Rural communities

WELCOME, RURAL RESIDENTS!

Our Rural section covers most San Diego County's inland communities south of I-8  to the border including Alpine, Barrett Junction, Boulevard, Campo, Deerhorn Valley, Dehesa, Dulzura,  Jamul,  Japatul, Lake Morena, Otay,  Potrero, and Spring Valley. 


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LA MESA MAN, 20, KILLED IN DULZURA HEAD-ON COLLISION

By Miriam Raftery

July 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The driver killed in a head-on collision in Dulzura on June 27 has been identified as 20-year-old Joshua Ruben Valtierra of La Mesa. He was driving south on State Route 94, also known as Campo Road, east of Little Tecate Road in Dulzura when an oncoming vehicle veered over the center line and struck Valtierra’s vehicle head-on.

Valtierra’s vehicle overturned and plunged down an embankment. Paramedics responded to a 9-1-1 call. Valtierra’s death of blunt force injuries sustained in the crash was confirmed at the scene, the Medical Examiner reports.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision.


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SPRING VALLEY HAS WORST RATE OF COVID-19 TEST RESULTS IN COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: cc via Bing
 
July 10, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County has released data showing the percentage of people who tested positive per each 100,000 in the population, as of July 8th. 

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RESCUED EAGLE DIES

By Miriam Raftery
 
July 9, 2020 (Alpine) – An Bald Eagle rescued in Alpine has passed away, despite valiant efforts by the San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife to save the ailing bird brought to their facility on the Fourth of July.
 
The fledgling eagle was found dehydrated on the ground at Camp Barrett and rescued by SoCal Parrot, which brought the eagle to Project Wildlife. It received intravenous fluids, oxygen, treatment for mite and diagnostic testing; results are still pending.
 
Monday the young bird was able to stand and accepted hand feeding from volunteers, but still needed oxygen.
 
So staff members sedated and anesthetized the Bald Eagle for a thorough exam.But Nina Thompson, interim director of marketing and communications for the San Diego Humane Society reports, “This morning the juvenile bird was having more difficulty breathing, despite receiving supplemental oxygen in the critical care unit at our Pilar & Chuck Bahde Wildlife Center." Thompson continues, "Our highly trained medical staff knew they had to find out why the bird was not able to breathe.”

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LAWSUIT FILED OVER CAMPO WIND PROJECT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Donna Tisdale fears massive wind turbines will ruin life at her rural ranch, pose severe wildfire and safety hazards for neighbors and tribal members

View Lawsuit

July 9, 2020 (Boulevard, CA) – A federal lawsuit has been filed against the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the U.S. Department of Interior and agency officials challenging their approval of  Campo Wind facilities on tribal land, including 60 wind turbines each 586 feet tall on 2,200 acres, as well as Boulder Brush energy facilities on adjacent private land. 

“The project is a dangerous and completely unnecessary industrialization of high-quality wildlife habitat in an area with an extremely high wildfire risk and frequent low-flying military, commercial and private aircraft,” states the suit filed by the nonprofit Backcountry Against Dumps along with Boulevard residents Donna and Ed Tisdale, whose ranch adjoins the project site with a half-mile shared border.


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ILLEGAL FIREWORKS SPARK FIRES AND A BARRAGE OF COMPLAINTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Screenshot of KCAL video showing llegal fireworks across Los Angeles

July 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With fireworks shows cancelled or not allowing on-site viewing due to COVID-19, use of illegal fireworks skyrocketed across southern California. This video by KCAL shows a panorama of illegal fireworks in Los Angeles, where an illegal fireworks display burned down eight apartments and injured five people, CBS reported.

In a normal year, July 4th fireworks cause 19,000 fires nationwide. But this year, residents across San Diego County and elsewhere say the problem was far worse.

San Miguel Fire Department, in response to an ECM records request, confirms their firefighters were dispatched to halt three fires caused by fireworks. One near Campo and Millar Ranch roads burned down 10 trees near a wildlife preserve and church.  Another firecracker ignited a neighbor’s backyard on Redfield Street. A third was spotted in a Spring Valley canyon behind Barcelona Street.


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SHERIFF SEEKS HELP TO FIND TEEN MISSING SINCE MAY 7

Update July 7, 2020:  Today, Christalyne Suyat contacted the Sheriff's department to let them know that she is safe, according to a press release sent today by the Rancho San Diego Sheriff's department.

By Miriam Raftery

July 6, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Today, the Rancho San Diego Sheriff’s Station announced it seeks public help to find Christalyne Suyat. The 19-year-old was last seen on  May 7 and was reported missing by her family on May 14.

She is believed to be staying in the areas between Spring Valley and Chula Vista; there is also a possibility she may be in a hospital, according to the missing persons flyer.

She has a rose tattoo on her right hand, a Roman numeral tattoo on her left forearm, and a mole on her left cheek. She is Hispanic with brown eyes and brown hair; she is 5 feet tall and weighs 170 pounds.


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SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT FREEZES NON-ESSENTIAL EXPENSES DUE TO COVID-19, WILL HEAR PROPOSED BUDGET JULY 10

By Miriam Raftery

July 5, 2020 (Spring Valley) – San Miguel Fire District’s board of directors will consider the 2020/2021 budget at a July 10th hearing due to COVID-19.  The finance committee has proposed freezing all non-essential and discretionary spending due to unanticipated costs of the pandemic estimated at less than $172,000.


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HUMANE SOCIETY WORKS TO SAVE YOUNG BALD EAGLE IN EAST COUNTY ON FOURTH OF JULY

By Miriam Raftery

Updated July 5, 2020 from Nina Thompson at Project Wildlife: The juvenile bald eagle, which has not yet developed its white head feathers, is now standing on its own and accepting food.

July 4, 2020 (Alpine) – Our national symbol, the Bald Eagle, is rarely seen in San Diego County, where only a handful of nesting pairs have been documented.  Today, as our nation celebrates Independence Day, local wildlife workers are fighting to save the life of one found in the Alpine area in hopes of helping  the large raptor regain its indepedence.

“On this July Fourth holiday, San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife admitted a Bald Eagle.The magnificent bird was rescued and brought to us by SoCal Parrots, after it had been observed on the ground for a couple of days at Barrett Honor Camp,” says Nina Thompson, Interim Director of Marketing and Communications for the San Diego Humane Society.

The Bald Eagle is dehydrated, has been given fluids and  has also been treated for mites, Thompson writes in an email to ECM. 


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SIGHT OF NAZI SWASTIKA FLAG STUNS EAST COUNTY MOTORISTS ON I-8

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

Photo:  Smartphone images of SUV with Nazi flag parked near Alpine Albertsons. Photos by Albert Aguilar

July 4, 2020 (Alpine) - Who’s driving around East County with a Nazi flag on their rear window? And why?

Interstate 8 motorists and an Alpine resident have posted pictures and video of a red-and-black SUV with the black swastika since Monday.


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FOUR WILD MICE COLLECTED IN CAMPO AREA TEST POSITIVE FOR HANTAVIRUS

By Gig Conaughton, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo:  a California mouse

July 2, 2020 (Campo) - Four wild mice collected in routine monitoring in open space in the Campo area have tested positive for hantavirus.

County officials are reminding people they should never sweep or vacuum up after rodents if they find them in living spaces like homes, garages, sheds and cabins, but instead use “wet-cleaning” methods.


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RENEGADES, ROCK HOUSES, AND RESORTS: NEW BOOK CHRONICLES EAST COUNTY HISTORY

By Miriam Raftery

July 2, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Author Cheryl Diefenbach’s new book, Renegades, Rock Houses and Resorts…Stories of Jacumba Hot Springs and Surrounds, is now available through the Mountain Empire Historical Society.

