JIMMIE JOHNSON AND HIS WIFE TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

WHERE TO FIND FIREWORKS IN EAST COUNTY THIS JULY 4TH

FIREWORKS ARE ILLEGAL TO OWN OR USE IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY: HERE ARE SAFE ALTERNATIVES

COUNTY TO BE PLACED ON WATCHLIST DUE TO RISING COVID CASES; IMPACTED BUSINESSES SHOULD PREPARE FOR SHUTDOWNS

LA MESA FARMERS MARKET IS OPEN AGAIN

COUNTY OFFICIALS WARN OF FURTHER RESTRICTIONS AS 474 NEW VIRUS CASES REPORTED

RENEGADES, ROCK HOUSES, AND RESORTS: NEW BOOK CHRONICLES EAST COUNTY HISTORY

ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

FIRST ROUND OF RELIEF FUNDS DISTRIBUTED TO 27 LA MESA BUSINESSES DAMAGED DURING CIVIL UNREST

COUNTY EASES RULES FOR WINERIES, BUT IMPOSES CURFEW FOR RESTAURANTS AND BARS

SUMMER PRICING REDUCED FOR SDG&E RESIDENTIAL RATEPAYERS: 5% REDUCTION ON GAS AND ELECTRIC RATES STARTS JULY 1

KUMEYAAY PROTEST HALTS DYNAMITE BLASTING AT BORDER WALL

BAD HAIR DAYS ARE OVER: COUNTY AND STATE APPROVE REOPENING OF BARBER SHOPS AND HAIR SALONS

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Photo by Miriam Raftery

May 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) --Today in a televised update on COVID-19, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that hair salons and barbershops in most counties will now be able to reopen their doors. The businesses must meet the state’s reopening guidelines .

 Late today, San Diego County approved allowing local salons and barbershops to reopen as soon as they implement and post a safe reopening plan. 

Supervisor Dianne Jacob called the Governor’s action “another welcome step in getting our businesses back into business."

The order does not apply to nail salons, however, and certain close-contact services remain prohibited including facials, shaves, eyebrow waxing and threading, and eyelash treatments.

BARONA RESORT AND CASINO TO REOPEN STARTING WEDNESDAY,MAY 27

By Miriam Raftery

May 26, 2020 (Lakeside) – Barona Resort & Casino is the latest tribal casino to  begin a phased reopening,  starting tomorrow. The casino and hotel, including some restaurants, will be open with reduced capacity and new sanitation requirements.

UNEMPLOYMENT HITS 30.1% COUNTYWIDE; HIGH RATES IN SEVERAL EAST COUNTY COMMUNITIES

Nationwide, unemployment rate is 14.7% -- worse than during  the Great Depression -- and San Diego has double the national rate.

By Miriam Raftery

May 24, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – An Employment Analysis by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) shows unemployment countywide is at 30.1%, an all-time high.  Of the more than half million (510,000) unemployed residents, nearly 460,000 lost their jobs after the COVID-19 pandemic began March 7.

That’s far higher than the national average of 14.7% -- and with 39 million Americans out of work as of last week according to the Department of Labor, the national unemployment rate is now the highest it’s ever been, even worse than during the Great Depression.

 

SONY GLOBAL RELIEF FUND FOR COVID-19 TO GIVE $100 MILLION IN AID TO MEDICAL, EDUCATION AND CREATIVE COMMUNITY

Source: Sony

May 24, 2020 (San Diego) --- Sony Corporation, based in Rancho Bernardo, has established the "Sony Global Relief Fund for COVID-19," a 100 million US dollar fund to support those around the world affected by the COVID-19 virus. According to the company’s press release, Sony will provide support in mainly three areas "Medical" "Education" and the "Creative Community."

DMV FURTHER EXTENDS EXPIRING DRIVERS LICENSES

Licenses for drivers 70 and older that expire in June or July  extended 120 days; expiring licenses for drivers 69 and younger now valid through July

Source: California Department of Motor Vehicles

May 24, 2020 (Sacramento) -- The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has announced additional extensions to noncommercial driver licenses and permits so Californians can delay or avoid a DMV office visit during the COVID-19 pandemic. The DMV has alerted California law enforcement of the new extensions. Californians with a suspended license are not eligible.

Drivers age 70 and older with a noncommercial license that expires in June or July will receive a 120-day temporary extension. The DMV had previously announced a 120-day extension for licenses expiring in March, April and May, and the DMV is further extending licenses expiring in March to be valid through July 31, 2020. California law requires drivers age 70 and older to visit a DMV field office to renew their license but gives the DMV authority to issue extensions. No individual action is required as eligible drivers will receive a paper license extension in the mail.

RESIDENTS, HEALTHCARE GROUPS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS REACT TO RESTAURANT AND RETAIL REOPENINGS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: On Friday, Sheldon's Station in La Mesa prepared for reopening with new socially distanced tables. The owner told ECM  that despite offering curbside pickup, he's lost approximately 60% of his business since the shutdown began in mid-March and has not received any federal aid, for which he applied.

May 24, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – On social media, East County residents shared reactions to decisions by state and county officials allowing restaurants to reopen for dine-in service and retailers to allow customers inside stores after a two-month closure due to the  COVID-19 pandemic.

While some voiced joy at savoring a meal out, other expressed trepidation.  Local healthcare officials, politicians and activists have also weighed in with their views on the easing up of restrictions.

RADY SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT AT UC SAN DIEGO LAUNCHES COVID-19 BUSINESS RECOVERY COALITION

Source:  UCSD

Photo:  The Rady School of Management, photo by Erik Jepsen

May 23, 2020 (San Diego) - The Rady School of Management at the University of California San Diego has launched the Rady School Business Recovery Coalition to help businesses in the San Diego region navigate the unprecedented challenges faced by COVID-19. This new initiative draws on expertise from the UC San Diego community to provide immediate pro bono assistance and guidance to San Diego businesses during these extraordinary times. 

FLAGS FLY AT HALF-STAFF THROUGH MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND TO HONOR CORONAVIRUS VICTIMS AND MILITARY KILLED SERVING U.S.

By Miriam Raftery

May 23, 2020 (San Diego) – This Memorial Day weekend, the number of Americans killed by COVID-19 is expected to top 100,000--more than the total of lives lost in the Vietnam and Korean wars combined.  President Donald Trump has ordered flags flown at half staff from Friday through Sunday at all federal buildings and national monuments “in memory of the Americans we have lost to the coronavirus,” he announced on Twitter. Then on Monday, flags will again be lowered to half-staff to honor military members killed in service to the U.S.

REV. SHANE PROTESTS CUTS TO LIBRARY FUNDING ON BIRTHDAY OF MALCOLM X

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Brian Goodin: Rev. Shane Harris, outside Malcolm X Library, speaks out to protect library funding

May 23, 2020 (San Diego) – Civil rights leader Rev. Shane Harris with the People’s Alliance for Justice held a press conference to protest library budget cuts at the Malcolm X Library in San Diego on May 20th, birthday of the slain human rights leader for whom the library is named.

LEMON GROVE OFFICIALS TURN TO DIGITAL BILLBOARD TO IMPROVE REVENUE STREAM

By Emmet Pierce

Photo: Conceptual concept of the billboard, courtesy of Lemon Grove

May 23, 2020 (Lemon Grove) -- Fiscally distressed Lemon Grove is counting on the placement of a digital billboard near Highway 94 to create a new stream of municipal revenue.

PANDEMIC STEALS MOST FROM IMMIGRANT WORKING WOMEN

By Jackie Botts | CALmatters

CALmatters is an independent public interest journalism venture covering California state politics and government.

Photo:  Nearly one in three non-citizen working women in California have lost their jobs during the pandemic, according to the study by UC Merced researchers. Photo via iStock.

May 23, 2020 (San Diego) - Early estimates indicate that the coronavirus pandemic has stolen jobs from non-citizen workers — including immigrants who have green cards, work visas or are undocumented — in California at higher rates than citizens. And women have suffered greater job loss than men. 

EL CAJON APPROVES RENT AND UTILITY ASSISTANCE: FUNDS LIMITED TO FIRST 150 APPLICANTS STARTING MAY 26

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

May 22, 2020 (El Cajon) – El Cajon City Council has approved allocating over $800,000 of its Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus funds for several COVID response programs.  These funds were granted to the City as part of the federal CARES Act.

Per City Council direction, a large portion of the funds will be used for rental and utility assistance to help those most vulnerable to loss of employment.

Due to limited funding, there is a limit to the first 150 eligible applicants. Online and over the phone applications will be accepted through the following service providers beginning Tuesday,May 26, 2020:

COUNTY TO OFFER COVID-19 TESTING IN RURAL COMMUNITIES, OTHER AREAS

By Jose A. Alvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo:  a nurse administers a COVID-19 test at a drive-up test site.

May 22, 2020 (San Diego) - As part of efforts to expand COVID-19 testing, the County will be opening sites in rural communities and other areas of the region. New locations, starting Tuesday, will be staffed with first responders from CAL FIRE and the San Diego County Fire Authority.

CASINO PAUMA TO REMAIN TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR SAFETY OF ITS GUESTS, COMMUNITY AND EMPLOYEES

East County News Service

May 22, 2020 (Pauma Valley) – Bucking the trend of several local casinos that reopened this week or have announced upcoming reopening dates, Casino Pauma on Wednesday announced that it will remain closed indefinitely, choosing to following the advice of Governor Gavin Newsom and health officials to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic.

VIEJAS CASINO REOPENING BALANCES ECONOMIC NEED AND PUBLIC SAFETY

By Helen Horvath

Photo, left:  Worker sanitize chips, cards and table with UV lighting; screenshot from Viejas video

On May 18, 2020, the Viejas tribe took the bold leadership step of reopening Viejas Casino & Resort in collaboration with other tribal nations in San Diego in advance of the Stage 3 opening recommended by California’s Governor Gavin Newsom.

 ECM visited the casino on opening day, speaking with employees, guests and a union official about their experiences and the many changes in place due to COVID-19.

PRESCRIBED BURN IN CUYAMACA AREA DID NOT JUMP CONTAINMENT LINE, CAL FIRE SAYS, BUT EXTRA RESOURCES WERE CALLED

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 22, 2020 (Cuyamaca Rancho State Park) – Cailfornia Dept. of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with Cal Fire yesterday conducted a prescribed burn in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. A large plume of smoke over Middle Peak late yesterday raised concerns among area residents,after winds kicked up and Cal-Fire called in extra resources.

HOW DID THE LION ON MOUNT HELIX GET HIS ROAR?

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

 

May 21, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Tucked away on a Mt. Helix homeowner’s path, a lion sleeps – and roars to life whenever someone strolls past.     

 

Here is the backstory on this big cat in hiding—actually an African lion statue—and an intriguing mystery on how he got his voice. 

OUR GUIDE TO LOCAL FARMS AND FARM-FRESH PRODUCTS SOLD DIRECTLY TO CONSUMERS

Find farm-fresh meats, eggs, fruits and veggies, flowers, honey, nuts, soaps, wool and fiber goods, pumpkin patches,  nursery plants, trees, wineries and more
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
Photos by Miriam Raftery and creative commons images via Bing
 
May 21, 2020 (San Diego) – East County Magazine has compiled our region’s most comprehensive guide to local farms, ranches, nurseries and wineries offering direct-to-consumer sales through farm visits, u-pick orchards, curbside pickup, deliveries to neighborhood pickup points through community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, shipping directly to homes, sales at farm stands, or at farmer’s markets.  
 
San Diego County is home to more family farms (10 acres or less) than any other county in America—giving consumers here a delicious field of choices. Farm-fresh foods are nutritious and delicious. Many are organic. Plus you can avoid grocery store lines and get specialty items not available in stores. 
 
Our guide includes sources to buy these locally grown products:
 
  • Christmas trees
  • Ciders and apples
  • Eggs
  • Emu products
  • Farmer’s markets 
  • Fiber and wool products
  • Flowers, herbs and herbal products
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Hemp
  • Honey
  • Meat, poultry and fish
  • Nuts
  • Plants and trees
  • Pumpkin patches
  • Seeds
  • Soaps
  • Wineries and vineyards

 

Scroll down to view our full directory for each of these local farm product categories.

STATE APPROVES SAN DIEGO PLAN TO REOPEN DINE-IN RESTAURANTS AND IN-STORE RETAIL SHOPPING

County still awaits word on proposed pilot program to accelerate some stage 3 openings including salons, gyms, pools, outdoor worship and youth sports practices

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

May 20, 2020 (San Diego) – “Great news for restaurants and retailers! The state just approved our plan to allow dine-in service and in-person retail sales,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob announced moments ago on Facebook. These businesses now need to complete and post a safe reopening plan to comply with social distancing and other requirements. View: Guidelines for restaurants; guidelines for retailers.

On Tuesday, Supervisors approved two measures to accelerate reopening of the economy countywide. The first sent recommendations to the state to reopen our county’s restaurants and retailers within days. The Governor and California’s Dept. of Public Health approved those recommendations today. The measure does not include bars, breweries, distilleries or wineries.

The second measure passed by supervisors is still awaiting a decision by state officials. That measure calls for a pilot program that if approved, would allow San Diego County to move partially into stage 3 by reopening hair and nail salons, gym and fitness facilities, pools at apartment complexes, outdoor religious services, and research labs. In addition, youth sports could start up for practices only, no games, in groups of 12 or less. Therapeutic and peer support groups could also resume meeting in groups of up to 12 people.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: AIR FORCE SALUTES HEALTHCARE HEROES WITH SPECTACULAR FLY-BY

The view from east county

By Robert Gehr

Photo: Six F-16C/D Falcons

May 20, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The well known U.S. Air force Thunderbirds made a brief, yet impressive flyover in El Cajon on Friday, May 15th just after high noon.

Hearing the powerful jet engines off in the distance signaled their pending arrival, especially when the pilots lit the afterburners as they throttled up more power. Seconds later they were barely within sight, arriving from the East, flying in tight formation as they skimmed the blue sky above. A moment later they were gone, leaving just a fading echo of sound, and perhaps a thought of awe.

I was fortunate to capture this single, fleeting image of these six, F-16C/D Falcons when they made their appearance over the east county of San Diego as they honored first responders, health care workers, military members, law enforcement, and so many other essential service personnel.

I add my gratitude as well. Thank you everyone!

FIVE-STORY MIXED USE COMPLEX IN LEMON GROVE IS A GO

By Jake Zawlacki 

May 20, 2020 (Lemon Grove) — By a 3-2 vote, Lemon Grove’s City Council on Tuesday denied an appeal of the planning commission’s approval of a five-story mixed-use development, with three retail spaces at the street level. The project at 7946 Broadway is slated to be built on property occupied by Berry’s Athletic Supply, a longtime business no longer in operation; the structure is set for demolition.  

SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE KILLS JONES' PORCH PIRACY SOLUTION

"During the COVID-19 crisis, vulnerable individuals unable to leave their home rely on package delivery for essential items such as medication and food"
 
East County News Service
 
Photo:  Creative Commons by SA-NC
 
May 20, 2020 (Sacramento) - Today, the Senate Public Safety Committee voted down State Senator Brian Jones' (R-Santee) Senate Bill 979, a measure to increase the penalties on persons who steal packages from the porch or entryway of someone's home.

LOCAL WRITERS AND TEACHERS HELP OTHERS THROUGH THE SMALL MOVEMENT

By Mimi Pollack

 

Update May 21, 2020: Dr. Kalmar and his staff love their new headbands, which have now been delivered to Grossmont Hospital to help hold masks in place more comfortable. Photo, left, courtesy of Dr. Kalmar. (Other photos courtesy of Mimi Pollack)

 

May 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- What is the small movement? It’s an informal group of people brought together by yours truly to find ways to help others, especially during this pandemic.  This includes giving business to small mom and pop restaurants that may be struggling, buying pizzas for Grossmont Hospital staff,  making masks for Rady’s Children’s Hospital and for shelters in Tijuana, gathering and donating food and fresh fruit to a food pantry, and making headbands for hospital staff to alleviate the discomfort of face masks.

The movement so far includes two East County Magazine writers (Rebecca Jefferis Williamson and me), three Grossmont College teachers (Sara Ferguson, Edda Temoche and me), a San Diego Continuing Education retired teacher (Lynn Francis), two well-known artists (Becky Guttin and Griselda Rosas), East County resident Sharonne Ketels, North County resident, Janna Leoff, and Dr. Frank Kalmar.

SANTEE COUNCIL RESPONDS TO RACIST MASK INCIDENTS, SIGNALS CHALLENGE TO TERM LIMIT MEASURE

 

By Mike Allen

Video by Ana Nita: discussion on racial incidents

May 16, 2020 (Santee) -- In the wake of two nationally-publicized racial incidents inside local grocery stores earlier this month, the Santee City Council voted on May 13 to confront the issue by expanding a community police board that will develop strategies for addressing intolerance. The incidents involved shoppers who wore masks with hate symbols during a county health order mandating masks in stores to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Mayor John Minto, who publicly denounced the incidents soon after they occurred, said he spent many hours talking with residents about what happened, and is convinced the city cannot ignore or simply shrug it off.

“We have to understand why and where it’s happening,” Minto said. “We’re going to triage it, find out where most of the worst symptoms are, and bring people together.”

SELF-CARE APP SHINE HOSTS THREE EVENTS FREE ON WED. MAY 20

East County News Service

Photo: Shine co-Founders Naomi Hirabayashi and Marah Lidey (youtube 2019)

May 19, 2020 (San Diego) - Whether on the frontlines, navigating the pandemic as a parent, or struggling with uncertainty, caring for our mental health matters now more than ever.

“You deserve to take a mental health break,” states an e-mail from Shine, a self-care community prototyped in 2015 as a weekday SMS message to practice self-compassion.

Shine has grown exponentially since then, and is hosting the second annual National Mental Health Break on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. They hope for it to trend at #NationalMentalHealthBreak

“You’ll walk away feeling calm, refreshed, and less alone in caring for your mental health,” promises the team at Shine. 

Shine is making it easier for non-subscribers by offering a day of free, virtual gatherings all focused on helping one take a break and prioritize mental health. 

What each event includes: A Daily Shine group meditation, insightful Q&As about navigating these uncertain times, and one-on-one discussions.

SUPERVISORS TO VOTE ON ACCELERATED REOPENING PLAN AFTER GOV. NEWSOM ANNOUNCES NEW GUIDELINES

By Miriam Raftery

May 19, 2020 (San Diego) – Today, San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors will vote on a plan to allow reopening of the local economy at an accelerated pace in conformance with new state rules, the county has announced. The action follows Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement yesterday of new state guidelines that will allow the vast majority of California counties to move quickly through phase two.

You can watch the meeting online or join via phone to view the discussion on reopening, which is item 5 on the agenda.

If the state approves San Diego’s plans, among the first businesses to benefit could be retailers allowed to have customers inside stores. Dining in at restaurants could also resume in the near future. Both would require social distancing, masks, health and sanitation plans submitted by each business. In addition, Governor Newsom has indicated that hair salons, church gatherings and professional sports without spectators could start up again as early as June.

The Governor estimates that 53 of 58 counties could meet the new criteria, aimed at allowing those areas with lower levels of COVID-19 and that meet certain requirements to reopen sooner than those with high levels.  Requirements include:

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