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A no-joke warning this April 1st about the potential for another serious drought season ahead. Today is the day that scientists close the books on the winter snowpack measurements in the Sierra Nevada. The snow level at high elevations should be at its deepest right now—a kind of dividing line between snow FALL and snow MELT. The troubling news is that the depth is WAY below what it should be, which means less water to replenish reservoirs. The year started with record snow in December but since then it has been dry and warm. No more big snow is likely — big ski resorts are shutting down for the season starting this weekend — so now we wait for another possible summer of low water and high risk for wildfires.

Governor Newsom has signed a tribal-state gaming compact with the Rancheria of Pomo Indians in Lake County and the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe in Sonoma County. The governor says the deal promotes tribal economic development and self-sufficiency. He also says it fairly regulates gaming activities, affords patron and employee protections, and provides thorough environmental review for potential off-reservation impact.

Those recyclable cans and bottles might be worth a bit more soon. CalRecycle has announced a new budget proposal, subject to legislative approval, to put $100 million into a program to temporarily double the state’s California Redemption Value for cans and bottles. Director Machi Wagoner says it’s an attempt to get more people to recycle. That rate is about 70 percent. The goal is to push it closer to 80 percent. The double your money back would last until a windfall of deposit money from purchases made during the pandemic runs out.

Spring break for Governor Newsom and his family, but we don’t know where they are other than somewhere in Central and South America. The vague itinerary is for security. The governor put off family trips for the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, and the recall election. Communication director Erin Mellon says the governor is in regular contact with staff and legislative leaders and will be back home in a couple weeks.

A second COVID booster shot has been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for certain groups. The Mendocino County Public Health office says the state put out a statement as well that the booster is for those over 50, at risk of severe infection, and for those who are moderately or severely immune-compromised between 12 and 50 years old. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines should be given at least four months after the first booster. Moderna boosters are approved for those 18 and older, and Pfizer for those age 12 and older. Immune compromising conditions need to be confirmed by a doc before a second booster is administered.

In an effort to avoid an eviction tsunami, several thousand Californians are getting a reprieve in the form of a rent relief extension. The Legislature is allowing tens of thousands of renters another three months of no rent hours before the deadline. The state is therefore paying the rent of those who cannot due to the lingering effects of the pandemic. Those getting relief have had to apply for the money. If approved, they can’t get evicted, and even if they’ve applied and are awaiting an answer from the state. The law was supposed to expire this morning. And for the first time in Calif. history, a woman signed a bill into law. Since Gov. Newsom is traveling overseas, the Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis signed the bill into law as Acting Governor.

Not just any vehicles, but a couple tangled, blocking part of Highway 101. A car hit a PG&E vehicle yesterday near the Parducci Road Overcrossing. The CHP reported it was a gray Toyota Avalon that hit a PG&E truck, causing the Avalon to spin out. Around lunch time the crash was cleared, only about five minutes after it happened.

A car has crashed into an RV in Willits, but there were no injuries. The sedan slammed into the parked RV near Willits Furniture Center on the 700 block of Central Avenue. Police on the scene to steer traffic away from the smashup.

Burn permits are required now, pretty early in the season. Those with residential burns have to apply with Cal Fire Mendocino. You can also go to your local Cal Fire station too. It’s for those who are considered to be located in the state responsibility area (SRA), and others nearby may also need a permit, so you’re told to check. You’ll also need to check with the Mendocino County Air Quality Management District to be sure it’s a permissive burn day. Usually the permits are suspended around this time of year, which is generally considered a rainy month, but we’re in a drought. Last year permits were required a month later, in early May.

The acting Governor, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, on the last day of Women’s history month, made history. Acting Gov. Kounalakis signed legislation for an extension of rent relief, the first woman to sign a piece of legislation into law in Calif. She smiled as she signed, saying she was “deeply humbled to take this action and to be part of history”. Kounalakis was joined by the lawmakers behind the rent relief extension. Tens of thousands who either applied or were awaiting their application decision will now have until the end of June, instead of yesterday. Yesterday was the deadline, which would have meant landlords could start evicting people today. Gov. Newsom is on vacation overseas.

A Stage 4 Drought has been declared by the Mendocino City Community Services District Board of Directors. The board is also discussing a rate increase following last year’s discussion because of a nearly $70,000 budget hole. The District also has to replace some old equipment and make improvements to their recycled water system. The last time they raised rates was in 2018, and the last sewer rate increase was 2015. A consultant for the District has offered five scenarios for a rate increase, but they’ve not released any to the public.

More literacy coaches and specialists are being suggested by state education leaders. The specialists would work with students and teachers so that students can read by third grade by 2025. The state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has put together a group of educators, parents and education experts for policy recommendations. The task force was formed last year. The Superintendent, State Board of Education President and other educators met online this week to figure out ways to get more money for the campaign.

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