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EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE COLUMNISTS


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DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: LATE FEBRUARY AND EARLY MARCH EVENTS

By Miriam Raftery

February 17, 2024 (San Diego’s East County) – Hike by the light of the moon, join a stargazing party, enjoy a Nature Day celebration, tour a wolf preserve or a camel dairy, enjoy live comedy, concerts, a livestock fair and barbecue, and a desert art show—all coming up in East County.

 


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DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: CREATIVE EVENTS COMING UP

By Miriam Raftery

February 9, 2024 (San Diego’s East County) —Comedy shows, Fido Fest, film showings, wolf tours, a plein air desert art show, Valentine teas, and an attempt to break a world record for most dogs viewing an outdoor moving are among the festivities coming up across San Diego’s East County.


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CHIEFS CORNER: CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING GOES UP AS TEMPERATURES GO DOWN

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

February 5, 2024 (San Diego) -- We are having a cold spell here and a lot of times during these cold spells, or during the wintertime, we respond to an increased call of natural gas odors in a home. But carbon monoxide is a silent poison. It’s a colorless and odorless gas. You can’t smell it. But there are warning signs if there is a leak in your home.

If you start feeling flu-like symptoms or achy or you just feel very tired, there’s a good chance you may be having carbon monoxide symptoms.  I say that with hesitation because right now is flu season, and we have COVID 19 that’s running and starting to spike a bit. If you start feeling that way, and maybe several people start feeling that way in your house, I would get out of the house, open the house up, air it out and call 911.

However, there are many ways people can prevent these leaks before they happen.


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: HARM REDUCTION COALITION OFFERS HELP AND HOPE FOR THOSE IN THE GRIP OF SUBSTANCE MISUSE

By David R. Shorey, East County Program Director, Institute for Public Strategies

 

February 5, 2024 (San Diego) - Tara Stamos-Buesig hit rock bottom one Sunday night while working the streets on El Cajon Boulevard near Hoover High School. She was a sex worker wearing a mini skirt and fishnet stockings. She was snared in a San Diego Police sting operation in an area notorious for prostitution. It was after she had filled her hypodermic needle with the drugs she recovered off the dirty floor of a fast food restaurant restroom and injected them into her system. That’s when she decided to change her life.


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EAST COUNTY EATER FINDS HIDDEN GEM AT LEMON GROVE BISTRO

By Jessyka Heredia

 

January 23, 2024 (Lemon Grove) – The age-old question always comes up: what do you want for dinner? Look no further than Lemon Grove Bistro located at 3308 Main Street in what used to be the cherished Sonka’s General Store in 1944 and the Lemon Grove Pastry Shop of years past.


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MASTIFF KITCHEN; SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST SAUSAGE

By Jessyka Heredia

 

January 24, 2023 (La Mesa) – Mastiff kitchen in La Mesa is serving up homemade sausages that will really knock your socks off, but their menu has so much more to offer, so you might want to share family style. From crispy pan pizza’s and burgers to Brussel sprouts, you won’t be disappointed.


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DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: NEW EVENTS IN THE NEW YEAR

By Miriam Raftery

January 20, 2024 (San Diego’s East County) – January and February are prime times to enjoy a full moon desert walk, Valentine’s dinners and wine pairings, farm tours, hawk watching, new nature walks at Lakeside’s River Park, concerts, theatrical productions and more in San Diego’s East County.


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CHIEF’S CORNER: REALISTIC RESOLUTIONS

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

January 10, 2024 (San Diego) -- Making a New Year’s resolution is one thing. Remaining resolute and seeing them through is quite another. It’s important to make them realistic and obtainable.

Every January we start a new recruit fire academy. The first order of business is to review all academy policies and standard operating procedures (SOPs). Understanding policies, and training on them repeatedly, provides recruits with a sound foundation in safe and consistent operations before learning basic firefighting skills.

In addition to learning policies, our recruits develop “Integrity Agreements.” Integrity Agreements are like policies but are more personal in nature. The recruits develop them as a team, but they own them as individuals.

Like policies, these agreements hold recruits accountable for actions on and off the training ground. We tell them, “If you don’t live up to the agreements, you have no one to blame but yourself. You own them; they are custom-made by and for you!”


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: HEMP PRODUCTS ARE THREATENING YOUTH SAFETY

By David R. Shorey, East County Programs Director, Institute for Public Strategies 

January 8, 2024 (San Diego’s East County) -- As the landscape of cannabis legalization continues to evolve, a new concern is emerging. It’s the proliferation of hemp-derived Delta 8 and Delta 10 products found in hemp. These derivatives of cannabis, purportedly legal, are skirting regulations and putting our youth at risk. It’s time to shine a light on these products and the dangers they pose to our communities, especially our vulnerable younger generation.

 

Delta 8 and Delta 10, often marketed as "hemp-based" products, are synthetic cannabinoids derived from hemp, claiming to offer a legal high. However, their production and distribution operate in a gray area, exploiting loopholes in existing cannabis laws. While some proponents argue their legality due to their source from hemp, these products deliver psychoactive effects similar to traditional THC, leading to intoxication and potential health hazards.


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EAST COUNTY EATER: PERFECTLY SMOKED MEATS AND MORE AT PAPALO SONORAN-STYLE BBQ IN LA MESA

By Mike Atkinson

 

December 8, 2023 (La Mesa) - As a Texas BBQ aficionado, I've been anxious to try the newly-opened Papalo Sonoran-Style BBQ in La Mesa Village. Chef Drew Bent has a legendary pedigree, most recently the founding chef behind San Diego's Michelin-recognized Lola 55 modern taqueria. 


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FROM THE FIRE CHIEF’S CORNER: CHRISTMAS TREE AND INDOOR SAFETY FOR HOLIDAY SEASON

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

December 8, 2023 (San Diego) - This last week, we covered outdoor Christmas safety, let’s look at a few indoor safety facts and tips. Did you know that half of those that purchase live Christmas trees fail to keep them properly watered reminds Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. There’s also other factors that can cause Christmas tree fires.


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES:METHAMPHETAMINE IS STILL A PERVASIVE PROBLEM DESPITE THE ATTENTION TO OPIOIDS AND FENTANYL

By David R. Shorey, East County Program Manager, Institute for Public Strategies

Photo courtesy USDOJ

December 7, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) -- There's no denying the urgency of addressing the opioid and fentanyl epidemic, which has claimed the lives of countless Americans. In the shadows of this crisis, another equally destructive menace is still lurking: methamphetamine abuse. We must continue to recognize that the methamphetamine crisis is very much alive, and we can't allow our focus on opioids to divert our attention from this problem that continues to claim lives and ruin communities.


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DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: DELIGHTFUL DECEMBER EVENTS

East County News Service

November 27, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) – December brings the magic of the holiday season,  with many delightful events and activities. This year’s options in East County include the North Pole Express train ride in Campo, outdoor ice skating rinks in Julian and Alpine, a pottery tour and a Crest Craft festival ideal for holiday gift shopping,  elaborate holiday lighting displays at Santee Lakes,  Enchanted Village in Spring Valley, and Camp Christmas in Pine Valley. There’s a performance of the Nutcracker Ballet in El Cajon, and a contemporary twist on the Nutcracker performed by Kidz Danz Kompany in La Mesa. Plus, you can enjoy tree lighting ceremonies in Lakeside and Ramona , caroling on Mt. Helix, La Mesa’s Holiday in the Village, and Lemon Grove’s annual holiday bonfire.

Scroll down for details on these merry events, and have a joyous holiday season!

Know of a holiday event we've missed? Please post info in our comments section.


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DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS NOV-DEC. 2023

By Miriam Raftery

November 16, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) – East County has a wealth of treasured holiday events coming up this season, from  holiday lighting displays and craft fairs to local festivals, outdoor ice skating rinks, a train ride aboard the North Pole Express, a pottery studio tour, and a performance of the Nutcracker ballet.

Scroll down for details on these merry events, and have a joyous holiday sesaon!


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: UNITED AGAINST HATE WEEK IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER

By David R. Shorey, East County Program Manager, Institute for Public Strategies

Photo courtesy UnitedAgainstHateWeek.org

November 2, 2023 (San Diego) -- Our world is feeling increasingly divided along lines of race, religion, and political affiliation, which is causing a significant increase in hate crimes and hate incidents. That's why United Against Hate Week, November 12-18 this year, is more significant than ever. It serves to promote unity, tolerance, and understanding while serving as a reminder that despite our differences, we are all members of the human family. Together we can combat hate and prejudice. In addition to fostering a sense of unity, it's also an ideal time to address another issue that often divides us: substance misuse.


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CHIEF'S CORNER: THE ESPERANZA FIRE--DEDICATED TO THE MEN OF ENGINE CO. 57

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

October 28, 2023 (San Diego) -- I would be remiss if I did not write this as we step into and are preparing for our first Red Flag Warning for 2023 in Southern California. This is dedicated to the men of Engine Co. 57.

Oct. 26, 2006, it seems like yesterday. Time passes so quickly. This day sticks with me and always will. I was at my home leaving for work in Los Angeles. I saw the large plume of smoke. In a matter of seconds, it intensified. The plume expanded and rose quickly into the atmosphere. I knew something went bad, but little did I know how bad it really was.


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DESTINATON EAST COUNTY: HALLOWEEN HAUNTS AND MORE LATE OCTOBER OUTINGS

By Miriam Raftery

October 12, 2023 (San Diego’s East County)—Looking for a frightfully good time? You’ll find plenty of spooky special events, from a Haunted Forest at Banner Ranch to HauntFest on Main in El Cajon, as well as haunted train rides in Campo, a Pumpkin Bash and Spooky Campover at Lions, Tigers and Bears in Alpine.

Plus an Autumn Jubilee and an Heirloom  Apple Festival continue in Julian,  while the Borrego Days Desert Festival takes place in Borrego Springs and Santee hosts its Brews and Bites Festival. Theatre aficionados can watch Randy Rainbow’s political comedy show at The Magnolia in El Cajon, or savor an  Old Globe For All experience in Lemon Grove. Plus tribute artist Robert Neary brings his "So Good! The Neil Diamond Experience" to the Magnolia in El Cajon.

Scroll down for details on all of these events and more.


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: DISPOSING UNWANTED MEDICATIONS PROPERLY SAVES LIVES AND HELPS THE ENVIRONMENT

By David R. Shorey, East County Program Manager, Institute for Public Strategies

October 6, 2023 (San Diego) -- In the ongoing battle against the opioid epidemic and the environmental hazards of improper medication disposal, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Drug Take Back Day on October 28 is an essential reminder to East County residents about safely discarding unwanted pills. This initiative, which occurs twice a year, empowers communities nationwide to safely and responsibly dispose of unwanted drugs. It's not just a one-day event that occurs every October and April. It's a call to action that should inspire us to adopt environmentally safe methods for disposing of meds year-round.


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RED SEA ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT IN CITY HEIGHTS GIVES EAST COUNTY EATER AN AUTHENTIC AFRICAN EXPERIENCE

Restaurant to be featured at East County Magazine’s “Taste of Africa” Oct. 8

By: Jessyka Heredia

September 29, 2023 (City Heights) -- Ethiopian cuisine is known for spicy meats and savory vegetable dishes. Red Sea Restaurant located at 4717 University Ave in City heights has authentic cuisine and a traditional experience the diner might have if they had traveled all the way to Ethiopia. Red Sea restaurant is the oldest Ethiopian restaurant here in San Diego, according to its website. Look no further for a true Ethiopian delight!


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CHIEF’S CORNER: WE’RE ALL GOING TO FALL FOR SANTA ANA WINDS

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

 

September 23, 2023 (San Diego) -- This is the first week offFall, and with it comes Santa Ana winds!  Though fire season is year-round, fall typically brings triple-digit temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds bringing high fire danger and red flag warnings.


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DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: APPLE FESTIVALS, HAUNTING HAPPENINGS AND MORE

By Miriam Raftery

September 21, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) -- As autumn arrives and Halloween draws near, East County has a wealth of festivals and events coming up.  These include Julian’s Autumn Jubilee and an Heirloom Apple Festival, Oktoberfests in La Mesa and El Cajon, the Borrego Days Desert Festival,  Haunt Fest on Main in downtown El  Cajon, a Pumpkin Bash and Spooky Campover at Lions, Tigers and Bears in Alpine,and a Pumpkin Express train ride in Campo.

Plus there are live entertainment stars taking stage in East County, including comics Paula Poundstone and Randy Rainbow at The Magnolia, the rock artist  Sting at SDSU, and El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells with his band in a benefit concert to help the homeless in El Cajon.

Scroll down for details on all of these events and more.


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FROM THE FIRE CHIEF’S CORNER: STORM DAMAGE TO YOUR HOME -- WHAT DO I DO NOW?

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

 

September 8, 2023 (San Diego) - The storm has passed – now what?

 

Though the heavy rains have subsided, more rain is in the forecast. However, the danger will lurk with mudflow and erosion problems. Make sure you are prepared.

 

In the next few days, you might find your home and property damaged and you’ll be wondering how do I get this put back together?

 

Where do I start? 


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: MAKING LEMON GROVE CLEANER, SAFER AND MORE FAMILY FRIENDLY

By David R. Shorey, East County Program Manager, Institute for Public Strategies

September 3, 2023 (Lemon Grove) -- Lemon Grove’s main business corridor on Broadway is the center of commerce, but the physical environment of the area is suffering. Community leaders recently took to the streets to conduct a comprehensive assessment of their neighborhood along Broadway. It was an inspiring display of community engagement and commitment to positive change to shed light on issues like drug and alcohol harm, blight, walkability, and other areas needing of improvement. This June walk on a Saturday morning reflects the strong sense of community among Lemon Grove's residents and underscores the urgency to address pressing concerns through collaborative efforts.


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DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: FUN FALL FESTIVITIES

By Miriam Raftery

September 3, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) – Fall is in the air –ushering in some of East County’s most iconic festivals including Oktoberfests, Alley Cat Art Walk, Julian Autumn Jubilee, Sycuan's Powwow, and haunting Halloween happenings. Plus comedians Randy Rainbow and Paula Poundstone will be performing in El Cajon and music legend Crystal Gayle will be onstage at Sycuan.

Scroll down for these events in San Diego's inland region, and more.


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CHIEF’S CORNER: AUGUST IS YOUR WELLNESS MONTH

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

 

August 24, 2023 (San Diego) -- This August celebrates National Wellness Month. This month focuses on self-care, stress management, and creating healthy routines. If you are looking for an excuse to make a change, start this month in support of National Wellness Month.


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FROM THE FIRE CHIEF’S CORNER: SUMMER HEAT AND POWER OUTAGES

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

 

August 24, 2023 (San Diego) – Summer heat can interfere with our power supply in many ways. Hot weather can drive up energy demands, often to power air conditioners, which can overload your electrical grid.


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DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: SUMMER’S END CELEBRATIONS AND EARLY AUTUMN ATTRACTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

August 14, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) -- As summer draws to a close and autumn fast approaches, some of East County’s most anticipated events of the year are coming up including the Mt. Helix Food and Wine Festival, X-Fest in Santee, the Barona and Sycuan powwows, and the Borrego Days Desert Festival. There are also attractions onstage indoors, including Crystal Gayle in concert and comic Paula Poundstone performing.

Scroll down for details on all of these events.


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CHIEF’S CORNER: SUMMER HEAT AND POWER OUTAGES

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

August  12, 2023 (San Diego) – Summer heat can interfere with our power supply in many ways. Hot weather can drive up energy demands, often to power air conditioners, which can overload your electrical grid.  Here are tips to prepare for power outages.


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION WARNS OF EMERGING DRUG THREAT: XYLAZINE ZOMBIES

Drug can cause rotting skin, amputations

By David R. Shorey, East County Program Manager, Institute for Public Strategies

August 2023 (San Diego’s East County) --Fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. But a DEA Public Safety Alert warns that a sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine is making the threat even deadlier.

Xylazine, also known as “tranq,” is a powerful sedative approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for veterinary use. Not human use. It is commonly used to tranquilize large animals like horses and livestock during medical procedures. It requires a prescription. But it has found its way into the illicit drug market and is being used recreationally by users seeking an intense and dangerous high.


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