NEARLY HALF OF ALL ADULTS COUNTYWIDE HAVE RECEIVED AT LEAST ONE COVID-19 VACCINE

DISTILLERIES HOST COMMUNITY PARTY SATURDAY APRIL 17 IN SPRING VALLEY

FIREBALLS IN THE SKY: METEOR SHOWERS START TONIGHT, PEAKING ON EARTH DAY

COUNTY PAUSES USE OF JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINES DUE TO RARE BLOOD CLOTTING COMPLICATION

ECM WORLD WATCH: NATIONAL AND GLOBAL NEWS

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION ON TRACK TO ADMIT LOWEST NUMBER OF REFUGEES IN U.S. HISTORY, DRAWS CRITICISMS OVER LAG IN REPEALING TRUMP RESTRICTIONS

MUSGROVE’S MOM SERVES GLEEFUL PADRES FANS AT ALPINE COFFEE SHOP AFTER RECORD-SETTING NO-HITTER

PRESIDENT BIDEN ANNOUNCES NEW BILL TARGETING INFRASTRUCTURE AND CREATING NEW JOBS

LEMON GROVE PROPOSES LIMITING COUNCILMEMBERS’ SPEECH

ECM PADRES REPORT: EAST COUNTY KID MAKES HISTORY; GROSSMONT ALUM MUSGROVE BECOMES THE FIRST PADRES PITCHER TO THROW A NO-HITTER AS PADRES WIN 3-0

GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE HEROES REFLECT ON PANDEMIC

GOVERNOR NEWSOM, LEGISLATIVE LEADERS ANNOUNCE EARLY BUDGET ACTION FOR WILDFIRE PREVENTION

News

RELIGIOUS CONCERT IN EL CAJON WITH UNMASKED CROWD, MAYOR WELLS AS SPEAKER, DRAWS REBUKES FROM HEALTH OFFICIALS AND RESIDENTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Erik Herrara

Updated 9:30 p.m. with clarification from El Cajon Police that a counterprotester who alleged assault did later file a police report.

January 29, 2021 (El Cajon) – The County’s public health officer and many local residents are speaking out critically of El Cajon’s leadership after Mayor Bill Wells gave the opening prayer at a religious gathering January 17th that drew hundreds of outdoor worshippers at Prescott Promenade, nearly all without masks.

The “Let Us Worship” Christian service and concert was organized by evangelical musician Sean Feucht, who exhorted the crowd to yell as loudly as they could despite medical evidence that singing and shouting at worship services has led to super-spreader events and deaths elsewhere. He also invited people to come onstage for a “born again” ritual in which they were prayed over and hugged by faith leaders.

The event was in direct violation of the state and county COVID-19 regulations, held at a time when regional ICU capacity is zero and a stay-home order was in place due to surging COVID cases, including new, rapidly spreading variants.


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SUPERVISORS MOVE TOWARD LEGAL CANNABIS FARMNG AND SALES; ANDERSON ADDS FUNDS TO SHUTDOWN ILLEGAL OPERATORS IMMEDIATELY

By Miriam Raftery

View video of hearing:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-LEUgTBhFw

January 28, 2021(San Diego) – San Diego County Supervisors yesterday voted 4-1 to have staff bring back a plan within 90 days for reform the County’s policies on marijuana (cannabis), after obtaining input from community planners and other stakeholders.

The plan would create a framework to legalize and regulate sales, manufacturing and farming of cannabis whlie creating jobs in unincorporated areas, also beefing up code compliance to shut down illegal operations. Supervisors are expected to vote on the new regulations by July 1.The proposal was brought forward by Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Nora Vargas.

Newly elected Supervisor Joel Anderson, aware that the measure had a clear majority for passage, successfully added an amendment to provide $500,000 for aggressive enforcement to shut down illegal pot shops, labs or other unlicensed marijuana facilities – starting immediately, even before any new regulations are adopted.


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SAN DIEGO DISTRICT ATTORNEY RENEWS EFFORT TO KEEP SEX OFFENDER COURT HEARINGS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

East County News Service

January 28, 2021 (San Diego) - Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) has reintroduced legislation in partnership with San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan to extend the presumption of openness that exists in California courtrooms to proceedings under the Sexually Violent Predator Act. They initiated a similar effort last year but had to put it on hold due to the Legislature’s focus on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate Bill 248 would require that proceedings for the civil commitment of a sexually violent predator (SVP) and subsequent hearings regarding his/her potential release be in open court and on the record, unless compelling and extraordinary circumstances justify closing the courtroom to the public. This bill would require a notice to all parties of the proposed closure and that it be made at least 10 calendar days prior to the closed court hearing.


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KIDS STUDYING ONLINE? BEWARE OF TRAFFICKERS, DA WARNS

East County News Service

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

January 28, 2021 (San Diego) – District Attorney Summer Stephan warns that students spending more time online due to distance learning and COVID-19 are a captive audience for would-be human traffickers making contact on social media.  So it’s important to educate children to prevent them from falling victim to predators. 

These red flags are common with some adolescents that should be taken seriously:


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SAN DIEGO SUPERIOR COURT TO RESUME JURY TRIALS IN FEBRUARY

Source: Superior Court of California, County of San Diego

January 28, 2021 (San Diego) – San Diego Superior Court jury trials were suspended throughout most of 2020, though a few trials were held in October and November. Jury trials were again suspended in December and January; however, the Court now aims to resume jury trials in February 2021.

Jury duty summonses were mailed to members of the public starting in September 2020. Beginning in late November summonsed individuals were advised they did not need to report for duty when they called the telephone standby phone number while trials were paused. Individuals with summons for dates in February and beyond should follow the instructions on their summons to call in for telephone standby jury duty. Small groups will be instructed to report in person for jury duty. Those not called in on the first day of their telephone standby service will need to call in the next day for further instructions until their service is complete.


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EL CAJON COUNCIL VOTES TO OUST PLANNING COMMISSIONER HUMBERT CABRERA

By Briana Gomez

January 28, 2021 (El Cajon) – On Tuesday, the El Cajon City Council voted 4-1 to remove Humbert Cabrera from his position as a Planning Commissioner.

The meeting also included other items impacting the community, including an update on COVID-19, a proposal to outlaw protests at individual homes, and a proposal to limit the city’s investment in alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.

Removal of Planning Commissioner Cabrera

The proposal to oust Cabrera was made by Mayor Bill Wells and Vice Mayor Gary Kendrick. A staff report cited conflicts of interest by Cabrera  in violation of the city’s ethics policy, since his company has numerous clients seeking city permits. Other reasons included his allegedly demeaning treatment of applicants before the planning commission and questions over his integrity based on conflicting residency statements that he made during a candidate forum hosted by East County Magazine. (See our prior coverage.)


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FDA PUTS ALL MEXICAN-MADE HAND SANITIZERS ON IMPORT ALERT DUE TO DANGEROUS INGREDIENT

By Miriam Raftery

January 28, 2021 (San Diego) – Over half of all hand sanitizers from Mexico have been found to contain toxic ingredients, many at dangerous levels, and 84% of samples tested failed to comply with FDA regulations. So on January 26, the FDA announced a nationwide import alert on all hand sanitizers made in Mexico to prevent them from entering the US. Until the agency can review products’ safety.


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FLASH FLOOD WATCH: ATMOSPHERIC RIVER BRINGING HEAVY RAIN AND SNOW

By Miriam Raftery

January 28, 2021 (San Diego’s East County)—A flash flood watch has been issued for San Diego County’s mountains, valleys and coatstal areas from 7p.m. Thursday to 4 p.m. Friday due to an atmospheric river moving across Southern California . The storm is forecast to bring widespread moderate to heavy rain and snow, with flash flooding possible.  If you encounter a flooded roadway, the Sheriff advises to "turn around, don't drown" since only a few inches of swiftly flowing water can quickly carry a vehicle into deeper water and submerge it.

Deep snow accumulations in the mountains will lead to difficult travel and chain restrictions for vehicles.  The storm is forecast to drop two to five inches of snow in local mountains. Snow levels are expected above 5,000 feet Thursday, dropping to as low as 4,500 feet by Friday. There is also a chance of thunderstorms, according to meteorologist Samantha Connolly with the National Weather Service.


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ENVIRONMENTAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS NEEDS ANSWERS AND ACTION: WHY DOES COVID-19 HIT SOME PEOPLE MUCH HARDER THAN OTHERS?

Veterans exposed to PFAS chemicals may have weakened immune systems

By Miguel Levya

Photo via Pixabay January 28, 2021 (San Diego)

As many communities continue to see COVID-19 spread, one of the most important questions surrounding the pandemic remains: why are some people hit harder than others? Certain underlying medical conditions might account for the differential response, but there’s still variation in impact even among these people who are at higher risk. An important clue could be found in an individual’s previous exposure to various chemical substances. An important percentage of the U.S. population who is most at risk for exposure to several chemicals, thus making it more difficult to fight off COVID-19, are the veterans. And among the class of chemicals known to adversely impact the immune system are per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).PFAS, known as “forever chemicals” - given that, once in the environment, they are present more or less in perpetuity - are man-made substances that have a variety of uses, including in firefighting foams.


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MISSING TEEN, 13, LAST SEEN ON SCOOTER IN VISTA

 

UPDATE:  THE VISTA TEEN HAS BEEN REUNITED WITH HER FAMILY AS OF TODAY, JAN. 28, 2021.

Source:  San Diego County Sheriff

January 27, 2021 (Vista) -- The Vista Sheriff's Station wants your help in locating a missing teenager who ran away from home. Natalie Munoz, 13, was last seen just after 2:00 p.m January 26th in the 1900 block of Yettford Road in Vista.  Her family told deputies she ran away from home after she got into an argument with her father.  Munoz does not have a history of running away and did not take a cell phone with her.  It is not known where she may be headed.


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CARVANA TO BUILD A VENDING MACHINE SALES ROOM TOWER IN ESCONDIDO

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo courtesy of Carvana, Inc.) 

Jan. 24, 2021 (Escondido) -- Carvana, Inc., a used car online dealership, will be expanding with a vending machine style car tower in Escondido. Last fall zoning was approved for the unique car “sales room” by city officials. 

Most associate vending machines with candy and chips but the proposed tower, at Hale Avenue and Tulip Street in Escondido, will feature cars and to some, it is the new school way of car shopping. The vending machine used car “lot” will be a 75-foot-tower and hold 32 cars, on eight levels, according to Carvana officials. 

The company already has vending machines in other locations in the country. This will be the their third location in California. Currently, Carvana has towers in Ontario and Westminster.  

The estimated opening date is late 2021 or early 2022. The Escondido City Council approved zoning changes last fall that facilitated the project.


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BIDEN BOOSTS COVID VACCINE PRODUCTION, WILL REOPEN ACA ENROLLMENT

By Miriam Raftery

January 27, 2021 (Washington D.C.) – President Joe Biden’s national strategy to combat COVID-19, includes orders to purchase 200 million more vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna, boosting supply to 600 million. He also announced ramped up distribution of vaccines by next week to states and tribal governments.

This week he also plans to sign an executive order to reopen open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act health insurance policies, since so many out of work Americans have lost healthcare during the pandemic. Biden also plans to make it easier for low-income people to join Medicaid by rolling back certain restrictions imposed by the Trump administration, CNN reports.

In addition, Biden has ordered increased production of the vaccines  with the expectation that all of the 368 million Americans who want to be vaccinated will have vaccines available this spring, a pace dramatically accelerated over the prior administration both in numbers of vaccines available and pace of distribution.


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MISSING OFF-ROAD MOTORCYCLIST FOUND IN BORREGO SPRINGS

East County News Service

January 26, 2021 (Borrego Springs) -- A man who went missing while off-roading in Borrego Springs over the weekend has been found safe and will soon be reunited with his family, the Sheriff’s Department reports.

James Richard Rawlins III, 55, was spotted just after 7:00 a.m. this morning by drivers along Highway 78 near the Desert Ironwood Resort in Borrego Springs.  Rawlins was in good spirits and taken to a medical facility in Brawley, according to a press release from the Sheriff’s department, which adds, “Once he gets a clean bill of health, Rawlins will be reunited with his family”.


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SEARCH UNDERWAY IN NORTH COUNTY FOR MISSING MAN AT RISK IN ESCONDIDO

Source: San Diego Sheriff
 
 
January 27, 201 (Escondido) - Be on the lookout for a missing person at-risk in the North County.   Steve Mesa Turrey was reported missing to the San Marcos Sheriff's Station on Wednesday, January 27th.  He was last seen walking away from the All Seasons RV Park in Escondido on Tuesday, January 26th around 11:00 p.m. 

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INVASIVE WEEVILS KILLING PALM TREES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos: UC Riverside: Top row, healthy palms. Bottom row, infested palms.

January 26, 2021 (San Diego) – The invasive South American palm weevil has destroyed an estimated 10,000 palm trees in our region, according to researcher Mark Hoddle at the University of California, Riverside.  Locally, it’s been found in El Cajon, Bonita, San Diego and South Bay communities. Left untreated, it will ultimately kill the trees best known for lining waterfronts along some of San Diego’s most prominent destinations.


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GOING UNDERGROUND: CALIFORNIA BUSINESS OPERATES IN SECRET AMID PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS

By Kate Cimini, CalMatters

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

Photo:  John adjusts the covers on his massage table. Photo by Ayrton Ostly, The Salinas Californian

January 25, 2021 (Salinas) - When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down his Bay Area region massage business, John went 93 days without income.  

