WHO’S IN TOWN?
Before the excitement of seeing the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami on Sunday in Super Bowl LIV, there’s a sport in town featuring more fast-paced action than a three-hour super spectacle filled with timeouts and commercials. The West Coast Barrel Racing Association is scheduled to host the Salinas Valley Fair Winter Barrel Races. Entrants race their horses to compete for points and cash winnings; points are accumulated throughout the year until the finals over Labor Day weekend. The WCBRA handed out $321,000 in prizes during the 2019 finals that included more than 600 competitors. The Friday night event is for adult competitors only; Saturday begins with youth riders then switches to adults.
6pm Fri Jan. 31 and 10am Sat Feb. 1. Salinas Valley Fairgrounds, 625 Division St., King City. $35-70/ member entry fees; $5/arena fee. westcoastbarrelracing.com.
There have been some major changes in recent years in favor of public disclosure of records related to police misconduct in California, but the effort to increase transparency continues. The latest gain was a unanimous vote of approval in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Jan. 14 in support of Assembly Bill 1599, which aims to close an existing loophole in the California Public Records Act. That loophole allows law enforcement officers to keep records associated with investigations of sexual misconduct private if the accused officers quit before the investigation wraps up. The California News Publishers Association (of which the Weekly is a member) is supporting the bill, and in a legislative bulletin writes, “This bill draws a narrow, but important distinction that will help ensure officers who commit sexual assaults will not be able to continue to victimize the public in a different jurisdiction simply because they quit before the investigation into alleged sexual misconduct is completed.”
GOOD WEEK / BAD WEEK
Beep, beep, the Marina Fire Department has a shiny new fire engine as of Jan. 22. Their new ride is a Rosenbauer Fire Engine, and looks like it belongs in the Transformers series. Though it doesn’t morph into a mega-robot destroyer, MFD Engineer Steve Devincenzi confirms it’s an upgrade: “This is a big step forward for us in safety.” Prior to this vehicle, Marina’s newest engine was purchased in 2007. The apparatus features aerodynamic lines making it more energy-efficient and 360-degree cameras for safer navigation. Plus, it’s a lot comfier to ride in, helpful these days as engines around California are being called in to fight wildfires in different regions. “Frankly, in a normal engine our firefighters are tired after a six – or seven-hour ride to fight fires in L.A,” Chief Doug McCoun says. “It makes our job easier for sure.” The new fire engine cost about $617,000, plus another $110K to customize it.
More than 70,000 people in Monterey County get their drinking water from private wells and other small water systems of less than 3,000 connections. Of the 58 counties in California, Monterey has more small water systems than all but two, Fresno and Sonoma. The California Department of Water Resources scored small water systems according to their vulnerability to drought and water shortages. It turns out that thousands of Monterey County residents rely on some of the state’s most vulnerable systems. The data shows that Monterey County has seven systems among the 100 of the most at-risk statewide. Miller’s Lodge Water System in Greenfield, which serves 150 people, is the most vulnerable in Monterey County, with many others in the Salinas Valley and Big Sur also showing high levels of risk. The data will help DWR make recommendations to lawmakers as the climate crisis rages on.