Rural communities

FUNDRAISER JAN. 26 AT BRODY’S BURGERS FOR ELI OLIVEROS, JAMUL BOY IN COMA

 

Update January 17:  Eli is now awake and eating on his own, his aunt has informed ECM, but still faces a long recovery.

By Miriam Raftery

January 15, 2020 (Jamul) – Brody’s Burgers in Jamul will host a benefit on January 26 rom 11 a.m. to 4 p.m for Eli Oliveros, a 6-year-old Jamul boy who was seriously injured in a car accident. 100 percent of proceeds will be donated to help Eli’s family pay his medical bills.

Eli was in a medically-induced coma and on a respirator after the Dec. 27 accident in Los Angeles, as ECM reported.  As of yesterday, he is now breathing on his own. But he also suffered multiple broken bones as well as damages to his lungs and brain. His vision is crossed, but doctors are hoping the condition will self-correct.

ILLEGAL FIRE LANTERNS FOUND IN ALPINE AND SAN CARLOS SPARK FEARS

By Miriam Raftery

 Photo:  burnt remnants of sky lantern found in Alpine, courtesy 10 News

January 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – An East County Magazine investigation back in 2012 led to the State Fire Marshal to issue a bulletin advising that sky lanterns are illegal—and dangerous. Our story led to removal of sky lanterns from local Walmart shelves.

But not everyone is aware of the ban, so use of sky lanterns, which are popular for celebrations in some cultures, continues. The devices include one or more candles sent aloft beneath an open cloth, much like a hot air balloon, posing severe fire hazards. 

ECM news partner 10 News reports that on Saturday, an Alpine family on Japatul Valley Road awoke to find their horses terrified and one horse injured.  In dry brush nearby, they found remnants of a sky lantern with birthday candles attached to popsicle sticks. 

“Thank God it didn't start a fire, but it could have," Lucy Olivier told 10 News. 

ALPINE UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT WARNS OF STRANGER IN TRUCK APPROACHING STUDENTS

By Miriam Raftery

January 9, 2020 (Alpine)—The Alpine Union School District is warning parents about two separate incidents Tuesday afternoon and again today, both involving a stranger in a truck approaching young students.

"Today, a Joan MacQueen Middle School student reported being approached by a stranger in a white-greyish four-door truck with tinted windows on Victoria Drive and Sneath Way. We have met with the Alpine Sheriff’s Deputies and have requested extra patrols at our schools. Deputies will be present after school today, and the detectives are investigating," a letter posted to the Joan MacQueen Middle School’s Facebook page reads.

In Tuesday’s incident, a vehicle described as a white lifted truck similar to a Toyota Tundra reportedly followed two young girls down a private dead-end road.

HELP NEEDED FOR 6-YEAR-OLD JAMUL BOY IN COMA AFTER CAR WRECK

By Miriam Raftery 

January 9, 2020 (Jamul)—A 6-year-old Jamul boy is in a medically-induced coma due to serious injuries suffered in a car accident on December 27th with his father and two cousins. His aunt, Britney Judd, has organized a GoFundMe page to help raise money to pay for Eli Ontiveros' expensive medical care.  The family hopes to locate and thank bystanders who saved Eli from a burning vehicle. 

According to the GoFundMe page, Eli suffered fractures to his clavicle, sternum, and six ribs. He also has damage to his lungs and brain. “Right now the goal is to get him off of ventilation and to get his breathing on his own,” the GoFundMe page states.

100 MPH CHASE ENDS IN CRASH, ARREST IN SPRING VALLEY

East County News Service
 
January 6, 2020 (Spring Valley) – A driver pulled over for an equipment violation in Chula Vista at 3:45 a.m. fled from officers, resulting in a pursuit at speeds of approximately 100 miles per hour on State Route 125 
 
The drive exited at Jamacha Road in Spring Valley, where he lost control of the vehicle, which rolled over and struck a power pole, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
 
The driver, 42, suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital for evaluation.  He was arrested for felony evasion and for two outstanding felony warrants.

HEARING FEB. 3 ON PROPOSAL TO RELEASE YET ANOTHER SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR IN JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS; COMMENTS DEADLINE IS JAN. 17

By Miriam Raftery

January 6, 2020 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Despite recent protests over the highly disproportionate percentage of sexually violent predators placed in rural East County, the Department of State Hospitals is proposing to place yet another in Jacumba Hot Springs.  A hearing will be held Feb. 3 at 9 a.m. in San Diego Superior Court (1100 Union St., Dept. 2202) to determine whether Michael Poulsom should be placed at 45612 Old Highway 80, Jacumba Hot Springs, a community of just 561 residents, according to the 2010 Census.

