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Part two of our four-part Year in Review





SDG&E shut-off plan sparks outrage

Photo credit: La Mesa Fire

San Diego Gas & Electric proposed to lessen fire danger (and its own liability) by shutting off power to backcountry communities on hot, windy days. The plan sparked praise from some but outrage from many shocked residents. Foes argued that people without power would lose access to emergency news, face traffic jams evacuating without signals, lose ability to pump well water for fighting fires, and be imperiled if relying on medical equipment such as ventilators.  Following massive public outcry including testimony from concerned fire officials, educators and water district representatives, the PUC nixed SDG&E's shut-off plans, for now.


U.S. declares swine flu emergency

Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control

San Diego was the first U.S. community stricken with swine flu (since renamed H1N1 influenza by the U.S. CDC) after the disease caused a wave of deaths in Mexico. By year’s end, 778 people had been hospitalized from the pandemic in San Diego County and 55 had died.

A mammoth project

Photo credit: Miriam Raftery

Artist Richard Breceda’s life-sized mastodon is among a collection of new sculptures depicting prehistoric creatures that once roamed our region. His works can be seen rising from the desert floor outside Borrego Springs.




Congressmen spar on issues

Photo credit: Bob Filner’s office

Freshman Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-Alpine) took his seat in Congress—and promptly faced scrappy opposition from Bob Filner (D-Chula Vista). Filner donned boxing gloves at one of several Chamber of Commerce events, where the two representatives sparred verbally over issues ranging from the economy to global warming.





Stimulus funds bring "green jobs" to San Diego County

Photo credit: Miriam Raftery

San Diego is poised to become a leader in green jobs, Green for All’s national director said on a visit here in May. By November 1st, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act had created 1,290 jobs in our region, most focused on transitioning America to a green economy. In December, the County received additional stimulus funds for energy projects. In addition, key area nonprofits are poised to receive millions more dollars to create green jobs of tomorrow.





Waterboarded in East County

Photo credit: Miriam Raftery

Kristin Kjaero (photo) led efforts to ask Helix Water District to rescind a hefty rate hike on homeowners, alleging that the Board violated state sunshine laws requiring public notice and input. In a joint investigative report with Channel 10 News, East County Magazine obtained records proving that 68 letters from citizens were not shown to the Board before it voted and that other questionable practices occurred. As a result, the Board rescinded the rate hike and later adopted a more moderate increase—with ample public input.


Labor victory on school construction projects

Photo credit: Miriam Raftery

San Diego School Board voted to keep 10,000 jobs local, requiring contractors to provide healthcare for workers on Proposition S construction projects. “We cannot survive as a city if 75% of our children are coming out of families living in poverty,” said Board president Sheila Jackson. “This is saying that our city is not going to live in poverty.”



Circus thrills and chills

Photo credit: Marisa Kezirian

Motorcycle tightrope performers from the Carson & Barnes circus dazzled the crowd—along with elephants, acrobats and other circus actswhen the circus pitched a big-top tent in East County. This first-ever event was organized by the Rancho San Diego-Jamul Chamber of Commerce.






New life after the fires

Photo credit: Miriam Raftery

Five years after the Cedar Fire, signs of recovery abound at Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary in Lakeside. New species never seen before in the area have appeared and other long-dormant plants have germinated. In this photo, caretaker Phil Lambert examines signs of new life on a charred oak tree.








Tolerance vigil in Lemon Grove

Photo credit: Miriam Raftery

After a gay rights activist was assaulted during East County’s first equality torch relay in Lemon Grove, supporters staged an even larger demonstration to promote tolerance, equality, and an end to violence.


Honoring our past at Western Heritage Days

Photo credit: Kyle Serzan

Historical re-enactors bring Buffalo Soldiers to life at Western Heritage Days, sponsored by the Olaf Wieghorst Museum in El Cajon. The African-American unit made famous during the Civil War was last stationed in Campo, where Buffalo Soldiers helped protect the border during World War II, until the military dissolved cavalry units in 1944.




Governor calls for state park closures

Photo credit: Ernie Cowan

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s threat to close state parks, including Anza-Borrego and Rancho Cuyamaca State Parks in East County, drew overwhelming opposition from our readers. In the end, while parks ‘ hours became more limited, no local parks were closed permanently. In this photo from his book, Anza-Borrego: a Photographic Journey, Cowen captures the majestic beauty of the desert preserve.


Accused killer trained at Minuteman camp in East County

Photo credit: Campo Minutemen

Shawna Forde, leader of Minutemen America Defense(MAD), was arrested with two men and charged with double homicide in a home invasion that resulted in deaths of a nine-year-old girl and her father. East County Magazine revealed that Forde visited Camp Vigilance, a high-desert training camp operated by Minuteman Civil Defense near Boulevard in San Diego’s East County in 2008. A second suspected arrested also has ties to Minutemen Civil Defense Corps (MCDC), which operates a Minutemen training facility in East County, ECM reported.



Kids learn Indian skills

Photo credit: Miriam Raftery

Following the opening of a new Native American museum in Warner Springs, Girl Scouts got hands-on experience grinding acorns--albeit with a mechanical grinder, not the grindstones used by our region's original inhabitants. It’s all part of the Warner Springs Outdoor Experience program, where students learn Western and Native American skills and lore. Warner Springs made news again at year's end, when an announcement was made that the Warner Springs Resort would be sold to a Native American tribe that originally owned the land, bringing this region's history full circle.   



Clean, green machines

Photo credit: Miriam Raftery

Who says energy-efficient cars have to look clunky? This sporty model of sustainability was spotted at a green car show sponsored by the California Center for Sustainable Energy.







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