Quick Take:

Aiming to showcase the “endless” pool of Santa Cruz County arts talent, the group show “Ten” opens Saturday at the...

Another steaming hot cup of news, coming at you. It’s Thursday, Sept. 28, and Santa Cruz County’s secret summer seems to be here, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s in the forecast before a chance of showers Friday night into Saturday.

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A revamping of Santa Cruz Metro bus service is ahead, Max Chun reports, with the transit agency aiming to boost frequency on major routes and prioritize students spread across the county by the chronic housing shortage. The Reimagine Metro program aims to double ridership across the system.

Sutter exec Stephen Gray got the OK on Wednesday as Watsonville Community Hospital’s new CEO, Hillary Ojeda reports, with the institution’s governing board approving a contract that will pay Gray more than $640,000 annually.

From the local arts scene, Wallace Baine brings word of a group show opening this weekend at a pair of Santa Cruz galleries highlighting the work of 10 local artists in a variety of media. Coinciding with the annual Open Studios art tour, “Ten” is aiming to be an annual event that rings in a fall art season around the county.

In Lookout’s Community Voices opinion section, a trio of the legislators representing Santa Cruz County in Sacramento write about what they’ve done to support the LGBTQ+ community during this session. “We are proud to say that the California Legislature has the backs of the LGBTQIA+ community,” state Sen. John Laird and Assemblymembers Dawn Addis and Gail Pellerin write.

And with Slugs back on campus, Lookout photojournalist Kevin Painchaud got a peek at the move-in process, with a dispatch from Hillary Ojeda.

Photo of the day

Sophomore Michael Taye (left) gets a hand from his dad moving into his place at Rachel Carson College in UC Santa Cruz

Thousands of UC Santa Cruz students, staff and faculty returned to campus Thursday morning for the first day of the 2023-24 academic year.

This fall quarter, UCSC is welcoming more than 5,500 first-year and transfer students to its undergraduate student body, for a total of about 17,800. The university has a capacity to house 9,524 undergraduate and graduate students.

The university hosted a variety of events this week to welcome students back to campus, including an evening of laser tag Monday and its annual Cornucopia event Tuesday. UCSC says Cornucopia is considered the largest campus gathering of students all year as student organizations and clubs take over Upper East Field to get students acquainted with the school’s activities.

Membership offer on Lookout

Metro aims to offer rides every 15 minutes on major routes, to UCSC and Cabrillo in bid to double ridership

Students board a Metro bus at UC Santa Cruz.
Students board a Metro bus at UC Santa Cruz. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Metro is in the early stages of making major changes to the county’s bus services, including providing much more frequent service in high-demand areas and improving service along major corridors. With a shortage of housing spreading students across the county, the Reimagine Metro effort also focuses on speeding them to and from campus. Max Chun has more.

MORE: $40 million later, Metro CEO Michael Tree’s priorities remain doubling ridership, zero emissions and housing

Decades of dedication: Lisa Berkowitz’s lifelong commitment to Meals on Wheels PC roadblock

Watsonville Community Hospital board approves 4-year, $640,000 annual contract for new CEO Stephen Gray

A photo of new Watsonville Community Hospital CEO Stephen Gray inset on a photo of the hospital entrance
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz; handout photo

Watsonville Community Hospital’s governing board approved a four-year contract Wednesday for its new CEO, Stephen Gray. The current Sutter Bay Medical Foundation top executive will take over Nov. 1. Gray’s contract includes a base pay of $475,000 along with multiple incentive bonuses if the CEO hits annual goals set by the board, a $35,000 signing bonus and a 12-month severance package. Details here from Hillary Ojeda.

MORE: Survey shows support among residents for potential Watsonville Community Hospital property tax

Riding the electric wave: Navigating the road to e-bike safety in Santa Cruz
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A busy start to this last Thursday in September, and Lookout isn’t done. Among what’s still in the pipeline is another Weekender, Wallace Baine’s brimming weekly newsletter covering the Santa Cruz County arts and culture scene, headed for inboxes in just hours. Sign up here for that and all of Lookout’s other newsletters, plus breaking news alerts via text and email. We’re also on social media, of course: Follow Lookout on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Threads to stay in the know.

Our content isn’t possible without community support, so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.

Here’s to navigating whatever Thursday brings with aplomb — I’ve got your back.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz

Upcoming events in Santa Cruz County

FRIDAY 10/20
The Mountain Affair @Ristorante Casa Nostra
Beers, Bikes and Bon Bons @Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
Vine to View Dinner @Chaminade Resort & Spa
10 O’Clock Lunch Band @Mid-County Senior Center
“The Thin Place” by Lucas Hnath @Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre

SATURDAY 10/21
Wonderland – The Gala @Hotel Paradox
Pickleball Tournament @Cabrillo College
20th Annual Bonny Doon Art, Wine & Brew Festival @Crest Ranch
The 7th Annual Floating Pumpkin Patch @Simpkins Family Swim Center
Pleasure Point Sip & Stroll @Pleasure Point
Symphony Concert: Operas Of Seville @Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
Uncork Corralitos @Alladin Nursery

SUNDAY 10/22
Symphony Concert: Operas Of Seville @Henry J. Mello Center for the Performing Arts
Lydia Pense & Cold Blood @Moe’s Alley
Gaby Castro @Chaminade Resort & Spa
Solidarity Records: The Fully Baked Tour @Shanty Shack Brewing
An Evening With Patty Griffin & Todd Snider @Rio Theatre

Click for the full event calendar

A veteran jack-of-all-trades journalist who is Lookout’s copy editor, writes and compiles Morning Lookout newsletter and produces Lookout’s other editorial newsletters and helps run Lookout’s social...