Communities

KUMEYAAY PROTEST HALTS DYNAMITE BLASTING AT BORDER WALL

 

 

By Helen Horvath

Photo, lefft: Dynamite charges set by the US Corps of Engineers

June 30, 2020 (Campo) – Yesterday, at the end of Tierra del Sol Road in the Campo area, a group of Kumeyaay-led people and supporters gathered early in the morning to protest the blasting of Kumeyaay cultural sites.

Many of these protesters, wearing masks due to COVID-19, were members of the Kumeyaay Original Peoples Alliance, American Indian Movement, and Warriors of Awareness. These groups  participated out of concern for the ancestral history and culture of the Kumeyaay tribes.  Black Lives Matter (BLM) and American Friends Service Committee also participated in the protest in a show of solidarity with local Native Americans. (Photo, right)


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FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND FORECAST: FIRE WEATHER AND RIP CURRENTS

By Miriam Raftery

June 30, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The weather will be warming up over the Fourth of July weekend. But before you head to the beach, be aware that elevated surf is forecast to generate strong rip currents that will be hazardous to swimmers this weekend and next week.

On Sunday and Monday,  breezy winds, warmer conditions and low relative humidity will create elevated fire weather conditions, says meteorologist Casey Oswant with the National Weather Service. The conditions are “favorable for fast-moving grass fires,” Oswant cautions.


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WINERY OWNERS SAY SHUTDOWN OF BARS UNFAIR TO RURAL WINERIES, THREATENS TO CRUSH BURGEONING WINE INDUSTRY

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Outdoor patio at Vineyard Grant James in Ramona provides ample social distancing for wine-tasting guests

June 29, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – East County’s once-thriving wine industry is struggling under COVID-19 restrictions – and some local wineries may die on the vine now that the county has once again shut down all bars effect July 1, including wineries and breweries.

Now, some winery owners are criticizing the shutdown as overly broad and unfair,  since many rural wineries have outdoor patios or spacious tasting rooms and have been providing ample social distancing – unlike urban bars and crowded venues such as the Gaslamp District.


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HAM RADIO OPERATORS CONTINUE LEARNING DESPITE SOCIAL DISTANCING: LOCAL VOLUNTEERS PROVIDE VITAL COMMUNICATION DURING EMERGENCIES

By Rob Freeburn

Photo by Sharon Freeburn:  “Using portable radio equipment in Alpine, radio operator Rob Freeburn reaches out to radio operators on the US East Coast."

June 27, 2020 (Alpine) --  On Saturday, 6/27/2020, San Diego East County ham radio enthusiasts transmitted radio signals from homes, backyards and parking lots to connect with other radio enthusiasts across North America to compete against each other and to practice emergency radio communications. Although the results are not yet tabulated, East County radio "hams" always do well in the competition because the remote backcountry and higher elevation make East County an ideal radio operating location. Radio hams in Crest, Alpine, Descanso, Mt Laguna, Ramona, Julian, and Campo turn in some of the highest scores in the United States. From East County, the most sought-after radio contacts were in Delaware and Prince Edward Island on the East Coast of Canada. 


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AMID PANDEMIC, EL CAJON ENDS LEASE WITH CRISIS HOUSE, PUTTING SERVICES FOR HOMELESS PEOPLE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS AT RISK

By Miriam Raftery

“It’s very likely that we won’t be able to provide the same level of service that we do today….The County has no walk-in services for the homeless, and pretty soon that’s going to be the way it will be in El Cajon.” – Mary Case, Executive Director at Crisis House (photo, left)

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon’s City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve an early lease termination agreement to oust Crisis House from city-owned property at 1034 Magnolia Ave. For the past 26 years, the city has leased the property to Crisis House for a dollar a year, recognizing the value to the community of the services provided by Crisis House, which has a mission to “break the cycle of poverty, domestic violence and homelessness and strengthen families and individuals so that they can thrive and transform their lives.”

