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Jan 29th
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On Track

On Track

Plans for Santa Cruz County’s Scenic Rail Trail chug along

The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail is now closer to becoming a reality thanks to the approval of $5.3 million in funding.

At its Thursday, Dec. 5 meeting, The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) voted to approve $14 million in state and federal funding for 26 projects. This includes $5.3 million for three sections of what’s known colloquially as the Rail Trail. Those segments include a 2.4-mile portion from Natural Bridges Drive to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, a stretch from Fifth to Seventh avenues along East Cliff Drive in Twin Lakes and a portion connecting Lee Road to the slough trail system in Watsonville.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Rep. Sam Farr

Town Hall with Rep. Sam Farr

The idea of raising the federal minimum wage has been gaining national support. Where do you stand on that issue?

It is a shame that our country has not raised the minimum wage so that all American workers can earn a livable income. When Democrats first took control of Congress after the 2006 election, we made wage reform one of our top priorities and passed the first minimum wage increase in years.

Inflation has unfortunately slowly eaten away at that raise. When adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage is now lower that it was several decades ago. If the minimum wage was indexed for inflation, it would be worth almost $11 today. Instead, the current rate of $7.25 per hour leaves workers with just $15,080 a year to pay their bills.

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Local News

Pain Management

Pain Management

Is one of the most common treatments for long-term chronic pain doing more harm than good?

Medications that contain hydrocodone—an extremely addictive opioid found in commonly prescribed painkillers such as Vicodin—are causing more lethal overdoses in the United States than heroin and cocaine combined, according to Bill Morris, a local palliative care doctor for the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data indicates that drug overdose death rates, the majority of which are from prescription medications, have more than tripled in the country since 1990, and the CDC has classified prescription drug abuse as an “epidemic.”

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Environment

Charting New Waters

Charting New Waters

Fishwise celebrates 10 years, authors white paper on human rights

When the founders of the Santa Cruz-based nonprofit Fishwise began their uncharted journey in 2003, they had one goal: to provide retailers with the information and tools they needed to give customers the ability to make informed decisions about the seafood they put on their table.

Partnering with New Leaf Community Markets for their initial pilot program, Fishwise found that the people of Santa Cruz County not only appreciated knowing the environmental impact of the seafood they were buying, but they actually bought more.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Zach Friend

Town Hall with Supervisor Zach Friend

Your office has been pushing for expansion of broadband in the county. Why do you see broadband as a vehicle for economic development?

High-capacity Internet is one of the most effective tools communities have at spurring economic development.  The economy of the 21st century is predicated up on data and information, and a large barrier to economic growth for local government is the fact that our data infrastructure is generally outdated. It is important to look beyond the traditional model of economic development, which often relied exclusively on box stores or other major physical developments, toward a less-impactful, higher-return, investment model.

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Environment

H2O in Limbo

H2O in Limbo

After postponing vote on desal, Santa Cruz moves forward in water supply discussions

While the City of Santa Cruz has hit pause on a proposed desalination plant, many are still wondering what that will mean for the city’s involvement with CalDesal.

CalDesal is a pro-desalination advocacy board comprised of numerous water agencies, with a mission of advancing the use of desalination in California. Bill Kocher, the city’s long-time Water Department director, was a founding member. But Kocher retired earlier this year, raising questions as to whether the city would continue its membership with the organization.

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Local News

Live to Serve

Live to Serve

Christine Johnson-Lyons retires from the Community Action Board

After devoting nearly 30 years of her time and energy to fighting for the rights of the poor and disadvantaged of Santa Cruz County, one may expect Christine Johnson-Lyons to have no regrets. But, to the contrary, there is something she wishes she could have done during her time as executive director of the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County (CAB): helped more people in need.

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Local News

Homegrown Issue

Homegrown Issue

Census reveals majority of homeless population lived locally before becoming homeless

Last month, the Watsonville-based research organization Applied Survey Research (ASR) released its biennial census of the Santa Cruz County homeless population. While the numbers represent an alarming increase, the percentage of respondents who indicated they lived locally before becoming homeless falls inside of the normal spectrum for other surveyed counties, says ASR Vice President Peter Connery.

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Local News

Eyes on the Courts

Eyes on the Courts

Public Safety Citizen Task Force adopts policy recommendations for City Council

Bryan Matthew Martin—a local recidivist whose rap sheet, dating back to 2003, includes check fraud, meth possession, and felony auto theft—is a name that, for the Public Safety Citizen Task Force, reflects possible negligence in sentencing by the Santa Cruz County Superior Court system.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Neal Coonerty

Town Hall with Supervisor Neal Coonerty

What is on the horizon for the old Cemex Corp. cement plant, in Davenport? Are there any plans being developed for the site? 

The Davenport cement plant ceased operations in 2009 after more than 100 years of existence. The cement plant property is still owned by Cemex Corp, which is headquartered in Monterrey, Mexico. 

Last year Cemex sold more than 8,000 acres of its forested property adjacent to the cement plant to a coalition of land trusts who plan to keep that acquisition as open space, and someday hope to provide access to this magnificent piece of property to the public. 

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Throwing It All Away

Everybody’s for recycling, right? So why are we all doing it wrong? Our reporter gets down and dirty to uncover 10 secrets that will finally make the recycling process make sense

 

Aquarius Calling, Humanity Rising

Aquarius (11th sign after Aries) is the sign of service—serving one another, building community. Aquarius is fixed air, stabilizing new ideas in the world. When new ideas reach the masses the ideas become ideals within the hearts and minds of humanity. Air signs (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) are mental. They think, ponder, study, research, gather and distribute information. For air signs, education and learning, communicating, writing, being social, tending to money, participating in groups and creating sustainable communities are most important. One of the present messages Aquarius is putting forth to the New Group of World Servers is the creation of the New Education (thus thinking) for humanity—one based not on commodities (banking/corporate values) but on virtues. Humanity and Aquarius Aquarius is the sign of humanity itself. We are now at the beginnings of the Age of Aquarius, the Age of Humanity (rising). The “rising” is the Aquarian vision of equality, unity, the distribution and sharing of all resources and of individual (Leo) creative gifts for the purpose of humanity’s (Aquarius) uplifting. This is the message in the Solar Festival of Aquarius (at the full moon) on Tuesday, Feb. 3. We join in these visions by reciting the World Prayer of Direction, the Great Invocation.Tuesday’s solar festival follows Monday’s Groundhog Day, or Imbolc (ancient Celtic fire festival) the halfway mark between winter solstice and spring Equinox). The New Group of World Servers (NGWS) during these two days are preparing for the upcoming Three Spring Solar Festivals: 1. Aries Resurrection/Easter Festival (April); 2. Taurus Buddha/Wesak Festival (May); and 3. Gemini’s Festival of Humanity (June). Aquarius and the new and full moons together are the primary astrological influences behind all of humanity’s endeavors. The NGWS are to teach these things, calling and uplifting humanity. Join us everyone. (301)

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Job Insecurity

Woman fights for her job in thoughtful, life-sized ‘Two Days One Night’
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