By Miriam Raftery
January 25, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – For the first time ever, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has ordered that supplies of water from the Colorado River and Glen Canyon Dam be slashed.
The Colorado River is the most important water source for the Southwest-- and it accounts for about 60 percent of San Diego County’s water supply. It’s under increasing pressure from a growing population in southwestern cities amid extended dry conditions.
Photos (not local): Jaguarundi, black jaguar, and melanistic jaguar with spots visible
By Miriam Raftery
January 22, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--A rash of sightings of large black wildcats have been reported in East County, most recently in Spring Valley. While thus far no one has captured photos of the animals, the growing number of sightings from seemingly credible sources—including an East County Magazine reporter, raises some intriguing questions.
- Are these cats escaped exotic pets, or could one or more black jaguars, believed extinct in California, or smaller jaguarundis have found their way back into our region?
- Both jaguars and jaguarundis are critically endangered in the U.S. If these rare cats are regaining a toehold in our region, is anything being done to protect them from being shot by ranchers, law enforcement, or wildlife officials who may be unaware of their protected status?
Most recently, on January 5, Southwestern College language and literature professor Dan Moody told ECM that his mother, Dee Moody saw a jet-black, large cat that weighted at least 60 pounds walk across an open field behind her Spring Valley house on January 4 -- in broad daylight.
Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News
January 23, 2014 (El Cajon ) – El Cajon Police have arrested Hector Hoyt, an SDG&E worker who is accused of fleeing the scene after striking a 54-year-old man crossing Jamacha Road on January 6.
Hoyt was driving his SDG&E utility truck at the time. SDG&E has indicated that Hoyt is no longer an employee and that he was not using the vehicle for company business at the time of the fatal crash.
January 20, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has released a new report on poverty. Included in the report are five-year estimates of poverty in our region, based on the American Community Survey in 2011.
El Cajon has by far the highest poverty rate in San Diego County, with 32% of individuals living below the poverty level and 49% living within 200% of the federal poverty level. National City has the next highest level, a full ten points lower at 22% living in poverty.
Majority of Leading Farming Organizations Now Support Hemp Farming in the U.S.
January 22, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – The American Farm Bureau Federation has passed a resolution calling on the federal government to repeal classification of industrial hemp as a controlled substance. Delegates approved the resolution at the Farm Bureau’s 95th annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas on January 14.
The Farm Bureau had previously passed a resolution supporting research into the uses of industrial hemp, back in 1995.
The Farm Bureau’s new position in favor of decriminalizing industrial hemp cultivation adds growing weight to the hemp legalization movement.
January 20, 2014 (El Cajon)--The City of El Cajon will be hosting an informational community meeting about the City’s new regional special event called “America on Main Street.” The meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 21, at 6:00 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Community Center, 195 East Douglas Avenue.
The City of El Cajon expects 30,000 people to attend the June 14 American on Main Street event, celebrating with American and ethnic foods, live entertainment, youth activities, games, a Ferris wheel, rides, a petting zoo, handmade crafts, display booths and more. The mission of El Cajon’s America on Main Street is to provide an opportunity to enhance civic pride, attract regional participation, and contribute to the economic growth of the downtown district. The event will brand El Cajon as a place of rich diversity, shared tradition, and community.
By Miriam Raftery
January 19, 2014 (Sacramento) – Governor Jerry Brown has issued an emergency declaration due to the third straight year of drought in California.
“We’re facing perhaps the worst drought that California has ever seen since records began being kept about 100 years ago,” the Governor said. He asked all Californians to cut water use by 20 percent. Water conservation is voluntary for now, but could become mandatory if conditions worsen.
The Governor also directed state agencies to hire more seasonal firefighters.
January 15, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- For over 30 years, the La Mesa Fire Department has hosted Fire and Emergency Services Explorer Post 2328. Now, with the formation of the Heartland Fire & Rescue Joint Powers Agreement, The Explorer program is expanding to the Heartland Fire & Rescue city of Lemon Grove, and it is available to the City of El Cajon for future expansion.
Fire Explorers have the opportunity to ride on fire engines and participate in station activities in all three cities as part of the expanded program. Fire & Emergency Services Exploring is a hands-on program for young adults (ages 14 to 20). Fire Explorers have the opportunity to ride on fire engines and participate in station activities in all three cities as part of the expanded program.
By Miriam Raftery
January 16, 2014 (Ramona) – The County is considering changes to its zoning ordinance for boutique and small wineries. But local vintners say the added regulation could crush our region’s growing wine-making industry. Concerned winery owners are meeting tonight to discuss the issues. View latest revisions here. On Friday at 10 a.m., a meeting with County planners will be held in the County Operations Center, 5520 Overland Road San Diego in the Planning Commission chambers.
Teri Kerns is president of Ramona Ranch Winery and editor of the Ramona Valley Wine Region Magazine. In a letter to Joseph Farace at the County’s Planning and Development Services, she writes that the proposed changes “will destroy our new industry” if adopted and would be “the most restrictive grape-growing, farming, and wine-making ordinance in California.”
January 15, 2014 (Bonita) – A 21-year-old driver from Bonita was hospitalized with major injuries in a rollover collision on State Route 94 near I-15 yesterday at 1:17 p.m.
The Bonita man was driving a Ford Explorer when he swerved to avoid a barbecue grill in the lane and struck a red Kia Sportage driven by a National City woman, 34. After striking the Kia, the Explorer swerved to the right, overturned, and the driver was ejected.
By Julian Rudd-Falls
January 15, 2014 (El Cajon) -- Yesterday, two Chaldean men made an appeal to the El Cajon City Council. Shamon Korkis, owner of the URE Restaurant in El Cajon, has applied for a card room license and been denied. He was an accompanied by a friend, Sam Abbod, who served as translator.
This restaurant has a troubled past. There have been over 20 complaints and Police Chief Jim Redman testified that the police have found illegal gambling and unlawful selling of alcoholic beverages there in the past. However, Mr.Korkis is the new owner of this establishment, and the vast majority of these complaints were made against the previous owner.
By Miriam Raftery
January 14, 2014 (El Cajon ) – After hearing testimony raising concerns over use of e-ciagrettes by children in public schools, El Cajon’s City Council unanimously asked staff to prepare a report on the hazards of inhaling or “vaping” nicotine, along with options for regulation both e-cigarettes and hookah smoking.
Councilman Gary Kendrick introduced the issue, stating that a friend told him her middle school son said that “use of electronic cigarettes was rampant at his junior high.”
A representative from Communities Against Substance Abuse (CASA) asked Council, “Can we really afford another generation of nicotine addiction?” The CASA representative said that “nicotine is more addictive than heroin.” He presented evidence that manufacturers of e-cigarettes with nicotine are targeting minors with flavors such as bubblegum and designs ranging from e-cigarettes with cartoon characters to models that masquerade as asthma inhalers, felt pens, or other common devices.
El Cajon’s City Council’s agenda this Tuesday includes a proposal by Councilman Kendrick to regulate electronic cigarettes and hookahs. Both products contain nicotine and the CDC reports that the number of teens using e-cigarettes doubled from 2011 to 2012.
A Spring Valley teen passed out and was hospitalized last week with carbon monoxide poisoning from a hookah.
A 2005 report by the World Health Organization documented potential health hazards from hookahs, noting that in a typical 20-80 minute hookah session produces about as much smoke as the amount received from smoking 100 cigarettes.”
January 14, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego County Crime Stoppers and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department are asking for the public’s help in identifying the whereabouts of Ann Marie Ackerman. She is known to frequent the East County area of San Diego as well as Imperial Beach.
Ms Ackerman was last seen in mid‐November, 2013 in the Santee area where she lives. She was reported missing by a family member on December 26, 2013. Ann Marie Ackerman is described as a 37‐year‐old female, 5’0” tall with brown hair and brown eyes. She has a mole on her right cheek.
January 13, 2014 (Lemon Grove) – A driver who struck a pole last night at 7:42 p.m. sparked a power outage to 4,000 SDG&E customers in Lemon Grove last night.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to reports of the accident at 7342 Canton Drive and found that the driver of the vehicle, a Toyota truck, had left the scene. According to Sgt. James Blanton with the Lemon Grove Sheriff’s substation, “Deputies found that power was out, and wires were hanging down on to the street.”
FEB. 5 HEARING SET FOR MEASURE TO REQUIRE BACKGROUND CHECKS ON FOREIGN FLIGHT STUDENTS TRAINING LOCALLY
January 11, 2014 (El Cajon ) –Two hijackers who flew a plane into the Pentagon during the 911 attacks in 2011 got flight training at Montgomery Field in San Diego. Yet to this day, no background checks are required for foreign flight students taking training locally - including a growing number of foreign flight students at Gillespie Field in El Cajon.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob aims to change that with an ordinance that would require background checks. Her measure will be heard by Supervisors on February 5th.
By Mark Gavit
As dry winter conditions continue, Gov. Jerry Brown can be expecting the California Department of Water Resources to present him with an emergency drought declaration draft.
Director of the DWR, Mark Cowin, told the California Board of Food and Agriculture that his agency is in the midst of deciding wether or not to present the governor with a drought declaration. Nancy Foley, spokeswoman for the DWR agency said that the declaration may appear "within a couple weeks."
By Miriam Raftery
January 7, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) -- These are the stories that riveted our attention in 2013 and had major impacts on communities and residents across our East County region. We've chosen stories across a wide spectrum, from energy and politics to the arts, health, public safety, sports and much more.
Update January 15, 2014-- The remains of Lt. Snyder have been recovered, the Navy announced.
January 9, 2014 (Santee) – Lt. Sean Christopher Snyder, 39, of Santee has been identified by the U.S. Navy as the pilot who remains missing after a Sea Dragon helicopter crash off the Virginia coast on Wednesday.
Two other crew members died and two more were hospitalized. After the wreckage was found by a dive and salvage team, a formal search has been suspended, though the cutter Shearwater remains at the scene.
Snyder family members expressed gratitude to all who participated in the rescue efforts, according to a statement issued by the Navy, which further states,“At this time, our hearts and prayers are for Sean’s recovery, the other families who have suffered loss, and for the health of the hospitalized sailors. Lieutenant Sean Snyder is a decorated pilot, a man of honor, dedicated husband, and father, who is proud and grateful for his privilege to serve his country in the United States Navy.The family has a deep faith and trust in God and from him they have found their hope and peace. The Snyder’s are extremely grateful for the love and support they have received from their friends and their community. They truly appreciate your continued prayers.”
By Miriam Raftery
Photo by Stephanie Wiseberg
January 9, 2014 (San Diego) Updated January 10, 2014 – A motorcyclist who witnesses reported was speeding at up to 100 miles per hour and weaving across lanes struck a Hyundai sedan on I-8 eastbound west of Texas Street in Mission Valley around 4 p.m. today. Both vehicles burst into flames.
Passerbys stopped and tried to douse flames with a fire extinguisher, also performing CPR on the motorcyclist, 22, from San Diego before firefighters and paramedics arrived, but he was declared dead at the scene. He was driving a dark 2008 sport-type Suzuki motorcycle, according to CHP.
The Hyundai driver, a 53-year-old Chula Vista woman, escaped without injuries.
January 9, 2014 (San Diego) – Several recent sightings have been reported of missing 16-year-old Arielle Randall in the San Diego-Carlsbad areas, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The Center is asking for public help to locate the missing Texas teen, who may be in the company of an unknown male. Arielle is black and Hispanic, with brown hair and eyes. She is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. She has pierced ears. She was last seen leaving her home in Grand Prairie, Texas on November 13, 2013 and has not been heard from since.
