PROBE: May 14, 2001

May 14, 2001

QUESTION: Will you go look at the park near Sunflower Elementary School? The park is a joint project between the city of El Centro and the El Centro Elementary School District. After installing an expensive sprinkler system, they finally planted grass last fall. Now the grass is mostly dead or dying. What happened? — Gardener, El Centro

The grass is fine. What you are seeing dying off, according to Kim Dessert, director of facilities for the school district, is the winter rye grass planted in the 17-acre park last fall. The newly planted Bermuda grass is doing fine.

By the time the sprinkler system was installed it was too late to plant Bermuda grass, a warm weather grass. In cold weather, Bermuda goes dormant and doesn't grow.

Winter rye is a great grass but it doesn't like hot weather, so when the hot weather hit, it wilted.

The rye that survived needs mowing but the yard maintenance workers can't mow because the immature Bermuda planted this spring is not high enough to mow, she said.


QUESTION: The truck selling fruit on the corner in Heber is such an eyesore. Now there is someone selling fruit on Bradshaw behind Costco with a ton of signs. They take a lot of business from grocery stores, which affects farmers. Isn't there a place to complain about those vendors? — Offended, Heber

So what happened to the idea of free enterprise and competition to lower prices?

Check with the Sheriff's Office to see if the vendors have permits to sell products. If the vendors are operating within an incorporated city, check the city to see if the vendor has a business license.

To sell from the back of a truck in an unincorporated area, one needs a $60 peddler's permit that will be kept on file at the Sheriff's Office.

But you can't let just any low-life sell produce to a gullible public, so the Sheriff's Office runs a background check before it issues the peddler's permit.

Naturally, there are charges to get the permit.

The charge for the fingerprints is $22. Running the prints by the state Department of Justice is $22 and it's another $24 to have the FBI take a gander. Before you can sell any oranges, you'll have to pass muster with the local cops to see if you have any outstanding warrants or an expired driver's license ($22).

We're not great at math but we think that adds up to another $100 or a total of $160 to sell fruit and vegetables from the back of a truck.

QUESTION: You said Roy Woodhouse was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the murder of his parents and the two El Centro police officers.

Then you said he called Don Quinn from prison until about 10 years ago. Is it possible Woodhouse died or was released on parole? — Keeping Track, El Centro

No, Woodhouse, or as his friends called him, Lumpy, is still serving time. He's in the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo.

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