THE PARTY’S OVER: COUNTY SHUTS DOWN PLANNED EVENTS AT SDSU FRATS AND SORORITIES

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS EXTENDED SEVEN MORE WEEKS FOR CALIFORNIANS

STATE SUPERINTENDENT TONY THURMOND ANNOUNCES $45 MILLION IN GRANT FUNDING TO SUPPORT AT-RISK STUDENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES AT COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

NEW POLL SHOW ISSA PICKS UP LEAD IN 50TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

LETITIA DICKERSON WANTS TO FIGHT FOR FORGOTTEN RESIDENTS IN EL CAJON’S DISTRICT TWO

ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

DIRECTOR JOEL SCALZITTI SEEKS REELECTION TO HELIX WATER DISTRICT BOARD, CITES PASSION FOR PUBLIC SERVICE

EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE WINS SEVEN AWARDS FROM SAN DIEGO PRESS CLUB

HEARSE HEIST: MORTUARY DRIVING SERVICE OWNER ARRESTED FOR ROBBING DEAD MAN’S HOME

VICKIE KNIGHT-BUTCHER WANTS EQUITABLE WATER RATES IN HELIX WATER DISTRICT

HOW TO REPORT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY OR VOTER INTERFERENCE

FRAZIER FARMS MARKET BRINGS NEW NATURAL FOODS STORE TO LA MESA

News

HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION AIMS TO PREVENT VOTER INTIMIDATION

East County News Service

Photo: Together We Can Do More: The Leon Williams Story (available now at aztecs.com)

October 30, 2020 (San Diego) -- On October 22, 2020, the Leon L. Williams San Diego County Human Relations Commission met to discuss the election climate and inform residents how to report voter intimidation or harassment.

The Commission released the following statement:

“The Leon L. Williams San Diego County Human Relations Commission promotes positive relations, respect, and the integrity of every individual regardless of gender, religion, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, or citizenship status. The Commission condemns racism, bigotry, white supremacy and hatred of any kind. Appreciating and respecting one another is of utmost importance during the election season. We want to reassure voters that our Commission and law enforcement is making safe peaceful voting a top priority. All eligible citizens have the right to vote in a peaceful manner. We urge all to respect differing points of view and to be able to peacefully disagree with one another. We implore the public to continue this level of understanding after the election and call for civility while exercising our civic duty.”


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PRESERVE WILD SANTEE TURNS IN 6,300 SIGNATURES TO PUT FANITA RANCH ON BALLOT

By Mike Allen
 
Photos courtesy of Van Collinsworth, Preserve Wild Santee
 
Photo:  Van Collinsworth,  Preserve Wild Santee, left, gives a thumbs up to supporters of the signature gathering drive
 
October 30, 2020 (Santee) -- The campaign to allow Santee voters to weigh in on the Fanita Ranch project turned in 6,300 signatures to the Santee City Clerk’s office Oct. 29, nearly double the minimum number required to force the City Council to either rescind its approval or put the issue to a public vote.

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THE PARTY’S OVER: COUNTY SHUTS DOWN PLANNED EVENTS AT SDSU FRATS AND SORORITIES

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 30, 2020 (San Diego) – The County Health Department has sent cease and desist orders to multiple fraternity and sorority houses at San Diego State University, along with two other addresses, prior to Halloween weekend. The letters, signed by Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, states that the venues “intend to hold large gatherings on October 30, 2020–November 1, 2020” in violation of the county’s public health order and state guidelines.

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NEARLY HALF OF SAN DIEGO COUNTY'S 1.95 MILLION VOTERS HAVE NOW CAST BALLOTS

By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Voters drop off a mail-in ballot at the San Diego Registrar of Voters office in Kearny Mesa. Photo by Chris Stone

October 30, 2020 (San Diego) - In an early-voting surge seen across the country, nearly half of San Diego County’s 1.95 million voters have cast their ballots in the Nov. 3 election, the Registrar of Voters reported Thursday.


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UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS EXTENDED SEVEN MORE WEEKS FOR CALIFORNIANS

East County News Service

October 30, 2020 (Sacramento) -- Starting Saturday, October 31, Californians will be eligible for an additional seven weeks of benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. The increase to 46 weeks is available for those who are reaching the end of their initial 39 weeks of benefits that they started as early as February 2. The process for re-computing the PUA claims is expected to take two weeks.  


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NEW POLL SHOW ISSA PICKS UP LEAD IN 50TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photos:  Darrell Issa, left, and Ammar Campa-Najjar, right

 

October 30, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- A new San Diego Union-Tribune/10 News poll conducted by Survey USA shows Republican Congressman Darrell Issa with a double-digit lead over Democratic opponent Ammar Campa-Najjar in the 50th Congressional District race to fill the seat left vacant by Duncan D. Hunter’s resignation. The poll has Issa leading with 51% to Campa-Najjar’s 40%, with 9% undecided.


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LETITIA DICKERSON WANTS TO FIGHT FOR FORGOTTEN RESIDENTS IN EL CAJON’S DISTRICT TWO

 

By Miriam Raftery

View our video interview with Letitia Dickerson: click here

October 29, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Letitia Dickerson, one of six candidates running for El Cajon City Council in District two, calls the area the “forgotten district” while other parts of the city have seen growth. She pledges to make district two “unforgettable” if elected.

She missed our candidate forum because the city had an error her email address. (View forum with the other five candidates).  Fortunately, she’s reached out to ECM and conducted an interview via Zoom to talk about her goals if elected.   

According to her website, Letitia has lived in El Cajon for over 22 years and says at least 18 of those have been in district two. She was born in Jersey and calls herself “a Jersey girl with a California heart.” She’s gone from homeless to owning small businesses including a smoothie shop and gym, and now works in telecommunications.  She’s raised her children in the district and now has grandchildren here as well.  She’s an ordained evangelical and a Republican who is the coordinator of SoCal Day of Hope, a program that provides outreach and resources to people in need. She’s also volunteered with community nonprofits including Rescue Mission, Salvation Army,  San Diego Food Bank, San Diego Mentors, Promises for Kids and more.

Below are highlights from her interview.


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COMMUNITY POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD RECRUITMENT NOW OPEN

Source: City of La Mesa

Photo: Themis, Blind Justice, Cast Bronze by Design Toscano

Click here to apply

October 28, 2020 (La Mesa) – Applications are now being accepted for the newly created Community Police Oversight Board (“CPOB”). The deadline for submission of applications is 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, December 1, 2020, in the City Clerk’s office at La Mesa City Hall, 8130 Allison Avenue. Applications may be obtained at City Hall or from the City of La Mesa website.

The CPOB will provide recommendations to the Chief of Police, Mayor, City Council, and City Manager on the La Mesa Police Department procedures and policies and on matters of public safety within the City. The CPOB will consist of an 11 member panel (must be residents of the City of La Mesa) as follows:


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MAVERICK, RESCUED TIGER, DIES AFTER MAULING AT LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS

By Miriam Raftery

October 28, 2020 (Alpine) – A popular tiger named Maverick died this week in a tragic accident at the Lions, Tigers and Bears (LTB) facility in Alpine. Moka, another tiger, was accidentally let into the same habitat, fatally injuring Maverick.

Maverick came to the facility in 2014 at nine months of age after being rescued from the exotic animal trade and an owner who had acquired him illegally. Moka was rescued by Border Patrol agents and came to Lions, Tigers and Bears in 2018.

In a letter to supporters, LTB owner Bobbi Brinks voiced sadness at the loss and provided the following explanation: 


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KEEP IT UP SAN DIEGO - VOTE SAFER, VOTE EARLY

By Tracy DeFore, County of San Diego Communications Office

October 28, 2020 (San Diego) - With just over a week left to vote, the Registrar’s office reports more than 725,000 San Diego County voters have already cast their ballots in the Nov. 3 Presidential General Election. That’s 435,000 more than those returned as of this date for the November 2016 presidential election. And it’s more than a third of all 1.95 million mail ballots sent to voters this year.

As part of its COVID-19 Vote Safer San Diego campaign, the Registrar urges you to vote safer and vote early. Make voting decisions and complete your ballot from the safety of your home. Sign and date your return envelope, seal your completed ballot inside and return it to a trusted source.

Ballots received by the Registrar’s office throughout this week should be processed in time for the first release of Election Night results that are posted shortly after 8 p.m. The sooner you return your mail ballot, the sooner Registrar’s staff can process it into the count.

If you want to vote in-person that option is available, too. The Registrar urges you to avoid crowds and take advantage of early voting. You can do so:


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DIRECTOR JOEL SCALZITTI SEEKS REELECTION TO HELIX WATER DISTRICT BOARD, CITES PASSION FOR PUBLIC SERVICE

View video interview with Joel Scalzitti: https://youtu.be/-O30iV7VXKw

By Miriam Raftery

Joel Scalzitti, past president of the Helix Water Board, is running for reelection in district 5, which includes portions of El Cajon, Granite Hills, Bostonia and Lakeside. 

He’s served on the board for over 10 years, owns  local businesses including a water service company for freeway construction, a donut shop and a deli.  He also serves as a member of the San Diego County Water Authority Board and the Advanced Water Purification board. He’s also served on several Helix Water District committees, including the audit committee, water quality and resources committee, and a committee on parks. In addition, he led efforts to keep the Lake Jennings campground open.

He’s one of four candidates in the race, including Vickie Knight Butcher,  Luis Tejeda, and Tyler Logan. (View our interview with Butcher.)  Tejeda and Logan do not have ballot statements or campaign websites that we could find.

Scalzitti has depth of experience in water issues and says he has a "passion for public service."  Here are highlights of Joel Scalzitti’s responses to our questions:


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EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE WINS SEVEN AWARDS FROM SAN DIEGO PRESS CLUB

By Miriam Raftery

October 28, 2020 (San Diego) – East County Magazine writers and photographers picked up seven awards in the  San Diego Press Club’s 47th annual  Excellence in Journalism Awards. ECM’s winning entries included coverage of the May 30-31 riot and protest in La Mesa, Cajon Valley Union School District’s educational challenges during COVID-19 and controversial spending on promotional videos, the railway museum’s centennial celebration in Campo, and a column addressing health issues in local communities.

“I’m proud of our team of hard-working journalists, who went above and beyond the call of duty to report during tumultuous times,” says ECM editor Miriam Raftery. “I also want to thank the Facebook Journalism Project grant, which supports local journalism and funded our reporting on most of this year’s winning entries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This year’s Press Club awards program drew more than 1,100 entries, making it one of the largest journalism competitions in the nation. Judges for the Press Club’s entries included members of 15 journalism professional organizations from around the country, including press clubs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Rochester, Florida, Cleveland, Orange County, Milwaukee, Tulsa and Alaska.

ECM's  award-winners this year are editor Miriam Raftery, photojournalists Paul Kruze, Rebecca Jefferis-Williamson, Henri Migala, and Jake Rose, as well as columnists David Shorey and Paul Levikow.


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HEARSE HEIST: MORTUARY DRIVING SERVICE OWNER ARRESTED FOR ROBBING DEAD MAN’S HOME

At least five others were victimized in a series of brazen thefts. Authorities seek more victims
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
October 27, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Sammy Willie Gates, the owner of Mortuary Transportation Services, has been arrested for stealing property from the home of a deceased man, smuggling some stolen goods out in a body bag.  

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VICKIE KNIGHT-BUTCHER WANTS EQUITABLE WATER RATES IN HELIX WATER DISTRICT

 

By Miriam Raftery

View our video interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq20LfdAzpc

October 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – In a Zoom interview with East County Magazine, Vickie Knight Butcher, J.D. shared concerns over the impacts of COVID-19 on families in the Helix Water District and her hopes to make water rates equitable based on family and lot size, as well as water usage. Butcher, who has extensive state and international experience in water policy, also wants to hold down water rates and have any rate change proposals considered annually with full public input.

Butcher is running in district 5 against Director Joel Scalzitti and two other challengers who did not file ballot statements (Luis Tejeda and Tyler Logan).  ECM previously interrviewed Scalzitti; view video of his interview. District 5 covers the eastern portion of the Helix district including portions of El Cajon, Granite Hills, Bostonia and Lakeside. View map.

“I have had water as my passion for a number of years,” says Butcher. I have served on many boards and commissions at the city, county, state, national and international level…and I’m  committed to making my community a better place to live.”


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HOW TO REPORT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY OR VOTER INTERFERENCE

Story and photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

 

October 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Poll workers are trained to de-escalate disturbances at polling sites. Even so, with a record number of early voting taking place not only in San Diego County but across the country, this is an election that might have the biggest need to beware of voter intimidation and interference at polling and ballot drop-off sites.

The County of San Diego Registrar of Voters released information that outlines the prohibited activities at polling and ballot drop off sites. The flyer outlines the activities as such:  no intimidation of voters, no tampering with the voting system, no falsely acting as election officials, no unauthorized uniformed personnel, no payment for voting or bribery, no campaigning at or near polls, no vandalism at polling places and no interfering with the election process. The Nov. 3rd vote has seen unprecedented media stories on what will not be allowed and cites the California election codes that might be broken.

ECM reached out to the County of San Diego Registrar of Voters via email and Antonia Hutzell, public relations coordinator responded with these tips:


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TWO FAST-MOVING WILDFIRES FORCE 160,000 TO EVACUATE IN ORANGE COUNTY

By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  An Orange County Fire Authority truck races by a burning hillside. Courtesy OCFA

October 26, 2020 (Orange County) - Wind-driven wildfires triggered evacuations of more than 160,000 people in Orange County and severely injured two firefighters Monday, as thousands of residents endured a second day of precautionary power shutoffs.


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SAN DIEGO PRESS CLUB HONORING NEWSPAPER PUBLISHER WHO GAVE FREE ADVERTISING DURING COVID LOCKDOWN

East County News Service

October 26, 2020 (San Diego) – The San Diego Press Club will celebrate its 47th annual Excellence in Journalism awards program on Tuesday evening, Oct. 27. About 500 awards in more than 180 categories and 10 divisions will be announced during an online awards program streamed live over Facebook and Twitter starting at 6 p.m. and originating from the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park.


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SANTEE BUSINESS ASSISTANCE GRANTS ANNOUNCED

East County News Service

 

October 26, 2020 (Santee) -- The Microenterprise Assistance Program or (MAP) is now accepting applications. Grants up to $10,000 are available for local businesses that qualify. 


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REPAIR SMITH, MOBILE MECHANICS COME TO YOU

By Jonathan Goetz

Photo: Kevin from Repair Smith

October 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are staying home and avoiding indoor spaces, where the virus can spread. Waiting for hours in an auto repair shop’s waiting room has become not only inconvenient, but potentially risky.  Thankfully, there is an alternative.  Repair Smith (www.RepairSmith.com) sends mobile mechanics directly to your home. 

This writer was fortunate to win a complimentary repair from the company.  Repair Smith’s mobile mechanics were kind, clean and courteous. I would recommend them to others. Their representative, Keith, kept in contact with me, leading up to the diagnostic.  A couple of days later, Kevin, a mechanic, conducted the repair.

Repair Smith was convenient. My car went through a diagnostic and subsequent repair, all without having to wait in a car repair shop.


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ENVIRONMENTALISTS SUE TO BLOCK FANITA RANCH IN SANTEE

East County News Service
 
File photo: the devastating 2003 Cedar Fire, which caused traffic gridlock on local freeways, scorched an estimated 95% of the site where Fanita Ranch would be built.
 
October 25, 2020 (Santee) – Four environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the city of Santee and councilmembers. The groups contend that the city council ignored fire dangers, habitat impacts and cultural resources in approving Fanita Ranch, a major housing development.

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LA MESA ADOPTS COMMUNITY POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Councilmember Akilah Weber led efforts to establish the police oversight body
 
October 25, 2020 (La Mesa) – By a 3-2 vote on Oct. 13, the La Mesa City Council approved creation of a Community Police Oversight Board. The board is empowered to retain an independent police auditor and to direct investigation of serious incidents involving police, such as shootings or major misconduct complaints. 

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PILOT MAKES EMERGENCY LANDING NEAR SCHOOL PLAYGROUND IN EL CAJON

Photos courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
October 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – A pilot who took off from Gillespie Field for a practice made an emergency landing on a field next to a playground at W.D. Hall Elementary School in El Cajon Friday afternoon after the plane stalled. Fortunately, no one was injured.
 
The pilot told 10 News that he had been flying for decades.
 
The wing of his small plane suffered damage from hitting a fence or trees, according to eyewitness reports.

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EAST COUNTY HIGHWAY AND TROLLEY STATION UPGRADES AMONG $830 MILLION IN PROJECTS APPROVED BY CALTRANS

Source: CalTrans
 
October 24, 2020 (San Diego) -- The California Transportation Commission approved more than $830 million to repair highways and bridges and improve the state’s growing network of pedestrian, bicycle and mass transit routes. This investment includes more than $600 million in allocations for State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) projects, Caltrans’ “fix-it-first” program aimed at preserving the condition of the State Highway System.
 
“We are advancing projects that will keep our economy moving and improve access for all Californians,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “This includes improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians, expanding public transportation and helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
 
Projects approved in San Diego and Imperial counties include:

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LIGHT RAIN POSSIBLE NEXT TWO DAYS, BUT HIGH WINDS AND FIRE DANGER BY TUESDAY

 
By Miriam Raftery
 
October 24, 2020 (San Diego) –  Measurable rainfall is possible Sunday and Monday, with drizzles Saturday night.  Up to a half inch could fall in mountain areas, though most areas of the county would receive only minimal precipitation in the range of 0.02 to 0.15 inches.
 
Tuesday is expected to be much drier with very low humidity and high fire danger. Moderate Santa Ana Winds are forecast to develop starting Monday, continuing Tuesday with north to northeast winds of 10-20 miles per hour and gusts up to 40 mph, blowing dust in desert areas.

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COUNTY DEBUTS LIFE-SAVING KNOX BOX PROGRAM

 

By Jose Eli Villanueva, County of San Diego Communications Office

October 24, 2020 (San Diego) - County emergency responders have a new tool to help keep homeowners in unincorporated areas safe during a wildfire or medical emergency. It’s called a Knox Box and when it comes to being prepared for disaster… this may be just the key.

Contact us to see if you qualify.

Call:  858-974-5744 

Email:  FireCRR@sdcounty.ca.gov 

Visit:  sandiegocounty.gov/sdcfa 


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NEW NATIONAL HOTLINE FOR MENTAL HEALTH CALLS APPROVED

By Miriam Raftery

October 24, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – Starting in July 2022, anyone in the U.S. will be able to dial 988 for help with a mental health emergency. President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan bill into law last week to create the three-digit number for a mental health crisis, similar to the 911 line now in use for all emergencies, on recommendation of the Federal Communications Commission.


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HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION IN EL CAJON

East County News Service

October 24, 2020 (El Cajon) – Homicide detectives with El Cajon Police Department are investigating the death of a man in his 30s.

Officers responded to a call yesterday at 8:42 a.m. reporting a dead body inside a home on the 1100 block of Marline. They found the deceased man and determined the death to be “suspicious," according to Lieutenant Jason Taub.

No suspects have been arrested.  Anyone with information about this incident should call the El Cajon Police Department at 619-579-3300, or anonymously at Crime Stoppers, 1-888-580-8477 or sdcrimestoppers.org.


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RENTERS AND HOMEOWNERS ELIGIBLE FOR FEDERAL DISASTER AID AFTER FIRES

Source: FEMA

Photo:  Valley Fire, by Ron Kasper Dronesystems

October 23, 2020 (San Diego) -- The FEMA Individuals and Housing Program is available to all eligible renters and homeowners in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, Napa, San Bernardino, San Diego, Shasta, Siskiyou and Sonoma counties, which are covered in the Oct. 16, 2020, federal disaster declaration. Federal monetary awards may help pay for temporary housing and other needs not covered by insurance. The initial rental award is for two months and may be reviewed for further assistance. 


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VIRAL VIDEO EXPOSES ANOTHER RACIST INCIDENT IN SANTEE

View video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZOh5bjYi0U

 

By Mike Allen

 

October 23, 2020 (Santee) -- A video that’s gone viral on the Internet shows another disgruntled Starbucks customer yelling about wearing a mask. But this time, the customer at the Starbucks on Magnolia Avenue in Santee hurls an obscene and racially charged insult at the black woman behind the counter.


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VALLEY FIRE SURVIVORS MAY APPLY FOR FEDERAL AID TO HELP WITH LOSSES

By Yvette Urrea Moe, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo:  damage assessor surveys losses from the Valley Fire.

October 23, 2020 (Alpine) - Homeowners or renters affected by the Valley Fire in September can now apply for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant through Dec. 15. The grants are designed to help with serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance such as rent, home repair or replacement, medical or dental costs, transportation or other personal property losses.


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