Monthly Archives: March 2010

Introducing the “Santee Examiner”

Okay, I’m the Santee Examiner.  It’s a new writing gig I picked up recently with, a website that bills itself as the “Insider Source for Everything Local.”  If you haven’t checked out the site, take a look.  You can find short posts about all sorts of topics from many different places.  And when I say “all sorts of topics,” I mean that.  You can find Examiners (local experts) on everything from headlines and sports to budget fashion and tea.  Long-time readers of this blog may recognize some of the article I will be posting, but the focus of the Santee Examiner will really be things to do, places to go, and other assorted tidbits about Santee.  So if you have an idea for something I should write about as the Santee Examiner – or even here on Scouting Santee – just send me a message or email me at

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Spring Eggstravaganza Returns

The annual Spring Eggstravaganza at Santee Lakes returns on Saturday, April 3.  The day includes food, games, rides, and, of course, egg hunts for kids age 8 and younger.  There is no cost for the event, but parking is $5 at Santee Lakes.  The fun starts at 9:00 am and lasts until 3:00 pm.  For more information check out the event flyer, or see my story on last year’s Eggstravaganza for pictures.

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Santee Firefighters Hold Fundraisers

The Santee Firefighters and Friends relay team will be holding two fundraisers to support their run at the 2010 American Cancer Society Run for Life Santee.  The first is Monday, March 29, at Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing Company in the Santee Trolley Square.  If you drop in for dinner between 4:00 pm and 10:00 pm and bring the fundraiser flyer, Oggi’s will donate 15% of your total to the Firefighters team.  The second fundraiser is Monday, April 12, from 3:00-9:00 pm at Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill across from Costco.  When you bring in their fundraiser flyer, Rubio’s will donate 20% of your bill to the cause.

For more information on the fundraisers or the relay team, visit the Santee Firefighters website, or connect to the Relay for Life Oggi’s Fundraiser or the Relay for Life Rubio’s Fundraiser on Facebook.

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Celebration Time at Hollywood Tans

February and March were big months for the Santee Hollywood Tans.  First, on a cloudy and rainy February Saturday that reminded folks why they might need a tanning salon, Hollywood Tans celebrated its “Re-Grand Opening” at their new location in the Marketplace at Santee Center (aka the Henry’s Center).  This new space is a great improvement over their previous location near the Rubio’s – not that there is anything wrong with being near Rubios.  The improvements are in the amount of interior space now available and the ease of parking, both of which the previous site lacked.  Also they now face the parking lot rather than the blank side of another building across a narrow throughway with one strip of parking spaces.

On hand for the festivities were members of the Santee Chamber of Commerce and, in one of their last official appearances, 2009 Miss Santee, Sierra Billock, and 2009 Miss Teen Santee Nicole Ehlke.  After the ceremonial ribbon cutting, Chamber members shared welcomes and proclamations from the City and State.  Inside, salon owners Debbie Kneeshaw and Erin Battle celebrated the day with a cake, and Smoothie King owner Greg Hagen provided drinks.

Cutting the Ribbon

Party Time at Hollywood Tans

2009 Miss Santee, Sierra Billock, and Santee Princess Michelle check out one of the Hollywood Tans booths

L-R: Sierra Billock (Miss Santee 2009), Erin Battle, Debbie Kneeshaw, Nicole Ehlke (Miss Santee Teen 2009)

Free Tan Day at Hollywood Tans

The second big event at Hollywood Tans was Free Tans Day on Saturday, March 6, kicking off the pre-summer tanning season.  This is a major event at the Hollywood Tans Salons, and this year the Santee salon used the upcoming Academy Awards as part of their theme, “Red Carpet Ready.”  The salon was decked out with balloons, red carpet, Hollywood street signs, and more.  Gift bags were given out to lucky guests, and the “joint was jumping” with excitement.

As I have mentioned before, I’m not the salon tanning type, but I am impressed by everyone at the Santee Hollywood Tans.  Debbie and Erin are dedicated to their clients, and the women who work there are always friendly and eager to help.  The idea of stand-up tanning booths makes sense to me – less chance of falling asleep and getting cooked (not that the staff would let that happen), and more sanitary than lying down where someone else has been baking.  Yes, I know they clean the beds off, but there is less space to clean this way and floors take less work.  They can explain it all to you much better than I can.

Erin and Debbie “Go Hollywood”

Another Lucky Winner

If you’re looking to upgrade your tan for summer, you can check out Hollywood Tans at 9331 Mission Gorge Rd., in the Marketplace at Santee, or call them at 619-258-4248.

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Donald Hamer – Memorial Service

Reverend Donald Hamer, a former pastor at Sonrise Community Church and friend to the Santee community, passed away on Wednesday, March 17.  A memorial service will be held at Sonrise on Monday, March 22, at 1:00 pm.

