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Gilroy, CA
Friday, August 17, 2018

Scott Forstner

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Students leave classes to honor gun victims

As a steady rain came down on the Live Oak High School campus on March 14, hundreds of students gathered in the commons area...

Schools prepare for the worst

Four years ago, students, staff and faculty within the Gilroy Unified School District collaborated with more than 15 law enforcement agencies to help produce...

Pioneers against domestic violence

Forty years ago, Lupe Arellano and Laura Gonzalez-Escoto founded “La Isla Pacifica” (translated to “The Peaceful Island”), a confidential shelter in south Santa Clara...

New math building nears completion at GHS

In a concerted effort to capture equity among its two high school facilities as well as expand capacity for a growing population, Gilroy district...

Gavilan athletic fields get major upgrades

Nearly $7 million in upgrades to the outdoor athletic facilities at Gavilan College are in full swing. The end result will put the local...

Bond bucks shifted to middle schools

Gilroy school district leaders have decided to shift Measure E priorities from an immediate need to build a new elementary school to a more...

Two cities create new combined relay race

With the American Cancer Society pushing for more regional fundraising efforts, local organizers of the annual Relay For Life from Morgan Hill and Gilroy...

School boss to get $150K buyout

Jon Gundry, the embattled Superintendent of Schools for the Santa Clara County Office of Education, relinquished his post after agreeing last week to a...

Volunteers get dirty to clean up San Martin

San Martin is a cleaner and greener city today than it was last week, thanks to the efforts of about 80 South County residents...

Santa Rosa man claims great pumpkin

Days after devastating fires in the North Bay threatened to incinerate Russ Pingrey's 2,000-pound pumpkin—along with his Santa Rosa home—the gargantuan gourd earned the hobbyist grower the title of 2017 Grand Champion at the 27th annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off at Uesugi Farms in San Martin.Pingrey’s giant pumpkin earned him a $14,000 paycheck (at $7 per pound).“I thought I had a chance,” said Pingrey of his first-place gourd. He had originally planned to enter in the Half Moon Bay competition one week earlier, but he was delayed due to the the wildfires that surrounded his home and continue to burn. “I woke up Monday morning and there was fire all around me.”The Tubbs Fire was only a half mile from his house Oct. 9, so his family packed up a tent trailer and were ready for evacuation orders, which came later that day. His house and his prize pumpkins were in jeopardy.“We evacuated but (the firefighters) were able to hold the line on Badger Road (about half a mile north). It was kind of a stressful time,” said Pingrey, a letter carrier by trade who also grows pumpkins on his one-acre property. “(The winning pumpkin) used to be called ‘Gourdo,’ but after surviving the fire I changed its name to ‘Fireball.’”Pingrey was able to return to his home on Monday, Oct. 9, after the evacuation orders were lifted. With uncertainty the fires could threaten again, however, he was going to skip the San Martin competition as well.“I wasn’t going to come, but my wife said, ‘Just go. We’ve (evacuated) twice before. We know what to do,’” Pingrey said.Pingrey headed down to San Martin with “Fireball,” and ended up with the $14,000 top prize.“There’s not a lot of people who have grown 2,000-pound or more pumpkins. I was very excited,” Pingrey said. “Honestly, I was happy to get away (from the fires) somewhere.”Pingrey is back home now, where firefighters have made progress on the fires, he said, but his first-place pumpkin remains in San Martin.The grand champion pumpkin and other select pumpkins will be on display and available for photo opportunities through October.As of Oct. 17, the Tubbs Fire, one of seven currently active in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties, was 82 percent contained and has burned 36,432 acres, according to The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa. The Sonoma County fires had burned 102,785 acres and killed at least 22 people in the county, according to Cal Fire.During the Oct. 14 competition in San Martin, the massive pumpkins were lifted with a forklift onto a giant electronic scale with a custom-built harness, under the watchful eye of officials from the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth International Competition organization.In 2016, Napa resident Leonardo Urena’s 2016 first-place pumpkin weighed in at 1,937 pounds.A slew of proud contenders from throughout the west coast competed for over $25,000 in prize money.Uesugi, the state’s third biggest pumpkin grower,  has also bought Spena Farms patch at Bailey and Santa Teresa, which added another 300 acres of growing land, boosting its farmland from 800 to 1,100 acres locally. The company grows 250 acres of pumpkins, 5,000 acres of peppers and 1,000 acres of sweet corn across the state, according to manager Pete Aiello.The family-run Uesugi Farms Pumpkin Park (14485 Monterey Road in San Martin), now in its 32nd year of operation, encompasses 43 acres and more than 15 attractions. It is open from 9am to 7pm Monday through Thursday and until 9pm on the weekend.

Latest news

Counties looking at trains south of Gilroy

The 40-year dream of restoring passenger rail service—stoked by increasing population and traffic congestion—from Gilroy south to Salinas and/or Hollister has found...

Features

Gilroy Rodeo tickets on sale

Now that the Garlic Festival has come and gone, it's about time for Gilroy's next weekend event. The Gilroy Rodeo is returning after a...