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EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE COLUMNISTS


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FROM THE FIRE CHIEF’S CORNER: ‘TIS THE SEASON -- FOR RATTLESNAKES

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

Photo:  rattlesnake, creative commons by NC-ND
 
April 30, 2021 (San Diego) -- I’m not talking about those “special” people in your life that slither around ready to take a swipe at you!
 
April and May mark the beginning of rattlesnake season which continues through the summer months. At one point or another, while hiking or depending upon where you live, you’ve probably encountered them at least one time. Unless you’re one of those odd people who seem to like getting startled by a rattler, encountering snakes is not a pleasant experience for most.

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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: RESPONSIBLE BEVERAGE SERVICE DURING A PANDEMIC

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

April 14, 2021 (San Diego) - Now that San Diego County has entered the Orange Tier, East County bars are opening and restaurants are expanding their operations. While this gives the food and beverage industry an opportunity to bounce back from extended pandemic closures, we have to be vigilant about the overservice of alcoholic beverages. It may be tempting to encourage an extra drink sale here and there to recoup some of the lost business revenue, but continuing to pour for customers who are clearly intoxicated or selling to the under-21 crowd isn’t helpful to the customer or the business.


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CHIEF’S CORNER: NATIONAL PUBLIC SAFETY 911 DISPATCHERS WEEK

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
 
April 13, 2021 (San Diego) -- The National Public Safety Dispatchers Week is celebrated every second week of April each year. This week April 11-17, 2021 aims to honor all 911 Fire/Police/Paramedic Dispatchers & Staff whose work is involved in public safety communication. This weeklong event gives recognition and expresses gratitude to all those people dedicated to saving the lives of the people.
 
Understanding the Job of a 911 Dispatcher
Most of the time, people have no idea how hard the job of emergency communicators is. They carry a great responsibility because they are the first line of hope or defense for those people in need. They are the first ones to get in contact with people who are in danger. If you still have not fully realized that yet, then it is all the more reason for you to celebrate this week.

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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: EQUITY, PUBLIC HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS

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

 

March 31, 2021 (San Diego) -- When it comes to adverse mental health conditions related to COVID-19, younger adults, racial and ethnic minorities, essential workers and unpaid adult caregivers report having more increased substance use and mental health issues than others who are not listed in those categories.


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EARTHTALK®: BESIDES GENERATING SEASONAL ALLERGENS, DO ANY PLANTS ACTUALLY REDUCE AIR QUALITY OR CAUSE AIR POLLUTION?

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

March 27, 2021 (San Diego) -  Dear EarthTalk: Besides generating seasonal allergens, do any plants actually reduce air quality or cause air pollution? -Mike T., San Juan, Puerto Rico


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BIRD TALK: CINNAMON TEAL AT SANTEE LAKES

By Greg Dunne                                           

March 14, 2021 (Santee) - The ducks are out at Santee Lakes. Santee Lakes is a great place to do some bird watching, get a walk in, or of course do some fishing. And, if you are birding, maybe get a chance to see a Cinnamon Teal.

Of all the lakes out in the East County, I think the one with the largest population of ducks is Santee Lakes--from the Mallards, Northern Shoveler and Wood Ducks, to the American Wigeon. Plus you are guaranteed to always find the American Coots hanging out with the ducks. Santee Lakes is one of my favorite places to bird watch because of the wide diversity of species ranging from Osprey and Peregrine Falcons to Snowy Egrets and Great Blue Herons, Belted Kingfishers as well as Western Kingbirds. An estimate of over 200 species can be seen in a calendar year at Santee Lakes.


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BIRD TALK: AMERICAN COOT

By Greg Dunne 
                                                 
March 14, 2021 (East County Lakes) - The crazy old Coots are out. No, no, no, I’m talking about the American Coot (Fulica americana), also known as the Mud Hen. And yes, that’s where the origin of the affectionate term “old coot” came from. By the 1700s, the term “old coot” was often used for “a harmless, simple person.” 

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FROM THE FIRE CHIEF’S CORNER: SPRING FORWARD INTO SAFETY

Spring Into Safety!

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

March 8, 2021 (San Diego) -- March 14th is Daylight Saving Time. Setting the clock forward means it’s time to check the clock and move it forward one hour. But for a spring clean safety check, make your “hot lap” around the home, why not take a little extra time for a short safety checklist?


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: DRUG TAKE BACK DAY BECOMES YEAR ROUND

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

David R. Shorey

February 16, 2021 (San Diego) -- San Diego Sheriff’s stations and headquarters have been available for more than a decade for disposal of unused prescription medication. There are 26 such drop-off locations throughout San Diego County and the program has collected over 100,000 pounds of prescriptions so far. For some, going to a law enforcement location to dispose of prescription drugs can be an uncomfortable experience. So the potential of medication being flushed down the drain or falling into the hands of those other than prescribed is heightened. This poses an environmental threat and a deadly threat, especially to youth.


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ECO-FRIENDLY WAYS TO INCREASE HOME VALUE

By Sam Bowman, EarthTalk

February 7, 2021 (San Diego) - The housing market has never been in a greater state of flux. The pandemic has lowered interest rates and increased home values in never-seen-before ways. In addition, in spite of the coronavirus — and at times because of it — many have made moves for both professional and personal reasons.


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: LEGALIZED MARIJUANA’S UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

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

 

January 27, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- In June of last year, Sheriff’s deputies raided six illegal cannabis dispensaries in Lakeside, unincorporated El Cajon, and parts of the City of San Diego seizing more than $221,000 in cash, six firearms and more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana, marijuana edibles and concentrated cannabis. 


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FROM THE FIRE CHIEF’S CORNER: A PERSONAL POLICY FOR THE NEW YEAR

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

January 18, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- The New Year brings more than just champagne and fancy parties — it's also when we start a new fire recruit academy.


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FROM THE FIRE CHIEF’S CORNER: SHAKE THAT TREE – AS IN PROMPTLY REMOVE CHRISTMAS TREES TO PREVENT FIRES

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

December 27, 2020 (San Diego) -- If you’re having trouble parting with your Christmas tree, here’s a fact to motivate you: One-third (33 percent) of U.S. home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January. With this potential fire hazard in mind, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) strongly encourages everyone to remove Christmas trees from their homes promptly after the holiday season.


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: METH STRIKE FORCE REPORT CARD ASSIGNS FAILING GRADE

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

 

December 15, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- East County’s reputation is pretty solid when it comes to open space, small town living and friendly people. But when it comes to methamphetamine use, it’s a different story. San Diego County was identified as the “meth capital of the world” in the 1980s and 1990s in large part due to the proliferation of meth producing labs across the East County. Local elected officials and law enforcement struggled to keep up with the fallout. They established the Meth Strike Force in 1996 to address the problem. And while San Diego County is no longer the meth capital, the problem still persists in East County.


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DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: TOP FESTIVALS AND EVENTS NOV. 22-DEC. 25

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- This special edition of Destination East County features seasonal and holiday events, real and virtual, to brighten up your holiday season even amid a pandemic. Many are online, others are drive-through or provide social distancing and other precautions to celebrate the season in festive outdoor settings.

Events coming up include a virtual version of the Mother Goose Parade in El Cajon, “a satirical play titled "November" produced online by San Diego’s Trinity Theatre, fireworks for Santee's 40th birthday celebration, a drive-up holiday bonfire in Lemon Grove, La Mesa’s Holiday in the Village complete with craft market, Santa at the Lakes in Santee, the Enchanted Village drive-through holiday lighting extravanganza at Noah’s Homes in Spring Valley,  more  holiday lights at Starlight Circle and Lantern Crest in Santee, a Thanksgiving Turkey Bash and Christmas with the Animals at Lions, Tigers and Bears in Santee, plus real and virtual visits with Santa Claus via Parkway Plaza in El Cajon.

Scroll down for full details on all of these fun and festive holiday season happenings.


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: RISE IN FENTANYL DEATHS BRINGS NEW FOCUS TO OPIOID EPIDEMIC

Deadly counterfeit pills mimic common prescription medications

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

November 17, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- It was his birthday and 22-year-old Vista resident Zach Budlong decided to meet up with some friends at a beach party to celebrate. Furloughed from his job because of COVID-19 and impacted by a reduction in unemployment benefits, Zach looked to the gathering as a way to celebrate and let off some steam. 


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EARTHTALK®: ARE WE BURYING OURSELVES IN PPE WASTE?THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON OUR WASTE STREAM COULD LAST DECADES

By Louise Willis

November 9, 2020 (San Diego's East County) - Dear EarthTalk: What’s the environmental impact of all the single-use PPE we are throwing away now in huge numbers as a result of responding to the COVID-19 crisis? —Jay M., Cary, NC


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: EXPANDED DINING COULD LEAD TO EXPANDED DRINKING

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

Photos courtesy Creative Commons

October 24, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Drive down any busy street in an East County community and you’re bound to see people eating in a parking lot, on the sidewalk or even in the street. It’s a popular new thing we do to try to keep our favorite restaurants open during a pandemic. It also runs the risk of unintended consequences.


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: SEPTEMBER IS SUICIDE PREVENTION AWARENESS MONTH

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

 

Photos courtesy of the National Institute of Mental Health

 

September 12, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- When the San Diego County Suicide Prevention Council sent an invitation to its monthly meeting in August, it came with a request.


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES

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

 

August 31, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- One of the lessons the past six months have taught us is that stress, trauma, and the environment that we are in can have significant emotional, psychological and physical impacts on us. Adults will often talk about the resiliency of kids in dealing with stress and trauma, but the reality is that certain childhood experiences lay the foundation for a lifetime of struggles on a person. For our East County kids to grow up to be healthy adults with long life expectancy, the first thing we need to do is eliminate or at least minimize their adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).


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EAST COUNTY EATER: LE BON BO-BEAU REOPENS IN LA MESA

 

By Henri Migala

 

August 23, 2020 (La Mesa) - After being closed for several months, BO-beau in La Mesa has re-opened with reconfigured sitting areas that not only conform to mandated social distancing guidelines, but in an elegant way actually enhances the sense of intimacy for diners and patrons.

 

A member of the Cohen restaurant group, BO-beau is located in the historic downtown village in La Mesa.  The website describes the restaurant as where “Bohemian-chic meets industrial elegance.”  That is probably an accurate description when all sections of the restaurant are open, but with only the outdoor seating areas being available, the full experience of ‘Bohemian-chic and industrial elegance’ is replaced more by a comfortable, delightful and stylish experience of open-air garden dining.


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CHIEF’S CORNER: HAVE A DRINK ON ME

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
 
August 25, 2020 (San Diego) -- It’s hot outside, so make sure you stay hydrated. Give the yard a break, but don’t cut back on yourself. Dehydration occurs when your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should. Dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe, based on how much of your body's fluid is lost or not replaced. Severe dehydration is a life-threatening emergency!
 
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty until you drink water. Stay one step ahead of the thirst and drink water throughout the day. Don’t rely exclusively on thirst to tell you when you need to grab something to drink. Sometimes thirst is not a reliable gauge, especially when you’re exercising, on a working incident, training or if you’re taking medications or have a health condition.
 
Keep a water within reach — at all times. Do you take regularly rehab breaks during an incident? Make sure you do! Keep water at moderate temperatures. You drink more fluid when it’s just the right temperature, not too hot and not too cold. Beware of certain energy drinks. Popular energy drinks are very different from sports drinks. They are full of caffeine and sugar, and can be dehydrating instead of thirst-quenching.

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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

REAL ESTATE REALITY: BEING A BUYER IN A SELLERS MARKET-- WHY HAVING YOUR OWN AGENT CAN PAY

By Maryanne Jackson, Real Estate Broker, CNE, CPRES

Photo:  Creative Commons, Free Stock

August 25, 2020  (El Cajon) -- Dear Maryanne,

My mother and I are interested in purchasing a home. We have concerns with the inventory being at an all-time low. Will this have an impact on our ability to get an offer accepted if we sign on with a buyer’s agent?

Are there any advantages for us to consider hiring an agent or are we better off just winging it on our own? -- M.M. El Cajon, CA


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EARTHTALK®: IS DEET SAFE?

From the Editors of E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Is DEET natural and is it safe to use topically as a mosquito repellent? And which formulations and concentrations are advised?-- M. Frey, Milwaukee, WI

August 1, 2020  -- DEET (short for “diethyltoluamide”) is a synthetic compound invented by the U.S. Army in 1946 that can be applied topically to repel mosquitos, ticks, fleas, chiggers, leeches and other biting insects. Unlike other repellents which actually deter bugs with smells they don’t like—or even kill them on contact—DEET just makes it harder for pests to smell us so they are more likely to leave us alone.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC STRATEGIES STRIVES FOR EQUITY

By David R. Shorey, East County Program Manager, Institute for Public Strategies
 
Photo:  Approach to Community Transformation (ACT) Model, courtesy IPS
 
July 16, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- For almost 30 years, the Institute for Public Strategies (IPS) has been a partner with neighborhood and community groups focused on improving public health and safety. Our local, national and international efforts have resulted in meaningful changes in the systems that most directly affect people.

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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

REAL ESTATE REALITY: BUYERS' MARKET OR SELLERS' MARKET?

By Maryanne Jackson

Photo via CC Free Stock

July 8, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Dear Maryanne,

We are wondering what type of housing market we are currently experiencing.

Is this a good time for buyers or best for sellers?

M.M., Spring Valley, CA


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CHIEF’S CORNER: BEAT THE HEAT – AND CHECK THAT BACK SEAT

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

July 6, 2020 (San Diego) -- The dog days of Summer have arrived. And the bad news it, it looks like more is in store this week with a long hot summer ahead.Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle.

Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day. Studies have shown that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults.

Safety tips concerning children include but are not limited to:


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EARTH TALK: ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE--A BLACK LIVES MATTER PRIORITY

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss, EarthTalk

Photo:  Air pollution and rollbacks to environmental protections and regulations make it hard for black people to breathe,” says Robert Bullard, the “father of environmental justice” and founder of the non-profit National Black Environmental Justice Network (NBEJN). Credit: Pexels.com

June 19, 2020 (San Diego) - Dear EarthTalk: Is there any overlap between the #BlackLivesMatter and Environmental Justice movements? -Jennifer B., Athens, GA


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: ABC, ALCOHOL AND PANDEMIC

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

June 11, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- When alcoholic beverage delivery and curbside pick-up became an option in the East County and the rest of California during the COVID-19 pandemic’s stay-at-home order, it provided licensed on alcohol businesses affected by the order an expanded source of revenue. But whatever benefits the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC) relaxation of liquor laws had financially for business owners, it negatively impacted alcohol harm prevention efforts to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors and those prone to binge drinking.


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