Communities

VIDEO OF THE MONTH: FOODIE FEST DRAWS HUNGRY CROWD IN EL CAJON

October 21, 2021 (El Cajon) -- Visitors to El Cajon's first-ever Foodie Fest on October 9 had an opportunity to savor flavors from an array of restaurants and caterers, featuring cuisines from around the world.

East County Magazine intern Cristina Lombardo visited Foodie Fest and created a video to document the experience. She spoke with local restarurant owners and an event organizer of the successful event.

Among the offerings were Iraqi, Afghan, Mexican, Italian, Hawaiian foods and more.  Offerings ranged from spicy entrees to healthy smoothies to rich desserts.

FEDERAL JUDGE ISSUES JUDGEMENT FOR CAJON VALLEY IN SUIT FILED BY TRUSTEE BARTO

By Miriam Raftery

October 20, 2021 (El Cajon) – U.S. District Court Judge William Hayes has issued an order ruling on behalf of the Cajon Valley Union School District and dismissed a lawsuit filed against the district in 2019 by Trustee Jill Barto. 

Barto declined comment. Her attorney, Michael Aguirre, told ECM, “We are appealing,” but did not elaborate. 

HUNDREDS PROTEST SCHOOL VACCINE AND MASK MANDATES IN EAST COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery and Henri Migala

View Zoom interview with Dr. Mark Sawyer, infectious disease specialist at Children's Hospital and advisor to the FDA, responding to parents' concerns:  https://youtu.be/qSlSxgWUQaU   

View video of protesters:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deM8NE8SWAo

October 20, 2021 (La Mesa) – Over 300 parents, teachers, staffers and students held a protest against new mandates to require vaccines in public schools and existing mask mandates.

The local protest was held Tuesday on the Grossmont bridge over Interstate-8 in La Mesa, part of a statewide school walkout day over California’s public health mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants waved flags and held signs, slowing traffic on the freeway as some motorists honked in support.

ECM spoke with several parents  regarding their concerns for their children's health, and also consulted a prominent pediatric medical expert on COVID-19 to respond to those concerns. In addition, we reached out to two East County school districts to assess the impact of the walkout on school funding and attendance.

Parents and school employees speak out; medical expert responds

$10,000 REWARD FOR IDENTITY OF SUSPECTS WHO KILLED SAILOR IN LA MESA ON APRIL 24

By Miriam Raftery

October 20, 2021 (La Mesa) – The family of Corneilius Donte Brown is offering a $9,000 reward in addition to a $1,000 reward from Crimestoppers, bringing the total to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest for his killing. 

The 22-year-old stationed at Naval Base Coronado was fatally shot by one of two men wearing ski masks and black hooded sweatshirts show came to the front door of his home on Echo Court in La Mesa on April 24 around 12:30 a.m.  

LOCAL TRIBAL MEMBERS JOIN STAND AGAINST LITHIUM MINING IN ARIZONA AND SALTON SEA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: September 30 protest at Barona reservation in Lakeside

October 19, 2021 (Lakeside) –  Members of the Barona band of Mission Indians and other tribal nations have joined a fight aiming to stop the proposed Sandy Valley lithium mine in Arizona and proposed lithium mining at the Salton Sea in California that could adversely impact Native Americans.

Local activist Bobby Wallace led a local contingency of tribal members who traveled in late September to Arizona, where the Hualapai people are battling to stop the federal Bureau of Land Management from issuing permits for lithium mining that could threaten tribal water supplies.

Participants included tribal leaders and/or tribal council members from the Hualapai Nation and the Peach Springs tribe, as well as tribal youths and members of the Yavapai Apache People, Mohawk/Oneida tribe, Pueblo, Navajo, Zuni, and San Diego County tribal members from the Kumeyaay and Luiseno, as well as representatives of other activist groups.

Lithium is prized for use in cell phones, computers, batteries and other technology devices -- but at a high environmental price for those impacted by hard-rock and open-pit mining used to extract it.  Now tribal members are urging the federal government to prioritize metal and rare earth mineral recycling over issuance of new mining permits. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that metal mining accounts for 41 percent of toxic substances released and hard rock mines may have already contaminated 40% of watersheds in the West, the Arizona Republic reported on October 2.

DIAL M FOR MURDER REVIEW : A GUILTY PLEASURE, NOW THROUGH NOV. 7 AT LAMPLIGHTERS IN LA MESA

Review By Kathy Carpenter

October 18, 2021 (La Mesa) - Is There a Perfect Crime? Lamplighters in La Mesa presents the classic "Dial M For Murder." The play is based on a 1954 movie starring Ray Millank and Grace Kelly, directed by Hitchcock--a thriller perfect for this time of year. Written by Frederick Knott, directed by Calvin Manson, the play combines to bring us a story with both plot and delicious characters--a detailed plot for murder. Will the would-be killer get away with it? 

The plot centers around a tennis star who married a wealthy socialite for her money. He can no longer play tennis and discovers his wife has cheated on him. Now he plans to murder her for her fortune. He concocts quite the plot. The man his wife cheated with is a writer, but her husband's imagination makes them equals.

PASSAGES: BILLIE FAYE OWENS, JOURNALIST IN EAST COUNTY AND SAN DIEGO REGION

East County News Service

October 18, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- Billie Faye Owens, 63, a journalist in San Diego from the mid-1980s until 1996, died at Rochester General Hospital in New York on Oct. 15 from complications from congestive heart failure.

She was taken to United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, NY, with health issues on July 26 and remained hospitalized for 81 days. At no time did she test positive for COVID-19.

She was born in 1958 in Charlotte, N.C., to Barbara Jean Carter and Billie Eugene McSwain. Her mother moved her when she was 5 to San Diego where she would eventually attend San Diego State University, earning a B.A. in Journalism.

She went to work for the Daily Californian in El Cajon, Calif. in 1989, where she met her second husband, Howard Owens, then a wire and copy editor at the Daily Californian, and currently publisher of The Batavian in Batavia, NY. They were married on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene College in 1993.

UMPIRES AND FRIENDS INVITED HONOR MIKE HART’S MEMORY NOV. 9 AT LA MESA NATIONAL LITTLE LEAGUE FIELD

By Miriam Raftery

October 17, 2021 (La Mesa) – A memorial service for long-time local umpire and newsman Michael “Mike” Jon Hart  will be held on November 9 at 11 a.m. at the La Mesa National Little League Field.  Hart spent years as an umpire behind the plate at the field where he also played baseball in his youth.  A 1970 graduate of Grossmont High, where he also coached, Hart spent decades umpiring local youth and college sports, became President of the San Diego County Umpires Association, and was inducted into the San Diego Sports Officials Hall of Fame.

“It would really mean a lot to our family, and a true honor to Mike, if we saw a lot of umpires in the audience,” says Carlynne Albee, sister of Hart’s wife, Michelle Harvey. Umpires are invited to dress in uniform as a tribute.

Hart, also known locally as the long-time publisher of the Julian News , died September 14 after battling brain and lung cancer.

GUHSD INSTRUCTOR TIFFANY JOKERST HONORED AS STATE TEACHER OF THE YEAR

West Hills High School math and aerospace engineering teacher wins California’s highest honor 

East County News Service

 

October 16, 2021 (El Cajon) - State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Friday that West Hills High School math teacher Tiffany Jokerst is one of five 2022 California Teachers of the Year.

LOCAL MOUNTAIN MEN RECREATE THE TIMES OF JEREMIAH JOHNSON IN EAST COUNTY AT THE LAGUNA MOUNTAIN RENDEZVOUS OCT. 16-17

By Henri Migala

October 16, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- If you’ve ever seen the classic 1972 movie, Jeremiah Johnson, played by Robert Redford, about the golden age of Mountain Men, you might remember the last line of the movie, “…. and some men say, he’s up there still.”

STUDIO C AND SILVER CREEK GALLERIES TO MERGE

East County News Service

October 16, 2021 (El Cajon) – Studio C Gallery is merging with Silver Creek Fine Art and Custom Framing.  Carlos Castrejon, owner of Studio C, announced that he will close his Kearny Mesa location October 31 and move services to the new location in downtown El Cajon, which is already open at 128 East Main Street in downtown El Cajon.

LA MESA COUNCIL CANDIDATES CLASH IN LIVELY FORUM HOSTED BY EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE: VIEW VIDEO

October 15, 2021 (La Mesa) -- Four candidates participated in a lively forum last night hosted by East County Magazine on Zoom and streamed live on Facebook.  Mejgan Afshan, Kathleen Brand, Patricia Dillard and Laura Lothian participated. (Note, Afshan joined a minute late and is not shown in the screenshot)

shared their diverse views on issues including homelessness, equity/police reforms and public safety,  affordable housing and development, the downtown district and neighborhood revitalization, the potential for a new library and/or community meeting space, public health mandates, the role of the new Arts and Culture Commission, and candidates' endorsements.

Each candidate gave a two minute opening statement and a one minute closing statement. (Two other candidates, Jim Stieringer and Michelle Louden, did not participate in the forum but Stieringer sent candidate information. Read more about the candidates at https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/ecm-host-la-mesa-city-council-candida... .

View forum full screen by clicking the Youtube image above or this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htVd2cSh-2E

You can also share this link on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyMagazine/videos/981838262677468

Hear radio versions of the forum broadcast on KNSJ (part 1 and part 2) by clicking the audio links below.



Audio: 

EAST COUNTY ADVANCED WATER PURIFICATION PROGRAM USES VIRTUAL REALITY VIDEO FOR OUTREACH

 

By Mike Allen

October 15, 2021 (Santee) -- The joint powers agency creating the East County Advanced Water Purification (AWP) Program is using a new virtual reality video to inform local citizens about the project as it moves toward construction.

SANTEE COUNCILMEMBERS WEIGH WHETHER TO LEGALIZE AND STRICTLY REGULATE MARIJUANA BUSINESSES

Prospect of a pro-pot industry ballot measure leaves some members fuming

By Mike Allen

Photo:  Kathleen Lippett

October 14, 2021 (Santee) -- The Santee City Council held a third workshop Oct. 13 examining whether to allow cannabis businesses in their city, while making it clear they aren’t fond of the prospect

LA MESA CITY COUNCIL APPROVES APARTMENTS ON OLD POLICE HEADQUARTERS' SITE AND CREATES COMMISSION TO SUPPORT ARTS, CULTURE

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Image, left: Artist's rendering of the apartment project slated to be built on the former police station site on Allison Avenue

Oct. 14, 2021 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa City Council voted 3-0  on Tuesday to approve  development of the old police headquarters' site, where an apartment project is slated for construction.

Mayor Mark Arapostathis, Vice Mayor Jack Shu, and Councilman Colin Parent voted in favor. Councilman Bill Baber abstained due to a conflict of interest. One seat remains vacant, with a November 2 special election set to fill the vacancy.

The council also approved creation of an arts and culture commission during the October 12th Council meeting.

In addition, Juneteenth, a new federal holiday, will now be officially observed in La Mesa, commemorating the emancipation of African Americans from slavery. The order reached Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865.

LEMON GROVE LIONS CLUB HOSTS A RUMMAGE SALE FOR SERVICE PROJECTS NOV. 6

East County News Service

October 14, 2021 (Lemon Grove) - Lemon Grove Lions Club, the nonprofit organization, is hosting a rummage sale on November 6, 2021, from 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at 7580 Roosevelt St. All proceeds will go toward Lions Club service projects. 
 
There will be plenty of pre-owned items and must-haves at affordable prices. Items will go quickly, so come early to not miss out on the great deals. The Lions will also have snacks and water for sale.  For more information, call Tobi Gary at 619-248-1387.

ECM TO HOST LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES FORUM THURSDAY, OCT. 14

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Participating candidates, left to right: Mejgan Afshan, Kathleen Brand, Patricia Dillard, and Laura Lothian

October 13, 2021 (La Mesa) – East County Magazine will host a virtual forum for La Mesa City Council candidates running to fill the vacancy left by Dr. Akilah Weber’s election to the state Assembly. The candidates will be Thursday, October 14 at 7 p.m.  It will be recorded via Zoom and livestreamed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyMagazine. A podcast will also be posted at www.EastCountyMagazine.org after the forum.

Six candidates are running and four have agreed to participate: Mejgan Afshan, Kathleen Brand, Patricia Dillard, and Laura Lothian. A fifth, Jim Stieringer, provided detailed information on his experience and goals if elected.

Find information on  these five candidates below.

ESCONDIDO RENAISSANCE FAIRE: 16TH CENTURY FANTASY WITH A PIRATE FLAIR

Event slated for Oct. 30-31 and Nov. 6-7

By Henri Migala

Photos by Mark and Miriam Raftery

October 14, 2021 (Escondido) -- What can be better than knights in shining armor, jousting, pirates, music, food and Halloween? You can have them all at the upcoming Escondido Renaissance Faire.

RAMONA ART AND WINE FESTIVAL EXPANDS TO THREE-DAY EVENT NOV. 5-7

East County News Service

October 13, 2021 (Ramona) - The 9th annual Ramona Art & Wine Festival will feature nine wineries participating in the three-day progressive event on Friday to Sunday, November 5, 6 and 7, 2021.

FROST, FREEZING TEMPERATURES TONIGHT IN MOUNTAINS AND DESERTS: SEVERE FIRE WEATHER FRIDAY

By Miriam Raftery

October 13, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – From one extreme to another, San Diego’s mountains and high deserts will have frost and freezing temperatures tonight, followed by Santa Ana winds Thursday and near-critical fire weather on Friday.

Low temperatures tonight and early tomorrow morning could dip into the mid-20s in the mountains and as low as the mid-30s in the high desert.

FUNDRAISERS LAUNCHED FOR SANTEE COUPLES WHO LOST HOMES IN FIRE CAUSED BY PLANE CRASH

By Miriam Raftery

October 12, 2021 (Santee) – The Cessna plane that crashed into a Santee neighborhood yesterday, killing the pilot and a UPS driver, also ignited fires that destroyed two homes and left one couple hospitalized with serious burn injuries.

Two GoFundMe sites have been set up to help the injured couple, Phil and Maria Morris, and their neighbors, Cody and Courtney Campbell.

CITY OF SANTEE ISSUES STATEMENT ON PLANE CRASH

East County News Service

Photo by Tom Abbott:  remnants of the Cessna that crashed into homes, killing the pilot and a UPS driver

October 12, 2021 (Santee) -- The City of Santee today issued a statement voicing sympathy for those impacted by yesterday’s plane crash, praising residents who helped save lives of neighbors, and providing updates on the situation.

Below is the statement in full:

SANTEE PLANE CRASH VICTIMS IDENTIFIED AS PILOT AND UPS DRIVER

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Dr. Sugata Das, via Yuma Regional Medical Center, and Steve Krueger, UPS driver, via Facebook.

October 12, 2021 (Santee) – The pilot in yesterday’s deadly plane crash in Santee has been identified as Dr. Sugata Das, a cardiologist from Yuma Regional Medical Center.  The hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr. Bharat Magu, described Das as an “outstanding cardiologist and dedicated family man” who “leaves a lasting legacy.”

TWO DEAD, OTHERS INJURED AFTER PLANE CRASHES INTO SANTEE NEIGHBORHOOD

By Tom and Nadin Abbott

October 11, 2021 (Santee) The call came in at approximately 12:15 p.m. to the Heartland Dispatch center. A small plane had gone down in a residential neighborhood of Santee, initally reported at 9915 N. Magnolia Ave . The plane, later identified as a Cessna 340 twin engine six-seater by the Federal Aviation Administration, crashed into at least one house that was destroyed by the impact, which was actually on the corner of Green Castle and Jeremy. Neighboring homes also suffered damage from the flames.

Two people were confirmed killed on scene and two transported to the hospital, according to Santee Assistant Chief Justin Matsushita. The injured were in the first house hit. Their condition is unknown, but they were conscious when transported.

PLANE CRASHES NEAR SANTANA HIGH FOOTBALL FIELD, IGNITES HOMES IN SANTEE

 

Bystander recounts efforts to help rescue survivors from burning home

By Miriam Raftery and Rebecca Jefferis-Williamson

Nadin and Tom Abbott also contributed to this report.

Photo, left: Screenshot off video by ECM news partner 10 News

October 11, 2021 (Santee) – A plane has crashed near Santana High School close to the intersection of Greencastle and Jeremy, setting homes nearby on fire.

Two fatalities are confirmed and two others have been transported to a hospital with injuries. 

A temporary evacuation point has been set up at the Cameron Family YMCA at 10123 Riverwalk Drive, Santee, for families displaced by the crash.

Santana High tweeted that all students are safe and a secure campus order has been lifted.Students are being allowed to leave if they have no afternoon classes.

An ECM reporter witnessed body parts on roofs and scattered across the neighborhood, adding to the trauma facing residents.

Stephanie Diaz, another neighbor, says the crash occurred at 12:12. "It was just like in the movies," she said of the sound, adding that the whole house shook. 

David Witthoft said he used to work on military jets as a mechanic. He said he was in the house when "I heard the pilot go full throttle, and then I heard it hit the ground" with a loud boom. His house filled with smoke and the stench of burning debris, he added.

Numerous homes in the area suffered damage ranging from blown-out windows to cracked solar panels, in addition to two homes destroyed by fire.

Hillcreek Elementary also alerted parents/ guardians that they were "safe and sound."

San Diego Sheriff asks that the public avoid the area. A Hazmat team has been dispatched.

There are reports of a box truck also damaged by the crash.

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