About Town, week of April 15

April 19, 2019:

Johanna Miller: On Wednesday the Watsonville Drama Department had the opening show of their spring musical production at the Henry J. Mello Center. “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a comedy musical about a group of middle schoolers competing in a spelling bee.

I’m looking forward to seeing it at least once before its closing show on April 28. WHS Drama is currently struggling with funding, so make sure to check out the show! For information visit whs-pajaro-ca.schoolloop.com/VAPA.


ABOVE: The cast of WHS Drama's "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee". —Photo by David Scott

This weekend is the celebration of both Easter and Passover. Various places of worship are celebrating in their own ways, with everything from sunrise services to community Seder meals. I always enjoy seeing people out and about, either going to church or just enjoying the traditions.

(Did you know that Easter egg hunts are linked to ancient pagan traditions that were eventually adopted by early Christians?)

I myself am excited to get my hands on a package of Reese’s Eggs...

Tomorrow is also 4/20, a day that has become a holiday for cannabis culture across the world.

There are many rumors of how April 20 became the annual day to celebrate weed. The most supported is the story of five high schoolers in San Rafael back in 1971 who designated the time of 4:20 p.m. as the time to meet and search for a local cannabis farm.

Personally, I don’t smoke, but if you or your loved ones are planning to, remember: use responsibly! It might technically be legal in California now, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be safe with how and when you consume it.

Watsonville’s historic Tuttle Mansion was the focus for international paranormal researcher Don Philips this week. The UK-based researcher showed up at the Mansion on Tuesday night, and started to film a documentary about the house and its reputation for being haunted.

I thoroughly enjoyed my two visits to the mansion; I interviewed Philips and Tuttle Mansion owner Kathy Oliver,  and witnessed the start of filming on the second level of the house. Kathy took me on a short tour and I will be honest: I definitely got goosebumps in certain areas of the mansion.

Follow Don Philip’s filming of the Tuttle Mansion at americansupernatural.com.


ABOVE: Don Philips sets his camera up on the porch of the Tuttle Mansion. —Johanna Miller/Register-Pajaronian

Tarmo Hannula: All national parks will be free to enter on Saturday, including popular destinations like Yosemite, Muir Woods and Joshua Tree.

To celebrate the start of National Park Week 2019, every National Park Service site that usually charges an entrance fee will offer free admission to all visitors. This is one of four free National Park Days coming up in 2019 — the next free days are Aug. 25, Sept. 28 and Nov. 11.

The Green Valley Water Line Project, a major job to upgrade the water main pipe along Green Valley Road near the Home Depot store, got under way Friday near Carey Avenue. One westbound lane was closed and a lighted sign flashed “Water Line Work through 4-26.”


ABOVE: Workers from the City of Watsonville Public Works start work on Green Valley Road near Carey Avenue on the upgrade of a water main. —Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

Sunday is Easter and the weather folks say it will be 75 degrees and partly cloudy. Sunrise will be at 6:26 a.m. I see that Easter Services will be held at Twin Lakes Church at 4 and 6 p.m. on Saturday and 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Sunday. The church is located at 2701 Cabrillo College Dr.

The annual Capitola Village Easter Egg Hunt on the Beach takes place Saturday 11 a.m. to noon. Be aware, the event has proven to be enormously popular in the past so the crowds are pretty thick.

A new hair and nail salon will open in Watsonville April 26 at 521 East Lake Ave. The event will run from 5-7 p.m. at Cut Loose Hair and Nail Salon. For information, call 319-4244.

I noticed the strawberry season is ratcheting up, with harvesting well under way at several local farms. The wave of sunny warm days we’ve had recently I’m sure helped set things in motion.

AT 4-19 straw web

ABOVE: Field workers harvest fresh strawberries on a farm on Riverside Road just outside of Watsonville Thursday. —Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

I heard this on my police scanner from a female sheriff’s deputy this morning: “She’s only 70.”


The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No.1716 will stage their first ever Veterans Chili Cookoff Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at 1960 Freedom Blvd. About fifteen teams are slated to square off at the stove top. Advance tickets are $10 and $12 at the door. For information, call 420-7348 or email [email protected].

