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Pastry chef Curtis Cameron’s offerings are mind-bending, visual collections of flavors and textures.

Napa County relaunches Taboo Tattoo to remove problematic ink

When Jose De La Cruz sat down in a conference room at the county’s administrative offices Monday morning, it was hard to miss the large California state bear tattooed on his right cheek.

Less than 10 minutes later, the bear was just a shadow of its former self.

Over the next few months, using a tattoo removal laser, local plastic surgeons will slowly erase De La Cruz’s bear tattoo, leaving that part of his cheek looking more or less tattoo-free.

The free tattoo removal service is provided by a Napa program called Taboo Tattoo. Funded by local criminal justice agencies, Taboo Tattoo started back in 1997, but had been on hiatus for several years.

On Monday, the service held its first monthly removal clinic, located on the second floor of the county offices, near an adult probation office.

“It’s one of the most rewarding programs I’ve worked on,” said organizer Sheila Daugherty.

Daugherty is the former executive director and co-founder of Napa’s Wolfe Center.

Daugherty said the priority for the free service is those with visible tattoos or gang tattoos. For those trying to leave such an affiliation behind, removal is particularly important, she said.

“We’re just trying to encourage people to get rid of them.”

J.L. Sousa, Register 

Jose De La Cruz prepares to have this bear tattoo removed from his face by Dr. William McClure of Napa Valley Plastic Surgery. The Napa County Probation Department has reinstated the tattoo removal program after a two-year hiatus.

Many employers frown on visible tattoos, she said.

For those with a gang tattoo or visible tattoo, “it really does hinder their employment,” said Lisa Fitt, program manager of Taboo Tattoo. “By getting these off, it makes a huge difference.”

For example, potential employers “might look at someone with a facial tattoo and draw the wrong impression (or) think they are not a good person,” Fitt said.

Once the visible tattoos are removed, the difference clear skin makes, especially when it comes to self-esteem, is ‘amazing,” Daugherty said.

“There is a real change in the quality of life.”

J.L. Sousa, Register 

Dr. William McClure, left of Napa Valley Plastic Surgery, removes a tattoo on the face of Jose De La Cruz at the Napa County Probation Department on Monday morning.

Local plastic surgeons, including Dr. William McClure, Dr. Rebecca Jackson and Dr. Tyler Street of Napa Valley Plastic Surgery, will volunteer one day each month to remove tattoos, Daugherty said.

The group estimated it can treat 55 clients per monthly clinic.

On Monday, the first day of the relaunched program, seven clients were treated, including De La Cruz and his bear tattoo.

J.L. Sousa, Register 

Jose De La Cruz's face after a first treatment with a laser to remove a tattoo. Additional treatments are planned to more completely eradicate the ink. 

Once the word gets out that the program is running again, that number will grow, organizers predict.

“If we can help people to get into the workforce or break way from gang affiliations, I think that’s a big step in the right direction,” said Fitt.

The group can also treat age or brown spots, on anyone, for $50. Clients are seen in order of arrival.

Napa's hopes for Miracle March rains should get good start

March arrives on Thursday with what looks to be a good shot of rainy weather—if only for a few days—amid an exceptionally dry Napa Valley winter.

Mike Pechner of Fairfield-based Golden West Meteorology said Monday that several inches of rain could fall in the Napa Valley from Wednesday afternoon into early Saturday. Snow could fall on Mount St. Helena.

But whether the county will see the Miracle March needed turn this drought-like rain season around is another matter.

“Here’s the problem. The forecast models go dry next weekend,” Pechner said. “They go dry also to the second week of March right now, though it could change. But we could go into another relatively dry period.”

Napa Valley knows all about dry this rain season. Only a few hundredths of an inch of rain fell in December. The few tenths of an inch that fell Monday morning and afternoon marked the first rainfall for February in some parts of the valley and came with only three days left in the month.

December and February are typically among the wettest months of the year and they turned out to be dusters.

For the rain year that runs from October 1 to Sept. 30, Napa State Hospital as of Monday morning had received a mere 8.69 inches.

The average rainfall to date is 20.52 inches and the average for the entire rain year is about 27 inches.

This rain year needs a rally simply to avoid being among the driest ever. March is usually the last month of the season when the area can expect consecutive, big storms.

In 1923-24, the city of Napa received only 9.52 inches, records show. In 1975-76, it received 12.56 inches, followed by 12.65 inches in 1976-77. That’s the kind of water-stingy company this rain year is keeping, at least so far.

A major water source for the city of Napa is Lake Hennessey in the mountains east of Rutherford. City Water General Manager Joy Eldredge said Monday that the reservoir is about 78 percent full.

That shouldn’t pose a problem for city water supplies, she said. Water allocations and carryover allocations for the State Water Project from the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta are looking good because last year was so rainy.

“On paper as far as our supplies, we’re very solid right now,” she said.

It’s still possible for Lake Hennessey to spill this spring, Eldredge said. Needed for this to happen are about 10 inches of rain with the right timing, such as in frequent one-inch-a-day bursts so the watershed drains.

A spilling Lake Hennessey is good not only for supplies, but also to flush out the reservoir, Eldredge said. Otherwise, algae can grow that can affect the taste of the water, even though the water is treated for drinking.

Lake Berryessa, the massive federal reservoir in eastern Napa County, is 89 percent full and nine feet below its glory hole spillway. The lake provides water recreation as well as water supplies for Solano County cities and farms.

What a difference a year makes. In February 2017, one of the rainiest years on record filled Lake Berryessa for the first time in 11 years. Drone videos went viral of water tumbling into the circular, 72-foot-diameter concrete spillway. The sight looked like a giant whirlpool.

This February has been a strange month for Napa Valley beyond its dryness. The first couple of weeks saw daytime highs reach into the 70s, with the 76-degree high in the city of Napa on Feb. 9 setting a record for that date.

Then came colder weather. Pechner said Feb. 21 saw a low of 27 degrees, breaking the record for that date of 28 degrees set in 1920. A low of 28 degrees on Feb. 25 broke the record of 30 degrees set in 1919.

“Those being that far back, these new records will probably stand for a long time,” Pechner said.

American Canyon leaders reject cannabis dispensaries, backyard cultivation

AMERICAN CANYON — The American Canyon City Council has begun shaping its proposed ordinance on recreational marijuana activities by expressing support for home delivery and allowing indoor cultivation and manufacturing in the city’s commercial district off Green Island Road.

But council members expressed little support for allowing retail sales in American Canyon or backyard cultivation in residential neighborhoods.

No decision was made last week on the ordinance itself, which staff is still crafting.

The council decided to postpone the issue until its March 20 meeting, at which time staff will offer a time frame for when they could have a draft ordinance ready for a vote.

Tuesday night’s discussion lasted nearly two hours, with numerous residents expressing support or opposition to allowing recreational marijuana operations in the city.

Council members also went out of their way to talk at length about their concerns for each issue raised.

“This is a serious topic,” said council member Kenneth Leary in response to comments from some residents that the city has been dragging its feet on making a decision on recreational marijuana.

“I don’t take it lightly,” Leary said, adding that he wanted to make the right decision for his town.

Resident Heidi Zipay said she was “super disappointed in this council” for not making a decision on recreational marijuana. “Please just go forward,” she said.

At one point in the meeting, the council conducted an informal straw vote on each issue so staff could get a clearer idea on how to proceed with writing the ordinance.

The straw vote revealed most council members were open to supporting home delivery of cannabis products, and permitting manufacturing or testing of such products and conducting indoor cultivation in the Green Island area only.

No council member expressed outright support for allowing dispensaries to open up in American Canyon, or to authorize the growing of marijuana plants in people’s backyards.

Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana, allows individuals to grow up to six plants inside their homes.

The city has been operating under an emergency ordinance since the passage of Prop. 64 in 2016 that limits indoor marijuana cultivation to no more than six live plants, but prohibits outdoor cultivation, processing, manufacturing, distribution, testing and sale of recreational marijuana in all zoning districts.

The council in October extended the Cannabis Urgency Ordinance to May 4 to allow city leaders to participate in the Napa Countywide Cannabis Roundtable, which brought together officials from all Napa Valley jurisdictions to discuss regulations for this new industry.

City staff has conducted public outreach with numerous stakeholder groups and held a community meeting on Jan. 22 that was attended by nearly 40 residents.

They also conducted an opinion survey that received approximately 500 responses.

“Preliminary results indicate a slight majority of respondents were not in favor of personal outdoor cultivation or commercial cannabis activities,” according to a report prepared for the council.

The only issue receiving strong support in the survey (76 percent) was taxing commercial sales.

The results were compared to how American Canyon voted on Prop. 64 — 56 percent of residents said ‘yes’ to the ballot measure. That was less than the “yes” vote countywide (59 percent in favor) and less than the majorities favoring it in other Napa Valley communities.

The report also informed the council that two entities — Taiga Inc. and the Napa Valley Cannabis Association — have expressed interest in establishing a cannabis retail location in American Canyon.

Also, local resident Paul Sunak informed the city that he was interested in conducting indoor cultivation and building a manufacturing facility in the city, according to the report.

Staff asked the council Tuesday night to extend the city’s emergency ordinance to Nov. 15 so they would have more time beyond the current May 4 deadline when the ordinance expires.

Council member David Oro questioned the need to extend the emergency ordinance until the fall, and asked staff if they could finish the permanent ordinance sooner.

Interim City Manager Jason Holley said staff was stretched thin trying to work on finalizing plans for revamping the Broadway District and the large-scale Watson Ranch project, as well as preparing an update on the city’s General Plan.

He said moving up the cannabis ordinance on staff’s priority list could mean delaying work on these other efforts.

Still, Holley said he would bring a timeline for when the cannabis ordinance might be ready at the March 20 meeting.