January 8, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- People living in or visiting San Diego County’s unincorporated communities may soon start seeing a lot more signs — welcoming them to town; telling them about special events; or directing them to local attractions — after County Supervisors unanimously approved new sign rules Wednesday.
“I think the new sign and banner ordinance is going to help distinguish the unique characteristics of each of the unincorporated communities,” said Board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob. The board’s vote Wednesday will repeal the County’s current policy of banning community signs on County roads and create new rules that allow a number of different kinds of signs and banners — permanent and temporary.
Because the rule changes will create a new County ordinance, the action must be approved by the Board again when they meet Jan. 29, and would take effect 30 days after that.
Photo courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News
January 6, 2014 (Pine Valley) – Two vehicles collided on I-8 this morning, plunging down a steep, rocky slope and igniting a brush fire that scorched a quarter-acre in Cleveland National Forest. Six people were injured.
January 6, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- If you’re traveling outside of our area, you may have a long wait. Over 3,000 flights have been cancelled nationwide due to an extreme cold front known as a polar vortex.
The severe weather system is breaking all records, with temperatures dipping to a frosty 68 degrees below zero in the Midwest, also bringing icy cold weather to the northeast and the South. Atlanta Georgia was colder than Moscow today ad Memphis, Tennessee was chillier than Anchorage Alaska.
January 5, 2014 (La Mesa)--The Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeals on December 16th ruled in favor of the City of La Mesa in an appeal of a lawsuit centered on a series of lease agreements to develop and operate housing facilities for older adults in La Mesa. The ruling in Briercrest Development, L.P. v. City of La Mesa will allow the City to recoup attorney fees.
City Manager, David E. Witt said of the ruling, “It is a great relief to finally regain control of the City's property. The concept of this development area was to create a park (Briercrest Park) that promoted healing and surround the park with compatible uses. This decision will allow the City to move forward to put this property to a productive use for the community.”
January 5, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Cassandra Kunze, a resident of Crest and a student at San Diego State University, has been crowned winner of the 2014 Miss California USA competition.
Kunze, 20, is working to complete a double major at SDSU in international security and conflict resolution and television/film media. She represented Beverly Hills at the time of her pageant entry and will next compete at the Miss USA pageant, representing California.
Pontiff named Time Magazine's Man of the Year
By Miriam Raftery
January 2014 (Rome)--On New Year’s Day at the Vatican, Pope Francis issued an impassioned plea for world peace. He told the thousands of faithful gathered there that we are all part of the same human family, and we share a common destiny.
“This brings a responsibility for each to work so that the world becomes a community of brothers who respect each other, accept each other’s diversity, and takes care of one another,” the Pope said.
Then he did a remarkable thing. Pope Francis laid aisde his prepared speech, and asked, “What is happening in the heart of man? What is happening in the heart of humanity?” Deploring the violence in nations around the world, he said, “It’s time to stop.”
An electrical fire on New Year’s Eve morning destroyed a medical clinic in El Cajon.
Heartland Fire and Rescue along with Cal Fire responded to the blaze at 1321 East Main Street, at the corner of East Main and Melody Lane, at 8 a.m. Crews found heavy smoke coming from the clinic. The building was occupied, but fortunately those inside were able to escape and call 911. No injuries were reported.
By Miriam Raftery
December 31, 2013 (Alpine) – Residents of Alpine are pulling together to help a young couple whose home on Arnold Way was destroyed by a fire on Christmas Eve.
Shara Halverson and her boyfriend, Sean Barrett were away visiting friends when their home caught fire. They have no renters insurance and lost almost everything in the flames, though they are grateful for small miracles.
By Miriam Raftery
December 30, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced its choice of six sites to test unmanned drone aircraft. San Diego is not on the list, despite being home to drone manufacturers and having support from Supervisors and Congressional representatives.
Today’s news drew cheers from citizens’ groups opposed to drone testing in East County, but disappointment from military and economic development interests.