POSSIBLE CORONAVIRUS CASE IN SAN DIEGO; CDC URGES TRAVELERS TO CANCEL VISITS TO CHINA

SUPERVISORS TAKE NEW STEPS TO ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS IN UNINCORPORATED AREAS, INCLUDING SHELTERS

WALKERS SHINE AT SANTEE’S OLYMPIC RACE WALKING EVENT

EL CAJON CITY MANAGER CHALLENGES OTHER EAST COUNTY CITIES AND COUNTY TO SERVE HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS

ALL 4 SUPERVISOR CANDIDATES IN DISTRICT 2 WILL APPEAR AT FORUM JAN. 29 IN LA MESA HOSTED BY GMIA AND EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE

TWO CASES OF WUHAN CORONAVIRUS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA; VIRUS ALSO SPREADS TO AUSTRALIA, EUROPE, AND ACROSS ASIA

TOXIC PFAS “FOREVER CHEMICALS” FOUND IN WATER SUPPLIES ACROSS U.S., BUT TRUMP THREATENS TO VETO REGULATORY BILL

ENJOY A FLAMENCO SHOW, TAPAS AND PAELLA WITH OUR EAST COUNTY DINING CLUB JANUARY 30TH

DID TRUMP THREATEN VIOLENCE AGAINST SENATORS AND AN AMBASSADOR?

ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

CHINA CANCELS LUNAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS, TRIES TO QUARANTINE 25 MILLION PEOPLE: WUHAN CORONAVIRUS SPREADS TO U.S., OTHER NATIONS

THREE FIREFIGHTERS KILLED IN PLANE CRASH BATTLING AUSTRALIA WILDFIRES: C-130 CONDUCTED CAL-FIRE TRAINING, FOUGHT CALIFORNIA FIRESTORMS

CORONER: JAIL INMATE KILLED SELF BY CHOKING ON SOCK

By Miriam Raftery

January 3, 2020 (San Diego) – Don Ralph, 52, was found unresponsive on October 26 by deputies doing a security check at the San Diego Central Jail. Deputies found a sock lodged in his throat, removed it and performed first aid until relieved by paramedics, but despite lifesaving efforts, Ralph was declared dead a half hour later at 4:05 a.m.

Ralph shared a cell with another inmate, however the Sheriff’s department concluded there was no preliminary evidence of foul play.

Now the Medical Examiner has concluded that the cause of death was asphyxia due to occlusion of Ralph’s air way with the sock, and determined that the manner of death was suicide.

NEW PRESIDENT OF LEMON GROVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY BRINGS AN OUTSTANDING SKILL SET

By Helen Ofield, Newsletter Editor and Historian, Lemon Grove Historical Society 

Jan. 2, 2020 (Lemon Grove) --The Lemon Grove Historical Society takes pleasure in announcing the election of its new president, Roberta Bulling, whose wide-ranging interests and professional skills bode well for the growth of Lemon Grove's leading cultural institution. Mrs. Bulling will hold office through May 31, 2020 when elections of new board members will be held.

Roberta Ford Bulling was born in Pasadena and grew up in Arcadia, California, where seeing the Rose Parade in person was an annual New Year’s day event for her family. Her parents instilled a love of music and reading in all four of their children.

'AN EXPLICIT ACT OF WAR': U.S. KILLS SENIOR IRANIAN MILITARY OFFICIAL QASEM SOLEIMANI IN BAGHDAD DRONE STRIKE

 

"It's like Iran killing the head of the CIA or the Mossad on foreign soil."

Major General Qasem Soleimani, pictured here on April 11, 2016, was reportedly killed Friday in Iraq.

Major General Qasem Soleimani, pictured here on April 11, 2016, was reportedly killed Friday in Iraq. (Photo: Khamenei.ir/cc)

This is a developing story... check back for updates...

by Eoin Higgins,

January 2, 2019 (Baghdad) -- A drone strike believed to be from the U.S. military at or near the Baghdad airport reportedly killed Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Major General Qasem Soleimani, an act that observers warned could mark a significant step toward a hot war in the region.

SUPREME COURT LETS STAND RULING THAT ALLOWS HOMELESS TO SLEEP IN PARKS AND ON SIDEWALKS IF THERE IS NO LOCAL SHELTER SPACE

By Miriam Raftery

January 2, 2020 (Washington D.C.) –The U.S. Supreme Court declined last month to hear an appeal of a ruling by the 9th Circuit U.S. District Court of Appeals, which held that cities and counties cannot arrest homeless people for sleeping in outdoor public spaces if a jurisdiction has failed to provide space in shelters.

San Diego County and dozens of other local governments had joined together to argue that the case should be overturned, arguing that the decision limits cities’ abilities to maintain public health and safety. In San Diego, a 2017 hepatitis-A outbreak was tied to homelessness.

But the 9th circuit held that a city ordinance banning camping in public places by the homeless “violates the 8th Amendment insofar as it imposes criminal sanctions against homeless individuals for sleeping outdoors on public property, when no alternative is available to them.”

San Diego had more than 8,100 people homeless countywide as of a January 1, 2019 count, but 27,850 people used homeless services countywide last year, Voice of San Diego reports. California, which has one of the best year-round climates, is home to around half of the nation’s homeless population.

BURGLARY SUSPECT ARRESTED IN LEMON GROVE AFTER STAND-OFF

East County News Service
 
December 31, 2019 (Lemon Grove) – Deputies responding to a call reporting a burglary in progress in the 1600 block of Colfax Drive in Lemon Grove shortly before 9 a.m. arrived and saw a man run into the house. Deputies established a perimeter around the home, with help from the Sheriff’s ASTREA helicopter. 

LESSONS FROM PUERTO RICO TO CALIFORNIA: OFF-GRID LIVING OPTIONS

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

 Dec. 31, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) -- Emergency energy and electrical storage expert Eric Lobdell with Humless, a Utah-based company that provides universal energy management, has worked in disaster areas affected by wildfires and hurricanes, where he has helped some residents go off-grid. 

 

In the past couple of years, Lobdell has worked in the U.S. including territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, setting up systems to provide power. Humless recently landed a contract for installations to take communities 100% off-grid in Oregon, including 600 homes over a span of three years.

 

"After Hurricane Maria, I was part of a team that donated and installed off-grid systems in Puerto Rico," said Lobdell in a phone interview. “Our systems were able to provide lights and refrigeration to two different communities, both heavily affected by the hurricane. Being able to provide electricity for these communities reminded me of the reason I work so hard at what I do. I love being able to provide essential energy and storage systems to families, communities, and regions where grid power is not available or stable."

TYPE O BLOOD DONORS URGENTLY NEEDED

December 31, 2019 (San Diego) – The San Diego Blood Bank has put out an urgent plea for both Type O positive and O negative blood donors due to a shortage.

"Coming out of the holiday season, we typically see a decrease in donations of all types at this time due to schools being out of session for the holidays and seasonal illnesses like the flu," said David Wellis, the San Diego Blood Bank's CEO.  "The need for type O blood has hit a critically low level and we need the community to help us keep a safe supply for local hospital patients."

Type O positive, the most common blood type, is often needed for hospital patients. Type O negative, the universal donor blood type, can be given to any patient and is often used in emergency rooms when there is no time to test a patient’s blood type. 

NEW CALIFORNIA LAWS WILL HAVE BROAD IMPACTS

By Miriam Raftery

December 30, 2019 (Sacramento) – New state laws taking effect in 2020 will have far-reaching impacts.  Among those likely to be affected are business owners, employees, independent contractors, people without health insurance, Medicaid patients, renters, landlords, homebuyers, gun owners and buyers, prisons, inmates, ex-felons, immigrants, students, school districts, charter schools, loan applicants, immigrants,  disabled people, residents impacted by power outages, veterans, doctors, parents seeking vaccine exemptions, consumers concerned about privacy of data, food handlers, police, crime victims, drone operators, people victimized by fake sex videos or images, smokers, hunters, beauty product makers, circuses, politicians, and voters. 

Here’s our rundown on the most important laws you should know about:

MOUNTAIN CHILD MUSINGS: A MAGICAL PLACE

By Jake Zawlacki

December 30, 2019 (Santee) -- As we are all in the thick of holiday magic, I‘d like to write about the most magical place in East County: The Santee Swap Meet. I’ve been swap-meeting since my youth, and I’ve never spent a dull morning walking the wide aisles of other people’s junk. For the uninitiated, the Santee Swap Meet is located on the same premises as the Santee Drive In. Cost of entry for buyers is $2 and the cost for a space to sell is $28 on Saturday and $35 on Sunday. 

The Swap Meet is a relic of a forgotten era. Sure, there’s still Spring Valley and Kobey’s going strong, but most sellers there are vendors importing crap from China or India or Mexico and selling it for profit. It’s a full-time job. The Santee Swap Meet is not that place.

It’s the only time in East County I heard a gunshot, but wasn’t worried. Somebody was just testing it out. It’s the only public place where I’ve seen Nazi regalia for sale without hearing a single protest. And it’s the only place I’ve ever seen ancient Chinese erotic paraphernalia made of jade and serpentine. It’s an unusual kind of place.

PASSAGES: LOCAL LEADERS LOST IN 2019

By Miriam Raftery 
December 29, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) –  These local leaders who passed on in 2019 left their indelible marks on our communities, gone but never forgotten.
 
GEORGE BAILEY  -- Shortly after celebrating his 100th birthday, former La Mesa Mayor and San Diego County Supervisor died at his home on March 11th of congestive heart failure.  He served on the San Diego Association of Regional Governments (SANDAG), chaired the California Councils of Government and was director of the National Association of Regional Councils.. The George Bailey Detention Center was named in his honor, due to his support for winning voter approval to fund  construction.  He was also instrumental in preserving the cross atop Mt. Helix and improving traffic in our region. He is remembered as a leader who left behind an indelible stamp on East County and the San Diego region, drawing respect from colleagues on both sides of the political aisle. 
 
JIM BELL -- Jim Bell, ecological designer and internationally recognized expert on sustainable development who twice ran for mayor of San Diego, was a graduate of El Capitan High School in Lakeside. His vision was vast:  to transform the San Diego/Tijuana Regional economy” from one that relied almost entirely on imported water and energy into an economy that would be prosperous and 100% renewable--energy, water and food self-sufficient--creating a model for others to emulate around the world. He died at age 77 of complications from a stroke. 
 

PASSAGES: FRANK READ, 108, EARLY LA MESA PHARMACIST

By Miriam Raftery

 

December 26, 2019 (La Mesa) – Frank Read, former owner of Read Pharmacy and pharmacist at Grossmont Hospital, passed away today at his home in La Mesa’s Windsor Hill neighborhood.  He was 108—older than the city of La Mesa.  Back in 2012, when the city celebrated its centennial, Read provided an exclusive interview to East County Magazine, reflecting back on his carefree childhood days of riding a bike to the bay, swimming at local watering holes and watching helium dirigibles. He shared many memories of early La Mesa, also recalling hardships in World War I, Prohibition and the Great Depression as well as his pharmacy career and travels later in life.

 

Below is our original article, reprinted in full:

ROLLOVER CRASH ON SNOWY HIGHWAY IN RANCHITA KILLS WOMAN; DRIVER FACES CHARGES

East County News Service

Update: The victim has been identified as Alberta Fernandez De Zuniga, 61, of Borrego Springs.

December 26, 2019 (Ranchita) – A 61-year-old woman riding in the backseat of a 2019 Toyota Camry died this morning when the driver lost control and the vehicle rolled over, landing on its roof. The crash occurred around 6:50 a.m. on San Filipe Road (S2) south of Montezuma Valley Road. 

There was fresh snow on the roadway, and the Toyota was traveling at a speed that prevented the driver from maintaining control of the Toyota,” Officer Jeff Christy with the California Highway Patrol reports. “The Toyota traveled off the roadway onto the west shoulder where it collided with a dirt embankment. The female passenger, who was not wearing her seatbelt, was subsequently thrown forward from the rear seat into the front dash and windshield of the vehicle. At the same time, the Toyota rolled over onto its roof where it came to rest within the traffic lanes.”

STORIES OF THE YEAR IMPACTING EAST COUNTY IN 2019

By Miriam Raftery, Editor, East County Magazine

December 26, 2019 (San Diego's East County) --As 2019 draws to a close, we look back at the top news stories and issues impacting San Diego’s East County region and residents, as well as the people making headline news-- for better and for worse.

Here are the top local stories across all news and features categories this year:

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: CHANUKAH FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS IN EL CAJON

December 26, 2019 (El Cajon) -- Bettie Wells shared these photos taken Dec. 22 in downtown El Cajon, where Mayor Bill Wells lit a menorah in honor of the opening of Chanukah, the eight-day Jewish holiday also known as the Festival of Lights.

The event was organized by Chabad of East County and featured firefights dropping gelt (chocolate coins) from atop a firetruck ladder, music, remarks from local dignitaries and unveiling of what organizers claim is the world's largest dreidel, a spinning top in the Jewish tradition.

NONPARTISAN VOTERS WANTING TO VOTE FOR PRESIDENT: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

 

By Tracy DeFore, County of San Diego Communications Office

Dec. 26, 2019 (County of San Diego) Calling all Nonpartisan registered voters! If you vote by mail and want to vote for president, you need to inform the Registrar of Voters which mail ballot you want by Jan. 6. Otherwise, your nonpartisan mail ballot will not show any presidential candidates.

Several weeks ago, the Registrar sent the County’s nearly 350,000 Nonpartisan mail ballot voters a pre-paid return postcard requesting their selection of ballot options for the March 3, 2020 primary election. If you’re Nonpartisan and just signed up to become a mail ballot voter, you can expect a postcard outlining your options sometime this week.

So far, nearly 37,000 Nonpartisan voters have returned their postcards or re-registered. If your postcard became lost among all the holiday mail, here is what you need to know.

HIGHWAYS CLOSED DUE TO SNOW

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left via CHP:  I-8 closed due to snow

Photo, right: Julian snow, via Visit Julian webcam

December 26, 2019 (San Diego’s East County)—Travelers are encountering road closures on several major highways this morning due to heavy snowfall:

  •  I-8 is closed west of Willows Road in Alpine to the Imperial Highway in Imperial County due to heavy snow, with collisions reported and some motorists attempting to run through roadblocks. 
  • On State Route 94 at Otay Lakes Rd., flooding has reportedly halted traffic on both sides of the rushing waters one to two feet deep.
  • CHP has shut down  Highway 78 at State Route 79 into Julian; traffic to Julian is reportedly gridlocked according to CHP. The road may reopen soon with chain controls in effect.
  • Just north of San Diego County, travelers should be aware that the Cajon Pass on I-15 and the Grapevine on I-5 are both shut down due to heavy snow.

DESMOND WITHDRAWS DEVELOPER-FRIENDLY LANGUAGE CHANGE TO “SOS” BALLOT MEASURE

By Miriam Raftery

December 26, 2019 (San Diego) – Supervisor Jim Desmond has withdrawn his proposal to amend the Save Our San Diego Countryside (SOS) initiative language on the March 2020 ballot county-wide. The decision was announced at the Dec. 10 County Board of Supervisors meetings.

Supervisor Desmond’s proposed amendments closely reflected arguments of the “No on SOS” campaign, which is funded primarily by the Building Industry Association, an advocacy organization for the building industry—arguments that opponents have characterized as misleading.

MAJOR WINTER STORM TO SOCK REGION OVERNIGHT

East County News Service

December 25, 2019 (San Diego) -- A major winter storm is going to affect the region after midnight tonight through Friday morning, meteorologist Adam Roser with the National Weather Service predicts. Heavy snow in the mountains will make travel hazardous, especially on highways through the mountains and high desert, with up to four feet of snow above 6,000 feet and as much as two inches of snow as low as 2,500 feet.

Heavy rain is forecast in all other areas with urban/small stream flooding likely and a slight risk of flash flooding. The San Diego River could reach flood stage after midnight.

Gusty winds will be expected with this storm from the coast to the mountains. A wind advisory is now in effect until 6 p.m. tonight in coastal areas and valley.  A winter storm warning will be in effect from 6p.m. tonight until 6 a.m. Friday for local mountains. A winter weather advisory will be effective from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. Friday for the high desert.

GIFT DELIVERIES BRING JOY TO VULNERABLE AND AT-RISK ADULTS

By Katie White, County of San Diego Communications Office

 

Photo: Maritza Beltran, left, and Leticia Faucher, from the County’s Public Administrator/Public Guardian/Public Conservator’s office, load up their vehicle with donated gifts.

December 24, 2019 (San Diego) -- Staff from the County’s Public Administrator, Guardian, and Conservator’s Office are doing their part to brighten the holidays for the clients they serve throughout the year. They are delivering holiday gifts to dozens of men and women in their care.

The PA/PG/PC office serves as the legally appointed guardian or conservator for people found by the courts to be unable to take care of themselves or their assets. The people are generally older, frail and vulnerable adults who are at risk or have been a victim of abuse or neglect.

MISSING MOTORCYCLIST FOUND DEAD IN BORREGO SPRINGS RAVINE

East County News Service

December 24, 2019 (Borrego Springs) – A Borrego Springs man, 66,was reported missing Dec. 22,  after borrowing a friend’s motorcycle at 4 p.m. for a 30-minute ride. The rider’s wife and the motorcycle’s owner began a search and then notified the Sheriff’s Department. Information was also posted on Facebook and many residents joined in searching but did not find the rider or the motorcycle.

On Dec. 23,  around 8:15 a.m., employees from the Borrego Springs Water District were checking well sites in the area and discovered the rider and motorcycle in a deep ditch about two miles from where he began his ride. The motorcycle was on top of the rider and he was unresponsive.

‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS IN EAST COUNTY

December 2019

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all across East County

Not a creature was stirring, from Borrego to El Monte.

Cowboy boots were hung by chimneys with care

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

 

From Barona to Ramona, Jacumba to Jamul

East County residents celebrating the Yule

Have taken time from gift wraps and home-cooked dishes

To send Santa their heartfelt holiday wishes.

GREAT CHANUKAH GELT DROP: TODAY AT 4 P.M. IN EL CAJON

East County News Service

December 22, 2019 (El Cajon) – Today at 4 p.m. Chabad of East County will present the Great Chanukah Gelt Drop in El Cajon’s Centennial Plaza (200 Civic Center Way) behind the Marriott. 

The occasion will include lighting a menorah, the world’s largest dreidel, catching chocolate coins dropped by Heartland firefighters from atop a fire ladder, music and dancing, a kids fun zone, raffle, Chanukah refreshments, honoring local heroes in uniform and dignitaries.

OUR JULY, AUGUST AND SEPT. 2019 RADIO SHOWS ARE NOW ONLINE

Our radio shows from July, August and September 2019 are now online.  For links to listen plus an index with full list of topics and interviews in each show, click here or click the "read more" link and scroll down for audio links below the index. (Audio files may take a few moments to load.)  

Our recent interviews include Jack Shu and Janet Castanos, advocates for police oversight in La Mesa, Krista Powers with the Mt. Helix Foundation, Waran Arsan with Youth Build, Ammar Campa Najjar, Democratic candidate for the 50th Congressional district, Cory Briggs, candidate for San Diego City Attorney, and La Mesa Councilman Bill Baber on the city’s community choice energy and cannabis legalization actions.

The East County Magazine Show airs Mondays and Fridays from 5 to 6 p.m. on KNSJ, 89.1 FM.  Our shows rerun on Tuesdays at 9 a.m. and Saturdays at 8 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

Audio: 

53RD CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE SARA JACOBS ON HER FAMILY ISSUES AND SPENDING

Jacobs is one of several candidates hoping to fill the seat being vacated by the retirement of Susan Davis

By Donald H. Harrison, Editor, San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

December 22, 2019 (San Diego) - The local Jewish community has watched congressional candidate Sara Jacobs, 30, grow up within institutions named for her family.  For example, she attended the preschool and later participated in 18 J*Company shows on the Jacobs Family Campus of the Lawrence Family JCC.  Her parts ranged from the mother in Benjamin and Judah to the “scary grandmother” back from the underworld in Fiddler on the Roof. 

ALS ASSOCIATION IN SAN DIEGO ANNOUNCES YEAR-END, DOLLAR-FOR-DOLLAR MATCHING DONATION CHALLENGE

East County News Service

December 21, 2019 (San Diego) – The ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter has announced an anonymous donor in San Diego has pledged up to $50,000 in a matching year-end, donation challenge. This means every dollar donated to the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter until Dec. 31 will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000, according to Steve Becvar, executive director, ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter.

SDSU MEN'S HOOPS ROUTS UTAH 80-52 AT STAPLES

Source:  goaztecs.com

Photo courtesy goaztecs.com

December 21, 2019 (Los Angeles) - Malachi Flynn and San Diego State head into Christmas off one of their most impressive wins of the season.

Flynn scored 16 points to lead the 20th-ranked Aztecs to a 80-52 victory over Utah on Satin the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at Staples Center.

SDSU BEATS CENTRAL MICHIGAN 48-11 IN NEW MEXICO BOWL

Source:  goaztecs.com

Photo courtesy goaztec.com

December 21, 2019 (Albuquerque) - Coming into the New Mexico Bowl, San Diego State's defense was the focus. The Aztecs ranked second in the nation in rushing defense and second in rushing yards allowed per carry. But San Diego State's offense, with only an average of 19 points-per game, ranked among the nation's worst. Something had to give against Central Michigan and its strong defense.

So the Aztecs offense stepped it up Saturday.

PROTESTS HELD OUTSIDE COURTHOUSE OVER PROPOSED RELEASE OF SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR IN JACUMBA NEAR BOULEVARD

East County News Service
 
December 21, 2019 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Despite Jacumba Hot Springs already having 11 of San Diego County’s 14 released sexually violent predators, the state is proposing yet another:  Thomas Joseph Cornwell, 41, who was convicted in 2008 on two counts of lewd act with a child under age 14.  
 
Local residents protested outside the Superior Court in downtown San Diego yesterday, where Judge Albert T. Harutunian III took the proposal under consideration after the judge earlier granted Cornwell’s petition for conditional release.
 
The judge will issue a written decision in the future on whether or not to allow Cornwell to be released under supervision in the 2100 block of McCain Valley Rd. in Jacumba Hot Springs, a facility that the Department of State Hospitals indicates has previously housed sexually violent predators. The site is near rural Boulevard and is also close to campgrounds in a federal recreation area and two federal wilderness areas.

EL CAJON POLICE SHUT DOWN ILLEGAL POT DISPENSARY NEAR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL; FOUR ARRESTED

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Jill Barto

December 20, 2019 (El Cajon) – The El Cajon Police Department today shut down an illegal marijuana dispensary at 1358 Broadway, within 300 feet of Bostonia Language Academy. During the search of the illegal marijuana dispensary, approximately 322 pounds of marijuana and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) infused products, and approximately $7300 in cash was seized.

Lieutenant Walt Miller told ECM, “This is the last marijuana dispensary that we know about in El Cajon.”  But he acknowledged, “They’re like weeds. They keep popping up.”  He added that California law often hampers enforcement efforts in a process that can take months to get illegal dispensaries shut down.

Cajon Valley Union School District trustee Jill Barto is among those who filed a complaint with El Cajon Police about the latest illegal dispensary near the Bostonia school. “I called the El Cajon Police, El Cajon City, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and the District Attorney,” Barto told ECM. “I said this can’t be a two month deal—this needs to be shut down now.”

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