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Goats work for SDG&E

 August 4, 2022 at 8:02 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, August 4th.>>>>

Local health expert talks about COVID and monkeypox vaccines.More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….######

A teenaged girl was sentenced yesterday (Wednesday) on criminal charges in an attack on a Black girl in Lakeside.

The white 15-year-old was ordered to serve 120 days at Urban Camp... a juvenile rehabilitation facility.

Last month a judge found her guilty of assault with a deadly weapon and a hate crime in the April attack.... and the victim's family says the sentence is not enough.

A 16-year-old boy is also charged in that attack.... his case is still pending.

K-P-B-S reached out to the district attorney's office about the case, but they declined to comment.

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S-D-S-U football is about to embark on its 100th season … but allegations of rape by football players are casting a shadow over the program.

Yesterday (Wednesday) … the school’s head coach Brady Hoke addressed the allegations just as fall camp started.

“Being a father myself and joined by others on the staff, we will not tolerate this type of alleged behavior within our football program..”

Because of the active investigation … Hoke said he couldn’t comment further.

The alleged attack happened at an off-campus house party last October.

A note … K-P-B-S is a service of S-D-S-U.

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As we head into the fall months, California faces increased wildfire danger across the state.

To respond to the increased danger, CAL FIRE San Diego said it added a new helicopter to its fleet

The helicopter will be exclusively used … to fight wildfires throughout San Diego County.

It will operate out of the Ramona Airport.

Fire agencies expect higher than normal temperatures in Southern California through October,

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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.

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The new school year is around the corner, and San Diego County is still in the C-D-C’s high transmission tier..

Yet vaccination rates for the youngest kids remain low. Dr. Eric Topol with the Scripps Research Translational Institute says the numbers are concerning.

“So here we have these great vaccines that help protect children and all the people in schools and their parents and families and we’re not using them.. Our use in kids 5-11 is just desperately low hopefully we can get on that.”

Omicron-specific boosters could be here as soon as next month.. But Dr. Topol advises those who haven’t been vaccinated or boosted not to wait for them and instead get it done now.

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And to make matters more complicated, another virus is demanding the attention of health officials nationwide…

Earlier this week San Diego County followed the state in declaring a public health emergency over monkeypox.

Dr. Eric Topol spoke with KPBS’S Jade Hindmon about the monkeypox vaccine.

The county declared a state of emergency amid a severe vaccine shortage. Do we know why this vaccine is in short supply - and how exactly it’s being distributed in the county?

Unlike COVID vaccine rollout plans, the monkeypox vaccines are being distributed to healthcare providers instead of being available in a central location - what do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach?

And just a question on my end, just a couple of weeks ago my child had hand-foot-mouth, right, and it scared me because I thought ‘oh my gosh is this monkeypox,’ and so, I wonder from you, do you think that healthcare providers are doing a good enough job at actually identifying monkeypox cases?

TAG: That was Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon.

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South San Diego County is getting no immediate relief from the millions of gallons of sewage tainted water flowing across the U-S Mexico border.

KPBS reporter Erik Anderson has details.

Mexican officials are still scrambling to fix two broken sewage pipelines in Tijuana’s Matadero Canyon. The line ruptured this past weekend and that’s resulted in more than 30 million gallons of polluted flows a day. The International Boundary and Water Commission’s Morgan Rogers says there is significant erosion under the broken pipes and it is not clear when they will be fixed. “I’d say we’re still trying to figure out what the scope of work is and the schedule. It could be a matter of this weekend or it could be a week later.” Rogers says the sewage treatment plant is taking in most of Tijuana’s sewage coming across the border in the concrete river channel. But the plant cannot effectively treat all that water. Erik Anderson KPBS News

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Coming up.... Goats are now working for S-D-G-AND-E. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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From North County to South County, you may have noticed herds of goats in open spaces.

It’s not a new petting zoo.

As KPBS reporter Tania Thorne tells us, these goats are actually working… to help keep people safe from fires.

Johnny Gonzales has been in the goat business for over 20 years. His business is called the environmental land management company…. But: Johnny Gonzales “On the card it says goats for hire because people didn't know what environmental land management did so I had to get it out there. Yea we rent out and you guys can utilize our goats for fire breaks.” Lately, his goats have been grazing near busy roads, businesses, and underneath power lines. And it's all part of a new pilot program from SDGE. Denice Menard/San Diego Gas and Electric “One of the cool things that I’ve heard people refer to them as is four legged lawnmowers.” Denice Menard is with SDG&E. Denice Menard “Those four legged lawn mowers can get up into areas that traditional lawnmowers just can't get into.” Last month, the energy company kicked off a goat grazing pilot program in Oceanside. Denice Menard “One of the last things we want at SDGE is for our infrastructure to ever cause a fire. So the cool thing is we are letting the goats kind of go out and do their thing and doing what comes natural to them and thats to eat the weeds.” The rented goats are taken to high-risk fire areas to clear out dry brush and keep it from growing back for longer periods of time. Denice Menard “Not only do they eat the weeds but they also eat the seeds. So that's one of the benefits people don't think about. A lot of times we have people hanging out and watching the goats do their thing and they're eating the weeds and they don't realize they’re also eating the seeds. So by eating the seeds the weeds aren’t popping back up as quickly.” Gonzales says goat grazing for fire abatement isn’t new and keeps him busy year round. Johnny Gonzales “The goat tool, if you will, is just a reintroduction to what abatement used to be like and reintroducing the goat to get that understory and flash fuel treatment to that better degree.” But he explains that the work takes some time because weeds aren’t the goats' favorite. Johnny Gonzales “They start eating first the invasive plants that they’re used to, the mediterranean eurasian african plants. And then after time if we need an amount of native plant reduction, we hold them a period of time that they start to actually address that. Because our native plants, they eat last, believe it or not, and most of our fire problems are these weeds and grasses.” Although it takes a little more time, Gonzales says goats are an organic alternative that aren’t just reducing wildfire danger, but carbon emissions too. Johnny Gonzales “Its a lot better than just cutting. You don't have the shaft and duff laying around, They've literally converted it. And for the carbon aspect, its still all onsite, it hasn't been transported out. The nutrients are still in the soils and theres no seeds. The goats remove like 99% of the seeds.” Gonzales says once the goats are done, the land is in better shape to suppress a fire. “We want the trees and the landscape to be the fire breaks. This is allowing the land to be the suppression. And if it reaches this area, it'll be quenched out. If it falls into this area it does not have a starting ignition point.” Safety concerns are sometimes raised by residents who spot them in suburban areas. But Gonzales assures the goats don't mind this element. “These goats have been born and raised in this type of environment, in these suburbs so they're used to helicopters, and sirens, and police cars coming in, people screaming, other dogs barking. If we were to take the country goat here they wouldn't be comfortable at all.” SDGE has used Gonzales’s goats in Oceanside and Chula Vista to clear brush near power lines. The next site will be in Escondido. Upon completion, SDGE will determine whether the pilot program is adopted and continues. TT KPBS News

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The Padres’ newest all star made his first appearance at Petco Park yesterday (WEDNESDAY).

KPBS reporter Melissa Mae describes how having Juan Soto is great for the local economy.

MM: Soto found out he was officially a Padre Tuesday afternoon and is slated to play against the Colorado Rockies! MM: Soto will not only influence how other teams pitch to the Padres, but he can also have an influence on the downtown economy as well! MM: Anna Disipio (DIH-sip-e-oh) is the bar manager at the Blind Burro and knows business is better during a Padres home game. AD “Significantly higher on a game day. There’s a line out the door. We sell so much. Non-game days it’s much more chill, it depends on if there’s conventions in town, if there’s a concert or what, but if there’s nothing going on, pretty quiet and then a home game day just totally crazy.” MM: According to the San Diego Union Tribune, what was projected to be a crowd around 35,000 for Wednesday night’s game, increased to a sellout crowd when it was announced that Soto was making his debut! Melissa Mae KPBS News.

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That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Goats are now working for SDG&E to help with brush mitigation. In other news, a local health expert talks about COVID and monkeypox vaccines in San Diego County. Plus, how the local economy will benefit from the Padres’ newest addition.