El Cajon

CAL TRANS WORKER KILLED, THREE MOTORISTS INJURED ON STATE ROUTE 94 IN EAST COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via ECM news partner 10 News

November 18, 2020 (El Cajon) –California Highway Patrol, San Diego Sheriff and San Miguel Fire Department personnel responding to a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle around 12:31 a.m. found a Caltrans worker who was unresponsive on State Route 94 east near the Avocado exit.

Other Caltrans workers told authorities that a driver traveling on the wrong site of construction cones struck the worker and dragged him approximately 40 feet, ECM news partner 10 News reports.


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SOME CHURCHES AND RESTAURANTS FLOUT RULES, OTHERS COMPLY AS PURPLE TIER SHUTDOWNS COMMENCE

 

Story and photos by Jake Rose

Miriam Raftery contributed to this report

 

Photos, left: Parishioners at Skyline Church flock to indoor services, many without masks

November 15, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Skyline Church in the unincorporated area of La Mesa and Shadow Mountain in El Cajon had full parking lots for Sunday morning services, despite new Purple Tier restrictions now in effect throughout the county.

Purple tier restrictions started at midnight Saturday, due to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. Purple tier, or Tier 1, is the most restrictive level for California and comes into play when positive tests exceed 8%. Many non-essential business operations must close, places of worship, restaurants and gyms must move all activity outdoors, and retail must cut capacity to 25%.

With businesses already struggling after the initial lockdown followed by an overall slowdown due to the public’s worry about the coronavirus, this second lockdown has some businesses and places of worship around East County flouting the new restrictions.


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SDSU WOMEN'S SOCCER ANNOUNCES RECRUITING CLASS INCLUDING POWAY AND GROSSMONT HIGH SENIORS

The Aztecs add eight newcomers for the 2021 season

Source:  goaztecs.com

Photo:  Sarah Funk via everipedia.org

November 14, 2020 (San Diego) - Mike Friesen, San Diego State head women’s soccer coach, announced the signing of National Letters of Intent from eight high school seniors--including one from Grossmont High and Poway High--who will begin competing for Aztecs in the 2021-22 school year. The announcement was made Friday.


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SUSPECT ARRESTED IN SERIES OF EL CAJON HOT PROWL BURGLARIES AND CAR THEFTS

By Miriam Raftery

November 13, 2020 (El Cajon) -- A man suspected of a series of residential hot prowl burglaries and auto thefts in El Cajon has been arrested. Davon Lee, 20, of El Cajon was taken into custody yesterday by San Diego police while in a vehicle stolen from the site of the most recent burglary.  


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SOME BUSINESSES AND CHURCHES SET TO DEFY SHUTDOWN ORDERS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo,left: Major's Diner in Pine Valley, a long-time roadside stop for travelers also popular with local residents, could not survive another shut down in winter weather, the owner says.

November 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Several East County business owners and at least one megachurch have announced intentions to defy a new state mandate to shut down indoor services starting Saturday.  In addition, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells says police in his city won’t prioritize enforcement of businesses that remain open despite public health orders.

Places of worship, gyms, restaurants and movie theaters are ordered to stop indoor operations under state mandates due to high rates of COVID-19 that have moved San Diego County into the purple tier.  Retailers are supposed to cut service to 25% capacity and any schools not yet reopened are prohibited from doing so.

Restaurants and bars have been tied to 9.2% of all COVID cases in San Diego County from June 6 through November 7, or 3,666 cases, according to newly released county health data. Even with many modifications, the most recent two weeks of data from October 25 to November 7 show 389 cases tied to restaurants and bars, or 10.01% of total new cases—more than any other specific business category.

Yet some restaurant owners say they’re done with shutdowns and would be unable to survive another shutdown as winter approaches.


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EAST COUNTY TRANSITIONAL LIVING CENTER RECEIVES LARGE BLANKET DONATION FROM SUBARU OF EL CAJON

Source: East County Transitional Living Center (ECTLC)

November 12, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., East County Transitional Living Center will be accepting a generous donation of 80 blankets from the local El Cajon, Subaru dealer. “The Center is thrilled to receive great contributions like this from a wonderful local business so they can continue to help homeless and struggling individuals in the community,” says Helen Zamora, director of development at the ECTLC.

Subaru of El Cajon is teaming up with Beantown Blankets, an organization that helps businesses and people donate blankets, beanies, bags, and more to good causes to provide the contribution of blankets. Beartown Blankets also matches whatever amount the individual or business buys to donate.

Click Read more to hear about ECTLC's mission, vision, and virtual Gala fundraiser Saturday.


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EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL EXTENDS COVID-19 RELIEF EFFORTS

Source:  City of El Cajon

November 12, 2020 (El Cajon) - On Tuesday, November 10, the El Cajon City Council unanimously approved extending the City’s COVID-19 relief measures through June 30, 2021. The relaxed rules and fees were set to expire on December 31, 2020. These measures include:


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ANDERSON TAKES RAZOR-THIN LEAD OVER VAUS IN SUPERVISOR RACE; SANTEE COUNCIL CANDIDATES ALSO IN NEAR TIE

Update November 22, 2020:  Joel Anderson now leads by 284 votes over Steve Vaus, with 7,500 ballots left to be tallied countywide.  In Santee, Dustin Trotter is ahead by just seven votes over Samantha Hurst.

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 11, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With 33,000 votes countywide remaining to be tallied, but far fewer ballots left in individual races, the latest update from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters shows several major contests in East County are still too close to call.

In the important race to fill retiring Supervisor Dianne Jacob’ district 2 seat, former State Senator Joel Anderson has taken a scant seven-vote lead over Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. 

Santee’s City Council race to fill an open seat, meanwhile, has Samantha “Samm” Hurst retaking the lead over Dustin Trotter by just two votes after being tied just one day earlier.


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HELIX WATER DISTRICT INCUMBENTS ALL WIN RE-ELECTION AFTER DISTRICT DELAYS RATE INCREASE DUE TO COVID-19

By Jonathan Goetz 
 
Photos (L – R): McMillan, Scalzitti & Gracyk (source: Helix Water District)
 
November 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – Directors Dan McMillan, Joel Scalzitti and Mark Gracyk will all return to the Helix Water District Board, after voters rewarded the incumbents for delaying rate increases due to COVID-19, when many ratepayers are struggling financially. Instead, Helix is dipping into its reserves.
 
McMillan defeated Doug Sterling with 75% of the vote.  Scalzitti took 57% of the vote in a four-candidate race, topping Vickie Knight Butcher who got 27%, Lu Tejeda 12%, and Tyler Logan 4%. Gracyk ran unopposed. 

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MOUNTAIN SCHOOLS CANCEL CLASSES, SHIFT ONLINE DUE TO FREEZING WEATHER, SNOW FORECAST, AND COVID

Districts vary in COVID response: Cajon Valley keeps schools open despite 52 cases since August

East County News Service

November 9, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Four East County school districts in mountain areas have announced temporary halts to in-person learning due to winter weather and in one rural district, COVID-19. Yet other districts continue in-person instruction despite numerous cases amid the pandemic.


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SOME EAST COUNTY RACES FLIP, OTHERS TIGHTEN IN LATEST ELECTION RETURNS

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photos by Erik Herrara:  poll worker wears protective gear during pandemic; voters head to poll on Election Day in Santee.
 
November 9, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Amid a pandemic, 80.7% of registered voters in San Diego County have cast ballots. Of more than 1.9  million registered voters, over 1.5 million have voted – and more than 1.4 million of those opted to vote by mail.  Only a little over 166,000 voted at the polls.

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CAMPAIGNING AMID A PANDEMIC: LEADING COUNCIL CANDIDATES SHARE EXPERIENCES AND GOALS

View the interview at https://youtu.be/4zjc_ssHY8g

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Former Lemon Grove Councilman George Gastil is poised to regain his seat.

November 7, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Who are the potential newest faces on East County City Councils—and what was it like to campaign amid a pandemic?

ECM invited all non-incumbents leading in East County City Council races as of November 5 for a Zoom interview to share secrets of their apparent successes and what they hope to accomplish if they win their elections to become the newcomers on local councils.


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METSCHEL AND HARPER IN NEAR DEAD-HEAT FOR EL CAJON COUNCIL DISTRICT 2; ORTIZ WINNING ELECTION HANDILY IN DISTRICT 4

Update November 9, 2020: Metschel has opened a lead of 57 votes. Letitia Dickerson has pulled into second place,with Stephanie Harper just 13 votes behind Dickerson

 

By Briana Gomez

Miriam Raftery and Jonathan Goetz also contributed to this story

Photo, Michelle Metschel (Left) and Stephanie Harper (Right)

November 4, 2020 (El Cajon) – Demonstrating that every vote counts, the top two candidates in El Cajon’s City Council District 2 were tied at 936 votes each through most of the night. This morning, Michelle Metschel has nosed ahead by a slim 44 vote margin (1,061 to 1,017) in a race that’s still far too close to call at 21.1% to 20.23%. A close third is Letitia Dickerson with 19.81 percent of votes.

 


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EARLY BELL RINGS IN EAST COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD RACES

By Robin N. Kendall

Photo via Bing

November 3, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) — It has been a topsy turvy year for everyone, especially for the area’s school children. Voters weighed enthusiasm, experience and ethics as they chose the next crew of school board trustees, who ultimately will help steer schools out of the rough seas of this quarantine.

On election night, as of early returns at 10:30 p.m., here are our observations.


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ETHICS QUESTIONS RAISED—AGAIN--OVER CAJON VALLEY TRUSTEE JIM MILLER IN REELECTION CAMPAIGN

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 2, 2020 (El Cajon) – Stacie Hoover, a candidate running for Cajon Valley Union School District board against trustee Jim Miller, says she is considering legal action against Miller for posts on Defend East County and other sites that she contends are false, defamatory, and racially insensitive.

The Defend East County (DEC) website was shut down by Facebook this week after months of complaints that include racist, violent and defamatory content, though Facebook has not stated exactly why it deleted the site. Miller, a member of the group, posted, “I appreciate your support as my opponent is a BLM backer who was recruited to run against me by the far left.”

Elsewhere, Miller for Cajon Valley School Board posted, “My opponent and her ANTIFA backers continue to tear down my signs and we continue to replace them up to the end.”

ECM asked Hoover, a retired paralegal raising a grandson in the district, about Miller's posts. She replied,“Nobody recruited me. If he has a problem with me supporting black lives, I feel sorry for him and those families in this district and the world.  I don’t have any ties to Antifa. I do not support violence or intimidation from anyone, including him. Now I know how Jill Barto feels.”

Audio: 


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LETITIA DICKERSON WANTS TO FIGHT FOR FORGOTTEN RESIDENTS IN EL CAJON’S DISTRICT TWO

 

By Miriam Raftery

View our video interview with Letitia Dickerson: click here

October 29, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Letitia Dickerson, one of six candidates running for El Cajon City Council in District two, calls the area the “forgotten district” while other parts of the city have seen growth. She pledges to make district two “unforgettable” if elected.

She missed our candidate forum because the city had an error her email address. (View forum with the other five candidates).  Fortunately, she’s reached out to ECM and conducted an interview via Zoom to talk about her goals if elected.   

According to her website, Letitia has lived in El Cajon for over 22 years and says at least 18 of those have been in district two. She was born in Jersey and calls herself “a Jersey girl with a California heart.” She’s gone from homeless to owning small businesses including a smoothie shop and gym, and now works in telecommunications.  She’s raised her children in the district and now has grandchildren here as well.  She’s an ordained evangelical and a Republican who is the coordinator of SoCal Day of Hope, a program that provides outreach and resources to people in need. She’s also volunteered with community nonprofits including Rescue Mission, Salvation Army,  San Diego Food Bank, San Diego Mentors, Promises for Kids and more.

Below are highlights from her interview.


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DIRECTOR JOEL SCALZITTI SEEKS REELECTION TO HELIX WATER DISTRICT BOARD, CITES PASSION FOR PUBLIC SERVICE

View video interview with Joel Scalzitti: https://youtu.be/-O30iV7VXKw

By Miriam Raftery

Joel Scalzitti, past president of the Helix Water Board, is running for reelection in district 5, which includes portions of El Cajon, Granite Hills, Bostonia and Lakeside. 

He’s served on the board for over 10 years, owns  local businesses including a water service company for freeway construction, a donut shop and a deli.  He also serves as a member of the San Diego County Water Authority Board and the Advanced Water Purification board. He’s also served on several Helix Water District committees, including the audit committee, water quality and resources committee, and a committee on parks. In addition, he led efforts to keep the Lake Jennings campground open.

He’s one of four candidates in the race, including Vickie Knight Butcher,  Luis Tejeda, and Tyler Logan. (View our interview with Butcher.)  Tejeda and Logan do not have ballot statements or campaign websites that we could find.

Scalzitti has depth of experience in water issues and says he has a "passion for public service."  Here are highlights of Joel Scalzitti’s responses to our questions:


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VICKIE KNIGHT-BUTCHER WANTS EQUITABLE WATER RATES IN HELIX WATER DISTRICT

 

By Miriam Raftery

View our video interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq20LfdAzpc

October 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – In a Zoom interview with East County Magazine, Vickie Knight Butcher, J.D. shared concerns over the impacts of COVID-19 on families in the Helix Water District and her hopes to make water rates equitable based on family and lot size, as well as water usage. Butcher, who has extensive state and international experience in water policy, also wants to hold down water rates and have any rate change proposals considered annually with full public input.

