Business and Labor

KPBS GETS COUNTY DATA ON OUTBREAKS IN RESTAURANTS, RETAILERS, CASINOS AND MORE: THE NUMBERS MAY SURPRISE YOU

By Miriam Raftery

Image via KPBS, republished under Fair Use Doctrine

December 21, 2020  (San Diego) – It took a lawsuit under the California Public Records Act filed by KPBS, Voice of San Diego and the San Diego Union-Tribune to obtain data previously kept secret on the exact location of COVID-19 outbreaks, including names of businesses affected.

The data reveals many outbreaks at venues such as Walmart, Costco, Target, casinos and manufacturers/businesses. The most outbreaks, however, have been at senior living facilities/nursing homes(214 outbreaks) followed by restaurants and bars with 208 outbreaks from March through November.

The number of outbreaks doesn’t tell the whole story, however.


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APPEALS COURT BLOCKS JUDGE’S RULING, ORDERS RESTAURANTS CLOSED AGAIN

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left:  Terra American Bistro, a farm to table eatery in San Diego just west of La Mesa, had moved outdoors but is now back to offering take-out taco Tuesdays and to-go Christmas dinners, among other offerings, as a result of the latest shutdown order.

December 19, 2020 (San Diego) – Beleaguered restaurant owners are once again ordered to shut down, after three justices on the Fourth District Court of Appeals on Friday issued a stay blocking an order issued Wednesday by Superior Court Judge Wohlfiel.  The Appeals Court, responding to an appeal filed by California’s Attorney General, found that Wohlfiel acted too broadly in expanding an order in a case filed by strip clubs to also include restaurants, which were not parties in the case.

The state argued that Wohlfiel’s order jeopardized the health of county residents by undermining public health orders aimed at curtailing spread of the disease at a time when the Southern California intensitve care units are full, with zero percent capacity.

Wohfiel has issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the state and county from enforcing COVID-19 shutdown orders at restaurants and strip clubs.  Many local restaurants swiftly responded by reopening for outdoor and in some cases, indoor dining.  But the reprieve proved short-lived; the Appeals Court action means that restaurants are once again ordered to shut down except for take-out and delivery services.


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REPURPOSING YOUR LIFE AFTER UNEMPLOYMENT WITH TRUCK DRIVING TRAINING

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos courtesy of Advanced Training Systems) 

Dec. 18, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) Women faced with sudden job loss from the pandemic may consider going to truck driving school to repurpose their life and source of income.

ECM interviewed CEO John Kearney of Advanced Training Systems via email for his insights and tips on pursing a career in truck driving.

ECM: What are the costs and/or scholarships for the training?

Kearney: Costs vary depending on school, public or private.  Costs are the same for men and women. Women should contact the Women in Trucking Association to learn what the possibilities are and how women in trucking is really a growing field.  Some high schools have a driver training program, and the cost is very low because students take the driver training program as part of their regular school program.  Many trucking schools that have training programs will train the student without cost unless they quit soon after the training.  Costs for many of the programs can run from $4,000 to just under $7,000.  I suggest that individuals interested in driving contact local schools, trucking companies and the workforce agencies in their area to determine the local possibilities.  Workforce will often help with the cost of the training.  


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HELP A SMALL BUSINESS SURVIVE SHUTDOWNS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON: NAIL SALONS, HAIRDRESSERS AND PERSONAL CARE PROVIDERS NEED YOUR TLC

By Miriam Raftery

December 17, 2000 (Santee) -- The shutdowns from the Coronavirus pandemic have hurt many especially small businesses. Our nail salons, hairdressers, restaurants, and personal care businesses have been paralyzed, especially now during their busiest time of the year.  Many who have the means to help don’t know what to do.  Take-out orders are being placed to help local restaurants, but what about the personal care business owners and employees?

Here are some ideas to help these vital businesses survive.


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COUNTY PAUSES ENFORCEMENT OF RESTAURANT CLOSURES AND LIVE ENTERTAINMENT VENUES PENDING APPEAL OF JUDICIAL RULING

 

By Miriam Raftery

Image: CC-by-SA-NC

December 17, 2020 (San Diego) – The County has temporarily halted enforcement of COVID-19 closure orders on restaurants and strip-clubs following a judicial order, which Supervisors have voted 3-2 to appeal.  

In a ruling yesterday, Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil ordered the state and county to cease enforcement of California’s regional stay-home order against strip clubs, until trial. Wohlfeil’s decision states that the state and county failed to provide evidence tying spread of COVID-19 or lack of intensive care beds to live adult entertainment. 

The case arose out of a challenge against closure orders filed by two strip clubs, Cheetah’s Gentlemen’s Club and Pacers Showgirls International. The order includes strip clubs but the broad wording covers “San Diego County businesses with restaurant service” though it’s unclear if his ruling is meant to apply to all food service establishments, or only strip clubs serving food.


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HOMEOWNERS, SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS MAY QUALIFY FOR PROPERTY TAX PENALTY RELIEF

East County News Service

December 17, 2020 (San Diego) -- San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector Dan McAllister announced his office is accepting penalty cancellation requests for homeowners and small business owners who were impacted by COVID-19 and missed the Dec. 10 property tax deadline.

“COVID-19 has affected many in San Diego – especially our small businesses, so we want to do what we can to help those who did not have the funds to pay their taxes on time,” said McAllister. “We want to be as lenient as we can and show compassion for those who need it.” 

Property taxes that were unpaid after Dec. 10 have incurred a 10% penalty. To qualify for penalty cancellation, the property must either be:


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SENATOR JONES JOINS BI-PARTISAN GROUP DEFENDING RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES

11 Senators urge that Governor “immediately reclassify the restaurant industry as critical infrastructure before even more damage is done to our communities.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Giardino Neighborhood Cucina in Lemon Grove, like many other restaurants, invested heavily in setting up outdoor dining, only to be closed down for all but takeout or delivery by the latest public health orders.

December 16, 2020 (Santee) – Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) and ten other Senators sent a strongly worded letter to Governor Gavin Newsom on behalf of out of work restaurant employees and owners suffering during the state-ordered shutdown of indoor and outdoor dining throughout much of California.

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READER’S EDITORIAL: CALIFORNIA SMALL BUSINESSESES NEED HELP

An open letter to Governor Gavin Newsom and state legislators signed by 81 Chambers of commerce and other business groups

Source:  Save Small Business Coalition

December 14, 2020 (San Diego) - Dear Governor Newsom, State Senators, Assemblymembers and All California Elected Officials:

As leaders of organizations serving businesses of California, we are deeply concerned about State policies that are severely impacting our local businesses.


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LOCAL NONPROFIT AND SMALL BUSINESS EXPERTS UNITE TO SUPPORT BUSINESSES AFFECTED BY COVID-19

Source: RISE San Diego

COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively impact small businesses and nonprofits 

RISE San Diego to host interactive workshops providing support resources

Local business experts to discuss better business practices and tools 

December 10, 2020 (San Diego Webinar) -- Small businesses and nonprofits have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the rise in cases and updated state restrictions, businesses in San Diego need increased support.  

During the month of December, RISE San Diego will host several virtual workshops as part of the organization’s Nonprofits and Small Business Trainings series. The workshops will offer free training for staff, board members, and volunteers from local nonprofits and small businesses who are interested in building their organizational capacity and ways to ensure sustainability. By offering training workshops, RISE San Diego will support those affected, with creative resources and expanded networks.


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BUSINESS OWNERS, HEALTHCARE AND POLITICAL LEADERS SHARE VIEWS ON NEW COVID-19 SHUTDOWNS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Prete-a-Porter Salon & Spa in La Mesa moved outside during the last shutdown, but this time, salons are ordered to close completely. 

December 6, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Healthcare leaders, business owners and public officials are offering mixed reactions to the state’s latest stay-home order and business shutdowns prompted by Southern California dropping below 15% ICU bed availability. 


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REGIONAL STAY-HOME ORDERS TO BE TRIGGERED BY HOSPITAL ICU CAPACITY DROPPING BELOW 15%

Southern California expected to reach that threshold in early December

By Miriam Raftery

View Governor’s press conference:  https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1ynJOBbXEdZGR

December 3, 2020 (San Diego) – California is running out of beds in intensive care units (ICU) needed for the most critically ill patients as COVID-19 surges. Statewide, demand for ICU beds is expected to exceed capacity by mid-December, while Southern California may exceed ICU capacity even sooner.

To save lives and prevent a crisis in our healthcare system, Governor Gavin Newsom announced new restrictions including regional stay-home orders and some business shut-downs once a region dips below 15% ICU bed capacity.


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GOV. NEWSOM ANNOUNCES HELP FOR BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19 INCLUDING TEMPORARY TAX RELIEF AND $500 MILLION IN GRANTS

East County News Service

Today’s announcements include the Main Street Hiring Tax Credit, which authorizes $100 million in hiring tax credit for qualified small businesses. The credit is equal to $1,000 per qualified employee, up to $100,000 for each small business employer.The application opens tomorrow, December 1. A full list of existing state support for businesses can be found here.

Nov 30, 2020  (Sacramento) -- As the federal government fails to provide additional financial stimulus support to main street businesses, Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that California will provide temporary tax relief for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

The temporary tax relief entails an automatic three-month income tax extension for taxpayers filing less than $1 million in sales tax, extends the availability of existing interest and penalty-free payment agreements to companies with up to $5 million in taxable sales and provides expanded interest free payment options for larger businesses particularly affected by significant restrictions on operations based on COVID-19 transmissions. In addition, last week the Governor announced short-term loans for small businesses available through the new California Rebuilding Fund. The state also launched $500 million in grants for impacted businesses and nonprofits.


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CAL COAST INVITES SOCAL RESIDENTS TO SHOP AND DONATE LOCAL FOR THE HOLIDAYS

By Katrina Wilborn, Cal Coast Senior Public Relations Specialist

With each Cal Coast MasterCard® Debit or Credit Card purchase made now through December 31, a portion of the sales will be donated to the Strategic Alliance, up to $20,000.

November 28, 2020 (San Diego's East County) – California Coast Credit Union is encouraging its members and the community to shop at local businesses and donate to local non-profits through its Local for the Holidays effort, which runs now through December 31.


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BOARD APPROVES MORE FUNDS FOR BUSINESSES AND NONPROFITS IMPACTED BY COVID-19

By José A. Álvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

November 28, 2020 (San Diego) -- The County Board of Supervisors this week voted to provide more stimulus funds to businesses forced to close indoor operations after the region was placed in the Purple Tier.

At a special meeting, the Board gave the green light for $20 million in general funds to be added to the Small Business Stimulus Grant Program established in May.

The funds will be available to businesses and nonprofit organizations in the following industries:

  • Restaurants
  • Gyms and fitness centers, including yoga studios
  • Movie theaters
  • Museums
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Event planners (weddings, festivals, fairs, etc.)


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

LATEST UNEMPLOYMENT SCANDAL: STATE PAID INMATES $1B IN FRAUDULENT CLAIMS

By Emily Hoeven, CALmatters

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

Photo via iStock

November 25, 2020 (Sacramento) - California may have paid up to $1 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims filed on behalf of prison and jail inmates in what prosecutors are calling “the most significant fraud on taxpayer funds in California history.”


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UNION BANK SURPRISES PINK ROSE CAFÉ OWNER IN LA MESA WITH $5,000 GIFT

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo by Sandra Small, La Mesa Chamber of Commerce
 
November 22, 2020 (La Mesa)  -- After Union Bank of La Mesa burned down amid civil unrest on May 31, Nadia Zamora, owner of the Pink Rose Café, organized on social media to collect messages of hope, love and peace. She and other volunteers hung those messages on a safety fence around the rubble of the burned bank. 

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GIFTS FROM THE EAST: SPECIAL 2020 EDITION

By Miriam Raftery

November 19, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – This holiday shopping season amid a pandemic, we’ve scoured the shops and online stores across San Diego’s East County to find our recommendations for gift items unique to our region.  Our picks include many artisan and locally hand-crafted treasures, farm-fresh humanely raised foods, delicious sweet treats, warm and stylish wearables, and gifts that benefit local nonprofits including a wildlife sanctuary. This year, we’ve chosen many places offering online ordering  as well as locations allowing ample social distancing.


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HOUSE PASSES REP. SUSAN DAVIS' LEGISLATION TO EXPAND APPRENTICESHIPS, INVEST IN WORKFORCE TRAINING

East County News Service

November 20, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) - The House of Representatives passed Congresswoman Susan Davis’s (CA-53) legislation to reauthorize the National Apprenticeship Act that would create nearly one million new Registered Apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship, and pre-apprenticeship positions over the next five years. The National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 invests nearly $3.5 billion over five years to scale-up apprenticeship opportunities, streamline access to apprenticeships for workers and employers, and expand apprenticeships into new in-demand industry sectors and occupations. Davis’s bill passed on bipartisan vote of 246 to 140.


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TIPS FOR SAFER HOLIDAY SHOPPING AND SUPORTING LOCAL STORES AMID A PANDEMIC

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

 

November 16, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – How can you support struggling retailers and local nonprofits while also minimizing risk during the 2020 holiday season, with the COVID-19 pandemic raging?

Here are several options to keep the "merry" in your holiday season and/or keep the "jingle" in local stores.


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SOME CHURCHES AND RESTAURANTS FLOUT RULES, OTHERS COMPLY AS PURPLE TIER SHUTDOWNS COMMENCE

 

Story and photos by Jake Rose

Miriam Raftery contributed to this report

 

Photos, left: Parishioners at Skyline Church flock to indoor services, many without masks

November 15, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Skyline Church in the unincorporated area of La Mesa and Shadow Mountain in El Cajon had full parking lots for Sunday morning services, despite new Purple Tier restrictions now in effect throughout the county.

Purple tier restrictions started at midnight Saturday, due to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. Purple tier, or Tier 1, is the most restrictive level for California and comes into play when positive tests exceed 8%. Many non-essential business operations must close, places of worship, restaurants and gyms must move all activity outdoors, and retail must cut capacity to 25%.

With businesses already struggling after the initial lockdown followed by an overall slowdown due to the public’s worry about the coronavirus, this second lockdown has some businesses and places of worship around East County flouting the new restrictions.


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COUNTY RELEASE DATA ON COVID-19 EXPOSURE SETTINGS: RESTAURANTS AND RETAIL TOP LIST

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  shopping online may be safer than in retail and grocery stores, which account for 8.8% of cases countywide since June.  Photo CC by SA

November 13, 2020 (San Diego) – After repeated pressure from media to release more information on which locations pose the highest risks of COVID, San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Department has released new data on potential exposure settings. 


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NEW SHUTDOWNS START SATURDAY AS STATE MOVES COUNTY INTO PURPLE TIER

Chamber of Commerce calls on Congress to pass federal stimulus aid to save jobs and businesses

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons image by SA via Bing

November 10, 2020 (San Diego) – The state has moved San Diego County into the most restrictive level, the Purple Tier, after the county’s COVID-19 case rate exceeded 7 cases per 100,000 residents for a full two weeks, soaring as high as 8.9.  To limit spread of the virus, the region must stop indoor operations at restaurants, gyms, churches and movie theaters starting Sat., Nov. 14. Retailers will need to keep customers at 25% of capacity.

“If we don’t continue to take proven, preventive precautions, we won’t be able to get out of the Purple Tier and loosen restrictions,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the County public health officer. “The key to decreasing cases is wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, avoiding gatherings and following other public health recommendations.”  She added, “We understand that people have COVID fatigue, but we have to do what we know works.”

The County will remain in the Purple Tier for at least three weeks. It won’t be able to advance to the Red Tier unless it posts a case rate below 7 cases per 100,000 residents two weeks in a row.

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jerry Sanders, in a statement on the new shutdown orders, said, “Small businesses, which account for more than 90% of the businesses in San Diego County, have shouldered the bulk of the impact in the struggle to contain the spread of COVID-19. The toll this health crisis is having on small business is overwhelming and every day more small businesses are not able to survive the closures and changing restrictions on their operations."


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

COVID CASES SOAR AS COUNTY REMAINS IN PURPLE TIER, RISK OF CLOSURES FOR BUSINESSES AND CHURCHES GROWS

 

To report violations of county health rules call (858) 694-2900 or email SafeReopeningComplianceTeam@sdcounty.ca.gov.

By Miriam Raftery

File photo from 2019: A shutdown could hit hardest in mountain towns such as Julian, where winter weather makes it difficult for businesses to operate outdoors.

November 9, 2020 (San Diego) – Churches, restaurants, gyms, theaters and some other locations will have to end indoor operations in San Diego County if the number of cases doesn’t drop out of the state’s purple tier soon. Retailers would have to reduce capacity.The state could order shutdowns as early as tomorrow.

Winter weather will make it harder for businesses and worship services to be conducted outdoors, particularly in East County’s mountain areas, which had their first snowfall of the season last night.


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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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RESTAURANT OWNERS SEEK REFUNDS OF STATE AND LOCAL FEES

By Miriam Raftery

October 29, 2020 (San Diego) – Restaurant owners in San Diego and several other counties filed claims Tuesday October 27, asking for refunds of state and local fees assessed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plaintiffs seek refunds of costs incurred for liquor licenses, health permits and tourism fees at a time when public health orders shut down many businesses or forced them to operate at reduced capacity, while incurring added expenses.

The state has 45 days to respond to the claims, after which a lawsuit could be filed.


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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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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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FRAZIER FARMS MARKET BRINGS NEW NATURAL FOODS STORE TO LA MESA

East County News Service

 

Photos, top, by Miriam Raftery 

 

October 26, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting October 20 at the new Frazier Farms Market at the corner of Jackson Drive and Fletcher Parkway.

 

“We are pleased that they had the vision to open their third market in La Mesa. We were thrilled to welcome this family-owned business to our community,” says chamber president Mary England.  La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis joined the celebration along with Frazier Farms owners Norman and Kathe Frazier and their sons Matt, Nick and Alex Frazier.


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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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