El Cajon

CYT SHUTS DOWN ALL LOCAL PROGRAMS INDEFINITELY AMID STORM OF SEXUAL ABUSE COMPLAINTS

By Miriam Raftery

July 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – After numerous former students alleged sexual abuse by instructors, Christian Youth Theater posted yesterday on its Facebook page, “As of today, CYT San Diego social media will no longer be active since we will not be holding any programming or reopening until further notice. Please visit our website at www.cytsandiego.org to contact us directly if you have any questions or statements. We are here to listen. We are here to learn. We love and support our ENTIRE CYT family.”

100 YEARS STRONG, ARTIST PHEBE BURNHAM’S WORKS TO BE DISPLAYED AT SOPHIE’S GALLERY



By Miriam Raftery

July 24, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – On July 26, Descanso artist Phebe Burnham will celebrate her 100th birthday.  A restrospective display of her vibrant oil paintings, pastels and mixed-media creations can be viewed at Sophie’s Gallery in El Cajon from now through September 9th.  Several can been seen online and many more can be viewed in-person at the gallery at 140 East Main Street in El Cajon.

Born at the dawn of the Roaring ‘20s in the U.S. and the Mexican Revolution in Mexico, Burnham has painted scenes and people in both Mexico and the U.S., including her rural Descanso community. 

 

SIGNS OF THE TIMES: TWO DOWNTOWN EL CAJON BUSINESSES CLOSE

By Robert Gehr

Photography: Robert Gehr

July 23, 2020 (El Cajon) -- On my walk this morning, I noticed two businesses in downtown El Cajon closed and nearly emptied of furnishings.  Both Rock a Betties Beauty Salon and Thrill Seekers have closed these locations, with rent signs in the windows.

Thrill Seekers, a retail establishment at 164 East Main Street, still has a website. A second location at 1421 Woodside Ave. Suite C, Santee remains open for customers. The owner of Thrill Seekers told ECM's editor that relocating to Santee was not related to the pandemic and that his business is "doing just fine."

State and county mandated closures due to the COVID-19 epidemic may have played a role in the permanent loss of Rock A Betties Beauty Salon at 158 E. Main St. El Cajon, a long-time fixture in the community. The shop has has taken its website down and the phone is disconnected.

SHERIFF'S DEPUTY, EX-SANTANA BASEBALL STAR ACCUSED OF MOLESTING THREE MINORS

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego News Association

Photo:  Jaylen Fleer, shown pitching for Santana High School in a March 2011 game against Helix Charter High School, also played football for the Sultans. Photo by Chris Stone

July 23, 2020 (Santee) - A San Diego County sheriff's deputy who once starred for Santana High School in baseball and football was behind bars Thursday on suspicion of a series of child molestation charges in Chula Vista.

CHRISTIAN YOUTH THEATER IN SPOTLIGHT FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ABUSE OF STUDENTS AND RACIAL BIAS

By Miriam Raftery

File photo, left: CYT’s 2014 performance of Les Miserables on Mt. Helix

July 23, 2020 (El Cajon) – Christian Youth Theater (CYT) a national junior theater organization based in El Cajon, is now in the spotlight over allegations by former students of sexual abuse and racism dating back decades. 

MOTORCYCLE PASSENGER DIES AFTER ROLLOVER IN EL CAJON

East County News Service

July 20, 2020 (El Cajon) – A passenger on a Harley Davidson motorcycle has died following a rollover crash July 18 on Piping Rock Lane around 9:30 p.m. While passing a vehicle parked on the shoulder, the driver of the motorcycle lost control, causing it to roll over and crash into the parked vehicle.

Both the driver and passenger were ejected onto the roadway. They were not wearing helmets and both suffered major injuries. Both were transported to hospitals, but despite lifesaving efforts, the passenger was pronounced dead at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

EMERGENCY SLEEPING CABINS ON AGENDA FOR EL CAJON PLANNING COMMISSION JULY 21

By Miriam Raftery

Photos: Screenshots, NBC7: an emergency sleeping cabin in City Heights built by Amikas

July 15, 2020 (El Cajon) – Last year, the nonprofit Amikas built an emergency sleeping cabin as a demonstration project at a church in El Cajon. The group hopes to win city approval to allow similar units to be used to temporarily house homeless people, particularly women, including women veterans, amid the COVID-19 pandemic when local shelter space in East County is insufficient.

MURDERED WOMAN LED COUNTY FOSTER PARENT ASSOCIATION IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

July 16, 2020 (El Cajon) – Debbie Stolz, President of the San Diego County Foster Parent Association based in El Cajon, was murdered along with her daughter on Sunday at a home in Otay Mesa. The loss of Stolz has sent shockwaves through local communities and the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. Stolz worked  for over 20 years as a trainer for parents with Grossmont College’s Foster, Adoptive & Kinship Care education program.

“Deb played an integral role in the program through her training and support to countless resource parents for foster youth in San Diego County,” says Sally Cox, CEO of the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges, in an email to staff.  Stolz Stolz was a long-time employee for the Foundation.

EL CAJON STARTS SMALL BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM, ALLOWS BUSINESSES SUCH AS BARBERS, SALONS AND RETAILERS TO MOVE OUTDOORS

City also weighs possibility of allowing city parks, such as Prescott Promenade (photo) downtown, to be used for outdoor faith services and business operations

By Kendra Sitton

July 14, 2020 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon City Council today unanimously approved a plan to allocate almost $2.5 million for a Business Grant Program benefitting primarily nonessential businesses forced to close during the pandemic.

The city also took action to help many businesses and activities move outdoors, after the state shut down many indoor operations due to a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

FATAL PEDESTRIAN COLLISION IN EL CAJON

East County News Service
 
July 9, 2020 (El Cajon) – An elderly man was struck by a vehicle yesterday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in the 500 block of North Second Street in El Cajon.  He was treated at the scene and transported to a hospital by Heartland Fire Department medics, but died at the hospital.
 
According to Lt. Jason Taub with the El Cajon Police Department, a preliminary investigation and interviewing witnesses indicates that a silver Ford F-150 was traveling southbound on North Second in the left-hand turn lane, when the pedestrian was “illegally crossing from west to east between stopped vehicles.  The driver of the Ford had a green light and the pedestrian stepped in front of his moving vehicle and was struck.”

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: RACCOON IN THE HEART OF EL CAJON

East County News Service

July 6, 2020 (El Cajon) - Robert Gehr sent in this photo of  a  masked intruder – a raccoon—that visited the grounds at his apartment complex in the heart of downtown El Cajon.   

 Raccoons are nocturnal, omnivorous, can grow up to 60 pounds and can run up to 15 miles per hour. This particular night visitor was attracted by cat food left out by a neighbor, Gehr said.

http://naturemappingfoundation.org/natmap/ca/facts/mammals/raccoon.html

$500 REWARD FOR DOG LOST DUE TO FIREWORKS: CHECK THESE SITES IF YOU HAVE A LOST OR FOUND PET

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 5, 2020 (El Cajon) – Each year, more pets go missing on July 4 than any other night of the year. Fireworks the last two nights locally frightened many dogs and cats, prompting some to run off and become lost. Pawboost has now set up lost and found pet sites on Facebook for local communities to help reunite lost pets with their owners. 

EL CAJON ADDS SEWER TAXES ONTO COUNTY PROPERTY TAX BILLS

By Miriam Raftery

July 5, 2020 (El Cajon) – The city of El Cajon has launched a public outreach strategy to educate the public about change in billing for sewer services. On May 23, the Council voted to put sewer taxes onto the County of San Diego’s property tax roll, a move that reduced the approved rate by 2%, according to a memo sent to the Mayor and City Council on July 2 from City Manager Graham Mitchell. 

WHERE TO FIND FIREWORKS IN EAST COUNTY THIS JULY 4TH

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 28, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Due to COVID-19, several of East County’s most popular 4th of July celebrations have been cancelled. But several others have revamped to provide fireworks displays with social distancing and/or virtual celebrations.

HELIX WATER DISTRICT’S ANNUAL WATER QUALITY REPORT AVAILABLE ONLINE

Source: Helix Water District

June 30, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Helix Water District’s 2020 Water Quality Report, which documents the quality of its treated water throughout 2019, is now available in English at hwd.fyi/wqr2020-english and Spanish at hwd.fyi/wqr2020-espanol.

The annual water quality report contains important information about the sources and quality of customers’ drinking water. As in years past, Helix Water District tap water met all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state of California health standards for drinking water.

AMID PANDEMIC, EL CAJON ENDS LEASE WITH CRISIS HOUSE, PUTTING SERVICES FOR HOMELESS PEOPLE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS AT RISK

By Miriam Raftery

“It’s very likely that we won’t be able to provide the same level of service that we do today….The County has no walk-in services for the homeless, and pretty soon that’s going to be the way it will be in El Cajon.” – Mary Case, Executive Director at Crisis House (photo, left)

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon’s City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve an early lease termination agreement to oust Crisis House from city-owned property at 1034 Magnolia Ave. For the past 26 years, the city has leased the property to Crisis House for a dollar a year, recognizing the value to the community of the services provided by Crisis House, which has a mission to “break the cycle of poverty, domestic violence and homelessness and strengthen families and individuals so that they can thrive and transform their lives.”

The city wants Crisis House gone from is current location near the new Hampton Inn hotel.  So the Council-approved measure offers Crisis House $700,000 if it vacates the property by September 30th. That amount diminishes to just $350,000 by year’s end and $150,000 by March 31, or zero if Crisis house remains until the lease expires on June 30, 2021.

But Mary Case, Executive Director of Crisis House, says that’s not enough time to find an affordable space, adding that the action will almost certainly mean major cuts in services.

ILLEGAL POT SHOPS RAIDED NEAR SCHOOLS AND HOMES

East County News Service
 
June 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – More than a thousand pounds of marijuana products, six firearms, and over $221,000 in cash were seized Thursday following search warrants served at six illegal dispensaries and three homes. The raids took place in Lakeside, unincorporated El Cajon and the city of San Diego, conducted by investigators from the county Sheriff’s department and San Diego Police.

EL CAJON VOTES TO INCREASE FUNDS FOR POLICE DEPARTMENT

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon City Council members received hundreds of comments sent via email on the city’s proposed budget, nearly all weighing in on police funding following a nationwide wave of protests over police violence and racial injustice issues.   

Many of the commenters argued for “defunding” or shifting some funds away from police into investments in the community or alternatives to handle mentally ill and homeless people, though many others voiced support for El Cajon Police and supported raising the department’s budget.

The Council unanimously voted for a $120,000 increase for the police.

“The motivation is to keep all the citizens safe,” Councilman Gary Kendrick told ECM.

LACK OF DATA COLLECTION BLOCKS EFFORTS TO ASSESS COVID-19 IMPACTS ON LOCAL MIDDLE EASTERN COMMUNITIES

Hear our  interview with Dr. Raed Al-Naser for KNSJ radio: click here.

By Briana Gomez

Photo, left: Doris Bittar

“Arab Americans are largely considered Caucasian, other, or unknown.  We are a disappeared minority, rendering us nearly invisible in the media and in medicine.” – Doris Bittar, President, Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, San Diego chapter

June 25, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Minority communities across the US are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. For example, nearly 67% of cases in San Diego are among Latinos and Hispanics, who comprise only 30% of the population, according to County Health Department  figures as of June 20.  But a lack of data on Arab and Middle Eastern Americans makes it impossible to accurately assess impacts of the pandemic on this population locally and nationally.

Audio: 

CAJON VALLEY UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT’S BUMPY ROAD TO A NEW SCHOOL YEAR DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

June 24, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The Cajon Valley Union School District Board of Trustees has approved a plan to re-open its 27 schools this fall, after going to a state-mandated distance learning program in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The final plan approved by the board on June 11, however, looks different from what had been envisioned by the district’s Superintendent, Dr. David Miyashiro. The original plan would have had students continue to use internet teleconferencing exclusively, as they have been since mid-March.

However, after documents from a private meeting involving some 40 district employees at the Marriott Coronado Resort and Spa on June 6 and 7 were leaked to parents and to East County Magazine, Miyashiro’s vision began to unravel. Some 100 parents throughout the district quickly organized and descended on school district headquarters on June 9 for what was supposed to be a one hour board workshop to approve the measure.

EL CAJON EASES REQUIREMENTS FOR SIDEWALK CAFES AMID COVID RESTRICTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – Owners of reopened restaurant are struggling to generate profits while complying with social distancing requirements of six feet between tables due to COVID-19. Now the El Cajon City Council has unanimously voted to make it easier for eateries to expand outdoors.

The Council approved a second reading on June 23 of an emergency ordinance passed unanimously June 9. It allows restaurants to skip cumbersome conditional-use permit requirements for sidewalk dining. The new ordinance will remain in effect through the end of this year, but an extension or option to make it permanent may be considered later on.

Previously, a conditional use permit, or CUP, required extra fees and delays due to an environmental review, followed by approval of both the Planning Commission and the City Council.

EL CAJON POLICE OFFICER DIVERTS GRAFFITI ARTISTS TO CREATE PUBLIC ART

By Miriam Raftery

Photos courtesy of Officer Murphy and El Cajon Police

June 19, 2020 (El Cajon) – When El Cajon Police Officer Michael Murphy found three youths spray-painting “peace” and “BLM”, he created a teaching moment.  “I explained to them that by doing that, their message gets lost and destroys another person’s property. So I decided instead of arresting them we would work together to fix the damage and work on an area where they can post their message,” he posted on Facebook.

So he arranged to meet up with them, get plywood and find a place for them to express their views and creativity in a positive way - as well as having them lend a hand to clean up the defaced property. The result is a work of art showing talent and the power of working together for creative solutions to conflicts.

GROSSMONT COLLEGE HIRES MARSHALL T. FULBRIGHT III AS VICE PRESIDENT OF ACADEMIC AFFAIRS

Source:  Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

June 16, 2020 (El Cajon) - Grossmont College announced today that it will hire Marshall T. Fulbright III, Ed.D., as its new vice president of academic affairs. Fulbright will join the college on July 1.

EL CAJON FIRE KILLS TWO DOGS; THC EXTRACTION LAB FOUND ON SITE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News

June 14, 2020 (El Cajon) – A fire last Wednesday that killed two dogs at 1660 Via Elisa in El Cajon started in the bedroom and back deck. The cause is “most likely accidental,” with “no evidence of a criminal cause” despite a THC butane oil extraction lab found on the premises, says Greg Hampton with the San Diego Sheriff’s department.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: DANCING COWBOYS AT TEXAS ROADHOUSE WELCOME BACK CUSTOMERS


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery 

June 12, 2020 (El Cajon) - Texas Roadhouse restaurant in El Cajon is back open after the COVID-19 shutdown and already drawing a wait list.  Arrive before five for some great dinner specials.  I got a tender BBQ pulled pork dinner with all the fixings for just $10.99, chilling out with an Armadillo Punch.

As an added bonus, enjoy some dancing cowboys and cowgirls -- actually the wait staff, kicking up their heels with some Western-style line dancing. Yeehaw!

ILLEGAL BONFIRES HEIGHTEN RISKS AS FIRE SEASON ARRIVES: CAL FIRE HALTS BURN PERMITS

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo by Paul Kruze, left:  Bonfire in Rancho San Diego ignited nearby foliage, prompting fire crews to respond.

June 12, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Cal Fire has banned burn permits effective immediately, as temperatures rise across our inland region. The no-burn proclamation will remain in effect indefinitely.

Two recent illegal bonfires in a single night swiftly burned out of control recently, prompting responses by firefighters witnessed by this ECM journalist. Those incidents highlight the dangers of open burning, as temperatures rise and brush dries out across our inland region with summer drawing near.

WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN REOPENS IN MID-JUNE: BUTTERFLY RELEASES PLANNED

East County News Service
 
June 11, 2020 (El Cajon) -- As of June 15, The Water Conservation Garden reopens for members and reopens to the public on June 16, but with a small admission fee for non-members. All visitors in June will receive free ice cream and popsicles, as well as having the opportunity to visit the Dorcas E. Utter Memorial Butterfly Pavilion to view butterflies throughout June. Butterfly release dates are planned June 15, 19 and 27.

CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT STUMBLES IN PR SNAFUS OVER RACIAL SLUR, SECRET MEETING AT CLOSED HOTEL, AND PLANS TO KEEP SCHOOLS CLOSED THIS FALL DESPITE MANY OBJECTIONS

Board to decide future use of distance learning technology at 1 p.m. today; Superintendent apologizes over staff comments

Story and photos by Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

June 11, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The Cajon Valley Union School District’s carefully controlled public relations moat has been seriously breached over the past week with embarrassing social media comments, news of secret district meetings, and documents accidentally shared by a district employee, as reported by San Diego television and newspaper media outlets.  

One report was about a CVUSD school district employee and the revelation of a document of a secret meeting held over the weekend involving Dr. David Miyashiro and four district Trustees (except not Jill Barto) at the shuttered Marriott Coronado Resort and Spa.

The district also had two protests by parents yesterday outside district headquarters, one over racism concerns raised by staff comments, the other objecting to a district plan to continue distance learning instead of in-person classes this fall -- a vote delayed until an emergency session convening this afternoon after parents raised vigorous objections.

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