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Bill Macfadyen: Tragic Death at Retirement Home Draws Thousands of Readers

Best of Noozhawk 11.30.12 includes a fatal fall, the Melchiori downfall, a triumphant reunion, a miraculous glancing blow, and Kim Clark, our newest Noozhawk

By William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher | @noozhawk |

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Elderly Man Kills Self in Courtyard of Retirement Home

An 88-year-old man killed himself with a revolver Nov. 28 in the courtyard of the Vista del Monte retirement community on Modoc Road. Santa Barbara police said the man had left suicide notes indicating he was despondent about his failing health. The story drew several thousand reads and is continuing to drive traffic two days later.

» Click here for free suicide prevention resources that are available 24 hours a day.

2. UCSB Student Dies In Fall from Isla Vista Balcony

Mellissa Portillo, a 22-year-old UC Santa Barbara student, died early on Thanksgiving Day after falling from the balcony of an Isla Vista apartment. Portillo’s companion, Michael Kuster, also 22, fell as well and was hospitalized in stable condition.

Santa Barbara County sheriff’s officials said the initial investigation determined the incident appeared to be accidental, with Portillo and Kuster falling over a second-story stair railing at the apartment complex in the 6500 block of Cordoba Road. Alcohol may have been a factor in the accident, investigators say, but foul play is not suspected.

3. President of Melchiori Construction Target of Criminal Probe

The saga of Melchiori Construction Co. took another ominous turn when Noozhawk’s Lara Cooper reported Nov. 28 that company president Mark Melchiori is the subject of a criminal investigation.

Santa Barbara County sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Williams declined to tell Cooper what detectives are looking for, but the financial and legal woes of both Melchiori and his beleaguered company have been well-chronicled by her reporting. Since Noozhawk reported that the company had filed for bankruptcy and has been sued by former executive vice president Jean Mollenkopf, there has been persistent speculation about whether law enforcement would start poking around.

Mollenkopf’s lawsuit alleges she is owed $50,000 that she withdrew from her 401(k) account to help the company make payroll. Other former employees have made similar allegations.

Meanwhile, we’ve also published the list of Melchiori Construction’s creditors that was filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Click here for the complete list.

4. Santa Barbara Firefighter Honored with Award for Heroism for Saving Woman’s Life

Santa Barbara fire engineer Jack Franklin and Timorie Millender. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
Santa Barbara fire engineer Jack Franklin and Timorie Millender. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

In a touching reunion, Santa Barbara fire engineer Jack Franklin and EMT Timorie Millender were back together Nov. 27 for a ceremony at Fire Department headquarters. The occasion was the announcement that Franklin will be honored next month with the California Emergency Medical Services Authority’s Award for Heroism for his quick action to save Millender’s life.

Franklin and his family were leaving Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital one night last year when they came upon Millender, who had been struck by a speeding motorcyclist and was lying face-down in the middle of Patterson Avenue. Millender was crossing the street to report for work at the hospital when she was struck.

The impact of the collision propelled her 100 feet and ejected the motorcycle driver. While Franklin’s wife called 9-1-1, he began performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on Millender, who wasn’t breathing and was bleeding profusely.

Although Franklin didn’t realize it at the time, Millender had been one of his students in Santa Barbara City College’s Emergency Medical Technician program.

Millender is mostly recovered from her injuries, which included traumatic brain injury, a shattered pelvis and multiple fractures. The motorcyclist was hospitalized for a couple of weeks following the accident.

5. SUV Strikes 3-Year-Old Boy on Santa Barbara’s Eastside

A 3-year-old boy was hit by an SUV on the night of Nov. 27 when he ran into the street on Santa Barbara’s Eastside and was struck. Amazingly, although hospitalized, his injuries were not life-threatening.

Santa Barbara police say the youngster was with his family on the sidewalk in the 300 block of Salinas Street when he ran into the street. Police determined that the driver who hit him was not at fault and said alcohol was not involved.

                                                                  •        •        •

Just missing the Top Five was our story about Kim Clark joining the Noozhawk team as vice president of business development.

Kim Clark
Kim Clark

Clark will be responsible for our sales, marketing and promotions, as well as identifying and developing new products to help us better serve our clients and readers. She’s been on the job a week and already has made a difference with our planning process for 2013.

Her addition is part of our ambitious expansion plan, which includes a private investment offering to raise local capital for a growth spurt. We’re looking to add news resources on the South Coast while expanding to cover most of Santa Barbara County, upgrading our systems and introducing new products. I’m excited to say we’ve raised half of our funding and expect to close out the investment opportunity by the end of the year.

To underscore our commitment to Noozhawk, Clark and executive editor Tom Bolton are taking minority ownership positions in the company.

                                                                  •        •        •

There were 49,786 people who read Noozhawk this past week. If you value our unmatched breaking news and in-depth reporting on the issues that you care about, please support our experienced staff of professional journalists and help us continue to provide a vital forum for the community.

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Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




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» on 12.02.12 @ 01:07 PM

Oooohhhhh, I say we bring back the 80’s soap opera “Santa Barbara” & this could be the Season 1 Premier story line (& season 2,3,4….lol)...Wow! What a tragedy….So Sadddd.

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