Imperial Valley Stories

Binational railroad continues up steep grade

Pacific Imperial shareholder files suit, hopes to recover $1.8 million

Ties between railroad investors and executives with the troubled binational railroad are now splitting apart. On August 26 Pacific Imperial Railroad's one-time largest shareholder, Dwight Jory, filed a civil action against the company in hopes ...

Metropolitan Transit System's been working on the railroad...

Recently released documents indicate loss of faith in Desert Line operatives

October 2015 nearly marked the end of the road — rather, railroad, for Pacific Imperial Railroad, the company that leases the 100-year-old Desert Line from the Metropolitan Transit System. According to documents released by Metropolitan ...

Former Desert Line railroad prez penalized

End of the line for Donald Stoecklein?

The former president and chief operating officer (now “director of compliance”) for Pacific Imperial Railroad, the company that leases the rights to the binational railroad from Metropolitan Transit System, is in trouble with the Securities ...

Athletes join the hardy tilapia

SEAthletes host North Shore Xtreme at the Salton Sea

From its beginnings in the central Rocky Mountains and over millions of years, the Colorado River has flowed into the Gulf of California. Tributaries build volume as the river cuts southwest through the Colorado Plateau, ...

This just in: Episcopal churches to be sold

“The fact that church attendance is dying in America isn’t news."

Two North County Episcopal churches, both over 60 years old, were told last week that due to declining attendance and compounding red ink, the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego has decided to fold them. The ...

Pretty quiet for a railroad

Desert Line president doesn't respond to court summons

The wild ride continues for owner and operator of Metropolitan Transit System's Desert Line, Pacific Imperial Railroad. On October 19, the California Labor Commission ordered the fledgling binational railroad company to pay $90,152 in unpaid ...

Pacific Imperial railroaded me

Investor in Desert Line sues, says executives were aware of problems

An investor in the binational railroad last month filed a lawsuit against Pacific Imperial Railroad and two former executives for taking $300,000 and leaving him high and dry. The lawsuit, filed on August 26, 2015, ...

Thanks anyway on the clean energy option

Imperial Irrigation sues independent system operator, claims antitrust violations

Imperial Irrigation District yesterday (July 16) sued the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) on antitrust grounds. The suit was filed in federal court in San Diego. The suit says that CAISO "is a monopolist. It ...

Couldn't afford Coachella? Check out Lupepalooza Chuckfest

Weekend Coachella tickets carried a face value of $375. Some resold on Craigslist for twice that amount. Then you have this weekend’s Lupepalooza Chuckfest on the grounds of a Calexico Swap Meet. It’s named after ...

Water deal with Imperial Valley on the line

San Diego's paltry water assets may soon be significantly reduced

San Diegans haven't awakened to a major water-supply peril: the possibility that a 2003 deal arranged to bring water from the Imperial Valley could be in deep trouble. A May 4 New Yorker article says ...

Sabotage on the railway?

Derailment of abandoned train cars "is a major public safety issue"

According to internal emails and photos, several abandoned bilevel rail cars have been derailed east of Jacumba at a place named Dubbers Spur. The derailed cars, stripped of brakes, shocks, and other items, could possibly ...

Desert Line grit

New management of railroad includes old faces in San Diego County

During a February board meeting, Metropolitan Transit System chief executive officer Paul Jablonski delivered the January news: Pacific Imperial Railroad, the lessee of the troubled binational railroad, had new management and this gave new hope ...

Trouble ahead? Trouble behind!

Metropolitan Transit System announces new investors in Desert Line railroad

Metropolitan Transit System officials say trouble may be behind the controversial railroad line linking Mexico and the U.S. During a transit agency board meeting on January 28, Metropolitan Transit System CEO Paul Jablonski announced that ...

Defiler of the desert

Owner of RV storage site disposed of human waste on property

The owner of an RV storage facility located within the popular Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area east of farmland in the Imperial Valley has admitted in a San Diego courthouse to dumping "potentially millions of ...

Still no light at the end of the tunnel

Pacific Imperial's binational railroad may involve some trucks

The plan for reconstructing the now-defunct binational railroad has been submitted and approved, revealed San Diego County transit authority officials during their September 18 board meeting. What officials didn't say, at least not until their ...

Runaway train prompts need for brakeman

Congressman Hunter asks U.S. Attorney look into railroad company

The federal government has officially weighed in on the controversial binational railroad, also known as the Desert Line. On October 30, congressman Duncan Hunter sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy requesting that her ...

