Rural communities

TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR OUR PARTY IN PARADISE AND COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS AWARDS SEPT. 25

Early-bird rates available now through Aug. 31 to the hottest event in town!

You’re invited to join East County Magazine at our fun and festive “Party in Paradise” on Saturday evening, September 25th where we will also present Community Champions Awards to honor outstanding community members.

The event will be held atop the beautiful new open-air rooftop deck atop the Jamul Casino, with panoramic 360-degree views! Enjoy a VIP cocktail reception, tropical dinner, live music, dancing, auction, raffle, and fun galore.

Proceeds benefit East County Media, supporting East County Magazine, East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts, and our Community Champions Awards.

To reserve tickets:

SECOND SUSPECT ARRESTED FOR MURDER OF DANTE LOPEZ IN SPRING VALLEY

East County News Service

July 28, 2021 (Spring Valley)—Isak Espino, 25, was arrested yesterday and charged with the murder last month of Dante Lopez. Espino is the second suspect charged with murder in the case; George Gomez III, 21, was arrested on July 14. Both suspects are from San Diego.

THUNDERSTORM ROCKS DESCANSO AND ALPINE

By Miriam Raftery

July 19, 2021 (Descanso) – Thunderstorms resulted in 84 lightning strikes in our region on Saturday, July 17—nearly all of them in Descanso and Alpine.  On a Descanso discussion forum on Facebook, some residents described the loud thunderbolts as “house shakers," “insane,”  and a “wake up call” from Mother Nature.

BODY FOUND IN BURNED SPRING VALLEY MOBILEHOME

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Cc via Bing

July 18, 2021 (Spring Valley) – A body has been found inside a mobile home at the Sweetwater Lodge Motor Home Park, 10707 Jamacha Blvd., unit 80 in Spring Valley. A 14-year-old escaped a fire shortly before midnight last night, but told Sheriff’s deputies that his grandmother did not make it out.

According to 619 News Media, the juvenile was screaming for help and neighbors tried to enter the residence by kicking a door and pulling windows open before firefighters from San Miguel Fire and Rescue arrived, but were unable to do so due to smoke and flames. View video.

UNIDENTIFIED MIGRANT FOUND DEAD IN REMOTE DULZURA AREA

Update July 28, 2021: The deceased man has been identified as Victor Sosa-Soto, 33,  of Villa Hidalgo, Mexico, according to the San Diego Medical Examiner.

Story and photo by Miriam Raftery

Photo: Grave of an unknown migrant in Hemet, one of 10,000 people estimated to have died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since 1994, according to Border Angels. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the rate is increasing, with more migrants dying crossing the border in the first three months of 2021 than in all of 2019.

 

July 18, 2021 (Dulzura) – On June 30, a search and rescue group found the body of a male believed to be from Mexico, part of a group of undocumented immigrants crossing the international border.

21-YEAR-OLD ARRESTED FOR MURDER IN SPRING VALLEY

East County News Service

 

Photo: cc via Bing

 

July 18, 2021 (spring Valley) – Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a 21-year-old man, George Gomez III, as a suspect in the murder of Dante Lopez, 42.  Lopez, a San Diego resident was fatally shot on July 11 near the intersection of Elkelton Boulevard and Crestmore Avenue in Spring Valley.

 

Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a shooting at 11:15 p.m. on July 11 and found the victim, attempting lifesaving efforts until fire personnel arrived. Lopez was taken to a hospital, but was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

NOISE ADVISORY: MILITARY TRAINING NEAR EAST ALPINE AND DESCANSO JULY 21 AND JULY 26

East County News Service

Photo: U.S. Army helicopter training, cc via Bing

July 17, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego County has issued a noise advisory for East County’s Descanso and East Alpine communities due to military set for Wednesday, July 21 and Monday, July 26.

PRECAUTIONARY BOIL WATER ORDER IN EFFECT AT LAKE MORENA COUNTY PARK

East County News Service

July 16, 2021 (Lake Morena) -- The County of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health and Quality, has issued a Precautionary Boil Water Order for the Lake Morena County Park water system (located at 2550 Lake Morena Dr, Campo, CA 91906).  All affected customers are advised to not drink the water without boiling it first: 

POWER LINES SPARK FIRE THAT CROSSES BORDER IN TECATE

 

Update 9:25 p.m.: The #BorderFire is now 30 acres and 50 percent contained.  Evacuation orders have been lifted and the temporary evacuation point is closed.

