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Rob Eliason

ELECTRIC FUTURE Mike Corbin sits in his office with a model of the Corbin Sparrow, a three-wheel electric car that aims to change the morning commute for motorists everywhere.


A Nicholas Preciado Reporter

s regional roads and highways clog with commuters heading out of San Benito County to business hubs in Salinas and Silicon Valley, local motorcycle company Corbin stays ahead of the curve and that means staying put in Hollister. “Technology and innovation comes from being aware of what’s going on in the world,” said Mike Corbin, owner of the company famous worldwide for motorcycle seats and accessories. “I travel a lot to stay grounded and study riders. Of course with the electric car, that’s my background. I’ve always been interested in electric cars. You can be innovative and inventive anywhere.” The local business is set to revive the three-wheel electric car known as the Sparrow. The Sparrow is five-feet-wide

and 10-feet-long, about onethird the size of a regular car and one-third its weight. It has room for a single passenger, which caters to the commuters that leave the local region everyday. It might be considered niche, but Corbin said it’s more efficient than other cars on the market because of it’s lightweight design. It’s possible to park three Sparrows in a single parking space that would normally fit a single, four-door sedan. While the cars aren’t for sale yet, they’re expected to sell for $36,000 and consumers will be able to purchase them directly from the Corbin factory in Hollister. “We’re our own dealer,” Corbin said. “We have a vehicle manufacturer license and a motorcycle dealer license.” Corbin started designing the Sparrow in 1995. The company made 300 Sparrows between 1998 and 2003, but stopped production after financial troubles. Now over a decade later, the company will put forth a new version of the Sparrow in an age more familiar with electric cars. “We haven’t taken any preorders or deposits, we didn’t want to be under pressure to do a timeline. Timelines don’t really work. We said we’ll wait until we’re really ready.”

While Corbin crusades to change the electric car, they’ve already changed motorcycle seats with the Fire and Ice Saddle, the first seat of its kind to offer heating and cooling capabilities. Corbin started manufacturing heated seats in the early 90s, but there’s never been a seat that can both heat up and cool down. “I started doing research to figure out how to do a seat that could heat and cool,” Corbin said. The company debuted the new saddle earlier this year at Daytona Bike Week in Florida. The seat is currently made for touring models for Harley Davidson, Indian Motorcycles and BMW. “We got all of the hardware, elements, fans and wiring in the seat,” Corbin said. “All you have to do is hook it up to your 12-volt source on your bike and it works.” The heating and cooling system was made for simple installation and is fully self-contained in the saddle without the need of any pumps, compressors or fluids. It uses the Peltier Effect to heat and cool, meaning heat is emitted or absorbed when an electric current crosses a junction between two materials. The Fire and Ice Saddle, which currently retails around $900, has

been well received by the public. “They love them, we’ve never had one back,” Corbin said. “They work well.” Corbin’s history with both Hollister and motorcycles runs deep. He helped revive the Hollister Independence Rally in the mid-90s and relocated the company factory from Castroville to Hollister. “We thought it would be great to come to Hollister with the rally coming back,” he said. “Now we’ve got a great building here and a great team of people, most who live in Hollister.” Since relocating to Hollister, the Corbin factory remains open, hosts vendors and offers discounts during the rally. Corbin’s roots in the community are further visible with his involvement with Quilts of Honor, a local group that gives handmade quilts to veterans to show appreciation for their service and sacrifice. “Bev and Mike Corbin, both members of the Pinnacle Quilters of San Benito County, have been generous supporters of the Quilts of Honor since its inception,” said Irene Towler of Quilts of Honor. “Mike has let us have a booth at Corbin during the motorcycle rally to sell our handmade quilted items as well as our awesome cookies to

help raise money for our other charitable endeavors.” The group, which formed in 2015, will present 43 quilts this year at the San Benito County Fair. Bev Corbin, Mike’s wife, is the community liaison. “She spearheads the making of quilts for the children at Chamberlain Children’s Center,” Towler said. “It’s our goal to see that each and every child receives a quilt. She also works with Emmaus House to help the families in crisis. They receive quilts. At Christmas time we do a big push to make Blankets and Bears, a stuffed animal wrapped in a quilt. Mike and Bev open their home each week so that we can work on our many projects.” Bev will present Mike with her own handmade quilt at this year’s county fair. “He also opened Corbin Motors photo studio to have each and every one of our quilts for this year professionally photographed,” Towler said. The Quilts of Honor ceremony will be held at the main concert stage at the county fair on Saturday, September 30 at 10 a.m. “I’d just like to say thank you to the county for being such a great home for our company,” Corbin said.

The art of reinvention SWANK FARMS HAUNTED ATTRACTION BETTER THAN EVER BEFORE Roseann Hernandez Cattani Editor

Rob Eliason

CORN MASTERS Dick and Bonnie Swank get lost in their

9.5-acre corn maze. This year the Swank Farms haunted attraction is at a new location, 4751 Pacheco Pass Hwy.