Butcher is running in district 5 against Director Joel Scalzitti and two other challengers who did not file ballot statements (Luis Tejeda and Tyler Logan).  ECM previously interrviewed Scalzitti; view video of his interview. District 5 covers the eastern portion of the Helix district including portions of El Cajon, Granite Hills, Bostonia and Lakeside. View map.

“I have had water as my passion for a number of years,” says Butcher. I have served on many boards and commissions at the city, county, state, national and international level…and I’m  committed to making my community a better place to live.”


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PILOT MAKES EMERGENCY LANDING NEAR SCHOOL PLAYGROUND IN EL CAJON

Photos courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
October 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – A pilot who took off from Gillespie Field for a practice made an emergency landing on a field next to a playground at W.D. Hall Elementary School in El Cajon Friday afternoon after the plane stalled. Fortunately, no one was injured.
 
The pilot told 10 News that he had been flying for decades.
 
The wing of his small plane suffered damage from hitting a fence or trees, according to eyewitness reports.

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EAST COUNTY HIGHWAY AND TROLLEY STATION UPGRADES AMONG $830 MILLION IN PROJECTS APPROVED BY CALTRANS

Source: CalTrans
 
October 24, 2020 (San Diego) -- The California Transportation Commission approved more than $830 million to repair highways and bridges and improve the state’s growing network of pedestrian, bicycle and mass transit routes. This investment includes more than $600 million in allocations for State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) projects, Caltrans’ “fix-it-first” program aimed at preserving the condition of the State Highway System.
 
“We are advancing projects that will keep our economy moving and improve access for all Californians,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “This includes improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians, expanding public transportation and helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
 
Projects approved in San Diego and Imperial counties include:

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PARKWAY PLAZA HOSTS DRIVE-THRU BOO HALLOWEEN SUNDAY OCT. 25

Drive-Thru Boo Halloween

East County News Service

October 24, 2020 (El Cajon) - Parkway Plaza, in partnership with East County Young Life and North Island Credit Union, is hosting a Drive-Thru Boo Halloween event on Sunday, October 25 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.in the outer parking lot between Dick’s Sporting Goods and Wells Fargo. This is a no -contact, family-friendly drive-thru event where guests are invited to bring their little ghosts and goblins to the mall parking lot to receive a fun Halloween treat bag. 


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HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION IN EL CAJON

East County News Service

October 24, 2020 (El Cajon) – Homicide detectives with El Cajon Police Department are investigating the death of a man in his 30s.

Officers responded to a call yesterday at 8:42 a.m. reporting a dead body inside a home on the 1100 block of Marline. They found the deceased man and determined the death to be “suspicious," according to Lieutenant Jason Taub.

No suspects have been arrested.  Anyone with information about this incident should call the El Cajon Police Department at 619-579-3300, or anonymously at Crime Stoppers, 1-888-580-8477 or sdcrimestoppers.org.


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COVID RATES REMAIN LOW IN MOST REOPENED EAST COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICTS, BUT MANY LACK TRANSPARENCY

Cajon Valley, first to reopen, has most cases.  Three other districts report cases; others lack transparency in disclosure.  

Update October 31:  The Cajon Valley Union School District has added a breakdown by schools of its COVID cases, which now number 15 students and 2 employees  (17 total) at 11 schools. 

By Miriam Raftery

October 21, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – How safe is it to send your child back to school amid a pandemic, or for teachers to provide instruction inside classrooms?

East County Magazine has checked out the websites of all districts in East County to determine how many cases have been reported at schools that have reopened thus far, and how transparent each district is in making this information easily available to parents, teachers and staff.

To date, the County Public Health Department has not reported any outbreaks (defined as 3 or more cases tied to a single location) at any East County elementary, middle, high school or community college district. However some school districts do have cases among both students and staff. It is unclear whether cases were contracted on campus, or how many others may have been exposed.

In some districts, information on schools with COVID cases are being publicly disclosed, but not in others. Asked about this discrepancy, County spokesman Michael Workman said, "A change in the order regarding schools is being discussed and may be in place soon. The state guidance referenced above covers school notification. It’s too early to say what our health order change may say."

Here are the results of ECM's investigation.


