Food for fines went fine, volunteering and more Escondido community news

Artist's conception of John Paul the Great Catholic University expansion plans.

Library ‘Holiday Food for Fines’ program deemed successful

Escondido Public Library’s principal librarian Joanna Axelrod didn’t mince words.

“Escondido Public Library’s annual Holiday Food for Fines program proved once again to be very successful,” Axelrod said. “During the collection drive, which ran from Monday, Nov. 30 through Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, the Library accumulated 50 crates of food weighing an estimated 1,500 pounds.”

Food for library fines.

Food for library fines.

The program lets library patrons bring cans of food in lieu of up to $20 in fines. Librarians also accepted non-fine related food donations with proceeds going to Interfaith Community Services.

“Interfaith Community Services is continually thankful to receive support from a diverse array of community groups in North County, such as the Escondido Public Library,” Interfaith’s communications coordinator Lauren Holt said.

“Thanks to the incredible donations resulting from their Food for Fines program, the Escondido Public Library will help feed the nearly 16,000 low-income community members in need that Interfaith serves each year,” Holt said.

Library programs, events, and services are free and open to the public. For more information about Food for Fines, contact Principal Librarian Joanna Axelrod at or 760-839-4330. Information about other events and services can be found at Escondido Public Library is located at 239 South Kalmia Street in Escondido.

Volunteer for Escondido city boards and commissions, please

Be a part of the change you want to see. Escondido is begging for interested parties to volunteer to serve on many city boards and commissions. City Clerk Diane Halverson cordially invites all who would participate to pick up applications at her office no later than Feb. 12.

With the exception of a three-year Library Board term, all terms are four years. Meeting times and subject matters are outlines in a handbook available at her office or on the city of Escondido website, Halverson said.

Applications are being accepted fir the following bards and commissions:

Building Advisory & Appeals Board

Community Services Commission

Historic Preservation Commission

Library Board of Trustees

Personnel Board of Review

Planning Commission

Public Art Commission

Transportation & Community Safety Commission

For more information, go to the City Clerk’s Office at Escondido City Hall, 201 N Broadway or call (760) 839-4617. The pertinent website is

John Paul the Great Catholic University getting greater

John Paul the Great Catholic University announced a $1.5 million donation by Terry and Barbara Caster that paved the way for purchase of a downtown Escondido building doubling the campus in size.

The school already occupied what was once the Mingei International Museum satellite location on Grand Avenue. The newly acquired building housed H. Johnson Furniture store from 1969 to 2007 and had been vacant ever since.

Dr. Derry Connolly, university president, said the new building would enable the 300-student school to add to its curriculum, especially in the creative arts and add students.

“It’s hugely exciting,” Connolly said. “It gives us a lot of room for expansion in the next decade.”

The newly acquired 30,000-square-foot building gives the schools a four-building campus with 100 parking spaces in 1 1/4 acres.

It adds space for a dedicated chapel, a theology program auditorium, larger classrooms, film sound stages, editing lab, screening room, an acting lab and performance stage.

The school moved to Escondido from Scripps Ranch several years ago, which Connolly said was in part due to the possibilities for growth.

New East Valley Parkway Business Group does its thing

East Valley Parkway

East Valley Parkway

So far, about 30 businesses have signed up to join the newly created East Valley Parkway Business Group with members ranging from large retailers like Vons and Walmart, to banks, fast-food restaurants, a pawn shop, and a charter high school. Entire strip malls are also part of the effort.

“We want to create a more family friendly and business friendly atmosphere where everyone can thrive and run their own businesses and create a safer environment,” Jevon Boyer, branch manager of U.S. Bank and one of the group’s advisors, said, according to news sources.

The two-mile stretch of East Valley Parkway has been the scene of numerous business group development efforts over the last 20 years, and improved its optics and store choices over those years.

Escondido Management Analyst Michelle Geller, whose job is to act as a liaison between the city and businesses, said she first reached out to merchants and residents within the project area .

“The whole point was to try to motivate these businesses to meet regularly and for them to get to know one another and get to know our police department and our city officials,” Geller said.

Geller said the response was enthusiastic and led to the creation of the business group, which is open to all businesses along the entire parkway corridor, from the old Palomar Medical Center complex east to Bear Valley Parkway — a stretch of about 2 1/2 miles.

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