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In 'season of miracles,' volunteers and toys needed

Modified: Tuesday, Nov 24th, 2015
Toys for Tots hoping for help
WATSONVILLE -- As holiday revelers prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving and hit the stores, a team of volunteers is ramping up to make sure children throughout the county have something to unwrap Christmas morning.
In a warehouse in an industrial sector of Watsonville, volunteers have already gathered an impressive pile of

Homelessness, crime decrease

Posted: Monday, Nov 23rd, 2015

Community Assessment Project also shows gap between Latinos, whites

APTOS -- Homelessness in Santa Cruz County has declined 44 percent since 2013, shrinking from more than 3,500 to 1,964 this year.
The decrease came thanks to two projects designed to house homeless county residents and one geared toward veterans.
It was part of Monday's release

Volunteer Center gearing for holiday season

Posted: Monday, Nov 23rd, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- With Thanksgiving on Thursday marking the unofficial start of the holiday season, the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County is in the midst of arguably its busiest time of the year.
"Our phone lines always pick up this time of year, with community members and businesses looking for new ways to reach out," said Christina Thurston, Volunteer Mobilization

Watsonville teen shot dead

Posted: Monday, Nov 23rd, 2015

Suspect is arrested 13 hours later

WATSONVILLE -- A Watsonville teen was shot dead late Sunday and a 16-year-old boy has been arrested in the city's second homicide in less than a week.
Mario Daniel Hernandez, 19, was shot multiple times in the torso at 10:40 p.m. on the 200 block of Clifford Avenue, said Lt.

Fermenting a change

Posted: Friday, Nov 20th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- A California restaurateur and chef living in Germany found inspiration in a tangy, aromatic side dish called sauerkraut.
Knowing that the dish would catch on with U.S. consumers, Kathryn Lukas returned to her homeland to found Farmhouse Culture, which began its life in 2008 in two small rooms in the Sash Mill in Santa Cruz.

Conservation Corps supervisor retiring

Posted: Friday, Nov 20th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- After 32 years of working in environmental conservation, Sharon Hazel of Watsonville is setting the shovel aside and welcoming a new chapter in her life.
Retiring as a Conservationist 1 Supervisor with the California Conservation Corps, Hazel said it was time to move on.
"I am much appreciative of all of my wonderful mentors and colleagues,"

Person of interest in homicide turns herself in

Posted: Friday, Nov 20th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- A woman who was considered a person of interest in a fatal shooting on Jefferson Street Tuesday turned herself in Wednesday, Watsonville Police announced Friday.
Rachelle Vasquez, 30, is not under arrest and the investigation is still continuing. Damian Baxter, 29, remains a person of interest. 
Watsonville resident Jesus Rocha, 33, was shot multiple times in

Drivers hope training program fills ranks

Posted: Friday, Nov 20th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- A group of Pajaro Valley Unified School District bus drivers addressed the board of trustees Wednesday, describing how the low numbers of drivers has made their jobs difficult.
"We have been covering 65 routes, nine of which are open," said driver Kate Hitt. "We have not gotten any new drivers."
The problem was exacerbated after several

Officer taken to hospital after collision

Posted: Friday, Nov 20th, 2015
AROMAS -- A Watsonville motorcycle officer suffered moderate injuries after he collided with a truck in Aromas Friday morning.
According to police, the officer was on his way to work when he collided with a box truck making a left turn on the 1400 block of San Juan Road. The officer was traveling west on San Juan Road when the box

Anna Caballero to vie for 30th Assembly seat

Modified: Thursday, Nov 19th, 2015
SALINAS -- Flanked by a cadre of elected officials, friends and supporters, former California Assemblywoman Anna Caballero announced her plan Thursday to again run for that seat for the 2016 election.
She will face off against Watsonville City Councilwoman Karina Cervantez Alejo and Gilroy City Councilman Peter Leroe-Muñoz.
Caballero's supporters at the event included Watsonville City Councilwoman Trina Coffman-Gomez

Victim ID'd in fatal shooting

Posted: Thursday, Nov 19th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- Police identified Watsonville resident Jesus Rocha, 33, as the victim in Tuesday's homicide on Palm Avenue.
According to Detective Elizabeth Sousa, Rocha was shot multiple times and died shortly after around 11:25 a.m.
Rocha is known to police, Sousa said.
The motive has still not been determined, and police are asking for the public's assistance in the investigation.

City approves fire substation on east side

Modified: Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- The Watsonville City Council approved a one-year lease for a fire substation located in a private home on the east side of the city Tuesday.
The Council voted 6-1 to establish a substation on 425 East Lake Ave., amid concerns on location and how it was selected. Councilman Jimmy Dutra cast the dissenting vote.
The substation

Downtown plan going out to bid

Modified: Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- As the city decided not to pursue a takeover of Highway 152, it will move forward with a plan that aims to revitalize downtown.
The City Council voted 6-1 to seek bids to construct the "road diet" plan for Main Street, with Mayor Nancy Bilicich dissenting. After the decision, the Council then voted 6-1 to not

Two sought for questioning in fatal shooting

Modified: Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- Watsonville Police on Wednesday named two "persons of interest" in the shooting death of a man on Jefferson Street that occurred Tuesday morning.
Damian Baxter, 29, and Rachelle Vasquez, 30, are being sought for questioning.
A witness who asked not to be identified said he heard three shots approximately 11:30 a.m., and someone screaming, "why did

Saying goodbye to Manny

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2015

Hundreds attend send-off party

WATSONVILLE -- The Community Room on the fourth floor of the Watsonville Civic Plaza was packed with friends, family and supporters Tuesday afternoon as outgoing Watsonville Police Chief Manny Solano said goodbye to the community in a brief party.
Solano's last day is Dec. 17.
It is unclear who will

Man shot, killed near California/Jefferson streets

Modified: Tuesday, Nov 17th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- A man was shot and killed near California and Jefferson streets Tuesday morning.
A witness said they heard three shots around 11:30 a.m., and someone screaming "why did he do it."
Police are investigating whether the incident was gang-related.
Jefferson Street at California Street is closed during the investigation.
This story will be updated.

Rampage damages Watsonville High

Posted: Tuesday, Nov 17th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- In the cold, rainy pre-dawn hours Sunday morning, someone entered a locked construction site, stole an excavator and used it to damage two buildings at Watsonville High School, one of them seriously.
The excavator was among the equipment being used for an ongoing project to build 10 new classrooms.
According to Assistant Principal Eric Olsen, the unknown

Hostage situation ends peacefully

Posted: Tuesday, Nov 17th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- A Watsonville man is in custody following an eight-hour standoff with police that involved a hostage situation.
Watsonville Police Sgt. Brian Ridgway said the ordeal began about 12:35 a.m. Sunday when an anonymous caller used a cell phone to report he was outside his apartment hallucinating and he was armed with a firearm. He was unable to

Annual event held to help those affected by suicide

Posted: Tuesday, Nov 17th, 2015
LA SELVA BEACH -- For people who have lost someone to suicide, whether it was a spouse, child, sibling or a friend, there is one day a year where these survivors focus on sharing and healing.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention created a program distributed globally once a year around the world in an effort to create a

Digital NEST throws first birthday party

Posted: Tuesday, Nov 17th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- Digital NEST celebrated its first anniversary Monday as it finalizes plans to move to a new, bigger location.
To date, Digital NEST has been recognized many times in the community, even being given a donation of laptops from Facebook for its work with young people.
"Today is our one-year anniversary of opening our doors here," Executive Director Jacob

Finding inspiration: Former Watsonville student finds her dream job

Posted: Friday, Nov 13th, 2015
When Watsonville resident Roxie Brown was a fifth-grader at Mount Madonna School, she learned during a talk on renewable energy that solar, wind and other alternative fuel sources were vastly underutilized in the U.S.
Indignant, she raised her hand to ask why. 
The reason, she was told, was that she had not yet grown up and changed the

Watsonville skydiving instructor’s team wins competition

Modified: Friday, Nov 13th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- After more than 200 practice runs, a team that included a financial advisor, an avionics specialist, a nurse and an engineer jumped out of an airplane at 10,000 feet and came together in mid-air to perform a series of award-winning aerobatic moves high above an Arizona desert.
The team, Bay Area-based Motiv8 XP, took home the gold

Farr announces retirement

Modified: Friday, Nov 13th, 2015
SALINAS -- With his wife Shary at his side and a room packed with supporters, Congressman Sam Farr on Thursday announced he will not seek reelection next year, an announcement that ends an uninterrupted 23-year stint in Congress and a political career that spanned four decades.
He will serve out the remainder of his term, which ends in January

Goat Hill Fair returns to the fairgrounds

Posted: Friday, Nov 13th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- The Goat Hill Fair is billed as not being your average antique show.
Massive displays of vintage items, from furniture, clothing, jewelry, and even "robots" made out of vintage items, line the halls of the fairgrounds' J.J. Crosetti Building and Harvest Building.
"We are not a stuffy antique show," said creator Cyndi Garofalo. "The displays are

City may abort Hwy. 152 takeover plans

Posted: Friday, Nov 13th, 2015
WATSONVILLE -- After four years of studies and consideration, city officials may abort plans to take over Highway 152 from the state.
City staff are recommending the City Council not pursue the relinquishment of the 4.6-mile stretch of Highway 152, which is also known as Main Street through a section of downtown. The Council will make a decision during its

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