Poulsom is diagnosed with Pedophilia Disorder. In 1985, he was convicted in Georgia of child molestation with two victims. In 1989, he was convicted in San Diego County of a lewd act on a child under 14. In 1995, he was convicted again locally for a lewd act with a fourth victim, also under 14 and served 15 years in prison. Prior to his release, the San Diego County District Attorney’s office filed a petition to have Poulsom civilly committed to a state hospital as a Sexually Violent Predator . He was committed, underwent treatment and petitioned for conditional release, which was opposed by the San Diego D.A. and the hospital. A year later he filed for release into the conditional release program for sex offenders, which the Dept. of State Hospitals supported over the objections of D.A. Summer Stephan.

The public may submit comments between Jan. 3 and Jan. 17 to be considered by the court. You can email comments to sdsafe@sdsheriff.org, or call (858)495-3619. Comments may also be mailed tol the SVP Release/Safe Task Force at 9425 Chesapeake Drive, San Diego, CA 02123.  Comments will also be accepted at the hearing.

CHP SEEKS IDENTITY OF WOMAN HIT AND KILLED ON HIGHWAY 94 IN JAMUL

Update: The victim has been identified as Tiffany Rose King, 22, of San Diego.

By Miriam Raftery

January 3, 2020 (Jamul) – A woman who has not been identified was hit and killed last night at 9:30 p.m. while attempting to cross State Route 94 at the intersection of Peaceful Valley Ranch Road in Jamul, just north of the casino driveway.  She was struck by a Chevrolet Astro van driven by a 67-year-old man.

The driver of the Chevrolet remained on scene until California Highway Patrol Officers arrived,” says Officer Travis Garrow.  “Once the identity of the deceased is learned, her identity will only be released through the Medical Examiner once the family notification has been made. 

LESSONS FROM PUERTO RICO TO CALIFORNIA: OFF-GRID LIVING OPTIONS

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

 Dec. 31, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) -- Emergency energy and electrical storage expert Eric Lobdell with Humless, a Utah-based company that provides universal energy management, has worked in disaster areas affected by wildfires and hurricanes, where he has helped some residents go off-grid. 

 

In the past couple of years, Lobdell has worked in the U.S. including territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, setting up systems to provide power. Humless recently landed a contract for installations to take communities 100% off-grid in Oregon, including 600 homes over a span of three years.

 

"After Hurricane Maria, I was part of a team that donated and installed off-grid systems in Puerto Rico," said Lobdell in a phone interview. “Our systems were able to provide lights and refrigeration to two different communities, both heavily affected by the hurricane. Being able to provide electricity for these communities reminded me of the reason I work so hard at what I do. I love being able to provide essential energy and storage systems to families, communities, and regions where grid power is not available or stable."

HIGHWAYS CLOSED DUE TO SNOW

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left via CHP:  I-8 closed due to snow

Photo, right: Julian snow, via Visit Julian webcam

December 26, 2019 (San Diego’s East County)—Travelers are encountering road closures on several major highways this morning due to heavy snowfall:

  •  I-8 is closed west of Willows Road in Alpine to the Imperial Highway in Imperial County due to heavy snow, with collisions reported and some motorists attempting to run through roadblocks. 
  • On State Route 94 at Otay Lakes Rd., flooding has reportedly halted traffic on both sides of the rushing waters one to two feet deep.
  • CHP has shut down  Highway 78 at State Route 79 into Julian; traffic to Julian is reportedly gridlocked according to CHP. The road may reopen soon with chain controls in effect.
  • Just north of San Diego County, travelers should be aware that the Cajon Pass on I-15 and the Grapevine on I-5 are both shut down due to heavy snow.

MISSING MOTORCYCLIST FOUND DEAD IN BORREGO SPRINGS RAVINE

East County News Service

December 24, 2019 (Borrego Springs) – A Borrego Springs man, 66,was reported missing Dec. 22,  after borrowing a friend’s motorcycle at 4 p.m. for a 30-minute ride. The rider’s wife and the motorcycle’s owner began a search and then notified the Sheriff’s Department. Information was also posted on Facebook and many residents joined in searching but did not find the rider or the motorcycle.

On Dec. 23,  around 8:15 a.m., employees from the Borrego Springs Water District were checking well sites in the area and discovered the rider and motorcycle in a deep ditch about two miles from where he began his ride. The motorcycle was on top of the rider and he was unresponsive.

PROTESTS HELD OUTSIDE COURTHOUSE OVER PROPOSED RELEASE OF SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR IN JACUMBA NEAR BOULEVARD

East County News Service
 
December 21, 2019 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Despite Jacumba Hot Springs already having 11 of San Diego County’s 14 released sexually violent predators, the state is proposing yet another:  Thomas Joseph Cornwell, 41, who was convicted in 2008 on two counts of lewd act with a child under age 14.  
 
Local residents protested outside the Superior Court in downtown San Diego yesterday, where Judge Albert T. Harutunian III took the proposal under consideration after the judge earlier granted Cornwell’s petition for conditional release.
 
The judge will issue a written decision in the future on whether or not to allow Cornwell to be released under supervision in the 2100 block of McCain Valley Rd. in Jacumba Hot Springs, a facility that the Department of State Hospitals indicates has previously housed sexually violent predators. The site is near rural Boulevard and is also close to campgrounds in a federal recreation area and two federal wilderness areas.

BOGGELN NAMED ALPINE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT'S NEW FIRE CHIEF

East County News Service

December 19, 2019 (Alpine) -- The Alpine Fire Protection District Board of Directors today announced selection of Brian Boggeln as the District’s next Fire Chief.  He will be filling the position vacated by Fire Chief Bill Paskle, who will be retiring on December 30.  Chief Boggeln’s first official day as Fire Chief will be December 31.

Board President Jim Easterling stated, “It is with great pleasure that the Board announces that Brian Boggeln will assume the role of Fire Chief. The choice was easy due to Mr. Boggeln’s education and background with over 22 years in the fire service. The Board looks forward to working with him on all the District’s future endeavors.”

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO SHUT DOWN ILLEGAL POT SHOPS?

By Miriam Raftery

December 19, 2019  (San Diego’s East County) – Although personal use of cannabis is legal in California, each city and county has the right to ban or restrict sales.  But closing down illegal pot shops has become a challenge for law enforcement and a headache for neighbors, since the process often takes months and once closed, illegal dispensaries often pop up again nearby or even in the same building repeatedly.

How concerned should residents be about an illegal marijuana operation in their neighborhood?

Unlike licensed dispensaries that are subject to inspections, state and local regulations, illegal dispensaries may sell marijuana that is adulterated with contaminants and is dangerous to customers. Some illicit dispensaries locally have also been caught selling other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamines.  They may sell drugs to minors. The operators may create hazards to neighbors by tapping illegally into electricity, overloading circuits, and if manufacturing hash oil extracted from marijuana, utilize drums filled with flammable chemicals that can and have exploded, causing fires locally.

At times, illegal dispensaries  have engendered other crimes. Robberies and shootings have occurred; illegal operators tend not to report these crimes to police.  Corruption has also allegedly happened locally. Former Rancho San Diego Sheriff Captain Marco Garmo has been indicted for allegedly tipping off his cousin, an illegal dispensary owner, on raids by law enforcement, among other federal charges that he faces.

SAPS AT SEA PRESENTS 'CHEESE IT, FELLAS! THE COPS!' DEC. 28

East County News Service

December 18, 2019 (Spring Valley) - Saps at Sea, the San Diego chapter of the Sons of the Desert, will host its last program of 2019, “Cheese It Fellas, the Cops!” on Saturday, December 28 at 7:00 p.m. at Williams Hall at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Spring Valley.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS REVIEW: STEELE CANYON HIGH SCHOOL DOES SHAKESPEARE

By Kathy Carpenter 

December 16, 2019 (El Cajon) - Steele Canyon Players and Orchestra presented A Midsummer Night's Dream last week, directed by Nicole Labella and based on the play by William Shakespeare. On the back of winning the National Youth Arts Award for their spring 2019 production of Les Misérables, San Diego/La Mesa Chapter and their award winning production of The Sounds of Music in spring 2018, it's obvious the players can do musicals. Can they do Shakespeare? Shakespeare can be hard. Old English is hard to understand. But besides a few rushed lines the production was well acted and funny.

THE FABULOUS BACKSTORY OF ALPINE RESIDENT JUNE KNAUFMAN

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Dec. 13, 2019 (Alpine) The textured, marbled backstory of Alpine resident, June Kaufman, includes social outings with Jacques Cousteau, answering musician Bob Dylan’s fan mail, and wearing Jaclyn Smith’s clothes, not from her clothing line but from her donated outfits, given to a thrift store, after she wore them while working on the tv show, Charlie’s Angels.

Kaufman, born in 1940 in Oakpark, Illinois, moved with her parents to Coronado at age 2.  The family moved and she  grew up in Pacific Beach and La Jolla and even attended La Jolla High School with actress Raquel Welch.  “She was in my class,” said Kaufman.  But Kaufman, maiden name Snyder back then, got antsy; she skipped out of high school to move to Hollywood.

PASSAGES: POTRERO RESIDENT JACQUELINE “JACKIE” HICKS, 92

December 11. 2019 (Potrero) -- Jacqueline "Jackie" Eleanor Hicks, age 92, who was born in San Francisco, passed away peacefully at home on November 21, 2019.  Her smile and loving ways will be missed by all who new her, especially her husband of 74 years, Earl Hicks along with her 5 surviving children; Stephanie, Valerie, Jennifer, Paul and Jessica - preceding her in death where her 3 boys; Thomas, James, and Timothy.  She is also survived by; 16 grandchildren, 29 great grandchildren, 2 great-great grandchildren, and 2 Godchildren.  Jackie, as most people called her, made friends everywhere, especially in San Diego's back country.  When moving to Potrero, with her husband and children over 40 years ago, she immediately became a parishioner of St. Adelaide of the Burgundy Catholic Church in Campo.  Throughout the year's she gave of her time and talents to many activities and events while raising her large family.

Services will be held at St. Adelaide's Catholic Church, located at 1347 Dewey Place, Campo, CA 91906, on Saturday, December 21, 2019. The Rosary will take place at 1:00 p.m. and Mass 1:30 p.m.  A reception will immediately follow.  Cards of condolence my be sent to Earl Hicks, PO Box 107, Potrero, CA 91963. In lieu of flowers the family has requested donations be made, in here name, to St. Adelaide Catholic Church or St. Labre Indian School, Ashland, MT 59004-1001 or online at http://www.stlabre.org

BORDER PATROL AGENTS FIND AND RESCUE DESERTED MIGRANT WITH HELP FROM VOLUNTEERS

Source: Border Patrol 

December 5, 2019 (Dulzura) -- On Thanksgiving Day, a 34-year-old Mexican national with life threatening injuries was left behind by a criminal organization that tried smuggling him into the country.  

GOLDEN SPIKE CEREMONY CROWNS RAILWAY’S CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION IN CAMPO

Video of golden spike driven in by actor Jake Schaible portraying John D. Spreckels at centennial  https://youtu.be/n2MQr565uq4 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson and Miriam Raftery

December 4, 2019 (Campo) – Four days after Armistice Day in 1919 ended World War I, John D. Spreckels drove in a golden spike to complete the San Diego & Arizona Railway in Carrizo Gorge.  That historic event was recreated on November 16, 2019 at the centennial of the historic occasion celebrated at the Campo Railroad Park & Museum.

Spreckels originally “missed the spike, they reset it, he bent it, and then nailed it,” said Allen Semelsberger, Pacific Southwest Railway Museum’s archivist in a previously published report. True to historical detail, actor Jake Schaible portrayed Spreckels at the centennial, swinging and missing a replica of the spike before ultimately driving it in before a large crowd, including members of the Spreckels family in the front row. 

TOUR SANTA’S TREEHOUSE DEC. 7-8 FEATURED ON ANIMAL PLANET’S “TREEHOUSE MASTERS” & MORE

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Dec. 4, 2019 (Jamul) Want your picture with a Santa that is registered with FORBS (fraternal order of the real bearded santas)? And, not only that, but have your picture in a Christmas-themed treehouse built by Treehouse Masters of Animal Planet fame?

Your chance to do that is here.  Kathie Wellington, of Jamul, is offering that opportunity and more this weekend, Dec. 7 -8th, from 9 a.m. -4 p.m.  The cost is $50 per family but is a fundraiser for families in need. Originally, Santa’s Treehouse opened Christmas 2013.

COTTONWOOD SAND MINE PROJECT WILL HAVE A SECOND DEBRIEFING TONIGHT WITH VALLE DE ORO COMMUNITY PLANNING GROUP

By Ana Nita

December 3, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) -- Valle de Oro Community Planning Group will have a second public meeting tonight to receive community input about the proposal to turn Cottonwood Golf Course into a sand mine for the next decade. The golf course is located on Willow Glen Drive in a residential area in the Rancho San Diego area of El Cajon and on federally protected land that’s part of the South County Multiple Species Conservation program. 

The public meeting tonight is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Otay Water District Headquarters, 2554 Sweetwater Springs Blvd., Spring Valley.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: THANKFUL AT LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS IN ALPINE

East County News Service
 
Photos courtesy of Kelly Massey at Lions, Tigers and Bears
 
December 1, 2019 (Alpine) – At the Lions, Tigers and Bears sanctuary in Alpine earlier this week, exotic big cats and bears enjoyed some special Thanksgiving enrichment.  In addition to savoring raw turkey dinners, the animals also enjoying romping and frolicking in the newfallen snow.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

SNOW FALLING ON I-8, HEAVY SNOW BLANKETS MOUNTAINS AS OTHER AREAS FLOOD

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left by Robert Scheid:  Snow falls along I-8 near the Sunrise Highway exit

November 28, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – It’s a white Christmas across East County’s mountains and rural areas. Snow is falling along Interstate 8 east of Alpine.

A blanket of snow covers the Cuyamaca area, Cal Trans reports on Twitter.  In Warner Springs, chains or snow tires are required, with two inches of snow on Chihuahua Valley Road, NBC 7 reports. Snow is heavy in the Julian area, leaving some residents snowed in, sources told ECM.

ALPINE FIRE CHIEF BILL PASKLE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

Source: Alpine Fire Dept.

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Nov. 26, 2019 (Alpine) The Alpine Fire Protection District (AFPD) has announced the retirement of fire chief, Bill F. Paskle, effective Dec. 30.

At their meeting, held on Nov. 19, Paskle submitted a letter to the board of directors that board president Jim Easterling read aloud during the meeting and thanked the fire chief for his years of service to the district.

24TH ANNUAL ALPINE VILLAGE PARADE OF LIGHTS & SNOW FESTIVAL DEC. 6

East County News Service
 
November 25, 2019 (Alpine) – The 24th annual Alpine Village Christmas Parade of Lights and Snow Festival is slated to light up the holiday season and delight guests of all ages on Friday, December 6th. The parade rolls out at 6:30 p.m. at the corner of Alpine Blvd. and West Victoria Drive, ending at Tavern Road.  The free snow festival – with real snow and sledding – is at the Alpine Community Center at 1830 Alpine Blvd after the parade, until 9 p.m.
 
Arrive early, since Alpine Blvd. will close down for the parade. Bring a chair and blanket to enjoy the lighted entries. At the snow festival afterwards, in addition to “snow hill” you’ll find vendors, food, music and a visit from Santa Claus.

THANKSGIVING TURKEY BASH WITH SAN DIEGO'S RESCUED LIONS TIGERS AND BEARS NOV. 29-30

East County News Service
 
November 24, 2019 (Alpine) — You’re invited to come get wild at Lions Tigers & Bears the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving - and watch rescued big cats and bears enjoy their Thanksgiving feasts. 
 
This event is a special twist on regularly scheduled 10 a.m. guided educational visit. Choose from “member for a day” or “feed with a keeper” options.

STORMY THANKSGIVING COULD BRING SNOW BELOW 3,000 FEET, THUNDERSTORMS AND HEAVY RAINS ACROSS REST OF REGION

By Miriam Raftery

November 23, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – If you’re heading over the rivers and through the woods this Thanksgiving week, you might just wind up traveling through white and drifted snow, as the popular song lyrics go—not to mention rain and flash flooding, too, making for hazardous roadway conditions across southern California, the National Weather Service warns.

The National Weather Service predicts a major winter storm will bring significant snowfall of one to two feet above 5,000 feet by Wednesday, with the snow level dropping to 3,000 feet or even lower by Friday.  Snow could impact I-8 through San Diego County’s mountains, as well as areas such as Cuyamaca, Julian, Jacumba Hot Springs, Descanso, Mount Laguna and Palomar Mountain locally, as well as the Cajon Pass on I-15 for those heading north.

TRANSNATIONAL CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION TARGETS BORDER WALL IN CAMPO IN BRAZEN SMUGGLING ATTEMPT

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Smugglers cut the old border wall to facilitate an alien smuggling attempt.
 
November 21, 2019 (Campo) -- U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 16 individuals Wednesday afternoon after smugglers cut the old landing mat border wall to facilitate a vehicle drive-thru human smuggling incident.

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