Our Laguna: Community shares accomplishments, goals

Business, community and civic leaders shared their accomplishments of 2011 and objectives for 2012 at the annual Leadership Luncheon, hosted Tuesday by the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce at Hotel Laguna.

"This tradition was started in 1988 by Bobbi Cox," said City Councilman Kelly Boyd, who served as master of ceremonies for the luncheon.

Mayor Jane Egly led the pledge of allegiance to a flag that almost didn't make it in time to the hotel's California Room.

Chamber board member and chairman of the Government Affairs Council Gregg Abel gave the invocation.

"You can bow your heads or raise your glasses," said Abel. "It is called the Blessitini:

"Choose us as your vessels so to mix.

Sugar the rim with the sweetness of love,

Thankfully add equal parts of friendship and respect.

Squeeze a bit of bitterness to remind us that life is not always fair.

Shake up this creation made since birth.

Savor and drink to the blessing of this life,

Remembering we do not own the future,

But can only embrace this day.

Thank you for all you do for our fair city."

Boyd said he was going to have the invocation printed and posted in the Marine Room.

Each speaker was given one minute — monitored by chamber Ambassador Rosanne Nilli, who sounded a gong when time was up.

Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger was the luncheon's first speaker, and Boyd thought he knew what her goal was — she is a candidate for City Council.

Instead, she said she wants everyone to faint when the council implements the Village Entrance this year.

Among the 2012 goals shared:

Ed Hanke's goal is to put on a great Patriots Day Parade on March 3. More immediately, he would like to see a lot of folks at the Parade Honorees Brunch on Sunday at Tivoli Terrace.

"Ditto," Georgina Harper said.

Sam Goldstein aims to keep the Tommy Bahama building (historically the Heisler building) beautiful and to bring lots of music to town through his association with Laguna Beach Live!

Amanda Walker and Christine Enns said their goal is to be more involved in the community. They got a good start by bringing Casey's Cupcakes to the luncheon.

Diana Cimino, a Girl Scouts of Orange County board member, wants to sell all 36,000 boxes of cookies being delivered this week to Laguna.

Connie Burlin said the Exchange Club's goal is to continue to raise money for local groups and the facility for abused children.

Hotel Laguna owner Georgia Andersen announced the new year will bring Stage 2 of the renovation of the hotel.

The Boys & Girls Club hopes to repeat in 2012 what it accomplished in 2011: operating within its budget, according to Terry Ann Barman.

Friendship Shelter's goal is to continue to take people from the Alternative Sleeping Location to the next step in reclaiming their lives, said Executive Director Dawn Price.

"In 2012, we will continue to work to help the homeless through housing," Price said. "The Section 8 [Housing] list is opening for the first time in six years."

Sally Rapuano represented the La Playa Center, which teaches English, and Sally's Fund, which will continue to provide transportation for seniors. La Playa will encourage the chamber and city hotels to reward their workers who are taking classes, Rapuano said.

Planning Commissioner Anne Johnson was wearing her Community Clinic hat at the luncheon.

"The clinic's goal is to bring affordable health care to everyone in the city," she said. "I see many of our donors here and we hope you continue this year."

"Oh, damn," Johnson said as she sat down. "Tom (Clinic Director Dr. Thomas Bent) wanted me to mention our new doctor, Reshmi Sinha, but the gong sounded before I had the opportunity."

Friends of the Library President Martha Lydick said the group's goal is to raise money to pay for new adult furniture, acquired last year.

"2012 will be the year of 'Schlock and Awe' for No Square Theatre," said Chris Quilter, "Lagunatics" co-lyricist with Bree Burgess Rosen.

Susi Q Executive Director Nadia Babayi wants to get more seniors out of their homes and to the center this year.

Gail Duncan plans to feature different artists in every room at the Art Hotel.

"Improving the way we (the city) provide services to you," is City Manager John Pietig's goal for 2012.

The Visitors Bureau's goal is to make Laguna the top dining and ecological destination for tourists, said Judy Bijlani.

Among the 2011 accomplishments:

Michelle Boyd is proud to have introduced Laguna last year to knitted yarn bombs, sometimes called needlework graffiti.

Dave Sandford said the job he got in 2011 with Doctor's Ambulance provides him with the opportunity to give back to the community.

"I was made an honorary Rotarian, because Grapes for Grads raised more money last year than ever for local scholarships," said Steve Dotoratos.

Returning to Laguna after a four-year hiatus was Kim Bailey's biggest accomplishment in 2011.

"I wasn't a goat in 'Lagunatics,' and I was selected mayor," said Egly, who also spoke on behalf of the city.

"We hope your relationship with the city is cordial and efficient. If not, call Verna," she joked.

Ann Hyde announced the Assistance League celebrated the 35th anniversary of its Early Intervention Program for developmentally delayed infants.

"Staying open," was gallery owner Peter Blake's major accomplishment.

Interim Marine Mammal Center Director Carole Zavala said the center surviving the flood tops her list.

"We collected all that flood crap," said Waste Management "Energizer Bunny" Michelle Clark.

The Sister Cities Assn. of Laguna is proud to have hosted a group of French students last year, said Karyn Philippsen.

Nancy Wilhelm opened her second restaurant in 2011.

"My top accomplishment was bringing Kris Thalman on board [as interim executive director]," said outgoing chamber President Chris Keller, who will be honored Friday at the chamber Installation Dinner.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (949) 302-1469 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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