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Customer Appreciation Day at Chic Boutique

Chic Boutique is having a Customer Appreciation Day the Saturday, March 13, from 1:00-5:00 pm.  You say you’ve never heard of Chic Boutique?  It’s the new name of Prestige Beauty Supply, which has been in the CVS/BestBuy center for some 20 years (before CVS and BestBuy took over).  As I mentioned previously, they have been planning to change the name of the business because of confusion with a similarly-named company that has had some negative reviews online.  They also wanted a name that seemed to lock them into just product supply.

For this Customer Appreciation event they will have many of their regular “beauty bar” services, such as lip and brow wax and paraffin hand dip.  They will also have a special Glamor Photo package which includes a 10-minute chair massage, hair and makeup, plus two 5X7 prints for $25.  There will also be complementary wine and cheese during the event.

Chic Boutique is located at 9740-C Mission Gorge Road.  For more information you can call them at 619-258-2700.

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Santee and La Mesa Crown “Fairest”


On Friday, March 5, the combined Miss La Mesa and Miss Santee Pageant was held at Sonrise Community Church.  This annual event crowns the young women who will be representatives for their respective cities for the next year.  A total of 39 young ladies, ages 14 to 26, competed for the titles of Miss and Miss Teen for La Mesa and Santee.  In addition to the top prizes, awards were also given for outstanding efforts in speech, interview, and essay. 


The evening started off with a welcome from the current Miss Santee, Sierra Billock, and Miss La Mesa, Stephanie Packard, and the singing of the National Anthem by Ms. Packard.  This was followed by an opening number featuring the 2009 queens and 2010 contestants/delegates performed to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.”  Then MCs Miss Greater San Diego, Ashley-Monique Alcala, and Miss Greater San Diego Teen, Alexis Swanstrom, took the podium to introduce the judges and continue with the Pageant.  This included a special presentation of stuffed animals collected for the La Mesa Police Department’s program that provides these little reassuring friends to children who have been affected by crimes. 


After a presentation by the City of Santee and the Community Crown Award, La Mesa and Santee Miss Teen delegates took part in the Evening Gown competition and On-Stage Questions.  Questions ranged from the simple to the detailed, but were more designed to allow the contestants to show how well they do in an extemporaneous situation.  Some of the young women did quite well in this portion of the contest, while others seemed less comfortable answering questions in front of the crowd.  


The Miss Teen section was followed by the introduction of the La Mesa and Santee Princesses.  These are girls age 6 to 12 who get training in etiquette, go through some of the pageant activities, and later take part in some city events along with the queens.  It was interesting to see how many of the girls from Santee attend my younger daughter’s former school of Cajon Park, as do some of the regular delegates. 


After the presentation of the Princesses it was time for the Miss La Mesa and Santee delegates to take part in the Evening Gown and On-Stage Question competition.  It was very similar to the Miss Teen portion of the Pageant, with beautiful gowns, confident young women, and an eclectic variety of questions.  When the Gown-and-Question segment was complete, the final tallying of points began.  While this was going on the City of La Mesa presentation and Community Crown Award took place, followed by remarks by Pageant Director Alexandra Kuty and the introduction of visiting queens from around the county. 


The most touching part of the evening was the Farewell Addresses by the reigning 2009 queens.  All four young women were escorted to the stage by their families, then the queens spoke to the audience and took one final bow.  I felt the outgoing Santee queens Sierra Billock and Nicole Ehlke, who came out first, were especially eloquent in their farewell speeches.  It was clear that both pairs of young women had developed strong friendships over this past year, and the Teens both spoke of their counterparts as big sisters. 


Finally the time came to announce all the various winners – from interview, speech, and essay winners to the new 2010 queens for Santee and La Mesa.  One of the interesting stories of the night was when Miss Santee Teen Nicole Ehlke, whose youngest sister Michelle is a Santee Princess, draped the Miss Santee Teen 2nd Runner Up sash on her middle sister Jennifer.  The top winners were Miss Santee 2010 Kimberly Swank, a former Miss Santee Teen, Miss Santee Teen 2010 Taylor Shelton, Miss La Mesa 2010 Erynne Grecco, and Miss La Mesa Teen Danamarie McNicholl-Carter. 

