Monday, June 20, 2016

Salinas to present plan for a greener city

Salinas city officials will unveil their plans to create more green spaces on Monday, June 27 at 6 p.m. The public is invited to attend event.

The Neighborhood Vibrancy-Urban Greening Plan was prepared for Creekbridge, Alisal and Maple/Monterey Park, which were chosen for their physical and cultural diversity.

"Great cities have great neighborhoods," Mayor Joe Gunter said in a statement. "Our intent is to make our neighborhoods great by making them more walkable, greener and safer. We want to create places that connect people with each other and with nature. More parks and street trees will help us achieve that."

The Greening Plans took two years to create. A twelve-member Plan Advisory Committee, comprised of local community groups and technical experts, worked to put it together utilizing community involvement.

The presentation will take place at 6 p.m. Monday, June 27 at the Salinas City Hall Rotunda, 200 Lincoln Av. For more information about the Neighborhood Vibrancy-Urban Greening Program, call Salinas City Hall at (831) 758-7450.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Monterey planning commission unanimously approves aquarium's ed center

The Monterey Bay Aquarium's proposed education center was officially approved this week by a unanimous vote from the Monterey City Planning Commission.
Designed by San Francisco-based architectural firm Mark Cavagnero Associates, the new four-story $30 million dollar building will include five learning spaces/labs, a multipurpose room, office space for 35 staff members and a video lab. It will also feature an event center located on the top floor and have many features that qualify as “environmentally responsible,” such as solar panels on the roof. It's targeted opening date is for 2018.
“It was a big project approval,” said Kimberly Cole, Chief of Planning and Environmental Compliance for the city. “It's really taking the center of Cannery Row, which is a little dilapidated, and giving it new life.”
Cole said there was quite a bit of discussion at the planning commission meeting Tuesday, with most of it positive. She noted there were seven letters of support and one letter of concern from the New Monterey Neighborhood Association. Concerns centered mainly around the building's height.
“Concerns were about the fourth story height of the building and there was quite a bit of discussion whether the building would be set back from Hoffman Avenue or not,” said Cole. “Those were the two key issues that the neighborhood association was concerned about.”
As Cole explained, the bridge between the two buildings will actually be demolished, opening up the view corridor down Hoffman and the new 25,000 square foot building will be shorter than the current structure.
“What really swayed the planning commission was that the proposed new building will be smaller in height than the existing building that's there now,” she said.
Cole noted that the general mood during the meeting was one of excitement and anticipation for the education center.
“This is something that we've been waiting for for a really long time,” said Cole. “That heart of Cannery Row – we need a center to it.”

Carmel Film Festival moves Filmmakers Beach Dinner to Pacific Grove

At Pacific Grove's city council meeting Wednesday, the council approved Carmel Film Festival’s request to hold their Filmmakers Beach Dinner at Lovers Point Park this year. Organizers of the event requested that fire pits be placed on the beach and that alcohol would be allowed for the event. Pacific Grove’s municipal code prohibits both. 
“We approved it to go ahead but we need to review some aspects of events like that,” said Kampe. “We’ll need to look at city ordinances.”
The Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce also hopes to shift additional festival events in the future.
Festival organizers say they will pay for all needed city services in addition to rental fees for city parking lots and park areas and will utilize the city’s businesses for managing, catering and equipment rentals. 
While Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Kampe noted he didn't want to speculate, he said the change in venue was most likely due to space issues.
"I think they are just finding that the events have become very large for Carmel,” said Kampe.  
The event, which draws some 300 people, will held on Oct. 22.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

FORA executive officer attends National Security Seminar

Photo courtesy US Army War College
Michael Houlemard, Fort Ord Reuse Authority executive officer, (first row, third from left) poses with seminar colleagues from the U.S. military, Mali, Peru and Macedonia during the Army War College National Security Seminar. He was invited to join the special academic seminar and exchange thoughts about national security topics in the capstone phase of the graduate program.
Michael Houlemard, executive officer of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority was one of 160 business, government, academic and community leaders selected from across the country to take part in the week-long US Army War College 62nd annual National Security Seminar in Carlisle, PA last week.

Attending with students of the Army War College, Houlemard represented fellow American citizens in discussions with the next generation of senior leaders of the US Armed Forces giving the leaders a deeper understanding of perspectives across the American society they serve, according to a press release.

The National Security Seminar was the capstone event of the Army War College's 10-month curriculum, just before the class of 2016 graduated with the Master's degree in Strategic Studies.

The NSS forum was structured around a daily presentation about an issue of significance to the nation's security, followed by extended and candid discussion of the topic within one of 24 seminars. Featured speakers for this year's NSS included Ambassador Ron Kirk, a former U.S. Trade Representative in the Obama Administration;  Ambassador Ryan Crocker, a career ambassador within the U.S. Foreign Service and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom; Dr. Dan Drezner, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School Tufts University; and Michele Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Senior Fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs.

Mr. Houlemard became a member of USAWC Seminar 6, comprising Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force officers at the rank of colonel or lieutenant colonel, a senior federal civilian, and three international officers, representing Mali, Peru and Macedonia.  He was invited to share perspectives, background and experiences in the capstone event in the Strategic Studies graduate program.

The U.S. Army War College resident class of 2016 includes 380 students who represent a cross-section of the joint military, federal agency and multinational security environment: 218 Army officers, 11 Navy, 26 Air Force, 16 Marine Corps officers and one Coast Guard officer of the Active, Reserve/ National Guard forces.  The class includes 79 international officers from 73 countries, and 29 senior civilians of federal agencies.

The U.S. Army War College educates and develops leaders for service at the strategic level while advancing knowledge in the global application of land power.

Established in 1901 in Washington D.C., the Army War College relocated in 1951 to historic Carlisle Barracks, Pa. and today, it educates more than 1500 senior leaders and strategists annually through a variety of specialized strategic education programs.
Learn more about the U.S. Army War College and the National Security Seminar at or 

Two theaters back at it

ARIEL Theatrical's Karen Wilson Children's Theatre in Oldtown Salinas sustained water and electrical damage
from the Dick Bruhn fire in February. It has reopened after four months of repairs. (Courtesy of ARIEL)
Four months after the Dick Bruhn fire in Oldtown Salinas forced ARIEL Theatrical out of its home, the youth theater company is back where it belongs.

The Karen Wilson Children's Theatre, where ARIEL has been housed for the past 15 years, sustained water and electrical damage as firefighters worked to control the blaze at the former men’s clothing store next door on Feb. 13. In addition to structural work to repair the theater, thousands of costume pieces had to be professionally cleaned.

The first show back on the home stage is "Disney's 101 Dalmatians KIDS," with four showtimes this Friday and Saturday. See for details.

The theater is not the only one back in commission. The Outdoor Forest Theater in Carmel has reopened after closing in April 2014 for renovations. The Forest Theater Guild's Films in the Forest series returned June 1, Pacific Repertory's School of Dramatic Arts program moves in for the summer on Monday, and the first play to return to the stage, "The Borrowers," opens June 23. More information at

Friday, June 10, 2016

Monterey named a Tree City USA for the 35th year

The city of Monterey was named a Tree City USA for the 35th year. It's a designation that means Monterey qualified to meet the required four standards that lead to receiving such a title. They include having someone legally responsible for the care of all trees, having a basic public tree care ordinance and a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita, and having an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
At Tuesday's council meeting, the city was presented with the 35th Tree City USA flag. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Carmel Valley project broke new ground, built collaboration and cooperation

James Herrera - Monterey Herald
Panorama photo of the former site of the San Clemente Dam with the rerouted Carmel River, steelhead trout habitat and temporary footbridge during the project celebration on Monday, June 6, 2016.

Now that the largest dam removal in California history is complete, and the rerouting of the Carmel River and restoration of wildlife habitat is ongoing -- it is a definite feather in Granite Construction Company's hat.

Granite broke new ground and set the bar in both dam deconstruction and river restoration. The work took three seasons – in six-month blocks with 100 workers a day – to get to this point.

Restoration work continues with native vegetation being planted along the river’s banks and the Old Carmel River Dam, built down-river in the late 1800s, to be removed along with the artificial Sleepy Hollow crossing.

When the project is complete, 920 acres of the site and surrounding area will be donated to the Bureau of Land Management and, working with the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District, will eventually open the area to public access.

Besides the core project partnership of California American Water, California State Coastal Conservancy and National Marine Fisheries Service -- these other project funders made the San Clemente Dam Removal and Carmel River Reroute Project possible.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife which contributed $7 million to the project and participated on the technical advisory committee for the restoration components of the project.

The California Natural Resources Agency which contributed $4 million and assisted other state agencies in finding solutions to procedural obstacles to funding this project.

  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contributed $904,000 and oversaw restoration components related to the California Red-Legged Frogs.

The Wildlife Conservation Board contributed $8 million.

The Nature Conservancy contributed $1 million.

The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation contributed $433,756 through a grant from the Packard Foundation.

The Conservancy contributed $9.2 million to the project and led the effort to raise an additional $25 million. While the Fisheries Service contributed $1.6 million and oversaw the fish passage restoration portions of the project while assisting with getting the permits required for the project.

California American Water contributed $49 million for which the average water customer on the Monterey Peninsula will pay $2.94 per month over 20 years, according to Cal Am.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

7,200 made it in the gates to see Bernie Sanders in Monterey

Bernie Sanders fans wait for his to speak at Colton Hall in Monterey, Calif. on Tuesday May 31, 2016. (David Royal - Monterey Herald)

Monterey >> Nancy Williams, the city of Monterey's director of sales and events, said about 7,200 people made it in the gates to see Sen. Bernie Sanders speak in front of Colton Hall on Tuesday. But that doesn't mean the crowd count of 7,800 originally reported was wrong.

"We had about 7,200 inside the gated-off section of Colton Hall and Pacific Street there," Williams said. "Then my understand is there was approximately 600 more in the exterior there."

Spectators lined Calle Principal and other nearby streets to get a glimpse of the presidential candidate and hear his speech. 

Williams said the rally was one of the largest events she can remember at Colton Hall, adding the Fourth of July celebration usually brings out a couple of thousand people approximately, though she was uncertain on the exact number.

"I don't think we've every had anything that large in the history that I know of," she said.  

Click here for video of Sanders' chat with The Herald before the rally and click here for photos of the rally.  

Tommy Wright can be reached at 831-726-4375. Follow him on Twitter @wrightscribe and like him on Facebook.

Nominations for the 2016 California Peace Awards now being accepted

Nominations are being accepted for the 2016 California Peace Awards. Every year, one individual from each of the four counties in the 30th Assembly District is recognized for their efforts to promote peace in their respective communities. The 30th Assembly District consists of parts of Santa Clara, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, and is now represented by Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville).

Nominees should be individuals who over the past year have made a significant contribution to prevent violence and increase safety in their communities. Individuals should have a strong record of volunteering and noteworthy accomplishments in philanthropy and community involvement. Individuals who have previously received a California Peace Award are not eligible for nomination in 2016.

The 2016 California Peace Award recipients will be honored during a ceremony on National Night Out, taking place on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016.

Nomination forms are available here. Deadline to apply is Tuesday, June 23, 2016.

Monterey's birthday, by the pound

John Lotz and Sal Ferrante volunteer in the barbecue area during La Merienda in 2013.
(Vern Fisher/Monterey Herald)
Monterey's annual birthday party, La Merienda, has as its centerpiece a barbecue lunch served by local luminaries. The head of the barbecue committee, restaurateur Chris Shake, and Old Fisherman’s Grotto executive chef Juan Ponce are tasked with serving an estimated 400 people this year. Just how much food is that? Shake provided a breakdown:
* 275 steaks
* 125 pounds of chicken breast
* 60 pounds of mild Italian sausage
* 100 pounds of salmon (that's 400 4 oz. pieces)
* 110 pounds of shrimp
* 6 hotel pans each of fresh fruit, pasta salad and roasted sweet corn
* 8 hotel pans of mixed salad (the ingredients, because it sounds tasty: mango, papaya, candied walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese in a balsamic vinaigrette)
* 75 loaves of garlic bread
* 7 gallons of salsa
* 10 gallons of chili beans
La Merienda takes place at 11:15 a.m. Saturday at the Memory Garden at Custom House Plaza. Tickets are $55-$65 and can be purchased at