MTC News Briefs: June 16 – July 20, 2017

Del Cerro resident takes command of SSC Pacific

Longtime Del Cerro resident Capt. Melvin Yokoyama, Jr. assumed command of the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) on May 3, 2017.

The naval research facility, which has operated in San Diego for more than 75 years, is comprised of over 4,700 scientists, researchers, and engineers, and is a member of a team of research labs that comprise the Department of Defense’s biggest brain trust. Yokoyama has recently returned from Iraq where he served on the U.S. ambassador’s personal staff, working closely with the Iraqi government and military.

Capt. Mel Yokoyama exercises his natural affinity for high tech solutions while examining the latest touch screen designs being incorporated into SSC Pacific’s Future Vision demonstrations inside its Command Center of the Future. (Photo by Alan Antczak)

A native of the Big Island of Hawaii, Yokoyama holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Jacksonville University, a Master of Science degree in systems engineering (information warfare and electrical systems engineering subspecialties) from the Naval Postgraduate School, and is a member of the Defense Acquisition Corps.

With more than 25 years of service in the Navy, Yokoyama spent more than half of his career deployed overseas flying off of aircraft carriers or conducting sensitive reconnaissance missions. In 2016, Yokoyama volunteered to deploy on a one-year assignment to the U.S. Embassy, Baghdad, Iraq, where he served as the senior military advisor to the Iraqi Minister of Defense in the fight against ISIL terrorists.

“Having spent over a year in Iraq where I saw firsthand the many challenges our warfighters and coalition partners face each day, I’m looking forward to doing all I can to advance the work being done here at SSC Pacific,” said Yokoyama in a press release. “The scientists and engineers at SSC Pacific are some of the smartest people on the planet, and I share their longstanding commitment to ensuring our warfighters have every possible advantage to complete their mission and return home safe!”

Local author published in new book

Author Jennifer Coburn was recently published in a book of short stories about Paris. (Courtesy Jenifer Coburn)

Del Cerro native and author Jennifer Coburn was featured in a new book of short stories titled “A Paris of All Your Own: Bestselling Women Writers on the City of Light” for her piece, “We’ll Always Have Paris.”

The book, which is a collection of Paris-themed essays, was put together by New York Times bestselling author, Eleanor Brown.

Coburn, along with three other featured writers, will be hosting a Parisian dinner on July 13 at Le Parfait Paris located at 555 G St.

Tickets for the dinner, which begins at 6:30 p.m., can be purchased online at

Local Girl Scouts honored

Mission Valley Girl Scouts Elizabeth Jolliff, 13 and Amy Wasson, 11 were honored during Girl Scouts San Diego’s 17th annual Operation Thin Mint (OTM) Sendoff.

(l to r) Top Girl Scout Cookie sellers Elizabeth Jolliff and Amy Wasson were special guests at Girl Scouts’ Operation Thin Mint Sendoff.

The event, which was held at the USS Midway Museum on Friday, May 5 highlighted Girl Scouts who sold 2,017 or more boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in 2017.

At the end of the event Jolliff and Wasson joined other honorees to reveal that San Diegans donated a total of 141,570 OTM boxes of Girl Scout cookies this year for U.S. troops.

Kiwanis help host Hearst sleepover

On Friday, May 12 the Grantville-Allied Gardens (GAG) Kiwanis club hosted a movie night sleepover for Hearst elementary students. GAG Kiwanis members helped cook hamburgers, hotdogs and a pancake breakfast for attendees.

Gary Blume, Kathy Butterstein, John Chandler, Dave Erlanson, Mary Haas, Tony Haas, Doc Yelvington and Lewis Builders Club President Samantha Gantney, a seventh-grader and Hearst elementary alum, volunteered to set up the Friday night event.

(l to r) Samantha Gatney, Dan Yelvington, Cave Erlanson, Tony Hass, Mary Hass and Gary Blume (Courtesy GAG Kiwanis)

On the following Saturday morning, project chair Gary Blume, Kathy Butterstein, John Chandler, Pam Chandler, Dave Erlanson, Doug Grosmark, Mary Haas, John Peterson, Jack Scott, Doc Yelvington, and Alan Young helped clean up.

Local teens win Sunrise Optimist Club scholarships

Seeing the sunny side of life is the message from the Sunrise Optimist International Club of San Diego. Recently that theme was explored in the club’s college scholarship program honoring two local high school students.

Julia Ronney of Patrick Henry High and Helen Tang of University City High, both seniors, won first and second-place respectively for their essays recently at the club’s monthly breakfast meeting at Marie Callendar’s Restaurant in La Mesa.

