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Holly Morrell – fighting her own and others’ heart disease through her Heartfelt Cardiac Projects screening clinics

February is National Heart Month - but this story about Laguna Beach resident and heart screening activist Holly Morrell starts on July 16, 2012, when she lay unconscious on a Burbank hospital operating table for a scheduled procedure that is delicate and dangerous.

Having lived for 10 years with an implanted defibrillator, the wires that had been fish-hooked into her heart required removal due to fractures and manufacturer recalls. Her cardiologist, Dr. Raymond Schaerf, was in the middle of the complicated, dangerous, but necessary procedure when a vein suddenly ruptured in an area very difficult area for him to reach. Holly’s blood pressure plunged. Dr. Schaerf made a split-second decision to open Morrell’s chest cavity and quickly suture the collapsed vein. His unplanned emergency open-heart surgical procedure saved her life. After she recovered, Dr. Schaerf told her that she was 90 seconds from death.

HollyDuring her recovery, she tried acupuncture to cope with the pain and loss of movement. Her acupuncturist, local resident Evonne Kane of Five Seasons Healthcare was inspired by Morrell’s story, and offered to host a screening in recognition of National Heart Month. The screening will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at her acupuncture center, Five Seasons Healthcare, located in the Monarch Bay shopping center, 28 Monarch Bay Plaza, Suite A in Dana Point. Anyone age five or older is eligible for the painless, 20-minute screening.  Test results are mailed within 30 days unless a condition is emergent. To learn more or to pre-register for a screening, go to www.heartfeltcardiacprojects.org.

Morrell, who has battled heart disease for a decade, is from a family with a genetic history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. She has lost six family members to the disease, two of them cousins who died suddenly between at the ages of 12 and 14. She is determined to do what she can to prevent other young lives from being cut short because an asymptomatic heart disease went undetected and resulted in Sudden Cardiac Arrest, the number-one killer in the United States, especially among women.  Five years ago she founded the nonprofit Heartfelt Cardiac Projects to provide non-invasive, affordable heart screenings at community events. 

At the clinics, Heartfelt Cardiac Projects offers both cardiac ultrasounds, also known as echocardiograms, and electrocardiograms (EKG/ECGs), the two most reliable screening modalities available, for a donation of $85 per patient. This type of care would normally cost at least $1,500 at a cardiology center, and would not typically be ordered by a physician unless a patient exhibited symptoms. The common culprits, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, and Long QT syndrome, are often missed or misdiagnosed.

February is National Heart Month, and Morrell, having almost fully recovered from her miraculous, harrowing surgery last summer, is back at her 13-year crusade to make screenings available for a relatively low cost as service to the public. 

After a long, painful recovery process, Morrell is again advocating the benefits of early detection and conducting screenings. In 2012 alone, her organization’s work protected the lives of two teens and two adults in Orange County.


Laguna Beach Business Club announces Larry Nokes as speaker for March 21 meeting

The Laguna Beach Business Club is proud to announce trial lawyer Larry Nokes of Laguna Beach-based law firm Nokes & Quinn as speaker for the club’s March 21 meeting. 

Nokes will speak to the Laguna Beach Business Club about the Historic Preservation Ordinance Revision issues relating to plan processing and design review.

Nokes’ litigation practice focuses on matters relating to real estate, including land use, building defect, design and construction issues, land subsidence, eminent domain, and inverse condemnation, real estate broker and agent errors and omissions, and general commercial and personal injury litigation, including defamation. 

He appears in all California State and Federal Courts. Mr. Nokes enjoys the coveted AV Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and has been recognized for inclusion by Super Lawyers in its publication. Mr. Nokes has been a featured speaker in seminars hosted by the Society of Professional Engineers on issues concerning design and construction defects. 

Laguna Beach tie

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Larry Nokes of law firm Nokes & Quinn in Laguna Beach

Dedicated to his community, Mr. Nokes was the chair of Laguna Beach’s View Preservation Ordinance Drafting Committee, completing one of the most successful pieces of legislation the City has produced; he is past president of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and remains a proud member; and he’s currently involved in working with the City to recognize what he firmly believes is the oppressive application of the existing historic preservation rules. 

The club holds a breakfast meeting the third Thursday each month at 7:30 a.m. and hosts speakers that discuss topics valuable to achieving success in your personal and professional lives.

Club meetings begin with a buffet breakfast and brief networking roundtable. Meetings are hosted at Seven 7 Seven (formerly Tivoli Too). Non-members are welcome. 

For more information about the club or to register to attend a meeting, visit lagunabeachbusinessclub.com or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Seven7Seven is located at 777 Laguna Canyon Rd.


Rosalind Russell of R Star Foundation to speak on Nepal journey on Sunday

Rosalind Russell, founder/CEO of R Star Foundation, will speak at the First Church of Christ, Scientist in San Juan Capistrano on Sunday, March 17 at 11:30 a.m., about her recent journey to Nepal and many years of empowering women and children in the underdeveloped country.

Russell is surprisingly glamorous for a woman known as “The Goat Lady.” And while the nickname is accurate (Russell estimates 15,000 goats have been dispersed throughout villages in Nepal as a result of her work), it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Rosalind Russell of R Star

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Rosalind Russell holding a photo of herself with some of the Nepalese villagers her organization helps empower

Russell will be sharing her recent journey to Nepal in depth at the event. She will be recounting the successes, challenges, and direction along with photos and short videos. 

R Star is an eight-time recipient of the church’s unusual tithing offered throughout the year to different organizations its members select.

The talk is free for all guests. For more information, visit www.rstarfoundation.org or call (949) 443-2537. 

First Church of Christ, Scientist is located at 31897 Del Obispo St #120, San Juan Capistrano.


Meet Pet of the Week Cricket

Cricket is taking the title of Pet of the Week again. She is a two and a half year old small black doxie Chihuahua mix who is spayed. She is very quiet and sweet. Additionally, Cricket is also housebroken. Having been at the shelter for a few months now, she is looking for a loving home and is ready for a new adventure. Nancy Goodwin, shelter director, hopes to see Cricket adopted as soon as possible. 

Pet of the Week 3 12 19

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Cricket is two and a half years old and ready to explore the world

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter adoption procedures are designed to make sure that both the potential family and the animal adopted are in the very best situation possible. Due to their approach to adoption, the shelter’s return rate is five percent as compared to the national return rate of 50 percent.

The LB Animal Shelter is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd. For information on adoption procedures, call (949) 497-3552 or go to www.puplagunabeach.org/our-pets.php.


Dennis’ Tidbits 

By DENNIS McTIGHE 

March 15, 2019

Spring is just around the corner! 

Dennis 5Slowly but surely we’re sneaking up on spring, now less than a week away. Wednesday was one of those clean days with bright sunshine and clear blue skies and a rare green flash as the sun sank into the blue Pacific. The temp actually scratched and clawed its way up into the low to mid-sixties but still a few degrees below the normal of 68. There was even a little fun zone NW wind swell with neat little peelers at Thalia Reef with manageable tides for most of the day.

The Sierras are having one of their most epic winters of all time with up to 55 feet of snow in some areas like Squaw Valley, June Mountain, and Mammoth, and it’s been mostly all powder up to the waist! Absolutely epic! For going on four months now, the Sierras have been a magnet for dozens upon dozens of moisture-laden lows. Some longtime locals are calling it the best winter ever, almost like skiing and snowboarding the French Alps!

They’re called Bomb Cyclones. The name has nothing to do with terrorism like you’d think, but these Bomb Cyclones completely terrorize huge chunks of American real estate. They’re a rare breed, occurring about once every three or four winters. 

A Bomb Cyclone is any low pressure core that intensifies at a frantic pace like the one that is now centered over northern Kansas. 

Just two days ago, this low was just your average low pressure while it moved over northern Colorado and southern Wyoming with a central pressure of 1,000 millibars. Twenty-four hours later, it morphed into a huge dangerous low with a central pressure plunging to 974 millibars. When a low intensifies at the rate of 25 or more millibars in just 24 hours, it becomes a Bomb Cyclone. The last time a storm of this magnitude occurred was way back on March 6-8, 1993, and that one was dubbed the super storm of all time.