Being a farmer is not easy. Growers have to deal with the whims of mother nature, an unstable labor force, changing consumer tastes and market forces that are beyond their

control. And in California, where land prices are high, there is always that tension between staying the course for another season or packing it all in and selling up to the nearest developer. At Swank Farms in Hollister, Bonnie and Dick Swank are indeed staying the course, but the savvy couple realized years ago they would need to do more than

grow fresh produce to maintain their business long-term. “Farmers have had to learn how to diversify,” said Bonnie Swank recently at the couple’s homestead ranch off the Pacheco Pass Highway. “We are working on reinventing ourselves. We did well for a number of years, but things change.” About twenty years ago debts were

piling up and the couple needed cash fast. “Farming wasn’t doing it and we needed to make money,” said Bonnie Swank. “So we started planting the corn.” The couple had talked about doing a corn maze before, but necessity being the mother of invention, the Swanks decided to go all-in, pitched the USDA

for a loan, which they got, and nearly twenty years later, getting scared silly at the Halloween corn maze and spook-fest at Swank Farms is an annual tradition for tens of thousands of area families. “Our contact at the USDA was one of the few people to believe in us,” said Bonnie Swank. “But we ended up paying ➝ Swank Farms, 11



SEPTEMBER 29, 2017

Jenny Arbizu

FUN TIMES Bill Mifsud started Bill’s Bullpen with his father, Bill Sr., thirty years ago.

While other shops have come and gone, the comic book store remains a cherished fixture in downtown Hollister.

A Comic Relief BILL’S BULLPEN CELEBRATES 30 YEARS IN DECEMBER Jenny Arbizu Contributor

It’s a Tuesday afternoon and business at Bill’s Bullpen is booming. Not five minutes has gone by without a phone call or customer walking into the tiny store to look through comic racks. Looking around the small store, one can see traces of old downtown Hollister in the old letter peg board hanging on the wall, in the display cases used to showcase their products, and most importantly, in the customer service. Owner, Bill Mifsud, doesn’t miss a beat in greeting each customer. And he knows all of them by name. “I try to go the extra mile when people come in,” he said, which he means almost literally. He recalled the time when a lady came into his store 10 years ago with a long “want list” of comic books. “I took her list, ran with it, called her in two days and said ‘I found all your books.’ She said, ‘All of them?’ I guess other people blew her off,” he recalled. It’s lucky for Mifsud, too—that lady later became his wife. This dedication to customer service is a rarity these days. Especially now, as many small downtown businesses have succumbed to the growing number of chain stores entering Hollister. Bill’s Bullpen, however, has continued to thrive in downtown Hollister for nearly three decades. On December 1 of this year, the store will celebrate 30 years in operation. It all started in 1987, when Earthquake Cards and Comics was selling its store. Mifsud’s father, Bill Sr., was recovering from a heart attack and taking time off from work. Bill Jr. was working for Channel 11 in San Jose and with his contract just ending, he wasn't sure if he should continue. A lot of soul searching went into whether or not they should take over the business. “I didn’t know anything about business; I didn’t major in business,” Mifsud said. Ultimately, the decision was made. He and his

dad, Bill Sr., who passed away in 2012, were chosen out of 25 other offers to take over the business. “And here we are 30 years later,” Mifsud said. Bill’s Bullpen was originally located at the now grassy plot on San Benito Street. After the Loma Prieta Earthquake in October of 1989, the whole 400 block was redtagged, Mifsud said. Bill’s Bullpen then moved to its current location on 4th Street. After five years at its current location, Mifsud and his father decided to open a second Bill’s Bullpen on the 500 block of Tres Pinos Rd., next to Larry’s Liquors. It was open from 1994 to 2005. Though it was profitable for 11 years, Mifsud said the rent had changed and it was no longer a good deal. “I don't realize it's been 30 years until people come back who have moved out of Hollister and say, ‘Hollister has changed so much, it's good to see you're still here,’ he said. “When you hear all that, you're like, ‘wow, maybe I'm doing something right.’” The business was recognized as San Benito County Chamber of Commerce & Visitor’s Bureau 2015 Retail Business of the Year. One can only assume the award comes from the dedication that Mifsud puts into his store. He said he’s “married to his job.” The store is open 7 days a week and he makes sure he is always there, even when other employees are able to run it. “If you’re here all the time as an owner, you will listen to what people want. That’s how you eventually grow. If you’re not here, an employee may not be hearing the same things you’re hearing,” he said. Bill’s Bullpen continues to deem itself a “Family Friend Hobby Store,” and Mifsud attributes its success to changing with the times and paying attention to fads. “We had to diversify the store. We had to listen to customers and figure out what they wanted,” he said. The comic book store is not only known for its comic books, but also for sports novelties like baseball cards, hats, t-shirts, and posters as well as fads

like fidget spinners and Pokemon cards. “Some of these other stores probably have their money into just comics,” he said. “There’s not a lot of stores that have comics and sports teams.” Many similar stores in the area have opened and closed, said Mifsud, and because of this many of Bill’s Bullpen’s customers come from Gilroy, Los Banos, Prunedale and Morgan Hill. Mifsud has subscription files behind the counter for those customers who can’t make it into the store when their comic arrives. “My job is to pull their comics for them and then they’ll come out at the end of the month and pick them all up,” he said. The store also does a lot of trading of comics and sportscards. Mifsud offers 50 cents on the dollar and also offers store credit of 70 percent on trade-ins. For any items that Mifsud feels can be successfully sold out of the area, such as out-of-state sports cards, he will sell on eBay. The most valuable item in the store? An original 1981 Incredible Hulk comic book, featuring the first appearance of the Wolverine. Encased in plexiglass, it’s offered at $999, although Mifsud said that not a lot of people realize it’s for sale. The store also holds two yearly events for the public to enjoy. The nationwide “Free Comic Book Day,” held on the first Saturday of May is a hit with locals and customers and is where people can meet and take pictures with their favorite comic book characters and receive a free comic book. Nearly 2,000 comic books were given out at the last event. Coming up is “Halloween Comic Fest,” held the Saturday before Halloween. This year it will be on October 28. “It's still fun,” Mifsud said, of running the store. “I tell people, I've been doing the same stuff over and over but it's still a fun job. If you don't like what you're doing then you probably shouldn't be doing it.” Visit Bill’s Bullpen at 207 4th Street, Hollister, or call 831-636-1180. Store hours are 11a.m.8p.m. Monday through Friday, 10a.m.-8p.m. Saturday and 11a.m.-7p.m. on Sunday.