Papa Doug digs Obama’s pond scum

Editorial reveals publisher’s role in federally subsidized algae-to-energy scheme

Beating up on big government spending is a full-time occupation at U-T San Diego, owned by mega-millionaire Republican real estate developer Douglas Manchester. Obamacare, minimum-wage hikes, and the Barrio Logan community plan are a few ...

Nearly drowned in the Imperial Valley

Car and driver end up in irrigation canal

Border Patrol agents based in El Centro saved an unconscious woman from drowning Sunday afternoon (May 4) after she was pulled from a car that had driven into an irrigation canal near farmland in the ...

Armed bandits target migrants in Imperial Valley

Firefight erupts between rival robbers

Armed attackers are taking aim at migrants crossing the border illegally near Ocotillo, according to a February 26 report from the U.S. Border Patrol. Ocotillo is located just east of San Diego County at the ...

San Diego's Salton Sea plan might get expensive

Audit warns of air pollution and other problems

San Diego's deal to take water from the Imperial Valley to meet the demands of growth and development here will begin taking a dramatic and expensive toll on the environment of the Salton Sea in ...

Two truckloads of pot caught headed south toward Mexican border

Perhaps they knew U.S. agents were after them

U.S. Border Patrol agents earlier this week seized nearly a ton of marijuana from two vehicles that were apparently heading south toward the Mexican border. Around 12:30 Sunday morning October 13, camera operators scanning the ...

How the Imperial Valley solar panel land looks from the air

Already disturbed, low productivity

My friend Richard Bailey, grandson of Julian's founder Drury Bailey, brought my attention to a construction project west of Calexico which sounded amazing. With my photographer Pam Wilmers, we struck out on Wednesday, April 3, ...

Bonanza of bands

Desert Daze Music and Art Festival returns as a one-day camping jamboree near Desert Hot Springs, on the same weekend as Coachella Music and Arts Festival.

Windmills of Change in Ocotillo

Many readers have probably driven out to SR-2 just north of Ocotillo and taken Dos Cabezas Road to its western terminus in order to hike Goat Canyon and see the wood railroad trestles and tunnels ...

Shades of Sweetwater at Calexico Unified School District

As the San Diego County grand jury opens an investigation this week into allegations of corruption in the Sweetwater Union High School District, new intrigues play out in Calexico with Sweetwater’s former attorney firm, GCR, ...

Restraining Order Non-Starter, Ocotillo Windmill Project to Continue

U.S. District Court judge William Hayes dismissed a request for a restraining order against the Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Project late last week. He found that the plaintiffs, CARES (Community Advocates for Renewable Energy Stewardship) ...

More Desert Damage from Ocotillo Wind Energy Project?

On September 6, this photo was taken by Pam Wilmers in a private aircraft 5000 feet above a chain of sites carved into BLM land at the west end of Ocotillo Valley as part of ...

Wind Project’s Heavy Equipment Damages Desert

On August 28, Parke Ewing, an Ocotillo resident, took photos of heavy equipment being operated by Pattern Energy employees who are building the Ocotillo Wind Express Energy Project. The machinery is plowing over and crushing ...

Ocotillo Wind Energy Project Advances

On Thursday morning, August 23, Parke Ewing, a resident of Ocotillo, took this photo of the erection of the first of 112 towers for the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility Project. Heavy equipment, such as a ...

First Tower Arrives for Ocotillo Wind Energy Project

On August 16 at 8 a.m., the first of 111 towers for the Ocotillo Wind Energy Project arrived via trucks passing through the small community of Ocotillo. Traffic was halted as the trucks had to ...

Wind-Turbine Project Creating Flooding Problems?

I flew over Ocotillo on July 17 to check out reports that recent construction roads and footings for the planned 100-plus wind-turbine towers had adversely affected the natural drainage for the village. Last Thursday, July ...

Windmill Project Begins, Opponents Don’t Stop

Photo taken over Ocotillo at 9 a.m. on June 29. Construction has begun on over 100 turbine towers, each over 400 feet tall, on Bureau of Land Management land between the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park ...

Could Imperial Valley Become Owens Valley?

Political and drought conditions could turn the Imperial Valley into another Owens Valley.

