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December 12, 2019
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About Town, Week of July 15

July 19, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula:

Roofers have been busy the last few days repairing an aged overhang awning on the front of Pajaro Valley Lock Shop on Freedom Boulevard. One worker said the building is around 100 years old.

Several businesses have taken up the task of getting a coat of fresh paint along Freedom Boulevard lately. On Thursday a painter was painting the roof of Taqueria Mi Tierra a loud blue.

AT 7-19 paint

A painter uses a long-handled roller to apply fresh paint to Taqueria Mi Tierra on Freedom Boulevard. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian 

I had a lively chat with Beverly, a volunteer at Watsonville Community Hospital, Thursday afternoon. She was holding down the front desk when I happened by.

“You must be with the newspaper,” she wisely observed. When I introduced myself Beverly said she’s been reading my stories for years. She told me she had worked for 35 years at Southern Pacific as a secretary in Pajaro. She then switched over to the credit union at the hospital before taking on the role as a volunteer with what was once known as the Pink Ladies (who have been wearing blue for the past five years).

“I like meeting people and I enjoy being a volunteer for my community,” she told me. It was obvious because Beverly had a big smile for anyone coming through the door. She said there are currently about 40 volunteers with the service league group at the hospital. For nearly six decades, they were known as the Pink Ladies and Blue Knights, a team of volunteers who filled a wide array of roles. Some work in the gift and coffee shops, while others carry letters and parcels to recipients throughout the hospital. Still, others serve as sentries at the front desk, guiding often bewildered people to their destinations, while some drive a parking lot shuttle.

I also had a great chat with Willie Yahiro the other day at his business, Yahiro Insurance on East Lake Avenue. Among other things, we got going about his early days in Watsonville when he was at Watsonville Union School. A 1959 graduate, Yahiro was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame at his former high school. He served continuously on the Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees since he was elected in 1990 but recently stepped down.

Willie said he remembers “shopping night” quite clearly, where stores stayed open until 9 p.m. in Watsonville. That meant everyone was out, cruising Main Street in the late 1950s. He said it was common for some of the people in their slick cars to travel all the way out of town on Main and then turn around to return to Carroll’s BBQ Drive-In around what is now the 1000 block of Main Street.

Carroll‘s, because the Windmill Café, was the hot spot for some youngsters to hang out to boast their cars, grab a malt and a burger and then head back into town. Others I’ve met say they wouldn’t venture out to that part of town because it was a renowned spot for area “toughs.” Yahiro said there was also a drive-in on Freedom and a store owned by a Mr. Landis.

“He used to let us come in a read the comic books,” Yahiro said. “A bunch of us kids would sit around on the floor and maybe buy a piece of candy or something. Then we’d carefully place the comics back on the shelf and thank him: That was a real treat.” He said he recalls paying 5 cents for a chocolate-dipped cone.

Quote of the Day: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” — Mark Twain

Johanna Miller: I see that work is already being started on changes to Watsonville Plaza. Plans are to make a permanent stage, as well as a picnic area and game tables.

I do understand, as someone who grew up in this town, the importance of preserving the historical structures in the Plaza. I have also heard that people living here who grew up in Mexico say that the Plaza reminds them of home.

I hope that these changes will be a middle-ground; preserving the history and also adding things that will benefit residents.

Tomorrow is Passport Celebration Day for the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association. My family bought a couple of wine passports recently, and have enjoyed stopping by a number of the wineries listed throughout the year. Passport Celebration Day, which happens four times a year, takes things a step further, offering guests plenty of unique and fun events in addition to wine tasting. For a complete listing of participating wineries and how to get your very own wine passport, visit

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(Photo by Johanna Miller/Register-Pajaronian)

Next Friday, July 25 at 7 p.m. Pajaro Valley Pride will host a Pizza Party at Round Table Pizza, 1975 Main St., Watsonville. The organization, which supports the South County LGBT+ community, invites everyone to come and help them plan for the upcoming Pajaro Valley Pride celebration, which will be held on August 18 at YMCA Watsonville. For information visit

Strawberry season is in full swing, and I am excited to attend the Watsonville Strawberry Festival on Aug. 3-4. There is also a lot going on in the industry—including new varieties that are being grown for the first time here in Watsonville (and Salinas). I hope to do a story on the crop in next month’s Focus on Agriculture.

On July 27, Watsonville Wetlands Watch will host its first annual Wetland Wildlife Family Night from 6-8 p.m. Join the organization at their headquarters, 500 Harkins Slough Rd., Watsonville. The free, bilingual event will feature a bird show by Anne Elvin and other live animals, kids games and free snacks. Learn more and register at

Quote of the Day:  “We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing—a writer, an actor—I am a person who does things—I write, I act—and I never know what i’m going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”  —Stephen Fry

July 18, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: Fellow reporter Todd Guild and I ran over to Pajaro Wednesday to cover the fifth annual Azteca Summer Soccer Camp. Headed up by Gina Castaneda, the two-week event draws young students from around South County for an action-packed soccer odyssey that hauls in a group of volunteer coaches. On top of the soccer, kids get a free lunch, a tote bag, free soccer balls and free T-shirts.

The 108th California Rodeo Salinas kicks off today; luring some of the top riders from around the country for a wealth of competitions, live music, food and fun.

A massive heatwave is sweeping a portion of the U.S., affecting some 230 million people across 40 states. Some spots will be hotter than 100 degrees. The dangerous part of it, experts warn, is that the heat will spread out over many days. Health problems come from the accumulative effects of long exposure to heat. A high-pressure system, known as the Bermuda High, is roasting about half of the U.S. with the oppressive heat.

A cruise ship with more than 1,800 people aboard has been rerouted away from Puerto Rico, where riots and extended protests have ensued. Residents in Puerto Rico, still grappling with extensive damage caused by Hurricane Maria, are now calling for the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello after postings of 889 pages of private messages were leaked, where he allegedly used homophobic and misogynistic language, Newsweek Magazine reported. He reportedly made vulgar jokes about female politicians and a blind politician.

A crew from the City of Watsonville was out in force Tuesday and Wednesday tearing out vegetation beside the historic bandstand in Watsonville Plaza. A worker said the action is to make way for a new stage, which is part of a recent plan to reconfigure parts of the plaza. Some groups have voiced deep protest about tampering with the plaza’s historic stature.

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The House of Representatives voted 332-97 to table an article to impeach President Trump Wednesday. Texas Democrat Rep. Al Green got the article moving after citing four female congresswomen who had been raked over by Trump’s recent Tweets, including telling them to “go back to where they came from,” even though they are all legal citizens and elected officials in the U.S. and three out of four of them were born in the U.S.


Tensions are rising over sections of the popular 70-mile stretch of Big Sur, where tourist overcrowding has led to traffic congestion, parking issues, problems stemming from lack of public restrooms and more. Some have slathered the pavement near the iconic Bixby Bridge with bright yellow graffiti and someone recently hung a giant banner from the bridge reading “Overtourism is killing Big Sur.”

33 people died after a man reportedly set fire to an animation studio in Kyoto, Japan. 36 people were also injured. The suspect was taken into custody.

Meanwhile, the marine layer is tamping down temperatures along the Central Coast, keeping them in the 60s along the coast and 70s and 80s inland.

The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music & Church Street Fair is on deck for a July 27 kick off. The musical event runs through Aug. 10, while the street fair runs Aug 3-4. The Street Fair features non-stop performances at an outdoor stage, food trucks, local vendors, wine tasting, and more. Visit for information.

Santa Cruz Shakespeare is in full swing at De Laveaga Park through Sept. 1. For information, visit

If running is your thing, be aware that the annual Wharf to Wharf race is coming July 28. The race, which initially started out with about 6,000 runners and has swelled to around 15,000, is a 6-mile footrace from the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf to the Capitola Wharf. All proceeds go to the running community and the youth of Santa Cruz County.

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July 15, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: A pair of unrelated high-speed chases kept law officials from several agencies busy early Saturday. The first one launched in Watsonville on Main Street when a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputy tried to pull over a car heading north onto Highway 1 just past midnight. When the driver failed to stop several other patrol cars rushed to join the pursuit that reached speeds of 95 mph. The driver took the Mar Monte exit and then switched back to southbound Highway 1. He drove south and took Main Street/Green Valley Road exit, blew through a couple of red lights and turned left on Clifford Avenue where he crashed into a pole at Hammer Drive. That’s where he and a passenger were taken into custody at gunpoint by Watsonville Police.

Around 4 a.m. police tried to stop another car on eastbound 41st Avenue in Capitola. The male driver failed to pull over and instead headed south on Highway 1. Police said he reached 106 mph as the CHP took over the pursuit. As the car, followed by several patrol cars, roared through Watsonville, it left the county and Monterey County CHP officers took over the chase. The driver reportedly got off Highway 1 at Salinas Road and swung back north on Highway 1. The chase churned back into Santa Cruz County, through Watsonville and toward Santa Cruz. That’s when the CHP set up a spike strip north of State Park in Aptos. Reaching speeds of 95 mph, the driver managed to squeeze past the spike strip and continue north. He took northbound Highway 17 as Santa Cruz Police joined in and CHP officers in Santa Clara County were notified. The pursuit, however, stopped when the driver crashed at Laurel Curve, a curving spot of the highway where umpteen crashes have occurred over the years. The driver and a passenger were taken into custody.

Hurricane Barry was downgraded to a tropical depression but widespread flooding threats still are possible as bands of heavy rain continue around several Gulf States.

The first house to be built in the small town of Paradise will be unveiled today after the Camp Fire gobbled up much of the town in November. The fire, the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history, burned 240 square miles, 18,804 structures and caused $16.5 billion in dollars

A power electrical failure that blanketed the west side of Manhattan Saturday evening cut juice to as many as 73,000 people, stranding people in elevators, shutting down some subways, blackening businesses, including fans and air conditioners. The electricity was restored by midnight. Officials with Consolidated Edison said a significant electrical transmission disturbance started at 6:47 p.m. Emergency crews responded to around 900 calls for issues revolving around the outage. A total of 12,875 passengers had to be rescued from five subway lines. Twenty-six Broadway theater productions and a vocal concert at Carnegie Hall were abruptly cut off and pop singer Jennifer Lopez was shut off mid-song at Madison Square Garden. In a bizarre twist, the outage came 42 years to the day, and nearly to the hour, of the city’s most infamous outage in 1977.

Novak Djokovic topped Roger Federer in a five-set tiebreaker in the longest match in Wimbledon history — five hours. The win marked Djokovic’s fifth Wimbledon title and 16th Grand Slam trophy overall. Additionally, Simona Halep of Romania edged Serena Williams off the court for the women’s final for her second championship win. The match was over in less than an hour. 

To view last week’s About Town:


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