This year’s essay prompt was “Chasing Optimism in the Face of Challenges.” Ronney’s approximately 800-word essay highlighted her daily quest of choosing optimistic thoughts in the face of challenges in sports, health and life. Tang said running for fitness is her pathway to seek optimism while facing leadership challenges.

Ronney was the first-place local winner and she finished third overall at the district level representing the Sunrise Optimist Club of San Diego.

(l to r) George Meulmester, Julia Ronney, Helen Tang and Dennis Andolsek (Courtesy Karen Ronney)

“We are so excited to help these two outstanding high school students,” said George Meulmester, the Youth Essay Contest Chair at Sunrise Optimist. “They are deserving recipients and they won because their essays showed they truly have positive attitudes and use optimism to overcome life’s challenges.”

At the Optimist Club award ceremony, the scholarship recipients read their essays to the group.

“I really appreciate all of the hard work that went into putting this together,” said Ronney, who is also the 2015 Sunrise Club essay winner. “This is such a great organization and I’ve really learned a lot about the importance of keeping a positive and optimistic attitude in life.”

Ronney is the top-ranked tennis player at Patrick Henry and plans to study biology at the University of Montana in the fall of 2017.

Tang, the president of the California Scholastic Federation Club at her school, will attend UC Berkeley and pursue a double major in business and engineering.

Sunrise Optimist Club of San Diego meets every Tuesday at 7:15 a.m. at Marie Callender’s Restaurant in La Mesa. For more info, please contact Club President Dennis Andolsek at

A mile of quarters

Lewis Builders Club’s entry at the Miracle Mile of Quarters; (l to r) Brodie Martin, Leia Mazur, Karmen Lee, Erin Maxwell and Christopher Trapp (Courtesy GAG Kiwanis)

The Grantville-Allied Gardens (GAG) Kiwanis club participated in the annual Miracle Mile of Quarters event to raise money for Rady Children’s Hospital on May 6.

Since 1986, Kiwanis has raised more than $2.5 million using collection jars of quarters gathered at San Diego businesses. All together, San Diego Kiwanis clubs raised more than $28,000 this year for the hospital.

At the event, Kiwanis Service Leadership Youth groups spread quarters along a red carpet, called the “Miracle Mile.”

Some businesses that helped with the success of the event include Iowa Meat Farms located at 6041 Mission Gorge Road, Keils Market located at 7403 Jackson Drive, 7-Eleven Store located at 7427 Mission Gorge Road and Brothers Family Restaurant located at 5051 Waring Road. 

Principal runs 20th Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon

Marathon runner, La Mesa resident, and Patrick Henry High School principal Listy Gillingham, 58, crossed the finish line of the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon for the 20th time the weekend of June 3–4 with a time of 5:21:34.

When asked what her favorite Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon memory was for a press release, Gillingham said, “It was the first time I qualified for Boston, about the fifth year of the race. I had a running colleague who helped me get through the last five miles of that race, keeping me focused after you lose it at the wall. Making jokes, making it fun, keeping your head in the game.”

Only 84 of the 30,000 who ran this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon have run it every year.

Send San Carlos girl to adaptive sports camp

By dining at any Luna Grill location, at any time in June, you can help 11-year-old San Carlos resident Claire Dermody, who has Spina Bifida.

Dermody hopes to attend the 2017 Adaptive Sports recreation camp this summer in San Diego. The Junior Adaptive Sports Camp through the Adaptive Sports and Recreation Association (ASRA), and sponsored by The Junior Seau Foundation, was created for children and young adults ages 4-18 with physical disabilities to help cultivate a love for sports.

Claire Dermody (Courtesy Aim Communications)

Through a point-of-sale donation option and matching funds, Luna Grill hopes to send as many athletes as possible to camp this year. Approximately 80 percent of campers need financial assistance to attend camp each year.

“Doesn’t everyone want to go to a camp where we can play all sorts of sports without our parents?” said Dermody for a press release. “I find a new sport each year I want to try during the year, I like them all. This year I hope to be swimming, playing tennis and basketball, and trying chair skating.”

Henry student wins poster contest

Patrick Henry High held its third Conservation Poster contest this year.

Forty students participated in the contest, which was hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Grantville-Allied Gardens (GAG), and coordinated by PHHS faculty member Ms. Lara Dickens and held during April and May.

Patrick Henry student Sophia Luna, who won the contest, will be receiving a cash prize as well as a certificate honoring her for the poster. The poster will also be printed and placed on the windows of Navajo, Allied Gardens, Grantville and San Carlos businesses.

The cash prizes given to the winner and runner-ups were offered by the Kiwanis Club and additional prizes were offered by the San Diego Water Department, SDG&E, The Midway, and other organizations with certificates hand lettered by the office staff of City Councilmember Scott Sherman for every competitor.

Sophia Luna’s winning poster (Courtesy GAG Kiwanis)

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