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CALIFORNIA’S 71ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT RACE: REPUBLICAN RANDY VOEPEL VS. DEMOCRAT LIZ LAVERTU

Spring Valley Planning Group Chair challenges incumbent for Assembly seat

By Mike Allen

Photo: Randy Voepel and Liz Lavertu

October 20, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- As the state grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, budget challenges, and a shortage of affordable housing, voters in the 71st Assembly district have two contrasting choices.

Randy Voepel was first elected to the State Assembly in 2016 and reelected in 2018, winning both times by substantial margins which didn’t surprise him, given the conservative character of the region. But he notes the winning margins are slipping each election, and he doesn’t expect this November’s victory to be as large.


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HOOVER CHALLENGES MILLER FOR CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE, AREA NO. 5

CVUSD Election, Part Two

By Robin N. Kendall

Photo: Trustee Jim Miller and challenger Stacie Hoover

October 20, 2020 (El Cajon) -- In part one of this series, ECM covered the race for Governing Board Member Trustee in Area No.4 of the Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD). Stretching further south of central El Cajon and east into Rancho San Diego lies Area 5. This area includes Avocado, Jamacha, Rancho San Diego and Vista Grande Elementary Schools, as well as Hillsdale Middle School.

For the last four years, attorney Jim Miller has represented Area No. 5. This election, he is being challenged by Stacie Hoover.

Key issues include reopening schools after COVID-19, academic priorities,  racial equity, bullying and civility. Both candidates answered ECM’s questions about themselves, their qualifications to be a school board trustee, and their priorities if elected.  Below are their responses, in alphabetical order.


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HINTON CHALLENGES CLARK-MEJIA FOR CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE, AREA 4

CVUSD Election, Part One
 
By Robin N. Kendall
 
Photo: Karen Clark Mejia, left, and Monica Hinton, right
 
October 19, 2020 (El Cajon) - Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) is the largest school district in East County. Two of the five seats for Governing Board Member Trustee are on the ballot this year with the incumbents facing one challenger each. Current board member Karen Clark-Meija represents Area 4 and faces behavioral health specialist Monica Hinton on the ballot. Jim Miller represents Area 5 and is challenged by Stacie Hoover, a retired paralegal. 
 
In this part one of our election series on the Cajon Valley School Board race, we will cover Area No. 4. In part two, we will cover Area No. 5.  

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GROSSMONT COLLEGE CAREER EXPO'S VIRTUAL PLATFORM NEXT BEST THING TO BEING THERE OCT. 28

Oct. 28 event using Remo for job seekers to interact with employers

Source:  Grossmont-Cuyamaca College District

October 17, 2020 (El Cajon) - Like so many public events during the current pandemic, Grossmont College’s annual Career Expo won’t be in person this year, but organizers are taking steps to encourage human interactions in a virtual environment.


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EL CAJON HOLDS VIRTUAL COMMUNITY MEETING TO GATHER INPUT FOR THE CITY’S GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT

By Henri Migala

 

October 15, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Representatives from the Community Development Department from the City of El Cajon hosted a virtual community meeting on Sept. 29 to both share and gather information regarding the city’s long-term General Plan.


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STUDENTS ROBBED AT GUNPOINT NEAR GROSSMONT HIGH: POLICE SEEK TIPS ON SUSPECTS IN BLUE NISSAN SENTRA

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 14, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police seek public help to locate suspects in a blue Nissan Sentra who reportedly robbed three Grossmont High School students in front of the Shell Gas Station on Murray Drive at 12:45 p.m. today.  
 
The students were walking near the station when the Nissan’s driver pulled into the gas station driveway, stopped na got out of the car. He demanded money from the students while a passenger pointed a handgun at the students.
 
After taking the students’ money, the driver got back into the vehicle, which appeared to have multiple passengers. The driver is described as a light-skinned Hispanic male around 17 or 18 years old with brown eyes, a mustache and groomed eyebrows, according to a police bulletin.  The second suspect is described as Hispanic, age 18-19, with wavy black hair with light tips, wearing an orange long-sleeved shirt.

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GOODYEAR BLIMP "HIDING" AT GILLESPIE FIELD

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

 
(Photo by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)
 
Oct. 14, 2020 (Gillespie Field) Your eyes are not deceiving you---there is a Goodyear Blimp "hiding" out, in plain sight, at Gillespie Field.
 
According to the Goodyear Blimp facebook page the Wingfoot Three has completed their nationwide trifecta, as they called it, by providing aerial coverage of the American League Championship in San Diego---specifically at Petco Park. 
 
The cars were lined up near the airport to get selfies with it as a backdrop.

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