TRUMP’S TAX RECORDS SHOW PRESIDENT MIRED IN DEBT, BEHOLDEN TO FOREIGN INTERESTS AND AVOIDED PAYING TAXES FOR YEARS DUE TO BUSINESS LOSSES

LA MESA POLICE RELEASE NUMEROUS PHOTOS OF SUSPECTS WHO LOOTED PIERRE’S JEWELERS ON MAY 30-31

LEMON GROVE SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION: PART TWO

FIVE CANDIDATES VIE FOR THREE SEATS ON LEMON GROVE SCHOOL BOARD

ECM TO HOST EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE FORUMS

FAST-MOVING FIRES THREATEN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES

RED FLAG WARNNG: HIGH FIRE DANGER TODAY

CREST ELEMENTARY SCHOOL’S NEW OUTDOOR EDUCATION PROGRAM SHINES IN THE ERA OF COVID

SDG&E NOTIFIES APPROXIMATELY 700 BACKCOUNTRY RESIDENTS TO PREPARE FOR POTENTIAL PUBLIC SAFETY POWER SHUTOFFS DUE TO SANTA ANA WINDS AND FIRE WEATHER WATCH

VIEW VIDEO OF OUR SUPERVISORS CANDIDATE FORUM

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: DINNG AL FRESCO AT GIARDINO’S IN LEMON GROVE

FIRM INVESTIGATING LA MESA CIVIL UNREST HOSTS COMMUNITY LISTENING SESSION OCT. 6

News

HOW SAFE ARE CHILD CARE CENTERS AND SCHOOLS DURING THE PANDEMIC? EDUCATORS AND PARENTS GRAPPLE WITH UNCERTAINTIES

By Miriam Raftery

July 21, 2020 (San Diego)  - Should you send your child back to school this fall, if facilities are allowed to open? How much risk does in-school learning pose for children, teachers, staff and families amid the COVID-19 pandemic? Is distance-only learning really an acceptable substittute for in-person instruction?

These are questions every parent and educator is now confronting. A look at childcare facilities, which have remained open throughout the pandemic, as well as checking up on schools around the world in places that have reopened, can provide some lessons learned.

As of today, 90 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in child care facilities in San Diego, according to data updated daily by the California Department of Social Services. Statewide, the number of coronavirus cases reported by childcare facilities rose five-fold in just over a month, Ed Source reported last week. 


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CAMPO FAMILY SUFFERS DEADLY CRASH: FUNDRAISER STARTED TO HELP SURVIVORS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via GoFundMe

July 21, 2020 (Campo) – Brad and Crystal Sparks’ family from Campo suffered a devastating rollover accident in New Mexico on July 12 while traveling home after a visit to friends in Texas. Two of their children were killed and five other family members had injuries. Brad works for Symons Fire Protection in Poway.

A GoFundMe Page has thus far raised over $187,000 to help Brad and Crystal Sparks, their surviving children and an unborn baby.


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HORSE MISSING FOR TWO MONTHS FOUND BY BORDER PATROL

East County News Service

July 21, 2020 (San Diego) – A horse named “Ollie” reported missing in May has been found by Border Patrol Agents in the Tijuana River Valley area of San Diego.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol announced Monday that agents found the horse tangled in a thicket on July 15. 

Members of the Imperial Beach Station's All-Terrain Vehicle Unit were tracking a group of people who crossed the border illegally when they discovered the horse tangled in thick brush, according to CBP agent Jeff Stephenson. A K-9 team and horse patrol agents joined the ATV team to clear a path to access the trapped horse, which appeared to be weak and in distress.


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COUNTY HIRING HUNDREDS OF CASE INVESTIGATORS AS COVID-19 INFECTIONS SURGE

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

Photo:  San Diego County employee Esma Al Sabag is doing contact tracing in English and Arabic. Photo courtesy County News Center

July 21, 2020 (San Diego) - San Diego County public health officials announced Monday the hiring of hundreds of additional case investigators as COVID-19 continued to surge with 453 new cases.


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SURVIVORS OF TORTURE VULNERABLE DURING PANDEMIC

 

By Kendra Sitton

 

July 21, 2020 (San Diego) - An estimated 35,000 torture survivors reside in San Diego County. Only one torture treatment agency is accredited to serve this vulnerable population in our county: Survivors of Torture, International. East County Magazine spoke with Survivors’ Community Relations Manager, Katrina Pimental, about their clients’ experiences during the pandemic. 

 

Many are facing job loss without access to government help. Mental health issues such as PTSD are triggered by lockdown measures which remind them of house arrest.  Many don’t qualify for CARES Act benefits and are struggling financially. Some have gone without food for days. Their asylum claims are in limbo. 

 

Our interview delved into these issues, as well as how the nonprofit is responding. 


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HOTEL INDUSTRY REQUIRES MASKS ACROSS U.S., RELEASES TOP 5 TRAVEL SAFETY REQUIREMENTS

Face coverings, physical distancing to be standardized at hotels nationwide

 

Source: American Hotel & Lodging Association

 

Photo:  CC-ND via Bing

 

July 20, 2020 (Washington D.C.) -- The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today released the “Safe Stay Guest Checklist” for guests on how to travel safely, also creating a standardized safety experience nationwide. This checklist is part of AHLA’s Safe Stay guidelines --an industry-wide, enhanced set of health and safety protocols designed to provide a safe and clean environment for all hotel guests and employees. 


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MOTORCYCLE PASSENGER DIES AFTER ROLLOVER IN EL CAJON

East County News Service

July 20, 2020 (El Cajon) – A passenger on a Harley Davidson motorcycle has died following a rollover crash July 18 on Piping Rock Lane around 9:30 p.m. While passing a vehicle parked on the shoulder, the driver of the motorcycle lost control, causing it to roll over and crash into the parked vehicle.

Both the driver and passenger were ejected onto the roadway. They were not wearing helmets and both suffered major injuries. Both were transported to hospitals, but despite lifesaving efforts, the passenger was pronounced dead at Sharp Memorial Hospital.


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HOW WILL THE YMCA SURVIVE THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC?

 

 

By Dr. Helen Horvath 

 

July 19, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- In this ongoing series about impacts of COVID-19 to our families and vital community nonprofit services, ECM explores  the pandemic’s effects on operations at the YMCA of East County and San Diego County through an exclusive interview with Courtney Pendleton, Association Director of Public Relations and Communications, San Diego YMCA. 

 

The YMCA of San Diego County has served our region for 138 years with a dedication to strengthening our communities through physical activities that feed the mind, body, and spirit of our communities. The Y, as most people affectionately call the YMCA, has become one of the most diverse organizations serving our areaThrough the years, for many, the 18 YMCAs in San Diego County have become places of diversity and inclusion to meet up, exercise, socialize, and meet new and old friends while potentially learning new skills.  

But shutdowns of facilities, programs and fundraising events have posed daunting challenges for the YMCA to work out.  


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COMMUNITY OUTBREAKS AND DEATHS FROM COVID19 CONTINUE TO CLIMB: COUNTY FALLS BEHIND ON CONTACT TRACING

By Miriam Raftery
 
July 18, 2020 (San Diego) – For those hoping to see businesses reopen soon and children head back to school, the latest COVID-19 data from San Diego County does not look promising.

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LA MESA MAY SEEK BOND TO FUND PARK UPGRADES, CONSIDERS TOWN HALL ON RIOT RESPONSE AND POLICING ISSUES

By Briana Gomez

July 18, 2020 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa City Council Meeting on July 14 reflected an air of unresolved tensions, six weeks after rioting, looting and fires ravaged the community. The Council approved a grant application to help the homeless and addressed other issues, but concerns over police controversies and the riot response remained hot button issues with residents. 


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FUND ESTABLISHED BY REALTORS WILL HELP SERVICE MEMBERS IMPACTED BY USS BONHOMME RICHARD FIRE: SAILORS SUFFERED INJURIES, DISPLACEMENT, AND LOSS OF BELONGINGS

East County News Service
 
Photo via U.S. Navy, by MC3 Christina Ross
 
July 18, 2020 (San Diego) --  The Ambassadors Foundation of the Greater San Diego Association of REALTORS® (SDAR) is collecting funds to assist service members impacted by the recent fire onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard docked at Naval Base San Diego. In addition to the service members who received minor injuries, many others have been displaced and lost personal items as a result of the fire.
 
The Ambassadors Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established by SDAR to benefit communities in need, including providing housing tools and resources for military and veterans. Carla Farley, President of the Ambassadors Foundation Board and 2020 SDAR President, announced the initiative to purchase gift cards and related items for service members affected by the disastrous fire.

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CONGRESSMAN JOHN LEWIS, ICON OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, DIES OF CANCER

“We’ve got to move all Americans towards that place where we can lay down the burden of race and create one America, one multiracial democratic society.”

–Congressman John Lewis, 2013 interview with East County Magazine in San Diego. Hear the full interview.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left:  President Barack Obama presented Medal of Freedom to John Lewis in 2011.

