Rural communities

CONGRESS PASSES MEASURE TO ALLOW SELLING OFF NATIONAL FORESTS AND OTHER PUBLIC LANDS

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Cleveland National Forest, courtesy National Forest Service

April 6, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)—The Republican-controlled House and Senate have passed measures that would allow the sale or outright giveaway of most public lands –including national forests, federal wildernesses and  wildlife preserves and Bureau of Land Management properties.  Only Republicans voted for the language slipped into a non-binding budget resolution—which passed without a single Democratic vote. 

The shocking news is revealed in a New York Times editorial by Will Rogers, president of the Trust for Public Lands, titled “Our Land, Up for Grabs.”  

While it’s unlikely that President Barack Obama would support such an extreme measure, if a Republican president is elected in 2016 and Republicans maintains control of both houses of Congress, losing our cherished public lands such could be a very real possibility.

Here in San Diego County alone, that could mean the demise of:  Cleveland National Forest,  Otay Mountain Wildnerness, Hauser Wilderness, Pine Creek , Carrizo Gorge, Sawtooth Mountains Wilderness , Agua Tibia Wilderness, San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge , Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, McCain Valley National Recreation Area and more.

COUNTY RESPONDS TO AMBULANCE SERVICE QUESTIONS

 

 

Ambulance responses in our region raise alarms:  Part III in a series

By Miriam Raftery

April 3, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – AS we reported, effective April 1st the County has shifted to Mercy as its new ambulance provider for rural East County.  After residents raised concerns over coverage, response times and mutual aid, we asked Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s office for a response.

PASSAGES: ACCLAIMED POTRERO POET STEVE KOWIT

 

April 3, 2015 (Potrero) – Steve Kowit, well-known poet, author, teacher and Potrero resident, passed away this morning following heart surgery  Kowit taught at Southwestern College and San Diego State University, mentored many, and inspired a generation of local writers through his teaching, readings and writings.

He was distinguished by his many awards for poetry, which include the National Endowment Fellowship in Poetry, two Pushcart Prizes, the Atlanta Review Poetry Prize, the Ouroboros Book Award, the 2006 Tampa Review Poetry Prize, and most recently the San Diego Theodore Geisel Award.

SDG&E USE OF DRONES APPROVED BY FDA

 

East County News Service

March 31, 2015(San Diego) – SDG&E has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use unmanned drones to conduct aerial inspections of its gas and electrical facilities in rural East County.

JAMUL ADDS PARAMEDICS TO FIRE ENGINES

 

East County News Service

March 30, 2015 (Jamul)—Jamul’s Fire Station now has paramedics on every fire engine.  Starting in mid-March, Jamul has had three paramedics to provide advanced life support services that emergency medical technicians can’t provide—such as administering IV medications and defibrillation of heart attack patients.

SDG&E WORKERS FIND HUMAN REMAINS AT ALPINE HS SITE

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 25, 2015 (Alpine) – Homicide detectives are investigating the discovery of human remains in Alpine, the Sheriff’s department reports. According to Lieutenant John Maryon, it appears the remains have been there for quite some time.

AMBULANCE UPDATES ANNOUNCED

 



Ambulance responses in our region raise alarms:  Part II in a series

By Miriam Raftery

March 23, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)—Earlier we reported on a new contract for ambulance service that the County has signed, effective April 1st.  That contract required only four ambulances for an entire district stretching from the border north to Mount Laguna, and from Jamul east to the Imperial County line.

COUNTY CHANGES AMBULANCE SERVICE WITHOUT PUBLIC NOTICE: PUBLIC SAFETY ADVOCATES VOICE ALARM



Ambulance responses in our region raise alarms:  Part I in a series

By Miriam Raftery

March 22, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – What if you had a medical emergency and the nearest ambulance had to come from Imperial County or other distant places up to an hour away?  That’s the very real prospect facing rural East County residents under a stealth change in ambulance service approved by a county bureaucrat with no public notice, no hearing, and no vote by the Supervisors.

While some aspects of coverage stand to improve under the contract, adding more in-district ambulances and newer equipment, there are some major concerns raised by local safety advocates with regard to mutual aid and staffing.

RUSSO SET TO REGAIN ALPINE PLANNING GROUP SEAT AFTER ELECTION WINNER LEFT TOWN

By Miriam Raftery

March 20, 2015 (Alpine) – Lou Russo, an outspoken former member of the Alpine Community Planning Group, may soon be back on the board, the Registrar of Voters office has confirmed.

James Roe defeated Russo on the November ballot, but moved out of the area for a job prior to the election and is thus ineligible to take the seat.

JUDGE RULES FOR SD UNIFIED IN SUIT AGAINST ALPINE DISTRICT OVER ENDEAVOR ACADEMY

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 19, 2015 (Alpine) – Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Gunther has ruled in favor of the San Diego Unified School District in a lawsuit filed against the Alpine Union School District over the Endeavor Academy (also known as the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences, Inc.). View the judge’s order here.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: LYONS PEAK SUNRISE

 

March 18, 2015 (Jamul)—The HP Wren UCSD webcam atop Lyons Peak in Jamul caught this dazzling sunrise on St. Patrick’s Day.  Sure ‘n’ those glistening jewels in the sky look like a Leprechaun’s treasure!

JAMUL RESIDENTS PROTEST CASINO AS CONSTRUCTION PROGRESSES

East County News Service

March 11, 2015 (Jamul)--Approximately 200 protesters held a “flash mob” demonstration in Jamul Saturday, wearing red as they voiced their continuing opposition to a casino under construction at the Jamul Indian Village.

Excavation is completed at the project, site of a planned Hollywood-themed casino in conjunction with Penn National Gaming.

Projected to open in mid-2016, the casino is expected to include a three-story gaming and entertainment facility of approximately 200,000 square feet with gaming, restaurants, bars, and parking.  The tribe estimates the project will create an estimated 2,500 construction and permanent jobs in the area.

COUNTY PROPOSES PLAN TO TAKEOVER TRAINING SITE FROM SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT

 

East County News Service

March 7, 2015 (Spring Valley ) – Out of money to complete construction and maintenance of a partially-built training facility in Casa De Oro, San Miguel Fire District on March 11th will consider a proposal from the County Fire Authority to take over the lease, move forward on construction and assume maintenance responsibilities.

SOITEC WITHDRAWS ONE OF TWO PROJECTS IN BOULEVARD

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 3, 2015 (Boulevard) – After winning approval of Supervisors for two controversial industrial-scale projects in Boulevard, Soitec Solar in a surprise announcement has withdrawn one of them.

COURT THROWS OUT RESTRICTIONS ON SEX OFFENDERS' HOUSING

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 2, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – California’s Supreme Court has invalidated a portion of Jessica’s Law, tossing out as unconstitutional restrictions that prevented sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks or other places with children.

SEARCH UNDERWAY FOR MISSING HIKER WHO LEFT ANZA TWO WEEKS AGO

 

Hikers find belongings 13 miles off Highway 79, north of Warner Springs

East County News Service

February 24, 2015 (San Diego) updated February 26, 2015—San Diego Search and Rescue Crews are hunting for a 28-year-old hiker, Chris Sylvia, who left Anza, California on Thursday, February 12th to hike south on the Pacific Crest Trail for a week or more. He called a friend February 16th to meet him near Warner Springs to pickup supplies on February 17th, but never arrived.   

His friend told authorities he assumed Sylvia had continued his hike without stopping. But when he failed to reach his final destination, Campo, Sylvia’s friend became concerned and contacted the Sheriff on February 24.

Also on the 24th, other hikers found gear including a sleeping bag, sleeping pad and backpack that appear to belong to Sylvia. His identification was also found at this site approximately 13 miles off Highgway 79, north of Warner Springs.

GUHSD BOARD VOTES TO APPEAL ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL RULING; LEGAL BILLS COULD COST TAXPAYERS A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS

By Paul Kruze

February 19, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--In a 3-2 vote which was preceded by rancorous accusations, sniping, sharp retorts and loud outbursts between board member Priscilla Schreiber and board chairman Robert Shield, the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) approved a measure to appeal an court injunction forcing it to set aside $42 million towards building a disputed high school in Alpine at its regularly scheduled February 11th meeting. Schreiber and board member Jim Stieringer voted against the resolution.

Several times during the meeting, Schreiber expressed concern that the board had voted twice to set money aside for the project and that it was acting in “bad faith." Stieringer said he opposed an appeal because the decision to set aside $42 million for the high school “is well reasoned.”

A DARK DAY FOR DEMOCRACY: SUPERVISORS OVERRIDE BOULEVARD'S ELECTED PLANNING OFFICIALS, FORCE INDUSTRIAL-SCALE SOLAR ON RURAL TOWN

 

By Miriam Raftery

View video of full hearing: http://sdcounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=9&clip_id=1660

Note: Tune in Friday to our radio show on 89.1 FM from 5 to 6 p.m. to hear interviews with Boulevard residents and a hydrologist sharing their views on this outcome.  Jim Whelan, a representative of Soitec project property owners Hamann and Gibson was invited and refused to participate.

 

February 4, 2015 (San Diego) – Boulevard residents fought down tears in stunned disbelief today (photo, left) as San Diego Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to approve Soitec’s Tierra Del Sol and Rugged Solar projects, overriding a unanimous vote by Boulevard’s elected planning group that opposed the projects. Collectively the two massive projects will cover 1,185 acres (the equivalent of 185 city blocks) of rural terrain with thousands of concentrated solar tracking panels, each 48 feet wide by 30 feet tall.

Only Supervisor Dianne Jacob voted against the project, following an extensive speech in opposition. She called county staff’s finding that the project was compatible with rural community character “absolutely incomprehensible to me.”  Jacob pointed out that the General Plan is supposed to assure environmental stewardship, preservation of agricultural lands, open space and community character, among other qualities – all of which will be destroyed if the Soitec projects are built.

BOULDER SLAMS INTO ALPINE RENTALS

 

Update: Alpine Rentals is open for business, working out of a trailer temporarily, the Alpine Community Network reports.

East County News Service

Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News

February 1, 2015 (Alpine)--Things were rocking and rolling in Alpine early this morning.

JUDGE RULES IN ALPINE’S FAVOR ON HIGH SCHOOL FUNDING

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 23, 2015 (Alpine) – The Grossmont Union High School District must set aside $14 million in bond money immediately and another $28 million by January 2016 to fund building a high school in Alpine. Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman issued the ruling Thursday, granting an injunction sought by Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability.

Priscilla Schreiber, the only member of the Grossmont Board who has consistently supported building the high school in Alpine, told East County Magazine, “I’m thrilled.” 

But a statement from the district claims that other schools in the district will not get needed improvements due to the court’s decision.  The district indicates it will be back in court January 28 filing for a stay in hopes of halting the injunction.

A BEARY MERRY CHRISTMAS AT LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS IN ALPINE

 

Bobbi Brink, founder of the rescue facility in Alpine (photo, left) works to save bears and other exotic animals from canned hunts and cub petting operations in U.S.

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

December 5, 2014 (Alpine) – East County Magazine stopped by  Lions, Tigers and Bears this week for a sneak-preview of the brand new bear enclosure that opens this Saturday, December 6th, at the rescue facility’s annual holiday party and fundraiser from 1 to 4 p.m.. 

We also got some up-close-and-personal looks at some of the big cats and bears who will be celebrating too—with Christmas trees, holiday packages to rip open and special foods for these special rescued animals—including Cherry Bomb, Teddy, Albert and Baloo —grizzly and Himalayan black bears who will be turned loose into their new two-acre home (albeit a temporary home while an even bigger two-acre preserve is built.)

EXPERTS VOICE ALARM OVER SURVIVAL OF LOCAL BIGHORN SHEEP

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 17, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Could big energy projects proposed in East County lead to the decimation of federally endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep? 

From 1972 to the present, the Carrizo Gorge band of these bighorns has plummeted from about 120 sheep to less than 40.  “Off-road vehicles, trespassing cattle, poaching in the 1960s and ‘70s, drought, disease and Mountain Lion predation have worked together to push this population o the edge. We hope we can save this group before it is too late,” Mark Jorgensen, advisor to the Bighorn Institute and former Superintendent of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park wrote in the Desert News.

In his comments submitted on  four solar projects proposed by Soitec in Boulevard, Jorgensen writes that “Construction of yet another group of solar projects will further impede the free movement of wildlife by reducing habitat connectivity and ruining wildlife corridors.”  He further notes that Soitec’s sites are very near lands purchased and set aside specifically to protect species  the endangered bighorn, golden eagles and other species in peril.

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