—photo by Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

The surfer statue on West Cliff Drive on the west side of Santa Cruz is an ever-changing sounding board for current affairs. Most recently, residents went with a Halloween theme by decorating it with a pumpkin head. During the CZU Complex Fires, someone dressed it up as a firefighter. Before that, the surfer was wearing a safety face mask.

An intense manhunt for Cesar Hernandez, 47,  the suspect in the murder of his 24-year-old wife, has ended with his capture at the U.S./Mexican border late Monday. The homicide was reported Thursday when the body of Brenda Becerra was found in a Ford SUV on Mission Drive around noon in Santa Cruz by Dominican Hospital and the Skyview Drive-In (Flea Market). She was reportedly murdered at a home on the 700 block of Rodriguez Street early Thursday morning.

Our main article online has the latest breaking news on this developing story.

I was desperate for a quick lunch Monday in Watsonville so I walked over to Plaza Vigil for a few of my favorite tacos at La Fuente. Closed! Once I recovered from that blast of bad news, I walked over to East Fifth Street to Pizza Mia for a few slices. I like the folks in there. Their pizza is always piping hot and, in this case, was fresh out of the oven, the cheese still bubbling as the kind lady served it up on a paper plate. Two bucks a slice, which is always cheese and pepperoni. They only do take-out, which is fine with me. There are almost always customers there. When High School was in session, the place would have a line down the parking lot with students around noon.

LIstening to my police scanner right now, I hear dispatchers are sending a large response to multiple reports of a new fire opening up along highway 17 between Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz. Callers are reporting a large column of brown smoke. Let’s hope they get a lid on this quickly; we don’t need another daunting fire on our hands as clearing and rebuilding are just getting underway of our massive CZU August Lightning Complex Fire. I learned that workers are dealing with clearing around 11,000 burned trees on Swanton Road north of Santa Cruz alone. That’s a lot of manpower and material to move. And Swanton is only a fraction of the burned area Around 45 miles of roads are also in near or some form of repair as well.

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. 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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