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Local News September 11th, 2008

Rancho Bernardo Adds Helicopter to Fight Wildfires

Rancho Bernardo residents were able to take in a view that was somewhat reassuring last week when they witnessed “Copter 2” - the most recent aerial addition to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

The helicopter had lifted off from Rancho Bernardo, picked up water from nearby Lake Hodges, dumped several hundred gallons of water onto the outfield of a local baseball field and thus made its debut to local residents and officials alike. Mayor Jerry Sanders and San Diego Fire Chief Tracy Jarman rode in on the chopper oringally. Officials said the craft will be crucial in fighting wildfires in the San Diego County.

“This new helicopter will be fully operational going into the dreaded Santa Ana fire season, starting very soon,” Sanders said.

The Bell 412 helicopter – also equipped to perform rescues and transport patients – is the department's second firefighting copter and the fourth stationed permanently in the county. The Sheriff's Department has two helicopters, and the U.S. Forest Service deploys a fifth during fire season.

Public safety agencies added the first three helicopters after the October 2003 wildfires, when they didn't own any. The city announced its plans to buy Copter 2 in December after wildfires swept through the county a month earlier. The city is paying for the nearly $11 million helicopter with a 15-year lease-purchase agreement, financed by Koch Financial Corp., said Deputy Fire Chief Brian Fennessy. The helicopter will cost $15.9 million over the term of the lease.

The Bell 412 is quieter, carries more weight, and is faster than Copter 1, the city's Bell 212, Fennessy said. He said Copter 2 can be flown with instruments in zero visibility, while Copter 1 requires some visibility to be operated. According to the city, Copter 2 can drop 375 gallons of water. While hovering over a lake, a pilot can refill its drop tank in 17 seconds. The city hired three pilots to fly Copter 2, he said. The rest of the crew was chosen from inside the department.

'Top 10' Suspect Arrested

A suspect known only as “El Apa,” had been the subject of scrutiny by police investigators following violent spring crime spree that included a near-fatal shooting in Vista, was arrested Saturday by the Border Patrol, officials said. When Vista detectives took on the case of a May grocery store theft-turned-robbery in which one man brandished a gun, all they had was a nickname.

El Apa eventually made the county's 10 most wanted list as Jose Luis Galeania Torres, but police believe he is really 23-year-old Alfonso Quintero Lopez of Mexico. He turned up as a suspect in a June shooting on Primrose Drive in Vista that wounded one man. Meanwhile, San Diego police were looking for the same suspect in connection with the May robbery of a Quizno's sandwich shop. The suspect in that case fled the store on foot, and, when followed by a store employee, fired at the employee, missing him, officials said.

On Saturday, Border Patrol agents caught Lopez in Jamul after he crossed the border from Mexico, Jenkins said. In subsequent interviews, Lopez confessed to all the crimes and to fleeing to Mexico sometime after the Primrose Drive shooting, she said. The wanted flier posted by the Sheriff's Department in July described Lopez as armed and dangerous and heavily addicted to methamphetamine.

Though the initial arrest warrant was written for robbery, the Sheriff's Department will recommend charges of attempted murder for both shootings, two charges of armed robbery and several weapons violations, Vista Sgt. Art Wager said.

Oceanside Residents Weigh In on Josepho Property

A 14.5 acre city-owned property, known as the Josepho property, is detined for an affordable housing project. The question is, what type?

The City Council unanimously approved seeking proposals for a consultant to draw a “vision and strategy plan” for the parcel. Earlier this year, the council rejected all five bids submitted to build the project. They would have constructed up to 360 homes and added three-story buildings, something city officials weren't sure the neighbors would like.

Plans now call for the consultant to host a series of public community design workshops to ensure that the development program and design are compatible with the community. The land on the south side of Mission Avenue just west of Foussat Road is known as the Josepho property for its previous owners.

The city bought the land in 2006 in an effort to meet some of its state-mandated goal of providing more than 2,400 affordable housing units by 2010. So far it has completed about a fifth of that goal. Margery Pierce, director of neighborhood services, said a consulting firm analysis is expected to cost about $125,000, and is to be completed by May 31.

A Feast For Your Senses

In conjunction with the grand opening of the Escondido Municipal Gallery’s new location at 262 E. Grand Avenue and Festival Escondido - A Downtown Feast for Your Senses and begun and will runthrough October 3. It’s a Photo Essay Exhibition that shows the color, life, and energy of Escondido.

Copies of the publication, mounted photographs and greeting cards are available for purchase at the event.

Escondido Community Wellness Expo Scheduled

You are invited to attend the Escondido Community Wellness Expo! This event will be held on Saturday, September 13, 2008 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Escondido City Hall, 201 North Broadway. This community event, sponsored by the Community Wellness Association and SDGE, will provide valuable health/wellness information and resources to older adults and their families. This free event brings together over 50 exhibitors, free health screenings, live entertainment, and delicious food. Parking is easy and convenient with a shuttle service from the parking lot on Woodward Avenue to the fountain area at City Hall.
For more information please call Escondido Joslyn Senior Center at 760-839-4688.

Baker Electric Celebrates 70th Anniversary

Baker Electric Incorporated marks seven decades this month serving Southern California in industrial, institutional, commercial and residential electrical construction, including photovoltaic solar (PV) technology. Located in North County Escondido since 1938 and founded by LeRoy Baker, the Baker family is well known by the local community and to their loyal customer base. Family owned and operated through four generations, the Baker family, which includes their valued employees, proudly recognizes this tremendous milestone.

From humble beginnings, the Company, a fifty-year member of the National Electrical Contractors Association, has grown to employ two hundred and twenty five individuals and performs in excess of fifty million dollars in electrical construction work annually. With the onset of renewable green energy, Baker Electric is contributing to conservation efforts by installing hundreds of solar powered systems and has become a leading contractor in renewable energy technology.

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