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By Eric Johnson
Published Apr 08, 2024

The Douglas iris is a wildflower native to central and northern California and parts of southern Oregon. The Douglas iris is a wildflower native to central and northern California and parts of southern Oregon. Image credit: Traci Hukill

Greetings & Spring Things from Santa Cruz

(Blogpost extra: In a last-minute addition to this edition of The Newsletter, I share some thoughts on today's eclipse. See below.)

The first time I recall encountering a field of Douglas irises, which may have been at Wilder Ranch State Park just north of Santa Cruz, I looked around for the ruins of a homestead. It didn't occur to me that these could be wildflowers—I figured they had to be remnants of some long-ago-planted garden.

I grew up ten miles from Manhattan in New Jersey, which is known as the Garden State, and deserves that nickname outside the brutalized swath that is the Turnpike. But the woods that flanked the Hackensack River and surrounded the Oradell Reservoir, my childhood nature refuges, had nothing to compare with the Douglas iris. Or the California poppy. Or, to my knowledge, the Calochortus lily (see below). All of California is special in my eyes, and Santa Cruz maybe especially so.

I write as always from my beloved home in the urban forest that is Midtown Sacramento, and take you today to another of my hometowns. 

A Spring Guide, a Garden, and a Bunch of Pretty Murals

Even if you aren't planning to visit Santa Cruz this spring, you might enjoy this virtual visit. 

Natural Wonders of Santa Cruz ... Spring Renewal

When walking around this spring, keep an eye out for the stunning Calochortus lily.
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History has some tips on what to see in the blossoming new season, from wildflowers to migrating shorebirds to humpback whales.

A Native-Plant Garden Helps Transform a Neighborhood

Felicia Van Stolk in her museum's front-yard garden.
On Hilltromper, a conversation with Felicia Van Stolk of the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History about her Garden Learning Center.

Santa Cruz Murals

An online gallery of the murals of Santa Cruz County.
Santa Cruz County is home to amazing murals. One amazing person is working to document them in one place.

Eclipse 2024: Coincidence or Miracle?

Three pieces in the nation's two biggest newspapers on Sunday investigated the eclipse, the emotion we call "awe," and the meaning of the universe.

The Universe Winks

A  total solar eclipse can offer a rare opportunity to see stars and planets during the day.
There is no scientific explanation for the conditions that make an eclipse inevitable. It’s a coincidence. Or a miracle.

Impact Report Image for decorative use

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San Benito County's Homepage

Our overview page for San Benito County is updated daily with the latest state and local news, weather alerts, local government announcements and local blog posts and news snippets from community groups and individuals.
Direct your browser to to catch up on the latest news in California and San Benito County. Bookmark the link and visit often, there's a lot happening in your community!

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Since 1957, the Historical Society has devoted itself to collecting and preserving materials pertaining to the San Benito County of yesteryear.

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From Our Media Allies

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SanBenitocom logo New Slow Growth Initiative Gathers Signatures

A new initiative to put land use decisions in the hands of San Benito County residents is currently circulating, the latest political effort by slow-growth advocates in the area.

SanBenitocom logo Hospital Board to Appeal Bankruptcy Decision

The San Benito Health Care District announced that it is planning to appeal the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s ruling that denied the district’s Chapter 9 filing for Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital.

Gilroy Dispatch logo Construction Set to Begin on Downtown Gourmet Alley Upgrades

The City of Gilroy is set to begin construction to transform the downtown Gourmet Alley into a modern, spacious, pedestrian-friendly corridor.

SanBenitocom logo Hollister Entrepreneur Opening Brass Tap Location

New restaurant/bar targets summer opening on Airline Highway.

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Recent Local News

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• San Benito County Women Honored by Senator Caballero

Elaine Klauer and Krystal Lomanto are among Woman of the Year and Woman of Distinction in Education honorees, respectively, for Senate District 14.

(04/06/2024) → Benito Link

• San Juan Bautista Considers Food Truck Ordinance

The San Juan Bautista City Council considered a draft ordinance reducing restrictions on food trucks operating in the city.

(04/05/2024) → Benito Link

• Hazel Hawkins Nurses Rally

The union representing Hazel Hawkins nurses organized a rally, calling for hospital management to drop its bankruptcy appeal and focus on services.

(04/05/2024) → Benito Link

• Permit Extension Granted for Residential Development Project

The Hollister Planning Commission approved a one year permit extension for a 100-unit residential project on Buena Vista Road during its March 28 meeting.

(04/03/2024) → Benito Link

• March 5 Primary Election Results Certified

The 2024 March 5 election results were certified by the San Benito County Elections on March 29.

(04/01/2024) → Benito Link
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Recent Statewide News

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• California Fails to Adequately Help Blind and Deaf Prisoners, US Judge Rules

Thirty years after prisoners with disabilities sued the state of California and 25 years after a federal court first ordered accommodations, a judge found that state prison and parole officials still are not doing enough to help deaf and blind prisoners.

(04/08/2024) → California Healthline

• Business Groups and Lawmakers Battle Over Ballot Measure to Limit California Tax Increases

Anti-tax groups in California have qualified a measure for the November ballot that would make raising state and local taxes much more difficult. It’s a showdown that’s been building for nearly five decades.

(04/08/2024) → CalMatters

• Opinion: I've Covered California's Homeless Since Before the Word Was Used. This Is What I Learned

I thought my journalism and others’ could change policy, perhaps even inspire a New Deal-style response equal to the challenge. Such was my naiveté.

(04/06/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• These Californians Just Got Protection From Big Rent Hikes

Tenants in many new privately owned, low-income units will be protected from double-digit increases. So will some in existing units, after a state committee on affordable housing imposed a rent cap.

(04/05/2024) → CalMatters

• CA Budget Deal Gets Early Start on Deficit

Not filling open positions in state government, cutting a school facilities program and several climate initiatives, delaying funding for public transit — these are some of the first steps that California officials plan to take to deal with a looming multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

(04/05/2024) → CalMatters

• Bill to Mandate ‘Science of Reading’ in California Schools Faces Teachers Union Opposition

The move puts the fate of AB 2222 in question, but supporters insist that there is room to negotiate changes that can help tackle the state's literacy crisis.

(04/04/2024) → EdSource

• Photographers Capture Spectacular Streaking Lights of Southern California

It quickly became clear that Elon Musk’s SpaceX was responsible for the show. The lights were a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 22 new Starlink satellites into orbit. The rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base at 7:30 p.m., and it’s trail was visible from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park.

(04/02/2024) → SF Gate
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Government Announcements

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Image of United States seal. United States   (04/05/2024)

Global Mix, Inc Recalls Tejocote Products Because of Possible Health Risk

Global Mix, Inc. of New York, is recalling tejocote products to include the following brands: Eva Nutrition, Science of Alpha, Niwali, NWL Nutra. The recalled products are labeled as tejocote root but are toxic yellow oleander. Ingestion of yellow oleander can cause neurologic, gastrointestinal, an
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (04/05/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Bill on Ratepayer Transparency Passes First Committee

Addis Bill on Ratepayer Transparency Passes First Committee sanchema Fri, 04/05/2024 - 09:22 Wednesday, April 3, 2024 SACRAMENTOA new bill by Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) to address soaring utility rates by increasing transparency to consumers successfully passed its first committee today. The legislation, Assembly Bill 2847, passed out of the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee with bipartisan support. "It's …
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (04/03/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Tackles Gender Violence with Legislation for Survivors

Addis Tackles Gender Violence with Legislation for Survivors sanchema Wed, 04/03/2024 - 11:19 Tuesday, April 2, 2024 SACRAMENTOAssemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) joined elected officials, including Assemblymember Mike Fong, Chair of Assembly Higher Education Committee, and Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis to announce their legislative package that tackles sex discrimination and harassment in California's higher education institutions. Assembly Bill (AB) 1905, introduced …
Image of United States seal. United States   (04/02/2024)

World Green Nutrition, Inc. Announces Expansion of Recall of Tejocote Products Due to the Presence of Yellow Oleander

World Green Nutrition, Inc is announcing the expansion of their January 12, 2024 recall to include GREEN ELV NUTRITION brand Elv Control Herbal Supplement 90 capsules, due to the presence of yellow oleander. These additional products have been found via random FDA testing to contain yellow oleander,
Image of United States seal. United States   (04/02/2024)

Abdallah Candies Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Almond in Abdallahs 8 oz. Sea Salt Almond Alligators

Abdallah Candies of Apple Valley, MN is voluntarily recalling a limited quantity of Abdallah Candies 8 oz. sea salt almond alligators. The products have a chocolate covered cherries label with code 0315 on the bottom of the box. The boxes do contain sea salt almond alligators but have an incorrect i
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (04/02/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Issues Statement on Highway 1 Rocky Creek Collapse

Addis Issues Statement on Highway 1 Rocky Creek Collapse sanchema Tue, 04/02/2024 - 10:49 Monday, April 1, 2024 SACRAMENTO Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) issued the following statement in response to the collapse of Highway 1 south of the Rocky Creek Bridge at Palo Colorado, which stranded an estimated 1,600 people: "Big Sur is an important region both for its …
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (04/01/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Central Coast Legislative Caucus Announces 2024 Bill Package

Central Coast Legislative Caucus Announces 2024 Bill Package sanchema Mon, 04/01/2024 - 08:56 Thursday, March 28, 2024 SACRAMENTO The California Central Coast Caucus, chaired by Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay), unveiled its bill priorities for the 2024 legislative session. The legislative package is comprised of ten bill priorities each poised to address critical issues facing the region: AB 1407 (Addis) …
Image of United States seal. United States   (03/29/2024)

Lidl Voluntarily Recalls Deluxe Branded Macarons Party Edition Due to Undeclared Allergens

Lidl US has announced a voluntary recall of Deluxe branded Macarons Party Edition due to undeclared allergens. The recall was issued due to undeclared wheat, soy, egg, milk, and tree nuts (almonds, pistachios, and coconut) in the products as a result of non-English ingredient labeling. People who ha
Image of United States seal. United States   (03/29/2024)

Tropicale Foods Recalls Helados Mexico Mini Cream Variety Pack Because of Possible Health Risk

Tropicale Foods of Modesto, CA is voluntarily recalling 5,224 units of Helados Mexico Mini Cream Variety Pack with best by date of "MO Best By 10/11/2025", because the mango bars in the variety pack have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and someti
Image of United States seal. United States   (03/28/2024)

Shawnee Milling Company Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Milk and Egg in "5lb. Food Club All Purpose Flour"

Shawnee Milling Company of Shawnee, Oklahoma is recalling 5 lb.Food Club brand All Purpose Flour with Best if Used by date 03/07/2025, because it may contain undeclared milk and egg. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to eggs or milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic