RAMONA RODEO, PARADE AND WESTERN DANCE

CRUZ, TRAILING TRUMP, NAMES FIORINA AS RUNNING MATE

DINNER AND A CONCERT TAKES STAGE MAY 6-SEPT. 30 IN EL CAJON

LA MESA LEGACY PROJECT AND CLOCK WORK UNDER WAY AT LAST

BACK COUNTRY LAND TRUST ACQUIRES LA POSTA PROPERTIES FOR PRESERVATION

ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

PLEASE DON’T EAT THE LAUNDRY PODS: THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN POISONED

FRONTRUNNERS WIDEN LEAD IN 5 STATE PRIMARIES

WANT TO VOTE FOR PRESIDENT? YOUR BALLOT MAY BE MISSING THE CANDIDATES’ NAMES

EAST COUNTY LAW DAY MAY 2ND

DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: TOP FESTIVALS AND EVENTS APRIL 30-MAY 14

GROSSMONT SCHOOL BOARD PICKS LOCAL EDUCATOR AS SUPERINTENDENT

News

COVERT CANYON OPPONENTS APPEAL TO SUPERVISORS

 

"Arguably, the County will now be required to allow any such property owner to conduct commercial firearms training on an interim basis so long as a permit application is eventually submitted." -- Marco Gonzalez

By Miriam Raftery

December 23, 2015 (Alpine) –Attorney Marco Gonzalez has filed an appeal with County Supervisors on behalf of environmental groups and neighbors of Covert Canyon in Alpine. If the Planning Director's decision stands, he argues, it would set a precendent that could subject residents across vast areas of the County  to neighbors opening up similar commercial shooting ranges.

The appeal contends that it was illegal for the Planning Director to issue an order reclassifying the zoning ordinance defintion of “law enforcement” to include military and law enforcement firearms training at Covert Canyon, a mountain meadow surrounded by Cleveland National Forest, without reveiw under the California Environmental Quality (CEQA) Act. 

WRONG-WAY DRIVER SUFFERS FATAL INJURIES ON I-8

East County News Service

December 18, 2015 (Lakeside) --  A woman driving a silver 2002 Infinity on Los Coches Road drove onto an exit ramp and entered Interstate 8 east, heading in the wrong direction at 10:08 p.m. last night.  She collided with a black 2015 Jeep Patriot, which rolled onto its right side.

PLANNING COMMISSION GUNS DOWN APPEAL, ALLOWS COVERT CANYON TO CONDUCT MILITARY FIREARMS TRAINING

By Miriam Raftery

Photos: Covert Canyon owner Marc Halcon (left); neighbors Clark and Robin Williams (right)

December 17, 2015 (Alpine) – Testimony at the County Planning Commission hearing on Covert Canyon   on December 11th was heated, as concerned citizens and planners fired off concerns which project backers sought to deflect.  At stake was an appeal filed by neighbors and environmentalists opposed to the Planning Director’s decision allowing commercial firearms training of military and police at the Alpine site, which is surrounded by federal forestlands.  Animal rights activists also protested live shooting of pigs for military medic training at the property in the past.  Here are some of the impassioned statements made:

“What the Planning Director has done is sign a death warrant for the national forest.” – Duncan McFetridge, co-chair, Cleveland National Forest Foundation

“I live in constant fear…it is extremely dangerous.” – Robin Williams, neighbor closest to Covert Canyon

 “Military ranges are overloaded right now. Post-911, demand is up…We live in a different world now; our law enforcement and first responders have to have training to respond.” – Marc Halcon, Covert Canyon owner

“You’re allowing an unlimited decibel ordinance for 14 minutes every hour. That’s no ordinance at all…How can a firing range not have substantial impact? It’s beyond my comprehension.” – Planning Commissioner Michael Beck

“This is the most tortured interpretation of the zoning ordinance I have ever seen…You’re going to get sued, and you’re going to lose.” – Attorney Marco Gonzalez, addressing County Planning Commission

“We all know about the global war on terror…Range time equals one of our biggest challenges in San Diego…this is paramount for the success of war fighters.” – Tommy Marquez, on behalf of Congressman Duncan Hunter

WHITE CHRISTMAS IN MOUNTAINS AS STORMS MOVE IN

 

East County News Service

December 17, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) -- A cold front moving through our region will bring showers and gusty winds late Saturday through early Sunday, with snow expected in the mountains above 5000 feet.

Looking towards Christmas time late next week, there are signs that there could be a wet storm system December 23-26 that could bring low snow-levels, rain and strong winds.  “This has the potential to be a high impact event that will affect holiday travel,” says Mark Moede, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.

THREAT TO L.A. SCHOOLS INCLUDED SAN DIEGO AND OTHER CITIES

 

Fears of school violence spark concerns among parents

By Miriam Raftery

December 16, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – On Tuesday, an e-mail that threatened bombings and shootings caused Los Angeles Unified School District to shut down and 1,500 schools, impacting 650,000 students. Searches proved the threat was a hoax. A similar threat was received in New York City, where the school district opted to remain open, deeming the threats not credible.

Today,10 News reports that the L.A. e-mail  also warned, “If you cancel classes, the bombings will take place regardless, and we will bring our guns to the streets and offices of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Bakersfield, and San Diego.”   

The e-mail writer claimed to be a Muslim who had been bullied in L.A. schools and claimed to be working with “32 comrades” willing to die. The hoaxter claimed to have pressure cooker bombs hidden in backpacks to be detonated with cell phones as well as “nerve gas agents” set to go off at lunch time,automatic weapons and grenades to massacre students “mercilessly.”

LA MESA HERALDS END OF DOWNTOWN CONSTRUCTION, BUT SCALED-BACK CHRISTMAS IN THE VILLAGE LEAVES SOME RESIDENTS DISAPPONTED

 

Cutbacks raise key question: who should pay for security costs of festivals in La Mesa?

By Miriam Raftery

December 15, 2015 (La Mesa)—La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis joined with students from Peter Pan Junior Theatre to sing carols amid holiday lighting in the downtown village at La Mesa Shimmers—a special event held December 9th to celebrate completion of the downtown streetscape construction project and reopening of the historic district.

The event was notably separate from the La Mesa Village Merchants Association’s  Christmas in the Village held December 11 and 12. This year, the merchants’ festival was dramatically scaled back due to lack of funds to shut down streets, leading some residents to ask why the city expects merchants to shoulder the full burden of police and security costs for celebrations that benefit the citizenry as well as local shopkeepers--particularly after construction hurt merchants' businesses for the past year.

COUNTY HOMELESS OUTREACH TEAM LAUNCHED IN EAST COUNTY

 

County News Service

December 16, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--The family of three—a couple approximately in their 40s, and their 17-year-old son and pet dog—slept in sleeping bags and blankets behind a Santee gas station last week. They were dressed in layers and were huddled or lying down on the concrete ground close to the building with their belongings in a few small carts. The family has been homeless since last December. Because the father works there five days a week, the gas station owner allows them to sleep on the property on occasion.

SAN DIEGO GOES GREEN, ENACTS HISTORIC CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN

By Miriam Raftery

December 16, 2015 (San Diego)—By a unanimous vote, the San Diego City Council  on Tuesday enacted a plan to address climate change that may be the most ambitious in the nation. The plan sets a goal for the city to attain 100 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2035, also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in 2020 and 50 percent by 2035.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer told Councilmembers, “We are a city where the quality of the environment is essential to our quality of life.”  Faulconer said the plan will create jobs and preserve the city’s leadership in the clean-tech industry, also improving public health and air quality, reducing dependence on imported water, and increasing use of clean energy.

Climate Action Campaign announced the San Diego is the largest American city to commit to producing all of its energy from renewable resources.

LA MESA BANS MEDICAL MARIJUANA DELIVERIES, AFFIRMS PROHIBITION ON DISPENSARIES

 

By Mike Allen

December 15, 2015 (La Mesa)-Although it already prohibits such dispensaries, La Mesa won’t allow the growing, sale or delivery of medical marijuana in its city limits.

At its Dec. 8 meeting, the City Council approved two ordinances that re-affirm and confirm the city’s existing laws, also expressly banning delivery of medical cannabis. The actions were taken following the adoption of a series of regulations covering the sale and cultivation of marijuana by the state that were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown earlier this year.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY TO ENLIST INMATES IN EL NIÑO RESPONSE

 

 

Source: County News Service

December 15, 2015 (San Diego)--County Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to seek rapid deployment of state inmate work crews if El Niño packs a punch in the coming months.

The board voted to approve Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s proposal to team up with Cal Fire and ensure that the region’s nearly 500 work crew inmates are quickly available to assist with flood prevention and cleanup.

EL CAJON COUNCIL HEARS BUZZ OVER BEEKEEPING PROPOSAL, SDG&E ELECTRIC VEHICLE GRID PLAN, AND ABATEMENT OF SUBSTANDARD HOUSING

 

 

By Janis Russell

Photo: ECPD Chief Jeff Davis is sworn in.

December 13, 2015 (El Cajon)-El Cajon’s City Council had a busy agenda last Tuesday, including the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC), SDG&E’s  plan for vehicle grid integration, a beekeeping buzz, and issues faced by residents ranging from a home overrun by rabbits to a residence where residents were displaced due to flooding and a collapsed roof.  The City also swore in a new Police Chief and appointed a new Interim Mayor.

BIRTH DEFECTS LINKED TO MOSQUITOES

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 14, 2015 (San Diego)--A rare but serious birth defect in Brazil has been linked to a mosquito—the Aedes aegypti species, which has recently been found in San Diego County.

This type of mosquito was already known to carry diseases such as Yellow Fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and the Zika virus.  But now the Zika virus is suspected of causing microencephaly, a rare neurological disorder that results in infants having small heads and underdeveloped brains, resulting in severe developmental issues. The mosquito bites an expectant mother, transmitting the disease to her unborn child.  Babies born with this illness are likely to die young and require constant care.

FEASTING AND MERRYMAKING PARTY WITH EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE SUNDAY: YOU'RE INVITED!

December 17, 2015 (Mt. Helix) -- Our holiday parties are legendary! Come join the fun Sunday, December 20 from 2-6 p.m. at our editor's home on Mt. Helix.

  • Delicious feast! Glazed ham and yams, cinnamon baked apples, beet/strawberry and eggplant salads from Baba al Hara,  pasta and salad from Olive Graden, desserts from New York Bakery
  •  Wine tasting with Grant James Vineyard and Pearson Bros. Winery, plus holiday beverages (21 and up.)
  • Live music (folk, rock, and holiday songs) with Paul Nichols, Cindy Burnham, Tim and Marijo Luranc,
  • Holiday games, prizes and surprises! Prizes include a mountain vacation,  wine lover’s baskets, dance lessons, silver jewelry, hand-woven shawl from Weaving Works in Santa Ysabel, California Wolf Preserve tour in Julian,  Passes and big-cat feeding for 2 at Lions Tigers &  Bears, dinner at Descanso Junction, Glamour Girlz gift basket, personal trainer for a month at CHN Fitness in Santee, yoga lessons at CHN Yoga, and much more. 

CAMPO ROAD/CASA DE ORO IMPROVEMENTS MEETING DEC. 17

East County News Service

December 12, 2015 (Spring Valley ) – Institute for Public Strategies invites you to the third community meeting on alcohol-related harm in Casa De Oro.  

At the last meeting in November, members decided to create a formal community group and will choose a name at the next meeting, which is set for Thursday, December 17 from 6 to 8 p.m.  The meeting will be held at the Young Actors’ Theater, 9628 Campo Road, Suite J in Spring Valley.

HEARING ON HOSKINGS RANCH POSTPONED TO FEB. 5

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 11, 2015 (Julian) – The County Planning commission today granted a continuance for a hearing on 24 homes proposed on the 1,000-acre Hoskings Ranch at Highway 78 and Pine Hills Road in Julian.  A request for continuance until February 5 at 9 a.m. was requested by both the developer and an attorney representing residents opposed to the project.

Over 250 people signed up for the Hoskings Ranch Subdivision Action and Resource group on Facebook within two hours of its being formed.  About 50 concerned residents met December 8th at Julian’s town hall.

HELIX WATER WINS TRANSPARENCY AWARD FOR GOVERNANCE, DROPS MEMBERSHIP IN GOOD GOVERNANCE ORGANIZATION

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 10, 2015 (La Mesa) – Helix Water District has received the “District Transparency Certificate of Excellence” from the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF), a nonprofit that promotes special districts that excel in governance and management.

Ironically, however, just one week after that announcement, Helix board president DeAna Verbeke asked staff not to renew the district’s membership in the California Special Districts Association (CSDA), which supports the SDLF and its goals.  The CSDA promotes good governance and improved local services for independent special districts(such as water and fire boards) that deliver public services.

SNOWY, WINDY WEATHER TO SOCK REGION STARTING TONIGHT

By Miriam Raftery

December 10, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – A low pressure trough moving south into our region is forecast to bring strong westerly winds, showers and mountain snow tonight through Friday, meteorologist Mark Moede with the National Weather Srevice in San Diego advises.

Wind gusts could reach 60 to 70 miles per hour, posing hazards to high profile vehicles in mountains and deserts, including on I-15, I-8, and I-10.  There is also a chance of thunderstorms, hail and brief, heavy downpours possible.

BIOMETRIC ENTRY/EXIT TESTING AT OTAY MESA BORDER CROSSING

 

Source: U.S.. Customs and Border Patrol

December 10, 2015 (Otay Mesa)--U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin testing new biometric technology at the Otay Mesa pedestrian crossing this week to enhance identification of certain non-U.S. citizens entering and exiting the U.S. CBP uses biometrics in order to accurately verify who arrives in the United States and who leaves.

COVERT CANYON APPEAL FILED; OWNER MARC HALCON SPEAKS OUT AS CONTROVERSY HEATS UP

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning Commission to hear appeal Friday;  ECM tours site; environmentalists threaten lawsuit

By Miriam Raftery

December 10,2015 (Alpine)—An appeal filed yesterday on behalf of three environmental groups and neighbors of Covert Canyon will be heard by the County Planning Commission tomorrow at 9 a.m.  If the appeal is denied,  a letter signed by appellants’ attorney Marco Gonzalez states, “the Environmental groups and Appellants intend to file suit and seek injunctive relief before the matter is heard by the Board of Supervisors.”  

In addition to Clark and Robin Williams, the closest neighbors, Gonzalez' letter states he is representing the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, Save Our Forests and Ranchlands, and Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation.

A staff report recommends denying the appeal and upholding the Planning Director’s decision to reclassify the use of the property as law enforcement. 

HEDBERG URGES STATE TO REVISE WATER CUTS MANDATE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 10, 2015 (Sacramento) – Helix Water District board member Kathleen Hedberg spoke at a public workshop in Sacramento held by the State Water Resources Control Board on Monday.  Hedberg urged the Board to revise  current emergency regulations that mandate huge water cuts statewide and to take into consideration water districts where customers have already been conserving.

In an impassioned plea, she noted that Helix customers already cut use and have exceeded the mandate, but that this has forced many to allow trees and shrubs to die. She noted that the district has invested in increasing water supply and has adequate water to meet customer needs.

"My constituents and Helix Water District customers are outraged and frustrated that they have paid for water supply, storage and reliability projects and we are being told to cut back on water use even when we have enough water as we prepared for drought times and the future," Hedberg testified. Below are her full comments to the Board, along with her assessment of mixed reactions received from state regulators:

HOVERBOARDS ARE EXPLODING, CAUSING FIRES

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 8, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Hoverboards are hot gift items this season—in more ways than one. The National Association of Fire Marshals has issued a warning about fire dangers after numerous hoverboards, or electronic scooters without handles, burst into flames in the U.S. and abroad.

PRESIDENT CALLS ISLAMIC STATE “CULTURE OF DEATH”, ASKS CONGRESS TO AUTHORIZE MILITARY FORCE

 

December 6, 2015 (Washington D.C.)--In a speech today at the Oval Office, President Barack Obama denounced the San Bernardino massacre that killed 14 people and wounded 21 more as an "act of terrorism."  He denounced the “dark path of radicalization” that the husband and wife shooters to embrace a “perverted” form of Islam that calls for war on America and the west.”

 The President pledged to “destroy ISIL” and protect the homeland.  He also called on Congress to take several actions.

"If Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists," Obama said. "I think it's time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united and committed to this fight.”

LA MESA COUNCIL TO WEIGH BAN ON POT SHOP DELIVERIES

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 6, 2015 (La Mesa) – La Mesa’s City Council will consider an ordinance Tuesday that would ban mobile dispensing and delivery of marijuana. Medical marijuana clinics are already illegal in the city and voters recently rejected a measure that would have allowed them, however a number of clinics have sprung up despite that ban, offering home delivery services.

The La Mesa Council meets at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, December 8th

PROPOSAL TO REJECT ECPAC BID, MOVE FORWARD ON ANIMAL SHELTER AMONG AGENDA ITEMS FOR EL CAJON COUNCIL

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: ECPAC lobby

December 6, 2015 (El Cajon ) – El Cajon’s Council has a number of important topics on its agenda for the Council meeting Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Several are on the consent calendar – including a proposal to reject the only bid received for construction renovations on the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC).  Although 30 prospective bidders obtained bid packages, only one bid was received.  That bid, from Kinsman Construction Inc. in San Diego, was for over $3.7 million – far above the $2.7 to $2.9 million that an engineer estimated the work should cost.

TERROR PROBE IN SAN BERNARDINO MASSACRE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Syed Rizwan Farook

December 4, 2015 (San Bernardino)—Evidence emerging in the mass shooting at a San Bernardino social services center yesterday  points to terrorism as the apparent motive. 

Syed Rizwan Farook, an American Muslim born in Chicago, and his Pakistani bride, Tashfeen Malik, dropped their baby off with a grandparent before donning assault gear and opening fire using assault weapons at an office holiday party. The barrage left 14 people dead and 21 injured.  Both suspects were later killed in a firefight with law enforcement after fleeing the scene in an SUV.  Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS, the Islamic State, on Facebook the very day of the attack, the New York Times reports, citing an unnamed official.  It is not yet known if the attack was directed by ISIS or if the terrorists acted independently, inspired by ISIS.

Officials suspect Farook became radicalized by Islamic extremists. He had had been in touch with at least one individual monitored as a possible terror suspect, a senior federal government official reportedly told the Los Angeles Times, adding that there could be a “deeper terror matrix” behind yesterday’s massacre. Authorities have not ruled out a workplace violence motivation potentially in combination with terrorism.

COLLISION WITH DUMP TRUCK IN LAKESIDE LEAVES RAMONA MAN WITH LIFE-THREATENING INJURIES

East County News Service

December 3, 2015 (Lakeside) – A 22-year-old Ramona man was airlifted to Sharp Memorial  Hospital with major life threatening injuries after a two-vehicle collision today at 2:40 p.m.

The Ramona man turned onto northbound State Route 67 from Posthill Road but failed to see a 3-axle dump truck towing a trailer approaching from the left.  The Suzuki pulled out in front of the truck driver, who had little or no time to react, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Pearlstein.

EL NINO COMMUNITY PREPAREDNESS FORUM DEC. 9 IN EL CAJON

East County News Service

December 3, 2015 (El Cajon)--Join city leaders in El Cajon to learn about potential impacts from a severe El Nino winter and how to create a plan to be prepared.  The El Nino community preparedness forum will be held December 9 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Police Department’s community room, 100 Civic Center Way in El Cajon.

Learn what the city is doing to prepare and respond, as well as what you can do before, during and after a flood.

FIRE BOARD MEMBERS RAISE CONCERNS OVER AMBULANCE CONTRACT RESPONSE TIMES

 

 

Ambulance responses in our region raise alarms:  Part V in a series

 

By Mike Allen

December 1, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) -- By most accounts, the ambulance service contractor for East County’s unincorporated area, Mercy Medical Transportation, is doing a good job, exceeding the required minimum response time threshold of at least 30 minutes on 90 percent of its calls.

But some question that 30-minute standard, and why such an important contract involving about 850 square miles was enacted without first consulting the fire agencies that are the first responders to 911 emergency calls.

At a September meeting of the San Miguel Fire Protection District, Director Theresa McKenna noted that the minimum response times for most urban areas of the county is 12 minutes, but for Zone 2, which encompasses most of East County to the Imperial County line and includes much of Otay Mesa, it’s 30 minutes. View Zone 2 map of ambulance service here.

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