Belmont Mayor Charles Stone, chair of the San Mateo County Transit District board of directors, praised Hartnett for bringing stability to the district and for staying on past his five-year commitment, to provide guidance during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"When Jim was hired in 2015, he said his top two goals were to obtain a dedicated source of funds for Caltrain and to solve the SamTrans structural deficit," Stone said. "These lofty goals have challenged the district for decades, but Jim was finally able to reach them. Thanks to his leadership, the transit services that our communities depend on are well-prepared to survive the pandemic and will emerge equipped with the resources needed to expand service and address the congestion issues that we all know will return."
Voters in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties in November approved Measure RR, a 30-year additional sales tax of 0.125% that will generate an estimated $100 million annually for the Caltrain rail service.
"Measure RR saved Caltrain from a potential pandemic shutdown in the short term, but it is important to acknowledge that the measure was in the works for years prior to the pandemic," Stone said.
San Mateo County voters passed Measure W, a half-cent sales tax to improve transit and relieve traffic congestion, in 2018. Half of the proceeds of the measure are dedicated to SamTrans and Stone credited Hartnett for extensive public engagement leading up to the vote.
Hartnett, in a post on his Facebook page, said that while he is stepping down, he is not ready for retirement, writing, "I have new courses to chart, new opportunities to embrace and new things to learn. I am excited for my next chapters."
Small business grants available
Small businesses in California can apply for grants of up to $25,000 through the state's Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program.
The first round of grants opened Wednesday morning and closes at 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 8, with approvals announced starting Jan. 13.
Grant amounts will vary from $5,000 to $25,000, depending on the applicant's annual gross revenue. Nonprofits are also eligible to apply.
The grants are part of the $500 million relief program that Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Nov. 30.
For more information about the grants, visit careliefgrant.com.
The California Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is available to assist with grant applications. People can learn more at californiasbdc.org/covid-19-relief-grant.
CZU Lightning Complex fires controlled
Cal Fire CZU Unit Chief Ian Larkin announced the CZU Lightning Complex Fires are controlled at 5 p.m. Dec. 23.
This means the fire is fully extinguished, and there is no longer any danger of reignition.
"We were at a point where we felt comfortable calling it controlled," Larkin said. "We had finished mitigating most of the fire suppression activities."
The fires burned 86,509 acres, or about 135 square miles, claiming one life and destroying 1,490 structures. About 22,755 of the acres burned were in San Mateo County.
—Bay City News Service
A foxy New Year
It's customary for some to ring in the new year with a smooch at midnight, but how about celebrating the first day of 2021 with a "fox kiss?" Learn about this charming animal behavior, and many other intriguing facts about gray foxes when Bill Leikam, known as the "Fox Guy," speaks at Woodside Arts & Culture's January First Friday talk.
Leikam shares his presentation "A Year with the Urban Gray Fox" in 2021's inaugural First Friday talk, which takes place online Jan. 1 at 7 p.m.
Gray foxes can be found across a wide swath of North and Central America and the northernmost region of South America. Leikam has extensively studied the gray foxes that live in the south San Francisco Bay marshlands, observing their behavior, photographing and recording them through a collection of trail cameras.
His presentation will include an introduction to these amazingly adaptable critters and many tales from two fox families that he's been following, from how the family hierarchy develops to how the pups wrestle and play with each other — and what valuable survival lessons their parents teach them.
Spaces are limited for this online talk and registration is required. For more information or to register, visit woodsideartandculture.org.
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