Santee/Lakeside

PRESERVE WILD SANTEE TURNS IN 6,300 SIGNATURES TO PUT FANITA RANCH ON BALLOT

By Mike Allen
 
Photos courtesy of Van Collinsworth, Preserve Wild Santee
 
Photo:  Van Collinsworth,  Preserve Wild Santee, left, gives a thumbs up to supporters of the signature gathering drive
 
October 30, 2020 (Santee) -- The campaign to allow Santee voters to weigh in on the Fanita Ranch project turned in 6,300 signatures to the Santee City Clerk’s office Oct. 29, nearly double the minimum number required to force the City Council to either rescind its approval or put the issue to a public vote.

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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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SANTEE BUSINESS ASSISTANCE GRANTS ANNOUNCED

East County News Service

 

October 26, 2020 (Santee) -- The Microenterprise Assistance Program or (MAP) is now accepting applications. Grants up to $10,000 are available for local businesses that qualify. 


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ENVIRONMENTALISTS SUE TO BLOCK FANITA RANCH IN SANTEE

East County News Service
 
File photo: the devastating 2003 Cedar Fire, which caused traffic gridlock on local freeways, scorched an estimated 95% of the site where Fanita Ranch would be built.
 
October 25, 2020 (Santee) – Four environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the city of Santee and councilmembers. The groups contend that the city council ignored fire dangers, habitat impacts and cultural resources in approving Fanita Ranch, a major housing development.

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VIRAL VIDEO EXPOSES ANOTHER RACIST INCIDENT IN SANTEE

View video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZOh5bjYi0U

 

By Mike Allen

 

October 23, 2020 (Santee) -- A video that’s gone viral on the Internet shows another disgruntled Starbucks customer yelling about wearing a mask. But this time, the customer at the Starbucks on Magnolia Avenue in Santee hurls an obscene and racially charged insult at the black woman behind the counter.


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SUPERVISOR JACOB, COUNTY PARKS BREAK GROUND FOR LAKESIDE EQUESTRIAN PARK

October 23, 2020 (Lakeside) -- County Supervisor Dianne Jacob and parks officials held a first-ever “virtual” groundbreaking to mark the start of construction of the long-awaited $16.9 million Lakeside Equestrian Park Wednesday.


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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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WEST HILLS HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER LANDS $100,000 HARBOR FREIGHT TOOLS PRIZE

Story and photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Oct. 17, 2020 (Santee) A surprise celebration was held at Santee’s West Hills High School on Oct. 14 for teacher Kathryn Worley, who applied for and landed a $100,000 prize from Harbor Freight Tools.

“We have a deep, deep respect for the dignity of the skilled trades and especially for the intelligence and creativity of the people who work with their hands, of students who work with their hands, of teachers who work with their hands, and professionals who really connect with their heart, their heads, and their hands,”  said Harbor Freight Tools for Schools executive Danny Corwin during the presentation.

Corwin made the trip down from their headquarter offices in Calabasas to present Worley with the proverbial lottery-win-like over-sized check. His other two $100,000 award winners’ ceremonies will be held virtually. Harbor Freight Tools USA Inc. is a national tool retailer.


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COUNTY'S EDGEMOOR FACILITY NAMED BEST IN CALIFORNIA, AGAIN

 
By José A. Álvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
October 14, 2020 (Santee) -- For the second year in a row, the County Health and Human Services Agency’s Edgemoor Skilled Nursing Facility has been named the best facility of its kind in the county and the state by Newsweek magazine.
 
The magazine analyzed more than 15,000 nursing homes in the Unites States and chose 400 winners in 20 states.
 
“Edgemoor provides the highest level of care to seriously ill and injured adult patients who require long-term care, and it has not gone unnoticed” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, County Board of Supervisors. “We are proud Edgemoor has been named the best in California two years in a row. It’s a well-deserved honor given the long-term, quality care patients receive at the facility.”

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SANTEE MAYORAL AND COUNCIL RACES SHOW CLEAR CHOICES

By Mike Allen

Photo:  Santee Mayor John Minto, mayoral candidate and Councilman Stephen Houlahan, City Council candidates Samm Hurst and Dustin Trotter,

October 14, 2020 (Santee) -- The conflict between slow-growth proponents and those who support the continued expansion of Santee has been going on for decades but is crystallized in this election.


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SCALZITTI FACES CHALLENGER WITH A “RESERVOIR” OF EXPERTISE IN HELIX WATER BOARD DISTRICT 5 RACE

By Miriam Raftery

October 12, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Helix Water District Director Joel Scalzitti faces three challengers—including Vickie Butcher, who brings a “reservoir” of knowledge on water issues as well as decades of experience in water policy and infrastructure to the race. The other two challengers have no ballot statements and an online search found no campaign webpage or Facebook site.

District 5 covers the eastern portion of the Helix district including portions of El Cajon, Granite Hills, Bostonia and Lakeside. View map.


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NEW SHARP MEDICAL CENTER OPENS IN SANTEE: FACILITY TO HOST OCT. 10 VIRTUAL TOUR AND ASK-THE-DOCTOR SESSIONS

By Mike Allen

 

October 8, 2020 (Santee) -- This week, Sharp Rees-Stealy opened its new medical center, a state of the art three-story building on Cuyamaca Street off Highway 52, which replaces four smaller clinics in East County that are now closed.


