Rural communities

WELCOME, RURAL RESIDENTS!

Our Rural section covers most San Diego County's inland communities south of I-8  to the border including Alpine, Barrett Junction, Boulevard, Campo, Deerhorn Valley, Dehesa, Dulzura,  Jamul,  Japatul, Lake Morena, Otay,  Potrero, and Spring Valley. 


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SWEETWATER VOTES TO RESTORE FISHING FLOAT AT LOVELAND

By Miriam Raftery

May 24, 2024 (Alpine)—By a unanimous vote and without discussion, the Sweetwater Authority board of directors approved restoring the floating fishing dock at Loveland Reservoir in Alpine. Audience members applauded after the votes were cast.

The dock was severely damaged in a January 2023 storm, shortly after the reservoir was drained to dead pool status, an action which left the fishing float on dry land and which also killed off fish, much to the dismay of residents and visitors.

Russell Walsh, who has long advocated for restoration of floating fishing dock, said the vote reflects “a travesty being corrected by persistent citizens and hopefully increasingly willing Sweetwater Directors and upper management.”


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FLOATING FISHING DOCK REPAIRS ON AGENDA FOR SWEEWATER AUTHORITY ON WEDNESDAY

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 20, 2024 (Alpine)—Sweetwater Authority has still not replaced or repaired the floating fishing dock that was partially destroyed at Loveland Reservoir in Alpine more than a year ago by heavy storms back in January 2023.  On Wednesday,  agenda item 9.1 asks the board to decide whether or not to authorize buying and installing a replacement fishing platform in the reservoir.

“This is the second time this has been on the agenda since Sweetwater recovered the insurance funds,”says Russell Walsh, a citizens’ advocate who has been calling on Sweetwater to replace the floating fishing dock. According to Walsh, a majority vote is not guaranteed; he urges concerned residents to contact Sweetwater’s general manager, Carlos Quintero, to urge support. Residents can also speak at the meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday in person or remotely.


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HOUSE LOST IN BRUSH FIRE NEAR LOVELAND RESERVOIR

Update May 14, 2024:  This fire has been extinguished after charring 18 acres and destroying the home where it started.

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

May 13, 2024 (Alpine)-- Cal Fire is responding to a brush fire, #Love21C, south of Loveland Reservoir in Alpine. The fire has burned 15 acres and is spreading at a moderate rate of speed, with potential for 100 acres, according to Cal Fire.  

The fire  started at  1900 Sloane Canyon Rd. and Loveland Reservoir and is zero percent contained, per the Watch Duty Ap.


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CPUC PROPOSES REJECTING AT&T’S REQUEST TO WITHDRAW AS CARRIER OF LAST RESORT AND END LAND LINES, ALSO PLANS RULEMAKING PROCESS

“AT&T failed to demonstrate the availability of replacement providers...Additionally, public commenters at CPUC public forums highlighted the unreliability of voice alternatives such as mobile wireless or VOIP.” –CPUC

May 10, 2024 (Sacramento) – After hearing from consumers across the state and reviewing evidence in the record, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today issued a proposal rejecting AT&T’s request to withdraw as a carrier of last resort (COLR), which would have ended land line service across San Diego County and other areas. The CPUC also indicated that it intends to initiate a new Rulemaking process to address COLR telecommunications service obligations.

The proposal will be on the CPUC’s June 20 Voting Meeting agenda.

AT&T's plan to pull the plug on land line phone service has drawn strong opposition from rural residents in East County and elsewhere in California, as ECM reported in February, as well as from consumer advocates who warn that ending land lines would leave many in rural or remote locations with no reliable phone service at all, since Internet VOIP phone service is not widely available in many places and some areas also lack cell phone connectivity. Even for those with cell service, land lines have proven life-saving options when cell towers have burned down during wildfires in places such as rural Potrero.


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ARE YOU READY FOR WILDFIRES?

East County News Service

May 9, 2024 (San Diego) – Governor Gavin Newsom has declared May 5-11 as “Wildfire Preparedness Week.”  Noting the increasingly challenging wildfire seasons due to climate change, Newsom says his administration has made historic investments to increase forest management and decrease catastrophic wildfire risks, such as buying state-of-the-art firefighting equipment and technology.

Now he’s asking all Californians to take steps to protect their properties by creating defensible space around homes, hardening homes, developing wildfire action plans and teaming up to join Fire Safe Councils and Firewise Communities, which work to regularly assess wildfire risk and prioritize actions to address those risks.

“All of us have an essential role in protecting ourselves, loved ones, and communities from wildfire,” the Governor says. “During Wildfire Preparedness Week, I encourage all Californians to visit ReadyForWildfire.org to learn about steps we can take to prepare for wildfire season and help prevent loss of life and property. Together, we can create a more fire resilient California.”  Find tips at https://readyforwildfire.org/.

To stay ready for a wildfire or natural disaster at any time, the California Fire Foundation has just relaunched its Firefighters on Your Side community preparedness program at FirefightersOnYourSide.org to help Californians prepare their homes with defensible space, make a 5-minute evacuation planpre-pack essentials, and print a master checklist. . 


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WILD IN THE COUNTRY MAY 18 AT LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS

East County News Service

May 9, 2024 (Alpine) --  Lions, Tigers and Bears, an exotic animal sanctuary in Alpine, invites you to “Wild in the Country” on May 18.

The sanctuary’s biggest annual fundraiser features live and silent auctions, a luncheon, live entertainment, and opportunities to view the big cats and other rescued animals.

Wild in the Country's live auction will be run by celebrity auctioneer and star of Storage Hunters, Sean Kelly.


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MISSING CAMPO WOMAN FOUND SAFE

Update May 7, 2024:  The Sheriff today announced that Paula Connolly has been found and is safe.  No other details were provided.

East County News Service

April 30, 2024 (Campo) -- A Feather Alert has been issued for a missing woman from the Campo Indian Reservation. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department wants the public's help in locating her.
 
On Monday, April 29, just after 11:00 p.m., 28-year-old Paula Connolly was reported missing to the Sheriff's Department. Deputies from the Sheriff's Rural Division immediately began investigating the disappearance. During the investigation, Connolly's vehicle and personal belongings were located at a hotel in Jacumba. However, there was no sign of Connolly. 

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SEARCH ON FOR MISSING WOMAN LAST SEEN AT JACUMBA GAS STATION

East County News Service

April 30, 2024 (Jacumba) -- A search is underway for a missing Campo woman, Paula Connolly, 28. She was last seen 4/28 at 10 p.m. at a gas station in Jacumba.

She is 5 ft. 4, 151 pounds, with brown hair and eyes, tattoos on shoulder and right forearm.

To volunteer in search, call the Tribal Office (619)478-9046.

If you have any information on Paula Connolly’s whereabouts, please call:


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WANT FRESH EGGS? TIPS FOR RAISING BACKYARD CHICKENS

By Patrick Watkins
 
Photo: Easter Egger chicken, known for blue eggs
 
April 27, 2024 (Alpine) -- With grocery prices skyrocketing and everyone looking for a way to cut back on costs, a fun and surprisingly low maintenance way to save money is by owning chickens. Now don’t mistake low maintenance for entirely no maintenance. Chickens aren’t just simply egg machines; some initial effort must be made. Here are some basic tips as well as things to avoid if you’re bringing chickens into your own backyard. 
 
My personal experience raising hens started five months ago when the skyrocketing egg prices and avian flu reports made me give into impulse and finally start a flock. I took the longer route of raising them from a young age, and this comes with its own set of pros and cons. A big issue new owners run into is figuring out whether their chicks are male or female, especially with most cities not allowing roosters. Experienced flock owners have methods such as wing shape, but the rest of us are left guessing if Betty is in fact a Bruno until a larger comb develops on boys at about six months.

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RABBIT DEATHS RAISE CONCERNS IN RURAL EAST COUNTY: STATE SEEKS CARCASSES TO ANALYZE

By Miriam Raftery

April 25, 2024 (San Diego’s East County)—A cluster of rabbit deaths in the past week in the Jamul-Dulzura areas has residents and wildlife officials concerned. The State Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking anyone who finds a dead or dying wild rabbit to immediately report it online at Wildlife Mortality Reporting (ca.gov), or phone 916-358-2790.

A state wildlife official told East County Magazine that Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (HDV2) is a likely possible reason for the deaths, though Tularemia, a tick-born disease also known as Rabbit Fever, is another possibility. A third option suspected locally is a parasite infection, which can migrate to the brain.


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ISSA BILL TO EXPAND JAMUL TRIBAL LAND PASSES HOUSE



By Miriam Raftery

April 25, 2024 (Washington D.C)  – The Jamul Indian Village Land Transfer Act (H.R.6443) authored by Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-48), passed the House of Representatives on April 10.

H.R.6443 incorporates 172 acres of land in San Diego’s East County region into the Jamul Indian Village Reservation, placing the land into tribal trust and preserving it for generations to come. This area also includes a 100-year-old church (photo, left, by Miriam Raftery) and cemetery where their tribal lineage has rested for generations.

The acreage is currently owned by the Jamul Indian Village and includes residential land for homes and council buildings, an ancestral cemetery, and the tribe’s only road for transportation.

If approved by the Senate and signed by President Joe Biden, this would be a dramatic expansion of Jamul’s tribal lands, since the existing reservation has only six acres,  most of which is occupied by the tribe’s casino and a hotel under construction.


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SIPS AND SAMPLES TO SAVOR AT VINTAGE ALPINE MAY 5

East County News Service
 
April 24, 2024 (Alpine) -- The 37th annual Vintage Alpine, a wine and food experience in the country, will be held on May 5 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Summers Past Farms, 15602 Olde Hwy 80 in Flinn Springs. Sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Alpine, this event traditionally offers tastes from over 40 local wineries, as well as samples of foods from local restaurants and sips from local breweries.

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SPRING VALLEY STUDENT WINS PRIZE IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY COMIC COMPETITION

Photo: Kayli Ortega, of Spring Valley, pictured with her winning entry alongside her father, Gabriel Ortega, at the Financial Literacy Superhero’s Awards Ceremony at the Comic-Con Museum April 13, 2024
 
April 19, 2024 (San Diego) -- Kayli Ortega, a resident of Spring Valley, entered this year’s third annual Financial Literacy Superheroes Competition and was honored for her entry encouraging healthy financial literacy habits. She was honored with the other winners from across San Diego County at an Awards Ceremony held at the Comic-Con Museum on Saturday April 13th.

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STUDENT ARRESTED FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT ON MOUNT MIGUEL CAMPUS

 

East County News Service

April 18, 2024 (Spring Valley) – Reyvon English, 18, has been booked into San Diego County Jail for rape,  kidnapping, and other sexual assault-related charges. He allegedly assaulted a 15-year-old female student in a restroom at Mount Miguel High School in Spring Valley on April 11 around 4 p.m


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SAN DIEGO FARMERS PRACTICE CLIMATE-RESILIENT AGRICULTURE TO CURB CLIMATE CHANGE

By Vasyl Cherlinka
 
April 18, 2024 (San Diego) – San Diego County’s agriculture is a rich tapestry of over 5,000 mini-farms seamlessly blended into expanding urban landscapes. Most are family-owned organic farms producing high-value crops on just a few acres of land to turn a profit in this water-scarce, highly urbanized region. The moderate climate, ample sunlight, and varied terrain made the area perfect for cultivating an astonishing variety of 200+ commodities, ranging from strawberries and citrus to avocados. 
 
Today, San Diego is the No. 1 nursery crop producer and the 12th-largest agricultural economy in the U.S. It also outperforms its fellow top-producing counties within California in terms of average dollar value per acre.
 
On the downside, as climate change effects become increasingly felt in the region, this places an enormous strain on local agricultural producers.

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CEMETERY PROPOSED FOR PINE VALLEY OPPOSED OVER GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION CONCERNS

By Kirsten Andelman

Photos courtesy: SD Crescentwood Services

Photo: Newly dozed driveway, with Ben Good's home/barn in background

April 17, 2024 (Pine Valley, CA) -- Neighbors have secured nearly 1,800 signatures on a petition opposing plans to build a cemetery on 38 acres of land about 2.5 miles east of La Posta Ranch, just south of Interstate 8 and Old Highway 80. The cemetery proposed by SD Crescentwood Services would provide burial space for Muslims in San Diego County, which currently has no Muslim cemetery. 

Residents’ primary concern is over potential groundwater contamination, since the graveyard would be over the EPA-designated sole-source aquifer that residents in several backcountry communities rely upon for well water. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported on cemeteries’ potential impacts on public health, when close to aquifers or other water sources.


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A GRAVE MISTAKE

By Kirsten Andelman
 
April 17, 2024 (La Posta) -- There was a glaring error on the Major Use Permit application filed with the County of San Diego on April 6, 2023 for the proposed Crescentwood Cemetery: the address listed for the project, at 35252 Old Highway 80 in La Posta. 
 
But 35252 is also the location of Ben and Trina Good’s green clapboard home, which sits across Old Highway 80 from the 38 acres where Crescentwood wants to build a new cemetery. The proposed cemetery land has a “parcel number” -- but no assigned street address. So the applicants, SD Crescentwood Services, used the Good’s address on their application.

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HOMICIDE IN SPRING VALLEY: WOMAN KILLED, SUSPECT LATER FOUND DEAD

By Miriam Raftery

April 17, 2024 (Spring Valley) – Sheriff’s deputies from the Rancho San Diego Station responded to a call yesterday morning reporting that someone was trying to break into a residence in the 800 block of La Presa in Spring Valley. Deputies entered and found a female victim with head trauma.

“Deputies immediately began life saving measures until relieved by paramedics. Unfortunately, the victim passed away on scene” says Lieutenant Michael Krugh.  She has been identified as Ashley Bird, 35.

The suspect, her husband, Christopher Bird,39,  was later found deceased in a vehicle.His body was found by law enforcement in Orange County. 


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SPRING VALLEY ARSON SUSPECT SOUGHT

East County News Service
 
April 10, 2024 (Spring Valley) – The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is seeking Sean Arkward, 54, for suspicion of setting fire to an occupied home in Spring Valley.
 
After receiving a call on April 9 around 7:35 p.m. from a resident reporting that their house was on fire in the 900 block of Sacramento Avenue in Spring Valley, Deputies from the Rancho San Diego Sheriff's Station along with the San Miguel Fire Department responded to the location. Units arrived within minutes and found several small fires throughout several rooms in the home.

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OPEN RANCH AT HAZARD ALPACAS

East County News Service
 
April 4, 2024 (Jamul) -- Celebrate Springtime by visiting the alpacas. Open Ranch at Hazard Alpacas is Saturday and Sunday April 13 and 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 20781 Deerhorn Valley Road in Jamul, CA 91935.
 
Alpacas resemble llamas, but they are smaller in size. Alpacas were domesticated by the Andean people around 6,000 years ago. These animals served various purposes for their human companions, including providing wool, food, and fuel. Alpacas are part of a group called ungulates, which includes other hooved mammals like sheep and giraffes.

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$378,000 IN GRANTS AWARDED TO 13 FIRE SAFE COUNCILS IN SAN DIEGO RIVER WATERSHED

Alpine Fire Protection District invites public to event April 4

Source:  San Diego Regional Fire Foundation

Photo, left: Alpine Fire Protection District's new wood chipper

April 3, 2024 (San Diego) – The San Diego Regional Fire Foundation and the San Diego River Conservancy are pleased to announce $378,958 in funding for 13 Fire Safe Councils in the Conservancy’s watershed area and a new chipper for the Alpine Fire Protection District. 

Alpine Fire Station will host an event April 4 from 11:30 to 1 p.m.  Alpine Fire Protection District will talk about its new chipper that will provide services for free chipping to the communities and will discuss the new fuel break funds that were made possible through a Community Protection grant.  The attendees at the event tomorrow will be  able to be part of the overall collaboration between the San Diego River Conservancy and the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation.saying thankyou for the hard work and commitments we all have made to focus on supporting the communities of Alpine and Viejas. 

.The San Diego River Conservancy is pleased to announce that it has awarded a grant to the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation and Fire Safe Councils in San Diego County. These Fire Safe Councils are remarkable organizations that work diligently to make local communities safer by engaging in activities aimed at reducing the risk and intensity of wildfires, said Julia Richards, Executive Officer, San Diego River Conservancy. Their efforts are truly commendable and deserve to be recognized year after year.  We proudly stand behind the Fire Safe Councils and support their vital work.” 


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SNOW FORECAST AS LOW AS 3,000 FEET; I-8 COULD GET SNOWFALL THURSDAY AND FRIDAY

East County News Service

April 3, 2024 (San Diego’s East County)—Yet another storm is forecast to bring rain and snow to East County Thursday night and Friday. The snow level is expected to drop down to the 3,000 to 3,500 foot level.

Mt.Laguna could receive 3 to 4 inches of snow, with up to 2 inches in Julian. Interstate 8 east of Alpine could also get snow, so use caution if traveling in this area.  Other areas that may receive snow include Pine Valley, Cuyamaca, and Warner Springs.


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GROSSMONT HIGH SCHOOL BOARD SLASHES STAFFING, OVER OBJECTIONS OF VOCAL CROWD

By Kirsten Andelman

Photo, left to right:  student rep Elizabeth Fox;  trustees Elva Salinas,  Chris Fite, Jim Kelly, Gary Woods, and Robert Shield

March 26, 2024 (El Cajon) --The Grossmont Union High School District Board voted 3-2 earlier this month to issue Reduction in Force notices for 91 full-time staff positions, after about 81 employees received district letters last week warning of looming “pink slips” for the next school year.

Board leaders blamed the state of California for mandating notice of the cuts by a March 15 deadline, as leaders in Sacramento brace for a looming budget deficit of over $31 billion dollars for the 2024/2025 fiscal year.

Of the eliminated positions, 53 were “certificated” and/or teacher positions, and 38 were “classified” positions. 


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OPPONENTS OF BOULDER BRUSH SUBSTATION SCORE WIN IN COURT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Miriam Raftery: Campo tribe's original wind project; the tribe hopes to build a new project connected to the substation challenged by rural activists.

March 20, 2024 (Campo) — An Appellate Court has found that a trial court wrongfully dismissed a lawsuit against San Diego County challenging Supervisors’ approval of Terra-Gen’s Boulder Brush substation in rural East County. The substation would connect to Terra-Gen’s Campo Wind project on Campo tribal land. 

Earlier plans called for the substation to also connect to the proposed Torrey Wind project in Campo, but Terra-Gen has since withdrawn its application for that project after a deadline expired.


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COUNTY APPROVES PLAN TO IMPROVE PEDESTRIAN SAFETY IN UNINCORPORATED COMMUNITIES

By Shauni Lyles, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
Photo: Bing Copilot
 
March 15, 2024 (San Diego) -- County Supervisors voted this week to make improvements for pedestrians at four intersections in the unincorporated communities of La Presa, Spring Valley and Fallbrook, and to make additional improvements at 17 different locations to improve pedestrian safety.

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HISTORIC CEMETERY TOURS IN CAMPO OFFERED

Source: Mountain Empire Historical Society
 
March 15, 2024 (Campo) -- Want to learn about the colorful lives (and deaths) of some of the early settlers in the Campo area? The Mountain Empire Historical Society (MEHS), a 501c3 organization, will provide 2 ½ to 3 hour long guided tours of three private historic cemeteries: the Milquatay Pioneer Cemetery (see photo left), the Old Campo Cemetery, and the Ortega Cemetery at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 6th and then again at 9 a.m. on Sunday, April 14th. 

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COUNTY HOLDS HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS AND ELECTRONIC WASTE COLLECTION EVENT MARCH 30 IN SPRING VALLEY

East County News Service
 
March 15, 2024 (Spring Valley) -- I Love a Clean San Diego announces the upcoming Household Hazardous and Electronic Waste Collection Event organized by the County of San Diego for unincorporated residents. This event provides an excellent opportunity for you to safely dispose of hazardous materials and electronic waste from your home.
 
Here are the event details:
 
Date: Saturday, March 30, 2024
Location: Steele Canyon High School – Back Parking Lot
Address: 12440 Campo Road, Spring Valley
Hours of Operation: 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

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COUNTY AUTHORIZES EMERGENCY REPAIRS TO STORM DRAINS IN FLOODED EAST COUNTY COMMUNITIES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Storm drain, San Diego County Dept. of Public Works

March 13, 2024 (San Diego’s East County) – County Supervisors, at a Flood Control District meeting today, approved continuation of storm drain emergency repairs in several unincorporated communities, following catastrophic flooding on January 22 that overwhelmed county stormwater drains.


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SEXUALLLY VIOLENT PREDATOR TO BE RELEASED IN CAMPO

East County News Service

March 14, 2024 (Campo)—Yesterday, Sheriff’s deputies with the Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Task Force went door to door in Campo to advise residents that Alan Earl James, a registered sexually violent predator (SVP) with the state and county, will be released into their neighborhood at 1138 Custer Road, Campo.


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