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Dec 21st
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Get Back to Work

Get Back to Work

A federally funded program aims to help employers make new hires

By Kimberly Wein The State of California currently has an unemployment rate of 12.5 percent. According to the United States Department of Labor, this is, by far, the highest unemployment rate California has seen since 1976. With similarly sorry states across the country, the federal government has decided to step in and create more jobs that will get people back to work.

Shoreline Workforce Development Services (Shoreline) in conjunction with Goodwill Industries of Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties is pairing employers with those in need of work through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA) federally funded stimulus program and Subsidized Employment Training (SET). The federal government is offering approximately $2.3 million to employers that are interested in creating new jobs and hiring new employees that are subject to specific requirements or keeping employees that would otherwise be laid off.

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Local News

Sugar Shock

Sugar Shock

Santa Cruz County has high rates of obesity, diabetes among children and adults

Several years ago, a close friend of mine discovered that she had diabetes. In the weeks leading up to her diagnosis, it became increasingly clear that something was very wrong: she was achy, thirsty, and so bone-tired that she slept for most of every day and still felt fatigued. The day she was diagnosed, she came home lugging a huge garbage bag filled with medical supplies and pamphlets the doctor had given her to help figure out her new lifestyle. It was, to put it mildly, a daunting task. It took her years to fully learn the intricacies of managing her insulin levels and her nutritional needs.

This is a scenario that Raquel Ramirez Ruiz knows all too well. Ruiz is the Director of the Diabetes Health Center (DHC), an outpatient program in Watsonville that teaches prevention and self-management for people who are either living with diabetes or are at high risk for the disease. She herself is one of the latter.“Obesity runs in my family,” she explains. “My dad has type-2 diabetes and has struggled to manage it.” She encouraged him to make an appointment with Martha Quintana, one of the registered nurses and certified diabetes educators at the DHC. “He left motivated to manage his diabetes,” she says. “This is the first time since he was diagnosed that I have witnessed him make better food choices.”

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Local News

Rising Stats

Rising Stats

Recent college graduates are the largest group of uninsured Americans

“One moment was all it took,” says Rose Sniatowski.

On Oct. 26, Sniatowski and her boyfriend were returning to Santa Cruz after visiting relatives in Humbolt County. In that one, crucial moment another car veered into their lane, hitting them head on at about 55 miles per hour. The car, an Acura RSX, was completely totaled.

Sniatowski graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2007 and has not had a job that offers health insurance since nor has she been able to afford the high monthly premiums of individual insurance policies. “We don’t know if the other driver even has car insurance,” Sniatowski says. “I’m applying for MediCal, but in order to qualify I have to be disabled for a year.” With a fractured vertebrae and a laundry list of other injuries and broken bones, Sniatowski will most likely be healing for over a year. However, the accident could cost her well over a half million dollars if she does not receive financial assistance.

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Town Hall

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Last month, the University of California’s Board of Regents passed a 32 percent student fee increase for undergraduates, leading to statewide protests including several at UC Santa Cruz. What do you think of the increase? What does this mean for the future of higher public education in California?

I have great concerns about the decision by the UC Board of Regents to increase student fees, especially on top of the fee increases that have already been imposed. As one of the intentions stated in the original Master Plan for Higher Education adopted in 1960, a priority was to have higher education remain accessible and affordable for all.  While it is somewhat understandable why the Board of Regents implemented these sizeable increases during this unprecedented budget crisis, these fee increases represent a shortsighted solution that will most likely result in enormous unintended consequences.

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Local News

Santa Cruz Cash?

Santa Cruz Cash?

One group pushes for a local currency plan

Imagine opening your wallet, shuffling past your Washingtons and Lincolns, and pulling out a crisp Santa Cruz dollar. The idea for a local currency is gaining momentum, and, although alternative currencies are increasing in popularity throughout the country, a Santa Cruz version promises to be unique.

