El Cajon

TEEN WHO WORKS IN EL CAJON HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE MAY 10

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

May 22, 2021 (El Cajon) -- Demitri Machhour, 18, left his worksite in El Cajon on May 10 and has been missing ever since. Machhour, a triplet, was last seen leaving for a lunch break from his workplace, East County Pre-Owned Superstore, presumed to be heading to Parkway Plaza shopping mall.

He is 5’8,” 130 lbs., a Moroccan-American with brown hair and brown eyes.  He was wearing a green baseball cap and green pants with a black t-shirt and a black hooded jacket as seen in the picture.

He left his belongings in his car and vanished.

 He recently moved here from Arizona.

READER'S EDITORIAL: THE PEOPLE VS. SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATORS: THE COUNTY NEEDS TO DO ITS JOB

By Kathleen Hedberg, PE, MPH

May 17, 2021 (San Diego) - Whenever there’s a news report that a sexually violent predator is proposed to be placed in a community, the neighbors are always outraged – even though a Superior Court judge has heard the evidence and determined the person is safe to be conditionally released. Then why are the neighbors so upset?

EAST COUNTY LAGS BEHIND ON VACCINATION RATES, BUT RURAL AREAS ARE UNCOUNTED

Data raises troubling rural/urban equity disparity in vaccine distribution 

By Miriam Raftery

May 17, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – COVID-19 Vaccination rates in East County communities are significantly below the county average – but most rural, mountain and desert communities haven’t even been documented.  

SUPERVISORS VOTE 3-2 TO BLOCK EVICTIONS; LANDLORDS SUE COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Supervisor Joel Anderson organized a press conference opposing the measure

May 15, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – An association representing landlords has filed a lawsuit against San Diego County and County Supervisors, one week after the Supervisors voted 3-2 to enact a temporary ban on most evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

East County Supervisors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond opposed the measure, with Anderson joining several East County city officials in a press conference speaking out on behalf of rental owners. Supervisors Nathan Fletcher, Nora Vargas and Terra Lawson-Remer voted in favor of the ordinance, which drew nearly five hours of impassioned testimony on both sides.

WESTBOUND HIGHWAY 94 CLOSED SUNDAY THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHTS FROM AVOCADO BLVD. TO KENWOOD DRIVE

Source: Caltrans

May 14, 2021 (Spring Valley) -- Crews will close all lanes of westbound State Route 94 (SR-94) from Avocado Boulevard/Calavo Drive to Kenwood Drive Sunday through Thursday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., according to Caltrans. The westbound SR-94 nightime closures include the on-ramp from Avocado Boulevard/Calavo Drive, the off- and on-ramps at Sweetwater Springs Road/Campo Drive, and the Kenwood Drive off-ramp.

GROUND BROKEN FOR SECOND PHASE OF GROSSMONT COLLEGE SCIENCE, MATH AND CAREER COMPLEX

Source:  Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

May 13, 2021 (El Cajon) - With the turning of shovels at a groundbreaking ceremony this morning, construction has officially begun at Grossmont College on the second phase of a science, math and career technology complex, which will also house a new Veterans Resource Center.

THREE STUDENTS IN EL CAJON WIN SCHOLARSHIPS FROM NORTH ISLAND CREDIT UNION

East County News Service

Photo:  scholarship winner Grace Freeman, Grossmont High School 

May 13, 2021 (El Cajon) -- North Island Credit Union has awarded 10 scholarships of $1,000 each to college-bound students in San Diego and Riverside Counties in its annual College Scholarship Program. The winners include three students in El Cajon:  Grace Freeman and Mirfit Mohammad at Grossmont College, as well as Sergio Garcia at Granite Hills High School.

EVACUATION ADVISORY LIFTED FOR COCHES FIRE

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photo, left, taken by John Margolin from his home near the #CochesFire.

Update 5:35 p.m.:  The evacuation advisory has been lifted and the evacuation center at W.D. Hall Elementary has been closed.

