About Town, Week of April 8

April 11, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: In the Rancho Del Mar Center in Aptos, a large business hub that includes Safeway and Ace Hardware that has been undergoing a huge renovation, I noticed Wednesday a new business is going in.

Anytime Fitness will be located just a few doors south of Ace Hardware. Vice President Christopher Madewell and Director of Operations Pedro Belmontes said they are aiming for a July 8 opening. The full service 24-hour fitness center gym will feature state-of-the-art equipment and world-class personal trainers. Membership includes 24/7 access to the local Aptos club and over 4500 other clubs worldwide.

Presale begins Monday and continues M-F from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until they open. The first 100 members who sign up will receive free enrollment, one free month and a free 24/7 Gym Key. Reservations are limited.


ABOVE: A banner advertises the new business, Anytime Fitness, in the Rancho Del Mar shopping center in Aptos. Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

The Sea Otter Classic, the world’s largest cycling festival got underway Thursday at the Laguna Seca Recreational Area in Monterey. The event runs through Sunday and draws top shelf men and women bicyclists including Tour de France and Olympic athletes. The 29th annual event includes a host of competitions including downhill, duo slalom. For information visit www.seaotterclassic.com or call 800-218-8411.


The Human Race Walkathon and Fun Run takes place on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz May 11. The five-mile course is a way for people to donate to their favorite community cause. For information visit www.humanracesc.org.


Also on May 11 the City of Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture will present the second annual Wine, Beer and Art Walk from 1 to 5 p.m. in downtown Watsonville. Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.com.


On the national level I saw on TV news this morning that President Trump recently looked into the idea of bussing detained immigrants to Sanctuary Cities around the country as part of his ongoing “build the wall at the U.S./Mexico border” campaign. One of those cities was San Francisco. However, people in congress and White House aids rushed in and halted the idea, some citing that it was not legal. 

There is a new measles outbreak going on around the country, largely stemming from Brooklyn, New York. California Has 17 cases, six being in the San Francisco Bay Area. According to the Wall Street Journal there are 465 cases reported this year in the U.S. Most of the cases are children. Authorities are focusing on certain communities that shun the idea of vaccinations as a root cause.

The Watsonville Buddhist temple will feature the annual Hanamatsuri Flower Festival April 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Displays include Ikebana flower arranging, Bonsai, Mataro Kiekomi Doll Making and other events. For information, call 7247860.

April 11, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: A crew from Granite Construction was busy working on an underground gas line that crosses three lanes of Freedom Boulevard and a traffic island, right in front of the former court house near Crestview Drive. They have one lane in each direction closed during construction so traffic is slow in the area.

AT 1 gas line

ABOVE: A crew from Granite Construction work on an underground gas line that crosses three lanes of Freedom Boulevard and a traffic island in front of the former court house near Crestview Drive. (Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

Families are invited to the 17th annual Earth Day/Day of the Child in Watsonville Plaza April 28 from noon to 4 p.m. The free event will feature more than 70 booths of recreation, crafts and learning. The motto this year is #OurPlanetOurChildren or #NuestroPlanetaNuestrosHijos, as Earth Day is all about protecting the environment for the future and Day of the Child is a Latin American tradition honoring youth. "This year Watsonville’s Earth Day will bring awareness to the “Plastic-Free Campaign” that the City is promoting,” an official said. “This is a worldwide movement to create consciousness about plastic pollution on our planet. Join us to learn more.” Special highlights this year include an interactive rhythm circle with Survivor’s Healing Center at 3 p.m., the gigantic mobile trash museum, local cheer and dance teams, jump houses, and a climbing wall.

I saw a motorist whose car stalled in a horrible spot this morning, at the turn pocket from southbound Main Street onto Auto Center Drive. He rushed to get the hood up as I passed by. Those are always tough moments. I hope he got it solved quickly.

The big news around the world is that astronomers were able to capture images of a black hole some 55 million light years away from Earth. That’s hard to fathom, in that I sometimes have trouble photographing something across the street here on the same planet. The blurry red donut-shaped image with a black center was the main photo on many newspapers around the world including the New York Times. The image was taken of the galaxy known as Messier 87 and is situated in the constellation Virgo. The astronomers said the black hole is several billion times more massive than our sun. Eight telescopes known as Event Horizon, situated around the globe, synchronized over a 10-day period to come up with the images.

Anyone headed to Big Sur over the next several days should be aware that there is a host of construction sprinkled out in various spots along Highway 1. Some of the work is to deal with sagging slopes in the ground. One major job is taking lace along the highway at the popular Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

Be sure and check out Todd Guild’s story on the new interim Watsonville Fire Chief, Rudy Lopez Sr. He’s been with the department along time and brings a treasure chest of experience with him. Todd told me it was one of his best interviews.

April 10, 2019:

Tarmo Hannula: If you are planning on flying the friendly skies any time soon get ready for a possible heap of unexpected changes to your plans. I just flew into San Jose from New York last night. On top of a ridiculous long wait in the security clearance line, where I had to strip down to shirt shoes and sox (no belt), our flight was delayed more than two hours. Once we reached the tarmac they tacked on another 30 minutes of delays with six separate stops along the way as we waited our turn to take off. All this was garnished with 45 miserable minutes of turbulence once we were airborne.


ABOVE: An Alaska Airlines commercial jet lifts off from San Jose headed to New York last week. (Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

The weather folks are now talking about a “monster blizzard” that appears to be hauling some heavy baggage with it, like T-storms, a few tornadoes, snow and large hail, that could spread out from Las Vegas to Minneapolis, from Utah to Michigan. Some of those states are already sopping wet and, in some spots, flooded, and here comes more rain. About 20 states are slated for blizzard warnings at the very least.

Now it turns out that the City of Santa Cruz will not close down Camp Ross (previously slated for April 15) — the sprawling homeless camp at the corner of River Street (Highway 9), where more than 150 people have been living in makeshift tents and such for months. Officials are scrambling for a new location. They recently rescinded plans to make a new camp at Depot Park near the boardwalk. Discussions are still underway.

Meanwhile, the County of Santa Cruz and the Homeless Action Partnership are in discussions about possibly purchasing two industrial-zoned parcels near the current Homeless Services Center on Coral Street in the Harvey West Park area of Santa Cruz. It is meant as an effort to further services, storage and parking spots for the homeless. The parcels in question are the current Sea Berg Metal Fabrications.

Soroptimist International of Capitola selected three women of Santa Cruz County to receive their Live Your Dream awards of $2,000 each, which were announced in a ceremony March 26. Fidela Curiel and Jamie Sekoch of Santa Cruz, and  Nicole Banuelos of Aptos were the recipients.

On Saturday between 10-11:30 a.m. Watsonville Mayor Francisco Estrada will host a family-friendly community bike ride along the Pajaro River levee. It all begins at the parking lot of the Watsonville Buddhist temple, 423 Bridge Street. Don’t forget your helmets.

I saw an article in USA Today about the best time to fill up the tank of your vehicle. It varies around the state. On average, Mondays are the cheapest time to fill up while Fridays are the most expensive. However, on a refined level, the report states that Monday is the best day to fill up and Sunday, in California, is the worst.

In his recent purge at the White House, President Trump saw the departure of Dept. of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who resigned Sunday following a turbulent week regarding US/Mexico border issues. Then, Trump removed Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles, a former Marine Major General, from his post. Trump aired his frustrations with immigration security during the shakeup.

Pacific Gas and Electric is expected to be surveying power lines and transformer spots around Santa Cruz County, including Watsonville, over the next few days through the windows of a helicopter. The effort is part of their work to stem possible fire hazards as the fire season approaches.

April 8, 2019

Johanna Miller: On Friday night I attended a special dance and art show at the Gene Hoularis and Waldo Rodriguez Youth Center in Watsonville.

The performance was the brainchild of a local woman, Anissa Banuelos, who organized the show along with the Community Action Board (CAB) of Santa Cruz County as part of her capstone project at CSUMB.

Hundreds of people filed into the gymnasium to see local dancers, poets, magicians and other artists perform.  All proceeds from the event were given to CAB’s Youth Homeless Response Team program.


ABOVE: Dancers from Estrella de Esperanza perform on April 5 at the Watsonville Youth Center. (Johanna Miller/Register-Pajaronian)

Anissa shared with me this morning that the event exceeded its fundraising goal, and that she was incredibly grateful for all of the support from the Watsonville community.

I was only able to stay for a little over half of Friday’s show, but what I saw was fantastic. The opening performer, spoken word poet Chad Platt, moved the entire audience with his poem, which touched upon his own experience of being homeless and the widespread housing crisis in the area.

Anissa’s family and friends were helping out at the entrance of the youth center, taking tickets and directing foot traffic. They said they were extremely proud of Anissa for what she had accomplished.


ABOVE: Friends and family of Anissa Banuelos worked at the CSUMB student's "Dance 4 Youth" show at the Watsonville Youth Center on Friday. (Johanna Miller/Register-Pajaronian)

This weekend I spent some time in Santa Cruz at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. My mom, who is vegetarian, was interested in the Santa Cruz Veg Fest, which was happening all day Saturday at the Coconut Grove, located at the Boardwalk.

The free festival was much larger than I had anticipated—with most of the venue’s rooms taken up by local vendors selling food and other wares. I bought myself a reusable straw at a local artisan booth which I’m excited to use in replace of disposable plastic ones.

It was a bit too crowded—organizers estimated more than 5,000 people attended the event—so I do hope they find a bigger venue if they bring back the festival next year.


ABOVE: The Coconut Grove at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was chock-full of people Saturday for the Santa Cruz Veg Fest. (Johanna Miller/Register-Pajaronian)

After Veg Fest I wandered towards the amusement park portion of the Boardwalk. I was planning on only taking a quick ride on the Giant Dipper, but instead I ended up buying a season pass. (How did that happen?)

While it was rather impulsive of me, I have no regrets. It’s been over ten years since I had a season pass to the classic seaside theme park. My longterm future in Santa Cruz County is unclear (housing prices, traffic, etc. are all factors that may eventually push me away) so I thought I’d enjoy my time here for as long as I can.

Maybe I should challenge myself to see how many times I can go on the Giant Dipper until December…

To read last week's About Town, go to https://register-pajaronian.com/article/about-town-week-of-april-1


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