™s â€œAdam and Eve.â€? Photo/McKenzie Images The story has â€œeverything Iâ€™m about, the injustice, the racism, cavalier attitude of authorities. Itâ€™s everything that I love in a story, and this African-American artist who saw nothing but beauty in the world, he only got a truckload of woes,â€? Palmedo-Smith said. Rancho Santa Fe resident Gigi Fenley held a fundraising event for the film at her home in February. She said Palmedo-Smith is part detective, part storyteller, unearthing facts to weave a compelling tale. â€œThis particular project is captivating. The subject matter has a lot of merit, itâ€™s something that needs to get out, people need to know about it,â€? Fenley said. Ruleyâ€™s paintings are â€œplayful and childlike and primitive, but eloquentâ€? at the same time, said Fenley. He used
the materials at hand, and one painting is done on an card table, she said. Published reports about his work said that he used ordinary oil-based paints from his local hardware store, and during his lifetime, he attracted little attention, occasionally selling a painting for as little as $15. In the mid-1990s, about 60 of Ruleyâ€™s paintings were collected for a traveling exhibit that stopped at museums around the United States, including the San Diego Museum of Art. Fenley said she hopes Palmedo-Smith gets the backing he needs to complete his documentary on Ruley. â€œHe does amazing things with low budgets,â€? Fenley said of Palmedo-Smith. â€œHeâ€™s just one of those creative people. He doesnâ€™t need a boatload of money. He can do a lot with a little.â€? Palmedo-Smith, who said he is now splitting his time between California, Arizona and China, as he works on various film projects, has another fundraising event tentatively planned for April 12 in Rancho Santa Fe. Along with artistic interest, law enforcement authorities are also taking a fresh look at events surrounding Ruleyâ€™s death, including the earlier, suspicious death of Ruleyâ€™s son-in-law, and the burning down of Ruleyâ€™s house after his death. There has even been talk of exhuming the bodies of Ruley and his son-in-law, Douglas Harris, to examine them for sign of foul play, Palmedo-Smith said. Palmedo-Smith said he hopes the film and a reissue of his book, â€œDiscovering Ellis Ruley,â€? will bring new attention to the artist and his work. â€œIt will be a major thing, it will be on everyoneâ€™s radar for a few weeks and thatâ€™s a dream for me to have happen,â€? he said. For more information, or to contribute to the documentary project, contact James Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Palmedo-Smith at DiniFilms@yahoo.com.
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Filmmaker seeks to complete documentary about little-known African-American artist
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