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    Safe and relaxed: USDA program not targeting jetty cats
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Feb 23, 2017 | 6047 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Jetty cat Tiggs relaxes on a rock as the sun sets. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
    Jetty cat Tiggs relaxes on a rock as the sun sets. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
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    One of the jetty cats cleans up after a late afternoon meal. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
    One of the jetty cats cleans up after a late afternoon meal. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
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    Rumors that Mission Beach’s jetty cats may become part of the annual United States Department of Agriculture predator cull to protect endangered birds in Mission Bay has residents riled, leading to a petition drive initiated on Forcechange.com to protect the feral felines. But the outrage about the predator program removing members of the well-known cat colony may be misguided. In December 2016, the City of San Diego posted a notice about the federal predator management program noting its purpose is to “protect the endangered California least terns and their nests from predatory animals at nesting sites through Mission Bay.” The notice said actions against potential predators – skunks, raccoons and opossums including feral cats – may include monitoring, trapping, dispersal and shooting. That statement led to the rumors that the jetty cats could be targeted by the USDA program. But according to a statement on the Jetty Cats - San Diego Facebook page: "We have received a lot of messages and posts regarding the issue with the USDA. They are not trapping near our colony and any cats trapped in other areas will be taken into animal control. “We have been working with several other groups regarding the safety of our cats and we have found that this is already an active project that the USDA has been doing for 10 years now. The sad news is any wildlife (predators to the protected birds) will be killed. The methods are not humane and this should not be tolerated in such a modern society. San Diego Humane Society is actively working to fight this.” The Jetty Cats - San Diego Facebook page is run by volunteers who control the jetty cats population by using the trap-neuter-return program. The dedicated volunteers also feed and look out for the health and safety of the jetty cats. The annual Mission Bay predator cull is conducted by USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services, which noted previously: “Our predator management activities are meant to boost the survival rate of these endangered birds and increase their population numbers.” “Our devices are adjusted to minimize non-target take, and if non-target animals are captured, they are released or taken to local shelters,” said a USDA spokesman. “We have captured five cats since 2014 while doing this type of work. All were unharmed and taken to local shelters. “Wildlife Services posts signs and issues warnings to alert pet owners when wildlife traps or other devices are being used in an area for wildlife damage management,” the spokesman said. “These devices are only set at the request of and with permission from property owners or managers.” A nonprofit dedicated to animal welfare providing adoption and veterinarian services, San Diego Humane Society acknowleged it opposes the USDA's predator management program. “Suggesting we trap and kill one group of wildlife to save another is contrary to the mission of San Diego’s oldest nonprofit, and not the answer,” said San Diego Humane Society spokesperson Kelli Schry. “For 136 years, SDHS has forged common ground in our community for working together on humane and effective solutions for companion and wild animals. No one denies that the problems caused by outdoor cats are real. “We believe that trap-neuter-return programs, matched with effective public education campaigns to reduce the number of owned cats outdoors, will produce measurable results in the years ahead. Studies have shown that TNR is the most successful method we have of controlling healthy feral cat colonies. And it’s the most humane,” Schry said. Noting San Diegans “have the power and responsibility to speak up for the voiceless,” Schry added, “TNR and the other humane strategies for outdoor cats and wildlife represent a forward-thinking approach that is in tune with both ecological sensibility and the practical realities of protecting our animals and preserving our ecosystem. We don’t need to war with animals so much as we need to work together to make sure our pets and wildlife are safe now and in the future.” Asked their views on the jetty cat issue by Beach & Bay Press on NextDoor.com, several Pacific Beach residents responded. “My point of view is based solely on my opposition to the notion of culling anything … cruel and avoidable,” said Sara Jouin-Nah of PB. “Killing any animal, especially a cat, is never a 'good idea,' ” said Art Morris of PB. “Now, for the previous owners of abandoned cats … don't get me started.” “These poor cats need a chance to go to a good home rather than ending their lives because of humans who don't care for them,” said Susan Srouse of Pacific Beach. “Please help these feral cats.” Addressed to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a preamble to the Forcechange.com petition to save the jetty cats reads: “A proposed roundup in the Mission Bay area of San Diego could result in the barbaric killing of stray cats by nearly any means deemed appropriate, including the shooting of cats ... The intended proposal will involve the placement of traps throughout the Mission Bay area, and could threaten a well-maintained and beloved feral cat colony ... The laying out of traps to capture these semi-tame cats, only to have them euthanized or possibly shot offsite, is cruel and unnecessary.” The jetty cat petition in its entirety is at forcechange.com/164591/stop-the-brutal-killing-of-feral-cats. Want to help? Each volunteer pays for food on their own. If you would like to make a donation, contact hpjettycats1@gmail.com. All donations will go for the cost of care for cats.
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    Point Loma walking group celebrates 40th anniversary
    by CYNTHIA ROBERTSON
    Feb 16, 2017 | 6065 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Dan Haslam leads a recent group walkabout around Point Loma. /  PHOTO BY STAN FOLLIS
    Dan Haslam leads a recent group walkabout around Point Loma. / PHOTO BY STAN FOLLIS
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    Currently headquartered at Liberty Station in Point Loma, Walkabout International is a walking group like no other. Started by a few folks who posted an ad in the Reader on St. Patrick’s Day in 1977, the group is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Its members have participated in more than 25,000 walks covering more than 2 million miles – the equivalent of walking around the equator 80 times. “Forty years is actually two generations,” said 2nd vice president Dan Haslam.   “Our walkers in 1977 when we started were working people, who had free time in the evenings and weekends after their working hours. Now, most of our walkers are retired and can go on day trips on week days. Our oldest walk leader is 97 years old,” Haslam said.  Ahead of its time, Walkabout International started a walking fitness craze. All that walking and talking together also forged friendships lasting decades. They explored neighborhoods new to them and discovered things they hadn’t even known existed in their own neighborhoods. The organization also offers trips to United States destinations, from California to Maine. Walkers go international on customized, behind-the-scenes walking tours to Switzerland, France, and Japan as well as Mexico and Canada. Long-time member Stan Follis, former president and vice president of Walkabout International, began walking in 1980. That is how he met his late second wife. Follis has also put together some adventurous walks throughout the years. He led a walk a few years ago starting at Sunset Cliffs and Point Loma Avenue. “We walked along the cliffs to Osprey Street and then back on the sidewalks. It did not last very long, so I picked up Pat Peterson’s walk in Mission Hills when she realized that she would not be able to continue. I believe that is one of the longest-running walks in Walkabout. “I would still like to do the Sunset Cliffs walk again sometime,” he said. Another longtime member, Teri Egenberger, who moved to San Diego in 1987, went on her first jaunt with Walkabout in 1988. “Although at that time of my life, other entertainment took preference, that original experience prodded me to join Walkabout whole heartedly just a couple of years later. And I've been walking with them ever since,” Egenberger said. “It is a fantastic way to learn one's way around San Diego, leading you into interesting areas off the beaten track.  It's also a fun way to add a little healthy exercise to your life,” she said. Since those early days, Egenberger has lead a few of her own walks. Presently, she co-leads a Tuesday evening walk. During the cooler winter months, they hike the hills of Bay Park, often rewarded with gorgeous views of the bay below. In the summer, they take the walk down to Mission Bay to enjoy the cooler air by the water. Some special walks and events are planned in the next couple of months to celebrate Walkabout International’s 40th anniversary, including a lunch and tour of some Walkabout members’ favorite stops on Feb. 25. Starting at the Dance Place building in Liberty Station, which houses the Walkabout office, walkers will be taken on a bus tour all over San Diego with stops at former Walkabout offices, favorite walking sites and important places in Walkabout’s history. On that day, long-time walk leaders will be celebrated, such as the beloved late “Downtown Sam,” who could outpace many of his younger walking companions. Other 40th-anniversary events include an open house at the Walkabout office on March 4, a tea on March 13, and a home and garden tour on April 1. “I think we're habit-forming, and it's a good habit, since it's healthy. Once you pull up the rocking chair, you're done for. I'd rather die on my feet,” he said. For more information, go to www.walkabout-int.org or call 619-231-7463.