By Miriam Raftery

Photos via CalFire and CalFire international partners

July 15, 2021 (Tecate) – Downed power lines in Mexico sparked the #BorderFire this afternoon, which crossed onto the U.S. side of the international boundary at Tecate, according to Cal Fire on Twitter. Forward spread has been stopped.

The fire began near Tecate Mission Road, west of the Tecate Port of Entry The blaze burned 20 acres at a moderate rate of spread toward the northeast,

An evacuation warning was issued for the community of Tecate and a temporary evacuation point was established at the Potrero Elementary School. 

 

THREE GANG MEMBERS CHARGED WITH MURDER OF SPRING VALLEY SECURITY GUARD; TWO OTHERS CHARGED WITH EXTORTION PLOT AGAINST DISPENSARIES

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photos: Kenneth Love II, victim killed in extortion scheme
 
July 14, 2021 (Spring Valley) – Three men are charged with murdering Kenneth Love II, a security guard who was shot and killed on June 2, 2020 at an illegal marijuana dispensary in the 8700 block of Troy Street in Spring Valley.

GUN SHOT SOUND IN LA PRESA SPRING VALLEY LAST NIGHT APPARENTLY A HOMICIDE

Update July 15, 2021:  On July 13, the Medical Examiner's Office conducted the autopsy and has identified the victim as Donte Anthony Lopez, 42, of San Diego. Lopez's family has been notified of his death. The preliminary cause of death is gunshot wound and the manner of death is homicide.

East County News Service

July 12, 2021 (La Presa/Spring Valley, Calif.) -- Law enforcement is encouraging anyone with information about a shooting last night around 11 p.m. near the intersection of Elkelton Blvd. and Crestmore Ave. in unincorporated San Diego County to come forward and speak with the Sheriff’s Homicide Unit, or, to stay anonymous, Crime Stoppers.

MAN ALLEGEDLY SHOOTS AT SHERIFF DEPUTIES IN UNINCORPORATED EL CAJON

After getting shot at, Sheriffs obtain a search warrant and allegedly find guns, drugs and flammables

Source: San Diego County Sheriff's Department Bureau of Media Relations

July 12, 2021 (Unincorporated San Diego County) -- A man is facing numerous drug and weapons charges after firing a shotgun in the direction of Sheriff's Deputies in the East County. 
 
It happened on Sunday, July 11 just before 6:30 a.m. near Valle De Paz Road in an unincorporated area of El Cajon.  Deputies from the Alpine Sheriff's Substation were responding to calls of a man acting erratically and holding a rifle.  After setting up a perimeter around an area where the man was last seen, a shotgun blast was fired in the deputies' direction.  The shotgun slug hit a nearby home.  No deputies or citizens were hurt.
 

MARRON VALLEY FIRE NEAR DULZURA BRIEFLY THREATENED POWERLINES AND HOMES

By Miriam Raftery

Photos via Cal Fire

Update July 15, 2021:  The cause of the Marron Fire was a truck that ignited brush, says Cal Fire Captain Thomas Shoots .  "The gentleman was trying to get to the South Bay Rod and Gun Club" but became disoriented on a dirt road and had a techhnical issue with his vehicle, says Shoots, adding that the driver was cooperative and remained on the scene after his truck burned.

July 11, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – The #MarronFire, which began last night along marron Valley Road south of the South Bay Rod & Gun Club in Dulzura, burned approximately 52 acres overnight. The blaze briefly threatened homes and high voltage power lines, however this morning, Cal Fire reports the fire is 40% contained. 

ROAD FIRE CLOSES WB I-8, PROMPTS EVACUATIONS IN PORTIONS OF DESCANSO & VIEJAS RESERVATION

Update: 7 p.m.: Caltrans San Diego reports all lanes re-opened to traffic 
 
#RoadFire removed from CHP Incidents page
 
No official public updates found on acres burned or % contained since 3:30 p.m.
 
Update: 3:30 p.m.: Initial Attack was successful according to retired fire captain Scott Culkin. Out of town air resources released.
 
Thank you: United States Forest Service (U.S.F.S.), Calfire/S.D. County, Alpine, Viejas, and others. Firefighters will be present throughout the night to contain the fire and put out any hotspots.
 
