$1.7 million given for public safety, other East County needs

By Karen Pearlman

The San Diego Union-Tribune

EAST COUNTY — The county of San Diego, emergency personnel and several East County groups were among 18 recipients of a total of about $1.7 million in grants from the local Barona and Sycuan tribes.

The Barona Band of Mission Indians and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and other representatives from the Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee announced recipients of the grants, which come from tribal money paid into the state’s Indian gaming Special Distribution Fund.

Since 2003, nearly $29 million in grants have been made to improve neighborhoods in East County and beyond.

The committee reviewed grant applications and selected 18 local communities and public safety projects to fund.

The Indian Gaming Local Benefit Committee selected the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency to receive $248,737 for Aging and Independence Services plus $100,000 for Child Welfare Services; the San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation will receive $9,597; the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department will receive $74,456 for law enforcement services on tribal land, $7,962 for a fingerprint reader for Lemon Grove, Santee and Ramona and an additional $7,962 for a fingerprint reader for Valley Center, Alpine and rural areas.

Additionally, El Cajon’s Police Department will receive $12,078 for vehicle replacement; the city of El Cajon will receive $35,000 for speed feedback signs on Washington Avenue and $13,800 for outdoor exercise equipment at Wells Park; the Alpine Fire District will receive $127,801 for the replacement of fire apparatus; the Rural Fire Protection District will receive $27,500 for the replacement of fire apparatus; the North County Fire Protection District will receive $62,771 for a new advanced life support ambulance and the San Diego County Fire Authority will get $287,500 to acquire a new fire engine.

The county Department of Public Works will receive $87,500 for Wildcat Canyon Road centerline enhancements and $200,000 for road signalization at Dehesa Road and Sycuan Road; the Deer Springs Fire Department will get $69,200 for its fire command vehicle improvement project; the San Miguel Fire District will get $45,000 for an incident command response vehicle; and the Grossmont Healthcare District will get $289,326 to go toward its Grossmont Hospital Heart and Vascular Center.

“It’s key that the money was again returned back to the region for needed improvements across East County, including new fire engines, traffic safety measures and health care services for the elderly,” said county Supervisor Dianne Jacob. “While tribal casinos are a huge economic engine, these improvements are also aimed at cushioning their impact.”

The Special Distribution Fund was created after California voters in 2000 passed Proposition 1A, an amendment to the California constitution that authorized the state to enter into compacts with Indian tribes for limited forms of gaming. The compacts require tribes to pay into the Special Distribution Fund.

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