Coming Full Circle

Me and Brandon VCH to PVI

As General Manager of Pauma/Valley Insurance Agency, I have to say I was surprised to be approached in August of 2016 about the possibility of purchasing Valley Center Happenings. Although not something I was seeking, I will admit I was intrigued. Not because I had a burning desire to be a Publisher, but because I have always had the desire to serve the community I love, and Valley Center Happenings had a reputation for being a great service and resource to our community over the years.

Before I could even consider taking on this huge responsibility, I knew I would have to put someone in place who had an equal love for our community, a servant’s heart and experience in the media realm. So  I immediately approached Phyllis Knight (who at that time was responsible for Pauma/Valley Insurance Agency’s PR and Marketing), to assume the role of Managing Editor.

Although Phyllis initially told me “no” as she was concerned she wasn’t up to the task (because she was the primary caregiver for her parents), she reconsidered and agreed to the position because she truly loves our community and she said she was “excited about the opportunity to meet her neighbors and tell the stories of the wonderful and interesting people who call Valley Center home.”

So after much thought and consideration, I was proud to be the new owner of Valley Center Happenings as of November 1, 2016. For the past 21 months, it has been our pleasure to support and promote the members of our community by keeping you informed and connected.

Concurrently, I’m pleased to say, that Pauma/Valley Insurance has continued to grow and expand and, as a result, requires more of my time and energies – which I love because PVI truly is my passion – and I am no longer able to dedicate the time inherently required as Publisher for Valley Center Happenings.

And, since Phyllis and I have worked extremely well together as a team, first at PVI and then at Valley Center Happenings, it was only natural to ask her to reassume her role as Marketing Manager for PVI, effective immediately.

In regards to Valley Center Happenings, Phyllis said, “I’m thankful for the many friendships and working relationships that I’ve been blessed to form over the last 21 months. Valley Center Happenings will always hold a special place in my heart. I look forward to continuing to work – through PVI – to serve and support our community. We have many exciting activities coming up, and we look forward to sharing those with you soon!”

As Phyllis said, we are excited to continue to support Valley Center and our surrounding communities through some new programs and activities that we will be announcing and implementing in the near future. PVI has a long history of investing in and supporting our community, and we are excited to be able to expand our efforts in that regard.

Since we will no longer be a “Media Outlet” per se, we will no longer be reporting hard news, nor soliciting/running general contributions from the community; however, we will continue to write and share original stories on members of our community and cover and promote certain activities. We also will be starting back up our monthly emailed newsletter, The PVI Standard, that will provide timely information on topical issues. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, Phyllis and I would like to thank you all for your support, encouragement and goodwill over the past 21 months. In particular, we would like to single out our wonderful advertisers, without whose support Valley Center Happenings would never have existed, and we hope you’ll continue to support these local businesses that invest so much in our community:

A-1 Irrigation Do It Best Hardware

Ann’s School of Dance

Armstrong Feed & Supply

Cosmic Solar

Countryside Veterinary Hospital

Joe’s Feed and Pet

John Yeager/Summit Mortgage

Krueger Realty

McKenna Septic & Sewer Services

Paradise Ridge Pet Clinic

Pauma/Valley Insurance Agency

Plumbing Werks

Ridgeview Church

Valley Center Community Aid Group

Valley Center Vehicle Registration Service

Also, thank you to our faithful contributors who provided us with so many stories, flyers, meeting info/agendas, as well as often critical and timely information and pictures.

Finally, as we move forward, we hope you’ll continue to support us as we continue to support our community.


Brandon Strausbaugh


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Driver’s Education


With the New Year right around the block, so to speak, now is a good time to focus on a few new laws (or changes to existing laws) that will take effect on January 1, 2017 (unless otherwise noted). We have included a few summaries of driver-related laws (with a link to the actual bill) that are important to review.

Use of Electronic Wireless Devices (AB 1785, Quirk):  Operating a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or a wireless electronic communications device will be prohibited, unless the device is mounted on the vehicle’s windshield or is mounted/affixed to the vehicle’s dashboard or center console in such a manner that it does not hinder the driver’s view of the road. The driver’s hand may only be used to activate or deactivate a feature or function on the device with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger, but not while holding it. The law does not apply to manufacturer-installed systems that are embedded in a vehicle.

Child Safety Seats (AB 53, Garcia)This law requires a parent, legal guardian, or the driver of a motor vehicle to properly secure a child who is younger than 2 years of age in an appropriate rear-facing child passenger restraint system, unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches in height (3 feet, 3 inches).

Accident Reporting (SB 491, Committee on Transportation and Housing)This law increases the minimum financial threshold for property damage that is required to be reported to the DMV from $750 to $1,000 when a driver is involved in a motor vehicle collision.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting (AB 51, Quirk)This law defines “lane splitting” as driving a two-wheeled motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane. The law authorizes the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to develop educational guidelines relating to lane splitting in a manner that would ensure the safety of motorcyclists, drivers, and passengers. In developing these guidelines, the law requires the CHP to consult with specified agencies and organizations that have an interest in road safety and motorcyclist behavior.

Vehicle Registration Fee (SB 838, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review)This law increases the vehicle registration fee on every vehicle or trailer coach from $43 to $53 beginning April 1, 2017.

Background Checks of Drivers of Transportation Network Companies (AB 1289, Cooper): A transportation network company (TNC) will be required to perform a comprehensive background check of all their drivers. This law also specifies penalties for a TNC that violates or fails to comply with this requirement. A TNC will be prohibited from contracting with, employing, or retaining a driver if they are registered on the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender public website, has been convicted of specified felonies, or within the previous seven years, has been convicted of a misdemeanor assault or battery, domestic violence, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Any TNC in violation of the specified requirements is subject to a penalty of not less than $1,000 or more than $5,000 for each offense.

Vehicle Safety Recalls (AB 287, Gordon)This law enacts the Consumer Automotive Recall Safety (CARS) Act, and requires the DMV to include a general advisory regarding vehicle recalls and needed repairs on each vehicle registration renewal notice. This law prohibits a dealer or a rental car company from renting or loaning a vehicle with a manufacturer’s recall no later than 48 hours after receiving the notice—until the vehicle has been repaired. This law gives a limited exception for a licensed dealer or a rental car company with a fleet of 34 or fewer loaner or rental vehicles. The law authorizes the DMV to suspend or revoke a vehicle dealer’s license if they violate the CARS Act.

Year of Manufacture License Plates (SB 1429, Nielsen)This law expands the Year of Manufacture (YOM) license plate program to include vehicles and license plates manufactured through 1980. This law benefits owners of vintage motor vehicles who obtain license plates from the year corresponding to the vehicle’s model-year, and wish to use those vintage plates in lieu of regular license plates. Such plates are commonly found from different sources, including relatives, garage sales, estate sales, etc. The program will include the blue and yellow license plates issued for use on California motor vehicles from 1970 until 1980.

Source: California Department of Motor Vehicles.

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Brandon Strausbaugh, New VCH Owner


Brandon Strausbaugh, VCH Owner/Publisher

A Personal Note from Brandon:

Last month was our “Keeping it Local” edition of the PVI Standard. That was our theme because, having been born and raised in Valley Center, I love it here and want to promote and give back to our community. I am very proud to wear the banner of a self-proclaimed “Keeping it Local Ambassador” for Valley Center.

Even still, I was surprised by the opportunity to buy Valley Center Happenings, our local online newspaper, when approached by the founders and owners, but thrilled when they indicated I was the natural choice to carry on the banner.

Thus, on November 1st, the papers were signed and I became the proud new owner of Valley Center Happenings. Again, the reason I am proud is plain and simple: I love Valley Center! Because of that, I want to do everything I can to inform, support and encourage our community, and I am very excited about this wonderful new opportunity!

To be clear, Valley Center Happenings (VCH) and Pauma/Valley Insurance Agency, Inc. (PVI) are two separate entities and I am not giving up my day job, so to speak. However, as VCH Owner/Publisher, I am intimately involved in the process and I am enjoying developing the new VCH Team. So, first on my list was engaging Phyllis Knight as Managing Editor. If you are reading this, then you probably are familiar with her work as Phyllis has been doing Marketing and PR for PVI (including relaunching this newsletter), since the first of the year.


Brandon and Phyllis doing a little strategizing for VCH. 

As you can tell, we are so excited about this new adventure, and we are thankful for the overwhelmingly positive response we have received from the community. We are looking forward to expanding on the excellent foundation that already has been built, as we serve our community together. We want to be “Your Community Connection” and we hope you’ll join us for the journey!

Valley Center Happenings:


Facebook Page








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Where There’s Smoke, There’s the SDSO Smoke Watch Unit!

fullsizer1_1Although PVI wasn’t on fire when Rita Martin and Martha Taylor, of the San Diego Sheriff’s Office Senior Volunteer Patrol, stopped by our office recently, we have been known to put out a few fires for our customers when it comes to problems with their insurance!

Actually, Rita and Martha stopped by to share some information on the “Smoke Watch Unit” that patrols areas of Valley Center and surrounding communities which are hard to see from various Fire Lookout Towers. This is just one service provided by the SDSO Senior Patrol. Other services range from patrolling neighborhoods, checking on the welfare of elderly or disabled persons, home vacation checks and assisting the department in other areas as needed.

Thank you to all the members of the SDSO Senior Volunteers! We are fortunate to have such a dedicated team watching out for us!

For more information on the SDSO Senior Patrol, please check-out their website.

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Another Beautiful SunRiser

fullsizerender-2It was another beautiful day for a SunRiser as the Valley Center Chamber of Commerce held its monthly morning get together outside the Chamber office. What a great turnout we had and “thank you!” to A-1 Irrigation/Do It Best Hardware for hosting today’s event!

In addition to enjoying some good food and fellowship, the local business owners and employees were excited to share with each other a little about themselves and their businesses.

In particular, everyone is looking forward to tomorrow’s Chamber of Commerce 5th Annual Block Party and Business Expo to be held at A-1 Irrigation/Do It Best Hardware from 10 am – 2 pm. Come join the fun and spend a little time with your neighbors while supporting your community.

PVI will have our booth there and we hope you’ll stop by!


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Have You Met Laura Perez?


If you haven’t yet met Laura Perez, one of PVI’s newest Team Members, that’s not surprising. You see, Laura is one of those important employees who works behind the scenes to help keep everything running smoothly.

Laura, who has been with PVI for three months, is mainly responsible for administrative work, in particular focusing on the DMV services that we provide (through VCVRS) and for which she has been highly trained. Although Laura doesn’t have a lot of interaction with the public, if you happen to catch a glimpse of her in the office, you always are met with a welcoming smile. But no big surprise there, since she really enjoys her job and loves the opportunity to meet new people.

Although a resident of Vista, Laura loves working in Valley Center and calls it “an amazing small community where everyone seems very family-oriented, and are extremely kind.” When not working, she enjoys singing and participating in her church youth activities.

Once you meet Laura, it doesn’t take long to see that she is true to her personal motto: “to respect everybody and treat others the way you want to be treated.” So, if you want to be treated really special when it comes to your DMV needs, just stop by our office and let Laura handled the rest!


VALLEY CENTER VEHICLE REGISTRATION SERVICES (VCVRS) is licensed and bonded with the California Department of Motor Vehicles under O.L. License # 80175.

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“Keeping it Local”


“What does “Keeping it Local” mean to you?” That is a question posed to graduating seniors at Valley Center High School when they applied for a community service scholarship through the Chamber of Commerce. It is an excellent question and received some excellent answers.

Keeping it Local has become a catchphrase in our community, and rightfully so. Who wouldn’t want their community businesses to do well? After all, we’re all neighbors here, and it’s definitely the neighborly thing to do! But encouraging our community to Keep it Local is only one important aspect of the equation.

Keeping it Local is, above all, a relationship, and a relationship, by definition, should be a two-way street. So it’s not enough just to tell everyone in our community, “Keep it local.” If we, as businesses and community-minded people, want and expect our community to indeed keep it local, then we have a responsibility in this relationship as well.

So, as a business, “What does Keeping it Local mean to you?” Well, we can’t speak for everyone else, but we can speak for PVI, and this is what it means to us:

  • It means treating everyone with respect, including our competitors
  • It means valuing the members of the community whether they are customers of ours, or not
  • It means earning and keeping the trust and respect of our community by providing outstanding service
  • It means offering products and/or services that are an exceptional value and then standing behind them
  • It means serving on the Board and being active with our Chamber of Commerce
  • It means supporting, promoting and encouraging other local businesses in their events and activities, and referring customers when possible
  • It means supporting our youth through school events and extracurricular activities
  • It means participating in, and with, service clubs and nonprofit organizations for their charity events
  • It means providing value to the members of our community by keeping them informed about insurance issues, but also other issues of importance that might affect them

We believe that through our actions, as a business and as individuals, by supporting our community and doing everything in our power to encourage and engender a spirit of unity (putting the “unity” in community), that others will respond in kind and do likewise.

That certainly doesn’t mean that we all have to think alike. Sometimes, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on certain issues, and that’s okay! Like any family, we have our differences, but just like when you go to a big family potluck dinner, everyone has something they specialize in that you look forward to enjoying, so it is with our community as well. As long as we continue to respect and value each other for what we bring to the table, we can all sit down and enjoy our feast of fellowship!

At PVI, we believe that it is up to all of us to do our part, whether as businesses and/or consumers, to nurture the spirit of Keeping it Local as we pass it on to the next generation by fostering the ideal of giving back to our community. Based on the essays from the graduating seniors, I’d say we’re doing a pretty good job!

That’s what Keeping it Local means to us at PVI. What does it mean to you?


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