News Briefs — Dec. 16, 2016

Posted: December 16th, 2016 | Briefs, Calendar, Opinion & News Briefs, News | No Comments

Vista Hill holds ribbon-cutting ceremony

An open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony were held Dec. 2 to introduce the new Vista Hill Mission Gorge Building at 6070 Mission Gorge Road. The facility will house Vista Hill programs including one of the Stein Education Center’s (SEC) Adult Programs.

Vista Hill operates five SEC Adult Program sites throughout San Diego County, serving approximately 300 adults each year. The new building will help Vista Hill expand its capacity to assist adults with disabilities. In 2017, Vista Hill will celebrate its 60th year of serving families throughout the county in the areas of intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance use disorder.

A Native basket display at the new cultural museum at Sycuan Casino (Courtesy of Sycuan Casino)

A Native basket display at the new cultural museum at Sycuan Casino (Courtesy of Sycuan Casino)

Cultural Resource Center and Museum opens

The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation held a grand opening of its new Cultural Resource Center and Museum on Dec. 9. The opening ceremony included Kumeyaay Bird Singers and Dancers, native blessings and a traditional sage smudging purification.

The new center holds a large amount of ancient Kumeyaay artifacts, museum quality collections and scholarly research including the “Shipek Collection” of Kumeyaay archives. It includes historical photos and a wall-length timeline and pictogram depicting more than 12,000 years of Kumeyaay history. The Cultural Resource Center and Museum is located on the grounds of the Sycuan Resort and Casino on the prehistoric Kumeyaay village of Matamo.

“The Sycuan Tribe is extremely proud to open to the public our new Cultural Resource Center and Museum,” said Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez in a written statement. “The history and spirit of the village of Matamo courses through and infuses the facility, exhibits and programs that will be offered here. We encourage all Native Americans — and all San Diegans — to visit and learn about Kumeyaay history and culture through viewing of these ancient artifacts, accessing a comprehensive collection of scholarly research, and enjoying programs and services that will foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich Kumeyaay culture.”

Students enrolling at Grossmont College (Courtesy GCCCD)

Students enrolling at Grossmont College (Courtesy GCCCD)

New grant funds training

Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges are taking advantage of the America’s Promise grant fund to create a workforce development program to educate and train people from underserved populations at no cost for jobs.

The $6 million grant for the local colleges from the Federal Department of Labor funds programs that prepare citizens for jobs that have traditionally relied on the H-1B visa program, which allowed employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in occupations requiring specialized skills. The grant in California is named the SoCal Promise grant, and is meant to recruit, train and help employ those facing job barriers, including veterans, Native Americans, ex-offenders and the unemployed. Those chosen for the program will be prepared for careers in advanced manufacturing, information technology and emerging technology.

Programs at Cuyamaca College to be targeted for the grant include mechatronics (robotics), practical engineering and cybersecurity. At Grossmont College they include information technology, computer technology, cybersecurity and drone technology. Those interested in the program may contact the respective colleges. Visit Cuyamaca College at Visit Grossmont College at

Orchard Supply Hardware arrives

Orchard Supply Hardware, a home hardware and garden supply retailer, held its grand opening Dec. 10 at 8780 Navajo Road. The store has nearly 28,000 square feet, with a 4,600-square-foot nursery, and offers more than 35,000 items for sale.

This is the first Orchard Supply Hardware to open in San Diego. The new store, managed by Shane Holly, employs nearly 70 full- and part-time people. It caters to those attempting do-it-yourself home projects and includes specialized in-store services such as window and door rescreening, project customization, and lock and re-keying services.

The San Jose-based company operates 80 stores in California, three in Oregon and three in Florida.

Del Cerro residents made the Kaiser Thanksgiving Food Drive a success. (Courtesy of Kassy Kaiser)

Del Cerro residents made the Kaiser Thanksgiving Food Drive a success (Courtesy of Kassy Kaiser)

The Kaiser’s Food Drive is a success

The Kaiser’s 30th Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive collected more than 3.5 tons of food which was distributed to 100 families through the Salvation Army. The Del Cerro community and Kassy, Lindy and Tom Kaiser of Keller Williams Realty in El Cajon joined forces to make the food drive a success.

Each of the 100 families received all the ingredients for a full turkey dinner including such items as a turkey, dinner rolls, vegetables, fruits and even a roasting pan. The Salvation Army selected the recipient families and picked up the boxes of food for distribution on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Day.

Windmill Farms and Matt Mann provided the turkeys, Mike Kull from Home Depot provided the boxes, Pat and Chuck McGregor provided the roasting pans, Nancy Losek collected food at Pizazz Salon and Spa, and Jack and Candy Kirchner allowed the use of their garage for the project. More than 50 volunteers and food donors made the food drive possible this year.

Mayor kicks off tree planting

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer signaled the start of a tree-planting program in some of San Diego’s underserved neighborhoods Dec. 1. A Cal Fire grant has made it possible for the city to begin planting 500 street trees and continue with the goals of the city’s Climate Action Plan, which has the purpose of making San Diego a sustainable, environmentally friendly city.

The city will plant the trees in Sherman Heights, Lincoln Park, Grantville and surrounding neighborhoods. The $750,000 grant was awarded by the Cal Fire Urban & Community Forestry Program and will fund the tree planting, the hiring of consultants to conduct an inventory of all street trees in the city, and fund a Light Detection and Ranging analysis, which is a method of surveying the citywide tree canopy coverage by use of lasers.

The new MTS propane bus fleet (Courtesy of MTS)

The new MTS propane bus fleet (Courtesy of MTS)

MTS rolls out propane buses

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) showcased its new fleet of buses fueled by propane autogas on Dec. 7. MTS has purchased 31 minibuses and 46 paratransit buses that use propane fuel. The vehicles are expected to lower operating costs and reduce emissions by 2 million pounds per year.

“MTS will save about $5.8 million over the five to seven year lifecycle of the vehicles and reduce the carbon intensity by 71 percent,” said MTS Chief Executive Officer Paul Jablonski in a written statement.

Each minibus is built on the Ford F-550 chassis. The paratransit buses ride on the Ford E-450 chassis. Each is powered by a 6.8 Liter V10 engine with a special propane autogas fuel system. Propane autogas is a low carbon fuel that reduces greenhouse gases by up to 25 percent, with 60 percent less carbon monoxide and fewer particulate emissions than gasoline, according to the MTS. It costs about 40 percent less than gasoline and up to 50 percent les than diesel fuel.

VA offers pre-need burial determinations

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will now make determinations for burials in VA national cemeteries before the time of need. The pre-need eligibility determinations will speed up the process to gain this benefit earned by veterans for themselves and their family members.

Those eligible are entitled to burial in any open VA national cemetery, opening and closing of the grave, ongoing care of the gravesite and a government-furnished headstone or marker at no cost to the family.

Those interested in the program may submit VA Form 40-10007. Application for Pre-Need determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery and supporting documentation, such as DD Form 214, may be sent to the VA National Cemetery Scheduling Office by toll-free fax, 855-840-8290; emailed to; or mailed to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office, P.O. Box 510543, St. Louis, MO 63151.

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