Communities

POWAY SYNAGOGUE SHOOTER PLEADS GUILTY TO MURDER TO GET LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE

By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association 

Photo:  Defendant John Earnest during a witness’ testimony in 2019.  Pool photo

July 20, 2021 (Poway) - John Earnest pleaded guilty Tuesday to murder and other state charges in the 2019 shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue that killed one woman and injured three other people.

A NATURAL HISTORY OF THE ANZA-BORREGO REGION WINS GOLD AT CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARDS

East County News Service

July 20, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- A Natural History of the Anza-Borrego Region: Then and Now by Marie Simovich and Mike Wells, published by Sunbelt Publications in El Cajon, has been named a Gold Medal winner in the Contribution to Publishing category at the 90th Annual California Book Awards.

FOUR WOMEN RUNNING FOR LA MESA CITY COUNCIL, FIFTH CANDIDATE DROPS OUT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left to right: Mejgan Afshan, Letitia Dickerson, Patricia Dillard, and Laura Lothian

July 20, 2021 (La Mesa) – So far, the lineup of candidates seeking to serve on La Mesa’s City Council have one thing in common: all are women who filed papers to run for a vacancy on the Council left when ex-Councilmember Akilah Weber won election to the state Assembly.  Dr Weber, a Democrat, was the first Black woman to serve on the Council.

The filing deadline opened July 12 and will close on August 6, so more candidates may yet file. The candidates who have filed to run so far are:

EL CAJON HOLDS FIRST REDISTRICTING MEETING, RAISES CONCERNS IN ARAB, MIDDLE EASTERN AND NORTH AFRICAN COMMUNITIES

By Briana Gomez

July 19, 2021 (El Cajon) - The first of four redistricting meetings in El Cajon took place last Wednesday.

Local governments redistrict every 10 years to reflect a change in local population. The redistricting plan will affect how residents elect their council members.

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.

VEGETATION FIRE #PARCFIRE IN SANTEE APPEARS FULLY CONTAINED

SDSO advising residents of Parc One to shelter in place

East County News Service

Photo credit: Google and in-house

July 19, 2021 (Santee) -- The initial response to the Parc Fire (also appearing in some places spelled Park Fire) in Santee appears to have been successful, and poses little danger to neighbors. Parc One residents are being asked to shelter in place.

SD County Fire Scanner broke news of the fire and its early containment on twitter at approximately 2:20 p.m. this afternoon July 19, and and the fire is (almost) out before it even started. They report that firefighting crews expect to be "mopping up" over the next 2-3 hours.

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.

SAY THEIR NAMES MEMORIAL EXHIBIT OPENS AT CHILDREN’S MUSEUM, INCLUDES EAST COUNTY MAN KILLED BY POLICE

Story and Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

 

July 18, 2021 (San Diego) - The late Alfred Olango, who was an El Cajon resident at the time of his death, was included in the exhibit “Say Their Names” Memorial Exhibit located next to The New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego. The exhibit runs through July 25 and commemorates people of color killed by police or due to racism. 

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.

GRAND OPENING FOR HANDEL’S HOMEMADE ICE CREAM IN SANTEE POSTPONED TO JULY 29

 

Update July 18 from Handel's: "We have made the difficult decision to postpone the opening. We have extended training for our staff to provide the best customer service. The grand opening has been changed to July 29 at 11 a.m."

 
By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo, left, by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson) 

July 9, 2021 (Santee) -- The grand opening for the eagerly awaited ice cream parlor in Santee, Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream, is slated for July 22.

Handel’s  will  offer many flavors which are homemade at the store, with seasonal and other flavors available all year round.

Cinnamon pecan, pizzelle, dulce de leche, spouse like a house, and green tea are  just a few of the flavors. Sherberts, yogurt, fat-free/-no sugar added ice cream, plus vegan options are just a sampling of their products.

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.

RALLY AGAINST ANTI-SEMITISM IN EL CAJON JULY 25 TO FEATURE FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE POMPEO, MULTI-FAITH LEADERS AND MAYOR WELLS

By Miriam Raftery

July 17, 2021 (El Cajon) – In response to an all-time high number of violent attacks on Jewish people and synagogues in the U.S., a rally titled “We Are Israel” will be held on Sunday, July 25 at 3 p.m. in Prescott Prominade Park at 201 East Main Street in downtown El Cajon.

JULIAN NEWSPAPER FOR SALE AS PUBLISHER BATTLES CANCER

By Miriam Raftery

July 17, 2021 (Julian) – For the past 37 years, the Julian News has been the voice of Julian, a historic gold-mining town in San Diego’s mountain region.  Michael Hart and his wife, Michele Harvey, have owned and run the independent weekly publication since July 4, 2004, covering everything from major firestorms to community events.

LA MESA RESIDENT PLANS 50 ROUNDS OF GOLF IN 50 DAYS IN 50 STATES TO RAISE MONEY FOR CLEAN WATER WORLDWIDE

By Angela Kurysh

Photos courtesy of Clay Phillips

July 17, 2021 (La Mesa) – Fifty rounds of golf in 50 states in 50 days. Yes, you read that right. 66-year-old La Mesa resident and avid golf lover Clay Phillips has planned out a detailed nationwide trip where he will be playing rounds of golf in each state for a good cause. He will be challenging himself as a golfer, but also making this experience more than that. Phillips’ initial goal is to raise money for clean water worldwide, by having his friends, family and followers join him on his journey via social media and donate to the cause.

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: 

SR-67 PAVEMENT MICROSURFACING BEGINS SUNDAY NIGHT

Lane closures and one-way traffic control may cause delays

Source:  CalTrans

July 15, 2021 (Ramona) - Crews will begin pavement microsurfacing operations on several small sections of State Route 67 (SR-67) in the community of Ramona for six consecutive nights beginning Sunday at 8 until 5 in the morning, according to Caltrans. 

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. 

 

BON APPETIT! LA MESA EXTENDS OUTDOOR DINING UNTIL JULY 2022

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Miriam Raftery: Outdoor dining at Antica Trattoria in La Mesa

July 15, 2021 (La Mesa) – Expanding onto sidewalks and parking lots provided salvation to many local restaurants and shops during the pandemic, when indoor dining was banned or capacity limited.

To help local businesses recover financially over the next year, La Mesa’s City Council recently voted to extend temporary outdoor permits in public spaces for restaurants and stores through July 16, 2022.

WITH CHALLENGE COMES CHANGE: FIRST PRIZE IN EAST COUNTY LEADERSHIP COUNCIL'S COVID-19 ESSAY CONTEST

This essay won first prize ($1,000) in the East County Leadership Council (ECLC) 2021 COVID-19 essay contest. Prize money has been provided through the generosity of ECLC donors and a grant from the Foundation for Economic Justice.

By Anonymous Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) student in East County Leadership Council’s (ECLC) COVID-19 Essay Contest (First Prize)

“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.” —Robert Tew.

July 15, 2021 (San Diego's East County) -- Throughout our lifetime, we pass through so many different situations, some that make us smile and others that make us cry. We get rewarded by some, and we get challenged by others. What is interesting though is that we get to pick the way we react. We get to choose our life and shape it the way we want, despite our struggles, and if we do that right, we develop our strengths. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the United States, it was a struggle for everyone, and only the people who overcame their struggles came out of it stronger than ever. Personally, I had to overcome challenges academically since online school was extremely difficult, physically since my health was deteriorating as my weight increased, and mentally, since my mental health was worsening as well. However, although there were many challenges and struggles that came with COVID-19, there were also gains.  

FAMILY LIFE DURING COVID'S YEAR-AND-A-HALF: SECOND PRIZE IN EAST COUNTY LEADERSHIP COUNCIL'S ESSAY CONTEST

This essay won second prize in the East County Leadership Council (ECLC) 2021 COVID-19 essay contest. Prize money has been provided through the generosity of ECLC donors and a grant from the Foundation for Economic Justice.

By Anonymous Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) student in East County Leadership Council’s (ECLC) COVID-19 Essay Contest (Second Prize)

July 14, 2021 (San Diego's East County) -- Every single one of us has been affected by the current COVID-19 virus whether it was in a positive or negative way. However, the pandemic has affected people differently depending on our social status and our income. While some are adapting to school online and staying home for quarantine others are adapting to losing their jobs. COVID-19 has caused many businesses to go out of business, resulting in an overall of 25% of U.S. adults being laid off or losing their job. This doesn’t only have an effect on the adults but even on the children. From personal experience, I constantly think and stress about bills being paid because the idea of being homeless again is terrifying. The COVID-19 outbreak has caused low-income families to struggle to put food on the table and struggle with paying household bills as well as medical bills. It has been proven that the pandemic has hit low-income families the hardest, specifically African American and Hispanic households. 

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.

WIFE RELEASED FROM CUSTODY AFTER SHOOTING DEATH OF REV. NOAH SHEPHERD IN LEMON GROVE

Update July 16, 2021:  D.A. announces no charges filed -- Gabriela Shepherd was scheduled to be arraigned at the El Cajon courthouse Thursday, but District Attorney spokeswoman Tanya Sierra said in a statement,"Charges are not being filed at this time. The investigation is ongoing and we will review the case as we get more information."  Shepherd has been released from Las Colinas and will be reunited with the couple's two children, NBC 7 reports.

