The pending sale of the Daughters of Charity Health System to Prime Healthcare—which has drawn the scrutiny of U.S. congressional representatives—will be the topic of a Jan. 8 public meeting in Gilroy.The 10 a.m. meeting at Gilroy City Hall’s Council chambers will be hosted by the California Attorney General’s office, which will conduct a review of the sale of the health system before approving or rejecting it. The public meeting, as well as a similar one Jan. 7 at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, are part of the attorney general’s review process, according to authorities.The sale of DCHS to Prime, a for-profit company, was announced in October. It includes Saint Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy, which serves South County with 96 beds and an emergency room that saw 26,000 visits in 2012. The sale proposal also includes the DePaul Medical Center campus in Morgan Hill, which houses an Urgent Care facility as well as a number of private physicians’ offices.The public meeting at Gilroy City Hall, 7351 Rosanna Street, will follow the attorney general’s evaluation of the current state of SLRH and each of DCHS’ six hospitals to be completed by the end of December, according to Morgan Hill city staff.Since DCHS officials announced Prime Healthcare as the top bidder for the six-hospital system, after a lengthy bid solicitation and internal review process, a chorus of concerns has raised from the local to the federal level, both in support of and in opposition to the sale.Planning to attend both public meetings in Gilroy and San Jose is state Sen. Bill Monning, who represents the 17th district which includes Morgan Hill, Gilroy and the rest of South County. Unlike other officials on the Central Coast, Monning has not yet formed a steadfast position on the pending sale to Prime.He hopes to discover the questions and concerns of the public in order to research the issue further before offering his own input, according to California Democratic Party Central Committee delegate Swanee Edwards, who acts as the senator’s “eyes and ears” in the South County portion of Monning’s vast district.“There are people who are very much against this sale, and there are people who are very much against it, and we need to get to the bottom of what’s best for the South County residents,” said Edwards, who lives in San Martin.Among those concerned with the sale of the currently nonprofit health system to Prime are Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman and 18 U.S. Congressional representatives—including Zoe Lofgren who represents Morgan Hill—who penned a letter urging the attorney general to reject the sale Dec. 11.Those congressional representatives cited Prime’s “history of unfair business practices” as the chief reason for their opposition. Wasserman has said he is concerned about the loss of healthcare access to lower-income residents that could result from the sale of SLRH and O’Connor to a for-profit provider.Supporting the sale are the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and the California Nurses Association, which represents nurses employed at SLRH and other DCHS facilities.DCHS executives have said Prime was by far the most qualified bidder to take over the entire system. The company has promised to keep all six hospitals open for at least another five years, invest $150 million in capital improvements at the DCHS facilities, retain DCHS’ existing 7,600 employees and assume more than $300 million in pension guarantees for about 17,000 union and non-union active and retired workers.SLRH Foundation board member Bernie Mulligan, a Morgan Hill resident, also plans to attend the Jan. 8 meeting in Gilroy. With DCHS losing $10 million per month, according to DCHS executives, Mulligan said the impact of a rejection of the sale to Prime would be dire.“I am very much in favor of the sale being approved,” Mulligan said. “They are losing millions of dollars each year, and if the attorney general fails to approve the sale, the only other alternative is bankruptcy.”
In the spirit of the holiday season, staff from the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Migrant Education department once again coordinated the adoption of several families in need this year, according to a press release from SCCOE.More than 15 families served by the Migrant Education program were adopted by staff from the SCCOE’s Educational Services and Business Services branches and the Alternative Education, Environmental Education and Migrant Education departments.“We really do make a difference in the lives of families,” said Veronica Ramos, SCCOE Director of Migrant Education. “Through the incredible efforts of our staff we are able to make the dreams of a few families come true and give them a holiday that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.”The families adopted by Migrant Education are receiving clothing items, donations of food, gifts and grocery gift cards, and all items have been delivered to the families throughout the week, according to SCCOE staff.SCCOE staff also contributed more than 280 toys to the SCCOE’s annual toy drive, benefiting children served by the Head Start, Foster Youth Services and Migrant Education programs.“While the holidays have traditionally provided an opportunity to highlight the needs of vulnerable individuals in our community, the reality is that throughout the entire year many of our children and families go without even the most basic of necessities,” said Jon R. Gundry, County Superintendent of Schools. “I hope that the dedication of the County Office staff to reaching out and supporting the families and children in our programs inspires others to make a small charitable contribution or extend a helping hand to those in need.”
Santa Clara County officials and animal advocates are seeking responsible owners for 38 unhealthy horses seized from a pair of ranches in Morgan Hill and Gilroy.The owner of the horses, Humberto Rivas Uribe, 51 of Morgan Hill, was charged Nov. 14 with two counts of cruelty to animals—one felony and one misdemeanor, according to Deputy Supervising District Attorney Steve Lowney.The horses—which, after a lengthy investigation, numerous news reports and ongoing complaints from neighbors, which were found to be emaciated and neglected—were seized by county Animal Care and Control Nov. 13. They had been under Uribe’s care on two properties he tended, one on Maple Avenue in Morgan Hill and the other on Center Avenue in Gilroy.Uribe is currently in custody in San Mateo County on unrelated charges, according to the DA’s office. Facing a $250,000 warrant, he will be arraigned at a later date. If convicted of the local animal cruelty charges, Uribe could face up to three years in county jail.The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office did not return phone calls regarding what charges that jurisdiction has pending against Uribe.Lowney said the DA’s office began receiving complaints toward the end of September from members of the public “deeply concerned about the treatment and care” of the horses. In late October, protesters picketed the South County animal control offices on Highland Avenue in San Martin, demanding the county officers take action against Uribe.After reviewing the information obtained from the public and the reports from county animal control, the DA's office in late September assigned a Deputy DA and an investigator to assist animal control in their investigation of possible animal cruelty and neglect, according to the press release.Lowney and Deputy DA Alexandra Ellis met with concerned citizens several times during the investigation, the press release said. Throughout October and early November, investigators and animal control officers interviewed the defendant and witnesses, and collected evidence.Some said they have been complaining about the care of the horses on Uribe’s properties for more than two years.Horse advocates “will be continuing to insist animal control be held accountable for their neglect,” said Trina Hinesar, a resident of Maple Avenue near where some of the unhealthy horses were housed. “Maple Avenue was ignored for over two years and there are neighbors at the Center (Avenue) location that can testify to four years of animal control not enforcing our current Santa Clara County codes.”Earlier this year, a concerned neighbor bought three of the horses, while the Equine Rescue Center and Sanctuary in Paicines purchased a dozen more, according to authorities. One of the horses purchased by ERC, a bay colt, died in September from complications due to intestinal parasites. The colt died the day after Uribe sold it.But Uribe acquired even more horses, according to the DA’s press release.Still, horse people rejoiced at the news of Uribe’s arrest and the seizure of the horses. Members of the Facebook page “Morgan Hill Horses in Need” have continued to post information about the horses and the county’s efforts to find good homes for them.According to the MHHIN page, some of the animals have already been transported to a local horse ranch, but up to 30 remained in the care of the county. “We feel that the horses would be better off in a rescue organization that can tend to the horses’ various medical needs, then be adopted out” to the public, reads a Nov. 15 post on the Facebook page.The horses are now listed for adoption, with a photo of each animal, on the county website sccountypets.org. County officials are seeking qualified individuals or rescue organizations to adopt the animals.“For now, Animal Care and Control has assumed care and feeding of the horses until the horses can be placed in new homes,” said Amy Brown, Director of the Consumer and Environmental Protection Agency. “We will be screening applicants to make sure that potential adopters can properly care for the horses.”
13thAnnual Rummage Sale October 17th – 19th
GILROY—The Gilroy Gators just keep getting better.
San Martin residents and businesses are mostly pleased with safety and aesthetic enhancements on a recently completed road project on one of the unincorporated town’s main thoroughfares.The San Martin Avenue “pedestrian improvement project” was completed by the Santa Clara County Roads and Airports department earlier this summer at a cost of $623,307, according to County Associate Civil Engineer Bernardine Caceres. The project included new sidewalks for the first time on the stretch of San Martin Avenue between Depot Street and Llagas Avenue. It also included new curbs and gutters, driveway approaches to private properties, new drainage facilities, fire hydrants, street signs, pavement resurfacing and other improvements, Caceres said. Completed in parallel with the roadway improvements, one block south, the county also improved the stormwater drainage system on Spring Avenue between Lincoln and Llagas avenues. “The county selected the San Martin project for guaranteed sales tax funds, which are distributed to all jurisdictions on a formula basis,” Caceres said. “The funds are limited to pedestrian and bicycle improvements. This location had particular appeal because of the combination of destinations and adjacent land uses, with San Martin being the county’s most village-like community center in the unincorporated area.”San Martin Planning Advisory Committee member Bob Cerruti said he personally called the county’s roads and airports crew to “congratulate” them on the improvements. “They did an outstanding job,” Cerruti said. “In the 28 years I’ve lived here, this is the most wonderful thing that has happened to our town. It’s nice, beautiful and well done.”Cerruti and other residents contacted on a recent brief tour of the project couldn’t remember the last time the county worked on that stretch of San Martin Avenue. Fellow SMPAC member Diane Dean added that the two new stops on San Martin Avenue at Llagas Avenue, controlling eastbound and westbound traffic, were badly needed to slow down speeding motorists.“I come through here several times a day,” said Dean, who has lived in San Martin for 23 years. “They worked on it continuously, and got it done.”Two business owners on the stretch of improvements had mixed reviews of the project. Gordon Bentley, owner of Pacific Security and Fence Supply, said the project improved access to his business, which will allow his company to grow. He noted that county staff were refreshingly responsive to the needs and concerns of himself and other property owners along the project area. Bentley said that as a “thank you” to the county he is going to maintain landscaping between the new sidewalk and curb in front of his business. “Deliveries are easier, and we’re not stopping traffic,” Bentley said. “I couldn’t have been happier. Every single request we had down here was met.”Jeffrey Moore, owner of San Martin Specialty Shop on San Martin Avenue, said he’s glad the county responded to his request to avoid building sidewalks in front of his welding and trailer repair shop. Doing so would have eliminated part of his work space, and likely forced him to move his business off the strip. But he still had reservations about the project, which disrupted his shop for about 2 1/2 months. “I was appreciative they allowed all the businesses to remain here, but nobody around here actually wanted the project done,” Moore said. “Curbs and sidewalks (for example) would be much more useful in the area where (San Martin/Gwinn Elementary) school would be using it. Very few people walk up and down San Martin Avenue.”
Residents were given a glimpse into the future of the county road system Aug. 26 in San Martin, and an opportunity to put their own two cents in to help shape the Santa Clara County Circulation and Mobility Planning Project.Approximately 30 residents attended the first of four community forums being held in different locations throughout the county. The initial meeting was conducted at the San Martin Lions Hall.The series of meetings is part of a proactive and extensive community outreach process “to ensure public input into the Circulation and Mobility Planning Project and Roads Master Plan recommendations,” according to the County Roads and Airports Department fact sheet.There are three additional meetings scheduled, including a Sept. 9 community outreach forum at Guglielmo Winery (1480 E. Main Ave.) and a Sept. 15 forum at Gilroy Unified School District (7810 Arroyo Circle). Both meetings begin at 6 p.m. County officials will give a brief presentation followed by opportunities to give feedback on the proposed road system and road-related policies for each area.Among the plans outlined were improvements to the major corridors through San Martin, including Masten, Church, San Martin, Middle, Center and New avenues as well as Santa Teresa Boulevard, according to the San Martin Neighborhood Alliance.Proposed improvements on Center Avenue include a two-way, third lane for turns, paved shoulders/bikeways on both sides and a pedestrian/horse trail on one side.“I think that the infrastructure upgrades for San Martin’s streets and roads are long overdue,” San Martin resident Swanee Edwards said. “For too many years, the county has used San Martin as a dump.”The draft plan and environmental impact report are due to be released by November 2014, according to county staff.For more information or to provide input, call (408) 573-2417, e-mail at [email protected] or visit circulationplan.countyroads.org.
Congratulations to the newest executive board members of San Martin 4-H. From President to Activities Leader, they all have taken their time to make sure that the best is better. This includes making sure the meetings are in order, organizing events and creating a fun environment for everyone to enjoy. If you are interested in joining the club, these members will be happy to show you the way. So in the spirit of four leaf clovers, good luck to them all!For more information on how to sign up for San Martin 4-H come to our enrollment night 6 p.m. Thursday Sept. 4 at the San Martin Lion's Club, 12415 Murphy Ave., San Martin. Or contact our Community Club Leader, Michelle Tercero at (408) 315-6998.
South County is a premier international wine region and has been for more than a century, and those behind the newly labeled Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail want everyone to know it.The SCV Wine Trail celebrated a grand opening and ribbon cutting Aug. 22, followed by a full weekend of festivities commemorating the new guided path to more than 20 local wineries. The celebration included tastings, barrel samplings, live music, barbecues and special offers at more than a dozen wineries in Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy Aug. 23 and 24. Greg Richtarek, President of the Wineries of SCV Association and Director of Marketing for Guglielmo Winery, said more than 50 people purchased a $40 ticket for the two-day Wine Trail Celebration Weekend event. He was more impressed by the makeup of the crowd than the numbers.“All but two people were brand new to the area,” Richtarek said. “And that's exactly what we want to have happen.”Earlier this year, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously supported the installation of 70 signs along the Wine Trail, directing wine tasting visitors and residents along the route that extends from north Morgan Hill through San Martin to south Gilroy. This summer, the county’s roads and airports department began installing the simply designed signs that feature the word “Winery” and an arrow with approximate mileage pointing to the nearest vineyard. Placards pointing to the 20-plus wineries in the WSCV Association also include the association’s logo. At an Aug. 22 press conference at Guglielmo Winery in east Morgan Hill, public officials from the county as well as the cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy, vintners and chamber of commerce representatives touted the new SCV Wine Trail as a victory for tourism, the business community as a whole and a lasting recognition of the region’s winemaking heritage. “The wineries here are internationally award-winning wineries,” said Mike Wasserman, president of the county Board of Supervisors and the representative for South County.“Our wineries are one of the best kept secrets in the South Bay, but it won’t be a secret much longer,” Wasserman continued. “There is no need for anyone to go outside of Santa Clara County if you want to enjoy wine.”Gilroy Mayor Don Gage quipped at the press conference, “If you aren’t living down in South County, you’re suffering.” The SCV Wine Trail is a “collaborative effort” by the public and private sector to install permanent signs on the shoulders of county roads directing motorists to the more than 20 wineries and vineyards in the WSCV association, Richtarek added. At the Friday morning press conference and an evening reception at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center, Richtarek specifically called out Morgan Hill resident Jon Hatakeyama and Morgan Hill Cellars winery owner Mike Sampognaro for coming up with the Wine Trail idea more than a year ago.Sampognaro said at his tasting room on San Pedro Avenue, he saw a “steady flow” of Wine Trail revelers but not the crowds he sees during semi-annual Wine Passport weekends. He also gave credit to Hatakeyama and Morgan Hill resident Bruce Knopf for helping to create the Wine Trail, which will continue to grow with the local wine industry. “This is an ongoing and long-lasting kind of thing,” Sampognaro said. “People will start to recognize we do have wineries here, and this will help get them out here.”While the Wine Trail Celebration Weekend ticket only included wineries in the WSCV Association, South County vintners who are not part of the organization expect to benefit from new signage as well. “This is a great first step in the right direction, but I think getting awareness out beyond the (Santa Clara Valley) area is the next step,” said Jason Goelz, winemaker at Jason Stephens Winery in Gilroy. Santa Clara Valley's winemaking history dates back to the late 18th century, and the industry now occupies more than 300,000 acres of county territory, according to a county staff report.Guglielmo Winery, which was founded in 1925, is the oldest continuously family owned and operated winery in the region. Guglielmo brothers Gene, George and Gary shared this history and offered tours at the Aug. 22 Wine Trail press conference. “Many other wine regions already enjoy the significant boost in tourism enhanced by a clear, attractive signage,” Richtarek said. “It’s gratifying to have long overdue and proper recognition for the Santa Clara Valley.”
With the ongoing drought forcing political boards at every level across the state to enact conservation measures, south San Jose resident Tom Cruz—one of two candidates for the expiring District 1 executive director seat for the Santa Clara Valley Water District—wants to make “aging pipeline infrastructure repair a priority.”“The community is already making personal sacrifices and the water retailers are enhancing their conservation rebates,” said Cruz, a 48-year-old Santa Clara County employee. “In fact, the residents of Morgan Hill have benefited significantly from the aggressive efforts the City has implemented.”The City of Morgan Hill is close to reaching the SCVWD’s mandatory conservation measure of a 20 percent water retention. The city council has restricted watering to certain days, and offered rebates for businesses and residents who install high-efficiency toilets, washers and irrigation equipment. Cruz wants the water district to help more, and he advocates cost-effective methods to contain pipeline water leakage in San Jose, Gilroy and Morgan Hill.Former Morgan Hill mayor Dennis Kennedy, 75, currently holds the District 1 director position—one he was appointed to in Jan. 2013 after then director Don Gage vacated it to return as mayor for the City of Gilroy. Kennedy initially offered to not seek election but now wants to keep his post and stay the course against the drought.“That’s the biggest issue that we have that we’re dealing with right now,” said Kennedy, reiterating the 20 percent water conservation target, specifically with Morgan Hill at 19.7 percent. “The Water District does an incredible job offering incentives so the public voluntarily achieves that goal.”SCVWD’s Board recently passed a $500,000 measure for the hiring of water conservation personnel—called water cops by some—whose job it will be to locate and educate blatant water-wasters throughout the area.Another drastic tactic taken by water officials with the support of its board was the cutting off of the county’s surface water users—who were freely tapping into an untreated water pipeline supply via the Central Valley’s San Luis Reservoir for agricultural and landscaping uses. That turnoff directly affected local farmers, most notably Andy’s Orchard owner Andy Mariani, who has since found a temporary water supply—thanks to neighbor George Chiala Farms—to get by at least until next season.“It’s been very tough and I’ve been right in the middle of it,” said Kennedy, who met with Mariani and helped set up several open forum meetings between water officials and surface water users. “I think it’s important for the director to facilitate those meetings and address concerns fairly for everyone.”In his candidate statement, Cruz—a 20-year resident in District 1—stressed the importance of fiscal responsibility to “ensure that the Water District uses the tax-payer funded budget conservatively, wisely and on programs that directly support the community members, businesses and agriculture in South County.”The son of a retired military veteran, Cruz attended college on a U.S. Air Force ROTC scholarship studying electrical engineering and physics. He worked independently as a licensed financial representative before turning to public service with the county, where he has been for the last seven years.“The community is experiencing one of the worst droughts in history,” Cruz wrote. “I will advocate for aggressive water conservation strategies, enhanced rebates to the community and focus on the need to increase the distribution of recycled water for residential landscaping, farmland and agriculture in South County.”The use of recycled water is something Kennedy has wholeheartedly supported during his tenure. He touted the grand opening of the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center, which takes wastewater that would otherwise be discharged into San Francisco Bay and purifies it by using three proven purification processes: microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light. The $72 million purification center produces up to 8 million gallons a day of highly purified water, according to water district reports.“State laws don’t allow you to drink it,” said Kennedy, but the registered mechanical engineer and former member of the board of directors for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority drank a glass during the grand opening ceremony to “show how much I trust the process.”In Gilroy, Kennedy was just as proud of the South County Regional Wastewater Authority, which recycles nearly 25 percent of its sewage and wastewater intake. The reclaimed product is used to water golf courses such as Eagle Ridge, large-scale landscaping, the Calpine power plant at Gilroy Foods and even laundry facilities.“That facility has the capacity to recycle over 100 percent of its water waste,” Kennedy said.This is Kennedy’s first water board election, but he was elected five times as mayor of Morgan Hill, where he served from 1992 to 2006. Kennedy believes being director on the water board is well-suited for his skill set.“It’s something that evolved over time,” said Kennedy, a former facilities and engineering manager with IBM. “More and more as I got into it and learned more about what the district does, I just felt this was a perfect fit.”