La Jolla News Nuggets, July 28

La Jolla Light nabs SPJ awards

At the San Diego Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) awards ceremony July 21 at the Kona Kai Resort on Shelter Island, La Jolla Light took home eight awards — three of them in first place.

Page designer Daniel K. Lew and reporter Ashley Mackin shared a first place recognition in “All-media design, photography and headlines: Front page news design.”

Ashley Mackin won two first place awards for her articles, “Two Sides of One Coin: High School Student Shares Story of Life with Bipolar Disorder” and “Library Launches 3-D Printing and Biotech Lab.” Daniel Lew also earned second place in “All-media design, photography and headlines: Feature design” for his Summer Fun Guide. La Jolla Light also earned four Honorable Mentions for its 14-part series on La Jolla’s faith communities.

La Jolla youths in Germany safe following shooting

All 17 members of a Mary, Star of the Sea youth group that were in Germany during the recent shooting have been accounted for, reports youth ministries director Bob Schrimpf and City News Service.

On Friday (July 22), the day of the shooting that claimed the lives on nine people, including the gunman, Schrimpf posted on Facebook: “Grateful to be alive. Our entire group is accounted for. Shootings happened downstairs in the stairwell we were about to go down. In hiding and waiting for assistance to get back to the hotel. Prayers please.”

The La Jolla Catholic church youth group was in Munich while in Europe for World Youth Day, a Catholic Church event being held this year in Krakow, Poland when the shooting began in a nearby shopping center.

The youth group, which includes 10 teenagers, will return to San Diego on Aug. 3, Schrimpf said.

La Jollan awarded with Legion of Honor

Colonel Robert Smothers of La Jolla was one of 10 World War II veterans approved for the award of The National Order of The Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight by the Government of France). The award is the highest honor France bestows on its citizens and foreign nationals. Awards were given during a private ceremony July 26 at Balboa Park.

According to his recognition papers, Smothers was born in Fullerton in 1922. He was a B-17 navigator with the 728th Bomb Squadron of the 452nd Bomb Group and flew in four combat missions into Germany and helped repatriate French POWs from Austria. He served a career in the U.S. Air Force retiring in 1971. His significant decorations include the Silver Star Medal (heroism in Korea), the Bronze Star Medal, five Air Medals, two Meritorious Service Medals, three Presidential Unit Citations, the EAME Campaign Medal with 1 battle star, the Korean Service Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal. He and his wife Hazel reside in La Jolla.

Plastic bag ban passes

The office of City Council President Sherri Lightner reports on Tuesday, July 19, the San Diego City Council voted to approve a Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance (also known as a Single-Use Carryout Bag Reduction Ordinance). “San Diego can now take a leadership role in limiting plastic bag use and reducing plastic pollution. Other cities that have reduced plastic bag use have seen multiple benefits. Also, we have included measures so as not to overburden our businesses or residents,” Lightner said. As part of the ordinance, there will be a 10 cent fee for single-use paper bags.

The Ordinance includes a six-month grace period for grocery stores and pharmacies, which will not begin charging for bags until March 2017. Other retailers, such as convenience stores and small markets, will have a one year grace period starting in September 2016, and will begin charging for bags in September 2017.

The ordinance intends to reduce the nearly 700 million single-use plastic carryout bags that are distributed in San Diego each year. It is estimated that only 3 percent of the 24 billion plastic bags used each year in California are being recycled.

La Jollan named to Coastkeeper board of directors

San Diego Coastkeeper recently announced the addition of La Jolla resident Dr. Mark Laska to its board of directors. Laska brings 25 years of experience in ecology and habitat restoration to the non-profit. As founder and president of Great Ecology, a San Diego-based ecological consulting firm, Laska’s career has focused on the restoration, planning, and design of urban and natural environments through sustainable solutions.

“By examining how all parts of an ecosystem are connected, Mark sheds light on how humans impact our environment,” says board president Elizabeth Taylor. “We’re excited to have Dr. Laska’s deep expertise help our board in addressing San Diego’s most pressing water challenges, such as the need to conserve potable water and improve the water quality of our rivers and streams.”

San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. More at

SANDAG receives good rates for bonds

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has received an AAA credit rating – the best possible bill of financial health – from two prominent rating agencies. Standard & Poor’s and Fitch’s qualification means that the $350 million in bonds that the government agency plans to sell this summer will go at a low interest rate, saving money to taxpayers.

The rating indicates that SANDAG has reliable financial grounds and the revenue sources to pay back the debts. On Friday, SANDAG approved the issuance of $350 million in bonds and the refinancing of other $100 million. The proceeds will go to help pay for road improvements, rail lines and a bus line in South Bay.

Best Day Foundation kicks off San Diego Chapter in La Jolla

The Best Day Foundation, a national non-profit dedicated to helping children with special needs build confidence and self-esteem through adventure activities such as surfing, premiered its San Diego chapter with a celebration in La Jolla Shores.

Throughout the morning and afternoon July 23-34, Best Day hosted up to 45 children for tandem surfing with expert surfers, body boarding, stand up paddling SUP, kayaking, beach activities, and more.

Best Day serves more than 5,300 children ages 5-25 with developmental, physical, illness or injury induced special needs including but not limited to: Autism, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Cancer, vision or hearing impairment, burns and more. Best Day Foundation’s San Diego Chapter is looking for volunteers. No experience required.