Communities

BRUSH FIRE THREATENS HOMES IN RANCHO SAN DIEGO

Update 3:40 p.m.:  Forward spread of the fire has been stopped at 15 acres, per Cal Fire.

January 20, 2021 (Rancho San Diego) -- The #CampoFire in Rancho San Diego poses an immediate structure threat along Avenida Roberta x Calle Los Arboles in the Rancho San Diego neighborhood in unincorporated El Cajon, Cal Fire reports. Campo Fire was reported just before 12:45 p.m. in an area near Jamacha Road and Campo Road

Evacuate if in the area or if you feel threatened. A temporary evacuation point for the #CampoFire is at the Edwards Cinema parking lot at 2951 Jamacha Rd.

The fire has charred about five acres as of 1:15 p.m.

Viewl life feed courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News: https://www.pscp.tv/10News/1lDxLpQynmyxm


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ARREST MADE IN RAMONA SHOOTING

East County News Service

January 19, 2021 (Ramona) – Ramona resident Elias Ruiz, 32, was arrested yesterday on suspicion of murder.  The identity of the victim, a man found shot in the 700 block of Main Street around 12:30 a.m. yesterday, has not been released pending family notification.

Sheriff's deputies and officers with the California Highway Patrol responded to a report of the shooting. They attempted lifesaving measures until relieved by fire personnel. Unfortunately, the victim was pronounced deceased at the scene.


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MARKETINK: EL CAJON COUNCILMAN RETIRES FROM MARKETING CAREER TO PURSUE FORENSIC GENEALOGY

By Rick Griffin

Reprinted from Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

January 18, 2021 (El Cajon) - As a young man in his 20s, Steve Goble set a goal to retire from work on his 60th birthday and devote the rest of his life to public service.


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: WINTER BLACKBERRIES

January 15, 2021 (Mt. Helix) -- Global warming and climate change are affecting growing seasons.  ECM editor Miriam Raftery was surprised to find ripe blackberries in mid-January in her backyard on Mt. Helix in unincorporated La Mesa. Blackberries normally ripe in midsummer and go dormant in winter, but this vine never lost its leaves.

Several readers have shared that they were startled by mid-winter harvests of peppers and tomatoes this month.


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DRIVER SUFFERED MEDICAL EMERGENCY BEFORE DEADLY CRASH AT IN-KO-PAH

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo California Scenery, Credit: Rebecca Person
 
January 16, 2021 (In-Ko-Pah) – Shortly after noon yesterday, California Highway Patrol units and fire personnel responded to a call requesting medical assistance on I-8 west near the Old Highway 80 undercrossing at In-Ko-Pah.
 
An investigation found that the driver, 54, from El Cajon appeared to have stopped his 2015 Volkswagen Passat on the shoulder after suffering an unknown medical condition. However, he failed to place the vehicle in park before taking his foot off the brake, says Officer Travis Garrow with the CHP. The vehicle drafted left across both freeway lanes into brush in the center media.
 
Passengers extricated the driver from the vehicle and attempted live-saving procedures. The vehicle caught brush on fire and the Volkswagen was soon fully engulfed.

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PASSAGES: GOODWILL EXECUTIVE FROM LA MESA DIES OF COVID-19

East County News Service

January 16, 2021 (La Mesa) – Bob Kruse, 62, a La Mesa resident who oversaw over 50 local Goodwill sites as Director of Facilities, has died of COVID-19.


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SANTEE COUNCIL SETS FANITA RANCH ELECTION FOR NOV. 2022, ALSO APPROVES DIVERSITY PROGRAM

By Mike Allen

January 15, 2021 (Santee) -- Santee residents will get a chance to vote on the Fanita Ranch project, but will have to wait until November 2022 to do so.

At its Jan. 13 meeting, the Santee City Council voted 4-0, with Mayor John Minto absent, to place the controversial 3,000-unit residential development on the next regularly scheduled city election rather than rescinding its earlier approval vote for the project or setting a special election. According to the county Registrar of Voters, a special election would cost the city about $850,000.

This wasn’t what the Council originally intended. In September the board approved a slew of amendments to the Fanita Ranch Specific Plan and approved the project in a 4-1 vote, with former Councilman Stephen Houlahan opposed.


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EL CAJON SEEKS APPLICANTS FOR CITY’S PERSONNEL COMMISSION AND OVERSIGHT COMMITTTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY FINANCING

Source: City of El Cajon

January 14, 2021 (El Cajon) -- The City of El Cajon is currently accepting applications for one position on the Personnel Commission and three on the Public Safety Facility Financing Oversight Committee. The filing period is open though Monday, February 1, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.

City Council interviews via Zoom will be held on Tuesday, February 9, 2021, at 7:00 p.m.

Applications are available in the City Clerk's Office and on the City's website. For additional information, please call the City Clerk's Office at (619) 441-1763.

Personnel Commission

Vacancy: One (1) Commissioner

Duration: Four-year term to expire on January 31, 2025


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BICYCLIST AND MOTORCYCLIST KILLED IN CRASH ON OTAY LAKES ROAD

By Miriam Raftery

January 14, 2021 (Jamul) – A deadly collision on Otay Lakes Road in Jamul on January 10th shortly before 10 a.m. claimed the lives of a motorcyclist and a bicyclist.

The victims are identified as Jonathan Michael Charbonnet, 43, and Julias Kim G. Cunanan, 40, both of Chula Vista.  Charbonnet was riding a motorcycle eastbound when for unknown reasons, he struck Cunanan, who was riding with a group of bicyclists


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HELP SOUGHT TO FIND MAN LAST SEEN AT SYCUAN CASINO IN DECEMBER

By Miriam Raftery

January 14, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – The San Diego Sheriff’s department seeks public help to locate Matthew Patton, 30. He was last seen on Dec. 10 around 7 p.m. leaving Sycuan Casino Resort in unincorporated El Cajon.

According to the Sheriff’s department, Patton met a friend the day before at Viejas Casino & Resort in Alpine. The pair later met up at Sycuan, where Patton reportedly stayed and continued gambling.

Patton was last seen walking toward Dehesa Road. He was wearing a white Nike hoodie and dark jeans.


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NEW RANCHO HELIX DE ORO FIRE SAFE COUNCIL OFFERS FIRE-SAFE TIPS

By Miriam Raftery

January 14, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) --Under the authority of the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County, the Rancho Helix De Oro is a newly formed fire safe council dedicated to educating and preparing our community in order to avoid devastating fires. The group has created an educational fire-safe flyer  (click link to view flyer) with information including tips for fire safety, an evacuation map, who to call during an emergency, and how to get emergency notification for the communities of Rancho San Diego, Mt. Helix and Casa de Oro.

The new group was formed with support from then-County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, the Grossmont-Mt. Helix Improvement Association, Valle de Oro Planning Group, Casa De Oro Alliance, and community members in collaboration with San Miguel Fire and Rescue, Cal Fire, San Diego County Sheriff, San Diego Gas & Electric, and the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County.


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SANTEE COLLABORATIVE LAUNCHES NEW CAMPAIGN PROMOTING DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION

Source: Santee Collaborative
 
Photo: Rebecca Jefferis Williamson
 
January 13, 2021 (Santee) – The Santee Collaborative, a one-stop resource center for Santee students and families, has launched a new campaign to reflect and educate people about Santee’s changing demographics.
 
“The city is experiencing a positive change in demographics that make it a much more diverse community than in the past,” a press release from the Santee Collaborative states.
 
The student population for Santee School District reflects growing diversity with only 54% white, not Hispanic (CDE, Dataquest). The white population includes Middle Eastern families, and it is estimated that Middle Eastern students make up between 4-5% of the students in the school district. These are students whose first language is Arabic, Kurdish, Chaldean, Farsi, Hebrew, or Assyrian. There are 29 languages spoken by families who attend Santee School District from all over the world.  This makes Santee a very diverse community with students of different races, ethnicities and religions all living together. 

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VOEPEL STATEMENTS ON CAPITOL INSURRECTION PROVOKE CALLS FOR EXPULSION OR RESIGNATION

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via a recent "Tea Time" video for the Tea Party on Assemblyman Voepel's Facebook page

January 13, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) --  Days after insurrectionists violently took over the nation’s capitol, threatening lives of legislators and resulting in five deaths including a police officer, statements made by East County Assemblyman Randy Voepel are drawing sharp criticisms, including calls for his resignation or expulsion from the Legislature.

Voepel, also a former Santee Mayor, said of the insurrection, “This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny. Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear-in on January 20," the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on January 10.

That prompted numerous posts on the Republican Assemblyman’s Facebook page overwhelmingly condemning his statements, including several calls for him to resign and an organization that promotes national security after 9/11 urging the Legislature to expel Voepel.


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FORMER SANTEE COUNCILMAN HOULAHAN WILL RUN FOR CONGRESS

By Mike Allen

January 13, 2021 (Santee) -- Stephen Houlahan, the former Santee Councilman who lost to Mayor John Minto in November, announced he’s running for the 50th Congressional District in a race two years down the road.

The seat was won in November by Republican Darrell Issa , who beat out Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar by about 28,000 votes or an 8 percent margin.

Through a spokesman, Houlahan, a registered nurse and political independent, said he intends to register as a Democrat, and expects to come in the top two in a primary in March 2022.

Among the main reasons for his decision was the terrible way the federal government has handled dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, said spokesman Bobby Borisov.


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TREES REMOVED FROM ALPINE’S SOUTH GRADE CURVE TO IMPROVE VISIBILITY FOR MOTORISTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  South Grade Road before the S curve near Scenic View Park

January 12, 2021 (Alpine) – In response to complaints over obstruction of visibility for drivers, several large trees have been removed from the s-curve on South Grade Road in Alpine near the intersection with Scenic View. A smaller oak tree growing below power lines was also taken out, confirms Hector Licon Jr., vegetation manager for the County Public Works Department.


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PRO-TRUMP DEMONSTRATORS CLASH WITH ANTI-FASCIST COUNTERPROTESTERS IN SAN DIEGO

By Miriam Raftery

Photo,left: Counterprotester sprays a pro-Trump demonstrator; screenshot via ECM news partner 10 News

January 12, 2021 (San Diego) --  A clash between self-described pro-Trump “patriots” and counter-protesters who claimed to be part of the antifascist “Antifa” movement on Saturday in Pacific Beach turned violent, 10 News, the Los Angeles Times and Fox 5 report.

The demonstration occurred days after pro-Trump demonstrators seeking to block election certification stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent rampage that left a police officer and four insurrectionists dead, the Capitol ransacked and legislators terrorized.

But this time, multiple media outlets on scene report that the violence was instigated by anti-fascist counter-protesters. On social media, some counter-protesters have claimed the protesters included white supremacists and fascists.


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PASSAGES: KELLY LYNNE CAMERON, MEDICAL WORKER AND ROLLER DERBY PLAYER, KILLED WHILE JOGGING IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Kelly Lynne Cameron with her husband, Tom Hovde, via GoFundMe

January 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – A 54-year-old woman killed while jogging in her La Mesa neighborhood has been identified by the  county medical examiner as Kelly Lynne Cameron. A GoFundMe site set up to help her family indicates she was a front-line medical worker and athlete.


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DRIVER WHO DRAGGED AND INJURED EL CAJON POLICEMAN IS ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED HOMICIDE

By Miriam Raftery
 
January 11, 2021 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Police today announced the arrest of the driver who allegedly dragged and seriously injured Officer Nick Cirello on December 14th. The suspect, David Francis Cepeda Pangilinan, was found and apprehended by the Los Angeles Rampart Narcotics Detail. He is charged with attempted homicide.

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FATALITY CRASHES CLAIM THREE LIVES IN RAMONA AND SANTA YSABEL

Update: One of the motorcyclists killed in the Ramona crash has been idenitified as Matthew Thomas Huthmacher, 51, of Descanso, according to the county Medical Examiner's office.
 
By Miriam Raftery
Photo: CHP cruiser, via CHP
 
January 11, 2021 (Ramona) –Two crashes minutes apart in Ramona and Santa Ysabel yesterday resulted in three fatalities.

The first accident claimed the life of two male motorcyclists in a three-vehicle crash on State Route 78 near State Route 79 in Santa Ysabel, one driving a 2020 Honda Dual Sport motorcycle, the other a KTM Dual Sport motorcycle.  The Honda veered off the highway and struck a rock, ejected the motorcyclist onto the roadway. The KTM motorcycle close by crossed the center lines into the eastbound lanes and was struck head-on by a 2003 Ford Focus. The KTM motorcyclist was also ejected onto the roadway.


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SEARCH FOR MISSING TEEN GIRL AT RISK IN SANTEE

Update January 14, 2021:  The Sheriff reports that Tarynn has been found safe and reunited with her parents.

By Miriam Raftery

January 11, 2020 (Santee) – Members of the public are asked to join in a search today for Tarynn, a 16-year-old missing in Santee. The teen was last seen in the 10000 block of Glendon Circle in Santee yesterday.  

She has blond hair and brown eyes; she is 5 ft. 9 inches tall. According to the Sheriff Watch Commander, she was last seen wearing her hair in a low ponytail and was wearing a black pajama top with gray pants, black or blue and white Vans slip-on shoes. She has blond hair and brown eyes, and was carrying a black bag with polka dots.

According to a post from East County Emergency Updates in the All Things Happening in Santee Forum, “The family has met with private search & rescue entities that are actively helping in the search for Tarynn. They are currently organizing a search & rescue for this morning that will require the public’s help. We will post details as soon as they provide them to us. Even though Tarynn is considered high risk due to her disabilities, SD Sheriff has “scaled back” their resources."


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DOG SAVES FAMILY FROM A FIRE IN EL CAJON, BUT MANY PET SNAKES PERISH

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson 

(Left photo of Samson courtesy of the San Diego Humane Society.)

(El Cajon) Jan. 9, 2021 Dog—man’s best friend.  The best friend this time was a 16-month-old mastiff named Samson.  

According to Cindy Peterson, who owns the affected home with her husband, Richard, Samson saved them from the fire. Samson heard a boom and started barking. The fire initially started in the garage where numerous snakes, rats, and other pets were kept.  The home, located in El Cajon, has been their home for eight years. 

El Cajon Councilmember Gary Kendrick sympathized with the loss of some of the family’s pets and wished the best for the surviving animals. “Good reason to have a dog,” he said of the hero mastiff. 

According to a statement released from Heartland Fire & Rescue, a crew from El Cajon, assisted by crews from Lakeside Fire and San Miguel Fire, were dispatched at 5:46 a.m. on Jan. 8 to the 1600 block of Pepper Hill Drive.  

(Photo at right taken by Rebeca Jefferis Williamson)

“Fire crews arrived within six minutes to discover a one-story-single family dwelling with the garage on fire,” states Heartland Fire & Rescue’s public information officer Sonny Saghera.  “Crews were able to control the fire within 20 minutes. The fire was confined to the garage and back wall with smoke and heat damage to the house and attic.”


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MIGUEL FIRE HALTED AT 20 ACRES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left, by J. Stotler  @2412_Fire_Photo : U.S. Forest Service Helitac landing

January 9, 2020 (Chula Vista) – The #MiguelFire northeast of Mt. Miguel Road and Proctor Valley Road scorched approximately20 acres on December 7. 

View aerial video of the fire courtesy of Cal Fire’s tactical aircraft:  https://twitter.com/i/status/1347287650890371079.


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WEEKLY FREE MEAL PICKUPS FOR ALL CHILDREN AGES 2-18

By Miriam Raftery

January 9, 2021 (La Mesa) – Starting January 11, The La Mesa-Spring Valley School District will have curbside meal pickups on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 17 of its school campuses. (See list below).  The packs are available to all children ages 2-18, whether or not they are students in the district.

For more information, call (619) 668-5764 or visit www.LMSVSchools.org.  Below are the schools offering curbside meal pickups each Monday, excluding holidays:


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HOMICIDE DETECTIVES INVESTIGATING AFTER BODY FOUND IN CAMPO

East County News Service
 
January 8, 2021 (Campo) – The Sheriff’s Homicide Unit is investigating the death of Paul Anthony Castello, a 32-year-old Campo resident. His body was found by Border Patrol agents near Shockey Truck Trail and State Route 94 in Campo, Wednesday, shortly after 8 a.m.
 
Sheriff's deputies and fire personnel responded. Unfortunately, Castello was pronounced deceased at the scene by fire personnel. Based on the injuries and circumstances, the Sheriff's Homicide Unit responded and has assumed responsibility of the investigation. 

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PASSAGES: WYATT OAKS WINERY CO-OWNER, PARTNER IN LA MESA WINE WORKS, DIES OF CANCER

East County News Service
 
January 8, 2021 (La Mesa) – Gavin McClain, the winemaker and co-owner of Wyatt Oaks Winery along with his wife, Stacy, has passed away of cancer.  He was a partner in La Mesa Wine Works, along with the owners of San Pasqual Winery.

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NO CHARGES FILED BY D.A. AGAINST OFFICER WHO STRUCK PROTESTER IN HEAD WITH BEANBAG DURING LA MESA RIOT

East County News Service

January 8, 2021 (La Mesa) -- San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan’s Office announced yesterday that a La Mesa police detective, who fired a beanbag round that injured Leslie Furcron during a protest that turned into a violent riot in La Mesa, will not face state criminal liability for his actions. Read the DA’s detailed review here.

Furcron was struck in the forehead and left blind in one eye after throwing a can toward officers during a confrontation in which others were hurling rocks. She has filed a civil lawsuit against the city of La Mesa over her injury.


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WOMAN KILLED STORMING CAPITOL HAD SPRING VALLEY TIES

By Miriam Raftery

January 7, 2021 (Spring Valley) – A woman shot and killed by police while breaking into the Speaker's gallery inside the U.S. Capitol during yesterday’s insurrection has been identified as Ashli Babbitt. An Air Force veteran describe by KUSI as a “high level security officer” during her military service, Babbitt was the CEO of Fowler’s Pool Service & Supply in Spring Valley, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.  10 News reports that she grew up in Lakeside.

Although some sites have described her as an "unarmed protester," her documented actions went far beyond Constitutionally protected protest activities. The New York Post has published video showing the moment when Babbitt was shot while climbing through a broken window in the Capitol, attempting to illegally access the House chamber where Congressional members were holding a hearing on certifying the Electoral College votes from the presidential election.  (Warning: graphic content).

The video shows armed officers rushing up stairs into a crowd of insurrectionists intent on disrupting the peaceful transfer of power process, many wearing MAGA hats as they attempt to break down a barricaded set of doors. The crowd lifted up Babbitt, who was wearing a backpack with a flag as she attempted to climb through a broken window in one of the doors, when she was shot by law enforcement.


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VACCINATIONS BEGIN AT LOCAL NURSING HOMES

By Miriam Raftery
 
January 5, 2021 (Santee) – COVID-19 vaccines for nursing home patients and staff have arrived in our region. Yesterday, vaccinations were provided at Edgemoor Skilled Nursing Facility in Santee.
 
Edgemoor, run by the County Health and Human Services Agency, was recently named best facility of its kind in California and San Diego by Newsweek magazine for the second year in a row, out of over 15,000 nursing homes in the U.S. 
 
The pandemic lockdown has been particularly difficult on seniors and disabled individuals in nursing homes, who have been barred from having visitors for months.

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REWARD FOR INFO ON GUNSHOT VICTIM DROPPED OFF OUTSIDE GROSSMONT HOSPITAL

East County News Service
 
January 5, 2021 (La Mesa) – Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in the fatal shooting of Jose Santos Acevedo Torresdey, 36.  A red Honda sedan dropped off Torresdey on December 30 at 6:55 p.m. in the ambulance lot outside of the Sharp Hospital Emergency Room, then left.  The driver is unknown.
 
Torresdey suffered a gunshot wound in his chest. It is unknown who shot him, or where he was shot.  He was prounounced dead after lifesaving measures were performed by hospital staff.

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JAMUL INDIAN VILLAGE OF CALIFORNIA DONATES $75,000 TO REGIONAL HEALTHCARE AGENCIES

Tribe seeks to alleviate effects of pandemic

Source:  Jamul Indian Village of California

Photo:  Erica M. Pinto, Chairwoman of Jamul Indian Village of California

January 5, 2021 (Jamul) - Today, the Jamul Indian Village of California (JIV or Tribe), owner and operator of Jamul Casino®, announced its 2020 year-end donations totaling $75,000 to local healthcare agencies, including $45,000 to Sharp Grossmont Hospital, $15,000 to Southern Indian Health Council, and $15,000 to Indian Health Council, Inc.  JIV provided these year-end healthcare donations in addition to its annual fall philanthropy and community outreach campaigns, which included contributing more than $40,000 to non-profits for breast cancer research and awareness, veterans’ programs, and other local causes. These donations reflect JIV’s desire to give back to the community in impactful ways, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic that has particularly challenged front-line workers in the healthcare industry.


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