Thursday, November 27, 2003
State health officials are warning the public--most notably children and pregnant women--not to eat chapulines (grasshoppers), a snack food in the Oaxacan diet available in local groceries and eateries. The discovery of a poisoned Seaside boy lead to a warning last week from the California Department of Health Services. There have been several other poisonings that are also being researched.
"It''s been an ongoing investigation over the last five years," says Dr. Eric Sanford of the Seaside Family Health Center. "This is a breakthrough in our investigation."
According to Sanford, a two-year-old boy was found to have dangerously high levels of lead in his blood during a routine office screening. Lead poisoning is dangerous because it attacks the development of the central nervous system and eventually can degrade all the internal organs.
Lead content in blood is measured in micrograms per deciliter. A reading of 10 micrograms is considered a "threshold for action." A level of 20 endangers a child''s ability to succeed in school. A level of 100 is lethal.
The two-year old boy has a level of 30. Sanford says the symptoms can be hard to detect, possibly as slight as a child getting lower school grades.
"A developing kid might not reach his milestones. It''s pretty subtle stuff," Sanford says.
Heavier poisoning can lead to a person being outwardly jittery, undergo seizures and depression.
Seaside''s Mexican population has a high proportion of people from Oaxaca. Samples of grasshoppers imported from Oaxaca are being tested for lead to determine whether the lead is introduced through fried in lead-enameled cookware or if the insects themselves carry lead. Sanford says some grasshoppers living in the tailings of lead mines were found to have lead in their exoskeletons.
"We have some of the highest levels in the state," says Sanford. "It''s one of those subtle things that even a little bit is bad." [AS]
Sandy Shores Opens Doors
A few weeks ago, a year after scheduled, eight people moved into rehabilitated military housing on the former Fort Ord. Interim, Inc., a Monterey-based nonprofit that provides support services for the mentally ill, christened the refurbished housing Sandy Shores. Designed to offer affordable independent housing for the mentally ill, while still providing support services, the housing has been anticipated as a solution for those ready to move out of an assisted-living program.
This week, phase two of the housing project opens up, providing another eight apartments and lessening the waiting list a bit.
"The people who have moved in are completely thrilled, excited," Interim development director Diana Trapani says. "The couldn''t wait. One woman said, ''I feel like screaming from the rooftops--''I finally have my own home.''"
The rent is based on 30 percent of a tenant''s income; most have about $790 a month in disability incomes. Residents end up paying around $200 a month for their own furnished apartment, which also includes utilities and a kitchen and common area stocked with a TV, coffee pot, dishes and pots and pans.
Cycled through the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) the land was originally purchased by the City of Marina, then sold to Interim for full-market value--$1.5 million, adding to a total project cost of $2.8 million.
With a $300,000, three-year grant from The California Endowment, Sandy Shores also has a full-time nurse on site to assist with nutrition, exercise, coughs and colds, and psychiatric medicine.
Interim anticipates completing phase three of the project--a building with a community room, staff offices, and the new nurse''s office--by the end of this year.
And if an emergency happens, Sandy Shore tenants can use the services at nearby Shelter Cove, Interim''s assisted living program for the mentally ill. Most of the residents at Sandy Shores are familiar with the services, having went through the Shelter Cove program.
"At Shelter Cove they learn the skills to be independent, and at Sandy Shores they get to be independent," says Trapani. "The advantage to living in Interim housing is number one it''s affordable, and number two is the support system." [BW]
PG Residents Complain About Municipal Golf Course Clubhouse
Lorna Torkos still lives in the home she grew up in across from the municipal golf course in Pacific Grove. Torkos, who works as a magician and takes care of her elderly father, says she''s seen big changes in the local fauna over the last decades.
"When I grew up here there were all kinds of frogs, ladybugs, and deer," she says. "They''ve really decreased."
Torkos says she and neighbors Jim and Lee Willoughby became more concerned with the decreasing wildlife last year, after the city council voted to remove a nearby thicket. The Willoughbys were vocal opponents to the removal of the thicket, which they say provided crucial habitat to wildlife.
Now, Torkos and the Willoughbys are worried again, based on the city council''s recent decision to approve a $3.5 million golf clubhouse expansion.
"It''s going to change the character of this area," Torkos says. "I''m speaking for the deer, and it''s a historical area."
Torkos and the Willoughbys have crafted a resident''s initiative against the new clubhouse. They say the clubhouse and its large restaurant, grill, and pro shop will "threaten the way of life of those residents near the clubhouse and is not consistent with the character of this community."
Torkos says the city council, with the exception of councilmember Susan Goldbeck, has "fast-tracked" the process. They say the council used "smoke and mirrors" to push the project through, and that the $1 million enterprise fund set aside for the clubhouse will be spent to restore the back nine on the course. Torkos says Goldbeck feels it''s the wrong priority at this time to be borrowing money when the sewers are falling apart and the rec trail needs to be repaired.
"There are health and safety things that should come before this," Torkos says. But Torkos says that the council isn''t listening.
"I went to many city council meetings and they were rather arrogant and didn''t want to listen to anybody," she says. [BW]