Update 5:10 p.m.:  Cal Fire reports the fire's forward spread has been stopped at 30 acres; it is 5 percent contained. No structures have been damaged or destroyed.

 

May 12, 2021 (Lakeside) – The #CochesFire that started  along I-8 east, south of Los Coches Road in Lakeside, has grown to 30 acres.  Evacuation warnings have been issued for the area and anyone wishing to evacuate can go to WD Hall Elementary School at 1376 Pepper Drive in El Cajon.  There are no mandatory evacuation orders as of 4:40 p.m.

The fire is burning at a moderate rate of spread and moving toward the Walmart and Valleyview Truck Trail.  Air tankers, helicopters and multiple fire engine are battling the blaze.

The right lane of I-8 is blocked by the brush fire and traffic is backed up to state route 67/Magnolia exit. Expect delays of up to a half hour, KUSI reports.

SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR WAKEFIELD PLACEMENT DENIED BY JUDGE HARUTUNIAN

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Merle Wakefield, via San Diego Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Task Force

May 10, 2021 (Mt. Helix) -- A San Diego Superior Court judge ruled today that a home in unincorporated El Cajon near Mt. Helix house is not an appropriate location to place a sexually violent predator (SVP).

Superior Court Judge Albert T. Harutunian III said that the house at 10957 Horizon Hills Drive is not appropriate to place sexually violent predator Merle Wade Wakefield. The judge indicated he will deny the placement because the neighborhood is too dense, and the house is too close to other homes with children, according to a press release issued by the Grossmont-Mount Helix Improvement Association (GMIA).

“It is not a safe placement for the community,” Harutunian said.

EAST COUNTY PEOPLE’S FORUM CITES DISPARITIES IN VACCINE ACCESS, CONCERNS OVER REDISTRICTING

By Briana Gomez

May 9, 2021 (El Cajon) - The East County People’s Forum launched by the East County Justice Coalition took place over Zoom on May 4, 2020. The Coalition launched a call for transparent & inclusive city planning in El Cajon.

EAST COUNTY CONCERTS, FESTIVALS AND CAR SHOWS COME ROARING BACK

By Miriam Raftery

May 9, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – As COVID-19 restrictions ease, some East County cities and organizations have announced plans to restart community events after a year of shutdowns.

SUPERVISORS APPROVE ANDERSON MEASURE TO IMPROVE NOTIFICATIONS TO COMMUNITIES REGARDING SEX OFFENDERS

By Miriam Raftery

May 9, 2021 (San Diego) – San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a measure to increase public notification regarding locations of registered sex offenders and proposed placements of sexually violent predators in communities. Supervisor Joel Anderson introduced the measure, which was amended at the request of Supervisor Jim Desmond to also include Native American communities.

Anderson says that existing notifications “do not provide adequate notice to communities where sex offenders will be located.” In a written statement to the board, Anderson indicated that after sending questions to the District Attorney and Sheriff regarding the placement process and notification procedures, “there are inconsistencies and omissions in the answers we received.”

BUTTERFLY RELEASES RETURN TO WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN IN MAY AND JUNE

East County News Service

May 5, 2021 (El Cajon) – Butterfly season is back.  The Water Conservation Garden invites you to release your very own butterfly each Saturday in May and June from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at its Dorcas E. Utter Butterfly Pavilion and Native Habitat Garden.

SUPERVISOR ANDERSON CALLS FOR REFORMS IN PLACEMENT OF PREDATORS AND COMMUNITY NOTIFICATION

Update May 9, 2021: Supervisors unanimously approved Anderson's proposal.  Read our follow-up coverage.
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: map shows disproportionate number of sex offenders placed in East County
 
May 1, 2021 (El Cajon) – Community members held another rally April 28 at Wells Park to oppose the proposed placement of Merle Wakefield and Joseph Badger, both sexually violent predators (SVPs), at 10957 Horizon Hills in unincorporated El Cajon.  Now Supervisor Joel Anderson has announced he will introduce a directive at next week’s County Board of supervisors meeting instruction County Council and the Chief Administrative Officer to fully investigate what he calls “inexcusable and irresponsible weaknesses in the County’s current policies for the notification and placement processes for sex offenders and Sexually Violent Offenders.”

EL CAJON OPENS NEW BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM MAY 3

East County News Service

 

Photo: Creative Commons image via Bing

 

April 30, 2021 (El Cajon) -- On April 27th, the El Cajon City Council voted to allocate a portion of the American Recovery Act funds to support local businesses. $5 million has been designated to the El Cajon Business Grant Program where business owners may select from one of two options and receive up to $15,000 in grant funding.

NEW DOG PARK IN EL CAJON AWARDED PROJECT OF THE YEAR

Source:  City of El Cajon

April 28, 2021 (El Cajon) - The American Public Works Association has named the City of El Cajon’s North Marshall Dog Park as its Project of the Year. The dog park, located adjacent to the El Cajon animal shelter, creates a new space for gatherings and activities.

THE SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL PASSED MEASURE C, BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR EAST COUNTY?

By Briana Gomez

Photo: Juan Alaric, General Manager, Courtyard Marriott El Cajon

View video:  https://youtu.be/1l8_SdyFlYs

April 27, 2021 (San Diego) -- The San Diego City Council voted 6-3 earlier this month to affirm Measure C, bypassing voters in the 2020 election. 

Measure C is a measure that increases hotel taxes to expand the convention center and provide support for homeless initiatives.

BUILDING COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS VIA HOOPS

Story and photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

April 27, 2021 (El Cajon) Helping to build community relationships via a game of hoops, the El Cajon Police Department’s team played a team of kids at the East County Transitional Living Center on Monday, April 19. The center houses formerly homeless families transitioning to begin new lives.

THE WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN REOPENS FOR PUBLIC ACTIVITIES

Story and photos by Alexa Oslowski

Click to view a video tour by Angela Kurysh including full interview with Pam  Meisner, or view the embedded video below this story.

April 24, 2021 (El Cajon) - The Water Conservation Garden, a beautiful and serene East County treasure located on Cuyamaca College’s campus, is open to the public for educational and recreational enjoyment.

The Garden hosts events for people of all ages. Adults can enjoy outdoor yoga classes, educational workshops and online seminars. Children can spend time with Ms. Smarty-Plants, a character created by the Director of Operations Pam Meisner.

THOUSANDS OPPOSE PREDATOR PLACEMENTS ON HORIZON HILLS: MONDAY DEADLINE TO OPPOSE SECOND PROPOSED RELEASE

By Miriam Raftery

April 23, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Thousands of residents signed petitions, sent letters and/or testified against placement of sexually violent predator Douglas Badger at 10957 Horizon Hills in unincorporated El Cajon. Public officials also spoke out to oppose the plan. While the community awaits the judge’s decision on the proposed release of Badger, which would be supervised by Liberty Healthcare, placement of a second SVP, Merle Wakefield, at the same address has triggered new outrage and a planned rally tomorrow to oppose the action.

The community plans a “Sexual Violent Predator Placement Protest” on Saturday, April 24 at 3 p.m. in the cul-de-sac at Horizon Hills Drive and Estates Way.  Comments on placement of Wakefield are due by April 26 and can be sent to sdsafe@sdsheriff.org or by calling (858)495-3619.  Residents may also contact Governor Gavin Newsom to ask that he issue an order requiring Wakefield and Badger be housed in a trailer at a state correctional facility instead of at the Horizon Hills site near Mt. Helix.

VALHALLA GIRLS' LACROSSE GOING STRONG

East County News Service

Photo:  sophomore Riley Shaw scores against Ramona. 

April 22, 2021 (El Cajon) - The Valhalla girls' lacrosse team is off to an impressive start to the 2021 season. The East County team has won five of their first six games, with their lone defeat coming in an overtime thriller at Mission Bay. 

THREE FINALISTS SELECTED FOR GROSSMONT COLLEGE PRESIDENCY

Source: Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District
 
Photos: Grossmont Community College finalists for president, alphabetically (L-R): Dr. Marsha Gable, Dr. Mary Gutierrez, Denise Whisenhunt, J.D.
 
