East County News Service
Photo, left: Carl Meyer, leader of successful "stop Blackwater" effort in Potrero at a 2008 victory celebration
July 6, 2014 (San Diego's East County)--Blackwater, the private military contractor that has sparked considerably controversy through the years, is back in the headlines.Many East County residents recall the successful battle waged by residents in rural Potrero to prevent Blackwater from building a paramilitary training camp in San Diego's backcountry.
Potrero residents held a recall election and removed all five planning group members who voted for the Blackwater facility and staged a march through adjacent federal forest lands that would be threatened by the project, drawing international attention before Blackwater ultimately withdrew its plans.
Now, the New York Times reports that around that same time back in 2007, Blackwater blocked a State Department inquiry into allegations of violence against civilians in Iraq by the company’s personnel. The investigation was halted after Blackwater’s top manager in Iraq threatened that he “could kill” the government’s chief investigator—and that “no one could or would do anything about it” according to State Department reports, the New York Times article states.
By Miriam Raftery
May 23, 2014 (Potrero) – Relive the days of chivalry this weekend at Potrero County Park, where the Society for Creative Anachronism will stage a medieval battle May 24 and 25 from 11 a.m. to sunset. This visit to the Barony of Calafia is a free event with vendors, staged fighting events, and instruction. Visitors are invited to wear period attire to fit in with the festivities.
The Society for Creative Anachronism is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. Our “Known World” consists of 19 kingdoms, with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which feature tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, various classes & workshops, and more.
April 25, 2014 (Potrero)--A horse found injured and bleeding after a fall down a deep ravine Thursday evening in Potrero is now recovering from its injuries at the County Animal Services shelter in Bonita.
Photo courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News
April 9, 2014 (San Diego) – Two East County men told police that several shots were fired at them while they were fishing in a canoe along the San Diego River near the Friars Road overpass on Monday .
The men said they jumped into the water and swam to shore, dodging more bullets. They believe someone was intentionally aiming to harm them.
Descanso, Pine Valley and Potrero targeted next
By Sharon Penny
Photos: Proposed Descanco siting
February 23, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--The massive solar farm planned for the community of Boulevard has been documented in the East County Magazine, but what has been largely under the radar are several smaller-scale solar farms planned throughout the backcountry, including Descanso, Pine Valley, Potrero and others.
On Thursday, February 20, the Descanso Planning Group (DPG) heard a brief presentation on a proposed solar farm on the south side of Viejas Boulevard on the Merigan property. Carlos Valdivia from Ecoplexus, the firm that is proposing to develop both Descanso and Pine Valley solar farms, gave an informational overview to the DPG and about 25 residents in attendance.
February 17, 2014 (Dulzura)– A semi-truck carrying an estimated 1,000 chickens rolled over, then burst into flames that have spread to a tree. The semi is blocking the roadway at 16895 State Route 94 near Campbell Ranch Road, close to the Dulzura Post Office. Chickens are reportedly running loose, the California Highway Patrol website indicates.
A Sig Alert has been issued and the semi driver is injured. Avoid this area.
By Miriam Raftery
January 1, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- Governor Jerry Brown granted a Christmas Eve pardon to a firefighter who saved a teenager’s life during the Harris Fire in Potrero after suffering serious burns herself.
Brooke Linman had been convicted of firearms, drug and theft charges almost 20 years ago, but straightened her life out and began working as a firefighter in 2001. In 2007, her Cal-Fire crew was sent to help save homes in Potrero, where they helped evacuate Richard Varshock and his father, Thomas Varshock, who had been trying to defend their home against the firestorm. But the fire engine was overcome and caught fire, forcing them all to race on foot through a wall of flames.
July 18, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Once again the winemakers of East County Vintners have demonstrated their winemaking skills at the annual San Diego County Fair competition.
New to the competition is David Raum of Potrero, whose 2012 Viognier (a white wine with notes of pear) took home a silver medal. Richard Westfall (Campo) received “the best of class” and gold medal for his 2011 Mourvédre. He also received a silver medal for his 2011 Primitivo, a silver for his 2008 Aglianico and a bronze medal for his 2011 Cabernet Franc. Janet Wright (Potrero) also received a silver medal for her 2011 Primitivo.
May 11, 2013 (Potrero) – A motorcyclist was airlifted to Sharp Memorial Hospital with a broken leg after sideswiping a fire truck near Potrero this morning. According to California Highway Patrol spokesman Brian Pennings, the motorcyclist was speeding when the 49-year-old driver lost control and sideswiped a Cal-Fire truck on state route 94.
SDG&E ANNOUNCES NEW POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENTS, INCLUDING SOLAR PROJECTS IN POTRERO AND VALLEY CENTER
By Miriam Raftery
April 18, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) yesterday announced it has signed five new renewable power purchase agreements including two in San Diego County. But oddly, a local planner and a news editor in these rural communities have told ECM they were unaware of these projects.
SDG&E’s release did not state where in San Diego County the projects would be located. Jennifer Ramp with SDG&E has informed ECM that the two local projects are Silverado Power, LLC’s Zodiac Solar (20 Megawatts) in Potrero and Northlight Power’s C908 Solar project (7 MW) in Valley Center. Both projects are newly executed and have not yet been approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, Ramp said.
By Miriam Raftery
April 10, 2013 (Potrero) – Jerry Fowler, who suffered serious injuries after falling into a well in Potrero on March 13, is now out of the intensive care unit at Sharps memorial Hospital but is still on “some life support” according to his parents, Thell and Normal Fowler.
“As of now, he is awake a lot of the time and sees us with his eyes and moves his head when we talk to him. He can move his arms and legs, squeezes our hands and rubs his thumb on the back of our hands to let us know he knows it is us,” his parents wrote in an e-mail to concerned community members. “His doctor says he is not out of the woods yet, but he has a long way to go. At first the doctors said that from the damage of the fall he may not ever wake up, but he has proven them wrong.”
By Nadin Abbott
March 13, 2013 (Potrero)—Community members in Potrero are rallying to raise funds to help pay for the medical expenses of Gerry Fowler, who was critically injured on Sunday March 10 when he fell into the family's well, as ECM reported. Fowler, an independent truck driver, does not have medical insurance.
Walena Arnold, owner of the Potrero General Store told ECM that the community is very close knit and that a fund has been created to help defray the medical costs. Blood donations are also needed and can be made in Gerry Fowler’s name at the San Diego Blood Bank.
January 9, 2013 (Anza Borrego) – Daren Sefcik photographed these spectacular images in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. This endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep ram was spotted in a canyon between Potrero and Squaw canyons near Agua Caliente campground. “We were out backpacking for four days through there, “Sefcik says. He also captured this beautiful sunrise over Whale Peak, photographed from Fish Creek.
SIX BRUSH FIRES CAUSED BY SHOOTING FIREARMS IN EAST COUNTY; CAL FIRE ASKS BLM TO BAN SHOOTING DURING FIRE SEASON
By Miriam Raftery
July 22, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Revelations that six wildfires in the past six weeks have been caused by recreational shooting in East County has caused a firestorm of controversy.
Cal-Fire, joined by residents of Dulzura, Potrero and other areas bordering the Otay Wilderness area have asked the federal Bureau of Land Management to ban shooting on its properties within San Diego County for the duration of this year’s expected severe fire season.
Update 5:30 p.m. This fire was contained at 8 acres, Cal Fire reports.
June 17, 2012 (Potrero) - Cal-Fire is on the scene of a 6-acre brush fire on Potrero Valley Road in Potrero, Incident Page Network reports. The fire is reportedly spreading at a slow rate of speed. Watch for update soon.
March 8, 2012 (Potrero) – The SNAP (Spay Neuter Action Project) Mobile Veterinarian staffed bus will be at the Potrero Library, 24883 Potrero Valley Road, in Potrero on March 16th and 17th. The project provides spay and neutering services for low income pet owners as well as good Samaritans with feral cats in traps.
By Miriam Raftery
March 7, 2012 (Potrero) – Richard Fox has been arrested after a homemade cannon that he fired killed his girlfriend, Jeanette Ogara, 38, at her Potrero residence.
According to Sgt. David Martinez with the San Diego Sheriff’s Homicide Detail, rural deputies from the Campo/Tecate substation responded to an assault with a deadly weapons report at a residence in the 2400 block of Potrero Valley Road yesterday shortly after midnight. They found the victim fatally wounded from shrapnel fired by the cannon.
History comes to life in upcoming December events
August 24, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – A brush fire that started south of Highway 94 along the Bell Valley Truck Trail near Potrero this morning charred approximately 20 acres, Cal Fire reports.
A quick response that included 7 engines, 5 fire crews, 3 helicopters, 4 air tankers and 125 firefighters swiftly contained the blaze.
By Miriam Raftery
May 15, 2011 (Potrero) – Local elected officials have reacted with outrage to news that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has sent a letter demanding money back from victims of the Harris Fire. ECM reported on May 12 that Donald and Veronica Lytle of Potrero are among 5,500 disaster survivors nationwide who have been ordered to repay disaster payments.
A FEMA representative who declined to be named admits to ECM that none of these requests involve fraud, but rather errors that FEMA says its representatives made.
Now, Supervisor Dianne Jacob has pledged to contact FEMA and federal officials on behalf of the victims. In addition, Jan Hedlun, an elected member of the Potrero Planning Group, has sent a letter to FEMA urging that the demand be dropped--and providing an eye witness account of horrific conditions during the firestorm.
Harris Fire survivors among thousands nationwide ordered to return money to FEMA
By Miriam Raftery
May 12, 2011 (Potrero) – Donald and Veronica Lytle are stunned after receiving a letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) demanding that they return all of the $1,647.43 that FEMA paid them in 2007 for cleanup and temporary lodging after their home on Potrero Valley Road was damaged in the Harris wildfire. FEMA has offered no explanation for the demand, other than stating that the entire amount was an “overpayment.”
The Lytles say FEMA insists their home did not suffer fire damage--despite mounds of ashes blown inside and a hole knocked in the roof by a tree felled during a firestorm so extreme that it fueled its own weather system.
ECM editor Miriam Raftery visited Potrero during that firestorm and concidentally, interviewed the Lytles’ next-door neighbor—witnessing firsthand the devastation clearly caused by the horrific wildfire.
By Billie Jo Jannen
Firefighters shoot back at border fire
September 29, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) -- A Mexican fire that threatened the border area between Castle Rock and Bell Valley over the weekend was turned back handily at the border fence Sunday night by a line of firefighters armed with a variety of ignition devices.
That’s right—I said ignition devices.
September 2, 2010 (Campo) – A strike team of firefighters is staging at Star Ranch for structure protection, aiming to halt the 200-acre Cowboy fire at the outskirts of the Ranch before it can reach the Campo Hills housing development. The fire is burning in a northeast direction.
“A large water bomber just flew overhead,” Christy Scott, editor of the Alpine Sun, informed East County Magazine. Lake Morena provides an accessible source of water for water-dropping aircraft, she added.
Story and photos by Miriam Raftery
August 29, 2010 (Jamul) – “This is the most unusual ribbon-cutting I’ve ever done,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob declared, moments before driving a vintage 1907 REO car through a red ribbon at yesterday’s ceremony honoring the state’s declaration of Old Highway 94 as a historic highway. The event was held at Simpson’s “Garden Town” Nursery in Jamul—starting point for this weekend's motorist adventures.
To participate, just stop by the Nursery to pick up a map with a list of discounts and free items offered by merchants along the route, then present the flyer to shops and restaurants along the drive from Jamul to Boulevard today.
By Dinah Saur
April 1, 2010 (Potrero) – Two years after Blackwater USA withdrew its proposal to build a private military base in Round Potrero Valley, the property owner welcomes a new version of black water on the site.
November 30, 2009 -- East County Roundup includes the most important stories about San Diego's eastern regions, or stories relevant to our readers, that are published by other media. Top stories from the past month include:
- Bilbray Billing Bilbray: North County Congress member pays his wife from campaign coffers
- SD Retailers Pleased with Early Black Friday Results
- 70% of Local Sex Offenders Live Too Close to Parks, Schools
- Thrift Store to Leave Downtown El Cajon
- Anderson Defends Mailer Touting Bill
- 'They're Looking at Impending Doom' - If California exacts the worst possible cuts on schools, San Diego Unified literally has no idea how it can balance its budget.
- Bankruptcy an Option, Says Mayor's Fiscal Task Force
- Cuyamaca College Names Its New President
- San Diego State Athletic Director Jeff Schemmel Resigns Amid Controversy
- Potrero Preschool Reopens After 2007 Harris Fire