I see that Pier 1 Imports, a Fort Worth, Texas–based retailer that specializes in imported home furnishings and decor, particularly furniture, table-top items, decorative accessories, and seasonal décor, is planning on closing up to 45 of their stores. I have not heard if this affects their location in Capitola at 3825 Clares St.

Today marks the anniversary of the domestic terror bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the bombing happened at 9:02 am and killed at least 168 people, injured 680 others and tore down at least a third of the building.


Quote of the day: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw

April 18, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: The folks who monitor gas prices are now saying prices are the highest they’ve been in five years. Around Santa Cruz County the average is around $3.93 per gallon for unleaded. San Benito County is weighing in around $3.95. Some are blaming a surcharge of 28 cents per gallon. Mobil on Freedom Boulevard was charging $4 a gallon Wednesday. 


Cabrillo College will host the 4th annual 82% Micro Business Summit May 3. The event, aimed at small businesses, will feature 20 sessions, 40 speakers and a “Keynote Session” in hopes of exposing tools and encouragement for local businesses. For information visit www.microbusinesssummit.com.


Reminder: The 18th annual Reel Work May Day Labor Day Film Festival is ongoing, with one more venue still on the marquee for Watsonville. Free to the public (donations are accepted at the door), the event focuses on labor issues through contemporary films. The films, which are often followed up with Q&A with guest speakers, takes place at a wealth of venues around Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. “Adios Amor: The Search for Maria Moreno,” a film about four Texas women and their union organizing from 1930 to 1960, takes place April 26 at the forum in the Cabrillo College Watsonville Center at 7 p.m.


The 14th annual Vive Oaxaca Guelaguetza celebration of everything Oaxaca (Mexico) will unfold in a one-day event in San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz May 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Colorful dances from eight regions of Oaxaca, loads of traditional food, traditional goods, including clothing and housewares, will be part of the fun. Tickets are $10.


ABOVE: Members of the dance group, “Tilcaxitl,” an official delegation from Oaxaca, Mexico, perform the traditional “Danza de la Pluma” in 2014 in Santa Cruz at the annual Guelaguetza Festival. (Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian file)


Today marks the anniversary of the 1906 earthquake that struck Northern California 113 years ago. The quake struck at 5:12 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18 with an estimated moment magnitude of 7.9. Around 3,000 people died and 80 percent of San Francisco was destroyed by the quake that was felt from Eureka to the Salinas Valley. More than a quarter million people were left homeless.


Regarding the massive fire that swept through the rafters of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, officials are now surmising that it was accidental, most likely stemming from a major ongoing renovation of the nearly 900-year-old church. Parked on the edge of the Seine River, the bulk of the church still remains standing. Flames ate away huge portions of the roof, which officials are labeling as a “parched forest of timber.” The lack of barriers, or fire walls (now a must in modern construction) added to the quick spread of Sunday evening’s blaze that drew thousands of locals and tourists to the burning Medieval Gothic world attraction.

In a bizarre coincidence, 16 500-pound sculptures had been hoisted out of the church four days prior to the fire for restoration work.

I’ve heard that a new Laundromat will be going in at the former US bank, 35 East Lake Ave, at the corner of on the corner of Brennan Street. Long abandoned, major work has been unfolding there behind a cyclone fence.


ABOVE: A new Laundromat is reportedly in the works at the former bank at 35 East Lake Ave. in downtown Watsonville. (Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

Quote of the Day: “It seems the harder I work, the more luck I have.” –Thomas Jefferson

April 17, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: There was a bad crash on northbound Highway 1 just south of the State Park overpass Monday that clogged northbound traffic and slowed southbound traffic as motorists used their brake pedals to get a better view of the drama.

California Highway Patrol officer Sam Courtney told me a man driving an SUV was distracted with his GPS device and lost sight of the road ahead of him. He plowed into a car and that car struck another car. One vehicle ended up rolling upside-down. Courtney said there was one injury. Police and fire were on the scene for hours to untangle the mess and complete their investigations.

The USGS has reported an earthquake a few miles from San Juan Bautista just after 5 a.m. today. The was 2.9 on the Richter Scale. There were no reports of damage or injuries.

