Our Laguna: A day of honor and remembrance

Twenty-five years of memories were shared at Police Cpl. Ted Falencki's retirement party, held Sept. 9 at the Veteran's Memorial Building.

Falencki's family and friends; co-workers, past and present; and former Explorers, whom he had trained during his 25 years with the department, jammed into Legion Hall to swap stories and honor Falencki's service to the community and the department.

Police Chief Paul Workman commended Falencki on his work with the Laguna's Explorer Post program for youngsters interested in careers in as police officers.

"He brought a lot of young men and women into law enforcement through the program," Workman said.

"He took many of them to Loughlin for competitions [in police techniques] and came back home with trophies.

"And Ted coordinated the Patriots Day traffic control and set up the cones to smooth outgoing traffic on the Fourth of July."

Falencki also partnered Gero, the city's first canine officer, obtained through the efforts of Det. Debbie Kelso.

Workman presented Falencki with a plaque on which the Lifeguard Tower at Main Beach is pictured, the traditional retirement presentation from the city, and his retirement badge.

City Manager Ken Frank also spoke.

"There are some jobs that no one wants to do," Frank said. "The one I really hated was upgrading emergency planning. There was course work involved and I resisted it as long as I could. Ted stayed after me until I took it and it helped.

"I appreciate his perseverance in getting ours [plan] certified."

Sande St. John, who organized the party — big surprise! — presented Falencki with a plaque from the Exchange Club, which sponsors the annual Police Awards.

"Ted was twice voted Officer of the Year by his peers," St. John said.

Falencki thanked everyone who attended the party.

"You really mean a lot to me," he said

In response to questions about how he plans to occupy his time in retirement, Falencki said, "Well, the explorers who rode with me and became police officers, now I will go on ride-alongs with them."

Laguna Beach Police Officer Spring Sendale, Police Assn. President Larry Bammer, Stephanie Seapin Picah, former Explorers, were among the guests at the party.

Guests also included Captain Mike Hall, who was an Explorer while attending Laguna Beach High School; retired Sgts. Ray Lardie, Doris Weaver Higgins and Lance Ishmael; sort of retired former Motorcycle Officer Robert Van Gorder; who is periodically called in for patrol duty.

"Ted's been around so long, I don't recognize some of the people here," said Det. Darin Germaine.

Current co-workers in attendance included Lt. Jason Kravetz, John and Animal Control Officer Joy Falk, Sgts. Eric Lee, Robert Rahaeuser, Jeff Calvert and George Ramos, Community Service Officer Robin Levinson, parking patrol officer Marlene Mackler, code enforcement officer MariannMcNaughton and special assessment district expert Joe Chiquette.

Also on the guest list: Matt and Mary Lawson; Chris Seapin, wife of former Laguna Beach police officer, Rick Seapin and their grandson, Cody Picah, who spent considerable time in the arms of Nit Farnsworth, secretary to the detective division; and Councilwoman Verna Rollinger, who knows a bit about retirement, having left the job of City Clerk after six terms in office only to run for the council.

The affair was catered by the White House, Rumari's and the Ocean Avenue Brewery. St. Johns' crew included Danielle and Vanessa Gee and Connie Burlin.

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9/11 remembered

Sept. 11 was commemorated in Laguna Beach in a solemn ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Building and the rumble of at least 1,000 motorcyclists on a remembrance ride through downtown.

American Legion Post 222 Vice Commander Bob McIntosh and Adjutant Richard Moore conducted the ceremony on the grass in front of Legion Hall.

After a prayer by Moore, Diane Connell and Debbie McIntosh laid red roses on black-draped tables.

An empty chair represented prisoners of war and military still missing in action.

McIntosh spoke briefly, remembering 911 as an unforgivable and horrific attack that robbed America of more than 3,000 lives.

"We vowed we would not forget," McIntosh said. "But have we?

"Domestic issues and the war in Iraq have our attentions, and for good reason, But I feat Sept. 11 is fading in our memories, now relegated to a single paragraph in newspaper stories and occasional references on television."

His point was illustrated by the difficulty one resident had in finding an observance to which she could take her children.

"I felt it was important for my children to understand the significance of the day and I couldn't find any until this," said Jenny Zimmerman.

The family couldn't stay for the luncheon that followed because daughter, Gwenneth, and son, Aaron, had soccer practice.

Sept. 11 has officially been declared Patriot Day, a day to commiserate with those who cannot forget: families who lost loved ones

But Laguna's skyline has not been altered by the absence of the Twin Towers, and we see an ocean, not the Pentagon, from our windows, so the anger we felt that day may be dissipating and America's enemies are counting on that, McIntosh said.

"They do not think we will triumph over them," McIntosh said. "Let it be said this Patriot Day that we shall win."

Laguna's firefighters and police officers were honored at the ceremony, represented by Fire Department Capt. Pat Brennan and his crew, Dan Conroy and Tyler Swets; and Police Officers Falk, Bammer and Mike Short.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the recognition of police and firefighters," Falk said. Tony Dallendorfer, who is also a member of the Legion and a Cop on the Corner volunteer attended.

Guests also included City Treasurer Laura Parisi, Sandi and Hal Werthe.

Luncheon followed the ceremony, organized by St. John with the assistance of Burlin, Joy Butterfield, Christine Vickers and Danielle Gee.

The White House catered the luncheon. Louse Buckley cooked the brownies and cookies. Leslie Austin also brought a tray of cookies.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Write to Barbara Diamond, P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, 92652; call (949) 380-4321 or e-mail coastlinepilot@latimes.com

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