Residents, businesspeople, and dignitaries from Los Alamitos and the surrounding communities gathered at the Navy Golf Course’s Eagle’s Nest banquet hall to be briefed by the Los Alamitos Area Chamber of Commerce, Los Alamitos Unified School District, and the City of Los Alamitos on Los Al’s accomplishments over the past year and their goals for the next year.
Dan Schwartz, Chairman of the Chamber Board, summed up Los Al’s goal for 2014: not necessarily to do more, but to be more efficient at what they do do.
The Chamber presented a check of more than $16,600 for the Joint Forces Training Base’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation Fund to General Keith Jones. The money represents the proceeds from the popular Wings, Wheels, Rotors, and Expo event, which this year faced difficulties due to the government shutdown and sequestration funding cuts.
After lunch, Jeffrey Barke, 2014 LAUSD Board President, and his immediate predecessor David Boyer took to the podium to praise the accomplishments of the School District.
Barke said that they have one mission: “Igniting unlimited possibilities for students now and throughout their lives.”
Boyer praised the relationship between LAUSD and the City Council, and went on to give some remarkable statistics: LAUSD has the highest college enrollment rate in Orange County, a District API of 922, and is #3 in California for closing the achievement gap. Furthermore, every school in the District is a California Distinguished School.
Boyer also emphasized student safety partnerships, working to prevent such issues as substance abuse, bullying, and violence. He concluded by mentioning that the Wall Street Journal called Los Alamitos one of the 10 neighborhoods with the best education bang for your buck in the United States.
Los Alamitos Mayor Gerri Graham-Mejia gave the State of the City remarks. She praised the Los Alamitos Police Department for their hard work and dedication, from their homeless liaison officer to the AlertOC program to their school resource officer. She also stated that the Los Al PD successfully apprehended a serial robber who had held up the US Bank three times.
Mayor Graham-Mejia moved on to Public Works and their many programs. She lauded City Councilmember Troy Edgar for his efforts to bring the Coyote Creek Park to fruition: “Without your help, Troy, none of this would be realized,” she said.
Public Works also replaced unreadable street signs and diseased trees, and installed speed bumps in the alleyways.
Recreation and Community Services (“Not Parks and Rec,” the mayor joked briefly) worked hard over the past year. Day camps were expanded from 7 to 9 weeks, and the annual Race on the Base features the largest reverse triathlon in the nation. Race on the Base is part of the Orange County Race Series, four events throughout the year in Los Alamitos, Cypress, and Seal Beach; participants who complete three of the the four events in consecutive order can win a medal.
Mayor Graham-Mejia also praised the Young Professionals Group for organizing the Winter Wonderland at the Plaza, an event which has no impact on the General Fund thanks to generous sponsorships from local businesses and organizations such as the Bandai Foundation.
Los Alamitos City Manager Brett Plumlee took to the podium to talk about business and budget in Los Alamitos. He showed a chart indicating that almost 50% of the General Fund was made up of sales/use tax and property tax. The budget process, set to begin in February, will emphasize a balanced budget. Plumlee also stated that the success of business was directly linked to the success of the City, and used prominent examples of new construction in Los Alamitos: Olson Homes’s Sausalito Walk, Spin! Neapolitan Pizza’s new restaurant on Los Alamitos Blvd., and the new medical office building and parking garage at Los Alamitos Medical Center.
Dr. Sherry Kropp concluded the presentation with a brief word on projects on the horizon such as the revitalization of Los Alamitos Blvd. (and its benefits and impacts) and the permit rebate program.
“Hopefully, we are taking care of business,” she said.
Guests at the State of the City luncheon included representatives from neighboring cities, the Joint Forces Training Base, the office of Assemblyman Travis Allen, the Los Alamitos Unified School District, the Los Alamitos Chamber of Commerce, the Orange County Fire Authority, and numerous local businesses and organizations.
General Keith Jones and Kathleen Banta receive the check from the Los Alamitos Chamber of Commerce for the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Fund at the 2014 Los Alamitos State of the City Luncheon. Behind them are Chamber Board President Dan Schwartz and Board Member Judy Klabouch. Photo by Katie Wiedel.