The 500-page book, finished after nearly five years of research, chronicles the colorful history of Bankhead Springs, Boulder Park/Desert View Tower, Boulevard/Manzanita, Hipass/Tierra Del Sol, Jacumba Hot Springs, Live Oak Springs, Mountain Springs, and Oasis.


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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.


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COUNTY EASES RULES FOR WINERIES, BUT IMPOSES CURFEW FOR RESTAURANTS AND BARS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Woof N' Rose Winery in Ramona wil now be able to remain open, serving wine on an outdoor patio, under the county rule change allowed today.

June 30, 2020 (San Diego) – One day after ordering bars, breweries and wineries to shut down, county health officials today revised that order to allow most to stay open. That’s a big relief to East County wineries, which can now continue to offer winetasting outdoors without food. Wineries, breweries, distilleries and bars with indoor seating can also stay open, provided they serve alcohol with food. Those without food service licenses can team up with a restaurant or food truck.

The changes came after East County Magazine published an article quoting prominent wine owners voicing concern over the future of our region’s wine industry and hours after ECM's editor reached out to Supervisor Dianne Jacob to inform her staff of the winery owners' concerns.

Today, the County also imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on all restaurants, bars and other eating/drinking establishments that serve alcohol. Patrons in the door by 10 p.m. may stay until 11 p.m. nightly.  Violators are subject to a $1,000 fine.


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KUMEYAAY PROTEST HALTS DYNAMITE BLASTING AT BORDER WALL

 

 

By Helen Horvath

Photo, lefft: Dynamite charges set by the US Corps of Engineers

June 30, 2020 (Campo) – Yesterday, at the end of Tierra del Sol Road in the Campo area, a group Kumeyaay-led people and supporters gathered early in the morning to protest the blasting of Kumeyaay cultural sites.

Many of these protesters were members of the Kumeyaay Original Peoples Alliance, American Indian Movement, and Warriors of Awareness. These groups  participated out of concern for the ancestral history and culture of the Kumeyaay tribes.  Black Lives Matter (BLM) and American Friends Service Committee also participated in the protest in a show of solidarity with local Native Americans. (Photo, right)


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WINERY OWNERS SAY SHUTDOWN OF BARS UNFAIR TO RURAL WINERIES, THREATENS TO CRUSH BURGEONING WINE INDUSTRY

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Outdoor patio at Vineyard Grant James in Ramona provides ample social distancing for wine-tasting guests

June 29, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – East County’s once-thriving wine industry is struggling under COVID-19 restrictions – and some local wineries may die on the vine now that the county has once again shut down all bars effect July 1, including wineries and breweries.

Now, some winery owners are criticizing the shutdown as overly broad and unfair,  since many rural wineries have outdoor patios or spacious tasting rooms and have been providing ample social distancing – unlike urban bars and crowded venues such as the Gaslamp District.


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HAM RADIO OPERATORS CONTINUE LEARNING DESPITE SOCIAL DISTANCING: LOCAL VOLUNTEERS PROVIDE VITAL COMMUNICATION DURING EMERGENCIES

By Rob Freeburn

Photo by Sharon Freeburn:  “Using portable radio equipment in Alpine, radio operator Rob Freeburn reaches out to radio operators on the US East Coast."

June 27, 2020 (Alpine) --  On Saturday, 6/27/2020, San Diego East County ham radio enthusiasts transmitted radio signals from homes, backyards and parking lots to connect with other radio enthusiasts across North America to compete against each other and to practice emergency radio communications. Although the results are not yet tabulated, East County radio "hams" always do well in the competition because the remote backcountry and higher elevation make East County an ideal radio operating location. Radio hams in Crest, Alpine, Descanso, Mt Laguna, Ramona, Julian, and Campo turn in some of the highest scores in the United States. From East County, the most sought-after radio contacts were in Delaware and Prince Edward Island on the East Coast of Canada. 


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HIT AND RUN DRIVER IN GOLD HONDA CIVIC INJURES PEDESTRIAN IN SPRING VALLEY

East County News Service

June 24, 2020 (Spring Valley) – A 45-year-old man suffered major injuries when he was struck by a gold Honda Civic around 5:52 p.m. yesterday at Troy Street east of Central Avenue in Spring Valley. The driver fled the scene in the vehicle.

The victim was standing in the driveway of the Goodland Acres Park when the vehicle veered off course to the right, striking the pedestrian, says Officer Travis Garrow with the California Highway Patrol.


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CHILDREN’S NATURE RETREAT REOPENS AFTER COVID-19 SHUTDOWN: ANIMAL RESCUE NEEDS VISITORS AND DONATIONS

 

Source: Children’s Nature Retreat

June 23, 2020 (Alpine) -- The Children’s Nature Retreat, a 20-acre animal sanctuary in Alpine with 140-plus domesticated animals, is reopening to guests.

The animal sanctuary is open by appointment only, limited to 50 people. Guests are required to wear masks at the entrance, and if they come within 6-feet of anyone outside of their family/household; visitors can roam the outdoor property on the self-guided tour without masks.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: WHY IS WATER SHUT OFF AT CAMPGROUNDS IN MCCAIN VALLEY?

By Ken Danielson

 

Photo, left: Google Earth image of water systems

 

Photo, right by Miriam Raftery:  Lark campground, before construction of Tule Wind

 

June 18, 2020 (McCain Valley) -- Many of you have probably visited the Cottonwood campground at the end of McCain Valley road. (Identical conditions exist at the Lark Canyon Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) park midway to Cottonwood). I’ve been camping there for more than 40 years. Even with the industrialization of the valley. it has remained a gem. 


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PHARMACY ROBBERY IN ALPINE MAY BE PART OF SERIES

East County News Service

Photos via CVS

June 18, 2020 (Alpine) – An investigation is underway into a robbery at a CVS in Alpine that may be part of a series of pharmacy robberies across East County. Two juveniles were apprehended.

Shortly before 3 p.m. on June 17, deputies from the Alpine Sheriff’s station responded to the CVS Pharmacy at 1385 Tavern Road after a 9-1-1 call reported a robbery. The caller said one of two suspects, armed with a cane, jumped over the counter demanding drugs and took 13 bottles of narcotics. As he fled, he swung the cane around and smashed the glass countertop. A cell phone of one of the employees was also taken, says Lieutenant Anthony O’Boyle.

The suspects fled the scene, but due to a quick response from a Sheriff's Sergeant, deputies and detectives, the suspects were located behind the Alpine library and detained,” says Lt. O’Boyle.


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AS WEATHER HEATS UP, COUNTY OPENS COOL ZONES -- AND OFFERS FREE FANS FOR THOSE HOMEBOUND WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of County News Service

June 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – As summer approaches and temperatures heat up, the County will open several “Cool Zones” starting this week.  The Cool Zones will be open from Monday through Friday between 12 noon and 5 p.m.at the following inland locations:


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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.


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BRUSH FIRE IN JAMUL

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photos via Dan Rigger and Matthew and Shawna Schick

View videos of the Skyline Fire by Preston Brown: 

https://vimeo.com/428408454

https://vimeo.com/428417617

Update 2 p.m.:  The fire is now 100 acres and 5% contained, per Cal Fire.

Update 2:45 p.m.:  Per CalFire, evacuation orders have broadened to the area along Skyline Truck Tr. from the 15000 block to Twisted Oak Rd. Also included is the area on Wisecarver Truck Trail. A temporary evacuation point will be Regal Edwards movie theater in Rancho San DIego at 2951 Jamacha Rd., El Cajon. 

Update 6:40 p.m.: Forward spread has been stopped. The fire is 100 acres and 10% contained.  No structures or livestock were lost and there were no injuries.

June 11, 2020 (Jamul) -- Cal Fire is at the scene of a vegetation fire in the 17000 block of Skyline Truck Trail in the Lawson Valley area of Jamul.  As of 12:45 p.m. the fire is 20 acres and spreading at a moderate rate, per Cal Fire/County Fire Authority.  

