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CONTENTS 5. Editors Block MUSIC & BOOKS 8. The Rhythm of Love & Dysfunction 10: Johnny Schaefer: Unflown 12: Peggy James: Paint Still Wet 13. Elliot Nelson: As He Now Appears 14: Book News & Interviews EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY 16. Taste Alaska! 18. Getting to Know Texas Wine 22. Rogue Valley Wine Country 26. Ruth’s Apple Roses 28. Double Peanut Breakfast Bars FAMILY READING 31. Rosie Reader Literary Adventures 32. Pet Talk: Family Dogs & Cats FALL TRAVEL 36. Celebrate Fall in Natchitoches, LA 40. Fall in California’s Sequoia Country 42. San Benito County in Central CA 44. Memphis is Ready for Your Visit HISTORY 46. Aviation Happenings in Yuma, AZ 52. Is That a Castle Up There? 54. The Durango & Silverton Railroad BUSINESS 60. Covid-19 Employment Laws PAGE 3


EDITORS BLOCK “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” F. Scott Fitzgerald Since our last issue, parts of our country have experienced wildfires and hurricanes. Watching the news has been devastating, however, the good news is that some of our favorite destinations made it through okay like Natchitoches, Louisiana, Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley Wine Country, and California’s Sequoia Country. These destinations along with many others, eagerly await your visit. Of course, travel is still different due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and if you can and do get out and about, social distancing and masks remain the new normal. This year we have traveled numerous states, staying mostly in bed and breakfasts, small hotels and inns, and vacation rentals. Rest assured, just like restaurants, shops, and attractions, these lodging facilities take sanitization seriously and are doing everything they can to keep everyone safe, while still providing an incredible experience. Now more than ever, it’s important to support our small businesses and communities in any way we can, whether it be through purchases, volunteering, a kind word, or some positive sharing on social media. We hope you enjoy the various travel, food, and wine stories in this issue, along with musician and author interviews, recipes, and even employment law news pertaining to COVID-19. Keep up with our radio shows, publications, and new articles at BlendRadioandTV.com, as well as through our Big Blend e-Newsletter, Twitter, and Instagram. Please take care and stay safe. Nancy J. Reid & Lisa D. Smith Big Blend’s mother-daughter travel, radio, and publishing team.

FRONT COVER IMAGE: Apple Roses at Leonard at Logan House B&B in Grand Rapids, MI. See the recipe on page 26. BIG BLEND MISSION STATEMENT: Big Blend is a company based on the belief that education is the most formidable weapon that can be waged against fear, ignorance and prejudice. It is our belief that education starts at home and branches outward. Education leads to travel, and travel leads to understanding, acceptance, and appreciation of cultures and customs different to our own, and ultimately to world peace. Our company is further based on the principle that networking, communication, and helping others to promote and market themselves leads to financial stability; thus paving the way to better education, travel, and the spirit of giving back to the community. This magazine is developed by Big Blend Magazine™, copyrighted since 1997. No part of it may be reproduced for any reason, without written permission from Big Blend Magazine. Although every effort is made to be accurate, we cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies or plagiarized copy submitted to us by advertisers or contributors.


Billy Livesay, best known for his BILLY LIVESAY ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Listen here in the work with E Street Band legend YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com. Clarence Clemons as his guitarist and vocalist, has released a new album “The Rhythm of Love and Dysfunction” with his group The Livesays. The majority of the album was recorded in 2018 and was set to be released early in 2019. Tragically, on November 2nd, 2018, the band experienced unimaginable sorrow when their drummer, Eddie Zyne, passed away from a upcoming shows and contemplate calling it quits. heart attack. Eddie, who began his illustrious career as the drummer in Hall and Oates, was an Instead, the band persevered and, in turn, decided to dedicate this album to their fallen original co-founding member and integral part musical brother Eddie Zyne. of The Livesays. Finding a replacement for Eddie would prove to Eddie had been so excited about the upcoming be no easy task as he left tremendous shoes to release of The Livesays’ fourth album, fill. In the Spring of 2019, along came Howard particularly the new songs which showcased his Goldberg, formerly of the indie-funk band solid metronome-like drumming style. Losing “Rudy.” Eddie was not only a tremendous setback, it caused the band members to cancel all of their PAGE 8

Love and Dysfunction.” As soon as it is safe for music halls and concert venues to reopen, The Livesays plan to tour in support of the release of “The Rhythm of Love and Dysfunction.” The band anxiously awaits getting back in front of live audiences where they shine. In closing, Billy has this message to impart: “During these times of turmoil, isolation, quarantining, anxiety and uncertainty, what has pulled us through is love and music. While we all have our own problems, dysfunctions, shortcomings, and varying opinions, we are all human beings who basically have the same needs and desires. Hopefully, the issues we have Says Billy Livesay, “Howard knew us from playing been facing lately will lead people to take less for around South Florida through the years. He was granted, apologize quicker, listen more and talk a tremendous fan of Eddie’s, knew of his passing, less, smell more roses, and just be better, kinder and asked if he could audition for us. Much to people. Love may sometimes be ‘a whole lot of our surprise and delight, he turned out to be a trouble,’ but love is definitely worth traveling great fit. He brought a revived energy to our ‘another mile.’ band. We were back up and running in a few www.thelivesaysmusic.com months.” The songs were recorded in Billy Livesay’s home studio in Pembroke Pines, FL, mixed by Grammynominated engineer Steve Gordon and mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Mike Fuller at Fullersound in Ft Lauderdale. The original plan was to have the song “The Rhythm of Love” be the title cut, and the album was to include songs written and recorded over a two year period after the release of The Livesays’ 2016 release “Hold On…Life Is Calling.” Circumstances changed after losing Eddie. Turmoil set in due to ongoing political unrest, the upcoming election, protests, the Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment, isolation, and having to quarantine. The general feelings of uncertainty and uneasiness, and the everchanging dysfunctional social and political climate, inspired some fresh new songs and a reevaluation as to which songs to release. Armed with twenty songs, the band narrowed it down to thirteen that reflected a congruent theme, which gave birth to the adjusted title “The Rhythm of PAGE 9

Johnny’s new single “Unflown” is an uplifting, inspiring, emotionally-charged pop ballad with a timeless message about finding our own inner strength to rise above our circumstances using the analogy of someone discovering they have wings and being afraid to use them. Says Johnny, “‘Unflown’ is a musical pep-talk I wrote to myself and those around me as we all grapple with the new paradigm brought on by COVID-19. None of us is the same as we were before the pandemic, but many around me are finding new ways to soar.” Quincy Jones affiliate Stephan Oberhoff produced the sumptuous track in his Pasadena, CA Creation Station. Oberhoff has worked extensively with artists such as Brenda Russel, Melissa Manchester, Jason Gould, Roslyn Kind, and many others. He also has his own band, Heartbeat Brazil.