While the high today will stretch upwards to around 80 degrees, Thursday meteorologists are saying the thermometer will top out around 88. On Easter Sunday, where sunrise is at 6:23 a.m., temps will drop back down to the mid-60s with sunny conditions being predicted.

On my drive home Tuesday evening traffic suddenly slowed way down in Aptos, not a common thing with traffic flow around 5 p.m. The cause? A man on the shoulder of the road with the hood of his pickup raised with him staring at the engine compartment. There was a CHP cruiser there with its lights on. That’s it. It was somehow enough to drag down the commute for thousands of people.

I’m convinced that if you suddenly yelled to your friend, “quick, look at that — there’s a man looking at his engine!” your friend might think you were a little nuts. Or maybe you would slow down because a man looking under his hood is something of great interest?


If you care about what’s going on with the moon, right now it is a waxing Gibbous moon and 95 percent full. The full moon comes Thursday.


Supervisors in San Francisco have approved a fee and reservation plan for those wishing to drive the crooked portion of Lombard Street, known as the “‘crookedest’ street in the world.” Though it is a huge tourist attraction, locals have been complaining for years that the garden-festooned crooked brick street has been over-run with millions of visitors a year, claiming noise, traffic, trespassing and litter as chief issues. The City Council still has to determine if they agree on the plan. Sounds like crooked business to me…

The Monterey Bay Rose Society will feature their annual Rose Show at Alladin Nursery & Gift Shop, 2905 Freedom Blvd. Live music, Corralitos sausage, wine and more will be on the menu, which gets going at noon. It is free to the public. Hundreds of roses will be on display and rose experts will be on hand to share information.


Speaking of Alladin Nursery, the Pajaro valley Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture will host their monthly mixer there tomorrow between 5 and 7 p.m. Everyone is invited. CEO Shaz Roth said that chili and cornbread from Monterey Bay Caterers will be served.

In the Aptos Village Project major steps have taken place to get the New Leaf Community Market’s doors open. Situated inside the historic Hihn Apple Barn, management has set May 1 as an opening date.


ABOVE: A worker from Melim Woodwork is busy out front of New Leaf Community Market inside the Aptos Village Project. (Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian )

April 16, 2019:

TARMO HANNULA: Major landscape work has been under way recently in from of Monument Lumber Co. on Freedom Blvd. Owner Mark Shugart said, “ We’re updating our landscaping with rocks, a variety of plants and ground cover. We want to improve the front of our yard and the exposure to the community.”

The business, opened in 1952 features building materials of all types and hardware. They are located at 2111 Freedom Blvd. and the number is 724-7537.


ABOVE: Landscapers build up the soil for a major upgrade to the from of Monument Lumber Co. on Freedom Boulevard. (Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

In world news a massive fire has roared the nearly 900-year old Landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The blaze erupted Sunday evening and drew thousands of spectators who stood in horror as they watched flames and a column on ominous brown and yellow smoke belch into the sky from the world attraction. I am lucky to have visited that spot and roam the sanctuary with my wife years ago. I still recall how hypnotized we were to be surrounded with the glorious beauty of the art work, marble statues, leaded glass and stunning architecture of the ancient site. France’s president, Emmanuel Macron said, “It is the cathedral for all of France. It is the epicenter of all our lives.”

Already scores of benefactors, including several billionaires around the globe, have already pledges hundreds of million of dollars to aid in a rebuild.

The Cathedral, a pinnacle of Medieval Gothic architecture, typically attracts 30,000 people a day — or 13 million people a year — is currently undergoing a major $40 million rebuild in “urgent repairs,” according to the New York Times. Around 500 firefighters fought the fire for more than five hours and, as reported throughout the media world, they were able to save some of the artwork. In an odd coincidence, some of the famed statues had recently been hauled away for renovation. Investigators are looking into whether the fire stemmed from the repair work. Miraculously no one died in the fire and only one firefighter was injured.

Also on the world front a measles outbreak is garnering headlines. The virus, typically found in young children, has seen a 20 percent increase in the last week with close to 500 cases now being reported in 20 U.S. states. Medical officials, who said declared the virus virtually eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, is seeing a surge due to exposures oversees and “then been transmitted among populations that have shunned vaccinations. Health officials are now trying both to halt the virus’s spread and correct misconceptions about vaccinations,” the NYT reported.

Some groups have turned to social media to spread the notion that the vaccinations can lead to seizures and autism, among other things. A state of emergency has been declared in some states.

Have you noticed the flurry of small butterflies scurrying around town? I have. My guess is that there are painted ladies, small colorful butterflies that have been showing up in huge numbers, that I’ve seen, along Freedom Boulevard out by the apple orchards and around Struve Slough near the Register-Pajaronian. I’m no butterfly expert so if someone has the knowledge to correct me on their identity, please inform me. My research has shown that painted ladies typically migrate from the deserts of northern Mexico and temporarily colonizes in the United States, Canada south of the Arctic.


April 15, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: Work is under way near Granite Construction on building new sidewalks along East Lake Avenue, from Wagner Avenue to Holohan Road on both sides of East Lake. Among other things, the completed project, which will take several months, will offer students from area school, including Lakeview Middle School a safer passage along East Lake.

I noticed the Five Mile House, long abandoned, has a fresh coat of paint. Locals say a café and herb room is in the works for the spot at the corner of Corralitos Road at Freedom Boulevard. While I was out there taking photos Thursday morning, a man named Jeff walked past and told me he recalls how as a kid how he used to walk past the same spot and remembers the early day gas pumps that stood in front of the building. The new owners have installed a pervious surface around the structure, possibly for outdoor patio seating.


ABOVE: The Five Mile House, at the corner of Corralitos Road at Freedom Boulevard in Corralitos, was given a fresh coat of paint over the week. (Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

I swung by the Watsonville Certified Farmer’s Market on Friday. As usual, it was buzzing with business under warm, sunny skies. If you’re a regular at the market you’ll notice how the organizers have rearranged some of the booths. It’s a different look.

I noticed in the news that a massive, six-engine airplane with the world’s longest wingspan was launched successfully Saturday from the Mojave Desert in California. The historic launch of Stratolaunch, with a wingspan of 385 feet, took the craft up to 17,000 feet at a speed of 189 mph for about two and a half hours. The twin fuselage jet is ultimately designed to carry as many as three rockets, which will be able to launch from Stratolaunch and hurl into space.

According to the Associated Press : "The previous wingspan leader was Howard Hughes’ World War II-era eight engine H-4 Hercules flying boat — nicknamed the Spruce Goose with a 320-foot wingspan.”

Speaking of outer space, a small craft launched by Israel crashed into the moon the other day by mistake. The $100 million mission, by Israel Aerospace industries, was far cheaper than government-related projects. No word has been published, that I am aware of, as to why it crashed.

Some media sources are saying that gas prices, typically, will jump up to around $4 a gallon for regular as summer nears. I’ve been seeing gas go for round $3.84 lately.


Apple blossoms are aplenty in the Pajaro Valley, especially in numerous orchards along Freedom Boulevard. (Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian )

I’m always picking up various sections of newspaper in my travels, usually at cafes and such. I like the element of surprise, of running into an article or photo that I would otherwise not have run into in the two papers I get each day on my front lawn. In the newspaper industry, these are called "pass-alongs," newspapers that make it into the hands of people that are not the original purchaser of the paper. On Saturday in Peet’s Coffee in downtown Santa Cruz I came across a copy of the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, a 12-page tab-sized paper. The paper, despite its size, was packed full of interesting things, photos, local articles and a “things to do section” that seemed unending. There was also an article, “One Hundred Years Ago” by Lisa Robinson, who is the president of the paper. This article largely focused on the appointment of the director, Nicole Berridge (whose name was misspelled, Nocle) beneath her mug shot. My hat goes off to the paper, which included their own “Recipe Box,” “Health Tidbits,” and “Your SLV Homes Soundboard;” their efforts to paint a picture of what’s going on in the San Lorenzo Valley.

To view last week's About Town, visit https://register-pajaronian.com/article/about-town-week-of-april-8.


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