Communities

LA MESA HOSTS ANNUAL PARK APPRECIATION DAY

Source:  City of La Mesa

October 15, 2020 (La Mesa) - The public is invited to participate in the City of La Mesa’s annual Park Appreciation Day on Saturday, October 24, 2020 from 8:00 a.m. to noon.  Projects are arranged for households to remain socially distanced while helping beautify La Mesa parks and public spaces. Volunteers are requested to sign-up ahead of time for their project at http://bit.ly/ParkAppreciation2020  or by calling 619.667.1300.


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STUDENTS ROBBED AT GUNPOINT NEAR GROSSMONT HIGH: POLICE SEEK TIPS ON SUSPECTS IN BLUE NISSAN SENTRA

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 14, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police seek public help to locate suspects in a blue Nissan Sentra who reportedly robbed three Grossmont High School students in front of the Shell Gas Station on Murray Drive at 12:45 p.m. today.  
 
The students were walking near the station when the Nissan’s driver pulled into the gas station driveway, stopped na got out of the car. He demanded money from the students while a passenger pointed a handgun at the students.
 
After taking the students’ money, the driver got back into the vehicle, which appeared to have multiple passengers. The driver is described as a light-skinned Hispanic male around 17 or 18 years old with brown eyes, a mustache and groomed eyebrows, according to a police bulletin.  The second suspect is described as Hispanic, age 18-19, with wavy black hair with light tips, wearing an orange long-sleeved shirt.

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COUNTY'S EDGEMOOR FACILITY NAMED BEST IN CALIFORNIA, AGAIN

 
By José A. Álvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
October 14, 2020 (Santee) -- For the second year in a row, the County Health and Human Services Agency’s Edgemoor Skilled Nursing Facility has been named the best facility of its kind in the county and the state by Newsweek magazine.
 
The magazine analyzed more than 15,000 nursing homes in the Unites States and chose 400 winners in 20 states.
 
“Edgemoor provides the highest level of care to seriously ill and injured adult patients who require long-term care, and it has not gone unnoticed” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, County Board of Supervisors. “We are proud Edgemoor has been named the best in California two years in a row. It’s a well-deserved honor given the long-term, quality care patients receive at the facility.”

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GOODYEAR BLIMP "HIDING" AT GILLESPIE FIELD

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

 
(Photo by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)
 
Oct. 14, 2020 (Gillespie Field) Your eyes are not deceiving you---there is a Goodyear Blimp "hiding" out, in plain sight, at Gillespie Field.
 
According to the Goodyear Blimp facebook page the Wingfoot Three has completed their nationwide trifecta, as they called it, by providing aerial coverage of the American League Championship in San Diego---specifically at Petco Park. 
 
The cars were lined up near the airport to get selfies with it as a backdrop.

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SANTEE MAYORAL AND COUNCIL RACES SHOW CLEAR CHOICES

By Mike Allen

Photo:  Santee Mayor John Minto, mayoral candidate and Councilman Stephen Houlahan, City Council candidates Samm Hurst and Dustin Trotter,

October 14, 2020 (Santee) -- The conflict between slow-growth proponents and those who support the continued expansion of Santee has been going on for decades but is crystallized in this election.


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PARKS CALIFORNIA VIRTUAL GUIDED TOURS GO BEHIND THE SCENES AT ANZA-BORREGO DESERT

Source: Parks California

October 13, 2020 (Anza-Borrego Desert) -- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park® encompasses some of the most diverse desert landscapes in the world – and now it will serve as the backdrop for a virtual California State Park adventure, ParkSpeak. On October 15, Parks California will connect community members across the state with a guided, behind-the-scenes tour of this state park to explore a rich archaeological heritage from the Kumeyaay and Cahuilla tribes. 


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WESTERN DENTAL OPENS OFFICE IN LEMON GROVE

East County News Service

October 13, 2020 (Lemon Grove) - Western Dental & Orthodontics today announced the opening of a new Western Dental & Orthodontics office in the San Diego community of Lemon Grove.


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DRIVER SERIOUSLY INJURED ON STATE ROUTE 94 NEAR BARRETT JUNCTION

East County News Service
 
October 12, 2020 (Barrett Junction) – The driver of a black 2014 Honda Civic has been flown via air ambulance to Sharp Memorial Hospital after a serious accident at 7:50 a.m. on State Route 94 west, just east of Barrett Smith Road.
 
“For reasons still under investigation, the driver failed to maintain control of his vehicle and allowed the vehicle to drift off the north side of the roadway.  The vehicle traveled down a descending rock and dirt embankment where it rolled over several times,” a California Highway Patrol (CHP) press release states.
 
CHP and CAL Fire personnel responded to the collision.  The driver, who appeared to be wearing a seat-belt, sustained major injuries.  Rescue personal were able to transport the driver back up to the roadway, where he was taken to the hospital via medical helicopter. 

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SCALZITTI FACES CHALLENGER WITH A “RESERVOIR” OF EXPERTISE IN HELIX WATER BOARD DISTRICT 5 RACE

By Miriam Raftery

October 12, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Helix Water District Director Joel Scalzitti faces three challengers—including Vickie Butcher, who brings a “reservoir” of knowledge on water issues as well as decades of experience in water policy and infrastructure to the race. The other two challengers have no ballot statements and an online search found no campaign webpage or Facebook site.

District 5 covers the eastern portion of the Helix district including portions of El Cajon, Granite Hills, Bostonia and Lakeside. View map.


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FIERY FATALITY CRASH IN JACUMBA

East County News Service
 
October 12, 2020 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – The driver of a blue 2008 Toyota Camry died at the scene of a fiery single-vehicle crash shortly before 6 a.m.  The unidentified male driver lost control on I-8 west, just west of Carrizo Gorge Rod. The vehicle plunged down a rocky embankment, overturned and caught on fire. 
 
California Highway Patrol and fire personnel responded to the collision, but unfortunately the driver succumbed to his injuries on scene.  The Medical Examiner’s office was notified, responded and took possession of the deceased. 

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HIGHLIGHTS AND VIDEOS OF ALL SIX LA MESA CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

 

 

Updated with highlights from all three participating candidates' statements during the forum, plus links to interviews with three other candidates who were not available for the forum.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: left to right: Allan Durden, Colin Parent, Mark Papenfuss, Kristine Alessio, Jack Shu, Laura Lothian

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) -- At East County Magazine's virtual forum for La Mesa City Council candidates last month, candidates offered their ideas for addressing the compelling issues facing the city including police/racial justice/public safety issues in the wake of protests and a riot, downtown redevelopment, housing, homelessness, budget priorities, COVID-19 relief and more.

Three of the six candidates running participated in the forum: Councilman Colin Parent, as well as challengers Allan Durden and Jack Shu.

To view video of candidate forum, click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH6GkbU9ayo&t=3085s

To read highlights of the forum, and more information on all candidates, scroll down.

Three other candidates were unable to participate in the forum due to schedule conflicts, but provided separate video interviews via Zoom, which are posted below, along with highlights of their statements:


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MISSING DESCANSO MAN, 81, AT RISK: LAST SEEN IN GOLD TOYOTA TRUCK

Update October 13, 2020: This missing person has been found safely in Yuma.

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (Descanso) – The Sheriff asks for public help to find Kenneth Zimmerman, 81, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and did not take his blood pressure medicine before leaving home in Descanso to get a newspaper earlier today. He was last seen at 12:30 p.m. driving toward Highway 79 from Viejas Blvd in Descanso in a gold Toyota Tundra(license CA 8E41946) with a black toolbox in the bed.  He frequents businesses in Alpine as well as the El Cajon Home Depot.

He does not have a cell phone with him, according to a bulletin issued by the Pine Valley Sheriff’s station.Zimmerman was last seen wearing a white cowboy hat, dark blue short-sleeve shirt and blue jeans.  He has blue eyes and white hair. He is white, 81, 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs around 190 pounds.


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KRISTINE ALESSIO RUNS ON HER EXPERIENCE, OFFERS POLITICAL INDEPEDENCE ON LA MESA CITY COUNCIL

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – East County Magazine held a video interview via Zoom with Councilwoman Kristine Alessio, since she could not participate in our recent candidate form. She is one of six candidates running for two seats on the La Mesa City Council.

A native of La Mesa, she’s served on the Council since 2012 and was previously a planning commissioner. She holds a law degree and has been the city’s representative on SANDAG. She is also a former board member on the East County YMCA and East County Boys and Girls Club.  As candidate not aligned with a political party, she says she can represent all La Mesans, equally and fairly. She says La Mesa needs experienced leadership in the COVID-19 pandemic, a business friendly environment, public safety and preservation of neighborhood character.

Scroll down for highlights, or click here to view the full video interview:   https://youtu.be/GU7MibN3GlI


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LAURA LOTHIAN AIMS TO BRING BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE TO LA MESA CITY COUNCIL

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – Laura Lothian is one of six candidates running for La Mesa City Council. ECM recently held a video interview via ZOOM with Lothian, she since was unable to participate in our candidate forum due to a scheduling conflict.

A realtor with a business in the downtown village, she is running to bring a business perspective to the City Council. She wants to reduce regulations and provide more freedoms for business owners. Beautifying the village area is also a priority of hers. Lothian serves on the La Mesa Village Association board  and has previously run for both council and mayor.

The interview covered a wide range of issues including the needs of local businesses, beautifying  La Mesa, police issues, housing and homelessness, and more.

Scroll down for highlights of our interview, or click here to view the full video interviewhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HCss3QqeEk


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MARK PAPENFUSS AIMS TO HELP LA MESA FORGE A NEW PATH

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – Mark Papenfuss, one of six candidates running for the La Mesa City Council, missed our candidate forum last month due to a family emergency but participated in a separate interview on Zoom.

 He shared his views on ideas for La Mesa’s downtown village, improving racial justice and public safety, housing and homelessness, the pandemic, and the need to in his words, help La Mesa “rise from the ashes” after a riot and fires by forging a new path for the future.  He touts his business experience and the need for leaders who are free of conflicts of interest or developer donations.

Scroll down for highlights from our interview, or click here to view the full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugPdqOtqHCY&feature=youtu.be


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DECEPTIVE MAILERS TARGET VOTERS IN GROSSMONT-UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 11, 2020 (La Mesa – El Cajon) – Republican Jim Stieringer, who is running for the Grossmont Union High School District’s Area 2 seat, has sent a deceptive mailer to some voters in La Mesa, El Cajon, Mt. Helix and Casa de Oro.  It reads, “East County Voters – Let’s support our progressive team!”  The flyer includes photos of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, as well as Democratic Congressional candidates Ammar Campa-Najjar and Sara Jacobs, Democratic Assemblymember Shirley Weber, and Stieringer.

There are three candidates in the race. Although this is officially a nonpartisan race and party affiliations do not appear on the ballot, both major parties have made endorsements. Elva Salinas, the incumbent and a community college professor, is the only candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party as well as the teacher’s union. The other two candidates, Stieringer and Justin Slagle, have both been long-serving Republicans but only Slagle is endorsed by the GOP.

Stieringer also refers to himself as the “high school district’s newest member” on the flip side of the mailer. He fails to mention that he lost reelection as a GUHSD trustee to Salinas in 2016 when the district shifted from at-large elections to trustee districts.


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LA MESA-SPRING VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION, PART ONE: AREA 4

By Robin N. Kendall

Photo:  Area 4 candidates Emma Turner, Abu-Bakr Al Jafri, and Sarah Rhiley

October 7, 2020 (La Mesa-Spring Valley) -- Two out of five trustee seats will be on the ballot this year for certain residents of the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District. One seat is held by current Board President Dr. Emma Turner, who is running for re-election against four opponents in Area 4. This area includes Bancroft, Sweetwater Springs and Loma Elementary Schools. Five candidates are running, and three sent in responses to our questionnaire.  Scroll down to view responses from Emma Turner, Sarah Rhiley, and Abu-Bakr Al-Jafri.

The other trustee seat was filled by Jim Long, whose term has expired. That seat will be filled by a newcomer from Area 5 which includes Avondale, Rancho, and La Presa Elementary Schools, as well as STEAM Academy and Kempton Literacy Academy. The Area 5 race will be covered in part two of this series.


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IN LIVELY FORUM, FIVE CANDIDATES SHARED DIVERSE VIEWS IN EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 2 RACE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left to right: Humbert Cabrera, Stephanie Harper, Juan Carlos "Charlie" Mercado, Michelle Metschel, and Martin Van Dinteren.

October 10, 2020 (El Cajon) – Housing and homelessness, racial relations, public safety, attracting businesses, the future of Parkway Plaza and the performing arts center were among the hot topics discussed at a virtual forum for five of the six candidates running for the El Cajon City Council District 2 seat, to represent the north central portion of the city.

Candidates also addressed controversies in the race, including a fake website set up to mislead voters about one candidate and residency questions raised regarding another.

The five candidates who participated are Humbert Cabrera, a planning commissioner and business owner, Stephanie Harper, a residential relief worker, Juan Carlos “Charlie” Mercado, an Iraq war veteran and veterans’ advocate, Michelle Metschel, a defense industry administrator, and Martin Van Dinteren, a general contractor and former city building inspector. (Update: View ECM's Zoom interview with Letitia Dickerson, the sixth candidate, who missed the forum due to an incorrect e-mail address provided by the city.)

Scroll down for highlights of our candidates forum, or click here to view video of the full forum.


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AHEAD OF HURRICANE DELTA, DOGS EVACUATED TO GILLESPIE FIELD IN EL CAJON

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)

Oct. 10, 2020 (El Cajon-Gillespie Field) Over one hundred dogs were flown from Louisiana to Gillespie Field in El Cajon by an emergency animal rescue organization, Wings of Rescue, on October 10  in anticipation of Hurricane Delta’s hit on the Gulf Coast state.  The San Diego Humane Society will provide medical care until the rescued dogs are ready for adoption locally.

This is the second time in less than a month that local animal welfare organizations have offered help to evacuate animals from Louisiana. The transport aimed to create space in shelters there for pets anticipated to be displaced from the hurricane. Wings of Rescue is a 501(c)(3) charity, founded in 2012, that flies endangered pets from where they are, to other shelters/homes. Circle Air Group, LLC’s plane, at Gillespie Field, used their equipment, an Embraer EMB-120, to fly the dogs in.

Hurricane Delta fluctuated from a category 2 to 3 and the outer rings hit southeast Louisiana and southeast Missouri on Friday and into the weekend as well.  Visit: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ for current information. Here is a summary of the situation as of October 10:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/10/10/hurricane-delta-update-damage-weakens-tropical-storm-power-outages/5952093002/

How did the dogs do on take-off?


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ALPINE FIRE RESCUES MOTORIST TRAPPED IN ROLLOVER CRASH

By Miriam Raftery

October 10, 2020 (Alpine) –  Crews from Alpine Fire and Mercy Ambulance responded to a rollover accident on South Grade Road this morning, freeing a motorist trapped in the overturned car.

“Extrication tools were used to remove one of the passenger doors in order to get the driver out. One patient was transported to the hospital for evaluation,” Alpine Fire posted on Instagram, promptly drawing 117 likes and a response of “Well done, gentlemen!” from one local follower.


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SYCUAN CASINO IS SUPPORTING WALK TO DEFEAT ALS, A VIRTUAL FUNDRAISER, SUNDAY, OCT. 18

East County News Service

October 9, 2020 (El Cajon) - Sycuan Casino in El Cajon is among the local partners supporting the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter’s 2020 Walk to Defeat ALS, the nonprofit’s 20th annual fundraising walk, to be held on Sunday, Oct. 18 as a virtual fundraiser due to Covid-19 restrictions. The fundraiser is free and open to the public. Information is available at www.alsasd.org.


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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.

IN LEMON GROVE CITY COUNCIL TOWN HALL, CANDIDATES ADDRESS CITY IN CRISIS, OFFER ONLY LIMITED SOLUTIONS

By John Sepulvado

View full video of ECM’s forum for Lemon Grove candidates:  click here.

Scroll down for highlights and analysis of the forum.

October 9, 2020 (Lemon Grove) -- In the past 25 years, Lemon Grove has been battered. Revenues for the city have plummeted as businesses have fled. Currently the city is experiencing a $1.5 million budget shortfall. Major thoroughfares are in disrepair, while major civic investments like the Lemon Grove Recreation Center sit underused as the city continues to struggle financially. 

Many of the buildings - including prime real estate on Broadway, sit empty and under-utilized. Many of the unhoused neighbors suffer from extreme health conditions that go untreated. Residents complain about policing from the Sheriff’s office. The Council spends most of its budget on policing through the Sheriff, yet some businesses and residents complain of crime and say more law enforcement protection is needed.  (This year’s crime stats have not yet been released.)

These problems are compounded by a lawsuit in which a candidate for Mayor - Christopher WIlliams - is suing the city over a meeting on his proposed marijuana dispensaries followed by a pool party with alcohol that ended in an alleged assault. The spectacular suit is driving a deep wedge among current and aspiring council members.


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GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE DISTRICT AND CHAMPIONS FOR HEALTH HOSTING FREE DRIVE-THRU FLU SHOT CLINIC THIS SATURDAY MORNING

East County News Service

October 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – This Saturday, October 10, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Grossmont Healthcare District is partnering with Champions for Health and County of San Diego to provide free flu shots to the East San Diego community. To reduce the chances of a severe COVID-19 and flu combination, receiving this season’s vaccination is more crucial than ever. Everyone qualifies to receive a free flu shot, including those uninsured or underinsured, pregnant women, and children 9 years of age and older. Fresh produce distribution and giveaways for kids also available while supplies last.           


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WARNER UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT ELECTION

By Robin N. Kendall
 
October 9, 2020 (Warner Springs) -- Residents in Warner Unified School District may vote for three out of six candidates for school board in this November’s election. This small district is located in the far northeast sector of San Diego County in rural Warner Springs, California. It serves just over 2,100 students in grades preschool through twelfth grade. In addition to Warner Elementary, Middle, and High Schools, the district operates San Jose Continuation School, All Tribes Charter School and California Pacific Charter School.

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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.

HIGHLIGHTS OF LEMON GROVE MAYORAL FORUM

By Kendra Sitton

Photo, left to right:  Councilman Jerry Jones, Kamaal Martin, Mayor Racquel Vasquez, and Christopher Williams

October 9, 2020 (Lemon Grove) -- On Monday, Sept. 14, all four candidates running for Mayor of Lemon Grove participated in a forum to discuss their visions for the city. Two of the candidates, Councilman Jerry Jones and Mayor Racquel Vasquez, already hold elected office. The other two candidates, Kamaal Martin and Christopher Williams, are political newcomers who say their backgrounds in finance will help the budget-strapped city.

The full forum can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVtSH4cwfEQ

Read highlights of the discussion are below.

 Each candidate’s standout quote, background and other views are included. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Each candidate had an opening and closing statement and answered questions about the budget shortfall, the possibility of disincorporating the city, racial equity, public safety, a shuttered youth rec center, housing, homelessness, blight and adding new businesses in the city.

Candidates were also asked about  Williams’ lawsuit against the city alleging an assault by Councilman David Arambula following an alleged discussion of proposed cannabis’ dispensaries at the Councilman’s home. (Arambula has contended he acted in self defense but did not notify law enforcement or colleagues on the Council.)


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HIGHLIGHTS FROM EL CAJON DISTRICT 4 CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES FORUM

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Oct. 9, 2020 (El Cajon) El Cajon’s City Council District 4 candidates participated in a forum sponsored by East County Magazine, moderated by ECM editor, Miriam Raftery, via Zoom.  John Sepulvado was the cohost and timekeeper.

Scroll down to read highlights and excerpts of the forum, which covered a wide range of issues with questions from the public as well as the moderator.  Topics covered included racial justice and policing, homeless, housing and renters’ issues, the future of Parkway Plaza and the Magnolia performing arts center, COVID-19,  budget priorities, hate crimes, pedestrian safety/street racing, and more.

You can watch the full forum, recorded on Zoom, at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Z213Qn_Cyo&feature=youtu.be

The three candidates vying for the seat are (alphabetically) Estela de los Rios (D), Phil Ortiz (R), and Dunia Shaba (R). A fourth candidate, Billy Thigpen, did not participate. He has suspended his campaign and encouraged voters in the Nov. 3rd election to support Estela de los Rios.


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DRIVE-THROUGH HALLOWEEN TRICK OR TREAT WITH LA MESA POLICE AND HEARTLAND FIRE

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 8, 2020 (La Mesa) – Spooked by COVID-19?  La Mesa Police Department and Heartland Fire, which serves La Mesa, invites children to don costumes and enjoy a Halloween Drive-Thru Trick or Trick event on Saturday, October 31 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the police station parking lot.

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NEW SHARP MEDICAL CENTER OPENS IN SANTEE: FACILITY TO HOST OCT. 10 VIRTUAL TOUR AND ASK-THE-DOCTOR SESSIONS

By Mike Allen

 

October 8, 2020 (Santee) -- This week, Sharp Rees-Stealy opened its new medical center, a state of the art three-story building on Cuyamaca Street off Highway 52, which replaces four smaller clinics in East County that are now closed.


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LA MESA-SPRING VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION, PART TWO, AREA 5

By Robin N. Kendall
 
October 8, 2020 (La Mesa-Spring Valley) -- Voters in the southern part of Spring Valley will have a choice of four candidates to fill the open seat for trustee on the La Mesa Spring Valley School District Board. The seat was previously filled by Jim Long, whose term has expired. This part of the district is called Area 5 and includes Avondale, Rancho, and La Presa Elementary Schools, as well as STEAM Academy and Kempton Literacy Academy.

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HOMEFED GIVES NEARLY $300,000 TO DEFEAT MEASURE N, BUT FANITA RANCH OPPONENTS START PETITION TO OVERTURN COUNCIL APPROVAL

By Mike Allen
 
October 7, 2020 (Santee) -- Despite a 4-1 approval of the Fanita Ranch housing development last month by the Santee City Council, the builders are trying to ensure nothing holds up the project.

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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.

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