good times local news media events catalyst santa cruz california metro silicon valley news local events san jose weekly aptos, capitola, soquel, local news events paper gilroy dispatch local news events garlic festival santa cruz media events local california weekly king city rustler newspaper media local events car sales buy new car media
61.5 F
English English Español Español
September 18, 2021

About Town, Week of Sept. 16

Friday, Sept. 20, 2019

Johanna Miller: This afternoon youth will be gathering in Watsonville Plaza to participate in the Global Climate Strike. From 3:30-6 p.m., students from preschool to college age will raise their voices in protest against the inaction of governments to address climate change.

Inspired by the protests led by Swedish teenager activist Greta Thunberg, the strike is part of the Fridays for Future movement, which has had students lead regular protests on Fridays all over the world.

Today’s Watsonville event is hosted by  Regeneration—Pájaro Valley Climate Action, Save Our Shores, Watsonville Wetlands Watch, and Watsonville Film Festival.

Adults are encouraged to attend and lend their support to the cause. Learn more at

In keeping with the theme of environmental activism… tomorrow is California Coastal Cleanup Day. From 9 a.m. to noon, four different inland sites in Watsonville will host cleanups.

For more information and locations, read my article here:

Stop by Santa Cruz Cider Company’s new Apple City Tasting Room for a chance to try their craft hard ciders—and grab some popcorn while your at it. The company has recently started up a new Community Apple Bin, where you can donate any extra/unwanted apples, pears and more. The fruit will eventually be pressed and fermented into a special community cider.


Santa Cruz Cider Co. offers guests fresh popcorn at the new Apple Cider Tasting Room on Hangar Way in Watsonville. (Johanna Miller/The Pajaronian)

This weekend in Monterey the WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca will host the Firestone IndyCar Grand Prix of Monterey. This is the first time in 15 years that IndyCar has come to Monterey. I am fortunate enough to attend for free, as my dad in a volunteer and scored a few extra tickets. Tickets are still on sale. The official race will take place Sunday. For information visit or

Yesterday Tarmo Hannula and I visited the Valley Public Cemetery on East Lake Avenue for a special dedication. A newly constructed columbarium—used to respectfully store cremated remains—is now situated the end of the cemetery. A beautiful bronze statue of two Blue Herons by artist Sean Monaghan sits atop the structure.

I’ve always loved wandering through cemeteries; they are peaceful, often in beautiful natural environments and do a good job at revealing the history of a specific town.

Look out for our article in next week’s Pajaronian about the new columbarium and what inspired the artist’s vision.


A new columbarium in Valley Public Cemetary features a bronze sculpture. (Johanna Miller/The Pajaronian)

Quote of the day: “Earth is what we all have in common.” —Wendell Berry

Tarmo Hannula: A juvenile male escaped injury when his Toyota pickup rolled onto its side early this morning on Park Way in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz Police took him into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence. His red Tacoma pickup ended up on its side in the entranceway to the Whalers Car Wash. The incident is still under investigation.


A huge roof collapsed Thursday at San Benito Foods in Hollister, forcing officials to close part of the plant down. Lately the plant has been canning tomatoes on a large scale. Since production has been halted, the stench of rotting tomatoes is taking over, a fire official said. The business takes up almost an entire block in downtown Hollister. No injuries were reported. Workers reportedly started to see weakening wood rafters giving way and staged an evacuation right before the roof came down.

I stopped by the Monterey Bay Birding Festival this morning, which was opening day, and got word that attendance was heavy for the first two of many field trips. Volunteer Sonia Deetz said there are still openings for several field trips. The event features lectures, slide shows, A Taste of the Pajaro Valley, and other such events. For information, visit The festival runs through Sunday.

Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019

Tarmo Hannula: Did anyone get caught in that odd rain shower Wednesday just before 3 p.m.? I was driving along East Lake Avenue with fellow reporter, Johanna Miller, when it suddenly came down. I even had the wipers on the second speed. Though it was short lived it rained enough to bring out that great smells of the pavement and grass getting wet.

The two of us were out at the Pajaro Valley Public Cemetery on East Lake Avenue to cover a dedication ceremony for a new columbarium. Put on by the Pajaro Valley Public Cemetery District, the event showcased the new niches built there and a massive bronze sculpture by Santa Cruz artist Sean Monaghan that stretches 12 feet into the sky and is very visible from East Lake Ave. I’ve seen a lot of public art sculptures, but this one really has my attention.


Today I was lucky to walk across Main Street and interview long-time artist Yermo Aranda in his La Manzana studio. He and I go back more than two decades when I covered him working with area students and schools in painting large outdoor murals around Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.


Greta Thunberg, a Swedish 16-year-old girl, had her photo in the New York Times today. She was on the U.S. Senate floor pushing her cause of protecting the environment and global warming awareness. If you have not had a chance to hear her direct and blunt manner of speaking, her astute choice of words — minus smoke and mirrors and anything fanciful — you might track her down on YouTube or the like. I saw her on The Daily Show (Trevor Noah) recently and she flattened the audience. Her delivery is uncanny and she is a master of staying on track, sidestepping praise for her worldwide recognition.

Monday is the first day of fall. The days are noticeably getting shorter and, when I go out onto the front yard to grab my morning papers, it has been much colder.

Quote of the day: “Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” – Albert Camus

Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019

Tarmo Hannula: The public is invited to join professional photographer and local bird enthusiast, John Hickok, tonight when he presents recent photos of birds from Texas, Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada. His show includes photographs, from snowy owls to roseate spoonbills and intimate experiences with American kestrels and barn owls. Special guest Lisa Fay Larson of the Santa Cruz Bird Club will be on hand as well. Hickok is a 40-plus year Larkin Valley resident, retired PVUSD teacher, and naturalist. The event runs from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Patrick J. Fitz Wetlands Education Resource Center at the top of Pajaro Valley High School, 500 Harkins Slough Road. The event is part of Watsonville Wetlands Watch’s free evening education programming. For information, visit 

Note: Hickok’s art will be on exhibit through Oct. 4 in Watsonville at the Human Resources Department, 18 West Beach Street and from Oct. 25 to Dec. 20 on the 5th floor of the County Government Center in Santa Cruz, 701 Center St.

An early morning fire charred several dozen towering redwood trees and knocked out power around Corralitos Wednesday along Corralitos Road near Varni Road. The 4:40 a.m. blaze forced fire crews to shut down Corralitos Road for about two hours because power lines crashed to the pavement. Cal Fire engineer Stephon Parson said firefighters had to be careful dousing the flames because of the power lines. Once a crew from Pacific Gas & Electric de-energized the lines firefighters were able to move in and put a cap on the fire. No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation. That spot has been a regular hang out for homeless people. No homes were threatened. The incident did not interrupt classes at the nearby Bradley Elementary School.

AT 9-18corralitos fire

Cal Fire engineer Stephon Parson collects photos of a charred utility pole Wednesday morning on Corralitos Road near Varni Road where an early morning fire roasted several dozen towering redwood trees and knocked out power around Corralitos. (Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian)

The 15th annual Monterey Bay Birding Festival runs Friday through Sunday with lectures, field trips, pelagic journeys, slide shows and local food and wine. Based in Watsonville, the family-oriented festival, which lures birders from around the world, offers field trips and information for beginning backyard birders to experts and nature lovers, said Debbie Diersch, marketing coordinator. The festival is headquartered in the Community Room on the top floor of Watsonville Civic Plaza, 275 Main Street. For information, visit

Work is moving forward on two new businesses in the Rancho Del Mar center in Aptos— a new Poki Bowl and Sushi Garden, a sister store to one already in Watsonville.

A legend in journalism has died. Cokie Roberts, who became a long-standing voice with NPR, died at 75 after battling cancer. She won countless awards and three Emmys in her decades-long career. “She has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and was cited by the American Women in Radio and Television as one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting,” ABC News said. She rose to fame during the Carter Administration and maintained her sharp journalistic coverage through several presidencies, including Donald Trump.

Quote of the day: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” — Malcolm X.

Monday, Sept. 16, 2019

Tarmo Hannula: A man died in a fire Sunday in downtown San Jose that erupted inside a mini-market. Earlier in the day a man had been making threats to burn down the store while wielding a sledgehammer. A body was found after the blaze was quelled in the store’s basement. The market and the adjoining Craze4 business sustained heavy damage. Officials have not released if the man making threats is the deceased victim.

The first rain of the season blanketed the Central Coast with light rain early Monday. The moisture is a fragment of a cold front drifting south from the Gulf of Alaska. The San Francisco Bay Area took the brunt of the rain, with forecasters describing it as hard at times. Watsonville was draped with on-again-off-again light showers. The sun burned through later in the day. Most of the week will now have sunny conditions with a few high drifting clouds and highs in the low 70s.

AT 9-16 rain

A man shields himself from the rain with a pizza blanket as a light rain fell in Hollister Monday morning. (Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian)

The Santa Cruz County Fair wrapped up its 5-day sweep late Sunday night. My wife Sarah and I went out there that afternoon and it was packed. Thankfully the hot weather had calmed down a lot so it was pleasant to stroll the grounds. A highlight was a new batch of piglets that were roughhousing inside their pen at the livestock area. Huge crowds shoved in close to get photos and a glimpse of the animals as they frolicked around their mom who seemed to be mostly annoyed with their antics. Inside the Harvest Building I got to talking with Billie Street who helped run a table that showed various stitchery works, including a massive denim panel covered with hundreds of clothing labels she had made. Billie said she was born 85 years ago across the street from the Dream Inn in Santa Cruz and that she attended an elementary school in Scotts Valley where there were two teachers. She said her dad, Vernon Miller, was a chicken farmer and had about 10,000 chickens at his Scotts Valley farm. He made the rounds across the county, including Watsonville, where he helped vaccinate chickens, among other things. Billie said she would be dropped off at a house on Freedom Boulevard as a young child and plays with kids in the area. She said the area was a lot different from how it is now.

Sarah and I pretty much made through rounds at the fair. The corn dogs and Pepsi we had halfway through our walk really added to the fun and enjoyment. We howled watching kids frolic inside three giant Human Hamster Balls, a wacky kind of balloon bumper cars that people crawl into.

Our sister paper, the Hollister Freelance, was in need of some photos from around their town so I drove over there this morning in the rain. It started to get pretty interesting as I entered their rich agriculture fields on the outskirts of town. Their small downtown has a certain charm to it, with a number of early day buildings, leafy trees and a bustling industrial zone nearby.

To view last week’s About Town


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Cabrillo mural

Cabrillo unveils new mural at community celebration in Aptos

APTOS—Cabrillo College’s Aptos campus came alive Tuesday evening as the community celebrated the installation of a new mural designed by Watsonville artist Francisco Alonso. The...