July 2020 Articles

HELIX WATER DISTRICT’S DEMONSTRATION WATER-WISE GARDENS ARE COMPLETE

 

Source:  Helix Water District

View video: https://youtu.be/OuJTPTgV3_8

July 16, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Helix Water District’s new demonstration landscape, located at its administration office in La Mesa, is complete. The project beautifies the neighborhood and inspires others to install WaterSmart landscaping.

The demonstration landscape includes three unique water-wise gardens on the streets around the building, including a Mediterranean garden on University Avenue, a desert landscape on Lee Avenue and a California native landscape along the building’s main entrance on Quince Street. Each is full of flowers, colors and textures.

GREG PALAST, INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, HOLDS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR FRIDAY, JULY 17 ON “HOW TRUMP STOLE 2020” WITH SAN DIEGO’S KNSJ RADIO

Source: KNSJ

July 16, 2020 (San Diego) -- Greg Palast, internationally-known investigative journalist, will be making a virtual appearance in San Diego for KNSJ 89.1 FM community radio on Friday, July 17 at 7 p.m.  According to KNSJ general manager Martin Eder, “This is an exclusive interview in San Diego and a fund raiser for KNSJ.  Greg Palast is on tour with his latest book, ‘How Trump Stole 2020. Greg is a no-holds-barred journalist.  He is exactly the kind of watchdog our democracy has to have to survive.  Friday Greg will tell us in detail what his investigations have found.” 

Tickets for this exclusive virtual event can be reserved on KNSJ’s Facebook page.  Tickets are by donation.  No one will be turned away for lack of funds.  Larger donors will be mailed a copy of Palast's book and other premiums to support local community radio KNSJ.

CHURCHES DEFY GOVERNOR’S SHUTDOWN OF INDOOR SERVICES; LAWSUIT ALSO FILED CHALLENGING BAN ON SINGING

By Miriam Raftery

July 16, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Across San Diego County, several churches appear poised to openly defy state health orders that temporarily prohibit indoor worship services. In addition, a lawsuit has been filed challenging a state ban on singing during services.

Some churches have shifted to online worship services, services broadcast over TV or radio,  or outdoor services including drive-up versions. But others are planning returns to indoor services for their parishioners despite health risks, state and local bans.

On the reopening website for Skyline Church, parishioners are encouraged to RSVP for Sunday services at the megachurch’s facilities in Rancho San Diego and Lakeside.  The website makes clear that the services will not be outdoors (which is allowed) but instead will be indoors:  “Due to the attendance limitations and in an effort to create a safe, clean, and healthy worship environment, we will be limiting the number of people allowed in the main auditoriums.  Fortunately, we will also be opening the Chapel and Gym at the Rancho Campus for overflow, allowing more of our church family to gather on our campus.”  Sunday school classes for children will not be held.

MURDERED WOMAN LED COUNTY FOSTER PARENT ASSOCIATION IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

July 16, 2020 (El Cajon) – Debbie Stolz, President of the San Diego County Foster Parent Association based in El Cajon, was murdered along with her daughter on Sunday at a home in Otay Mesa. The loss of Stolz has sent shockwaves through local communities and the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. Stolz worked  for over 20 years as a trainer for parents with Grossmont College’s Foster, Adoptive & Kinship Care education program.

“Deb played an integral role in the program through her training and support to countless resource parents for foster youth in San Diego County,” says Sally Cox, CEO of the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges, in an email to staff.  Stolz Stolz was a long-time employee for the Foundation.

ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC STRATEGIES STRIVES FOR EQUITY

By David R. Shorey, East County Program Manager, Institute for Public Strategies
 
Photo:  Approach to Community Transformation (ACT) Model, courtesy IPS
 
July 16, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- For almost 30 years, the Institute for Public Strategies (IPS) has been a partner with neighborhood and community groups focused on improving public health and safety. Our local, national and international efforts have resulted in meaningful changes in the systems that most directly affect people.

CHABAD OF POWAY'S WOUNDED RABBI PLEADS GUILTY TO YEARS OF TAX, WIRE FRAUD

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego News Association

Photo:  As Poway Mayor Steve Vaus looks on, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein chats with President Trump in September. Photo by Ken Stone

July 15, 2020 (Poway) - Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, the Chabad of Poway leader wounded during an attack last year on his synagogue, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to federal tax and wire fraud charges and could face a maximum five-year prison term.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY FILES MURDER CHARGE AGAINST SHERIFF’S DEPUTY WHO SHOT MENTALLY ILL SUSPECT IN THE BACK

East County News Service 

 

July 14, 2020 (San Diego) – Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron Russell, 23, has been charged with second-degree murder for shooting and killing Nicholas Bils, 36, on May 1st after the unarmed man escaped from a California State Park vehicle outside the jail downtown.

AFTER ECM INQUIRY, COUNTY REVISES FLAWED RELIEF PLAN FOR RESTAURANTS, SMALL BUSINESSES AND NONPROFITS DUE TO COVID-19

By Miriam Raftery

Update July 13, 2020: The County has changed these rules as a direct result of East County Magazine's investigation, after our editor made inquiries to Supervisor Dianne Jacob's staff and alerted La Mesa Chamber of Commerce President Mary England, who immediately made calls as well.

A business license is no longer required of businesses in unincorporated areas. Proof of employees is no longer required for all-volunteer nonprofits.

July 10, 2020 (San Diego)-- Local small businesses, restaurants and nonprofits suffering financial losses due to COVID-19 can now apply for a grant from the County of San Diego. Supervisors approved the new Small Business Stimulus Program  on July 7, which will be funded with $17 million in federal CARES Act funding. 

However, East County Magazine has alerted Supervisor Dianne Jacob that documents required in the application will preclude most businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county from applying, as well as nonprofits that are volunteer run.

The applicaton requires that a business license be attached. However, the county no longer issues business licenses to businesses in the unincorporated areas, so only businesses with a license in an incorporated city can apply. A spokesperson for Supervisor Dianne Jacob has told ECM that in response to our inquiry, the County is considering eliminating that requirement, but as of last night, the application still required a business license.

The application also requries multiple documents to prove employment and payroll deductions, which nonprofits that rely only on volunteers do not have. Yet these nonprofits have lost significant revenues due to being unable to host fundraising events and donations down due to the pandemic, limiting their ability to fund needed programs and services. The application also requires complex monthly accounting documentation that some small nonprofits may lack.

Businesses and nonprofits able to qualify are urged to apply early.  Applications will be accepted through October 16, provided funds are still available. See below for details.

POWAY MAYOR VAUS PROPOSES PLAN TO LET FITNESS ACTIVITIES AND WORSHIP SERVICES USE PARKS DURING COVID-SHUTDOWN

 

Update July 15, 2020: The Poway City Council today unanimously approved this plan.

By Miriam Raftery

July 14, 2020 (Poway) –  Poway Mayor Steve Vaus has proposed a “Sharing Outdoor Spaces” plan to “allow local fitness biz & houses of worship to use areas in our parks until indoor restrictions lifted.” Vaus announced the plan on Twitter, which the Poway City Council will vote on tomorrow during an 11:15 a.m. meeting. View agenda.

The action comes after the state on Monday issued a order required all houses of worship, gyms, yoga, dance and other fitness organizations to cease all indoor activities until further notice in order to mitigate the further spread of COVID-19.

“Similar to how we recently assisted Poway restaurants by providing picnic tables, I propose we help houses of worship and fitness-oriented businesses (yoga, Pilates, dance class, gyms, etc.) by providing space for their activities in our parks,” the Mayor’s proposal states, noting that the state has not banned such activities from taking place outdoors. Outdoor activities are considered less risky by health officials since the virus dissipates more quickly in sunshine and since people are not breathing recirculated air.

EL CAJON STARTS SMALL BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM, ALLOWS BUSINESSES SUCH AS BARBERS, SALONS AND RETAILERS TO MOVE OUTDOORS

City also weighs possibility of allowing city parks, such as Prescott Promenade (photo) downtown, to be used for outdoor faith services and business operations

By Kendra Sitton

July 14, 2020 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon City Council today unanimously approved a plan to allocate almost $2.5 million for a Business Grant Program benefitting primarily nonessential businesses forced to close during the pandemic.

The city also took action to help many businesses and activities move outdoors, after the state shut down many indoor operations due to a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

LEMON AID: LEMON GROVE APPROVES CARES ACT FUNDING TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES AND RECOUP COVID-19 COSTS TO CITY

Council also votes to place cannabis tax on ballot

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 14, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – By a unanimous vote, Lemon Grove’s City Council on July 7 approved a staff proposal for allocation of federal CARES Act funding. The city will receive $480,774 through the county and another $334,243 through the state. The lion’s share will be spent to help small businesses. A substantial portion will also offset city costs related to COVID-19, while a small sliver of the funds will be spent on homeless services.

 

HELIX WATER TO VOTE WED. ON RAISE FOR GENERAL MANAGER

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

 

July 14, 2020 (La Mesa) – Helix Water District’s board of directors will vote this Wed., July 15 at 5 p.m. on a proposal to give a 5 percent annual raise for General Manager Carlos Lugo. The raise would be effective Feb. 1, 2021 for each year though 2023.

CCCAA SHIFTS ALL SPORTS, INCLUDING FOOTBALL, TO THE 2021 SPRING SEASON

Source:  Grossmont College Athletics

July 14, 2020 (El Cajon) - The California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Board of Directors overwhelmingly approved implementation of its Contingency Plan on Thursday, providing a return to intercollegiate athletics for the 2020-21 academic year that shifts all sports, including football, to the spring season.

TEACHERS PRESS NEWSOM TO DELAY PHYSICAL SCHOOL REOPENING

By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service (CA)
 
 
July 14, 2020 (Sacramento) -- The California Federation of Teachers is urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to delay physical reopening of schools and direct districts to go to distance learning until COVID-19 infections drop and safeguards are in place.

AHEAD OF PEAK FIRE SEASON, GOVERNOR NEWSOM ANNOUNCES MORE FIREFIGHTING SUPPORT AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC

In early season fires, major changes to emergency operations and sheltering have been made to protect firefighters and evacuees

Source: Governor’s Office

July 13, 2020 (Sacramento) – Governor Gavin Newsom visited McClellan Air Force Base on July 9 to highlight the state’s wildfire mitigation capabilities and discuss new efforts to protect emergency personnel and evacuees from COVID-19 during wildfires. 

NAVAL SHIP FIRE PROMPTS COUNTY AIR QUALITY WARNINGS ; SHIP MAY BE TOTAL LOSS, IMPACTING NAVAL READINESS

57 injured, including Navy personnel and civilians

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: County News Service

July 13, 2020 (San Diego) – As crews continue to battle an inferno engulfing the Navy amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard  for a second day, the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) has issued an advisory warning of potentially “unhealthy” air quality particularly for the elderly, children, and people with lung or heart conditions. 

“In areas with heavy smoke, San Diegans should assume the air quality levels are unhealthy for sensitive groups and could be unhealthy for the public,” says Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer.  “In areas with minor smoke impacts, the air quality levels are likely to be moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups."

Some East County residents have complained of irritation to eyes and skin. Heartland and San Miguel Fire departments both report receiving many calls from concerned residents. Any negative impact on air quality is of special concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused respiratory distress in many patients and a new shutdown order issued by Governor Gavin Newsom today of many businesses due to only 36 percent of ICU beds remaining available statewide as coronavirus cases spike.

GOVERNOR ORDERS SHUTDOWNS OF MANY INDOOR BUSINESSES, CHURCHES AND MORE AS AVAILABIITY OF ICU BEDS DROPS

 

Indoor worship services, protests, gyms, malls, personal care services and non-essential offices must close

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 13, 2020 (Sacramento) – With only 36 percent of the ICU beds in the state available as COVID-19 cases surge statewide, Governor Gavin Newsom today announced broad new shutdowns. 

Counties that have been on the state’s monitoring list for three consecutive days, including San Diego and all Southern California counties, must shut down the following industries and activities (unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up):

  • Fitness centers
  • Worship services
  • Protests
  • Offices for non-essential sectors
  • Personal care services, like nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Malls

FIRE BREAKS OUT ONBOARD SAN DIEGO BASED NAVAL SHIP USS BONHOMME RICHARD

Update July 13, 2020 -- The fire continues burning for a second day. The County Health Dept. advises staying indoors if you smell the smoke.
 
Celeste Shanas sent the photo (right) with this eyewitness account:"So there are currently 2-3 military helicopters scooping up water from the bay and doing aerial drops directly above the fire. This is a little different from how fires are fought with planes in the East County.  The drops today require almost surgical precision and involve many other factors that affect how the aircraft is controlled. I can see the drop bucket swaying pretty heavily after each drop, moving the helo with it.  The circle from fire to water scoop -up and back to drop is pretty tight - only about a minute per cycle.  Thank God for our military. Their training and readiness is on full display this morning."
 
Update 7:30 p.m.:  21 people are now hospitalized including several civilians.
 
Smoke has affected air quality regionwide. An air quality alert has been issued for National City and areas near the pier in San Diego.Heartland Fire and San Miguel Fire report receiving many calls from residents smelling fumes from the ship fire. Some residents report irritaton to skin or eyes. To avoid exposure to burning chemicals, if you smell the smoke, it's wise to stay indoors and if you have an air filter, use it. 
 
By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson
 
Photo courtesy San Diego Fire and Rescue
 
July 12, 2020 (San Diego) - Firefighters are battling a fire onboard the San Diego based ship, USS Bonhomme Richard.  Approximately 160 sailors were aboard when the ship caught fire. According to Twitter updates provided by Naval Surface Forces  approximately 160 sailors were on board when the fire began and all have been safely evacuated, however 18 sailors were transported to a hospital with minor injuries.

NATIONAL EDUCATORS, DOCTORS AND TEACHERS FORMALLY OPPOSE TRUMP THREAT TO FORCE SCHOOLS TO REOPEN

By Miriam Raftery 

 

Photo: Student in mask and face shield; Creative Commons-NC via Bing 

 

July 12, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – The nation’s largest organizations representing teachers, principals, children’s doctors and parents have issued statements strongly criticizing President Donald Trump’s push to reopen schools and his threat to defund schools that don’t fully reopen or rely on online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Trump fueled the controversy when he tweeted“Virtual Learning has proven to be TERRIBLE compared to In School, or On Campus, Learning. Not even close! Schools must be open in the Fall. If not open, why would the Federal Government give Funding? It won’t!!!” The President’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, during news shows today, backed the president’s call to financially punish schools that don’t fully reopen.   

 

On Friday, the American Academy of Pediatrics responded by issuing a joint statement with the American Association of Teachers, the National Education Association and the School Superintendents Association.  Withholding funding from schools that do not open in person fulltime would be a misguided approach, putting already financially strapped schools in an impossible position that would threaten the health of students and teachers.  

2-1-1 SAN DIEGO OFFERS HELP WITH FOOD, HOUSING, UTILITY BILLS AND MORE DURING PANDEMIC

ECM interviews Meg Storer, Vice President, community and government relations at 2-1-1 San Diego, on programs and services available

By Helen Horvath

 

July 11, 2020 (San Diego) -- The answer to resolving many COVID-19 roadblocks faced by our community members can be found at 2-1-1 San Diego through its Community Information Exchange (CIE) ecosystem.

DONORS HELP SUSTAIN NOAH HOMES, NONPROFIT HARD-HIT BY COVID-19 SHUTDOWN AND STATE BUDGET CUTS

By Helen Horvath

 

Part 3 in our series on impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on local nonprofit organizations

 

July 11, 2020 (Spring Valley) – In an exclusive interview, Noah Homes’ Chief Executive Officer Molly Nocon (photo, left) discussed how the pandemic has affected the nonprofit’s services to developmentally disabled people in San Diego’s East County.

 

The facility has faced challenges more daunting than most nonprofits. Steep cuts in state funding and a ban on fundraising events due to COVID-19 have impacted revenues. Yet Noah Homes, which provides on-site housing and services, has new costs and responsibilities to protect the health of vulnerable residents while finding creative solutions to help them cope with isolation amid the pandemic.

 

Noah Homes’ mission and funding

 

Tucked away on a quiet 11-acre campus off Campo Road between Spring Valley and Jamul, this unique and very important non-profit  provides on-site housing and services for individuals with developmental disabilities.  Noah Homes has been part of East County and San Diego for 36 years. 

LA MESA MAN, 20, KILLED IN DULZURA HEAD-ON COLLISION

By Miriam Raftery

July 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The driver killed in a head-on collision in Dulzura on June 27 has been identified as 20-year-old Joshua Ruben Valtierra of La Mesa. He was driving south on State Route 94, also known as Campo Road, east of Little Tecate Road in Dulzura when an oncoming vehicle veered over the center line and struck Valtierra’s vehicle head-on.

Valtierra’s vehicle overturned and plunged down an embankment. Paramedics responded to a 9-1-1 call. Valtierra’s death of blunt force injuries sustained in the crash was confirmed at the scene, the Medical Examiner reports.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision.

NATURAL BALANCE CAT FOOD RECALLED DUE TO DANGEROUS REACTIONS IN PETS

By Miriam Raftery
 
July 10, 2020 (San Diego) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that cats that ate Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken & Live Paté Formula canned food suffered serious health conditions including tremors, irregular heartbeat, trouble breathing, excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of vision, heart and respiratory failure that may cause death.

LA MESA PLANS TWO MEETINGS JULY 14: AGENDAS INCLUDE LEASE OF FORMER POLICE STATION SITE, HOMELESS GRANT, SEWER FEE CHANGES, AND FUTURE TOWNHALL ON PROTEST AND RIOT

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa City Council will hold two meetings on  Tuesday, July 14:  a special meeting at 5 p.m. followed by the regularly scheduled 6 p.m. Council meeting, both via teleconference.

At the 5 p.m. special session, Council will discuss whether to consider a potential ground lease of the old police station site at the southeast corner of Allison and Date avenues to USA Properties Fund for a housing project. A closed session conference with a real property negotiator will follow the special session.

During the 6 p.m. meeting,  the agenda includes:

  • A presentation by the Climate Action Campaign
  • Interviews with applicants for city boards and commissions
  • Shifting sewer service charges to the county property tax roll
  • Consideration of a grant application to the Permanent Local Housing Allocation Program fund homeless services in La Mesa
  • A proposal by Mayor Mark Arapostathis and Councilmember Akilah Weber to hold a future town hall meeting on the May 30 events that included protests, a confrontation at the police station, and an ensuing riot.

LMPD CHIEF RECEIVES REPORT ON AMAURIE JOHNSON INCIDENT NEAR TROLLEY STATION

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Amaurie Johnson, courtesy of Ken Stone, Times of San Diego

July 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – Today, the city of La Mesa announced that an external investigation has been completed into a controversial incident that occurred May27 involved a La Mesa Police officer and Amaurie Johnson.  The result of the external investigation has been forwarded to LMPD Chief Walt Vasquez for his review and a determination on what action if any will be taken.

No further details were provided and the report has not been made public.

TWO DEAD IN FIERY ROLLOVER ON I-8

By Miriam Raftery
 
July 10, 2020 (Jacumba)  -- A fiery vehicle rollover near the In-Ko-Pah brake check in Jacumba Hot Springs on Interstate 8 yesterday afternoon claimed the life of two patients and injured a third.
 
Cal Fire and the California Highway Patrol responded to the accidents.  First responders rescued two patients from the wreckage, both with major injuries. One was transported via air ambulance to a hospital Cal fire reports, but the other died at the scene, according to Cal Fire. A third victim was found dead in the vehicle.

LA MESA AUTHORIZES RESTAURANTS TO SET UP OUTDOOR DINING AREAS

By Miriam Raftery

File photo, taken prior to the pandemic: Curbside, one of La Mesa's newest eateries, was designed for only limited outside seating. The new executive order could enable restaurants such as Curbside to expand onto sidewalks or streets, with permission of the City Manager and adherance to other laws.

July 9, 2020 (La Mesa)  -- The La Mesa City Manager today issued an executive order under emergency powers granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order temporarily allows use of public and private outdoor areas by eating establishments for dining, after county health officials banned indoor dining for three weeks starting July 6 due to a growing number of coronavirus cases including some tied to restaurants and bars.

Restaurants must obtain written authorization from the Director of Community Development and comply with all social distancing and other COVID-19 related health orders, as well as all other laws. This includes city and county emergency orders, state laws such as Alcoholic Beverage Control rules, and federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Per the executive order, there is no City fee charged or permit required for businesses that receive authorization to use public and private outdoor areas for dining.  Businesses interested in obtaining written authorization for temporary use of public and private outdoor areas should contact Allyson Kinnard, Senior Planner at akinnard@cityoflamesa.us.

RESCUED EAGLE DIES

By Miriam Raftery
 
July 9, 2020 (Alpine) – An Bald Eagle rescued in Alpine has passed away, despite valiant efforts by the San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife to save the ailing bird brought to their facility on the Fourth of July.
 
The fledgling eagle was found dehydrated on the ground at Camp Barrett and rescued by SoCal Parrot, which brought the eagle to Project Wildlife. It received intravenous fluids, oxygen, treatment for mite and diagnostic testing; results are still pending.
 
Monday the young bird was able to stand and accepted hand feeding from volunteers, but still needed oxygen.
 
So staff members sedated and anesthetized the Bald Eagle for a thorough exam.But Nina Thompson, interim director of marketing and communications for the San Diego Humane Society reports, “This morning the juvenile bird was having more difficulty breathing, despite receiving supplemental oxygen in the critical care unit at our Pilar & Chuck Bahde Wildlife Center." Thompson continues, "Our highly trained medical staff knew they had to find out why the bird was not able to breathe.”

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: LOCAL AND STATEWIDE NEWS

July 8, 2020 (San Diego) -- East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego's inland regions, published in other media.  This week's round-up stories include: 

LOCAL

STATE

For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.

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