Evacuation orders have been issued between the 15600 block of Skyline Truck Trail and 17700 block of Skyline Truck Trail due to the #SkylineFire, ECM news partner NBC 7 reports.

Skyline Truck Trail is closed from  Lawson Valley Rdo to Honey Springs Road in Lyons Valley. 


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WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT NOW; FIRE WEATHER STARTING SUNDAY

By Miriam Raftery

June 5, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – A wind advisory is in effect for East County’s mountain areas and deserts through Sunday morning with gusts up to 60 miles per hour. Light showers are possible west of the mountains through Saturday afternoon. But a warming trend after that will bring elevated fire weather conditions Sunday through Tuesday, the National Weather Service predicts.


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GUARD AT ILLEGAL POT SHOP KILLED IN SPRING VALLEY

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 3, 2020 (Spring Valley) – A man who reportedly worked as a security guard at an illegal marijuana dispensary was shot and killed last night in Spring Valley.

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CURFEWS IMPOSED AGAIN TONIGHT; ACLU RAISES CONCERNS

 

By Miriam Raftery and Paul Kruze

Photo by Henri Migala: Police in riot gear Saturday night in La Mesa

June 1, 2020 (San Diego) – Following civil unrest across the region, all East County cities and some unincorporated county areas are under curfew orders tonight. Curfew orders are as follows:

La Mesa: 7 p.m. tonight to 7 a.m. tomorrow

El Cajon 7 p.m. tonight to 5:30 a.m. tomorrow

Lemon Grove 7 p.m. tonight to 6 a.m. tomorrow

Santee 8 p.m. tonight to 6 a.m. tomorrow

Lakeside and Spring Valley:  8 p.m. tonight to 5:30 a.m. tomorrow


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EAST COUNTY CITIES AND COUNTY ISSUE CURFEW ORDERS

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

May 31, 2020

In a bold move to avoid a repeat of the devastation and violence in connection with Saturday night’s riots which took place in East County San Diego, several cities and the county issue curfews for tonight. Below is the full schedule.

All law enforcement, fire, medical personnel, and members of the news media are exempt from the curfew. Individuals traveling directly to and from work, seeking emergency medical care, fleeing dangerous circumstances, or the homeless as exempted from the order.


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THESE RESTAURANTS IN EAST COUNTY NOW OFFERING DINE-IN, TAKE-OUT AND/OR DELIVERY

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Tiramisu Trattoria in La Mesa after it reopened for dine-in service.

Update July 7: Once again, due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, dine-in limited to outdoors only. Please check with your restaurant for the most up-to-date information. Many cities have waived rules, allowing restuarants to set up outdoor dining spaces.

Update May 25:  With restaurants now allowed to reopen for dine-in services, we are posting those now open again for dine-in in red lettering.  Call or visit websites for hours and whether reservations are required. 

If you own a restaurant in East County that's not listed or have a listing that needs updating, please email editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

March 17, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Since yesterday’s county order for restaurants to stop dine-in service through March 31 due to the COVID-19 emergency, many owners are adapting by switching to curbside take-out (curbside) service and a few are also offering home delivery through services such as GrubHub, UberEats, or through their own delivery service.  Those with alcohol permits may also offer take-out bottles of beer or wine, as well as cocktails and other alcoholic drinks to go, depending on their type of liquor license.

While this is by no means a complete list, here are many restaurants confirmed as offering take-out and/or delivery services.

Call or check the restaurant's website for details on hours and how to place orders, which vary at each location; hours may be limited and options and may change.

If you know of any we missed, please post in the comments section below!


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COUNTY TO OFFER COVID-19 TESTING IN RURAL COMMUNITIES, OTHER AREAS

By Jose A. Alvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo:  a nurse administers a COVID-19 test at a drive-up test site.

May 22, 2020 (San Diego) - As part of efforts to expand COVID-19 testing, the County will be opening sites in rural communities and other areas of the region. New locations, starting Tuesday, will be staffed with first responders from CAL FIRE and the San Diego County Fire Authority.


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