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By Chris Neklason
Published Jul 01, 2024

Um, how much for the fire extinguisher? Um, how much for the fire extinguisher? Image credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr   Creative Commons 2.0

Staying Safe and Sane

Back when I was a young kid growing up in sixties era Redwood City, the Fourth of July was a big deal because I loved fireworks. 

As the day approached, I'd gaze at the colorful newspaper ads and brochures, and consider which of the different assortment packs my brothers and I would wheedle and plead our father into buying.

The fireworks sold from stands in parking lots back then all came from the Red Devil fireworks company. 

A favorite was the Piccolo Pete, a thin cardboard tube with a portruding fuse and a little plastic stand that was placed upright on the ground. I'd light the fuse and then run back a few yards and a bright vertical geyser of sparks would erupt with a loud piercing whistling noise.

Another favorite was pinwheels, round cardboard discs with a little rocket on the outer edge. Our father would nail one to a telephone pole and light the fuse and the wheel would spin furiously, propelled by the sparks from the blazing rocket in a flaming circle.

Like many industries, the fireworks business has consolidated and Red Devil was acquired by TNT Fireworks in 1989.  TNT has come a long way since it began in 1920 when Clyde Anderson started selling fireworks from his newsstand in Florence, Alabama.  

My perspective on fireworks, though,  has been altered over the years by being a land owner and a pet owner.  

The booms, bangs and whisling shrieks are distressing to many pets, and the houses and acres ignited by celebratory revelers keep fire departments across the state busy for days and days.

This Fourth of July marks the 248th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and we at California Local wish you (and your pets!) a safe and sane holiday. 

An App For That

This issue of The Newsletter continues our focus on fire season as the Flash/Bolt and Basin fires burning in Fresno County have thus far consumed a combined 22,000 acres. The fires grew very rapidly, and evacuation orders have been issued for several affected areas.  Folks didn't get a lot of notice to get up and go.

The need to know "what is happening near me right now" has become more pressing as fires increase in frequency and intensity.

Our featured story is about how a resident of northern California turned their experience from the awful summer fires of 2020 into One Good Thing.

Volunteers Keeping Watch Over California

Where there's smoke, there's fire. Watch Duty has all the details in one place.
The Watch Duty team monitors a variety of real-time information resources and compiles all the information in one place.

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Santa Cruz County's Homepage

Direct your browser to to catch up on the latest news in California and Santa Cruz County. Bookmark the link and visit often, there's a lot happening in your community!

Fire Season is Mosquito Season is West Nile Season

More than an itch-inducing nuisance, the mosquito is the world's deadliest animal.

Mosquito season is already underway after a wet winter and spring, and testing has confirmed West Nile virus present in Sacramento, Yolo and San Joaquin Counties.

Learn more about West Nile and the efforts to control mosquito populations in the articles below.

West Nile Virus Survivor Offers a Warning and a Plea

In the years since she recovered from a severe illness brought on by West Nile Virus, Marie Heilman has helped spread the word about the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District's "Fight the Bite" campaign.
Marie Heilman of Winters, who is happy to be alive, wants people to guard against mosquitoes and the deadly virus they carry.

Taking a Bite Out of the Mosquito Population

Mosquitos kill about 725,000 people every year, worldwide.
The pesky mosquito can be deadly as well as annoying. Here’s how local governments in California have been waging war on mosquitoes for more than a century.

Recipe of the Week

Our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening publish a recipe from their gardens every Sunday, which we feature here so you can start your week with some yum.

See more recipes in their Taste Summer! cookbook.

Pop apricots on the grill for this flavorful summer salad

Grilled apricots are the star of this early summer salad.
New! Grilled apricot and feta salad with balsamic vinaigrette

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Get to Know a Group

Santa Cruz Baroque Festival logo Santa Cruz Baroque Festival

The Santa Cruz Baroque Festival has been active since 1974, presenting early music as it sounded in its own era. Members strive for artistic excellence while transmitting the joy of Baroque music to future generations.

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From Our Media Allies

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KSQD logo All About Sea Otters With PK Hattis

With the recent reemergence of otter 841, the surfboard swiping sea critter raised in captivity, I'll be facilitating a panel conversation that includes several sea otter experts and the local photographer whose photos went viral about a year ago.

Santa Cruz Local logo Santa Cruz County Jobs Rebound, but Housing Costs, Aging Population Remain Challenges

Santa Cruz County’s job growth has rebounded from the pandemic slower than the state average, and new jobs in the county were led by emerging industries in biotechnology, transportation and manufacturing, according to a 2024 State of the Workforce report …

The Pajaronian logo Sí Se Puede Breaks Ground for New Facility

An organization that helps men break free from drug and alcohol addiction officially broke ground on June 21 on a new Behavioral Health Center on Miles Lane in Watsonville.

Press Banner logo Boulder Creek Fire Siren to Sound Weekly Starting July 2

For years, the motto of the Boulder Creek Fire Protection District has been, “Yours when the siren sounds.” Now, residents of Boulder Creek can expect to hear that siren a little more regularly.

Press Banner logo Ceremony Celebrates Launch of Damians Ladder

Last Friday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the Scotts Valley Senior Center for Damians Ladder, a nonprofit organization that’s already been making an impact in the lives of seniors in Scotts Valley and the San Lorenzo Valley for months.

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Press Banner logo Surfnet Awarded $10M State Grant to Deliver Fiber Broadband to Rural Region

Surfnet Communications Inc., a leading internet service provider for underserved Central Coast communities, has been awarded $10 million by the California Public Utilities Commission for its new initiative to extend high-speed, fiber broadband services to rural communities in Santa Cruz, …

Good Times logo New City Looms in South of Laurel Area Plan

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Good Times logo Aptos Creek Fire Road Trail Hike

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Recent Local News

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• City of Santa Cruz Considers Options Following SCOTUS Homeless Ruling

Santa Cruz officials are reviewing homelessness policies in the wake of the US Supreme Court ruling in the Grants Pass v Johnson case.

(06/28/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

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(06/27/2024) → Lookout Local

• Mountain Charlie Road Woes Continue

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(06/26/2024) → Lookout Local

• Supervisors Pull Low-Impact Camp Ordinance

In their June 25 meeting in which residents expressed deep public safety concerns, Santa Cruz County Supervisors withdrew a proposed a Low-Impact Camping Area proposal.

(06/26/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• City of Watsonville Charter Amendments Advance to November Ballot

In its June 25 meeting, the Watsonville City Council voted to advance two proposed changes to the city charter to the November ballot.

(06/26/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel
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Recent Statewide News

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• Does a Proposed $10 Billion Bond Favor Richer California School Districts?

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(07/01/2024) → CalMatters

• SCOTUS Rules Cities Can Ban Homeless Camps

The Supreme Court 6-3 ruling in the City of Grants Pass v. Johnson case found that the fining and arresting of homeless people does not violate Eighth Amendment rights.

(06/28/2024) → The Sacramento Bee

• Supreme Court Gives Cities in California and Beyond More Power to Crack Down on Homeless Camps

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(06/28/2024) → CalMatters

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• California’s Debate Over Coastal Zone Reforms Has Created a False Choice Between Homes and Protections

A push to bolster housing production in California's coastal communities in recent years has led to heated battles over potential state reforms. Below, a veteran elected official believes the debate has created a false choice between housing and protections. The opposing view: A former attorney for the Coastal Commission says the state Coastal Act has failed to deliver on what it envisioned.

(06/25/2024) → CalMatters
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Government Announcements

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Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (07/01/2024)

Santa Cruz County Public Health Officials Encourage Residents to Stay Cool, Hydrated and Informed During High Heat

Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (07/01/2024)

Los Oficiales de Salud Pública del Condado de Santa Cruz Aconsejan a los Residentes a Mantenerse Frescos, Hidratatos e Informados Durante el Calor Intenso

Image of United States seal. United States   (06/30/2024)

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Image of State of California seal. State of California   (06/28/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Supports Legislation Providing Youth a Safe Space in Education

Addis Supports Legislation Providing Youth a Safe Space in Education sanchema Fri, 06/28/2024 - 08:58 Friday, June 28, 2024
Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (06/28/2024)

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Image of State of California seal. State of California   (06/27/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
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Image of City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (06/26/2024)

Newly acquired drones to help crack down on illegal fireworks

Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (06/26/2024)

6/26/2024 - Ordinance Would Regulate E-bikes on Sidewalks

Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (06/26/2024)

6/26/2024 - Increased Fines in Effect for 4th of July Holiday

Image of City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (06/25/2024)

Books and Bites: Nutrition and Wellness

Interested in learning about nutrition and wellness? Pajaro Valley Health Trust will be hosting nutrition and physical well-being classes twice each month for our community.