Communities

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: SAN MIGUEL FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE FLAMES IN ALPINE

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 14, 2018 (Alpine) – San Miguel Fire Protection District posted these dramatic images of their firefighters battling to save mobile homes during the West Fire in Alpine on July 6th.   

STRAW BALE HOME IN CAMPO HONORED AS ENERGY CHAMPION BY SDG&E, WILL BE FEATURED ON GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL TOUR OCT. 21

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos: Simple Construct

 

 

Hear our interview on KNSJ radio with homeowners Brian and Susan Fallgren, Simple Construct builder Rebeca Tasker, and SDG&E communications manager Helen Gao.

 View video on the home’s construction and view tour of the finished residence. 

July 14, 2018 (Campo) – Inspired by historical California adobe homes,  Brian and Susan Fallgren in Campo teamed up with Simple Construct to create a straw bale and adobe home that is beautiful, comfortable even in extreme heat, fire resistant and energy efficient—producing more power than it uses. 

The home has also won numerous honors.  It’s the first residence in Southern California to receive net zero certification through the Living Building Challenge, one of only 27 homes in the world to win this recognition.  A participant in the California Advanced Homes Program, it was also a winner in  the San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) 13th annual  Energy Showcase Awards and will be featured on the San Diego Green Building Council’s Green Homes Tour on Sunday, October 21.

“It’s an incredibly functional, comfortable home to live in, not only from an environmental standpoint, but from an every day livability standpoint,” Susan Fallgren says.

Audio: 

Interview: Straw Bale Homes--Helen Gao of SDG&E, Rebecca Tasker of Simple Construct, & Campo homeowners Brian and Susan Fallgren

SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS SPEAKS OUT ON THREATS AGAINST ECM REPORTER

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photo: Councilman Ben Kalasho during testimony by Paul Kruze regarding Kalasho’s alleged threat to maul the reporter with a trained attack dog

 

July 13, 2018 (El Cajon) – After our reporter Paul Kruze filed a police report alleging that El Cajon City Councilman Ben Kalasho threatened him with an attack dog, the San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists issued the following statement:

ART, MUSIC AND MORE AT 11TH ANNUAL HEART OF MT. HELIX AUGUST 11



Source: Mt. Helix Park Foundation

July 12, 2018 (La Mesa) - Tickets are on sale now for the 11th annual heART of Mt. Helix. You’re invited to come and experience local art, music and cuisine at Mt. Helix Park’s popular celebration/fundraiser held at one of East County’s most extraordinary venues. 

PUBLIC HEARING SET FOR POSSIBLE ALPINE HOMES PROJECT

 

Source: Alpine-Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce

 

July 12, 2018 (Alpine) - A public hearing about the storm water management plan for the proposed Rancho Sierra residential subdivision in Alpine will be held on Friday, July 20, in San Diego.

 

The County of San Diego has set the hearing for its 9 a.m. session in the County Operations Center Chambers at 5520 Overland Ave.

PEDESTRIAN/BIKE BRIDGE TO CONNECT LA MESA VILLAGE TO WINERIES AND BREWERIES

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 12, 2018 (La Mesa) – Wine, beer and food aficionados will soon be able to cross a pedestrian and bike bridge connecting “restaurant row” in La Mesa’s downtown village to the wineries and breweries in an industrially-zoned area across Interstate 8.

COMMUNITY MEMBERS URGE KALASHO TO RESIGN OVER SEXUAL HARASSMENT FINDINGS AND ALLEGED THREATS

 

 

A group of people in a roomDescription generated with very high confidence

 

 

 

By Briana Ghaffery

View video of Council meeting: https://elcajonca.swagit.com/play/07112018-1233

 

July 11, 2018 (El Cajon) – Eleven speakers called on Councilman Ben Kalasho to resign during public comments at Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting, where the audience included protesters who held signs reading “hands off our daughters” and “sex predator Kalasho belongs in jail” complete with a photoshopped picture of Kalasho as an inmate.

Kalasho has also announced his intention to run for Mayor, challenging incumbent Bill Wells.

A SIP OF JULIAN JULY 28 FEATURES SPIRITED TASTES

 

 

East County news Service

July 12, 2018 (Julian) -- On Saturday, July 28th, 2018, the Julian Chamber of Commerce is co-hosting the 4th Annual ‘Sip of Julian’. 