An enthusiastic crew of health care providers, wellness educators, and local food activists are drawing up plans for a mutual discount network that is tentatively being called the Santa Cruz Wellness Exchange Cooperative. The group wants to infuse the county economy with an alternative currency (a “Santa Cruz Wellness Buck,” perhaps), designed to bolster business for local health care providers and food producers. The currency network would incorporate the mission of New Earth Exchange, a membership network for local businesses committed to environmental sustainability and mutual-aid, but would have an expanded focus and a greater reach.

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Local News

The Pitfalls of Being Treatable

The Pitfalls of Being Treatable

Santa Cruzans gather for a candlelit vigil on World AIDS Day to remember the victims of America's forgotten pandemic

Dozens of candles flickered in the cold wind, held solemnly by those assembled at the end of Pacific Avenue on Tuesday, Dec. 1, to pay their respects to loved ones taken away by or suffering from AIDS. Under the near full moon, words of togetherness and respect were voiced. There was music and singing, praying and laughter, sadness and hope. But this year there was another emotion bandied just as passionately—one of anger at a country’s, and a community's, neglect.

After a rendition of "Lean On Me," Merle Smith, executive director of the Santa Cruz AIDS Project (SCAP), stepped forward to address the circle: "My own brother passed from AIDS in 2006, [and] two weeks ago I had a niece who was diagnosed positive. The disease is still active, it is still touching our friends and our families," she said.

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Town Hall

Congressman Sam Farr

Congressman Sam Farr

When we look back on 2009, what will be the most significant government advances, actions or mistakes?

History has a funny way of evolving. Without the pleasure of hindsight, some of the most far-reaching actions the government took in 2009 have been caught up in a whirlwind of criticism. But I’m confident that when everything shakes out, we’ll come to see these measures as effective and absolutely necessary.

Of course, pretty much the whole year has been consumed by two issues: health care and the economy.

The final actions on health insurance reform may slip over into 2010 and it’s not at all certain what the outcome will be, but we’ve already seen historic support for reform.

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Local News

The Giving Keeps Going

The Giving Keeps Going

Second Harvest Food Bank, CAP Report, show that giving is strong, despite down economy

Sarah Owens, marketing director for New Leaf Community Markets, is getting ready to head to Watsonville. She and a handful of other New Leaf staff are taking turkeys to the United Farm Workers, just one of the groups that are receiving such a donation from the local natural food grocer this holiday season.

“I’m excited to go,” she says. “It’s definitely not in my job description, but giving to the United Farm Workers is really great because they are the ones working in our fields. It’s nice to give back to them.”

So far, New Leaf has donated more than 500 pounds of turkey breast to the Homeless Services Center and 150 turkeys to other organizations, including the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center. The store gives back in several other ways, including their Envirotokens program, community days (when 5 percent of the day’s sales go to a local organization), and their school program, which has given $150,000 to local schools. Although New Leaf has, like most businesses, seen some affects from the economic downturn, and has also seen two major competitors open this year, Owens says they “have remained strong and…are still able to give back to the community.”

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Environment

Swine on the Mind

Swine on the Mind

Opinions are split when it comes to the size of the H1N1 pandemic, but most doctors still recommend the vaccine

After ramping up a vaccination campaign larger than any since polio, public health agencies now say swine flu is on its way out. While some doctors question whether swine flu was ever truly as widespread as it was made out to be, warnings that H1N1 could infect half of all Americans and befell 90,000 came from the highest health authorities, the largest media outlets—even the President.

In late November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that H1N1 cases have appeared in all regions of the country, besides a few isolated areas like Hawaii, and has claimed about 4,000 lives so far. The World Health Organization (WHO) also announced “early signs of a peak” in the U.S., saying it expects infections to continue to decline.

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Town Hall

Town Hall

Town Hall

If or when the rail line between Davenport and Watsonville is purchased, what will be the best use for it? How would it benefit the community?

The possible uses of the rail right-of-way are: 1) to provide freight service, 2) for passenger rail service of some sort or 3) for a bicycle and pedestrian trail. Right now, which option or options would most benefit the community is a question that is wide open and will have to be decided by the Santa Cruz County Regional Trasporation Commission (RTC) in the future.

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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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Tramonti Pizza

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Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire