Communities

WELCOME, RURAL RESIDENTS!

Our Rural section covers most San Diego County's inland communities south of I-8  to the border including Alpine, Barrett Junction, Boulevard, Campo, Deerhorn Valley, Dehesa, Dulzura,  Jamul,  Japatul, Lake Morena, Otay,  Potrero, and Spring Valley. 


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WELCOME, MOUNTAIN DWELLERS!

Our Mountain Living section covers the mountain communities in San Diego's East County north of I-8 including Aguanga, Cuyamaca, Descanso, Guatay, Julian, Mount Laguna, Pine Valley, Ranchita, Ramona, Santa Ysabel, Shelter Valley and Warner Springs.


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WELCOME, DESERT DENIZENS!

Our deserts section covers the Anza Borrego Desert State Park and the communities of Borrego Springs, Ocotillo, Ocotillo Wells and Jacumba.


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WELCOME, SANTEE & LAKESIDE RESIDENTS!


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EL CAJON POLICE ARREST MAN WITH ILLEGAL WEAPONS CACHE

By Miriam Raftery

January 22, 2021 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Police officers conducting a traffic stop in the 1200 block of Main Street led to the arrest of Neil Alequin, 37, of El Cajon on numerous charges of possessing illegal weapons and drugs.

A probation search of his vehicle and residence found numerous weapons including six illegally possessed handguns (several loaded), illegal high-capacity magazines, various calibers of ammunition, parts and machining equipment used to assemble illegal firearms, several stun guns, brass knuckles, and a pistol suppressor. The search also found narcotics.


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HOW THE PANDEMIC LED TO HORSES AND SECOND ACTS

By Mimi Pollack
 
January 22, 2021 (El Cajon) -- 2020 was a strange, difficult, and even transformative year for so many. In my case, the pandemic made me feel very mortal and I decided to start checking things off my “bucket list.” First up was going back to horseback riding after 20 years of not riding or being in the horse world.

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MAN ARRESTED FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER; WOMAN ASSAULTED WITH WRENCH IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

January 22, 2021 (El Cajon) – A man who allegedly assaulted a woman walking in El Cajon by striking her in the head with a wrench has been arrested and charged with attempted murder.

On January 20 at 10:37 a.m., El Cajon Police officers and paramedics responded to a report of assault with a deadly weapon in the 800 block of Fletcher Parkway. The suspect,  Christian Fernando Graciano, fled on foot and was arrested nearby.


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CHP ISSUES "SNOW ETIQUETTE" GUIDELINES

East County News Service

File photo by Billy Ortiz

January 22, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- With heavy snow forecast in our local mountains over the next several days, the California Highway Patrol asks the public to practice good “snow etiquette” when visiting the Mount Laguna/Julian area.

The advisory aims to protect public safety, assure that travelers have chains or snow tires, respect private property, and help keep our mountain areas clean for residents. Law enforcement will be present enforcing these guidelines and laws.


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HUMBERT CABRERA FACES POSSIBLE OUSTER OFF EL CAJON PLANNING COMMISSION

By Miriam Raftery

January 22, 2021 (El Cajon) – The January 26 agenda for the El Cajon City Council includes a proposal to remove Planning Commissioner Humbert Cabrera over alleged conflicts of interest and ethical concerns.

According to a report by Mayor Bill Wells and Mayor Pro Tem Gary Kendrick, the City Council has received complaints about Cabrera in emails and public comments.  The report raises three main areas of concern.


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HEAVY SNOWFALL FORECAST FOR MOUNTAINS, POSSIBLE FLOODING IN URBAN AREAS

File photo: San Diego County snow plow in the Laguna mountains

January 22, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Two cold winter storms are forecast to sweep into our region.  The first will bring widespread rain this weekend with snow at higher elevations. The second, a much stronger storm, is forecast to bring heavy rains and possible urban flooding, also dropping the snow level down to below 3,000 feet in mountain and high desert areas Monday and Tuesday.

The first storm Friday night and Saturday could bring 1 to 5 inches of snow and possible thunderstorms. Storm two could bring up to 10 inches of snow in the mountains as well as heavy rainfall downpours in urban areas. Both storms will also bring gusty southwest winds and near-gale force winds over coastal waters as well as high surf and hazardous marine conditions.


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FIREFIGHTERS SAVE HOMES, HALT CAMPO FIRE IN SPRING VALLEY

Story and photos by Josh Stotler

January 20, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – At 12:42 pm today, firefighters were called to the corner of Campo Road and CR17 for a wind driven brush fire that immediately threatened homes and property across from Skyline Church near the boundary of Spring Valley and Rancho San Diego.


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MISSING SPRING VALLEY WOMAN IN RED SUBARU FORRESTER

Update 8:54 p.m.:  Sally Yako has been found and is home safe with her family, Sgt. Hettinger has advised ECM.

Photo: Red Subaru Forrester, similar to vehicle driven by Sally Yako

By Miriam Raftery

January 20, 2021 (Spring Valley) – The Sheriff seeks public help to find Sally Yako, who has dementia and epilepsy. She left her Spring Valley home around 1 p.m. yesterday, driving her red 2008 Subaru Forrester (license 6KFX846).  She crossed into Mexico at San Ysidro and was seen returning to the U.S. through the same port of entry at 8:51 p.m. last night, says Sgt. Michael Hettinger.


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BRUSH FIRE THREATENS HOMES IN RANCHO SAN DIEGO

Update 3:40 p.m.:  Forward spread of the fire has been stopped at 15 acres, per Cal Fire.

January 20, 2021 (Rancho San Diego) -- The #CampoFire in Rancho San Diego poses an immediate structure threat along Avenida Roberta x Calle Los Arboles in the Rancho San Diego neighborhood in unincorporated El Cajon, Cal Fire reports. Campo Fire was reported just before 12:45 p.m. in an area near Jamacha Road and Campo Road

Evacuate if in the area or if you feel threatened. A temporary evacuation point for the #CampoFire is at the Edwards Cinema parking lot at 2951 Jamacha Rd.

The fire has charred about five acres as of 1:15 p.m.

Viewl life feed courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News: https://www.pscp.tv/10News/1lDxLpQynmyxm


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ARREST MADE IN RAMONA SHOOTING

East County News Service

January 19, 2021 (Ramona) – Ramona resident Elias Ruiz, 32, was arrested yesterday on suspicion of murder.  The identity of the victim, a man found shot in the 700 block of Main Street around 12:30 a.m. yesterday, has not been released pending family notification.

Sheriff's deputies and officers with the California Highway Patrol responded to a report of the shooting. They attempted lifesaving measures until relieved by fire personnel. Unfortunately, the victim was pronounced deceased at the scene.


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MARKETINK: EL CAJON COUNCILMAN RETIRES FROM MARKETING CAREER TO PURSUE FORENSIC GENEALOGY

By Rick Griffin

Reprinted from Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

January 18, 2021 (El Cajon) - As a young man in his 20s, Steve Goble set a goal to retire from work on his 60th birthday and devote the rest of his life to public service.


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: WINTER BLACKBERRIES

January 15, 2021 (Mt. Helix) -- Global warming and climate change are affecting growing seasons.  ECM editor Miriam Raftery was surprised to find ripe blackberries in mid-January in her backyard on Mt. Helix in unincorporated La Mesa. Blackberries normally ripe in midsummer and go dormant in winter, but this vine never lost its leaves.

Several readers have shared that they were startled by mid-winter harvests of peppers and tomatoes this month.


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DRIVER SUFFERED MEDICAL EMERGENCY BEFORE DEADLY CRASH AT IN-KO-PAH

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo California Scenery, Credit: Rebecca Person
 
January 16, 2021 (In-Ko-Pah) – Shortly after noon yesterday, California Highway Patrol units and fire personnel responded to a call requesting medical assistance on I-8 west near the Old Highway 80 undercrossing at In-Ko-Pah.
 
An investigation found that the driver, 54, from El Cajon appeared to have stopped his 2015 Volkswagen Passat on the shoulder after suffering an unknown medical condition. However, he failed to place the vehicle in park before taking his foot off the brake, says Officer Travis Garrow with the CHP. The vehicle drafted left across both freeway lanes into brush in the center media.
 
Passengers extricated the driver from the vehicle and attempted live-saving procedures. The vehicle caught brush on fire and the Volkswagen was soon fully engulfed.

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PASSAGES: GOODWILL EXECUTIVE FROM LA MESA DIES OF COVID-19

East County News Service

January 16, 2021 (La Mesa) – Bob Kruse, 62, a La Mesa resident who oversaw over 50 local Goodwill sites as Director of Facilities, has died of COVID-19.


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SANTEE COUNCIL SETS FANITA RANCH ELECTION FOR NOV. 2022, ALSO APPROVES DIVERSITY PROGRAM

By Mike Allen

January 15, 2021 (Santee) -- Santee residents will get a chance to vote on the Fanita Ranch project, but will have to wait until November 2022 to do so.

At its Jan. 13 meeting, the Santee City Council voted 4-0, with Mayor John Minto absent, to place the controversial 3,000-unit residential development on the next regularly scheduled city election rather than rescinding its earlier approval vote for the project or setting a special election. According to the county Registrar of Voters, a special election would cost the city about $850,000.

This wasn’t what the Council originally intended. In September the board approved a slew of amendments to the Fanita Ranch Specific Plan and approved the project in a 4-1 vote, with former Councilman Stephen Houlahan opposed.


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EL CAJON SEEKS APPLICANTS FOR CITY’S PERSONNEL COMMISSION AND OVERSIGHT COMMITTTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY FINANCING

Source: City of El Cajon

January 14, 2021 (El Cajon) -- The City of El Cajon is currently accepting applications for one position on the Personnel Commission and three on the Public Safety Facility Financing Oversight Committee. The filing period is open though Monday, February 1, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.

City Council interviews via Zoom will be held on Tuesday, February 9, 2021, at 7:00 p.m.

Applications are available in the City Clerk's Office and on the City's website. For additional information, please call the City Clerk's Office at (619) 441-1763.

Personnel Commission

Vacancy: One (1) Commissioner

Duration: Four-year term to expire on January 31, 2025


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BICYCLIST AND MOTORCYCLIST KILLED IN CRASH ON OTAY LAKES ROAD

By Miriam Raftery

January 14, 2021 (Jamul) – A deadly collision on Otay Lakes Road in Jamul on January 10th shortly before 10 a.m. claimed the lives of a motorcyclist and a bicyclist.

The victims are identified as Jonathan Michael Charbonnet, 43, and Julias Kim G. Cunanan, 40, both of Chula Vista.  Charbonnet was riding a motorcycle eastbound when for unknown reasons, he struck Cunanan, who was riding with a group of bicyclists


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HELP SOUGHT TO FIND MAN LAST SEEN AT SYCUAN CASINO IN DECEMBER

By Miriam Raftery

January 14, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – The San Diego Sheriff’s department seeks public help to locate Matthew Patton, 30. He was last seen on Dec. 10 around 7 p.m. leaving Sycuan Casino Resort in unincorporated El Cajon.

According to the Sheriff’s department, Patton met a friend the day before at Viejas Casino & Resort in Alpine. The pair later met up at Sycuan, where Patton reportedly stayed and continued gambling.

Patton was last seen walking toward Dehesa Road. He was wearing a white Nike hoodie and dark jeans.


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NEW RANCHO HELIX DE ORO FIRE SAFE COUNCIL OFFERS FIRE-SAFE TIPS

By Miriam Raftery

January 14, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) --Under the authority of the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County, the Rancho Helix De Oro is a newly formed fire safe council dedicated to educating and preparing our community in order to avoid devastating fires. The group has created an educational fire-safe flyer  (click link to view flyer) with information including tips for fire safety, an evacuation map, who to call during an emergency, and how to get emergency notification for the communities of Rancho San Diego, Mt. Helix and Casa de Oro.

The new group was formed with support from then-County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, the Grossmont-Mt. Helix Improvement Association, Valle de Oro Planning Group, Casa De Oro Alliance, and community members in collaboration with San Miguel Fire and Rescue, Cal Fire, San Diego County Sheriff, San Diego Gas & Electric, and the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County.


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SANTEE COLLABORATIVE LAUNCHES NEW CAMPAIGN PROMOTING DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION

Source: Santee Collaborative
 
Photo: Rebecca Jefferis Williamson
 
January 13, 2021 (Santee) – The Santee Collaborative, a one-stop resource center for Santee students and families, has launched a new campaign to reflect and educate people about Santee’s changing demographics.
 
“The city is experiencing a positive change in demographics that make it a much more diverse community than in the past,” a press release from the Santee Collaborative states.
 
The student population for Santee School District reflects growing diversity with only 54% white, not Hispanic (CDE, Dataquest). The white population includes Middle Eastern families, and it is estimated that Middle Eastern students make up between 4-5% of the students in the school district. These are students whose first language is Arabic, Kurdish, Chaldean, Farsi, Hebrew, or Assyrian. There are 29 languages spoken by families who attend Santee School District from all over the world.  This makes Santee a very diverse community with students of different races, ethnicities and religions all living together. 

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VOEPEL STATEMENTS ON CAPITOL INSURRECTION PROVOKE CALLS FOR EXPULSION OR RESIGNATION

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via a recent "Tea Time" video for the Tea Party on Assemblyman Voepel's Facebook page

January 13, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) --  Days after insurrectionists violently took over the nation’s capitol, threatening lives of legislators and resulting in five deaths including a police officer, statements made by East County Assemblyman Randy Voepel are drawing sharp criticisms, including calls for his resignation or expulsion from the Legislature.

Voepel, also a former Santee Mayor, said of the insurrection, “This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny. Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear-in on January 20," the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on January 10.

That prompted numerous posts on the Republican Assemblyman’s Facebook page overwhelmingly condemning his statements, including several calls for him to resign and an organization that promotes national security after 9/11 urging the Legislature to expel Voepel.


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FORMER SANTEE COUNCILMAN HOULAHAN WILL RUN FOR CONGRESS

By Mike Allen

Stephen Houlahan, the former Santee Councilman who lost to Mayor John Minto in November, announced he’s running for the 50th Congressional District in a race two years down the road.

The seat was won in November by Republican Darrell Issa , who beat out Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar by about 28,000 votes or an 8 percent margin.

Through a spokesman, Houlahan, a registered nurse and political independent, said he intends to register as a Democrat, and expects to come in the top two in a primary in March 2022.

Among the main reasons for his decision was the terrible way the federal government has handled dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, said spokesman Bobby Borisov.


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TREES REMOVED FROM ALPINE’S SOUTH GRADE CURVE TO IMPROVE VISIBILITY FOR MOTORISTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  South Grade Road before the S curve near Scenic View Park

January 12, 2021 (Alpine) – In response to complaints over obstruction of visibility for drivers, several large trees have been removed from the s-curve on South Grade Road in Alpine near the intersection with Scenic View. A smaller oak tree growing below power lines was also taken out, confirms Hector Licon Jr., vegetation manager for the County Public Works Department.


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PRO-TRUMP DEMONSTRATORS CLASH WITH ANTI-FASCIST COUNTERPROTESTERS IN SAN DIEGO

By Miriam Raftery

Photo,left: Counterprotester sprays a pro-Trump demonstrator; screenshot via ECM news partner 10 News

January 12, 2021 (San Diego) --  A clash between self-described pro-Trump “patriots” and counter-protesters who claimed to be part of the antifascist “Antifa” movement on Saturday in Pacific Beach turned violent, 10 News, the Los Angeles Times and Fox 5 report.

The demonstration occurred days after pro-Trump demonstrators seeking to block election certification stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent rampage that left a police officer and four insurrectionists dead, the Capitol ransacked and legislators terrorized.

But this time, multiple media outlets on scene report that the violence was instigated by anti-fascist counter-protesters. On social media, some counter-protesters have claimed the protesters included white supremacists and fascists.


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PASSAGES: KELLY LYNNE CAMERON, MEDICAL WORKER AND ROLLER DERBY PLAYER, KILLED WHILE JOGGING IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Kelly Lynne Cameron with her husband, Tom Hovde, via GoFundMe

January 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – A 54-year-old woman killed while jogging in her La Mesa neighborhood has been identified by the  county medical examiner as Kelly Lynne Cameron. A GoFundMe site set up to help her family indicates she was a front-line medical worker and athlete.


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