El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Martin Jones Westlin

The enormous pipe at The Water Conservation Garden told a tale that’s become familiar in the area for most of the last eight years. The trickle at its base signaled a return to drought conditions (the recent trace of rain notwithstanding), with the National Integrated Drought Information System website reflecting a “severe” rainfall deficiency through San Diego County and points north as of Sept. 25.

Edward Murray knew early on that the art of the fable is as durable as the mind that conceives it.

The newly minted clinical psychologist was working on an Arizona Indian reservation with a young client whose frustrations had outstripped her level of understanding — nearly 30 years later, his simple anecdote to her would find its way into the publishing marketplace, featuring a rap-infused illustrated novella, a DVD, a storyboard, a GoFundMe account called SaferSchools and the potential, in his words, to “change the world.”

Their part in a $2 million street drug arrest was just one element that endeared El Cajon police Officer Jordan Walker and his K-9 partner Jester to local residents during their two and a half years together.

As reported here last month, the two were also inseparable Instagram stars, with Jester showing up in crazy hats and poses on other social media accounts that garnered 200,000 visitors.

Of all the stories on our otherworldly heat wave this summer, maybe none is more dramatic than the July 6 entry about Ramona’s 112 degrees — the catch is that the reading was reached before 11 a.m. Local and area temps would soar the rest of the day, with air cranes deployed against fire threats and with the authorities’ usual warnings on beating the discomfort.

Suddenly, “cool zone” was more than a catchphrase at the county’s 100 or so centers designed to provide relief from the prospect of danger.

It happens every day. Longtime work associations come to an end when one partner moves on for one reason or the other. But in the El Cajon Police Department, one of these partners doubles as man’s best friend — and his reassignment has left an online community reeling and a former officer without the companionship he has come to know for the last two and a half years.

More than 30 La Mesa community leaders launched a campaign to raise $4.45 million toward construction of a new local youth clubhouse, improvements to an existing teen center and an endowment to operate both facilities—because, in the words of one local businessman, “It’s better to build kids than try to mend adults.”

If you throw a foreign word or phrase Craig Merker’s way, he’ll probably catch it. The Grossmont College humanities student has taken courses in Spanish and German, and he learned Latin on his own; currently, he serves as president of Le Cercle Français, the college’s French club. That’s quite a distinction for a guy who’s only in his first semester of French at a two-year school, but Merker’s aptitude for language warrants it, and his enthusiasm does the rest.