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La Vida Local

A Different Time, A Different Stimulus Package

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La Vida Local

SANTA CRUZ (April 2009) -- Most of the drivers rushing over the Valencia Bridge in Aptos never even see the sign. It’s set low in the mossy concrete railing on one end of the span -- a tarnished plaque that marks the history of hard times.
The plaque, which someone had recently graffitied with chalk, commemorates the 1935 construction of the narrow, tree-shadowed bridge.  The span was built with funds from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, his program to restart the economy with a flood of stimulus money for social and public works projects.
That money -- distributed for half a decade through acronym-heavy agencies like the WPA, PWA and TRAP -- changed the face of Santa Cruz, although most people might not realize it now.  

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Human Care Alliance Provides Safety Net to Santa Cruz

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La Vida Local

Written by Tara Leonard

SANTA CRUZ (April, 2009) -- Maybe you have a family member who found support and guidance through her battle with cancer at WomenCare. Perhaps your aging neighbors enjoy food delivery from the Grey Bears. You might have a colleague who comes to work each morning knowing that her children are safe and happy at the Emeline Childcare Center. In fact, almost every resident of Santa Cruz County has a neighbor, friend or family member who has been helped by a local, nonprofit, health and human service agency. But most of them have never heard of the Human Care Alliance.

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Santa Cruz Techies MeetUp for the Future

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La Vida Local

SANTA CRUZ (April 2009) —Amid the glum economy that has cleared storefronts and hampered business, Santa Cruz techies have been packing the rooms of a monthly local geek-friendly gathering with an irrefutable optimism about the future.
The Santa Cruz New Tech Meet-Up, a networking and educational event for locals, has been so popular in recent months that organizers have had to turn members away at the door of their monthly meetings in downtown Santa Cruz. It is, they say, just one indication that the ongoing effort to galvanize the local design and tech community is gaining some serious traction.

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Uncle Funky Takes On The Recession

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La Vida Local

By Brad Brereton, Special to SantaCruzWire
SANTA CRUZ (March 2009) -- Uncle Funky ain’t scared of no recession. Neither, apparently, are two dozen other brave entrepreneurs who recently gave public notice of their intent to start new businesses during the worst financial downturn in seventy years.
Local businesses such as “Uncle Funky’s Productions,” “Santa Cruz Critter Sitter”, and “Wenikas Wonders” gave public notice last week of their intent to start new ventures, roll up their collective sleeves, and begin pulling the country out of its economic quagmire.

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Tragedy Becomes a Miracle for Sand Dune Collapse Survivor

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La Vida Local

Written by Tara Leonard

SANTA CRUZ (Feb, 2009) -- Living near Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, Erin Dawn was often awoken by the sound of medical transport helicopters churning through the still, dark sky. She never imagined that one night it would be her own son taking that fateful ride. But on October 11, 2008, it was 9-year-old Aidan Dawn being rushed from the emergency room to a waiting air ambulance for transport to Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.
Due to weight restrictions, Aidan’s parents weren’t allowed to ride along, so for the first time in six hours Dawn tore herself away from her child’s side. “That was very painful,” she recalls in an anguished voice. “But I had to let go, surrender, and trust that he would make it there.”
Erin and her husband, Chazz, could only watch helplessly as the helicopter circled and disappeared into the darkness, racing towards Aidan’s only hope of survival.

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Helping The Homeless Escape The Street

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La Vida Local

By Maria Gaura
SANTA CRUZ (January 2009) - When Ken Cole took over the Santa Cruz Homeless Services Center ten years ago, his new office was in the bedroom of a tiny, dilapidated house -- and shared with two other people. The other facilities at the center weren’t much better. The wait in line for the center’s shower could be three hours long, and meals were served out of a battered catering truck.
The city’s approach to homeless services was also in disarray. The City Council was embroiled in a circular political battle between advocates of street camping and horrified neighborhood groups, and downtown merchants were demanding that the council do something – anything -- to rein in begging on city streets.

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Beans and Rice for Jesus Christ

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La Vida Local

By Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (December 2008) - Regular customers at Las Palmas Taco Bar swear by the crispy chicken tacos, the huevos rancheros, and the carne asada. But the homeless people who quietly line up at Las Palmas’ side window come for the rice and beans, which are given free to anyone who knows the code phrase –“beans and rice and Jesus Christ”.
For twenty years, Las Palmas owner Rick Mendez has given a cup of hot rice and beans to anyone hungry enough to ask for it. Mendez and his sons Robbie and Ronnie hand out anywhere from ten to 35 servings of fresh-cooked food every day, along with acceptance and, sometimes, a blessing.

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Dancing with the chickens

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La Vida Local

By Peggy Townsend  

 

APTOS (December 2008) - The two children who stood in front of the mechanical dancing chickens at Glaum Egg Ranch on Monday couldn’t have laughed harder if they tried.

They cackled at the chicken angel and the chicken snowman who kicked up their claws as a poultry version of “In the Mood” blasted in the background. They howled at the little chicks in top hats who bobbed up and down in their shells.

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Watsonville Catholics Celebrate a Winter Miracle

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La Vida Local

On Dec. 12, hours before dawn, thousands of devout Catholics gathered in Watsonville’s city plaza to sing in the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and to commemorate a miracle that occurred nearly 500 years ago.
Watsonville’s annual Guadalupe celebration is one of the largest public gatherings in the city, bringing thousands of people to walk from the city plaza to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, where they sing in the dawn with mananitas (songs welcoming the day) and fill the church with thousands of roses.

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More Pain In Store for Battered Santa Cruz Sentinel

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La Vida Local

By Maria Gaura
SANTA CRUZ, CA (Dec. 4, 2008) - The past two years have been cruel to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, but cutbacks at the battered daily newspaper are not over yet.
The Sentinel has changed hands twice since 2006, and is now owned by MediaNews, a newspaper chain notorious for its extreme cost-cutting strategies. The Sentinel’s presses have since been sold for scrap,its landmark building sold, half its workforce laid off and the survivors banished to an office park in Scotts Valley, a 15-minute drive from downtown Santa Cruz.

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Westside Neighbors Debate Bike Boulevard

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La Vida Local

Written by Tara Leonard

SANTA CRUZ, CA (Dec. 4, 2008) – Discussions are under way about how to make King Street, on the Westside of Santa Cruz, safer for bicycles but not everyone is on board with current proposals. Those with ideas and concerns are invited to a public meeting on Wednesday, December 10.

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