News Briefs 5-19-2022

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

May 20, 2022

Poly Plant Switcheroo 

Cal Poly’s Horticulture and Crop Science Department has formally changed its name to the Plant Sciences Department. The agricultural and environmental plant sciences major will also be renamed to reflect predominant employment opportunities more accurately for graduates and prospective students.

“The name, ‘Plant Sciences,’ better reflects the interests of prospective students, predominant employment opportunities for graduates, aligns with programs at competitor institutions, and the department’s academic mission,” said Scott Steinmaus, head of the department.

The department, which was formed in 2002, offers curriculum that is designed to train plant scientists who are ready upon graduation to make informed decisions and recommendations regarding sustainable farming or horticultural practices that maximize plant production and protection while minimizing economic, environmental and social impacts. The name change enables the program to clearly convey its academic mission and broaden recruitment of applicants who may or may not have a background in agriculture and allow them to be successful in robust careers throughout California and beyond.

Within the plant sciences major, students can focus on three concentrations: environmental horticultural sciences, fruit and crop science and plant protection science.

Mental Health Awareness Month

The County of San Luis Obispo Behavioral Health Department is celebrating May National Mental Health Awareness Month by hosting community wide events to promote wellness, resiliency, and recovery.

One in five adults currently live with a mental illness, which totaled to more than 52.9 million Americans in 2020, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Mental health issues have been at the forefront nationwide for several years, as the rise in street crimes and unprovoked attacks by people suffering form mental illness, appear regularly in the headlines. The problem has been exasperated by the coronavirus pandemic response that has affected Americans’ way of life for over two years now.

Many people have turned to at-home self-care tools, the County said, and grounding practices to cope with their negative mental health symptoms, the County wants to remind everyone that “knowing when to seek professional help for your symptoms is vital.”

County Behavioral Health Director, Anne Robin, said, “Reaching out for help remains one of the largest barriers for receiving care. In 2020, only 46.2% of American Adults with mental illness received direct services.

“Self-care at home is a great tool and has helped many through hard days, especially during the pandemic. 

“However,” she continued, “if you are noticing your mental health has not improved since the pandemic, or you are experiencing prolonged symptoms like hopelessness, isolation, sleeplessness, or lack of motivation, it may be time to take further action and reach out for more support.”

Behavioral Health is spreading the word on mental health services in several ways, including putting together so-called “resource kits” in conjunction with the County Food Bank and local middle schools.

The kits “contain tools to help residents to maintain their mental wellness and information about local mental health services available.”

A list of Mental Health Awareness Month events is posted online at: www.slocounty.ca.gov/MayMH. 

The website includes downloadable resources and activities aimed at helping people take care of their mental health. Behavioral Health is also on Facebook and Instagram. Readers can also access mental health services and treatment by calling Behavioral Health’s access line at: 1-800-838-1381. 

More Affordable Housing Coming to SLO

People’s Self-Help Housing just got the green light to use up to $30 million in tax-exempt bonds to finance a new affordable housing project in San Luis Obispo. 

The SLO City Council held a mandated public hearing to give the public a chance to provide input on the use of tax-exempt bonds to finance the project. The three-story project at 3750 Bullock Lane will have 68 affordable residential units and was previously approved by the City’s Planning Commission. 

The bonds are issued by the California Municipal Finance Authority and will be used to acquire, develop, build and equip the rental housing facility for low-income people. 

National Public Works Week Concludes May 21

The theme this year for National Public Works Week, May 15- May 21, is “Ready & Resilient.” 

The American Public Works Association said the theme was influenced by the “superheroes that lie within each and every public works professional. Always ready to serve their communities, and resilient as ever in their abilities to pick themselves up off the ground after encountering challenges.” 

The Morrro Bay City Council recognized the week with a proclamation. It read, in part, “the women and men comprising the Public Works Department in the City of Morro Bay are dedicated to building, maintaining, and beautifying our critical infrastructure in the service of improvements in quality of life for Morro Bay residents and visitors through projects such as the Water Reclamation Facility program, which will provide long-term water supply resiliency, and the Transit Hub Improvements project, which will upgrade the City’s transit hub with an aesthetically pleasing shelter design for riders and create enhanced accessibility.”

The A.P.W.A. was formed in 1937 and in 1960, the organization received an official endorsement from the United States Senate and organized the first Public Works Week.

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