Masai Tribesman from Kenya Steals Show at Ocean Beach Town Council Meeting

by on March 5, 2018 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

Ohlee from Kenya addresses audience at OBTC meeting, Feb. 28, 2018. All photos by Geoff Page.

New Board Members Sworn In

By Geoff Page

The highlight of the Ocean Beach Town Council meeting Wednesday February 28 probably should have been the swearing in of newly elected members and awards for outgoing members but a Masai tribesman in traditional dress stole the thunder.  During non agenda public comment at the regular monthly meeting held at the Masonic Lodge, the gentleman in the following picture(s) stood up to talk.

The colorfully dressed man identified himself as what sounded like Ohlee, he spoke English fluently but had a thick accent. He was in the United States as an ambassador for an effort to bring clean water to his people in Kenya.  His organization has a website  They are, of course seeking donations.  A card he handed out shows a young girl hauling water and states “With your donations, we will provide Clean Water to 3,000 people in her village on March 2018.”  That pretty clearly describes his mission.

Volunteer Mike McCurry receives award.

During his talk, he conducted a touching ceremony by presenting an item to local volunteer Michael McCurry to thank him for assistance he had provided.  Unfortunately, it was difficult to follow everything because of the accent but when he turned to explain to everyone what he had in his hand, he was easier to understand.  It was a short stick, maybe 18” long with a bulb at one end 2” to 3” in diameter. The stick was 1” to 2” in diameter and the whole item was colorfully decorated with ribbons and leather pieces.

He explained that the gift was a symbol of leadership.  It was a traditional Masai item that could be use as a weapon in a leader’s hand, as he held it upright, or a leader could use it for peace, as he laid it on its side.

Some details may be missing but everyone in the room could feel that this ceremony, bestowing this honor, was something the Masai ambassador took very seriously. McCurry received the gift with appropriate solemnity and appeared to be quite touched. The cards that were distributed also contained an email address and a phone number 844-628-1414.

Awards and New Board Members Sworn In

The swearing in and awards that were supposed to be the highlights of the evening took surprising little time at the end of the meeting.  These ceremonies were handled with a great deal of laughter that contrasted nicely with the earlier event.  San Diego Police Department Community Relations Officer David Surwilo conducted the swearing in ceremony.  The new members raised their right hands and repeated the oath, humorously edited by Officer Surwilo. The members sworn in were Stephanie Ritter, Grace Quigley, Melinda Therkalsen, Mark Winkie, Nicole Ueno, and Cameron Reid.

From L to R: Mark Winkie, Stephanie Ritter, Cameron Reid, Melinda Therkalsen, , Grace Quigley, Marin Green; Nicole Ueno not pictured.

Following the brief swearing in ceremony, awards were given to two individuals, Keith Fink and Gretchen Newsom.  Fink received a number of certificates from several people including the mayor and Todd Gloria.  Gretchen Newsom received awards for having been the long serving chair of the OB Town Council.  Both received rousing applause and cheers making it apparent that their service on the Town Council was very well appreciated.

The following are some of the other items brought up during non agenda public comment.

  •  Two candidates for the District 2 City Council seat made appearances, Bryan Pease and Kevin Melton.
  • Susie Reed spoke about how the school board is elected and the need for more community input.  She said there will be a forum on this at Correia School on Monday, March 5 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Laura Dennison announced an up-coming book sale at the OB Library and they are looking for volunteers to help out.
  • Susan Winkie spoke about the Ocean Beach Women’s Club and said the next meeting is March 6.

Annual OB Kite Festival Moved to Robb Field – Saturday May 14

During the officer’s report, Corresponding Secretary Priscilla Turner announced that the kite festival has been moved to Robb Field and will be held on Saturday May 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Politico Rep Reports

Conrad Wear representing the District 2 Council seat mentioned a few items of interest :

  • the Lime Bike invasion.  Apparently, there are no regulations governing this new business that has seen bikes placed all over Ocean Beach.  He said the city council is looking into this now.
  • Wear described a new 911 system that is designed to improve non-emergency response times.  If a 911 call is made but dropped, the police are obligated to make a return call.  These return calls will be automated now and if the system hears a voice, it will transfer immediately to a dispatcher.  This will save dispatcher time that can be devoted to the non-emergency calls.

The representative from Scott Peters office mentioned that Peters voted to ban the AR-15 assault rifle and also supports regulation of magazines that hold a large number of bullets.

Representatives from the San Diego Life Guards introduced themselves and announced that there is a new crew of full time guards that will be serving Ocean Beach.

The city attorney representative, Han Hershman, mentioned that infamous “Mama Bear” walked away from a care facility and is back in Ocean Beach.  A second woman, identified as Monet, was also mentioned.  Apparently, there is a stay away order against this woman that puts most of downtown OB off limits to her.  When asked for a picture, Ms. Hershman said that the Ocean Beach Merchants Association has a picture and advised anyone seeing her downtown to call the SDPD.

Ocean Beach Elementary School Principal Marco Drapeau, announced that their jogathon raised $50,000 for the school that they plan to use for their arts program, some physical education equipment, a camera, and a new vacuum cleaner.  That last item generated some good natured laughs. Drapeau said they are looking closely at chronic absences and that this has improved from 15.2% from last year to 10.2% this year.  He said just the 10.2% costs the school $112,000 in funding.

Mr. Drapeau said that PrimeTime applications for after school extended care will be available on-line starting March 5.  He encouraged people to apply, even if they were not certain they would need the service, because there are a limited number of available spots.  He also mentioned the Spring Carnival that will be on March 16 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.  Lastly, he mentioned the lockdown tests they are running as a safety measure training children how to respond to an emergency such as an active shooter.

Matt Beatty, from the Ocean Beach Library announced a few upcoming events including an Irish band that will appear on March 10 at 2:00.  He also mentioned an interesting event held by Microsoft on March 17.  He described the event as a workshop for kids to learn how to write code to get robots to move.  For more information on this got to

Finally, a member of the audience who is on the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park committee spoke up strongly objecting to the work that was starting on the park.  He said the park needed more important attention than decorative trails and benches, echoing a complaint others in the community have made.  He said the drainage problems in the park are more pressing but said only he and two other members of the Park committee had this opinion and they have been out voted.

Officer Surwilo does the honors.



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