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HOMEFED GIVES NEARLY $300,000 TO DEFEAT MEASURE N, BUT FANITA RANCH OPPONENTS START PETITION TO OVERTURN COUNCIL APPROVAL

By Mike Allen
 
October 7, 2020 (Santee) -- Despite a 4-1 approval of the Fanita Ranch housing development last month by the Santee City Council, the builders are trying to ensure nothing holds up the project.

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PADRE FEVER: POSTSEASON 2020 PLAYOFFS DURING A PANDEMIC

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson) 

Oct. 6, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) The San Diego Padres, having reached postseason play, will be playing tonight against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Arlington, Texas.

The pandemic has changed the way the season was played; the season was shortened and fans were not allowed in Petco Park. But, the Padres' organization has provided a way for fans to watch, in a group environment, by creating an official series of  Padres' drive-in events to celebrate and cheer together in their first postseason apprearance in fourteen years. 

Or, you can watch, and cheer, at home. 

The Postseason Drive In Events are held near Petco Park at Lexus Lot. The drive-in events sold out against the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild card series.


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SANTEE SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION

By Robin N. Kendall
 
Photo, left to right:  Elena Levens-Craig, Dianne El-Hajj, Sarah Kirk
 
October 6, 2020 (Santee) -- In the growing city of Santee, five candidates are on the ballot for two school board seats (No. 2 and No. 4) in this K-8 grade district. Both incumbents are running for re-election.  Three have completed our candidates’ questionnaire.

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LAKESIDE UNION SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION

By Robin N. Kendall

October 6, 2020 (Lakeside) -- A diverse slate of candidates is running for office at the Lakeside Union School Board. There are five candidates on the ballot and residents may vote for two new trustees. The candidates are: Ginny Whitt Bell, Stacy K. Coble, Lara Hoefer Moir, Charles Plante, and Rhonda Taylor.

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HIGH SPEED CHASE THROUGH EL CAJON AND SANTEE ENDS AFTER COLLISION

By Miriam Raftery

October 2, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – A suspect who failed to yield for a traffic stop in El Cajon early yesterday morning led officers from multiple law enforcement agencies on a high-speed pursuit through three cities. It took deployment of a spike strip, a taser and a struggle with Sheriff’s deputies to ultimately arrest 53-year-old Larry Route of San Diego.

The incident began at 1:42 a.m. when Deputy Young from the Sheriff's Lakeside substation saw a vehicle drive through a red light at the intersection of North Magnolia Avenue and East Bradley Avenue in unincorporated El Cajon.The driver of the vehicle failed to yield for a traffic stop and a traffic pursuit ensued into the City of Santee. The suspect vehicle collided into the center median at Halberns Boulevard and Mast Boulevard but continued to drive at a high rate of speed on to State Route 52 into the City of San Diego, according to Sergeant Anthony Portillo.

San Diego Police Air Support (ABLE) responded as deputies coordinated a tire deflation deployment with the California Highway Patrol (CHP).


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JONES' MEASURE EXTENDING IMMUNITY FOR SKATE PARKS SIGNED INTO LAW

Original bill by Jones was for a four-year pilot program

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Miriam Raftery: Lakeside Skate Park

 

October 1, 2020 (Sacramento) - Senate Bill 1003, a measure authored by State Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) which extends the immunity from liability that local governments receive when operating skate parks, was signed into law last night by Governor Gavin Newsom.


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LAKESIDE FAMILY GROWS 1,600 PUMPKIN

By Miriam Raftery

 

October 1, 2020 (Lakeside) – The Fredricks family in Lakeside is once again vying to earn the title of biggest pumpkin grown in San Diego County this year—and maybe ever.


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PADRE DAM MUNICIPAL WATER DISTRICT ELECTIONS

 
 
 
By Mike Allen
 
Photos, top left to bottom right:  Division II candidates Augie Scalzitti, James Sly and Suzanne Till; Division IV candidate Augie Caires
 
 
September 30, 2020 (Santee) - The 2020 election will have two seats on the Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s five-member board of directors up for a vote, but only one is being contested.
 
The Division II seat that has been held by Augie Scalzitti for four terms dating back to 2000 has two other contenders: James Sly and Suzanne Till. In Division IV, Director Augie Caires is unopposed. 
 
Scroll down for our interviews with all four candidates.

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SANTEE COUNCIL APPROVES FANITA RANCH BEFORE VOTERS CAN WEIGH IN ON NOVEMBER BALLOT

By Mike Allen
 
September 24, 2020 (Sante) -- By a 4-1 majority, the Santee City Council approved the controversial Fanita Ranch development that will add nearly 3,000 homes and about 8,000 residents to a city that has been fighting over the project for most of its 40-year history.

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WOMAN ARRESTED FOR STABBING FATHER IN LAKESIDE

By Miriam Raftery

September 24, 2020 (Lakeside) – Hannah Wogatzke is under arrest for the suspected stabbing of her father, who is hospitalized in critical but stable condition.


