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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Injustice

Back-To-Work San Diego

Cover image for podcast episode

Gaile Higgins, is pictured at her vintage clothing store The Girl Can't Help It on August 4, 2021.

MATTHEW BOWLER

Some much needed COVID-19 relief money is coming to small businesses in San Diego county. Meanwhile, North county restaurants are making a comeback. Plus, a local sanctuary is home to some big cats caught up in the multi-billion dollar trade in exotic animals. There's a major effort underway in the U-S to shut down the trade in animals such as lions, tigers and leopards.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s thursday, august 5th.

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The mayor’s back-to-work san diego

More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines….

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San Diego county passed two different pandemic milestones on wednesday. 2 million residents are now vaccinated. At the same time, the county surpassed 300,000 total covid-19 cases. More than 1,200 new cases were reported Tuesday and more than 900 on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Grossmont Healthcare District has been hosting a “Family End of Summer Palooza” since Tuesday in La Mesa. The event includes face painting, story time, take home crafts, a food drive, and...free vaccine shots for children 12 and older.

Erica Salcuni is the director of programs and outreach at grossmont.

“the best way to strengthen our community’s defense against this virus and get back to normal is to get vaccinated. we can get folks educated on what’s out there for them in the health and social space and have a little bit of fun with them too which is why we have face painting and balloon animals here as well.”

The "family end of summer palooza" continues today at Briercrest park in La Mesa.

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An excessive heat warning issued by The National Weather service is still in effect today for San Diego’s deserts. Highs are expected up to 118, with winds up to 25 miles an hour. For the San Diego valleys there’s still a heat advisory effective through tonight, with highs in the upper 90’s. It’s expected to cool down a bit by the weekend. In the meantime, stay in the air conditioning and out of the sun, drink plenty of water, don’t leave children or pets unattended.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

Some much needed COVID relief money is coming to small businesses in the county. It’s part of Mayor Todd Gloria’s goal to get businesses back on track and people back to work. KPBS reporter Alexandra Rangel has more from a business owner in North Park who says a financial lifeline is very much needed.

“Even though it may be from the 1950’s.”
Gail Higgins, the owner of The Girl Can’t Help It, specializes in vintage clothing.
Her store has been a labor of love fueled by her passion for vintage fashion.
But lately it’s been more labor with little reward as pandemic hurdles grow higher.
Gail Higgins, The Girl Can’t Help It Store Owner
“I was looking into bankruptcy, closure, into storage units, into whatever I thought would be the next step.”
Mayor Gloria’s new plan “Back to Work SD”, was recently approved by city council.
10-million dollars will go toward helping nonprofits and small businesses recover from the pandemic’s economic impacts.
Higgins says it’s the help that business owners need right now.
Gail Higgins, The Girl Can’t Help It Store Owner
“I think if we receive more help it will take away some of the anxiety of is this going to change again with numbers going up again, wearing a mask, don't wear a mask, vaccinated and not vaccinated.”
Angela Lansbberg, the executive director of North Park Main Street says a lot of businesses are still struggling.
She says some businesses that took out loans to prevent closure, are already being asked to pay that money back.
Businesses that need help will be able to apply for the grant money through the San Diego Foundation starting next week.
Alexandra Rangel , KPBS news.

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Restaurants in the north county are reopening bit by bit, and it’s driving the region’s economic recovery. KPBS Alexander Nguyen (Wynn) has more.

In downtown Oceanside, on any given afternoon you’d see diners enjoying new offerings from restaurants that have ecently opened.
The city is a microcosm of a larger trend in North County. A number of new restaurants have opened or are planning to open since pandemic restrictions were lifted.
Erik Bruvold is the CEO of the San Diego North Economic Development Council. He says new restaurant openings show the growing affluence of North County, attracting businesses.
Erik Bruvold / San Diego North Economic Development Council
“It's recovering nicely now that we've got folks that are investing, not only in restaurants, but in hospitality and new hotels.”
Michelle Geller agrees. She’s the development manager for the city of Oceanside.
Michelle Geller // Oceanside Development Manager
“We’re definitely seeing more entrepreneurs up here. More businesses in the start-up space coming to North County.
The North San Diego Business Chamber says it expects growth to continue as the region emerges from the pandemic.

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INVESTIGATORS RELEASED NEW DETAILS about THE SAILOR WHO THEY BELIEVE CAUSED THE FIRE THAT DESTROYED THE USS BONHOMME RICHARD IN JULY 2020. KPBS MILITARY REPORTER STEVE WALSH SAYS THE DOCUMENTS REVEAL A NAME AND A POSSIBLE MOTIVE.

