Probation, Sheriff Honored at Petco Park


San Diego County Probation and Sheriff’s Department were both honored at Petco Park on Friday for a First Responder Salute. Officers and deputies were recognized on the field before the Padres game against the Braves.

County Staff Embrace Little Free Libraries

Jennifer Lawson’s Little Free Library in Rancho Penasquitos

Jennifer Lawson’s Little Free Library in Rancho Penasquitos

Little Free Libraries have been popping up in neighborhoods all over the world in recent years. San Diego County has hundreds of them and chances are, you have one near where you live or work.

The neighborhood book exchanges first started ten years ago in Wisconsin and have since spread around the globe. The map on the Little Free Libraries registry lists more than 80,000 Little Free Libraries in 90+ countries around the world.

You might think that the community exchanges may be competition for traditional libraries. Not so, say San Diego County Library staff.

“These Little Free Libraries help traditional libraries by getting books and information in the hands of residents that can’t make it into the library as often as they want,” said Laura Zuckerman, branch manager of the Valley Center Library. “The little libraries promote literacy, strengthen neighborhoods and cultivate generosity.”

Valley Center has three Little Free Libraries that are officially recognized by the Little Free Libraries non-profit and branch staff drop off library calendars, bookmarks and free books to support the neighborhood book exchanges.

Laura Mendez’ Little Free Library in Normal Heights

Laura Mendez’ Little Free Library in Normal Heights

Some San Diego County Library staff take their love of books even further. Laura Mendez, branch manager of the Lemon Grove Library, started her own Little Free Library in her Normal Heights neighborhood. Community members donated a few books to get the exchange started, and Mendez supplemented the collection with items she purchased from Friends of the Library book sales held at the County Library.

“I think it’s a great way to promote literacy,” said Mendez. “People in the neighborhood really seem to like my pop-up library, and many signed the guest book I attached to the box.”

Since property limitations did not allow her to install her book exchange permanently, she assembled a book-filled vintage suitcase. Unfortunately, her pop-up library recently disappeared, but Mendez is already working on building a bigger and better Little Free Library.

“The neighbors have really banded together to help me out and have offered to replace the box and table,” said Mendez. “I’m actually looking into partnering with a nearby park to see if we can build a permanent structure there.”

Liz Vagani’s Little Free Library in Allied Gardens

Liz Vagani’s Little Free Library in Allied Gardens

Mendez is not the only County employee who started her own Little Free Library. There are several other library staff who have installed book exchanges in their neighborhoods.

Do you visit or maintain a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? Send us a picture and include where it is.

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County Marches with Pride

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The County was full of pride this weekend. Five departments marched in the San Diego Pride Parade in Hillcrest Saturday: the District Attorney's Office, Office of the Public Defender, Probation Department, San Diego County Library and the Sheriff's Department.

In addition, the LGBT & Allies Association Employee Resource Group held a building lighting ceremony on Thursday at the County Administration Center.

Review Your Earthquake Safety Plan at Home, Work


The 7.1 magnitude earthquake and its strong fore- and aftershocks centered near Ridgecrest, but felt throughout our own county and beyond, serve as a reminder of how unpredictable earthquakes can be and the importance of disaster preparedness.

San Diego County, like most of California, sits on a network of active earthquake faults. The Rose Canyon Fault, which runs under La Jolla and downtown San Diego, is capable of producing up to magnitude 7.3 earthquakes if the offshore segments rupture and a 7.4 if the southern onshore segment also ruptures, according to an analysis led by Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. These earthquakes would cause significant damage.

As County Disaster Service Workers, we have an extra obligation after an earthquake: to report to our supervisors and assist those in need as directed. The only way to survive and reduce your chances for injury if a significant earthquake rattles the region, is to get prepared now.

Before an earthquake, help your family get prepared by holding your own drill at home. Every member of your family should know what to do during an earthquake: Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Practice your plan at least once a year, but ideally more often and in different rooms of the house so that the reaction becomes automatic. A quick, practiced response can help in the stressful and frightening moments after a quake strikes.

Check your home for hazards, such as items that could topple over onto someone from a high shelf or above. The goal is to adhere breakables with wax or putty or rearrange them on a lower shelf, and to secure tall bookcases, televisions, wall art, or hanging mirrors with straps or special hanging hardware to prevent them from falling. All of these securing materials can be found at most home improvement stores.

Have a plan for emergencies and go over it with your family. A template is available at

Have emergency provisions such as water, non-perishable food, first aid items, flashlights, batteries, prescribed medications, cash, and an emergency radio on hand. A list is also available on the site as well as other earthquake safety tips.

Register your cellphones with AlertSanDiego, the County’s mass notification system to receive emergency information and download the SDEmergency mobile app or visit for emergency information.

During an earthquake, the most important thing to do it to protect your head from items that might fall in the shaking. Drop, Cover and Hold On under a sturdy table or desk. If you are not near a table or desk, drop to the ground and move away from any hanging fixtures, windows, glass, or furniture that could topple over, and sit up against an interior wall, while covering your head. For more tips, check out this helpful list provided by Earthquake Country Alliance.

After an earthquake, it is important to be ready to seek cover again in the event of an aftershock. Check yourself and others for injuries. Assuming there are none, walk around the home or building and make sure there are no fires, which can sometimes ignite after an earthquake from ruptured gas lines. While walking around, be sure to sniff for gas as well. If the odor of gas is detected, the main gas line must be turned off. Turn the gas line off only if there is a leak or damage to the line because once it is off, utility crews must turn it back on. If possible, check on neighbors.

To learn more about how to prepare for an earthquake, visit, or for information in Spanish.

Practicing crawling under a desk at home or work may seem a little silly at first, but it truly is important that County employees practice what they would do if an earthquake happened.

Below are some tips for earthquake preparedness whether at work or home.


  • Drop and take cover immediately under a desk or sturdy table. Hold onto the leg of the table with one arm to make sure it stays over you and use your other arm to protect your head.

  • Slide down along an interior wall and cover your head with your arms, if a desk or table is not available.

  • Stay in a safe place until the shaking stops.

  • If outside in a clear area, sit down and cover your head until the shaking is over.

  • If in your car or a County vehicle, pull over in a clear area and wait.

  • After the shaking is done, check yourself and check on your family or colleagues.

  • If at work and in an office which serves members of the public, also check on customers.

  • If a building is deemed unsafe, employees may be asked to evacuate.

  • There is potential for hazards within your home or work facility such as fires, broken glass, and gas leaks or flooding. Check for these hazards.


  • Avoid walking around or running indoors or outdoors. The shaking may cause items to fall on you or could cause you to fall. 

  • Avoid windows, mirrors, framed posters or pictures and other glass items which could shatter and hurt you.

  • Avoid tall and heavy furniture items that might topple onto you.

  • Avoid standing under overhead light fixtures or other items that may fall.

  • Avoid getting on an elevator.

  • If you are outside when shaking occurs, avoid buildings and windows in case pieces break off.

  • If outside, avoid trees and overhead utility lines because they could fall.

  • If outside, avoid bridges if possible.

The Great ShakeOut earthquake drill is a great opportunity to hold a drill at home and work. This year, the drill will be held at 10:17 a.m. on Oct. 17. To register to ShakeOut (even if it’s not at the designated time and day), visit, and to learn more about preparedness, visit

Get Cooking with Employee Wellness


If you missed the recent cooking demonstration sponsored by Employee Wellness that focused on healthy eating, you can now watch it on LMS. The video features three delicious dishes: a simple Mediterranean olive pasta, a crostini with caramelized onions and mushrooms, and a berry mint salad.

Watch the video during your break. Search for it by name—2019 Employee Wellness Cooking Demo: plant based cooking for hypertension—on LMS.

Attending at least one cooking demonstration or watching it on LMS is one of the requirements to enter the 2019 Employee Wellness opportunity drawing.

For more information on wellness programs, visit the Employee Wellness site.

Register for the Live Well 5K and take the 5K Fitness Challenge

If you’ve been hesitating, it’s not too late to start getting in shape for this year’s Live Well San Diego 5K. In fact, starting today, there’s a month-long 5K Fitness Challenge that can help get you ready to run.

The 5K and Kids 1-Mile Fun Run takes place on Sunday, July 28, starting and ending at the Waterfront Park. Now in its sixth year, the race will celebrate “Everyday Heroes,” ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help San Diegans live well. The race kicks off at 7:30 a.m. and the fun run for kids begins at 8:30 a.m.

Registration prices are $20.00 for adults ages 18 and up, $15.00 for children and teens ages 8-17, and free for children ages 7 and under this year. Optional chip timing is available for an additional $5.00. All registered participants will receive a medal and event T-shirt.

After the race, check out the free expo featuring interactive activities, snacks and beverages, a First 5 sponsored kids fun zone and a variety of vendors.

Add more fun to your day by taking in the San Diego Padres game as they face the San Francisco Giants at 1:10 p.m. For more information and discounted tickets, visit using the password LIVEWELL5K when prompted.

The 5K Fitness Challenge can help motivate you. You can do it with friends, family and co-workers for extra support and encouragement to get you prepared to walk or run in the race. Challenge participants receive a daily fitness challenge and training tip via email or text. The challenge also features several free activities such as hikes and fitness classes throughout the month so you can enjoy a workout with others.

If you don’t want to run in the race, there are still plenty of ways to get involved in the event through volunteering. Volunteers are needed for such things as exhibitor check in, setting up, water stations and clean up the day of the event. Each volunteer will receive a Live Well San Diego 5K T-shirt.

InTouch – Free and Fun, Thanks to the County


Summer is here! Many County employees are taking days off, spending time with kids on break from school, hosting out of town guests, or simply enjoying all San Diego has to offer.

But keeping yourself and others entertained... well, the costs can add up. We know it’s a common concern because for the last few years, we’ve put a story called 31 Free Things to Do in July, or variations on that, on our County News Center, and it’s always one of the most popular pieces of the year.

We’ve brought it around again: a list of 100+ events and activities the County puts on at various venues. There really is something for everybody.

I thought I’d share a few things from this year’s list. One, because you’re like any members of the public, looking for fun and interesting things to do.

Two, I wanted to point out that this is one more example of the phenomenal variety of opportunities the County provides. This is a handful of activities from one month – a mere sliver of what we offer all over, all year round. Much of it is no cost, outside of modest parking fees in some cases. So, for starters:

We celebrate the Fourth of July in a few days. San Diego’s biggest fireworks show takes place over the bay, and one of the prime spots to watch is our Waterfront Park. For the more adventurous, that night the County is also hosting a combination of fireworks viewing and stargazing with a Star Party at Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve. 

Catch a performance of a Japanese storytelling tradition called kamishibai at the Lakeside Library on July 17 or the Vista Library July 18.

On July 18, you can picnic with goats at Los Penasquitos Ranch House. Wha-a-a-a-at? Yes, meet Nubian goats while learning about local ranch life in the 1800s.

Kids love stories. Kids love water. They can enjoy both at a Baby Splish Splash, an outdoor story time and water play activity at the Rancho Santa Fe Library July 10 and 24.

Time to get growing. Take Vegetable Gardening 101 at the La Mesa Library July 27, taught by a master gardener (that’s also a program the County sponsors).

The series goes well beyond July, but the month includes several showings from Summer Movies in the Park. We and local cities team up for this hugely popular event each year that hits every corner of the county. Families can enjoy entertainment for all ages, in beautiful outdoor settings, at no cost. 

How about a whole family-friendly expo with music and activities? That’s part of the County’s Live Well San Diego 5K and Kids 1-mile Fun Run, July 28 at the Waterfront Park. Don’t think you have to be a runner to come down and have a good time. I hope one way or another you’ll join this celebration that embodies our vision of a region that’s healthy, safe and thriving. 

If summer gives you a chance to take it easy, great, please enjoy it to the fullest. But all these activities – and again, this is just a tiny sample – should show you that for some of our County colleagues, this is a busy season. Each one of these takes multiple, many even, people to make it happen. I appreciate the hard work of everyone involved to offer San Diegans, our employees included, such a rich variety of opportunities for fun and growth. 

One other event this month to note: As part of Pride weekend in San Diego, we’ll be lighting the CAC in rainbow colors. On July 11, we’ll host a community celebration outside the building to kick it off. It will be a highly visible sign of our commitment to serving all our residents and providing a welcoming environment to all our employees.

Take a look at the Free Things article, and let that be a jumping off point to even more County events. Whether you’re taking advantage of what the County is offering, or busy helping offer it – and of course, you could be doing some of both – I wish you all a safe and enjoyable summer!

DGS Electricians Wire Up Stand Down Event for Veterans

Mike Brass (left) with his team of DGS electricians

Mike Brass (left) with his team of DGS electricians

This weekend, hundreds of local homeless veterans will make their way to San Diego High School for a three-day intervention program that connects attendees to services and the community.

Known as Stand Down, a military term that refers to relaxing after a state of readiness, the annual event provides homeless veterans with an opportunity to take a break from life on the streets.

Organized by Veterans Village of San Diego, Stand Down brings in more than 150 service providers and 3,000 volunteers.

One County department plays an essential role in the event. The Department of General Services (DGS) provides temporary electrical power setup and removal services to the event site.

Senior Electrician Mike Brass is assisting with the event setup for the 20th time this year. Brass and his team of five DGS electricians coordinate with County inspection authorities and San Diego Gas & Electric to power up the event.

“When we get there on Monday morning, it’s an empty field,” said Brass. “Our team is basically in charge of wiring up the area so that the service providers can do their job once the event starts on Friday.”

Brass and his team kick off the setup efforts by laying out temporary service cables to wire a temporary kitchen, hair salon, as well as a health clinic and courtroom.

Around mid-morning on Monday, the Marine Corps starts setting up tents that are used as sleeping quarters for the veterans during the event. Once the tent city is established, Brass and his team wire up the event’s command center and set up the temporary lighting and electricity for the sleeping tents.

The DGS electricians are available throughout the week to finalize the setup and assist service providers with troubleshooting any potential issues. After the event concludes on Sunday, the team returns the next day to disassemble the electric setup.

It’s a job Brass really enjoys because it gets him away from his routine tasks at the workshop, but more importantly because he knows he is making a difference in people’s lives.

“Stand Down brings homeless veterans into a safe place, where they’re taken care of and I feel honored to participate in this event,” said Brass. “They watched over us and now it’s our time to look after them.”

While DGS helps with the set-up, several County departments provide services at Stand Down, including HHSA’s Office of Military & Veterans Affairs, Child Support Services, the Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office.

For more information about Stand Down, visit

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