Santee Results 

Miss Santee:  Kimberly Swank 

Miss Santee Runners Up:  Jenee Musson, Victoria Heyne, Rebecca Hudson, Laura Fowler 

Miss Santee Teen:  Taylor Shelton 

Miss Santee Teen Runners Up:  Maria Maes, Jennifer Ehlke, Jessica Faust, Hannah Mueller 

Miss Congeniality:  April Streeter          Teen:  Maria Maes 

Miss Photogenic:  Kimberly Swank          Teen: Hannah Mueller 

Speech Award:  Jenee Musson          Teen:  Jessica Faust 

Essay Award:  Rebecca Hudson           Teen:  Hannah Mueller 

Interview Award:  Kimberly Swank          Teen:  Taylor Shelton 

La Mesa Results 

Miss La Mesa:  Erynne Grecco 

Miss La Mesa Runners Up:  Briana Gomez, Jamie Marliere 

Miss La Mesa Teen:  Danamarie McNicholl-Carter 

Miss La Mesa Teen Runners Up:  Katie Yale, Susanna Wiggins 

Miss Congeniality:  Kambra Potter          Teen:  Danamarie McNicholl-CarterKambra

Miss Photogenic:  Erynne Grecco          Teen:  Katie Yale 

Speech Award:  Kambra Potter          Teen:  Sheri Robertson 

Interview Award:  Erynne Grecco          Teen:  Danamarie McNicholl-Carter 

Essay Award:  Erynne Grecco         Teen:  Morgan Holliman   

For more pictures from the Pageant, click here.

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February After-5 Mixer

The one problem with February is that it is too short.  Well, at least that’s my excuse for running behind with my posts on the month’s events.  On Thursday, February 18, the Santee Chamber of Commerce held its monthly mixer at Hungry Howie’s restaurant in the Carlton Oaks Center.  By now most of my readers know that the monthly After-5 Mixer is a chance for Chamber members to meet, network, share ideas, and catch up on what’s happening.  The evening always includes announcements of upcoming Chamber events, time for introductions and sharing, and the monthly raffle drawings.  This month the raffle prizes included Hungry Howie’s gift certificates, a Color Me Mine certificate, tickets to the San Diego Zoo, the regular 50-50, and the membership drawing.  This month, for the first time ever, the winner of the membership drawing was the mixer host – Hungry Howie’s.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Hungry Howie’s, the chain has been around since the early 1970s and has over 500 franchises in 22 states.  The Santee location has been in business for 18 years and is the last one left in San Diego County – the next closest are in Temecula and Calexico.  Mother and son Judy and Sean Foster, along with Mario Foster, have owned the local franchise for 7 years this April, but like many other businesses they are struggling.  So if you are up for a pizza, why not give them a try.  We want to support all of our Santee businesses as much as we can.

Judy and Sean Foster

Networking at the After-5 Mixer

Miss Santee Teen, Nicole Ehlke (L), in one of her last official events

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Hopeful Job Seekers Attend Congressman Hunter’s Fair in El Cajon

Between 1500 and 2000 people descended on the Ronald Reagan Community Center in El Cajon on February 19 for the opportunity to speak with some of the over three dozen companies and organizations at a job fair organized by Congressman Duncan D. Hunter. The event was part of Congressman Hunter’s efforts to help the people in his district who have been hit by the economic downturn.  The Congressman’s office worked with the East County Career Center to set up the event and provide the venue.

I had the opportunity to speak with Congressman Hunter briefly after he addressed attendees and business representatives.  He talked about how California is suffering not just from the economic downturn but from high taxes and regulations that put it at a disadvantage compared to other states.  As an example, he said that Texas representatives have been contacting California companies and offering businesses bonuses such as immediate zoning and no state taxes for 10 years to relocate there.  The Congressman indicated that his goal is to bring more large companies to the East County, in his words, “four or five more Qualcomms” that would boost employment.

Congressman Hunter also talked to me about the Government Small Business Procurement Outreach Workshop he had spoken at earlier that day.  His reason for being involved with the Workshop was similar to that for the Job Fair – helping the people and businesses in his district and the wider county to become more successful.  He talked about how small businesses have the innovations that the government wants and needs, and how they need help jumping through the hoops of government contracting.  There is no telling which company will be the next garage-based business that grows into an Apple.

During the Job Fair I also had the chance to talk to both business representatives and attendees, and there were many interesting stories on both sides.  Among the business I spoke with were Office Advantage and Scripps Health.  Both were there looking for people to fit particular positions, but were also doing this as part of their community involvement.  Many of the companies and organizations at the job fair had participated at a previous job fair organized by Congressman Hunter’s office, and were happy to be invited again for this one.  In fact, there were over a dozen companies on a waiting list for space at the fair.  Congressman Hunter hopes to find a larger venue for future job fairs, which he plans to continue organizing as long as there is a need.

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Miss Santee and Miss Santee Teen 2010

Congratulations to Kimberly Swank, Miss Santee 2010, and Taylor Shelton, Miss Santee Teen 2010, who were crowned Friday night during the Miss La Mesa and Miss Santee Pageants at Sonrise Community Church.  Both Kimberly and Taylor have been runners-up before, and it was good to see them win this year (although there were many deserving young women in the competition this year).  I will have a more in-depth story on the Pageant soon, including the runners-up for this year and the winners of the companion Miss La Mesa Pageant.

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