In March, John and his business partner, Dee, packed away their massage tables and locked up their office. (Both John and Dee are going by pseudonyms for fear of legal repercussions.) 

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STATE LIFTS STAY-HOME ORDER: SOME BUSINESSES CAN REOPEN

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

January 25, 2021 (San Diego) – At a press conference this afternoon, San Diego County leaders announced changes to allow some businesses to reopen after the state lifted a regional stay-home order. The change comes due to a four-week regional projection that ICU capacity will rise above 15%.  Our County is now back in the purple tier, but with some modifications.


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ATTORNEY GENERAL BECERRA ESTABLISHES BUREAU OF DISABILITY RIGHTS

Bureau to protect Californians with disabilities from discrimination and other harms

Source:  California Department of Justice

January 25, 2021 (Sacramento) - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the establishment of the Bureau of Disability Rights (Bureau) within the Civil Rights Enforcement Section (Section) of the California Department of Justice. The Bureau will focus on matters that seek to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are advanced through specific investigations and litigation. The Bureau will also expand on the Section's work to vindicate the rights of persons with disabilities on issues including discrimination in education, healthcare, employment, access to public services, and with regard to law enforcement involvement. 


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DETECTIVES ASK HELP TO FIND POTRERO MAN MISSING SINCE DEC. 23

East County News Service
 
January 24, 2021 (Potrero) – The San Diego Sheriff’s Department seeks public help to find Christopher Paul Parkhurst, who has been missing for over a month.  Parkhurst, 47, was last seen by an acquaintance in the 23000 block of Horizon View Drive in Potrero on December 23. His family has not seen or heard from him since then.  The famliy notified the Sheriff's Dept. January 3, according to the Sheriff's department. 
 
"Deputies have conducted a limited search of the area for Parkhurst, but the terrain in the area is rugged and expansive," says Lt. Thomas Siever. "This morning, about 80 volunteers with Sheriff's Search and Rescue, Homicide detectives, and deputies assigned to the Campo Substation conducted an exhaustive search of a large area around Horizon View Drive. Parkhurst was not located and his whereabouts is still unknown."
 
Parkhurst is 5’5” tall, weighs 120 pounds and has blond hair and blue eyes.  He has sleeve tattoos and the word “Campo” tattooed on his stomach.According to a Facebook page, Help Find Christopher Paul Parkhurst, he is at medical risk due to recently having a stroke and being diabetic.

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EL CAJON POLICE ARREST MAN WITH ILLEGAL WEAPONS CACHE

By Miriam Raftery

January 22, 2021 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Police officers conducting a traffic stop in the 1200 block of Main Street led to the arrest of Neil Alequin, 37, of El Cajon on numerous charges of possessing illegal weapons and drugs.

A probation search of his vehicle and residence found numerous weapons including six illegally possessed handguns (several loaded), illegal high-capacity magazines, various calibers of ammunition, parts and machining equipment used to assemble illegal firearms, several stun guns, brass knuckles, and a pistol suppressor. The search also found narcotics.


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MAN ARRESTED FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER; WOMAN ASSAULTED WITH WRENCH IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

January 22, 2021 (El Cajon) – A man who allegedly assaulted a woman walking in El Cajon by striking her in the head with a wrench has been arrested and charged with attempted murder.

On January 20 at 10:37 a.m., El Cajon Police officers and paramedics responded to a report of assault with a deadly weapon in the 800 block of Fletcher Parkway. The suspect,  Christian Fernando Graciano, fled on foot and was arrested nearby.


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SANDAG ADOPTS RESOLUTION TO INCREASE BROADBAND ACCESS AMID GROWING NEED DURING PANDEMIC

Regional taskforce formed to bridge the digital divide gap in the San Diego region

Source:  SANDAG

Photo: Creative Commons by SA

January 22, 2021 (San Diego) - At its meeting Friday, the SANDAG Board of Directors adopted a resolution to support increased broadband access throughout the region to help bridge the digital divide – the gap that exists between those with and without access to information and communications technology such as broadband, computers, and smart phones. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issues caused by the digital divide, limiting people’s ability to work from home or participate in virtual classroom settings.


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CHP ISSUES "SNOW ETIQUETTE" GUIDELINES

East County News Service

File photo by Billy Ortiz

January 22, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- With heavy snow forecast in our local mountains over the next several days, the California Highway Patrol asks the public to practice good “snow etiquette” when visiting the Mount Laguna/Julian area.

The advisory aims to protect public safety, assure that travelers have chains or snow tires, respect private property, and help keep our mountain areas clean for residents. Law enforcement will be present enforcing these guidelines and laws.


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HUMBERT CABRERA FACES POSSIBLE OUSTER OFF EL CAJON PLANNING COMMISSION

By Miriam Raftery

January 22, 2021 (El Cajon) – The January 26 agenda for the El Cajon City Council includes a proposal to remove Planning Commissioner Humbert Cabrera over alleged conflicts of interest and ethical concerns.

According to a report by Mayor Bill Wells and Mayor Pro Tem Gary Kendrick, the City Council has received complaints about Cabrera in emails and public comments.  The report raises three main areas of concern.


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HEAVY SNOWFALL FORECAST FOR MOUNTAINS, POSSIBLE FLOODING IN URBAN AREAS

File photo: San Diego County snow plow in the Laguna mountains

January 22, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Two cold winter storms are forecast to sweep into our region.  The first will bring widespread rain this weekend with snow at higher elevations. The second, a much stronger storm, is forecast to bring heavy rains and possible urban flooding, also dropping the snow level down to below 3,000 feet in mountain and high desert areas Monday and Tuesday.

The first storm Friday night and Saturday could bring 1 to 5 inches of snow and possible thunderstorms. Storm two could bring up to 10 inches of snow in the mountains as well as heavy rainfall downpours in urban areas. Both storms will also bring gusty southwest winds and near-gale force winds over coastal waters as well as high surf and hazardous marine conditions.


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BIDEN-HARRIS INAUGURATION BRINGS CHANGE, CALLS FOR UNITY AND HISTORIC FIRSTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photos: screenshots via C-Span

January 21, 2021 (Washington D.C.) – Under the heaviest security since the Civil War, one week after a violent attack on our nation’s Capitol, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office on January 20.

It was a day of historic firsts. Harris is the first woman, first African-American and first Asian-American to become Vice President. Her husband, who is Jewish,became First Gentleman. The nation’s youngest Poet Laureate, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman, delivered a powerful rendition of her poem, “The Hill We Climb”, a message of unity, healing and courage written after she witnessed the insurrection at the Capitol.

Chief Justice John Roberts swore in President Biden. In his inaugural speech, Biden said the day represents “A day of history and hope” adding, “Democracy has prevailed.   So now on this hallowed ground where just days ago violence sought to shake this Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.”


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GROUPS “FLOORED” BY BIDEN IMMIGRATION PROPOSAL

By Suzanne Potter, California News Service

Photo: Creative Commons by SA

January 20, 2021 (Sacramento) -- On his first day in office, President Joe Biden is pressing for bold immigration reform, proposing a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The proposal would apply to people who have a clean criminal record and were in the United States before Jan. 1. If approved, this would be the first so-called "mass legalization" since 1986, during the Reagan administration.

Carlos Guevara, associate director for immigration policy for the group Unidos US, said there's a lot of pent-up demand for change in the immigration system.


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IN FIRST 24 HOURS AS PRESIDENT, BIDEN TAKES DOZENS OF MAJOR ACTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

January 21, 2021 (Washington D.C.) – Within hours after his inauguration, President Joe Biden has issued dozens of executive orders, announced ambitious efforts to combat the coronavirus, bring relief to struggling Americans including renters and students with loans, bring aid to local governments, fight climate change, reunite families separated at the border, and more. He also fired three Trump administration officials who had sought to undermine their agencies’ missions. In addition, he announced daily themes for his first month in office.


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FIREFIGHTERS SAVE HOMES, HALT CAMPO FIRE IN SPRING VALLEY

Story and photos by Josh Stotler

January 20, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – At 12:42 pm today, firefighters were called to the corner of Campo Road and CR17 for a wind driven brush fire that immediately threatened homes and property across from Skyline Church near the boundary of Spring Valley and Rancho San Diego.


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MISSING SPRING VALLEY WOMAN IN RED SUBARU FORRESTER

Update 8:54 p.m.:  Sally Yako has been found and is home safe with her family, Sgt. Hettinger has advised ECM.

Photo: Red Subaru Forrester, similar to vehicle driven by Sally Yako

By Miriam Raftery

January 20, 2021 (Spring Valley) – The Sheriff seeks public help to find Sally Yako, who has dementia and epilepsy. She left her Spring Valley home around 1 p.m. yesterday, driving her red 2008 Subaru Forrester (license 6KFX846).  She crossed into Mexico at San Ysidro and was seen returning to the U.S. through the same port of entry at 8:51 p.m. last night, says Sgt. Michael Hettinger.


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