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AGC-EAST COUNTY HEADQUARTERS AND APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING FACILITY IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN LAKESIDE

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)

Sept. 24, 2020 (Lakeside) The AGC East County Headquarters and Apprenticeship Training Facility (AGC) is under construction and slated to open this year. The facility will serve as the headquarters and training center for carpentry, cement masonry, drywall finisher, drywall lather, heavy equipment operator, painter, laborer, and more trades.

For those trying to retrain or hone skills because of COVID-19 economic losses, job seekers may consider enrolling.

Additionally, the state-of-art 43,600 sq. ft facility will provide construction services to the 1,100 plus AGC member firms in the County. 

Training services include continuing construction education, safety services, government affairs, labor relations, business development, and many more.


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FANITA RANCH VOTE, HELP FOR HOMELESS TOP AGENDAS IN SANTEE AND LA MESA THIS WEEK

By Miriam Raftery

September 20, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Will Santee Councilmembers keep campaign promises made to voters when the controversial Fanita Ranch development comes up for a vote this week?  

What actions will La Mesa’s City Council take to address housing and homelessness?

These are the hottest issues on agendas in East County this week. Scroll down for details


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SANTEE MAYORAL CANDIDATES AND A COUNCIL CONTENDER AGREE CITY FACES RACIAL CRISIS, BUT CLASH OVER DEVELOPMENT ISSUES

 

 

View full video of ECM’s Santee Mayoral and City Council candidates forum

By Mike Allen

Photo: Santee Mayor John Minto and his opponent, Councilman Stephen Houlahan, City Council candidates Samm Hurst and Dustin Trotter

Sept. 13, 2021 (Santee) -- Both candidates for Santee mayor and one candidate for District 4 have varying opinions on issues but to one question about the biggest crisis besides traffic facing the city, the three agreed it’s racial intolerance. But the three voiced divergent views on housing and development issues, including controversies involving Fanita Ranch.

The candidates responded to questions at a forum held Sept. 10 via Zoom hosted by East County Magazine. Mayor John Minto and Councilman Stephen Houlahan, who is vying to become Santee’s mayor, along with City Council candidate Samm Hurst appeared at the hour and a half forum moderated by ECM Editor Miriam Raftery.

Dustin Trotter, a construction contractor running against Hurst, declined to appear, saying he had a prior scheduled meeting. He also did not respond to a request for a one-on-one interview via Zoom with ECM’s editor, but has responded to questions from ECM reporter Mike Allen, which will be published soon along with in-depth interviews with all Santee candidates.


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MISS LAKESIDE WINNERS CROWNED AFTER VIRTUAL PAGEANT

Source: Miss Lakeside Pageant

All photos by Rob Riingen Photography

Photo: 2020 Queens left to right: Priscilla Guidi, Trinity Stewart, and Brylee Cox. 

September 13, 2020 (Lakeside) - On March 12, 2020, due to nationwide shutdowns Jill Fleming, the Miss Lakeside Scholarship Pageant Executive Director since 1997, was faced with postponing or cancelling the Miss Lakeside Pageant for the 1st time ever, two days before the actual event was scheduled to take place due to sudden COVID-19 shutdowns. After months of preparation, the program books were printed, new sashes and crowns ready to be placed, families, friends, and community members were excited to see our Lakeside girls take the stage, and our contestants were ready for their time to shine...the 58th Annual Miss Lakeside Scholarship Pageant was 48 hours from taking the stage! After 5 months of waiting, hoping, and praying to be able to reschedule the "normal" pageant.. Director Fleming came to the conclusion that it was time to move forward.


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SANTEE COUNCIL GRANTS LANTERN CREST 50 NEW UNITS, DEFERRAL ON IMPACT FEES; APPROVES CHANGE ORDER FOR TV STATION

By Mike Allen
 
Photo:  50 unit addition to Lantern Crest Senior Living.
 
September 10, 2020 (Santee) -- The Santee City Council unanimously approved a 50-unit addition to the Lantern Crest Senior Living nursing home that included granting the developer a zoning change as well as deferring the payment of about $1 million in impact fees.

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BRUSH FIRES IN SANTEE AND CAMPO: EVACUATIONS IN SANTEE

 

Update 4:30 p.m.:  The #Carlton Fire is now in mop-up, after burning approximately 4 acres.

By Miriam Raftery

Rebecca Jefferis Williamson contributed to this story.

Photo by Laura Williamson

September 10, 2020 (Santee) -- A brush fire that started at 12:28 a.m. in palm trees along the riverbed in Santee at Mission Gorge Rd. and Fanita is just north of the State Route 52 and Highway 125 junction. The fire has prompted evacuation of homes on Willow Grove near Calton Hills, west of the GTM store, Mayor John Minto has advised ECM.

The fire has burned at least one to three acres, Sgt. M. Tingley with the Sheriff's Dept. told ECM reporter Rebecca Jeferris-Williamson, who is on scene. A helicopter is dropping water on it, eight fire engines are assgined and additional resources are en route.

Carlton Hills Blvd. is closed between Mission Gorge Road and Carlton Oaks Drive.


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