Group Gathers in Desert to Address Windmill Problems

Eighteen concerned citizens gathered on Saturday, February 25, in the desert three miles east of Ocotillo; they expressed their concerns about a proposed windmill farm on Bureau of Land Management range surrounding their town. The ...

Top View of Imperial Valley Geothermal Plant

I flew over the Hudson Ranch geothermal project (just southeast of the shore of the Salton Sea) on April 23. Richard Bailey, grandson of the founder of Julian, took this photo at 800 feet above ...

Can Imperial County Come Back From the Dust?

Driving west on I-8, down from the dry, rugged mountains, diving into what should be a desert landscape 100 miles east of San Diego, the Imperial Valley appears as an agricultural oasis. Miles of irrigated ...

Still Shaken

Though not on the front page of the news anymore, aftershocks subsequent to the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that occurred on April 4 in the Imperial Valley continue. A 4.9 quake shook as recently as May ...

The Anti-Coachella Fest?

Slab City lies at the southeast corner of the Salton Sea, where the Anza-Borrego Desert becomes the Colorado Desert. The “slabs” are what’s left from WWII training facility Camp Dunlop. And there’s an Olympic-sized swimming ...

Sad Stats

"For us, business is good,” says Barry Lander, clerk of the bankruptcy court. “It’s a sad thing.” Indeed it is. The courts, judges, clerks, and the legal profession have been blown good business in San ...

Will These Keep the Lights On?

Sunrise Powerlink — a chess game for the big guys

The Sunrise Powerlink gleamed for the first time in Sempra Energy’s eye on November 1, 2002. At the company’s San Diego headquarters, an energy-management expert from Shell Trading gave a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the potential ...

Dust Bowl Coming?

“The wet 20th century, the wettest of the past millennium, the century when Americans built an incredible civilization in the desert, is over,” says a superb article in February’s National Geographic. The piece, entitled “Drying ...

Hike to the rock house in Rockhouse Canyon, near Anza-Borrego's Bow Willow Campground.

A simple shack fashioned of rock, cement, and corrugated metal might be unremarkable anywhere else, but in the midst of thousands of acres of wild desert, it becomes a significant point of interest. The semi-rugged ...

Figs in Our Future

Few fruits evoke the sunny blue skies of the Mediterranean and the balmy days of September quite so poignantly as the fig, but local farmers and advanced agricultural science may be turning that image inside ...

Big Game Guide

Regard, I have happened upon our Department of Fish and Game Licensed Big Game Guides Web page. I envision a Great Hunter, right boot placed on a dead beast's ribs, Italian shooter shirt opened at ...

You Could Hear a Pin Drop At Night!

A proposition for Salton Sea and its far ripples.

I've flown over the Salton Sea many times. From the air, it doesn't look real. The blue expanse and the green fields of the Coachella and Imperial Valleys that butt up against the sea's northern ...

San Diego Drowns In Own Hubris

Flexing its muscles, working in secret, and stifling dissent, San Diego in the early to mid-1990s tried to assert water independence. It got hosed. The San Diego County Water Authority wound up paying 50 percent ...

Board Up and Go

EMS pilots tell their stories.

"It was my first training flight with Mercy Air," says J.P. Wilson, a large, white-haired man. "I had gone through the ground school, and I was scheduled to fly with Jeff Emery. I got here ...

Hive Mentality

Beekeeping runs in families.

I love honey. I love honey! Like the bears. All day long my coffee has honey instead of sugar. My cereal has honey. My toast, honey on it. Always honey." David Rojas of San Marcos ...

Inventor Tackles Salton Sea Disaster

How it works is an industrial secret, say the founders of Aqua Genesis LLC, a San Diego company that intends to clean up the Salton Sea and in the process make thousands of acre-feet (one ...

Best of 2003: Best Scary Weekend Getaway

Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area, Imperial County 760-337-4400 San Diegans have visited this remarkable stretch of desert for decades. On weekends between October and May, tens of thousands of off-road enthusiasts thunder across these barren ...

Imperial Valley Floods, 1905-'07

The Colorado River War

In what became the “battle of the telegrams,” E.H. Harriman, president of Southern Pacific Railroad and funder of earlier efforts, and President Theodore Roosevelt haggled about who should finance the operation.

Prehistoric Gas Station an Eyesore?

Imperial County gets tough with a historic eyesore

The demolition order stated that the buildings on the site would be razed unless they were brought up to compliance. "It was dated December 2. Our meeting had been on December 3.”

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