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Bay Area Briefs

Friday January 11, 2002

Lipton to close Santa Cruz plant 


SANTA CRUZ — Lipton Tea company announced it will close its plant in Santa Cruz by the end of the year. 

The announcement was made by Unilever Bestfoods Wednesday in New York. Spokesman Paul Wood blamed the closing on global economics. He said Unilever PLC, the $50 billion Anglo-Dutch parent company, had closed 34 food plants during the past 18 months in Europe alone. 

In Santa Cruz, 135 workers will lose their jobs. At its peak, the Lipton plant employed more than 500 workers. 

When the plant opened in 1971 it took in bulk teas from around the globe in 50-kilogram bags and blended them into the “brisk” tea made famous by its creator, the Scottish grocer Sir Thomas Lipton, more than a century ago. 

Workers in Santa Cruz packaged the blended tea into Lipton’s trademark “flow-through” tea bags as well as restaurant packages and shipped it to much of the United States. 




Dogs to roam free in S.F. park 



SAN FRANCISCO — The the state announced plans for a test project to let dogs roam free in two California parks, including one in San Francisco. 

Dogs would be allowed loose in Candlestick State Recreation Area and at San Buenaventura State Beach near Ventura. 

“Dog owners in urban areas often have little or no backyard, so this pilot program fills an important recreational need for responsible dog owners,” said state Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, who sponsored the program in the Legislature. 

Unleashed dogs now are barred in all state parks. The proposal announced Wednesday grows out of complaints by dog owners, who are finding more local and federal parklands off-limits to free-running pooches. San Francisco alone is home to more than 100,000 dogs. 

The Department of Parks and Recreation has yet to secure the $100,000 per park needed to pay for fences, trash cans and other improvements. 

Meanwhile, officials of the National Park Service are moving to close popular off-leash areas in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, such and Crissy Field. 





Fake police wanted 


SAN JOSE — Police are offering a $5,000 reward in the case of one or two men who, posing as police officers, have kidnapped and attempted to sexually assault three women since October. 

The suspects wore police-style belts, had handcuffs and, in at least one case, flashed a badge, asking the women to get into a car, said San Jose Police Sgt. Steve Dixon. 

In the first two incidents, the women fought their way out of the vehicle; the third victim — the only one to be kidnapped during daylight hours — was released after being driven around and fondled, Dixon said. 

The abductions occurred on Oct. 19, Dec. 31 and Jan. 7. 

In one incident, a 63-year-old woman was assaulted with pepper spray, punched and dragged into the car after she refused to voluntarily accompany the “officer.” 

The three victims described the impostors as white or Latin males in their 20s or 30s, about 6 feet tall and weighing between 190 and 250 pounds. The man in the first kidnapping drove a blue 1980s model, full-sized sedan. The other victims described the car as a white, four-door, older model sedan.