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Morning Lookout: Crews to mop up 11-acre flare-up in CZU burn scar, studying humpback health

Good Morning! It’s Tuesday, June 8 and it’ll be mostly sunny with a high of 67.

After winds yesterday, Cal Fire crews will spend the day mopping up the dredges of the now-contained 11.75 acre Sandy Fire — a flare-up of the CZU lightning complex fire — in the Big Basin Redwoods State Park. While this fire didn’t threaten any homes, it’s always a good reminder to make sure you’re ready to go in case a fire kicks up. Check out our comprehensive Wildfire Resource Center for everything you need to be prepared before and during a wildfire.

Meanwhile, in the education beat, embattled Pajaro Valley Unified School District trustee Georgia Acosta is publicly speaking for the first time in a formal response to the recall efforts against her. And the end of this school year also signals the end of tenure for four out of 10 superintendents of public school districts in Santa Cruz County — a remarkably high number of retirements ahead of a school year focused on recovery.

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Humpback health in the crosshairs: UCSC scientists used pandemic calm to compare, contrast whale stress

UCSC post-doc Ryan Reisinger aims a crossbow, loaded with a custom blubber-sampling dart, at a humpback whale in Monterey Bay
UCSC post-doc Ryan Reisinger aims a crossbow, loaded with a custom blubber-sampling dart, at a humpback whale in Monterey Bay. Research conducted under NMFS Permit 20430 and UCSC IACUC.
(Cypress Hansen/Lookout Santa Cruz)

For the past month, scientists with UC Santa Cruz have collected tiny cores of blubber from just below the dorsal fins of more than 30 humpback whales in Monterey Bay. The reason? Their blubber contains a suite of hormones that reflect how stressed out they are — a topic that became especially interesting when the human world came to a complete halt last spring due to the pandemic. Last month, our Cypress Hansen went out on a boat with the researchers as they collected samples. Here’s what she saw and learned.

Crews to mop up 11.5-acre CZU complex flare-up in Big Basin Tuesday

Cal Fire crews will mop up the dredges of the Sandy Fire today after the CZU Lightning Complex “flare-up” broke out in Big Basin Redwoods State Park yesterday. The fire in the CZU burn scar — first reported just after 5:30 p.m. Monday — was contained by crews this morning at 11.75 acres, officials said. The fire was in “hard-to-access terrain” and did not threaten any homes. Read the latest here.

SEEDS of hope: How a $25 investment in every Santa Cruz County newborn is a giant leap for equity

Lawrence Shin's son is one of about 1,300 kids in Santa Cruz County currently enrolled in the Santa Cruz SEEDS program.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

A new program in effect this year opens a free college savings account for every newborn in Santa Cruz County. In an effort to reduce barriers to families, every child automatically gets an account and though the initial amounts deposited in the accounts are relatively small, just having an account offers a myriad of benefits for the parents and the child, said Maria Cadenas, executive director of Santa Cruz Community Ventures. Read more from our Patrick Riley here.

Education beat

Georgia Acosta, Area II trustee in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District.
(Pajaro Valley Unified School District)

Trustee mounts first recall defense: Acosta labels campaign a ‘witch hunt,’ discloses cancer treatment: Embattled Pajaro Valley Unified School District Trustee Georgia Acosta issued her first public response to the campaign to recall her from office in a filing citing support from a Santa Cruz County supervisor and a Watsonville city council member. In a formal response to an initial notice of the recall, Acosta labeled the effort a “witch hunt.” Read Acosta’s full letter and what’s next in the recall process here.


Campaign launches to recall embattled PVUSD trustee Georgia Acosta

PVUSD trustees censure former president Acosta, reveal email that expands superintendent saga questions

PVUSD board votes against paying $16K in legal fees authorized by its former president

Laurie Bruton, Lorie Chamberland, Michelle McKinney, and Diane Morgenstern
From left to right, Laurie Bruton, superintendent at San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District; Lorie Chamberland, superintendent at Live Oak School District; Michelle McKinney, superintendent at Happy Valley Union Elementary School District; and Diane Morgenstern, superintendent at Mountain Elementary School District.

Nearly half the county’s school district chiefs are retiring — what we know about that unusual shakeup: When the school year starts next fall, nearly half of Santa Cruz County’s public school districts will be under new leadership. Four of 10 district superintendents are retiring this month, a remarkably high turnover that spells a changing of the guard in the landscape of local education. New district chiefs are stepping in at San Lorenzo Valley Unified, Live Oak Unified, Mountain Elementary and Happy Elementary School District. Read more from our Nick Ibarra here.

A child plays a beta of "SpokeIt," a speech therapy video game designed by UCSC grad student Jared Duval.
A child plays a beta of “SpokeIt,” a speech therapy video game designed by UCSC grad student Jared Duval.
(Courtesy of UCSC. )

UCSC grad student’s video game makes ‘speech magic’ for children with cleft palate: For Jared Duval, the opportunity to leave a positive impact on someone’s life is all that matters. Duval — a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz — is aiming to do just that with language software SpokeIt. He and his team are harnessing the software to provide speech therapy for children through a video game designed to help improve speech patterns for children with cleft palates. Read more about the software and the team’s work from our Neil Strebig here.

Students who were previously socially distanced 6 feet apart can now be separated by 3 feet under revised state guidelines.
Students wear masks and sit at socially distanced desks at a school in Ramona, Calif. Such measures will help reduce the risk of coronavirus outbreaks when schools reopen, a study finds. (Ramona Sentinel)

No vaccines for young children, but schools can reopen safely in the fall, a study shows: It’s unlikely that a vaccine will be available for children under 12 before classes resume in the fall. But a new study has found that when elementary-school children mask up and maintain some distance from one another over the course of the school day, a single infected child will likely pass the infection to fewer than one other student, on average, over the course of 30 days. Read more from our partners at the LA Times here.

Around the county...

Santa Cruz County housing advocates seek state eviction moratorium extension (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Miles of memories: Caravan honors fallen officers, including local (The Pajaronian)

Consultant: Town Center will need more homes to succeed (Scotts Valley Press Banner)

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Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor