12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY MARCH 7-13, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Inside downtown Watsonville’s newest spot to see and be seen, those concerned for the future of Pajaro Valley’s hospital gathered at Watsonville Public House, where they sipped beer created by pastor-basketball coach-brewmaster Robby Olson as they wound down a busy Election Day and awaited the fate of Measure N, a bond meant to upgrade the deteriorating healthcare facility and further cement its public ownership. A small but steady stream of people trickled into the brewpub, including Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo, who was unopposed in seeking his third term. As they grabbed a tamale and a plate of fruit, they turned their gaze to the projection on the screen, where Olson was trying to find a news station with local results but ended up on CNN. As the clock turned to 8pm, the lively chatter dulled as attendees were glued to their phones, refreshing Santa Cruz and Monterey counties’ election websites, anxious for information. Measure N requires two-thirds in favor to pass. According to the latest results as of March 6, it garnered 65.6 percent of the vote, just below the needed 66.7 percent cutoff. The measure received 68.6 percent in Santa Cruz with 8,822 votes counted, and 63.6 percent in Monterey out of 473 ballots counted so far. When the first round of results on Tuesday night showed 70 percent in support, it landed about where earlier polling indicated, says Tony Nuñez, president of the Pajaro Valley Health Care District board, which placed the measure on the ballot. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” he says. “Everyone put in so much work and did everything they could to get us to tonight.” Watsonville Community Hospital is the closest hospital for roughly 6,500 North Monterey County residents, about 15 or so minutes closer to the next facilities in Salinas. The hospital was saved from closure after last-minute legislation by State Sen. John Laird to create the Pajaro Valley Health Care District and a flurry of fundraising to purchase it from former owner Halsen Healthcare, which filed for bankruptcy in December 2021. The $64 million purchase brought the hospital back into public ownership after more than two decades of ownership by various for-profit entities. While the efforts staved off the closure, the hospital’s new operators say the job is far from finished. The $116 million bond would add $24 per $100,000 of assessed value on property tax bills for the next 30 years on properties within the district. Funds would go toward renovations, including for the emergency room, HVAC systems and other areas, as well as purchasing new equipment such as CT scanners and MRI machines. “From the second this board was put together, it was, ‘OK, the hard work is done, now the hard work begins,’” Nuñez says. “If it passes, let’s make sure we follow through on everyone’s commitment. Our community needs this. It’s not just Watsonville, it’s not just the Pajaro Valley, but the entire Central Coast. We’ve got to put on the big boy pants and do the work.” Pending Diagnosis Watsonville hospital’s leaders are ‘cautiously optimistic’ as bond measure is within range of passing. By Erik Chalhoub Santa Cruz County Supervisor Felipe Hernandez (from right), Ramon Gomez and others gathered at Watsonville Public House to receive Measure N results on Election Day, March 5. NEWS “We’ve got to put on the big boy pants.” ERIK CHALHOUB ♦ 3 Card Poker ♠ Century 21st No Bust Black Jack ♣ Texas Hold’em ♥ Baccarat FULL BAR! BLACKJACK BONUS POINTS PAYS UP TO $20,000 SMALL TOWN BIG PAYOUTS! 1-800-Gambler • Gega-003846, Gega-Gega-003703, Gega-000889 Gega-000891 Gega-002838 The Marina Club Casino ensures the safety and security of all guests and team members at all times, while providing exceptional service. 204 Carmel Ave. Marina 831-384-0925 casinomonterey.com ♠ ♣ ♥ ♦ Just minutes from Downtown Monterey Where Monterey Comes To Play ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES Stop By To Shop And Find Your Vintage Treasure OVER 100 DEALERS 21,000 SQUARE FEET The Largest Antiques and Collectibles Mall on the Central Coast 471 WAVE STREET MONTEREY (831) 655-0264 P M canneryrowantiquemall.com Open Daily 11am-6pm ’23 Voted Monterey County's Best Antique Shop