El Cajon

I-8/SR-67 FULL WEEKEND CLOSURES PLANNED FOR JUNE 11 AND JUNE 18

Weekend detours may cause traffic delays for El Cajon drivers

Source: Caltrans

June 1, 2021 (El Cajon) --  Crews have started bridge repairs at Interstate 8 and State Route 67, requiring two full weekend closures from Friday at 9 p.m. through Monday at 5 a.m., on June 11 and June 18, according to Caltrans.  Motorists are encouraged to avoid the area if possible and to prepare for delays by allowing additional travel time to reach their destinations.


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DRIVER MAY FACE CHARGES IN DEATH OF MOTORCYCLIST, 23, IN EL CAJON

The El Cajon Police Department reminds drivers to be on the lookout for motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, and to share the road.

By Miriam Raftery

May 30, 2021 (El Cajon) –  A 23-year-old man has died after being struck by a white Chevrolet truck at 8:00 Friday morning in El Cajon. El Cajon Police officers and paramedics from Heartland Fire Department treated the victim at the crash site in the 200 block of North Johnson Avenue but he was pronounced dead at the scene.


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PADRE DAM SEEKS PUBLIC INPUT JUNE 3 ON FUTURE PLANS

By Miriam Raftery

May 28, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- Padre Dam Municipal Water District is currently working on its upcoming Strategic Plan and 5-Year Business Plan. The agency seeks community input during a virtual community workshop on Thursday, June 3rd.


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EL CAJON DINNER AND A CONCERT RETURNS: FRIDAY NIGHTS STARTING JULY 2

By Miriam Raftery
 
May 26, 2021 (El Cajon) – Get ready for some rockin’ hot summer music concerts – with dancing.  El Cajon’s Dinner and a Concert Summer Series returns starting Friday, July 2. Concerts will run each Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. from July through October.

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SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT USES GENETIC TECHNOLOGY TO SOLVE COLD CASE MURDER BASED ON BODY PARTS FOUND IN RANCHO SAN DIEGO DUMPSTER

By Alexa Oslowski

 

View press conference video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0OPcNHNh70

 

Photo, left: Laurie Diane Potter, murder victim 

May 25, 2021 (San Diego) - The Sheriff’s Office has solved a cold-case murder from 17 years ago, where two human legs were found in a dumpster on Hilton Head Way in Ranch San Diego. Authorities used investigative genetic genealogy to identify the victim and track down her killer. 


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JUDGE BLOCKS BADGER’S PLACEMENT AT MT. HELIX; JONES BILL WOULD LIMIT STATE DUMPING OF VIOLENT SEX OFFENDERS IN EAST COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

May 22, 2021 (Mt. Helix) – Residents on Horizon Hills near Mt. Helix are reveling in a ruling by Superior Court Judge Theodore Weathers which blocks the state from placing Douglas Badger, a sexually violent predator (SVP) in the community. Earlier this month, another judge blocked placement of a second SVP, Merle Wakefield, at the same site.

The residents have announced a "Super Victory Party" on May 31 to celebrate keeping their neighborhood safe.


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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.


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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?


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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.  


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.”


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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.


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FATAL TWO-VEHICLE COLLISION IN DOWNTOWN EL CAJON

East County News Service
 
May 2, 2021 (El Cajon) — El Cajon Police Department seeks witnesses to a fatal crash that occurred yesterday morning around 7:29 a.m. at the intersection of East Main Street and Avocado Blvd.

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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.”

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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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. 


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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.

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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.


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