SALINAS

Hotels give blankets to shelter

Two local Hyatt hotels are teaming up to provide 500 blankets to a homeless shelter in Salinas after blankets destined for the shelter were stolen.

On Jan. 4, a trailer disappeared containing 300 blankets set to be delivered to Dorothy's Place, a Salinas center that provides day shelter and emergency overnight shelter for women.

After being told of the situation, management at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa and Hyatt Carmel Highlands, which were in the midst of changing out bedspreads and making way for new ones, decided to donate the old ones.

David Lambert, director of sales at Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel, expects Dorothy's Place could ultimately receive as many as 800 blankets from Hyatt.

MONTEREY COUNTY

Cold temps not big worry to local growers

Chief Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Rich Ordonez and county Farm Bureau Executive Director Norm Groot said the weekend's temperatures hadn't overly concerned growers.

"There's always the worry that if there is frost along that area," Ordonez said of coastal produce, "that they'll see damage on leaves and some of the artichokes."

Groot said artichokes, citrus and strawberries are most vulnerable to cold temperatures. Temperatures were expected to stay above freezing through the rest of the week on the coast, with some places in the Salinas Valley dipping below freezing.

SALINAS

Collins pleads not guilty to 41 charges

Former county water board member Steve Collins has pleaded not guilty to 41 charges against him, including felony conflict of interest charges that helped sink the failed regional desalination project.

At an arraignment on Friday, Collins entered his formal plea to the charges, including about three dozen felonies ranging from the alleged conflict of interest for being paid by the private consulting firm RMC Water and Environment for his work on the regional project while he was a public official to grand theft for accepting payment from Ocean Mist Farms for public meetings he never attended or that never occurred.

Collins also sought, and received, permission to be represented by a public defender due to his lack of money. His original attorney, Mike Lawrence, made a special appearance on his behalf Friday, but will be replaced by a public defender from now on in the criminal case against him.