"Forward spread has stopped," according to Cleveland National Forest, lead agency on the #RoadFire, yet also reporting only 5% contained, as of 3:30 p.m.
 
Update 1:50 p.m.: Per Cleveland National Forest on Twitter, the #RoadFire is now 70 acres and holding, with a moderate rate of spread. The Humane Society urges pet owners to take pets with you if you evacuate, since you may not be able to return to provide food and water during the fire and intense heat.
 
By Jonathan Goetz
 
Photos: #RoadFire by James Cecil (Pic 1: Mountain, Pic 2: SDG&E Helicopter)
 
July 10, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – All lanes westbound on Interstate 8 west of State Route 79 are closed due to a brush fire, reports Caltrans San Diego.

COUNTY RESIDENTS ASKED TO TAKE PUBLIC SAFETY POWER SHUTOFF SURVEY

By Miriam Raftery

July 3, 2021 (San Diego) -- The San Diego County Office of Emergency Services is asking all County residents to fill out a survey about the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program.  The SDG&E program to shut off power during high fire-risk conditions has sparked controversy across the backcountry among residents left without electricity to power their homes, businesses, wells pumps, and other vital needs. The deadline to complete the survey is July 13.

The survey asks residents whether they received adequate notification of such outages and whether they experienced financial losses, among other details – the first step toward documenting impacts of the program and potentially leading to changes.

JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH REVIEW - COMMUNITY THEATER RETURNS

Review by Kathy Carpenter

July 4, 2021 (Spring Valley) - Slowly, we are returning to a semi-normal lifestyle--one that includes live theatre. Musicals. As such, the Young Actors Theater in Casa De Oro presents "James and the Giant Peach." You may remember the book from your childhood, written by Roald Dahl, who also wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

DRIVER DIES AFTER DEHESA ROAD CRASH

By Miriam Raftery

July 3, 2021(El Cajon) – A San Diego resident, 57, died at a hospital where he was transported after a solo-vehicle crash at 4:08 a.m., July 1, in unincorporated El Cajon.

The motorist was driving a 2008 Chevrolet Trailblaze westbound on Dehesa Road, east of Cunningham Lane, when he missed a curve. The vehicle rolled over and struck a utility pole.  The driver, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the vehicle and sustained fatal injuries.

DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: FOURTH OF JULY FESTIVITIES

By Miriam Raftery

Fireworks are back—along with many traditional Fourth of July festivities in San Diego’s inland region, from parades to picnics to patriotic music, rides, games, and more. Find Indepedence Day events and/or fireworks in El Cajon, Julian,Poway, Ramona, Santee and Valley Center.

US DEPT. OF LABOR RECOVERS BACK WAGES FOR CONSTRUCTION WORKERS DENIED OVERTIME WAGES BY JAMUL COMPANY

J S Plastering of Jamul also assessed $25,000 in penalties for willful violations

 By Miriam Raftery

June 30, 2021 (Jamul) – Failing to pay overtime wages has cost JS Plastering of Jamul nearly $125,000 in back wages and penalties.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that the company paid overtime hours at straight-time rates in unrecorded cash, instead of paying time and a half as required by law when employees work more than 40 hours in a week.  

The investigation led to the recovery of $98,720 in overtime back wages owed to 39 employees and assessment of $25,380 in penalties for the employer’s willful violation of the law.

JACUMBA RESIDENTS CONTINUE TO FIGHT SOLAR PROJECT: JULY 9 PLANNNG COMMISSION HEARING IS NEXT STEP

Story and photos by Henri Migala 

Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report

June 30, 2021 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- Imagine moving to a small, quiet, rural community over an hour away from a major metropolitan area to enjoy the quiet solitude of the open backcountry--only to learn that an international investment group is planning on building a massive solar project, six times larger than your entire community, within feet from you house.<--break->

$4,000 REWARD OFFERED TO FIND OUT WHO KILLED KENNETH LOVE II, SECURITY GUARD SHOT LAST YEAR AT SPRING VALLEY DISPENSARY

By Miriam Raftery

Photos: Person of interest and suspect vehicle sought by deputies

June 25, 2021 (Spring Valley) – Kenneth Love II was shot and killed June 2, 2020 while working as a security guard at a marijuana dispensary in the 8700 block of Troy Street in Spring Valley.  A year later, Sheriff’s deputies are still actively working on solving the case and they are asking public help to identify the killer.