If you are here all the time as an owner, you will listen to what people want. That’s how you eventually grow. —BILL MIFSUD, OWNER OF BILL’S BULLPEN

SEPTEMBER 29, 2017





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Learn from 20+ top speakers and many exhibitors how to reduce toxins in your life, home & body, and understand how to support the body’s immune system in an ever increasing toxic world. Millions of people in the US, with many of them in California, are concerned with some of the toxins going into their bodies, but many who are not yet aware about all of them, how to strengthen their immune system and #GetToxinsOut of their bodies and their environment. We have a growing number of children who are chronically ill – currently 1 in 2. In response we have created the LiveAware Expo: Living Healthy in a Toxic World ( with the premise to bring people in who are non-toxic in some way (eat organic, use nontoxic cleaners, etc.) but want to learn more about how minimize toxins in their environment, learn about illness basics and how to build a healthy immune system.

Sessions include: The Dirt Cure: How Getting Dirty Keeps Kids Healthy (October 1, 1PM), Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein, MD. We’ve thought sanitizing our lives was going to make children healthy. Yet since we’ve gotten cleaner, chronic diseases as well as allergies and asthma, have skyrocketed. Join Dr. Maya ShetreatKlein, author of The Dirt Cure, to hear the science of how germs can make us stronger, and discover easy, practical ways to strengthen the immune systems in the process. Living in the Age of Aluminum (September 30th at 1pm) and Living Safely (and Healthily) in the Aluminum Age (Keynote Dinner Speaker September 30th at 7pm), Dr Chris Exley, PhD. The myriad of ways humans are exposed to aluminum in everyday life, including some of the latest results on where aluminum is found and specifically in brain tissue in diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and autism. Dr Chris Exley will discuss his research into non-invasive mechanisms to protect the body from the potential toxicity of aluminum. The Dangers of Wi-Fi and Other EMFs, Plus Creating a Healthier Home (September 30 at 9:15AM), Liz Menkes. What kinds of manmade electromagnetic fields (EMFs) can be found in your home? Why should you be concerned about wireless technologies and other EMFs? What are the symptoms of overexposure to EMFs? What does the science say about the health effects? Liz Menkes will share about this, plus simple things you can do to keep yourself and your family safer. Bringing Up Baby (September 30 at 2:15PM), Sally Fallon Morrell. From conception through pregnancy and weaning, Sally Fallon Morrell will provide practical advice for ensuring optimal health in your child, through the return of nutrient-dense foods to the diet of children and adults.



SEPTEMBER 29, 2017


Rob Eliason

KEY FUNCTION Teknova Chief Financial Officer Richard Goozh stands inside the local biotech facility that manufactures biological media used in the medical, biotech

and pharmaceutical industries.

Filling the skills gap and meeting industry needs TEKNOVA TEAMS WITH GAVILAN TO EDUCATE WORKFORCE Nicholas Preciado Reporter

course specific to the company’s needs. “Gavilan’s role was to sit down, listen to what they need and help them develop their own curriculum,” Sweeney said. Teknova Formulation Scientist Sarah Mullen oversaw the biochemistry course, which went over introductory chemical principles as they apply to company jobs. “I grew up in Hollister and graduated from San Benito High School in 2007 and didn’t know biotech was in our backyard,” Mullen said. “I really enjoy my work at Teknova. It’s never the same day twice. When people come out of school, they want to work in a meaningful way toward something. Because what we do with custom products, everyday we’re making different batch sizes. As we continue to grow, there are challenges with any company that’s growing. It’s very stimulating.” Teknova has a need for workers with a specific skill set, which can be difficult to find in such a small community. But, times are changing. “It can sometimes be difficult to find the right fit for our needs as we grow,” Goozh said. “The flip side of that is with the

Rob Eliason

The nature of work is changing and as businesses struggle to fill job openings, local biotech company Teknova has taken a proactive approach and teamed up with Gavilan College to offer its workforce a way to expand their skills and meet increasing industry demands. “Teknova has a very common dilemma that the industry is facing right now,” said Susan Sweeney, director of community education and career pathways at the community college. “It’s difficult to find workers, especially in San Benito County, with those middle-skill sets you would find in jobs that have a vocational requirement, but not necessarily a four-year degree. The challenge is finding the skill sets necessary [to do the job].” Teknova manufactures and sells biological media. Their products are used throughout the medical, biotech and pharmaceutical industries as well as

universities conducting research. There is a lot of lab work involved and the type of skills necessary aren’t necessarily “sexy,” Sweeney said. “Young people aren’t looking to get into the field. High tech and the healthcare industry draws the youth. When you’re talking about lab tech work, that’s not as attractive. Teknova is not any different, but they are innovative in that they decided they’re going to grow their own mid-skill workers from the people already there. I think that’s generous and forward-thinking.” The local biotech company employs just over 100 people. “We have employees across a spectrum of skills and knowledge levels in these areas, but of course our company deals exclusively with products in this field,” said Richard Goozh, chief financial officer at Teknova. “We went to Gavilan to see what course offerings they had. There wasn’t anything tailored to the specifications we wanted, so we had a conversation to form our own program tailored to the needs of our staff.” Teknova met with Gavilan College and came up with a biochemistry

BIOTECH LAB Teknova partnered with Gavilan College to create a tailor-made course for its workforce. growth of the community itself, specifically because many people are choosing to move here from San Jose or other areas because it’s such a beautiful place to live, we’re starting to see those skill sets moving to us. It’s nice to see the community growing to high tech and biotech skills. As Teknova grows, we can tap into that.” Fifteen Teknova employees completed the

six-week introductory course that wrapped up in August. There are plans to offer a second biochemistry course with a different set of skills to employees in the coming months. “We’ll focus on a different set of topics, build on what we learned in the first part and go into relevant topics given the industry we’re in,” Mullen said. Sweeney said the course

got positive reviews. “It’s solving the immediate problem for Teknova in that you’re growing your own skill set and you’re doing it at your own business,” Sweeney said. “They choose the time, the length and then we come back with a proposal on what it costs to do it. It’s a pathway through education directly into employment. You can’t beat that.”

SEPTEMBER 29, 2017



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SEPTEMBER 29, 2017

San Benito County economic outlook ED OF COUNTY BUSINESS COUNCIL GIVES AN OVERVIEW Staff Report

Kristina Chavez-Wyatt is no stranger to the innerworkings of San Benito County. In this interview, the Hollister Free Lance asks the executive director of the San Benito County Business Council her views on the county’s economic outlook.

Pending review and approvals for the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the county, a fiveyear playbook that aims to raise productivity, create wealth and increase prosperity for residents. More information can be found at:

Where does the county stand in relation to technology and innovation? Is there any talk about expanding agriculture technology in the region?

San Benito County is behind on AgTech though it is positioned to be on the forefront to take advantage of programs in place in Salinas and Silicon Valley. There is also research and development by Seminis and local seed companies, food processing [innovation] by George Chiala Farms and B&R Farms, and an agriculture/biotech incubator under discussion at Teknova. The County Workforce Development Board is also working on new educational program offerings in agriculture, water and environmental technologies with local community colleges.

New construction has picked up in Hollister after the doldrums of the building moratorium and economic recession. What does this mean for the city?

With a growing resource base, the City of Hollister is now in position to leverage a multitude of opportunities in and surrounding the Hollister Airport and business parks, which will improve infrastructure and add and improve public services due to a growing general fund. The city is continuing to work on improving the downtown district, which is critical for supporting our quality of life making the city more appealing for private investment.

Overall, how are businesses doing in San Benito County? What is the outlook?

San Benito County businesses are stable and thriving. Again and again, the data shows the effects of the out-commuting phenomenon. Almost half of the county’s employed residents commute to jobs outside the

File photo

What are some recent economic developments in San Benito County you are most excited about?

BUSINESS SENSE Executive Director of the San Benito

County Business Council Kristina Chavez-Wyatt wants to see more economic development in the county to counter-balance the nearly 50 percent of workers who have jobs outside the county.

county—primarily Santa Clara and Monterey counties. Income levels, housing prices, poverty levels, retail sales, traffic congestion, the jobs/housing balance, and other data confirm that Hollister, San Juan Bautista and the unincorporated areas are “bedroom communities” that would greatly benefit from more local job opportunities. Projected growth in population, housing, employment, education, industrial output and farm output is expected to be very low-moderate, between 1–1.6 percent per year for the foreseeable future. With continued Silicon Valley influence, incomes and taxable sales may rise with inflation to as much as 2.5 percent per year. However, unless proactively addressed, the existing economic circumstances will not change.

What can be done to increase economic opportunity in the county?

The clear solution is to create more in-county jobs by taking advantage of ample shovel-ready industrial land and by actively recruiting food processing, manufacturing, biology and agriculture technologies, retail, healthcare and visitor serving industries. Active recruitment will shift the economy toward stronger employment and away from the forces favoring housing development and out-commuting. Tax revenues would likewise diversify. The three local jurisdictions and partner entities can affect the desired shift only if they invest together on staffing, promotion, broadband development, streamlined permitting, workforce skill development and expanded visitor capacity.

What are challenges businesses face in coming to the region? How do they combat those challenges?

Perhaps the biggest challenges are the local political uncertainties—infighting, legal challenges, NIMBYism—lack of a professional economic development director to assist in navigating the processes of government, key stakeholders and community engagement and the lack of a clear path, cost and

timing estimates for development applications and permitting.

What does the new cannabis industry mean for the region?

Income projections for the jurisdictions have a wide range, but cannot be fully realized until the full tax and fee systems are in place next year. We will be bring in overdue business opportunities, continue to push out illegal operations that are harmful to the environment, the cultivation workers and our community via the perpetuated illegal drug black market. The hope is that we can invest the anticipated windfall income to support municipal services, improve our roads, bolster local law enforcement, our recreational and youth services as well as real economic and workforce development that will put our local commercial property owners in position to be less dependent on cannabis interests that are artificially inflating perceived real estate values. We simply cannot be distracted by the current opportunities with this one industry and must act immediately to attract more options for and growing interest in high wage, career employment and discontinue working on such a short-sighted path.

Anything else you want to add?

Our home and our community are spectacular, ripe with opportunity and passionate interest in our collective future. I ask all community members to please, take a step away from social media, attend public meetings, participate on boards commissions, committees and contact our local officials and staff via telephone or meeting with them to air concerns, become informed and ask any questions before making conclusions. We have a spectacular community due to our central location in close proximity to the booming Silicon Valley, thriving Monterey Bay Area and rebounding Central Valley as well as the overwhelming generosity and vibrant spirit of our community members. Please join us in collaborating to tackle issues and grasp the tremendous opportunities that lie at our doorstep.

SEPTEMBER 29, 2017

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Join the Open Space Authority and the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center (WERC) for a free, family friendly educational event! Learn about the baby bobcats that were rescued last year and meet the people who raised them to set them free as healthy, wild adults. Meet and learn about the birds of WERC up close! Everyone is welcome to join us for arts and crafts and kid friendly activities, while we give thanks to the people who rescue and rehabilitate these amazing animals and return them to Open Space.

Saturday, November 18 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Old Machado School, Morgan Hill Register at:

SEPTEMBER 29, 2017





SEPTEMBER 29, 2017


Rob Eliason

OLIVE FARMER Barbara Rever, co-owner of Oils of Paicines with husband, Jerry Ginsburg, stands in front of a row of lush olive trees at their home ranch in a tranquil spot below the foothills outside Hollister.

Gold medal olive oil in Paicines LABOR OF LOVE FOR PHYSICIAN FOUNDERS Roseann Hernandez Cattani Editor

Outside Hollister below the majestic foothills that lead the way to Pinnacles National Park is Oils of Paicines, a small family-run business that produces award-winning, certified organic extra virgin olive oil. “Some of the olive trees are more than 50 years old,” said Barbara Rever, who owns the thousand-acre farm with husband, Jerry Ginsburg. The couple, who are both physicians—Rever is a nephrologist and Ginsburg a cardiologist—started Oils of Paicines in 1999 when they decided to harvest all the olives on their property and found they had in their possession a bumper crop. “We only had 80 trees at that time, and with our neighbors’ 40 trees we got a thousand bottles of olive oil that first harvest—we have about 1,300

trees now,” said Rever. “That is when we went into business; we did not know what to do with all of this olive oil.” Now the business is producing thousands of bottles of extra virgin olive oil more per year and using it in valueadded products, including a line of bath and body products, gourmet mustards and loose leaf tea. “We have the most wonderful mustards,” said Rever. “We work with people from Pennsylvania—Baptists who live like they did 200 years ago. They take the oil and mix it with mustard seed and other ingredients to make the mustards.” Mustard flavors are Bavarian beer, cider mountain and classic Dijon. “All our extra virgin olive oil is certified organic as is the olive leaf tea, which is handpicked and the leaves dried in the sun,” said Shelley Hartman, who manages the sales and marketing side of the business. “The line of bath and body products all use organically grown herbs.” The company also imports a

very high quality balsamic vinegar from Italy. To get the most out of their crop, the couple grow Mission olives, a high-yielding variety that was introduced to California in the 1700s by the Spanish missionaries. “The Mission olive produces a lot of oil per olive, other varietals like those from Italy produce a little less per olive. Olive trees become most productive between 40–50 years old and most of our’s are 10–12 years old,” said Rever. “Olive trees can actually live a thousand years. It also depends on the soil, weather and whether you irrigate, and we do irrigate our trees, but we did not for a number of years.” Indeed, the olive tree is drought-tolerant and Rever said many olive growers dry farm. Last year’s rains, however, have made the olive trees on the property bushy and iridescent. Before starting the business, Rever and her husband would can their olives to preserve them, but it is a very arduous task, she said. When asked what compelled

Rob Eliason

AWARD WINNING Bottles of certified organic extra virgin olive oil line t he shelves in the bright red ranch stand at the Paicines farm.

them to start the business, when they both have such busy careers, Rever said it was a new food trend that was taking over California in the 90s that convinced them to go for it. Olive oil became vogue and diners everywhere were dipping bread into little bowls of olive oil and balsamic vinegar before their main course. And just like that, Oils of Paicines was born. Now their extra virgin olive oil can be found at independent markets, restaurants, delis and at a ranch stand at their Paicines farm. Their olives are hand-picked in November, when the olives turn from green, purple to black. “We used to harvest quite late in December or January when we first started but we have noticed the olives are maturing earlier,” said Rever. Once harvested, the olives are immediately sent to a mill in Hollister. “We press at Pietra Santa in Hollister where they have a stone press from Italy, which many people say adds sweetness to the oil when pressed,” said Rever. “We are very fortunate that we do not have to travel very far. It usually takes us 2–3 days to pick all the olives. The minute we finish in the evening it goes straight to Hollister and pressed within 24 hours. We take daily trips to the mill during harvest.” When the oil is returned to the farm it is stored in bins for a few months to allow the flavor to go from peppery to buttery. Before it can be labeled extra virgin, the olive oil is sent to a lab in Oklahoma to check it meets stringent criteria. Four years ago a study by the University of California at Davis found that nearly 70 percent of olive oil labeled “extra virgin” was anything but. Since Oils of Paicines started at the turn of the millennium, the California olive oil industry has blossomed as consumer demand for quality extra virgin olive oil grew. “California and Arizona are the only two states in the U.S. that can grow olives— the weather has to be cold and then warm,” said Rever. “In the last 10 years there has been a

burgeoning of olive farms all over the state and there are mills throughout California.” According to the California Olive Oil Council, there are more than 40 mills in California with more under construction or expanding. Last year, the state’s 400 olive growers produced 3.5 million gallons of extra virgin olive oil and as of this August, there are over 40,000 acres planted in California for the production of extra virgin olive oil, with an estimated 3,500 new acres to be planted each year in the state through 2020, according to the industry group. “Just like winemakers, olive oil makers are very passionate about their products,” said Rever, whose extra virgin olive oil took home the gold ribbon for its class at the Napa Valley olive oil competition last year. And for her and her husband, whose day-jobs put them at the forefront of people’s health, the heart-healthy properties of their passion product are another reason to celebrate. “There are many medicinal effects of extra virgin olive oil,” said Rever. “It’s a monounsaturated oil and we don’t encourage people to cook it at high temperatures but to use it as a garnish on salads, fish, bread and vegetables. There has been indications that extra virgin olive oil may have effects to prevent certain cancers and because it is an antioxidant it has anti-inflammatory properties so it may help with joint diseases. It may also decrease blood pressure if taken regularly. As a main ingredient in a Mediterranean diet, we have seen much lower incidences of cardiovascular disease in those populations.” Oils of Paicines will be showcased at next month’s Olive Festival. “The Olive Festival has been a wonderful addition to this county,” said Rever. Oils of Paicines, 831-3894263. San Benito Olive Festival is on Saturday, October 14 at San Benito County Historical Park in Tres Pinos.

SEPTEMBER 29, 2017



Swank Farms look to future opportunity ➝ Swank Farms, 1

back the loan in record time and it was a success story for the USDA. They even wrote an article about us.” This year, Swank Farms is in the midst of another period of reinvention. The Halloween attraction is at a new location and the corn maze is more challenging than ever. “Because of the configuration of property—I did not go as elaborate in the past—this is a true maze. I wanted to make it more challenging, a real puzzle. So much of it is

identical to other parts, that you have to be careful. And because of the variety of corn we grow the leaves are big and grow into the pathways. This is probably one of the best mazes I’ve designed,” said Bonnie Swank, who has designed every one of the corn mazes. This year’s haunted attraction, called “terror in the corn” will again feature actors dressed in costume and play off the inherent spookiness of the outdoors. “It will be located across a creek, where you’ve got trees, corn growing, old farming equipment,

it’s very creepy—even during the day,” she said. The Swanks have also changed how they charge admission. Tickets are now all-included so families can enjoy all the activities— kiddie corral, jumping pillows, maniac maze—without having to pay separately. People can also visit the pumpkin patch before entering. There will also be a real parking lot. “We like to say that the corn maze supports our bad habit of farming,” said Bonnie Swank, smiling. “But we don’t just do the

corn maze and go on an extended vacation. We are still farmers year-round.” Swank Farms produce can be found at farmers markets in the region and at discerning restaurants. Bonnie Swank said they are looking to expand more of their restaurant trade because farmers markets are not as profitable as they used to be as market managers allow multiple farms to sell the same product. Now as they look to develop their own land, the Swanks are

thinking about holding other events on the 20-acre parcel. “We always wanted to do a little tomato festival and we have a lot of chef friends who would like to do a farm-to-table dinner. This location is much nicer and we can plant trees and perhaps build a barn for weddings,” said Swank. “We have wanted to do it for a long time.” 18th Annual Corn Maze, Pumpkin Patch and Haunted Terror in the Corn is at 4751 Pacheco Pass Highway, Hollister. September 29–October 31.

San Benito agriculture has strong year COUNTY AGRICULTURAL VALUE INCREASES BY NEARLY $7 MILLION OVER LAST YEAR San Benito County agriculture had a good year in 2016. Total commodity values for the county’s largest industry increased by nearly $7 million in gross sales over the year before, according to the San Benito County Agricultural Commissioner’s crop report for 2016. The most growth was in vegetable and row crops. According to the annual tally of county produce, San Benito County remains one of the top five producing counties in the state of spinach, peppers, lettuces and salad mix products. In 2016, the overall value of the county’s agricultural output increased slightly by 1.9 percent from the year before. Total crop value for 2016 was $367,451,250. San Benito County crops did not stay in the U.S. San Benito County

Roseann Hernandez Cattani

Staff Report

biologists inspected and certified a total of 2,888 agricultural shipments to 64 countries in 2016. The top export country was Canada with 1607 shipments, followed by Mexico (821), Japan (148), Netherlands (78) and Italy (69). Wine grapes had a tremendous year, with a 69 percent increase in value over 2015. Pat Wirz, who owns a 65-acre vineyard in the Cienega Valley, said the year’s bumper crop is because of good rainfall. “Your crop is made the year before, when the little bunches bloom and the buds are mature for the following year. And we had two pretty good rain years. For the first time in four or five years the quality looks good,” he said. The moist air does pose its own set of challenges, however. “Most vineyards had a little more mildew pressure, but we were able to keep it under control,” said Wirz. As a whole, he said, area growers have experienced one of their better vintages in the last 3 to 4 years. “The only thing that may affect it is this hot spell,” said Wirz. “But for this time of year it is not that abnormal.”

SEEING GREEN Row crops had a good year in 2016 with just over $55 million in gross sales for San Benito

County producers. Rich soils and a favorable climate make agriculture the county’s largest industry.

TOP 10 CROPS IN SAN BENITO COUNTY IN 2016 Miscellaneous Vegetables and Row Crops $55,016,000 Lettuce Salad Mix $43,873,000 Peppers, All $32,973,000 Lettuce, Romaine $32,895,000 Wine Grapes $31,117,000 Spinach $25,326,000 Kale, All $19,057,000 Onion/Shallot/Garlic $12,938,000 Pasture/Rangeland $12,649,000 Misc. Fruits & Nuts $12,250,000 Source: San Benito County Crop Report, County Agricultural Commissioner



SEPTEMBER 29, 2017

San Benito baseball division has special purpose INAUGURAL SEASON GETS OFF TO ROUSING START IN HOLLISTER Emanuel Lee Sports Editor

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9/26/2017 5:10:34 PM

Rob Eliason

Dale Farney participates in a variety of activities, including martial arts, dancing and flag football. However, playing in the San Benito Babe Ruth Bambino Division makes him wanting for more. The 31-year-old Hollister resident is part of a league featuring teenagers and adults who are physically or developmentally challenged. “I’m very excited for baseball,” Farney said, referring to the season-opening games of San Benito’s Babe Ruth Bambino Division at Vets Park on Saturday, with games at 9 and 11 a.m., respectively. “I get to play with my friends, and I’ve made a lot of connection with my coaches.” There are four teams in the division: the Timber Rattlers, River Bandits, Ironbirds, and Storm. Each team has seven players, games are played—at least temporarily—at the Vets Park softball field and a player can request a “buddy” to help them either bat or run the bases if necessary. “Some of them request buddies, but some of them are independent,” said Bambino Division player representative Adam Mendolla, who has helped organize the first-year league. “I know they’re all looking forward to Saturday and having a lot of fun.” The Bambino Division is in their inaugural season—which consists of a spring and fall schedule—and plays by T-ball rules, with no score being kept. Players range in age from 15 to 56, with some of the players having previously played in the Hollister Little League Challenger Division for several years. Farney started playing in the Challenger Division when he was a teenager,

I was concerned that our senior team wouldn’t be able to play,” Mendolla said. “I couldn’t guarantee our senior team would have a season to play, even though I had 28 adults ready to play. So at that time it was really important for us to look at the bigger picture and maybe move to another league where fielding an older team wouldn’t be dependent on having certain numbers for a younger team.” Mendolla started doing research on special needs baseball leagues, and came across Babe Ruth’s Bambino Buddy Ball Division, which is designed to meet the needs of anyone from 5 to 20 years old. In the Buddy Ball Division, players who are physically or mentally challenged are encouraged to play. However, Mendolla didn’t want a league where players would have to age out so early, and that’s when he called Babe Ruth National Commissioner Rob Connor about starting a Bambino Division for the San Benito team. What happened next astounded Mendolla. Since this would be the first Bambino Division in all of California, Babe Ruth’s national organization offered to pay the $700 charter it takes to initially start a Bambino division program. “I think the Babe Ruth national office is in New Jersey, but what they’ve done is pretty amazing,” Mendolla said. “ We couldn’t have done it without them. Rob said to not let any age division to stop us from playing. He would grant us whatever we needed to get started. I was blown away. All we needed to worry about was registration fees.” With that, Mendolla reached out to people from Hollister’s Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW), who he had made a previous connection with when he was a part of the Little League Challenger Division. Mendolla, who wanted to lower the registration costs for prospective players for the inaugural Bambino season, received

which has given him a sense of community all these years. Guy Smith, a 44-year-old Hollister resident, has been a perennial participant in the Special Olympics playing several sports, including basketball, swimming, golf, track and field, bowling and bocce ball. His mom, Anna, said the Babe Ruth Bambino Division brings people together. “Guy works at Safeway (as a courtesy clerk), and some of the customers that know him come to the games and cheer him on,” she said. “He’ll bring in a lot of players, too.” Farney’s mom, Susan, has been thoroughly enthralled with the division and all of the hard workers and organizations that have coalesced to make it happen. “I would recommend everyone to go out one Saturday and watch them,” she said. “There’s a special place in my heart because people put a lot of effort to make this work. It’s all about people volunteering their time to see something great.” Mendolla, who was instrumental in launching the San Benito Bambino Division, praised the efforts of several people and organizations for coming together and giving special needs teens and adults an opportunity to play baseball. It’s been quite a journey for Mendolla, who was the president of the Hollister Little League Challenger Division from 2013 to 2016. Mendolla’s transition to a different youth baseball organization has been a rather seamless one. Mendolla said under Little League bylaws, a Challenger senior team’s livelihood is dependent on the existence of a junior team, which is comprised of children, teens and young adults. In other words, even if a senior team has plenty of numbers, it cannot have a season unless the junior team fields a program. “When our numbers (from the Little League Challenger junior team) started to drop off last year,

TEAM EFFORT Players of the San Benito Babe Ruth Bambino Division

get ready to showcase their baseball skills. a huge boost when the VFW offered to cover player costs for the entire spring season.

“That was fantastic,” Mendolla said. “You have the VFW stepping up guaranteeing that players wouldn’t be turned back because they couldn’t afford the registration fee. We also got a staff to take care of the booth and sound system so they could play the players’ walk-up songs.” That’s no small feat. Casey Stephens and Tim Chisholm are responsible for making sure the players walk up to the plate with their favorite songs, and that is one of the most enjoyable things players look forward to. Mendolla said coaches Juan Cruz, Frank Felice, Randy Villa and San Benito Babe Ruth President Greg Lopez were all key to making the special needs adult league a reality. The Bambino Division also needed funds to supply the players and coaches with jerseys, and that’s where the San Benito Community Foundation came in. Wendy Abercrombie, who is a Bambino coach/player agent, wrote a grant letter to the Foundation, which responded in kind with a $3,500 grant. “Wendy did a fantastic job of

setting up and writing the letter,” Mendolla said. “The $3,500 was more than enough to get our jerseys. We can’t thank the Community Foundation enough for their support for this great program.” San Benito also received specific patches and stickers for their jerseys courtesy of Babe Ruth’s national office. Even though the spring season was a success, the fall season was in jeopardy due to a lack of a facility. A couple of months ago, the Babe Ruth field suffered severe damage due to arson. Repairs are ongoing, but the facility won’t be playable for at least another couple of months. In came Andrew Barragan, who is the coach of the San Benito High softball team, owner of the Blackjacks hitting facility in downtown Hollister and has the rights to the softball field usage at Vets Park. Barragan stepped up and said the teams in the Bambino Division could use the softball field at Vets Park for the entirety of the fall season. “It’s amazing to see how many people want these programs to work,” Mendolla said. “We couldn’t have done this without all of the people who helped— every single one of them.”


SEPTEMBER 29, 2017

10 0+ YEARS Gilroy Dispatch 64 West Sixth Street, Gilroy 408.842.6400 150 YEARS





Gilroy Medical Pharmacy 700 W. Sixth Street, Gilroy 408.842.3196 36 YEARS

Habing Family Funeral Home 129 Fourth Street, Gilroy 408.847.4040

Physician’s Skin Solutions 15585 Monterey Road B, Morgan Hill 408.778.4684 18 YEARS


McKinnon Lumber E Optometry Group 18181 Butterfield Blvd., Ste. 150, Morgan Hill 408.779.2000

217 Seventh Street, Hollister 831.637.5767 147 YEARS


Hollister Free Lance PO Box 516, Gilroy 408.842.6400

Recology 1351 Pacheco Pass Hwy., Gilroy 408.842.3358

Bertao Real Estate Group 330 Tres Pinos Road, Ste. F2, Hollister 831.637.8400 18 YEARS


144 YEARS Custom One PO Box 1265, Morgan Hill 408.847.8197 30 YEARS

Morgan Hill Times 17500 Depot Street, Morgan Hill 408.963.0120

Mission Bell Manufacturing 16100 Jacqueline Ct., Morgan Hill 408.778.2036 58 YEARS




Frank’s Plumbing 305 East Dunne Avenue, Morgan Hill 408.779.3737 52 YEARS

Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital 911 Sunset Drive, Hollister 831.637.5711 110 YEARS

Morgan Hill Cellars 1645 San Pedro Avenue, Morgan Hill 408.779.7389 104 YEARS

75+ YEARS Rocca’s Market of San Martin 13335 Monterey Road, San Martin 408.683.2330

30+ YEARS Ernie’s Plumbing 7411 Railroad Street, Gilroy 408.847.3274


San Benito Tire Pros & Automotive 246 Tres Pinos Road, Hollister 831.637.5804

10+ YEARS The Ford Store 17045 Condit Road, Morgan Hill 408.782.8201


San Benito Mini Storage 897 Industrial Drive, Hollister 831.636.5470 25 YEARS



Johnson Garden Center 520 Tennant Avenue, Ste. C Morgan Hill 408.779.7171 11 YEARS

Professional Property Management 339 Seventh Street, Hollister 831.637.9273 40 YEARS

Ace Hardware - Hollister 1725 Airline Hwy, Hollister 831.634.1590 20 YEARS

Mount Madonna School 491 Summit Road, Mount Madonna 408.847.2717

Medical Pavilion Pharmacy 9460 No Name Uno, Ste. 100, Gilroy 408.842.2001




Napa Auto Parts 140 Fourth Street, Hollister 831.637.5304

Bay Sierra Properties PO Box 1265, Morgan Hill 408.847.8197

Johnson Lumber Ace Hardware 600 Tennant Avenue, Morgan Hill 408.778.1550 37 YEARS

Rianda Air, Inc 703 McCray Street, Hollister 831.636.3767 19 YEARS



Meineke Car Care Center 190 Welburn Avenue, Gilroy 408.847.2900 5 YEARS

Bear Flag Gallery Mall 207 Third Street, San Juan Bautista 831.623.4285 4 YEARS



SEPTEMBER 29, 2017

Creamed Parmesan Power Greens LOOKING FOR A GREAT SIDE DISH? Enjoy rich and creamy greens, blended with Parmesan cheese and a hint of nutmeg…delicious! Serve it up alongside beef, pork, chicken or fish (anything really). Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 10 min Total Time: 15 min Serves: 2

INGREDIENTS 1 lb Earthbound Farm Organic Power Greens 1 Tbsp unsalted butter 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour 3 ⁄4 cups whole or lowfat milk 1 ⁄4 cup heavy whipping cream 1 ⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 1 ⁄4 cup toasted breadcrumbs (optional) 1 ⁄8 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground Coarse kosher salt, to taste Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS Steam the Power Greens in a steamer basket over boiling water until it wilts, about 1 minute. Transfer the Power Greens to a colander to drain. Let Power Greens cool. Squeeze out any remaining water in the Power Greens using your hands or wrap the Power Greens in a dish cloth and squeeze.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook for two minutes, whisking constantly. Add the milk and cream in a steady stream, continuing to whisk, and cook until the cream sauce thickens, another 2 minutes. Add the Power Greens to the cream sauce and stir to combine. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, nutmeg and cook until the Power Greens is heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you are using breadcrumbs, place breadcrumbs in a small skillet and toast until golden brown. Remove from heat and sprinkle toasted breadcrumbs on top of dish. Serve hot. Keep up with our food and the farm at

San Benito Pride  

September 29, 2017

San Benito Pride  

September 29, 2017