Documents unsealed this week show 20 year old Seaman Apprentice Ryan Sawyer Mays had tried to become a Navy SEAL, but he quit five days after entering SEAL basic training in Coronado. A witness told investigators Mays hated the Navy. Former ATF fire Investigator Bob Schaal says
“It's all circumstantial now you get a lot of circumstantial case sooner or later you're able to prove it.”
His former girlfriend described him as bi polar. During the investigation, one bottle that had been tagged as evidence was missing at the scene.
“it seems like somebody intentionally tampered with it because the the flagging tape was around the bottle and it was put on something they found the flag and tape, but the bottle was gone.”
Mays is in custody. He is expected to stand trial in military court in San Diego. Steve Walsh KPBS News.

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Coming up....

“the exotic animal trade is second to drugs and weapons and human trafficking in our country. these animals are used, abused and bred for nothing more than profit.”

There's a major effort underway in the U-S to shut down the multi-billion dollar trade in exotic animals like lions, tigers and leopards. Some of these big cats wind up in sanctuaries... like one right here in San Diego county. We’ll have that story next, just after the break.

There's a major effort underway in the U-S to shut down the multi-billion dollar trade in exotic animals such as lions, tigers and leopards. Some of these big cats wind up in sanctuaries... like one right here in San Diego county. KPBS reporter John Carroll takes us there.

Set among the rolling hills of San Diego County’s backcountry - just a few miles outside of Alpine - a menagerie… 93-acres of sanctuary - and a name… Lions - Tigers and Bears… a home for rescued animals..
CG: Bobbi Brink/Lions, Tigers and Bears
“The exotic animal trade is second to drugs and weapons and human trafficking in our country. These animals are used, abused and bred for nothing more than profit.”
TRACK:
Bobbi Brink is the founder and director of Lions, Tigers and Bears… home to dozens of animals… not just the ones in the title - bobcats, goats, a llama… along with some horses and birds live here too. It is accredited by the American Sanctuary Association - and that’s important.
“A true sanctuary rescues, provides a lifetime home, does not breed, sell or trade animals.”
TRACK:
Videographer Mike Damron and I were here last Thursday - International Tiger Day…
“At least 10,000 tigers are kept in captivity as pets.”
TRACK:
People begin their time here watching a video - explaining how the animals they’re about to see got here. But this being International Tiger Day, there was something special… treats hidden in cardboard creations… raw meat for Nola and Moka. It costs either 43 or 46-dollars for adults depending on the day and 26-dollars for children for a day’s visit. The 15,000 yearly visitors help pay the bills.
“It’s about $15,000 a year to feed just one cat and then our biggest expense is our buildings, these vast habitats, insurance, pumping the water, electricity, keeper salaries - all these animals gotta have someone to take care of them daily, so yeah, it’s not cheap.”
TRACK:
About two million dollars a year… to take care of 65 animals. So while visitors help with daily expenses…
“We do survive on donations.”
TRACK:
Donations that help pay for big expenses… like the rehabilitation of the animals. A lot of them are in bad shape when they arrive. The life these bears lived before getting here is stomach-turning.
“Balou behind me is a perfect example, what we call pit bears. So, they’re literally in cinder block pits where the bears can’t see out - kept in breeding pairs, then when the babies are born they pull the babies about six to eight days from the momma. They take them up top where the momma can hear and smell them, but can’t see them for people to get their picture taken.”
“Do you still get angry at your fellow human beings?” “I have to control my temper a lot because you can’t lose your temper or we lose and we want to get the animals out of there and sometimes this can take like years, 5 - 6 years to get animals out of just disgusting places.”
“Bobbi Brink began her professional career as a flight attendant in 1990 but she soon realized that wasn’t for her. Next, she became a restaurateur but eventually she and her husband’s life paths led them here. They opened this place in 2002. She says nowadays her most rewarding moments come from visitors who arrive not knowing anything about the exotic animal trade, but leave educated and motivated to do something about it.”
“Even something you can do from home, helping us to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act which is the federal legislation that would help us to stop the unnecessary breeding… And they can come and volunteer, of course they can donate, they can share on their social media.”
Someday, Brink hopes there won’t be a need for places like Lions, Tigers and Bears.
“That is a sanctuary’s job is to try to be putting sanctuaries out of business.”
But until that day arrives, Brink, her staff and her volunteers will continue to expand this special place by building more habitats and by doing the daily work of making life as good as it can be for these animals who have suffered so much.

That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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San Diego News Now

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.