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New border crossing might open ahead of schedule

 February 16, 2022 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday February 16th>>>>

A new port of entry sooner than planned

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….######

Vaccinated San Diegans now have a choice about wearing masks in most places. Starting today, if you’re vaccinated, you’ll no longer be required to wear a mask indoors….instead, it’ll just be “recommended.”

But the change from required to recommended is too soon, says infectious disease specialist Dr. christian ramers.

“as somebody that’s been really on the front lines and still seeing many people with covid, i feel like it’s just a little bit premature.”

Masks are still required for those who are unvaccinated. and everyone has to wear a mask on public transit, health care facilities, and schools.

San Diego County public health officials reported one thousand and seventy-two new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and seventeen additional deaths.

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A nine-mile northbound carpool lane is now open on the I-5 from Solana Beach to Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad. The southbound lane, over the same stretch, will open in a couple of weeks.

Here’s Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear.

"That 9 miles will allow people to travel from here to there in a carpool lane that will reduce congestion and reduce emissions and incentivize driving together."

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Gas prices in San Diego are nearing the all-time record high set a decade ago. As of Tuesday the average price of a gallon of regular was 4-dollars-and-71 cents.. just one cent shy of the record set in October of 20-12. The average is also nearly 9 cents higher than a month ago and more than a dollar higher than one year ago.

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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.

Officials from the U.S and Mexico say a new border crossing at Otay Mesa east might be finished ahead of schedule.

KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis says the new crossing is expected to reduce border wait times and boost economic activity in the region.

California’s Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis said during a briefing late Monday afternoon that Mexico has secured most of the public right of way for their share of the new border crossing

One of the things that we heard is that the gov of Mexico has now secured about 90 percent of the rights of way. This is obviously very very important.

The U.S. has already secured the land, approved designs, and begun construction on its side of the border.

And even though Mexico has yet to start construction or finalize the design, officials say the project could be completed slightly ahead of their 2024 schedule.

Also at the briefing was Congressman Juan Vargas, who represents the border region.

He says he’s excited about the potential of the new crossing but worries about low staffing.

He doesn’t want to build a multi-million dollar facility only to have lanes closed because there aren’t enough customs agents to fill them.

Vargas:

“What we don’t want happen is we don’t want staffing to come from San Ysidro and Otay Mesa and be brought here because then we’ll have the problem here. In fact, they need quite a bit of staffing.”

Vargas is asking Congress to allocate more money for hiring additional Customs and Border Protection staff.

Gustavo Solis, KPBS

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A pilot program created by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors could provide older adults at immediate risk of homelessness with a three hundred dollar rental subsidy. The program was developed based on research from the Serving Seniors’ Homelessness Needs Assessment report.

Paul Downey is the president and CEO of Serving Seniors. He says, for some older san Diegans, 300 dollars can mean the difference between paying the rent …and homelessness.

“Anecdotally we are seeing more folks that are on the streets, many of our clients are just on that cusp, that is… just a little nudge and they fall into homlessness.”

He adds that Serving Seniors didn’t focus on the mentally ill and chronically homeless, but instead just on older folks who are living on a fixed income. To hear the full interview, check out the Midday Edition podcast.

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There’s new support for the California ballot measure to save the arts in public schools. A local theater company has joined the state-wide effort to collect one-million signatures.

KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez has more.

Californians for Arts and Music Education in Public Schools are proposing the measure to guarantee 8-hundred million dollars of the state’s education budget every year be distributed to all public schools…with no loophole to divert the funding from arts education.

They need a million signatures by May…and the historic Star Theatre Company in Oceanside is the first to join the campaign. Theatergoers are invited to see a show and sign a petition.

David Schulz is the artistic director who considers it an investment in the next generation of artists.

SOT: “If they are getting in school…arts programs …theatre ..music…they can get involved here after school, during the summer and hone their craft and take it to another level.

Ballot organizers are looking for other theaters to collect signatures, too. MGP KPBS News

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While San Diego Unified is in the middle of Black History Month celebrations at campuses across the district, a new curriculum is being developed to prepare students for the upcoming Ethnic Studies graduation requirement.

The freshman class of 2024 will be required to take at least one Ethnic Studies course to graduate. The intention is to incorporate the study of diverse cultures in subjects like math and science…not just history class.

Wendy Ranck-Buhr is one of the district’s experts leading the change.

“It is not to shame or blame anyone, it is to build community, to build connection and to get our students knowledgeable of their own history and the history of those they share this planet with.”

San Diego Unified is way ahead of the State Department of Education which will not require an Ethnics Studies course for graduation until 2030.

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Coming up.... After a two-year pandemic break, Black comix day returns to San Diego this weekend at the Worldbeat Cultural Center. We’ll have that story next, just after the break.

Black Comix Day launched in 2018 just as Marvel’s Black Panther hit theaters. The free mini-convention returns to the WorldBeat Cultural Center this weekend after taking a break due to the pandemic.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has this preview of Black Comix Day: Heroes Rise Four.

CLIP Wakanda forever…

Marvel’s Black Panther gave mainstream audiences a Black superhero they could celebrate. Keithan Jones used that film as a jumping off point to launch Black Comix Day back in 2018.

KEITHAN JONES You see all these big comic book movies, but you don't really see the folks who created these characters. You don't see what's going on behind the scenes. And this show kind of uncovers that a little bit.

It also uncovers the breathtaking diversity of characters beyond Black Panther. That Marvel superhero was created by two white men and Black Comix Day highlights the work of Black comics creators.

KEITHAN JONES And the fact that it's a Black focused event makes it even more special for people who are able to see themselves not only in the work, but in the creative force behind it.

MAKEDA CHEATOM I think that Keithan is my superhero.

Makeda Cheatom is the founder and executive director of WorldBeat Cultural Center.

MAKEDA CHEATOM Telling Black history through comics, that's so important. To see all the Black comics and the people that are interested in this genre, it's important to our people and all people and how we tell the story.

Jones says WorldBeat Cultural Center with its Afro-centric focus once again provides the perfect setting for the event.

KEITHAN JONES This being Black History Month, Black Comix Day is more of a focus on specifically black creators, where you can meet, greet, interact with them see the stuff they've been producing over the years.

Creators like Rodney Anderson, Jr.

RODNEY ANDERSON, JR. For black children to see that they don't just have to be consumers of this content. They can be creators as well… And seeing black creatives in one space, seeing so many under one roof, helps to drive that point home.

And it’s about more than just providing young people with characters who look like them, says LaWana Richmond.

LAWANA RICHMOND It creates all kinds of possibilities in their mind, not just in the realm of comics, but just in life in general.

Richmond will be on two panels at the convention. One called Empowered addresses the challenges of being a Black creator.

LAWANA RICHMOND Unfortunately, when you're a creative, a lot of times your family wants you to get a real job.

But Jones wants kids as well as adults to see that a real job can also be your dream job. That’s why he has people like Jason Reeves on the panel.

KEITHAN JONES He's actually started a distribution company, a Black-owned distribution company, to help black creators get their books out into stores across the country.

Because creating a comic is hard work, says Anderson.

RODNEY ANDERSON, JR. I want people to understand it is not easy at all, the long hours required to complete that work, which means especially if you're working one, two, three other jobs can be tough, stealing time for this passion project.

His passion project is a comic called Trinity Blade.

RODNEY ANDERSON JR If you have a story in your heart and you want to tell it, do it. Don't hesitate. Put pencil to paper. Be a writer, be an artist, be a colorist. Whatever you can do, you can create that story that you imagine you can create.

Jones is proof of that. He runs Kid Comics, freelances as an artist, and is the creator of The Power Knights, yet he still finds time to organize Black Comix Day because he’s passionate about showcasing the smorgasbord of content currently coming from Black creators.

KEITHAN JONES I mean, everything that you would see in your local comic book shop, it's also here. It just so happens to be created by black creators… And it's from their point of view, which is what I think where the uniqueness of it comes.

That’s what makes Black Comix Day a cultural experience rather than just a comic book convention.

KEITHAN JONES You're coming here to experience something outside of your own culture, and maybe even if you are black, it's outside of what you've been previously taught or been previously exposed to. So just on that alone, I think it's worthwhile to come to the show and just have a different experience and have an educational experience and also have fun and be entertained.

And discover that superheroes exist not only on the pages of comics and on the big screen but also behind artist tables at Black Comix Day.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

Black Comix Day takes place this Saturday and Sunday at the WorldBeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park. It is free and suitable for all ages.

That’s it for the podcast today. 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.

The new port of entry at Otay Mesa could drastically reduce border wait times, but only if there are enough Customs and Border Protection agents to staff it. Meanwhile, Star Theatre Company in Oceanside joins the effort to collect signatures and guarantee arts and music education in every California public school. Plus, Black Comix Day returns to San Diego this weekend at the Worldbeat Cultural Center.