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    Campaign under way to rename Ocean Beach Park
    by MANNY LOPEZ
    Feb 15, 2017 | 8433 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    People exercising in Saratoga Park on Wednesday morning. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
    People exercising in Saratoga Park on Wednesday morning. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
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    A campaign led by the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation seeks support to build a children’s playground and adult fitness station on the grassy area of Ocean Beach Park, and rename that part in honor of noted historian, teacher and volunteer Ruth Varney Held. Located at the west end of Saratoga Avenue, adjacent to the lifeguard station parking lot, the area known as Saratoga Park is the largest public park in the community. “Unlike many of the other San Diego beach communities, Ocean Beach doesn’t have a place at the beach for little children to play,” said Tom Perrotti, president of the OBCDC. “People have children and grandchildren and we need a safe place for them to congregate on the beach and experience the joy.” Perotti said that a children’s park and adult fitness station would enhance the quality of life for OB residents, and attract more families and tourists to the area – a benefit for the entire community. He added that the project has the support of several local community groups, including the OB Community Foundation, OB Lifeguards and Firefighters, Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, the planning board and Ocean Beach Town Council. Currently, the OBCDC is raising funds to pay for site survey, design and permitting costs associated with constructing the children’s play area and adult fitness area on the site of Ocean Beach Park. According to Jane Gawronski, co-chairperson on the OBCDC committee formed to establish the children’s park, $10,000 has been raised and a contract awarded to LdG Landscape Architects in Point Loma for a preliminary design based on feedback from public forums. “I support honoring this park for Ruth Varney Held and creating an inviting place for children and families to enjoy Ocean Beach,” said District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf. In December, Zapf presented a Community Projects, Programs and Services (CPPS) funding grant of $2,500 for the endeavor. “In a coastal environment like the one we have, we need a place for children to play,” said former District 2 Councilman Byron Wear. “It’s not going to take up the entire park, and there will be plenty of green space and room for passive parking.” According to Gawronski, Wear was among the earliest supporters to push for a children’s park named after Held. Pat James, vice president of the Ocean Beach Historical Society, called Held a revered educator, historian and citizen of the Peninsula who should be honored for her many contributions to the community. “It's a brilliant idea – Ruth Varney Held documented the history of Ocean Beach. She was admired as an educator and citizen of the community. Ruth and her book were an important foundation for those of us who were at the first meeting to form the OBHS in 1994,” James said. Credited with being the founder of the OBHS, Held was well known as the author of “Beach Town: Early Days In Ocean Beach, To 1930.” First published in 1975, the book became a popular resource about the history of Ocean Beach. According to various sources, Held’s family moved to OB from Montana in 1912 when she was 6 years old. She attended Ocean Beach Elementary School, graduated from Point Loma High School and received a teaching degree from State College, which is now San Diego State University. She then taught typing at Point Loma High School for 30 years and called OB home for 84 years until her death. “Grandparents and parents love to experience watching kids do activities on swings, or any sort of children’s play area. They exude joy and that permeates into everything. Children will feel safe. It's going to be a fabulous place,” Gawronski said. More information on the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation can be found at www.obcdc.org or by calling 619-787-1073.
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    Peninsula Youth Softball Association celebrates Opening Day
    Feb 15, 2017 | 915 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Peninsula Youth Softball Association held its Opening Day at Robb Field in Ocean Beach Saturday, Feb. 11. The program began in the morning with a color guard presentation, the national anthem, and then teams in their colorful uniforms took turns running around the bases with their coaches. The first pitch was thrown out at 9:15 a.m. The league, which has 251 players from the coastal communities, was founded in 1966 and is celebrating its 51st anniversary. / PHOTO BY KAREN AUSTIN
    Peninsula Youth Softball Association held its Opening Day at Robb Field in Ocean Beach Saturday, Feb. 11. The program began in the morning with a color guard presentation, the national anthem, and then teams in their colorful uniforms took turns running around the bases with their coaches. The first pitch was thrown out at 9:15 a.m. The league, which has 251 players from the coastal communities, was founded in 1966 and is celebrating its 51st anniversary. / PHOTO BY KAREN AUSTIN
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    Peninsula Youth Softball Association held its Opening Day at Robb Field in Ocean Beach Saturday, Feb. 11. The program began in the morning with a color guard presentation, the national anthem, and then teams in their colorful uniforms took turns running around the bases with their coaches. The first pitch was thrown out at 9:15 a.m. The league, which has 251 players from the coastal communities, was founded in 1966 and is celebrating its 51st anniversary. / PHOTO BY KAREN AUSTIN
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    Ocean Beach Elementary’s principal kisses blushing burro
    Feb 10, 2017 | 16063 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Last year, Ocean Beach Elementary School’s principal Marco Drapeau kissed a pig after the students raised more than $14,500 at their annual jogathon. This year, the student’s jogathon raised more than $18,000, which led to Drapeau kissing a donkey on the mouth Friday, Feb. 10. PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
    Last year, Ocean Beach Elementary School’s principal Marco Drapeau kissed a pig after the students raised more than $14,500 at their annual jogathon. This year, the student’s jogathon raised more than $18,000, which led to Drapeau kissing a donkey on the mouth Friday, Feb. 10. PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
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    Last year, Ocean Beach Elementary School’s principal Marco Drapeau kissed a pig after the students raised more than $14,500 at their annual jogathon. This year, the student’s jogathon raised more than $18,000, which led to Drapeau kissing a donkey on the mouth Friday, Feb. 10. PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
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    News
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