July 18, 2020 (San Diego) – Congressman John Lewis, famed civil rights leader, has died of pancreatic cancer at age 80. The son of sharecroppers, Lewis drew inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks to become a courageous champion in the civil rights movement for more than 60 years.

Calling him the “conscience of the Congress” where he served as a representative from Georgia for over 40 years,  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced his death yesterday and ordered the flag over our nation’s capitol flown at half-mast.

Lewis denounced violence and was arrested more than 40 times for peaceful protests against injustice. In 1965, TV coverage of  a trooper fracturing his skull with a bully club in what became known as Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama outraged the nation, leading to swift passage of the Voting Rights Act signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.

Audio: 


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TO END 'UNCONSTITUTIONAL NIGHTMARE,' ACLU SUES TRUMP ADMINISTRATION OVER USE OF SECRET POLICE IN PORTLAND

"This is a fight to save our democracy."

By Jake Johnson, staff writer, Common Dreams

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

Photo:  Police confront demonstrators in Portland, Oregon on July 4, 2020. (Photo: John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

July 18, 2020 (Portland, Ore.) - The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon sued the Trump administration late Friday over its deployment of federal agents to Portland, where unidentified officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service have been detaining Black Lives Matter protesters without explanation and using indiscriminate force to crush demonstrations.


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COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES OFFERS PET ADOPTION SPECIALS IN JULY

 

By County News Center, County of San Diego Communications Office

Video by Autumn Endara:  Now's the time to rescue an animal and make a lifelong buddy.

July 18, 2020 (San Diego) - Look at these adorable furry and reptilian faces that are available for adoption now at the County Department of Animal Services. In July, the County is offering an adoption special too! All adoptions are also “touchless” to better protect you and our Animal Services staff. Visit County Animal Services to get started.


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SCHOOLS IN SAN DIEGO AND OTHER COUNTIES ON WATCH LIST CANNOT REOPEN UNTIL VIRUS RATES DROP FOR TWO WEEKS, STATE ORDERS

By Miriam Raftery

July 17, 2020 (Sacramento)  -- Today, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a five-point plan for reopening public and private schools. But 30 counties currently on the state’s COVID-19 are prohibited from reopening schools this fall – including San Diego County, unless major changes happen fast to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

A five-point plan issued by the state’s Department of Public Health will allow a district to reopen for live classes only after its county has a two week decline in COVID-19 cases.

The news deals a blow to districts such as Cajon Valley Union School District, which just resumed some summer school classes and had announced a blended learning model that gave parents options for in school, online, or a combination of learning options for students. Some other districts, however, such as San Diego Unified had already rolled back reopening plans due to high numbers of COVID-19 outbreaks locally.


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SECOND WOMAN FILES COMPLAINT AGAINST LA MESA, ALLEGES OFFICER SHOT HER IN BREAST WITH RUBBER BULLET AT GAS STATION AFTER SHE LEFT PROTEST

By Miriam Raftery

Photo of Horton's injuries, courtesy of Singleton Law Firm

July 17, 2020 (La Mesa) – A woman who claims she was shot one the side of her breast with a rubber bullet or other projectile by a law enforcement officer while waiting at the Chevron gas station for her daughter, after leaving the May 30 protest, has filed a claim against the city of La Mesa seeking unspecified damages for her injuries.

Michelle Horton, 51, a former Navy officer and healthcare administrator, is white. Her attorney, Gerald Singleton, told ECM in an interview that Horton had left the protest after a dispersal order was given. He indicated that according to Horton, the shooting occurred before dark, between 8 and 9 p.m., by an officer who pulled up in a vehicle at the gas station and shot her in the chest with a projectile, without warning.


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TRUMP DROPS THREAT TO DEPORT INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS STUDYING ONLNE DURING PANDEMIC

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: International flags: Creative Commons via S.A.

July 17, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – After the state of California joined a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and others against the Trump administration, the White House has dropped its plan announced July 6 to deport international students not enrolled in in-person classes this fall. 

Instead, the government has reinstated a policy initiated at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, which allows foreign students to study online and remain in the U.S. on student visas under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, the New York Times reports.


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WHAT DID THE WHITE HOUSE KNOW ABOUT RABBI GOLDSTEIN'S CRIMINALITY?

By Donald H. Harrison, San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

July 16, 2020 (San Diego) - I have more than a few questions about the conduct of the tax fraud case in which Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein is being recommended for probation, rather than a prison sentence, notwithstanding the fact that his pattern of illegal conduct reaches back several decades.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.

 


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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.


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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.

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.

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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.

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