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Laguna Beach


From Grom to Grown 

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

From Grom yellow board

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Trial by waves, not giving up

From Grom green board

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Cress Beach Groms, Brooks and Hendricks 

From Grom big boys

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Big boys scope out the surf


Heartfelt Cardiac Projects offers cardiac screenings at LBHS on Monday at Breaker Day

Local nonprofit Heartfelt Cardiac Projects will offer cardiac screenings on Monday, Aug 19, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., at Laguna Beach High School (625 Park Ave) in the North Gym. Held during the annual back-to-school Breaker Day, the screening is open to the public – adults and kids ages five and up. The screening event is sponsored by the LBHS Athletic Boosters. To register, go to www.heartfeltcardiacprojects.org

School begins on August 26, and this screening is held in conjunction with Breaker Day when students check in, receive textbooks, get school picture forms, Chromebook loaner contracts (ninth graders and new students in the district), and complete other procedures.

Heartfelt, a nonprofit organization, was founded by Laguna Beach resident Holly Morrell, whose family has a long history of the heart disease known as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). Morrell’s involvement with cardiac screening is dedicated to the memory of her six family members, including her father, who lost their lives to this condition.

Heartfelt Holly

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Submitted photo

Laguna resident Holly Morrell, founder of Heartfelt Cardiac Projects

Heartfelt is dedicated to saving lives through early detection, education, and increased public awareness about Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). SCA is a life-threatening emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. It strikes people of all ages who may seem to be healthy, even children and teens, especially young athletes. In the last 20 years, Heartfelt has saved hundreds of lives and performed more than 50,000 screenings at schools and community centers throughout Southern California. 

Morrell says, “Heartfelt is appreciative for being invited to provide cardiac screenings at the high school, during Breaker Day, for a few years now. It is a wonderful opportunity to serve the community and makes getting a heart screening convenient for Laguna Beach families. This Heartfelt effort is particularly meaningful as Laguna Beach High School has already experienced nothing short of a miracle, with student athlete Sam Tyrrell surviving full cardiac arrest while in his Spanish class. 95 percent of cardiac arrests, outside of the hospital, are fatal.” 

Heartfelt boy

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Submitted photo

You’re never too young to have a screening – boy at previous event

 LBHS teacher Jose Luis Gonzalez quickly performed CPR, and athletic trainer Tim Crilly was able to use an automated external defibrillator, a device that helps the heart start beating regularly after cardiac arrest. In a matter of minutes, an ambulance arrived.

To further Heartfelt’s dedication to saving lives, Morrell competed in an Amazon Prime reality TV series, The Social Movement, about social entrepreneurs whose mission is to improve society. As a result, she was invited to attend a meeting at the UN in NYC.

And, of course, Morrell will be at the screening on August 19. She says, “I wouldn’t miss it as Laguna is my hometown and where Heartfelt is based.” 

To register for the screening or for more information on Heartfelt, go to www.heartfeltcardiacprojects.org.


Moon over Laguna

Moon over Bird Rock

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Photo by Scott Brashier

A perfect spotlight on Bird Rock


Where’s Maggi?

Where was she this time? Let us know if you’ve spied this spot, too.

Send your answers in to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The location will be revealed in Tuesday’s edition, and we’ll let you know who got it right.

Wheres Maggi 8 16 19

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Nestor Investigates

Nestor investigates bag

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Photo by Leonard Porto III

Who let the cat out of the bag?


Mission Hospital named one of top regional hospitals by U.S. News & World Report

Mission Hospital earned recognition this week from U.S. News & World Report as one of California’s top regional hospitals for outstanding patient care.

In the 2019-20 Best Hospital Rankings, U.S. News & World Report distinguished Mission with the following rankings:

--No. 1 in South Orange County

--No. 3 in Orange County

--No. 8 in the Los Angeles/Orange County region

--No. 13 in the state of California

Mission Hospital was also recognized for high performance in a number of specialties, meaning it performed among the top 10 percent across the U.S. in specific areas. 

The hospital is nationally ranked in diabetes and endocrinology, No. 35; pulmonary, No. 50; and high performing in gastroenterology and GI surgery, geriatrics, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, and urology.

And, for the third straight year, Healthgrades honored Mission Hospital with the America’s 250 Best Hospitals Award. This award recognizes the top five percent of hospitals in the nation for consistently delivering clinical quality.

Healthgrades recognized 18 of Mission’s clinical specialties with 5-star ratings and awarded the following clinical quality awards:

--America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Critical Care (2019 and 2018)

--Cranial Neurosurgery Excellence (2019 and 2018)

--Gastrointestinal Care Excellence (2019 and 2018)

--General Surgery Excellence (2019 and 2018)

--Pulmonary Care Excellence (2019, 2018 and 2017)

--Stroke Care Excellence (2019 and 2018)

--Critical Care Excellence (2019 and 2017)

Mission Hospital outside

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Submitted photo

One of Mission Hospital’s locations in South Laguna Beach 

U.S. News estimates that each year nearly two million people face the prospect of surgery or special care that poses either unusual technical challenges or significantly heightened risk of death or harm because of age, physical condition, or existing conditions. These rankings are offered as a tool to help patients find sources of especially skilled inpatient care.

Hospitals’ performance in 12 specialties are compiled in part from the three most recent years of an annual reputational survey of specialized physicians. Surveyed physicians are asked to name up to five hospitals they consider the best for difficult cases in their specialty.

Hospitals that are not nationally ranked but scored high enough in a specialty to put them in the top 10 percent of those hospitals that were analyzed are recognized as high performing. Hospitals that are nationally ranked in at least one of the 12 data-determined specialties, or that earned at least three ratings of high performing across the 12 specialties and nine procedures and conditions are designated as Best Regional Hospitals within their states, metropolitan areas, or other regions.

Mission Hospital is a state-of-the art, 523-bed acute care regional medical center in Mission Viejo. As one of the busiest designated adult and pediatric Level II Trauma Centers in the state of California, Mission Hospital provides a full range of reputable specialty health care services with highly skilled teams treating a multitude of complex conditions. 

Services include a full range of expertise in cardiovascular, neuroscience and spine, orthopedics, cancer care, women’s services, mental health and wellness, head and neck, and a variety of other specialty services. 

Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach (MHLB) provides South Orange County coastal communities with 24-hour emergency and intensive care as well as medical-surgical/telemetry services, orthopedics, general and GI surgery. CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital is a 54-bed facility that is the area’s only dedicated pediatric hospital.

Fully accredited by The Joint Commission and designated as a Magnet hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center for nursing excellence, Mission Hospital is highly recognized for its high quality of care, evidenced through a multitude of healthcare quality benchmarks. 

Mission Hospital is part of St. Joseph Health, a not-for-profit provider of integrated health care. Together, Mission Hospital works to improve the quality of life in the communities it serves in the tradition of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange. 

For more information, visit www.mission4health.com.


Man in the Moon 

Man in violet sky

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

“The moon rose in a purple sky and all the shadows stilled…”

–Author unknown


14-year-old Laguna Beach youth Francis Jacobs signs professional contract with OC Soccer Club

Orange County Soccer Club announced this week the signing of 14-year-old soccer standout Francis Jacobs, who becomes the youngest male to sign a professional contract in United States soccer history. The Laguna Beach native joins amidst interest from multiple European clubs and is eligible to make his historic first appearance as early as Saturday, Aug 17 against Las Vegas Lights FC.

Jacobs becomes the youngest professional soccer player in U.S. history after inking his deal at 14 years, 4 months, and 29 days. 

The next youngest player was Freddy Adu who was 14 years, 5 months, and 16 days old when he signed with Major League Soccer and D.C. United in November 2003. 

Close to home

Jacobs joins OCSC following a successful stint with the Irvine Strikers, where his performances earned him national team call-ups with both the United States U-14 National Team and, most recently, as a participant in the 2018 U.S. Junior National Team camp. Jacobs had training stints with Bundesliga clubs Cologne and Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, but the option of staying close to home made joining OCSC the right step for the player and his family.

“He’s had opportunities to play abroad,” Jacobs’ father Jeff told ESPN. “But I didn’t think that would have worked out for him because he’s 14 and taking him out of his nest was not the right move at this point. What OCSC has offered couldn’t be any better. 

“We live very close by. Francis’ life will stay intact in terms of friends and normalcy. And OCSC has an amazing training environment, an amazing team, and the staff has assured my wife and I that they’re going to look after him and do what’s best for him.”

LB native shirt

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Courtesy of Orange County Soccer Club

Francis Jacobs, center, became the youngest soccer player in U.S. history to sign a professional contract when he inked a deal with OCSC

“Francis is a special Orange County talent and has shown a maturity on the field way beyond his years,” said OCSC President of Soccer Operations & General Manager Oliver Wyss. “He is the perfect model of player to develop in our pathway to professional program that we have established here in Orange County. The entire organization is committed to providing him with guidance, training, and support as he begins the first step in what we believe will be a long professional soccer career. Our training environment will allow him to learn every day from our experienced technical staff and play alongside top pro players, some of which have played on the highest international level in Mexico and Europe. Francis has a bright future ahead and we are proud to have him and his family as part of Orange County SC.”

“I am very excited for Francis, who is a young and gifted local talent, to join our team,” said Head Coach Braeden Cloutier. “I’ve been really impressed with his poise and ability on the ball that he’s shown us these past few months. This is a great opportunity for Francis, and also an exciting challenge for the entire Orange County SC technical staff to do everything possible to help him reach his fullest potential.”

Jacobs will now look to follow in the footsteps of Orange County SC teammate Aaron Cervantes, who signed his first professional contract at 15 years old prior to the 2018 USL Championship season. This year, Cervantes has become a regular in goal for OCSC recording eight appearances and two shutouts while splitting time with the United States U-17 National Team.

“It is really exciting to be playing for Orange County SC,” said Francis Jacobs. “I would like to thank Mr. Keston, Oliver, and Braeden for giving me this special opportunity. I want to make everybody who has helped me get here proud and I am looking forward to the future.”

LB native playing

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Courtesy Orange County Soccer Club

Jacobs has been training with Orange County SC all summer

Having trained with Orange County SC and clearing eligibility requirements for USL Championship play, Jacobs is eligible to take the field as early as Saturday, Aug 17 against Las Vegas Lights FC.

Although Jacobs will be eligible for selection for next weekend’s game against the Las Vegas Lights in the USL, which plays at one level below MLS, OCSC manager Braeden Cloutier told ESPN FC it was unlikely that Jacobs would play.

Cloutier told ESPN, “I just want to make sure we’re doing this at the right pace and the right time,” he said about playing Jacobs. If Jacobs does see the field, he will become the youngest American to play in a professional league match.

“I’m pretty excited just because I’ve worked really hard throughout the years to get to this point, and the guys are really cool on the team,” Jacobs told ESPN via telephone. “So it’s pretty exciting to join a team you really like, and I’m looking forward to the future.” 

OCSC GM Oliver Wyss told ESPN that Jacobs has been training with the club’s first team since May, and during that time the 5-foot-11 midfielder showed he could compete playing against men who, in some cases, are more than twice his age. 

Beyond his age

“As a 14-year-old he’s already more mature than most of the teenagers that we come across who play for us,” Wyss said. “I think that has a dramatic impact because his coachability, his smarts, his intelligence, are very, very high for a young man. That also played into the equation.

“If you just looked at age, it’s a big step to make. But the reality is he’s trained with us all summer long. We have the chance to evaluate him continuously, and we feel he is ready for the next step. We will give him the time and it’s not something where we rush into it. It’s ultimately up to Francis to prove that he’s ready to make a game appearance for our first team.”

The next step will be for Jacobs to prove his worth in practice ahead of this weekend’s match. 

“It will be really exciting,” Jacobs said about possibly making his debut. “But it comes down to how you play in the practices. It’s the coach’s decision of which lineup he wants to put out there.”

Jacobs will attend a local private school in the afternoons in order to continue his education. 

Orange County Soccer Club is Orange County’s only professional soccer team and is part of the United Soccer League (USL), the fastest growing Division II professional soccer league in the world. The USL is comprised of 34 teams across the United States. The team plays its home games at the Orange County Great Par’s Championship Soccer Stadium, located in Irvine.

For more information about Orange County Soccer Club, and to experience professional soccer in the OC, visit www.orangecountysoccer.com.


Laguna loses another legend: Jimmer Coombs, a life on the road and at the Sawdust, while always being cool

By DIANNE RUSSELL

By all accounts, James “Jimmer” Coombs appeared to be someone who lived by his own rules, and at the same time, characterized an authentic part of the Laguna Beach culture. For many years, he was a mainstay at the Sawdust Festival.

Coombs, who began working at the Sawdust in 1994 as part of the security staff, also played music gigs on the grounds. In the 1990s, he performed as a percussionist with a band called Heat, and his consistent presence, both as staff and musician, was undeniably part of Sawdust’s history. 

Laguna loses Jimmer

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Jimmer Coombs

Coombs, 80, who passed away on July 20, came to Laguna after he got out of the Navy. As a foster kid, he bounced around, and at the age of six was pretty much on his own. He went into the service in 1957 and after visiting Laguna, decided he wanted to live here. 

He had been a roadie all his life, spending time with an impressive list of music icons from the 1970s and 1980s. Laguna became home base in a life on the road with some of the biggest stars of the day: Arlo Guthrie, Three Dog Night, Rod Stewart, Dave Mason, Willie Nelson, The Pointer Sisters, A.J. Croce, Chaka Khan, Bonnie Raitt, Peter Criss of KISS, Lee Rocker and others. Coombs toured around the world many times. 

His longest stint was with Kris Kristofferson. He spent 17 years on the road with him, and during that time became close with Willie Nelson. Coombs was also an extra in the movie Songwriter.

Laguna loses band

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Photo by Doug Miller

Coombs playing with Heat at the Sawdust in the 1990s

In a 2016 interview with the LA Times, Coombs said, “I became really good friends with Willie. I got introduced to a lot of people. It was a good life.”

As for family life, in a wonderful turn of events, he recently reunited with his daughter Debbie Koinzan, who lives in Oklahoma.

“I live by my ABCs: Always Be Cool,” he said in the LA Times interview.

And it appears that he always was.


Creature Feature

Upswing in coyote and bobcat sightings prompt “Living with Wildlife” workshop on Wed, Aug 21

By DIANNE RUSSELL

“Whoa, not so fast,” said the Laguna Beach Police Department (LBPD) in response to three reported mountain lion sightings by local residents spanning four days from Wednesday, Aug 7 to Saturday, Aug 10. The city says it has vetted all of these reports, and that it does not believe any of them were mountain lions.

Nevertheless, coyote and possible bobcat sightings are up, and so are attacks on pets. This has prompted the city to host a “Living with Wildlife” community workshop at Alta Laguna Park (Top of the World) on Wednesday, Aug 21 at 5 p.m. – to specifically address these issues.

“We have been experiencing some increases in coyote activity and attacks recently, so it’s time to conduct a community workshop to put some helpful information into the hands of our residents,” LBPD Civilian Services Administrator Jim Beres stated.

Reports of sightings

Just last night, Stu News received the reader submitted audio/video recording below, which the reader believed to be felines screaming, taken on Wednesday, Aug 14 at 3 a.m. in the 2000 block of Laguna Canyon Rd.

The reader said, “The animals were maybe 20 feet away from me. I was 10 feet from the fence and they sounded about 10 feet past the fence. It lasted one and a half to two minutes.”

The recording was forwarded to the City of Laguna Beach and Laguna Canyon Foundation’s biologists for further evaluation. Laguna Canyon Foundation’s Executive Director Hallie Jones released the following statement after her team carefully analyzed the video:

“The largest cats we currently have in our open space are bobcats. It’s definitely more likely to be a bobcat than a mountain lion. While it’s always possible that a mountain lion could make its way across the freeway system, we haven’t had a confirmed sighting of a mountain lion here since about 2000. We do hear reports every once in a while, and in each of those cases, any photographic evidence or other indicators point to other species. I always welcome people reaching out to Laguna Canyon Foundation with reported sightings – we’d love any photos or videos that people have!”

Jim Beres from the City of Laguna Beach issued the following statement:

"We are pretty confident the noise/sound heard in the audio clip is not from a mountain lion. We sent the audio clip to Dick Newell of OC Trackers and he told us that was not a mountain lion, nor a bobcat. And Dick Newell is pretty much the go-to expert in Orange County on mountain lions and bobcats. Our animal services officer has listened to the clip and concurs with Dick Newell that sound is not a mountain lion nor a bobcat...At this point, while we cannot say with certainty what that sound is, we are pretty confident it is not a mountain lion nor a bobcat."

On Wednesday, Aug 7, at 9:04 p.m., at the 32000 block of Virginia Way, it was reported that a young mountain lion was recorded on a resident’s security camera, discovered after they returned home from dinner. According to the report, the feline “was within the fence of the backyard.”

On Friday, Aug 9, at 10:48 p.m., at the 2000 block of Hidden Valley Canyon Rd, a resident reported that a large mountain lion was seen in the area. According to the report, the cat made its way “into the community.” The RP requested a patrol car in the area and contacted Animal Services.

The next day on Saturday, Aug 10, at 9:57 a.m. at the same location, a third mountain lion sighting was reported.

“In the one report on Virginia Way with the video, it was determined to be a cat. In the other two incidents near Hidden Valley, we believe it was a bobcat,” said Beres.

Questionable mountain close up bobcat

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Photo by John Foley, LCF

Bobcat in Aliso and Wood Canyon photographed by John Foley in late 2018

Identification

“When we respond to investigate, we look for paw prints, scat, and other physical indicators of mountain lion activity. This includes looking for animal carcasses that would have been attacked and eaten by a mountain lion. Despite the many reports of mountain lion sightings, there have been no paw prints, tracks, scat, animal carcasses, or any other physical indicators of mountain lion activity located,” Beres said. “Rather, the physical indicators that have been observed have been those associated with bobcats and coyotes, which are plentiful in number in this area.”

“There simply isn’t any pathway for a mountain lion to get to this area from the wilderness areas east of the Interstate 5 freeway,” Beres said.

Bobcats seen in Aliso and Wood Canyons

John Foley of the Laguna Wilderness Foundation, who leads Discovery Hikes in Aliso and Wood Canyons and has documented bobcats in that area carefully, examined the photo released by the City of Laguna Beach and published in Stu News. This is definitely not a bobcat. It does appear to be a large domestic cat, or perhaps a feral cat since it appears to be displaying some survival skills being outside in our area where we have many coyotes,” he stated. “Things that jump right out at me in the image are the cat’s muzzle. Typically a cougar would have a muzzle more square in shape. Also, domestic cats have pointed ears vs. a cougar’s ear tips more rounded and set further apart. A cougar would also have a longer tail in proportion to its body. Yep, I think we have a kitty on the run here.”

Questionable mountain faraway

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Photo by John Foley, LCF

Foley documented bobcat in Aliso and Wood Canyon in January 2018

According to Foley, the idea for a community workshop is a valuable one. 

“Absolutely! Any time we are talking about wildlife and our beautiful wilderness parks, it’s a good thing. When I am leading hikes, the ‘fear’ of encountering a mountain lion comes up frequently with our participants. I try and calm their fears (since we don’t have any cougars in our parks) and get them to just enjoy being out here with the flora and fauna. We have encountered a bobcat on our hikes a few times, but they are very shy and will never go out of their way to bother anyone. They are also very elusive. It took me three years to finally get a good picture of one. Sharing information about dealing with coyotes is important, since they can be bold around pets and small children.” 

Animal Services Officer to conduct workshop

Animal Services Officer David Pietarila will be conducting the community meeting at Alta Laguna Park (Top of the World) on Wednesday, Aug  21 at 5 p.m. He will be presenting information on coyotes, bobcats, and other wildlife, such as how to avoid negative encounters with coyotes and bobcats, how to keep pets safe from attacks, how to avoid habituation of coyotes, hazing techniques, and other useful information. 

Officer Pietarila will also answer any questions residents may have about coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, and other wildlife residents are likely to encounter in or near the city. The community meeting will last approximately an hour depending on how many people attend and how many questions folks have. 

Stu News will publish an overview of the workshop in next Friday’s edition.

To view a video from Foley discussing the importance of the wildlife corridor for bobcats and other wildlife, click here.

Alta Laguna Park (Top of the World) is located at 3299 Alta Laguna Blvd.

“The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.”

...Edward Abbey

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

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