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

FIVE CANDIDATES VIE FOR THREE SEATS ON LEMON GROVE SCHOOL BOARD

LEMON GROVE SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION: PART TWO

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

RACIST HATE GRAFFITI DEFACES CHALDEAN AND SYRIAC CATHOLIC CHURCHES IN EL CAJON

News

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

57 injured, including Navy personnel and civilians

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: County News Service

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

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

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


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

 

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

 

By Miriam Raftery

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Miriam Raftery 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

By Helen Horvath

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Noah Homes’ mission and funding

 

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


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

By Miriam Raftery

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

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

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision.


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NATURAL BALANCE CAT FOOD RECALLED DUE TO DANGEROUS REACTIONS IN PETS

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

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SPRING VALLEY HAS WORST RATE OF COVID-19 TEST RESULTS IN COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: cc via Bing
 
July 10, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County has released data showing the percentage of people who tested positive per each 100,000 in the population, as of July 8th. 

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

 

By Miriam Raftery

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

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

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

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

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LMPD CHIEF RECEIVES REPORT ON AMAURIE JOHNSON INCIDENT NEAR TROLLEY STATION

By Miriam Raftery

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

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

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


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TWO DEAD IN FIERY ROLLOVER ON I-8

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

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LA MESA AUTHORIZES RESTAURANTS TO SET UP OUTDOOR DINING AREAS

By Miriam Raftery

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

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

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

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


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RESCUED EAGLE DIES

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

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SUPERVISORS WON’T APPEAL COURT RULING ON CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

By Miriam Raftery 

 

July 9, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County Supervisors today voted unanimously not to appeal an appellate court ruling which found the County’s Climate Action Plan to be inadequate.  


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EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING ISSUED FOR DESERTS

East County News Service

 

July 9, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service has issued an extreme heat warning Saturday through Monday for San Diego County’s deserts, where temperatures of 115 to 120 degrees are expected.

 


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LAWSUIT FILED OVER CAMPO WIND PROJECT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Donna Tisdale fears massive wind turbines will ruin life at her rural ranch, pose severe wildfire and safety hazards for neighbors and tribal members

View Lawsuit

July 9, 2020 (Boulevard, CA) – A federal lawsuit has been filed against the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the U.S. Department of Interior and agency officials challenging their approval of  Campo Wind facilities on tribal land, including 60 wind turbines each 586 feet tall on 2,200 acres, as well as Boulder Brush energy facilities on adjacent private land. 

“The project is a dangerous and completely unnecessary industrialization of high-quality wildlife habitat in an area with an extremely high wildfire risk and frequent low-flying military, commercial and private aircraft,” states the suit filed by the nonprofit Backcountry Against Dumps along with Boulevard residents Donna and Ed Tisdale, whose ranch adjoins the project site with a half-mile shared border.


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FATAL PEDESTRIAN COLLISION IN EL CAJON

East County News Service
 
July 9, 2020 (El Cajon) – An elderly man was struck by a vehicle yesterday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in the 500 block of North Second Street in El Cajon.  He was treated at the scene and transported to a hospital by Heartland Fire Department medics, but died at the hospital.
 
According to Lt. Jason Taub with the El Cajon Police Department, a preliminary investigation and interviewing witnesses indicates that a silver Ford F-150 was traveling southbound on North Second in the left-hand turn lane, when the pedestrian was “illegally crossing from west to east between stopped vehicles.  The driver of the Ford had a green light and the pedestrian stepped in front of his moving vehicle and was struck.”

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BIG-RIG FIRE ROASTS LOAD OF MEAT ON I-8

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy: Lakeside Fire Protection District

July 9, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – A big-rig truck’s brakes overheated and caught fire on Interstate 8 west in Lakeside, Monday.

Flames quickly spread to the truck’s load of over 40,000 pounds of raw meat according to the San Diego Union Tribune and LA Times, or 41,000 pounds, according to the Sacramento Bee, News Break and NBC.

The pungent smell of roast pork spread across the area.


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FATAL RABBIT VIRUS FOUND IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY: VACCINE IS AVAILABLE FOR PET RABBITS

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Jackrabbit, cc by SA via Bing
 
July 8, 2020 (San Diego) – For the first time, deadly rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV2) has been found in San Diego County. A wild jackrabbit found dead in Poway tested positive for the disease, Patch.com reports, citing the House Rabbit Society.

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ACCESSING PROGRAMS AND SERVICES AMID A PANDEMIC: BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS OF EAST COUNTY ADAPT TO CHALLENGES

By Helen Horvath

 

July 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- In this continuing series of interviews about the impact of COVID-19 upon nonprofit organizations serving the East County communities, East County Magazine interviews Forrest Higgins III, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of East County. The mission of the Boys and Girls Clubs of East County is “to enable all young people, especially those that need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

 

COVID-19 has stripped away many nonprofit’s abilities to generate revenue and sustain programs and services without creating modifications to how the non-profit operates.  This includes the Boys and Girls Club of East County (BGCEC) a local 501(c)(3) non-profit.

 


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ILLEGAL FIREWORKS SPARK FIRES AND A BARRAGE OF COMPLAINTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Screenshot of KCAL video showing llegal fireworks across Los Angeles

July 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With fireworks shows cancelled or not allowing on-site viewing due to COVID-19, use of illegal fireworks skyrocketed across southern California. This video by KCAL shows a panorama of illegal fireworks in Los Angeles, where an illegal fireworks display burned down eight apartments and injured five people, CBS reported.

In a normal year, July 4th fireworks cause 19,000 fires nationwide. But this year, residents across San Diego County and elsewhere say the problem was far worse.

San Miguel Fire Department, in response to an ECM records request, confirms their firefighters were dispatched to halt three fires caused by fireworks. One near Campo and Millar Ranch roads burned down 10 trees near a wildlife preserve and church.  Another firecracker ignited a neighbor’s backyard on Redfield Street. A third was spotted in a Spring Valley canyon behind Barcelona Street.


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SAN DIEGO HUMANE SOCIETY OFFERS NEW, VIRTUAL ANIMAL ADVENTURE CAMPS

East County News Service

July 8, 2020  (San Diego) — San Diego Humane Society is offering virtual Animal Adventure Camp for the first time this summer to ensure a safe and healthy experience for all campers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kids going into second through fifth grades can enjoy seven weekly virtual camps through Aug. 7 and experience the fun of Animal Adventure Camp from the comfort of their own homes.


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SAN DIEGO COUNTY REPORTS RECORD 578 CASES, 12 DEATHS AS VIRUS SURGE CONTINUES

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

Photo:  San Diego County healthcare workers conduct COVID-19 testing at SDCCU Stadium. Photo by Chris Stone

July 8, 2020 (San Diego) - The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported a record 578 new cases of coronavirus and 12 more deaths Tuesday as the recent surge in infections continued.


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KUMEYAAY PROTEST OF BORDER WALL DRAWS HUNDREDS DOWNTOWN

By Briana Gomez

Photo: Brooke Baines, left, Manzanita nation and Cynthia Parada, right, tribal councilwoman, La Posta Band of Mission Indians

July 6, 2020 (San Diego) - Approximately 200 people showed up in front of the San Diego Hall of Justice downtown Sunday afternoon to protest a border wall being built on sacred Kumeyaay land in East County. The protest was a seated, peaceful protest organized by Warriors of Awareness in conjunction with leaders and elected officials of local indigenous nations. 


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SHERIFF SEEKS HELP TO FIND TEEN MISSING SINCE MAY 7

Update July 7, 2020:  Today, Christalyne Suyat contacted the Sheriff's department to let them know that she is safe, according to a press release sent today by the Rancho San Diego Sheriff's department.

By Miriam Raftery

July 6, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Today, the Rancho San Diego Sheriff’s Station announced it seeks public help to find Christalyne Suyat. The 19-year-old was last seen on  May 7 and was reported missing by her family on May 14.

She is believed to be staying in the areas between Spring Valley and Chula Vista; there is also a possibility she may be in a hospital, according to the missing persons flyer.

She has a rose tattoo on her right hand, a Roman numeral tattoo on her left forearm, and a mole on her left cheek. She is Hispanic with brown eyes and brown hair; she is 5 feet tall and weighs 170 pounds.


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INDOOR DINING AND THESE OTHER BUSINESSES MUST SHUT DOWN FOR THREE WEEKS STARTING TONIGHT

 

Congressional candidate calls for new round of relief for businesses ordered to shut down again

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Dr. Wilma Wooten briefing (screenshot from video)

July 6, 2020 (San Diego) – Starting at midnight, all indoor service must stop in restaurants and wineries. Outdoor dining and activities can continue, as well as curbside pickup services.

Indoor family entertainment venues such as movie theaters and bowling alleys also must shut down, though outdoor facilities such as zoos can remain open.  The order is in effect for the next three weeks.

County health officials ordered the closures today in response to being placed on the state’s watchlist due to exceeding three COVID-19 pandemic trigger levels for positive cases in the past two weeks, the number of active community outbreaks, and a backlog in tracing new cases.


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EL CAJON REOPENS COVID RENTAL AND UTILITY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

East County News Service

July 6, 2020 (El Cajon)- Today, the City of El Cajon is briefly re-opening its rental and utility assistance program to accept a limited number of applications.


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ATTORNEY GENERAL BECERRA SLAMS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION OVER PROPOSED “HANDOUTS TO UTILITY COMPANIES”

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Dennis Richardson

July 5, 2020 (Sacramento) -- California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as part of a multistate coalition, slammed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) proposal to change the way it awards incentives for the development of electric transmission projects.


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$500 REWARD FOR DOG LOST DUE TO FIREWORKS: CHECK THESE SITES IF YOU HAVE A LOST OR FOUND PET

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 5, 2020 (El Cajon) – Each year, more pets go missing on July 4 than any other night of the year. Fireworks the last two nights locally frightened many dogs and cats, prompting some to run off and become lost. Pawboost has now set up lost and found pet sites on Facebook for local communities to help reunite lost pets with their owners. 


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EL CAJON ADDS SEWER TAXES ONTO COUNTY PROPERTY TAX BILLS

By Miriam Raftery

July 5, 2020 (El Cajon) – The city of El Cajon has launched a public outreach strategy to educate the public about change in billing for sewer services. On May 23, the Council voted to put sewer taxes onto the County of San Diego’s property tax roll, a move that reduced the approved rate by 2%, according to a memo sent to the Mayor and City Council on July 2 from City Manager Graham Mitchell. 


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