Proof that Julian isn’t about apples and apple pies, the sip features growers and producers of wine, craft beer, mead, craft cocktails, and hard cider, offering up a sampling of their delicious hand-crafted specialties. There will also be bites of gourmet foods to savor.

MEDITERRANEAN FEAST! JULY 15 WITH EAST COUNTY DINING CLUB AT EAT-A-PITA IN EL CAJON

 

UPDATE: WALK-INS ARE WELCOME! BUT PLEASE RSVP.

July 4, 2018 (El Cajon) -- You're invited to our next East County Dining Club event, which benefits our nonprofit East County Magazine and our East County Wildfire and Emergency Alerts.  

Please join us in a Mediterranean Feast on Sunday, July 15 at 1 p.m. at Eat a Pita! (1255 Avocado Road in the Vons shopping center at Chase and Avocado in  El Cajon).

$28 INCLUDES: Mediterranean feast!  Beef kebab, chicken kebab/souvlaki, falafel, dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), rice, Greek salad, pita bread and hummus, tax, tip, beer or wine, soft drink & refill, & 1 opportunity drawing ticket. Prizes include restaurant gift certifictes, a night's stay at Triple H Ranch Bed and Breakfast in Lakeside, jewelry, cookbooks, novels, Kamp's Propane gift certificate, ladybug planter, Prete-a-Porter Salon haircut, Club Pilates class and more!

RSVP BY JULY 10 for earlybird prize drawing: editor@eastcountymagazine.org   or 619-698-7617.

LAKESIDE CONSIDERS A FOOD SCRAPS TO ENERGY PROJECT: COMMUNITY MEETING JULY 19 HOSTED BY PROJECT TEAM

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Biogas pipes, creative commons image via Vortexrealm

July 11, 2018 (Lakeside) – The project team for a proposed project to convert food scraps to energy will host a drop-in session for community member on Thursday, July 19 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Lakeside Community Center. The team will be on hand to answer questions, hear input and provide information – along with pie and coffee.

LA MESA HEALTH CARE LIBRARY TO HOST FREE MEETING ON HEALTHY BONES AND FALL PREVENTION ON JULY 25

 

East County News Service

July 11, 2018 (La Mesa) – The Grossmont Healthcare District’s Dr. William C. Herrick Community Health Care Library, 9001 Wakarusa St. in La Mesa, will host “Healthy Bones and Fall Prevention,” a program about bone health and steps to prevent a fall, from 10 to 11 a.m., Wednesday, July 25. The program is part of the library’s “Wellness Wednesday” series, normally held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Admission is free. Light refreshments will be served. Advance RSVP is not necessary. Handouts will be available.

14 ARRESTED IN EAST COUNTY OPERATION

 

 

By Jose A. Alvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

Video courtesy of San Diego County Meth Strike Force

July 11, 2018 (San Diego's East County) - Fourteen people were arrested Tuesday evening by law enforcement agencies from East County during saturation patrols and probation compliance checks in known hot spots for drug-related crime.

TRUCK DRIVER STRANDED 24 HOURS IN ALPINE RAVINE IS RESCUED BY SHERIFF’S SEARCH TEAM

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photo:  ASTREA helicopter, file photo

 

July 10, 2018 (Alpine) – A truck driver trapped in a ravine for over 24 hours was rescued by the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team shortly before 5:30 a.m. The search began after Alpine Sheriff’s station deputies checked on an overdue big rig; the driver’s GPS led them to his truck parked near the I-8 viewpoint parking lot with engine running and headlights on.

GREGORY PAGE TRIO CONCERT JULY 28

 

Saturday, July 28, 6-8:30 p.m.

East County News Service

July 10, 2018 (El Cajon) - The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College welcomes back the Gregory Page Trio for a summer concert on Saturday, July 28 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Gregory will capture your heart with his engaging lyrics and soothing melodies reminiscent of the 1920’s sweet jazz era.

Click HERE for more information and to purchase tickets.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY LUM EISENMAN WINE COMPETITION AWARDS RECORD NUMBER OF MEDALS

 

Source: Ramona Valley Vineyards Association

 

July 10, 2018 (Ramona) -- San Diego County winemakers picked up a record number of medals for outstanding wine at the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA) Awards Dinner for the ninth San Diego County Lum Eisenman Wine Competition on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 held at the San Vicente Resort.

OUR EAST COUNTY WILDFIRE ALERTS PROVIDED CRITICAL, TIMELY INFORMATION DURING EARLY HOURS OF WEST FIRE IN ALPINE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Bob Scheid, shortly after the West Fire began, helped us provide critical early warning to our readers

July 9, 2018 (Alpine) – In the critical first few hours of the West Fire in Alpine, our East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts provided the earliest news that a fire had begun and was threatening homes in Alpine. In the first 12 hours, we posted 38 updates including Twitter, email, articles and social media.

During the fire’s first day, our first alert was sent at 11:44 a.m (simultaneous to the Forest Service's first Tweet five minutes after the fire was reported at 11:39 a.m., per Cal Fire's incident report). That was nearly an hour and a half before the first Cal Fire and County Fire Authority Tweet at 1:04 p.m.  and a full four hours before the first Cal-Fire e-mail alert went out at 3:43 p.m. announcing “numerous structures destroyed.”

Cal Fire/County Fire Chief Tony Mecham has said homes were burning within eight minutes after the fire started, Patch.com reports.

Alpine Fire Department, battling the inferno amid power outages and grappling with a seriously injured fire captain, didn’t get their first Twitter alert out until the next day.  Cleveland National Forest did send timely alerts via Twitter only, but stopped after the fire burned outside of federal lands and into neighborhoods with homes.

During the first 12 hours of the fire, we sent frequent updates via Twitter and email, as well as posting numerous updates on our webpage plus photos and video link. We even went the extra mile to post some information on our Facebook page and on some community forum Facebook pages in or near the Alpine area, where many were without power but could access those sites on cell phones.

ANIMAL SERVICES HELPS PETS, LIVESTOCK DISPLACED IN WEST FIRE

 

Owners sought for pets found after Alpine fire

By Yvette Urrea Moe, County of San Diego Communications Office

July 9, 2018 (Alpine) - The County Department of Animal Services rescued or sheltered approximately 30 animals from the West Fire, and after reuniting all but four, staff members are helping people impacted by the fire with pet food and resources if needed at the Alpine Local Assistance Center.

WITH FIRE 92% CONTAINED, ALPINE RESIDENTS RETURN HOME – WITH DOZENS FINDING ONLY ASHES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Ready San Diego

July 8, 2018 (Alpine)—The grim toll wrought by the 505-acre West Fire in Alpine has risen. With the wildfire now 92 percent contained and all evacuations lifted, reentry brought relief for some who found homes still standing, but heartache for others facing total devastation.

The fire destroyed at least 56 structures, including 34 homes, a business, and 21 other buildings including barns and sheds.  Another 15 homes were damaged, along with 5 outbuildings.

Merlyn Cochran, assistant manager at Baron’s Market, was at work  when the fire started. Neighbors Al and Sharon Haven told Cochran and her husband to “go get my mother-in-law, who is 96 years old and lives at our ranch, because the winds were shifting and blowing towards our ranch,” Cochran recalls.

PROTEST TUESDAY IN EL CAJON OVER CHILD IMMIGRANT DETENTION CENTER

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Child migrant detention facility in El Cajon

July 8, 2018 (El Cajon) – Activists are organizing a protest rally Tuesday, July 10th from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in front of El Cajon’s City Hall (200 Civic Center Way) to call for a public hearing on a federal internment facility holding immigrant boys, including some who were separated from their parents at the border and others who arrived as unaccompanied minors.

The activity is part of the national #familiesbelongtogether movement following disclosure that thousands of children have been separated from their undocumented immigrant parents at the border.  Following exposure in media, children as young as one year of age have been ordered by the government to represent themselves at immigration hearings and some parents deported without their children.

“Our mission will be to apply extreme and persistent pressure upon the El Cajon City Council to hold one or more Public Hearings providing full discloser as to population welfare, and operational practices, of El Cajon's Migrant Youth Internment Facility," organizers state on a Meetup page for the event.

ALPINE FIRE CAPTAIN AND SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD MEMBER MIKE VACIO INJURED IN WEST FIRE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via Facebook

July 8, 2018 (Alpine) — An Alpine Fire Department crew, the first to arrive at the West Fire in Alpine on Friday, swiftly found themselves surrounded by flames and narrowly managed to escape.  The scorching flames were so hot that they melted tires on the fire engine, 10 news reports.

