‘Round town: Hercules, low gas, and murder

Actor Steve Reeves as "Hercules"/Valley Center Historical Society

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s at Valley Center History Museum

The January birthdate of famed actor-bodybuilder Steve Reeves is being remembered at the Valley Center History Museum which has a collection of the late star’s memorabilia.

Known internationally as the winner of every major bodybuilding competition as as the star of “Hercules” and 17 other motion pictures, Reeves is little-known as a rancher in Valley Center, where he spent the last 43 years of his life while continuing to make movies. He died of a blood clot at Escondido’s Palomar Hospital on May 1, 2000.

Among items on display is the personal riding saddle of Reeves which was donated to the museum along with other items in 2008.  At the time, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a message to the museum reading, in part, “Steve was a great inspiration to me.”

During his lifetime, his bodybuilding titles included Mr. America, Mr. World and Mr. Universe. From 1957 until his death in 2000 at age 74, he raised horses at his 14-acre ranch in Valley Center where he had built an impressive Mission-style adobe hacienda.  During 1959-61, he was the number one box office star in America, ahead of Doris Day and John Wayne.

The internationally-known actor was a common sight in Valley Center where he shopped local stores and “power-walked” on local streets.  He once told a History Museum docent he was pleased that local residents showed an interest in him and his career, but never intruded on his privacy.  In 1972, he crowned the first “Miss Valley” during a Western Days event.

The Valley Center History Museum at 29200 Cole Grade Road is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 noon to 4 p.m.  Admission is free.  For more information, visit vchistory.org or call (760) 749-2993.

— Robert Lerner

Filling up on East Valley Parkway, Escondido/dweisman

Hold on to your gas caps
While hoping for $2 a gallon gasoline may be a dream too far, prices gas prices this holiday season continued to fall. Same thing happened last year at this time, too, but this time prices dropped from a higher perch.
Gas prices were around $3.10 a gallon in 2017.  The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in San Diego County this year dropped 1 cent Tuesday to $3.38, it’ slowest amount since Jan. 31.

The average price has decreased five consecutive days, dropping 3.9 cents, including two-tenths of a cent on Monday, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service. It rose 2.6 cents over the previous three days.

The average price is 1.5 cents less than one week ago and 22.4 cents lower than one month ago but 28.7 cents more than one year ago. It has risen 25.6 cents since the start of the year.

Gas Buddy on Friday,  Dec. 28, 2018 listed these gas stations as the 10 most inexpensive in the area:
Top 10 Lowest Gas Prices & Best Gas Stations in EscondidoChange Region

United Oil

(64 reviews)

102 W Mission Ave & N Broadway
2h ago

US Gas

(166 reviews)

445 W 5th Ave & S Centre City Pkwy
13h ago


(343 reviews)

351 W Felicita Ave & S Centre City Pkwy
2h ago

C Stop

(43 reviews)

434 W 5th Ave & S Centre City Pkwy
13h ago


(190 reviews)

2015 E Valley Pkwy & N Midway Dr
11h ago


(145 reviews)

450 W El Norte Pkwy & S Iris Ln
7h ago


(26 reviews)

1177 N Escondido Blvd & Decatur Way
2h ago

California Super Gas

(14 reviews)

510 W 5th Ave & S Pine St
1d ago


(30 reviews)

761 N Broadway & W Mission Ave
1d ago


(40 reviews)

522 W 9th Ave & S Pine St
1d ago
Gang member found guilty of killing innocent bystander

Cathy Kennedy/Courtesy

An Escondido gang member was convicted Friday, Dec. 21, 2018 of first- degree murder for firing shots intended for rivals but instead striking and killing a passing motorist as she headed home from Bible study at her church.

After a two-week trial, jurors also found true a special circumstance allegation that 55-year-old Cathy Kennedy was killed while the defendant, 25- year-old Dionicio Torrez Jr., was an active member of a street gang.

Torrez faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced Dec. 20. The defendant also was convicted of attempted murder and shooting at an occupied vehicle.

Deputy District Attorney Laurie Hauf said Torrez fired across a street 12 rounds intended for rivals the night of March 7, 2017. One of those bullets hit Kennedy in the head, and she died at a hospital.

Defense attorney Alejandro Morales said the prosecution’s case rested on the word of a 16-year-old boy who was with Torrez that night.

The juvenile — who took a plea deal — was the one who fired the shots, Morales told the jury.

Hauf said two rival gang members were spotted tagging the apartment complex where Torrez and the teenager lived about 9 p.m.

Torrez chased the rivals — followed by the 16-year-old — and Torrez opened fire, according to the prosecutor.

The victim was found alongside eastbound Grand Avenue near Midway Drive. Her silver Toyota Camry crashed into a parked vehicle.

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