The city wants Crisis House gone from is current location near the new Hampton Inn hotel.  So the Council-approved measure offers Crisis House $700,000 if it vacates the property by September 30th. That amount diminishes to just $350,000 by year’s end and $150,000 by March 31, or zero if Crisis house remains until the lease expires on June 30, 2021.

But Mary Case, Executive Director of Crisis House, says that’s not enough time to find an affordable space, adding that the action will almost certainly mean major cuts in services.


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PANDEMIC INFECTS SANTEE’S BUDGET, CAUSES $1 MILLION HIT TO SALES TAXES

By Mike Allen
 
June 28, 2020 (Santee) -- The city of Santee will sustain an estimated loss of $1 million in sales taxes in the coming fiscal year starting July 1, as a result of so many stores being closed or only partially open due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

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CHEERS! WINERIES REOPEN ACROSS EAST COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Ramona Ranch Winery's winemaker is cheered by news that wineries and vineyards can now reopen to visitors.

June 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Wineries are reopening across our region, after three months of curbside-only services due to COVID-19. Some owners have been hard-hit by the economic loss, but now welcome the opportunity to welcome back visitors.

Now you can once again enjoy sipping wine on a mountain patio  overlooking vineyards or in an urban tasting room. Some are offering food pairings, special sales and other incentives to welcome back visitors – with social distancing and other changes per state health rules.


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ILLEGAL POT SHOPS RAIDED NEAR SCHOOLS AND HOMES

East County News Service
 
June 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – More than a thousand pounds of marijuana products, six firearms, and over $221,000 in cash were seized Thursday following search warrants served at six illegal dispensaries and three homes. The raids took place in Lakeside, unincorporated El Cajon and the city of San Diego, conducted by investigators from the county Sheriff’s department and San Diego Police.

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EL CAJON VOTES TO INCREASE FUNDS FOR POLICE DEPARTMENT

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon City Council members received hundreds of comments sent via email on the city’s proposed budget, nearly all weighing in on police funding following a nationwide wave of protests over police violence and racial injustice issues.   

Many of the commenters argued for “defunding” or shifting some funds away from police into investments in the community or alternatives to handle mentally ill and homeless people, though many others voiced support for El Cajon Police and supported raising the department’s budget.

The Council unanimously voted for a $120,000 increase for the police.

“The motivation is to keep all the citizens safe,” Councilman Gary Kendrick told ECM.


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SANTEE ADOPTS RESOLUTION DENOUNCING RACISM, CONSIDERS INCLUSIONARY HOUSING LAW

 

By Mike Allen

June 25, 2020 (Santee) -- Santee’s leaders decided they needed to make a public denunciation of racism, hate speech, and intolerance in response to a flurry of recent ugly incidents in their predominantly white city.

At the June 24 City Council meeting, Mayor John Minto said the unanimously passed resolution condemning racism will be a guiding principle as the city confronts its past.

“We acknowledge that we’ve had problems but we’re not going to allow those problems to stop us from moving forward and doing better,” Minto said.


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LACK OF DATA COLLECTION BLOCKS EFFORTS TO ASSESS COVID-19 IMPACTS ON LOCAL MIDDLE EASTERN COMMUNITIES

Hear our  interview with Dr. Raed Al-Naser for KNSJ radio: click here.

By Briana Gomez

Photo, left: Doris Bittar

“Arab Americans are largely considered Caucasian, other, or unknown.  We are a disappeared minority, rendering us nearly invisible in the media and in medicine.” – Doris Bittar, President, Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, San Diego chapter

June 25, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Minority communities across the US are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. For example, nearly 67% of cases in San Diego are among Latinos and Hispanics, who comprise only 30% of the population, according to County Health Department  figures as of June 20.  But a lack of data on Arab and Middle Eastern Americans makes it impossible to accurately assess impacts of the pandemic on this population locally and nationally.

Audio: 


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CAJON VALLEY UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT’S BUMPY ROAD TO A NEW SCHOOL YEAR DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

June 24, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The Cajon Valley Union School District Board of Trustees has approved a plan to re-open its 27 schools this fall, after going to a state-mandated distance learning program in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The final plan approved by the board on June 11, however, looks different from what had been envisioned by the district’s Superintendent, Dr. David Miyashiro. The original plan would have had students continue to use internet teleconferencing exclusively, as they have been since mid-March.

However, after documents from a private meeting involving some 40 district employees at the Marriott Coronado Resort and Spa on June 6 and 7 were leaked to parents and to East County Magazine, Miyashiro’s vision began to unravel. Some 100 parents throughout the district quickly organized and descended on school district headquarters on June 9 for what was supposed to be a one hour board workshop to approve the measure.


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HIT AND RUN DRIVER IN GOLD HONDA CIVIC INJURES PEDESTRIAN IN SPRING VALLEY

East County News Service

June 24, 2020 (Spring Valley) – A 45-year-old man suffered major injuries when he was struck by a gold Honda Civic around 5:52 p.m. yesterday at Troy Street east of Central Avenue in Spring Valley. The driver fled the scene in the vehicle.

The victim was standing in the driveway of the Goodland Acres Park when the vehicle veered off course to the right, striking the pedestrian, says Officer Travis Garrow with the California Highway Patrol.


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EL CAJON EASES REQUIREMENTS FOR SIDEWALK CAFES AMID COVID RESTRICTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – Owners of reopened restaurant are struggling to generate profits while complying with social distancing requirements of six feet between tables due to COVID-19. Now the El Cajon City Council has unanimously voted to make it easier for eateries to expand outdoors.

The Council approved a second reading on June 23 of an emergency ordinance passed unanimously June 9. It allows restaurants to skip cumbersome conditional-use permit requirements for sidewalk dining. The new ordinance will remain in effect through the end of this year, but an extension or option to make it permanent may be considered later on.

Previously, a conditional use permit, or CUP, required extra fees and delays due to an environmental review, followed by approval of both the Planning Commission and the City Council.


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DOWN IN FLAMES: SUPERVISORS REJECT LILAC HILLS RANCH OVER WILDFIRE DANGER

By Miriam Raftery
 
June 24, 2020 (Valley Center) – The Lilac Hills Ranch, a proposed 1,742-homes development in rural Valley Center, has been a lightning rod of controversy for the past 15 years. In 2016, over 64 percent of voters rejected the project when Measure B went down in flames. Today, County Supervisors agreed with recommendations by staff and fire officials, rejecting the project due to the danger of residents becoming trapped should a major wildfire force evacuation.

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DESPITE LOSING BUILDING TO ARSON, RANDALL LAMB ASSOCIATES JOINS EFFORT TO HELP OTHER BUSINESSES DAMAGED DURING RIOT

The Phair Company and Lions Club of La Mesa also make major contributions

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Flames engulf Randall Lamb Associates building

June 24, 2020 (La Mesa) – Among the many local companies stepping forward with donations to help businesses damaged by looting, vandalism or arson on May 30-31, one name stands out. The Randall Lamb Associates’  building burned to the ground, yet its owners have generously given $5,000 to help others rebuild their businesses and their lives.


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CHILDREN’S NATURE RETREAT REOPENS AFTER COVID-19 SHUTDOWN: ANIMAL RESCUE NEEDS VISITORS AND DONATIONS

 

Source: Children’s Nature Retreat

June 23, 2020 (Alpine) -- The Children’s Nature Retreat, a 20-acre animal sanctuary in Alpine with 140-plus domesticated animals, is reopening to guests.

The animal sanctuary is open by appointment only, limited to 50 people. Guests are required to wear masks at the entrance, and if they come within 6-feet of anyone outside of their family/household; visitors can roam the outdoor property on the self-guided tour without masks.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: REFLECTIONS ON RECENT EVENTS AND CHALLENGES TO PRESERVE CULTURAL HISTORY IN LA MESA

By Jim Newland, President, La Mesa Historical Society

June 23, 2020 (La Mesa) - The past few weeks’ events and experiences, including those in our local community, can only remind us of our nation’s challenging history of discrimination, violence and racism.  This is a very personal history for many that sadly continues into the present. 


