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June 29, 2022

About Town, Week of April 1

April 4, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: On Wednesday morning I spotted Nathan Urbancic performing maintenance work on the building that houses Ramos Furniture on the 500 block of Main Street. He said it was simply part of his routine duties.


ABOVE: Nathan Urbancic buries graffiti with fresh paint on an exterior wall of the Ramos Furniture build on Main Street Wednesday. (Tarmo Hannula/Pajaronian)

Fuel prices seem to be edging up. I saw regular was going for $3.44 a gallon at the Valero Station on Freedom Boulevard.

Several workers were scaling trees along Main Street in downtown Watsonville making adjustments to the stands of lights that have been wrapped around the trees as part of an ongoing nightly decoration.


ABOVE: This man uses a ledger to adjust strands of lights wrapped around trees in front of Watsonville Plaza. (Tarmo Hannula/Pajaronian)

There is a huge empty cold storage building on the corner of Walker Street and Riverside Drive. A giant banner offers the 2,400 square-foot warehouse for lease. The email is [email protected]. The place is easy to spot: It’s the giant concrete bunker-like building with several giant murals on its side of early day apple box labels.

April 3, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: I’ve gotten into the habit of going to the Watsonville Certified Farmer’s Market each Friday in downtown Watsonville. I always run into folks I know, grab a bunch of flowers and come away with a few colorful photos. It’s a good mix of people, food, and fun and a great way to stay clued in with the mix of Watsonville.

My friend and flower seller Ana Ruvalcaba, who runs the vendors booth, Ruvalcaba Nursery, said the organizers of the market have plans to reorganize the layout of the market to help enhance access and sales. While her stand has long been situated along Union Street in front of the Cabrillo College Watsonville Center, she said she’ll be moved closer to Main Street. We’ll see what that looks like when they do it. Change is good, it’s been said.


ABOVE: Shoppers mill through the Watsonville Certified Farmer’s Market on a recent Friday in downtown Watsonville.

If you’ve never stopped by to view a few of the films put on (for free) by the folks with the annual Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festival, you might give it a shot. The

The 18th annual Reel Work event gets going Saturday and will run through May 4. The films are shown at various venues in California’s central coast in both Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. Organizers hope people attend to come up to speed with current cultural events, and the labor movement in the U.S. and abroad and what is being done about it. Most films are followed with a guest speaker and question and answer. There will be an article in this week’s RP about it, focusing on the two Watsonville venues, along with contact and schedule information.

I noticed an interesting exhibit of various minerals and gems in the main display case at the Aptos Branch Library on Soquel Drive at State Park yesterday. It is put on by the Santa Cruz Mineral & Gem Society and features several examples of their findings.

I know donuts aren’t the greatest thing for you, but now and again I can’t resist heading in to one of the local donuts spots. I’ve found the cinnamon rolls at Ms. Donuts at the corner of east Lake Avenue at Lincoln Street. In Watsonville Square I’ve always had good donuts and the owner, May, always tosses in a few donut holes for free. The Donut Basket in Freedom Centre (Freedom Boulevard at Airport Boulevard) has always featured freshly prepared donuts and the folks there are always welcoming and helpful.

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ABOVE: Jose Rubalcaba walks back to his new apartment inside the Pippin Orchards Apartments, a Mid Peninsula Housing Community, at 56 Atkinson Lane in Watsonville.

Johanna Miller: Spring theater arts productions are lining up across Santa Cruz County starting next week.

Aptos High School will present William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” opening on April 12. The classic romantic tragedy will be performed by young actors in a slough of performances, closing on April 18.

April 12 also brings Cabrillo College Theatre Arts’ “The Time of Your Life.” The play by William Saroyan is a comedy-drama set in San Francisco, at a time bookended by the Great Depression and World War II. Directed by Robin Aronson, the production runs until April 28 at the Crocker Theatre on Cabrillo’s Aptos Campus.

The week following is the opening of Watsonville High School Drama’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” The musical opens Wednesday, April 17 at the Henry J. Mello Center and runs through April 28. Look to next week’s R-P for a preview of this show!

Waking up to sprinkling rain this morning, and knowing there is more rain on the way later this week, got me thinking about how extreme the changes in weather have been in California even in just the past five years.

The California Department of Water Resources conducted their annual April 1 snowpack survey on Monday in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was found that the snowpack is current at 161 percent of normal.

Just a few years ago, we were in the midst of one of the worst droughts on record. Reservoirs were dried up. Tahoe was pretty much bare of snow.

While it is great that our water resources have been padded, this back-to-forth extreme is, in my opinion, a pretty clear indication that our weather patterns are changing.

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ABOVE: A series of big storms in February dumped huge amount of snow at Boreal Mountain Resort. (Photo by Dave Miller; Johanna Miller shown for scale.)

This morning the San Jose Mercury News had a headline on its front page that immediately caught my interest, and not in a good way:

“New bill would require California colleges to let homeless students park overnight.”

According to a number of surveys conducted in California recently, around 20 percent of community college students have been homeless at one point. The fact that the state has to pass a bill to “let” people to sleep in their cars as they work to procure an education is nothing short of disgraceful.

Look for an opinion column from me about this subject in the next week or so… I have a lot to say on the matter.

April 2, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: Forecasters are predicting light rain through today and Thursday. They said the “big rains” will come on Friday. All that rain this winter and into spring has fire officials worried that vegetation will be taller and more widespread this year. That could mean, as dry weather approaches, a huge danger in the upcoming fire season.

I was delighted to run into retired Watsonville Fire Capt. Fernando Tapiz yesterday outside the Watsonville Post Office. He said he is staying busy with his retirement, including teaching first aid, among other things. He also said he has traveled a lot and is currently working on plans to visit the Cotswolds in England. Tapiz said plans also call for a visit to the Oxford campus and then a nature hike that will eventually lead to the old city of Bath. I was lucky to visit Bath once and it really impressed me with its history, lovely stone buildings and cobblestone roads and paths. The roman baths there are how the place got its name.

At the downtown branch of the Public Library I saw a display this morning of several dozen poems pertaining to nature right by the main front desk. The poems were divided into two sections: Young Adults and Adults.


I swung by Watsonville Municipal Airport yesterday and was lucky to see a World War II Stearman biplane, with two folks aboard, just starting to taxi down the tarmac for a day of flying. The rumble of the engine was huge.

Twelve men and one woman are currently in their eighth week of training at Watsonville Fire Station 2 on Airport Boulevard. The 18-week program includes a host of drills and classroom time. If you see smoke billowing out of their two-story training tower, it’s only a drill.

I hear on the weather channel that the Sierra is still getting dumped “with incredible amounts of snow.” Truckee and the South Shore of Lake Tahoe were mentioned as taking in copious amounts of snow.

I spotted a survey crew last week working a section of South Green Valley Road near the Home Depot and Hope Drive. I hear from my friends in the Public Works that a large water main will replace older such pipes along that heavily travelled stretch. I have a call in to find out exact times and some details of the project.

There are more rumblings (via Twitter) from President Trump about a possible closing of the U’S. Mexican border. Among other things, according to the new York Times, $1.7 billion of goods and services cross the border daily along with “a half a million legal workers, students, shoppers, tourists,” according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


Fourth grade students from Salinas boarded a large sailboat in the Santa Cruz Harbor early Tuesday morning as part of the O’Neill Sea Odyssey. The vessel is part of the non-profit organization founded in 1996 by wetsuit innovator Jack O’Neill. The two-hour sail provides students with hands-on lessons on marine habitat and the relationship between the oceans and the environment and has taken thousands of students, including many from the Pajaro Valley out onto the Monterey Bay.

APRIL 1, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: Sunday was Cesar Chavez Day, and it is being observed as a legal holiday by many today. Chavez was an American labor leader and civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962. In Salinas on Sunday hundreds marched in support of passing the Blue Card Bill, which would help farm workers and their families to remain in the U.S. legally as they try to gain their legal citizenship. Driving around Watsonville Monday morning was like visiting a ghost town—traffic was scant along Freedom Boulevard, Main Street and Walker Street.


Today is also April Fool’s Day. The event is an annual celebration commemorated by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes, commonly at work places. The victims of these jokes are called April fools. It is typical for those plating such jokes to holler “April fool” at the unsuspecting victim. Keep a wary eye out throughout the day.

Over the weekend I covered the 35th annual Paddlefest at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz. Men and women from around the globe compete in a variety of events on kayaks, ski waves and stand-up paddleboards. The three-day event drew large crowds, especially since the sun came out and warmed things up.

One lane was closed Monday on Westbound Airport Boulevard as work continues on new sidewalks curbs and gutters between Aviation Way and Larkin Valley Road. A crew from Granite Construction is doing the work that has been going on for months. Motorists should expect delays.


President Trump is now threatening to close the international border between Mexico and the U.S. as his continuing efforts to stem the people coming into the country illegally. I heard that more than a million people cross that border each month, from tourists to those shipping goods to many in the labor force. Officials are saying that, among other things, the U.S. will run completely out of avocados within three weeks of the of the border being closed.

Demolition work continues on the former Capitola Library on the corner of Wharf Road at Clares Street. Right now there’s a huge heap of soil covered with plastic. Officials said that, due to weather, the project to build a new library is about a month behind schedule.

If chamber music is your interest, mark your calendar for the upcoming 12th annual Music in May chamber music festival. Held at Cabrillo College in their recital hall over the Memorial Day weekend. For information visit or call 429-9100.

To view last week’s About Town, go to


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