November 7, 2013 (El Cajon) – The City of El Cajon’s Special Events Committee, a group of city employees volunteering their time for city and community projects, is seeking item and monetary donations to mail care packages to military members serving overseas through the second annual “They Serve Us, Let’s Serve Them” campaign from “9-11 to 11-11.”
“We’ve had an outpouring of care package item donations and will probably be able to assemble 30 care packages to help our military this year,” according to Ron Luis Valles, a coordinator and member of the special events committee.
November 6, 2013 (El Cajon) – The City of El Cajon invites the public to join in the Centennial Farewell festivities on Tuesday, November 12 at the Centennial Plaza, from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. Centennial Plaza is located at 200 Civic Center Way. This Farewell Celebration will also include a special tribute to veterans, as well as honoring those who have volunteered more than 100 hours in the El Cajon Community, through the 100 Hours, Honoring 100 Years Centennial Volunteer program.
By Miriam Raftery
November 6, 2013 (El Cajon)-- El Cajon City Councilmembers Bob McClellan and Tony Ambrose have released an official response to the resignation of former Mayor Mark Lewis on October 24, 2013. Both voiced pride in the community’s diversity , acknowledged that the Mayor’s remarks on minorities were “inappropriate and wrong,” then called for unity in El Cajon. For the full text of their letter, click here.
In addition, Councilmember Gary Kendrick issued his own letter praising Mayor Lewis on his accomplishments including balanced budgets, economic stability and economic development. While he joined with Ambrose and McClellan in making clear that he did not agree with or support Lewis’ controversial comments, he stated, “Mark will always be my friend...” To read Kendrick’s letter, click here.
Kendrick told ECM,” The Mayor Lewis that I knew would never have made those statements before his stroke.”
November 5, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – A first-time visitor to Viejas Casino & Resort hit a whopping $58,221.78 jackpot after playing for just six minutes on a penny slot machine.
The lucky winner, from Whittier, California, was visiting a friend from El Cajon, who is a frequent guest at Viejas Casino & Resort. After enjoying the Buffet at Viejas on October 26, the El Cajon friend hit the casino floor for some table games play, and the visitor decided to try her luck on the Cash Multi-Spin penny slot machine. And after just six minutes of play, she hit the jackpot, according to Viejas.
November 6, 2013 (El Cajon) – Exceeding expectations, the second Annual HauntFest on Main celebration, held on Friday, October 25, was deemed as an overwhelming success by City officials. The Halloween themed event drew an estimated 20,000 people to downtown El Cajon.
Festivities were from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. with free admission. Partygoers enjoyed live bands on multiple stages, such as: Paul Cannon, Fuzzy Rankins, Rockola, Jason Weber and Back to the Garden. Families enjoyed the Terror Truck, the classic cars, the trick or treating booths, the movies on the giant movie screen, rides and games, pumpkin patch, craft booths, costumes, art show, and more.
November 6, 2013 (El Cajon) — Actor Saginaw Grant, a Sac and Fox Indian who has played numerous Native American roles in the movies and on television, said at a Student Veteran Organization event at Grossmont College on Monday, Nov. 4. that every combat veteran comes home with hidden wounds caused by the things they saw or did. However, he said, it’s important that they banish negative thoughts from their minds: “You can’t change those things by thinking about them.”
Grant, who had served in the Marine Corps during the Korean Conflict, said even after separating from the military service, veterans should continue to honor the proud military traditions that have been passed down for generations. Likewise, Grant, who appeared in the 2013 movie The Lone Ranger as the Comanche Chief Big Bear, said that his Indian people should carefully listen and then honor the lessons that have been transmitted for eons in their oral traditions.
By Miriam Raftery
November 2, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Here’s a heads up for some key items coming up soon on the agendas in Lemon Grove, El Cajon, and at the San Diego Supervisors.
Lemon Grove’s City Council meets on Tuesday, November 5. This week, the agenda includes proposed locations for a dog park, an expert panel on community gardens, and a report on economic development challenges and opportunities in Lemon Grove.
By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson
Ghost hunting --just in time for Halloween! The El Cajon Paranormal Project, spearheaded by Kitty Davis and Jennifer Kacizak, is tracking down some spirited tales at a reportedly haunted neighborhood in El Cajon.
“We’re the real thing.” said Davis. The project was formed about a year ago and currently is focusing on a two square mile radius in El Cajon with borders set at Graves Avenue, Madison Avenue, and Ballantyne Street.
By Miriam Raftery
October 26, 2013 (El Cajon ) –Following the resignation of El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis for racial remarks, Chaldean community leader Mark Paul Arabo, head of the Neighborhood Markets Association, is calling on Council members to denounce statements by Lewis and further, to implement district elections at the next city council meeting.
Currently, all El Cajon residents vote for all council candidates, with the top vote getters overall winning seats. Under Arabo’s proposal, the city would be divided into districts each electing its own representative-a move that could result in one or more districts with a majority of Iraqi Chaldeans or other minority populations.
In a press statement, Arabo voiced relief at Lewis’ resignation but added, “We will not stop here.”
October 25, 2013 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis has resigned, effective immediately. In his resignation letter, the Mayor cited health reasons, including cancer, a dislocated shoulder and a minor stroke in 2010. “Unfortunately at times, this has caused me some difficulties in clearly communication my thoughts, including during the recent interviews that have caused understandable concern,” he wrote, adding that he is stepping down to avoid further concerns by citizens and to “allow our City Council and community o move forward in their work to make this City the finest place it can be.”
He added, “I deeply love our town and have given a major portion of my adult life to its wellbeing and, so, this is a bittersweet moment for me."
Full tape of interview reveals comments praising Chaldeans in addition to remarks deemed culturally insensitive by cricis
By Miriam Raftery
October 24, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – At Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting, a crowd of Irarqi Chaldean community members denounced remarks made by Mayor Mark Lewis in an interview with Progressive Magazine for an article published in May. Critics denounce the remarks as insensitive and reinforcing racial stereotypes.
Supporters say the comments were taken out of context. An audiotape of the full one-hour interview posted by RawStory in fact reveals many positive statements made by the Mayor about Chaldeans, as well as the remarks that stirred controversy. Some backers of the Mayor have suggested a financial motive behind the criticism emerging months after the story first ran, noting that a leading critic represents Chaldean store owners chafing under a newly enacted city policy restricting alcohol sales.
By Janis Mork
October 23, 2013 (El Cajon)- Rocking Horse Ranch has been in business since 2006, and now its operators are asking for help to help save the property. The ranch pairs up troubled horses with abused and neglected children, and in time, both child and horse learn to heal.
ECM recently sat down with founder and executive director, Kathy Plaisted to learn more.
She told us that the ranch is special because “it is such a unique environment.. .We bring horses that come from troubled backgrounds and pair them up with people who have suffered as well.. We’re volunteer driven and serve over 500 people each month. We rehabilitate [the horses], work with kids, adopt the horses to forever homes, and bring in another one.”
By Miriam Raftery
October 22, 2013 (El Cajon ) – By a unanimous vote, El Cajon’s City Council today voted to enter into an exclusive negotiation agreement with Excel Hotel Group to develop a Marriott Courtyard hotel at the northeast corner of Magnolia Avenue and Rea Street in the Civic Center block.
The proposal hinges on the state selling and to the city of El Cajon at the corner of Magnolia and Rea. The City would then sell the land to Marriott for a dollar and give up a portion of the transient occupancy tax (TOT) for a few years. At the end of ten years, the city expects to receive enough revenue from property taxes and TOT to repay the city the cost of the land.
“It sweetens the pot for them to spend several million dollars,” Councilman Gary Kendrick told East County Magazine. He calls the deal a “win-win” for all parties.
October 22, 2013 (El Cajon) – A passerby who witnessed a woman being abducted at knifepoint in the Grossmont College parking lot today scared off the assailant by honking his horn. Sheriff’s deputies located and arrested the suspect, Anthony Washington.
“Washington later confessed he was going to rape the student and do whatever he had to in order to get his way,” said Sergeant Vic Perry.
Photo: Dog Dreaming, by Marc Kitaen
October 22, 2013 (El Cajon) – East County artist Marc Kitaen, El Cajon, won third place in the 10 annual Digital Art Show of St. Mark's United Methodist Church.
The show, which has the theme "Visions of Peace," includes 28 works by 12 San Diego County artists. It will run October 13 to November 10 in the church sanctuary, 3502 Clairemont Drive. The juror was Professor Craig Carlson, SDSU.
The other winners are: first place, Michael Sussna, La Jolla; second place Rachelle Farber, Carlsbad; and Honorable Mention T. Antoinette Fassel, University City, and John Valois, Mission Hills.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPORT: SUPERVISORS WEIGH INCREASING OUTREACH TO RURAL VETERANS AFTER ECM INVESTIGATION
Highlights of El Cajon, La Mesa, Santee and San Diego agenda items for this week
Update October 24, 2013: Supervisors unanimously approved the feasibility study on bringing veterans' services to libraries countywide.
By Miriam Raftery
County Supervisors and local city councils have several significant measures on their agendad impacting East County this week.
On Tuesday at 10 a.m., Supervisors will hear a proposal by Supervisor Dianne Jacob to extend the county’s outreach to veterans. This proposal is being introduced in response to an East County Magazine investigation that found a lack of County veterans’ services in rural East County.
Supervisor Jacob’s proposal asks the County’s Chief Executive Office to report back in 120 days on the feasibility of using county libraries for veterans services, which would add 34 additional locations for County Veterans Services representatives to meet with veterans.
October 20, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – On October 17, a shoulder-tap operation was conducted by the Sheriff’s Department and other agencies to see if retail outlets are illegally selling alcohol to minors in Santee, Alpine, Lakeside, Spring Valley, Lemon Grove, and unincorporated El Cajon.
Deputies from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, Agents from Alcohol Beverage Control, and three minor decoys conducted a "Minor Decoy" and "Shoulder Tap" Operation at various locations in the East County. The operation involved minors who tested "on-sale" and "off-sale" establishments. The minor decoys tested retailers and servers at a number of locations in an attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages inside their establishments. Three employees sold alcohol to the decoys.
October 17, 2013 (El Cajon) -- A Box Full of Rocks: The El Cajon Years of Lester Bangs is a new documentary film about legendary music journalist and former San Diegan Lester Bangs. Grossmont College's Creative Writing Program will sponsor a special screening of the film at its annual Lester Bangs Memorial Reading, on Tuesday October 22, 2013 in Room 220 (Building 26). This event will be free and open to the public.
October 17, 2013 (El Cajon)--Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) will host a Neighborhood Day in East County. Residents are encouraged to come share their ideas, ask a question, and get an update about what's happening in Congress at her signature town hall style event.
Davis’s Neighborhood Day will be held in the Griffin Center on the Grossmont College campus in El Cajon on Monday, October 21, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
story courtesy Grossmont College
October 17, 2013 (El Cajon) -- With a statewide earthquake drill known as the "Great California Shakeout" planned for 10:17 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, panelists in Grossmont College's Griffin Center told students last week, where to expect earthquakes to repeatedly happen, how to best be prepared for them, and what it is like to experience their devastation. Many of these tips are included in the story below.
The panel was a precursor to the Oct. 17 drill in which students, faculty and staff will be advised that in the event that they are inside a building during a real earthquake, they should drop to the floor, get under and hold onto a desk or a table, and cover their heads to prevent materials shaken loose from falling on them. The Oct. 17 drill will last approximately two minutes after which normal classroom activities will resume.
By Miriam Raftery
October 15, 2013 (El Cajon) – The Sheriff’s Bomb Arson squad has been dispatched to 1518 Sams Hill Road in unincorporated El Cajon following a report at 7:13 p.m. of explosions and a smell of sulfur.
“The reporting party heard loud booms coming from the roof of an apartment complex,” Lieutenant Jason Vickery told East County Magazine.
Kaboom! and New City Seal/Logo/Motto in works
By Janis Mork
October 11, 2013 (El Cajon)- At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Mark Lewis made a request to rename East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) to El Cajon Performing Arts Center. Lewis insisted, “Now is the time to name it, because we’re in El Cajon..”
At the suggestion of Mayor Pro Tem Bill Wells, however, Council opted to delay a decision until mid-2014, when a manager for ECPAC is expected to be in place.
See what’s on the agendas for city councils in El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee, and the San Diego Supervisors this week
By Miriam Raftery
October 7, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) - Chickens, term limits, renaming a theater, the Castlerock housing project, a regional water plan and a proposal to boost beekeeping in the backcountry are among the hot items impacting East County that will be heard this week.
El Cajon's Fire Safety Expo Is October 12
October 6, 2013 (El Cajon) -- It’s all about safety at the annual El Cajon Fire Safety Expo on Saturday, October 12, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at 100 E. Lexington Avenue. This event celebrates Fire Prevention Week and brings to the community a wide variety of safety and health information.
Meet firefighters and police officers from the City of El Cajon and see Police & Fire K-9 demonstrations. Kiwanis Club of East San Diego County will be giving away free kids safety helmets (while supplies last), and Home Depot is back with their children’s safety workshop. See over 40 exhibits addressing important issues such as fire safety, disaster preparedness from the Office of Emergency Services and Heartland Fire & Rescue.
Members also vote to shut down red light cameras
By Janis Mork
September 29, 2013 (El Cajon) - At Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting, Council unanimously voted to not set a fee on sale of alcohol. The councilmembers also voted 4-1 to permanently remove the red light cameras, with Mayor Mark Lewis voting against the measure.
First was a resolution on the annual alcohol sales regulatory fee under the new Deemed Approved Alcohol ordinance, which restricts sale of single-serve alcohol containers and cracks down on stores selling to minors or people with a series of alcohol-related arrests.
It’s important we have a zero fee,” said Councilman Gary Kendrick. ”Then it has no effect on businesses that operate legally.”
September 26, 2013 (El Cajon) – The City of El Cajon will be hosting a community meeting for El Cajon’s America on Main Street, a new City special event. This community meeting will be held on Monday, September 30, at 5:30 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Community Center, located at 195 East Douglas Avenue
El Cajon’s America On Main Street will be on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which is also recognized as National Flag Day. The event will include American and ethnic foods, live entertainment on two stages, displays and more. For more information please call (619) 441-1754 or visit us online at www.cityofelcajon.us.
September 26, 2013 (El Cajon) – The City of El Cajon receives approximately $1 million in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds and $420,000 in HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Funds each year for housing and community development projects. The City invites the public to have input in how the City programs this money over the next five years.
By Miriam Raftery
September 25, 2013 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon's City Council has given a green light to getting rid of red light cameras, voting on Tuesday to shut them down permanently.
Back in February, El Cajon’s Council voted to temporarily halt using the city’s 10 Redflex red light cameras while a six month study was conducted to see if there was any impact on safety. The cameras have been covered up since February 27.
By Paul Kruze
It has been said that the opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Those who had hoped El Cajon’s East County Performing Arts Center would be open by December may have a bit more waiting to do until the proverbial fat lady sings.
While El Cajon City Councilman Gary Kendrick had set a target date of December 1, 2013 for the much anticipated reopening of the theater which has been shuttered for nearly three years, it may be at least another year until the curtain opens and the stage lights come on.
September 19, 2013 (El Cajon ) – Four children and two adults are staying with family members temporarily after an attic fire damaged their two-story home at 930 Prescott Avenue in El Cajon this afternoon.
Quick action by fire crews from Heartland Fire & Rescue in El Cajon and La Mesa, along with firefighters from Cal Fire, kept the fire from reaching neighboring homes. Heartland Fire reports the fire was knocked down in less than 20 minutes. The damage was mostly to the attic and roof area.