Unsafe for Swimming - Rotting Kelp Trumps Swimmers at Cowell Beach

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La Vida Local

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (May 2010) – With its mild currents and wind-damping cliffs, Cowell Beach is widely considered to be the safest beach in Santa Cruz for children and novice swimmers. But this popular family beach, located at the foot of the Municipal Wharf, has been increasingly plagued by bacterial pollution in the water.
The water at Cowell was posted as unsafe for human contact 67 days in 2008, and a whopping 172 days last year. The persistently high levels of bacteria tend to coincide with warm summer weather, and seasonal crowds of beachgoers.
While some noxious bacteria are deposited in the waves by sea lions and other wildlife, county health officials increasingly suspect that piles of rotting kelp on the beach are contributing to the deteriorating water quality at Cowell. Problem is, coastal regulations make it almost impossible to drag the stuff away.
Because decomposing seaweed provides food for flies, sand fleas and other critters at the low end of the food chain, the California Coastal Commission in 2005 forbade Santa Cruz from using machinery to remove the slimy heaps from city beaches between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

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Music, Drama and Birthday Cake: Cabrillo Celebrates Chopin, Schumann

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Arts and Review

Written by Tara Leonard

APTOS (May, 2010) - Susan Bruckner, Head of the Piano Department at Cabrillo College, is throwing a birthday party and music lovers of all ages are invited. There will be cake and the playing of “Happy Birthday” just like at other celebrations. But the gift for attendees will be six hours of live performances of the music of Chopin and Schumann. After all, it’s not every year that two of the world's most famous Romantic composers celebrate their second century.
The 200th Birthday Marathon will take place on Monday, May 24, at Cabrillo’s new Recital Hall from noon to 6 p.m. More than 70 performers will play instrumental and vocal solos, duets and chamber works. Plus Cabrillo College theater students will read from the letters and diaries of Robert Schumann and his beloved wife Clara.

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A Community Response to Street Gangs in Santa Cruz

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La Vida Local

by Neal Aronson, Special to SantaCruzWire.com
SANTA CRUZ (May 2010) - For far too long, we as a a society have tolerated gangs, perhaps because we didn't consider it to be our problem. It was always "those people" killing each other "over there". We felt sorry for Salinas and Watsonville and were glad we didn't have their problems. There have been incidents in Beach Flats and Lower Ocean St., but they felt like isolated events, and it wasn't our children being attacked. Even though they took place in Santa Cruz, they weren't happening in our neighborhoods.
Times have changed. In the last year two young men were murdered in our neighborhoods and a young man, the son of my friend and neighbor, was wounded while walking his dog on the west side. People are taking notice and are filled with outrage and fear. How could this happen here? While we were naively thinking this was someone else's problem, the gangs have been growing more brazen and are now claiming our streets as their territory.

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Castoffs into Couture - Mission Hill Students Fashion Wearable Art

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La Vida Local

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (May 2010) - Hand-sewn platform shoes, a man’s “blazer” alight with appliquéd flames, a taco-shaped hat and a handbag crafted from vinyl record albums.
These arresting fashion statements were among 128 student-made garments and accessories created this year at Project Runway for Teens, a school-wide wearable art show organized by Mission Hill Middle School art teacher Kathleen Crocetti.
Almost as unusual as the finished clothing was the source of the artists’ materials. As part of an ongoing partnership between the school and Goodwill Industries, more than 100 Mission Hill students were invited into Goodwill’s Union Street store for a special shopping day and allowed to take home any garment they wanted – for free.

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Ready, Set, Register! Time To Sign Up for City-Sponsored Summer Camps

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Family Life

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (April 2010) - The end of school is still two months away, but if your kid wants to spend her summer on the beach learning lifeguarding skills, or playing games under the redwoods, you’d best be "camped" in front of your computer by 7:55 a.m. this Saturday.
Online registration for City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation summer camps and courses opens at 8 a.m., Saturday April 17, and local parents know from experience that the most popular classes fill up quickly. According to Recreation Supervisor Carol Scurich, slots in the city’s Junior Lifeguard programs and day camps for elementary-age children are the first to get snapped up.
“Absolutely, Little Guards is the favorite program, it always fills fast,” Scurich said. “After that, it would be the Junior Guards in general, depending on the age group. Day camps like Super Camp, Camp Spot and Adventure Camp are also really popular.”

 

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Camp Harmon: Where Campers with Disabilities Thrive

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Family Life

Written by Tara Leonard

BOULDER CREEK (April 2010) -- Every parent of a summer camper knows how scary it is the first time you drop off your child. Will he make friends? Will she be able to sleep? Who will take care of him if he gets hurt or lonely? For Jill Winston of Santa Cruz, the experience was the same. “I was nervous waiting in line to check Rozie in,” Winston recalled. “But then I saw a camper in front of us in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank. I just cried. I was so amazed that this person could have a camp experience. I thought if they can handle that child for a week, surely they can handle my Rozie.”
Welcome to Camp Harmon, where children and adults with disabilities play, laugh and learn just like campers everywhere.

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Meat Markets Go Local, Organic

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Food

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (March 2010) - The fast-evolving market for organic meat has caused a shakeup in grocery store meat departments locally, with some stores switching to California-grown organic meats and others adding organics for the first time.
In the past few months, New Leaf Community Markets have begun stocking California-raised natural and organic grass-fed beef, replacing a line of organic meats produced in Uruguay. Staff of Life market has also jettisoned its Uruguayan organic beef in favor of a California-raised brand. Even venerable Shopper’s Corner, which has sold prime conventionally-raised beef for more than 70 years, has recently added a small selection of organic beef to its popular meat counter.
What a change from 2008, when the only organic beef in local stores came from South America or a feedlot in the Midwest, and shoppers who bought organic were mainly concerned about drug or pesticide residues in the meat. Few worried about their burger’s carbon footprint, humane treatment for the animals or how many miles their steak traveled between pasture and market.

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Swanton Pacific Ranch - Raising Beef 'Old School'

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Farm & Garden

Written by Maria Gaura

DAVENPORT (March 2010) – The mother cow lowed and shifted her hooves nervously as Gordon Claassen stepped carefully toward the calf who curled, sleeping, in a clump of fresh grass beneath a low-slung oak tree.
"Looks like a male, to me, judging from the size of the head," Claassen murmured, crouching a few feet away from the drowsy calf. "He's just a few hours old, brand-new." The calf raised his head briefly, blinked his milky blue eyes, then settled down to resume his nap.
March is the beginning of calf season at Swanton Pacific Ranch, a 3,200-acre teaching ranch located in the coastal hills just north of the town of Davenport. The ranch is owned by Cal Poly State University, and the sleepy newborn under the tree was one of 50 calves expected to be born this spring to a herd managed by the school's natural grass-fed beef production program.

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Add Your Two Cents On SantaCruzWire.com

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Arts and Review

SANTA CRUZ (March 2010) - We’ve added a new service to SantaCruzWire.com – software that allows visitors to comment immediately about stories on our site, and to exchange views with other readers.
Thank you for checking out this new application, and please excuse our mess over the next few weeks as we work out some of the kinks in the system.
We hope this new feature will encourage readers to participate in and expand our ongoing discussion of community issues. We’re looking forward to having more of the amazing conversations we now enjoy with our readers when we meet them at the store, on campus and downtown.

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Maggie Vessey - See How She Runs

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La Vida Local

By Peggy Townsend
SANTA CRUZ (MARCH 2010) — Maggie Vessey’s first indication she might become a world-class runner came when she was 6 years old. Her much-older cousin had challenged Vessey to a footrace and the two took off running across a practice field at Mar Vista Elementary School.  Vessey won easily.
“I felt as tall as she was. It was just effortless,” said the now 5-foot-8 Vessey.  “Running was the most pure feeling of being alive. I felt it even as a kid.”
But some of that joy began to leak out of running as word got around about Vessey’s innate ability, and other kids began challenging her to races. “It was a tangled web,” Vessey said as she sipped a bottled water after a recent training run, “because I liked to beat people too.”
Now 28 and about to embark on a series of track races that will take her around the world, Vessey still copes with the yin and yang of her sport: the nerves and insecurities that competition brings against the absolute freedom and joy of running. She has spent the past years working hard to find a balance, she said: not only in track, but also in her life.

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Canine Chaos: Why Dogs Don't Belong in Downtown Santa Cruz

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La Vida Local

Written by Tara Leonard

SANTA CRUZ (March, 2010) - I’m a dog person. My house is littered with slobbery tennis balls, my car stocked with extra leashes and dog treats. Sometimes the very best part of my day is spent tossing a stick for my ridiculously enthusiastic pets who are ceaselessly entertained by the joy of retrieval. It’s impossible not to share their delight in the everyday routine of walks, play and meals (Food? For me? I LOVE you!). In short, I think everyone should have a dog.
Just not downtown.

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Practice Makes Perfect: Music Students Shine at Certificate of Merit Exam

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La Vida Local

Written by Tara Leonard

SANTA CRUZ (March, 2010) - Eleven-year-old Isabel Corser sat at the upright piano, her blond hair still wet from swim practice, her bare right foot working the damper pedal as she played a lulling rendition of Sparkling Waters by Martha Sherrill Kelsey. Finishing with a confident flourish she said, “That piece is flowing, so it makes me think of a river moving. But my other one is completely different.” Turning back to the keyboard, she launched into a bouncy, happy Little Joke by Kabalevsky. “That one is more staccato,” she explained. “If you were walking, staccato would mean you pick up your feet quickly.”
Corser, along with more than 29,000 music students across California, is practicing for the annual Certificate of Merit music exam. For over 70 years CM, as students call it, has been sponsored by the Music Teachers Association of California (MTAC), a statewide network of professional music teachers. Here in Santa Cruz County, the exam takes place on Sunday, March 21.

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Farewell To The Corn Dog - Santa Cruz Transforms School Lunch

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Food

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (February 2010) - Jamie Smith is a friendly guy - he’s just impatient, and very direct. The new food service director for Santa Cruz City Schools is on a mission to evict junk food from district cafeterias, and replace it with fresh, healthy, scratch-cooked meals.
That may explain why, when Smith strides into the kitchen at Gault Elementary School or Harbor High, some staffers greet him with a smile and a handshake, and others get that unmistakable “oh, no!” look in their eyes.
It’s not clear that Smith notices the occasional look of dismay. He’s stalking the premises, often with a cell phone mashed to his ear, peering into steam trays and coolers, and rummaging through paperwork. But he doesn’t appear to miss much.
On a recent visit to a district elementary, Smith was chatting up a few employees when a deliveryman slapped a receipt on the counter and said “here’s the bill for the ice cream”. Smith gazed at the deliveryman’s retreating back and said mildly, “Ice cream on campus? Oh, my.”

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A Woman's Place Is On The Force

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La Vida Local

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (February 2010) - When Patty Sapone was 20 years old and studying to be a police officer, she took a job working security at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – the first woman ever to hold that position. There wasn’t much of a honeymoon period.
“It was rough-and-tumble,” Sapone said recently, grinning at the memory. “I got in a fight my second day at the job. I’d never been in a fight in my life before I put a uniform on.” Sapone won the scuffle. And she learned something about her abilities as a woman entering a traditionally male profession.
“I learned that I could jump in, and I could prevail physically,” Sapone said. “It’s not so much that you need a certain personality type to succeed (in police work), but you need the realization that you can do these things, and you can prevail.”
Sapone went on to thrive in a profession that is nearly as male-dominated today as it was when she took her first patrol job with the Santa Cruz Police Department in 1980.  Sapone retires this month with the rank of Deputy Chief, earned in the course of a 30-year career with the SCPD.

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Will Bankruptcy Strengthen the Santa Cruz Sentinel?

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La Vida Local

Written by Maria Gaura

SANTA CRUZ (January 2010) – After more than a year of increasingly urgent rumors, the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s parent company filed for bankruptcy protection January 22, a move expected to vaporize $765 million in bad debt and transfer most of the company’s stock to its creditors.
Losing more than three-quarters of a billion dollars would be considered a grim turn of events for nearly any company. But many media observers say they are cheered by the terms of the MediaNews Group bankruptcy, and expect it to benefit the Sentinel, its workers and news consumers in Santa Cruz County and beyond.
“I see all of this as good news for the papers, employees and debt holders of MediaNews Group,” said Mario van Dongen, a former Sentinel publisher who is now director of sales and marketing at the Portland Oregonian. “Cutting the debt … will give the papers some very important breathing room.”

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