Around Town: U.S. Open of Surfing starts Monday

Fans as Sage Erickson is carried after winning the U.S. Open of Surfing women’s championship finals in 2019.
Fans cheer as Sage Erickson is carried after winning the 2019 U.S. Open of Surfing women’s championship finals over Courtney Conlogue in Huntington Beach. This year’s event starts Monday and runs through Sept. 26 and will feature a 96-man draw and a field of 64 women competitors.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The U.S. Open of Surfing, long one of the showcase events of the Huntington Beach summer, returns starting Monday on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier.

The event, which remains free to the public, kicks off a four-event World Surf League Challenger Series schedule for 2021 on both the men’s and women’s sides. It will feature a 96-man draw and 64-woman field, with 10,000 points up for grabs toward Championship Tour qualification.

The U.S. Open runs through Sept. 26 and will be broadcast live at

Paddle out Saturday for Pacific Marine Mammal Center co-founder

A paddle out will celebrate the life of Pacific Marine Mammal Center co-founder John Cunningham on Saturday.

The event will take place at 11 a.m. at Picnic Beach near Heisler Park in Laguna Beach. A group of people will paddle out to spread Cunningham’s ashes. A picnic will follow the paddle out.

Cunningham was also a marine biology teacher at Laguna Beach High School.

Those who knew Cunningham are encouraged to send their favorite memories to to be included in an online memorial.

Newport-Mesa Unified approves $355K salary for new Supt. Wesley Smith

After a months-long search for a new district leader, Newport-Mesa Unified School District trustees on Tuesday approved a four-year superintendent’s contract with Wesley Smith, executive director of the Assn. of California School Administrators (ACSA) and a longtime educator and administrator with 24 years of experience in California’s public education system.

According to the contract, which runs through June 30, 2025, Smith will begin on Oct. 18 and be earning an annual salary of $355,000, plus benefits, in addition to up to $20,000 in moving expenses and monthly stipends of $650 for transportation and $100 for communications.

Dr. Wesley Smith, selected as the next superintendent of Newport-Mesa Unified School District.
Dr. Wesley Smith, a California educator and school administrator with 24 years of experience, has been selected as the next superintendent of Newport-Mesa Unified School District, officials announced Thursday.
(Courtesy of Newport-Mesa Unified School District)

At Tuesday’s regular board meeting, President Karen Yelsey said officials were looking forward to working with Smith.

“To me, it was really important that we find someone all of us, up here as trustees, like and feel we can work with,” she said. “I believe everyone in our district and community will feel the same way about him after they meet him.”

Mesa Water District earns award for new customer welcome program

Mesa Water District officials this week announced the special district recently received first-place recognition in the 2021 California Municipal Utilities Assn. Resource Efficiency & Community Service awards, in the category of customer service, for its new customer welcome program and Neighborhood Chats initiative.

It was acknowledged as one of nine publicly owned agencies and utilities that took top prizes, according to a release issued Tuesday, and took the prize for its “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Good Neighbor initiative.

Mesa Water Board President Marice H. DePasquale said the agency was honored to be recognized for programs that connect with customers, adding, “This award reflects Mesa Water’s commitment to dedication and community.”

‘Igniting Potential’ giving day Wednesday aims to raise $200K for local youth

The Orange County Community Foundation is asking area residents on Wednesday to participate in an online day of giving to help raise $200,000 for 17 local nonprofits that support Orange County youth.

“Igniting Potential” will help support programs that help young people across the county stay engaged and committed to achieving their full potential at a time when many youths are experiencing social isolation, anxiety and learning loss during the last 18 months of the coronavirus pandemic.

The event is part of the Foundation’s iheartOC Collaborative Giving Days, which connect potential donors and volunteers with local causes they care about. So far this year, the initiative has raised more than $4 million from 7,590 donors in support of 95 area nonprofits.

Fountain Valley Regional Hospital names new chief executive

Tenet Health Pacific Coast officials announced Thursday Clay Farrell, group chief operating officer for Tenet Health’s Pacific Coast region, had been named chief executive of Fountain Valley Regional Hospital & Medical Center.

Farrell joined Tenet in 2015 as chief operating officer for Los Alamitos Medical Center, where he helped the facility grow strategically, directed major renovations and helped the hospital receive a comprehensive stroke certification.

In 2018, he became chief operating officer at Fountain Valley Regional, which serves 1.2 million people in Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Santa Ana. One year later, he was appointed to a similar position at the regional level, overseeing four acute care hospitals in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

A fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, Farrell lives in Costa Mesa with wife Amy and their three children. He replaces Kenneth McFarland who, according to a Tenet spokeswoman, resigned earlier this summer “without reason.”

Oak View Comunidad to hold Volunteer Appreciation Day

The Oak View Comunidad organization in Huntington Beach will be holding a Volunteer Appreciation Day on Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m.

The event, meant to honor those volunteers who have supported the Oak View community during the coronavirus pandemic, will take place at 17261 Oak Lane.

For more information, visit

Huntington Beach Environmental Board accepting applications

The Huntington Beach Environmental Board is currently accepting applications for four vacancies.

The volunteer board consists of nine residents appointed by the City Council. The Environmental Board’s duties include advising the Council on environmental challenges and opportunities related to sustainability, economic impact and ecological issues.

Applications are due by Sept. 27 and available on the city’s website. For more information, contact staff liaison Tess Nguyen at (714) 374-1744 or

DAR chapter in Huntington Beach welcomes 19 new members

Nineteen area residents with ancestors who served during the Revolutionary War were welcomed into membership this month by the Clara Barton Chapter, National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution, based in Huntington Beach.

The newly minted DAR members are Joy Carlson, Susan Dahlem, Kathi Eyserbeck, Judith Hails, Stacy Huffman, Kirsten Larsen, Katherine Leland, Joanne Long, Catherine McMahon, Kat Cathleen Menke, Lacey Moore, Deborah O’Brien, Patricia Ralston, Tait Ralston, Denise Simpson, Danielle Smith, Karen Tuffnell and Kathleen Tillman.

The Clara Barton Chapter of DAR, based in Huntington Beach, recently welcomed 19 new members.
The Clara Barton Chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution, based in Huntington Beach, recently welcomed 19 new members.
(Courtesy of Clara Barton Chapter)

They were inducted by Regent Jenice Anderson and Registrar Cathy Tolley during the chapter’s first meeting of the new season, held Sept. 11. As the meeting date coincided with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the victims of that day were remembered.

“We are fortunate to see three pairs of mothers and daughters being inducted together,” Anderson said in a news release. “It was a momentous occasion to have so many members inducted at one time.”

Laguna Beach school board meets Monday

The Laguna Beach Unified School District board of education will be hosting a pair of in-person meetings next week.

A closed session meeting centered around goal setting by the district superintendent is scheduled to take place on Monday at 1 p.m. in the school district board room, located at 550 Blumont St.

Face coverings will be required to attend the meeting, regardless of a person’s vaccination status. Members of the public will be invited to speak during a closed session agenda item for up to three minutes, with the public comment period not to exceed 20 minutes in length.

Comments may also be submitted in writing prior to the meeting, or electronically by 10 a.m. on Monday.

An open session meeting on school board policies will be convened on Tuesday at 3 p.m. For that meeting, the deadline for comments to be submitted online is noon on Tuesday.

Fountain Valley recognizing acts of kindness

The Fountain Valley City Council recently adopted a proclamation declaring Fountain Valley to be a City of Kindness.

Beginning this month, the city council plans to recognize community members who have helped to achieve the goal of spreading kindness through their actions and words.

Fountain Valley residents can nominate community members to be honored at city council meetings by sending information about their acts of kindness to

Circus Bella coming to Laguna Beach

In its 12th annual summer season, Circus Bella will bring its talent and entertainment to Laguna Beach.

“Humorous,” a one-ring outdoor circus show, will feature acrobats, aerialists, clowns and jugglers, accompanied by a live musical performance delivered by Rob Reich and the Circus Bella All-Star Band.

The Laguna Beach stop happens on Saturday, Sept. 25, with two showtimes at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. from Bluebird Park, 772 Cress St. The show is free to attend and suitable for children of all ages.

Laguna Beach checkpoint results in five arrests

Laguna Beach officials reported that five arrests were made for suspicion of driving under the influence while police officers conducted a DUI checkpoint on Friday, Sept. 10.

The checkpoint was set up near Aliso Beach along Coast Highway from 8 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. that evening.

Approximately 800 vehicles came through the checkpoint, which also saw some drivers receive citations for getting behind the wheel without a license or with a suspended or revoked license.

American Red Cross blood drive Wednesday in Laguna Beach

A Red Cross “Bloodmobile” will set up shop on the cobblestone area of Main Beach located near the intersection of Coast Highway and Ocean Avenue on Wednesday.

From 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., members of the public will be able to donate blood.

Appointments can be made using the Blood Donor app, by going to, or by calling (800) 733-2767.

Fallen Officer Remembrance Ceremony is Tuesday

The Laguna Beach Police Department, 505 Forest Ave., will host the annual Fallen Officer Remembrance Ceremony on Tuesday at 3 p.m.

The event will take place in front of the “Eternal Legacy” police memorial and pay tribute to officers killed in the line of duty.

At the ceremony, the police department will also be dedicating a new K-9 memorial.

Have old newspapers? Laguna Beach Animal Shelter wants them

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter is asking for residents to donate their old and unwanted newspapers.

The discarded newspapers can be used for the local animal shelter’s pet kennels. Residents who want to help out can do so by taking their old newspapers to the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter, 20612 Laguna Canyon Road.

Daily Pilot Staff

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