Outgoing Watsonville Community Hospital CEO Steven Salyer
Outgoing Watsonville Community Hospital CEO Steven Salyer.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Watsonville hospital’s next steps, Pajaro climate injustice and Jewel Theatre closing

Good morning, friends and neighbors. It’s Thursday, March 23, and Santa Cruz County is in for a mix of sun and clouds, with highs in the mid-50s.

Much to explore on Lookout, if you’re inclined to do so on your own.
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Watsonville Community Hospital has an interim CEO, Hillary Ojeda reports, and Wednesday’s meeting of its board of directors focused both on next steps in replacing Steven Salyer after his sudden resignation and on possible delays in the hospital’s strategic planning process.

In a blow to the performing arts in Santa Cruz County, the independent Jewel Theatre Company will close after its 2023-24 season, Wallace Baine reports. Jewel’s artistic director is aiming for a “dignified and responsible” final bow rather than trying to hang on with constant fundraising.

And in our Community Voices opinion section, Sarah Newkirk of the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County writes that we haven’t adapted quickly enough climate change and must now do more, and better, to rectify the kind of climate injustice happening in flooded Pajaro.

To the Thursday headlines ...

Watsonville hospital board appoints interim CEO; search for new leader could take nine months

The Pajaro Valley Healthcare District board of directors meets
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Matko Vranjes, the current chief operating officer of Watsonville Community Hospital, will be its interim CEO as the hospital’s board of directors embarks on a search to replace Steven Salyer. Between Salyer’s sudden resignation and the impact of recent storms, the board is also looking to adjust the timeline on the hospital’s strategic planning process. Details here from Hillary Ojeda.

PREVIOUSLY: Watsonville Community Hospital CEO resigns, citing family reasons

Climate injustice is happening in Pajaro: It’s our moral obligation to fix the system

Flooding in Pajaro following the failure March 11 of a levee along the Pajaro River
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Climate change is here and it’s our moral obligation to act, Sarah Newkirk, executive director of the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, writes in a Community Voices opinion piece. We need to adapt faster to climate change, speed up federal responses, including funding and — most critically — help people affected, she says. That means assisting the people of Pajaro who have lost homes and also future income, since many are farmworkers and fields are now too flooded to work. Read her op-ed here.

MORE: How you can help those affected by the Pajaro River levee flooding

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A little fuel to get your Thursday rolling. And if Thursday gets you looking ahead to the weekend, you’re in luck — Wallace Baine will be along with his latest Weekender newsletter, a recommendation-packed look at Santa Cruz County’s arts and entertainment scene. Sign up for that here, and check out Lookout’s other newsletter offerings plus breaking news text and email alerts. If social media is your thing, give Lookout a follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Keep it real this Thursday, and I’ll be back Friday a.m.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz