THE PEOPLE PLACES AND EVENTS OF 2021

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IN JANUARY …

  • There were 250 pot-bellied pigs temporarily housed at Stoney Oaks Ranch that needed forever homes after being rescued from an out-of-control situation in Bakersfield.

Stoney Oaks Ranch owner Angela May said the piggies were relocated to her property after a well-intentioned lady who initially took in 60 pigs was overwhel

med by an unexpected mating situation.

“She started with 60, ended up with about 400 and was doing her best feeding and caring for them, but it was financially and physically too much to handle,” May said.

Eventually all the little pigs found homes.

  • Dannie Marie left her home in Alpine in 2017 and in the years since spent time pursuing her music career. Her dream was to move to Nashville and that dream came true. She re-branded her music and her name and her goal of releasing a Nashville recorded release came to fruition with the single “Country Club” released online.

“This single has a new sound I am doing that is a mix of pop country with electronic dance music,” said Daniella. “This track is very pop, very EDM, with banjo in there to give it that pop country feeling. For this song, I did very country lyrics over the pop and EDM track.”

  • San Diego County hosted the first in a series of public meetings to share Alpine County Park concept plans on Jan. 14 from 7-8:30 p.m.

The proposed 25-acre destination park site is located adjacent to Wright’s Field and is currently slated to include a skate park, sports facilities and other amenities.

However some residents say the park is ill placed on traffic-heavy South Grade road and does not reflect the rural character of Alpine.

“We want to see a more appropriately sized park with less concrete, less invasive materials, more aligned with the rural location. Ultimately, we’re pragmatists and understand they’re going to do something with this land but drawing people to over 270 parking spots with no answer on how the park can be accessed without going through Wright’s field— they do not seem to care about that,” said Preserve Alpine’s Heritage member Julie Simper.

  • Former state senator Joel Anderson took his oath of office for county supervisor District 2. He replaced Dianne Jacob who had been in the office for almost 30 years.
  • Hundreds of East County students gathered in front of Granite Hills High School one Friday evening dressed in school colors along with their teammates. The gathering was one of 138 rallies held simultaneously throughout California on Jan. 15 by Let Them Play, a group of over 35,000 parents, coaches and youth advocates who say continually delaying sports seasons to potentially slow the spread of COVID-19 is not worth their emotional and psychological stress they experience.

Groups of kids loudly chanted “let us play” through their masks as they marched around the high school perimeter; several held up long butcher-paper posters painted with messages of teen mental health awareness.

“Honestly, we don’t just want to play sports, we need to play for our physical and mental health,” said student Katie Romero.

IN FEBRUARY …

  • Chris Nunes, 18, is from Alpine and began racing motocross at the Barona speedway when he was four years old and was professionally racing offroad by the time he was 15. He splits his time between taking college classes toward an engineering degree and racing cars for Mazda through a $75,000 scholarship.

    Racer Chris Nunes was awarded a $75,000 scholarship by
    Mazda.

“The cool thing about race car driving is that it’s a long-term career as long as you do it right. I’m working with a neurologist to make sure long-term my body will be able to handle it,” Nunes said.

  • Alpine Union School District announced it would be the first school district to move to Phase Three full opening, four days a week for in-person learning with one day of distance learning for students beginning March 15. Serving approximately 1,560 elementary and middle school students in grades K-8, AUSD Superintendent Dr. Richard Newman said the district has taken a direct focus from the beginning of the pandemic and is “extremely proud” that its schools have been opened for 19 consecutive weeks with hybrid in-person learning without a closure.

IN MARCH …

  • Alpine Community Center Director of Operations Shane Greer announced the center would waive residential membership fees indefinitely.

Greer said community center staff has traditionally “looked the other way” when families— whether or not they were paying members— accessed the children’s play structure but this new policy formalizes the process so the center serves as a free, centralized downtown park with tennis courts, picnic areas, a small stage and a playground for residents to enjoy.

“We still need to have people complete membership forms so we can keep track of numbers. As a non-profit organization, we have to provide voting rights so we need to track basic information but we’re waiving the $60 fee for residents. They will have to update membership information on an annual basis but there is no cost to do so,” Greer said.

The facility has been closed for a full year to all events except the senior lunches that are offered twice a week to vulnerable, elderly residents but, as a privately-run non-profit organization that does not receive government funding, the center must still bring in revenue to remain operational.

  • The Children’s Nature Retreat expanded their annual Easter egg hunt to eight different egg hunts held over four days.

Retreat Executive Director Agnes Barrelet said organizers have redesigned the entire event for this year so as many local children as possible can participate in the annual tradition while remaining physically distant to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We have over 3,000 eggs ready to go. We’ve never done such a big event this way but having people able to start hunting as soon as they’re given their basket is a way to help with the distancing. Each kid can find ten eggs so it is fair for everyone,” Barrelet said.

IN APRIL …

  • The Alpine Family Apartments project located at the west end of Marshall Way in the Alpine Community Plan area, 0.3 miles south of Interstate 8, is surrounded by existing single- family dwellings, condominiums and multi-family housing developments and is approximately 550 feet south of Alpine Boulevard.

The project entered into an Affordable Housing Agreement with the county of San Diego Housing and Community Development Services Department and was awarded $4.3 million through HCDS. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved the funding on Feb. 25, 2020. This agreement requires the development to reserve 31 units for very low-income households and six units for low income households.

The Alpine Community Planning Group recommended to deny the project.

“Just to be clear, the ACPG’s denial is a recommendation for consideration by the planning group,” said Ashley Smith, San Diego County Project Planning Division and Planning and Development Services department chief. “We did take those points into account, but when looking at all the code requirements required to be met by the site plan, we were able to make findings that those were completed appropriately. Hence why we moved forward with a decision by the director to approve the project.”

  • About 200 colorful kites took flight through clear skies at the first children’s event Kiwanis of Alpine has held in Boulder Oaks Park since 2019.

The Come Fly a Kite event, previously held on an annual basis at the park, was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Acting Kiwanis President Steve Taylor said this year’s event was full of joy, not just because of the young children learning how to fly a kite for the first time but also because the annual event was one on a list that would have pleased former Kiwanis President Don Lumb who recently passed away.

“This event is special. We’re trying to fulfill some of the things Don would have wanted, trying to come out of COVID. It’s the first public event we’ve held since the pandemic and we wanted it to be one for the kids,” Taylor said.

IN MAY …

  • It took at least 15 minutes for Dan Foster and others to fall into the Wall of Honor event. There was joking and laughing and a slight uncertainty in the air, partially due to the limited attendance and partially because the event, the first of its kind since 2019, marked a hesitant return to familiarity for many of the participants.
  • One Saturday in May marked the first time kids strapped on their helmets and hit the racetrack for the first Alpine Kiwanis soap box derby since 2019.

Colorful stock and superstock cars were lined up near the track, awaiting their racers, aged seven to nineteen, who raced in pairs at the Viejas lot-turned-racetrack for the day.

Kiwanis director Mike Mc- Mahon grinned from where he stood near the finish line and said it was great to be back and fun to watch the kids.

“It is exciting— you get to stand down here at the finish line and watch these kids come down and their smiles just get wider and wider as they come down the track. So much fun,” McMahon said.

IN JUNE …

  • The Alpine Youth Center, long overdue for a facelift that was in discussion before the COVID-19 pandemic landed, finally reopened its doors to the community during an all-day opening celebration.

President of Behold Christian Ministries Randall Torres stood in the freshly repaved driveway, looking over the neatly placed ping-pong table, barbecue station and game table, ready to welcome Alpine families to the youth center that was, he said, actually better off for having been closed through the pandemic.

“This terrible thing, all the closures from COVID, actually gave us a chance to work behind closed doors and get things done like meeting fire code, making sure things are ADA-approved so we now have a handicapped parking space and everything is accessible,” Torres said.

  • The Descanso Days community gathering had all the markings of a small-town get together that could have taken place a century ago.

The event, held to help fund repairs on the circa-1898 town hall, bore some signs that it was the first major event held in the back country since the start of the pandemic. Organizer Susan Kyle Lancaster said there were some unfortunate decisions to be made, such as not being able to include local high school marching bands or host the usual large parade as in years’ past but many elements were able to be modified and ultimately the event was a success.

  • The county of San Diego held their final scheduled COVID- 19 related press briefing this month. As county Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher said, this final briefing was held with “not just a sense of relief but a sense of exuberance” as almost all restrictions were lifted and a sense of closure was granted, a huge leap from announcing soaring case numbers or emergency restrictions less than one year ago.

“We saw from the earliest days— the cruise ship, the testing, the first vaccine superstation… we could go on and on but we showed our resilience,” Fletcher said, before announcing with a wry smile that there were a few slides to present because “it wouldn’t be a COVID briefing if we didn’t have some slides”.

IN JULY …

  • Alpine resident April Chillura took it upon herself to use a day’s worth of income and tips as an Uber delivery driver to purchase food for homeless individuals back around the 2020 Thanksgiving holiday.

Since then, her 26-year old daughter, Crystal Davis has joined her in growing what started as a one-time project into a regular, monthly distribution of food.

The first run, Davis said, was relatively local. She and her mother drove meals down the mountain and handed them out to visibly homeless individuals in nearby El Cajon, primarily because it is the closest location to Alpine and there appeared to be plenty of people with food scarcity.

“We started off in El Cajon but that got us was driving through downtown San Diego by the Petco stadium. It seems like there is just an overwhelming number of homeless people in that neighborhood,” Davis said.

  • Although the 50th Anniversary Pine Valley Days community event technically should have happened last year, Mountain Empire Men’s Club Secretary Patrick Duggan, who is a key organizer of the event, said the group skipped the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic so this year’s event, took place on July 30 and 31.

The event takes months to plan and club members replaced their once-monthly meetings with weekly meetings in July, just to make sure all the details were finalized.

“Friday night, we start with about 600 pounds of pork for the deep pit barbecue, and it takes lots of help wrapping it all up in burlap with seasonings before cooking it, then it goes into coolers to keep it hot until we take it all down to the park,” Duggan said.

  • The Alpine All-Stars girls softball team won in their division at the C-State Games Regional Tournament held July 23-25, the highest they can go as a team this season.

With 48 teams competing at ballfields throughout Lakeside and Santee, the girls won all six games on their schedule and ultimately took first place, beating out 18 other teams, including the only one that bested them two weeks ago at the State tournament where they won nine games in a row and qualified for Regionals.

Tournament Director Kristi Allen said there were fewer teams than usual this year, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic but competition was still fierce.

“Alpine’s real accomplishment was making it to here after playing in Lancaster with that heat. They won nine games in a row and Southern California has some of the better teams. There’s some competition,” Allen said.

IN AUGUST …

  • On Aug. 12, the County began notifying restaurants of $4.5 million in permit fee refunds for the period of March 16, 2020, through June 15, 2021, the result of a class action lawsuit against the County by local restaurant group 640 Tenth LP. This is in addition to $118.9 million already provided to restaurants by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to offset the impact of California’s stay-at-home and local public health orders. Agreed in the lawsuit settlement is for all restaurants and limited food preparation facilities in the County that paid or were required to pay annual permit fees to the County and the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health and Quality during this time frame.

This refund provides a 50% refund of annual permit fees to restaurants that paid, and 50% credit to those that owe annual permit fees. It also waives late fees for untimely payment of permit fees if the fees were paid within 12 month of the original due date or by Dec. 31, 2021.

IN SEPTEMBER …

  • The Children’s Nature Retreat Foundation held its 9th annual fundraiser gala “An Evening on Safari” on Sept. 18 starting at 4 p.m. This year’s fundraiser was a little different than in the past, offering a “retreat” experience with personal tours, dinners and much more. The event was COVID-19 friendly, with temperatures taken, hand sanitizer available at each table, and a spacious setup to keep everyone safe, said Executive Director Agnes Barrelet.

“We had to cancel last year’s of course, so we are quite excited to do it this year. For the first time we are doing this as a retreat, so this is a big step for us,” said Barrelet. “We have many people signed up for the VIP tour where I will guide them through the retreat, and they will be able to discover the Retreat with me.”

  • Alpine resident Cynthia “Cindy” Wagner was appointed as superintendent of The O’Farrell Charter Schools, a community-based institution in Southeastern San Diego that includes The O’Farrell Charter School and Ingenuity Charter School.
  • With the Center of Disease Control’s approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot on Friday, the County held a press conference on Sept. 27, on the status of available Pfizer boosters in the county. Supervisor Chair Nathan Fletcher said that the San Diego region is doing incredibly well with almost 88% of eligible people vaccinated, with nearly 80% fully vaccinated.

IN OCTOBER …

  • With the pandemic shutting down the Alpine Historical Society and now only available to the public for a few hours a month, Society members have made effective use of this time in reorganizing its contents and data bases, looking towards a full reopening.

The goal of the Society is to develop a Heritage Park for Alpine which includes three historic buildings. The Dr. Sophronia Nichols House built in 1896, the Dr. Nichol’s Carriage House and the Adam and Caroline Beaty House, build in 1899. The John DeWitt Museum is in the Dr. Nichols House and the houses are open the last Saturday and Sunday each month between 2-4 p.m., and by appointment.

IN NOVEMBER …

  • Fourth and fifth graders of the Alpine Union School District joined forces at the Shadow Hills Elementary School sports field for its sixth Punkin’ Chunkin’ event, where students used their knowledge of the history, math and physics of the trebuchet, the Medieval siege engine, for fun and competition. Due to the pandemic, last year’s fourth graders missed out on the catapulting event, so this year, the Alpine Education Foundation opted to hold the event two days, with fifth graders building and competing on Nov. 9, and fourth graders participating on Nov. 10.
  • Alpine VFW Quartermaster Carl Silva was named a 2021-22 Aide-de-Camp for the national organization.

Being named Aide-de-Camp, Silva said, is recognition of his service to the VFW and how he has conducted himself as Quartermaster, but also confirmation that post leaders are changing the local image of the organization.

  • Kiwanis of Alpine held their 30th annual Vintage Alpine fundraiser at Summers Past Farms on Nov. 21, six months after its usual month of May celebration and well over a year since the last time it was held in 2019.

IN DECEMBER …

  • The Children’s Nature Retreat in Alpine reported it was struggling financially and may be forced to shut down, its executive director said.

The COVID-19 pandemic, along with the recent fire in Alpine hit the retreat hard financially. With a minimum monthly cost of $45,000 to operate the retreat, Executive Director Agnes Barrelet, said it is now surviving month to month, with no real sign of recovery in sight.

THE PEOPLE PLACES AND EVENTS OF 2021

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