Cuyamaca

COUNTY SAYS JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIREFIGHTERS CAN SERVE AS VOLUNTEERS ALONGSIDE CAL-FIRE IF THEY SIGN UP BY APRIL 15: BUT NOBODY TOLD JULIAN’S FIRE CHIEF

 

Update April 4, 2019 -- Alex Bell, public information officer for San Diego, has clarified that on March 29, the same day our story below ran, a letter was sent to JFCPD Chief Van Bibber and the JCFPD board president via email and certified mail notifying him of volunteer opportunities. In addition a flyer was provided to them for distribution to their volunteers. "Since Monday, 8 Julian firefighters have applied to the County Fire Authority program," Bell told ECM.

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 29, 2019 (Julian) – Measure A, the ballot initiative to abolish the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) and put the San Diego County Fire Authority/CAL FIRE in charge of emergency services, appears to have passed by a slim 114 vote margin, 54% to 46%, according to the Registrar of Voters though the results won’t be certified until April 4.

The County issued a press release today headlined “Julian joins the County Fire Authority.”  The County states this will bring “full-time professional firefighting and paramedic service to the popular East County tourist destinations.”

“Now that voters in Julian have spoken, it is my hope that the entire community will come together and rally around our common goal to bolster fire protection and other emergency services in the area,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob, who represents the area. The JCFPD is San Diego County's last all-volunteer firefighting department.

But now the County appears to have offered an olive branch to the 60 volunteers in the JCFPD with an opportunity to continue to serve-yet the County failed to inform the JCFPD's Chief or others about that opportunity and a looming deadline.

RESPONSE TO EDITORIAL ON MEASURE A FROM CAL-FIRE FIREFIGHTERS LOCAL 2881 VICE-PRESIDENT PATRICK WALKER

By William T. Everett, Board Member, Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District

March 14, 2019 (Julian) -- Union Vice-President Patrick Walker believes that the Julian Cuyamaca "volunteer fire station is inefficient and unable to provide adequate fire and life safety services in comparison to full time." He goes on to tout his experience and career as the reason he is credible. Yet, numerous Fire Chiefs and career firefighters throughout California, with far more experience than Walker, strongly disagree with his conclusion. What is the difference between Walker and the others? It is simple. Walker works for the Cal-Fire union and his primary responsibility is to promote the union and help create more union jobs. 

It appears that Walker's primary argument in favor of dissolving the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District is his claim that full-time firefighters are better for the community than part-time (i.e., volunteers). What Mr. Walker either doesn't know or doesn't want the public to know is that the Julian fire station is now staffed full-time with 60  firefighters (volunteers) that are as highly trained and qualified as any "professional" firefighters in the United States.

READER’S EDITORIAL: MEASURE A AND THE FUTURE OF FIRE SERVICES IN JULIAN AND CUYAMACA

By Patrick Walker, Vice President, CAL FIRE Firefighters Local #2881 – San Diego District

"It is my belief that the volunteer only fire station is inefficient and unable to provide adequate fire and life safety services in comparison to full time."

March 12, 2019 (Julian-Cuyamaca) -- I want to start by clarifying my comments within this editorial are not representative of CAL FIRE, but of my position as the 10th District Vice President within CAL FIRE Firefighters Local #2881, the labor organization that represents the Professional Firefighters of CAL FIRE in San Diego County. 

I will begin with information about my Fire Department and Labor background, as I believe in absolute transparency.  At 16 years old I began as a Fire Explorer with the San Pasqual Fire Department as well as the Ramona Fire Department.  I graduated High School in Ramona, went into the US Army and upon return became a firefighter with CAL FIRE in 1997.  I have worked in the counties of:  San Diego, Riverside, Santa Clara, Amador and El Dorado in my 20-year employment with CAL FIRE.  I have held the ranks for Volunteer Firefighter, Volunteer Fire Engine Operator, Volunteer Fire Captain, and with CAL FIRE I have worked as Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Engineer, Fire Captain and currently hold the rank of Battalion Chief working in South San Diego County.  I am married with children and reside in the City of San Diego.

LOW SNOW TONIGHT COULD DIP TO 1,500 FEET

East County News Service

Photo: Rare winter snowfall in Ramona in 2011, by Mike Mulligan

February 20, 2019 (San Diego's East County) -- A storm tonight coupled with a cold front is forecast to drop snow as low as 1,500 to 2,500 feet, the National Weather Service predicts. That could mean rare snowfalls in Ramona, Alpine, or even atop Cowles Mountain.  At higher elevations, 2 to 5 inches are forecast above 3,000 feet in areas such as Julian and Descanso, 6 to 12 inches above 5,000 feet including Mount Laguna and Palomar Mountain, and  12 to 16 inches above 6,500 feet including Cuyamaca Peak.

The storm is expected to bring rainfall of .25 to 1 inch to San DIego County's coastal and desert areas. A frost warning has been issued for Thursday and Friday morning.

HEAR OUR INTERVIEWS: JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE CHIEF, PARAMEDIC AND FIRE SURVIVOR SPEAK OUT TO SAVE THEIR FIRE DEPARTMENT

 

"Since the inception of the San Diego County Fire Department in 2008, this county has lost over 400 volunteer firefighters, boots on the ground that were guarding their homefront...That's sad." -- JCFPD Battalion Chief Mike Van Bibber

“Ranchita in the month of June this year was covered six days. That’s all.” – Karen Kiefer, JCFPD firefighter-paramedic, on services after the County Fire Authority began its takeover of the volunteer department  June 1st.

"They came and found us...it was dark, the embers were everywhere...the roof was on fire," Lori Foss says of JCFPD volunteer firefighters who saved her life and her home during the 2007 Witch Fire

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District firefighter-paramedic Karen Kiefer and Chief Mike Van Bibber

 

October 11, 2018 (Julian) – The battle to save the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District, the last volunteer fire district in San Diego County, has reached a heated pitch. Residents are gathering signatures seeking to block the takeover by the County Fire Authority approved by the Local Agency Formation Commission in September, before an October 16th public protest meeting with LAFCO.

On our radio show on KNSJ, East County Magazine interviewed the JCFPD battalion Chief Mike Van Bibber, along with firefighter-paramedic and former emergency medical services director Karen Kiefer, a well as Lori Foss, who lost her home in the 2003 Cedar Fire and had her home and family saved in the 2007 Witch Creek Fire by Julian’s volunteer firefighters. They believe that the takeover will leave Julian and surrounding areas less safe due to longer response times by engines coming from farther away, with no “home team” to respond quickly to medical emergencies, car accidents or structure fires.  Click the audio link to hear the full interview, or scroll down to read highlights.

Audio: 

Interview with JCFPD Chief Mike Van Bibber, firefighter-paramedic Karen Kiefer and fire survivor Lori Foss

JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE FEE FAILS TO QUALIFY FOR BALLOT AS TENSIONS ESCALATE OVER FUTURE OF FIRE DISTRICT

 

Story and photo by Miriam Raftery

Photo: 2011 Angel Fire, burning behind Julian High School

February 3, 2018 (Julian) –  The San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu, in a letter to Patricia Landis, has advised that a proposed ballot measure to raise fees to $200 in the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District had only 191 valid signatures—34 signatures short of the 225 needed to qualify.

JULIAN AND CUYAMACA TO LOSE PARAMEDIC ENGINE STARTING JAUNARY 1

 

By Miriam Raftery

Updated 12 p.m. to include comments from Pat Landis.

December 30, 2017 (Julian/Cuyamaca)—On January1st,  the full-time staffed San Diego County Paramedic Fire Engine serving the Julian and Cuyamaca areas will be permanently closed. The action leaves the communities to rely solely on volunteer firefighters and one ambulance for fire and life safety services, which could lead to long delays in medical services if that unit is transportation a patient to a hospital, critics contend.

The paramedic engine had been providing fire and emergency medical response services 24 hours a day, seven days a week under a temporary agreement between the County of San Diego and the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District. The CAL FIRE Firefighters that were assigned to the engine have been reassigned to other facilities within San Diego County.

The action comes after the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District voted to reject consolidation with the County Fire Department and remain independent—the last remaining volunteer fire department in the County.  Cal Fire firefighters blame the board for the current problems, but a former board member faults the district's fire chief.

JULIAN-CUYAMCA FIRE DISTRICT RESIDENTS TO HEAR DISSOLUTION PROPOSAL FROM COUNTY JULY 27

Country threatens to take away all funds and a fire/paramedic engine if district board refuses County’s offer

East County News Service

July 27, 2017 (Julian) -- On Thursday, July 27 at 6:30 pm, at the Julian Fire Station (3407 Highway 79 in Julian), the San Diego County Fire Authority will make its final presentation to try to convince the community to dissolve its volunteer fire department and be accepted under the Fire Authority. 

The meeting will begin with a professional video mad for  the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD),  followed by a Powerpoint presentation by County Fire Chief Tony Mecham. The audience will be able to ask questions and express concerns.

The County is proposing that, at a cost of $1.5 million, it will provide a staff of three professional firefighters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. But if the JCFPD refuses the offer, the County will withdraw all financial support that it has been giving for 30 years, including a paramedic/engine placed at CalFire almost 2 years ago.

FIRE IN CUYAMACA

Update 3 p.m.:  Forward spread is stopped at six acres; fire is 25% contained, per Cal Fire.

Update 2:45 p.m.: Cal Fire reports the fire is now six acres and that crews are making good progress.

By Miriam Raftery

September 18, 2016 (Cuyamaca Rancho State Park)--1:30 p.m.--A brush fire is burning in the Cuyamaca  Area, multiple sources confirm. A post at WildlandFire.com, a firefighters' discussion forum, indicates the fire started at Harrison Park Road and State Route 79,  burning at least three to five acres so far and moving into timber. 

An air tanker is dropping retardant and two structures are threatened,the post indicates, though there is no official confirmation yet of structure threat.

A caller to ECM reported smoke in the area.  In addition,Trevor Rathfon tweeted a photo ofsmoke behind Lake Cuyamaca indicated,"Fire season has officialy begun."

If you have details on this fire please contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

SNOW, ICY ROADWAYS IN MOUNTAINS

 

East County News Service

File photo: Snow in Cuyamacas by Grace Schleiser

December 28, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – A winter storm is bringing snow, ice and fog to our mountain regions.

Chains are required due to icy/snowy conditions on the Julian-Sunrise Highway from State Route 79 to Old Highway 80, according to the County Department of Public Works. Caltrans reports icy conditions on I-8 at Mountain Pass as well as on State Route 76 at Palomar Mountain.

The Laguna Mountain Lodge reports on its Facebook page that snow is falling on Mt.Laguna.  Residents across East County report snow in the Lake Cuyamaca area, an iced over pond in Descanso and cold conditions across our inland region.

CONTROLLED BURN WEDNESDAY

 



Update: Click here for a map of the burn area, provided by CAL FIRE, which is assistant state parks with the burn.

 

February 3, 2015 (Cuyamaca) -- A 100-acre controlled burn is scheduled for this Wednesday, February 4 in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park at Middle Peak.  The burn has been cancelled several previous times, but could put out significant smoke visible across East County if it goes forward.

Another burn is slated on Mt. Laguna, ECM has learned.

SD TRAILS: SPOOKY TRAIL RUN

 

By Randy Zuniga

December 13, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) - I had been training off and on throughout the summer for a night trail half-marathon up by Julian in October. I was doing different trail runs throughout the Cuyamaca and Laguna Mountains to get ready for it.

QUESTIONS REMAIN ON CUYAMACA BURN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos above:   Sign amid charred terrain reads, "As these habitats recover from fire, a colorful variety of bird liife will return."

By Miriam Raftery

March 28, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – One month after a controlled burn at Cuyamaca sparked controversy, as ECM reported , the State Park Service has failed to answer any of our questions.  Two elected officials have issued statements supportive of burn policies despite mature pines and cedars being torched in a park  an estimated 99% of its mature pines to the 2003 Cedar Fire, which charred 95% of the entire park.

But new photos taken after the burn reveal that the fire also burned d15-foot-tall saplings planted after the Cedar Fire, foot bridges, and a “habitat restoration” area for wildlife replanted as part of reforestation efforts after the Cedar Fire.

Cal Fire has insisted that the burn did not jump out of control, though local cabin owner Craig Maxwell says a state park ranger told him it did.  But if firefighters did not lose control of the burn, this raises an even more troubling question:  Why would State Park officials charged with protecting our public parks order the destruction of some of the last remaining mature pines and cedars, as well as plantings established to replaced what burned in 2003?

Moreover, this region has also been decimated by oak-boring beetles that have killed thousands of trees locally, making protection of what remains even more critical.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: DRY TIMES AT LAKE CUYAMACA AND MOUNT LAGUNA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery; photos by Tom Lemon

February 23, 2014 (Cuyamaca) – “The meadows should be green, Cuyamaca Lake full. Not so,” Tom Lemon writes after a trip to the mountain area.  “The area is tinder dry and the lake down six or eight feet.” 

Still, he found some interesting sights, as thees photos reveal.

OPEN HOUSE AT JULIAN FIRE STATION SEPT. 28

 

August 17, 2013 (Julian) -- Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District invites the public to an open house at the Julian Fire Station on Saturday, September 28 from 10-4 p.m.  The station is located on Farmers Road (which becomes Main Street) just east of Julian's historic downtown district.

Guests can enjoy games, firefighters' competitions, food, music in the park, demonstrations, as well as tours of the station, trucks, ambulance and helicopter.  The event also offers home fire prevention supplies, injury simulation ocmplete with makeup and "treatment" by paramedics, and chance to win four raffle packages. 

CUYAMACA, GROSSMONT COLLEGES BEGIN SEMESTER IN AN OPTIMISTIC SPIRIT

 

Photos by Stephen Harvey/Grossmont College photographer

January 25, 2013 (El Cajon)--Spring semester begins January 28 at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges in a restorative vein, with hundreds of classes added back as the result of California voters’ approval of Proposition 30, the governor’s sales and income tax measure.

The November victory at the polls allowed the colleges to restore 235 course offerings for the new semester that had been cut when the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District approved its budget .The action was taken to prepare for the worst-case scenario of the district losing $5.6 million in funding had voters rejected Prop. 30.

 

Peg Marcus, Grossmont College’s student body president, shares a laugh with the campus mascot, Gizmo, this week as the campus prepares for the start of the new semester Monday, Jan. 28. 

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: WINTER WONDERLAND

 

December 31, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- A blanket of snow envelops our local mountains and rural areas this New Year's Eve. Melody Ponchot arose early to snap sunrise photos as the morning's first rays illuminate snow dusting trees across her ranch in Boulevard (left, right, and below, right)

Julie Salmons also sent in an image of the Laguna mountains (below, left), viewed from Descanso, wearing a crown of winter white.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: DOE, A DEER

 

 

December 29, 2012 (Cuyamaca) -- While driving through Rancho Cuyamaca State Park last week, ECM editor Miriam Raftery spotted several groups of deer grazing in the sun-dappled woods, including this doe, which paused to pose for a picture-perfect moment.

The best time to see deer is in the last hour before sundown; this photo was taken shortly before 4 p.m. just two days after the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.

LET IT SNOW! STORM TO BLANKET MOUNTAINS DOWN TO 4,000 FEET

December 29, 2012 (San Diego’s East County ) -  A storm moving through our region today and tomorrow is expected to bring rain and in mountain areas, snow.  By tomorrow, snow is forecast to drop down to 4,000 feet—low enough to include Julian and  Lake Cuyamaca—popular destinations for families seeking to frolic in the snow.

Gusty winds are also forecast in mountains and on desert slopes late Sunday. The storm system is expected to move east and out of our county on Monday,  so if you’re planning a trip to the mountains it’s best to wait until after the weekend.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: WILD TURKEYS IN CUYAMACA

Decenber 26, 2012 (Cuyamaca) -- Turkeys for Christmas  may conjure up images of a holiday dinner.  But photographer Tom Lemon spotted this flock on Christmas Day while driving through Rancho Cuyamaca State Park.  He suggests these turkeys should be grateful that they're living in a protected area where hunting is not allowed--or, perhaps, hoping more folks will choose ham for their next holiday feast.

COLLEGES PLAN PUBLIC REMEMBRANCES OF 9/11 ATTACKS

September 10, 2012 (El Cajon) -- Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges are holding public remembrances of the Sept.11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and triggered the global war on terror.

The Associated Students  of Cuyamaca College is sponsoring an on-campus display of 2,977 flags, with volunteers from the college, student leaders from Steele Canyon and Monte Vista high schools, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), area police and fire departments and the U.S. Armed Forces setting up the display in the grand lawn starting at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, the day before a community remembrance ceremony set for 12:30 p.m. at the college at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in Rancho San Diego.

CENTENNIAL BANNERS GOING UP AROUND EL CAJON

 

 
July 4, 2012 (El Cajon) -- The City of El Cajon will officially be turning 100 years old on Monday, November 12, 2012. In celebrating our mission statement, Honoring and Celebrating the People Who Make El Cajon the Valley of Opportunity,” the City will be hanging colorful Centennial banners on light posts in El Cajon, depicting various historical moments during the past 100 years in El Cajon. 

GROSSMONT, CUYAMACA COMMENCEMENTS BRING A HAPPY ENDING TO A ROCKY FINANCIAL YEAR

 
June 2, 2012 (El Cajon) -- The commencements held at Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges this week, in which more than 2,300 students received degrees or certificates, were a joyous and welcome change to the budgetary gloom that has settled over the state’s community colleges.

 

TWO ARCHITECTS OF LEARNING AT CUYAMACA COLLEGE RETIRING AFTER 33 YEARS

 
Founding instructors of landmark programs leave a legacy
 
May 29, 2012 (El Cajon)– For more than three decades, two instructors at Cuyamaca College have worked within hailing distance of one other, each heading an academic program they personally designed and cultivated.
 
Not only have Jim Custeau, the founder of the automotive technology program and Brad Monroe, the creator of the ornamental horticulture program, worked in close proximity – their careers have followed similar trajectories.

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