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A PASTOR BRINGS SPIRITUAL SUPPORT TO THOSE IN NEED DURING RIOTS

 

By Briana Gomez

 

Photo by Jake Rose: Pastor Ferguson in La Mesa, as police guard street while firefighters battle flames at the Randall Lamb Building

 

June 23, 2020 (La Mesa) -- After being sighted praying amid the La Mesa riots the night of May 30th, Pastor Travis Ferguson has found himself in unexpected limelight as a symbol of hope for La Mesa.


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MISSING LA MESA MAN FOUND IN SANTEE

 

Update 10 p.m.:  La Mesa Police confirms that Al Buki has been found safe in Santee and reunited with his family.

East County News Service

June 22, 2020 (La Mesa) -- La Mesa Police is asking for public help to locate Attila "Al" Buki, who has been missing since last night around 7 p.m., when he left his independent living residence in the 7900 block of Culowee Street.  He is on foot and does not have access to a vehicle.

Police report that according to a family member, Buki has cognitive delays, and suffers from dementia caused by multiple strokes that he has suffered in the past.

He frequents the area of the nearby La Mesa Springs shopping center (8011 University Avenue) but otherwise has no other expected local destinations.


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UNIONS HOLD RALLY ON JUNETEENTH IN LA MESA

Story, photos and videos by Henri Migala
 
June 20, 2020 (La Mesa) -- La Mesa was once again the location of demonstration in support for Black Lives Matter.  This time the event was sponsored by many Labor Unions, which make up the San Diego Imperial County Labor Council, and was promoted as the Labor for Black Lives Caravan. It was held on June 19th, a date  known as Juneteenth which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.

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LESLIE FURCRON SAID SHE WAS ENTERING A “RIOT” AND CALLED TO “BURN” DOWN LA MESA POLICE STATION BEFORE SHE WAS SHOT WITH BEANBAG

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Chris Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

June 20, 2020 (La Mesa) – The attorney for Leslie Furcron, the woman shot in the head with a beanbag projectile May 30 outside the La Mesa Police station, has characterized her as a “peaceful” protester. A police incident narration claims she threw an object at Sheriff’s officers before she was fired at from 40 yards and struck in the head with the beanbag. While it is unclear on her cell phone video whether she threw an object or not, what is clear is that she, or someone narrating the video taken on her cell phone, advocated burning down the police station while she was in the car driving to the station.


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SANTEE CARJACKING SUSPECT ARRESTED IN LA MESA

By Miriam Raftery

June 19, 2020 (Santee) – A suspect is in custody after reportedly threatening to kill a 77-year-old woman and her family, then forcing the victim out of her car and driving off with her purse and cell phone.  The carjacking occurred shortly before 1 p.m. today in the 9800 block of Mission Gorge Road in Santee.

Sheriff’s deputies and La Mesa Police officers found the suspect, Chris DiSalvo, 30, sitting in the stolen car in the 4600 block of Palm Drive in La Mesa. 

“Upon seeing law enforcement DiSalvo took off, but crashed into a tree,” said Sergeant Michael Tingley with the Sheriff’s Department.“He then ran into an apartment complex."


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A BITTERSWEET REOPENING OF THE ICONIC JACUMBA SPA, NOW FOR SALE

By Daniel Smiechowski

June 19, 2020 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- The East County Jacumba Resort and Spa has fallen victim to uncertain times. Owned for many years by Dave Landman, an affable character who coincidentally owns most of Jacumba and about 800 acres east to Yuma, Arizona, the Spa is currently listed for sale by Coldwell Banker. 


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EL CAJON POLICE OFFICER DIVERTS GRAFFITI ARTISTS TO CREATE PUBLIC ART

By Miriam Raftery

Photos courtesy of Officer Murphy and El Cajon Police

June 19, 2020 (El Cajon) – When El Cajon Police Officer Michael Murphy found three youths spray-painting “peace” and “BLM”, he created a teaching moment.  “I explained to them that by doing that, their message gets lost and destroys another person’s property. So I decided instead of arresting them we would work together to fix the damage and work on an area where they can post their message,” he posted on Facebook.

So he arranged to meet up with them, get plywood and find a place for them to express their views and creativity in a positive way - as well as having them lend a hand to clean up the defaced property. The result is a work of art showing talent and the power of working together for creative solutions to conflicts.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: WHY IS WATER SHUT OFF AT CAMPGROUNDS IN MCCAIN VALLEY?

By Ken Danielson

 

Photo, left: Google Earth image of water systems

 

Photo, right by Miriam Raftery:  Lark campground, before construction of Tule Wind

 

June 18, 2020 (McCain Valley) -- Many of you have probably visited the Cottonwood campground at the end of McCain Valley road. (Identical conditions exist at the Lark Canyon Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) park midway to Cottonwood). I’ve been camping there for more than 40 years. Even with the industrialization of the valley. it has remained a gem. 


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PHOTO OF THE WEEK: LA MESA LIONS CLUB DELIVERS MEALS TO CAREGIVERS

East County News Service 

June 19, 2020 (La Mesa) – Members of the La Mesa Lions Club delivered meals to caregivers at Sharp Grossmont Hospital last month in appreciation for their efforts.  Left to right, photo shows two nurses from an ICU unit on a COVID-19 floor, Lions Club Vice Presidents Joyce James and Mary Rynearson, Beth Morgante, CEO of Grossont Hospital Foundation and La Mesa Lions member David Shaw, Elbert Kim, La Mesa Lions Club President, and Cupid’s Caterers representatives.


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SUPERVISORS TO HOLD HEARING ON CONTROVERSIAL LILAC HLLS RANCH JUNE 24 AFTER STAFF AND COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY RECOMMEND DENIAL

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Site of proposed master-planned deveopment that has sparked a firestorm of controversy

June 18, 2020 (Valley Center) -- The San Diego County Fire Authority and County staff have recommended that Supervisors deny the controversial Lilac Hills Ranch mixed-use development project in Valley Center due to concerns over fire safety and evacuation routes. County Supervisors will consider the recommended denial on Wednesday, June 24. Theh project has also drawn strong opposition over the years from community members.

Despite objections from fire authorities, however, the County Planning Commission voted 5-2 to overrule staff and ignore concerns over lack of safe evacuation routes.  Intead, the majority of commissioners recommended that Superivsors allow the developer to pay a $2 million fire protection fee with various escape clauses in order to proceed, with building the project with the homeowners' associatoin paying for annual brush clearing, as the developer has sought.

The meeting begins at 9 a.m. and will be virtual due to COVID-19.


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PHARMACY ROBBERY IN ALPINE MAY BE PART OF SERIES

East County News Service

Photos via CVS

June 18, 2020 (Alpine) – An investigation is underway into a robbery at a CVS in Alpine that may be part of a series of pharmacy robberies across East County. Two juveniles were apprehended.

Shortly before 3 p.m. on June 17, deputies from the Alpine Sheriff’s station responded to the CVS Pharmacy at 1385 Tavern Road after a 9-1-1 call reported a robbery. The caller said one of two suspects, armed with a cane, jumped over the counter demanding drugs and took 13 bottles of narcotics. As he fled, he swung the cane around and smashed the glass countertop. A cell phone of one of the employees was also taken, says Lieutenant Anthony O’Boyle.

The suspects fled the scene, but due to a quick response from a Sheriff's Sergeant, deputies and detectives, the suspects were located behind the Alpine library and detained,” says Lt. O’Boyle.


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VIRTUAL CAMPFIRE CHATS WITH ANZA-BORREGO PARK RANGERS KICK OFF THIS WEEKEND

 

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East County News Service

Photo by Kirtland Smith: Verdin in Ocotillo

June 18, 2020 (Borrego Springs) – The Anza Borrego Foundation is planning five virtual Campfire chats with retired Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Rangers and Superintendents, streamed live from various Park locations.

In 30-minute segments, each ranger will share stories, focused on their favorite park topics such as birding, bighorn sheep, land conservation and military history of the Park.


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