KSCO radio host Rosemary Chalmers
KSCO radio host Rosemary Chalmers and her dog, Hula.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Latest News

Morning Lookout: Benchlands and overdoses, big boost for school arts and beyond KSCO

Good morning, everyone! It is Monday, Dec. 19, and Santa Cruz County is looking at increasing clouds as the day goes on, with highs continuing in the 50s.

Plenty new on Lookout, so if you’d rather navigate that solo, right this way.
JUMP TO ... Latest News | Opinion | Events | Guides | Puzzles | Obituaries

A rise in Santa Cruz County drug overdoses in September, farther flung around the county than usual, has one health officer theorizing about a connection between the spike and the City of Santa Cruz moving to close the Benchlands homeless encampment. Read on for what Mark Conley heard from those close to the issues.

Local schools, meanwhile, are set for an influx of funds for arts and music programs after the November passage of Prop 28; Hillary Ojeda has a Q&A with one administrator who’s scoping out what that might look like across Santa Cruz County.

And after reporting on what looks like the end of local programming at Santa Cruz radio station KSCO, Wallace Baine catches up with on-air personality Rosemary Chalmers about her next moves on the local media scene.

Much more in the headlines, including some gift ideas for the bookworm in your life from author Claudia Sternbach, so let’s dive in.

As Benchlands broke up, overdoses spiked: How much does displacement create dangerous isolation?

Santa Cruz police and other officials began the process of clearing the Benchlands homeless encampment Tuesday
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

As the national fentanyl crisis continues to reverberate in Santa Cruz County at record rates, killing 42 people in 2021 and 39 officially so far in 2022, another record was set in September: 82 overdoses, spread out more around the county than usual. Public health officials noted the correlation and Lookout sought opinion from others about how the sweeping of a homeless encampment like the Benchlands in a county that lacks adequate addiction and mental health services can lead to “poor outcomes.” Mark Conley reports.

MORE: As fentanyl’s painful death toll grows in Santa Cruz, taking young lives, it’s time for meaningful solutions

California schools, including in Santa Cruz, set for ‘windfall’ in arts funding starting in 2023-24

Students participate in an art project at the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.
(Via Santa Cruz County Office of Education)

After California voters approved Proposition 28 in November, public schools will start receiving about $1 billion for arts and music education each year. Lookout spoke with Santa Cruz County administrator Audrey Sirota about how that will look locally. Learn more in her Q&A with Hillary Ojeda.

LOOKOUT Q&As: Hear from local newsmakers in their own words


Winter Art Market

Get that brain in gear as we kick off another workweek! There’s plenty more content in the Lookout pipeline, and you can stay current in a variety of ways: Sign up here to get breaking news alerts and our other newsletters delivered right to you, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram out there on social media.

None of this is possible without community support, so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.


Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz