News Briefs 12/19/2002
Thursday, December 19, 2002
Presidio Gate Goes High Tech The Army will install some cutting-edge security equipment at the Presidio''s Franklin Street gate this winter to further protect the Monterey post from potential terrorist attack. From now until mid-April, the main gate will be closed while work crews install a more fortified entrance.
"They''re reinforcing it for better force protection," says Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the Presidio of Monterey. "They''re making it a more permanent structure."
The plan is to construct a guardhouse to replace the trailers in use by guards now, as well as other unspecified measures. Murphy says he is not sure if any security devices, detectors or scanners will be installed in the ground.
However, Murphy did say an automatic identity scanner will be added so soldiers can be identified as they enter the post. The military now has identification cards with a biometric computer chip that verifies the bearer''s identity; a biometric reading device will be installed at the gate.
Before Sept. 11, the Presidio was an open post. In the months prior to the attacks, the Army began an incremental plan to step up security at its bases around the world. Here in Monterey, public access to and through the Presidio was to be gradually stopped. Now security is tight, with armed soldiers at the gates around the clock.
While the Franklin Street gate is being retrofitted, the Bolio and Artillery Street gates will be in use.
Kids Need Toys
Thinkyou''re done holiday shopping? Please reconsider. John XXIII AIDS Ministry, a local nonprofit that provides housing and support services to people living with HIV, needs help.
For the first time in five years, the John XXIII gift drive has a shortage of Christmas presents for kids and teens living in homes affected by HIV and AIDS.
"One of the toughest things about HIV is the way that it influences the ability of an adult to earn income," says executive director Katherine Thoeni. "For many of our kids, the only gifts under the tree on Christmas morning come from this gift drive."
The annual campaign, sponsored by the Lighthouse Bar & Grill, collects gifts for all ages, from infants to teenagers. Children''s Wish Lists are available at 655-1737.
Drop-off sites include John XXIII, 1098 Del Monte Ave., Suite C, Monterey; Angelina''s Bakery, 1725 Freemont Blvd., Seaside; Cardinale & Wright Christmas Trees, Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey; Coffee Expresso, 1552 N. Main St., Salinas; Portobello''s/Zeth''s One Stop, 1366 S. Main St., Salinas.
Elkhorn''s Holdings Grow
TheElkhorn Slough Foundation recently acquired two ranches totaling 535 acres near Las Lomas--another big win for the Foundation and the lands it seeks to protect.
The ranches are the first purchases since the Foundation announced in June that it plans to double its holding--from about 2,000 acres to more than 4,000 acres--over the next three years.
The ranches adjoin Carneros Creek, which supplies the slough with 70 percent of its fresh water. Director Mark Silberstein said the Foundation will restore a 17-acre fresh water marsh and protect another 20 acres of creekside vegetation on the lands. These steps will help reduce sediment build-up in the slough. The Foundation also plans to manage upland slopes in order to reduce soil erosion.
Negotiations are underway on several other properties in the Elkhorn Slough watershed, Silberstein says, adding that the Foundation is seeking funds to care for the land it is acquiring. Last month the Foundation spent $60,000 to build sediment catch basins and take other steps to reduce soil runoff into the slough.
"Ultimately, that''s what all of this is about--keeping Elkhorn Slough clean, healthy and productive," Silberstein says.
Water Board Tables Cal-Am Takeover
Atits Dec. 16 meeting, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District Board of Directors axed plans to takeover Cal-Am, the water company it regulates--for the time being, anyway.
On Monday, the water board was expected to authorize a preliminary study on the purchase of the Monterey Division of the California-American Water Company. Instead, board member Zan Henson tabled the vote.
"After receiving the information from staff, Director Henson tabled the item," says Rick Dickhaut, the water district''s Chief Financial Officer. "He indicated he might do some more study on his own."
Cal-Am Vice President Steven Leonard, who manages the water company''s Monterey Division, has repeatedly said the local facilities are not for sale.
According to Dickhaut, the possibility of a Cal-Am takeover by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District is off the table.
"As far as we''re concerned, that''s it for now," Dickhaut says. "It''s back in Director Henson''s court."
--Andrew Scutro, Jessica Lyons>