On the cold side, hurricane force winds with one gust at 100 mph, Category 2 hurricane strength battered eastern Wyoming and eastern Colorado with whiteout blizzard conditions and visibilities as low as 25 yards! 974 millibars are found in some Category 2 tropical systems. On the warm side, widespread severe weather with numerous tornadoes and softball size hail is hammering the lower plains and lower Midwest. Right now this mammoth storm is affecting 25 states as it plows eastward, so we’re very fortunate to live where we do. I count my blessings hourly.

Stay tuned and have a great weekend, ALOHA!


Barbara’s Column

Rockin’ weekend in Laguna 

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Laguna Beach Woman’s Club rocked Saturday night to the music of Jason Feddy and the Mad Dogs and Englishmen, billed as a Joe Cocker tribute band.

Feddy fans boogied to raise funds for Laguna Food Pantry, which provides food for individuals and families in need.

“We are pleased to be here for such a good cause,” said Feddy.

The $75 per person admission to the fundraiser covered edibles provided by Habit Catering Truck – really good hamburgers, fried zucchini and potatoes. Soft drinks were provided for thirsty dancers and there was also a cash bar at which donations were accepted for the Pantry.

Rockin weekend mad dogs

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Jason Feddy and the Mad Dogs and Englishmen band

“Everybody got their money’s worth,” said Tight Assets owner Heidi Miller.

Club president Kitty Malcolm said the event was a part of the club’s mission to give back to the community.

“It is always good when everyone enjoys themselves and you raise money for a worthy cause,” said Malcolm.

The Pantry has served the community for 25 years, distributing 4,000 pounds of food every day. Customers are mostly women, 40 percent are children. Events like Saturday’s help the Pantry to meet its needs.

Rocking weekend Anne and Susan

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On left, Director of Laguna Food Pantry Anne Belyea, and Susan Thomas, Board President

Donations of food are always welcome. Most wanted are cans of tuna, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, jelly, pasta and sauce, rice, beans and cereal.

But food is not the Pantry’s only need. Volunteers, especially if bilingual, are also on the wish list.

Volunteering is an opportunity to support a good cause, and meet like-minded, caring folks with whom you can share your talent and energy.

Tasks include greeting shoppers, fundraising, picking up the groceries that are to be distributed, sorting them for storage and stocking the shelves.

Hours are flexible: 7:30 to 11 a.m., Monday-Friday; 8 to 11 a.m., weekends. Once a week is the minimum commitment.

Rockin weekend Debbie, Anne, Toni

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(L-R) Debbie Neev, Anne McGraw, and Councilwoman Toni Iseman

Anne McGraw chaired the event, assisted by committee members Tina Lambert, Patti Oshland, Nancy Shurtleff and Kathleen Reedy, the latter two serving as bartenders too.

Among those who danced the night away: Laguna Beach County Water District General Manager Renae Hinchey, Councilwoman Toni Iseman, Water District board member Debbie Neev, philanthropist Bobbi Cox, Teryll Sindell, Ellen Richard and Lucetti Kalli, whose grandmother, Annie Laurie Daniell, was a Woman’s Club founder.

Rocking weekend group

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A great time was had by all

Also enjoying themselves: former Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Meredith Dowling, retired Community Clinic staff member and Pantry Emeritus Chair Dr. Korey Jorgensen, clinic supporter George Heed, philanthropists Betsy and Dr. Gary Jenkins, Lee Durler and Wayne Lawrence.

The Pantry was represented by Board Chair Susan Thomas, Volunteer Chair Lesli Hendersen, Treasurer Patti Gallagher, Secretary Alison Scheitzer, volunteer Mark Doiron and Executive Director Anne Belyea.

Arbor Day Celebrated

Councilwoman Toni Iseman looks forward to the day that visitors come to Laguna to see the city’s trees, as well as the beaches and the unique downtown.

Iseman and Mayor Bob Whalen were the masters of ceremonies at Laguna’s second Arbor Day celebration on March 8 as a recognized Tree City USA.

