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By Brian Park
Jonathan Volzke, the founder and former editor of The Dispatch, hosted his final “Coffee Chat” on Friday, July 11.
The weekly community forum began 18 years ago, when Volzke was the editor for the Capistrano Valley News, published by the Orange County Register. He is giving up hosting duties due to his new job as public information manager for the Santa Margarita Water District. Since leaving The Dispatch in 2012, Volzke has worked for Lake Forest-based Faubel Public Affairs and most recently at Communications Lab.
Coffee Chat regular and old faces bid Volzke farewell during their weekly meeting at Mission Grill. Cultural Heritage Commissioner and historian Jan Siegel thanked Volzke for his years of hosting the chats and bringing the community together for lively discussions.
The chats began in order to gauge the community’s opinions about the Capistrano Valley News but evolved to be a place for residents to discuss local issues.
“The community responded really well and there are always issues in San Juan Capistrano that people want to talk about,” Volzke said. “We are such a town that prides itself on its community, and this is a place where you can go to find that community, whether you agree or disagree with people.”
Volzke begins his new job July 21. He said the demands of his new position, including serving the ratepayers of the water district, necessitated his decision to give up hosting duties. Volzke is also giving up his regular column in The Dispatch, “My Turn.”
The chats will continue with longtime co-host Erin Kutnick. Volzke will be replaced by a rotation of Steve Behmerwohld, a Parks, Recreation and Senior Services commissioner and active volunteer; Eric Bergstrom, a Fiesta Association board member and host of the local cable television show South County Safari; Chamber of Commerce CEO Mark Bodenhamer; Mission Grill owner John Gillotti; and Tom Scott, co-founder of the Camino Real Playhouse.
Coffee Chat takes place at Mission Grill, 31721 Camino Capistrano, on Fridays at 8 a.m. and usually last until 9:30 a.m.