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Local News March 13th, 2008


photoNorth County Transit District (NCTD) finally began carrying SPRINTER passengers this past Sunday, March 9, after the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) provided a letter signed by Richard Clark, director, CPUC Consumer Protection and Safety Division. The letter was the final step in certifying the safety and security readiness of the system and granting NCTD final approval to operate the new SPRINTER light rail line.

CPUC oversees all light rail operations in the state of California and their approval was required prior to start up of a new light rail service. CPUC members spent an entire day touring the SPRINTER line and conducting meetings with NCTD staff a week ago Wednesday going over final details of the SPRINTER's system safety plan.

The first revenue service SPRINTER departed Escondido’s Transit Center Sunday morning for Oceanside at 4:33 a.m. Trains will operate every hour on Sundays throughout the day. For complete schedules visit www.gonctd.com.

For the first few weeks of service during peak hours, volunteer ambassadors will be posted at all 15 SPRINTER stations to help customers navigate the new network SPRINTER/BREEZE connections.

Construction and landscaping is nearly complete at all of the stations. However, there are some exceptions. The Nordahl Road station in Escondido will not have a completed parking lot but will be open for riders. The Escondido Avenue station in Vista will be open but passengers can only board and disembark westbound trains. A shuttle transporting passengers to and from the Vista Transit Center will be provided for passengers wishing to go eastbound toward Escondido. The shuttle will meet all eastbound trains at the Escondido Ave. station, seven days a week. Passengers on eastbound trains wishing to disembark at Escondido Avenue need to get off the train at Vista Transit Center and take the shuttle to Escondido Avenue. For passengers wishing to travel on eastbound trains from the Escondido Ave. station, it is advisable to catch an eastbound train at either the Vista Transit Center or the Buena Creek station instead.

SPRINTER fares are the same as the BREEZE bus system and all fares are interchangeable between the two systems. The following listed fares are all available for purchase from station ticket vending machines, which accept cash and credit cards. Day Passes available for $4 allow riders to ride the BREEZE and SPRINTER all day. Senior (age 60+) or disabled riders can purchase Day Passes for $2, while children five years and younger ride the SPRINTER free of charge with a fare paying adult. Single rides are $2 for regular passengers or $1 for seniors/passengers with disabilities/Medicare card holders. Monthly passes are $54 or $16 for seniors/passengers with disabilities/Medicare card holders.

The SPRINTER is a new passenger rail system that extends 22 miles along the Highway 78 corridor, spanning the cities of Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos and Escondido. A total of 15 stations have been constructed with parking and access to other NCTD public transportation options.

The project budget of $484.2 million includes right-of-way acquisition, engineering, design, construction, vehicle purchase and construction of the new 1.7-mile loop which serves the California State University San Marcos campus.

NCTD moves more than 12 million passengers annually by providing public transportation for North San Diego County. The family of transit services includes the BREEZE bus system, the COASTER commuter rail service, FAST curb-to-curb transportation, LIFT paratransit and the SPRINTER light rail.

Peter, Paul & Mary Cancelled

Fans of Peter, Paul and Mary are saddened to hear that their appearance in Escondido has been canceled. The California Center for the Arts, Escondido, has learned that Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary has undergone two back surgeries. While her doctors anticipate a full recovery, the healing process is taking longer than hoped. On her doctor's advice, regrettably, the trio had to cancel their upcoming concerts. This includes their April 18th performance at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido.


Dixon Lake - Lake Wohlford to Hold Excess Sewage Wastewater?

The city of Escondido is considering all options for disposing of excess sewage. Too much sewage, nowhere to dispose of all of it . . . results in the discussion of several options, including storage in recreational lakes, similar to the practice at Santee with its 190-acre Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve. About 40 percent of the treated wastewater that Santee produces is stored in the lakes, creating a fishing and camping haven and a moneymaker that grossed about $3 million in revenue last year. Escondido, however, just wants to get rid of its excess wastewater.

The city's only wastewater treatment facility, the Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Center, is 50 years old and near capacity, despite upgrades and expansions over the years. The plant, which can process up to 18 million gallons of sewage per day, is now treating about 15 million gallons daily, running at about 83 percent of its capacity.

Planners say the city needs a facility that can treat and discharge 27.5 million gallons per day. One solution is expanding the treatment plant and installing a larger ocean outfall pipe, at a cost of about $500 million. Alternatives being considered: Building recreational lakes for storing highly treated wastewater; creating wetlands that include pools of wastewater; injecting highly treated wastewater into the water table; discharging it directly into Escondido Creek. No cost estimates for these options are available. By the time Escondido is built out, which is about 12,000 housing units away, the sewage plant will be overwhelmed. The city will need to treat 27.5 million gallons of sewage a day.

Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler has questioned why the city needs so much additional disposal capacity when it had installed an elaborate system to recycle wastewater. Expect to hear a lot of public input on this potentially explosive environmental issue.

North County Health Services Celebrates Milestone

It’s 1973 in North San Diego County: gas is 40¢ a gallon, the barcode is just being invented, one billion people tune into the Elvis ‘Aloha from Hawaii’ television special, and a small group of volunteers opens a community health clinic in Ramona.

Fast forward to 2008, and that one community health clinic has evolved into North County Health Services, a network of nine clinics in Carlsbad, Encinitas, Oceanside, San Marcos, and Ramona plus one mobile clinic and two new health centers on the immediate horizon in San Marcos and Oceanside.

This year, NCHS celebrates 35 years of service providing comprehensive medical care to 60,000 patients annually. Gas prices have skyrocketed and reality television has taken over the remote, but the vision and mission of NCHS remains the same: to improve the health status of North County’s diverse communities by providing quality healthcare that is comprehensive, affordable, and culturally sensitive.

“There is great satisfaction in being able to give help to people who really need help,” said Irma Cota, CEO of the organization. “For 35 years, we’ve built an excellent team of doctors, nurses, clinicians and counselors that provide caring, comprehensive care.”

Services include pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, internal medicine, adolescent medicine, dental care, mental health services and radiology. It also conducts community outreach and prevention programs such as a pediatric asthma program that has cut asthma-related hospitalizations among its participants by close to 90%. Through all of these impactful programs, NCHS has served over two million people in North County since 1973.

Currently, NCHS is building a 12,000 square-foot facility in Oceanside to meet the growing need for its services in that community, which has overwhelmed the capacity of its existing facility there. Slated to open in 2009, the new facility will increase the number of patient visits by 20 percent; integrate services and programs in one location to improve efficiencies and reduce costs; enlarge its community health classrooms; and provide separate waiting rooms for infectious patients.
NCHS offers a medical home to its patients by coordinating their healthcare needs and improving their health outcomes. “What the broader community may not see is the effect NCHS and similar clinics have on their health care experience. NCHS reduces unnecessary hospital and emergency visits by its patients, provides employment and job training, and infuses more than $35,000,000 annually into the North San Diego regional economy,” said Cota. “Because of these contributions, community health centers are now seen as an asset, and hardworking parents who don’t have enough health care coverage through their employer can keep their families healthy,” said Cota.

Where will North County Health Services be 35 years from now? Where will this organization, which started as part of a national project to improve communities, be in 2043? “The goal is to keep growing and meeting the needs of the region,” said Cota. “Every single person here from the part time administrative staff to the board certified doctors have a commitment to providing excellent health care, only now more people than ever before need our service. The need is not just urban, the need is not just rural, the need is everywhere and that is where North County Health Services will be.”

For more information on North County Health Services, visit www.nchs-health.org or call 760-736-6767.

Vista Community Clinic offers Immunization Services

Worried about Measles? You can avoid many diseases including measles by getting immunized. Low cost or no cost immunizations for children and low cost immunizations for adults are available daily at the Vista Community Clinic on a walk-in basis. Vaccinations available include: measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio, diphtheria, varicella, HPV, hepatitis B, tuberculosis test, etc. For more information or to schedule and appointment, call (760) 631-5000 or visit www.vistacommunityclinic.org.

Writing Tips and Publishing Secrets

Local author, Cynthia Acree, will present a hands-on workshop at Mira Costa College this spring.

Acree’s course promises to guide aspiring writers through the challenge of planning, writing, and publishing their own book and have fun doing it!

Acree is a professional speaker, consultant, and executive coach She is the author of a number of books, one of which, “The Gulf Between Us: Love and Terror in Desert Storm” appeared in the Reader’s Digest as "Today's Best Nonfiction" book excerpt.

She has made presentations across the country, and appeared on radio and TV news and talk shows, including the Today show, 20/20, Sixty Minutes, CNN, and National Public Radio.

From Concept to Publication - Secrets to Getting Published! (Course #30012) is available on six Thursdays: 3/27- 5/1 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Call 760-795-6820 or to register online visit: www.miracosta.augusoft.net - click on Courses>Arts >Language and Literature.

Help Is On the Way For Local Teachers

The San Diego Foundation Offers Over $60,000 in Assistance with Teachers’ Fund

Recognizing that so many area teachers have had to dig into their own pockets to buy school supplies, The San Diego Foundation announced today the launch of the 2008-2009 San Diego Teachers’ Fund program. In light of looming cuts to the state’s education budget, the assistance that the Teachers’ Fund program offers resource-strapped teachers is a welcome relief. Though few would dispute the importance of providing our children with the highest quality of education, school funding is still in jeopardy.

The Teachers’ Fund provides much-needed assistance to dedicated San Diego County public elementary and high school teachers. Since 1995, The Foundation has distributed approximately $750,000 in teacher grants. This year, more than $60,000 in grants is available.

“The San Diego Foundation’s Teachers’ Fund program is making a difference in the lives of students one classroom at a time,” said Carmen Herrera, Chair of the Teachers’ Fund Committee.

Two distinct programs comprise the Teachers’ Fund: the K-6 program and the Arts in the Classroom program.

The K-6 program is aimed at helping new teachers, with five years of experience or less, build their classroom resources through mini-grants of up to $2,000 for innovative projects. Research shows that a major problem facing our educational system is the high drop-out rate among new teachers in their first few years, when they become discouraged with their lack of classroom resources.

The San Diego Foundation created the Arts in the Classroom program in 2001, providing funding of up to $1,000 to high school art teachers. One teacher used a $900 grant starting a program for students to create ceramic art pieces for sale, then donating the profits to a nonprofit organization that feeds the hungry.

Applications for both programs are available online at www.sdfoundation.org/teachersfund. Applications must be submitted by 5:00pm, Monday, April 28, 2008.
Although The San Diego Foundation reaches many teachers through their programs, there is always an additional need. If you would like to make a contribution to the Teachers’ Fund or would like more information, please call (619) 814-1343 or email a member of the Teachers’ Fund team at The San Diego Foundation at teachersfund@sdfoundation.org.







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