She is a native of Nebraska where Arbor Day was first proposed in 1872 to the state Board of Agriculture by J. Sterling Morton, the start of a worldwide movement.

Iseman considers being called a tree hugger a compliment.

The Arbor Day activities began at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., with community group exhibits and arts and crafts for children, and included the ceremonial planting of a New Zealand Christmas Tree in Main Beach Park.

“We are here today to celebrate our own urban forest, to honor the heritage trees in our neighborhoods and downtown,” said Whalen.

The designation owes much to Barbara and Greg MacGillivray, who founded the Laguna Beach Urban Tree Fund.

Rockin weekend McGillivrays

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Barbara and Greg MacGillivray

“Barbara is an inspiration,” said Whalen.

The fund was established to help the city replace trees that had died, were removed because of ailments caused by advanced age or posed a liability for the city.

“Barbara is the Queen of Trees,” said Iseman.

Hallie Jones, executive director of the Laguna Canyon Foundation, said that her work is mostly on trees in the open space, but as a native of Laguna she is passionate about maintaining the character of the city.

“With climate change, trees are more important than ever,” Jones said.

Barbara MacGillivray thanked city officials, including the Public Works personnel Shohreh Dupuis, Dale Shuck and Liz Avila for putting forth the effort to get Arbor Day recognized in Laguna.

Rockin weekend with kids

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

(L-R) Councilwoman Toni Iseman, Mayor Bob Whalen, Councilwoman Sue Kemp, kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach and the MacGillivray grandkids

Special thanks also went to Monarch Environment and West Coast Arborists.

Participants in the celebration included the South Laguna Community Garden/South Laguna Civic Association, LOCA Arts Education, Transition Laguna, Village Laguna, Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Crystal Cove Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation and the Laguna Beach Garden Club, Greenbelt, Beautification Council and Boys & Girls Club.

Several booths offered wildflower seeds. The city’s seeds came embedded in colorful, tiny biodegradable paper flowers and leaves that could be planted indoors or outside. Pamphlets were available about the Arbor Day Foundation, Do’s and Don’ts of pruning, the benefits of trees, the Urban Tree Found and tree-planting instructions.

Rockin weekend shovels

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Let the digging begin

In the crowd or in a booth: Kathy Jones, Former Mayor Ann Christoph, Larry Clemons, Norman LaCourciere and Crystal Cove’s Cindy Otto. Charlotte Masarik borrowed $5 from Village Laguna President Johanna Felder to buy some succulents.

George Weiss and Ellen McKegger staffed the Beautification Council booth, decorated with gorgeous flower posters. Chris Prelitz represented Transition Laguna. Anne and Ryan Caenn shared the Village Laguna booth with Merrill Anderson, son of the late Betty and Ken Anderson.

Also at the celebration: Councilwoman Sue Kempf, Norm Grossman, Kirsten Whalen and Beautification Council board member Leah Vasquez.

The Lowden Harrell Trio and April Walsh entertained.

But wait – there’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun and interesting stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading StuNewsLaguna.com. Contributions are welcomed.


Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach announces Spring Social Skills Program

Do you want your child to have an edge socially going into the next school year? How about wanting to help your child or teen make and keep friends? Do you have a child who is shy or doesn’t quite understand social cues?

Led by Certified PEERS Facilitator and Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach Director of Social Emotional Development Jennifer MacDonell, M.A. Psychology, the Club presents its Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS) to help children navigate and improve social skills and awareness.

The 8-week Peers Program begins on Wednesdays, April 10 and runs through May 8 at the Laguna Canyon Branch. The program is designed for children in second through six grades and their parent/caregiver and is $100. Scholarships are available. 

PEERS is an 8-week evidence-based, social skills intervention for motivated pre-middle and middle school youth who are interested in learning ways to help them make and keep friends. During each group session youth are taught important social skills and are given the opportunity to practice these skills in session during socialization activities (e.g. playing sports, board games, etc.).

Boys and Girls kids

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Kids enjoying a day in the life at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

An additional benefit is that children/teens enrolled obtain a short-term membership to the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach Canyon Branch during the 8-week duration of the program and can attend any time during club operating hours.

