The Coast News Group
Community CommentaryInside Oceanside

Inside Oceanside: The unanswered question

“In my 31 years at Vista High, I remember we had one suicide,” says Doug Knox, a now retired high school counselor about the time a student hung himself.

That student had moved on from Vista High school to a nearby continuation school, but he was well known to many Vista High kids as Knox recalls.

And those kids needed support.

“We had counseling groups where kids could talk to each other. If they needed to cry they could. I think they had a banner where they wrote down whatever feelings they had. Kids need to grieve. They aren’t going to be thinking about class anyway.”

One suicide is devastating. But three at one school in one school year is unfathomable.

Well, Oceanside, fathom it.

Students at Oceanside High School last week endured the news that their third fellow student had snuffed out his young life.

Also not publicized was the suicide of a Martin Luther King Middle school student last year.

“Why is this happening?” asked one OUSD educator. “We need some leadership here to let us all talk about it and try to come up with some answers… Are they connected in some way?”

That educator noted that both Oceanside High School and Martin Luther King Middle School had very able professionals who held group counseling sessions for the kids left behind.

But what that educator lamented was that school administrators seem to want to keep the reality of the suicides hidden from the rest of the public.

“It’s like they are trying to keep this dirty secret from getting out. It’s like they are saying ‘We have to wipe up this mess as best we can without any one hearing about it.’ These kids will talk to each other at school but who’s to say if they will speak with their parents if they keep a lid on it?”

Indeed, there seemed to be no media outreach on behalf of the OUSD to identify the outrageous trend with its students.

OUSD Superintendent Larry Perondi says he understands that point.

“This is an intensely private matter. We feel we have to do everything to respect the families involved,” he said.

Perondi says all three suicides happened off campus.

He says he has deferred to the Oceanside Police Department about releasing public information.

“We have reached out to larger organizations with deeper expertise to help us learn how to best deal with this. We have met with all our principals to tell them they must be good listeners with their students… Nothing is more sad than the loss of a child’s life.”

Perondi says he has learned from speaking with other districts that teen suicide is not unique to Oceanside.

Irish pub debuts

As far as I can tell, Oceanside has never had an Irish Pub. That appears to be changing as a surgical engineer from Chandler, Ariz., and his wife are planning to open “Murphy’s Law Irish Pub and Ale House” on Coast Highway.

The pub will take over where the short-lived Pizzeria Venti opened for a few months earlier this year at 215 N. Coast Highway.

We must hope that the “Everything that can go wrong, will,” part of Murphy’s law does not pertain to this address, since numerous establishments have come and gone there over the last few years.

But if any new format was to work there, many in the food and beverage industry say an Irish bar may be the best idea.

Bill Coleman says he has secured a license to operate a full bar.

“My father was a Marine at Camp Pendleton,” says Coleman. “We always wanted to get back to that area.”

He says the local Murphy’s Law will use the same six-page menu used by the Irish pub with the same name in Chandler.

“We don’t want anything too high end. We want low to medium-priced food… traditional Irish food and burgers.” Coleman says he has found there aren’t many restaurants open in downtown Oceanside in the later hours and that’s why Murphy’s Law will serve food until 11 p.m. and appetizers after that. (Carlsbad’s O’Sullivans, formerly Tom Giblins in Carlsbad’s Village, is the closest Irish restaurant/bar.)

But wait, there’s more on the new restaurant front.

Construction has begun on the Mission Bar and Grill at 711 Mission Ave., a few doors west of Chase Bank. Owners say they hope to have the business up and running about the same time the one-way construction on Mission Avenue is complete. Look for Mission Bar and Grill to serve “American food” with 35 beers on tap.

This new burger joint seems to put it in direct competition with Ty’s Burger House, two blocks west.

And, just as Oceanside can’t seem to have enough Walmarts, it seems our city by the sea can not get enough tap rooms — those quasi-bars that specialize in quality craft beers.

This year saw the opening of the popular Tap That on Airport Road near Highway 76.

Any day now the remodeled Surfside Taproom is supposed to open at 507 N. Coast Highway. And now word comes down that after extensive remodeling the building that used to house Vaughan’s Market (across the street from Anita’s Restaurant) on Coast Highway is also going to be a tap room.

You have to ask at what point will Oceanside be tapped out?

Speaking of being “tapped out,” we are told that the end of Carrow’s on the north end of Coast Highway is a fait accompli. The deal is done for that restaurant to be razed and then be replaced by an In-and-Out Burger.

A fast food burger joint will be the first thing people see as they enter Oceanside.

I guess it’s better than a billboard that says, “Welcome to Walmart’s favorite city.”

Correction: Last week we told how two of the three OPD captains were throwing their hat in the ring to replace outgoing chief Frank McCoy. While that part is true, my (sole) inside source provided me with the wrong pair.  They would be Captains Tom Aguigui and Ray Bechler. Capt. Bechler has been with the OPD for two years and has a Bachelor’s of Science and Masters of Science degree from Cal  State Long Beach.

Oceanside born and raised, Ken Leighton is an Oceanside business owner. He may be reached at [email protected]