Johnny Schaefer’s New Single is Uplifting and Inspirational

“Unflown” begins intimately in the first-person, then opens up musically and narratively as the narrator shares what he is learning for himself. The beautifully crafted video utilizes double exposure imagery to depict what’s going on inside Johnny as he muses about having wings and what that would mean for him, and ponders what happens when we let our metaphorical wings “fold and waste away.” A man’s regretfilled tear becomes a detached feather hitting the water. In other sequences, two babies are depicted. The first looks over his shoulder at the sun and we flash to an image of him walking into that same sun years later as a graduate, “navigating his pathway,” The second lifts her arms an infant playing with a hat, then it’s seen lifting her arms in joy as her new husband and their happy guests raise theirs.

Johnny Schaefer is a Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter of eclectic music. He has a BA in Music (Composition and Voice) from California State University, Fullerton, and has sung backup for Josh Groban, Melissa Manchester, Sarah Brightman, Sarah Vaughan, Pete Townshend, Billy Idol, Diahann Carroll, and more. He was a winner in Melissa Manchester's “Fanchester Video Cover Contest” for his mashup of Melissa’s “Midnight Blue and Lights of Dawn.” He has The video is created by Schaefer’s husband Paco collaborated with Producer Stephan Oberhoff Silva along with his business partner Daniel (Heartbeat Brazil), Bram Stoker Award-winning Henri-Smith. Together they form Siren Arts author and lyricist Elizabeth Massie, best-selling Productions. author Marianne Williamson, Carol Robbins-jazz harpist, Christoph Bull, Paul the Trombonist, Chad Ellis, and composer Lynn Kowal. He has Says Johnny, “Every step of the process was from been a cantor at Blessed Sacrament Church in writing the song, to recording it, to creating the Hollywood, CA since 1981. video was a passionate endeavor to PAGE 10

communicate as clearly as possible what I was thinking and feeling. We all took our time with it and I think it comes through.” Along with promoting his new single, Johnny has been creating new music. “I've been writing a lot of music and have several tracks in various stages of production. I plan to release a series of singles with JOHNNY SCHAEFER ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Listen here in the accompanying videos. I am very YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com. eclectic. I let each song tell me what world it wants to live in. If I have a box of crayons, I like to use a LOT of the colors. Music is the same for me. I have been honing my craft, so this is my first release in a while. But there will be more. I hope to build an audience and begin touring when that's a thing again and it’s safe. My husband and I are also producing and filming a documentary film involving a wellknown individual, but that's all I want to say about it right now. It’s very cool, though.” https://hearjohnny.com/ PAGE 11

PEGGY JAMES & JIM EANNELLI ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com.

An Eclectic New Album by Peggy James Peggy James defies categories. There is a lot of country in her songwriting and her voice— but a lot of other elements as well. On her fifth album, “Paint Still Wet,” Peggy is a pop artist for the 21st century, eclectic in her sources and strong in her conviction in the power of a wellcrafted, four-minute song. With a timeless simplicity, Peggy’s lyrics are heartfelt in their profession of love and friendship. Heartbreak is delivered with wrenching poetry, regret in meaningful sighs.

PEGGY JAMES & JIM EANNELLI ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com.

Singing in a soft, emotionally resonant voice, the Wisconsin singer-songwriter gives performances that echo with the confident humanity of the Midwest.

to people on deeper emotional levels.” “Paint Still Wet” is produced by Jim Eannelli who played on all tracks with help from some of Milwaukee’s top musicians including guitarist Daryl Stuermer (Genesis/Phil Collins Band/JeanLuc Ponty), harmonicists Jim Liban and Lil’ Rev, pianist Connie Grauer and drummers John Calarco and Victor Span. www.facebook.com/PeggyJamesMusician

“What inspires me the most in writing a song is a good story,” Peggy says. “Traveling, observing, listening and reflecting on my own life experiences affords a lot of material because there are so many stories to be told. Putting these stories to music is a way to connect them PAGE 12

Elliot Nelson’s Debut Album is a Creative Sonic Journey ELLIOT NELSON ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Listen here in the Elliot Nelson is an instrumental solo artist, composer, and YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com. producer from the north of England. His sound blends and bends musical genres from electronic, jazz, experimental rock, folk, and classical. Pushing his music to the brink of sonic creativity, his debut album “As He Now Appears,” takes listeners on a journey through warping ethereal melodies into the depths of dark and atmospheric soundscapes. Says Elliot, “‘As He Now Appears’ is centered around the experiences we have in life which evolve and change us into who we are now. I used to observe how people around me changed in particular situations, around different people or different environments. I think it shows how susceptible we are as humans to everything, it’s like a cycle of change but somehow we always return to the same point, with more life under our belt.

guess I used a similar motif to Sergei Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and The Wolf’, I would use a particular instrument to represent a person or creature within the narrative of what I was feeling, or an event I was experiencing. It was recorded over a course of 2-3 years, mainly using a laptop equipped with Ableton Live using various acoustic and electric instruments. The drums were recorded in old industrial mills in West Yorkshire, I’d either use a guide guitar or play against a drone or a sample of some sort. It “The album was incidental, instead of using would be all instinctive to how I felt, once the something such as a journal or diary, I would use tracks took upon a certain emotional shape, my music to express a certain point of time or everything else fell into place.” event that would be happening in my life, I https://elliot8.bandcamp.com/releases PAGE 13


To say writer and educator Evelyn Kohl LaTorre has been around the world would be an understatement — she’s visited over 100 countries and counting! But this wanderlust first blossomed at an early age with her love affair with Latin American culture and a yearning for a life full of purpose, passion, and adventure, all detailed in her new memoir, “Between Inca Walls.” LaTorre’s poignant narrative takes readers on a journey across both international borders and social barriers, as well as among languages, traditions, and cultures. Listen to her Big Blend Radio interview here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com. https://www.evelynlatorre.com/ PAGE 14

Annette Valentine’s debut novel, “Eastbound from Flagstaff,” tells the story of a young man in transition during the 1920s. This multidimensional tale explores theological concerns and existential worries, while providing a compelling narrative about waywardness, grace, and returning home. Taking place from 1921-1942, Valentine’s second installment, “Down to the Potter’s House,” tells the story of Gracie Maxwell, a woman who fights for her heritage during World War II. When Gracie Maxwell didn’t know what the night would bring, she began to trust the God she could not touch or see. Listen to her Big Blend Radio interview here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com. https://annettehvalentine.com

In unforgettable stories of the human journey, a combination of storytelling and dialogue underscore an excavation into the deep past of human development and its consequences. Through a first encounter between a Neanderthal woman and the Modern Human she called Traveler, to the emergence and destruction of the world’s first cities, “Mixed Harvest” tells the tale of the Sedentary Divide, the most significant event since modern humans emerged. Rob Swigart’s latest work humanizes the rapid transition to agriculture and pastoralism with a grounding in the archaeological record. Listen to his Big Blend Radio interview here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com. http://www.robswigart.com/ PAGE 15

TASTE ALASKA Juneau, Alaska stands on one of the largest wilderness areas in the United States. The largest US capital city by area, Juneau is a destination known for wildlife, fishing, glaciers, shopping, restaurants and artistic flare. As part of Big Blend Radio’s 2nd Friday Food Wine & Travel Festival with the International Food Wine & Travel Association (IFWTWA), Midgi Moore – CCTP, owner of Juneau Food Tours, talks about her culinary tours and brand new Taste Alaska! Box Subscriptions that offer an array of delicacies from the Last Frontier delivered right to your door. Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com. More at https://www.juneaufoodtours.com/ PAGE 16

By Shelly Wilfong

SHELLY WILFONG ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com.


Unless you live in Texas, you may not have had the pleasure of sampling wines that are made in the Lone Star State. Although Texas ranks 5th in U.S. wine production, most Texas wine is drunk in Texas too. There’s simply not enough produced to satisfy demand in other states. Thankfully, most Texas wineries are able to ship wine to most states, allowing consumers to join wine clubs and place online orders.

Texas has a larger footprint than France, and approximately 6200 acres of grapes grow across the state. However, 80% of the grapes for wine production are grown in the Texas High Plains AVA near the city of Lubbock. Vineyards on this flat plain lie at a significant elevation of 3000’3500’. The elevation keeps nighttime temperatures cool, providing the grapes a break from daytime heat. This nighttime cooling preserves the grapes’ acidity and extends the Some may consider Texas an emerging wine growing season compared to other locations in region, but grapes have been grown in the state the state. Irrigation is necessary, and frost since the 1650s when Spanish missionaries prevention measures are important as well. Late brought winemaking to Texas. The modern Texas spring frosts and hail are ever-present concerns. wine industry started in the 1970s, and the industry has had exponential growth in the last There are over 60 grape varieties planted in 10-15 years. Texas now has over 400 bricks and Texas vineyards. Most Texas growers find that mortar wineries, placing it behind only California, Mediterranean varieties grow best in the hot, dry Washington, Oregon, and New York. While the Texas climate. Grapes from southern France, largest winery density is in the Texas Hill Spain, Italy, and Portugal can tolerate the hot Country, there are actually wineries across the Texas summers and withstand the intense sun. state, including many outside of eight designated American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). Continued on Next Page… PAGE 19

Texas Continued

Harvest in the Texas Hill Country, by Peary Photography

While international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc are certainly grown in Texas, less familiar varieties including Aglianico, Tannat, Picpoul Blanc, and Vermentino are becoming local favorites.

unpredictable Texas spring weather. Tannat does very well in Texas and is another grape to watch in the future. Texas Tannat is a big wine with powerful tannins.

Rosé is a style that is particularly well suited for Approximately 25% of the grapes grown in Texas Texas vineyards and for Texas wine drinkers. Winemakers utilize many different grape are white grapes. The most common white varieties to craft rosé. In most cases, the grapes variety planted is Blanc du Bois, a hybrid grape that was created in Florida. It can be made into a are harvested early and are pressed quickly in a style similar to that of the dry rosés of Provence. range of styles including sparkling, dry or sweet A chilled rosé can be enjoyed year-round in wine. Viognier is the next most planted variety Texas and is the perfect pairing for many favorite and makes some of the most awarded wines in dishes. Rosé and Tex-Mex is a personal favorite. international competitions. Some consider this the best white grape in Texas. The Texas Hill Country is another important area Although the most common red grape planted is for grape growing and the primary tourism destination for the Texas wine industry. This Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, the second large region is the third-largest AVA in the nation most-planted red grape, is often lauded as the top red grape in Texas. An up-and-coming grape and encompasses 9 million square miles. Since it sits at a lower elevation than the Texas High is Mourvèdre. Top Texas grower/producer Plains, the Texas Hill Country has a lower diurnal William Chris Vineyards is the second-largest shift and a shorter growing season. Disease Mourvèdre grower in the nation and makes a pressures are higher here, but it is at a lower risk whopping nine single varietal Mourvèdres. The for freezing temperatures. grape buds late, making it a safer bet for the PAGE 20

Spicewood Vineyards Sunset, courtesy Spicewood Vineyards From sprawling tasting decks that overlook estate vineyards to downtown tasting rooms tucked into shopping districts, Texas Hill Country wineries showcase a little bit of everything. Each year, one million tourists visit these quaint towns whose names have become synonymous with fine Texas wine: Fredericksburg, Johnson City, Hye, Stonewall, Comfort, and more. This is one of the most beautiful areas of the state, and it features not just vineyards, but fields of wildflowers, rugged hills, and idyllic farms and ranches that are pure Texas. While this may be the first stop on your Texas wine journey, don’t let it be the last. Viognier Harvest, courtesy Brennan Vineyards Keep an eye out for Texas wine on restaurant lists and on store shelves wherever you live. Additional Texas vineyards are being planted each year, allowing wineries to ramp up production. With more wine to sell and increased distribution across the United States, Texas wine will be making its presence known more boldly in the future. Better yet, come visit our tasting rooms and enjoy world-class Texas wine and hospitality. Cheers, y’all!

Shelly Wilfong is the creator and host of the podcast “This Is Texas Wine”. She is a Dallas, Texas-based wine educator and founder of the Dallas Women’s Wine Club. Shelly is also a frequent contributing writer to the Texas Wine Lover website. Shelly holds a Certified Specialist of Wine designation through the Society of Wine Educators as well as the Level 3 Advanced award from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET). She is a Specialist of Texas Wine through the Texas Wine School. Podcast website: www.ThisIsTexasWine.com PAGE 21

By Cori Solomon

ELI MATTHEWS & CORI SOLOMON ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com.

Rogue Vally View © Travel Medford PAGE 22

Applegate Valley Š Cori Solomon The Rogue Valley is located in southern Oregon. Three towns, Medford, Ashland, and Grants Pass, garner the largest population in the area. The valley lies along the Rogue River and its tributaries. The Cascade Mountains on the east, the Siskiyou Mountains on the north, and Southern Oregon Coast Range separate the area from the coast. The weather is mild, making it an ideal spot to grow grapes. Medford is the largest of the three and home to Harry and David, a food and gift producer that began operating in 1910. The downtown area has been revitalized to offer lots of trendy restaurants, wine bars, art galleries, and theaters. Ashland is known for its Lithia springs, the healing thermal waters. It is also home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where people come year after year to see an eclectic assortment of live theater. Grants Pass is known for its whitewater rafting. A trip to the area must include the quaint town of Jacksonville, a national historic landmark, whose heyday was during the Gold Rush and now home to the Britt Festival, an open-air music festival. From these cities, one can experience all the Rogue Valley has to offer, including Crater Lake, the wineries, other natural wonders, including many waterfalls and its numerous outdoor activities.

Willamette Valley but more diverse because of the climate and amount of varieties produced. This diversity and the other local recreational and cultural activities make this wine region a very special place to visit. It is a hidden wine gem that beckons one to explore. The climatic difference between the AVAs in the western areas of Oregon, like the Willamette Valley, is the rain shadow effect caused by the closeness of the Cascades and Siskiyous. Because the rainfall is moderate, the Rogue Valley is dry compared to those wine regions located closer to the coast. The soils vary throughout the AVA and include metamorphic, sedimentary, volcanic, sandy loam, and hard clay. These different soils type allow for many varieties. The red varieties most commonly planted are Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, and Malbec. White varieties include Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Viognier. The Rogue Valley AVA was established in 1991 as part of the Southern Oregon AVA. It is 70 miles wide and 60 miles long and lies within Jackson and Josephine Counties. Three regions define this AVA, Bear Creek Valley and the Illinois Valley and Applegate Valley, which is a sub-AVA of the Rogue Valley, established in 2000.

Rogue Valley AVA The Rogue Valley AVA is not as well-known as the PAGE 23

Continued on Next Page‌

Wineries Continued‌

ROGUE VALLEY WINERIES TO VISIT The same diversity you find in climate, soils, and varieties can also be seen in the wineries. It could be the style or character of the wine, branding, or appearance of the tasting room.

Medford Mural, courtesy Travel Medford

Anchor Valley Ashley Cates describes her winery as an edgy brand, but when you learn the extensive wine background behind this boutique winery, you find she and her husband Matt create wines accentuating the expression of the terroir. Their goal is to open the door a bit wider by welcoming everyone. They provide a fun and relaxing atmosphere at their tasting room in Jacksonville without sacrificing the integrity of their wine. Their wines are very approachable. Anchor Valley is not just a winery; it is a lifestyle brand with a line of clothing. One must-try the Pinot Gris with its marvelous layers and complexity. Also, go for the Petit Sirah.

Awen Winecraft Probably the smallest producer in this group, Awen, which is a Celtic word that describes poetic inspiration. It is the inspiration of Sean Hopkins and Tom Homewood that is the driving force behind Awen Winecraft. They create very balanced old-world style wines. One musttry the AlbariĂąo and Sangiovese.

Cliff Creek Cellars Known for its big reds, the winery creates wines in what they call a traditional French style. The Garvin Family has been producing wine since the 1990s. They have two tasting rooms, one in the Rogue Valley and the other in the Willamette Valley. One musttry the Cabernet Franc and the Claret.

Dancin Vineyards Vibrant is the best way to describe Dancin Vineyards because not only does the word portray the scenery you will discover at this winery, but the wine that comes forth from a glass of their wine. Passion and romance also define this winery. It comes through in the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Barbera. One must-try is the Septet Pinot Noir. PAGE 24

Irvine & Roberts They say location is everything. This terminology is true of the vista one views from the patio at Irvine and Roberts. It is not just the spectacular view that defines this winery, but its position between the confluence of two mountain ranges, the Siskiyou Mountains and the Cascades, set the stage for growing outstanding Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Their specialty, Burgundian style wines. One must-try the Pinot Mineure.

Kriselle Cellars Passion is the motivation behind Kriselle Cellars. Owner Scott Steingraber's commitment to producing wines is based on character and quality, which their wines excel at emphasizing. This Rogue Valley winery is located at one of the warmest sites along the Roque River on the Upper Rogue Wine Trail. The tasting room is architectural with incredible vineyard views. One must-try the Sauvignon Blanc, a wine that ferments and ages in oak, Tempranillo, and the Di'tani.

Troon One of the older wineries in the Rogue Valley's Applegate Valley, Troon, has reinvented itself after a change of ownership and addition of General Manager, Craig Camp. Troon is now Demeter Biodynamic and Organic Certified, which emphasizes the winery's new approach to the winemaking process. They also produce biodynamic cider from 20 apple varieties grown on the property. One must-try the Kubli Bench Amber, a blend of Riesling, Vermentino, and Viognier; the Kubli Bench RosĂŠ, a combination of Tinto Roriz, Primitivo, and Grenache as well as the CĂ´tes du Kubli Rouge, a Syrah/Grenache blend. Please check with each winery for their tasting room schedule. Most wineries require an appointment. For more information on the region visit: https://www.travelmedford.org and https://travelashland.com Cori Solomon is an award-winning freelance writer/photographer residing in Los Angeles, California. Her writing focuses on travel, art, food, wine, and pets. As Cori often travels with her dogs, some of her travel articles deal with pet-friendly hotels and locations. She earned her WSET Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits, received the NASA American Wine Specialist Certification, and NASA Spanish Wine Specialist Certification. Follow her at http://www.writtenpalette.com PAGE 25

This recipe is from Ruth Andrus, innkeeper of Leonard at Logan House Bed & Breakfast located in the historic Heritage Hill neighborhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more of Ruth’s recipes, follow her blog at https://leonardatlogan.com/ You may use just about any variety of apples. Approximately 2 apples can make 6 apple roses. Wash your apples. Do not peel. Slice in half. Carefully slice each half into very thin slices. Using a melon baller, cut out the seeds and shafts that are at the bottom of the apple slices. Cutting as little as possible. Arrange apple slices on a plate, single layer. Sprinkle lightly with water. Microwave for 70 – 90 seconds. They should be able to bend slightly. Cover plate with plastic wrap and then a towel to keep moist. CRUST: You may use either pre-made pie crust or your own, or crescent roll dough. Cut into strips 2’’ x 9”. Brush with melted butter. For a little blast of flavor, spread very thinly a small amount of raspberry jam. Then sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

Place apple slices on the upper half of the dough, overlapping. Skin side up. Each rose should have about 8-10 slices of apple. Fold dough over bottom edges of apples. Then carefully roll sideways and place into wellgreased muffin tins. They should look like a rose! Brush gently with a little more melted butter, and another sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar. Bake for 12 minutes at 350, uncovered. Then cover gently with aluminum foil and bake an additional 30 – 35 minutes. When they come out, drizzle a small amount of caramel on the top. Cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Enjoy! PAGE 26


Yielding 9 bars, this tasty homemade breakfast snack is from Donna George, owner of The Peanut Patch in Yuma, Arizona. For more of her peanut-inspired recipes visit www.ThePeanutPatch.com. 1 ½ cups whole-grain flake cereal 1 cup whole grain “o” shaped cereal ½ cup chopped dry roasted peanuts ½ cup of your favorite dried fruit like cranberries, raisins, chopped apricots or figs 1/3 cup honey 1/3 cup packed golden brown sugar 3 tbsp. peanut butter In medium bowl, stir together cereals, peanuts, and dried fruit. Combine honey, brown sugar, and peanut butter in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Pour over cereal mixture and stir until wellcoated. With back of oiled spoon, press mixture into lightly oiled 8-inch square pan. Cool. Cut into 9 pieces. PAGE 28


Rosie Reader Literary Adventures All dressed for preschool and kindergarten and nowhere to go is the new reality this fall for many 3 to 5-year olds, but a new website called ROSIE READER wants to encourage children (and their adults) to travel, without ever leaving home. “There’s an opportunity to engage with children’s books in a more in-depth way,” says Maria Coder, mom to 3-year-old Rosie. “Our activities have vanished, our playdates are gone, but a good book and our imagination can fill our days with adventures.”

MARIA CODER ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com

Former journalist, Coder hopes to build a RosieReader.com features one main book every community of avid, engaged young readers with few days, which it then builds book-inspired simple newsletters, free holiday activity books, activities around. Each story is reviewed (as and lots of giveaways. Her goal is to create a relayed) by 3-year-old Rosie, with added insight place that’s for little readers, largely created by from Mom. Each feature comes with three types her own little reader, and have it add value to of complementary resources: Printables, Craft or parents who suddenly find themselves Instructional Video, and Book-inspired Play. homeschooling, as well as teachers seeking additional free resources to use in virtual classes In addition to the activities that support the main or offline classrooms. She’s also hoping the featured book, the site also includes a section watercolor imagery and simplicity of her website called Snapshots, with short and snappy reviews will create a moment of respite for adults. that each come with one activity. A Bookmark “Adults have a daunting task, particularly right section will have various articles and listicles, like now,” she said. “Rosie and I hope to bring a dash the inaugural piece on books that help parents of creativity to help make the chaos and distance open a discussion about the pandemic and the learning more manageable.” Visit importance of wearing a mask. https://www.RosieReader.com/ PAGE 31

PET TALK … On this episode of Big Blend Radio, Dr. Gary Weitzman, a pet expert and author, advocate and veterinarian, and also President & CEO of the San Diego Humane Society, shares advice on training dogs and cats, as covered in his latest two books with National Geographic Kids:“Fetch! A How to Speak Dog Training Guide” and “Pounce! A How To Speak Cat Training Guide.” Both books are perfect for families seeking the best tips and tricks for training your furry best friend. Listen to his interview here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com.

During World War II, thousands of Americans sent their pets to Fort Robinson in western Nebraska where the U.S. Military established the Fort Robinson War Dogs Training Center, training over 17,000 “dogs for defense” and deploying them to battlefields and installations all over the world. Author and historian Trevor Jones discusses his new book "Major: A Soldier Dog" that tells the little-known story of these brave four-footed soldiers. Listen to his Big Blend Radio interview here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com. PAGE 32


Explore & Experience Louisiana’s Oldest City

BIG BLEND RADIO INTERVIEW: From the Dark Woods Haunted Attraction to Christmas Celebrations and the reopening of Cane River Creole National Historical Park and

Cane River National Heritage Area Founded in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, Natchitoches is the original French Colony and oldest city in Louisiana, and celebrates a vibrant blend of French, Spanish, African, Native American, and Creole cultures.

BIG BLEND RADIO INTERVIEW: From the Dark Woods Haunted Attraction to Christmas Celebrations and the re-opening of Cane River Creole National Historical Park and Melrose Plantation, Arlene Gould and Kelli West of Natchitoches Tourism share what there is to experience in Natchitoches, the oldest city in Louisiana. Listen to their Big Blend Radio interview here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com.

10 FABULOUS FALL EXPERIENCES - Tour the Historic Sites within the Cane River Heritage Area including the downtown National Historic Landmark District, Cane River Creole National Historical Park, Melrose Plantation, and Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Park. - Dare to enter the creepy Dark Woods and costumes. Enter the mind-bending world of Haunted Attraction. Immerse yourself in seven Dark Carnival 3D. It brings a new brand of terror acres of Hollywood style special effects, live actor Continued on Next Page‌ performances, and professionally themed sets PAGE 37

Dark Woods Haunted Attraction

The American Cemetery

Natchitoches Continued… to the Big Top with 4,000 sq. ft. of black-lit mayhem seen through ChromaDepth glasses. Winding over a third mile through the deepest recesses of Dark Woods you’ll find Dead Fall Trail, an outdoor journey into the twisted folktales and legends of horror of Louisiana. - Get your Louisiana sports fix on! Be wowed at the achievements of over 300 legendary Louisiana athletes, coaches and sports figures at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. This $23million museum complex is also home to the Northwest Louisiana History Museum.

– Follow the Natchitoches and “Steel Magnolias” Film Trails. Robert Harling grew up in Natchitoches, and lost his sister to diabetes in 1985. He turned that experience into the iconic stage play ‘Steel Magnolias’. The 1989 film adaption directed by Herbert Ross was filmed in and around Natchitoches. - Delight in flowers, waterfalls, and twinkly lights. The Beau Jardin Water Feature & Garden overlooks beautiful Cane River Lake and along with being a wonderful area to take a romantic stroll, it’s also a popular wedding and event venue.

– Explore the historic American Cemetery. Established around 1737, the cemetery is said to - Cruise beautiful Cane River Lake aboard the be the oldest cemetery in the Louisiana new Cane River Queen, a wonderful experience Purchase. Legend has it, that St. Denis, the for the whole family! town’s founder, is buried somewhere on the grounds. PAGE 38

Cane River Candy - Taste a famous Natchitoches meat pie. A Natchitoches tradition since 1967, Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant is an authentic soulful Creole Cuisine experience not to be missed – and their famous meat pies are simply scrumptious! - Start your holiday shopping! Established in 1863, Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile is the oldest general store in Louisiana, and the oldest business in downtown Natchitoches. From hardware to kitchenware, folk art to toys and holiday décor, this general store truly has something for everyone! Along with other boutique stores like Hello Dolly, The Art Guild and Cane River Candy make for a unique shopping experience. - Celebrate Christmas at the 94th Annual Christmas Festival of Lights. This celebration of lights, fun and festivities is set along the backdrop of downtown Historic Natchitoches and Cane River Lake. Cane River is illuminated by more than 300,000 twinkling lights and 100 set pieces. To learn more about the greater Natchitoches area’s attractions and events, lodging establishments, shops and restaurants, visit www.Natchitoches.com PAGE 39

Mineral King “In Our Back Yard” mural in Exeter by Jana Botkin

Big Blend Radio Spotlight on fall and winter travel in Tulare County, central California. Featured guests from the Sequoia Tourism Council include: Donnette Silva Carter – Tulare Chamber of Commerce, Sandy Blankenship – Exeter Chamber of Commerce, Sintia KawasakiYee - Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, Katie Wightman - Sequoia Parks Conservancy, and Jessica Brackeen Porterville Chamber of Commerce. Listen here in Porterville, Tulare, Lindsay, Woodlake and the YouTube player or download the podcast on Dinuba. A major agricultural hub that feeds Spreaker.com. America, Tulare County is a leading producer in dairy, citrus and stone fruits, nuts and berries. Home to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the Giant Sequoia National Monument East of Fresno, California’s Sequoia Country is an and Sequoia National Forest, Tulare County is easy 4-5 hour drive from the San Francisco Bay known as California’s Sequoia Country. The Area and 3-4 hours from Los Angeles. region makes for a fabulous destination offering www.DiscoverTheSequoias.com. a variety of outdoor activities, family-friendly events, and an eclectic selection of shopping and dining opportunities in the park gateway

Discover, Explore, and Savor! Located in central California, east of Monterey and Salinas, San Benito County is the eastern gateway destination of Pinnacles National Park. Less than 2 hours from San Francisco and 4 ½ hours from Los Angeles, this beautiful travel destination offers outdoor activities such as bird watching and hiking, golf and tennis, as well as a wine tasting trail, variety of dining options, boutique shopping, historic parks and museums, public art, and more.

JEN RODRIGUEZ ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com.

The nation’s 59th national park, Pinnacles NP features fascinating rock formations, a variety of wildflowers and plant life, caves and hiking trails to explore, wildlife and bird watching. If you are lucky, you may even get to see one of the resident California Condors. The western side of Pinnacles, and the historic San Benito County community of San Juan Bautista are both part of the Juan Bautista National Historic Trail. Home to over 57,000 residents, the region is made up of Hollister (county seat), Tres Pinos, San Juan Bautista, Aromas, Paicines and New Idria. San Benito County is true California ranch country and a nature lover’s paradise. www.DiscoverSanBenitoCounty.com. PAGE 42

Downtown Memphis. Photo by Phillip Van Zandt courtesy Memphis Tourism Memphis is home to over 60 unique attractions like the Memphis Pyramid, and famous musical destinations such as the Beale Street Historic District, Blues Music Hall of Fame, Graceland, Memphis Music Hall of Fame, Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Sun Studio, and the W.C. Handy Home and Museum. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor art galleries, museums and cultural districts to explore such as the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis Botanic Garden, and CrossTownArts.

ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Milton Howery of Memphis Tourism shares all there is to see and do, year-round, in Memphis, Tennessee. Listen to his interview here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com.

And when it comes to food, the city has over 100 It’s also an active outdoor community with 166 parks including Shelby Farms Park and Meeman- barbecue restaurants, world-famous fine dining, rich soul food, and more. Shelby Forest State Park, plus, the Mississippi, Ghost, and Wolf Rivers. Plan Your Memphis Adventure at www.MemphisTravel.com. PAGE 44

Skyline Bridge. Photo by Phillip Van Zandt courtesy Memphis Tourism

Sunset on Beale Sreet. Photo by Phillip Van Zandt courtesy Memphis Tourism PAGE 45

Robert G. Fowler historic marker Known as the ‘Gateway to the Great Southwest,’ Yuma is located between San Diego and Tucson, and borders Mexico. Situated at the narrows of the Colorado River, Yuma was a historic and ideal crossing point for those traveling west during the gold rush, as well as other pioneers and opportunists. Today, the city thrives as a sunny travel destination, an agricultural hub for winter crops, and as a military station. Home to the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, the Yuma Territorial Prison, Colorado River State Park, and a plethora of historic sites and museums, the area is rich in history and is a goto place for history lovers, including aviation enthusiasts.

flight from Santa Monica, California to the East Coast that Fowler touched down in Yuma near a ball park. About four days later, planning to continue his flight, several locals helped pushed the plane uphill on 3rd Street to give it a “downhill” run. Forty-nine days later the “Cole Flyer” ended its journey by rolling to a halt near the surf of Miami, Florida. Fifty-two years later Fowler returned to Yuma for the dedication, an unveiling of the monument in his honor. Today a historic marker commemorating the “100th Anniversary of Flight in Yuma” stands in front of the Yuma Landing, as well as a statue of Fowler. The restaurant also has a fascinating pictorial museum featuring over 200 aviation and historical pictures of Yuma. The Yuma Landing is connected to the historic Coronado Motor Hotel where you can make an appointment to visit the on-site Yuma Historical Society Museum of Aviation & Tourism.

On October 25, 1911, the first plane to land in the state of Arizona did so on the site of the Yuma Landing Bar & Grill. This Wright Model B biplane, known as the “Cole Flyer” was piloted by Robert G. Fowler, and was rented from the famed Wright Brothers, who had made their In 1929, while she was competing in the allhistoric flight years before. It was during his female pilot National Air Derby (fondly known as PAGE 46

Yuma Landing Bar & Grill the “Powder Puff Derby”), Amelia Earhart damaged her propeller while landing a Lockheed Vega airplane in Yuma. In 1949, the local Jaycees service club decided to show off the near-perfect flying weather in Yuma, to convince the military to re-open the Yuma Air Base which was closed after World War II. They did this by setting the world record for the longest nonstop flight. Pilots Bob Woodhouse and Woody Jongeward flew an Aeronca Sedan AC-15, named the City of Yuma, continuously for 47 days. The plane was fueled and food and supplies were handed up to the pilots from a moving vehicle. You can see the plane and vehicle in the Yuma City Hall. In 1951, the Yuma Air Base was re-opened as a U.S. Air Force facility. It was renamed Vincent Air Force Base in 1956, then signed over to the U.S. Navy in 1959. The Yuma Test Branch was also closed in 1949, and it too, was re-opened in 1951, under the control of the Sixth U.S. Army. In 1962, the station was named Yuma Proving Ground and reassigned to the U. S. Army Material Aeronca Sedan AC-15, named the City of Yuma Command as an important component of the Test and Evaluation Command. On July 26, 1973, infantry soldiers were trained at Camp Laguna it officially received its full name—U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. Located on the Colorado for duty at combat fronts throughout the world, from North Africa to the South Pacific. River, the Yuma Test Branch conducted testing Abandoned campsites and tank trails can still be on combat bridges, amphibious vehicles, and found on the modern day proving ground. boats. Tens of thousands of mechanized and PAGE 47

Experience Yuma, Arizona The Historic Gateway to the Great Southwest

Explore the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area… Visit the Yuma Territorial Prison & Colorado River State Park… Splash Around in the Colorado River… Go Hiking, and Bird and Wildlife Watching… Enjoy Sunrise & Sunset Walks in the Wetlands… Tour the Public Art in the Historic Downtown... and so much more…



If you’re traveling east across Nevada on Hwy. 50, the Loneliest Road in America, you may spy what looks like a castle up in the hills near the old mining town of Austin. Towering above the vast Reese River Valley, Stokes Castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. It was once the lavish summer home of Anson Phelps Stokes who was a successful miner, railroad magnate, philanthropist, banker, and genealogist. Using huge, heavy slabs of local granite that were hoisted with a hand winch, he constructed this elaborate three-story family home from 18961897, taking inspiration from a tower he had seen in the Roman Campagna in Italy. The kitchen and dining room were on the first floor, the two bedrooms were on the second and third floor, and the very top story had a battlement deck. The home had a fireplace on each floor, plate glass windows, and plumbing. The Stokes family only lived in the home for a month. In 1898, Stokes sold his mine and milling equipment, as well as the castle, and left Austin.


History & Scenery Combine for a Memorable Trip by Debbie Stone


Picturesque Scenery A ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is first and foremost about history. It’s a testament to engineering prowess, hard work, determination, and extraordinary vision. And it all began with the mining boom that struck Southwest Colorado in the late 1800s. Deep in the heart of the precipitous terrain of the San Juan Mountains, a rail was built to carry supplies and transport minerals to and from the high elevation mining camps. At the helm of this ambitious project was General William Jackson Palmer, the head of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. Palmer answered the need for faster and more economical transportation in this region by building a narrow-gauge railroad with three-inch rails versus four-inch, the standard for U.S. railroads. His decision stemmed from the fact that construction and equipment costs were cheaper and the narrow gauge was better suited for sharper curves. It took less than ten months to complete the section of tracks from Durango to Silverton and in 1882, the railroad began operations on the Silverton Branch. In its heyday, it was a very profitable enterprise, but then the Great

Depression hit, followed by WWII, and mineral prices fell, devastating the once-lucrative mining industry. Fortunately, Hollywood stepped in and saved the day by filming a series of movies with the train, including “A Ticket to Tomahawk,” “Denver & Rio Grande,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” and many others. Dedicated railroad historian and preservationist Charles Bradshaw, Jr. eventually bought the Silverton Branch in 1981 and upgraded the longneglected steam locomotives and coaches. He also renamed the railroad and boosted passenger service exponentially. Today, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is owned by Allen and Carol Harper of American Heritage Railways, who also operate the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in North Carolina. When you ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, it’s easy to see why the experience is ranked as “One of the World’s Top Ten Train Rides” and the “Number One North American Train Trip.” The scenery alone is reason enough.


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Relax and enjoy the views.

Downtown Silverton

Durango Continued… Your journey will take you through spectacular wilderness that will leave you dizzy from all the grandeur. It’s a panorama of rushing rivers, picturesque waterfalls, deep gorges, narrow canyons, pristine lakes, and verdant forests. And then there are the mountains – snow-capped, towering, and majestic sentinels that rise up 14,000 feet. You’ll follow the course of the Animas River as the train climbs up out of Durango and goes through six geological zones for the 45-mile trip to Silverton.

water tank; and the famous High Line and its horseshoe curve. The latter was the most difficult portion of the line to build, as it was cut out of canyon walls at approximately $100,000 per mile. There’s so much to see and learn that boredom never sets in during the three and a half hour trip. And you’re always free to get up and walk around your car and step outside onto the viewing platforms. With luck, you’ll spy some of the wildlife that make their home in this area, such as elk, deer, moose, beavers, and funny little prairie dogs that enjoy playing hide and seek amid the woods and meadows. The train stops a few times for water, as it takes a whopping 10,000 gallons of water to produce the steam to power the locomotive. It also stops at Needleton Flag to let on and off the many hikers, rafters and mountain climbers who are exploring the backcountry.

Photographic opportunities abound and your train car narrator will point out all the mustcapture moments, while regaling you with tales of bygone days on the railway. He/she will also provide information about the history and geology of the area. Of special note are the following sights: High Bridge, a wrought-iron construction that’s 130 feet long; Baker’s Bridge where the famous “jump scene” from the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was filmed; Tacoma Hydroelectric plant, the oldest of When you arrive in Silverton, you’ll have a few hours to eat lunch, shop and walk around town its kind in the U.S. that still uses its original generators; Needleton Tank, an historic wooden before getting back on the train for the return PAGE 56

Friendly, knowledgeable staff. trip (there’s also a bus option available as an alternative). Silverton was once a vibrant mining mecca and its streets were dotted with saloons, gambling halls and bordellos. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark and one of the most intact historic locales in the country. Many of the buildings have been restored and enhanced to recreate the sights and scenes of yesteryear. And you won’t find more friendly and hospitable folks than the Silverton locals who never miss an opportunity to share tales of their colorful town. If you choose to ride the train both ways, you’ll be surprised to discover that the scenery, although the same, looks different on the return. With a change in perspective, it’s akin to experiencing the journey anew. Some passengers prefer a change in cars, too.

renowned, historic Alamosa Parlor Car with its lounge-style seating or the Silver Vista, an openair car that boasts panoramic views and the most legroom of any car on the line. There are also historic narration cars, where costumed individuals representing real characters from the past entertain passengers with their stories, as well as standard class coach cars. In addition, during summer, the Open Air Gondola with its bench-style seating facing outward is available. It’s often a favorite with the kids, as it allows for a more up close and personal experience with the sights and sounds of the ride. Kids will also enjoy the special theme rides that the railroad offers throughout the year. At Halloween, there’s the Great Pumpkin Patch Express, and during holiday season, the Polar Express is very popular. Spring brings the Easter Beagle and in early summer, the Dinosaur Train

The train offers several choices when it comes to your ride. For a deluxe first-class ambiance, there are a number of options such as the PAGE 57

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Downtown Silverton Durango Continued… celebrates the fascination children have with dinosaurs and trains through music, games, and fun activities. If you still haven’t had your fill of trains after your excursion, check out the Durango & Silverton Railroad Museum. The 12,000-squarefoot facility showcases the history of Durango and the railroad with a host of interesting artifacts and relics. There are two full-size locomotives, as well as an 1887 caboose, an immigrant sleeper coach, and a theater car that was built of balsa wood for the movie set of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” You can climb inside the cab of one of the locomotives and get comfy in the engineer’s seat, imagining the sensation of your hand on the throttle. There’s always something new to explore at the museum and what’s more, admission is free.

Debbie Stone is an established travel writer and columnist, and regular contributor for Big Blend Radio and Big Blend Magazines, who crosses the globe in search of unique destinations and experiences to share with her readers and listeners. She’s an avid explorer who welcomes new opportunities to increase awareness and enthusiasm for places, culture, food, history, nature, outdoor adventure, wellness and more. Her travels have taken her to nearly 100 countries and to all seven continents.

If you go: www.durangotrain.com

Horse Sculpture in Durango PAGE 58


By Ward Heinrichs Esq., San Diego Employment Attorney

Families First COVID Response Act

WARD HEINRICHS ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker.com.

Congress passed the Families First COVID Response Act (FFCRA). It grants qualifying employees the right to paid leave. Under certain circumstances, the Act requires the employer to pay employees up to 12 weeks for not working. The law applies only to businesses that have fewer than 500 employees. If the business offers work from home, then the employee cannot elect to employees do not get the benefit of the law, but take FFCRA leave. Health Care workers and they may have a wrongful termination lawsuit if Emergency Responders are exempt from the they were terminated because they asked for benefits of the law. The Secretary of State may FFCRA leave. exempt businesses with 50 or fewer employees when the imposition of the FFCRA leave would The Act provides two weeks (80 hours) of paid jeopardize the business’s viability. Terminated PAGE 60

Sick Leave and ten weeks of paid FMLA leave. Each provides slightly different benefits. The triggering events overlap, but FMLA leave applies in more limited circumstances. Employees are eligible for FFCRA Paid Sick Leave under the following circumstances: 1. Government COVID quarantine or stay-athome orders 2. COVID Quarantine advised by Healthcare providers 3. Experiencing COVID Symptoms and Seeking Diagnosis 4. Caring for a person subject to COVID stay-athome/quarantine orders 5. Caring for kids home from school or without childcare due to COVID 6. Secretary of Health and Human Services order For the reasons listed in 1-3, employees receive full pay for each day of sick leave, but that amount is capped at $511 per day and at $5,000 for the entire leave period. For reasons 4-6, employees receive two-thirds (2/3) of their regular pay capped at $200 per day and at $2,000 for the entire leave period.

restrictions prevent them from going to school or daycare. The first two weeks are unpaid. Presumably, FFCRA paid Sick Leave would cover that time. The following ten weeks are paid at the rate of two-thirds (2/3) of the employee’s regular rate of pay, capped at $200 per day and $10,000 for the entire leave period.

California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave In California, regular Sick Leave and Paid Family Leave may supplement the leaves under FFCRA. Additionally, California also has the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law. The benefits and triggering events are similar to those of the FFCRA, but it applies to businesses that have 500 or more employees. The California COVID paid leave law does not exempt Health Care workers and Emergency Responders and does not grant paid leave for home child care or caring for an individual subject to COVID restrictions. The law covers Independent Contractors working in the Food Service Industry.

Paid FMLA leave only applies to employees who have children at home because COVID PAGE 61

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Covid 19 continued…

Safe Workplace Requirements Under Labor Code §6400, an employer must maintain a “safe and healthful” workplace. If an employee refuses to work because the workplace is not safe and healthful, violates other Cal OSHA safety or health standards, or violates any Cal OSHA safety order, then the employer may not layoff or discharge that employee. (Labor Code §6311.) If the discharged employee can prove that any of the above violations created a “real and apparent” hazard, the employee will be entitled to claim all wages for the time the employee is without work because of the layoff or discharge.

Termination Issues

The reduction in business activity forced many employers to lay off staff. Nevertheless, beware of terminating employees who have made claims or are in a protected status. For instance, if an employee requests FFCRA leave, and an Finally, if an employee complains about unsafe employer immediately terminates the employee, or unhealthy work conditions, then the employer that employee may have a very strong wrongful may not terminate the complaining employee or termination case. discriminate against that employee because the employee made such a bona fide complaint. However, where an employer legitimately (Labor Code §6310.) If the employee can prove terminated an employee because of the COVID discrimination under Labor Code §6310, then the business climate, that employee will not be employee may claim reinstatement and eligible for FFCRA leave. When an employee reimbursement of lost wages and benefits. requests leave, the most important issue might be who acted first. In other words, did the Wage Issues employee ask for leave before termination, or The downturn in business may require did the employer terminate before the employee employers to reduce wages. If the employee is a asked for leave? salaried exempt employee, then the employer must pay at least the minimum salary amount Employees may have protected status because required in California to retain the employee’s of disabilities, sex, race, gender, military services, exempt status. In 2020, those amounts are etc. Employers should still act thoughtfully $54,080 for businesses that employ at least 26 before terminating such employees. employees and $49,920 for businesses that employ 25 or fewer employees. Some Terminations almost always trigger specialized occupations have different minimum unemployment benefits. pay amounts to qualify for exemptions, and employers will need to meet them to preserve Based in San Diego, California the Employment Law the exempt status of those employees. Office of Ward Heinrichs represents both employers Businesses may reduce the hourly rates of non- and employees in almost all areas of labor law. He exempt employees for lawful reasons as needed, and his firm litigate cases that have been filed in many different parts of California. Visit but all hourly workers must make at least www.BestEmploymentAttorneySanDiego.com minimum wage. PAGE 62


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