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Season Of Change In Many Ways

Doug McKnight
A bridge over the Merced River in Yosemite Valley, taken in the fall of 2011.

Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup where you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few select national stories from NPR.

On Tuesday the sun crosses the equator on its southward journey for the autumnal equinox. It’s one of only two times each year when the day and night are of equal length. In the Northern Hemisphere, the autumnal equinox occurs in late September and in the Southern Hemisphere, late March. It signifies change, moving from one season into another, and offers opportunity to reflect on life’s cycles. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins today. It’s a celebratory time for looking forward hopefully to the year ahead. 

Here in the Monterey Bay area, it is also a time of change. The sun came out on Wednesday, and we could finally see it. For what seemed like the first time in weeks, we could open our windows and take a deep breath. (A helpful website to check air quality is 

The wildfires that threatened northern Monterey County are fully contained and the wildfire in the Santa Cruz mountains is expected to be 100 percent contained this weekend. Firefighters are increasingly gaining control of the Dolan Fire near Big Sur. 

Wildfire Updates as of Friday Morning:

Credit U.S. Forest Service
Firefighters work on the Dolan Fire.

Some of the biggest changes will be decided in the election, which is now 45 days away. In two weeks, mail-in ballots go out in California. This year’s election has raised a number of questions concerning safety and security. Over the next several weeks we will try to answer some of them.

Q: What can I do if I lost my home in the recent fires?

A: You can maintain that residence for voting, even if your home was destroyed. You can contact your local election office and let them know where you want your ballot mailed.

Q: Are drop boxes for mail-in ballots secure?

A: Ballot boxes comply with state regulations for security. Sworn election officers collect the ballots on a routine basis and everything is documented. It’s a crime to tamper with ballot boxes. You can contact your local election office for any further questions. 

Q: How can I make sure my mail-in ballot is counted?

A: You can actually track your ballot like an online package delivery; sign-up here to either receive email, text or voice call notifications.

On Point is hosting weekly voter roundtable conversations up until the election. This week’s conversation, on Wednesday, featured veterans of the U.S. military and next week will feature new U.S. citizens who are voting for the first time. You can listen to On Point Monday through Thursday beginning at 12 p.m. and Friday at 1 p.m. on 90.3 KAZU, streaming at 

The pandemic has not only affected the way we vote, it has also forced people of faith to rethink how they worship. Coming up next week, KAZU’s Doug McKnight talks with local religious leaders about the changes they’ve had to make and how the virus has affected their congregations.

COVID-19 Updates as of Friday morning:

Midweek, we saw a sudden and surprising change from California American Water. The night before a special California Coastal Commission meeting scheduled for Thursday, Cal Am withdrew its application for a permit to build slant wells for its proposed desalination project. According to a news release from Cal Am, the company plans to reapply in the future after reengaging with Marina stakeholders.

The project has raised environmental justice concerns. Part of the proposed project would be located in Marina, but Marina residents won’t get any of the water. KAZU’s Erika Mahoney covered the last public hearing in November of 2019. Coastal Commission staff recommended denial of the desal project and pointed to an alternative, an expansion of the new Pure Water Monterey recycled water plant. Staff said the existing plant would pose fewer environmental impacts and would cost less.

The Commission was expected to make a final decision on Thursday. Cal Am is under orders from the State Water Resources Control Board to drastically reduce withdrawals from the Carmel River by the end of next year. The issue of water for Cal Am customers isn’t expected to be resolved for some time -- there are lots of players and too much at stake. Cal Am is one of the many business supporters of KAZU.


You can create change by filling out the census, which determines how much funding communities get for everything from road repairs to school improvements. The 2020 Census has faced numerous challenges -- a pandemic; door knocking potentially being cut short; and all the legal battles. Earlier this week KAZU’s Michelle Loxton checked in with those responsible for getting a complete count in Monterey County.   


We're in the midst of our Fall Membership Drive, and we come to our listeners to ask them to do something a little strange, pay for quality news you could otherwise get for free. But support from listeners doesn't just keep KAZU going, it keeps KAZU going independent of corporate and government influences. This independence is the part we know you value, and that's why we’re asking you to step forward with a contribution today if you can. Trustworthy news is critical for our communities to overcome the challenges we're facing, that's why it's so important for those who can give to do so now.


The Emmy Awards are this Sunday. Eric Deggans, NPR’s first full-time TV critic, has his own TV honors, the Deggys. Check out his take here

Finally, in a time of great change, the Monterey Jazz Festival is virtual this year for the first time in its history. Michelle Loxton delighted our ears with some of the tunes we can expect. The event is free and can be viewed all over the world. Just make sure to mark your calendar as its appointment viewing.

Until next week,

The KAZU Team



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