By Miriam Raftery

July 14,2021 (Lemon Grove) – Gabriela “Gabby” Rose Shepherd, 26, has been arrested on suspicion of murder in the shooting death of her husband, Rev. Noah David Shepherd, 29.  The couple has two young children, Sam and Joel.

Sheriff’s deputies responding to a call reporting gunfire on July 12 around 6 p.m. found the victim in the backyard of the couple’s home in the 2500 block of Camino de las Palmas, Lemon Grove. Despite lifesaving efforts by deputies until fire personnel arrived, Noah Shepherd was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at a hospital.

Gabby Shepherd claimed that she had accidentally shot her husband when he entered their home through a back door, said Lt. Mike Arens with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. However following an investigation by the Sheriff’s Homicide Unit, Gabby Shepherd was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder.

TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL - A CANDID ACCOUNT OF COVID-19

This essay shared third prize in the East County Leadership Council (ECLC) 2021 COVID-19 essay contest. Prize money has been provided through the generosity of ECLC donors and a grant from the Foundation for Economic Justice.

By Maryam Hashimi

El Cajon Valley High School student

July 13, 2021 (San Diego's East County) -- I was glad that schools were closing when Covid hit, but I was unaware of the difficult portion that lay ahead.

One of the most difficult aspects of COVID-19 was being at home the entire time. Throughout the academic year, I was heavily involved in school events. I would leave for school at 7 a.m. and return at 7 p.m.

Moving from a full schedule to an empty one was a significant adjustment. I simply didn’t know what to do with myself at home. My track and field, volleyball, and fashion show were all canceled, which made me very sad. Those were the only things that could keep me motivated and joyful on a daily basis. I grew depressed and had sporadic moments that I simply cried because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goals.

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.
 

GABRIEL FIRE IN VALLEY CENTER

East County News Service

Photo via @CALFIRESANDIEGO on Twitter

July 12, 2021 (Valley Center) - Cal Fire is at scene with cooperating agencies at a vegetation fire near San Gabriel Way east of Couser Canyon Road in Valley Center.

The fire has burned three acres, moving at a slow rate of spread with potential structure threat.

 


 

Sign up to receive East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts free via e-mail. You can also follow @EastCountyAlert on Twitter for text alerts on your mobile phone. We thank the Grossmont Healthcare District and the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation for their support of our alerts, helping to keep you safe and informed.

 

JOIN THE 2021 JULIAN HIKING CHALLENGE

East County News Service
 
July 12, 2021 (Julian) --You’re invited to explore some of Julian's most beautiful trails in the Julian Hiking Challenge. Complete the five hikes listed by December 31, submit photos and you will receive a special certificate, sticker and entry into a raffle to win a Julian Goodie bag of Julian keepsake items, special offers, freebies-- plus the added bonus of some awesome outdoor adventures.
 
Send selfies to share@visitjulian.com after you finish each hike or all five hikes. The First 300 to complete the challenge will also receive a Julian Hiking Challenge Patch.
 

NEW NORMAL

This essay shared third prize in the East County Leadership Council (ECLC) 2021 COVID-19 essay contest. Prize money has been provided through the generosity of ECLC donors and a grant from the Foundation for Economic Justice.

By Merna Poulis

El Cajon Valley High School student

July 12, 2021 (San Diego's East County) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has affected numerous aspects of our society today. Hand sanitizing stations have been installed in every corner. Physical touch has been frowned upon for the past year, and distance is the new normal. Masks have become a substantial part of our everyday look. Going to school, or receiving an education has easily been one of the biggest challenges that everyone has had to face. Overall, COVID-19 has strongly impacted each and every one of us, but the classrooms have changed the way students view school physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

COVID AFFECTED US ALL

This essay shared third prize in the East County Leadership Council (ECLC) 2021 COVID-19 essay contest. Prize money has been provided through the generosity of ECLC donors and a grant from the Foundation for Economic Justice.

By Julia Baxter

West Hills High School student

July 11, 2021 (San Diego's East County) -- Even if you were not infected by COVID-19, no person escaped being impacted by it. The virus infiltrated every aspect of life, from having to instinctively grab a mask before leaving the house to causing national lockdowns. Life revolving around the coronavirus is starting to feel like the new normal. Students are one particular group that’s accustomed to persisting in the face of adversity, but the latest challenge has been difficult to adjust to for many, and it’s sink or swim. 

After experiencing almost a full school year in the midst of a pandemic, the unpredictability of life is beginning to grow old. Upperclassmen deal with colleges changing their requirements for applications on a monthly basis. They’re anxious about tests like the SAT and ACT being canceled and rescheduled constantly, and fight to get in extracurriculars to make up for lost time during the lockdown. Underclassmen are either freshmen who didn’t finish their last semester of middle school and began their first year of high school without seeing their teachers in person until September, or they are sophomores who did not get the chance to finish adjusting to high school expectations due to having their school year cut short.

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