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With game-winning shot, Steph Curry does something he’d never done in his career

With game-winning shot, Steph Curry does something he’d never done in his career

SAN FRANCISCO — Stephen Curry’s buzzer-beater jumper secured the Golden State Warriors’ 105-103 win over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.

Curry and the Warriors celebrated the regular season win over a tanking team like it was a title-clincher. Justified, the team said, given the team’s recent funk in which they’d lost seven of their last 10 games.

“We’ve been struggling a bit of late. To be in that game and the way we fought back. Steph took an amazing shot,” Kevon Looney said. “Got to celebrate with him, it was an amazing feeling. Hoping it’s something we can carry over and start playing better basketball.”

A spirit lifter was also a historic buzzer-beater. Curry said it was his first career walk-off buzzer beater.

“It’s a different feeling when it’s a walk-off,” Curry said. “It’s good to know what it feels like, finally.”

The Warriors say it was the team’s first since Andre Iguodala hit one against the Atlanta Hawks in November 2014.

Curry has hit numerous last-second game-winners, eight to be exact. But never a buzzer-beater, not since high school.

His shot heard ’round the world to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime in Feb. 2016 is perhaps Curry’s most famous game-winner. Nailed from near half-court to secure the Warriors’ stunning win and mark one of the franchise’s iconic regular season games.

But the shot left .6 seconds on the clock. Not a buzzer-beater.

Curry hit two in 2018, a layup against the Los Angeles Clippers to give the Warriors a 129-127 win and a three-point winner against the Dallas Mavericks to break a tie with three second remaining.

Curry had two in the 2013/14, including a game-winning jumper against the Mavericks that left .1 seconds on the clock. Just nearly a buzzer-beater and one against the Boston Celtics with two seconds left on the clock. He hit a game-winning three-pointer against the Orlando Magic early in the 2014/15 season — a spark that began a season in which the Warriors formally introduced themselves as a basketball dynasty, and Curry it’s king.

His first game-winning three came in 2013 against, of course, the Mavericks (his first of three against them), that left 1.5 seconds on the clock.

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Youth shines for Pleasant Valley in first matchup against crosstown rival Chico High

Youth shines for Pleasant Valley in first matchup against crosstown rival Chico High

CHICO — The Pleasant Valley girls basketball team started four freshmen in its starting lineup Friday against Chico High, but the packed house and screaming fans at Varley Gym didn’t faze the young Vikings.

Chico High’s team features seven seniors, one senior (Campbell Vieg) who was out Friday night, and just two sophomores.

Chico High began the first quarter with a 3-pointer by Talysha Wilkerson, but Pleasant Valley responded with eight straight points to take an early 8-3 lead.

PV never gave that lead up, despite a late fourth-quarter run by Chico High. PV led 16-8 after the first quarter, 33-18 at halftime and 46-32 after three quarters. Chico High outscored PV 18-6 in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers came up just short as Pleasant Valley defeated Chico High 52-50 Friday night at PV.

  • Chico High's Rebecca Digmon fights to secure a rebound during the Panthers' matchup against Pleasant Valley Friday, January 21, 2022, in Chico, California. (Matt Bates/Enterprise-Record)

  • Chico High's Taylee Clements fights Pleasant Valley's Kyla Campbell for a loose ball during the Panthers' matchup against the Vikings Friday, January 21, 2022, in Chico, California. (Matt Bates/Enterprise-Record)

  • Pleasant Valley's Nyah Fortune drives upcourt during the Vikings' matchup against Chico Friday, January 21, 2022, in Chico, California. (Matt Bates/Enterprise-Record)

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The student section for both teams was present and loud, despite tickets being limited to four-per-player due to the California Department of Public Health stating indoor events could have no more than 500 people. The game was live-streamed in the downtown Chico restaurant LaSalle’s banquet room for those who could not attend.

Both teams applied pressure early on. Pleasant Valley brought pressure to Chico High as soon as the Panthers crossed the half court line in the first half, causing turnovers that turned into fast break points.

In the first half the 3-point shot helped PV with its lead. The Vikings made five shots from beyond the 3-point line, including a shot by freshman AJ Gambol at the start of the second quarter in which she was a missed free-throw away from a four-point play.

Gambol had two 3-pointers, and Caitlyn Vickery, Nyah Fortune, and Maddux Wilson had one each. In the second half PV did not make any 3-point shots.

After PV’s early run to make it 8-3, Chico High got a block on the defensive end and cut the lead to 8-5, but PV sophomore Caitlyn Vickery made a 3-pointer to make it 11-5 PV. Chico answered with a 3-pointer of its own to make it 11-8, but PV went on another 5-0 run to end the quarter.

The second quarter Pleasant Valley kept its momentum going. Gambol and Chico High senior Sophie Sims exchanged 3-pointers to open the second quarter, but PV went on a 12-2 run to extend its lead to 31-14 and the Vikings took a 33-18 lead into halftime.

Pleasant Valley coach Bob Paddock said he felt his team came out with a lot of enthusiasm and started great.

“We played our best on-ball defense in the first half and we haven’t done that all year,” Paddock said. “I told the girls before the game it’s easy to get excited with PV against Chico. It was their first PV/Chico game so they were all jacked up and excited.”

Chico High opened the second half with a full-court pressure on PV. Both teams exchanged buckets to start the half, and with PV leading 38-22 Chico High began to cut into the PV lead with a 5-0 run of its own led by the Panthers’ defense. Chico cut the lead to 38-27, but PV finished the quarter leading 46-32. Chico sophomore Taylee Clements finished the third quarter making 2-of-3 free-throws after being fouled with under one second to play in the quarter.

Earlier in the season Sims, one of Chico High’s captains, said the Panthers have come out as a strong second half team all season, but have often come out slow.

After Chico High outscored PV by one point in the third quarter, Chico High shined in the fourth quarter, outscoring PV by 12 points. The Panthers got within two points of the Vikings at 51-49 with 22.1 seconds remaining. Gambol made a free throw to make it 52-49, Clements made a free throw to cut make it 52-50, Gambol missed two free throws and Chico High had a chance to tie the game with 6 seconds remaining. The Panthers missed a shot as time expired and PV held on for the victory.

Paddock said PV got in foul trouble late, which created easy baskets for Chico High with many of his girls having four fouls and afraid to foul out. PV was in the double-bonus so Chico High got free throws. The Panthers made 6-of-8 free throws in the fourth quarter and attempted 19 in the second half, after attempting making 6-of-12 in the first half. Each free throw the clock stopped, which Paddock said hurt PV after its strong start.

“We played good D in the first half, and in the second half we just showed in-experience with quick possessions and the shot clock, making bad passes and that allowed them to come back,” Paddock said. “The foul trouble really hurt us and inexperience with possession of the ball at the very end, but no matter what we got the win.”

Gambol led with 19 points for Pleasant Valley, Wilson had nine points, Vickery scored eight points and Ava Dunn scored seven.

Sims led Chico High with 12 points. Wilkerson scored 10 points and Clements scored eight points, finishing 8-of-9 from the free-throw line.

Chico High (14-6, 3-2 Eastern Athletic League) and Pleasant Valley (13-8, 3-0 EAL) will play once more in both teams’ final game of the regular season at 8 p.m. Feb. 10 at The Pit at Chico High.

Chico High plays next at 8 p.m. Thursday at Foothill, and PV will host Enterprise at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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Steph Curry buzzer-beater hands Warriors win over Rockets

SAN FRANCISCO—  The best thing about back-to-back games is the opportunity to either hone and refine the strengths of the previous game or to correct deficiencies and weaknesses.

The worst thing about them is languishing though physical and mental fatigue after fighting so hard for a game the night before.

The Golden State Warriors fought off a flat first half with a third quarter push and a buzzer-beater by Stephen Curry to drop the Houston Rockets 105-103 on Friday night at Chase Center.

“Just get the ball to Steph and get out of the way,” head coach Steve Kerr said of the play call.

This makes the Warriors sixth straight win over their rebuilding Western Conference foes.

Andre Iguodala hit the Warriors last walk-off game winner in 2014, well before a lot of the current Warriors were in the league. Including Kevon Looney, who said he couldn’t remember the last time the Warriors celebrated a regular season win like they had.

“I don’t think we’ve had a walk-off game winner. That doesn’t happen that often,” Looney said.

After playing 44 minutes in the overtime loss against, Indiana, Stephen Curry was stone cold from 3 and inefficient from the field. He missed his first eight shots but eventually scrapped and languished to lead the Warriors in scoring with 22 points. He also dished 12 assists.

Golden State overcame their lack of energy  by a third quarter run that pushed them to a 76-76 tie going into the fourth. Jordan Poole and Otto Porter Jr. led the charge in the fourth with well timed baskets to keep the Warriors in the game until Curry’s late second heroics.

Kevon Looney continues his tear on the boards, snagging 12 rebounds to go along with 8 points. Jordan Poole  chipped in with 20 points and Andrew Wiggins scored 17. For Houston, Christian Wood lead the way with 19 points while Kevin Porter, Jr had 17.  The Warriors are now 20-4 at home and 5-3 on the the second game of back to back.

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Klay Thompson out for Friday night’s game against Houston Rockets

SAN FRANCISCO — Warriors guard Klay Thompson is out for tonight’s game against the Houston Rockets, per Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.

Since returning from his ACL and Achilles injuries, Thompson has been on minute restrictions playing anywhere from 18 to 24 minutes per game. Thompson will also not play in back-to-back games in the early stages of his return.

In his six games of the season, Thompson is averaging 14.7 points per game while shooting career lows in field goal percentage (37.2) and 3-point percentage (30.2)

In the early stages of Thompson’s return, the shooting percentages are surprising to Kerr but he believes those percentages will rise when the energy and enthusiasm are there.

“When you watch the tape, there are definitely shots that you kind of expect that will go in,” Kerr said before Friday night’s game against the Rockets. “But I think sometimes shots go when you are playing with a good spirit, energy, and enthusiasm. The opposite is true also. If you are feeling sorry for yourself and things aren’t going your way, if you don’t bring that spirit, shots aren’t going to go in.”

Stephen Curry’s been mired in one of the longest slumps in his career — shooting career lows in field goal and 3-point percentages. His performances against the Detroit Pistons — where he shot over 50 percent from the field for the first time in nine games, and against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night, scoring a game-high 39 points while making six 3’s suggests that his shooting percentages are starting to progress to the mean that he’s known for.

One reason for this is the return of Thompson back into the lineup. Despite shooting career lows in 3-point and field goal percentage, Thompson’s presence on the floor impacts Curry by the attention he still commands.

“I think Steph has been really good since Klay came back,” Kerr said. “I think he’s been at his best in terms of his decision making and game management. I thought the game against Detroit was probably his best point guard night of the year. I think he had eight assists and one turnover, and (Thursday) night he was brilliant. He looked like he had his rhythm and timing. I think Klay’s return has energized Steph.”

The Warriors are currently second in the Western Conference with a 32-13 record. They lost six out of their last nine games.

The Warriors will host the Utah Jazz Sunday at 5:30 pm at Chase Center.

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Gridley and Las Plumas boys, girls soccer split Butte View League matchups | Local roundup

The Las Plumas girls soccer team defeated Gridley 4-1 Thursday night in Gridley.

Las Plumas freshman Hannah Scheer had two goals, and Katie Her and Raenna State had one goal each.

LP goalkeeper Makayla Hancock made six saves, and Gridley’s goalkeeper Danika Montero made 19 saves.

Gridley’s lone goal came from Maria Espinoza. Bulldogs’ coach Mark Canfield said Haven Counihan and Taylor Rickertsen played outstanding on defense for Gridley.

Las Plumas (6-1-2, 4-1-1 Butte View League) plays next at 4 p.m. Tuesday at home against Orland.

Gridley (4-7-1, 1-6 BVL) plays next at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Sutter.

Prep boys soccer

Gridley 4, Las Plumas 0: Gridley shut out Las Plumas in Gridley on Thursday night.

Kevin Martinez scored two goals, and Gilberto Jimenez and Ricardo Ramos scored one goal each. Martinez, Jimenez and David Jauregui had one assist each.

In goal for Gridley, senior goalkeeper Christian Benitez had one save in the shutout.

No individual stats were reported by Las Plumas.

Gridley (9-4-2, 5-0-2 BVL) plays next at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Sutter.

Las Plumas (4-3-3, 2-1-3 BVL) plays next at 6 p.m. Tuesday at home against Orland.

Report scores or results by emailing sports@chicoer.com. Results must be reported by noon the next day following the date that the game was played.

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California teens could soon get COVID-19 vaccine without parental permission

Young people in California could soon have more autonomy to get the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccinations without parental consent, a move State. Sen Scott Wiener says will give minors a voice in their own healthcare and help them bypass vaccine hesitancy in their families.

On Friday, Wiener introduced Senate Bill 866, the Teens Choose Vaccines Act, to give minors ages 12-17 the ability to get the shots, even when their parents do not agree, and to ultimately reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in the state.

San Jose student Arin Parsa, 14, who gathered with the senator and other teens on the steps of Everett Middle School in San Francisco to voice support for the bill, said when kids aren’t vaccinated it’s not only a public health issue, but a mental health issue. Parsa is the founder of advocacy group Teens for Vaccines.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging our communities, the crisis of ‘anti-vax’ parents is only getting worse,” he said. “Kids are potentially missing school, friends and family. COVID is taking away their happiness and futures. We cannot sit on the sidelines.”

Although the debate over the COVID-19 vaccine is taking center stage, the bill would also allow teens 12-17 to get all vaccinations — including for measles — free of permission.

The bill is likely to be opposed by anti-vaccine groups and California parent groups advocating for parental rights. Wiener is anticipating the backlash.

“We want parents involved in the health and care of their kids, but the reality is in this limited situation where vaccines determined by the FDA to be safe and effective and the vaccine CDC has recommended them,” Wiener said, “they should have the option.”

Wiener said he’s heard many stories of 13-year-olds persuading their parents to let them get the vaccine, but said “they shouldn’t have to persuade them,” adding that California already allows teens to make other health decisions on their own, and other states allow kids to get the vaccine without permission or persuasion.

California teens can already access the HPV vaccine, reproductive health, abortions, birth control and other health services without consent from a parent or guardian. Alabama, South Carolina, Washington, DC, Oregon, and Rhode Island already allow minors to access to vaccines without parental consent.

Wiener said it’s time for California to follow those other states. He was joined by local health officials and a group of teenagers from pro-vaccine student-led advocacy groups Teens for Vaccines, GenUP and MAX the Vax .

The teens emphasized how the autonomy to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will help them protect themselves and their communities from the virus.

By parents blocking kids from getting the vaccine, whether they are anti-vaccine, don’t have the time and resources to get their kids vaccinated, or have another personal belief exemption, kids are being forced to stay home and are not able to participate in extracurricular activities such as school sports, music programs or other clubs. Without the protection of the vaccines, teens more at risk of contracting the virus or infecting others, they said.

Parsa said many teens have parents who have two jobs and can’t easily access vaccines for their kids, and said the shots should be made available on campus and after-school centers. Some schools in the Bay Area are offering vaccines at various centers and schools, but teens still need authorization from a parent or guardian to receive one.

With the exception of Oakland and West Contra Costa school districts, which are requiring all students to be vaccinated for COVID by next month, most schools in California haven’t taken that step. Gov. Gavin Newsom has said state will require school kids to get the vaccine once it’s fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration. But parents can still bypass that mandate by claiming a personal belief exemption.

In San Francisco, young people have some of the highest vaccination rates in the state and across the nation. More than 90 percent are fully vaccinated, Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco Director of Health, said in a news release Friday.

Colfax hopes to increase that number with Wiener’s bill, which is co-authored by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks.

“At this critical moment in our collective efforts to curb COVID, it’s unacceptable for this lifesaving vaccine to be excluded from the decisions California teens are already empowered to make about their bodies, their health, and their future,” Wicks wrote in a news release.

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49ers update Nick Bosa’s status for playoff game at Packers: cleared to play

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — Nick Bosa can now appear on Saturday night, live.

The 49ers announced Friday that Bosa cleared post-concussion protocol and eliminated his questionable status from their injury report, ahead of Saturday night’s NFC divisional playoff game at the Green Bay Packers.

Bosa sustained a concussion and had to leave the 49ers’ wild-card win at Dallas just before halftime last Sunday, after his head collided with teammate D.J. Jones’ hip on a pass rush. Bosa gave the crowd a thumbs-up as he headed off the field with trainers, but he was not allowed to come out of the locker room after halftime.

Bosa practiced in limited fashion Wednesday and Thursday, and he took part in Friday’s walk-through session at Bay Port High School, 10 minutes from Lambeau Field.

In producing a career-high 15 1/2 sacks, Bosa has rebounded remarkably well from last year’s knee reconstruction and has not missed a start this season, as was the case in 2019 when he won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors for the eventual NFC champs.

Bosa, a two-time Pro Bowler, anchors the 49ers’ defensive line that otherwise relies on a nine-man rotation. That depth paid off after his exit last game, as the 49ers got big contributions from Charles Omenihu, Arik Armstead, D.J. Jones, Kevin Givens, Arden Key and Samson Ebukam.

Also Friday, the 49ers called up two players from the practice squad for potential special teams help: cornerback Darqueze Dennard and linebacker Mark Nzeocha.

Bosa is the eighth 49ers player to have gone through the NFL’s concussion protocol this season, which requires an independent neurologist’s evaluation and a series of tests before being cleared.

Punter Mitch Wishnowsky went through it last week, and he gained clearance six days after his concussion in the regular-season finale against the Rams.

Not all previous cases saw players get through protocol within a week. Linebackers Marcell Harris and Azeez Al-Shaair, kick returner Trenton Cannon and defensive end Dee Ford all missed at least one game.

Running back Elijah Mitchell missed three straight games last month, but that was because of a knee issue after he was cleared from his Dec. 5 concussion. Fellow running back Trey Sermon started the 49ers’ home opener after getting concussed a week earlier on his first NFL carry.

 

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COVID: More Bay Area families are opting for independent study programs instead of sending kids back into classrooms

Bay Area families worried about the surge of COVID-19 omicron cases are clamoring for remote learning options for their children, but school leaders can’t easily or legally pivot back to the same online models they used last year without losing state funds.

Last year, California lawmakers allowed an exception for school districts to offer online classes and still receive state funds for student attendance as a way to avoid mass outbreaks, but that option has expired.

Now, public schools must again provide in-person instruction to receive attendance funding. And there is little appetite among state leaders to change that.

Assembly Bills 130 and 167, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July and September respectively, prohibit schools from using virtual learning as the primary vehicle for instruction. Newsom and other educational experts contend that in-person schooling is the best way for kids to learn.

The law does give individual students the option to attend school through temporary or permanent independent study programs, but schools aren’t allowed to use the curricula as a way to close classrooms completely. All school districts and county offices of education are required to offer an independent study option as an alternative to in-person instruction this school year.

Juana Saguindel chose that alternative for her fourth-grader and kindergartener at Garin Elementary School in Brentwood. She temporarily enrolled her kids in an independent studies program before they returned from winter break to keep her family “safe from the virus” and prevent her kids from falling behind. She said she’ll consider sending them back to the classroom if cases drop, but she is glad her kids are still learning, and aren’t at risk for now.

“On the first day of school we received a Gmail saying right away there was a COVID case,” Saguindel said. “I was like ‘Oh god.’”

Enrollment has soared in a new virtual program in Hayward and in other parts of the region since last fall, including Oakland and San Jose. The state has allowed districts to decide which model to use, such as online learning, group Zoom classes, or individual hand-out assignments. Even more kids have enrolled since the start of the omicron surge in December at some districts.

Oakland currently has 1,092 students enrolled in its Sojourner Truth Independent Study School, and 85 more students have signed up for the program since the winter break. Cupertino currently has 204 students enrolled – a tenfold increase from previous years – in its program where the district previously averaged 20-30 students. Hayward Unified has nearly 490 students enrolled in its new virtual independent study program and its traditional independent study program.

San Jose Unified has 492 students enrolled in its program. More students in San Jose had requested independent studies at the beginning of the school year last fall, but officials have not seen an increase since returning from the holiday break in January, said Jennifer Maddox, a spokeswoman for the district.

Hayward Unified has had more interest in its programs since the post-holiday omicron surge, said Dionicia Ramos, a spokeswoman for the district. There is space in both programs now, but capacity is limited due to staffing. Ramos also said secondary students have more restrictions about when they can transition into and out of the virtual independent study program given their semester schedule.

Other parents who want to keep their kids in physical classrooms to avoid any further learning loss are worried about schools potentially closing. Although it’s not likely that schools in Cupertino or elsewhere will fully close, staffing shortages remain a problem.

Yi Ding, a parent of a student in the Cupertino Union School District, said he understands if teachers are staying home and have legitimate worries about their own health, but that districts have the data and knowledge on how to keep transmission of the virus low in schools.

“Our kid had a really tough time through distance learning and definitely fell behind,” Ding said.

Some districts with severe staffing shortages found ways to close temporarily without losing state funding.

West Contra Costa used two of its “smoke days,” also called “snow” or “pupil-free” days, days the state allocated to the district allowing them to close temporarily for COVID-related purposes, to shutter schools for two days following its return from winter break after seeing an uptick in omicron cases and staffing shortages.

Hayward also temporarily closed schools last week. The district gave families the option of signing up for independent studies or sending their kids to classrooms where they’d take online classes with staff supervision. Officials there have said they believe that model meets the criteria for state law.

If school leaders really can’t find any other staffing resources after consulting with their county office of education and the California Department of Education, they can seek a waiver for a temporary closure, said Maria Clayton, a spokesman for the CDE. State law does allow school districts to alter the academic calendar to shift planned breaks or add days in the spring to accommodate a short-term closure this month if they choose, Clayton said. But it’s not easy.

“Anyone who has worked in a school district understands that bargaining over the academic calendar is a complicated process, always with many interests to consider. In some cases, the academic calendars are finalized several years in advance,” Clayton said.

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Man who hacked Chico State computers gets probation

OROVILLE — A 22-year-old Chico man suspected of illegally hacking numerous computers at Chico State University was sentenced to probation, fines and community service Thursday, according to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

Alejandro Benitez, a recent graduate of the university, appeared in Butte County Superior Court where he admitted to illegally taking information from numerous computers. A press release from Ramsey said that the illegal “hacking” led to the online posting of a list of students at the university who had applied for COVID-19 vaccine exemptions.

“The investigation began when a Sacramento newspaper published an article in August describing a spreadsheet that had been posted on several online forums,” Ramsey said in a press release.

Ramsey said an extensive investigation by the University Police Department led to Benitez, who worked in the Information Technology Support Services Office on the Chico State campus. The spreadsheet that was posted listed about 130 students who had made religious exemptions requests from the university’s vaccine mandate. In about 18 of the entries on the spreadsheet, student names and personal information were included.

Chico State police had examined the posted spreadsheet and were able to trace it back to Benitez. The police also discovered that a Chico State professor had tipped off the media about the online posts.

According to the press release, the professor told police that instead of alerting the university about his discovery, he decided to alert his union and the media about the posts. He had hoped that any potential civil rights and privacy violations would be investigated. Ramsey said in the press release that the professor will not be facing charges because his actions were not criminal. He said that the criminal conduct involved in the case was unlawfully accessing the university’s computers.

“It was determined Benitez got the confidential exemption lists by illegally accessing and downloading files during the course of his employment from at least two computers assigned to Chico State administrators,” Ramsey said in the press release.

Benitez allegedly attempted to redact the students’ personal identifying information before posting the spreadsheets on the internet. The press release said that he failed to note that some of the students’ personal identifying information was located in other areas on the spreadsheet.

The press release said that Benitez entered a plea of no contest to unauthorized computer access. According to the press release, Butte County Superior Court Commissioner Kurt Worley sentenced Benitez to three years of probation and fines of $370. As part of his probation terms, Benitez is prohibited from accepting any employment where he could have access to a computer, unless that employment is approved by the court. He also must complete 80 hours of community service.

Worley said Benitez will be required to serve a minimum of 180 days in Butte County Jail if there are any violations of probation, according to the press release.

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PG&E probation to end next month

U.S. Federal judge William Alsup announced Wednesday that he would not extend Pacific Gas and Electric’s five-year probation beyond next month’s expiration, largely because of the fact that the U.S. District Attorney’s Office did not ask for an extension.

He laid out what caused the Dixie Fire that destroyed the community of Greenville in the summer and accused the company of failing to take responsibility for the fire.

He noted in that order, “PG&E has gone on a crime spree and will emerge from probation as a continuing menace to California.”

He also said that the purpose of the probation was to rehabilitate the company, a goal that he said he failed to achieve.

He said the main factor that led to the Dixie Fire was an ingrained culture to keep the meters turning.

He said the fire was caused when a tall tree fell on the power line in the area, at three-phase circuit, and two of the three conductors shorted each other out in the crash and blew their two fuses.

However, Alsup said the third phase, the one with an unblown fuse, remained energized upstream from the fuses meaning they were energized where the tree had fallen.

“With the tree leaning against an energized line, the tree became a ground fault,” he said, “Over several hours, the large tree, though a poor electrical conductor, as are all trees, conducted enough power to ground, as will all trees, to overheat and to burst into flames.”

He also said in his order, that when flames finally broke out the burn area was only about 600 to 800 square feet. But by the time PG&E got to the site at 4:40 p.m. on July 13, “the Dixie Fire was underway.”

He also asserted that once the company arrived it should have cut the power in the third phase by tripping the third fuse far earlier than it did.

“The first thing PG&E did, upon arrival, was to cut the power in the third phase (by tripping the third fuse,” he wrote. ”Had power been shut off hours earlier from the source or Turnoff Switch 941, the tree would have stopped overheating and the fire would never have occurred. “

He also noted that once Cal Fire’s report is made public, the public will learn whether the company should have inspected and found the hazard tree and removed it before it could fall on that line.

He acknowledged that it wasn’t entirely the company’s fault that it arrived 5 hours later to the source of the outage, because of county bridgework, but he said the company should have de-energized this circuit until the cause of the outage could have been determined.

He noted it hours went by without the company knowing if it was if a blown fuse that had cut the power to the Cuesta Dam and tunnel or if the cause was a tree that had somehow fallen into a power line or if a tree had become a ground fault where a live wire conducts power into the ground and gradually overheats before bursting into flames.

“Put differently, for hour after hour, PG&E could not rule out the United States District Court Northern District of California possibility of a ground fault since it knew power was still being fed into the circuit. In the face of this danger, wasn’t the safe course to turn off the power until the trouble could be traced?” he asked.

The judge noted that there were only three customers being serviced by the line, and asked — with two of the three customers without power and the only other customer was the railroad why didn’t the company simply shut off the power if safety was the real priority?

He noted that the railroad had a backup power source, he argued there was another reason why the company failed to shut the power off earlier than they did.

“The true reason, I’m convinced after studying PG&E for five years, is that PG&E simply preferred to leave the power on (and the meters turning) until there was actual knowledge of an actual fire or at least of an imminent fire danger,” he said.

He also noted that the company started the “Fast Trip Mitigation” for its high fire threat districts while the Dixie Fire raged.

“With the turn of a knob, PG&E adjusted the settings on its reclosers to shut off power more quickly (and more often) when its monitors show a disturbance on the lines in high fire threat districts,” Alsup wrote.

He said that program would have prevented the Dixie Fire and said the only reason it wasn’t used was because of the ingrained culture of keeping the meters running.

He also charged that an example of the company not taking responsibility is statements by the troubleman who arrived on the scene the day of the Dixie fire, who  radioed to his dispatcher that a tree had fallen on the power line and started a fire, saying it not just once but twice.

But according to Alsup, the troubleman refused to stand by his first-hand statements nine weeks later at an evidentiary hearing.

“Instead, he testified that maybe it had been started by lightning,” Alsup wrote. “The weather records for the region, however, showed clear skies for at least a week before the fire. Cal Fire has since confirmed that it was the tree that fell on the power line and caused the fire, not lightning. This type of evasion has occurred time and again over the last five years.”

He also asserted that the company only takes responsibility when it is forced to or convenient.

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Exclusive: Peninsula man is latest Bay Area resident arrested in Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach

SAN FRANCISCO — A fifth Bay Area resident has been arrested and charged in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, court records show.

Kenneth Armstrong III, 52, of Pescadero, was charged with four federal offenses, including trespassing, two counts of disorderly conduct, and picketing in a Capitol. He faces up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine if convicted of the most serious charge.

Armstrong was identified by an anonymous tipster who contacted the FBI days after the Capitol riot. He was visited by FBI agents in March 2021 at his business in Half Moon Bay, freely admitted attending the Jan. 6 demonstration, and sent agents of a video he took of himself walking through the Capitol building, according to the criminal complaint.

Armstrong was arrested Thursday and spent a day at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. At his first court appearance Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim released him on a $10,000 unsecured bond. Federal prosecutors did not seek detention, nor ask that Armstrong be ordered not to possess guns.

His case is awaiting transfer for prosecution in Washington D.C., court records show. While on pretrial release, Armstrong must not travel to Washington D.C. unless for court, and cannot travel outside the United States without approval from pretrial services.

Armstrong’s attorney, federal public defender David Rizk, said in court Friday more restrictive conditions aren’t necessary because it’s a misdemeanor case and Armstrong was “completely forthcoming with the FBI.” He said he will likely handle Armstrong’s defense because the public defender’s office in Washington D.C. is “overwhelmed” with cases.

The FBI used surveillance pictures, as well as conversations from Armstrong’s Facebook account, to confirm his identity. In one Facebook post, Armstrong noted that “Capitol Police were very nice and helpful,” but also notes they were firing rubber bullets at the first people to enter the Capitol.

In another conversation, Armstrong said he stayed inside for a short time, took pictures and video and “sang the Star Spangled Banner.” Another user, responding to Armstrong, lamented that he or she was “friends with a traitor, a fascist, a liar, and a thug,” and says they’re unfriending him, according to a screenshot included in the complaint.

Armstrong is now the fifth Bay Area man the be charged in the riots, including one who remains a fugitive and is believed to have fled the country. A Gilroy woman, Mariposa Castro, has pleaded guilty to trespassing and is awaiting sentence, and a Sonoma resident, Daniel Shaw, was charged last month, though he was identified almost immediately after the Capitol breach, according to court records.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a “self-described Proud Boy” and San Francisco resident named Daniel Goodwyn was also charged, and that Evan Neumann, of Mill Valley, is believed to have fled to Belarus to avoid criminal charges.

An Arcata resident, Brent John Holdridge, was arrested and charged with similar offenses last month, after the FBI identified him from surveillance inside the Capitol, court records show.

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Oakland boycott: Students hold protest on Zoom, say all their COVID safety demands haven’t been met

Oakland students held a virtual protest over Zoom Friday and are refusing to come back to school until the district meets all of their demands for COVID safety — something the district said it’s already completed or is in the process of completing. But teachers disagree and say they’ve been asking the district for more safety measures for months.

About 300 people logged onto the Zoom protest late Friday morning, where a few dozen students and teachers spoke about the challenges and risks they are still facing as a result of the pandemic and what they hope the schools and the district will do to improve.

Since Tuesday, students across the district have been boycotting classes by refusing to come to school and will continue until the district moves in-person learning to online and provides PCR and rapid testing twice a week, KN95 and N95 masks for every student and more outdoor eating spaces. Teachers at Bridges Academy, United for Success Academy and Acorn Woodland Elementary staged a “sickout” on Tuesday in solidarity with the students, forcing the district to close the schools for instruction, said district spokesperson John Sasaki.

If the masks, outdoor dining and weekly COVID-19 testing, can’t all be achieved, students want to go back to virtual learning for two weeks, said one of the student organizers of the protest, Nuriel Cahigas.

Another of the student organizers, Ayleen Serrano, said two out of the three demands had been met as of this week, but not all the schools have access to weekly PCR or rapid testing.

And, Cahigas added, “Not all of the schools have met all the demands.” Some were still waiting for masks or testing kits, so the demonstration was in solidarity to ensure all schools have access to the same resources.

“It’s also not an impossible ask; other districts already have weekly testing,” Cahigas said. “We can 100% get this testing.”

The students did not specify when the boycott would end, although many tuned into the Zoom from classrooms, indicating they were not participating in the sickout but wanted to support the movement.

On Jan. 5, Serrano, along with fellow MetWest sophomores Ximena Santana and Benjamin Rendon created a petition, signed by more than 1,200 students as of Friday, after an uptick in positive cases at their school after coming back from winter break. They previously said they started the petition to hold the district accountable for giving students and teachers what they were promised.

Linh Linh Trinh, a 10th grade science teacher at the MetWest High School Huggins campus who has been working with the student organizers, said the aim of the Zoom protest was to “clear the air,” give an update on the boycott and for students to ask for solidarity from their teachers. Trinh said she held a hybrid class on Tuesday and told students they won’t face penalties for late work, but that isn’t the case for all teachers across the district.

“Teachers are still impacting their grades with work,” she said. “At our school, we’ve sent a message to all of the families that we’re supporting our students and that none of the work is going to be penalized if they’re not in school. We don’t want families to have to decide between their safety and their education.”

The absence rate across all grades and schools was 24.6 percent on Tuesday — up from 20.9 percent the first week of January but down from 28.1 percent the second week, Sasaki said. Around 230 teachers called out sick Tuesday, compared to an average of 250 daily teacher absences on days without a teacher sickout.

A number of students — some of whom were in classrooms or on campus — spoke about the near-empty classrooms they have attended in recent weeks, even well before the sickout.

One high school student said she returned to school from a quarantine period to see only three to five students in class on any given day.

“It’s hard to keep track of where students are and who they’re around,” the student said. “Without testing, we don’t really know who has COVID.”

At least 8,502 students out of around 34,000 across the district were absent Tuesday, resulting in a possible funding loss of $512,466, according to the district’s daily absence dashboard. Teachers and students have previously pointed to the loss of funding from California as a reason for why the district won’t shift to distanced learning. At the MetWest Huggins campus, teachers said ten 9th graders, eight 10th graders and five 11th graders showed up to school Thursday out of a class of around 120.

Malinda Morales, a 7th grade humanities teacher at UFSA who participated in Tuesday’s “sickout,” said teachers had been asking for similar safety measures from the district before students began boycotting classes.

“Seeing their commitment to making sure that their schools are safe really inspired me to keep fighting,” she said. “None of those things were happening in delivery before the students stepped up, even though teachers have been fighting for these things since last school year.”

Sasaki hasn’t specified if students could face repercussions as a result of the boycott but said that Tuesday would count as an “an unexcused absence.”

District officials said earlier this week it’s already meeting student demands by giving out 200,000 KN95 masks to students this week, installing covered outdoor eating spaces and implementing a “robust” COVID-19 testing system, including 10 testing hubs, bi-weekly testing for secondary schools and weekly pooled testing at elementary schools. But teachers say there have been equity issues in how the district distributes tests and PPE. The district previously said 41,000 rapid COVID tests were sent to students before winter break.

Daniel Harbarger, who teaches 10th grade humanities at the MetWest Huggins campus, said rapid tests weren’t distributed before break because the “communication wasn’t clear” from the district and teachers didn’t know they were to hand them out. Teachers gave out masks and rapid tests to students after break, he said, but administrators took away the supplies after they found out.

“We moved ourselves to test our students because we weren’t feeling safe and I had two students test positive in my class,” he said.

School staff aren’t permitted to administer COVID tests without training, said Sasaki, who cited California Department of Public Health protocol.

Montera Middle School math teacher Quinn Ranahan said her school didn’t receive tests until the end of winter break and administrators had to hand them out to students on New Year’s Eve, posing a problem for some kids who usually take the bus to school.

“It was difficult for families to come to the school at the drop of a dime and get tests that should’ve been given to them before break,” she said.

Sasaki previously said: “As far as an equity issue, my understanding is that all of our schools are getting what they need,” adding that any school that hasn’t received supplies should contact him. He also acknowledged that some of the testing kits were distributed during or “shortly after” break.

Sarah Vogelstein, a special education teacher at UFSA said her school received so many tests that they could give kits to all students on the Monday they returned from break. “Our school created a plan where we had every student and staff do a self test and had enough kits to make that happen when other schools didn’t receive any kits,” she said.

Jazmine Lopez, who teaches seventh grade humanities at UFSA and participated in the “sickout” on Tuesday, said she’s also given out COVID tests to students and that as of Tuesday, she received two masks while the district said that all teachers would receive five. The slew of teacher and student absences has impacted student learning and has taken a toll on morale at the school, she said.

“If you have a situation in your family or personal life, you feel very guilty about taking time off because you know it puts the whole school is a situation that is very challenging,” she said. “You see students drop out one by one and you worry about them. It’s really stressful wondering if I’m going to get sick or if I’m going to get somebody else sick or just being constantly exposed. You struggle to live your own life at that point.”

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Kurtenbach: Niners playing with house money, maybe enough to reach Super Bowl

Kurtenbach: Niners playing with house money, maybe enough to reach Super Bowl

The 49ers are playing with house money and that makes them dangerous, so dangerous they could find themselves in the Super Bowl.

At one time this season, making the playoffs was such a stretch for this team — the NFL once had their odds at 0.4 percent — that anything seems possible now.

They’re in the playoffs. They’ve won a game, as an underdog on the road. What’s to say they can’t rattle off a couple more and get themselves to Sofi Stadium in L.A. on Feb 13?

The 49ers’ 23-17 victory in Dallas last Saturday was excruciatingly tense. And the reward for that victory is a showdown with the No. 1 seeded Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the frigid cold of Wisconsin on Saturday night. The second-half temperature is expected to be seven degrees. (And no, that’s not Celsius.)

The 49ers are 5 1-2 point underdogs. Bookmakers in Las Vegas and beyond are giving them a one-in-three chance of winning. Given the few ways San Francisco can win this game and the many routes Green Bay could take to victory, a one-in-three chance sounds about right to me.

But any gambler knows to be wary of the player at the table with a big stack of chips, no matter what that player’s ability is.

The Niners have their flaws — plenty — but they’re that player with the big stack of chips. They have nothing to lose (except for the feeling in their fingers and toes) and everything to gain. Oh, and they’re coming into the contest on a great run of luck.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) huddles up with his team while playing the Minnesota Vikings in the first quarter of their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Yes, these 49ers are dangerous. They might not have the best quarterback or home-field advantage in this game, but they might be built for this exact moment. They are well-suited to play “January Football.”

This brand of football is the 49ers’ core identity no matter the month.  It’s about running the ball, stopping the other team from running the ball, controlling possession, and, most of all, being tougher than your opponent.

We saw it play out down the stretch of this season. Behind a bruising offensive line — and supported by one of the NFL’s best defenses — the 49ers have run the ball as well as any team in the NFL in recent weeks, with the duo of Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell creating a bit of the always-successful thunder and lightning effect.

It’s the brand of football the 49ers rode in their last postseason run.

In 2019, the 49ers won two home playoff games en route to Super Bowl LIV, running for an average of 235 yards per game in those contests — an absurd number.

In fact, in those two games, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo needed to complete only 17 passes – combined. He attempted only eight passes in the victory over Green Bay in the NFC championship game.

Quarterback (12) Aaron Rogers of the Green Bay Packers walks off the field after the Packers defeat the Arizona Cardinals 24-21 in an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Jeff Lewis)

January football wins. Winning a playoff game in the cold might as well be a requirement for winning a title. Last year’s Super Bowl champs, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs, had to win in Green Bay. You have to go all the way back to 2010 to find a Super Bowl champ that didn’t need to win a playoff game in the cold; the New Orleans Saints played two games in a dome and then won the Super Bowl in South Florida.

Beating the Packers will be no easy task, and the 49ers’ formula for victory is exceptionally challenging. They need to control the game, run the ball, and not turn the ball over.

Simple stuff, but it has been five weeks since the Niners played a zero-turnover game against a quality opponent. Even then, in the overtime win at Cincinnati — the 49ers caught a lucky break. A Garaoppolo pass that should have resulted in an easy interception was dropped by the Bengals’ safety.

Green Bay doesn’t make mistakes like that. Under coach Matt LaFleur, the Packers have a 30-0 record when they win the turnover battle.

And Rodgers simply does not turn the ball over. He hasn’t lost a fumble all season and he hasn’t thrown an interception since Nov. 14. He’s on a 20-touchdown, zero-interception run going into Saturday. Garoppolo has eight touchdowns to eight interceptions over that stretch.

There’s a reason Green Bay is favored to win the game. For every reason, the 49ers could win the game, there are 12 reasons that favor Green Bay, starting with Rodgers, the guy wearing No. 12. Then again, Dallas was favored against the 49ers last week. How’d that work out?

Yes, the Niners have made this season far more challenging than it needed to be, but they have found a way to win anyway. They have made this season a success, no matter what happens Saturday.

And what happens Saturday might surprise two-thirds of the people making odds.

 

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San Jose Barracuda forward suspended 30 games for racist gesture

San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik was suspended for 30 games by the American Hockey League on Friday for a racist gesture he directed at Boko Imama of the Tucson Roadrunners during a Jan. 12 game between the two teams at SAP Center.

Hrabik appeared to be mimicking an ape toward Imama, who is Black.

An AHL spokesman said the league was made aware of the gesture in the on-ice officials’ report after Jan. 12 game at SAP Center. Hrabik was suspended for the Barracuda’s past three games pending a review, which concluded Thursday.

Hrabik, 22, a Czech Republic native in his second full season in the Sharks’ minor league system, would be eligible to play again April 3 if the Barracuda’s schedule remains the same, but it appears a return to the team is unlikely.

The Barracuda, the Sharks’ top-minor league affiliate, said in a statement that both organizations “were appalled to learn of this incident. We offer our sincerest apologies to Boko, the Roadrunners organization, the AHL, our fans, and the entire hockey community.”

Hrabik, listed at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, signed a one-year contract extension with the Barracuda in June. He has played a combined 22 games with the Barracuda, mostly as a depth centerman, and 33 games in the ECHL. He first moved to North America in 2018 and played two seasons with Tri-City of the WHL.

The Barracuda’s statement continued, “While we support the ability for individuals to atone and learn from disrespectful incidents in this context, these actions are in direct opposition to the Barracuda and Sharks organizations’ values.”

The only AHL suspension on record that was longer than Hrabik’s was handed to Alexander Perezhogin for a stick-swinging incident on Garrett Stafford in 2004. Perezhogin was suspended for the remainder of the playoffs, plus the entire 2004-05 season.

The AHL, in its statement announcing the suspension, said it “believes that individual inclusion learning is a key element of improving league-wide culture. As part of the suspension, Hrabik will be given a chance to work with the NHL’s Player Inclusion Committee “to participate in education and training on racism and inclusion.”

Hrabik may apply to AHL’s President and CEO Scott Howson for a reduction to the suspension and reinstatement after March 12. Any reduction in the suspension would be “based on an evaluation of his progress in the necessary education and training with the Player Inclusion Committee,” according to the league’s statement.

“The AHL stands with Boko Imama,” Howson said in the statement. “It is unfair that any player should be subjected to comments or gestures based on their race; they should be judged only on their ability to perform as a player on the ice, as a teammate in the locker room and as a member of their community.”

Hrabik was originally signed by the Barracuda in October 2019 and has four points in 21 games this season.

This is the second racist incident that Imama, 25, has been subjected to in the last two years.

In Jan. 2020 as a member of the Ontario Reign, the Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate, Imama had a racist slur directed toward him from Brandon Manning in a game with the Bakersfield Condors. Manning, now playing professionally in Germany, was given a game misconduct and suspended by the AHL for five games.

Sharks coach Bob Boughner, who does not have a history with either Hrabik or Imama, said he was disappointed to learn of Hrabik’s actions.

“I support the AHL’s decision,” Boughner said. “It’s disappointing and we condemn it, and there’s no place in the game for it. Hopefully, everybody can earn from this and move forward instead of backward.”

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San Jose Barracuda forward suspended 30 games for racial gesture

San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik was suspended for 30 games by the American Hockey League on Friday for a racial gesture he directed at Boko Imama of the Tucson Roadrunners during a game between the two teams on Jan. 12.

Hrabik has already served three games of the suspension and would be eligible to return to the lineup on April 3 if the Barracuda’s schedule remains the same.

The AHL, in its statement announcing the suspension, said it “believes that individual inclusion learning is a key element of improving league-wide culture” and that as part of the suspension, Hrabik will be given a chance to work with the NHL’s Player Inclusion Committee “to participate in education and training on racism and inclusion.”

Hrabik may apply to Scott Howson, the AHL’s President and CEO, for a reduction to the suspension and reinstatement after March 12. Any reduction in the suspension would be “based on an evaluation of his progress in the necessary education and training with the Player Inclusion Committee.”

“The AHL stands with Boko Imama,” Howson said in the statement. “It is unfair that any player should be subjected to comments or gestures based on their race; they should be judged only on their ability to perform as a player on the ice, as a teammate in the locker room and as a member of their community.”

This is the second racist incident that Imama, 25, has been subjected to in the last two years.

In Jan. 2020 as a member of the Ontario Reign, the Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate, Imama, who is black, had a racial slur directed toward him from Brandon Manning in a game with the Bakersfield Condors. Manning, now playing professionally in Germany, was given a game misconduct and suspended by the AHL for five games.

Hrabik, 22, was originally signed by the Barracuda in October 2019 and was re-signed by the team to a one-year contract in June. He has four points in 21 games this season.

Please check back for updates to this developing story.  

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49ers mailbag: Updates on jerseys, chicken soup, heated field before leaping into Lambeau

49ers mailbag: Updates on jerseys, chicken soup, heated field before leaping into Lambeau

My opening question to Kyle Shanahan: Amid Lambeau Field’s big chill Saturday night, will Jimmy Garoppolo play with a glove over his sprained thumb?

“I haven’t asked him that. Interesting question,” Shanahan responded.

Let’s now open the floor to more interesting questions from curious 49ers’ fans on my Instagram and Twitter feeds:

Any chance they wear ’94 all-white jerseys? (@joepal1002)

No, they’re going with the white jerseys and gold pants, an ensemble they last wore in their Jan. 9 overtime win at the Los Angeles Rams. They are 6-1 in those, losing only at Arizona on Oct. 10. They were 0-2 in the all-white throwbacks last month at Seattle and Tennessee.

Will coach give players chicken soup during the game to keep warm? (@andresfernandez_realtor)

Chicken soup and hot cocoa are probable in the 49ers’ locker room, and I’m not sure what will be on the sideline, other than heated benches and supersized parkas.

How long has it been since the Niners played in almost 0-degree weather? (@tr1st9n)

Eight years ago, the 49ers won their coldest game ever, a wild-card playoff game in Green Bay, when it was 5 degrees at kickoff with a minus-10 wind chill. The temperature dropped, like the Packers did. (The next day, it was minus-15 when my Mercury News colleagues and I drove to Chicago, and we kept rotating the rental car’s heater from defrost to the floor to avoid frostbite.)

Is there good food at Lambeau? (@cms_408)

Brats. Brats. Brats. My first trip to Green Bay in 2000 had me giddy, and the more brats I ate in the press box, the better I felt. Colleagues then informed me the brats were soaked in beer. Those were in old-school, metal trays. Nowadays, there is a corporate-sponsored crock pot.

How are the visitors’ locker room? (@traviscampbell79)

From what I recall, cramped conditions await rather than a spacious room. A bank of lockers parallels the walkway (which makes walking tough amid bags) and rows of lockers clog the middle of the room. That’s typical in denying visitors a chance to have full attention and all eyes on a pep talk. Sadly, locker rooms remain close to the media amid COVID protocol, even though all reporters must be vaccinated and boosted to attend the playoffs.

Can we witness Kap 2.0 with runs from Lance? (@hardcore_fitness_x)

I honestly considered that, until I saw Garoppolo throw in Wednesday’s practice, unimpaired by his sore shoulder and thumb. The 49ers still could give Lance a cameo, but don’t count on it. And don’t certainly expect him to match Kaepernick’s 181-yard, two-touchdown rushing show (plus 263 yards and two touchdowns passing) in the 45-31 divisional win in January 2013.

Which past win over the Packers is your favorite? (@random49er_dude)

It wasn’t that Kaepernick playoff debut, nor was it Raheem Mostert’s franchise-record 220-yard, four-touchdown romp in the 2019 season’s NFC Championship. It also wasn’t their January 2014 wild-card win at Lambeau, where JIm Harbaugh celebrated by kissing the bald forehead of reporter Matt Barrows. All were phenomenal wins. But Terrell Owens’ “Catch II” at the goal line from Steve Young is the most iconic moment, even if all it won was a January 1999 wild-card game.

Over/under Jimmy with eight pass attempts this time? (@corralalmada)

Over. He only attempted eight passes (six completions, 77 yards) because the 49ers were too busy running the ball through the Packers’ Swiss-cheese defense (42 carries, 285 yards). The 49ers again will try to run wild, but they will need more passes this time.

Could Trent Williams play fullback in a goal-line package? (@DreamCh01848759)

Let’s just leave Williams at left tackle, considering he couldn’t play two weeks ago because of an elbow sprain. The 49ers have a perennial Pro Bowl fullback in Kyle Juszczyk. Now, if you want a lineman to channel the Guy McIntyre package from the 1980s, nose tackle D.J. Jones made a couple of cameos in years past, I believe.

Is Lambeau Field heated, and, if so, will they turn that off as an advantage for the home team? (@brash505)

The “frozen tundra” hasn’t frozen over in 50 years. Yes, a heating system exists, reportedly with underground pipes pumping antifreeze less than a foot below the grass. Could the Packers flip a switch for their own benefit? The NFL’s Deflategate Police likely frown upon that.

Does the team stay in a hotel in Green Bay? (@joselpz22)

They usually stay about 20 minutes away, in a town that had the lone hotel capable of hosting a NFL team — and a nearby bar where it’s Christmas-themed all year long. (Update: Comrade Maiooco says the 49ers are staying in Green Bay, and my social media sleuthing spots them across the Fox River, about 3 miles from Lambeau Field.)

Is it going to snow? @chris.gtz/3

Unlikely, and a bigger issue might be wind. The forecast calls for 11-degrees at kickoff with winds 10 to 15 mph, and that will dip to 5 degrees and a wind chill of possibly minus-15 in the fourth quarter, according to NBC 26 meteorologist Brittney Merlot.

What’s your score prediction for the game? (@tylermize29)

The Niners win 26-24, even though 26-23 would have made for a fitting point total (49).

 

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49ers rookie Lance mimicking Rodgers, not Garoppolo, ahead of Packers showdown

Jimmy Garoppolo is clearly in pain.

When asked Tuesday whether his injured right thumb or sprained right shoulder is bothering him more, the 49ers’ quarterback essentially chose to plead the Fifth.

“Uh, yes,” Garoppolo responded. “I don’t know the answer. They’re pretty close.”

As Garoppolo deals with multiple issues, it would appear prudent for 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan to at least have rookie Trey Lance prepared to take his starter’s place if the quarterback’s condition were to worsen during Saturday’s Divisional Round matchup against the Green Bay Packers.

Instead of preparing to stand in for Garoppolo, Lance has spent the week doing his best impression of Aaron Rodgers.

Seriously.

“Aaron does a real good job of not making bad decisions and not turning the ball over,” Shanahan said. “But he also makes all the plays down the field wherever you’re off just a hair. So we need Trey to be very aggressive, let it rip. We need him to be aggressive in everything he does because Aaron doesn’t miss many of those opportunities.”

The 49ers have tabbed Lance to face their first-team defense at practice this week with the hope his rocket arm and ability to extend plays in the pocket gives the unit an idea of what it will see from Rodgers, the MVP favorite, on Saturday.

It’s unrealistic to expect Lance to simulate everything Rodgers can do at the quarterback position, but the 49ers’ defense is appreciative of the rookie’s efforts.

“It’s one of those situations where you don’t really feel Aaron Rodgers until you’re out there against the man himself,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “You can watch all the tape you want, think you’ve got him figured out. But you’ve got into the game and get into the flow of things to really get things going.”

Lance spent much of the lead-up to Week 17 with the 49ers’ starting offense as Garoppolo’s thumb injury prevented him from being a full participant in practices, but after Garoppolo played and led San Francisco to a comeback victory against the Rams, the 49ers have returned the rookie signal-caller to the behind-the-scenes role as the scout-team quarterback he has played for much of the year.

Some day soon, the 49ers will have Lance be himself, but for most of his rookie season, he’s simulated opposing quarterbacks at practice, which has earned him respect from teammates who know the role isn’t exactly desirable.

“Trey has always done well since I’ve been here as far as giving us a look,” pass rusher Charles Omenihu said. “I knew Trey before I got here, so I’ve always had a lot of respect for him. He’s doing the unseen work as a top pick with no complaining at all.”

Rodgers excelled in his 30-28 Week 3 win against the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium, completing 23-of-33 attempts for 261 yards and two touchdowns. His top target, Palo Alto High product Davante Adams, caught 12 passes for 132 yards and one touchdown after torching the 49ers for 10 receptions, 173 yards and a touchdown in Green Bay’s 34-17 victory at Levi’s Stadium in 2020.

The Packers could be without receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who head coach Matt LaFleur said Thursday would be “doubtful” for Saturday’s game, but the 49ers are well aware Rodgers and Adams of taking over a game on their own.

“They make it difficult because they do a great job of moving Davante around,” defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said Wednesday. “He doesn’t stay in one spot, he can move into the slot, he can play outside, so he’s all over the place but we know he’s the top guy. To me, he’s one of the best receivers in the NFL.”

As for the 49ers, they’ll stick to the plan they’ve used during the most successful days of their season.

The team will keep Lance in the background and rely on Garoppolo to lead a run-first attack at Lambeau Field with the hope he’s durable enough to hold up in the winter chill of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“Same as it always is,” Shanahan said Thursday. “Jimmy gets all the reps with the 1s, Trey runs the scout team and he’ll get in in walk-through and stuff like that, but nothing is different. Jimmy has been playing through some things, but that’s why he’s full-go because he’s good enough to play and we don’t treat it any differently.”

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The New York Giants hire Joe Schoen, who also interviewed for the Chicago Bears general manager job. Here’s the latest in the NFL’s firing and hiring cycle.

Change is in the air. “Black Monday” arrived in the NFL the day after the regular season ended with a flurry of major changes around the league.

A week later, the Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans were searching for new head coaches, and the Bears, Vikings, Giants and Las Vegas Raiders needed new general managers.

As a new cycle of firing and hiring proceeds, we’re tracking all of the latest moves.

Friday

<mark class="hl_orange">The New York Giants have hired Joe Schoen to be their general manager, </mark><mark class="hl_orange">the team announced</mark><mark class="hl_orange">.</mark>

The scoop: The Bears interviewed Schoen, the Buffalo Bills assistant general manager, for their vacancy Sunday. Now he’s off the market after the Giants chose him over finalists Adam Peters and Ryan Poles. Schoen has been in his current role for five seasons and also worked with the Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers. He will now dive into hiring a new head coach, with Bills coordinators — and Bears candidates — Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier potential connections. Three teams remain in the hunt for a new GM: the Bears, Vikings and Raiders.

Wednesday

<mark class="hl_orange">Bears GM candidate Ed Dodds withdrew his name from consideration, </mark><mark class="hl_orange">NFL Network reported.</mark>

The scoop: Dodds, the Indianapolis Colts assistant general manager, interviewed with the Bears on Monday. He has been with the Colts since 2017, starting as the vice president of player personnel, and was with the Seattle Seahawks for 10 years before that. Dodds has been a GM candidate for several offseasons, but he reportedly turned down an interview request from the Cleveland Browns in 2020 and withdrew from the Carolina Panthers search in 2021. Dodds is also a candidate this year for the Raiders GM job.

<mark class="hl_orange">The Bears are scheduling Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus for a second interview, </mark><mark class="hl_orange">according to multiple reports.</mark>

The scoop: Eberflus, who had his first interview with the Bears on Monday, is the first coach reported to make it to the second round of interviews. Eberflus has been the Colts defensive coordinator for four seasons and before that was the Dallas Cowboys linebackers coach for seven seasons. He also has worked for the Cleveland Browns and spent 17 years coaching in college.

Eberflus also made it to the second round of interviews with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bears still are interviewing both GMs and coaches, with Tampa Bay Buccaneers coordinators Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles and Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn reportedly scheduled for coaching interviews later this week.

<mark class="hl_orange">Other teams reportedly have requested interviews with Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai and assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly.</mark>

The scoop: The Seattle Seahawks, who fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. on Tuesday, have put in a request to talk to Desai, The Athletic reported. Desai has been with the Bears for nine seasons and was promoted to coordinator in 2021 after Chuck Pagano retired.

Kelly interviewed for the Bears GM position last week, and now he will interview with the Raiders, NFL Network reported. He has been with the Bears for seven seasons, starting as the director of pro scouting before he was promoted to his current role. The Raiders fired GM Mike Mayock on Monday.

Monday

<mark class="hl_orange">The Las Vegas Raiders fired general manager Mike Mayock, </mark><mark class="hl_orange">the team announced.</mark>

The scoop: Mayock was the Raiders GM for three seasons, and his teams went 25-24, including 10-7 in 2021. The decision comes a day after a 26-19 playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Raiders’ only postseason appearance in Mayock’s tenure. Mayock previously was a draft analyst with NFL Network and a TV announcer. Raiders coach Jon Gruden resigned in October after some of Gruden’s old emails containing racist, homophobic and misogynistic language surfaced. Interim coach Rich Bisaccia led the team to a 7-5 record the rest of the way. The Raiders are interviewing candidates for GM and coach, though they haven’t announced what Bisaccia’s future is with the team.

Jan. 13

<mark class="hl_orange">The Houston Texans fired coach David Culley after one season.</mark>

The scoop: The Texans finished 4-13 in the only season under Culley, 66, a longtime NFL assistant in his first job as a head coach. The Texans were playing without Deshaun Watson amid allegations of sexual assault against the quarterback. Week 1 starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor played in only six games because of injury, and the Texans turned to rookie Davis Mills to start 11 games.

Since 1994, Culley has been a wide receivers coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, with which he was also the assistant head coach, a quarterbacks coach with the Buffalo Bills and the assistant head coach/wide receivers coach/pass game coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens.

<mark class="hl_orange">The Carolina Panthers are interviewing Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, </mark><mark class="hl_orange">according to ESPN.</mark>

The scoop: Tabor was the Bears special teams coordinator for all four seasons under Matt Nagy, and he served as interim head coach for one game in 2021 when Nagy had COVID-19. He previously was the Cleveland Brown special teams coordinator for seven seasons, spanning multiple head coaches.

Jan. 12

<mark class="hl_orange">The Chicago Bears added two more names to their general manager interview pool.</mark>

The scoop: The Bears have requested an interview with Pittsburgh Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan and New England Patriots senior consultant Eliot Wolf, ESPN reported. Khan had GM interviews last year with the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans. Wolf, the son of former Green Bay Packers GM Ron Wolf, has worked with the Packers, the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns.

Here are the updated candidate lists:

General managers

Coaches

Jan. 11

<mark class="hl_orange">The Chicago Bears list of requested interviews has reached at least 8 general manager candidates and 9 coaching candidates.</mark>

The scoop: Recently fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores was a big name to pop up in a lengthy list of candidates the Bears have contacted about interviews.

NFL Network reported the Bears set up the interview with Flores, who went 24-25 in three seasons with the Dolphins. His last two seasons were winning ones, but the Dolphins didn’t make the playoffs.

Here are the other coaching candidates who reportedly have been requested:

Former Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith is among the biggest names to be expected to interview with the Bears. Here’s a list of others:

<mark class="hl_orange">The New York Giants fired coach Joe Judge after two seasons.</mark>

The scoop: In his first NFL head coaching stint, Judge, 40, went 10-23, including 4-13 in 2021. Playing without quarterback Daniel Jones down the stretch, the Giants lost their final six games by a combined score of 163-56. After the 29-3 loss to the Bears in Week 17, Judge went on an 11-minute rant defending his team while talking to the media.

It is the second big Giants move in two days after general manager Dave Gettleman announced his retirement Monday. With Judge out, there are now seven NFL head coaching jobs open.

Jan. 10

<mark class="hl_orange">The Chicago Bears fired general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy.</mark>

The scoop: Pace is out in Chicago after seven seasons during which his teams went 48-65, qualified for the postseason twice and failed to record a playoff victory. In his first NFL head coaching stint, Nagy finished 34-31 with two playoff losses over four seasons.

The Bears never found the right fit between Nagy and a quarterback during his tenure , running through Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles, Andy Dalton and Justin Fields. Nagy’s offense remained stuck in the bottom third of the league in many categories . The Bears finished 6-11 this season.

The Bears have reached out to former Eagles coach Doug Pederson to schedule an interview for their head coaching role, according to a league source. An ESPN report also indicated the Bears have requested permission to interview Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier for the job. The team, according to NFL Network, has also requested to speak with Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown for the GM opening.

<mark class="hl_orange">The Minnesota Vikings fired general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer</mark>

The scoop: Spielman was with the Vikings since 2006, first as the vice president of player personnel and then as the general manager since 2012. In that time, the Vikings went 132-123-2 with six playoff appearances.

Zimmer, a longtime NFL defensive coordinator, became the Vikings head coach in 2014. He led three seasons of 10 or more wins, three playoff appearances and two playoff victories. The Vikings finished 8-9 after a victory over the Bears on Sunday.

<mark class="hl_orange">New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman announced his retirement after four seasons in that role.</mark>

The scoop: In 2018, Gettleman became the general manager in an organization where he had spent 13 years previously in front office roles. But his efforts to resuscitate the franchise failed with the Giants experiencing their worst four-year stretch of losing in team history.

The Giants went 19-46 under Gettleman’s watch, including a 4-13 faceplant this season during which the offense finished last in the NFC in both total yardage and scoring. Gettleman announced his retirement Monday but may have been fired if he hadn’t. The future of coach Joe Judge remains uncertain and may hinge on what happens with their intensifying GM search.

<mark class="hl_orange">The Miami Dolphins fired coach Brian Flores after three seasons.</mark>

The scoop: Flores was fired in his third season despite posting back-to-back winning seasons. The Dolphins were 5-11 in his first year, 10-6 in 2020 and 9-8 this season, but they didn’t make the playoffs in his tenure.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross released a statement saying he “determined that key dynamics of our football organization weren’t functioning at a level I want it to be and felt that this decision was in the best interest of the Miami Dolphins.” General manager Chris Grier will remain with the team in his current role, ESPN reported.

Jan. 9

<mark class="hl_orange">The Denver Broncos have fired head coach Vic Fangio after three seasons.</mark>

The scoop: Fangio didn’t record a winning season in his three in Denver. He finished 19-30 in his first stint as an NFL head coach, including 7-10 this season. Fangio, 63, was a defensive coordinator in the NFL for 19 seasons, including four in Chicago, before he joined the Broncos in 2019.

Fangio’s defense this season ranked in the top 10 in yards and points allowed. But the Broncos offense didn’t produce well enough under Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock, the latest in a revolving door of quarterbacks in Denver recent years.

Dec. 30-Jan. 7

<mark class="hl_tblue">The Jaguars have conducted at least five interviews to replace Urban Meyer.</mark>

The scoop: The Jaguars fired Urban Meyer on Dec. 16 after just 13 games with the team.

The team already has gotten deep into their search to replace him, reportedly interviewing former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson, former Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.

Read more of our coverage from Black Monday and beyond.

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Frozen tundra doesn’t stop the Faithful: 49ers have strong history in cold-weather games

It’s looking like the 49ers will get another taste of just how frigid Green Bay can be in the winter when they kick off Saturday night at Lambeau Field.

Current forecasts show the weather for Saturday night in Wisconsin is expected to be in the single digits for most of the game, with winds between 5-10 mph and around a 10 percent chance of precipitation. It’s not likely to get to Ice Bowl levels of cold (temperature at -15, wind chill around -46 according to a new National Weather Service measurement) in Green Bay, but you probably won’t find anyone wearing shorts, either.

Things can always change meteorologically, of course, but it’s clear this will be one of the coldest games in San Francisco 49ers history — even if not out of the ordinary for the Packers, who have hosted at least a half-dozen games in single-digit or negative temperature before. But there’s a funny thing about the Bay Area dwellers used to our moderate year-round weather: No matter when in 49ers history they’ve gone north to play in the cold, they’ve found a way to emerge victorious, even if a little frozen.

Here’s a look back at the three-coldest (and one extra) playoff games in 49ers history (Year is the NFL season the game was played in):

1970 NFC divisional round: 49ers 17, Vikings 14 in Bloomington, Minnesota

The opening to the Game of the Week video that’s still on YouTube hammered the weather home right away. “In Minnesota, this was known as a perfect day for football: clear, crisp and a pleasant 8 degrees above zero. Just what the doctor didn’t order for the Vikings’ enemy from the balmy Bay of San Francisco.” In the first year after the NFL-AFL merger and the aligning into two conferences and three divisions, were the top two teams in the NFC, but the playoff matchups were predetermined during this time, so the 10-3-1 49ers had to go to the 12-2 Vikings while the Cowboys hosted the Lions, both with 10-4 records. The weather surely impacted each team’s grip on the ball, with a combined eight fumbles. But quarterback John Brodie was able to find air success even in the cold, completing 16-of-32 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. He also ran in a touchdown with 1:20 left to push the 49ers up 17-7. The Vikings drove down as quickly as they could and tacked on a touchdown but with only one second left, sending Dick Nolan’s underdog 49ers back to San Francisco with a win. But the NFC Championship would be the first of three straight playoff losses to the Cowboys in the 1970s, a 17-10 defeat in the 49ers’ final game at Kezar Stadium.

1981 Super Bowl XVI*: 49ers 26, Bengals 21 in Pontiac, Michigan

So we’re cheating a little bit on this one, as the actual game for the 49ers’ first Super Bowl win was played inside the Pontiac Silverdome. But the weather outside the stadium was absolutely miserable and even made an impact on the 49ers, so we’re including it here. Outside temperature was around 13, but with freezing rain and wind chills down around -21 compounding on the snow-covered ground. Traffic was a nightmare getting to the Silverdome, and the unexpected arrival of Vice President George H.W. Bush only made it worse. In fact, the 49ers bus bringing head coach Bill Walsh, quarterback Joe Montana and others was stuck in the traffic and didn’t arrive until 90 minutes before kickoff. But as Montana recently detailed on his Peacock series, Walsh kept spirits loose, joking that the 49ers already had a lead thanks to team staffers scoring touchdowns. Once they got there and got on the field, the weather and the delayed arrival didn’t seem to matter, as San Francisco stormed out to a 20-0 lead and held on for their first Super Bowl title.

1988 NFC Championship: 49ers 28, Bears 3 in Chicago

It’s easily one of the most insane back-to-back weather games in NFL history. The Bears won “The Fog Bowl” against the Eagles, where the Bears scored two touchdowns before a dense fog rolled over Soldier Field and made visibility almost impossible. Meanwhile, the 49ers dispatched the Vikings to set up a matchup between two 1980s heavyweights back in Chicago. Once there, the temperature was “only” 17 degrees, but wind gusts of up to 30 mph made the wind chill -26, setting everyone up to expect another 49ers road playoff loss. Instead, they dominated on both sides of the ball, as Montana hit Jerry Rice for two touchdowns in the first half, the 49ers defense shut the Bears down and San Francisco won their first road playoff game since the previously-discussed win in Minnesota in 1970. I can’t imagine a team more excited to make the trip to Miami for Super Bowl XXIII than the 49ers, who would come from behind on Montana’s “John Candy” drive, hitting John Taylor in the endzone with 34 seconds left to beat the Bengals 20-16 and send Bill Walsh into retirement as a champion.

2013 NFC wild-card round: 49ers 23, Packers 20 in Green Bay

The 49ers were really one of the best teams in the NFL this year, but so was NFC West rival Seattle. The Seahawks finished at 13-3, one game ahead of the 49ers, meaning San Francisco would have to head to Green Bay to face the 8-7-1 NFC North champion Packers. With the game-time temperature at 5 around kickoff at Lambeau, the 49ers and Packers battled in a tight one, and a late Mason Crosby field goal tied the game at 20 with 5:06 left. But led by Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore, the 49ers went on a game-sealing 14-play, 65-yard drive to finish out the rest of the clock and set up a game-ending Phil Dawson 33-yard field goal. Kaepernick shone again, throwing for 227 yards (125 of them to Michael Crabtree) and rushing for 98 on just seven carries. Phil Dawson made all five of his kicks on the day (two extra points, three field goals). The 49ers would follow this game up with another road win over the Panthers before falling to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship.

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Yosemite National Park may limit visitors this summer due to major construction projects

Yosemite National Park may limit visitors this summer due to major construction projects

Concerned about nightmarish traffic jams at Yosemite National Park from more than half a dozen major new construction projects, park leaders are drawing up plans that could limit the number of visitors this summer by requiring reservations for day visits.

“This summer is going to be a crazy construction season in Yosemite like you have never seen before,” Yosemite Superintendent Cicely Muldoon told a group of local elected officials and tourism leaders at a meeting late last week. “Bring your hard hats.”

Many of the projects — major road repairs and extensive upgrades to aging campgrounds — have been on the park’s wish list for decades. But funding is available now because Congress passed a landmark law in 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act, providing billions for repairs and upgrades at America’s national parks.

Muldoon told the Yosemite Gateway Partnership that parks planners will know the details of a new reservation system in a few weeks.

“What we want to do is accommodate as many people as we can without causing any gridlock in the valley and other places in the park,” she said.

Park spokesman Scott Gediman said Thursday that park officials are studying how many visitors should be allowed, traffic and parking needs and trying to figure out how COVID trends will affect the famed Sierra Nevada park in the coming months.

During the last two summers, COVID concerns forced the park for the first time in Yosemite’s 157-year-history to require day visitors to make online reservations. Some people were turned away at the gates on days when all the reservations were filled.

In 2020, Yosemite kept visitor numbers to about 50% of historic averages during the first year of the pandemic. Last year, they ranged from 50% to 80% depending on the month and the severity of COVID cases. The system ended in October, and reservations are currently not required to enter the park.

But this summer, as the omicron variant is expected to wane, the concern is more over projects than pandemic.

Construction crews will be closing the Glacier Point Road all year to rebuild the popular route through Yosemite’s high country. The current road was first constructed in 1936, replacing a wagon trail that dated back to 1882. The $42 million project to replace 10 miles of pavement from Badger Pass to Glacier Point, along with culverts, trail head parking and retaining walls, is expected to force more motorists to remain in Yosemite Valley, which on weekends and holidays already can become gridlocked.

Meanwhile, crews also will be building a new welcome center in Yosemite Valley, which will cause the temporary removal of 300 parking spaces. The center will be built adjacent to the Village Store, in a 3,000-square-foot building that formerly housed the Yosemite Village Sport Shop. As part of the $10 million project, an outdoor plaza also will be constructed with new restrooms, paths and signs. The welcome center will feature rangers for answering questions, information kiosks, touchscreens, maps, guidebooks and other information for visitors.

But that’s not all.

Parks officials will be closing several major campgrounds this summer for long-delayed upgrades, including Crane Flat, Tuolumne Meadows and Bridalveil Creek, where aging water systems, restrooms and other facilities dating back to the 1950s and 1960s will be replaced.

Hikers ford the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River in Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows. (Photo courtesy of Dino Vournas)

And crews will be finishing a $15 million project to rebuild the trails and other facilities around Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite Valley.

Road repairs will continue all summer on Tioga Pass Road. And parks workers are expected by Memorial Day to re-open Mariposa Grove, where repairs are underway after a freak windstorm last year toppled 15 giant sequoias, wrecking wooden boardwalks and the main restroom.

Tourism officials in the communities surrounding the park are asking if some of the work can be delayed.

In the past few years, they have seen huge disruptions from COVID and wildfires, which temporarily closed Yosemite or limited visitation.

“Our residents and businesses have really been impacted, and they need to recover,” said Jonathan Farrington, executive director of the Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau. “We had hoped that we could finally have a season again that was normal. We have a lot of businesses that are really well managed but which are on the brink. We need to be able to breathe.”

Farrington said 52% of the people employed in Mariposa County work in the tourism industry, in hotels, restaurants and gift shops.

“We are all excited to see funding coming back to our public lands and national parks,” he said. “It’s not easy for us to say you should be postponing projects, but we feel the timing is a bit insensitive.”

Gediman said that the way much of the federal funding is structured, the projects need to stay on schedule.

Local tourism leaders also aren’t excited about a new reservation system, which limits the overall number of park visitors.

“Hopefully it would only be in June, July and August,” Farrington said.

In recent years, day-use reservations have been put in place to curb overcrowding at Zion, Rocky Mountain and Glacier national parks, along with the famous Kalalau Trail in Kauai and Muir Woods in Marin County.

“We support it. It has worked in the past two years,” said Frank Dean, president of the Yosemite Conservancy, a nonprofit group based in San Francisco that has agreed to pay half the costs of the Mariposa Grove, Bridalveil Fall and welcome center projects. “Other parks have been doing it. It is something to be looked at.”

The short-term pain will bring long-term gains for Yosemite, he added.

“People will notice it for sure,” he said. “They should try to avoid weekends and holidays if they can. Plan ahead. Go to a less-used part of the park. It’s beautiful to get on a trail away from the crowds.”

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