HEARTBREAK AND HEROISM IN ALPINE

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left, courtesy San Diego Sheriff Office, Alpine

 

July 6, 2018 (Alpine) – At the Secret Hills Ranch in Alpine, owner Missy Bender posted this  panicked message on Facebook today as the #WestFire approached: “Fire is here desperately need help…”   With 41 horses in need of evacuation, she pleaded for  help “even on foot” adding that the Sheriff wasn’t letting trailers in. “We have to lead horses out on foot,” she said, adding, “We are fighting the fire off our back fence…”

CAL FIRE LIFTS EVACUATION WARNING FOR SOME WEST FIRE AREAS

 

Update July 8, 2018 --  A Local Assistance Center (LAC) will open Monday, July 9th at the Alpine Library. County representatives & other organizations will be there to help impacted residents begin the rebuilding & recovery process. The LAC will operate 9am-6 pm, until further notice.

Source: County Emergency Services

Photo by Miriam Raftery

Update 8:30 p.m. -- Due to more accurate mapping Cal Fire reports the West Fire is now 504 acres. Firefighters continue to make excellent progress, as the fire is now 81% contained. Evacuation orders and road closures remain in effect throughout the night.

 

July 7, 2018 (Alpine) 6 p.m. --CAL FIRE San Diego announced that the following areas previously under evacuation order or warning for the West fire are now open to residents only:

  • Palo Verde Ranch community to areas outside the fire perimeter
  • Rancho Palo Verde community to areas outside the fire perimeter
  • West of South Grade Road area
  • West of the fire perimeter
  • South of Alpine Boulevard between Peutz Valley Road and South Grade Road
  • West of South Grade Road between Alpine Boulevard and Via Viejas Oeste
  • West of Via Vejas Oeste between South Grade Road and Via Asoleado
  • West of Via Asoleado between Via Viejas Oeste and Japatul Road 

The following areas remain under an evacuation order throughout the night and until further notice:

RECOVERY RESOURCES AVAILABLE FOR WEST FIRE SURVIVORS; 18 HOMES LOST IN ALPINE

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 7, 2018 (Alpine) – Firefighters made progress on the #WestFire overnight, holding the wildfire to 400 acres with containment now 30%.  At least 18 homes are reported destroyed and 8 more damaged.  Evacuation orders remain in place.  A shelter at Los Coches Middle School remains open and pets are welcome at the shelter.

If you need help after the #West Fire in Alpine, you can call 211 or click here for a list of resources:  https://www.sdcountyrecovery.com/events/july-2018-fire-recovery-resources/.

State and county emergency declarations have been issued. 

EL CAJON AND SANTEE WALMART SUPERCENTERS COMPLETE REMODELS

 

The two projects are part of the retailer’s investment in serving today’s customers

East County News Service

July 7, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) -- San Diego County residents today got their first look at two newly remodeled Walmart Supercenters. The El Cajon Supercenter at 605 Fletcher Pkwy, and Santee Walmart Supercenter at 170 Town Center Parkway both underwent extensive changes to better serve their customers.

JUDGE FINDS FACTS TRUE AND ADMISSIBLE IN CASE AGAINST KALASHOS: FAKED NUDE PHOTOS, SEXUAL HARASSMENT, DEFAMATION, AND OFFER TO TRADE SEX FOR PAGEANT CROWN

 

 

Judicial finding that Kalashos engaged in cyber-harassment, defamation and other intimidating actions comes within days of ECM reporter Paul Kruze filing a police complaint alleging that Councilman Kalasho threatened him with an attack dog and defamed him on social media.

Update: The judge's tentative ruling is now final and the link has been updated.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Ben and Jessica Kalasho at  a Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce event, before the U.S. Patent and Trademark office forced them to change the name of the organization due to trademark infringement.

July 6, 2018 (El Cajon) – Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor has issued a judgment granting a motion  filed by beauty pageant contestants and a taco shop owner against El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho and his wife, Jessica. The ruling allows documents and a supporting declaration  submitted by plaintiffs’ lawyers to be admitted as facts at trial and  most damning, orders evidence of the following admissions to be submitted  at trial as true facts--meaning the Kalashos cannot dispute the accuracy of these findings in court:

  • Kalasho, his wife their entities created fake nude photos of Miss Middle East pageant Queen Zhala Tawfiq and published them online “intending to cause and causing Ms. Tawfiq severe emotional distress.”
  • Kalasho propositioned pageant contestant Paris Kargar, offering sex in exchange to ensure she won the 2016 Miss Middle East pageant. He made statements indicating her declining this proposition cost her a fair shot at the title.
  • Kalasho whispered in Kargar’s ear, “You are so f*cking hot, I cannot take my eyes off you.” He also made comments about her breasts jiggling as she walked down the runway.
  • Kalasho conducted one-on-one recorded interviews with 2016 contestants including Tawfiq and Karger, but destroyed these videos after the lawsuit in which Kargar contends she was harassed during her interview.
  • Kalasho,his wife and his entities created multiple alias Facebook profiles used to make defamatory posts against Tres Taqueria, including fabricated poll results and false claims of food poisoning after the restaurant owner refused to post Kalasho campaign signs.

VINEYARD HACIENDA: A SECLUDED RETREAT ALONG HISTORIC HIGHWAY 94

 

 

Our guide to unique lodging and adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Miriam Raftery

June 30, 2018 (Spring Valley) – Vineyard Hacienda, a 13,000 square-foot adobe estate home built in the 1930s in old-style Spanish tradition on a nine-acre property, is secluded retreat that also serves as an idyllic base for guests seeking to explore historic Highway 94.

“As soon as you drive down our driveway, you escape into a little paradise,” says Joseph Harmes III, proprietor.

STRUCTURES BURNING IN DULZURA AND ALPINE BRUSH FIRES

 

Update 5 p.m. The County has declared an emergency due to the fires: County proclaims a local emergency due to the fires:  http://www.sdcountyemergency.com/updates/county-proclaims-local-emergenc...   The Governor has also declared a state emergency in San DIego County moments ago: @JerryBrownGov declares state of emergency in San Diego County due to #WestFire https://bit.ly/2MPRlNi

Update 3:10 p.m.:  10 News, ECM's news partner, has provided a map of the #WestFire in Alpine.

Update 2:30 p.m. Fire is now 350 acres in Alpine and 0% contained.

Update 2:10 p.m. Lakeside Rodeo Grounds is open for large animal evacuations.

Update 1:50 p.m.  CHP has shut down I-8 east at Tavern Rd. The Tavern and Willows Rd. exits are also closed. Over 1,400 homes are without power in the Alpine area due to lines damaged by the fire; estimated restoration time is 4 p.m. per SDG&E.

Update 1:30 p.m.:  The #WestFire in Alpine is now 150 acres. Mandatory evacuations are underway. Homes are burning on Honey Hill Road.

 

Photos:  #WestFire in Alpine, by Robert Scheid

View video:https://www.facebook.com/robert.scheid.35/videos/1024052857719513/

July 6, 2018 (San Diego's East County) -- Two brush fires have burned at least one structure each in Dulzura and Apine.  The #StructureFire at State Route 94 and Community Rd. in Dulzura has charred over 10 acres per Cal Fire and prompted 144 evacuation notices to be issued per County Emergency Services.  NBC 7 has film of a structure in flames.

In Alpine, the #WestFire started south of I-8, west of Willows, and is burning toawrd mobile homes, an eyewitness at the scene advises ECM. It is now estimated at 10-15 acres per Cleveland National Forest which confirms structures are threatened. A Fox TV video shows at least one structure already burning.  A DC 10 has been requested.

Robert Scheid, an eyewitness at the scene, says the fire in Alpine is burning toward mobile homes and that some flames are as tall as power poles.

LA MAESTRA FAMILY CLINIC GRANTED FM RADIO STATION LICENSE IN EL CAJON

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 6, 2018 (El Cajon) – La Maestra Family Clinic, a nonprofit which operates community health centers including a facility in El Cajon, has been granted a license by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate a low-power FM radio station in El Cajon.

EL CAJON SALVATION ARMY RUNS OUT OF FOOD

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 6, 2018 (El Cajon) -- Food donations are urgently needed at the Salvation Army in El Cajon, where supplies are at a “critical low point” after an annual holiday food drive fell far short.

Donations of canned, boxed or other nonperishable food items can be dropped off at the Salvation Army facility at 1011 East Main Street from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, the organization states on Facebook. For details, call (619) 440-4683. Financial donations are also welcome.

If the supplies are not promptly replenished within 30 days, the nonprofit will be forced to use funds to buy food items to feed the hungry, reducing money available for other important needs, an agency spokesperson has stated, NBC 7 reported.

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