Tag Archives: Miss Santee

Santee Celebrates Completion of SR-52

Several thousand people joined local, state, and national representatives to celebrate the completion of the final section of SR-52 through the city of Santee on Saturday, March 19, 2011. The festivities included speeches, a ceremonial ribbon cutting, a flyover by aircraft from the upcoming Gillespie Air Show and a three-mile fun run/walk/bike ride. A classic and green car show, vendor and organization booths and music rounded out the entertainment.

One of Santee’s adopted U.S. Marine Corps units, Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron 462 from Miramar MCAS, provided the guard for the presentation of colors and Pledge of Allegiance and Pastor Tony Foglio of Sonrise Community Church gave the invocation. As a special treat, former SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments) staffer Mike Hicks performed a song dedicated to the opening, written to the tune of “Battle of New Orleans.”

Radio personality and former Santee resident “Shotgun” Tom Kelly acted as Master of Ceremonies for the presentation of dignitaries. Current Mayor Randy Voepel introduced the color guard and Pastor Foglio, and Santee Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Warren Savage led the Pledge of Allegiance. Former Mayor and current City Councilman Jack Dale, who was instrumental in pushing for the completion of the freeway, fired up the crowd as he raised his fist and shouted out, “It’s done!” He then went on to talk about the trials of getting the project and introduced other speakers including Congressman Duncan D. Hunter and County Supervisor Diane Jacob. Congressman Hunter drew laughs when he assured the crowd that, unlike a traditional politician, he would not claim responsibility for completing the freeway. He did promise to pass Dale’s thanks along to his father, former Congressman Duncan Hunter, who had been instrumental in securing funding for parts of the freeway project.

After the speeches the dignitaries, joined by the new Miss Santee and Miss La Mesa Pageant winners, gathered for a ceremonial ribbon cutting on the westbound lanes of the new SR-52. The aircraft made two flyover passes, one before the cutting and one after, and the Santana High School Marching Band performed following the ceremony. Once the road had been cleared several hundred bicycle riders of all ages started off on their fun ride, followed by the runners and walkers. It was nearly impossible to get an accurate count of all the participants as more arrived after the official beginning. Once they had completed the three-mile route, participants were routed across to the eastbound lanes where the car show and vendor booths were set up. In addition, the local Country band Emerald River performed on the stage after the ceremony.

State Route 52 (SR-52) is a 17.7 mile freeway that stretches from La Jolla on the coast to SR-67 on the east side of Santee. The project was built in multiple stages, reaching the outskirts of Santee and connecting to SR-125 before hitting a 17-year delay. Construction on the final 3.5 mile portion began in 2008 and final touches will be applied over the next week in preparation for its scheduled opening to use on March 26. After that time it will no longer be legal or safe to lie down on the freeway.

For more photos of the day, visit SR-52 Celebration on Picasa


Filed under Chamber Activities, Community, SR-52 Construction

Sierra Billock a Contestant for Miss California-USA

Sierra Billock (L) with 2009 Miss Santee Teen Michelle Ehlke

I recently did an email interview with Sierra Billock, who is a contestant for Miss California-USA, 2011. Many might remember Ms. Billock as Miss Santee 2009, and as the force behind the Fashion Rocks the East fundraiser for the Miss La Mesa and Miss Santee Pageants. She is currently in the final stages of preparing for the Miss CA-USA Pageant, but took some time out to answer a few questions.

Scouting Santee: What prompted you to become involved in pageants such as the Miss Santee and Miss California-USA Pageants?

Sierra Billock: Originally I became involved in pageants such as the Miss Santee pageant because I wanted to serve my community in a bigger more impactful way and attend city events as a representative and role model for younger generations. After competing and becoming Miss Santee I realized I enjoyed the competition aspect of the pageant and saw it as a personal challenge. I also knew that I wanted to continue to be involved in my community and expand my involvement to reach individuals across the state of California. I decided to compete for Miss CA USA for these reasons and because I recognize that being Miss California is a job and one that I would be very good at.

Scouting Santee: How has your involvement in these pageants benefited you?

Sierra Billock: Being involved in pageants has benefited my life in many ways. As a contestant I am challenged with consistently re-evaluating myself to improve things like my public speaking and interview skills. Pageants have had a positive impact in my life and have helped me grow into a strong, confident, and hardworking young woman. My involvement has taught me the power of perseverance and the difference one person can make in the world.

Scouting Santee: What opportunities have you had as Miss Santee 2009 that you probably would not have had otherwise?

Sierra Billock: As Miss Santee one of the greatest opportunities I had was meeting a diverse group of people from around San Diego County. Included in this group of people are the directors of the Miss Santee and Miss La Mesa pageants: Alex Kuty, Troy Hartpence and Natalie Hiebing. These women dedicate such a large portion of their time to help empower young women. I admire them for that and am proud to say that I will be joining them this year as the director of the Miss Santee and Miss La Mesa Princess Programs.

Scouting Santee: What are some of your best memories from your time as Miss Santee?

Sierra Billock: All of my best memories from my year as Miss Santee are those I shared with Nicole Ehlke, Miss Santee Teen 2009. Over the year we spent together we grew to be like sisters. In donating over 200 hours of community service we were able to make a lot of good memories. I especially enjoyed meeting all of the young girls and boys in our community who looked up to us as role models. It was truly an amazing experience and to be able to share it with someone else made it even better!

Scouting Santee: Were there things about being Miss Santee that surprised you, or that you were not prepared for?

Sierra Billock: Having competed five times before obtaining the title and knowing a lot of previous titleholders I pretty much knew what to expect from the job. The only thing that surprised me was that the City of Santee had us pass out surveys at city events to get feedback from attendees. However, being a marketing major, I understood the importance of surveying and how it could affect future events.

Scouting Santee: I understand there are a lot of expenses associated with running for Miss California-USA. How do you handle these expenses?

Sierra Billock: Competing in the Miss California USA pageant is very expensive. The entry fee alone is over $1,500. Then you have to purchase your gown, swimsuit, interview outfit, and everything else you need for competition. In addition to all of that there are pictures and DVDs of the event. In order to pay for all of these costs, I saved a lot of money on my own in addition to holding fundraisers and getting sponsors for the pageant.

Scouting Santee: So, if all goes well, what will the future look like for Sierra Billock?

Sierra Billock: My hope is that I will be Miss California-USA 2011. In that case my upcoming year will be filled with opportunities that only a select group of women have the chance to experience. I would look forward to meeting new people from across our state and serving the Miss CA-USA organization as a representative at charity events and different functions. One of my biggest aspirations is to represent California at the Miss USA pageant next May, which would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Overall, if I become Miss California my year would be life changing and monumental and I can only hope I get the chance to experience that.

Scouting Santee: Is there anything else you would like to share about your run for Miss California-USA or your time as Miss Santee?

Sierra Billock: I would like to encourage people to come to my golf tournament on Sunday October 24th to help support me in my mission to become Miss California. It will be a very fun event. You may even be able to have me hit your drive for you on one of the holes.

If you are interested in helping Ms. Billock by taking part in the tournament, you can find out more in this article on Santee Examiner. The deadline for signing up is Friday, October 15. You can also contact Susan Billock at 619-820-3514 orSusanBillock@cox.net for information and registration forms.

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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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Santee Kicks Off the Holiday Season

The holiday season officially came to Santee on Friday, November 20, when the annual Holiday Lighting Celebration took place at Santee Trolley Square. Put on by the City of Santee and sponsored by Waste Management, Santee Trolley Square, Daphne’s Greek Cafe, and Fireworks America, the event brought  a jolt of spirit to help start the season. Other participants this year included Target, Lowe’s, and the Santana High School cheerleaders. Also on hand were Miss Santee and Miss Teen Santee with their court, and Santa and Mrs. Claus.

I noticed that this year, whether because of the economy or other reasons, the Celebration was smaller than the previous year’s. There was still the music, the lighting of the tree, the iceless skating rink, and the carriage rides, but little more. Gone were the booths that filled the parking lot in front of the amphitheater last year. And the musical entertainment was also toned down, though still festive.

Singing Solo, a local program that provides kids age 6-18 the opportunity to sing in public, provided the pre-lighting music as well as covering for the main music group during their breaks.  The Singing Solo artists ranged from six-year-old Emily singing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” to seventeen-year-old Kelsie doing a rocking version of  “Santa on the Rooftop.”  Also on the ticket for the evening was the U.S. Navy Band Southwest Brass Quintet with a selection of holiday music.

The highlight of the evening, of course, is always the lighting of the tree on the amphitheater stage. This year host and tree lighting duties were handled by Vice Mayor Brian Jones and his family, with help from the Clauses. Also on hand for the lighting were representatives from the City, Waste Management, Trolley Square, and the Miss Santee court.

The evening was fun, even though lower key than last year. But I do hope that this won’t be a trend for the future and that next year will have the community and business involvement missing this year.

(L-R) Santee Princesses Madison and Michelle, Miss Santee – Sierra Billock, Miss Teen Santee – Nicole Ehlke, Miss Congeniality – Maria Maes, Miss Teen Santee First Runner-Up – Taylor Shelton, Miss Teen Santee Third Runner-Up – Rebecca Hudson, Santee Princess Miranda

Lighting the Tree

Carriage Ride

Real Horsepower


Santana Cheerleaders at the Cookie Decorating Station

Santee Chamber of Commerce’s Own Reindeer (?) Greets the Clauses

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Filed under Chamber Activities, Community, Entertainment

Meet Miss Santee 2009

Sierra Billock and Nicole Ehlke

On March 6 Sierra Billock was crowned Miss Santee 2009.  Over the past few months she has been one of the most active Miss Santees I have met, not just appearing at local events, but helping to develop the idea of Fashion Rocks the East – a fund raiser for the Miss Santee and Miss La Mesa Pageants.  Recently I interviewed her about being Miss Santee and about the Fashion Rocks the East fund raiser.

Scouting Santee:Why did you want to become Miss Santee/Miss Santee Teen?
Sierra Billock:I really enjoy giving back to my community. The feeling you get from knowing that you made a difference is amazing. I knew that as Miss Santee I would have so many more opportunities to help those in need. Also, I really think our youth need good role models to look up to these days and I hoped that as Miss Santee I could accomplish that task. I really want to encourage everyone to always strive for the best and not get caught up in things that are detrimental to their success.
Scouting Santee:What is the most important part of being Miss Santee/Miss Santee Teen?
Sierra Billock: The most important part is the impact you can have on the people around you. People know who you are and it’s important that you set a good example for others. I also think its important that you make the most out of your year as a titleholder. I have a crazy schedule this year but I know that when I look back on my year as Miss Santee I will be glad to be able to look back on all the things I accomplished.
Scouting Santee: What has been your favorite experience so far?
Sierra Billock: So far I have probably enjoyed the Santee Summer Concerts the best. The concerts are every Thursday from 6:30-8. I really enjoy listening to the music but most of all I like dancing with all the young kids who attend the event. Seeing them so happy and excited to be with Nicole and I is really heartwarming. 
Scouting Santee:What advice would you give to any young women who might want to be Miss Santee/Miss Santee Teen?
Sierra Billock: DON’T GIVE UP! It took me a long time to win this title. I competed once for Miss Santee Teen and four times for Miss Santee before I finally won! Some people questioned why I continued to go back year after year. It’s because I am determined. I knew this was something I wanted to do and I knew I could make an impact. For me that was enough. It didn’t come easily to me but I think that has made me appreciate it that much more. So to any girls out there who are thinking about competing I say go for it! Don’t let anyone or anything stand in the way of something you want to do.
Scouting Santee: What was the idea behind the Fashion Rocks the East fund raiser?
Sierra Billock: The idea is to involve past titleholders and contestants in a fun event to raise money for our scholarship fund. Every year many girls compete for the titles of Miss Santee, Miss Santee Teen, Miss La Mesa and Miss La Mesa Teen. However, with the current state of the economy it has been hard to get sponsors for these scholarships. Because fashion is a big interest of mine we decided to hold a fashion show to raise the funds.
Scouting Santee: Why is this fund raiser so important?
Sierra Billock: The young women who take on the titles for the year are very dedicated to the roles they play. These women put their a lot of time into helping out their city and surrounding cities for the year. Not just anyone can take on this title. It takes a smart, confident and determined young woman to do this job. These are women who also put school as a priority in life. That is why it is important that we raise money for their scholarship.
Scouting Santee: Is there anything else you would like people to know about the Pageant or the fund raiser?
Sierra Billock: It is going to be a really great event! As Miss Santee I also wanted to raise some money for a local charity. So I contacted Victoria at Michael’s Jewelers in Santee and she has donated a diamond and pearl necklace that is valued over $400. I will be auctioning or raffling this necklace at the event to raise money for Santee Santas. This group works all year round to help support families in Santee with food, clothes and toys. I am excited and hope we can make a lot of money for them!

Fashion Rocks the East is a fund raiser for both the Miss Santee and Miss La Mesa Pageants.  For more information or for tickets to the event, contact Alexandra Kuty, Pageant Director, at 619-698-4163 or via email misslamesapageant@yahoo.com.  You can also read my previous post on the event here.


Filed under Community, Meet Your Neighbor

Miss Santee & Miss Santee Teen 2009

Earlier this month the Miss Santee/Miss Santee Teen Pageant was held at Sonrise Community Church.  I was not able to attend, but I did get to meet the young ladies who won at the SanTree Fest the following week.  I would like to introduce them to you (wiht thanks to the Santee Chamber of Commerce for the bio information).

Miss Santee, Sierra Billock, and Miss Santee Teen, Nicole Elhke

Miss Santee & Miss Santee Teen

Sierra Billock is 21 and a marketing major at San Marcos State University.  She also works as a Brand Manager for Bath and Body Works, and enjoys golf when she has time.  Last year Sierra was named Miss Congeniality.  This was her fourth time competing in the Miss Santee Pageant.  She receives a $300 college scholarship donated by Santee businesses.

Nicole Elhke is 16 and a junior at West Hills High School.  This was her second try for Miss Santee Teen, and she credits last year’s winner, Lizzie Lingasin, for helping her prepare for this year’s pageant.  Nicole works as a tutor at her school and is on the Principal’s Honor Roll.  She also volunteers at Alvarado Hospital and plans to become a pediatric emergency room doctor.  She receives a $125 scholarship sponsored by Viejas.

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Holiday Season Has Arrived

Holiday Lighting Celebration

Yes, the Holiday Season has officially arrived in Santee.  Friday night (November 21) was the Holiday Lighting Celebration at Santee Trolley Square, complete with Santa Claus, Princesses, music, food, and lots of fun.  A very large crowd took part in the festivities, a welcome reminder that not all is gloom and doom as the news media seems to show these days.

Business and Community BoothsThe activities centered around the amphitheater, where Santa Claus and Mayor Randy Voepel were joined by the Miss Santee and Miss Santee Teen princesses for the actual lighting.  On the Target side were various community and business booths, including Camp Bow Wow, Waste Management, the Park and Recreation Department, Verizon, and KSON.  Several of the booths had prize wheels to spin along with a variety of goodies and trinkets to win.  This year the celebration included an iceless skating rink made of waxed plastic resin panels.  I didn’t try it out – not with my back – but the people who were out there seemed to be doing just fine and having a good time.


Iceless Skating

On the other side of the center were several craft and activity booths staffed by Lowe’s, Target, and the Santana Cheerleaders.  There were also carriage rides, which were very popular.  And of course, after his tree lighting duties Santa made time to meet the children who had come down.

Entertainment in the amphitheater was provided by the country band Southbound Jonny and the West Hills High School Choir.  Unfortunately the amplification wasn’t set up well for the choir, so it was difficult to hear this talented group of teens.  But Southbound Jonny was definitely a big hit, and had people dancing and singing along.

Thanks to all of the businesses and groups that donated time, talent, money, and more to make this a successful celebration.

Mayor Randy Voepel fires the shot that lights the tree

"The Shot"


Lighting the Tree

Fireworks – Always a nice touch


Mayor Randy Voepel – the Hardest Working Man in Santee – with
Miss Santee, Heather DePriest, and Miss Santee Teen, Lizzie Lingasin

Mayor, Miss Santee, Miss Santee Teen

KUSI Interviews Mayor Voepel

KUSI Interviews Mayor Voepel

Dancing to Southbound Jonny

Dancing to Southbound Jonny

The Lovely Runners Up

Runners Up


L-R: Sierra Billock, Miss Congeniality; Heather DePriest, Miss Santee, Kimberly Swank, Miss Santee First Runner Up; Maria Maes, Miss Santee Teen Fourth Runner Up; Lizzie Lingasin, Miss Santee Teen; Melissa Green, Miss Santee Second Runner Up; Cara Henson, Miss Santee Teen Third Runner Up; Michelle Green, Miss Santee Teen Second Runner Up; Emily Zobel, Miss Santee Teen First Runner Up

Miss Santee Princesses

West Hills High School Choir Entertains

West Hills High School Choir

The Popular Carriage Rides

Carriage Rides

Southbound Jonny Is…

Jon Watson – Lead Vocals and Acoustic Guitar

Jon Watson

Glen Wolff – Lead Guitar and Vocals

Glen Wolff

Dave Largent – Drums and Vocals

Dave Largent

Dave Edelman – Fiddle and Madolin

Dave Edelman

Giorgio Tupanjanin – Bass

Giorgio Tupanjanin


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