On balance, I think the Grove has a brighter future than was perceived by many residents a year ago. Let’s take a look back:
January. The city received $1 million from a Kaiser Permanente fund to promote healthy eating and active living in the Grove. The Lemon Grove Historical Society honored the 8th grade winners of its annual history essay contest.
February. After three consecutive years of wage freezes, the city council voted 3-2 to give city workers a nominal one-time bonus for each year of service.
March. A tradition for 38 years, longtime city favorite Por Favor Restaurant closed its doors on March 1. In an attempt to increase marketing potential, the city changed the name of the Senior Center special event space to “Lemon Blossom Hall.”
April. The Lemon Grove Veterans of Foreign Wars Post was renamed to remember medal of honor winner Michael Monsoor, a Navy SEAL who died in Iraq in 2006 by falling on a grenade to save fellow soldiers. To reduce fire danger, the city hired dozens of hungry goats to clear the brush between Lawton Drive and Camino de las Palmas.
May. The school district signed a $300,000 license agreement with Liberty Charter High School to open in the fall on the soon-to-close campus of Palm Middle School.
June. The Friends of the Lemon Grove Library donated $60,000 to purchase books for the new library. On June 6, the city celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of longtime resident Dr. Amorita Treganza, who passed away in 2002.
July. The first phase of the Main Street Promenade broke ground. This $5.1 million makeover will add a plaza, park, public art, two working windmills, and will bring welcome changes to the area. Berle Simpson won $580,000 after he purchased a lotto ticket from the Arco AM/PM on Broadway, correctly selecting five of the six numbers drawn in the Mega Millions lottery on July 24.
August. In the biggest hit of the year, may I present the Senior League All-Stars of Lemon Grove.
September. The city offered residents an opportunity to be heard on the merits of creating an off-leash dog area at Berry Street Park.
October. The city’s youth summer camp survived another year, and even provided more than $10,000 in profits to city coffers.
November. The elections brought change to city hall with voters electing a more progressive council majority. However, they rejected two measures to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries in the Grove.
December. Mayor Mary Sessom called a special meeting to address legislation proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons. Possibly for the last time, residents of Sheri Lane continued their decades-old tradition of transforming their small street into sparkling Santa Claus Lane.
This has been a year of change for the city. There is a change for me, too: after 139 opinion columns, restaurant reviews and business profiles, this is my last contribution to the Lemon Grove Patch. I want to thank former editors Leslie Wolf Branscomb and Christine Huard for the opportunity to share my thoughts. For all those who have enjoyed my stories, it has been an absolute pleasure.
May everyone, everywhere, have the best year ever. Peace.