Aarav Patel describes how he created the backpack that helps students keep track of school supplies.
Aarav Patel, 10 describes how he created a backpack that helps students keep track of their school supplies.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Latest News

Morning Lookout: Child care crisis, a decorated young inventor & Boulder Creek water lawsuit

Another day dawns, bringing with it a whole new set of opportunities. It’s Wednesday, July 19, and it’ll be another day of fog-to-sun around Santa Cruz County and highs in the 70s and 80s.

Looking to get right to Lookout’s latest? You’re in the right place.
JUMP TO ... Latest News | Opinion | Events | Guides | Puzzles

A child care system providers and parents say is broken is the topic for Beki San Martin, who reports on the difficulties for those on all sides of the equation in Santa Cruz County. With a workforce shortage, thin profit margins and high costs, it’s a complicated picture.

As thoughts turn (however unwillingly) to back to school, Hillary Ojeda catches up with a Santa Cruz 10-year-old who took first place in a national invention competition with a backpack aimed at helping forgetful students like himself. Aarav Patel’s CheckPak has tracking devices, a remote control and more — with a patent pending.

And a private utility that provides water to residents of Boulder Creek is facing a lawsuit, Christopher Neely reports, with the state aiming to put Big Basin Water Company into receivership after years of problems.

I’ve also got the latest in Santa Cruz County food and drink news from Lily Belli, including a visit to newly remodeled Venus Spirits Cocktails & Kitchen Beachside and the present and future of downtown standy Soif. Get that bib on and let’s dig in.

‘We’re in crisis’: Santa Cruz County providers and parents burdened by broken child care system

Child care providers Shannon Blake (left) and Jordan Bemel at one of their Sprouts Aftercare sites
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Lacking infrastructure and investment, child care providers in Santa Cruz County struggle to make ends meet amid a workforce shortage, regulations that govern staffing levels and razor-thin profit margins. A countywide child care shortage and high costs, meanwhile, are affecting local families. Beki San Martin reports.

THE K-12 PICTURE: Enrollment drops sharply in Santa Cruz County public schools amid demographic changes, affordability woes

Santa Cruz fourth grader wins national invention competition with a backpack for forgetful students

Aarav Patel, 10, looks at the circuit he used to create the CheckPak
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Challenged to find a way to stop from losing his water bottles at school, 10-year-old Aarav Patel came up with the CheckPak, loaded with tracking devices and enough lights and gizmos to keep the most forgetful student on their toes. And despite a late misfire, the backpack won the fourth grade division at a June competition in Michigan. More here from Hillary Ojeda.

MORE LOCAL INGENUITY: Meet the Watsonville 8-year-old behind ‘D’ shoes, an award-winning invention for people facing dementia


Upcoming events in Santa Cruz County

“Ten” exhibition @Radius Gallery
Poetry Series @Boulder Creek Branch Library
Dylan Rose: Father & Son @Bargetto Winery
The Latin Dead @Felton Music Hall
Sofia Talvik @Ugly Mug Coffeehouse

Midtown Fridays @1111 Soquel Ave.
Food Truck Friday @Skypark
Mountain Film on Tour Santa Cruz @Rio Theatre
Roosevelt @The Catalyst

Out of The Darkness Santa Cruz County Walk @Skypark
Community Crafters-Basic Earring Making Workshop @Boulder Creek Branch Library
Farm Dinner @1481 San Miguel Canyon Rd.
Big Mountain @Moe’s Alley
MaMuse, WildChoir & The Feelings Parade @Rio Theatre

Halloween Pop-up Event @Little Trends
Rail & Trail Festival @Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
David Luning @Kuumbwa Jazz Center
Marc E. Bassy @The Catalyst

Plenty to get your Wednesday started, but fear not, there’s more on the way from Lookout. Don’t miss out on the latest in Santa Cruz County news and views — follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Threads, and sign up here for Lookout’s breaking news alerts via text and email and for all of our other newsletters (up Thursday: Wallace Baine’s Weekender).

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

May you find your inner camel this hump day, and I’ll catch you next time.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz