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To make paying taxes less taxing, the County of Santa Cruz is now accepting electronic checks in addition to credit cards and payments by mail and in person for upcoming property tax payments. There is a small fee to make online credit card payments whereas electronic checks are free. For more information go to Taxes are due December 10.

A multi-faceted community-wide health and fitness program, Santa Cruz Challenge, will begin registration November 2. New this year is a free one-day “Start With Yourself” event on January 23rd before the full 12-week series of classes kick-off on January 30, 2016. Register in November and receive a special discount. Register at

The County of Santa Cruz has launched a website to help residents prepare for El Niño-related weather events. It is widely predicted that this year’s El Niño will be one of the strongest on record and the website provides information on preparing family disaster plans, how to prepare your property, tips for pet owners and what to do during and after an emergency. Bookmark it at

The first annual Santa Cruz County Small Business Saturday is on November 28. Each business that signs up will receive participation materials and be recognized among Small Business Saturday businesses. Shoppers will receive discounts by having sales taxes covered by participating businesses. The county asks all interested businesses to sign up for free by emailing Barbara Mason, Santa Cruz County Economic Development Coordinator at [email protected]

The County of Santa Cruz has announced the hiring of Kenneth “Andy” Constable as its new Economic Development Manager. Andy is currently the City of San Jose’s Real Estate Development Manager. He will head a new newly created division that is tasked with servicing existing businesses, creating jobs and increasing the county’s tax base and furthering the County’s implementation of its Economic Development Vision and Strategy, approved by the Board of Supervisors in November 2014. Andy starts November 10.

Save Our Shores has named Ventana Surfboards & Supplies the 2015 Ocean Business of the Year. The award recognizes leaders in marine conservation.

Earlier this month, Save Our Shores Program Director, Rachel Kippen came across what looked like two pufferfish washed up in the wrack line about four miles south of Marina State Beach. Believed to be porcupinefish, if Rachel’s species identification is correct, the find would be extremely rare, as they are usually found in warmer waters down south. Other strange visitors to the Monterey Bay include thousands of pelagic red crabs that washed ashore in early October, something that has not been documented this far north since 1982.

Pictured: What looks to be a porcupinefish via Save Our Shores.

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