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Latest News in Cressey, CA

Merced County school district sues Dow and Shell over cancer-causing chemical in water

The Ballico-Cressey School District, a small school district in a rural stretch of northern Merced County, is suing corporate giants Dow Chemical and Shell Oil.The lawsuit, filed on March 30 in Merced County Superior Court, alleges that the big companies manufactured and sold agricultural fumigants containing the toxic chemical 1,2,3-TCP, or 1,2,3-Trichloropropane, that were sprayed on nearby fields surrounding the school district, polluting Cressey Elementary School’s water supply.“This is an effort to hold these c...

The Ballico-Cressey School District, a small school district in a rural stretch of northern Merced County, is suing corporate giants Dow Chemical and Shell Oil.

The lawsuit, filed on March 30 in Merced County Superior Court, alleges that the big companies manufactured and sold agricultural fumigants containing the toxic chemical 1,2,3-TCP, or 1,2,3-Trichloropropane, that were sprayed on nearby fields surrounding the school district, polluting Cressey Elementary School’s water supply.

“This is an effort to hold these companies accountable,” said Kenneth Sansone, attorney at SL Environmental Law Group who is representing the school district. “We want to make sure the companies who created the mess and profited from it are the ones who pay to clean it up.”

The Ballico-Cressey School District is seeking damages and other relief associated with the dangerous chemical found in Shell Oil’s and Dow Chemical’s agricultural sprays, according to the complaint. The complaint also asks for Dow and Shell to pay “an amount sufficient to punish manufacturer defendants and to deter them from ever committing the same or similar acts.”

According to a press release issued on April 5 about the lawsuit, more than 70 communities, utility providers and water service agencies have sued Dow, Shell and other companies that made or sold pesticides containing TCP. In the last year, three other school districts in the San Joaquin Valley sued Shell and Dow, including the McSwain Unified Elementary School District, the Selma Unified School District and Manteca Unified School District.

“The taxpayers of the Ballico-Cressey School District should not be forced to pay to clean up water pollution caused by defective products that made Dow and Shell millions and millions of dollars,” said Bliss Propes, the superintendent of the Ballico-Cressey School District. “This lawsuit will help to hold these corporations accountable for the damage their TCP-contaminated pesticides have caused to one of the community’s most precious resources.”

The press release goes on to allege that TCP was a waste product of other chemicals manufactured by Dow and Shell. Products containing TCP were marketed and sold as pesticides until the 1980s and used throughout the state to control nematodes, or microscopic worms that infest the roots of plants. These pesticides were injected into the soil, and the TCP would make its way through the soil to the water table below, contaminating water supplies.

The Ballico-Cressey complaint also goes on to say that the companies that manufactured the dangerous chemical and the pesticides that contained it knew how dangerous 1,2,3-TCP was, or at least should have known. The Ballico-Cressey School District also alleges that the manufacturers of the chemical should have known how dangerous TCP would be to drinking water supplies, specifically. Representatives of Shell and Dow could not be reached for comment.

The chemical was designated an unregulated contaminant after it was discovered at a hazardous waste site in Burbank in the 1990s, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. Studies showed that 1,2,3-TCP causes cancer in lab animals and is a carcinogen, or cancer-causing chemical, in humans, as well.

1,2,3-TCP is also known to cause blood disorders and liver and kidney damage, according to the civil complaint. The state water board subsequently started to require a drinking water notification level of .005 micrograms per liter for 1,2,3-TCP in 1999, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.

The state also started to require monitoring of the chemical in drinking water sources once it was found to have polluted multiple drinking water sources across the state. The civil complaint states the California Office of Environmental Health limit for 1,2,3-TCP is 7 parts per trillion, although the state water board set the maximum contaminant level at 5 parts per trillion. At 5-9 parts per trillion, the well tested near Cressey Elementary School has more than the allowable amount of the chemical by these measures.

“The manufacturers of TCP products had a duty – and breached their duty – to evaluate and test such products adequately and thoroughly to determine their environmental fate and potential human health and environmental impacts before they produced and sold such products,” the complaint reads. “As a result of these failures, TCP contaminated, and continues to contaminate, the drinking water supply of the plaintiff’s water system.”

This isn’t the first time the San Joaquin Valley pushed back on TCP in pesticides made and sold by the corporate behemoths. Atwater city officials found 1,2,3-TCP in some of the city’s wells in 2019, and cleanup efforts started almost immediately.

That was also the year Atwater won $63 million in net settlement proceeds from Shell and Dow because the two companies didn’t disclose that TCP was contained in nematicide, the pesticide used to kill nematodes. Nematicide was often used on agricultural fields near Atwater. New systems to filter out the chemical were completed in August 2021.

Livingston, too, got a windfall in 2011 from a $9 million settlement from Dow Chemical, Dow AgroSciences, Shell Oil Co. and Wilbur Ellis Co. That lawsuit was filed in 2005 after it was discovered that Livingston’s wells were contaminated with TCP. The city later installed a $2.3 million filtration system.

The Ballico-Cressey School District owns and operates its own water system, and after school officials started testing for 1,2,3-TCP in their wells, found 5-9 parts per trillion of the chemical in one of their wells – what amounts to a few grains of sand in an Olympic-sized pool, the district’s lawyer said.

However, such a seemingly small amount can do a lot of damage.

“The problem with contaminants in drinking water in a well is that generally, people are going to be drinking large quantities of water from that well over time,” Sansone said. “So aggregate amounts of contaminants in those people is a concern.”

This chemical doesn’t just go away, either, Sansone said. TCP doesn’t deteriorate or dissipate quickly over time, even in water.

“Once TCP gets into the groundwater, it would be expected to stay there for a very long time,” Sansone said. “The only way it will come out or be diminished is if it is pumped out of the water supply. We’ve seen cases that can take as many as 30 or 40 years just for TCP to reach the water table after application.”

To filter out the carcinogen after the 2018 testing, Ballico-Cressey school officials installed drinking water filters in the water fountains at Cressey Elementary School, which is located near the well where 1,2,3-TCP was found – what Sansone calls a short-term solution.

“The district plans on installing a specialized water treatment system to remove TCP from the entire water supply at the school,” Sansone told the Sun-Star.

The water treatment system is the district’s long-term solution, Sansone said. It is estimated to cost $1 million, and the district is already working with an engineering firm on the design of the system. However, full implementation is still “far down the road,” Sansone said.

Sansone added one of the best resolutions for the district and the companies in the case would be to settle, although whether or not that will happen remains to be seen.

“At this point, it’s difficult to say,” Sansone said. “We’re just getting started.”

This story was originally published April 6, 2022 5:00 AM.

Ballico-Cressey students continue Taiko tradition

A group of Ballico-Cressey School District students are taking part in an age-old tradition of Taiko drumming.Like a kettle drum, Taiko drums produce a wide variety of sounds from deep to high-pitched. From Japan and catching on in the United States, Taiko drums originally were fashioned from tree trunks but now are generally made from wine barrels.Retired Ballico-Cressey teacher Christine Kubo now has 23 students from fourth to eighth grades in her Taiko performing group and another 15 students in the beginning to intermediate...

A group of Ballico-Cressey School District students are taking part in an age-old tradition of Taiko drumming.

Like a kettle drum, Taiko drums produce a wide variety of sounds from deep to high-pitched. From Japan and catching on in the United States, Taiko drums originally were fashioned from tree trunks but now are generally made from wine barrels.

Retired Ballico-Cressey teacher Christine Kubo now has 23 students from fourth to eighth grades in her Taiko performing group and another 15 students in the beginning to intermediate group.

The group has 17 drums, some of them made by Kubo’s husband Dan, also a retired teacher and a semi-recent Taiko drummer himself.

Christine Kubo said Taiko drumming now has become an art form. In the late 1940s, the Kumi-daiko style of ensemble drumming developed in Japan. Seiichi Tanaka, a Japanese Grand Master, brought it to San Francisco in the 1950s.

“It started out as a way of expressions and was felt to be an essential part of cultural celebration,” Christine Kubo said.

Dan Kubo said the Taiko style started in Japan was influenced by American jazz. He started to play three years ago but his main attraction was building the drums themselves. He figures he has made about 20 of the drums, including hand-held versions used solely for practice. He also has crafted the stands that the drums are placed on.

Ten years ago, former district superintendent Jose Gonzalez, now the superintendent of Planada schools, encouraged teachers to develop after-school clubs and activities for students.

“The rest is history,” Christine Kubo said. “It started with 14 kids from fourth to eighth grades, and adults joined us. We also teach Taiko at Cressey School which has transitional kindergarten through second grade. They get 25-minute lessons once a week.”

Except for one year at Keyes, Christine Kubo taught for 30 years at Ballico-Cressey schools, retiring three years ago. She taught all grades along with special education.

As a child growing up in Japan, she said it was exciting to see performances with Taiko drums. She has been playing the Taiko drums for about 25 years. Dan Kubo taught at Ballico-Cressey for 12 years, mostly junior high social studies, and went to the schools there years before as did his father.

“I love the music that comes off Taiko. I really enjoy it. There often is a lot of movement with it, almost like dance. The sound is really basic and incorporates some Japanese-style techniques along with contemporary music rhythms,” Dan Kubo said.

Christine Kubo said students work on composing song variations themselves. It takes about three years for students to reach performing level status. However, even the beginners helped put on a Nov. 20 community recital at the Ballico-Cressey School gymnasium. An end-of-year recital is customarily held in May as well.

Christine Kubo said Taiko is performed across the United States and Canada, along with Mexico, Germany, England, Spain, South America and Europe. Dan Kubo added virtually all of the University of California campuses, including Merced, have Taiko groups, along with UCLA and Stanford University.

Christine Kubo said late last summer the school took 11 of its performing group students to the three-day North American Taiko Conference in Portland, Ore. Local students performed the opening act at a community concert. Ballico-Cressey students also attended a 2011 conference at Stanford and a 2017 conference in San Diego.

“Taiko is a way to have a voice. It is animated and spirited. It’s a means of expressing oneself more than anything else. In Japan it started as an accompaniment and then became a stand-on-its-own musical form,” Christine Kubo said.

‘Creating a future’: Port Colborne Special Olympics spreading fitness and friendship

It is hard not to smile after a few minutes.When the athletes from Port Colborne Special Olympics are having fun it spreads.Morgan Cooper, community co-ordinator for Port Colborne Special Olympics, said the organization has more than 100 athletes in total.The ages range from 11 to 72 years old.Cooper said most athletes are older so one of her goals has been to increase the number of younger athletes.Special Olympics has 18 sanctioned sports. The Port Colborne chapter offers five-pin bowling, tenpin bowling ...

It is hard not to smile after a few minutes.

When the athletes from Port Colborne Special Olympics are having fun it spreads.

Morgan Cooper, community co-ordinator for Port Colborne Special Olympics, said the organization has more than 100 athletes in total.

The ages range from 11 to 72 years old.

Cooper said most athletes are older so one of her goals has been to increase the number of younger athletes.

Special Olympics has 18 sanctioned sports. The Port Colborne chapter offers five-pin bowling, tenpin bowling and swimming for part of the year, and bocce and golf in the summer.

Previously, Cooper said, they offered basketball. The goal for next year is to introduce floor hockey and bring back track and field.

“What we're missing is we're missing volunteers,” she said.

Often, it is friends and family who are volunteers but because of the group’s older demographics, those people are not always able to step up the way they want to.

Cooper said getting volunteers in the door is the hard part.

“Once they're here, they're hooked because it's just a completely different outlook on life that you get from hanging out with the athletes,” she said.

Cooper said one benefit Special Olympics has on the athletes is “recreational” but it’s not the only benefit.

“Special Olympics is their great event of the week. This is where they see their friends. This is where they feel achievement. This is where they get to be teenagers,” said Cooper.

There has been leadership training that many of the athletes took part in, she added.

“They learn to speak in public and share ideas,” Cooper said.

Claire Beauregard and Janet Pilon of the Port Colborne Optimist Club presented a $300 donation to the club.

Pilon explained the Optimist Club typically sponsors a number of teams in a tournament held by the Port Colborne Bocce Club to benefit Special Olympics.

Although the tournament isn’t happening this year, the Optimists still wanted to donate the funds to help the good work Special Olympics does in the community.

Ron Favero has been with the Special Olympics group since 1984.

He said he did track and field, winning gold medals in places like Burlington, Calgary and Vancouver.

Favero remembered how his whole family was able to make the trip to Vancouver to watch him compete.

“When my dad saw me running, he cried,” said Favero.

He said his favourite part about Special Olympics is “meeting new friends, meeting new people and meeting new coaches.”

Favero was also thankful for the organization’s help getting him his driver’s licence.

Paula Cressey has been a member for four years.

She is looking forward to bowling in September.

Cressey said she joined because she was looking for a sport to participate in. She looked into Special Olympics and joined.

Asked what she thinks so far, Cressey said she “loves it.”

“I'm out with my friends. I'm having fun,” she said. “I'm enjoying myself, just having a good time.”

That good time she speaks about is a common experience for both athletes and volunteers, said Pratima Bhatt, program consultant for Special Olympics Ontario.

Bhatt said Special Olympics helps athletes stay healthier by being active, but it also has an important social impact.

“Many athletes say their favourite part is seeing their friends or meeting new people,” noted Bhatt.

This was true for both Cressey and Favero.

“There is a positive atmosphere and a good vibe,” Bhatt said.

On Aug. 22, Whisky Run Golf Club will be hosting a tournament to benefit Special Olympics.

To learn more about Port Colborne Special Olympics, visit portcolborne.specialolympicsontario.ca.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY:

After hearing about a local club donating to Port Colborne Special Olympics, reporter Nick Fearns learned more about what Special Olympics means for the athletes and volunteers who participate.

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StartUp Health Insights: Mental Health Startups Raise Big Money | Week of Aug 30, 2022

Multiple mental health startups closed funding this week, plus rounds went to fintech for the healthcare industry, digital migraine therapeutics, medical data, transgender care, senior care, and much more.Investors, learn how you can back Health Transformers through the StartUp Health Moonshots Impact Fund.The last full week of the month saw more than $485M in...

Multiple mental health startups closed funding this week, plus rounds went to fintech for the healthcare industry, digital migraine therapeutics, medical data, transgender care, senior care, and much more.

Investors, learn how you can back Health Transformers through the StartUp Health Moonshots Impact Fund.

The last full week of the month saw more than $485M in global health innovation funding reported. Alma, a New York, NY-based network that helps independent mental healthcare providers accept insurance, led the week’s funding. The company raised a $130M Series D round led by Thoma Bravo, with participation from Cigna Ventures, Insight Partners, Optum Ventures, Tusk Venture Partners, Primary Venture Partners, and Sound Ventures. <source>

Other recent deals included:

Nitra, a New York, NY-based fintech company for the healthcare industry, raised $62M from Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Pantera Capital, KB Financial Group, Jerry Yang/AME Cloud Ventures, Dreamers VC, Primer Sazze Partners, SparkLabs Taipei & Global, Dunamu, Expa, Soma Capital, Slope Capital, K50 Ventures, 8090 Partners, Comma Capital, Gaingels, and Gold House Ventures, with CoVenture providing the debt facility. <source>

Happy Health, an Austin, TX-based developer of a wearable ring designed to measure your stress and mood 24/7, raised $60M led by ARCH Venture Partners. <source>

MedGenome, a Foster City, CA-based genomic solutions provider for populations in South Asia, raised $50M led by Novo Holdings. <source>

Theranica, a Netanya, Israel- and Montclair, NJ-based prescribed digital therapeutics company developing advanced neuromodulation devices for migraine and other idiopathic pain conditions, raised $45M led by New Rhein Healthcare Investors, with participation from aMoon, Lightspeed Venture Partners, LionBird, Takoa Invest, and Corundum Open Innovation. <source>

Ubie, a Tokyo, Japan-based medical data platform, raised $26.2M from Norinchukin Capital Co,, NVenture Capital Limited, The Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Egg FORWARD, and SUZUKEN. <source>

Plume, a Denver, CO-based startup focused on virtual care for transgender patients, raised $24M led by Transformation Capital, with participation from General Catalyst and Town Hall Ventures. <source>

Psych Hub, a Nashville, TN-based resource for mental health education and navigation, raised $16M co-led by HC9 and Frist Cressey Ventures, with participation from HealthStream, Emerson Collective, and Bailey & Co. <source>

Fair Square Medicare, a San Diego, CA-based startup that helps seniors find Medicare coverage, raised $15M led by Define Ventures, with participation from Slow Ventures, YCombinator (YC), and angel investors. <source>

Olio Health, an Indianapolis, IN-based workflow and collaboration platform for the post-acute care and population health industry, raised $13M led by Fulcrum Equity Partners, with participation from Mutual Capital Partners. <source>

Freedom Biosciences, a clinical-stage biotech platform developing mental health treatments, raised $10.5M led by MBX Capital, with participation from PsyMed Ventures, Village Global, The Yale Startup, and others. <source>

Avenda Health, a Culver City, CA-based AI healthcare company focused on personalized prostate cancer care, raised $10M led by VCapital, with participation from Plug & Play Ventures and Wealthing VC Club. <source>

Neurofenix, an Atlanta, GA-based neurological rehabilitation platform, raised $7M led by AlbionVC, with participation by HTH, InHealth Ventures, and existing investors. <source>

Power, a San Francisco, CA-based startup that aims to spark diversity in clinical trials, raised $7M led by Footwork and CRV, with participation from ARTIS Ventures, South Park Commons, and AirAngels. <source>

Alongside, a Seattle, WA-based startup with plans to partner with schools to support adolescent mental health, raised $5.5M led by Trilogy Equity Partners, with participation from Pack VC, Madrona Venture Labs, and individual investors. <source>

28, a Miami, FL-based fitness and wellness startup that aims to connect women to the hormonal phases of their menstrual cycle for physical and emotional gain, raised $3.2M led by Thiel Capital. <source>

Healee, a Sofia, Bulgaria- and Tampa, FL-based developer of customizable patient experience software, raised $2M led by Nina Capital, with participation from Calm/Storm Ventures, KAYA VC, and Eleven Ventures. <source>

Data is from StartUp Health Insights, the most comprehensive funding database for health innovation. Get all our free quarterly reports and sign up for StartUp Health Insider™ to get funding insights, news, and special updates delivered to your inbox.

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Longtime Costa Mesa Tennis Center operator Hank Lloyd announces his retirement

One of the most influential names in Orange County tennis said he is retiring.Hank Lloyd, who owned several tennis shops and has operated the Costa Mesa Tennis Center since 1998, said he will end his lease with the city of Costa Mesa effective Feb. 28.Lloyd said he and his wife of 42 years, Maureen, who helps him run the center, plan to enjoy retirement sharing activities with their family, which includes three grandchildren.“It’s...

One of the most influential names in Orange County tennis said he is retiring.

Hank Lloyd, who owned several tennis shops and has operated the Costa Mesa Tennis Center since 1998, said he will end his lease with the city of Costa Mesa effective Feb. 28.

Lloyd said he and his wife of 42 years, Maureen, who helps him run the center, plan to enjoy retirement sharing activities with their family, which includes three grandchildren.

“It’s that time where you want to spend some special time with them,” said Lloyd, who lives in Yorba Linda.

He posted a letter announcing his retirement on the center’s Facebook page on Monday, and the tributes started pouring in.

Lloyd, 72, has been a longtime local fixture in coaching. A former Sunny Hills High and San Jose State standout, he was the head pro at Anaheim Hills Racquet Club for six years in the 1970s. He also started five Hank Lloyd’s Tennis retail shops with his late father-in-law, Tim Brunet. The first store was opened in Anaheim in 1983 and other locations followed, in Tustin, Capistrano Beach, Costa Mesa and Encinitas.

The other locations are now closed, though Lloyd still runs a pro shop out of the Costa Mesa Tennis Center.

He coached many of the top young American tennis players over the years, as the site has been a Southern California Tennis Assn. Competition Training Center for top 14-and-under players.

“A lot of the kids in south Orange County have come through here one way or another, as far as playing, tournament-wise, the programs we’ve run,” he said. “It’s always been a very unique setting with really good quality pros. It’s been generation to generation, which has been really special. We’ve got a great tennis family here at Costa Mesa.”

Lloyd also brought pro tennis to Costa Mesa through a Pro Futures tournament, from 2002 through 2018. Top American players such as Taylor Fritz, Taylor Dent, Sam Querrey, Stevie Johnson and Max Cressey played in the Futures tournament over the years. Fritz and Cressey both had good runs at the Australian Open this week before losing in the fourth round.

Max McKennon, a Newport Beach native and men’s tennis sophomore at Arizona State, spent his high school years being coached by former pro Carsten Ball out of Costa Mesa Tennis Center. McKennon and his family have gotten to know Hank Lloyd well.

“He is a legend in O.C. in the tennis world,” McKennon’s mom, Donna, said in a text message. “What he has given back to junior tennis especially has been incredible. He will be missed. It is truly the end of an era!”

Bob Shafer is a retired Wilson Sporting Goods executive who has known Lloyd for decades.

“They always say people have glasses half full, but his is always full,” Shafer said. “He’s just so enthusiastic, and really a great teacher.”

The Lloyds’ eldest son, Tom, is the men’s tennis coach at LMU and middle son, Scott, a Huntington Beach resident, is in the television business. Their youngest son, Robert, lives with them.

“All three of them played varsity tennis at Esperanza High,” Maureen Lloyd said with a laugh. “It’s a requirement when you’re in the family.”

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