Communities

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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HEARSE HEIST: MORTUARY DRIVING SERVICE OWNER ARRESTED FOR ROBBING DEAD MAN’S HOME

At least five others were victimized in a series of brazen thefts. Authorities seek more victims
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
October 27, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Sammy Willie Gates, the owner of Mortuary Transportation Services, has been arrested for stealing property from the home of a deceased man, smuggling some stolen goods out in a body bag.  

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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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GIARDINO IS OPEN FOR THANKSGIVING, ALSO OFFERS FEAST TO GO

East County News Service
 
You can pre-order Thanksgiving to-go, and enjoy in the comfort of your home. 
 
October 27, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – If you don’t want to cook at home this Thanksgiving Day, Giardino’s Neighborhood Cucina will be open for dine-in from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for turkey with all the fixings or some less-traditional entrée options. Or opt for take-home Thanksgiving Day specials including prime rib, short rib, butternut squash ravioli and oxtail cannelloni entrees, plus dozens of family-style dishes.
 
Giardino's Neighborhood Cucina in Lemon Grove is very popular in several online review websites, with 4.5 (out of 5) star review averages, or better, in YelpGoogleFacebookTrip AdvisorGrubHubMenuPix, and Z Menu.
 
Options include many seafood such as shrimp Alfredo, stuffed sole, or crab and shrimp ravioli, chicken and pork dishes, vegetarian options, pasta dishes, salads, appetizers, vegetable side dishes, a dessert sampler or individual desserts including a whole Limoncello cake, Nutella cheesecake, Tiramisu ray or Cannoli.

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FRAZIER FARMS MARKET BRINGS NEW NATURAL FOODS STORE TO LA MESA

East County News Service

 

Photos, top, by Miriam Raftery 

 

October 26, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting October 20 at the new Frazier Farms Market at the corner of Jackson Drive and Fletcher Parkway.

 

“We are pleased that they had the vision to open their third market in La Mesa. We were thrilled to welcome this family-owned business to our community,” says chamber president Mary England.  La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis joined the celebration along with Frazier Farms owners Norman and Kathe Frazier and their sons Matt, Nick and Alex Frazier.


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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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LA MESA ADOPTS COMMUNITY POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Councilmember Akilah Weber led efforts to establish the police oversight body
 
October 25, 2020 (La Mesa) – By a 3-2 vote on Oct. 13, the La Mesa City Council approved creation of a Community Police Oversight Board. The board is empowered to retain an independent police auditor and to direct investigation of serious incidents involving police, such as shootings or major misconduct complaints. 

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PILOT MAKES EMERGENCY LANDING NEAR SCHOOL PLAYGROUND IN EL CAJON

Photos courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
October 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – A pilot who took off from Gillespie Field for a practice made an emergency landing on a field next to a playground at W.D. Hall Elementary School in El Cajon Friday afternoon after the plane stalled. Fortunately, no one was injured.
 
The pilot told 10 News that he had been flying for decades.
 
The wing of his small plane suffered damage from hitting a fence or trees, according to eyewitness reports.

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EAST COUNTY HIGHWAY AND TROLLEY STATION UPGRADES AMONG $830 MILLION IN PROJECTS APPROVED BY CALTRANS

Source: CalTrans
 
October 24, 2020 (San Diego) -- The California Transportation Commission approved more than $830 million to repair highways and bridges and improve the state’s growing network of pedestrian, bicycle and mass transit routes. This investment includes more than $600 million in allocations for State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) projects, Caltrans’ “fix-it-first” program aimed at preserving the condition of the State Highway System.
 
“We are advancing projects that will keep our economy moving and improve access for all Californians,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “This includes improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians, expanding public transportation and helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
 
Projects approved in San Diego and Imperial counties include:

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LIGHT RAIN POSSIBLE NEXT TWO DAYS, BUT HIGH WINDS AND FIRE DANGER BY TUESDAY

 
By Miriam Raftery
 
October 24, 2020 (San Diego) –  Measurable rainfall is possible Sunday and Monday, with drizzles Saturday night.  Up to a half inch could fall in mountain areas, though most areas of the county would receive only minimal precipitation in the range of 0.02 to 0.15 inches.
 
Tuesday is expected to be much drier with very low humidity and high fire danger. Moderate Santa Ana Winds are forecast to develop starting Monday, continuing Tuesday with north to northeast winds of 10-20 miles per hour and gusts up to 40 mph, blowing dust in desert areas.

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PARKWAY PLAZA HOSTS DRIVE-THRU BOO HALLOWEEN SUNDAY OCT. 25

Drive-Thru Boo Halloween

East County News Service

October 24, 2020 (El Cajon) - Parkway Plaza, in partnership with East County Young Life and North Island Credit Union, is hosting a Drive-Thru Boo Halloween event on Sunday, October 25 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.in the outer parking lot between Dick’s Sporting Goods and Wells Fargo. This is a no -contact, family-friendly drive-thru event where guests are invited to bring their little ghosts and goblins to the mall parking lot to receive a fun Halloween treat bag. 


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HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION IN EL CAJON

East County News Service

October 24, 2020 (El Cajon) – Homicide detectives with El Cajon Police Department are investigating the death of a man in his 30s.

Officers responded to a call yesterday at 8:42 a.m. reporting a dead body inside a home on the 1100 block of Marline. They found the deceased man and determined the death to be “suspicious," according to Lieutenant Jason Taub.

No suspects have been arrested.  Anyone with information about this incident should call the El Cajon Police Department at 619-579-3300, or anonymously at Crime Stoppers, 1-888-580-8477 or sdcrimestoppers.org.


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RENTERS AND HOMEOWNERS ELIGIBLE FOR FEDERAL DISASTER AID AFTER FIRES

Source: FEMA

Photo:  Valley Fire, by Ron Kasper Dronesystems

October 23, 2020 (San Diego) -- The FEMA Individuals and Housing Program is available to all eligible renters and homeowners in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, Napa, San Bernardino, San Diego, Shasta, Siskiyou and Sonoma counties, which are covered in the Oct. 16, 2020, federal disaster declaration. Federal monetary awards may help pay for temporary housing and other needs not covered by insurance. The initial rental award is for two months and may be reviewed for further assistance. 


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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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VALLEY FIRE SURVIVORS MAY APPLY FOR FEDERAL AID TO HELP WITH LOSSES

By Yvette Urrea Moe, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo:  damage assessor surveys losses from the Valley Fire.

October 23, 2020 (Alpine) - Homeowners or renters affected by the Valley Fire in September can now apply for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant through Dec. 15. The grants are designed to help with serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance such as rent, home repair or replacement, medical or dental costs, transportation or other personal property losses.


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RAMONA ELECTION: SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES

By Robin N. Kendall

Photo, left:  Joe Stupar

October 23, 2020 (Ramona) - In Ramona Unified School District, residents may vote for two candidates to fill seats on the school board. The four candidates are: Daryn Drum (Retired Firefighter), Dawn Perfect (Parent/Board Member), John Rajcic (Retired Educator/Businessman) and Joe Stupar (Chamber Executive Director). 


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READER’S EDITORIAL: PROP 15 WLL HURT COMMUNITY THEATRES, NON-PROFITS AND SMALL BUSINESSES

By Lamplighters Theatre, La Mesa

Local theaters already shut down by COVID-19 may be further negatively  impacted if Prop 15 becomes law.

October 23, 2020 (La Mesa) -- In the upcoming November ballot there is one proposition that will impact our theatre and most community theaters, as well as most non-profits and small businesses.  Proposition 15, if passed, will raise taxes on commercial and industrial properties while exempting properties and residences worth less than $3 million. 


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LA MESA RENTAL ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAM ACCEPTING SECOND ROUND OF APPLICATIONS NOV. 2 THRU NOV. 4

East County News Service

October 23, 2020 (La Mesa) -- In an effort to further assist renters during the coronavirus pandemic, Home Start will be accepting a second round of applications for the La Mesa Rental Assistance Program starting Monday, November 2, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. through Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. Beginning on November 2nd, applications can be completed online at https://home-start.org/city-of-la-mesa-rental-assistance or submitted at the office of Home Start located at 333 E. Main Street in El Cajon.


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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

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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DEPUTIES RESPONDING TO GUNFIRE IN SPRING VALLEY FIND BOOBY-TRAPPED GAMBLING DEN, BUT NO SHOOTING VICTIM

By Miriam Raftery

October 21, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Sheriff’s deputies responding to a call reporting a shooting Monday night discovered an illegal gambling establishment set up in an outbuilding at 1726 Helix Street in Spring Valley. “It contained approximately fifteen slot machines. Spent shell casings from a firearm were also located in the outbuilding,” says Lieutenant Joel Stranger.

Deputies from the Rancho San Diego station responded around 9:22 p.m. Monday and checked the property, but no shooting victim was found. During the search, one deputy stepped on a board with nails sticking up in an apparent “booby trap,” according to Lt. Stranger.


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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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HOOVER CHALLENGES MILLER FOR CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE, AREA NO. 5

CVUSD Election, Part Two

By Robin N. Kendall

Photo: Trustee Jim Miller and challenger Stacie Hoover

October 20, 2020 (El Cajon) -- In part one of this series, ECM covered the race for Governing Board Member Trustee in Area No.4 of the Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD). Stretching further south of central El Cajon and east into Rancho San Diego lies Area 5. This area includes Avocado, Jamacha, Rancho San Diego and Vista Grande Elementary Schools, as well as Hillsdale Middle School.

For the last four years, attorney Jim Miller has represented Area No. 5. This election, he is being challenged by Stacie Hoover.

Key issues include reopening schools after COVID-19, academic priorities,  racial equity, bullying and civility. Both candidates answered ECM’s questions about themselves, their qualifications to be a school board trustee, and their priorities if elected.  Below are their responses, in alphabetical order.


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LEMON GROVE BULK ITEM DROP-OFF AND E-WASTE PAPER SHREDDING EVENT OCT. 24

East County News Service
 
October 19, 2020 (Lemon Grove) -- The city of Lemon Grove and EDCO Disposal invite you to a bulk item drop-off and e-waste/paper shredding event on Saturday, October 24, 2020 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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HINTON CHALLENGES CLARK-MEJIA FOR CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE, AREA 4

CVUSD Election, Part One
 
By Robin N. Kendall
 
Photo: Karen Clark Mejia, left, and Monica Hinton, right
 
October 19, 2020 (El Cajon) - Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) is the largest school district in East County. Two of the five seats for Governing Board Member Trustee are on the ballot this year with the incumbents facing one challenger each. Current board member Karen Clark-Meija represents Area 4 and faces behavioral health specialist Monica Hinton on the ballot. Jim Miller represents Area 5 and is challenged by Stacie Hoover, a retired paralegal. 
 
In this part one of our election series on the Cajon Valley School Board race, we will cover Area No. 4. In part two, we will cover Area No. 5.  

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REOPEN & RESTART HELD AT STEELE CANYON HIGH SCHOOL

By Henri Migala

 

October 18, 2020 (Spring Valley) -- “Everyone wants to do the right thing, but what’s the right thing?” Never has this old saying seemed more apropos than right now, as we all try to navigate through the pandemic.

 

On October 16, the same day that the San Diego Union-Tribune reported 17 new community outbreaks in San Diego, about 35 parents and students demonstrated in front of Steele Canyon High School to urge the school to “reopen and restart.”


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ART MADRID SPEAKS OUT: FORMER LA MESA MAYOR SHARES POINTED VIEWS ON CIVIL UNREST READINESS, CITY POLITICS AND MORE

By Miriam Raftery

October 18, 2020 (La Mesa) – Art Madrid has served La Mesa for more than 44 years, including 24 years as Mayor, 10 on the City Council, and 10 on city boards and commissions.  Since 2014, when Mark Arapostathis won the mayoral race, the customarily outspoken Madrid has stayed out of city issues—until now.  

“I’ve never said anything since I left office, maybe one comment,” Madrid told ECM in a phone call this week. But after the May 30 racial justice protest and riot, controversies over housing for the homeless and more, he’s decided to speak out. “If you look at the effectiveness of the Council in taking a leadership role, it’s absent,” he said. Madrid believes that assessing what happened on May 30 amounts to “dealing with the symptom, not the cause” of racial tensions in the city.

Madrid , who is Hispanic, knows first-hand what it’s like to be a target of a racial hate crime. 


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READER'S EDITORIAL: WHY DO OUTSIDERS CARE SO MUCH ABOUT MEASURE AA?

By David Ross

Reprinted with permission from the Valley Roadrunner

October 18, 2020 (San Diego) - The campaign surrounding Measure AA is a bitter, deeply divisive battle. Fortunately, almost none of the people publicly or even secretly opposing it are from around here. Isn’t that funny? 


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COUNTY HOSTS EXCITING CAMPO ROAD CORRIDOR REVITALIZATION PLAN COMMUNITY FORUM

By Henri Migala

 

October 18, 2020 (Spring Valley) – The public has until October 29 to weigh in with comments on the County of San DIego’s plans for revitalizing a stretch of Campo Road that runs through the heart of Casa de Oro. 

 

To gain more input, the County’s Planning and Development Services (PDS) held a virtual community “Guiding Principles” workshop on the Campo Road Revitalization Plan on Thursday, October 15, from 4:00-5:30 p.m. Up to 78 community members participated virtually in the workshop.


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