April 18, 2021 (El Cajon) – Three educators with extensive experience working at community colleges have been chosen as finalists to be the next Grossmont College president.

25TH ANNUAL GROSSMONT COLLEGE LITERARY ARTS FESTIVAL APRIL 26-29

Source: Grossmont College

April 18, 2021 (El Cajon) -- The Grossmont College Literary Arts Festival has special reasons to celebrate its April 26-29 run: its 25th anniversary and its return after a one-year COVID hiatus.

THE MAD ONES: MUSICAL MEMORIES THROUGH APRIL 17

By Kathy Carpenter

April 13, 2021 (El Cajon) - Do you miss the live musicals? I do. I miss the music. We can never have too much music in our lives. It brings us joy and makes us happy. Grossmont College’s Stagehouse Theatre is serving up a dose of joy.

GROSSMONT COLLEGE STREAMS THE MAD ONES APRIL 8-17

By Kathy Carpenter

April  2, 2021 (El Cajon) - One of the things that has suffered greatly during the past year is live theatre at all levels. Over the past several months, many theatres have turned to streaming as an alternative to provide you with a form of entertainment, give a few people in the business a little work and serve as fundraisers to keep theatres afloat until they can get back to live performances.  Grossmont College’s Stagehouse Theatre needs your support. The theatre will be streaming "The Mad Ones," a musical coming to your home/device April 8-17, 2021.

THE CONRAD PREBYS FOUNDATION AWARDS $25,000 TO ST. MADELEINE SOPHIE'S CENTER

Source: St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center

 

Photo:  Artist Kristin McKenney shares her woven bookmark with other artists at one of the evening Art Social hour classes.  Kristen used a cardboard loom kit from the Galley to make her brother-in-law this bookmark.

 

April 1, 2021 (El Cajon) -- St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center (SMSC), a nonprofit organization that serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has been awarded a grant from The Conrad Prebys Foundation for $25,000. The grant is designated towards Sophie’s Gallery Virtual Art Program. SMSC was among 121 local arts, education, health, and science projects to receive a combined $78 million in grant funding from The Conrad Prebys Foundation’s inaugural grant cycle. 

HEARING APRIL 20 ON PROPOSED RELEASE OF SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR IN EL CAJON NEAR MT. HELIX

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photo courtesy of San Diego Sheriff’s department

 

Public comments accepted through April 9

 

March 30, 2021 (El Cajon) – The state has proposed releasing Douglas Badger, a sexually violent predator, into a supervised home at 10957 Horizon Hills Drive. The site is just east of Avocado Avenue in unincorporated El Cajon, near Mt. Helix.

TEEN ARRESTED FOR FATAL PEDESTRIAN COLLISION IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

March 25, 2021 (El Cajon) – El Cajon resident Reeta Mansour, 19,  has been arrested and charged with gross vehicular manslaughter, felony hit and run, and reckless driving causing injury or death. The charges stem from a crash on March 12th on South Anza Street in which Mansour allegedly struck and killed a pedestrian, also hitting a parked car.

Officers responded shortly before 10 p.m., along with paramedics, to a report of a vehicle striking a parked car.  The officers found a pedestrian in a yard nearby who allegedly had also been hit by the vehicle. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

SUSPECT ARRESTED FOR SERIES OF VIOLENT ASSAULTS IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

March 24, 2021 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Police have arrested 28-year-old Isaiah Ugaitafa for violent assaults in which he broke down the front doors of homes and attacked two residents, says Lt. Randy Soulard. He is charged with three felonies: hot prowl burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, and elder abuse.

On Friday, March 19 at 2:15 p.m., officers responded to a home in the 400 block of South First Street, where a man had been seen by several residents acting strangely and talking to himself. A short time later, the suspect was seen breaking down the door of an elderly man’s home and attacking the senior with a metal pole, striking him in the face before fleeing the scene.

Pages