To register: 

--First, call the Boys & Girls Club at (949) 715-7786 or email Jennifer MacDonell at

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to express your interest in PEERS for your child.

--Partake in a 15-minute intake call with Jennifer MacDonell to determine if our program is appropriate for you and your child/teen. 

--Receive a phone call within 48 hours and email verifying acceptance into program.

--Obtain paperwork for program enrollment sent out via email or pick up at 1085 Laguna Canyon Rd. Note: all paperwork must be completed prior to the start of the program. 

--Enrollment and payment (in full) deadline: two days prior to start of program on April 8 at 6 p.m.

Group times are from: 

--3 - 3:50 p.m. 2nd & 3rd grade

--4 - 4:50 p.m. 4th, 5th & 6th grade

--5 - 5:45 p.m. Parent/Guardian Group for all parents (one parent/guardian per child)

--5:45 - 6 p.m. Reunification with all parents and children (group game)

Note: participants may be placed in a group based on developmental abilities and group dynamics regardless of grade in school. Group instruction is provided in English. 

Guidelines are as following: 

--Limited to one child/teen and one parent/guardian per group for the 8 weeks. Note: if an additional parent would like to sit in a group, they can fill in for the parent enrolled for one or two sessions maximum. 

--Only one parent/guardian is allowed to attend per session, as it is not a couples/co-parenting group and the group leader is focused on the material for social skills to support the youth.

--Regular attendance is required! A parent/guardian is required to attend all sessions. If parent/youth misses more than one session, both are un-enrolled for the rest of the program series and there will be a no refund due to dismissal from the program.

--Classes are on Wednesdays between 3 - 6 p.m. depending on grade noted above.

Pre and post-tests will be given to youth and parents for outcome measures to ensure the quality of the program. Also, group placement is determined at intake appointment and based on group dynamics.

Peer Program goals include:

--How to make and keep friends!

--Entering conversations: How to start, enter, and exit conversations between peers. 

--Trading information: How to use appropriate conversational skills.

--How to handle rejection, teasing, rumors/gossip, and cyber conversations. 

The following book is highly recommended to purchase, but not required for participation: The Science of Making Friends: Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults (w/DVD) by Elizabeth Laugeson.

Enrollment is limited. For more information, contact Jennifer MacDonell at (949) 715-7786 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as soon as possible.

Boys & Girls Club Laguna Canyon Branch is located at 1085 Laguna Canyon Rd.


Beauty as far as the eye can see

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Beauty as closeup

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Heaven in every cove

Beauty as Aliso Creek

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Aliso Creek allure


Hang Ten

Hang ten shelf

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Photo by Leonard Porto III

Nestor rides the shelf board


Laguna Beach – A Look Back

Courtesy of Laguna Beach Historical Society

The White House – on the corner of Coast Highway and Park Ave – opened in 1918. Now 101 years old, the restaurant has survived many owners and the ups and downs of the restaurant scene in Laguna Beach. For many years it was one of the few watering holes for travelers between LA and San Diego.

It was founded by Claude Bronner, who sold the business to the Bird family in 1936. Hence the clever slogan on the sign, “Let the Birds Feed You.” A vintage matchbook tells us their phone number that year was 3182 – no area code needed!

In the 1950s and ‘60s it served as a jazz club, and has more recently hosted Heather Locklear, Kobe Bryant, OJ Simpson, and Reggie Jackson as regulars – locals report seeing Mick Jagger and Michael Jordan partying here as well. 

Laguna Beach A Look back 3 15 19

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Courtesy of Orange County Historical Society

In this photo from 1936, one can see the restaurant extended to the end of the block, now replaced by souvenir shops. A large LAGUNA BEACH sign announces arrival to our city hanging over Coast Highway.  A half moon canopy extends from the entrance to the curb to welcome guests as was the custom of the day. An upper patio provided ocean views, although still standing, not functional today. And parking was free – and diagonal. 

Laguna Beach Historical Society is located at 278 Ocean Ave. They are open Friday - Sunday from 1 - 4 p.m. For more information, call (949) 497-6834 or visit www.lagunabeachhistory.org.

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