Published in the April 25 – May 8, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life

The South County Airport Pilots Association’s Disaster Airlift Response Team held a mobilization exercise earlier this month to help coordinate emergency personnel during a disaster. Organizations participating in concert with SCAPA DART in the annual exercise were the Silicon Valley chapter of the American Red Cross, Morgan Hill and Gilroy CERT, Morgan Hill Office of Emergency Services, CAL FIRE, The Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Reid Hillview CAAPSO, Santa Clara Valley 99s, and the Gilroy Compassion Center. Also present as observers were Dana Reed, director of Santa Clara County OES, and Jennifer Ponce, Morgan Hill office of emergency services coordinator.

Significant community-related benefits and outcomes to this year’s exercise include:

First DART integration of a Commodity Point of Distribution to immediately distribute flown-in supplies to local residents

First collaboration of SCAPA DART with the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross illustrated possibilities in mass care and sheltering at the airport linking with air evacuation when facilities become full

More than 650 pounds of food gathered through donation at exercise intake points to stock the Gilroy Compassion Center’s food shelves.

Post exercise debriefing session to discuss ways to improve performance in the future.

Thank you to the entire SCAPA team and so many partnering organizations for improving preparedness for the next big one!

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The city of Morgan Hill launched a new program designed to make things easier for small businesses to open, expand and for residents to pay water bills. The web-based tool is designed to help small business owners easily access information regarding fees, permits, approval processes and available locations.

“OpenCounter has been designed for those individuals starting a business who need to learn basic city regulations (zoning), potential permitting requirements (building permit, use permit, business license), fees, and other departmental and agency requirements,” reads a press release issued by the city’s Economic Development Department. “The online tool interacts with users by asking questions, in the right order, so business owners see the requirements and fees specific to their use and location.”

It offers services in English and Spanish. Access OpenCounter at

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Want to save water and help the environment? The Santa Clara Valley Water District has funds available and is offering Morgan Hill utility customers rebates up to $3,000 for replacing high water using plants with approved low water using plants, mulch, and/or permeable hardscape or for an irrigation equipment upgrade. Commercial, industrial, institutional and multi-family properties can receive rebates up to $30,000 ($3,000 for multi-family). Pre-approval is required so call (408) 630-2554 for details or an application. Get paid to save money and water year after year!

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Thank you to the Julian McPhee family for donating to the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority a 112-acre property adjacent to Uvas Canyon County Park in the eastern foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains west of South Valley. This is the OSA’s first acquisition that permanently protects part of a majestic redwood forest.

Here’s the wonky stuff … The Santa Clara Valley Greenprint, the OSA’s 30-year conservation vision, indicates this property has very high conservation values in terms of biodiversity and water resources. It is located in an area that receives the highest amount of rainfall in the county. A tributary to Uvas Creek and a main stem of Croy Creek run through the property, which contain habitat for native fish such as rainbow trout and riffle sculpin, and potential habitat for the threatened California red-legged frog and the foothill yellow-legged frog. The property is also located within a critical landscape linkage that connects habitat in the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Gabilan Range. In the long term, its strategic location next to Uvas Canyon County Park provides an important opportunity to implement Santa Clara County Parks’ county-wide Trails Master Plan.

“We are so pleased the land will be protected in perpetuity and provide wildlife habitat, scenic views and future hiking and recreation for the public,” said Rick Lavelle, grandson of McPhee. We love seeing our local environment preserved for the future.

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And speaking of preserving land, Santa Clara County Parks Department recently closed escrow on 153-acres at the northeast boundary of Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch County Park in Gilroy. It will be grazed to manage the diverse natural resources associated with the property by current cattle rancher, Brent Kirk, who also grazes cattle at Harvey Bear Ranch.


Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi is the editor of Morgan Hill Life newspaper. If you have a story idea or an Around Town column item you want to tell him about, you can reach him at (408) 427-5865 or at
Robert Airoldi