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West Nile virus poses special September threat

West Nile virus poses special September threat

SACRAMENTO - The West Nile virus continues to be a problem throughout California with more than twice the number of human cases compared to same time last year.

All month, public health officials have focused on preventive spraying across the region to combat the West Nile virus. One recent target was Oki Park, near Rosemont. That was good news for those gathered at the park Saturday afternoon, especially for Lyn Piegaro who was diagnosed with West Nile virus several years ago.

"It's debilitating. It's very hard, and I'm guessing for the kids and older people it's even worse, which is why I'm very happy that they spray," Piegaro said.

The website FIGHTtheBITE.net shows recently sprayed areas like the section of the American River just north of Oki Park.

Vacaville employees halt strike after city agrees to mediation

VACAVILLE - The city of Vacaville is back to normal for the time being now that striking city employees have temporarily agreed to go back to work.

Members of Local 39 came off the picket lines Friday afternoon after the city agreed to mediation as contract negotiations continue.

Since Wednesday, Local 39 member Alex Mummert and nearly 100 of the city's operating engineers who maintain critical infrastructure have been on the sidewalks outside City Hall and on other picket lines. Their goal has been to raise public awareness about Vacaville's move to cut wages for Local 39 members by 21.5 percent. Union leaders said for their members that could be as much as $1,200 to $1,500 per month.

"My rent payment is $1,500 a month, so if I can find a house to live in for 300 bucks a month, I'm good. Anybody know where that is?" Mummert asked.

UC Davis researcher pleads no contest to explosive chemicals, firearms charges

A UC Davis researcher entered a no-contest plea to 17 charges in connection to an explosion at his Davis apartment last Jan. 17.

David Snyder, a chemist, was accused of having chemicals such as ammonium perchlorate (used in rocket fuel) in his Russell Park campus apartment. Court documents also listed firearms and ammunition in his home that are prohibited on campus.

PREVIOUS STORY: Researcher booked into jail in connection to Davis apartment explosion

Will strike delay expensive Vacaville water project?

VACAVILLE - Could a strike by workers in Vacaville slow progress on the biggest public works project in the city's history, putting the city at risk of substantial fines?

The city acknowledges the strike could have an impact on it's $150 million water treatment plant addition, a project the city fought to avoid for years. The project is required by the state to bring water discharged by the plant to a level cleaner than drinking water.

"If we aren't treating the effluent at the highest level by May first, yes, we face some penalties. The state will ultimately decide what those will be if that occurred," city spokesman Mark Mazzaferro said.

Construction on the water filtration project is set to wrap up by the end of the year, with the plant under a deadline to be up and running by May 1, 2015.

Managing irrigation systems proves challenging during drought

WOODLAND - For every 10 or so sprinkler heads across the city of Woodland, there's a valve inside a box that is connected to other equipment. At any moment, those pieces can break or malfunction, leading to a big mess that public officials are struggling to control.

On Tuesday, water from city sprinklers poured out onto Pioneer Avenue. The sight made Mike Woodward so angry that he shot video of it with his phone and posted it on Facebook for all to see.

"I just think, maybe, the city could just be a little more careful of how water is being used and wasted," Woodward said.

Woodward said it's hardly an isolated incident because he's seen repeated examples of the city's water waste around town.

"Two things: 1) over-watering and 2) not checking sprinklers often enough to make sure there isn't broken or missing sprinklers," Woodward said.

Employees in a Vacaville union strike due to pay cuts

VACAVILLE - All 91 members of a union representing municipal employees voted to go on strike after the Vacaville city council voted to cut their salaries by 21 percent Tuesday night.

The union represents workers at sewage and water treatment plants and city parks, along with traffic light technicians and other positions. On Wednesday, employees picketed at three locations across the city, including city hall.

"October 15 is when our first pay check is gonna be not there," city traffic sign technician Mark York said as he protested in front of city hall Wednesday afternoon. "They have been bullies towards our members for the past five years. It's their way and only their way."

Napa quake quirk: Creek flows on the rise

NAPA, Calif. (AP) - Last month's earthquake in California's wine country has residents marveling at the sight and sound of water running in some local creeks again.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that the 6.0-magnitude quake near Napa had the side effect of pushing groundwater up out of the bedrock and into previously dry streams.

Three creeks in the Sonoma Valley and two more in Napa and Solano counties now have dramatically increased flows. U.S. Geological Survey geologist Tom Holzer says the forces at work are basically the same as squeezing toothpaste out of a tube.

Scientists say the water will subside as more time elapses after the quake.