Greetings from Chicago, where I’m attending the third annual Block by Block Community News Summit. An initiative of Michele McLellan of the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism and The Patterson Foundation, BxB is a network for online, professional news pioneers like Noozhawk.
This is my first BxB conference and it’s been great to connect in person with so many of my fellow publishers. Although I’m pretty close with my longtime pals, Tracey Taylor of Berkeleyside, Elizabeth Larson of Lake County News and Brandy Tuzon Boyd of Natomas Buzz, most of the folks here I know only through our very active Facebook group.
That’s about to change, however, as we’ve just formed LION, an association of Local Independent Online News publishers, and are having our first family meeting this weekend. LION grew out of the Authentically Local alliance we founded last year, and we’re excited to establish a structure to help our more than 100 hyperlocal news websites develop and blossom as the New Media concept matures.
We at Noozhawk are privileged to be part of this organization and we’re thrilled to see our industry getting the recognition and support for which we’ve all been striving. Stay tuned for more details.
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What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?
A Santa Monica man apparently leaped to his death from the Cold Spring Canyon Bridge last week, despite a controversial barrier that had been installed atop the span in an attempt to prevent such incidents.
Santa Barbara County sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Williams said the body of Peter Stefan Roycewicz, 30, was found below the bridge. His car was parked along Highway 154 near the structure.
“There were no witnesses, so we don’t know exactly how he got over/past the barrier,” Williams said.
The subject of a fierce community debate that shows no sign of fading, the $3.2 million Cold Spring Canyon Bridge suicide barrier was completed in March. Public-safety and mental-health officials hailed the construction of the nearly 10-foot-tall barrier, saying it would help prevent suicides at the bridge and keep first responders safe. The Friends of the Bridge citizens group filed a CEQA-related civil challenge over Caltrans’ public review process and the mesh barrier’s design. The challenge delayed the project for a year, but Caltrans prevailed and construction began in January.
After the news of the latest death, Noozhawk readers were quick to weigh in.
“How ironic,” commented John Locke. “Millions of dollars of ugly spoiling one of the most beautiful view around and still didn’t work.”
Taking the opposite view was johndog.
“$3.2M to save lives is a worthwhile investment,” johndog wrote. “I applaud the folks that fought for years for this barrier to be built. No one ever claimed that it would be 100% effective - a person dead-set on suicide is going to accomplish it one way or another. But, research shows that such barriers do help prevent opportunistic suicides when an attractive method presents itself. Barriers buy time for further reflection and possible intervention.”
Click here to add your voice to the debate.
Click here for free suicide prevention resources that are available 24 hours a day.
Hundreds of sailors and officers of the USS Halsey blanketed Santa Barbara last weekend during a four-day port call. While the crew was ashore, just as many curious locals boarded the ship for a tour of the guided-missile destroyer.
Hosted by the Santa Barbara Navy League, the Halsey’s crew played softball with the Santa Barbara police and fire departments, visited seniors at Villa Santa Barbara and was feted at an “Honor and Remember” reception atop the Reagan Ranch Center.
A pedestrian was fatally injured after being struck by a van when he walked onto Hollister Avenue west of Santa Barbara the night of Sept. 11, authorities said.
The California Highway Patrol said Juan Pablo Salinas, 57, of Santa Barbara, was driving west on Hollister in a Chevy van when he hit the pedestrian near North Arboleda Road. The victim — later identified as Paul Wolden, a 60-year-old transient — was treated at the scene but died of his injuries at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
The CHP investigation is continuing, but authorities say alcohol is not believed to have been a factor with Salinas.
An inspiring Olive Grove Charter School teacher from Santa Barbara was struck and killed by a car Sept. 8 while visiting family in Walnut Creek.
Authorities say Sherry Hicks, 52, was walking with her husband, Jeff, and their son and daughter-in-law when a motorist drove onto the sidewalk and hit them. Hicks was propelled 80 feet and was pronounced dead at the scene. Her daughter-in-law was severely injured in the collision. The driver was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and police are awaiting toxicology reports to determine whether alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash.
Hicks was a longtime teacher at Olive Grove Charter School, which has several school sites and provides resources to home-schooled students throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. She specialized in math and worked with home-schooled high school students who were also taking classes at Santa Barbara City College in its dual enrollment program.
“A dedicated teacher, Sherry poured herself into her work and personally shepherded many Olive Grove students around the SBCC campus,” Marsha Filbin, superintendent of the Los Olivos School District, said in a statement.
“Deeply committed to the dual enrollment program, Sherry was infectiously enthusiastic about her students’ many accomplishments and worked hard to assist them in reaching their goals. Talented, vibrant, a wonderfully loving and supportive person, a treasured wife and mother, Sherry touched many lives.”
Services are pending.
Reportedly distraught over a breakup with his girlfriend, a 19-year-old man apparently leaped off an Isla Vista bluff about 1:30 a.m. Oct. 12. A friend, also 19, jumped after him in an attempt to save him, authorities said. Both men landed on the beach, where they were rescued by Santa Barbara County firefighters.
The first man suffered moderate injuries in the 30-foot fall from the cliff along Del Playa Drive, according to firefighters. The second received only minor injuries. Authorities say alcohol was involved.
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