Love where you live!
By Chris Lavin
La Mesa Today Editor
LA MESA -- One of the subtle facets of the new Bo-beau in La Mesa is the community table you find just inside the bar to the right of the entrance.
Wander in on any given night and take a seat there, rather than at a private table, and you never know who may join you in the next seat. You are so close together that invariably conversations start up and we've even shared food when the ample flat breads proved too much for one stomach.
Just last Tuesday night for example, we wandered in and there, sitting across from each other were Mayor Art Madrid and Mary England, executive director of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce.
Bo-beau, we thought, makes for strange bedfellows, but we didn't say that. For much of the last couple years, Hizzoner and Ms. England haven't exactly been on talking terms. He has boycotted chamber events and she has fired off e-mails that you couldn't pour on pancakes.
But here they were, brought together by the community table and we simply sat down to join in on the conversation.
"Are we interrupting detente?''
"Absolutely,'' England gushed. "The mayor is going to do the investiture of my new members next month!''
"Did you kiss and make up?'' we asked.
"Let's not get into the past. We just have to move on. We're too old for these grudges,'' she explained.
"Or maybe it's election year,'' we offered.
Dead air. The community table probably has rules and we probably just broke them.
But the mayor did acknowledge that he and England had talked out the original problems that led to the Ice Age and things will be warming up. He will be swearing in the new officers at the Chamber's fundraiser, which is held in Mission Valley in February.
Time heals all wounds.
The Birthing Of A New School
One by one, the candidates for the new La Mesa Arts Academy are showing up for entrance interviews. Fourth through eighth graders from throughout La Mesa and, it turns out, from throughout San Diego, are meeting with the new management of LMAAC to describe their desire for this new arts-based education.
"We now have a waiting list,'' Mark Arapostathis, one of the LMAAC founders explained. "Word is spreading and more people want in. One family is actually moving here from North County so their daughter can join us.''
The school is planning an April 29th welcoming event at the school and, with the growing interest, past experience suggests enrollment by the time school opens in the fall will exceed 500 students.
"It's just really going well,'' Arapostathis reports. "The students are getting their first interview experience and it is starting to dawn on all of us how new everything is. Everything is new -- the students, the teachers, the furniture. Some of it we have in the district, but we are literally building a school from scratch.''
Arapostathis said as the student body takes shape and opening day approaches, the teachers and administrators are getting excited about what it will mean to have students from fourth through eight grade in the same building.
LMAAC is a special arts-based magnet program that will operate as a separate school in the La Mesa Middle School campus starting this fall. Arapostathis, who heads Peter Pan Jr. Theater and the teen C. Hook Theater, is part of a team of educators pioneering a new approach to elementary education in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District.
Peace In Our Time
Nothing concrete to report, but Police Chief Ed Aceves, who is participating in the discussions, said any rumors of Oktoberfest's looming demise are not true. "We're just working to find a way to keep the event safe and manageable, meeting the city's obligations to the public while keeping it a lucrative enough event for the organizers.''
Security problems with roving bands of under-supervised teens has caused civic stomach aches for city officials, and particularly for residents of downtown condos and apartments who found their usually quiet environs looking like one of the Jets and Sharks scenes from West Side Story. (For the show-tune challenged, think gangs, knives and too much testosterone in one place.)
Aceves said he is optimistic accommodations and adjustments can be made and Oktoberfest will happen -- though its shape and size is still being talked out.
"We expect bringing it back to council for one of the March meetings,'' Aceves said.
In the meantime, construction will begin soon on the street scape project that will transform Oktoberfest's main street -- La Mesa Boulevard. It is hoped the majority of that project will be completed before the new Oktoberfest is unveiled.