Mateo Deihl's nephew Jackson takes a moment at the tree Mateo's friends dedicated to him on the Scotts Valley High campus
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Scotts Valley suicide commemoration and CZU rebuild frustration

Good morning, all. It is Tuesday, Feb. 7, and the forecast calls for a mostly sunny day around Santa Cruz County, with highs in the 60s.

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Mark Conley reports on a somber, if hopeful, gathering at Scotts Valley High School, where friends remembered Mateo Deihl, the ninth grader who took his own life one year ago amid what family described as ongoing bullying and discrimination. “The whole school got to have a voice and I feel like it definitely brought us all closer,” Mateo’s best friend said. “And it’s one more step toward the end goal of processing and healing and getting better.”

In our Community Voices opinion section, the glacial pace of post-CZU fire rebuilding efforts is on the mind of Ben Lomond resident Daniel DeLong, who takes to task what he sees as the bureaucracy slowing everything down. “I can only look at the rebuild numbers and be appalled,” he writes. “I can only see the stress, the crushing despair, the insult to injury that so many CZU survivors are still experiencing while trying to rebuild nearly 2½ years after losing everything.”

The headlines also include an update from Wallace Baine on ongoing upheaval at the Santa Cruz County Fair, with a board meeting scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at which ousted CEO Dave Kegebein says, “I hope to provide entertainment.” So let’s get to it all.

‘One more step toward healing’: Scotts Valley High community commemorates suicide death of Mateo Deihl

Mateo Deihl.
(Via Regina Deihl)

One year ago, a 15-year-old freshman who exuded universal kindness took his own life. His parents say they detailed in multiple letters to the Scotts Valley Unified School District, over many months, incidents of harassment, discrimination and bullying at the middle and high schools. Those who attended the celebration of Mateo Deihl say they’re hopeful that an increase in kindness and acceptance in a community that has struggled with those virtues will be his legacy. Mark Conley reports.

FROM JULY 2022: ‘I’m the one who had to bury my son’: Scotts Valley mom fights for change in wake of bullied child’s suicide

Only 24 of 911 lost CZU houses rebuilt! We must cut the red tape so my neighbors can come home

a man stands looking at an empty lot in the woods
(Via Daniel DeLong)

Retired firefighter Daniel DeLong misses his neighbors. Many lost homes in the CZU fire in 2020 and have struggled with the bureaucracy of rebuilding. Too many, he writes, are giving up, worn out by paperwork and the demands of bureaucrats. For him, the numbers say it all: 911 homes lost, 24 rebuilds. “Look, I know these are just people doing their jobs,” he says of those in charge of approving rebuilds. “They’re checking the boxes that codes and regulations require. … But I also know that bureaucracies don’t always have to be as mindless, as dehumanizing, as soul-crushing.” Read DeLong’s Community Voices opinion piece here.

MORE FROM DELONG: What the New York Times omitted about life in the Santa Cruz Mountains: Neighbors with chainsaws


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Much to chew on as we embark upon another Tuesday. And there will be more later in the day, including the latest Lily Belli on Food, which is among the newsletters you can sign up for here (don’t forget out breaking news alerts, either). Lookout is also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if you’re into the social media thing.

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Have a good Tuesday!

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz