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La Jolla Cove Swim Club president Dan Simonelli is a nationally recognized hero.
(Rick Nocon / The San Diego Union-Tribune
)

Dan Simonelli wins lifesaving award

Dan Simonelli has received a Carnegie Hero Award for a daring rescue he made last winter. The 53-year-old president of the La Jolla Cove Swim Club was one of only 18 to receive the award — which recognizes extraordinary acts of civilian bravery in the U.S. and Canada — this year. It includes a medal and $5,500 cash.

On Jan. 10, Simonelli spotted a man struggling to swim as high, surging waves washed him toward a rocky bluff in The Cove. He removed his outer clothing and entered the 60-degree water wearing swim fins, grasped the struggling man and guided him away from the rocks, staying with him until lifeguards shuttled him to shore via watercraft.

“Mr. Simonelli acted bravely and without thought to his own safety in saving the life of a stranger,” said Carnegie Hero Fund Commission president Eric Zahren. “We are honored to recognize him as a Carnegie Hero.”

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UCSD finds potential weapon against antibiotic resistance

Scientists at UC San Diego have created a new gene-drive system, using CRISPR gene editing, that dramatically increases the efficiency of inactivating antibiotic resistance in dangerous bacteria.

This “pro-active” genetics technology, called Pro-AG, demonstrates a 100-fold improvement in the efficiency of targeting antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The breakthrough — detailed in a paper published Dec. 16 in the journal Nature Communications — could lead to eventual treatments for patients suffering from chronic bacterial infections.

The research was led by Andres Valderrama at UCSD School of Medicine and Surashree Kulkarni of the Division of Biological Sciences, working in the UC San Diego labs of study co-authors Victor Nizet and Ethan Bier.

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While Pro-AG is not yet ready for treating patients, “a human delivery system carrying Pro-AG could be deployed to address conditions such as cystic fibrosis, chronic urinary infections, tuberculosis and infections associated with resistant biofilms that pose difficult challenges in hospital settings,” Nizet said.

La Jolla hospitals pledge senior friendliness

Scripps Health, UC San Diego Health and VA San Diego Healthcare System were among several San Diego hospitals that signed a pledge at UC San Diego Health on Dec. 9 to join the San Diego Senior Emergency Care Initiative.

The public-private initiative — funded with $700,000 in grants and support from the County of San Diego and nonprofit West Health — commits its members to achieving Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (through the American College of Emergency Physicians) by the end of 2020.

“San Diego is seeing a huge surge in its senior population,” said County Board of Supervisors chair Dianne Jacob. “Many struggle with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and are vulnerable to mishaps and medical emergencies. Supporting our region’s hospitals as they pursue senior-friendly care in their emergency departments is an important part of the county’s regional vision and framework for supporting healthy aging.”

Time to seal off Children’s Pool Beach again, through May 15

The annual five-month closure of La Jolla’s Children’s Pool beach for harbor seal pupping season began Sunday, Dec. 15. One day later, the Seal Conservancy held a press conference to mark the occasion and to celebrate its extension for 10 more years.

“We couldn’t be happier with the compromise,” said Seal Conservancy president Jane Reldan. “It’s absolutely perfect. That’s all we needed to protect the seals during their pupping seasons.”

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On June 13, the California Coastal Commission unanimously voted to approve a 10-year permit extension to close La Jolla Children’s Pool beach from Dec. 15 to May 15 annually, and to install a 152-foot guideline rope the remaining months of the year.

The Children’s Pool was built by Ellen Browning Scripps in 1931 to wall off an area of the ocean from waves so children could swim in it safely. However, in the 1980s and ’90s, harbor seals began hauling out on the beach’s sand, and the City made the area a Marine Mammal Reserve in November 1994. “I don’t think Miss Scripps would object to it because she also liked wildlife,” Reldan said, adding that, when the Children’s Pool was built, “there were no swimming pools and there were incidents because there were not a lot of lifeguards around.”

Closing the beach remains a controversial topic, as other La Jollans and citizens groups want more beach access.

La Jolla 4th of July fireworks update

Talks continue as to which local community group will organize La Jolla’s reanimated July 4th fireworks show. (Permits have already been pulled for the event.) Nothing has been determined yet, but the La Jolla Village Merchants Association is the most likely candidate. Steve Grady, the leading donor, told the Light he has reserved the top of the La Jolla Cove Hotel & Suites for whichever organization may want to use it for a fundraiser that night.

Italian shoe store has a treat for its customers

Elisabetta Rangoni returns to her family’s La Jolla footwear store about four times a year, but never as a chef, until Dec. 12.

Assisted by her daughter, Carolina, Elisabetta cooked her specialty, Seven Pea Penne Marinara, for a dozen loyal customers and friends on a table set up near Rangoni Shoes’ entrance at 7870 Girard Ave.

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“We have a lot of nice customers we’ve never met, and this is a Christmas gift from us to them,” she said.

Coastal Commission elects first LGBT chair

The California Coastal Commission has unanimously elected its first openly LGBT chair, Steve Padilla.

Padilla — the former Mayor of Chula Vista and current member of its city council — called it “an honor” to serve as chair of the state’s coastal protection agency, which regulates development along 1,271 miles of coastline.

“California’s coast is a national treasure because we’ve fought to protect it from polluters, out-of-control development and harmful policies from Washington,” he said.

Green Eggs and hemoglobin

The San Diego Blood Bank (SDBB) has partnered with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to offering donors a free, limited-edition Dr. Seuss T-shirt. The shirt features The Cat in The Hat along with a quote from “The Lorax”: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.”

“Blood donation is an incredibly important act, and we’re grateful for San Diego Blood Bank’s work to bolster blood reserves this holiday season,” said Seuss Enterprises president Susan Brandt.

Residents who donate blood at any of the blood bank’s six donor centers or its mobile center will receive a shirt through Jan. 4 or while supplies last.

Eligible donors must be age 17 or older, at least 114 pounds and in general good health. SDBB advises that donors eat a hearty meal and stay hydrated before donating. Picture IDs are also required of all donors.

The closest donor center to La Jolla is in Carmel Valley at 3880 Valley Centre Drive. Residents are advised to schedule an appointment to donate blood, but it is not required. To make an appointment, visit sandiegobloodbank.org or call (800) 469-7322.

Have a La Jolla news tip or story idea? Call La Jolla Light at (858) 875-5950 or e-mail the details (and include a related photo if possbile) to editor@lajollalight.com


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