A quarter of all rural stations were closed –at the same time—during April
An East County Magazine special investigative report
By Miriam Raftery
July 31, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The County Fire Authority has touted its successes in preventing the May wildfires in North County from destroying thousands of homes despite a County disaster declaration. A lot has improved since 2003 and 2007 firestorms. But if fires were to start in East County, a more troubling result could occur—and an ECM investigation raises serious doubts over inadequate volunteer staffing to respond even to routine house fires and medical calls in some rural communities.
Last October, our investigative report revealed that Boulevard’s fire station was closed for two months during fire season and Jacumba’s station also had some dark days- -including one when a resident died of a medical emergency after a delay in emergency services arriving. The County responded by funding emergency staffing and according to Supervisor Jacob’s staff, these two stations remained open every day for at least several months thereafter, an ECM records check in late April revealed.
But on July 9, Craig Williams, an information technology provider for the Campo Fire Department, advised ECM that “without any notification to the community leaders two days ago” Cal Fire “moved the overtime, off-budget, paid Cal Fire firefighters out of Boulevard to Jacumba Hot Springs. Now Boulevard is stuck with Fire Authority `volunteers’ only, just like Campo.’”
Worse, a new investigation by ECM reveals that this is the tip of an iceberg.
By Miriam Raftery
July 22, 2014 (Jacumba) – Several registered sex offenders have been released recently in East County, with promises from authorities that electronic monitoring would protect people in the community. But on Monday, a sex offender being monitored by authorities broke into a 70-year-old woman’s home in Jacumba and molested her, the Sheriff’s office has announced.
URGENT POLL: ASK KNSJ TO AIR LIVE WILDFIRE ALERTS & WILDFIRE REPORTING: HONOR PROMISES MADE TO DONORS & HELP SAVE LIVES
A year ago when KNSJ radio launched, the station promised to air our live wildfire and emergency alerts. Saturday is their anniversary party - please send a message TODAY asking them to honor this promise!
In the July 2013 Chariot Fire the station did go live and I reported on the fire on Mt. Laguna. For a few weeks, KNSJ aired our alerts with a delay of an hour or so, promising to improve technology to get real live alerts. Later KNSJ stopped airing wildfire alerts at all. I’ve pleaded with KNSJ to air Viejas Wildfire Alerts as promised, which we offer them free, to save lives and keep you safe. In the backcountry when power lines burn and some have no cell service, battery-powered radio is often the only way to get news during fires.
KNSJ’s CEO says having the federal emergency broadcast system in place is enough, but it’s not. It wasn’t activated during recent fires in East County. KNSJ's CEO and Board refuse to even guarantee a start date for alerts or an exact dollar figure that would guarantee these would air. They ask for more money, without delivering on promises made to donors who already gave to support getting alerts on the air. KNSJ also has zero live broadcasting, even for breaking news during fires.
TAKE OUR POLL AND SEND A MESSAGE TO KNSJ: Should the FCC ask KNSJ to keep its promise and air live Viejas Wildfire & Emergency Alerts & have live news broadcasts during wildfires?
By Miriam Raftery
June 4, 2014 (Jacumba Hot Springs)—Slipping away to the high desert community of Jacumba Hot Springs proves a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Not too long ago, Jacumba nearly became a ghost town after a resort hotel from the ‘20s burned down and Interstate 8 was built, drawing traffic away from Old Highway 80 through the heart of Jacumba. But then a revitalization committee petitioned the state to take back the town's historic name -- Jacumba Hot Springs. Since then, these movers and shakers have infused new life into a town named by the Kumeyaay Native Americans who once camped here in the winter months: Jacum—a place of healing waters.
Now celebrating its centennial year, the town recently hosted the Healing Waters & Arts Festival--a successful event for the community and guests alike.
May 24, 2014 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Jacumba Hot Springs (Jacumba) celebrates its Centennial with a major festival on Saturday, May 24th in downtown Jacumba. The Healing Waters & Arts Festival will stretch along Old Highway 80, from the old pink bath house ruins on the west end of town, east to the community park.
Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking and attendance are free. Attendees will enjoy Kumeyaay Bird Singers, Native American flute players holistic healers, New Age vendors, drum circles, bounce houses for the children, and many unique crafts, clothing and jewelry vendors. Also featured are multiple music venues, art walk with open studio tours, delectable food trucks, Pacific Southwest Railroad Museum display, Campo Motor Transport Museum displays, raffles for prizes and more, all in a beautiful high desert setting.
By Ariele Johannson
May 20, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) -- This week’s Destination East County includes many outdoor activities from hiking and fishing to car shows, festivals and outdoor movies! Memorial Day activities are included and two local theatre groups have final weekend performances.
May 13, 2014 (Jacumba) – Tanya Wilkins Aiau snapped this image a 4:45 p.m. on May 5th of a brush fire near her Jacumba home--a fire that she reported to 911.
“I was just passing the Golden Acorn on east bound I-8 when I saw smoke. I didn't have any cell phone service and couldn't tell exactly where the fire was from that distance,” she said. “When I rounded the corner by the billboard (advertising the Rio Bend RV park) at the West end of Walker Canyon I could see flames. I used a call box to call in the fire; the first firetruck passed me while I was on the phone."
May 9, 2014 (Jacumba)—This community walk will include a visit to Jacumba Lake, the Train Station, spectacular 15 foot rattlesnake sculpture created by sculptor Ricardo Breceda, the former site of the Jacumba Hotel and finish up with a tour of the mysterious Chinese Castle.
Largest blaze in Santee chars 5 acres
By Nadin Abbott
Photo, left, by Jeff Holz
April 29, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)-- The day started with smoke in the far East County, near Jacumba on Old Highway 80. Cal Fire responded only to find a structure fire on the other side of the border fence. Per the incident commander, the structure was fully involved and crews remained on scene to make sure it did not pose a threat. Since the house had good clearance, there was no threat to vegetation, or the United States.
The second fire was in Ramona. It was a compost fire at Dye Street south of Ramona Street. It was extinguished in short order.
The third and most serious was near the Carlton Hills Golf Course in Santee. A parking lot at Carlton Hills Southern Baptist Church became the Incident Command Post for the blaze, which briefly threatened apartments nearby.
Update 5 p.m. A new fire is reported in the Carlton Hills area of Santee. For timely updates visit www.Twitter.com and follow ViejasAlerts. As of 5:30 p.m., 5 acres have burned in Santee from a blaze that started in the San Diego River bed. Forward spread was stopped at the Carlton Hills golf course with help from four helicopters droping water before the fire reached 125. Fences were burned but no structures were damaged. There were no injuries.
The Ramona fire has been extinguished.
April 29, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – A full wildland response by Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service has been ordered for a vegetation fire that reportedly began in a compost pile in Ramona. Heartland Fire is also on the scene.
The fire is burning near Dye Road and Ramona Street, between Highway 67 and San Vicente. View map:https://www.google.com/maps/place/Dye+Rd+%26+Ramona+Stfirstname.lastname@example.org,-116.8796472,14z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x80dbe6729949d82d:0xfecc04e91f9678d1
April 5, 2014 (Jacumba) – Tom Lemon sent this surreal looking shot of a dinosaur sculpture and man-made caves at the Desert View Tower, long a favorite roadside stop of travelers in Jacumba. Visit it while you still can – word is its long-time proprietor may be set to retire in the near future.
By Miriam Raftery
March 17, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Could big energy projects proposed in East County lead to the decimation of federally endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep?
From 1972 to the present, the Carrizo Gorge band of these bighorns has plummeted from about 120 sheep to less than 40. “Off-road vehicles, trespassing cattle, poaching in the 1960s and ‘70s, drought, disease and Mountain Lion predation have worked together to push this population o the edge. We hope we can save this group before it is too late,” Mark Jorgensen, advisor to the Bighorn Institute and former Superintendent of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park wrote in the Desert News.
In his comments submitted on four solar projects proposed by Soitec in Boulevard, Jorgensen writes that “Construction of yet another group of solar projects will further impede the free movement of wildlife by reducing habitat connectivity and ruining wildlife corridors.” He further notes that Soitec’s sites are very near lands purchased and set aside specifically to protect species the endangered bighorn, golden eagles and other species in peril.
March 3, 2014 (San Diego): The Fire Safe Council of San Diego County, in partnership with the Resource Conservation District of San Diego County, is offering a free Defensible Space Assistance Program (DSAP) for low income seniors or disabled residents.
February 21, 2014 (Jacumba) - Back by popular demand, the Jacumba Hikers will lead a Jacumba Walk-About on Saturday, February 22. Walkers will meet at 8:00PM at Mr. Jalapeno's Restaurant, 44461 Old Hwy. 80, Jacumba Hot Springs. Breakfast is available starting at 7:00AM. This hike will take you to the Chinese Castle, the natural hot springs, Jacumba lake, the Cook's House, Sand Wash, Railroad Station, through the Jacumba Hot Springs neighborhood with stops at the Jacumba Spa, library/community park, border fence, and ending at Mr. Jalapeno's.
By Miriam Raftery
February 17, 2014 (Jacumba) – An 80-year-old woman in a motorized wheelchair crossing Old Highway 80 in Jacumba was struck and killed by a white van turning onto the highway at 6:38 p.m. last night. The victim, Jimmie Dyampert Genet of Jacumba, died at the scene.
“Jimmie was a larger than life character who was liked by everyone,” said Danielle Cook, a Jacumba resident. “I used to see her in the pools at the spa or rolling down the road towards the store and Post Office. She will be missed.”
February 15, 2014 (Jacumba)—Wayne Brammer sent in these photos of SDG&E’s new Eco Substation in Jacumba. The project is (so-named for hooking up to industrial-scale renewable energy projects. But to most backcountry residents, the project is an ecological disaster that destroyed the landscape and used three times more water (90 million gallons total) than SDG&E estimated.
“This thing is a monster and they’re wasting water all over the place, not just here but all the way to Boulevard,” writes Bramley, referencing other energy projects in the pipeline. “We really do need to separate from the city and have our own county,” he concluded, linking back to a reader’s editorial on this issue.
By Roy L Hales
February 10, 2014 (Boulevard)--Yesterday, we reported how three authorities state Soitec's consultant is wrong, Boulevard does not possess enough water for their proposed solar project. Now a video from the February 6 community meeting, at Boulevard, reveals that Soitec's consultant, Dudek, recently underestimated the amount of water needed at SDG&E recent ECO substation project by more than three times what would be the final total. (The original estimate was 30 million gallons and the actual amount was closer to 100 million gallons.) Dudek is also alleged to have seriously underestimated the amount of water needed for the Ocotillo Wind Project. If this is true, how can we assume that Dudek's estimates for the Boulevard project are correct?
February 1, 2014 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Celebrating its 100th year, Jacumba Hot Springs in San Diego's East County has launched a Centennial website at http://www.jacumbahotspringscentennial.org/.
The site lists upcoming festivals in this historic high desert community, plus a historical timeline, attractions and tips for visitors. Festivals include a Blues Fest on May 3, a Healing Waters and Arts Festival on May 24, a Fall Centennial Festival on October 4, and a Feliz Navidad Christmas festival on December 6. Scroll down for more details, and visit the Centennial webpage for additional information. The site will be updated throughout the year with even more details, including a separate page for each of these unique festivals.
January 30, 2014 (Carrizo Mountain)—The Jacumba Hikers will be hitting the trail this Saturday at 8 a.m. for an “extreme” hike to Painted Gorge/Carrizo Mountain. Heat and movement over time has created fantastic shapes and colors as the sun illuminates and plays shadows upon this geologic wonder.
January 11, 2014 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Energy Works Rejuvenation is hosting group meditation on Saturdays from 4 to 5 p.m. at 44545 Old Highway 80 in Jacumba Hot Springs.
The class offeres guided relaxation meditation and light refreshments. No experience is necessary; wear comfortable clothing.
READERS EDITORIAL: SOUNDING THE ALARM AS COUNTY BREAKS PROMISES FOR FIRE PROTECTION IN RURAL EAST COUNTY
By Howard W Cook, Jacumba Hot Springs Sponsor Group Chair
September 30, 2013 (Jacumba) -- When the Jacumba Hot Springs Community showed up to attend The Real East County Fire Safe Council(Ken Daubach, President) tonight 09/30/2013 at the Jacumba Hot Springs Fire station, the station was completely dark. Shutdown as it has been frequently in the past month. Likewise, Boulevard Fire Station was also dark tonight as it has been for most of the past several months.
Yet, in the EIR's for all of the recent electrical projects, Eco at Jacumba and the Boulevard substation as well as the Tule wind farm project the Fire Dept. establishment promised 24/7 coverage.
East County doesn't know who in the Fire establishment they can trust.
We had an medical emergency today out at De Anza Resort(probably a fatality). Eventually the station at White Star responded after an hour.
By Miriam Raftery
September 11, 2013 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – “The people of this town came together,” said famed sculptor Ricardo Breceda after hoisting a 1200-pound metallic rattlesnake sculpture into place in front of the Jacumba Community Park.
Best known for his larger-than-life sculptures of present and prehistoric wildlife in the Anza-Borrego desert, Breceda yesterday sold additional sculptures to Jacumba Hot Springs art fans – works that will soon grace rocks and roadways in this high desert community seeking to reinvent itself as an arts colony.
It all started with a winged dragon.
Photo: Artist with a similar snake sculpture; installation set for Sept. 10
September 1, 2013 (Jacumba Hot Springs)--On Tuesday, September 10, Jacumba Hot Springs welcomes a giant striking rattlesnake sculpture by artist/designer Ricardo Breceda at the Community Park on Old Highway 80. The sculpture is constructed of welded metal and weighs over 800 pounds. It was a gift to the community from an anonymous community booster.
The artist , who is best known for his gigantic metal sculptures in the Anza-Borrego Desert, will be on site for the September 10th installation--and the community is planning festive activities all day from 9 am to 5 p.m. to celebrate the event.
September 1, 2013 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- Next year marks the century milestone of the founding of Jacumba Hot Springs. Although the community of Jacumba was settled in the mid- 1800s, the first time the community appeared in an official document as Jacumba Hot Springs was in a State of California Railroad Commission document dated1914.
Four major festivals are planned for the Centennial: a third annual Blues Festival May 3, a Healing Waters and Arts Festival the weekend of May 24, a Centennial Fall Festival October 4 and a Christmas Festival December 6. More details on the festivals will be announced at a later date.
By Ali McCall
April 12, 2013 (Jacumba Hot Springs)--Spend a cool afternoon jammin’ to some blues that won’t “tax” your wallet at the free Jacumba Blues Fest on Saturday, May 4 in Jacumba Hot Springs.
The festival, sponsored by the Jacumba Arts Council, runs from 12-8 p.m. at Highland Community Center on Olde Highway 80. Bring a lawn chair and enjoy food as well as cold, non-alcoholic beverages while you listen to some “smokin’ blues,” organizers suggest.
March 26, 2013 (Jacumba) – From wildflowers to waterfalls, the Jacumba Hikers have announced a variety of unique hiking destinations for their outings this spring. Scroll down for a list of hikes and descriptions of hikes set for April and May.
To view flyer with details, including difficulty/accessibility of hikes, click here.
By Miriam Raftery
After high winds on April 8 ripped their trailer home off its foundation west of Jacumba in Bankhead Springs, Dewey St. Julien and Virginia Hogan found themselves homeless. They lived in their truck and later, a motel with help from Red Cross. Now they are on a list hoping to receive a home from Habitat for Humanity.
“They asked how they could repay what blessings have come their way,” said Lorrie Ostrander, who has been assisting the young coupe. So tonight, April 18, Julien and Hogan have organized a spaghetti dinner to benefit Julie Atherton, a Mountain Empire Health employee with breast cancer.
The dinner will be held at the Mountain Empire Community Center, 976 Sheridan Road in Campo. Suggested donation is $5 for adults and $3 for children. A silent auction will also be held.
Photo: Lake Jacumba
April 11, 2013 (Jacumba)--The Jacumba Hikers/Walkers will host their first Spring Walk on Saturday. April 13. The Border Fence and Rock House Walk is rated easy and will walk the Border Fence separating the U.S.and Mexico from the Jacumba Lounge/Park to the Jacumba Airport & Old Rock House. Distance is 3.5 mi. round trip.
March 11, 2013 (Jacumba Hot Springs)--Pinch Flat Fortune Productions has created a delightful video that provides a cyclist’s eye view of Jacumba Hot Springs, a town built around a natural mineral spring bubbling up from the ground near a pond that’s a birdwatcher’s haven. The filmmakers call Jacumba Hot Springs “magical,” adding that in addition to free camping and soothing soaks, the community has, “some of the kindest, quirkiest, most interesting people we have ever met, all in one place.”