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May 22nd
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Deductive Reasoning

Deductive Reasoning

Volunteers help locals maximize tax discounts

Waiting a couple of hours for free help with filing taxes feels like getting paid $400 for a half day's work, says Shadowbrook restaurant server Glen Wunderling, 55.

“This is a great service because it's always good to have a second eye look over the forms,” Wunderling says. “It can get really confusing with all the legal and tax code changes.”

Wunderling is one of 3,700 Santa Cruz County taxpayers who, according to the IRS, collectively overpay between $6 and $8 million in taxes every year because they don't claim deductions and rebates they are eligible for. Wunderling says he failed to claim his Making Work Pay tax rebate in 2009—part of President Barack Obama's stimulus plan. That is why he was waiting for a volunteer tax preparer from Project Senior Citizen Outreach (Project Scout)’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at the Aptos Public Library on March 22.

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Environment

Homemade in California

Homemade in California

Proposed California law would allow for the sale of non-perishable homemade foods

When Kathryn Lukas started her artisan organic sauerkraut business, Farmhouse Culture, the local worked out of a friend’s cellar. She couldn’t afford rent on the commercial kitchen required under California's food safety regulatory laws, but because she had previously owned a restaurant she knew enough to craft her own commercial kitchen.

However, she soon realized that it would be at least a year before the permitting process for her kitchen was complete. As soon as she could, Lukas purchased an existing 2,500-square-foot commercial kitchen. She couldn’t quite afford the kitchen, so she rented it out hourly to other small-scale food producers in Santa Cruz.

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Local News

A Voice Renewed

A Voice Renewed

Cabrillo journalism department avoids possible elimination

Room 407 may look like an ordinary classroom at first glance, but a wooden sign swinging above the glass door sets it apart from any other room on the Cabrillo College campus. “The Cabrillo Voice,” the sign reads, signifying the room as the home of the school’s student-run newspaper.

Inside, students bustle about, craning at computer screens and making suggestions as they periodically stop to pet Riley, the standard poodle that is just as much a fixture of the room as the newspapers strewn about.

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Local News

Grappling with Growth

Grappling with Growth

Expansion of Watsonville sparks new and long-standing issues

Watsonville City Councilmember Daniel Dodge may have opened a can of worms with a recent editorial published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on Jan. 29. 

His piece proposed that the City of Watsonville annex a property known as Sakata-Kett for large retail development and mentioned Costco as a possible tenant.  He says this would help create jobs outside of the agricultural industry for a city whose unemployment rate has hovered around 25 percent since 2008.

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Local News

Getting Physical

Getting Physical

Nonprofit partners with U.S. Paralympics to provide disabled locals with more adventures

At 17 years old, Foster Andersen loved skiing, playing ice hockey, and listening to the Grateful Dead. He thrived outdoors and enjoyed trying new activities.

So, when he broke his neck in a motorcycle accident, his whole life changed.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Greg Caput

Town Hall with Supervisor Greg Caput

How will the recent news about the halt of methyl iodide sales affect South Santa Cruz County?

I have personally spent much time reflecting on the future of pesticide use in the Pájaro Valley. As has been well documented of late, the years-long battle over the potentially dangerous use of methyl iodide has come to a close as Arysta LifeScience has decided to halt all sales of its patent product, methyl iodide, in California and the United States.

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Local News

Hatching a Lawsuit

Hatching a Lawsuit

Litigants say DA’s office is withholding documents in animal cruelty lawsuit

The video footage taken inside of local Cal-Cruz Hatcheries, Inc. in 2009 shows the mutilated bodies of dead or dying chicks and ducklings that lay trapped beneath processing machinery, newly hatched chicks with open bloody wounds, exposed organs, and mutilated feet and legs gasping for air in bins, and workers tossing baby birds into a bucket of liquid waste where they struggle to escape before drowning. The footage also depicts workers dumping unwanted hatchlings by the bucket-load into an eggshell disposal chute and forced, alive, down a clogged drain with a pole and high-powered hose.

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Environment

Banning the Bag

Banning the Bag

If and when local cities plan to follow in the county’s footsteps

Many local shoppers are accustomed to no longer hearing the once common question of “paper or plastic?” as they check out at the market. This is because of grocery stores like New Leaf Community Markets, which offer only paper bags and encourage shoppers to bring in reusable, multi-use bags. Across California, reusable shopping bags have become a staple of environmentalism and consumer responsibility in many counties.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

What is currently being done at the state level to address the foreclosure crisis?

Several weeks ago, California and 48 other states agreed to a $25 billion legal settlement with the nation’s five largest banks based on their illegal practice of robo-signing foreclosure documents. As a result of this settlement, five pieces of legislation known as the California Homeowner Bill of Rights have been introduced in the legislature to enact aspects of the agreement.

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Local News

The Crisis Continues…

The Crisis Continues…

Foreclosures may increase in 2012

Despite the nationwide legal settlement announced last month between 49 state attorney generals and major banks over fraudulent foreclosure practices, and despite a downward trend in the number of homes entering the foreclosure process both locally and statewide compared to this time last year, the damage done by the collapse of the housing market continues in Santa Cruz County. More than 100 Notices of Default and 120 Notices of Sale are issued (on average) by banks each month.

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Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
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Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival