Cuyamaca, Grossmont colleges offering eight-week classes starting Oct. 12

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Interested in earning college credit in just two months from Grossmont or Cuyamaca colleges?

Eight-week courses beginning the week of Oct. 12  are a great way to pick up general education or subject-specialty classes in less time, but at the same affordable cost of regular semester-length classes. The classes ending Dec. 7 offer from one to five credits at a cost of $46 per unit. They consist of traditional, online and hybrid classes, which require both in-classroom and online attendance.

For students looking to complete general education course requirements, classes offered include Introduction to Physical Anthropology, History of Jazz Music, History of Rock Music, Interpersonal Communication, English Fundamentals, Modern American History, Principles of Humanities, Introduction to Philosophy, Spanish, College Composition and Reading, Public Speaking, Intermediate Algebra, English as a Second Language and more.

Other courses offer specialized training and instruction such as Grossmont College’s Culinary Arts classes in food purchasing, bread making and chocolate preparation, and Nursing program classes in nursing pharmacology and neurologic and psychiatric nursing. Cuyamaca College’s specialized courses include Water/Wastewater Technology classes in water conservation and water treatment plant operations and the Ornamental Horticulture program’s urban forestry class.

Business office training is available in online, self-paced courses such as Keyboard/Document Processing, and Using Microsoft Outlook. Students can also improve how they learn by enrolling in Study Skills and Time Management or find help in their educational and career paths in College and Career Success and Transfer Success.

Lists of class offerings at Grossmont and Cuyamaca  are posted online at

Grossmont College is located at 8800 Grossmont College Drive in El Cajon. Cuyamaca College is at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in the community of Rancho San Diego. College applications and online registration are available at  and

The deadline for registering is Oct. 16.


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Padre Dam Recognized as “District of Distinction”

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Padre Dam Municipal Water District received the “District of Distinction” accreditation by the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF) for its sound fiscal management policies and practices in district operations.

Padre Dam is one of only 26 special districts in California to hold this accreditation. The District of Distinction recognition is awarded to special districts that display achievements in the areas of governance, transparency, finances, and board conduct.The District’s Board of Directors and executive staff must show proof of educational training in public governance, as well as compliance with ethics and harassment prevention training as part of the qualifications for the accreditation.

“The Board of Directors take great pride in receiving the District of Distinction recognition,” comments Doug Wilson, Padre Dam Board President, “We are dedicated to ensuring our customers receive the highest quality of service. This accreditation signifies success in providing high level service.”

“SDLF provides an independent audit review of the last three years of Padre Dam’s operations to ensure prudent fiscal practices,” said Neil McCormick, SDLF Chief Executive Officer. The committee members who review the audits are volunteers from the special district community, including district controllers, directors of finance and certified general managers.

In order to receive the recognition, Padre Dam’s website must include posting transparency requirements, including: election procedure and deadlines, posted board meeting schedule and agendas, current district budget, most recent financial audit, and a link to the State Controller’s website with compensation data for board members and staff.

Padre Dam Municipal Water District provides water, wastewater, recycled water and recreation services to close 100,000 residents in the San Diego suburbs of Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Flinn Springs, Harbison Canyon, Blossom Valley, Alpine, Dehesa and Crest. The District imports 100% of its treated water supply and treats two million gallons per day (PGD) of wastewater at the Ray Stoyer Water Recycling Facility.

SDLF is an independent, non-profit organization formed to promote good governance and best practices among California’s special districts through certification, accreditation and other recognition programs.


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Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges begin fall semester with more classes, students

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The new semester begins Aug. 17 for more than 28,000 students at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges with the continuing trend of additional class offerings and higher enrollment at the two East County colleges.

The two colleges are offering more than 2,400 class sections this year, almost 5 percent more than last fall. Enrollment at Grossmont is expected at about 19,000 students, up 4 percent from 2014, while enrollment at Cuyamaca College is projected at about 9,200 students, a 5 percent increase.

Students still have the opportunity to register for fall classes, with the colleges continuing online registration through Aug. 16. Schedules and registration links are available at

“We are continuing to recover from the recession with increased funding and we are looking forward to a great year as we keep focused on improving student success,” said Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.

Among Grossmont College’s offerings this fall are three new associate degrees for transfer in economics, English and Spanish, bringing to 17 the total number of transfer degrees that provide community college students guaranteed admission in the California State University system. Cuyamaca College offers the associate degrees for transfer in 16 majors, including Spanish, added for the fall semester.

Grossmont College is starting the semester with a new president, Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh, formerly president of West Los Angeles College. He started at the El Cajon college in July.  At Cuyamaca College, Wei Zhou is serving as interim president, with the announcement of a new president expected this fall.

Physical improvements will be evident, with resurfaced parking lots and road repairs and at both campuses. At Grossmont College, new drought-tolerant landscaping with fruitless olive trees and rocks along the perimeter road will reduce water use and maintenance costs. At Cuyamaca College, a new weight facility was added for body building and conditioning classes.

To welcome new and returning students, both colleges have several activities planned for the first week of classes. Grossmont’s Week of Welcome – WOW – features workshops and information booths highlighting programs and an All-campus Information and Activity Fair in the Main Quad. Cuyamaca’s Welcome Week will include information tables; a Health and Wellness Center resource fair; a meet-and-greet and free lunch for student veterans; an open house of the Student Services One-stop Center; Ping-Pong, Wii games, pizza and ice cream sundaes with student government members; a Student Organization Involvement Fair; and a workshop on preventing relationship violence.

 Grossmont College is at 8800 Grossmont College Drive in El Cajon; Cuyamaca College is at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in the community of Rancho San Diego. For more information about the college district, go to

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Applications Now Being Accepted For The Heartland Fire & Rescue Reserve Firefighter Academy

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Heartland Fire & Rescue, serving the Cities of El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove, is currently accepting applications for the reserve portion of the Heartland Fire Academy through August 7, 2015. Applications will be accepted between 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at 100 E. Lexington Avenue in El Cajon.

A reserve firefighter is an auxiliary position with the Heartland Fire & Rescue Fire Department. It’s an excellent opportunity for those interested in a fire service career to get invaluable hands-on experience while also giving back to the community. Participation as a reserve neither implies nor guarantees an offer of employment with the Heartland Fire & Rescue Fire Department; however, it is a valuable resume builder toward a firefighting career!Avitar

After successful completion of the reserve academy, the reserve firefighter is expected to continue personal growth through required monthly training classes, training assignments and ride-along experience. During the ride-along shift, reserves will be assigned as part of an engine company or paramedic unit and experience first-hand, firefighting, medical aids, rescue calls and other public service activities. Reserve firefighters also gain experience through participation in fire prevention and fire education programs.

For additional information, such as minimum requirements, visit and click on “Jobs.” Applicants are strongly encouraged to refer to these websites frequently for updated information.

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Cuyamaca College honors grad proves doctors wrong

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Ion Moe/Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Brandon Kover was accompanied at Cuyamaca College’s commencement ceremony by his favorite instructor, Lindy Brazil, who helped her former student through the processional.

Ion Moe/Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District
Brandon Kover was accompanied at Cuyamaca College’s commencement ceremony by his favorite instructor, Lindy Brazil, who helped her former student through the processional.

A doctor told Brandon Kover’s parents soon after his birth that as the extremely rare individual born without a cerebellum – the region of the brain critical to motor movement and balance – he would be a human vegetable, unable to move or communicate.

This month, in a cap and gown draped with the gold cord of an honors graduate, the 23-year-old Rancho San Diego resident was part of the Class of 2015 at Cuyamaca College’s 37th annual commencement ceremony. He took part in the processional seated in a wheelchair, clapping as he received his associate degree in web development, and certificates in web design and web programming.

It took five years and a mother’s infinite love, along with the support of college administrators, instructors and staff, including the team of counselors and specialists at Cuyamaca College’s Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) office. It was a spectacular day marking a stellar achievement.

Kover is only one of nine documented cases in the world of people born without a cerebellum, his mother, Annette Kover, said. He has ataxic cerebral palsy, so his movements are sometimes jerky and his speech is difficult to understand. But put him behind a computer or place a smart phone in his hands and you would never know he has a disability.

“This is the culmination of so much work on the part of his whole family, but especially Brandon,” said his father, Jeff Kover. “Brandon has overcome great odds. He has inspired so many with his grit, his resolve, and his talents. But to his teachers, he was one of many that were there to get a start on life. And they did that for him. We will be forever grateful.”

Interim college president Wei Zhou said students like Kover reflect the community college mission of making higher education accessible to all.

“We are so proud of Brandon and all of our graduates who have persevered and overcome great challenges,” he said. “We recognize the diverse needs of our students and as a team, we are committed to the educational success of each and every student.”

Kover said in an email interview that he had a great experience at Cuyamaca College, where he was offered assistance and support while still being accepted as “just another student” despite his unique condition.

“DSPS has helped me throughout my college experience by arranging for extra time on tests, providing a table in most of my classes, and of course, Club ABLED,” he said.

Graduating with a grade-point average of 3.75, Kover excelled in his classes, scoring high on essays and written tests. Because of his speech impairment, he relied on a Tobii C12 speech generating device for classroom presentations.

At age 2, Kover enrolled at El Cajon’s Sevick Elementary School, where his special education classes introduced him to computers, opening up a whole new world for the toddler. Over the years, he became adept with the keyboard and was eventually mainstreamed into classes at Steele Canyon High School.

With both parents being educators – his father is the visual and performing arts director for the Sweetwater Union High School District and his mother is a former music teacher – college was a given. Cuyamaca College is just down the street from home, so the Rancho San Diego community college was an easy pick.

Lindy Brazil, Kover’s favorite instructor at the college, helped her former student through the processional at commencement. The composition teacher said his test scores showed the second highest improvement of all the students who have ever taken her class.

“Brandon is a remarkable young man who has achieved great things by working hard and persevering,” she said, teary-eyed at commencement. “His entire family supported him so much through this process and it is such a great privilege for me to be able to share in celebrating his success.”

Kover’s mother, who often accompanied her son to class as his note-taker, said she was struck by how much Brazil cares for students and all that she does to help them succeed.

“Lindy had Brandon in her class only during his freshman year, but what I remember from that first day of class was her saying that she wanted to get to know him,” said Annette Kover, who gave up her career to devote herself to her son’s college education. “She took the time to talk to Brandon and made him feel very much a part of the class.”

Not all instructors allowed Annette Kover in the classroom, but she said the separation taught her son to become self-reliant, a point echoed by Mary Asher-Fitzpatrick, a learning disabilities specialist at Cuyamaca.

“DSPS encourages and strives to assist students to use and develop self-advocacy and independent skills as much as possible,” Asher-Fitzpatrick said.

That is also the message of Club ABLED, a campus group for students with disabilities which Kover joined and volunteered as webmaster. Asher-Fitzpatrick is the club’s co-adviser, along with Margaret Jones, a speech, language and cognitive specialist with DSPS.

“Brandon was at first unsure when I asked him to be the group’s webmaster, but the more he did it, the more confident he became and he helped make improvements,” she said. “We see students like Brandon who have great challenges, but it’s pretty amazing how they can succeed if they are willing to persist and work hard.”

While students with disabilities are provided tools and resources to improve learning, all students are held to the same academic standards.

“Unlike the K-12 system, community colleges do not provide special ed,”Asher-Fitzpatrick said. “We provide academic accommodations to students with verifiable disabilities that help them reach their educational goals. We counsel and work with students in DSPS to identify achievable goals and to develop an education plan.”

When a student seeks services from DSPS, the office first verifies the disability, then provides an orientation to identify the student’s particular classroom needs. These needs or accommodations include Braille or enlarged text for the visually impaired, voice amplifiers for the hearing impaired, assistive software and hardware, and more.

Classes are also offered that teach self-advocacy, learning strategies, the use of assistive technology, and maximizing communication skills.

The approximately 1,500 students provided DSPS services at Cuyamaca College represent a broad range of disabilities, said DSPS coordinator Beth Viersen. Most common are psychological and mobility disabilities, in addition to attention deficit disorder, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and learning disabilities.

Kover’s father said Cuyamaca College staff always stressed his son’s ability to succeed, no matter his physical limitations.

“The teachers believed in him,” Jeff Kover said. “They pushed him. They did not coddle or take pity. This is not to say that your great teachers did not care. On the contrary, they cared enough to treat him as though he could achieve anything. Cuyamaca College has taught Brandon that anything is possible, and that dreams really can come true.”

Now that he’s finished at Cuyamaca College, Kover hasn’t decided what he will do next. He said a business class he took has him interested in becoming an entrepreneur. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree is also a possibility.

For now, he’s relishing the feeling of achievement from his five years of diligent study at Cuyamaca College and the sheepskin finally in his possession.

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Lakeside native serves with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41

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LOONEY-150514-N-YM440-210By Lt. Emily J. McCamy

A 2005 El Capitan High School graduate and Lakeside, Calif. native is serving with a U.S. Navy helicopter squadron that flies the Navy’s newest and most technologically-advanced helicopter, the MH-60R Sea Hawk.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jenniffer Looney is an aircrew survival equipmentman with the “Seahawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41, based out of San Diego.

“The squadron provides an opportunity to train aircrew and pilots to become the best they can be. It takes a team to train them and I like being part of that team,” said Looney.

The squadron deploys its helicopters and personnel around the world aboard a variety of Navy ships, including frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers.

While aboard ships at sea, the squadron conducts a variety of missions.

“Our missions aboard ships include tracking and hunting enemy submarines, combatting enemy surface ships, search and rescue, communications relay, and ferrying supplies, cargo and personnel,” said Lt. Reagan Lauritzen, Commander, Naval Air Force U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesperson.

As an aircrew survival equipmentman, Looney is responsible for maintaining survival equipment for the pilots and aircrew.

“If the aircraft were to fail, it’s our gear that saves them, we are the ‘last to let them down,’” said Looney. “My job is very hands-on and it’s up to us to meet perfection in our job at all times because in the end, someone is relying on me to remain alive.”

The MH-60R Sea Hawk is over 60 feet long, and can weigh up to 23,500 lbs. It is replacing the Navy’s older helicopters because of its greater versatility and more advanced weapon systems.

“The MH-60R features more sophisticated electronics, like a new low-frequency sonar and an advanced radar system,” said Lauritzen. “The Seahawk can also launch torpedoes, fire Hellfire missiles and laser guided rockets, and carry crew served weapons”

Looney said she is proud to be a part of the 433-member squadron that is ready to defend America at all times.

“Being in the Navy has been a growth experience for me,” said Looney. “I’ve excelled in every aspect of my career and I feel it’s the one thing I’ve truly been good at which is very fulfilling.”

Being a sailor assigned to a helicopter squadron and in a deployable status means spending a lot of time away from friends and family, but serving her country makes it worth it for Looney.

“I like deploying,” said Looney. “I’ve been to nearly 20 countries and have had vast experiences, like providing humanitarian aid in Haiti after the earthquake or dining with families in Hong Kong. It’s amazing to see these different cultures and do this while I’m working. I get paid to do this, that is rewarding.”

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Youth Rodeo comes back to Lakeside Rodeo Grounds after seven years

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DSC_0585Over the weekend, the California High School Rodeo District 8 competitions were held at the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds. I have to hand it to these young competitors as they were fierce throughout the competitions. And CHSR is a great organization for these high schoolers. Although very competitive, it is much more than that. Within the organizations they hold leadership positions, are given opportunities for scholarships and take on roles as mentors. With young cowboys and cowgirls competing together and separately, these student come from all over Southern California, and from different schools.

In speaking with a few of them, Jr. Rodeo and the CHSR is giving them tools for the future, not only in rodeo competition, but life tools that they can take on through college and careers. And perform they did.

With bull riding, break and release, barrel racing, goat tying, steer wrestling, pole riding and more, this is an all out rodeo and just as entertaining. There were some great moments and some moments of disappointment for some, but they kept on trudging, doing the best they could in each event. It is my hope that they choose Lakeside again, as the El Capitan Association was extremely happy to have them there. It is wonderful to see this sporting event that has so much support and activity from the young generation, who will become the next generation of PRCA competitors.


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Lemon Grove City Manager Announces Resignation

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At the conclusion of the City Council meeting on May 5, 2015, Lemon Grove City Manager, Graham Mitchell, announced his resignation in a move to the Assistant City Manager position in the City of Escondido.

City Manager Graham Mitchell announced his resignation at the conclusion of last night’s City Council meeting.  Graham’s last day of employment will be Tuesday, June 16, 2015.  Graham has accepted the Assistant City Manager position with the City of Escondido.

Mitchell stated, “I am grateful for the City Councilmembers I have had the opportunity to serve, the amazingly dedicated staff that tirelessly work to make Lemon Grove a better place, and the Lemon Grove community for accepting me and my family.  I will miss working with all those in Lemon Grove.  Working in Lemon Grove has been the most enriching professional experience of my life.  I feel honored to have had the opportunity to work for the City of Lemon Grove.”

Mayor Mary Sessom added, “Graham Mitchell has been an excellent leader both at City Hall and in the community.  City Council recognizes the wonderful opportunity Escondido has presented to Graham. We wish him well.  But, what we really wish, is that he would stay in Lemon Grove as our City Manager.  Barring that, we wish that the City of Escondido treats Graham well for we know he will be good for them.”

The City Council will have an agenda item at the May 19, 2015 meeting to discuss transition issues.

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SANDAG today launched its new Walk, Ride, and Roll to School mini-grant program to help increase active transportation and safety education for students throughout the region.

In support of International Walk to School Day in October, mini-grants of up to $1,500 will be awarded to public or private K-12 schools or school districts to help develop programs or projects that educate and encourage active forms of transportation to and from school, or that promote pedestrian and bike safety around schools. Funded through the SANDAG iCommute program, a total of $30,000 in grant funding is available.

The mini-grants empower schools by giving them the resources and flexibility they need to organize events and programs that work best for their students.  Approved projects and programs will take place between September 1 and November 30, 2015. Funds may be used toward event expenses such as permits and supplies, marketing materials, and student incentives.

Examples of eligible programs and projects include events or fairs that promote and encourage students to walk, bike, skate, or ride a scooter to school. Other concepts could include: bike rodeos and safety obstacle courses for students; a walking school bus or bike train program; classes related to bike and pedestrian safety; and contests that challenge and reward students for using active transportation.

iCommute will accept applications through May 22, 2015. The request for grant applications, complete eligibility criteria, and application forms are available on the Walk, Ride, and Roll to School event web page. Completed applications should be submitted by email to iCommute consultant Maggie Li at Questions relating to the mini-grants may also be directed to Li.

iCommute, managed by SANDAG,  is the gateway to transportation choices in the San Diego region. Walk, Ride, and Roll to School is an annual awareness effort implemented through iCommute. The goals of the program are to increase the number of children who walk, bike, skate, or ride a scooter to school; raise awareness of the benefits of more active forms of transportation; and promote pedestrian and bike safety.

For more information, call 511and say “Schools” or email



The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is the San Diego region’s primary public planning, transportation, and research agency, providing the public forum for regional policy decisions about growth, transportation planning and construction, environmental management, housing, open space, energy, public safety, and binational topics. SANDAG is governed by a Board of Directors composed of mayors, council members, and supervisors from each of the region’s 18 cities and the county government.




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La Mesa, family owned coffee shop supports young military families

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La Mesa, CA, March 30th 2015. Fifteen days of fundraising to support the babies of the young, disadvantaged families of our enlisted soldiers.   It is organized by the coffee shop All The Perks Espresso Cafe, a local small business located in the La Mesa Springs Shopping Center (8046 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa, CA), which April 1-15 will give back 10 percent from the sales to STEP (Support The Enlisted Project) in the form of essential items and it will become a collection point: the direct support from the citizens can also be manifested with the donation of diapers and wipes, clothes and toys, essential household and new family items, infant car seats, strollers, cribs and high chairs, retail and grocery gift cards. The start of these two fundraising weeks will open at 12pm with an informational speech by Tony Teravainen, president and CEO of STEP, who will explain the activities of the association and their methods of support. The invitation to participate is extended to the citizens of the city of La Mesa as well as those who are in the area and are interested in supporting the cause.

All The Perks is a family owned and operated coffee shop born by the hands of the Vereda family, of Argentinean origin, whom with this initiative intend to demonstrate their support to the families of those soldiers who are risking their lives daily on the frontline through a direct and operative action. The Veredas believe that the help to struggling families must arrive horizontally from small business like theirs (as much as from corporations, nonprofit organizations and government institutions), in the name of a solidarity and a sensitivity that characterize the American people. For more information: (619)8889574.

STEP is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to providing financial grants to active duty and recently discharged military and their families in times of crisis and, through one-on-one counseling, creating a path of financial self-sufficiency. For more information:; (858)6956810.

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