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UCD institute targets emerging diseases

In the second half of the 20th century, the World Health Organization spearheaded an ultimately successful effort to eradicate a nemesis of humankind: smallpox.

The disease, caused by two variants of the variola virus, had ravaged civilizations for thousands of years, as evidenced by medical writings from ancient India and even by the mummy of Ramses V.

Over the centuries, it had struck populations in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas, killing hundreds of millions. Those fortunate enough to have survived frequently bore permanent scarring on their faces.

But variola possessed a fatal flaw — in nature, the virus infected only humans. With a vaccine originally developed by Edward Jenner in 1796, health authorities were able to launch mass inoculation campaigns across the world following World War II.

Flying our colors

As usual, downtown Davis was full of activity on July 4, and summer heat didn’t keep the crowds away on Saturday.

The kiddie parade kicked off at 10 a.m., with scores of youngsters and their parents marching down a few city blocks, accompanied by patriotic music from the Davis High Pep Band.

Meanwhile, more than 200 competitive cyclists took over central downtown as the 39th annual Fourth of July Criterium ran from from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. As always, cycling fans from all over Northern California came to the event.

Davisite will fly high over the Alps

One of the world’s most demanding races — physically and mentally — will include a Davis resident once again.

Honza Rejmanek, a UC Davis graduate and an atmospheric scientist, is competing for the fifth time in the X-Alps race, which starts Sunday morning in Salzburg, Austria.

The race requires athletes to complete a 1,000-kilometer race course using only their own bodies — flying or hiking. The course covers the entire span of alpine mountains from Austria through Germany, Italy and France, ending on a raft in the Mediterranean Sea off Monaco.

Trackside applicants apologize to neighbors

The Davis City Council is tentatively set to consider the 5 1/2-story Trackside Center mixed-use project in coming weeks following discussions between developers and neighbors in Old East Davis.

Mayor Dan Wolk requested the informational item after residents bitterly complained about the project for the second council meeting in a row.

Trackside Center’s top four floors would feature luxury apartments with a concierge in a building on a half-acre lot between Third and Fourth streets, the railroad tracks and the I Street alley. The first floor of the center will have retail and …

Celebrate America’s birthday, Davis-style

Is it possible to do every single thing on the calendar for Davis’ Fourth of July celebration?

The highly ambitious among us might be able to accomplish the whole slate of activities, but most of us will have to choose among them.

The day kicks off at 7 a.m. with pancakes at the Davis Little League Fields — Yes! At the fields! — followed by lots of youth baseball. Soon after, at 7:30 a.m., the Davis Bike Club’s annual criterium gets rolling in downtown Davis, followed by a kiddie parade — a Kiwanis tradition dating back to the 1930s — and a kids’ fun (bicycle) ride put on by DBC.

Audiences will solve whodunnit in ‘Drood’

The Davis Shakespeare Festival turns tp Charles Dickens in the musical “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” which opened Friday and continues through Aug. 2, in repertory with “Twelfth Night.”

The show is based on the novel that Dickens was still writing (and publishing in serial form) at the time he was felled by a stroke in 1870. Dickens, alas, left behind no notes indicating how the mystery of Edwin Drood’s disappearance would be resolved.

And since the author didn’t provide an ending, songwriter Rupert Holmes developed an interesting …

Davis reacts to gay marriage ruling

“I could tell you a story,” Shelly Bailes said Friday, a few hours after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage throughout the nation.

“Years and years ago — in 1984 — when the Davis civil rights issue was on the ballot, we went around knocking on doors to get people to vote ‘no’ on (Measure) D,” Bailes said.

“Three young women came to the door,” she explained, and when Bailes asked that they vote against the measure, one woman said …

Davis surpasses target for water conservation

The numbers show Davis is sipping, not gulping.

City water production statistics on Wednesday showed Davis water customers as a whole cut their use in May by 31 percent compared to May 2013, beating a state-mandated target.

Davis is required to reduce its water consumption by 28 percent over the 2013 month-by-month numbers.

The news from City Hall shows that Davis water customers are off to a great start in meeting their obligations to conserve water. But residents should not celebrate yet — there are many more months to go.

Working for independence: CES clients show abilities

A landscaping business, a button-making enterprise and a shredding superstar — all were born as microenterprises with the help of Community Employment Services in Davis.

The owners and operators — as well as dozens more clients who work or volunteer at local businesses — have a range of developmental disabilities, but all are motivated by the desire to be contributing members of the workforce in their community.

CES is part of Progressive Employment Concepts, a nonprofit agency that’s been operating in the Sacramento region for 20 years. It helps clients find employment and …

At Collins Farm, it’s a different flavor of farming

The Collins Farm on the western outskirts of Davis is not like other farms.

On their 195 acres just north of the Kidwell Road exchange at Interstate 80, Rich and Shelly Collins have rented or made other arrangements with a number of growers.

A young brewer grows hops for his Ruhstaller label. A UC Davis expert tends the fruit orchards. A global corporate leader in asparagus seed occupies some other acreage. And two other farmers grow fresh produce and run the Collins farm stand right off the exchange itself, which is open only on weekends to tap into the heavy traffic on I-80.

Camp Kesem helps kids escape from reality

A curious new wall of color has sprung up on the side of the Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Davis.

“A child’s friend through and beyond a parent’s cancer,” the mural reads in a celebration of Camp Kesem’s 10th anniversary at UC Davis.

The piece has materialized into a heartfelt public display of what Camp Kesem represents to the counselors, campers and families involved. Familiar summer camp sights like s’mores and cabins mingle with images of a more “Camp Kesem” flavor — a pineapple with a hat, a hippo.

New building boom reaches across Davis

Slow-growth Davis? Not lately.

As development projects crowd local headlines, even more projects are waiting in the wings, according to city records.

The market for development in Davis is heating up right now, city officials say, going all the way from residential building additions and remodel permits to large-scale commercial and mixed-use projects like the Mace Ranch Innovation Center and the Nishi Gateway proposal.

Who’s next in the drought’s blame game?

Mother Nature isn’t the only one blamed for California’s drought.

The state’s historic four-year dry spell has brought with it a flurry of finger-pointing. Now advocates, noting how California’s water shortage ranks as the top public concern, are invoking the drought to bolster their own causes.

Animal rights activists, environmentalists and opponents of immigration and federal wildlife protections are among …

Double your Devils? DHS graduates multiple multiples

The Davis High School Class of 2015 included an unusually large number of twins — and a set of triplets — according to Davis High’s newspaper, The Hub.

In its June 5 issue, The Hub ran a two-page photo spread with pictures of 17 sets of twins from this year’s graduating class, plus triplets Christina, Jessica and Margaret Roeckl Navazio. The Hub also elaborated that of the 17 sets of twins, six sets are girl/boy, five sets are girl/girl, and six sets are boy/boy.

Does 17 sets of twins break (or tie) a record?

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