His family is offering a $3,000 reward in addition to a $1,000 reward offered by Crimestoppers for information leading to the arrest of a suspect.

LATEST RAID SHUTS DOWN ANOTHER CASA DE ORO POT SHOP

East County News Service

June 24, 2021 (Spring Valley) – The latest search warrant for an illegal marijuana dispensary was served in  the 10100 block of Campo Road in Spring Valley’s Casa de Oro neighborhood at 5 p.m. yesterday by members of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's Special Investigation Division, with the assistance of Rancho San Diego Sheriff's Crime Suppression Team and the Special Enforcement Detail.

I-8/CRESTWOOD ROAD RAMP CLOSURES NEAR GOLDEN ACORN CASINO BEGIN JULY 6 FOR FOUR WEEKS

Source: Caltrans

June 23, 2021 (Campo) -- Caltrans crews anticipate closures at Interstate 8 (I-8) and Crestwood Road in Campo for four weeks beginning Tuesday, July 6 to replace guardrail systems. The work will require full closures of the westbound I-8/Crestwood Road on-ramp and the eastbound I-8/Crestwood Road off-ramp near the Golden Acorn Casino, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through early August. Please see the map below showing the closure locations.  

LEARN ABOUT MOUNTAIN LIONS JUNE 27 AT ALPINE WOMAN’S CLUB

East County News Service
 
June 21, 2021 (Alpine) — The Alpine Historical Society invites you to a presentation on cougars, also called mountain lions or pumas. The program will be presented by Robin Parks, a volunteer with the Mountain Lion Foundation, on Sunday, June 27 at 1 p.m. at the Alpine Woman’s Club, 2156 Alpine Blvd. in Alpine.

DOG FITTED WITH PROSTHETICS ADOPTED BY SDPD DETECTIVE WHO LOST LEG IN CRASH

(Photo - left) Adopter Chappie Hunter understands challenges of wearing prosthetics firsthand

June 19, 2021(Alpine) --  Chloe, one of two dogs rescued by San Diego Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement and fitted for prosthetics by the medical team at San Diego Humane Society’s Escondido Campus, is being adopted by a family who understands the challenges of having a leg amputated first hand. SDPD Detective Chappie Hunter and his family have been fostering Chloe since her three-month recovery period at SDHS. The family has decided to keep her and make the adoption official. Detective Hunter lost his leg in a crash in Alpine in 2013. After a year of recovery, he returned to work with a prosthetic leg.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULTING UNCLE OUTSIDE SPRING VALLEY BAR

Update June 19, 2021:  The Sheriff's department provided ths update:

Unfortunately, Raymond Bermudez Jr. was pronounced deceased last night. Bermudez's next of kin has been notified of his death. The Medical Examiner's Office has scheduled an autopsy has been scheduled for June 20, 2021. The suspect, Ronald Francis Valdez, has since posted bail on the lesser charge and has been released. Homicide detectives will amend the criminal charges as they continue their investigation. Detectives determined Bermudez was not in Shooter's Cocktails before the incident. Valdez did enter Shooter's Cocktails. However, he was denied service and left. The assault occurred in the parking lot and not in the business.   

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 16, 2021 (Spring Valley) – Ronald Francis Valdez, 31, is under arrest for the battery of his uncle, who is not expected to survive a serious head injury, says Lt. Thomas Seiver with the Sheriff’s homicide unit.

Deputies responded to a call at 9:30 last night of a fight at Shooter’s Cocktails at 10761 Jamacha Blvd. They found the victim, Raymond Bermudez, Jr. in front of the bar suffering from a head wound.

“Fire personnel responded and transported Bermudez to a local area hospital,” says Lt. Seiver. “Unfortunately, he is not expected to live. Due to the likelihood Bermudez may die, the Sheriff's Homicide Unit responded and assumed responsibility of the investigation.”

FULL FREEWAY CLOSURES OF STATE ROUTE 94 IN SPRING VALLEY

East County News Service

June 11, 2021 (Spring Valley) -- Caltrans announces full nighttime closures on State Route 94 (SR-94) in Spring Valley Sunday to Wednesday and lane closures on Thursday from 10 until 5 in the morning. The closures are needed so that crews can safely complete pavement work, drainage improvements and Americans-with-Disabilities-Act- compliant curb ramp upgrades.

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