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November 26, 2022

About Town

Oct. 18, 2019

Tarmo Hannula: Here comes Halloween, one of my favorite times of the year. Fall leaves, colder mornings and evenings, crazy dressed up houses and businesses. The other day I spotted T-Rex stomping through Nob Hill Foods in Capitola following customers through the aisles and out into the parking lot. Spiderwebs and ghouls now adorn a bunch of homes around town and pumpkins are stationed on doorsteps and porches. 


The Pajaronian now has a new website and some elements about it are pretty exciting. I think it’s easier to look at, with clean and simple graphics. Of course, there are a few bugs to shake out, but we’re fine-tuning — and we always welcome feedback.


My friend John Basor stopped by the other day with a photograph and a list of 11 names, his students that recently became U.S. citizens, thanks to his teachings at the Citizenship class he has been offering for years through Watsonville, Aptos, Santa Cruz Adult Education. 

John is the fellow my wife, Sarah, and I stayed with during our trip to Croatia, Serbia, Monte Negro and Bosnia-Herzegovinian a few years ago. His family stems from the Konavle Valley in Croatia. In a golden gesture, John and his daughter Lucy showed us around parts of Croatia, from the mountains to the sea. We even connected with Nita Gizdich, owner of Gizdich Ranch here in Watsonville, in the little seaside city of Cavtat where she has been vacationing for years. I’ve maintained a valuable friendship with John for years now, along with his wife, Jelka, who runs Adriatic Travel, right across the street from The Pajaronian.


I ran into a huge crowd of people in the parking lot of the Royal Inn on Freedom Boulevard near Main Street this morning. There were about 80 men with giant bags, suitcases and bulging boxes getting onto a large bus heading for Mexico. A man with a clipboard told me they were local laborers in the ag industry and that seasonal work was winding down. That meant these folks were bussing to Mexico. The clipboard man said they were aiming for numerous states in Mexico, including Michoacán and Nayarit.


“Pear With Mustard Tin” is an oil on canvas painting by Ruth Carroll who operates out of her studio in downtown Watsonville. She will show her work Saturday and Sunday in the Open Studios Art Tour. — contributed

Reminder: The final weekend of Open Studios starts tomorrow in the All County tour. Look for the large signs outside of artist’s studios for direction arrows and addresses to their places.


Oct. 17, 2019

Tarmo Hannula: Today marks the 30th anniversary of the 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake that struck at 5:04 p.m. on an unseasonably hot evening. When it hit I had just pulled out of my driveway on 7th Avenue in my Toyota wagon. The rumbling swung my steering wheel hard to the left and I almost had a head-on collision with a woman driving the opposite direction. I grabbed my camera, which was sitting on the seat next to me, and took a quick grab photo of the woman’s face as she sailed past me while the quake was still rolling. 7th Avenue looked like a bed sheet flapping in the wind. I shifted into reverse and shot back into my driveway where Sarah, my wife, was collecting herself. Cans and jars cluttered the kitchen floor and our bookshelf was flat out on the living room floor. My police radio was going nuts with dispatches from the 9-1-1 center. We had no idea that this event was about to change our lives, and the city’s life big times over the next decade, and more. Each time we bolted out of the house with each aftershock I could see to my left and right our neighbors doing the same thing. It was terrifying and exhausting.


Maryland Rep. and civil rights champion Elijah Cummings, 68, died early Thursday following a long illness. He had been absent from recent duties on Capitol Hill, most noticeably from his key role in the ongoing impeachment hearings for President Trump.


The National Weather Service has issued a high surf alert through 9 p.m. Friday. Meteorologists caution anyone going near the surf line to never turn their backs on the ocean. Sneaker waves often barge in and catch people off guard, leading to injuries and deaths.


The annual Open Studios Art Tour, a free self-guided tour of area art studios, will wrap up this weekend with an All County tour. That means artist’s studios will be open to the public around SC County and into north Monterey County. I spoke with Watsonville artist Sefla Joseph today and she told me she will show her work over the weekend during the tour. She works in large acrylic on canvas abstracts. Her studio is at 804 Estates Dr., No. 300, Aptos. She’s No. 247 in the catalog. Open Studio runs Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information, studio locations and a list of artists, visit

“Transcendence” is an acrylic on canvas painting by Watsonville artist Sefla Joseph who will show her work over the weekend in the All County chapter of the annual Open Studios Art Tour.

I ran into Alicia Jimenez, public information officer for PVUSD, Wednesday in the plaza. She was attending Watsonville Wednesday, a casual meet and greet lunch put on by the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture. A local restaurant joins the group each event and provides the food. This one was hosted by Togo’s restaurant, who just opened a new restaurant on the street level of The Terrace, 445 Main St. She said she was getting ready for a trip to Coalcomán, Mexico, where celebrations for Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, take on grand proportions.

Oct. 16, 2019

A 3.4 magnitude earthquake struck Pinnacles at 6:09 a.m. Wednesday in Monterey County, according to the USGS. The shaker, just two days shy of the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake of Oct. 17, 1989, follows a 4.8 magnitude earthquake that rumbled through the Central Coast Tuesday afternoon. That quake hit at 12:43 p.m. near Tres Piños close to Hollister. Residents from Salinas to King City felt the shaking, according to the King City Rustler. The epicenter was about 10 miles southeast of Tres Piños, said William Seelig of the U.S. Geological Survey. The San Andreas Fault runs through that area.

At 12:55 p.m. a 2.8 aftershock rolled through the same region. No damages or injuries were reported. 

On Monday at 10:32 p.m. a magnitude 4.5 earthquake, centered near Pleasant Hill, rocked the Bay Area, Seelig said. It was the largest temblor to strike the region in five years. 


A dozen Democrats took the stage in Ohio last night in the largest presidential primary debate in history. Health care, wealth tax, impeaching President Trump, uniting around ideals, income gap, tax credits and the war in the Middle East mostly hogged the evening that was headed up by CNN.


Clouds and light rain could move through our region starting early Thursday morning. A cold front from the north will travel over the Central Coast dropping temps along the way.


A Watsonville man was found dead at the Santa Cruz County Main Jail Monday at 11 a.m. German Carrillo had been in jail since 2013 on murder charges. He and two other men were arrested in connection with the gang-related murder of Felipe Adan Reyes, 20, at a Freedom Boulevard liquor store in February 2013. Carrillo was being held in a jail cell with one other man. His death comes one day after James Kohut was found dead at the same jail. Kohut, 59, was found dead in his single cell in what investigators said Wednesday was a suicide.


Since attendance was so high at this year’s Gilroy Garlic Festival, topping 84,830 people — up 5 percent from last year — organizers said they will now be able to donate $250,000 to local charities as part of their mission. The event was tragically interrupted this year when a gunman fired into the crowds with an assault rifle on July 28. He killed himself and three others, and wounded 17 people.


If you have not seen the new mosaic tile installation on the second floor of the Watsonville Public Library downtown, I think it’s worth the visit. Just take the elevator to the second floor and its there right where the door opens. It was created by Watsonville artist Kathleen Crocetti.


Quote of the day: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” 
― Jack London

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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