Communities

FREEDOM RALLY DRAWS DIVERSE CROWD

By Briana Gomez
 
Photo:  Minister Vereta Wilson (@compton_conservative) addresses the crowd
 
December 29, 2020 (El Cajon) – A myriad of diverse, yet mostly unmasked attendees crowded around vendors and made their way toward a makeshift stage decorated with Christmas décor and a podium in front of the El Cajon City Council chambers, where a “Freedom Rally” was held on Dec. 27 in response to Governor Newsom’s recent shutdown of businesses.

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SNOW BLANKETS MOUNTAINS; WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT THROUGH TUESDAY MORNING

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Laguna Mountain Lodge webcam

December 28, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Heavy snow has fallen on Mount Laguna, while a lighter dusting of snow has blanketed the Cuyamaca and Julian communities. Elsewhere across the county, the cold winter storm brought much-needed rain.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning through Tuesday. Elevations over 5,000 feet such as Mount Laguna may receive 14 inches of snow, with up to 20 inches at elevations over 6,500 feet such as Palomar Mountain. Bring tire chains if traveling in the mountain areas. Chains were required today on parts of State Route 79 and Old Highway 80, while a portion of Sunrise Highway was closed.


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EL CAJON RALLY SHOWS WHY WE ARE LOSING THE BATTLE AGAINST THE PANDEMIC

By Henri Migala

Photo, left:  Maskless rally participants called for all businesses to open now, despite pandemic shutdown orders from the county and state.

December 23, 2020 (El Cajon) – A rally titled “All I Want for Christmas is Freedom” was held on Monday, Dec. 21 at El Cajon Centennial Plaza calling for a lifting of pandemic shutdowns.  The timing of the rally coincides with hospital ICU units filled to capacity across Southern California, after 18 million people in the U.S. have contracted COVID-19 and 323,000 Americans have died.

There are legitimate equity questions, such as why big-box retailers have been allowed to stay open while many small businesses have been ordered shut down, particularly after data obtained from San Diego County reveals that many outbreaks have been tied to large stores such as Walmart, Home Depot and Target. Although the event was promoted as an opportunity to support local small businesses adversely affected by restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, any rational discussion of those issues was largely overshadowed at the protest by speakers, including prominent elected officials, who urged attendees to openly and actively defy local and state restrictions. Some used such inflammatory words such as devil, battle, war, evil, Marxist, tyranny, socialism, 2nd Amendment, and even a reference to “killing babies like Planned Parenthood" that seemed largely out of context to a discussion of economic vs. public health concerns.

Eighteen “vendors” were set up, of which about half were small businesses selling products. The others were related to a political cause or agenda, such as recalling Governor Newsom, or opening San Diego. Approximately 150 people attended the event.


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MOUSE NEAR SANTEE TESTS POSITIVE FOR HANTAVIRUS

A western harvest mouse collected in routine monitoring in open space along the border of Santee and San Diego has tested positive for hantavirus, County environmental health officials said this week.

County officials are reminding people that if they find rodents in their homes, garages, sheds or cabins they should never sweep up or vacuum up after them, but use “wet-cleaning” methods instead, to keep from breathing in the virus and getting sick.

Click "Read More" for more information and to review "Wet-cleaning" methods to safely clean up and dispose of mouse nests and/or droppings.


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EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL KILLS IDEA FOR AIR FILTRATION SYSTEMS IN APARTMENTS TO COMBAT COVID-19

City still has $200,000 in rental, mortgage and utility assistance funds for residents in need
 
By Kendra Sitton
 
December 23, 2020 (El Cajon) — A proposal to give air filtration systems to low-income households put forward by El Cajon City Councilman Steve Goble failed to move forward in a special City Council meeting, where no one seconded the motion. 

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30,000 AT RISK OF POWER SHUTOFFS DEC. 23-24 DUE TO RED FLAG WARNING

By Miriam Raftery

December 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E has notified around 30,000 customers that their power could be shut off due to high fire danger.  The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for parts of Southern California due to possible strong winds from 8 a.m. Wednesday through 12 p.m. Thursday, Christmas Eve. The communities at risk range from El Cajon east to Campo, north to Escondido and mountain areas such as Julian, and as far south as Potrero near the border.

The threat of losing electricity in mid-winter during Christmas week is disheartening for backcountry residents, many of whom have stocked up refrigerators and freezers for holiday feasts. ECM has received complaints from residents who report SDG&E refused to reimburse them for food spoiled during other recent outages. Coming at a time when many are without jobs or have businesses with little income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prospect of financial losses due to power outages or worse, a wildfire are particularly troubling.


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SANTEE LAKES PROJECT NEARS COMPLETION DESPITE SETBACKS

By Mike Allen
 
Photo: Santee Lakes general store/grill concept rendering
 
December 22, 2020 (Santee) -- A three-building construction project at Santee Lakes is nearing completion, but because of the pandemic, exactly when it will be finished is still difficult to know.
 
Laura Koval, the director of parks and recreation at the Santee Lakes Preserve, said while the finish line is in sight, it could be anytime between February to April.
 
“What I’m saying is spring of next year,” Koval said in a recent interview with East County Magazine. “When you add COVID to the mix, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
 

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CHILD FOUND SAFE AFTER AUTO THEFT AND KIDNAPPING IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery
 
December 21, 2020 (El Cajon) – A woman who left the motor running on her vehicle parked in an alley while she unloaded groceries into her apartment at 300 W. Madison Street saw a man steal the vehicle with her 3-year-old child inside.

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SUSPECT ARRESTED, CHARGED WITH MURDER OF MAN AT LAKE MURRAY SHOPPING CENTER

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Di'Marcus Lavonne Mayes, murder victim, courtesy of his family via LMPD

December 21, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police today announced the arrest of Alexander Cesar Nghiem of San Diego. He is charged with murder of Di’Marcus Lavonne Mayes, 29, who was shot multiple times in his upper torso on December 11th.

La Mesa Police responded to calls reporting gunshots in the parking lot of the Marketplace at Lake Murray Village, 5600 Lake Murray Boulevard.  Officers found Mayes unresponsive and performed CPR and other medical aid until medics arrived.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

PYGMY HIPPO CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY WITH ZOOM PARTY AND CAKE IN RAMONA

Hannah Shirley’s wildlife friends surprise her with socially distanced well-wishes
 
Source: Ramona Wildlife Center
 
December 20, 2020 (Ramona) — North America’s oldest living pygmy hippo, Hannah Shirley, celebrated her 47th birthday Thursday at San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center today with a Zoom party and cake. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Hannah Shirley was not able to get together with her friends, but that didn’t dampen the celebration, which included a cake made out of her favorite grains, fruit and veggies all held together with pumpkin purée  —and yummy cucumber-melon water in a big bucket. Hannah Shirley’s caretakers set up a “living room” in her habitat for her party, with pumpkin goodies, photos of her friends (including other sanctuary animals), a Zoom feed and a number of enrichment stations. Despite being a nocturnal animal, Hannah Shirley decided to take part and enjoy the occasion.
 

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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

ALPINE’S JEFF CAMPBELL’S GIFT BAG DRIVE, A HOLIDAY COLLECTION TRADITION BENEFITING CHARITIES, NOW IN ITS 22ND YEAR

East County News Service

December 20, 2020 (Alpine) – Alpine real estate broker Jeff Campbell of San Diego Estates is celebrating his 22nd annual Gift Bag Drive, a holiday collection drive benefiting several local charities.

More than 25 businesses in Alpine, including banks, retail stores, insurance offices and coffee shops, have hosted collection bins where residents have donated nonperishable canned food items, personal hygiene items and unwrapped children’s toys beginning in mid-November, said Campbell. New this year has been a donation of several hundred jackets, shirts and hoodies from an El Centro-based embroidery company that closed its doors.

Campbell said the deadline for donations is Tuesday, Dec. 22.


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: FESTIVE FRIDAY IN SANTEE

 
December 19, 2020 (Santee) – Rebecca Jefferis Williamson sent in these images from a “Festive Friday” event held at the Santee Trolley Square last Friday.

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FIREFIGHTERS SAVE HOMES, HALT CHAPARRAL FIRE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left by Scott Lagace

January 17, 2020 (Santee) – Tensions ran high in Santee yesterday, when a fast-moving brush fire scorched 36 acres, threatening homes and high-voltage power lines.

“Crazy and way too close,” photographer Scott Lagace says of the blaze near his Santee home.


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REGISTRAR OF VOTERS CERTIFIES CHALLENGE TO FANITA RANCH

By Mike Allen
 
December 17, 2020 (Santee) -- The county Registrar of Voters certified that a challenge to the largest housing project in Santee’s history is successful, verifying that enough valid signatures needed to qualify for a public vote were collected.

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JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS HOSTS OPEN AIR PRE-HOLIDAY EVENTS DEC. 19: GIFT AND ART SALE, PLUS BBQ TURKEY AND BRISKET TAKEOUT DINNERS

By Rebecca Person
 
December 17, 2020 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- The scenic route along Old Highway 80 and the I-8 freeway toward Jacumba Hot Springs is a welcome break these days as people seek the fresh air and scenery of San Diego County’s outback.

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HELP A SMALL BUSINESS SURVIVE SHUTDOWNS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON: NAIL SALONS, HAIRDRESSERS AND PERSONAL CARE PROVIDERS NEED YOUR TLC

By Miriam Raftery

December 17, 2000 (Santee) -- The shutdowns from the Coronavirus pandemic have hurt many especially small businesses. Our nail salons, hairdressers, restaurants, and personal care businesses have been paralyzed, especially now during their busiest time of the year.  Many who have the means to help don’t know what to do.  Take-out orders are being placed to help local restaurants, but what about the personal care business owners and employees?

Here are some ideas to help these vital businesses survive.


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DRIVER ARRESTED FOR MANSLAUGHTER, DUI AFTER KILLING CONSTRUCTION WORKER ON HIGHWAY 94

East County News Service
 
Photo: Creative Commons via Bing
 
December 17, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Arnold Lee Patton, 69, of San Diego has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter.  

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PEDESTRIAN STRUCK AND KILLED IN LAKESIDE

East County News Service

December 16, 2020 (Lakeside) – Eduardo Hernandez, 68, of Lakeside, was struck by a vehicle on December 4 while crossing Woodside Ave., just west of Prospect Ave. in Lakeside.

Paramedics transported him to Sharp Memorial Hospital, where despite aggressive resuscitation efforts, he was pronounced dead of his injuries. The California Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.


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CAMPO MAN DIES AFTER CRASH NEAR LAKE MORENA

East County News Service
 
Image cc via Bing
 
December 16, 2020 (Campo) – Barney Stence, 60, of Campo, died December 14 in Sharp hospital of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident on December 9.
 
Stence was involved in a single-vehicle rollover crash at 1880 Lake Morena Drive in Campo, after losing control of his vehicle for unknown reasons. He was transported to the hospital with serious injuries, but his condition continued to decline until his death was pronounced on Monday, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner.
 

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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

EVACUATION WARNNG ISSUED IN SANTEE DUE TO CHAPARRAL FIRE

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photo, left, by Felicia Vlahos

Update 8 p.m.:  The fire scorched 36 acres. All evacuation orders have been lifted.  An investigation continues into the cause of this fire.

December 16, 2020 (Santee) -- The San Diego County Sheriff's Department has issued an emergency evacuation warning to residents in the 10,000 block of Chaparral Dr. in Santee due to the Chaparral Fire. An evacuation warning means that evacuations are currently voluntary, however, everyone should be prepared to evacuate if an evacuation order is issued. Residents who choose to evacuate can go to Santana High School, located at 9915 N Magnolia Ave, Santee, CA 92071.

The Sheriff advises, "If you feel unsafe, evacuate early."If you need emergency assistance with evacuation, call 9-1-1.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

WARNER SPRINGS MAN DIES AFTER HITTING TREE ON HIGHWAY 79

East County News Service
 
December 16, 2020 (Warner Springs) – Ronald Louis Swaim, 87, of Warner Springs, veered off the roadway and struck a tree on State Route 79 in Santa Ysabel, just north of State Route 76, on December 2.
 
Witnesses called 9-1-1 and awaited the arrival of law enforcement and fire  personnel, the County Medical Examiner reports. Paramedics arrived and pronounced the victim dead at the scene of multiple blunt force injuries. 

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ELDERLY COUPLE FOUND DEAD OF GUNSHOTS IN MT. HELIX HOME

Update December 16, 2020:  The County Medical Examiner has identified the deceased as Judith Ann Caruthers, 72, and ehr husband, Herman Caruthers, 74.  Their deaths have been found to be murder-suicide; Herman Caruthers killed his wife and then himself, each with a gunshot to the head.

By Miriam Raftery

December 15, 2020 (Mt. Helix) – An elderly man and woman were found dead in their home yesterday in the 4900 block of Resmar Road on Mt Helix in unincorporated La Mesa. Both had suffered gunshot wounds.

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NEWLY RE-ELECTED LEMON GROVE MAYOR RACQUEL VASQUEZ DELIVERS COVID19-DELAYED STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo of Mayor Racquel Vasquez courtesy of the City of Lemon Grove)

Dec. 15, 2020 (Lemon Grove) --“This year we lived our daily lives a little differently,” Lemon Grove Mayor Racquel Vasquez said during her 2020 State of the City address, which was originally slated for August but delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was recorded November 30th and posted on YouTube since bans on gatherings prohibit a live address.

“Every day I witness the kindness of our community members in wearing face mask coverings and performing well-being checks for our family, friends, and neighbors," Vasquez  said of the community’s response to the pandemic.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

SANTEE RECOUNT ENDS, HURST CONCEDES TO TROTTER

By Miriam Raftery; Michael Allen also contributed to this story

Photos by Erik Herrara

December 15, 2020 (Santee) – Yesterday’s recount in the Santee District 4 City Council race took place at the Registrar of Voters.  Each candidate picked up one additional vote from ballots that were not previously opened or counted, but it didn’t change the outcome. Dustin Trotter officially has 3,920 votes – a mere five vote margin over Samm Hurst, with 3,915.

The San Diego County Democratic Party agreed to terminate the recount after only minimal changes in the vote count once untallied ballots were examined. 

According to Assistant Registrar of Voters Cynthia Paes, a little over 1,000 ballots were recounted, out of around 8,000 cast in district 4.  The full-day recount involved about 25 staffers. Both sides challenged ballots; out of nine that were uncounted and unopened, and after adjudication by Registrar Michael Vu, three were opened and counted.  Besides one vote found for each candidate, a third untallied ballot was opened and found to have neither candidate marked in the Santee Council race.


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SANTEE WOMAN ARRESTED FOR DRIVING UNDER INFLUENCE OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL AFTER CRASH KILLS MOTORCYCLIST IN EL CAJON

Update: The victim has been identified by the County Medical Examiner as Ivan Joseph Kreft, 32, of El Cajon.
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Creative Commons image, CC by NC-ND 
 
December 14, 2020 (El Cajon) – Pamela Gilmore, 59, of Santee has been arrested and charged with gross vehicular manslaughter and felony driving under the influence (DUI) following a fatal collision this morning in El Cajon.
 
According to Officer Travis Garrow with the California Highway Patrol, Gilmore was driving her 2011 Kia Sportage northbound on Plumeria Drive to westbound Pepper drive this morning at 7:05 a.m. when a 32-year-old El Cajon man riding his 2005 Suzuki GSXR 100 motorcycle eastbound on Pepper Drive approached Plumeria. 
 

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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

SHERIFF SEEKS WITNESSES TO DEADLY SHOOTING IN SPRING VALLEY PARKING LOT

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Creative Commons via Bing
 
December 14, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Last night just after 8:20 p.m., Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a shooting in a parking lot at 8600 Jamacha Rd., Spring Valley.  Deputies found 39-years-old Carlos Enrique Callejas, of Chula Vista, who had been shot.
 
Deputies attempted lifesaving measures and were relieved by San Miguel Fire Department paramedics, but they were unable to revive the victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene, says Lt. Thomas Seiver with the San Diego County Sheriff’s department.
 
The Sheriff's Homicide Unit responded and has assumed responsibility of the investigation. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Homicide Unit at (858) 285- 6330/after hours at (858) 565-5200. You can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

JULIAN FAMILY LOSES HOME TO FIRE: UNINSURED LOSSES INCLUDE TOYS, CHILDREN’S LAPTOPS NEEDED FOR SCHOOL

By Miriam Raftery

 

December 14, 2020 (Julian) – A GoFundMe page has been set up by Julian community members to help the Lares family members, who lost everything in a fire at their home yesterday. 

 

“Perla Lares, a Senior at Julian High School served as Teen Miss Julian Princess in 2018 and 2019, dedicating many hours to community service for Julian and San Diego County.  Her brother, Gabe, is a Freshman at Julian High School,” says Jill Fleming, who started the fundraising page.


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EL CAJON POLICE OFFICER DRAGGED, STRUCK BY VEHICLE AND SERIOUSLY INJURED: SUSPECTS REMAIN AT LARGE

Update Jan. 11: El Cajon police announced the arrest of suspect David Francis Cepeda Pangilinan by the Los Angeles Rampart Narcotics Detail.
 
Update Dec. 18:  The officer has been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
 
Update Dec. 14, 2020 10 p.m.:  The investigation by El Cajon Police has identified a suspect who is being sought for questioning:  David Francis Cepeda Pangilinan, from Guam is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. 

 
By Miriam Raftery
 
December 14, 2020 (El Cajon) – An El Cajon Police officer is hospitalized in a trauma center in critical but stable condition due to serious injuries sustained at 8:30 a.m. during a traffic stop of a rented black Volkswagen SUV, CA license plate 8LC117.

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SUPERVISORS DELAY DECISION ON RENEWABLE ENERGY OVERLAY OPTIONS UNTIL JAN. 27

East County News Service

 

December 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego County Supervisors have voted to delay until January 27, 2021 a decision on Renewable Energy Overlay Options originally slated for Dec. 9, 2020.  The options aim to streamline approval of industrial-scale wind and solar projects across much of East County’s rural, mountain and desert areas.


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LEMON GROVE RESIDENT WINS 10TH ANNUAL HOEHN MOTORS LUXURY CAR RAFFLE TO BENEFIT RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE

East County News Service

Photo courtesy of Hoehn Motors: Winner Thomas A. Schaefer had a choice of these vehicles

December 12, 2020 (Lemon Grove) --  Raising $320,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities® of San Diego to support families with a child in a medical crisis, the 10th Annual Hoehn Motors Luxury Car Raffle concluded last week, naming Thomas A. Schaefer of Lemon Grove, the grand prize winner. 


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