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Briefly In The News: Mammal center hires executive director

February 14, 2013

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center has hired its first executive director in its 42-year history. The board of directors of the center on Laguna Canyon Road has hired marine biologist Keith Matassa for the job.

Matassa has more than 27 years of marine animal and leadership experience. He last worked at the University of New England's Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center. His specialties include marine mammal anatomy and diseases. Since age 5 he has had a passion for marine life, according to a center press release.

"The animals tell us what's going on in the oceans, and it's important that we pay attention to their message," Matassa said in the release.

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The center has seen an influx of malnourished and dehydrated sea lion pups. As of Monday, the center had 38 sea lions on hand, compared to six for January 2012.

Matassa began work Feb. 4. His primary focus will be to provide supportive and directional leadership to the agency, located in a red barn at 20612 Laguna Canyon Road.

Carole Zavala served as interim executive director for the past year, said Melissa Sciacca, the center's director of development.

The facility and gift shop are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Donations still needed for Boutique Benefit

Residents are encouraged to donate clothes and accessories to help benefit several charities during a drop-off Feb. 23.

The drop-off is part of Boutique Benefit's goal to collect items to place on sale in May, with proceeds going to help charities such as the Laguna Resource Center, Impact Giving and Women for Women International. The organizations help battle homelessness and provide assistance to terminally ill children, destitute seniors and women survivors of war.

Items can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 23 at Laguna Presbyterian Church, 415 Forest Ave. More than $85,000 has been raised since the event's inception seven years ago.

Items needed include clean designer and name-brand clothing for women, men and children; and shoes, handbags, hats, belts and scarves. Additional drop-offs will occur on the last Saturday of each month heading up to the one-day sale, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 18 at the Neighborhood Congregational Church, 340 St. Ann's Drive.

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City accepting applications for Heritage Committee

The city's Heritage Committee is seeking members for one- and two-year terms.

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