Lewis Middle School scores athletics grant
Sports teams at Lewis Middle School will soon be enjoying uniforms and jerseys thanks to a $1,000 Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant from California Casualty. Physical education teacher Rodney Lowe said the new uniforms will help build school spirit and pride. Currently, participants in various sports wear a mish-mash of different T-shirts and sports apparel. The uniforms will be shared by the basketball, cross country and Special Olympics teams.
Lewis Middle School is one of 64 public middle schools and high schools in 32 states awarded a total of $67,000 to aid sports programs affected by tight budgets. Six other California Schools also received 2019 Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grants, for a total of $7,049.
The grant is named for California Casualty Chairman Emeritus Tom Brown, an avid sportsman who has observed that lessons learned on athletic fields — teamwork, confidence and sportsmanship — translate to the classroom and beyond.
Since its inception in 2011, more than $738,000 has been awarded to some 630 schools across the nation.
“The Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grants benefit students and communities, and California Casualty is proud to support that effort,” California Casualty Assistant Vice President Lisa Almeida said.
Kiwanis spread the love with PB&Js
On April 18, members of the Lewis Builders Club, Patrick Henry Key Club, Marvin K-Kids, SDSU Circle K, and Grantville-Allied Gardens Kiwanis Club gathered to construct PB&J sandwiches, compile bag lunches, and deliver the meals Downtown where they are needed most.
The effort totaled 717 bag lunches, up from last year’s count of about 550. Some of the bag lunches had two sandwiches and organizers guess that they made approximately 900 sandwiches in total. Distributing the bag lunches outside the St. Vincent de Paul complex took less than 30 minutes.
“This is probably the fifth or sixth year that we have done this project, and this was the first year in which we did not do any advance fundraising,” said Grantville-Allied Gardens Kiwanis Club President John Crawford. The project was funded with Kiwanis Club donations and the donations of Lewis Middle School faculty and parents. “We broke every record and had our most successful PB&J project yet.”
Best of Mission Times ballot raffle winners!
Voting for the 2019 Best of Mission Times Courier continues through June 24. Winners in our Dining & Entertainment and Business & Retail categories will be announced in the Sept. 13 issue of the paper.
In the meantime, Mission Times Courier is holding raffles for prizes from our sponsors Allen & Rosa, HomeStreet Bank, Longhorn Bar & Grill, Marie Callendar’s, Troy’s Greek Restaurant, Elam’s Hallmark, Mission Trails Dentistry, Trinity Yoga, The SD Flower Shop, Mona’s Italian Restaurant, Windmill Farms, Pizazz! Hair and Nail Salon, Mattress Makers and TruSelf Sporting Club. To enter, readers only need to vote for their favorite local businesses, either online at missiontimescourier.com or by filling out the ballot found on page 20 and mailing to the paper.
We are pleased to announce our first raffle winners! Rebecca Loomis won a $25 gift card from The SD Flower Shop and Alexis Popko won a $25 gift card from Mona’s Italian Restaurant. Raffle winners will be announced in every issue of the paper leading up to the Best Of Mission Times Courier issue in September.
Race for District 2 takes shape
On April 11, former state Assembly member and state Senator Joel Anderson announced his candidacy for the District 2 seat on the San Diego Country Board of Supervisors. So far, Anderson will be running against Poway mayor and fellow Republican Steve Vaus, who announced his candidacy on Feb. 20.
Democratic candidates Tom Lemmon and Kenya Taylor are widely seen as longshots for the board seat in the historically conservative district where Republicans hold a 6% registration advantage.
The District 2 seat is open for the first time since 1992, when Supervisor Dianne Jacob was elected to the first of her six terms on the board.
District 2 is the largest of San Diego County’s five districts. The district encompasses more than 2,000 square miles and more than 50 communities and cities with more than 620,000 East County residents of the unincorporated communities of Lakeside, Alpine, Ramona and Julian along with the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee and Poway, as well as the city of San Diego communities of Allied Gardens, College Area, Del Cerro, Grantville, Navajo, Rolando and San Carlos.
County moves to add $25 million to affordable housing fund
On April 30, County Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Greg Cox proposed doubling a trust fund that is being used to create more affordable housing in the region.
They recommended adding an additional $25 million to the Innovative Housing Trust Fund program. The board launched the fund in 2017 with an initial infusion of $25 million to encourage developers to build housing for low-income seniors, families, veterans and others who may be homeless or those close to becoming homeless.
So far, an initial $12 million investment has helped finance six projects totaling $177 million and 453 units. County staff is reviewing applications for the remaining $13 million and those projects are expected to come before the board this summer.
“It’s time to double down on this innovative initiative by doubling the fund,” said board chair Jacob in a press release. “We’re putting out an even bigger welcome mat to developers and saying, let’s do business. And we’re telling families, your fight for affordable housing is our fight, too.”
The public-private partnership was created because of the huge need for affordable housing. The fund is part of a growing list of county initiatives aimed at addressing housing in our region. Other recent measures include fee waivers to cut the cost of building granny flats and other accessory dwelling units.
In addition to expanding the fund, recommendations to the board included broadening criteria for allowing funds to be allocated for transitional housing programs and including a preference for affordable housing projects within the unincorporated areas of the county.
“We appreciate the ongoing investment that the county is making through the Innovative Housing Trust Fund,” said Stephen Russell, executive director with the San Diego Housing Federation. “Working with the county, our sector has been able to leverage the past funding several times over in our efforts to address the housing crisis for the most vulnerable of our community members, and we look forward to doing the same with the new allocation of funds.”
Creek to Bay Cleanup draws thousands of volunteers
On April 27, I Love A Clean San Diego’s (ILACSD) 17th annual Creek to Bay Cleanup drew an estimated 6,000 volunteers to give back for Earth Day at 117 cleanup sites around San Diego County. Volunteers — including residents, corporate groups, and civic organizations —transformed their appreciation for San Diego’s environment into action during the three-hour cleanup. Volunteers enhanced the overall health and beauty of San Diego’s natural environment by removing more than 120,000 pounds of trash and debris from San Diego County.
Among the debris, there were several notable odd items collected during the cleanup including: electronic bidet attachment, gray wig, Darth Vader mask, deteriorating sleeping bag with weeds growing through it, and a metal bird cage shaped like a castle.
Volunteers also restored the local environment through beautification projects such as painting park structures, planting native plants and trees, mulching, and weeding. Thanks to thousands of volunteers, 117 parks, beaches and community spaces received special care to keep the area healthy and beautiful for the community.
Creek to Bay was an opportunity for the community to go green in more ways than one. With a push toward zero-waste practices, ILACSD encouraged all youth and adult volunteers to be more sustainable by choosing to bring at least one reusable item for the cleanup like a water bottle, work bucket, or gloves.
Creek to Bay is one of two annual countywide cleanups hosted by I Love A Clean San Diego that engages thousands of local families, community groups, and local businesses. Beyond countywide events, ILACSD continues to empower volunteers at hundreds of cleanups targeting specific neighborhoods, parks, and open spaces on an ongoing basis throughout the year. In 2018, ILACSD mobilized more than 34,000 volunteers who removed half a million pounds of debris from San Diego County. For more information about upcoming cleanups, workshops, or zero-waste tips, please visit CleanSD.org.
Committee votes to freeze subsidies for businesses shipping call center jobs
On April 24, the Assembly Labor Committee voted for legislation authored by Assembly member Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) that would suspend public subsidies and tax breaks for corporations that outsource call center jobs overseas.
The bill passed the committee on a 5-2 vote.
Assembly Bill 1677 would require that if a company off-shores more than 30% of its call center work, it would not be eligible for receiving any state grants, guaranteed loans or tax benefits for five years.
“The public good resulting for public funds going to businesses are good-paying jobs,” Weber said in a press release. “Instead of rewarding businesses that ship call center jobs overseas, we should instead prioritize these subsidies for businesses that do the right thing and keep jobs in California.”
Tom Runnion, vice president of Communications Workers of America (CWA), representing call-center workers in California, noted that AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Spectrum have closed call centers in California.
“We need new efforts that put Californians first,” he said. “Thousands of call-center workers across the country have lost their jobs in recent years as major corporations have offshored customer service operations overseas.”
Federal tax breaks for offshoring jobs are estimated to cost the American economy $215 billion over the next 10 years.
The bill will now move to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.
MTS rolls out new trolley cars
The next generation of trolley cars geared up and began service on the UC San Diego Blue Line on Saturday, April 20. The new trolley cars enter service as part of the 5000-series, representing the third generation of modern, low-floor vehicles that have been in operation on MTS’ light rail network since 2005.
For the past seven months, MTS has been steadily receiving new Siemens S700 trolley cars as part of an order of 45 vehicles placed in 2016. The first trolley car was delivered last August, in the iconic red paint scheme of the San Diego Trolley, with the remaining vehicles expected to be delivered over the next two years.
The 45 new S700 light rail vehicles (LRVs) have the same low-floor characteristics as newer models in MTS’ current fleet, but feature a redesigned middle section to improve passenger flow and provide door-to-door accessibility for riders in wheelchairs or other mobility devices. To facilitate cleaning and maintenance, train seats will be upholstered standard in vinyl rather than the cloth used in previous models. Additional features include improved interior sightlines for added security and relocated operational equipment to facilitate easier access by maintenance technicians.
“We worked closely over the last three years to ensure that these vehicles meet the needs of our system and our riders,” said MTS Chief Executive Officer Paul Jablonski at a press event for the new trolleys on April 17.
In addition to putting the vehicles into service now, MTS will use the new vehicles to increase service on the UC San Diego Blue and Orange lines beginning June 9.
SANDAG reduces traffic with new work schedule
As of April 8, SANDAG business offices are operating under a compressed work schedule and are closed to the public every other Monday.
“We must walk the walk as regional leaders in alternatives to driving alone,” said SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata in a press release. “This new schedule gives SANDAG staff the opportunity to do their part in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion.”
A compressed work schedule allows SANDAG employees to work a traditional work week in less than the traditional number of days. This can be accomplished by adjusting a traditional work schedule to 80 hours in nine days.
SANDAG’s Downtown offices will remain open to the public nine days every two weeks with every other Monday designated as the office closure day. For a full list of SANDAG business dates and hours of operation, visit sandag.org/about.
The Freeway Service Patrol and 511 Roadside Assistance call center will continue to provide service on Monday closure days.
More than 25 local employers active in the SANDAG iCommute program have also adopted compressed work schedules. The SANDAG iCommute program supports commuters in the region with an array of transportation alternatives and provides assistance to local businesses, helping them to develop and implement customized employee commuter benefit programs that lower costs, increase productivity, and help the environment. To learn more, visit 511sd.com/iCommute.