Daily news from Monterey County Weekly

ETC. Photo of the day by Linda Wilsey . And here it is—your moment of zen. Photographed with an iPhone 12. Submit your best horizontal photos. (Please include the location where the photo was taken in the caption.)

The initiative to bring free broadband to the San Jerardo farmworkers co-op takes an important step forward.

Good afternoon. 

Tajha Chappellet-Lanier here, thinking about fiber-optic cables and affordable broadband access. That’s because of a conversation I had this morning with James Hackett, director of business operations and development at the Santa Cruz-based internet service provider Cruzio. Hackett shared some news—Cruzio has received a grant that will allow the company to build out all the infrastructure necessary to bring free broadband internet to the San Jerardo farmworkers co-op in Salinas

At a meeting on Sept. 9, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a grant of $292,548 to support the project. “Not every Californian is fortunate to have a provider like this,” Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves said after the approval. “They really have a mindset of building for the future, making sure that their investments can be enhanced and be affordable. They’re looking at it with really a consumer-focused perspective.”

“We’re delighted that the CPUC, in their wisdom, granted us the funds,” Hackett says. “Now we do it.”

The building of the project will take place in three main phases. First, Cruzio will need to tap into the middle mile fiber line that connects Santa Cruz to Soledad—this will happen at a Monterey IT tower near the Monterey Regional Airport. Next, they’ll beam the internet to San Jerardo. And finally, wire it into each unit and install a router in every home. All this work will take time—it won’t be until the early part of 2022 that the link will actually arrive at the co-op. 

Meanwhile, the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, home to the Equal Access Monterey Bay initiative, is still looking to raise money through a fund at the Community Foundation for Monterey County. The $200,000 MBEP hopes to raise would go toward service costs, with the goal of providing free service to all residents for five years. 

This is important, MBEP Chief Operating Officer Freny Cooper says, because expanding broadband is about more than availability—it’s about adoption and true access. “It’s the adoption piece that’s tricky,” Cooper says. “It does no good to have internet access if you’re dropping your connection and you have to pay $70 a month [but don’t have the discretionary income to support that].” 

Cooper says MBEP is still looking for lead donors to support the project in a major way, but anyone can donate to the fund in any amount. In the meantime, she’s excited that the CPUC grant will allow work to get started. “I feel like that was a big win for us,” Cooper says. 

It’s a big win for San Jerardo, too.

-Tajha Chappellet-Lanier, associate editor, tajha@mcweekly.com

BY THE NUMBERS

Newly available data from the Monterey County Health Department shows the Covid-19 case rate among unvaccinated residents versus vaccinated residents. As of this week, 74 percent of eligible county residents are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

LATEST LOCAL NEWS

Supervisors inch forward on allowing private ownership of desalination plants in Monterey County. A divided Board of Supervisors began discussing a possible repeal over the ban on private desalination in August, punting the decision to Sept. 21 and then to Oct. 12. Now, at the behest of the board, staff will take 30 to 45 days to analyze whether further environmental review is needed —an analysis on whether more analysis is necessary—before a vote on the repeal can be made by supervisors.

By twists of fate, Amanda Whitmire found herself in a job she never knew she wanted: marine science librarian. Whitmire chats with the Weekly about how she got the job at Stanford University’s Harold A. Miller Library at Hopkins Marine Station and the coolest things she’s found in the collection 

Marina City Council approves the largest budget in the city’s history. The city staff report on the budget predicts that hotel taxes (also called transient occupancy tax) and sales tax will be back to pre-pandemic levels by fiscal year 2022-2023, although the city’s expenditures—including costs such as property insurance, pensions and wage increases—are growing faster than the revenue recovery .

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LOCAL INSPIRATION

LOCAL INSPIRATION of the day by Emily Reynolds. Judy Gittelsohn sees herself as a sculpturalist, symbolist, painter and poet. “I’m not a realist but I’m representational,” she says. “I take features and make them much more sculpted. I paint in waves.” Read about her new studio/community space in Watsonville. Submit your Local Inspiration (digital art, music, multimedia, video, etc.; please include the medium you’ve used, and note when and where it was created).

Known mostly for their beer, Other Brother also boasts a unique natural wine selection. “They have to be delicious, approachable, and price is huge. I look for stuff that outperforms its price point,” wine buyer Evan Loewy says. Many bottles go for under $30.

The Gilded Edge book talk. The Carmel Library Foundation hosts author and scholar Catherine Prendergast in-person and virtually tonight at 7pm to discuss her new book, which uncovers some of the true and fascinating history of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Monterey County is holding flu vaccine clinics tonight until 7pm in Seaside in Oldemeyer Center, 986 Hilby Ave. More events are coming: Oct. 16 in St. Gonzales, Oct. 20 in Salinas, Oct. 21 in Marina, Oct. 23 in Marina and Nov. 3 in Soledad.

BEST OF MONTEREY BAY® REAL ESTATE

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IN CONTEXT

Social Security benefits will rise 5.9 percent in 2022, the most in four decades. The increase, known as a cost of living adjustment, is the largest since 1982 and will affect nearly 70 million recipients, according to data from the Social Security Administration.
- New York Times, Oct. 13, 2021

Startups are ready to make money on psychedelics such as ketamine. Other drugs, like MDMA and psilocybin, may follow.
- Vox, Oct. 13, 2021

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HELPFUL DISTRACTIONS

The list of 2021 Nobel Prize winners, according to The OnionIt includes the Prize for Best Kiss. 

Did you know there’s a disgusting food museum? Well, now you do. And you can learn about it in this podcast.

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