Santa Barbara-Goleta, Wednesday, May 27, 2015

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Refugio Oil Spill Command Operation Outgrows County’s Emergency Operations Center

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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More than 200 personnel involved in the cleanup effort are overtaxing the Cathedral Oaks Road building, with a move to another facility expected by Friday

The Refugio oil-spill response effort appears to have outgrown Santa Barbara County’s Emergency Operations Center, county Emergency Management Director Ryan Rockabrand told the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The majority of the incident command personnel now at the EOC will move to another facility on Friday, Rockabrand said.

About 200 to 250 people have been working out of the EOC to coordinate cleanup response efforts after the May 19 oil spill that sent thousands of gallons of crude oil out of a pipeline, through a culvert, over coastal bluffs and into the ocean near Refugio State Beach on the Gaviota Coast.

Plains All American Pipeline, the company responsible for the Line 901 pipe that transports crude oil from Las Flores Canyon to Gaviota, is involved in the spill response, and was asked to find an appropriate command post location, but the two proposed spots were inadequate, Rockabrand said.

After that, the county offered up the EOC, which was used starting at 6 a.m. May 20 and is now “literally bursting at the seams” as more resources respond to the area, he said.

Representatives from federal and state agencies thanked the Board of Supervisors for use of the EOC, saying the response would not be going as well without use of that facility.

Private security has been controlling the driveway leading up to the EOC at 4408 Cathedral Oaks Road. and turned away county supervisors from the area multiple times.

“I think over 250 people are at the site, and I know security was a concern, but I didn’t appreciate the fact I couldn’t get into the building because Plains representatives stopped me at the gate,” Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf said. “I want to make sure those types of things don’t happen again.”

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said she was also stopped twice.

“When three people stopped me in the EOC lobby, I pointed to my picture on the wall and said, ‘That’s me.’”

Federal, state and county agencies are all included in the incident command, and after the big move, Santa Barbara County’s Office of Emergency Management will continue operating the EOC at full-scale activation status to handle the county’s response to the incident, Rockabrand said.

The OEM will be “shoulder to shoulder” with the county Fire Department for the county’s command of the incident, he said.

County Fire personnel were the first responders to the spill and called in hand crews to start damming operations to keep oil from reaching the ocean, Fire Chief Eric Peterson said.

There was some “red tape” to get through during the first few days of the response, but now the county Fire Department is involved in the unified command and directly with clean-up response efforts, he said.

Two hand crews of 12 are doing clean-up operations in the field, and more fire personnel are acting as field observers to provide local knowledge for the U.S. Coast Guard, Peterson said.

Many other departments are involved in the response, and Santa Barbara County will be compensated by Plains for staff time spent on the oil spill response effort, County Counsel Dennis Ghizzoni said.

The Oil Pollution Act of 1990, an update to the Clean Water Act, outlines strict liability by the responsible party for removal costs and damages after a spill, he said.

There is an active claims line at 866.753.3619.

The claims process should be “beefed up” to let people know they can file partial claims now, without giving up the right to file additional claims later, Ghizzoni said.

The county told the unified command about its concerns, and there should be a more robust claims procedure soon, he said.

Businesses including kayak tour companies, hotels and commercial fishermen could all file partial claims now to take care of cash-flow problems week to week, Ghizzoni said.

Potential claims can deal with removal costs; natural resources; real or personal property; subsistence use; governmental revenue; profits and earning capacity; and government/public services, he said.

Governments that see a decrease in transient occupancy tax from beach closures can file a claim, as can businesses harmed by a shutdown or people turned away from closed beaches and no-fishing zones, Ghizzoni said.

People who fish for their own food can also file claims due to the fishery closure, he said.

The active fishery closure forbids fishing and taking shellfish in the general area between Gaviota and Coal Oil Point, up to seven miles out to sea. California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials are patrolling the shoreline and in a boat to enforce the closure and educate people, warden Santos Cabral said.

California Department of Fish & Wildlife officers intercept a commercial fishing vessel that was actively fishing in an area closed due to the Refugio State Beach oil spill. (California Department of Fish & Wildlife photo)

The patrol boat has already come across a commercial fishing vessel that had a load of crabs – which they were forced to dump overboard back into the ocean – and a commercial trawling vessel out of Santa Barbara Harbor, Cabral said.

Coast Guard Capt. Jennifer Williams said the federal government mobilized resources as fast as possible using the oil spill liability trust fund, and the agencies will bill Plains later.

Few details about the investigation have been mentioned since there could be civil or criminal penalties as a result of the spill, she said Tuesday.

“I believe there is an interest in this for all possible types of enforcement action,” Williams said.

To submit comments about the oil spill to the county directly, email [email protected]

There will be a community open house held for anyone with questions about the oil spill response on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Elks Lodge at 150 N. Kellogg Ave. 

To register for training and volunteer to help clean-up efforts, visit the CalSpillWatch website or contact the volunteer hotline at 1.800.228.4544. 

The Arroyo Burro and Goleta county beaches are “in good shape,” assistant county executive officer Renée Bahl said, with temporary signs warning people to avoid oil if they see it.

There have been formal clean-up crews at some Goleta-area beaches, including Haskell’s and Ellwood beaches, but it’s still unclear if the amount of oil found near those areas is related to the spill or natural seepage.

Sensitive areas have been boomed off down to the Devereux Slough, according to the county, and there has been light oiling as far east as Coal Oil Point. Those spots are being targeted for removal as needed.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Santa Barbara County Supervisors Continue Questioning Plans for North County Jail Operations

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Santa Barbara County may go out to bid for the new Northern Branch County Jail and Sheriff’s Transition and Reentry Complex projects next week, but the Board of Supervisors still has serious reservations about the plan to staff and operate the expanded custody system.

Sheriff Bill Brown and his department have been granted almost $120 million in construction funding from the state, which represents about 90 percent of the estimated costs. It’s the higher operating costs of staffing the new facilities, in addition to staffing at least a portion of the run-down Santa Barbara County Main Jail, that have county leaders concerned.

Budget director Tom Alvarez said the new jail will have 376 rated beds and an increased operational cost of $16.8 million per year after the planned Main Jail closures, and the STAR Complex would have an additional $1.4 million cost and 228 rated beds.

Supervisors voted to keep moving forward with the projects and will have a consultant look into the operating costs numbers. They also asked for more information about the mental health programming available in the new facilities, since it won’t be licensed as a treatment facility but will have special needs housing for inmates with medical or mental health needs.  

The STAR Complex is meant to have more programs and services available to inmates to help them transition back into the community, including substance abuse counseling, housing placement and legal assistance, according to the sheriff’s department.

Supervisors voted to keep moving forward with both projects for now, though it doesn’t commit them to approving them in the end.

Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf voted against moving forward with the STAR Complex, saying she doesn’t believe it will only cost $1.4 million more to operate it and questions whether the county has the need for those additional beds since daily populations have been dropping.

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said her major reasons to pursue a new jail — overcrowding, a state-of-the-art facility to deal with health and mental health issues (since eliminated from the design) and parameters laying out ongoing operational costs — have gotten “shakier” over time as the project and cost estimates change.

The new jail, which will be located on county-owned land at Black and Betteravia roads outside Santa Maria, will house 376 inmates and the adjacent STAR complex will house another 228.

Brown was confronted at an April Board of Supervisors meeting for not presenting a plan for what to do with the Main Jail after the new facilities open, so he came back with a timeline at Tuesday’s meeting.

Operating costs for the custody system will be higher for every housing area of the Main Jail that stays open because of staffing expenses, so the sheriff’s department proposes closing the basement dorms and the Medium Security Facility (formerly the Honor Farm for low-level offenders) to transfer some staff north. The county would also close the small Santa Maria Branch Jail.

Even with those changes, the new custody system is expected to cost $18 million more than the current system in the first year of operation (likely 2018-19) if facilities are at full capacity, with costs going up every year with inflation and salary increases. The proposed budget for the 2015-16 year to operate the custody system, alternative sentencing and transportation to court is $46.7 million, according to the sheriff’s department.

The cost increase includes 109 more custody staffing positions for a net increase of 352 “rated” beds, recognized by the Board of State and Community Corrections as meeting minimum standards, according to the sheriff’s department.

However, the custody system has 1,143 actual beds now, so the 1,199 total beds after the expansion and closing some areas of the Main Jail will be an increase of 56 actual beds.

Brown emphasized the decades-long need for a new jail, pointing to the safety issues in the jail, the lack of programming space and past overcrowding issues that led his department to convert converted conference rooms and storage areas into housing dorms.

Daily inmate populations have decreased, partly due to historically low crime rates and legislative changes, but the county is still running above what’s considered it’s official capacity of 847 “rated” beds, said Laz Salinas, chief deputy in charge of the custody branch. Tuesday’s population was 872 inmates.

Custody staff and inmates are frequently assaulted with 200 inmate-on-inmate assaults in 2014 and an average of one assault every 30 hours in 2013, Salinas told the board.

Brown called the jail an “embarrassment to Santa Barbara County” and urged supervisors to support moving forward. They will consider going out to bid next week, and the last chance to back out of construction of either the Northern Branch Jail or the STAR Complex is when they would award a bid, according to county counsel.

Law enforcement leaders from Santa Maria, Lompoc and Guadalupe spoke in support of the new jail complex, saying it hurts their departments to have officers spend hours to transport inmates down to Santa Barbara. It helps inmates to be housed closer to home, so they can get the family and community support they need while in custody and after they are released, Guadalupe Police Chief Gary Hoving said. 

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Grassroots Effort Fixes Up Veterans Memorial Building in Lompoc

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Through grants and donations, the community leads the effort to restore the historic structure to its former grandeur

Lompoc residents celebrated the near-completion of a grassroots effort to restore the Veterans Memorial Building, a mission led by a local woman who called herself the project’s pit bull.

“There isn’t a room in this building that we haven’t touched,” said Alice Milligan, a retired educator who spearheaded the renovation efforts including rallying veterans groups to band together.

The Lompoc Veterans Memorial Building, which sits on Locust Avenue at the southern end of South H Street, was built in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration structure. 

Started seven years ago and with a cost of $1.8 million, the project involved restoring the 20,000-square-foot building to its former grandeur after what some say was years of neglect by the county.

Milligan remembered former county supervisor Joni Gray asking her to spearhead the renovation project.

“Without Alice’s vision and as president of the restoration foundation we would never have been able to accomplish this, so Alice, thank you,” Mayor Bob Lingl said.

More than 125 people attended a celebration of the project Monday and marveled at the dramatically-improved facility. 

“A job well done,” one told Milligan.

“You did a really nice job here. Nobody could have done what you did,” another visitor told Milligan.

“Oh, yeah, somebody could have. They call me a pit bull,” Milligan said.

“I remember when you started that project I said, ‘That is overwhelming’ to you,” Mary Braun later told Milligan.

An outdoor ceremony celebrated the near-completion of the Lompoc Veterans Memorial Building's renovation over the past seven years. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

To complete the project, the Lompoc Veterans Memorial Building Restoration Foundation formed, led by Milligan who served as the general leading the various groups of veterans that use the facility into battle.

“I’ve gotten nothing but cooperation from them,” she said.

In addition to grants, several major donors helped ensure the project could be completed.

Through the years, workers have repaired and added new roof tiles, removed asbestos on the roof, upgraded and remodeled restrooms including making the women’s facilities three times larger, replaced electrical wiring and new breaker boxes plus installed a new fire alarm system, painted the interior, added acoustical tiles to the auditorium, purchased new drapes and curtains, remodeled the kitchen with Santa Barbara County purchasing new appliances installed by Home Depot, refurbished furniture and more. 

Of course, Milligan isn’t ready to call it completed, estimating there’s still 1 percent to finish. 

She wants to add a one-person elevator so people can safely access the upstairs. She hopes to get a grant to hire an acoustic engineer to check out the noisy auditorium.

“It’s still very noisy,”she said.

She envisions adding arches to the stage despite being told it wasn’t historically accurate.

“I haven’t given up on that,” she said. 

She noted several who helped with the project, including Frank Grube, the foundation’s treasurer and author of a book, Lompoc Veterans Memorial Building.

She also announced she had county approval to name the kitchen in honor of Don and Adele Ramirez for their roles in the keeping the kitchen “sparkling like a jewel.”

"It’s their building. It’s their kitchen,” Milligan said.

More recently, the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex joined the effort, providing valuable inmate labor for the project.

Alice Milligan poses with the children and grandchildren of Lompoc federal prison inmate Fulton Leroy Washington, who painted three murals that now adorn walls in the newly renovated Lompoc Veterans Memorial Building. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“If we had to pay for all the labor that we received from the Bureau of Prisons we just couldn’t do it. All we had to do was ask,” Milligan said, calling the inmates “delightful to work with.”

Federal prison inmate Fulton Leroy Washington also painted three murals — featuring the seals of military branches, the Honda Point naval disaster and Iwo Jima flag raising — for the facility’s Trophy Room, Banquet Room and kitchen.

Memorial building supporters offered their thanks to the inmate, who wasn't at the ceremony, “for your great ability to vision such wonderful paintings depicting America’s veterans.”

However, his children and grandchildren attended Monday’s dedication ceremony. 

Several lawmakers, including Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam and a representative of Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian presented proclamations to prison officials and the foundation.

After presenting proclamations on behalf of her boss, Joyce Howerton, aide to State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, recalled the many years Lompoc has sought to restore the building.

“I don’t think anyone could imagine that we would see the building today that we see in the condition it’s in,” Howerton, a former mayor, said.

“It is truly beautiful. This is a historic landmark that will be here, long after all of us today are gone, to honor the people that died in battle, the veterans that stood and came home and the community at large. Each and every one of us will benefit for the rest of our lives for the work this committee did and we could not be more grateful.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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San Diego Cyclist Dies of Injuries Suffered in Lompoc Crash

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Kevin Childre of San Diego died of injuries he suffered May 20 in a cycling accident in Lompoc. (Facebook photo)

A San Diego bicyclist and U.S. Navy veteran who was critically injured in a crash last week in Lompoc has died, according to his family.

Members of the Santa Diego-based club of competitive biking enthusiasts with military ties are mourning the loss of their leader, Kevin Childre, who lived in the Santa Diego area.

The injured rider was flown by a Santa Barbara County helicopter to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment shortly after the May 20 accident, which occurred just before 11 a.m. at the Wye area near the northern entrance of the city.

Crews from the Lompoc fire and police departments responded to the incident, which police said involved the injured riding colliding with another cyclist.

His family announced his death the day after the crash to friends on social media.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we must tell you that Kevin suffered a horrendous crash on his bicycle, and the injuries to his brain were too severe to battle,” his family posted on his Facebook page. “It was a nothing little accident, the kind that is so common with cyclists.

"He'd been having a great day on the bike, feeling strong and fit and was with awesome friends. There was no pain.”

The cyclists belong to a private bicycle group called Paladar Navy Cycling Club, whose riders were traveling from San Francisco to San Diego, a 630-mile route that began Sunday and was set to finish Friday.

The Navy Cycling Club is not affiliated with the military, but is made up of current service members, military retirees and civilian bicyclists from the San Diego area. 

Childre served in the Navy and reportedly reached the rank of commander.

In lieu of flowers, Childre’s family has asked that donations be made to the EOD Warrior Foundation via a donation page in his memory.

“His family asks that you remember the Kevin who adored his dog, remember his smile of delight when he saw you walking up, remember his love of pizza, and of Starbucks chai teas. Think of his voice describing an exceptional climb on the bike, swearing in yet another sailor re-enlisting, laughing at anything, everything," the donation page says. "His triumphs, accomplishments are too numerous to begin to list. But this was a man who loved his family, his country, his fellow EOD brothers and sisters, and so many others."

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Santa Barbara Junior Counselor Program Gives Tweens Summer Fun Options, Too

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Is your child too old for camp? Check out these youth leadership programs for tweens and young adults

The City of Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department offers the largest catalog of camps for youth sports, arts and crafts, nature discovery camps, and more for the summer time. However, did you know that the biggest request from parents is programs for young people ages 12 to 17?

These “tweens” or “young adults” might not have many apparent options for their summer hours. Terry Brown, director of the Parks & Recreation Department, works very hard to make sure that enriching and fun programming is available for kids who are too old to be a camper.

“We try to provide as many programs for tweens during those really important discretionary hours of summer,” she said. “We promote it as a youth leadership opportunity. (When they are done with a session) we can provide letters of recommendation for them and give them community service hours.”

The City of Santa Barbara itself provides three big programs for young adults to increase their leadership skills.

The first is the Junior Counselor Program through the Parks & Recreation Department, in which tweens help supervise campers in the summer camps. Junior counselors get leadership training, which includes learning how to give good instructions, how to make positive requests and how to settle disputes between campers.

“A lot of junior counselors were campers at one point, which is great because they already know the culture of the camps,” Brown said.

Another program that promotes leadership in Santa Barbara teens is the Santa Barbara Youth Council. The council is an advisory board made up of teens from all parts of the community. They identify issues that concern local youth and make recommendations to the Santa Barbara City Council and related committees and boards.

Some of these concerns include bullying, e-cigarettes and the education gap in Santa Barbara.

“These young people get a voice, just like the rest of the adults,” said Susan Young, director of the Youth Council.

Youth Council members meet two times a month and get invaluable experience in communication, teamwork, leadership and community service.

Another program the city provides is the Youth Employment Training Program, also known as the Youth Apprenticeship Program. This job-placement program provides opportunities for at-risk young people ages 14 to 21 to get work experience as an employee of the city or an affiliated business or organization. Many of these young adults have faced challenges such as broken homes, undergoing probation or mental health issues.

“Supervisors at the assigned job sites understand these challenges that the students go through,” said Ricardo Venegas, director of the Youth Apprenticeship Program and Franklin Neighborhood Center. “Students then have a mentor and guide throughout the process.”

Many youth apprentices end up getting permanent positions with their program employers. In 2014, 22 of the 37 participants made the transition to a permanent job from their assigned employer from the apprenticeship.

While these three programs put a big emphasis on leadership and hard work, their directors always aim for participants to have fun.

Click the links below to learn more about these city programs:

» Junior Counselor Program

» Youth Council

» Youth Employment Training Program. Email Ricardo Venegas or call 805.897.2582.

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Santa Barbara Man Accused of Stabbing Ex-Girlfriend’s Boyfriend

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Daniel Adam Jasso

A Santa Barbara man is facing felony charges after allegedly stabbing a man his ex-girlfriend is now dating, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.

Daniel Adam Jasso, 24, was arrested Monday on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a 24-year-old Goleta man, stemming from an altercation that occurred the previous night, said police Sgt. Riley Harwood.

Officers responded shortly before midnight Sunday to a report of a domestic disturbance involving a woman screaming in an apartment in the 400 block of West Padre Street, Harwood said.

"Upon arrival, they contacted the female resident of the apartment and the aforementioned victim, who was suffering from a laceration to his left arm and a puncture wound to his chest," Harwood said. "The suspect, Jasso, had fled the scene."

Investigators determined that the victim and the woman who lives in the apartment are dating, Harwood said.

"At the time of the incident, Jasso, apparently angry that his ex-girlfriend was in a new relationship, went to the apartment to confront both her and the victim," Harwood said. "When Jasso was refused entry into the apartment and told to leave, he subsequently pushed his way in through the front door.

"Jasso and the victim then fought inside the apartment, during which time Jasso stabbed the victim."

Detectives obtained a $30,000 arrest warrant for Jasso, and a search warrant for his apartment in the 1200 block of Gillespie Street.

Jasso was taken into custody at 10 a.m. Monday at his workplace in the first block of West Cabrillo Boulevard, Harwood said.

He was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Farmworker Airlifted to Santa Barbara Hospital After Stabbing Near Guadalupe; Co-Worker Arrested

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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A farmworker stabbed multiple times by a coworker in a field west of Guadalupe was airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested a field worker, Ricky Chavolla, 21, following a stabbing at 1:30 p.m. in the 6800 block of West Main Street, west of Guadalupe, according to Kelly Hoover, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman.

Officers from the Guadalupe Police Department responded to the incident and later handed the case over to sheriff’s deputies since it happened outside city limits, Public Safety Director Gary Hoving said.

Guadalupe police located Chavolla sitting on the side of the road, not far from where the stabbing occurred, Hoover said.

“At this point, it appears the victim and the suspect were unknown to each other and the stabbing appears to have been unprovoked,” Hoover said.

Chavolla, a transient from the Santa Maria area, was on his first day of a job cutting broccoli, Hoover added.

The 24-year-old Santa Maria man who was stabbed was in serious condition when he was taken by CalSTAR air ambulance to the hospital but is expected to survive his injuries, Hoover added.

She said Chavolla will be booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of attempted homicide.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Transient Jailed After Altercation in Santa Barbara

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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A transient was arrested Tuesday after an altercation with two city community-service liaisons in downtown Santa Barbara.

Gerard Gutierrez Jr., 33, was taken into custody following the incident, said Sgt. Riley Harwood of the Santa Barbara Police Department.

The incident began at about 12:50 p.m. when the two liaisons, wearing their trademark yellow shirts, encountered Gutierrez on State Street, Harwood said.

Gutierez was intoxicated and disturbing people on the street, Harwood said, and was urged by the liaisons to leave the area.

He did, but was observed a few minutes later near Chapala and Figueroa streets throwing a water bottle at a passing vehicle, Harwood said.

The liaisons detained Gutierrez and called police officers to the scene.

"While standing by, he got very agitated, and subsequently punched and spit on one of them," Harwood said. "They grabbed him and held on, and a citizen called for help."

Gutierrez also allegedly kicked one of the officers who responded, but no injuries occurred, Harwood said.

Gutierrez was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on misdemeanor charges of battery and battery on a police officer, Harwood said.

Bail was set at $2,500.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Jackson’s Equal Pay Bill Passes Unanimously Off Senate Floor

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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A bill by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to close the wage gap that women face at work passed off the Senate floor on a unanimous, bipartisan vote today. The vote was 38-0.

Senate Bill 358, the California Fair Pay Act, would ensure that women are paid equally for work that is substantially similar to the work of their male colleagues, and do not face retaliation if they discuss or ask how much their male colleagues are paid. If signed into law, it would be the strongest equal pay law in the nation.

“Equal pay isn’t just the right thing for women, it’s the right thing for our economy and for California. And it is long overdue. Families rely on women’s income more than ever before. Because of the wage gap, our state and families are missing out on $33.6 billion a year," Jackson said. “That money could be flowing into families’ pocketbooks, into our businesses and our economy. After years of dealing with a persistent wage gap, the time is now for women’s paychecks to finally reflect their hard work and true value. It is time that we fix the wage gap that women face at work once and for all, and lead the nation in showing how it can be done.”

The bill has the support of dozens of organizations, including a broad spectrum of labor groups, women’s and legal advocacy organizations, and local government. Although they were initially opposed, the bill also now has the support of the California Chamber of Commerce and is unopposed by the California business community.

"The California Chamber of Commerce is pleased to support SB 358 which seeks to reduce any disparity in pay based upon gender.  We agree with Senator Jackson that employees who are similarly situated should receive the same rate of pay for performing substantially similar job duties, ” said Jennifer Barrera, policy advocate with the California Chamber of Commerce.

The bill would go further than the federal Equal Pay Act in a number of ways:

» It would prohibit retaliation against employees who discuss or ask about pay at work.

» It would allow employees to challenge pay discrimination based on wages paid to other workers at different worksites of the same employer. For example, a female grocery store clerk who works at a store could challenge higher wages being made by male grocery store clerks at a store owned by the same employer just a few miles away.

» Employees could challenge pay discrimination based on wages paid to those doing substantially similar work. For example, a female housekeeper who cleans rooms in a hotel could challenge the higher wages being paid to a male janitor who cleans the lobby and banquet halls.

» It would require employers to show that differences in wages are due to factors other than gender, that the factor is job-related and reasonable, and that these factors — rather than discrimination — account for the difference in pay. For example, if a male chef is making more money than a female chef because he works weekend shifts, the employer would have to show that the weekend shifts are busier and require more work and account for the difference in wages. In addition, the employer would have to prove that the weekend shift position was open to all chefs, and that the employer hired the male chef because he was the most qualified or willing to work the shifts.

In 2013, a woman in California working full-time made a median 84 cents to every dollar a man earned, according to the Equal Rights Advocates, co-sponsors of the bill. The gap is significantly greater for women of color. Latinas in California make only 44 cents for every dollar a white man makes, the most significant Latina wage gap in the nation. African-American women are only paid 64 cents on the dollar. As a group, women who are employed full-time in California lose approximately $33.6 billion every year due to the wage gap.

Jackson is chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus. SB 358 is one of the bills prioritized by the California Legislative Women’s Caucus this year as part of a package titled, “A Stronger California: Securing Economic Opportunity for All Women.” The package of budget recommendations and bills is designed to advance women’s economic opportunities as the state rebounds from the economic downturn.

SB 358 now heads to the Assembly.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.

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Letter to the Editor: Empowering High-Schoolers to Save Lives

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Sometimes, we expect too little from the youth in our community. Amidst the schoolwork, hanging out with friends, listening to music and going to football games, it can seem like they’re busy, distracted or just otherwise disengaged. But the truth is the next generation is capable of so much more, and we should expect it. Our lives may depend on it.

Shawn Sanchez would agree with me. It was not by superhuman effort or miraculous fortune that Sanchez was able to save the life of his 9-month-old daughter, but by simple preparedness. One day he decided to take a CPR course not knowing he would ever need it. Then something happened.

Sanchez said his wife was preparing to take their daughter to the doctor while he was getting ready for work, and Kinley, fighting bronchitis, seemed to be struggling for breath. He recalled quickly deciding they would go to the emergency room, and before the family was in the car, Kinley took an alarming turn for the worse — she stopped breathing

“I ran over, just put her on the ground and started doing CPR, and I gave my wife my phone to call 9-1-1 while I was doing CPR,” Sanchez said.

He guessed it was something like three minutes before his daughter revived with a whimper, and they raced to the closest emergency department they could think of, which gave the child oxygen until an ambulance arrived.

Today, Sanchez hopes more parents and even his daughter — when she gets older — take the same feasible precautions and sign up for a CPR class.

Our lawmakers have a bill before them that could create a generation of lifesavers in Assembly Bill 319 (Rodriguez) by requiring hands-on CPR training before high school graduation.

The American Red Cross along with the American Heart Association sponsors this bill. We believe it is time our community became CPR Smart and built CPR training into the high school curriculum. If we equip more high-schoolers with the lifesaving power of CPR, we will hear more stories like Shawn’s, and not the tragic stories of those who died of cardiac arrest because CPR was administered too late.

Are there enough lifesavers in our community to make sure CPR is delivered in time? Today, I’m afraid the answer is no. But if we trained every high school student in CPR, we’d be adding thousands of lifesavers to the community.

So what do you believe high schoolers are capable of? Good grades? A winning game? A fun band concert or theater production? We believe they are capable of saving a life. Already, high-schoolers have saved hundreds of lives around the country, and I think they could save thousands more if only given the training.

The solution is in our hands, by asking the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown to bring CPR training to our high schools. The hands that may or may not save your life belong to the students in a high school near you.

Jessica Piffero
American Red Cross-Central California Region

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Lompoc Police Issuing Tickets to Residents Caught in the Act — of Doing Good

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Wild West Pizza owner Dave Goldy donates hundreds of vouchers for free pizzas to launch the new 'Positive Ticketing Program' to help boost community engagement

Police are nabbing Lompoc residents in the act of doing something good — and issuing tickets that bring rewards not fines. 

Wild West Pizza & Grill owner Dave Goldy donated hundreds of vouchers for a free personal pizza with one topping to launch the Lompoc Police Department’s “Positive Ticketing Program.”

Police officers who see residents doing something good, such as youths wearing proper safety gear while skateboarding and bike-riding, are stopping them in the act and issuing a positive ticket. 

“When he contacted me, I thought this was great,” Lompoc Police Chief Pat Walsh said. “It’s good for the officers, too. There’s not a lot of goodwill in national discourse right now between police and communities.”

The job of a police officer can be filled with negativity, he noted.

“We’re not responding to happy things most of the time,” he added.

Walsh, who is in his first year leading the Lompoc agency, said he knew of similar programs at his former department where 7-Eleven coupons were given out.

His officers are happy to have positive tickets to present to residents, he said, adding the agency is being judicious in handing them out.

“This gives us an opportunity to just do something nice. It also gives us an opportunity for officers to have a nice pleasant conversation with somebody,” he said.

Additionally, the agency is keeping a ledger to track distribution of tickets to halt any rumors the freebies are going to the children of department staff, the chief said.

LPD positive
Lompoc Police Chief Pat Walsh holds citations that will be handed out to youths and adults doing positive things. The citations can be redeemed for a free personal pizza from Wild West Pizza. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Since word of the program has spread, Goldy said the response from his customers and neighbors has been great.

“By giving back to the community we get it back, too,” Goldy said. “It’s a win-win all around.”

Wild West Pizza has been a big supporter of the River Bend Bike Park and asked officers to especially keep an eye out for cyclists doing their part to keep the site clean.

An article about the program appeared on conservative political commentator Glenn Beck’s website, and immediately drew criticism the program will lead to illegal stops.

But Goldy said he already talked to Lompoc police, who said the positive tickets will be handed over during casual contacts with community members and can’t be used as a guise to pull someone over.

“That’s why it’s focused more on children than adults,” Goldy said. 

He also has heard from representatives of Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto show wanting to talk about the Positive Ticketing Program.

Walsh said officers won’t hesitate to issue positive tickets to deserving adults encountered during regular interactions. 

The Positive Ticketing Program also fits one of the chief’s goals of boosting community engagement so residents know the Lompoc police cares about their town. 

“I’m still relatively new here and this is just such a giving town,” Walsh said. “I really like Lompoc. This is very typical of Lompoc.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Construction to Require Highway 101 Lane Closures in Santa Maria This Week

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Crandall Construction, under contract with the City of Santa Maria, will be performing construction work adjacent to northbound Highway 101 this Wednesday and Thursday, May 27-28.

The intermittent closure is required to move equipment, and will affect the northbound right-hand lane of Highway 101 between Main Street and Donovan Road during the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Statewide Safety will be facilitating the lane closure.

The city and Caltrans recommend that drivers obey all temporary construction traffic control signs and flaggers, and use alternate routes whenever possible to avoid delays in travel time.

Contact the Utilities Department with questions at 805.925.0951 x7270.

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William Filippin to Join Community West Bank as Executive VP, Market President

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Filippin
William Filippin

Community West Bancshares, parent company of Community West Bank, announced that William Filippin will join the bank as executive vice president and market president for the San Luis Obispo County area on June 1.

“We are excited and privileged to have Bill join our executive team. With over 20 years of executive level experience in San Luis Obispo County, Bill brings significant commercial banking expertise and provides additional capabilities and depth to our executive team as we develop our plans for future growth and expansion,” said Martin Plourd, president and chief executive officer. “Bill’s successful career and local market knowledge will make him a valuable asset to our bank.

"We are very excited to be part of the San Luis Obispo County community and offer our banking services to this new market as we continue to expand our footprint along the Central Coast.”

Prior to joining the company, Filippin served with Heritage Oaks Bank (and Mission Community Bank until it was merged into Heritage Oaks Bank in February 2014) as market area president from March 2012 to May 2015; executive vice president and chief credit officer from August 2010 to March 2012; and senior vice president and credit administrator from April 2009 to August 2010.

Filippin is a founding member of the Paso Robles Optimist Club, served as president of the Paso Robles Kiwanis Club and chairman of the Arroyo Grande Chamber of Commerce.

He holds a business management degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and is a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

— Jennifer Goddard Combs is a publicist representing Community West Bank.

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Capps Reintroduces Legislation to Ensure Additional Protection, Preservation of Federal Lands

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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On Tuesday, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, announced the reintroduction of the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, legislation that would protect 245,665 acres of new and expanded wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument, strengthen protections for wild and scenic rivers, and designate a new national recreational trail.

Sen. Barbara Boxer introduced companion legislation in the Senate for the first time last week.

Among the bill’s highlights is the creation of the Condor National Recreation Trail, which would provide the opportunity to hike approximately 400 miles along the spine of the coastal range from Los Angeles County to the northernmost point of the Los Padres National Forest in Monterey County.

The bill would also create four new wilderness areas and expand nine existing wilderness areas. The wilderness designation is the highest form of protection the government can give to public land. The act would also designate two new scenic areas totaling 34,512 acres in the Black Mountain area and Condor Ridge above the Gaviota Coast and Santa Barbara.

“We are fortunate that the Central Coast is home to some of the most diverse habitats and ecosystems in North America — a national treasure right here in our own backyard," Capps said. “Last week’s oil spill is a tragic reminder of how important these special places are to our community and we have a responsibility to protect them for future generations. This legislation promotes both responsible use and long term protection for these treasured public lands and I am so pleased to be reintroducing this important legislation in Congress.”

“The Central Coast has some of the most magnificent and pristine areas in the entire country,” Sen. Boxer said. “I am proud to join Congresswoman Capps in introducing this bill, which will preserve nearly 250,000 acres of wild and beautiful lands so they can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Capps worked for more than a year with local stakeholders to develop a consensus bill with broad support. The bill is widely supported by more than 300 businesses, trail user groups, individuals, conservation groups, and local officials. Rep. Sam Farr and Rep. Julia Brownley are original co-sponsors of the bill in the House of Representatives.

— C.J. Young is a legislative assistant for Rep. Lois Capps.

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John Daly: Conversation As an Art Form

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Have you heard the expression: “Conversation is a lost art?”

In this era of technology, it’s easy to see how that expression could become reality. So many people today would rather text or email as opposed to having a real conversation.

But, let’s face it, in the day-to-day of the business world, you’ll be a standout if you know how to carry on a healthy conversation. What do I mean by “healthy?”

First, it’s more important that you listen rather than talk. Most people’s favorite topic is themselves. So when you meet someone new, ask them not only what they do but ask what makes the job interesting, or difficult or challenging. Find out the outlook for that profession. Appear interested by looking into the person’s eyes and shaking your head in agreement when appropriate.

When you know you are going to meet new people, be prepared. If you are going to a business social affair, and you will be meeting with some prospective clients there, read up on their companies. Ask questions that you’ve gleaned from your research, such as, “I see the company is expanding operations. Tell me how that affects you.”

Avoid politics, sex or religion. These can be volatile topics. Better yet try to direct the conversation to topics of interest to the group with which you are seated or with whom you find yourself. For me, going to a dinner with my old event professional buddies means I will be talking events. But going to a Santa Barbara Partners in Education event will focus my conversation on students.

Watch the body language of others when you are talking. After you’ve talked for several minutes, if you notice that no one has asked questions, made comments or that they appear somewhat bored, ask a question that will induce another in the group to take over the conversation.

Never interrupt another. Never interrupt someone in midsentence. Always wait until the person who has the floor stops talking. Never ask someone if they have finished. That really comes across as rude. Avoid using such phrases as “By the way” or “Your story reminds me of ...” If you do, you are interrupting the other person’s discussion and sending it off in another direction. You will appear interested only in what you have to say.

If you are the person interrupted, the best thing to do is just be quiet. Don’t try to re-introduce your train of thought later unless you are asked to do so. Let another person in the group ask you to continue your story. If you don’t get that request, perhaps you should take that as your clue that no one was really interested!

Avoid foot-in-mouth disease. The best remedy is to think before you speak.  Avoid creating awkward situations like mentioning someone else’s illness in front of a friend whose parent just passed away. Don’t make judgmental statements. For instance, instead of saying “Jane Smith is an idiot.” Say, “What do you think of Jane Smith’s bid for governor?”

Don’t share too much information. Don’t be the person who pours out your life story to strangers. That reeks of desperation and makes people want to retreat as soon as possible. It’s just not cool. Don’t do it. While you are at it, don’t “nose” into others’ personal lives. Always remember to respect others’ privacy. If you want to get to know a person a bit better, offer “a little” about yourself and then see if the other person reciprocates. If not, change the subject.

When in a group, don’t just focus on one person. If you are in a group where you particularly gravitate to one person, don’t freeze out the others. You freeze out others by selecting topics of no interest or knowledge to the others in the group. If you do this, and only the one person engages and everyone else disengages, that should be your clue to bring up subjects that everyone can enjoy.

Never say “Stop me if I’ve told you this story before ...” No one will. All you are doing is prolonging the many times people have heard a familiar story over and over. If you think they might have heard it, avoid it.

Never say “Am I boring you?” Another one no one will ever say “yes” to. This is the time to really watch body language and facial expressions. If they look bored, they probably are. Don’t go there.

Be Natural. You can use these rules as a guideline, not a checklist. Be yourself. Let your personality shine through. Never pretend to be someone you are not. Being polite doesn’t mean being phony.

— John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for good manners and job search success. Click to learn more about The Key Class, or to buy the book.  Follow John on Facebook and Twitter @johnjdalyjr. Do you have an etiquette question? ASK John at [email protected] The opinions expressed are his own.

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Seeing the Action: UCSB Researchers Develop Novel Device to Observe Cell Membrane Hemifusion

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Cells are biological wonders. Throughout billions of years of existence on Earth, these tiny units of life have evolved to collaborate at the smallest levels in promoting, preserving and protecting the organism they comprise. Among these functions is the transport of lipids and other biomacromolecules between cells via membrane adhesion and fusion — processes that occur in many biological functions, including waste transport, egg fertilization and digestion.

UCSB researchers
UCSB researchers, from left, Nicholas Cadirov, Jacob Israelachvili, Dong Woog Lee, Kai Kristiansen and Stephen Donaldson. (Sonia Fernandez / UCSB photo)

At UC Santa Barbara, chemical engineers have developed a way to directly observe both the forces present and the behavior that occurs during cell hemifusion, a process by which only the outer layers of the lipid bilayer of cell membranes merge. While many different techniques  have been used to observe membrane hemifusion, simultaneous measurements of membrane thickness and interaction forces present a greater challenge, according to Dong Woog Lee, lead author of a paper that appears in the journal Nature Communications.

“It is hard to simultaneously image hemifusion and measure membrane thickness and interaction forces due to the technical limitations,” he said.

However, by combining the capabilities of the Surface Forces Apparatus (SFA) — a device that can measure the tiny forces generated by the interaction of two surfaces at the sub-nano scale — and simultaneous imaging using a fluorescence microscope, the researchers were able to see in real time how the cell membranes rearrange in order to connect and open a fusion conduit between them. The SFA was developed in Professor Jacob Israelachvili’s Interfacial Sciences Lab at UCSB. Israelachvili is a faculty member in the Department of Chemical Engineering at UCSB.

To capture real time data on the behavior of cell membranes during hemifusion, the researchers pressed together two supported lipid bilayers on the opposing surfaces of the SFA. These bilayers consisted of lipid domains — collections of lipids that in non-fusion circumstances are organized in more or less regularly occurring or mixed arrangements within the cell membrane.

“We monitored these lipid domains to see how they reorganize and relocate during hemifusion,” Lee said.

The SFA measured the forces and distances between the two membrane surfaces as they were pushed together, visualized at the Ångstrom (one tenth of a nanometer) level. Meanwhile, fluorescent imaging made it possible to see the action as the more ordered-phase (more solid) domains reorganized and allowed the more disordered-phase (more fluid) domains to concentrate at the point of contact.

“This is the first time observing fluorescent images during a hemifusion process simultaneously with how the combined thickness of the two bilayers evolve to form a single layer,” Lee said.

This rearrangement of the domains, he added, lowers the amount of energy needed during the many processes that require membrane fusion. At higher pressures, according to the study, the extra energy activates faster hemifusion of the lipid layers.

Lipid domains have been seen in many biological cell membranes, and have been linked to various diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and lung diseases. According to the researchers, this novel device could be used to diagnose, provide a marker for, or study dynamic transformations in situations involving lipid domains in pathological membranes. The fundamental insights provided by this device could also prove useful for other materials in which dynamic changes occur between membranes, including surfactant monolayers and bilayers, biomolecules, colloidal particles, surfactant-coated nanoparticles and smart materials.

— Sonia Fernandez represents the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

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Santa Barbara Public Market and Wine+Beer Hosting Lutum Winemaker Dinner

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Wine + Beer and the Santa Barbara Public Market will continue their winemaker dinner series on Saturday, June 6 with Gavin Chanin from Lutum Wines, who is teaming up with Derek Simcik, executive chef of Outpost at The Goodland Hotel.

Simcik
Chef Derek Simcik of Outpost at The Goodland Hotel.

Chanin
Gavin Chanin of Lutum Wines

Food and wine lovers won’t want to miss this rare opportunity to taste some of California’s finest small production pinots and chardonnays, dynamically paired with a robust menu by Simcik.

Chanin started his winemaking career as a harvest intern at Au Bon Climat and Qupé, where he eventually became Assistant Winemaker at both labels. In 2012, he was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “Winemakers of the Year.” He was also recognized as one of FORBES’ “30 under 30” in the Food and Wine category, and a “Winemaker to Watch” by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Born in Greece to American parents, Chef Simcik initially pursued fine art after high school, but was drawn through his family’s deep culinary ties into the world of food. An avid traveler who has visited five continents, Chef Simcik often looks to cuisine as a window into culture. He moved to Santa Barbara in the spring of 2014 to open Outpost at the Goodland, and his cuisine features simple but flavorful fare inspired by the Southern California coast.

The menu features:

Crostini — Garlic, Labneh, Japanese Cucumber, Shallot, Sprouts, House Cured Anchovy

LUTUM "Gap’s Crown Vineyard" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast 2013

Brook Trout — Cauliflower, Grapes, Hazelnuts

LUTUM "Durell Vineyard" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast 2013

MonkFish — Hushpuppy, Black Garlic-Tahini, Pine nuts, Orange, Carrot

LUTUM "Sanford and Benedict Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills 2012

Squab — Wild Forage Mushrooms, Potato, Marrow, Blackberry

LUTUM "Durell Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2012

Buche Ash — Pop Over, Cherry

LUTUM "La Rinconada Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills 2012

The Lutum Winemaker Dinner on Saturday, June 6 begins at 6 p.m. and is $95 per guest. This is an intimate affair with on 32 spaces available. Advanced reservations are required. Please call 805.770.7702 to reserve.

— Jennifer Zacharias is a publicist representing the Santa Barbara Public Market.

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Central Coast Bioneers to Host Talk, Book Signing with Author and CEC Founder Paul Relis

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Central Coast Bioneers will kick off its 2015 Critical Conversation Series with a talk and book signing by Paul Relis, the founding executive director of Santa Barbara’s Community Environmental Council.

Relis’s book, Out of the Wasteland, takes readers on a journey of the environmental frontier, starting with the birth of environmentalism in Santa Barbara into the intricate, obfuscated but all important world of government and policy, to important new environmental technologies that can, indeed, free us from this age of oil.

The program begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 11 at the Ludwick Center, 864 Santa Rosa St. in San Luis Obispo. KCBX News Director Randol White, who recently interviewed Relis on “Issues and Ideas,” will lead the discussion.

While Relis was a student at UC Santa Barbara, a massive oil spill erupted off the coast of Santa Barbara on Jan. 28, 1969, devastated the coastline, killed much aquatic life and severely damaged the local economy. The oil spill was a transformative event in the history of the United States that influenced the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, Earth Day and other landmark environmental programs.

The oil spill was a life-changing event for Relis, who at age 23 became the first executive director of a newly formed nonprofit, the Community Environmental Council. The CEC played a critical role in staving off several proposed developments that would have changed Santa Barbara forever. Under Relis’ leadership, the CEC built visionary projects including recycling facilities, green buildings, urban gardens and an urban farm, that, decades ago, presaged the core elements of sustainability today.

“We are delighted to bring an inspirational person like Paul Relis here, who became instrumental in the environmental movement at such a young age,” Ecologistics chairman Michael Jencks said. “His stories and successes will encourage our local youth to get mad and then get involved.”

In his executive position with the California EPA, Relis helped forge the state’s nation-leading recycling programs. From 1996-2013, Relis taught in the Environmental Studies Department of UC Santa Barbara. He is a board member emeritus of the Community Environmental Council and sits on the boards of the American Biogas Council and the Bioenergy Association of California.

Relis’ book will be available for purchase at the program. A $5 donation to cover expenses is requested.

— Stacey Hunt represents Central Coast Bioneers.

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Capps to Attend Goleta Event Highlighting Her Bill to Protect Federal Lands on Central Coast

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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On Tuesday night, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, will attend a special event highlighting the reintroduction of her bill, the Central Coast Heritage Act (H.R. 1865), at Decker’s Outdoor Corporation in Goleta.

At the event, Capps will speak about her legislation, which would protect 245,500 acres of wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument, create two scenic areas encompassing 34,500 acres, safeguard 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers, and establish the Condor Train National Recreation Trail, a 400 mile hiking route in the Los Padres National Forest.

Following Capps’ remarks, there will be a special advanced screening of the PBS program This American Land, the leading conservation news magazine program on public television stations nationwide.

The episode will feature areas of the Central Coast that would be protected in the Capps bill and the invaluable resources the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument offer to our community and nation.

— Chris Meagher is a press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps.

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Pile Driving Operation as Part of Goleta Drainage Project Postponed

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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A pile driving operation as part of the Goleta Drainage Project scheduled to begin Thursday, June 4 has been postponed to a later date.

This pile driving operation is part of the Goleta Drainage Project, which will improve the capacity of two large drainage culverts located along Las Vegas Creek and San Pedro Creek at Highway 101 near Fairview Avenue.

Caltrans is the lead agency for this project, in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Flood Control District and support from the City of Goleta. This project is expected to be completed in early 2016.

All local businesses in the Fairview Shopping Center will remain open for business during the project.

For traffic updates on other state highway projects in Santa Barbara County, motorists can call Caltrans District 5 Public Affairs at 805.568.0858 or visit the District 5 website by clicking here.

— Jim Shivers is a public information officer for Caltrans District 5.

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UCSB Study Shows How Record-High Temps in California Are Worsening Already Historic Drought

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Two facts are indisputable: California remains in the grip of one of the worst droughts in history, and 2014 proved to be one of the hottest years on record. Now, a group of scientists led by UC Santa Barbara’s Shraddhanand Shukla has quantified the influence one might have on the other.

Funk
Chris Funk

Shukla
Shraddhanand Shukla

The team’s groundbreaking research demonstrates that record-high temperatures could have serious impacts on the state’s water resource that supports the multibillion-dollar agriculture industry. The study is published online in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

“Although there is a useful conversation going on about the role of temperature, no one had actually looked into how above-normal temperatures made the 2014 drought worse,” said Shukla, an assistant researcher in the Department of Geography at UCSB. “One of the reasons this study is important is that the findings are actually useful for improving seasonal predictions of drought in California. We show that temperatures also play an important role in getting the drought severity right. So if you want to forecast drought severity skillfully, you need to know temperature, too.”

To gauge the effect of high temperatures on drought, Shukla devised two sets of modeling experiments that compared climate data from Water Year 2014 (Oct. 2013-Sep. 2014) with every year from 1916 to 2012. In the first, he substituted 2014 temperatures with the temperatures for each of the study’s 97 years. In the second, he swapped in 2014 precipitation data for those same years. These experiments showed that if the air temperatures had been cooler (like 1916-2012), there was an 86 percent chance that the winter snowpack would have been greater, the spring-summer runoff higher and the spring-summer soil moisture deficits smaller.

“It’s a really elegant experimental setup that lets you isolate the influence of temperature,” said Chris Funk, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey and a researcher in UCSB’s geography department. “It’s one of those things you can do in a simulation environment that we can’t do in reality because we only get a sample of one.”

According to Shukla and Funk, the study highlights the potential vulnerability of the state’s water resources and hence the agricultural industry. Not only does high heat increase the evaporation stress on soil, it has a powerful effect on snowpack, on which the state heavily relies for its water supplies. In addition to decreased snowpack, whatever is there melts earlier, which could dramatically decrease the amount of water available for agriculture when it’s needed most.

“The snowpack acts as a buffer from year to year, and it has this really nice attribute that it sits up in the mountains and comes down in the summertime, which is the best time for growing crops,” Funk said. “That’s why California agriculture has been so productive. It has this kind of ideal situation where you get a lot of water that shows up in the summertime, when you also have a lot of sunshine.”

The study also examined the role and efficacy of temperature forecasting in the state. The findings were not encouraging. Shukla noted that while month-long forecasts of winter and spring season temperatures were reasonably accurate, longer forecasts were not accurate enough to be useful. “This will eventually hurt drought forecasting skill in California,” he said.

Funk, who also serves as research director for the campus’s Climate Hazard Group, said the ability to forecast high temperatures is difficult, but will be an important component in water management and in coping with climate change. “We’ve done some preliminary studies suggesting that some of these extreme temperature seasons are predictable,” he said. “So the idea is, can we identify, ahead of time, some of the extreme events that produce warming trends? When you have a warming trend, you still have hot and cool years. The question is, in the future, can we better predict those hot years?”

Although climate change was not addressed in the study, the implications of higher temperatures are clear, according Shukla. “Because of the role of temperatures, I think it is fair to say that if the temperatures keep rising we might be looking at more serious droughts, even if the precipitation variability stays the same,” he said. “We all know that in general, temperatures are rising in many places, including California, but the importance of temperature in drought prediction is likely to become only more significant in the future.”

Other contributors to the study include Mohammad Safeeq of UC Merced, Amir AghaKouchak of UC Irvine and Kaiyu Guan of Stanford University.

— Jim Logan represents the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

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Ron Fink: Will the Fourth Attempt Finally Get a Space Center in Lompoc Off the Ground?

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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There have been four separate attempts in the last two decades to create some sort of space museum and/or center in and around Lompoc. So far, there have been three failed attempts.

The first attempt was in the Space Shuttle era when a small group of local astronomers tried to establish a small display of spacecraft artifacts near a telescope that was once in Ken Adam Park on the north edge of town. They were unable to get a good start on the project, and with the town moving north, the ambient light from all those new buildings made their stargazing nearly impossible and the project was abandoned.

The second and much more ambitious project was planned for a spot on Vandenberg Air Force Base in what was once a trailer park for military personnel alongside Highway 1. It, too, failed after $19 million in grants was spent over a 10-year period.

Then in 2013 along came a slick entrepreneur who promised thousands of jobs and duped an all-too-willing former Mayor John Linn into believing his PowerPoint predictions. But he didn’t have the right stuff and his effort failed, too.

Now along comes another person making big promises. Can Eva Blaisdell succeed where others have failed? That remains to be seen, but let’s review what we know about her from published reports and her own claims.

In February, Noozhawk reported that, “Despite what staff called a significantly flawed proposal lacking details about the team proposing to develop a space center in Lompoc, the City Council agreed Tuesday night (Feb. 3) to move toward entering into exclusive negotiations with the group led by a woman from Poland (Eva Blaisdell).”

The Noozhawk report continues that Teresa Gallavan, the City of Lompoc’s economic development director and assistant city administrator, cited more than a dozen ways the request for qualifications was incomplete or missing the “evidence of ability,” requested as part of the process to ensure the project succeeds.

In a February newsletter distributed by a Polish publication, Blaisdell claims to be “aided by the Bechtel Company which has offered to construct the (Lompoc project).” But in March, the Pacific Coast Business Times reported that “an inquiry to Bechtel was returned stating the company had no business relationship with Blaisdell” — so this appears to be a misrepresentation of her partnerships.

In that same March news article, the Pacific Coast Business Times reported that “Blaisdell says she has over 30 years of experience as a Silicon Valley executive, high-tech entrepreneur and fundraiser for technology and media ventures. The Business Times could not completely confirm these claims other than the fact that she is the founder of AngelMobile, a digital content provider that had its incorporation papers suspended by the Franchise Tax Board for failure to pay its taxes.”

This is fairly serious since Blaisdell refers to AngelMobile as evidence of her ability to conduct a successful business.

The city staff report on May 19 clearly indicated that “staff were awaiting evidence of registration to do business in California, California Space Center formation documentation including by-laws, and proof signing authority.” In other words Blaisdell’s Limited Liability Company didn’t have authority to do business in California yet. This issue was resolved with the secretary of state the day after the council meeting.

So not much seems to have changed; there is still no tangible information to support entering into any agreement.

But none of this seems to worry one of her biggest cheerleaders — former Mayor Linn. In fact, he narrated a slick video that was specially prepared for the May 19 council meeting. In it many claims are made — for example, she predicts that “3,000 jobs will be created by her project.” Now that’s a lot of jobs, but with no known coalition of reputable companies or businesses currently supporting her project, it is doubtful that these claims can be realized anytime soon.

This time, though, the council didn’t seem willing to allow the process to continue until Blaisdell could prove that she had the authority to sign for the three unknown "managing members"  of the LLC company registered in Delaware.

There are also a lot of short-term milestones that must be met. According to a Noozhawk article, “We put a lot of confidence in you,” Mayor Bob Lingl said after the vote. “Please don’t let us down. I know you won’t. Just as a reminder, there’s some hard deadlines in here. We’re going to hold you to them, OK?”

But given the historic inability of the city to strongly monitor compliance on many of these type projects, we’ll have to wait and see if any of them are met or if the city follows through with termination if CSC fails to deliver.

So, considering all the history concerning Blaisdell, do you think that this effort to develop a space center in Lompoc is realistic? We'll all have to wait to see if the fourth attempt proves to be more successful than the earlier three attempts that failed to get off the ground. 

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Helene Schneider Announces Additional Endorsements for Congressional Campaign

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Broadening her coalition of supporters, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider on Tuesday received endorsements from several local women, environmental and community leaders in her campaign for California’s 24th Congressional District seat.

Those endorsing Schneider include:

» Environmental Defense Center founder Marc McGinnes
» Central Coast Water Quality Control board member (retired) and Santa Barbara City Planning Commissioner Michael Jordan
» Santa Barbara Women's Political Committee past president Sharon Hoshida
» Santa Barbara Women's Political Committee past president Lois Phillips
» Santa Barbara Women's Political Committee past president Alissa Hummer
» Santa Barbara City Housing Authority Commissioner (retired) and board member with Coalition Against Gun Violence Christine Silverstein
» Santa Barbara City Housing Authority Commissioner Catherine Woodford
» Santa Barbara City Housing Authority Commissioner Don Olsen
» Santa Barbara City Councilman Grant House (retired)
» The Key Class founder John Daly
» Santa Barbara City Planning Commissioner Bruce Bartlett (retired)
» Santa Barbara City Parks & Recreation Commissioner Lesley Wiscomb

Responding to the endorsements, Schneider released the following statement:

“I am deeply grateful for this support from these influential local leaders, all of whom I have worked closely with on a wide range of issues. Whether it’s advancing women’s rights and equality issues, protecting and conserving our precious natural environment, securing affordable housing, or a myriad other issues, these leaders have played a key role in helping to improve the quality of life for the Central Coast’s residents. It means a lot to have them on my team and I look forward to working closely with them in the coming months on the campaign trail.”

Last week, Schneider secured highly coveted endorsements from the International Union of Operating Engineers (I.U.O.E.) Local 501 and the Painters and Allied Trades District Council 36.

In addition to those listed above, Schneider has locked up endorsements from numerous other leaders, including:

» City of Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann
» City of Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte
» City of Goleta Mayor Margaret Connell (retired)
» Hope School District Board of Trustees Member Kristi Newton
» City of Santa Barbara City Councilman Harwood "Bendy" White
» City of Ventura City Councilman Carl Morehouse
» Santa Barbara Unified School District board president H. Edward Heron

Schneider was elected to her second term as Santa Barbara’s mayor in November 2013. She has served at Santa Barbara City Hall since January 2004, winning her first election as City Council member in 2003 and first election as mayor in 2009.

Schneider serves in leadership roles on a number of regional-wide policy issues, such as transportation, air quality, solid waste, public education, youth violence prevention and homelessness. She represents the City of Santa Barbara on the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, Air Pollution Control District, Multi-Jurisdictional Solid Waste Task Force, Partners in Education, the South Coast Task Force on Youth Gangs and the Central Coast Collaborative on Homelessness. She is the immediate past-president of the League of California Cities Channel Counties Division.

Prior to elected office, Schneider spent 11 years in human resources management at Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties.

For more information, click here to visit HeleneSchneider.org.

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Natural Gas Leak Reported at UCSB Faculty Housing

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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UC Santa Barbara's Ocean Walk at North Campus Faculty Housing was evacuated Tuesday morning after a natural gas pipe break but reopened to residents and visitors just before 1 p.m. 

The area of the gas leak was reportedly contained around 11:20 a.m. and the gas company arrived just before noon, according to a UCSB campus alert.

Evacuations impacted areas in Phase 2 of the Ocean Walk at North Campus residential area, including homes on Pacific Coast Drive, Sea Coast Lane and a small portion of Marymount, according to the university alert. 

People were asked to stay out of the area while gas company employees repair the broken gas pipe but the area was cleared to re-enter in the early afternoon, the university said in an alert sent out at 12:46 p.m. Tuesday.  

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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American Heart Association to Unveil Locations of New AEDs in Celebration of National CPR Week

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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In celebration of National CPR Week, June 1-7, the American Heart Association will unveil the location of several new automated external defibrillators (AED), gifted by the Hearst Foundation, at a news conference on Thursday, June 4 in the Garden Courtyard of French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo.

In addition to the AEDs, the Hearst Foundation’s gift also provides hands-only CPR trainings to schools and the community.

Immediately following the news conference, local firefighters and paramedics will provide on-site, hands-only CPR and AED training.

National CPR Week, spotlights how lives can be saved if more Americans know CPR and how to use an AED.

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart. The shock can stop an irregular rhythm and allow a normal rhythm to resume in a heart in sudden cardiac arrest. AEDs make it possible for more people to respond to a medical emergency where defibrillation is required. Because AEDs are portable, they can be used by nonmedical people.

Most people who experience cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public location die because they don't receive immediate CPR from someone on the scene. Hands-only CPR focuses on the first few minutes following a cardiac arrest, since the lungs and blood contain only enough oxygen to keep vital organs healthy for that amount of time. While emergency responders are on their way to the scene, chest compressions using hands-only CPR will provide the ongoing blood flow needed to give the patient a much better chance of survival once responders arrive.

For more information, please contact Tamara White, director of communications and marketing, at 213.291.7028 or [email protected].

— Tamara White is the marketing director for the American Heart Association.

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S. Lombardi & Associates Promotes Whitney Meyer to General Manager

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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S. Lombardi & Associates marketing agency has named Whitney Meyer as its general manager, responsible for the agency’s finances, operations and employee development.

Meyer joined the SLA team in 2010 and is a graduate of UCLA, where she earned a degree in economics and worked in the university’s athletics marketing department as well as for the U.S. Olympic Committee’s marketing division.

In announcing Meyer’s appointment to general manager, agency owner Steve Lombardi said, “Whitney is truly an asset to the agency. She has an excellent rapport with our clients and possesses superior leadership and organizational skills. I can think of no one more qualified or capable to continue our legacy of providing marketing direction for businesses on the Central Coast."

Meyer has played for and coached the Cuesta College women’s volleyball team, is an active member of Young Professionals Networking Group, volunteers at the SLO County Animal Shelter and serves as the president and founder of Central Coast Bruins, the local UCLA Alumni Chapter.

Established in 1973, S. Lombardi & Associates is a full-service, multimedia, regional marketing and advertising agency with comprehensive in-house radio, television, web and graphic design production facilities.

— D.C. Carter is a publicist representing S. Lombardi & Associates.

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Steve Stokes Named Athletic Director for Providence School

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Providence is pleased to announce the appointment of Steve Stokes as athletic director, with responsibility for all middle school and high school teams.

Stokes
Steve Stokes

Stokes joined the Providence Patriots athletics program in 2014-15 as varsity boys basketball coach.

As a Patriots coach, Stokes got a closeup look at Providence this past year. Commenting on that experience, Stokes says, “Providence is a special place where the students get such a unique schooling experience. The school has been rapidly growing and I see our athletic programs growing to elite levels as well.”

Planning for growth, he says, ”We will focus not just on having great teams, but building great programs — not only at the high school level, but also with our middle school and lower school athletic programs.”

In announcing Stokes’ appointment, Chris Rutz, interim head of school, said: "At Providence, we aspire to build an athletic program to be the best Santa Barbara has to offer. While we expect to win many championships in the years ahead, we are equally concerned with developing athletes who compete with character and integrity. Steve has a vision for this kind of athletic experience, and we could not be more excited for the future of Providence athletics.”

While coaching the high school boys basketball team for the past year, Stokes developed positive rapport with the young men playing for him, demonstrating he understands the importance of Providence coaches serving as positive role models and influences in the lives of Providence student-athletes.

“So much of building a culture involves building relationships,” he says, “not just with families in the Santa Barbara community, but also with the student-athletes in our programs. We want to pour into and invest in our coaches to be able to lead our student-athletes to new levels of success.”

Before joining the Patriots coaching staff, Stokes was associate head coach at Royal High School (Simi Valley) for four seasons. During those four years, the Royal team experienced the most successful run in school history, reaching the CIF finals two years in a row.  He has been coaching high school basketball for the past 12 years, compiling over 250 career wins in the process. Coaching highlights include the two-time CIF Championship Finalist appearances, two State Championship appearances (including an appearance in the 2013 California State Final Four), three-time league “Coach of the Year,” and having his team named LA Times ”Program on the Rise.”

Stokes has developed a reputation in coaching circles as a program builder by leading once struggling programs to new levels of success.

A kinesiology major at California State University-Dominguez Hills, Stokes frequently returns to his alma mater as a special guest lecturer, speaking to undergrad students in the kinesiology department as well as to graduate students getting their master’s degree in coaching education.

As Stokes is fond of saying: "The future is bright. It’s a great day to be a Patriot!”

Click here to learn more about Patriots athletics.

— Elaine Rottman is the marketing director for Providence.

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Children’s Author Beryl Reichenberg to Lead Book-Making Class for Kids at Curious Cup Bookstore

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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On June 6 at Curious Cup Bookstore, author and illustrator Beryl Reichenberg will conduct a class for kids on how to make a butterfly book starting at 1 p.m.

The children will make their own book and decorate it with colorful paper, punches, markers and pens. They will be encouraged to write a story, and Reichenberg will read one of her own butterfly stories, either When Caterpillars Dream or Butterfly Girls, both about monarch butterflies.

There is a $5 materials fee for the paper craft and bookmaking class.

After the class, Reichenberg will continue with a free bookmark exercise, where she will show children and families alike how to make their own bookmarks until 4 p.m.

Curious Cup is located at 3817½ Santa Claus Lane in Carpinteria.

— Kiona Gross represents Curious Cup Bookstore.

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Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce Hosting B2B Breakfast with Santa Barbara Law Group

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce will hold its June Business-2-Business Breakfast with the Santa Barbara Law Group from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 2 in Earl's Place at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real in Santa Barbara.

Attendees will be provided an opportunity to introduce themselves and their business in a 20-second elevator pitch to the crowd.

A hot breakfast from Georgia's Smokehouse, piping hot coffee from Zizzo's Coffee and refreshing water from Team Cashman, State Farm will be served promptly at 7:30 a.m.

The cost is $20 for members and $30 for nonmembers. Register by noon Monday, June 1 to get on the hot sheet.

Click here to register. For more information or for sponsor opportunities, contact David Hunt at 805.967.2500 x5 or [email protected].

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S. Lombardi & Associates of San Luis Obispo Wins Six Advertising Awards

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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S. Lombardi & Associates, a San Luis Obispo-based marketing and advertising agency, recently won six American Advertising Awards (formerly The ADDY Awards) in the Coastal California competition.

Brittany Hensley, account executive from S. Lombardi & Associates, was present to receive the awards, which included three awards for Community Bank of Santa Maria. The newspaper ad “Lending Oneself to Growth” and the television campaign “Santa Maria Style Banking” were recognized as well as the SLA designed annual report titled, “A History of Opportunities,” which won in the collateral materials competition.

The Cuesta College television campaign, “That’s Why I’m a Cuesta College Student,” also received an ADDY as did two radio commercials created by SLA: “Sunbathing Neighbor” for Air Vol Block and the Villa Automotive “Feel Good” spot.

Established in 1973, S. Lombardi & Associates is a full-service, multimedia, regional marketing and advertising agency with comprehensive in-house radio, television, web and graphic design production facilities.

“We pride ourselves in giving our clients not just creative but also effective advertising and marketing material," Hensley said. "These are all great examples of what our team can do.”

The American Advertising Awards are presented annually and is the first step in the advertising industry's largest and most representative competition, attracting about 50,000 entries every year in local competitions. Selection of the most creative entries is effected by a scoring process in which a panel of judges evaluates all creative dimensions of every entry.

— D.C. Carter is a publicist representing S. Lombardi & Associates.

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Free Screening of ‘SPLIT,’ Q&A to Focus on Divorce and Effects on Children

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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SPLIT, a film about divorce through kids' eyes, will be shown during a free screening event at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 28 on the second floor of the Mental Wellness Center, 617 Garden St. in Santa Barbara.

Almost half the children in the United States will experience their parents’ separation before the age of 16 — more than any other country in the western world.

SPLIT is a candid, poignant and often humorous film about kids and divorce made exclusively from the point of view of the children — no adults, no experts, just kids speaking the powerful truth of what is on their minds and in their hearts.

The film features 12 children ages 6 to 12 who explore the often-frightening and always life-altering separation of their parents. Their wisdom, candor and humor will give courage to other children and encourage parents to make better choices as they move through divorce.

There will be a panel discussion with time for Q&A facilitated by attorneys and mental health professionals who are members of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

For more information and to RSVP, call 805.722.0204 or click here. RSVPs are appreciated, but walk-ins are always welcome.

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3 Women Injured in Butane Explosion at Lake Cachuma

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Emergency personnel responded to Lake Cachuma Tuesday after a camp stove's butane tank exploded, injuring three people.

The incident was reported at about 9 a.m. at a campsite at the lake, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

A butane tank from a camp stove exploded while in use, said fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni, adding that three women sustained first- and second-degree burns in the blast.

They were treated at the scene by paramedics and firefighters before being taken by ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, Zaniboni said. Details on their conditions were not available.

A medical helicopter and two ambulances were dispatched to the call, but the Calstar helicopter was later canceled.

A fire investigator was on scene, looking into the cause of the explosion, Zaniboni said.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Reyne Stapelmann: SBAOR Sponsoring Wine & Music Fest to Benefit Unity Shoppe

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Mark your calendars for July 10 from 5 to 9 p.m. in the Funk Zone, when the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors will be sponsoring its second annual Wine & Music Fest at Oreana Winery, 205 Anacapa St.

Dance to the music of REDFISH, Santa Barbara’s favorite party band, with lead vocalist and Realtor Stu Morse, and enjoy fresh farm to table fare from “Scratch” food truck.

All proceeds go to the Unity Shoppe, and this event will kick off SBAOR's annual campaign to support its efforts

Throughout the year, the Unity Shoppe benefits more than 22,000 local people in need, through a food and clothing store, a Job Smart program, a senior center, long-term disaster services and a Santa’s Toy Shoppe. It provides invaluable support for many, referred by more than 300 local nonprofits.

Alyson Spann, SBAOR's Unity Committee chair, and her committee members, Priscilla Bedolla, Ed Fuller, Dana Hansen, Marisa Holly, Phyllis Lenker, Diana MacFarlane, Eddie Madrigal, Joan Roberts and Christine Salvetti, have put together this fun Funk Zone event.

For sponsorship information, please call or email Kasey Gilles at 805.884.8615 or [email protected].

Tickets are $10, and parking is available just two blocks away at the train station.

Reyne Stapelmann is a broker associate with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, California Properties and the 2015 president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact her at [email protected] or 805.705.4353. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Family Storytime with Monica Robarge Set for Sunday at Curious Cup Bookstore

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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"For the Love of Books! Family Storytime with Monica Robarge" will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, May 31 at Curious Cup Bookstore, 3817½ Santa Claus Lane in Carpinteria.

The free event is offered by the Howard School and Curious Cup, and all ages are welcome.

Enjoy friendly stories, musical fun and discounts on books.

— Kiona Gross represents Curious Cup Bookstore.

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Arete Productions Students Stage ‘13,’ a Grown-Up Musical About Growing Up

By | Published on 05/26/2015

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Arete Productions, the performance arm of Santa Barbara School of Performing Arts, will present the Broadway hit musical 13, a grown-up story about growing up, at the Marjorie Luke Theater next Saturday and Sunday, May 30-31, with a preview and showcase on Friday, May 29 featuring local artists, SOPA star alumni and the Inner Light Community Gospel Choir.

Proceeds from the showcase will benefit Santa Barbara School of Performing Arts scholarship students.

Featuring a talented cast of local young performers ranging in age from 11 to 15, and set to an unforgettable rock score from Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown, 13 is a hilarious, high-energy musical for all ages about discovering that cool is where you find it — and sometimes where you least expect it.

Directed by Austin Escamilla with musical direction by Dauri Kennedy, the cast of 13 includes Anthony Jensen (12) in the lead role, and Grace Gibbs (15) and Kara Boger (13) double cast in the role of Patrice. Other cast members include Kai Kadlec (15), Greta Regan (13), Drewes McFarlin (12), Logan Fleming, Mariana Mezic (13), Dawson Escamilla (11) and others.

Escamilla is also a homegrown talent who has starred in two SOPA shows; 13 is his second show as director.

Arete Productions is the company that brought the Tony Award-nominated musical Swing! to the New Vic Theatre last March, featuring the beloved music of jazz greats Duke Ellington, William “Count” Basie, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller. In 2014, Arete Productions presented the Tony Award-winning rock musical Rent, with four sold-out shows and a review by the national theater publication Broadway World.

“It's great working with the cast of 13,” said Kennedy, Arete founder and 13 musical director. “Seeing their growth is wonderful. Many of them have been in our debut track, developing singing, dancing, and acting skills; some are brand new to the stage. 13 presents a unique opportunity to develop into mature performers because the entire cast is young.”

The preview night showcase is a perfect accompaniment to this production because proceeds will benefit these and other young and intermediate performers, many of whom go on to  professional training programs based on having their talents recognized and nurtured at an early age. Featured in the showcase will be the local high school band Vital Signs, led by Brolin Parris, who is a SOPA alum and a longtime student of Kennedy's from Marymount of Santa Barbara, the Inner Light Community Gospel Choir, Kennedy's voice students and others.

Santa Barbara School of Performing Arts was founded by Kennedy in 2012. SBSOPA’s mission is to nurture, motivate and build confidence in our community’s youth through the use of contemporary and classic theatrical works.

In addition to directing the Santa Barbara School of Performing Arts and Arete Productions, Kennedy also heads DMK Studio and Performing and Visual Arts Camp. She is on the music faculty of Marymount and Santa Barbara City College Adult Education and director of Inner Light Community Gospel Choir. She attended the renowned New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, earned a bachelor of music degree from the University of Illinois and a master of music from UCSB. She is an alumna of the Music Academy of the West and was a featured soloist with the SB City College Jazz Band, Chamber Orchestra and Grand Opera. Her extensive opera performances include lead roles with Seattle Opera, New Orleans Opera, and recently Des Moines Metro Opera.

13 will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday with a special preview and SB SOPA alumni stars performance showcase at 7 p.m. Friday. All performances are at the Marjorie Luke Theater, 721 E. Cota St. in Santa Barbara. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $20 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased through Universe ticketing by clicking here, or for the showcase/preview evening by clicking here. For more information, call 805.708.8897.

New Classes Forming

SB SOPA is pleased to announce its summer lineup of performing arts classes for all ages. Hippity Hop with Mr. Cabrera provides a fun-filled class environment designed to facilitate ongoing skill development and maximum fun, while immersing children in all aspects of motion. With every class, students learn a new set of easy-to-follow mini hip-hop routines and combinations, and work on drilling them together.

Class is on Mondays and Fridays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Ballet with State Street ballerina Leila Drake Fossek is a basic class that introduces students age 8 or older to the elementary positions of classical ballet. Classes are thorough to ensure proper alignment and understanding and are held Tuesday and Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. Both classes are at Santa Barbara Dance Center, 127 W. Canon Perdido St.

Adult Cabaret with Mr. Cabrera empowers the absolute beginner, age 15 and up, with confidence by building physical strength, while unleashing her inner vixen. Adult Cabaret incorporates high kicks, shakes and shimmies with spins and dips. Class is every Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 pm at The Dance Network located at 4141 State St., Suite 4A.

All classes are $20 for drop-ins or $18 for a 10-class commitment card. For more information, call Cabrera at 805.637.1191.

— Jackie Goodman represents Arete Productions.

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Crews Work to Uncover Ruptured Pipeline, Continue Cleanup of Refugio Oil Spill

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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The cause of the rupture is still unknown, with more than 6,000 gallons of oil removed so far and more than 800 people involved in the response effort

As part of the investigation into the cause of last week's oil spill near Refugio State Beach, crews are preparing to excavate the underground pipeline, officials said Monday.

Cleanup efforts by boom-bearing boats and shoreline assessment crews are still going strong, with more than 800 people involved in the response effort as of Monday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, which is one of the leading agencies within the incident’s unified command. 

The spill began late on the morning of May 19, when a 24-inch line owned by Plains All American Pipeline ruptured on the north side of Highway 101 near Refugio State Beach, sending an estimated 21,000 gallons of oil down through a culvert, onto the beach and into the ocean. The spill site is about 10 miles west of the City of Goleta

Officials have estimated that as much as 101,000 gallons leaked altogether, with the bulk remaining on shore.

Plains decreased the worst-case scenario from 105,000 gallons to 101,000 gallons on Sunday. As of Monday morning, officials said 6,090 gallons of oil had been removed by vacuum trucks, skimmer boats and other sources.

Federal officials issued an order to have Plains shut down the ruptured pipe indefinitely and remove the damaged section of pipe, which will be sent off for metallurgical testing.

Line 901 carried crude oil from ExxonMobil and Venoco Inc. offshore oil platforms in southern Santa Barbara County north to Plains’ Gaviota pump station. The cause of the pipe rupture is still unknown. 

Patrick Hodgins, safety and security director for Plains, said the pipeline is monitored and inspected regularly, with the most recent inspection done in early May.

A preliminary report back from that inspection shows four areas along Line 901 where they will do “confirmation digs” to see if any maintenance work is necessary. He compared the process to a maintenance light coming on in a car.

“We regret the impact this incident has had on the community, and pledge to remain aggressively engaged in the recovery efforts until the job is done,” Plains said in a statement.

The company will be paying all of the oil-spill response costs.

The unified command for the spill response is dedicated to not using dispersants to clean up the oil, Coast Guard Commander Charlene Downey said Monday.

In addition to boats using hard booms and absorbent booms to collect oil on the ocean surface, crews are using fire hoses and water to “herd” oil away from environmentally-sensitive areas such as kelp forests, she said.

According to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife's Oil Spill Prevention and Response, state regulations prohibit using dispersants on or along shorelines, and other policies limit the use of dispersants in water less than 60 feet deep. 

"Experts also knew that dispersants would not be effective on this type of heavy oil," OSPR said in a statement on its Facebook page. "Other factors influencing the decision, included difficulty in avoiding contact with near-shore wildlife, especially sensitive species like snowy plover. When analyzing dispersant use, the final determinant is whether there would be an overall environmental benefit, and there would not have been one in this case." 

The state, County of Santa Barbara and Goleta declared states of emergency after the spill, and so far, there has been no oil on the shoreline southeast of El Capitan State Beach that has been confirmed to be from the Refugio oil spill.

There is a slick offshore of the Goleta area — and there were boats booming in the area of Haskell’s Beach on Monday evening — but that oil may from natural seepage near Coal Oil Point, said Jordan Stout of NOAA.

Yvonne Addassi, deputy director of the Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Oil Spill Prevention and Response, said oil is being removed from large boulders near Refugio State Beach with shovels and wire brushes, but crews are not removing the mussels, barnacles or kelp from the boulders.

There is an active fishery closure for the area between Gaviota and Coal Oil Point, up to seven miles out to sea, and the campgrounds and day-use areas at Refugio and El Capitan state beaches remain closed to visitors.

As of Sunday night, crews had found 17 oil-impacted birds and 10 oil-impacted mammals, as well as nine dead oil-impacted birds and six dead oil-impacted mammals, said warden Santos Cabral, state on scene coordinator for the spill response.

Anyone who finds oil-impacted wildlife is asked to report the animal to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at 877.823.6926.

Volunteers are being accepted to help with cleanup efforts after they participate in hazardous-materials training, and more information can be found by clicking here.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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New Veterans Plaque Dedicated in Solvang Park Remembering Santa Ynez Valley’s Casualties

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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The monument bearing the names of 18 men rests at the base of the park's flagpole, serving as 'a reminder for generations to come'

After the speeches and songs were done, Jeanine Moniot showed her young grandson the newly unveiled plaque bearing the names of 18 Santa Ynez Valley men who died while serving in the military between World War I and today.

Solvang memorial
Eighteen names of men who died while serving in the military are included on the new plaque at the base of the flagpole in Solvang Park. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Veterans organizations dedicated the new plaque on the base of the flagpole in Solvang Park as part of this year’s Memorial Day ceremony. Included among the 18 names listed on the plaque is Moniot’s first husband, David Tibbetts, who died while serving in the Army in Vietnam.

“I think it’s a great thing,” said Moniot, adding she is pleased at the plaque remembering the valley’s sons. “It’s wonderful. We all kind of try to just put everything behind us and forget. But I don’t think we should forget. 

“It was more than I expected,” Moniot added about the effort to remember her former husband. “It was a beautiful day. I’m very appreciative of what everyone’s done. I know we all are.”

Approximately 400 people, including families of fallen warriors, local residents and tourists, attended Monday’s ceremony.

Memorial Day, which originated from Decoration Day, is considered by many to be the unofficial start of summer and a three-day weekend. 

Col. Shane Clark, 30th Space Wing vice commander at Vandenberg Air Force Base, said those who attended the Santa Ynez Valley ceremony recognize the day means much more.

“It’s a time for reverence and reflection,” Clark said in his keynote speech, adding it’s a time to pay homage to the 1 million people who died while serving the U.S. military.

Clark also reflected on the loss of a Vandenberg employee, noting that this year’s Memorial Day fell on May 25, as it did in 2009 when Naval Reserve Cmdr. Duane Wolfe was killed in Iraq. In his civilian job, Wolfe worked at Vandenberg as deputy commander of the 30th Mission Support Group.

"He, too, was a hero,” Clark said.

Also making this year’s Memorial Day especially poignant is the 70th anniversary of the World War II’s end, Clark said.

Orcutt resident Robert “Bob” Hatch, a highly decorated veteran who served in Vietnam after growing up in Santa Ynez Valley, personally knew three of the people listed on the new plaque. He learned about others through the years.

“This need to remember is why families and friends, along with total strangers, will come here long after today’s dedication is over,” Hatch said. “We are informing all of you assembled here that we will never forget these men. 

Solvang memorial
Robert "Bob" Hatch, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran who grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley, speaks to Benihien Powell, who fled Vietnam 34 years ago and works at a Solvang nail salon. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“They died so that others might live in freedom and they deserve a place in the valley’s history. This memorial will continue to served as a reminder for generations to come of their sacrifices and that freedom has a heavy price.”

While he prayed for an announcement that wars would end, Hatch said he recognized that in this world today many wish to harm people in the United States — some simply due to their hatred for the American way of life.

“This monument placed directly underneath the symbol of our freedom will act as a reminder to those who will serve in the future that we will remember them and honor them as they continue to defend the United States of America,” he added.

Hatch also expressed his appreciation for those behind creating, sponsoring, designing, installing and maintaining the plaque. 

“The  joint venture between the VFW and American Legion brought a vision to reality,” Hatch said.

After the ceremony, Solvang manicurist Benihien Powell, who arrived in the United States as a refugee from Vietnam 34 years ago,  spoke to Hatch to express her appreciation for his service and share that veterans should not view the war that ended 40 years ago as a loss. Western freedoms are enjoyed by many in Vietnam, Powell added.

Both became emotional during the quick meeting.

"Because I value the freedom," she said afterward about her tears, noting the price paid by the 58,000 American service members killed in Vietnam and the 1,643 still listed as missing in action.

Other Memorial Day ceremonies were held at North County cemeteries in Santa Maria, Orcutt, Lompoc and Guadalupe. 

Additionally, Lompoc residents gathered in the afternoon to celebrate the completion of a multiyear effort to renovate the Lompoc Veterans Memorial Building on Locust Avenue.

The Santa Maria Elks paused during rodeo preparations to hold a short ceremony for Memorial Day on Monday afternoon at the Santa Maria Elks/Unocal Event Center.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Santa Barbara Police Say Meth, Pot Use on the Rise

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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Methamphetamine and marijuana use is on the rise in Santa Barbara, and may be tied to a spree of residential and auto burglaries, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department

Meth use is up possibly because of its relatively low cost on the street compared to heroin and cocaine, Sgt. Alex Altavilla said during a recent City Council budget hearing

"Santa Barbara is a really, really beautiful place, but we always recommend that you go ahead and lock your home when you leave," Altavilla said. "And when you leave your car, try not to leave anything inside that's in plain view, and go ahead and lock your vehicle, too."

Heroin right now is $1,000 to $1,200 an ounce, Altavilla said.

"Methamphetamine is $350 to $500 an ounce, which it makes it something everyone is kind of interested in because of the low cost," he said. 

Santa Barbara experienced 21 unusual residential burglaries between Feb. 3 and March 6.

"We do know that there is a subset of people that use narcotics that actually go out and do burglaries," Altavilla said. 

He also noted that applications for marijuana dispensaries are on the rise.

Altavilla was one of the several speakers who gave updates during the Police Department and Fire Department budget presentations. 

The department is also struggling to increase its staffing levels.

"We're hurting for people," Police Chief Cam Sanchez said.

The Police Department is down between nine and 12 employees from injuries, he said.

Sanchez also temporarily suspended the use of a school resource officer. 

"I feel the pain of not having a school resource officer, but to deplete patrol would not be a good thing," Sanchez said. 

The department has seven vacancies and expects to lose about seven more through retirements or to other police departments, according to Capt. Gil Torres.

He said he hopes to hire 15 people out of the police academy over the course of the next year. 

Torres said the Police Department is competing with heavy recruitment efforts from places such as the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, which advertises starting salaries of $75,000 to $105,000, about $14,000 higher than the Santa Barbara Police Department at the high end. 

Fire Department officials also spoke at the meeting, with Fire Chief Pat McElroy saying the department is looking to improve its 9-1-1 dispatch efforts by installing a computerized version of the existing flip chart that allows dispatchers to quickly offer assistance on how to treat the person calling. 

McElroy also said the department wants to develop a Spanish-language certified training program to increase accessibility to the Spanish-speaking community. 

He said the volume of Spanish-speaking calls is "not an insignificant number." He also said that many of the calls that come in are from European tourists.

"We have a tremendous amount of people from Europe, from all over the world, especially during high tourism season," McElroy said. "There's a lot of languages we are running across."

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Hundreds Mark Memorial Day with Ceremony at Santa Barbara Cemetery

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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The solemn commemoration honors the sacrifices of America's fallen soldiers and salutes the veterans and military families in attendance

Things like the pledge of allegiance, presentation of colors and the national anthem took on special meaning Monday morning at the Santa Barbara Cemetery.

The added meaning — the fact that it was Memorial Day — brought tears to the eyes of many gathered for an annual ceremony at the final resting place of generations past.

Hundreds spent their federal holiday off from work at the Memorial Day commemoration on a hill overlooking the American Riviera and the Pacific Ocean, honoring the sacrifices of those men and women in the armed services who lost their lives in the line of duty.

“Our debt to them is eternal,” said retired U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General Frederick Lopez, who served as master of ceremonies for the event organized by the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation.

He and other speakers at the ceremony featuring bagpipers, vintage war flyovers, singing and more remarked on the large size of the crowd as a testament to fallen heroes and the veterans and military families present.

Memorial Day originated in 1868, Lopez said, as “Decoration Day” in Arlington Cemetery as a time to adorn graves with flowers and flags to honor servicemen and women who lost their lives in service of freedom.

Memorial Day
Commander Col. Keith Balts, commander of the 30th Space Wing and Western Range at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, delivering the keynote address for Monday's Memorial Day ceremony at the Santa Barbara Cemetery, reminds local residents to remember the sacrifices of soldiers. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Thousands of colorful flowers, wreaths and miniature American flags were strewn Monday for the same reason — respect.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, asked that local residents continue to honor veterans by giving them top-notch care after they return home — a cause she champions in Congress.

“I believe the greatest way to honor our heroes is to take care of them,” she said.

Vandenberg Air Force Base Commander Col. Keith Balts served as the keynote speaker, explaining that he represents 3,500 airmen at the Lompoc base.

Balts said the number of people in attendance encouraged him. He told stories about some of the Santa Barbara County servicemen who lost their lives in recent years.

The crowd gathered on the gray morning reserved especially loud applause when Lopez recognized veterans from each war, asking them to identify themselves to receive their thanks.

Acknowledging their service was important, he said, lest we forget their sacrifice.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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With Feasibility Study Complete, Goleta Moving Forward with Civic Center/City Hall Project

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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Negotiations continue with the school district to relocate its bus yard, and the council votes to extend RNT Architects' contract to allow for further scaling down of plans

The City of Goleta recently took another step toward moving its City Hall, keeping plans alive by working to relocate a Goleta bus yard that would offer the project more space.

Officials hope to move the current City Hall at 130 Cremona Drive to the seven-acre site of the Goleta Valley Community Center on Hollister Avenue in Old Town.

Last Tuesday night’s Goleta City Council meeting marked completion of the Civic Center and City Hall feasibility study, which began in January 2014 and involved numerous public workshops and outreach to residents, stakeholders and officials.

Designers at Ventura-based RNT Architects asked for final direction last Tuesday, this time as guidance for staff who wished to continue negotiations with the Goleta Union School District to buy 2.8 acres adjacent to the proposed site at 5679 Hollister Ave.

That district-owned parcel includes a bus yard and Operation School Bell, an organization that works to clothe needy local children.

School district officials are receptive to the idea, but only if the city can find and build a suitable relocation site.

Council members voted 4-1 to allocate $13,500 from the city’s general fund to conduct a second phase of environmental work on the current school site for additional soils testing.

City Councilman Roger Aceves opposed the motion, explaining he believed there were already too many issues with the site to pursue.

Aceves did, however, side with the rest of council when it unanimously voted to extend RNT’s contract so designers could continue facilitating a scaling down of the project.

“We’ve covered a lot of ground, so it’s not like we’ve wasted money,” Aceves said.

Under the proposed civic center plans, all buildings would be one level except the parking garage and the three-story City Hall, which would be higher at its center so the council chambers could look down on the courtyard.

In addition to the community center, the parcel also currently includes the Boys & Girls Club and educational classrooms for the Headstart preschool program and the Rainbow School.

Officials are fans of a courtyard scheme, which would put City Hall south of a civic center separated by a public courtyard. It would also provide more parking throughout the property and potentially a police substation, a branch library, replacement Headstart and/or Rainbow School classrooms and community swimming pool.

Depending on the project scope and budget, civic center development could also include renovation of the GCC building, which was built in the early 20th century and needs accessibility, seismic, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and other upgrades.

Staff asked the council for a list of project priorities and goals, but officials said they would prefer hashing out those details in a future workshop session, most likely in July.

Council members agreed the project should be refined, especially since designers presented four iterations ranging in size and cost from $42.3 million — basic City Hall, community center renovation, police substation, Headstart classrooms and western parking area — to $72.2 million.

The largest option added features such as a branch library, a swimming pool, a parking structure, commercial space and acquisition of the school district site.

The city compared project costs to the approximately $646,000 it spends annually to rent and operate City Hall. A staff report showed rent is $476,000, common area maintenance accounts for $85,000 and utility costs hover around $85,000.

“We’re not quite sure what it is we’ll be designing here,” Mayor Pro Tem Jim Farr said. “This all began in a discussion to revitalize Old Town. That was the genesis of this, and, of course, it’s still critical. We are looking at the big picture here, and there are a lot of things we’re going to be doing.” 

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Association Hosting Outreach Event for Proposed Eastside Business Improvement District

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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Instead of just telling locals what a proposed Eastside Business Improvement District could do for Santa Barbara’s Milpas corridor, business leaders want to show them.

The Milpas Community Association will host an outreach “walkthrough” event Friday, explaining what the EBID and MCA do and even letting the public pretend they’re members of the EBID board, according to MCA Executive Director Sharon Byrne.

Since last year, the MCA has been working on plans for the proposed business improvement district, which would assess businesses along the Milpas Street corridor and Eastside commercial/industrial area to pay for marketing and promotion services, events, security and more.

The City of Santa Barbara would collect the EBID fees, and the nonprofit improvement district would decide how to spend funds on services the city doesn’t already cover.

So far, the MCA is about halfway through efforts to gather enough business owner signatures to present the EBID to the City Council for approval sometime in July, Byrne said.

At the event Friday, scheduled for noon to 6:30 p.m. at 331 North Milpas St., an old pot dispensary, Byrne said the MCA would work to “de-mystify” those who have already spoken against the district.

Opposition alleges the EBID could lead to gentrification of the neighborhood or force smaller businesses to close, especially those with owners in the Latino community.

Byrne said that’s the opposite of what the district would do. An EBID would provide funding to help the Milpas corridor as a whole, she said, with a focus on keeping mom-and-pop shops around.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” she said. “We want to make this very transparent.”

While collecting signatures — often after more than one visit — Byrne said most businesses weren’t aware they could actually be members who sit on the EBID board. When they found that out, she said, they were more receptive.

The MCA plans to bring bilingual speakers to Friday’s walkthrough, where the public can visit six different stations.

Byrne said she was most excited about an EBID game, where locals make-believe they’re on the board with five other people and then decide how to dole out money based on priorities.

“Here’s a budget,” she said. “Now make budget calls. Anybody can play it. We want them to see how this really is going to work.”

Other stations explain the history of business on the Eastside, what an EBID is and how the Milpas area one would work.

Byrne said the MCA hopes to make peace with EBID opponents, some of whom have formed a group called the Greater Eastside Merchant and Business Association.

The association represents the historical part of Milpas and focuses on improving the business economy, supporting the community and (soon) suggesting some EBID alternatives, according to association leader Jacqueline Inda.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Laurie Jervis: Creating Art in the Vineyards

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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As Santa Barbara County’s wine industry continues to flourish, so do the various local businesses that are byproducts of winemakers’ success.

One such enterprise is Gypsy Studios, which calls itself “the art studio on wheels.” It’s the brainchild of longtime Santa Ynez Valley resident and artist Christi Schaeffer, who combined two passions — art and wine — into a hands-on company.

Since founding Gypsy Studios in January, Schaeffer has guided experienced and novice artists in painting classes situated in outdoor “classrooms” — mostly in the vineyards now in bloom across the county.

“We conduct painting classes all over the Santa Ynez Valley and mostly in a plein air environment, meaning outside, capturing the landscape as it is on that given day, often accompanied by great wines from the valley," said Heidi Riehl, Gypsy Studios’ event manager. "This is such a cool pairing, if you will, especially during our 'Painting in the Vineyard' sessions, where we use the parallel between the artistry and unique approach of each winemaker to how each individual has a unique style and approach to art.

“Oftentimes, that winery’s winemaker or tasting room staff will share about the vineyard’s history, the vision for their wine and vineyard, and the style of the wine. It really brings the whole experience together.”

Schaeffer grew up in South Orange County, but at age 16, moved with her family to Santa Ynez and graduated from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

“Christi is a working artist and grew up drawing and painting," Riehl said. "She studied studio art in college at Santa Barbara City College and at Cal State-Fullerton, and took a semester in college to study art history in Florence, Italy.”

Before deciding to pursue her passion as an artist, Schaeffer worked in graphic design, social work, marketing for nonprofits, project management and in the local wine industry, where she worked for in tasting rooms for both Kaena Wine and Kalyra Winery.

Riehl, a native of Tillamook, Ore., now pours wine at Stolpman Vineyards’ Los Olivos tasting room, and previously worked for Oregon’s Lumos Wine Co. She spent nearly 22 years working for a marketing agency, where she focused on publicity and fundraising for nonprofit organizations.

“Photography is more my speed, so (now) I mostly stick to that and marketing, writing and event planning,” Riehl said.

Gypsy Studios’ “Painting in the Vineyard” events accommodate groups of up to 30 people, as well as private classes, company team-building painting sessions, six-week series of classes geared toward small groups, and birthdays/special events, Riehl said.

Speaking of California’s thriving wine industry: According to the Wine Institute, California wine shipments in the United States were 225 million cases in 2014, up 4.4 percent from the previous year. The case figure translates to an estimated retail value of $24.6 billion, up 6.7 percent. California wine sales to all markets, both domestic and international, increased 3.7 percent by volume to 269 million cases in 2014.

“California has had three excellent harvests in both quantity and quality in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and these vintages are receiving global recognition,” said Robert "Bobby" Koch, president and CEO of the San Francisco-based Wine Institute in a May 20 news release.

According to Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights into consumer preferences and purchases in U.S. food stores, total wine volume sales grew 1 percent, while total revenues increased 4 percent.

In measured U.S. off-premise channels, the most popular wine types by volume were Chardonnay (19 percent share), Cabernet Sauvignon (13 percent), Red Blends/Sweet Reds (10 percent), Pinot Grigio (9 percent) and Merlot (8 percent), followed by Moscato (6 percent), Pinot Noir (5 percent), White Zinfandel (5 percent), and Sauvignon Blanc (4 percent). Red blends accounted for the strongest volume gains, along with Moscato, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.

U.S. wine exports, with 90 percent from California, reached $1.5 billion in winery revenues in 2014. Volume shipments were 443 million liters or 49.3 million cases. The European Union was the top destination for U.S. wine exports, accounting for $518 million; followed by Canada, $487 million; Japan, $101 million; China, $71 million; Hong Kong, $69 million; Mexico, $24 million; and South Korea, $22 million.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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San Marcos Vocal Groups Score an Array of Awards at Bay Area Festival

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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The San Marcos High School vocal music groups spent the weekend in the Bay Area competing at the Heritage Spring Festival.

Enchante
San Marcos High School's Enchante vocal group earned a trophy in the Gold Women's Choir Category and the Adjudicator's Award for Women's Choir at the Heritage Spring Festival. (Rachel Shalhoob photo)

Seventy-seven kids and eight chaperones, including San Marcos vocal music teacher Carolyn Teraoka-Brady and her husband, filled two buses and headed north at 4 a.m. Friday morning. 

From Mrs. Teraoka-Brady:

Bus #2 had a flat tire about 30 miles south of King City. They pulled off of the freeway, and while everyone remained on board enjoying snacks and participating in the games provided by  Matt Marquis, a mobile tire service was sent out from Paso Robles. The tire was repaired with everyone on board and we only were delayed by an hour. Bus #1 waited in King City and we drove up to Monterey together.

Beautiful Monterey, Cannery Row and Fisherman's Wharf allowed everyone time to settle in and make a few new friends and deepen other friendships. It was the perfect day for everyone to invest in our group, be responsible thinkers.

After listening to the video recording Bill took, I think Friday's bonding day made us better musicians and singers on Saturday. A little noisy hotel hour or two and thanks to our chaperones, everyone settled in for the next early call on Saturday.

On Saturday, we had breakfast early and boarded the bus dressed in uniforms at 8 a.m. Cubberly Theatre at 8:30, and we met our fantastic accompanist, Margaret Halbig. Margaret played at SMHS while she completed her DMA in collaborative piano from UCSB. Each of the groups had 20 minutes with her and performed for the adjudicators and audience.

Our clinicians were Pat and Marcia Patton of Casper Wyoming College and Casper Children's Chorale. I had the opportunity to meet them at a weeklong choral educators workshop. They are both people who have great hearts and passionate educators. The other clinician was Chris Emig from Diablo Valley College.

After the choir performed, one judge would come up and give a clinic to help make a musical point to help the group. We will have a recording of this soon. The choirs were all receptive, followed their directions and acted very professional with the judges.

We have the written score sheets and I think we will receive the recorded comments, too.

After our performances, we took a few photos and headed off for lunch and the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, with more than 100 bedrooms, more windows than the Empire State Building and many more facts about the woman who married the heir to the Winchester Repeating Rifle estate.

Madcappela
Madcappella of San Marcos took home the trophy for the Gold Large Group Choir Category and the Adjudicator's Award for Large Group Choir. (Rachel Shalhoob photo)

Dinner was at Great America. It was a huge space with bands and choirs all eager to pick up one of the large shiny gold trophies.

In the hour that followed, SMHS choirs received trophies/ awards for:

» Gold Women's Choir Category — Enchante

» Gold Large Group Choir Category — Madcappella

» Gold Chamber Group Choir Category — Madrigal Singers

» Adjudicator's Award for Women's Choir — Enchante

» Adjudicator's Award Large Group Choir — Madcappella

» Adjudicator's Award Chamber Choir — Madrigal Singers

» Sweepstakes Award for the top scores of any band or choir (all three groups)

» Outstanding Choral Group — Madrigal Singers

» Outstanding Soloist, Choir — Megan Wilson

We spent Sunday at Great America and then headed home.

— Rachel Shalhoob is a San Marcos High School parent.

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Block Party, ‘Nonprofit Showcase’ Returning to Calle Real Center in Goleta

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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Calle Real
Representatives from local nonprofits will provide resources and information during the fourth annual Caring and Sharing event June 6 at the Calle Real Center. (Calle Real Center photo)

On June 6 from noon to 3 p.m., the Calle Real Center, located on Calle Real between Patterson and Fairview avenues in Goleta, will be transformed into a neighborhood Block Party and “nonprofit” showcase.

It will be a great day of fun with three bounce houses and an obstacle course. There will be two face painters, fantastic balloon animals, a wandering musician and costumed characters featuring your favorite green tinker fairy and Captain Jack the Pirate. Kids will also be able to meet our first responders up close and see a county fire truck, AMR ambulance and sheriff’s cruiser. Delicious food samples will be available from participating restaurants.

Animal rescue and adoption groups will show off the cutest dogs and cats to potential new family members in several places around the mall, including The Pet House. There will be music with groups from Santa Barbara Youth Music Academy at the Nugget, Doug Giordani playing something for everyone as he wanders the event with his guitar and vocal stylings by Sloane Reali and some of her students courtesy of Baroness Jewelers.

At the same time all that fun is going on, the center will be overflowing with nonprofit organizations, sharing the spaces in front of the stores, ready to show the public just what it is that makes these nonprofits so valuable to our community. This is a fun and educational opportunity. Both the Goleta and Santa Barbara Chambers of Commerce are supporting the event once again.

A big thanks to the media sponsors, Rincon Broadcasting/K-Lite, Noozhawk, the Santa Barbara Independent, Santa Barbara Sentinel, ParentClick, Goleta Gazette and Santa Barbara Big City Buzz. Support is also provided by Tea in Tiaras, Sidekick Creative, the UPS Store, Macaroni Kids and the many fine merchants of the Calle Real Center. The wonderful students at EF International will be helping to staff the event this year.

Fifty merchants will participate and hundreds of parents and kids are expected to come by and enjoy the festivities while supporting their favorite non-profits and learning more about our community and the people and groups that make it such a special place.

Nonprofits already signed up to participate this year are: Habitat for Humanity, Center for Sustainable Energy, American Heart Association, AAUW (American Association for University Women), SB Genealogical Society, Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast, Girls Inc., Coastal Self Defense, Tri County Arthritis Foundation, Jodi House Brain Injury, Friendship Center, United Boys and Girls Club Goleta Unit, Rental Housing Mediation Task Force, Domestic Violence Solutions, Rotary Club of Goleta, Rape Crisis Center, Devereux, Ice in Paradise, Alzheimer’s Association, Center for Successful Aging, Hospice of Santa Barbara, Calm, IV YMCA, Toastmasters International Santa Barbara, Humane Society, Central Coast Type I Diabetes Foundation, Santa Barbara Partners in Education, Little League Challengers, sbSNAP.org, Down Syndrome, Friendship Center, American Cancer Society, Santa Barbara Response Network, Pathpoint, United Way, Isla Vista Youth Project, Santa Barbara Village, K-9 Pals, ASAP, Villa Majella,  North Side Optimists, FoodBank of SB, Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation, SB County Air Pollution Control District, SEE International, Parkinson’s Association of SB, What is Love Teens, Family Services Agency, Goleta Chamber, Give a Dog a Home, William Sansum Diabetes Center, Goleta Library, Friends of Goleta Library, New Directions Travel, Special Olympics, Goleta Valley Historical Society, Goleta Valley Community Center, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training, Koinonia Family Services, SBCC New Center for Lifelong Learning, Food From the Heart, Unite-to-Light, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, Visiting Nurse Hospice and Santa Barbara Youth Music Academy.

Presented by the Calle Real Merchants Association. For more information, contact Glenn Avolio at [email protected] or 805.886.5438.

— Glenn Avolio represents the Calle Real Center.

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Woman Hurt in Fall From Horse in Hope Ranch

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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A woman was seriously injured Monday afternoon when she fell from a horse while riding at Hope Ranch Beach, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Crews responded just after 12:30 p.m. to a report of a woman in her 40s who had fallen from her horse at the private-access beach, Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.

The woman suffered a moderate head injury and was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment, he said.

No other details were immediately available.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church to Gather in Prayer for Oil-Spill Response

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church will hold a Prayer for Creation as a way for the community to respond to the May 19 oil spill near Refugio State Beach.

“The wider Santa Barbara community is invited to join this prayer as we give thanks for the bounty of God’s resources, grieve the current disaster, and pray for the right use of this fragile Earth, our island home,” said the Rev. Aimée Eyer-Delevett, All Saints’ rector.

Eyer-Delevett said the Prayer for Creation will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday in the church sanctuary, at 83 Eucalyptus Lane in Montecito.

All Saints Church celebrates Holy Eucharist at 8 and 10 a.m. Sundays and 8 a.m. Tuesdays. An Eventide service and supper is held at 6 p.m. Wednesdays.

The parish will hold its “end-of-the-year” barbecue after the 10 a.m. service Sunday.

Click here for more information about All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, or call 805.969.4771.

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SBPD Invites Community to Have ‘Coffee with a Cop’ This Thursday at Starbucks on State Street

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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The Santa Barbara Police Department invites you to have "Coffee with a Cop."

Please join us for the next in a continuing series of informal community meetings that take place at different coffee shop venues throughout the city.

No agendas or guest speakers, just an opportunity to sit and talk to a Santa Barbara police officer about anything that may concern you, your customers, clients or employees.

Our last event brought residents, community leaders and representatives from the Police Department together to discuss quality-of-life issues and to exchange ideas.

This time we'll be downtown, from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, May 28 at Starbucks, 800 State St.

Please contact the Beat Coordinator Unit with any questions at 805.897.2407.

— Sgt. Riley Harwood is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara Police Department.

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Curious Cup Bookstore Hosting Book Signing with Children’s Author Lee Wardlaw

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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Award-winning children’s book author Lee Wardlaw will read from and autograph copies of her newest book for preschoolers, Won Ton and Chopsticks: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, June 14 at Curious Cup Bookstore, 3817½ Santa Claus Lane in Carpinteria.

The event is free.

Won Ton has a happy life with his boy, until …

Ears perk. Fur prickles.

Belly low, I creep … peek … FREEZE!

My eyes full of Doom.

A new puppy arrives, and nothing will be the same. Told entirely in haiku and with plenty of catitude, the story of how Won Ton faces down the enemy is a fresh and funny twist on a familiar rivalry.

June is National Adopt-a-Cat Month, and to celebrate, Wardlaw will be reading and signing copies of her newest book. There will also be face painting (kitty faces!), paw print balloons, cat cupcakes, a raffle, free catnip mousies, cat chopsticks, bookmarks and more.

Fifteen percent of the book's proceeds will go to ResQcats, a nonprofit sanctuary dedicated to the rescue, care and adoption of abandoned cats and kittens.

Please tell a friend and join the fun! All ages welcome.

— Kiona Gross represents Curious Cup Bookstore.

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SBCAN to Honor Five Individuals, Organizations During North County Looking Forward Awards Dinner

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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Santa Barbara County Action Network will honor five individuals and organizations during its North County Looking Forward Awards Dinner on Sunday, June 7 at the Historic Santa Maria Inn, 801 S. Broadway in Santa Maria.

The reception starts at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. Members of the public are invited to attend.

The awards are as follows: Deborah Tobola and the Poetic Justice Project, “Looking Forward Award” for leadership and vision; Al Thompson, “Environmental Protection & Sustainability Award”; Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt, ”Social Justice Award”; Peoples' Self-Help Housing, “Working Families Award”; and Laura and Ron Selken, “Giving Back to the Community Award.”

The Looking Forward Award recognizes strong leadership and vision in community building, civic engagement and improving the quality of life in our community.

Tobola started the local Poetic Justice Project in 2009 to engage formerly incarcerated youth and adults in original plays that examine crime, punishment and redemption. It helps people to reintegrate into the community.

Through the project, 87 actors have appeared in 12 theater productions. Many are active in their communities — creating art, mentoring at-risk youth, counseling people coming out of jail and prison, advocating on behalf of indigent people, and studying at Hancock or Cuesta colleges.

Several PJP actors have gone on to act in local community theater productions. One started a theater company. Another stars in a new web TV show.

The Social Justice Award is given for promoting fairness, tolerance, equality, respect and compassion for all people in our community.

Lyons-Pruitt grew up with the injustices prevalent in the Deep South. This helped her develop her passion for defense-related work, civil and human rights, and social justice.

She is the chief investigator for the county Public Defender’s Office, the first African-American female in California to hold this distinction. She is a founding member of the Defense Investigator Training Accreditation Academy and a board member of Defense Investigators Association.

She is the president of the Santa Maria-Lompoc NAACP and hospitality chair and trustee of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. She is a member of the Five Cities Diversity Coalition and of the Santa Maria Valley Democratic Club.

The Giving Back to the Community Award recognizes those who give back selflessly to the community through volunteer activities and community projects.

The Selkens volunteer with the Santa Maria Noontimers Lions where Ron has served as club president, among other positions, and Laura is serving as secretary and newsletter editor.

They are involved with the Democratic Club of Santa Maria Valley, with Laura serving on the board and editing the monthly newsletter. They are active in their mobile-home park, assisting with various activities including the monthly news magazine.

Laura also sits on the boards of the local Literacy Council, the North Santa Barbara County Manufactured Homeowners Team, and the AAUW and the Santa Maria Public Library. She also serves on the county Library Advisory Committee.

The Environmental Protection and Sustainability Award is given for valuing, protecting, and preserving our natural resources and environment.

Thompson has written garden columns on sustainability, encouraging the idea that gardens can be practical and artistic.

He has interpreted Chumash uses of native plants and became the garden historian at La Purisima Mission. He encouraged exploration of wildflowers and plants along the mission trails, eventually having one of the trails named after him.

He is a docent at the Arroyo Hondo Preserve where he leads hiking tours and explains the importance of natural habitats. His own garden is open for the sharing of ideas.

The Working Families Award is for helping working families to obtain affordable health care, housing, educational and job opportunities; or to improve wages, benefits, working conditions, and worker rights.

Peoples’ Self-Help Housing develops affordable housing and community facilities for low-income households and homeownership opportunities for working families, seniors, veterans, the disabled and the homeless in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties.

Since 1970, they have developed about 380 self-help homes in Guadalupe, Santa Maria, Tanglewood and Los Alamos, including 117 in Santa Maria for farm workers and their families and 57 units for limited-income elderly residents and developmentally disabled households; 80 units in Orcutt; and 80 in Guadalupe.

Click here for more information.

— Jeanne Sparks represents the Santa Barbara County Action Network.

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Chumash Administrator Veronica Sandoval Named to County’s Child Welfare Safety Net Task Force

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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Sandoval
Veronica Sandoval

Veronica Sandoval, the administrator for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation and a tribal descendant, has been appointed to Santa Barbara County’s Child Welfare Safety Net Task Force.

In April, the county Board of Supervisors voted to convene a task force that would assess the overall system of public- and community-based child welfare services that address the needs of children who become, or are at risk of becoming, dependents of the court. According to the county’s website, there are more than 500 children in the foster care system, and approximately one-third of them are age 5 or younger.

“In my experience as a foster/adoptive parent, and through my work commitments and involvement in the community, I have become increasingly aware of the high number of foster youth in our county,” Sandoval said. “Joining this task force is a chance to make sure our community’s foster kids are provided with as many opportunities and resources as possible.”

The Child Welfare System is composed of at least 25 public- and community-based organizations that play a role in identifying, reporting, investigating and responding to reports and findings of abuse or neglect. While these organizations assess their own systems, the county determined there was a need to conduct an in-depth analysis of the Child Welfare System as a whole.

The Child Welfare Safety Net Task Force features five individuals who have committed to participating in a nine- to 12-month appointment that will culminate with a report to the county Board of Supervisors. The report is intended to identify which parts of the system are working, which areas need to be improved, which needs aren’t currently being met, and the possible solutions that could fill the gaps.

— Mike Traphagen is a public relations specialist for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

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Volunteers Can Now Help With Refugio Oil-Spill Response

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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Training sessions scheduled for dealing with hazardous materials

After being held at bay for nearly a week for safety reasons, volunteers are now being accepted to help with the Refugio oil spill clean-up efforts.

There will be several local training sessions this week to get people prepared for the hazardous-materials environment on the affected beaches west of Goleta and Santa Barbara.

The unified command handling the oil spill have turned away volunteers in the past week, not wanting people to head out on their own, but are now using trained members of the public to help, including the Santa Barbara County Community Emergency Response Team, California Conservation Corps, local fire hand crews, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife's Natural Resource Volunteer Program. 

The May 19 spill from a crude oil pipeline sent an estimated 21,000 gallons into the ocean near Refugio State Beach and could have leaked a total of 105,000 gallons, with the majority of the spill on land, according to the company responsible, Plains All American Pipeline.

A multi-agency response effort has resulted in thousands of gallons skimmed off the ocean surface and scooped off the beaches of the Gaviota Coast.

The state, County of Santa Barbara and City of Goleta declared states of emergency in response to the spill, which has resulted in closures of campground and day-use areas at both Refugio and El Capitan state beaches.

Oil from the spill has not appeared to hit beaches southeast of El Capitan, which is about 10 miles east of Goleta, but oiled wildlife have been found outside the area, officials said.

Volunteers from the Oiled Wildlife Care Network have been working with OSPR to collect and help oil-impacted wildlife, and people are asked to report any oiled animals to 1.877.823.6926.

People who want to help with the clean-up efforts must be 18 years old and can register for trainings and assignments here. Only registered volunteers can participate in the trainings, according to authorities in the incident's unified command.  

The following trainings are currently scheduled, with more information available on the CalSpillWatch website. There is also a volunteer hotline activated at 1.800.228.4544. 

Hazard Safety Communication Training: 

Monday, May 25, from 1-5 p.m. 100 slots open. 

Thursday, May 28, from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m., both sessions have 100 slots open. 

Beach Cleanup: 

Wednesday, May 27, from 1-5 p.m.  

Saturday, May 30, from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. 

Sunday, May 31, from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. 

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Letter to the Editor: Do Not Forget the Sacrifices of the Fallen

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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Today, May 25, is Memorial Day. It is a day many of us will attend parades, barbecues or other social events.

More importantly, it is a day when Americans can reflect, honor and remember the sacrifices of our soldiers throughout history. They have sacrificed everything so we can be free.

As Winston Churchill said, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

May we all honor in our own way the memory of our fallen so their spirits live on.

Diana and Don Thorn
Carpinteria

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‘SWEAT & Flow for Gracie’ Community Fundraiser Planned to Support Gracie Fisher, Family

By | Published on 05/25/2015

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Bring your family out and join us for an awesome community fundraiser, "SWEAT & Flow for Gracie," supporting Gracie Fisher and her family from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday, May 31 at De la Guerra Plaza behind Lululemon.

The event will feature a 45-minute SWEAT workout with Kayla Johnson, followed by a 45-minute Flow Yoga session led by Stephanie Besler of Yasa Yoga. The workout is free, but we are asking all participants to donate toward the Gracie fund.

Local DJ Mike Edwards will be there to get things rocking, and food will be provided by Carlos Luna of Los Agaves, the good folks at Proyo and others.

This is sure to be a good time, so come get your sweat on for a great cause!

Hosts Kayla Johnson, Stephanie Besler and Lululemon Santa Barbara are looking forward to seeing you there!

More information is available on the SWEAT Outdoors website and Facebook page. We’re asking that you RSVP via Eventbrite by clicking here.

— Kayla Johnson is a host for the SWEAT & Flow for Gracie event.

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I Madonnari Festival Chalk Full of Color as Artists’ Creations Come to Life

By | Published on 05/24/2015

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Drawing on famous artwork and iconic scenes as inspiration, street painters get down and dirty at Santa Barbara Mission

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For the 29th year, the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival brought art, food and entertainment to the Santa Barbara Mission. The annual Memorial Day weekend festival is a fundraiser for the Children’s Creative Project.

Artists coated in chalk from head to toe sprawled across the pavement in front of the church, turning the hot black asphalt into a kaleidoscope of color as passers-by gawked at and took photos of the large-scale drawings.

The I Madonnari festival continues Monday, Memorial Day, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the mission, 2201 Laguna St.

Tents set up in the grassy area by the chalk drawings featured a variety of food and drinks for spectators.

The scent of barbecued chicken and veggies wafted over dozens of tables where families and friends gathered together to eat while a band played jazz standards in the background.

Proceeds from the purchase of barbecued food, Italian sausage sandwiches, snow cones and gelato all fund the Children’s Creative Project, a local nonprofit arts organization affiliated with the Santa Barbara County Education Office and host of the I Madonnari festival.

“Every piece of food you put in your mouth has donated money toward this effort,” said Diane Pulverman, board vice president of the Children’s Creative Project.

The mission of the Children’s Creative Project is to keep art in local schools. Proceeds from the fundraiser provide stipends for the programs.

“When they are bringing in performing artists, musicians, fine artists, storytellers, etc. they will be able to use that to pay for it,” Pulverman said. “We use it to put on at least one free performance at a local theater where the students are bused in. We try to piggy back off of (UCSB) Arts & Lectures, where the artist will do their UCSB performance and then work with us the next day.”

The first I Madonnari festival was held in Santa Barbara in 1987, before the idea caught fire and spread throughout California and elsewhere.

Kathy Koury, executive director of the Children’s Creative Project, had just been to Italy where she had seen the street painting festival in Grazie Di Curtatone.

“I had been seeking a fundraising idea for many years, so when I saw this, I thought, ‘This is perfect because it shows the creative process in action,’” she told Noozhawk. “It’s not about a finished project its about the joy of making art.”

Koury came up with the idea of sponsored squares to raise money, along with food and drinks.

This was the first festival of its kind in North America. Now there are at least 100 of these in the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America, she said.

“I feel really happy today,” Koury said. “It’s a lot of work building up to it but now I can just sit and watch what we’ve created.”

Amanda Zunino was putting the finishing touches on the square sponsored by Arts for Humanity!, a local nonprofit organization that helps low-income, at-risk youth, persons with disabilities and the elderly through participatory performing and visual arts programs.

“It’s really interesting, working with pastel chalk,” she said. “It’s a lot more like painting than drawing.”

Karsen Lee Gould, founder and creative executive director of Arts for Humanity!, explained the group’s choice for inspiration.

Marc Chagall is our iconic ‘resident artist,’” she said. “Each year, I choose one of the Chagall pieces and then I tweak some piece of it to add an element of Santa Barbara.

“This year, we took his original and included a palm tree and the ocean in the background.”

Noozhawk intern Ana Mezic​ can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Michelle Malkin: How Obama Radically Transformed America’s Patent System

By | Published on 05/24/2015

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Patent law is not something most Americans are passionate about or have ever contemplated — which is exactly why the Obama White House and Congress got away with making radical changes to our time-tested traditions of protecting the fruits of entrepreneurial inventors’ labor.

It’s yet another progressive horror story of abandoning what works in the name of what’s politically trendy. For left-wing saboteurs and their Big Business GOP enablers, this means throwing our unique patent system and its constitutional underpinnings under an 18-wheeler.

So-called “patent reform” proposals continue to plague Capitol Hill. But like health-care “reform” and education “reform,” these government cures are worse than any purported disease.

As part of his ongoing bid to “fundamentally transform” America, President Barack Obama signed the Orwellian-titled America Invents Act (AIA) in 2011. If truth-in-advertising laws applied to politicians who front massively complex bills that do the opposite of what they proclaim to do, these hucksters would be jailed for their patently fraudulent “reform” legislation.

Co-sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the law was marketed as a job-creation vehicle that would relieve a backlog of an estimated 700,000 patent applications and crack down on patent “trolls” supposedly abusing the system through frivolous litigation against alleged infringers.

In truth, the AIA and its legislative successors are special-interest boondoggles that enrich corporate lawyers, Big Business and federal bureaucrats at the expense of the independent inventors and fledgling innovators the American patent system was created to protect and encourage.

The AIA’s primary agenda? “Harmonizing” our patent laws with the rest of the world to reward paper-pushers who are “first to file” at the patent office, instead of those who are “first to invent.”

These and other measures enacted by Obama threaten to drive garage tinkerers and small inventors — the designers, engineers and builders of American prosperity — out of the marketplace.

Longtime venture capitalist Gary Lauder noted that the first-to-file system has suppressed solo and small-business innovation in Europe and Japan.

“The U.S. gets 10 times the angel and venture capital of Western Europe — which recently declared an ‘innovation emergency,’” Lauder observed. “So why are we harmonizing with them? They should be harmonizing with us.”

Amen! Our founders knew that progress would come not merely at the hands of “great” inventors pioneering extraordinary breakthroughs, but also by the widespread invention and improvement of ordinary and “small” contrivances and advancements. In 1790, they created and refined a decentralized, market-based patent system that added the “fuel of interest” to the “fire of genius,” in the words of America’s only president to hold a patent, Abraham Lincoln.

Rather than denigrate the profit motive, the patent and copyright clause of the Constitution celebrates and encourages “individual effort by personal gain (as) the best way to advance public welfare through the talents of authors and inventors.”

But the European-style “first to file” now in place in America is a “forced to file” regime that incentivizes a hasty stampede to the federal patent office. In the name of global harmony, we now reward paper-pushing attorneys — whether or not they’re representing true first inventors.

Instead of “streamlining” the application process and reducing paperwork backlogs, the AIA induces corporations to inundate patent examiners with incomplete placeholder applications that will inevitably need to be amended, refined and reconsidered. This is not patent “reform.” It’s a Big Business Patent Lawyers’ Full Employment Act.

Like Obamacare, the sheer size and complexity of the AIA nullify the dubious benefits the White House and its statist lobbying pals claim it will bring.

University of Virginia law professor John Duffy points out that the law is 140 pages long, “more than twice the length of the entire federal patent statute” since its last recodification in 1952.

Stuffed with earmarks and bribes for the banking industry, Michigan Democrats who lobbied for a new satellite patent office in Detroit, and other well-connected cronies, the AIA’s 37 sections are intentionally complex. Its sloppy drafting will result in “cases interpreting the law going to the courts for 20 years before lawyers really know how to advise clients,” patent lawyer David Boundy predicted.

Last week, yet another similar patent “reform” package that supposedly takes aim at a tiny minority of patent “trolls” (again) is being rammed through Congress. But in practice, the “Innovation Act” legislation (H.R. 9) makes it harder for garage inventors and small businesses to protect themselves from having their inventions and ideas stolen,” inventor Louis Foreman warns, by further obstructing their ability to enforce their intellectual property rights and bring legitimate patent infringement cases to court.

Global competitors certainly pose serious external threats to America’s role as an innovation leader. But we face grave existential threats within our own borders: homegrown ignorance, apathy and downright hostility toward the independent entrepreneurs who make America great.

Real “reform” begins with the repeal of the innovation-stifling “America Invents Act” and a return to first constitutional principles that maintain a level playing field among makers and builders of all shapes and sizes.

Michelle Malkin is author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies. Contact her at [email protected], follow her on Twitter: @michellemalkin, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Susan Estrich: Why No One Cares About Hillary Clinton’s Emails

By | Published on 05/24/2015

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I have watched the paid chatterers shaking their bobbed heads or frowning their well-practiced frown or just grimacing in frustration as they lament the seeming foolishness of the “American people” in not responding with greater shock and awe to the growing revelation that Hillary Clinton used her private email system to forward nonclassified information with notes such as “interesting” or “worth pursuing” to her top national security aide.

Shocking. Forwarding nonclassified material. I’m horrified. Seriously, I’m not.

To be honest, and this is shocking, I think I’m with the “American people” on this one.

Who cares?

And if it’s about the Clintons, really who cares? If you don’t have enough information now to form an opinion on Hillary’s character or fitness for high office, then, for goodness’ sake, some emails from Sidney Blumenthal aren’t going to do the trick.

In my experience, everyone in positions of power gets emails from Blumenthal. I did, back then. I’m sure I forwarded them with an appropriate note. Arrest me.

Seriously, the frustrating indifference of the polled public to the scandal of the secretary of state’s home email system underscores the challenges that are going to face the lucky Republican nominee. Teflon doesn’t begin to describe it.

It’s not that people think it was right for the secretary of state to use a private system. You’d think the Clintons would know by now that nothing in their universe will ever be private, and that is a measure both of its significance and our curiosity.

Would it have been better to use the “official” system? Of course. And should they have dumped the whole thing at the appropriate government doorstep the minute the story broke, rather than letting it drip out day by day as if there was more to hide than the Blumenthal dispatches? Of course.

But would that have been the Clintons we love, hate, tolerate or ignore? No matter how long they’ve been in the spotlight, they do this. And the Republicans overdo it, and then it goes away.

Because it doesn’t matter that much. That’s the truth of it. It doesn’t.

If you didn’t know the Clintons, you’d worry that maybe this pointed to some more important flaw, or that there might be something of significance in the emails. But knowing the Clintons, you know this has absolutely nothing to do with Hillary’s ability to face the problems in Libya or the Middle East.

It’s not a reflection of her competence. Unknown candidates have to prove their competence, and even small mistakes (Remember when George W. Bush flubbed the “world leader” test?) take on larger meaning for the simple reason that they’re all we have to go on. When we don’t have two decades of experience to inform us, we need signs.

The challenge for the Republican contenders is that they face the silly season in which a dozen candidates, most of whom have no business being on the stage if its purpose is to test the acumen of a future president, will be treated as equals, introduced as a future president, which, in some cases, is a really absurd notion. And when they’re all standing on the same stage, you can’t help but wonder who would make the best future host on Fox News.

In the meantime, on the merits, the candidates are tripping over each other to appeal to a branch of their party they will largely flee by the time one of them is doing the big debate next year — by which time Hillary’s emails should be long forgotten.

Susan Estrich is a best-selling author, the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the USC Law Center and was campaign manager for 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. Click here to contact her or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Motorcyclist Suffers Major Injuries in Highway 154 Crash Near Rancho San Marcos Golf Course

By | Published on 05/24/2015

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A motorcyclist suffered major injuries Sunday in a crash on Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The wreck occurred at about 10 a.m. near Live Oak Camp and Rancho San Marcos Golf Course, fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.

The rider — a man who appeared to be in his 30s — suffered a likely broken femur and possible shoulder injuries, and was taken by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The man’s name and condition were not immediately available.

County firefighters were assisted on the call by crews from Los Padres National Forest.

The cause of the crash remained under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Bakersfield Woman Dies in Highway 166 Crash East of Santa Maria

By | Published on 05/24/2015

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20-year-old driver ejected in rollover wreck after apparently losing control of car early Sunday near Rockfront Ranch

A 20-year-old Bakersfield woman was killed Sunday in a single-vehicle wreck on Highway 166 east of Santa Maria, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Emergency crews were called out shortly after 7:30 a.m. to the crash scene — two miles west of Rockfront Ranch and about 20 miles from Santa Maria, fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the Ford Focus was eastbound at a high speed when the driver lost control of the car.

The vehicle rolled down an embankment, and the driver, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected, the CHP said.

Zaniboni said the driver, the sole occupant of the vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene.

It was not known if alcohol was a factor in the crash, the CHP said.

The victim’s name was withheld pending notification of relatives.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Santa Maria Woman Jailed on DUI, Hit-and-Run Charges After 2 Collisions

By | Published on 05/23/2015

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Tarcelia Perez

A 21-year-old woman is facing felony hit-and-run and DUI charges after she allegedly was involved in two collisions Saturday in Santa Maria.

Tarcelia Perez of Santa Maria was taken into custody shortly before noon, according to Santa Maria police Sgt. Mark Norling.

The first collision occurred at Donovan Road and Railroad Avenue.

“The vehicle that caused the collision, a 2002 Toyota Corolla, fled the scene but was followed by a witness,”​ Norling said.

A short time later, he said, the Corolla was involved in another collision at Main Street and Blosser Road.

“Officers observed the suspect fleeing and attempted to stop it at Highway 166 and Black Road,”​ Norling said.

“The vehicle failed to yield to officers for approximately four miles.”

He said the vehicle became disabled and pulled over just east of Simas Road.

Perez was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of felony DUI, felony hit and run, evading a peace officer, and driving with a suspended license, Norling said.

The 28-year-old driver of one of the vehicles hit by the Corolla sustained minor injuries and was taken to Marian Regional Medical Center.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Isla Vista Lights Up As Community Remembers 6 UCSB Students Killed in 2014 Massacre

By | Published on 05/23/2015

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Hundreds join procession from Storke Plaza into the heart of I.V. for one-year anniversary vigil at People’s Park

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Enveloped in warm blue LED light, walking arm-in-arm or standing apart, a procession of hundreds quietly moved through Isla Vista on Saturday night to remember those who no longer walk beside them.

The crowd passed the IV Deli and the 7-Eleven, making their way around the community, where a candlelight vigil at People’s Park would mark one year since a deranged man’s murderous rampage on May 23, 2014, left six UC Santa Barbara students dead and dozens more injured.

With tiny lights in the palms of their hands — and blue woven bracelets on their wrists — the continuous glow seemed to make mourners stronger, creating a light bigger than any individual and one that would lead them out of the darkness of their grief.

The vigil traveled from UCSB’s Storke Plaza to the park, where attendees sat on chairs, on the grass or on some of the six newly dedicated benches in the memorial garden.

The names of the victims were spoken aloud, each given life through the words of family, friends and UCSB administrators:

George Chen, Katie Cooper, Chen Yuan “James” Hong, Christopher Ross Michael-Martinez, Weihan “David” Wang and Veronika Weiss.

Everyone was invited to speak in the open-mic format, beginning with the families who lost the most.

Parents of the slain young men and women thanked supporters for continuing to honor their loved ones, and wished them a lifetime of happiness — something their children were robbed of.

“I love you, regardless of who you are,” said Chen’s mother, Kelly Wang.

She brought the crowd to tears with her emotional plea to end senseless killing of the innocent, acknowledging the “light of love” they all held in their hands.

Attendees respectfully raised their blue lights skyward in somber salute.

UCSB professor Kum-Kum Bhavnani read a letter from Hong’s family, who described their son as a kindhearted person with a big smile.

Hong was the type of young man who saved seats on the bus for strangers who needed them, who became a vegetarian at a young age because “animals have feelings, too.”

The letter urged others to quell the violence in video games, television and media that make aggression seem commonplace.

Richard Martinez read a short poem his son, Christopher, wrote years before he was fatally shot. In it, he left a message of living on even after loved ones are gone.

“For their sake, we must also live,” Martinez said.

Michael-Martinez’s uncle said he had been dreading the anniversary but was heartened by the sight of so many.

Attendees made no mention of the 22-year-old murderer, Elliot Rodger, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound as authorities closed in on him on Del Playa Drive. According to authorities and to videos he posted online, the Santa Barbara City College dropout from Woodland Hills was seeking revenge and retribution for what he perceived as an unending string of rejection from women.

Authorities say Rodger brutally stabbed to death his roommates, Hong and Wang, and then Chen, who had gone to their Seville Road apartment to check on his friends. Rodger then raced his BMW around Isla Vista, shooting to death Cooper, Weiss and Michael-Martinez.

Many of those in attendance Saturday night spoke of getting more help for those who seek — and so desperately need — it.

On the anniversary of one of the most difficult moments in UCSB history, Chancellor Henry Yang said the vigil showed that tragedy unites, not divides.

He said a scholarship has been created in each of the six students’ names and will be presented to students who share similar passions and interests.

“Their memories are shining down on us like the soft glow of these blue lights,” Yang said.

A student wearing a sorority sweatshirt led a couple of verses of “This Little Light of Mine,” with the crowd readily joining in.

Another student read a poem. One of Weiss’ water polo teammates asked that everyone live life to the fullest — as she had — and a third lamented that more people weren’t in attendance.

A friend of Cooper’s encouraged mourners to open up to other people as he had with her. Although he lost a friend, he said, he’s gained so many since because of the love she inspired in others.

“If I’m remembered like this when I’m gone, then that’s all I could hope for,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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With Santa Maria Elks Rodeo on Horizon, Judges Whittle Down Winning Whiskers at Beard-A-Reno Dinner

By | Published on 05/23/2015

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Continuing a 56-year tradition, contestants split hairs for best beard before 72nd annual rodeo rides into town Thursday

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

With whiskers on full display, the best beards and most marvelous mustaches were plucked from a field of contestants Saturday night in Santa Maria.

The 56th Annual Beard-A-Reno starts a busy week leading up to the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, which begins Thursday and runs through May 31.

Approximately 400 people attended Saturday night’s dinner at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge, where awards were given out for winning whiskers in a dozen categories.

“If you didn’t come here to have fun, by God you’re in the wrong place,” exclaimed Keith Barks, a past exalted rule and former rodeo chairman who served as the master of ceremonies for Beard-A-Reno.

The 44 contestants began entering the whisker-grown event in February as they competed for custom-made silver belt buckles.

Categories included longest beard, blackest beard, whitest beard, reddest beard, best goatee, best mustache, best sideburns, best attempt, wildest, best Western characterization, ladies’ choice and best All-Around.

The winner of Miss Wrangler also was named.

“Let’s git ’er done, boys,” Barks said as the judges began their handiwork.

The best beards weren’t picked by eyesight. Armed with flashlights, the judges peered deep into the whiskers to ensure the growers weren’t involved in shenanigans such as using dye.

The rowdy crowd cheered on their favorites, often chanting their contestant number to sway the judges.

The full list of winners were:

» Reddest — Steven Davis 

» Blackest — Michael Gonzales

» Whitest — Jeff Fitzgerald

» Best Goatee — Tyler Maretti 

» Longest — Jaime Needham 

» Wildest — Brian Elwell 

» Best Mustache — Kyle Wilson 

» Best Sideburns — Maxwell Shrubb

» Best Attempt — John Chisum 

» Best Western — Junior Galindo 

» Ladies Choice — Bill Wurth 

» Best All-Around — Mike Sczepanik and Brian Elwell

»  Miss Wrangler — Elaine Twitchell

Saturday night’s event leads up to the 72nd annual rodeo at the Santa Maria Elks/Unocal Event Center, east of Highway 101 near Santa Maria Way.

 

Performances, featuring a full slate of rodeo competition, will start at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. May 31. Gates open two hours before the starting time.

Throughout the rodeo, pro athletes and animals will compete in saddle bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing and bareback riding. On Friday night, the rodeo queen will be crowned, capping a six-week fundraising campaign.

This year’s princesses and their sponsors are Sarai Calderon, Your Orcutt Youth Organization; Taylor Glines, VTC EnterprisesTaelor Janes, Santa Maria Noontimers Lions Club; and Jasmine Rodriguez, Kiwanis Club of Guadalupe.

More than 200 entries will travel south on Broadway from Main Street to Enos Drive, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. Click here for the parade lineup.

Also Saturday, Cowboys Kickin’ Cancer will raise money for Mission Hope Cancer Center.

Rodeo tickets can be purchased at a discounted price through Wednesday from the Albertsons stores in Santa Maria, Orcutt and Buellton; Boot Barn in Santa Maria; and Carr’s Boots in Santa Maria. Click here to purchase tickets online.

Active-duty military members and their families (limit four tickets) will be admitted for free with a current identification card.

For more information, call the Elks Rodeo Office at 805.925.4125.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Santa Barbara County Firefighters Join Oil-Spill Cleanup — Again

By | Published on 05/23/2015

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Hand-crew team was among first to respond to pipeline break, then was delayed from further work by bureaucratic red tape and required training

Members of Santa Barbara County’s wildland firefighting hand crew were among the first emergency personnel to respond to last week’s oil pipeline break near Refugio State Beach.

They were called in to provide extra manpower for the initial effort to dam up the crude oil, which was flowing to the shoreline and fouling the park’s picturesque cove.

The 25-member team remained on the sidelines after the first day, however, as federal and state agencies took control of the response to the spill and the cleanup effort.

That all changed Saturday, when County Crew 1 donned white protective suits and blue helmets, and hit the shoreline at Refugio, helping to remove oil-soaked sand and vegetation from the beach, according to Capt. Dave Zaniboni, a Fire Department spokesman.

“It’s a good thing,”​ Zaniboni said. “We’re finally able to provide some local support. We’ve been wanting to get involved since the beginning.”

The spill began late on the morning of May 19, when a 24-inch line owned by Plains All American Pipeline ruptured on the north side of Highway 101, sending an estimated 21,000 gallons of oil down through a culvert, onto the beach and into the ocean.

Officials have estimated that as much as 105,000 gallons leaked altogether, with the bulk remaining on shore. Cause of the break has not been determined.

Globs of oil coat rocks at Refugio State Beach on Saturday. Crews were concentrating mainly on the sand and vegetation. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)
Globs of oil coat rocks at Refugio State Beach on Saturday. Crews were concentrating mainly on the sand and vegetation. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

The county firefighters, who are based at Lake Cachuma, already had been trained in hazardous-materials response, Zaniboni said, but the department had to provide the necessary documentation to the U.S. Coast Guard, which is heading up the response. That took time.

The crew was put through additional training specific to dealing with petroleum on Friday and Saturday morning, Zaniboni added, and then was cleared for duty.

“They were given a stretch of beach near Refugio, and another just north of El Capitán,” he said. “They’ll keep doing it as long as they’re needed.”

The county crews join hundreds of other workers, who continue to toil on land and sea to remove the oil contamination and rescue injured wildlife.

At an afternoon media briefing, Dr. Mike Ziccardi, director of the California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network at UC Davis, said his organization has received reports of oil-covered wildlife from as far away as Point Conception and Ventura.

This is due to animals traveling through or exiting the spill area, he said.

Rick McMichael, senior director of operations for Plains All American Pipeline, told reporters that the fleet of vessels involved in skimming oil from the ocean had collected negligible amounts in the last 24 hours.

Excavation at the site of the pipeline break was halted Saturday afternoon while bins of tainted material were removed, he said.

A seal pup hauled up onto the shore Saturday at Refugio State Beach. The animal did not appear to be affected by oil. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)
A seal pup hauled up onto the shore Saturday at Refugio State Beach. The animal did not appear to be affected by oil. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

The company is still working to remove oil from the damaged pipeline, although he said more than 15,000 gallons had been removed as of Saturday morning.

It will take until at least Sunday night to complete that process, he said.

The line has been shut down indefinitely, and federal officials have ordered the damaged section of pipe to be removed and sent off for testing.

While officials from various agencies were providing updates for assembled media at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, a group of 30 to 50 protesters chanted slogans outside. The demonstrators were kept away from the event by sheriff’s deputies.

Refugio and El Capitán state parks remained closed to the public, a significant blow for the Memorial Day weekend, and are unlikely to reopen until early June, officials have said.

Authorities provided the following phone numbers to the public:

» To report oiled wildlife: 1.877.823.6926

» Volunteer information: 1.800.228.4544

» To file damage claims: 1.866.753.3619

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Anti-oil protesters demonstrated Saturday at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, where officials were providing a media briefing on the Refugion spill cleanup efforts. (Michel Brewer photo)
Anti-oil protesters demonstrated Saturday at Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, where officials were providing a media briefing on the Refugion spill cleanup efforts. (Michel Brewer photo)

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Diane Dimond: We Can All Learn from Young Man Who Simply Did What’s Right

By | Published on 05/23/2015

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Some of us need laws to keep our behavior in check. Others just know the right thing to do.

I do an awful lot of writing about the laws of this land and people who break them. This time, I want to write about the lesson learned from an honorable 17-year-old who lives in Susquehanna Township, Pa. Only the law of innate good character was involved.

His name is Ben Moser, and he’s the quarterback of his high school football team. His story tells you all you need to know about this young man.

When Ben was in the second grade, one of his classmates was Mary Lapkowicz, a pretty, petite girl who happened to have been born with Down syndrome. Ben and Mary became fast friends. His teachers report that the boy constantly watched out for Mary both in class and outside during recess. Ben always insisted on including Mary when he spotted her shying away on the sidelines.

In fourth grade, after watching a cousin preparing for prom, little Ben asked his mother, “Do kids like Mary go to prom?” And his mother said, “Sure, honey, if someone asks them.” According to Lisa Moser, her son immediately and resolutely declared, “Well, you know what? I’m going to take Mary to prom.”

A couple of years later, Mary and her family moved to another Pennsylvania town, and the two young friends lost touch.

Flash-forward several years to when Ben’s Susquehanna High School traveled to Mary’s Central Dauphin High School for a football showdown. Ben spotted Mary on the sidelines, working with her dad and helping out with her team’s equipment. As the two old elementary-school chums caught up, Ben quietly remembered his vow made seven years earlier.

“I’m going to take Mary to prom.”

His “​prom-posal” to Mary, which came shortly after that field-side catch-up session, included a fistful of pink and silver mylar balloons on which he wrote, “Prom?”

The pictures taken of the couple on the night of the dance say it all. The towering Ben, in a tuxedo and lavender vest that matched the color of Mary’s full-length gown, brought his prom date a white rose wrist corsage. She gave him a matching boutonniere. A video camera captured the pair posing for pictures, and Ben was asked to say a few words.

“There shouldn’t be a barrier between somebody who doesn’t have Down syndrome or not,” he said in his understated way. “You should just be who you are.”

With a shrug of his shoulders, he added, “Do what’s right. Simple.”

Yes. It is just that simple. That prom date didn’t happen because Ben felt sorry for Mary. It didn’t happen because Ben’s mother had pushed him to keep his long-ago promise. It happened because this young man has integrity. He wanted to take his childhood friend to the dance and to live up to his pledge.

This story made me wonder what might happen if the rest of us just followed that simple creed. Do what’s right — not for ourselves but for others.

I think of the countless other young people in this country who need to hear and embrace Ben’s lesson — those who turn to crime or drugs or see their own victimization at every turn instead of the opportunities in front of them.

Imagine what this country could be if elected politicians, government workers, bankers, businesspeople, health-care workers, teachers, police officers and students kept in mind the needs of others. Imagine the recent crises that could have been avoided if we were guided by Ben’s principle — the mortgage collapse and resulting economic crisis, the paralyzing political divisiveness we now have in this country and the recent violence masked as civil rights protests, to name a few examples.

Imagine what we could be — how strong and united we would be — if we finally laid down the petty bickering, the self-aggrandizement and greed and decided that we don’t need to pass more laws to control one another but rather should just “do what’s right.”

My husband says I’m a dreamer. Maybe I am. But if more parents were raising children like Ben Moser, this country’s future would be brighter.

Moser is about halfway to the age when he could run for president of the United States. I wonder what he’ll be doing in the 2032 election year.

Diane Dimond is the author of Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case. Contact her at [email protected], follow her on Twitter: @DiDimond, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Mark Shields: Don’t Believe Christie When He Says Voters Want Him to Stay

By | Published on 05/23/2015

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History, just by what it selects to remember, can indeed be cruel. Consider, for example, Republican Ralph Perk, who, during the 1970s in heavily Democratic Cleveland, was elected mayor three times.

But what Perk is mostly remembered for was that day in 1972 when, while using a blowtorch to cut the steel ribbon to ceremonially open the convention of the American Society for Metals, he set his own hair on fire. (Yes, you can see it on YouTube.)

Later that same year, Perk declined an invitation from the president to dinner at the White House because the date conflicted with his wife’s bowling night.

Personally, I shall always remember Perk for his inventive explanation for his loss in the 1974 U.S. Senate race, when Democrat John Glenn, while carrying all 88 of Ohio’s counties, would become the first candidate in the state’s history to win a contested election by more than 1 million votes. Everywhere he went in the closing weeks of the campaign, Perk said voters would tell him that though they preferred him for the Senate, they were not going to vote for him.

“We don’t want to lose you as our mayor,” he reported them as saying.

Fast-forward to May 2015. Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie helped Fox News’​ Megyn Kelly and her audience understand why 65 percent of Garden State voters, in the most recent Quinnipiac University poll, had said they do not think Christie would make a good president. Channeling Cleveland’​s Perk, Christie explained that actually those voters want him to stay as governor.

“A lot of those people in that 65 percent want me to stay,” he said. “And I’​ve heard that from lots of people at town hall meetings: ‘Don’​t leave to run for president, because we want you to stay.’”

Not that many of his constituents who allegedly want him to “stay” in Trenton are pleased with his performance. In that same Quinnipiac poll, just 38 percent of New Jersey voters approved of the way Christie is “handling his job as governor”; 56 percent — an all-time high — disapproved.

Christie’s “we want you to stay” account is just about as credible as Chico Marx’s classic retort when his wife discovered him kissing a young showgirl: “I wasn’t kissing her. I was whispering in her mouth.”

It’s been barely two years — but now a political eternity — since Christie, with a sky-high job approval rating of 73 percent, was on his way to a smashing re-election and all but destined to be a national leader. As U.S. attorney, he had been the scourge of corrupt public officials, winning more than 100 convictions, including of county executives in both Hudson and Essex counties, a longtime mayor of Newark and the president of the New Jersey Senate.

As governor, Christie was dominating the Democratic Legislature. By 2011, Henry Kissinger and an impressive roster of the country’s most prominent CEOs were trying to persuade him to run for the White House in 2012. Christie declined and instead decided to endorse Mitt Romney.

Now it’s 2015, and Christie painfully is learning what other might-have-beens have learned over the years: In presidential politics, if you’re lucky, you get one shot at the brass ring.

And if you pass it up, that’s it. You find yourself explaining on television — while listeners, embarrassed for you, look away — that a lot of the 65 percent of people who disapprove of the job you’re doing want you to stay in that job.

Mark Shields is one of the most widely recognized political commentators in the United States. The former Washington Post editorial columnist appears regularly on CNN, on public television and on radio. Click here to contact him, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Locals Rally at State Capitol for Disability Capitol Action Day

By | Published on 05/23/2015

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A contingent from the Independent Living Resource Center took the train to Sacramento from Santa Barbara for the 12th annual Disability Capitol Action Day. Among those on the trip were Jacob Lesner Buxton, Danny Drennan and Bonnie Elliott, Roy Fuentes, Anthony Gonzales, David Harrell, Richard Nelson, Kathleen Riel and Jorge Uribe. (Independent Living Resource Center photo)
A contingent from the Independent Living Resource Center took the train to Sacramento from Santa Barbara for the 12th annual Disability Capitol Action Day. Among those on the trip were Jacob Lesner Buxton, Danny Drennan and Bonnie Elliott, Roy Fuentes, Anthony Gonzales, David Harrell, Richard Nelson, Kathleen Riel and Jorge Uribe. (Independent Living Resource Center photo)

Nearly a dozen Central Coast residents were among thousands who gathered at the Capitol in Sacramento earlier this week for the 12th annual Disability Capitol Action Day.

Coordinated by the Disability Action Coalition, the event is one of the largest and most diverse cross-disability legislative opportunities in the nation. On Wednesday, people of cross disabilities and their allies lobbied legislators on issues ranging from living independently under the Americans with Disabilities Act to restoring in-home support services funding to increasing funding for the State Supplemental Payment program to cultural competency training for police.

The event included a resource fair, an educational rally, live entertainment, speeches and networking.

Several Central Coast residents took Amtrak to Sacramento to represent the Independent Living Resource Center of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties.

Among the locals on hand were Jacob Lesner Buxton, Danny Drennan, Bonnie Elliott, Roy Fuentes, Anthony Gonzales, David Harrell, Richard Nelson, Kathleen Riel and Jorge Uribe.

While in Sacramento, the group met with state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, and Assemblymen Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, and Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara.

​— Roy Fuentes represents the Independent Living Resource Center.

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Campaign Under Way to Restore Lompoc’s Valley Drive-In Theatre to Former Glory

By | Published on 05/23/2015

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Lompoc Valley resident launches effort to produce a sequel for long-closed venue at city’s northern entrance

A Lompoc Valley man wants to bring new life to an old eyesore on the city’s north side by re-opening the Valley Drive-In Theatre.

Christopher King, who moved to the Lompoc area two years ago and works as general manager at an Avila Beach hotel, launched an effort to restore the run-down drive-in theater on H Street at the northern entrance to the city.

He began exploring the options and started a Facebook page, ​Re-Open The Valley Drive-In Lompoc, that in one week gained more than 2,000 members, and passed 3,550 Saturday.

“It’s really caught some incredible steam,” he told Noozhawk.

He said he recently met with the property owners, Carol and Ken Calvert, and said they seemed enthusiastic but cautious.

That summarizes what King contends will be his approach, too.

“I want to be realistic, but I also want people to be enthused about it,” he said.

The Calverts did not return several Noozhawk calls for comment.

Local Economic Development Committee members have long talked about the need to make the city’s northern gateway more attractive.

“We are thrilled the Lompoc community supports revitalizing the drive-in theater and that someone is willing to take the lead on organizing this,” said Jenelle Osborne, EDC chairwoman. “The EDC agrees, that in its current state, the drive-in is not a very welcoming entrance for the north side of town.

“The challenge for Lompoc is the property is privately owned and located in the county. Many EDC members have approached the owners about making improvements over the past three years. It’s great to hear the owners may have found the partners they wanted to update the property.”

King said he recognizes there are some huge hurdles in getting the theater re-opened, but remains undaunted.

Thanks to modern technology, they don’t need to acquire old-fashioned poles with speakers. An FM transmitter so audio could be broadcast via car radios would cost $2,000.

However, a digital projector would run $100,000 to $200,000.

“The funding efforts for $200,000 isn’t as hard as it sounds,” King said.

He initially opened an online fundraising campaign for the drive-in theater’s re-opening, but later closed his Go Fund Me site, saying he ended the solicitation “due to a lack of understanding on what the money would be used for.”

The theater property is in Santa Barbara County’s jurisdiction, not the city’s, so King is contemplating annexation, reasoning that it might be easier if the site were within city limits.

An annexation can be a costly and time-consuming process, however.

One big challenge may be traffic since the theater entrance is on heavily used North H Street, which doubles as Highway 1.

Flooding and fish and game matters are other issues that must be settled.

And an engineer will need to determine if the huge drive-in screen is structurally sound.

King is banking on the fact a drive-in theater already operated at the site.

“It’s much easier to reopen an existing business than to open a new business,” he said.

And the proposed California Space Center may help with some of the complicated matters like the traffic study since that project must complete an analysis anyway, King said.

He said he has talked to California Space Center leader Eva Blaisdell, whose ambitious project calls for an IMAX theater. Still, King stresses the two efforts are separate.

Another possibility is exploring historical landmark status for the site, he said.

Even as he rattles off the ideas, King is quick to note how new his effort is.

“These are all ideas,” he said. “Nothing is set in stone. This is very, very new.”

Meanwhile, another group is working to untangle the legal paperwork for the ownership of the closed walk-in Lompoc Theatre in the 100 block of North H Street. A committee has been formed in an effort to revive the facility as a regional entertainment venue.

The two projects do not conflict, King contends.

“I think they complement each other very well,” King said. “I think both projects will support the other.”

Earlier this year, the Lompoc Theatre Project premiered plans for a $6 million rehabilitation and renovation of the 87-year-old structure, and held a fundraising concert Saturday night.

“We are watching the discussion taking place on social media with interest,” said Mark Herrier, president of the Lompoc Theatre Project.

Herrier, an actor and director, grew up in Lompoc and appeared in the ​Porky’s film series in the 1980s.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Susan Miles Gulbransen: Santa Barbara Writers Conference Is ‘A Happening’ Again

By | Published on 05/23/2015

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Leg-end (lej’and) n. an unverified story handed down from earlier times; especially one popularly believed to be historical.

Once upon a time people who loved to tell stories traveled from all parts of the land to gather seaside for a week to write books, articles and tomes, and listen to the Creative Gods of the publishing industry with lead storyteller Barnaby Conrad.

For six days they filled the now nonexistent Miramar Hotel on beachfront property with railroad tracks running through. Each year they spent close to 24-hours-a-day to learn/practice the craft of writing, read/critique manuscripts, and swap writing tales of joys/woes.

For many of these real-life characters, writing skills were honed, romances and lifelong friendships budded, connections to editors and agents were made, and dreams came true.

What has happened to those legendary days? From the beginning in 1973, the Santa Barbara Writers Conference convened at Montecito’s Miramar Hotel. In 1999 the property was sold and closed down, its funky cottages and buildings torn asunder. The property became weed filled while moneyed people and powers that be in the construction world tried to build new kingdoms. Those final pages have yet to be written.

SBWC moved for a few years to the Westmont College campus, changed ownership and moved yet again to The Fess Parker on the Santa Barbara waterfront for workshops, featured speakers and panels with time for all to schmooze. In 2008, economic downturns and weakened finances brought the conference to a close.

Without a white horse or shields of knight-time armor, Monte Schulz, son of one of the earliest Famous Participants (Peanuts creator Charles Schulz) rode in, bought SBWC in 2010 and recharged its batteries. The gathering is now held at the Hyatt Santa Barbara across from East Beach.

Once more the conference is gearing up for June 7-12 with 26 workshop leaders, a large selection of featured speakers and panelists to talk about writing, how to make it better and what to do with it. A little over 200 students will join.

These are current facts. What about the legend, that camaraderie, group dynamics and learning that students carried away from SBWC year after year? I contacted some friends with long-time connections to SBWC and asked their take on the difference between then and now.

Barnaby Conrad III, author of 11 books and many magazine articles and son of SBWC founder, has been involved with the conference longer than anyone. He now leads workshops and is the major emcee for events throughout the week.

“I was at the first conference in 1972 as a 20-year-old ‘faculty brat,’” he said. “In those early years we had giants like Ray Bradbury, Budd Schulberg, Eudora Welty and Christopher Isherwood at the pulpit. It wasn’t just about fame, but about enduring accomplishment.

“Inevitably, Tinseltown changed the tone of the conference. In the 1980s, highly commercial writers as speakers attracted like-minded students who seemed to be more interested in learning how to market their book than improving their writing skills.

“Today’s conference seems to be evenly balanced. I think the featured speakers are more serious about the craft of writing than the commercial aspect.”

A royal nod goes to Nicole Starzack, who jumped into running SBWC along with Schulz for its revival in 2011. Between her as director and Grace Rachow as volunteer coordinator, SBWC runs smoothly. They and their teams help make those attending feel a part of the SBWC literary family while following passions of writing.

“I wasn’t lucky enough to attend during the Miramar days, but I’ve been told that at its core it is still very much the same with a focus on craft and building community,” Starzack said. “These days we have built up a healthy curriculum around self-publishing and tackling social media.

“However, I still think most of our students have the dream of going the traditional route to publication, and for that reason we bring in 10 agents and editors, several from New York. The agents and editors participate on panels and sometimes teach workshops. Our students have the opportunity to submit writing samples in advance, as well as talk with them over wine and appetizers.”

Starzack speaks for many when she talks about how SBWC affected her.

“As a writer and aspiring novelist, I first attended the conference in 2008 as a student,” she said. “I had seen an ad ... just a few days before SBWC was about to begin and thought to myself: Hundreds of writers all in one place? People who will understand my dreams and enthusiasms? Well, I have to be there.

“I spent a good chunk of my savings to attend and, by the last day, felt that it was one of the best weeks of my life.”

One of the big pluses for me attending SBWC has been long lasting and treasured friendships. My friendship with Perie Longo, our former poet laureate and nationally known poet, began when we were students in 1978. We then became workshop leaders in the 1980s.

Her poetry workshops are always filled with creativity oozing out the door.

“The first words that come to mind is that this conference is ‘cozier,’ more ‘user friendly’ than in the spread of a larger venue,” Longo said. “With fewer students but just as many workshops, students get more attention and more time to meet and talk with each other.

“Monte's attitude of quality of writing over quantity and with Grace (Rachow) at the organizational helm with a large volunteer staff, it seems to flow seamlessly beginning to end. Simply, just plain FUN.”

Longo also sees more than just the six days of the conference.

“Most special is that it is happening again and that it has been lauded as a top writers conference,” she said. “As always seeing old friends along with meeting new talent is a plus, the lineup of speakers is exciting, and what is great is the online connection of people sharing their triumphs and tips.”

Another good friend from student days at the Miramar has been humor writer and workshop leader Ernie Witham, who writes for the Montecito Journal.

“The conference,” he said, “has changed considerably over the last five to 10 years. It’s a smaller, more intimate setting now, so enrollments are limited. It was hard to meet and talk with 350 fellow writers in six days, but now that we are 200 with a smaller venue, it feels more like a family — only without people asking to borrow money or store their stuff in your garage.

“I have tried so many times to describe our conference to nonattendees, but it’s almost impossible because it’s magical. To borrow a term from an earlier time ... ‘It’s a happening, man!’ I only wish more people could experience it.”

If you wish to experience SBWC, take one of three choices. There are still spaces available so why not attend? If you would like to but money is an object, consider entering the First Sentence Contest by writing the best first sentence in 50 words or less and submitting it by May 26.

If you are not a writer but love life as a reader, the evening speakers are open to the public for a nominal fee. Click here for more information about the Santa Barbara Writers Conference.

Bottom line from me? The Santa Barbara Writers Conference still makes for a heady, glorious and magical week.

Noozhawk columnist Susan Miles Gulbransen — a Santa Barbara native, writer and book reviewer — teaches writing at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and through the Santa Barbara City College Continuing Education Division. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Louise Palanker: Boyfriend’s Jealous of My Dog, When Is Cheating Cheating, Sexual Insecurity

By | Published on 05/23/2015

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Question from Scarlet

OK, so my boyfriend is jealous of my dog. First of all, I got a dog because he goes out all the time with his friends until 3 in the morning and I get really lonely. He doesn’t let me go out with my friends, because he gets jealous of my guy friends who tag along. He makes me wait hours for him, and then he just comes home and knocks out.

He’d rather go spend Valentine’s Day with his friends than stay in and celebrate with me. When I asked him to stay with me during V-Day, he yelled at me.? Every time I ask him to stay home and watch movies with me, he gets mad and yells or he uses the, “We can do that any other day, babe.”

So now that I don’t mind that he goes out all night, because I have the dog, he’s starting to complain that I never give him my time, and he wants me to get rid of my dog. I literally just go to class, cook for him, clean, laundry, do everything for him, and now he’s jealous because I don’t give him attention.

Of course, I’m not going to get rid of the dog. I’ve grown attached to the dog. The dog treats me better! Honestly, I feel like the dog showed me I’m OK without him. Does that sound bad? What should I do?

I do finally see that he’s controlling my life. He also never lets me upload a picture of me to social networks or let me wear shorts or tank tops, or anything that reveals anything. He wants me to wear turtle necks and loose pants all the time. It wasn’t like this at first. I told him I wanted a break, and he told me I’m pathetic for choosing my dog over him.

Do you agree with him? Sorry this is so long.

Weezy

You have just — very accurately — described and detailed a controlling, manipulative and emotionally abusive boyfriend. It feels like you are really just requesting a confirmation and maybe even a little bit of a push toward doing what you know needs to be done. It may surprise you to learn how often your gut is correct. Trust it.

The dog stays. The guy goes.

Here is more information about toxic relationships from WellCast:

(watchwellcast video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Serena

Hey Weezy, so I have a boyfriend and we have seven months together. But there is this guy who I met via my best friend, and he likes me. We have been talking for a month and he is really sweet and caring. This new guy is sad because I have a boyfriend. He said that he didn’t want to go to a party because he saw a Snapchat I posted of me with my boyfriend.

I feel a hard connection with this guy. I’m not in love with him but I kinda like him. His personality is amazing and he has a big heart. He is very open and funny, and I can talk about anything with him.

But, of course, there is my boyfriend who I love and we have a harder bond. We have been through a lot this past seven months.

I have mixed feelings, I know I love my boyfriend but I think about this guy, too ... It’s so confusing ... He asked me if I want to hang out this weekend and I don’t know if I should. We have hung before but in a group, and this time it will be just the two us. I kinda want to but I don’t want to do anything behind my boyfriend’s back.

I’m really confused.

Weezy

As a general rule of thumb, if you would not be comfortable having your boyfriend read it, hear it, see it or be present for it, DON’T DO IT.

You are are walking into a dangerous situation. What do you want? A solid relationship with your boyfriend or the freedom to flirt with a new guy? You can not have both. They are mutually exclusive.

If you are drawn to this guy and you would like to explore where a closer bond with him would take you, then you must break up with your boyfriend first. A relationship needs a firm foundation. Building it upon secrets and lies will doom it to failure.

You will also be creating really bad history and circuitry. We need to hard wire good habits and strong integrity while we are young. This helps us expect nothing less from ourselves.

Sure, it may feel like it would be easier to just go spend time with this guy because, well, just because that’s where the stream is taking you in this moment. But then, oops, he’s kissing you and, oops, you like it and, oops, he texted you about the kiss and, oh no, your boyfriend just picked up your phone and, wow, now you feel really guilty, and what should you do because the new guy is so sweet and funny?

Well then he deserves a fresh and clean start with you. Or he deserves to be told, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t hang out with you. I’m in a relationship.” You have to choose. I know it’s a hard thing to do. It hurts. But when we are presented with difficult choices, not choosing is essentially choosing chaos. It’s easier to throw your clothes on the floor but after a month or two, you can’t find your cat and that’s hard.

Just pick up after yourself as you move through the world. Shirts, pants, coats, and emotional business. Clean as you go.

Doing the right thing is often the most difficult path. ALWAYS take that path. It’s just like exercise. It gets easier and it starts to feel really good. As hard as that climb may be, the view from there is glorious. You get to look at yourself and like who you see. That is beyond beautiful.

When is it cheating? Here is Freaks and Geeks star Samm Levine’s take on Just Between Us:

(Just Between Us video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Jessica

Hey Weezy. So I’m 20, and my boyfriend is 21. We are pretty serious about each other and looking at long-term plans. I’ve always been very careful about sex. I’ve been saving it for someone very special. He, on the other hand, has been with many many different girls.

For me, I see my innocence as a good thing. It makes me different and unique, and makes it that much more special — although I feel my boyfriend sees my being a virgin as a bad thing. This makes me feel like a little kid who doesn’t know anything. I feel very naive around him. He doesn’t really understand. What should I do?

Weezy

A healthy relationship is nourished by respect, support, understanding and communication. Yours appears to lack all of these ingredients. Your boyfriend does not respect and honor what you value. He is not hearing you. And he is not reassuring and comforting you where you feel vulnerable. He is, instead, using your inexperience to make himself feel superior. These are not good signs.

You both have had different experiences in life. All people have. Whether it’s sex or baseball or how you like your eggs cooked, you are each unique. There is no right or wrong within these individualities. There are only differences. As a couple, you must make the other person feel heard, understood and validated. A loving partner will want you to feel safe and he will endeavor to help make your first sexual experience special.

Continue the conversation with your boyfriend. You are both really young so he may just need you to teach him that he’s being very insensitive. Tell him that you do feel naive and insecure when it comes to sex. Ask him to help you feel better.

If your boyfriend is attempting to belittle you because you have not yet had sex, then he may not be the best guy for you. If he is trying to guilt you into having sex that also is not a good sign.

Keep talking. That is your best pathway toward learning whether you will be on the same page when it comes to big-picture items long term.

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (Family Band: The Cowsills Story is currently airing on Showtime Networks), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Our Place, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Letter to the Editor: Put Oil Spill in Perspective Before Hysteria

By | Published on 05/23/2015

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Do not get too hysterical over some spilled oil at Refugio Beach. It is only a small part of the natural flow that goes on every day on the Central Coast. Crude oil is biodegradable and is “eaten up” by ocean microbes, otherwise our beaches would be covered with oil from all of the natural seeps around us.

Our oil companies have a good safety record overall, and when you consider that they are handling million of gallons of oil every day in that pipeline, their record is very good.

Let’s get the facts before going ballistic. FYI, there is no fracking involved.

Justin Ruhge
Lompoc

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3 UCSB Students Rescued in Ocean Off Goleta Beach

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Trio in inflatable inner tubes were blown out to sea

Three UC Santa Barbara students were rescued Friday afternoon after they were blown out to sea in their inflatable inner tubes.

The trio launched from Campus Point at UCSB, but brisk winds soon pushed them away from shore, said Mike Eliason, a Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman.

A boat associated with the Refugio oil spill clean-up spotted the students, and called 9-1-1, Eliason said.

Only one of the three was wearing a wetsuit, and Eliason estimated they were in the low-60-degree water for more than 90 minutes.

Crews were dispatched to the scene at about 4:15 p.m., and firefighters using personal watercraft took about 15 minutes to rescue the three.

Two were transported to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital for treatment of hypothermia, and the third declined medical attention, Eliason said.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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As Effects on Wildlife Mount, Officials Can’t Say How Long Refugio Oil Spill Cleanup Will Take

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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An injured sea lion pup is among the animals rescued after an estimated 21,000 gallons of crude flow into the ocean from a ruptured pipeline

Three days after thousands of gallons of oil poured onto the shoreline and into the ocean at Refugio State Beach west of Goleta, officials on Friday were unable to say when the cleanup might be finished.

"How long it will take is a really hard question to answer," U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jennifer Williams, incident commander, said in response to a question at a press briefing Friday afternoon.

The spill began late Tuesday morning, when a 24-inch crude-oil pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline ruptured across Highway 101 from Refugio State Beach, sending an estimated 21,000 gallons of oil down through a culvert and into the picturesque park's cove.

Company officials say as much as 105,000 gallons of oil may have been spilled.

In a bit of good news, officials on Friday seemed to downplay the possibility that beaches down the coast in Goleta and Santa Barbara would be affected by the spill.

Jordan Stout with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said survey flights conducted Friday showed the footprint of the spill had extended to the south and to the east. But he noted that wind would be the primary factor in the spill's movement over the next few days, and forecasts called for it to blow from the south and southwest.

That would reduce the chances of significant amounts of oil hitting the shores of Goleta and Santa Barbara.

Biologist Justin Greenman of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration captures a sea lion pup that appeared to be suffering from exposure to oil on Friday afternoon at Sands Beach near UCSB's West Campus. (Melinda Burns photo)

"And I'd be really surprised if oil would make its way to the Channel Islands," Stout said.

The City of Goleta has declared a state of emergency, and warned that the spill could reach its shores in the coming days.

Meanwhile, as cleanup efforts continued around the clock, the impacts on marine life became more evident, including the discovery Friday afternoon of an oil-stricken sea lion pup on Sands Beach near UCSB's West Campus.

Officials reported that six oil-soaked brown pelicans have been taken to a rehabilitation facility in San Pedro, and another three have been found dead.

The tally for marine mammals was three sea lions — including the one found at Sands Beach — and one elephant seal. They were captured and taken to a facility in San Diego.

A dead common dolphin also was found, but it was not clear whether that was related to the spill, officials said.

Freelance reporter Melinda Burns told Noozhawk that the sea lion pup hauled itself out of the water and onto the sand, and appeared to be trying to rid itself of the oil.

"Then it collapsed on the sand, shivering," Burns said. "A crew of three spill workers put the pup in a portable cage and took it away."

Dozens of dead fish and invertebrates also have been found.

A wildlife-rescue team works the shoreline at Refugio State Beach, looking for animals injured by the oil spill. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

Officials told reporters that crews were seeing diminishing returns from efforts to use boats, booms and skimmers to get oil out of the ocean, suggesting that the focus of the cleanup work soon will shift to the land.

"The harder part will be onshore," Williams said. "That could take weeks or months."

The cause of the pipeline break has not yet been determined, and a Plains All American spokesman said it likely would be another couple days before the damaged section is unearthed and removed for examination.

On a less positive note, the two state parks most affected by the spill — Refugio and El Capitan state beaches — will see their campgrounds and day-use areas remain closed to the public until at least June 4, said Eric Hjelstrom, State Parks superintendent for the Santa Barbara area.

Officials provided the following phone numbers to the public:

» To report oiled wildlife: 877.823.6926

» Volunteer information: 800.228.4544

» To file damage claims: 866.753.3619

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Five Men Sentenced to Life in Prison Without Parole for Torture-Murder of Anthony Ibarra

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Judge rules on numerous motions during the hearing, during which family members of Ibarra speak out about 'the nightmare that will never end'

After denying numerous motions for a new trial, a Santa Maria judge on Friday afternoon sentenced five men to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for their roles in the killing of Anthony Ibarra two years ago.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rick Brown sentenced the men late in the day, six weeks after a jury found the five guilty of first-degree murder.

The five are alleged shot-caller Ramon "Crazy Ray" Maldonado, 39; his father, David “Pops” Maldonado, 57; Santos “Lil Tuffy” Sauceda, 35; Reyes “Pumpkin” Gonzales, 44; and Jason Castillo, 31.

They were among 11 people — the youngest being a teen whose dad and grandfather were two of the defendants — charged with the murder of Ibarra, 28, who prosecutors say was tortured and killed March 17, 2013, in a house at 1142 W. Donovan Road. Ibarra reportedly owed money for drugs. 

His body, with multiple stab and puncture wounds, was found a few days later in a rented U-Haul truck parked on an Orcutt street.

The prosecution contended it was a gang-related crime, but the jury failed to reach a verdict on the gang allegations. Some of the defendants were called gang members while others were labeled associates by law enforcement.

Before the judge handed down the sentences, family members of Ibarra spoke about the loss of the man who was a son, brother and father. They also prepared a video of Ibarra in different stages of his life before showing his lifeless body in a casket and his gravesite.

His mom called it “the nightmare that will never end,” adding Ibarra’s young daughter doesn't know about his violent killing and thinks he got sick and died.

“It hurts every day of my life of the horrifying torture that somebody could do to a person,” one of Ibarra’s brothers said.

Ibarra trial
Reyes Gonzales and David Maldonado sit in a Santa Maria courtroom on Friday morning. They are two of five defendants awaiting sentencing for the death of Anthony Ibarra in March 2013. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

An aunt said that two years after Ibarra’s death the family has good days and bad days even as they think of and talk about Ibarra.

“It’s been really hard on our family, hearing what they did to him over and over again. It’s like we relive it every single time,” the aunt said. “Their lives aren’t over. They still have an opportunity to see their families and hear their voices even if it’s through a glass window.

“And what do we have? Nothing but a picture of Anthony on a headstone.”

Sentencing came after the five defense attorneys — Michael Scott, David Bixby, Adrian Andrade, Fred Foss and Tom Allen — argued several motions.

In one, they claimed juror misconduct should lead to a new trial. However, the judge struck most of the statements, after Senior Deputy Defense Attorney Ann Bramsen argued they didn't meet the admissibility standard.

One concern centered on the fact a juror allegedly declared the defendants guilty upon entering the room at the start of deliberations, prompting worry the woman had made up her mind.

"It's not the best practice I'll acknowledge that," Brown said, adding there was no evidence she failed to participate in deliberations. 

Another concern involved an allegation a juror withheld critical information about a family member who was the victim of a crime. It prompted the judge to inquire why Juror No. 10 didn’t reveal her son’s attack when the attorneys questioned potential jurors.

“I just forgot about it,” the juror said from the witness stand about the incident that occurred 24 years ago.

After questioning the juror, Brown said he was convinced she didn’t withhold the information on purpose and rejected the defense request to declare a mistrial.

The assorted attorneys argued their points on other motions, asking the judge to act as the 13th juror and overturn the verdicts against the individual defendants.

In a sentence he repeated frequently Friday, Brown said he found the evidence supported the jury verdict as he denied some of the motions.

Other rejected motions focused on the judge’s decision to deny a change of venue request, that the court erred in not allowing a childhood photo to be shown to the jury, that the jury instructions were inadequate and that jury verdict forms were confusing.

Before officially hearing their fates, some of the defendants asked to speak before the judge cut them off. 

Ramon Maldonado told the family that it’s “very unfortunate how our paths crossed” before he offered his condolences to Ibarra’s loved ones.

“For what it’s worth, we are not monsters. These hands, our hands are not the hands that took the life of Mr. Ibarra,” Maldonado said, before the prosecutor objected the comments were not appropriate.

The defense team contended during the trial that someone other than the five men delivered the fatal blow that killed Ibarra, pinpointing prosecution witnesses. 

Jury selection for the trial began in mid-November, with testimony starting in January for six of the men charged with Ibarra’s death. 

Members of the jury said they could not reach a verdict on the sixth defendant, Anthony “AJ” Solis. Immediately after the verdict, Solis, who was represented by Addison Steele, accepted a plea and will be sentenced this summer.

Friday's hearing for the five men came a day after another defendant in the case was sentenced. Per her plea agreement, Verenisa Aviles was sentenced Thursday to nine years and eight months in state prison.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Allan Hancock College Superintendent Wishes Graduates Well in Their ‘New Adventures’

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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The Santa Maria campus celebrates the achievements of 933 students during its 94th annual commencement ceremony

Hundreds of students graduated from Allan Hancock College on Friday afternoon as the 94th annual commencement ceremony was held on the Santa Maria campus. 

Hancock grad
Members of the Allan Hancock College class of 2015 begin their processional for Friday's graduation ceremony. (Frank Cowan / Noozhawk photo)

The class of 2015 boasted 933 graduates, a 9 percent increase from last year, school officials said. 

Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers delivered the keynote address during his second commencement at the college.

“Today you are at the end of a journey that is also the beginning of a new adventure — what started here will take you anywhere,” Walthers said. “Your professors, instructors and administrators are proudly affirming that you possess the inherent qualities of an educated person, worthy of a degree.”

He urged graduates to commit themselves to lifelong learning and challenged them to follow their dreams without fear.

“Like the choose-your-own adventure books of your childhood, you are in charge of what happens next. Rely on the values you have learned from your family, your friends and your time at Hancock so that you can realize the dream that you truly deserve,” he added.

Associated Student Body President Daniel Hernandez, who will attend Cal Poly in the fall, spoke on behalf of the graduates.

“We will always be Bulldogs. Enjoy this moment and have no regrets. We’ve earned it,” he said.

Members of this year’s graduating class earned 1,345 degrees in 82 majors as well as 816 certificates. The number of degrees and certificates both represent 11 percent increases from 2014.

Hancock grad
U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Santa Maria native Jose Alvarez stands during the playing of the national anthem during Friday's graduation. (Frank Cowan / Noozhawk photo)

Sixteen students earned five or more degrees. Two students, Alex Carrasquillo and Andrew King, will receive eight degrees and graduate with honors.

The night before graduation, the Allan Hancock College Foundation handed out a record $537,000 in scholarships to 363 students. 

Aurora Ruvalcaba received the prestigious Marian Hancock Scholarship on Thursday evening.

The $5,000 scholarship was started in honor of the late Marian Hancock, the wife of Capt. G. Allan Hancock, for whom the college was named. Marian Hancock wanted the gift bestowed on a student who demonstrated a commitment to continuing his or her education, and who had shown great promise and dedication. 

Ruvalcaba intends to transfer to the University of California-Los Angeles to obtain a degree in sociology and later become lawyer.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Arraignment Continued for Mom, Caregiver Charged with Killing ALS Patient

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Marjorie Good
Marjorie Good (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The caregiver and mother charged with killing an ALS patient made their second Santa Barbara County Superior Court appearance Friday morning.

The arraignment hearing for Marjorie Good, 89, and Wanda Nelson was continued until June 18 and assigned to Santa Maria Department 6. 

The women are charged with first-degree murder in connection with the 2013 death of Solvang resident Heidi Good Swiacki, reportedly by tampering with her ventilator.

Marjorie Good is the mother of Heidi Good Swiacki. Nelson is believed to have been Swiacki's caregiver.

At the last hearing 10 days ago, Judge Gustavo Lavayen agreed to release Marjorie Good on her own recognizance while the case makes its way through the courts.

Nelson remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail. 

A criminal grand jury indicted the two women May 1, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office. Before handing down the indictments, the grand jury heard from 33 witnesses, including 13 law enforcement personnel and Swiacki's husband and two children.

While sheriff’s investigators and prosecutors have provided little information about the case, some details can be gleaned from a blog that was started by Good after she was diagnosed several years ago with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Mary Buren Elementary in Guadalupe Receives $100,000 on ‘Ellen’ Show to Restore Flooded Library

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Dreams have come true for students, teachers and staff at Mary Buren Elementary School in Guadalupe.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show has responded to a plea to restore the library at Mary Buren Elementary School in Guadalupe with $100,000 from Target's Thanks A Billion campaign. The show, which was taped Thursday, aired at 4 p.m. Friday.

“Our students are so deserving of this very generous gift from Ellen,'' Principal Jesely Alvarez said. "The level of quality, high-interest books and resources this funding will be able to provide for our library is going to really make a difference in raising student literacy skills and in continuing their passion for reading. We are forever grateful and still can’t believe how fortunate we are!”

The library was flooded and many of the 11,000 books, furniture and other learning tools were lost. The staff discovered the library was totally destroyed when they returned from winter break after a big storm in December. The salvaged contents were moved to a temporary classroom.

A short time later, teachers Cathee Barkley and Ashley Thompson wrote a letter contacting the television show and explaining the circumstances.

A crew from The Ellen DeGeneres Show was at the school campus this week to document and film students, staff, parents, the school and damages from the flood.

The school's fundraising before the gift only gathered about $8,000. Significant funding was needed.

— Kenny Klein is a public information officer for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.

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One Year Later, Lasting Grief and Renewed Resolve for Father of Victim of Isla Vista Rampage

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Progress has been made with gun-safety legislation, law-enforcement policy and mental health care, but some say much work remains

Bob Weiss will be avoiding the memorial events going on this weekend at UC Santa Barbara and nearby Isla Vista, following the advice of newfound friends who also had a family member killed in a mass shooting.

The first anniversary is always rough, they said. You’ll have enough to deal with without taking on other people’s grief.

So, Weiss will stay home with his wife in Thousand Oaks when residents across Santa Barbara County and the country remember and honor their daughter, Veronika, and the five other UCSB students lost a year ago Saturday after a mentally ill gunman went on a warpath around Isla Vista on May 23, 2014.

The university will host a candlelight vigil at 7:30 p.m. in Storke Plaza before a processional of hundreds marches to People’s Park in the adjacent college community, where a new memorial garden is planted.

Everyone will gather in memory of Veronika, Katherine Cooper, Christopher Ross Michael-Martinez, Weihan “David” Wang, George Chen and Chen Yuan “James” Hong.

Weiss will sit that event out, but he’ll never stop telling legislators, college students, members of the media and whoever will listen about his daughter.

That’s how he honors her.

He works to keep the tragic incident at the forefront to inspire change, along with a number of local organizations, agencies and institutions that see the anniversary as a time to look back at what’s been done and what more we can do to prevent future heartbreak.

“It’s a real simple message: At the rate our country is experiencing gun violence, the time will come soon when every family is affected by gun violence,” Weiss told Noozhawk this week. “At a certain point, if we don’t curb that, it’s going to get a lot closer to home.

“People keep getting on airplanes even though they read about a plane crashing yesterday, and they do it because they don’t think it will ever happen to me. It’s in everybody’s best interest to have better gun safety.”

                                                                        •        •

Weiss and Richard Martinez, whose son, Christopher, was also fatally shot, have tirelessly worked with elected officials and served as advocates for gun safety, with Martinez famously reciting “Not one more” on many occasions. 

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, reiterated that quote Friday in a statement, acknowledging her continued efforts to “not sit idly by until the next senseless tragedy occurs in our country.”

In the aftermath, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson brought forth two laws, the first requiring local law enforcement agencies to develop policies encouraging officers to search California’s database of gun purchases before conducting a “welfare check.”

County sheriff’s deputies conducted one of those visits at 22-year-old Elliot Rodger’s Isla Vista apartment in the month prior to the shooting, but failed to find any issue or to locate his rounds of ammunition and automatic weapons.

Jackson’s second law takes effect early next year and creates a gun violence restraining order, which would allow family or authorities to obtain court orders to temporarily take guns from a person demonstrating a tendency toward violence.

Mental health has become another passion for Weiss, who sees 22-year-old shooter Elliot Rodger as another victim, one who came from a background of bullying, isolation and rejection whose cries for help went unanswered.

In the past year, county mental health services has implemented several new initiatives, but efforts don’t necessarily stem from the tragedy, said Suzanne Grimmesey, chief strategy officer of the county Department of Alcohol, Drug & Mental Health Services.

One such program launches new outreach on college campuses to train students and staff to detect early psychotic symptoms. The initiative, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, also supports educational materials and mental health awareness at Allan Hancock College, Santa Barbara City College and UCSB.

Sheriff Bill Brown said he hoped his department’s extensive report on the incident would help mental health experts shed light on how to prevent future events.

“Our hope is that by them examining materials, it will give us some insight into what prompted him to cross this line,” Brown said. “How can we prevent this in the future? That’s a question that always gets asked. I think the bottom line is there has to be a way to identify and treat people with serious mental illness and to encourage treatment to them and their families while not stigmatizing the issue.”

The sheriff wouldn’t comment on the efficiency of his department’s welfare check — the Sheriff’s Department and others have been sued by some of the victims' families because of the outcome — saying only that 20/20 hindsight makes a judgment unfair, especially since deputies must balance civil rights and what they can legally do.

Brown did say the department has already adopted the gun database search into its welfare check policies.

"We never forget the six vibrant, young bright UCSB students who were so innocent and so tragically taken from all of us on that terrible evening," he said. "We always need to have a place in our hearts for them."

                                                                        •        •

UCSB has dramatically shaken up its level of involvement in Isla Vista, taking on more responsibility for the community where so many of its students live.

The university has helped fund permanent safety fencing along Del Playa near the bluffs, more officers for UC Police and more lighting and sidewalks on streets, to name a few. It will also soon have more counseling services located inside a soon-to-be renovated portion of the IV Neighborhood Clinic building on Embarcadero del Mar.

“Our efforts to improve the quality of life in Isla Vista, to build upon its vibrant and diverse culture and to better integrate it with our academic community have begun to bear fruit and lead to significant changes,” UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang said in a statement to the university community. “The leadership demonstrated by our students, faculty and staff members, alumni, donors, and members of the broader community has shown that change in Isla Vista is not only necessary but also possible. It will take concerted effort and cooperation to bring about lasting solutions. While Isla Vista remains a work in progress, given the many positive changes already in motion, I am confident we will continue to move forward together with even greater momentum.”

Outgoing UCSB Associated Students president Ali Guthy hopes students will hang on to the drive to change the culture in Isla Vista. The senior’s organization strove this year to quantify how it spends resources in the area. 

Student leaders also established “pizza with police” events, helped create alternative events to alcohol-fueled Deltopia and Halloween celebrations and passionately advocated for AB3, a state bill that aims to create a Community Services District to govern Isla Vista, a densely populated, unincorporated community of about 23,000.

Assemblyman Das Williams, who introduced AB3 late last year, is still steering that bill through the legislative process.

“I think that everyone wants this time and the weekend to really reflect the strength and all of this progress and the change that’s happening in Isla Vista,” Guthy said. “In face of tragedy, and celebrating lives of students lost, it’s really a time to come together.”

The new memorial at People’s Park, the one with a bench designed in honor of each of the six victims, is likely something Bob Weiss’s family will visit in the coming weeks.

He will see the waves and water representing his daughter’s love of water polo and renew his resolve and advocacy for gun safety.

“It’ll take time, but it’ll happen,” Weiss said of gun laws. “State by state or city by city, it’ll be a long and hard road.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Big-Rig Fire Backs Up Holiday Traffic on Highway 101

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Holiday traffic was slowed to a crawl Friday afternoon when a big-rig caught fire on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The incident occurred shortly before 5 p.m. in the southbound lanes just west of the Highway 154 exit.

The big-rig was reported to be engulfed in flames, which had spread to some roadside vegetation, the CHP said.

Fire crews were on scene, and no injuries were reported.

Additional details were not immediately available.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Letter to the Editor: Heartfelt Thanks in Honor of Memorial Day

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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We are now coming upon Memorial Day.

A time we take a chance to say,

How grateful we are, to just exist.

Too many benefits, to now list.

High on this list, those whose lives,

Were sacrificed, so we now survive.

Throughout this world, so many graves,

We can now observe, since we were saved.

Or perhaps, a beloved mother,

Who gave us her Life, like has no other.

It is a day we must take the time,

To review those memories, so sublime.

So to your life, now add this favor,

Your most grateful thanks for all you savor.

It's such a right thing that you can do,

On this day, that is made for you.

With heartfelt thanks,

Bud Stuart
Santa Barbara

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Wildflowers on Peak Display at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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spring wildflowers
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s meadow display is carefully planted and cultivated to produce colorful blooms throughout the spring. (Santa Barbara Botanic Garden photo)

While the wildflowers may have faded from the hillsides, you can still enjoy the spectacular spring wildflower display at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., including Memorial Day.

“The meadow has several species that will carry over into the summer, but if you want to experience the full effect of many species of California native wildflowers all blooming at once, you had better get here soon!” according to Bruce Reed, horticulturist for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

The continuing drought resulted in a shorter wildflower season in most areas, but the garden’s meadow display is carefully planted and cultivated to produce colorful blooms throughout the spring. The two-year Meadow Revival Project restored the meadow to its historic design intent: a low carpet of flowers that leads the eye up to the mountains, creating the iconic garden view enjoyed by generations of visitors.

While the view is iconic, the meadow changes daily. As blue lupine of March fade away, yellow lupine take their place, and finally the bright orange California poppies spread across the expanse. On the far border, white and yellow Matijala poppies stretch four to five feet into the air, leading your eye upwards towards Arlington Peak.

In order to create this effect, several rounds of intensive weed control efforts were employed and 6,000 native grass plugs were planted by staff and volunteers. Garden staff worked with Victor Schaff of S&S Seed in Carpentaria to create a unique mix of seven wildflowers including: poppy, Gilia, lupine and Clarkia designed to fill the meadow with color from February to June.

This week you can see a stunning wave of deep pink giving texture to the orange poppies. Those are the Clarkia bottae, otherwise known as Farewell-to-Spring. Be sure to catch them before you say farewell to spring.

— Rebecca Mordini is the communications manager for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

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Santa Barbara Environmental Groups ‘Saddened and Disgusted’ by Refugio Oil Spill

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Cleanup and wildlife rescue crews are still at work on the fourth day of response efforts

The offshore oil platform well blowout that caused the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill led to most modern environmental protection laws and advances in safety technology — “and yet, here we are,” said Linda Krop, chief counsel for the Environmental Defense Center.

Environmental activists gathered to condemn Tuesday’s oil spill near Refugio State Beach that leaked crude oil from a Plains All American Pipeline pipe into the Santa Barbara Channel, which Krop called one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world.

It’s home to many threatened species, migrating whales and sea birds, and a robust commercial fishing and shellfish industry.

Krop and representatives from the Community Environmental Council and Sierra Club California said the country needs to reduce its dependence on oil, since Tuesday’s spill proves there is no safe way to produce it, particularly offshore.

The ruptured pipeline was carrying oil produced on ExxonMobil’s offshore oil platforms.

“We really need to say no from now on,” Krop said.

Dave Davis, president and CEO of the Community Environmental Council, said the organization, which formed after the 1969 spill, is “saddened and disgusted” by the spill, adding that “it is déjà vu for us.”

He hopes this week’s spill is a catalyst for people to make the change to alternative energy sources, a goal shared by Sierra Club California director Kathryn Phillips.

“This should be a message to every elected official and politician, that we should unhook our dependence on oil,” she said.

The CEC is advocating for the City of Santa Barbara to move to a community choice aggregator model for electricity service, which allows residents to choose plans based on what energy sources they want, including more renewable energy options.

It’s expected that the city, and the County of Santa Barbara, will fund a feasibility study to look into the idea. The Santa Barbara City Council supported the move at Tuesday’s meeting, which coincidentally was held as news of the spill was spreading.

In addition to the federal and state agencies responding to the oil spill, research teams from UC Santa Barbara have visited the scene to do surveying, examine microbial responses, and investigate impacts to animal life in the beach and rocky intertidal zones, according to Robert Miller, an assistant research biologist with the Marine Science Institute. (Bob Miller photo)

There is still no word on the cause of the spill, as investigators from multiple agencies are on scene, led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

EDC executive director Owen Bailey said an automatic shutoff system in the pipeline — which Santa Barbara County requires but Plains doesn’t have — could have created a less urgent situation. He also questioned early response efforts to stop oil from getting into the water and contain the oil from spreading farther down the coast.

"This emergency shows it doesn't have to be offshore oil development to impact the marine environment," he said. 

Plains has taken full responsibility for the spill and released a full safety statement Friday, saying, "Releases from Plains pipelines have significantly decreased while throughout volume has increased since 2008." Plains officials have been attending oil spill response news conferences and say they are committed to getting the area back to its original condition. 

The Plains pipeline that ruptured was proposed as an alternative to marine tanking oil to refineries, Krop said, and the company sued the county saying it had no right to regulate the interstate pipe. Plains won, which limited the county’s jurisdiction in reviewing the operations permit.

Plains was ordered Friday to shut down the impacted pipeline, Line 901, by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the federal agency that regulates pipelines. PHMSA's corrected action order requires Plains to empty and purge the pipe, review its records and its emergency response plan, and commission a root cause failure analysis. The company will also have to submit a work plan and restart plan before starting operations again.

Line 901 carried oil from Las Flores Canyon to the company's Gaviota Pump Station and the shutdown impacts operations at ExxonMobil and Venoco Inc., which both use the pipeline to carry oil north from its offshore oil and gas production platforms. 

PHMSA investigators are on scene and sent people to the company's operator's control room in Texas. 

As of Friday, a no-fishing zone was declared for a 23-mile-by-7-mile area generally between Gaviota State Park and Coal Oil Point. Refugio and El Capitan state beaches are closed indefinitely, and while Goleta has declared a state of emergency, no city beaches are closed.

There is a full-scale cleanup effort led by federal, state and county agencies with boats booming to collect oil from the water and hazardous-materials crews walking the shorelines to collect oil. Additional crews are excavating soil from the inland area, near the ruptured pipe itself north of Highway 101.

The California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Oil Spill Prevention and Response is working with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network trained volunteers to collect and rehabilitate oiled animals. So far, pelicans, a sea lion and at least one crab have been collected. The DFW reported dead kelp bass, lobsters and other invertebrates washing up in the spill areas.

The local business and tourism industries are concerned about the impact of the spill on visitors, some who have already called to cancel plans for the Memorial Day weekend, sources told Noozhawk. Businesses in Santa Barbara are putting out the message that the spill hasn’t reached the area, and everything is still open to visitors.

Michael Cohen, owner of the Santa Barbara Adventure Company, had 25 people cancel kayaking trips to Refugio this weekend and worries about the spill’s impact not only on the pristine coastal environment but for local tourism in the long term.  

His company has led kayaking trips there for 15 years, he said, adding, “Refugio is a magical place for us.”​

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Despite Missing Documents, Lompoc Council Agrees to Enter Negotiations for Space Center Project

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Months after a Polish woman failed to provide requested documents, the Lompoc City Council has agreed to proceed forward on ambitious plans to develop a space center despite the absence of significant information from Eva Blaisdell.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday night to enter into a one-year exclusive negotiation agreement with Blaisdell and her California Space Center LLC. Yet, the council made the approval conditional after Blaisdell failed to two critical pieces of information.

The decision comes more than three months after the council agreed in February to spend 90 days crafting the agreement with Blaisdell. At the time, city staff pointed out her proposal was significantly flawed and lacked critical information the city sought from any potential developers should provide.

Months later, many more questions remain about Blaisdell, who calls herself an entrepreneur and a member of the Polish media.

Proposed for 82 acres of city land near Allan Hancock College’s Lompoc Valley Center, the for-profit, multimillion-dollar California Space Center would be a combination entertainment, education and research facility. It would serve as a visitor center, have an IMAX theater and a museum. Other features include a hotel, restaurant, convention hall, business park, light theme-park attractions or what a one supporter called a “space Disneyland.”

“We put a lot of confidence in you,” Mayor Bob Lingl said after the vote. “Please don’t let us down. I know you won’t. Just as a reminder, there’s some hard deadlines in here. We’re going to hold you to them, OK?”

Blaisdell formed California Space Center LLC as a Delaware corporation in February after the council agreed to work toward the exclusive negotiation agreement. 

However, Tuesday’s approval was conditional. City officials said they lacked proof she had the right to do business in California, a situation now rectified according to the state website, which lists the California Space Center.

City staff also said they needed proof Blaisdell had authority to sign the exclusive negotiating agreement on behalf of the limited liability corporation.

The exclusive negotiating agreement also includes several critical milestones Blaisdell must meet in the upcoming months. For instance, in 30 days after the exclusive negotiating agreement is signed, Blaisdell must provide the missing information she was supposed to submit as part of the request for qualifications. If a deadline is missed, the agreement would allow the city to issue a 45-day cancellation.

“This is a serious document. We’re not taking this lightly,” Councilman Jim Mosby said.

“This is a tall order but if there’s anyone who can meet it, it’s I and my team,” Blaisdell said under further questioning from council members.

Additionally, she is required to deposit $25,000 to the city to cover staff costs for their time related to the project. If the amount falls below $10,000, she must contribute more money to boost the fund total at $25,000.

Blaisdell said she is seeking venture capital for the project from across the world for the project and says she had used her own funds so far in the last 18 months.

When Councilman Victor Vega asked if any investors would be willing to speak up now, Blaisdell said she could produce documents from senior executives at IBM pledging to invest in the project. 

“I am very happy to disclose this information in a more confidential way,” she said, adding she agreed to join an exclusive investors club in Silicon Valley to take their money.

The value of the land won’t make the project occur, she added. 

She said she has been busy meeting with assorted firms such as IMAX, Sony, Bechtel and Apple about the project, with a photo of her and Apple CEO Tim Cook included in her video and on social media sites.

Blaisdell’s version of the project has drawn support from people eager to the see the space center developed and wariness from those who have seen more other endeavors fail for assorted reasons.

The site has long been targeted for space center. Yet, the proposals by various groups including a former mayor and former congresswoman, have fizzled for assorted reasons.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Zack Warburg and Gerry Warburg: Consumer Advice for New Baseball Commissioner

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Election of Rob Manfred as the new baseball commissioner affords the opportunity to look anew at critical challenges. Baseball is as wonderful as when we fans entered our first bejeweled major league park, accompanied by Mom and Dad.

Baseball remains the Great American Pastime. However, with too much time passing between pitches, multiple concerns loom. Instant replay has advanced the cause of justice. But it has also exacerbated a festering problem: the interminable pace of play. Every fan has struggled with dates or small children, who question our sanity for insisting on staying through 4½-hour games.

From declining participation by African-Americans, to the game’s waning attractiveness to Millennials, to international indifference — the game has been dropped from the Olympics — baseball may fall off the screen for restless youngsters worldwide. Herewith, some advice from two devoted fans.

We share a reverence for the traditional game and the sanctity of records. We cringe at yawning attendees who show up in the third and leave in the sixth (you know who you are, Dodgers fans). But after a generation of tolerating steroid-tainted records and introducing record-skewing twists (four playoff wild cards?!?), some further action to advance fan interests is in order.

Radical measures are called for. Following are several ideas (most of them are serious) to speed things up while improving the fan experience.

» Problem: Five-minute mid-inning pitching changes and mound gab fests.

» Solution: Managers point to bullpen from dugout; relievers are motored in on a golf cart. Zero warm-up pitches. No mound conferences.

» Problem: Silly, clown-like appearances on field of aged, uniformed managers.

» Solution: Use an NFL-style challenge flag. Managers must stay on the bench, in civvies, as in other major sports. Leave the dugout, get suspended.

» Problem: Batters step out and adjust their jockstraps and gloves after every pitch.

» Solution: Automatic strike for leaving the batting box.

» Problem: Pointless intentional walks consuming precious time.

» Solution: Pitcher points to first base. Batter runs, or he is out.

» Problem: Showboating, bat-flipping Puig-like hot dogs calling attention to HRs.

» Solution: Sixteen-second time limit to circle bases. Flip the bat, get ejected.

» Problem: Interminable pick-off attempts by slow-as-molasses pitchers.

» Solution: Two per batter; third is a balk. Like replay challenges, use ‘em wisely!

» Problem: Two and one half commercial-filled minutes between innings. More during playoffs.

» Solution: Fight owner-ad revenue greed. Limit to 60 seconds, then pitcher delivers.

These modest changes would cut average game times as much as an hour. They would greatly assist improvement of game quality, with negligible impact on records. 

Now, about the fan experience. Here, perhaps even more creativity is called for.

» Problem: Rich, no-show jerks with $500 behind-homeplate-seats = lifeless TV

» Solution: Top of fourth inning move fans from upper deck to bring energy behind home plate and completely fill the lower deck. Arrive late and lose your primo seat.

» Problem: Idiot fans in primo seats who forget their gloves.

» Solution: Every 10th game, ball has gold stamp, redeemable for $1,000. Watch the energized scrums that ensue.

» Problem: Lengthy rain delays

» Solution: Player goggles. They don’t stop football and pond hockey for weather!

» Problem: The all-time date-killer = extra innings.

» Solution: Take a page from NHL. Start the 10th inning with three infielders and two outfielders. Eleventh-inning ties resolved, like soccer, with a five swing HR Derby.

Finally, if the next generation of Americans is to treasure live baseball, kids need to experience a few real-time World Series games that end before 1 a.m. Require 6 p.m. local start times. Owners should also abandon the obscene more-is-better approach to between-inning advertising. Improving the game here may sacrifice a fraction of the $8 billion in annual revenues 30 owners reap. But, it would be a sound investment; it would do more than any other move to tell fans that owners get it.

Owners struggle to overcome the image of an anti-trust-violating cabal, self-interested billionaires who rip off cities for sweetheart stadium deals, then charge $40 for parking and $10 for sodas. We hear owners pledge they’ll be “faithful stewards of the game.” The commissioner is handpicked by the owners but supposed to support fan interests. Move on even a few of these items, and he’ll send a positive message for generations to come.

— Zack Warburg is a computer engineer in Santa Barbara. His father, Gerry, teaches public policy at the University of Virginia’s Batten School. Both are lifelong San Francisco Giants fans.

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Capps Releases Statement on One-Year Anniversary of Tragedy in Isla Vista

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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On Friday, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, released the following statement on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy in Isla Vista, which is Saturday, May 23:

“As our community continues to heal on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy in Isla Vista, we come together to remember those who were injured and honor those no longer with us," Capps said. "This senseless event touched each of us in a powerful way, but what endures is the strength of a community bonded together, and the everlasting memory of those we lost.

“This solemn anniversary is also a time to remember the call from Richard Martinez — father of Christopher Michaels-Martinez — that ‘Not One More’ parent should have to endure the loss of a child. It is our responsibility to commit ourselves to not sit idly by until the next senseless tragedy occurs in our country.

“We must work together to break the cycle of tragedy followed by inaction, which is why I am committed to doing whatever I can in Congress to ensure meaningful actions are taken to make our communities safer through commonsense gun violence prevention legislation. It is why I have reintroduced the Pause for Safety Act and why I continue to bring attention to this critical issue - we must keep the conversation going. Gun safety and the Second Amendment are not mutually exclusive. Responsible, law-abiding Americans have the right to own a gun, but the residents of Isla Vista also deserve to feel safe in their homes and community, and I will continue to work on ways to do just that.”

— Chris Meagher is a press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps.

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Santa Barbara Response Network Mobilizes Compassion Patrol to Support Isla Vista Community

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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SBRN
Members of Santa Barbara Response Network's Compassion Patrol respond to the scene in Isla Vista. (Santa Barbara Response Network photo)

After a recent violent rampage in Isla Vista left six people dead and 13 injured, UC Santa Barbara students, faculty and staff and Isla Vista residents are still trying to heal and move forward from the harrowing ordeal.

The Santa Barbara community and many others have rallied around the university and surrounding neighborhood, offering support and resources for those affected by the tragedy.

The Santa Barbara Response Network is continuing to offer psychological first aid, providing compassion to those needing a human connection in the aftermath.

SBRN Mobilizes Compassion Patrol Members to Support the Isla Vista Community

The evening of May 23 saw an unspeakable tragedy in Isla Vista. The Santa Barbara Response Network learned of the situation that very night from a member of the Sheriff's Department, who is also part of SBRN's large network of volunteers. Anthony Rodriguez, chief of operations for SBRN, began to mobilize team members so that they could come into Isla Vista if they were needed. About 1 a.m., the Sheriff’s Department confirmed SBRN would need to begin its work in Isla Vista the next day.

"Our organization never over steps its boundaries in responding to an incident because ultimately, we do not want to lose the trust we have built up in the community," Rodriguez said. "Post-intervention becomes prevention if you help someone dealing with trauma. The service we provide is extremely valuable because people understand that for us it is all about the heart. We are providing one of the most important things you can provide in traumatic times — just being there to listen."

SBRN established a Compassion Center in Isla Vista, a physical location and sustained operation that was in place for two months after the shootings. This is a unique situation for SBRN, and really an innovation, because the organization typically tailors its involvement to the incident, with volunteers meeting individuals or groups where they feel most comfortable, whether that be in a person's home, a church or school.

Playing off of the name given to the Isla Vista Police Department (the officers are known as the IV Foot Patrol), SBRN named its volunteer team the Compassion Patrol and began providing mobile outreach support for the community. More than 80 volunteers donated a total of more than 400 hours in response to the Isla Vista tragedy, and are still volunteering today. The Santa Barbara Foundation was pleased to provide an emergency grant to help make this work possible.

"Coming into the community, we did not assume anything and I feel like we asked the right questions to determine what had already been done and what the needs would be," said Sergio Castellanos, board member for SBRN. "From our questions and conversations we found that there were layers of responses in relation to need as Isla Vista is a very diverse community."

Psychological First Aid Offers Unique Response to Community Need

SBRN was founded as an all-volunteer, grassroots organization in response to a cluster suicide that happened in Santa Barbara in 2009. Today, SBRN's mission is to offer psychological first aid and response in the aftermath of critical and traumatic incidences. The organization must be invited into the community to begin its work, an invitation that can be extended by an individual, family, or organization. SBRN is unique in that it is not an agency doing mandated work, but instead consists of a group of committed volunteers giving both their heart and their time.

"An individual does not have to have a specific background to volunteer with SBRN. We are looking for compassionate citizens, and there are many people in the community who are fully qualified to help us, although they may not know that about themselves," said Gil Reyes, executive director of SBRN. "People tend to think we only need experienced grief counselors, psychologists, that kind of thing. But really, we can use anyone who has that type of humanity about them, where they are able to be around someone who is in pain.

"We are compassionate citizens, responding in a unique way to those in need. When something traumatic happens, and an individual feels as if he or she is losing that human connection, SBRN helps that individual get that connection again so that they can move forward."

SBRN provides psychological first aid training in both English and Spanish to its volunteers, preparing them to be more efficient and effective as compassionate community responders. Volunteers are trained on how to use eight core actions, which are seen as culturally sensitive and responsive tools that can be adapted to uniquely fit overwhelming situations. Part of a volunteer’s work is to normalize with a grieving individual, helping this person to get oriented so that it is easier to make decisions and to feel in charge of their life.

"We have a sort of dos and don'ts list for psychological first aid — do listen; don't talk too much; do demonstrate your curiosity; don't ask too many questions. We do not want people to feel like they are being interviewed, let alone interrogated," Reyes said. "But we do want people to know that we are open and caring for what they have to say. We send a validation of the individual's experience that is also interlaced with a gentle sense of hope."

SBRN is purposely narrow in scope, mostly responding to suicides and violence. The organization is not interested in duplicating services, but instead collaborates with the people in the community who are in place already doing their jobs well.

"I think it is a very powerful message when you show up to help someone — you are not getting paid for it, there is no 'reason' for you to be there except for the fact that you want to provide assistance," said Jina Carvalho, public information officer for SBRN. "I have seen some painful stuff for sure. But to be able to help our community feels really good. What we do is very human and necessary."

The Future of the Santa Barbara Response Network

In its own way, SBRN has come to terms with the fact that there is a lot more violence in the world then most people want to admit. Its response to this realization is to change the climate of violence by seeing compassion as the anecdote. For SBRN, the future is not just about crisis response, but doing more to prevent traumatic experiences from happening, getting ahead of the situation so that the organization is not always coming from a reactionary position.

"None of us could have prevented the situation that happened in Isla Vista, but we can do more to influence our local culture so violent means are not preferred," Reyes said. "Research shows that exposure to violent situations in childhood lead to poor health in adulthood, poor earnings in adulthood, and a shorter life. We want to be interrupters by pouring compassion on the fire of violence so that we can keep it from spreading — not just helping the folks who need to heal from that pain, but also keeping the pain from spreading."

— Jina Carvalho represents the Santa Barbara Response Network.

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Airports, Law Enforcement Gear Up with Travel Over Memorial Day Weekend Expected to Hit 10-Year High

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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More people will travel this Memorial Day weekend than last year — more than any year in the past decade, in fact — and local airports and law enforcement agencies are preparing to deal with them.

The vast majority of those journeying between Thursday and Monday were expected to drive to their destinations, according to a Triple A travel report, which projects 37.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from their homes over the holiday weekend.

That’s nearly 5 percent more travelers than last year, and marks the highest travel volume for Memorial Day in 10 years, the report showed.

Santa Barbara Airport Director Hazel Johns said this weekend kicks off the beginning of summer travel season and is typically one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

“Santa Barbara Airport expects airport traffic to be heaviest on Thursday and Friday and Tuesday, so passengers are encouraged to give themselves a little extra time prior to departure,” she said.

The airport, which serves 700,000 passengers annually, also encouraged visitors to pay homage at its two World War II memorials, which will be adorned with wreaths for the holiday.

The California Highway Patrol will focus on ensuring drivers and passengers wear their seat belts, with all available officers out on freeways and county roads as part of a maximum-enforcement period.

Just about every other Santa Barbara County agency will deploy DUI saturation checkpoints throughout the weekend.

Santa Barbara Police will conduct checkpoints somewhere in the city on Friday and Saturday between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m.

“Over the course of the past three years, DUI collisions have claimed eight lives and resulted in 88 injury crashes harming 109 of our friends and neighbors,” Sgt. Mike Brown said, noting the crime caused 802 deaths and nearly 24,000 serious injuries statewide in 2014.

Lompoc and Santa Maria police departments will host their own checkpoints, as will the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department within the city of Goleta, according to Kelly Hoover, a sheriff’s spokeswoman.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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A Magical Night in Store at Plaza Playhouse Theater in Carpinteria

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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The original Hollywood-based Magic Castle organization brought the first of two nights of a special showing of the first science fiction film ever made, Georges Mêlies A Trip to the Moon.

The evening also featured an awesome live magic show by magician John Carney, who has won more awards from Hollywood’s Academy of Magical Arts (Magic Castle) than anyone in their history.

Thursday night's performance began with free champagne or cider for mingling guests. Of course, Island Brewery beer and local winery selections were also on hand, as usual for a $5 donation. The movie showing celebrated the 113th anniversary of the classic film.

A magician himself, French director Mêlies shared his fanciful vision of the first trip to the moon. The “Cinemagician” was one of the first filmmakers o use multiple exposure, time lapse photography, and dissolves in his productions. The film has been digitally restored with the original hand tinted frames, making it one of the first color films as well as the first science fiction movie. An electro pop soundtrack has been added and the short film presentation wowed the audience.

Following the film, magician John Carney performed a spectacular 90-minute show crammed full of astounding illusions. But Carney is more than just an accomplished illusionist. He is also a skilled comedian with precision timing, and a character actor as well.

In a set filled with props and furniture provided by Wayne M, curator of Carpinteria’s most unusual antique emporium and surf board museum, Wayne’s World, Carney devolved into an ever morphing character. In the vein of Garrison Keiler, Carney would take on different personas of magical proportions.

The skilled performer incorporated large parts of the audience in everything from a multi-person card trick to mixing and baking a cake in one audience member’s shoe. The result was a nonstop, hilarious and astonishing one-man show that has to be seen to be believed.

There are a few tickets remaining for the final performance Friday night at the Plaza Playhouse Theater in Carpinteria. Click here for information.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Captain’s Log: Peaceful Fishing on a Budget

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Look for a job until noon and fish for dinner all afternoon, then cook it up on a park barbecue pit. That’s how I got my start in Santa Barbara, after moving here some decades ago. It took me a couple of months to find work, but I look back at those two months and remember being happy.

So, if I had it to do over again, I think I’d do the same thing.

Spending an afternoon fishing can be a perfect escape, on the cheap. Here’s the drill: Grab an old fishing rod/reel, a few hooks and weights (rocks will suffice) and a bucket. Make a gourmet fisherman’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a bottle of tap water (no sense buying bottled water when you’re recreating on the cheap). What makes a P&B sandwich gourmet? Simple. Make it a double-decker, which is a very filling lunch. Also bring along a few pieces of meat leftovers from the fridge for bait. Other good choices include bacon or cold cuts, which can be tied onto the hook with a little piece of fine string or fishing line.

Your destination is the local pier or breakwater because it makes good fiscal sense. No fishing license is needed when fishing from a pier or breakwater. If you step onto the beach and fish, you’ll need a license. Our local coastline has good piers where fisherfolk relax as well as work on their healthy dinner plans.

Goleta Beach is one of the best fishing piers on the whole coast. Park nearby and walk out over the water. I have always enjoyed looking down through the cracks between the planks at the water below when I walk on a pier.

Take a look at what other folks bring and you’ll quickly learn some tricks. People have all manner of luggage racks, dollies and other devices to aid in hauling pier stuff between their car and the pier. I always enjoy the ingenuity of fisherfolk.

Find a spot on the pier just behind the breaking waves. It is tempting to walk way out on the pier, and you are certainly free to do so. The greatest variety of fish, however, is found in the surf zone. You may catch surfperch, smelt and, if you are really lucky, a corbina or halibut. Little shiner perch can be caught right next to the pier pilings, and they make appealing live bait for larger predators.

Bait up, weight up and drop down. If you can catch a small fish, it might suffice for additional bait — either whole or in pieces. It doesn’t hurt to have multiple baits available to test the desires of the fish on any given day.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Designer Danielle Rocha Hosting ‘Summer Dream’ Swimwear Runway Show to Benefit Dream Foundation

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Dream Foundation — the only national dream-granting organization for adults and their families battling life-threatening illness — is partnering with cutting-edge local swimwear designer Danielle Rocha of Rocha Swim to host Summer Dream, a swimwear runway show event aimed at engaging young adults in the mission of Dream Foundation and raising funds to help make dreams come true.

One-hundred percent of proceeds raised will be earmarked to serve the dreams of applicants in their 20s.

“About 11 percent of our dream recipients are between the ages of 18 and 35,” said Kisa Heyer, Dream Foundation executive director. “Their dreams range from basic needs items like laptops and tablets to stay connected with family and friends, to the opportunity to meet a personal hero or experience a rite of passage such as a graduation or prom.”

Summer Dream will feature a runway show by Rocha Swim, as well as fashion from other local designers including CA Makes, Studio 399 Jewelry, Make Smith, Lisa Sands Design and Chapala & Parker. On hand serving up burgers and bites will be the mobile Carl’s Jr. Star Diner. There will be live performances by Danny Winter and DJ IDEX, as well as a raffle, wine and beer.

According to event chair Arlene Montesano, “It is exciting to be working with a talented young designer like Danielle Rocha, who has channeled her creativity and entrepreneurial spirit into giving back to the community. This is going to be the first event of its kind for Dream Foundation and we are working hard to make it a great success.”

Tickets are on sale now for $75 each and may be purchased online by clicking here.

Event sponsors include Blue Star Parking, Cabana Home, Carl's Jr., Don and Susan Kang, Jim Nigro, Eric and Nina Phillips, Walter Claudio Salon Spa and SpaceNK Apothecary.

Dream Foundation maintains a four-star Charity Navigator rating (the highest rating) for sound fiscal responsibility and has never turned away a qualified dream request.

— Kelly Sweda represents the Dream Foundation.

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Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Musicians to Present Personal Progress Reports

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Out at UCSB, the spring quarter is drawing to a close, which means that the 2014-15 academic year, too, is ending. The UCSB Department of Music has a sterling program in musical performance, and this is the time of the year when the students have their recitals — closing off their class' year, and closing off their bachelor's or master's degree.

These student recitals are always worth attending, and not just in the sense of the moral support you can provide for the next generation of musicians. They would be worth attending, in that sense, even if we were talking about students at a community college somewhere in the benighted Midwest. UCSB Music, however, wouldn't even let these students in if they didn't show great promise, and they wouldn't give them degrees unless they were ready for the big time. We will hear very good performances of beautiful, often fascinating, music. All the recitals take place somewhere in the UCSB Music complex, and admission is free.

At 6 p.m. Friday, May 22 in Music 1145, hornist Jarrett Webb, with faculty pianist Natasha Kislenko and sophomore violinist Sara Bashore, will play a program of all-20th century music, including a concerto for horn and strings by Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck; a double concerto for violin and horn by Dame Ethel Smyth; and an unaccompanied piece, Patrick Kavanaugh's Debussy Variations, No. 11 in F-Major, for solo horn.

Schenck (1886-1957) was solidly 20th century in his dates, only rarely in his music. This concerto reminds me more than a little of Robert Schumann's Kozertstück for Four Horns and Orchestra, Opus 86. Smyth (1858-1944) remains the only woman composer to have an opera produced at the Met. She was an ardent feminist and composed the stirring "March of the Women," which became the anthem of the Women's Suffrage Movement in Great Britain.

At 8 p.m. Friday, May 22 in Karl Geiringer Hall, pianist Felix Eisenhauer will present his Doctor of Musical Arts Recital, with the collaboration of Adriane Hill on flute, Karen Yeh on cello and Luvi Avendano, voice. Solo or with friends, Eisenhauer will perform works by Carl Maria von Weber, Ludwig van Beethoven and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, May 30 in Karl Geiringer Hall, bass-baritone Keith Colclough, with pianist Bridget Hough, will sing an all-Schubert recital — an [e]xploration of Schubert’s incorporation and transcendence of Recitative in Lieder," using Schubert's settings of poems by Johann Goethe, Friedrich Müller, and Heinrich Heine. (Müller was also a notable graphic artist, and was consequently known popularly as "Maler" — i.e., "Painter" — Müller.)

At 4 p.m. Saturday, May 30 in Karl Geiringer Hall, pianist Mark Gutierrez will play a solo recital. Alas, there is no program available at this time, but as the banner proclaimed, in Stanley Kramer's On the Beach: "There is still time, Brothers and Sisters!" As soon as I learn more I will try to post it.

Or, you can go online to the department's user-friendly website by clicking here and check for yourselves.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Local Holocaust Survivor to Speak at Screening of Film Based on His Life

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Thomas Blatt's book, From the Ashes of Sobibor: A Story of Survival, tells the story of the most successful revolt and escape from any Nazi camp during World War II. Fifteen years old at the time of the revolt, Oct. 14, 1943, and himself a prisoner at the camp, Blatt played a pivotal role in masterminding it along with two of his fellow prisoners.

Now 88 years old and living in Santa Barbara, Blatt will be the honored guest at the screening of Escape from Sobibor, the film based on his book, and the final film in the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara’s Holocaust Spring Film Series.

During the revolt, 200 prisoners escaped and 150 were captured and killed, but close to 50 survived. Blatt was one of these few to survive this miraculous escape from an extermination camp.

Following his escape, Blatt was shot by a Polish farmer and wandered through the surrounding forest until the liberation — the bullet remains lodged in his lower jaw today.  He has extensively researched the event and its related history and has written two books on the subject, as well as spoken widely on the topic.

"We knew our fate. We knew that we were in an extermination camp and death was our destiny. We knew that even a sudden end to the war might spare the inmates of the ‘normal’ concentration camps, but never us. Only desperate actions could shorten our suffering and maybe afford us a chance of escape. And the will to resist had grown and ripened," Blatt writes in his book. "We had no dreams of liberation; we hoped merely to destroy the camp and to die from bullets rather than from gas. We would not make it easy for the Germans."

Blatt served as a writer and technical consultant on the film. There will be an opportunity for questions and answers following the screening. The free event will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 26 at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara, 524 Chapala St.

For more information, please contact Diana Oplinger at 805.957.1115 x114, 805.701.1232 or by email at [email protected].

— Diana Oplinger is the marketing and communications manager for the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara.

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Dos Pueblos Team Takes Second Place in Financial Advisor Contest

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Congratulations to Dos Pueblos High School seniors Connor Kanan, Will Macfarlane, Anthony Ochoa and Tyler Wilson on their second-place finish in the finals of the Financial Advisor Contest.

They each won $300 for their work.

They presented a seven-minute PowerPoint presentation on their plan for guiding a 60-year-old couple through their retirement years — outlining an appropriate investment strategy to secure their desired income so as to maintain their current lifestyle up to the age of 95.

Their outstanding presentation, which they defended in front of Chartered Financial Analysts, qualified them for the quiz bowl round in which they finished in second place.

They also created an exceptional spreadsheet in which to illustrate their analysis.

— Barbara Keyani is the communications coordinator for the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

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One-Time Performance of ‘The Origin of the Seasons’ to Benefit Domestic Violence Solutions

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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For one night only on Sunday, June 7, young actors from an Arizona arts academy will perform a provocative new play, The Origin of the Seasons, by Kathleen B. Jones exploring the dynamics of domestic violence.

The murder of one of her students propels a professor on an uncanny journey into the labyrinth of loss and mourning. Invoking the myth of Demeter and Persephone and loosely adapted from her nonfiction narrative, Living Between Danger and Love: The Limits of Choice, Jones’ play tells a story about the ways we search to make sense of the separations that wound us.

What happens to love if we fail to negotiate separation successfully? Is love not only about attachment but also about letting go enough to love another for herself instead of as one’s own shadow?

The original cast from Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy, whose members trained with a local domestic violence service provider as part of their performance preparation, includes six young actors accompanied by a pianist, a trombonist and a flautist playing an original score written by one of the young musicians.

The troupe asks for a suggested $15 donation, which will benefit Domestic Violence Solutions of Santa Barbara. The play contains mature content and strong language, and the performance will take place at Unity of Santa Barbara, 227 E. Arrellaga St. at 7 p.m. June 7.

For more information, contact Layne McGhee at [email protected].

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Bill Macfadyen: Oil Spill Waters Run Deep, and That’s What We’re Afraid Of

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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Before filling up on a gas station design, NoozWeek’s Top 5 finds a dead body in a crashed car, tracks a gruesome apparent suicide and rescues a badly injured bicyclist

There were 101,916 people who read Noozhawk this past week. We welcome all readers to the debate over your top stories — regardless of where you stand in the polls.

1. Cleanup Under Way for Large Oil Spill Near Refugio State Beach​

An underground pipeline was discovered ruptured May 19 near Refugio State Beach west of Goleta. Unfortunately for just about everyone and everything, an estimated 105,000 gallons of crude oil spilled out before it could be shut down.

The less-bad news is that most of the spill remained on land, where cleanup and remediation are more precise.

The potentially catastrophic news is that quite a lot of the spill still flowed downhill through a drainage culvert underneath Highway 101 and the railroad tracks ... right into the ocean. Once in water, oil can spread easily, erratically and elusively.

It did, and still is.

As of the morning of May 22, authorities said oil slicks covered about nine square miles of the Santa Barbara Channel.

As a precaution, 161 square miles have been declared off-limits to fishing and much recreation. The expanse is between Coal Oil Point near Isla Vista west to Canada de Alegeria near Gaviota State Park, and roughly seven miles out to sea.

State beaches in the area are closed for the ordinarily jam-packed Memorial Day weekend, and Goleta officials declared a state of emergency while nervously watching the shoreline for signs of encroachment. So far, so good, however.

The multiagency spill response has grown to include nearly two dozen boats deploying oil-skimming booms, and more than 600 trained haz-mat cleanup personnel onshore. 

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency are coordinating the federal effort, and multiple state and Santa Barbara County agencies are involved, as well.

State Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Oil Spill Prevention and Response crews are working with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at UC Davis to locate and rescue wildlife. Authorities advised that oiled animals should not be touched, but reported to the network by calling 1.877.823.6926.

An assortment of agencies is investigating the breach of the 24-inch pipeline, which is operated by Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline.

The line — which was constructed in 1987 and, according to company officials, was inspected as recently as two weeks ago — carries crude oil north from ExxonMobil’s Las Flores Canyon processing facility. It was operating at full capacity at the time of the spill, Plains spokesman Darren Palmer said.

Plains officials have taken responsibility for the leak, and have said the company will pay for the response operation. Any fines, fees and/or settlements likely will take months — if not years — to negotiate and litigate.

As our Giana Magnoli reported, county employees actually informed Plains of the problem and county firefighters were the guys who traced the source of the spill back to the pipeline. 

“How come our people had to be the ones to notify them?” asked an incredulous Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr.

That’s a good question, and one we can all look forward to hearing the answer to. As our Lara Cooper reported May 21, Plains apparently has had to do a fair amount of explaining in the past.

Meanwhile, Lara was one of the first journalists to arrive at the scene, and she captured numerous riveting images on camera and video. Click here for a photo gallery.

Among the most poignant of her pictures is the nearby photo, which depicts would-be wildlife good Samaritans Steven Botello and Derek Fisher trying to rescue an oil-coated bird. Alas, they couldn’t reach it.

As national media interest in the story picked up, Noozhawk was deluged with requests for our pictures. Lara’s photo was beamed around the world by Reuters and television news networks, and it made the front page of the Washington Post and ABC’s Good Morning America, among hundreds of other outlets.

Thanks to our Tom Bolton’s​ insistence on mandatory credit, Noozhawk’s​ name is much more recognizable nationally now than it was earlier in the week. And to all of our new readers, thank you for your support.

Check back with Noozhawk for complete spill coverage, including the latest updates. Click here to email me your cell number if you’d like to receive our free NoozAlerts on your phone. And click here for more information about how you can help with the spill cleanup.

A new fatality off Highway 154, but apparently not from the crash. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)
A new fatality off Highway 154, but apparently not from the crash. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

2. Man Dies After Car Crashes Off Highway 154

A 57-year-old Agoura Hills man was found dead in the Ford Mustang he was driving after the car veered off Highway 154 north of Paradise Road on the morning of May 18.

Authorities believe the man suffered a fatal medical emergency just before the crash.

County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said emergency crews found the man unresponsive and not breathing when they arrived at the northbound crash site.

He said the Coroner’s Office would conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death. The man’s identity was not immediately released, pending notification of relatives.

Authorities are investigating another apparent ‘suicide by train’ in Santa Barbara. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
Authorities are investigating another apparent “suicide by train” in Santa Barbara. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

3. Transient Killed by Amtrak Train in Santa Barbara

A transient was run over by an Amtrak passenger train just west of Santa Barbara’s Milpas Street railroad crossing May 20. Authorities say the man died instantly in the midday incident.

“Indications are that it was a suicide, and he intentionally lay down on the tracks,” police Sgt. Riley Harwood told our Josh Molina.

He said the man had been tentatively identified as a 60-year-old transient who was known to officers.

The westbound train was stopped for about 45 minutes so the man’s remains could be removed from the scene.

The Coroner’s Office is handling the investigation of the incident, which appears to be another in a recent spate of apparent “suicides by train” in the corridor.

Click here for free suicide prevention resources that are available 24 hours a day, or call 1.800.273.8255.

4. Injured Cyclist Airlifted to Santa Barbara Hospital

Two bicyclists, participating in a 630-mile ride to San Diego from San Francisco, ran into each other in the Lompoc Valley on May 20. One of the cyclists suffered major head trauma and had to be flown to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment.

As our Janene Scully reported, the crash happened just before 11 a.m. near the intersection of Highway 1 and North H Street.

Lompoc Fire Chief Kurt Latipow said a county helicopter happened to be in the area so the aircraft made a beeline for the hospital, with a flight-qualified county Fire Department paramedic along to administer care in the air.

“​It was one of those times when everything came together,”​ Latipow said.

The injured cyclist’s identity and condition were not disclosed.

Both riders are members of the private Navy Cycling Club, which includes active-duty personnel, military retirees and civilians.

Whose convenience is in store for this business anyway? (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
Whose convenience is in store for this business anyway? (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

5. Carrillo Street Gas Station Design Raises Concerns at Santa Barbara Planning Commission

Downtown Santa Barbara has a grand total of two gas stations.

One of them sports the requisite Santa Barbara style of white stucco and red-tile roof. It even has a balcony to add further charm to its otherwise industrial use.

But USA Gas at 340 W. Carrillo St. — just about the first thing you see when driving into downtown on that gateway entrance — looks more like the full-service station it once was: Basically nondescript, and heavy on the frosted glass panels, especially where the long-ago abandoned mechanics’ bays used to be.

The place recently was sold and the new ownership wants to complete the conversion of its interior into a full mini-mart, modifying the service bays with aluminum and glass windows, and adding landscaping outside. The idea is to make it look more inviting and obvious to potential customers, a concept that actually is considered mainstream in many parts of the country.

The proposal came before the Planning Commission and, wouldn’t you know it, one of the appointees appeared to question why the panel couldn’t require the business to conform to the city’s ​El Pueblo Viejo District design guidelines.

“This is an area of town that demands a better project than this will be,” commissioner Mike Jordan said, apparently in all seriousness. “The sense I am getting from this project is that it is all about resignation.

“Something is there in appearance right now and we are just going to make it better, and we are resigned to the fact that we can’t bring it up to our normal standards within (El Pueblo Viejo).”

Commissioner June Pujo disagreed. According to our Josh Molina, she noted that the gas station’s permit does not constitute a project and that it’s not starting from scratch.

“It would be difficult for me to require a complete remodel that would meet the standards of EPV,” she said.

“I just don’t think that ... allowing the internal tenant improvements for a mini-mart really gives us that kind of nexus to basically start over with the design of the gas station.”

Common sense prevailed, and the commission ended up approving the conditional-use permit on a 5-2 vote. Commissioner and former Mayor Sheila Lodge joined Jordan in dissent.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week, from my peripatetic tour of the World Wide Web ... and beyond: 4 Ways Elevators Will Get Totally Insane in 2016. This will leave you floored — and grateful that our local ups and downs are low profile.

                                                                 •        •        •

It hasn’t been a good week for local wildlife so how about some happy news: A freshly hatched — as in minutes old — snowy plover chick, born May 20 at UC Santa Barbara’s Coal Oil Point Reserve. HT to my friend, Mo McFadden of Hack & Flack Ink, AKA McFadden & McFadden P.R.

(Maureen McFadden video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Santa Barbara Garage, Home Damaged by Fire Overnight

By | Published on 05/22/2015

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No injuries reported in blaze in 300 block of La Marina Drive

A garage on the Mesa was severely damaged by fire early Friday, but Santa Barbara city firefighters were able to prevent the flames from reaching a nearby residence.

Three engine companies and a truck crew were dispatched shortly before 1:30 a.m. to the 300 block of La Marina Drive, where they found smoke and flames pouring from a single-car garage, said fire Battalion Chief Mike de Ponce.

"Firefighters made an aggressive attack on the fire, and kept the fire’s spread from getting into the residence," de Ponce said.

The home's sole occupant and his cat were safely evacuated by a city firefighter who lives nearby, de Ponce said.

"In addition to the damage in the garage, there was heavy smoke damage to the inside of the single-family home," de Ponce said.

The blaze, which caused an estimated $20,000 damage, was found to be accidental, de Ponce said.

No injuries were reported, and de Ponce reminded the public to make sure all smoke detectors in their homes and businesses are in working order.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Pipeline Company Responsible for Refugio Oil Spill Has Spotty Safety Record, Data Show

By | Published on 05/21/2015

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Officials are investigating the rupture of a Plains All American pipeline that sent thousands of gallons of crude into the ocean off Santa Barbara County

The company that operates the pipeline that spilled thousands of gallons of crude oil onto the southern Santa Barbara County coastline this week has a spotty safety record, according to federal data.

Plains All American Pipeline LP has been in trouble in the past for corrosion of its pipelines, according to data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which oversees regulation of the nation's 2.6 million miles of pipeline. 

Officials are still working to uncover the cause of Tuesday's spill near Refugio State Beach, which originated from a 24-inch Plains pipeline used to carry crude oil north from ExxonMobil’s Las Flores Canyon processing facility.

PHMSA records state that the company has reported 175 incidents in its pipelines since 2006.

The agency also reports that the company reported $23.8 million in property damage, according to those incidents, and that 16,404 barrels were spilled since 2006.

Those numbers do not account for one of the biggest settlements that Plains was a part of, when it was ordered to spend millions of dollars upgrading pipes and paying civil penalties after a federal lawsuit was filed.

In 2010, the company and several of its operating subsidiaries settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department, agreeing to spend about $41 million upgrading its pipelines across the United States.

That settlement was a response to the company's Clean Water Act violations for 10 crude oils spills in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kansas.  

The federal lawsuit maintained that the company's corroded pipes had caused 273,420 gallons of crude oil to leak into nearby wetlands, bayous and other water sources.

In addition to upgrading that pipeline, the company was also required to pay a $3.25 million civil penalty.

Plains safety and security director Patrick Hodgins said the company's incidents by percentage of pipeline are within industry norms, but "we must focus our efforts on goal zero." 

The company has more than doubled its safety staff and increased maintenance funding since 2008, he told reporters during a press conference on the Refugio oil spill response effort. 

The company operates 480 miles of pipeline in California, and had a high profile leak occur just last week.

On May 16, an oil spill reportedly sent a 40-foot geyser of crude oil from a Plains pumping station that leaked 10,000 gallons of crude oil into a Los Angeles neighborhood.

Plains Officials stated that they believed the cause of the spill to be due to a faulty valve.

Santa Barbara County Planning and Development’s energy division handles the permitting and oversight for oil and gas projects in the county, including the ruptured Plains pipeline.

All pipeline regulators are required to have a computer system to alert operators about changes in pressure, temperature, etc. called SCADA, supervisory control and data acquisition, energy division director Kevin Drude said.

Santa Barbara County “goes above and beyond” and requires applicants to have automatic shutdown as part of their SCADA system, but Plains doesn’t have one, Drude said.

His office is still waiting on a report to see why Plains doesn’t have an automatic shutdown in place, and instead relies on operators to respond to alerts and do manual shutdowns in the pipelines.

The county has “every other authority except what’s in the pipeline” to oversee Plains operations, due to limitations imposed in a past court settlement, he said.

Plains has an operating permit from the county and has been in compliance, Drude said. That includes the company’s mitigation monitoring program, erosion control plans and emergency plans like the oil spill response plan.

County energy division staff are on scene taking pictures and doing follow-up permit work, following the issuance of emergency permits so clean-up work could begin immediately. Plains has to apply and pay for all of the permits they would have needed to do work in the coastal zone. 

The pipeline that ruptured is used by ExxonMobil and Venoco, Inc. for transporting oil north from offshore oil platform operations in Santa Barbara County.

Venoco shut down Platform Holly on Wednesday since the company has limited storage at its Ellwood Onshore Facility in Goleta, operations manager Larry Huskins said.

“They are the main conduit for going north for us and Exxon,” he said.

ExxonMobil uses the pipeline to transport crude oil north from Las Flores Canyon facilities, which process oil and gas from Platform Hondo, Platform Harmony and Platform Heritage. 

Plains spokesman Darren Palmer said that the Las Flores Canyon-to-Gaviota pump station pipe, built in 1987, had been inspected two weeks ago, but the results of that inspection aren't known.

Based on the flow rate and elevation of the pipe, Plains officials have estimated a maximum spill of 105,000 gallons. 

Pipeline operations director Rick McMichael said the pipeline had some pumping issues Tuesday morning and operators noticed a "pressure anomaly" in the pipeline in question, causing them to manually shut down the pipe at 11:30 a.m.

The company's control center received a call from Santa Barbara County Fire reporting an odor around 12:30 p.m. and the spill was verified by a Plains employee in person at 1:30 p.m., according to Plains. 

There is still no word on a possible cause of the spill, which started at the underground pipe about a quarter-mile from the water, and worked its way to the shoreline through a Caltrans culvert that runs under Highway 101 and the railroad tracks, officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said. 

In addition to the EPA investigators, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration stated earlier this week that four of its inspectors were at the scene of the incident and will investigate the cause of the crude oil pipeline release, the condition of the pipeline and any potential regulatory violations. 

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Oil Spill Off County Coast Impacts Local Business, Tourism

By | Published on 05/21/2015

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The oil has stopped leaking into the ocean off Santa Barbara County’s coastline, but it’s merely the beginning of efforts made by local business and tourism leaders to quell misinformation.

Since Tuesday’s spill, travelers have been calling into Santa Barbara hotels trying to cancel reservations, believing the oil slick that originated 20 miles north at Refugio State Beach was already upon the coastal city’s beaches.

It definitely is not, was the message Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Ken Oplinger wanted to get out Thursday.

That’s the point Visit Santa Barbara was trying to convey, too — until Thursday.

After the City of Goleta, about 10 miles west, declared a state of emergency in case the miles-long oil slick reaches its beaches, local leaders scrambled to develop new messaging headed into the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Santa Barbara County and the state also declared an emergency in response to the spill.

“This is a major natural catastrophe for the coastline north of us,” Oplinger told Noozhawk. “It’s really going to be a long-term issue for us. This is major news, and I don’t think we truly understand what this means.

“I think the issue now is, if all that is wrong, and we’re going to have oil on the beaches here, we have to figure out what that means.”

Right now, Santa Barbara and Goleta beaches remain open, while beaches and campgrounds up north at Refugio State Beach and El Capitan State Beach are closed until further notice.

Beyond that economic impact, commercial fishermen are also feeling the pinch from a ban on fishing and harvesting shellfish up to six miles into the ocean, west of Coal Oil Point.

The extent of financial impact is unknown, and there is not an accurate estimate of the amount of crude oil spilled.

Visit Santa Barbara is regularly updating its website with information, the latest of which lets visitors know regular beach-going and waterfront activities are happening, and all restaurants, hotels and businesses are still open.

Luckily — and ironically — the last cruise ship visit of the spring season was Tuesday, when the spill was first reported.

“The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management has estimated the cleanup may take three days,” the tourism organization wrote in an update.

In a statement Thursday, Visit Santa Barbara reiterated that its first concern is keeping visitors accurately informed.

“Second, we are engaging our industry partners to assess how we can support them through this crisis,” the statement said. “At this early stage we cannot determine the potential impacts on our tourism industry.

"We are in contact with Visit Santa Barbara board leadership and the local hospitality community to ensure that we communicate that Santa Barbara remains a safe and quality destination, including all of the beach areas not currently affected by the oil spill.

“Visit Santa Barbara is working closely with state partners, including Visit California, to communicate with international and targeted national travel trade media. We are reinforcing that the incident is contained, cleanup is in progress, and that Santa Barbara is open for business and largely unaffected outside of the immediate spill area.”

As a sort of silver lining, Oplinger said some hotels, including Hyatt Santa Barbara downtown, saw at least an initial up-tick in business as out-of-area cleanup crew members booked rooms.

“We’ve got to get the cleanup done first,” he said. “I’d like to understand more about what they mean about oil hitting the area of beaches near Goleta. The hope is that through the emergency operations center, we’re getting good information.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Faced with Tragedy, Good Samaritans Stepped Up to Help During Isla Vista Rampage

By | Published on 05/21/2015

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A year after the deadly tragedy, the heroic bystanders, the first responders and the families of the victims reflect on the selfless acts amid the horror

The evening of May 23, 2014, began as typical Friday nights often do, with a liquor store run for a college student in Isla Vista.

UC Santa Barbara student Max Potter jumped on his bike and headed out to pick up a six-pack to help celebrate the birthday of a roommate in his Beta chapter house, pedaling just four blocks before the evening took a sharp turn from typical.

After hearing what sounded like pops from fireworks in the unincorporated community adjacent to UCSB, Potter saw three girls with gunshot wounds lying on the ground in front of the Alpha Phi sorority house just before 9:30 p.m.

Two of them were moving.

Adrenaline kicked in. Potter bound off his bike to perform CPR on Katie Cooper, channeling training acquired for his student supervisor job at the Recreation Center.

The scene scared away some students, who ran into homes, but another passing student stabilized Cooper’s head. A second tended to Veronika Weiss, and a third tried to soothe Bianca DeKock, who was talking to her mother on her cell phone.

A Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputy arrived on the scene, obtaining a description of the shooter’s vehicle from another student.

“I was only doing CPR for less than a minute before the second round of gunshots went out,” Potter told Noozhawk this week. “They were very loud.”

He didn’t realize the magnitude of what happened until he was safely huddled inside the Alpha Phi house, when a deputy came to the door and asked for two bed sheets to cover the bodies of Cooper and Weiss.

Potter, now 22, reluctantly shared the story of the night 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six UCSB students and injured 14 others before ending his own life with a gun used during the Isla Vista rampage.

What he did wasn’t special, Potter said, preferring to remember victims who, unfortunately, had been out during those 10 terror-filled minutes nearly a year ago.

His hesitance to bring attention to himself is characteristic of dozens of other civilians, who unexpectedly responded to that night with the helping, humble hands of Good Samaritans.

A report released by the Sheriff’s Department earlier this year details some of these acts, as well as heroics of responding deputies, outside officers and paramedics.

When a third victim, Christopher Michaels-Martinez, was shot as he entered the IV Deli, at least four people tried to revive him with CPR.

A pedestrian struck by Rodger’s vehicle near Embarcadero Del Norte was helped into Woodstock’s Pizza by two UCSB students.

A girl who was shot while riding her bike to a friend’s house was corralled into 7-Eleven, where workers hid student customers.

Having been shot at, students rushed into the nearest homes on Del Playa and Sabado Tarde, where young residents applied pressure to wounds and called police.

Friends tended to injured friends who were struck from behind while riding a bicycle or skateboard.

One skateboarder even followed Rodger’s BMW for a few blocks after he was hit before stopping when he came upon more run-down victims.

“At that time, keeping log, we had 12 different crime scenes,” said sheriff’s Lt. Butch Arnoldi, who manned the department’s phones and fielded dozens of 9-1-1 calls during the incident.

Michael-Martinez’s father called in trying to locate his son. Sorority sisters reported Cooper and Weiss missing.

Officers were just doing their jobs, Arnoldi said, playing down any heroics.

Everything was silent by the time Bob Weiss and his wife arrived, having sped up from Thousand Oaks to check on their daughter, Veronika, who wasn’t answering her phone. Six hours after the shooting began, they found out she was among the dead.

That night, deputies discovered the first victims were Rodger’s roommates and their friend — Weihan “David” Wang, Chen Hong and George Chen — who had multiple stab wounds.

Weiss couldn’t speak to first-responder efforts; he knew only the outpouring of support that followed.

“I know that the community responded in a big way post-May 23,” he said.

Community effort was how Potter also described the healing process, with candlelight vigils, hugs, flowers, written notes and donations.

“Everyone was impacted,” he said. “I think that really showed just how special those people were.”

As the senior environmental science and anthropology major prepares to graduate this year, he periodically pulls out a piece of that night he keeps in his wallet — a small section of yellow police tape.

“I think of them and I think about what it means to me; what I wish I would’ve done differently,” Potter said. “There’s a lot more to life than just school, drinking and money. You realize how many people you can impact when you’re no longer here. It’s a life-changing experience that I will take with me for the rest of my life.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Wearable Blood-Alcohol Sensor Takes Top Honors in UCSB’s New Venture Competition

By | Published on 05/21/2015

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Six teams of student entrepreneurs compete as finalists for cash prizes to fund their business ideas

Young entrepreneurs tried to impress judges with a cricket powder recipe, video-conferencing tool and more, but the students who created a wearable blood-alcohol sensor walked away with top honors Thursday at UC Santa Barbara’s New Venture Competition.

Six student teams involved in the university’s Technology Management Program — spanning all majors and college-education levels — competed as finalists in the yearlong contest that culminates with great business ideas, cash prizes and bragging rights in a program that has historically produced several successful startups.

Not to mention the fact that UCSB students got to present pitches in front of an audience of hundreds of potential investors, academics and promising mentors.

Milo ran away with the most money during the 16th annual event Thursday evening, taking home the grand prize and raking in $20,000 overall.

The team of Evan Strenk, Daniel Imberman, Bob Lansdorp and adviser/post-doctoral student Netzahvalcoyotl Arroyo won the heart of the audience and the panel of judges with a pitch for a Fitbit-type wristband that monitored alcohol consumption levels by detecting the amount the wearer sweats — and letting the individual set alerts to say when enough is enough.

“These products have the potential to save lives,” said Imberman, a master’s student in computer science. “There is a very wide potential for this product.”

Milo earned the $2,500 People’s Choice Prize from attendee voters and first place in the tech-driven category, tallying another $7,500.

A panel of expert judges asked students to defend their ideas, questioning them about revenue, operational costs and where certain device materials were made.

Because the finalists were more competitive than ever, TMP department director Bob York said, judges decided to dole out two second-place awards instead of any third places in each category: tech-driven and market pull.

New Venture
Insiight placed first in the market pull category. Pictured here are UCSB student team members Katie Koehler and Rush Patel. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Chemoguard Diagnostics was the second-biggest winner of the night, tying for a second place $3,500 tech-driven award and earning another $5,000 from the Elings Prize. Brett Cook, Alex Sercel, Dayton Horvath and Letitia Mueller spearheaded that business, which offered personalized toxicity screening of chemotherapy treatments.

The team of Ph.D. students Katie Koehler, Rush Patel and Mathieu Rodrigue came in third best overall — earning a $7,500 first-place award in the market pull category — as a software company that uses online eye-tracking to improve marketing. 

Chuckles could be heard from the crowd during the presentation from Slightly Nutty, a group that aimed to use a sustainable “cricket powder” as a protein and flour ingredient substitute.

After teammates offered judges a cricket protein bar and explained what makes a cricket organic — the insect consumes organic materials — they tied for second place in the market pull category, earning $3,500.

Slightly Nutty tied with Sesamo, which developed an app that connects a hotel key to a person’s smartphone.

Caugnate, a video conferencing tool designed for space-to-space collaboration, earned one of the tech-driven, second-place $3,500 awards.

For a complete list of student finalists, click here.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Refugio Oil Spill Fuels Sustainable-Energy Rally with Renewed Calls for Ban on Fracking

By | Published on 05/21/2015

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Attendees of Thursday's sustainable-energy rally in Santa Barbara let their signs do the talking. Click here for more photos from the event. (Robert Bernstein photo)

The Gaviota Coast oil spill was cause for a noon press conference on the Santa Barbara Courthouse steps Thursday.

Speakers and organizations included Rebecca Claassen of Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, county Supervisor Salud Carbajal, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, Linda Krop of the Environmental Defense Center, Chumash elders, Matt Renner of the World Business Academy, the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, Get Oil Out (GOO), 350.org and Marc McGinnes, who was here at the 1969 oil spill.

Supervisor Carbajal and Mayor Schneider both emphasized the need to transition to sustainable fossil-free energy — not only because of the local damage done by oil, but because of the global impacts such as climate change and international conflict.

Renner of the World Business Academy talked about plans for Community Choice Energy: Creating the energy we need locally through solar energy.

Claassen and Krop called on Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a moratorium on fracking and other extreme extraction methods that drive local oil extraction — both on and off shore. They noted that this spill was caused by an on-shore pipeline failure.

Claassen had been asked by a reporter if the Gaviota Coast deserves special protection. She said she grew up in Lompoc and Orcutt and those areas deserve just as much protection.

"No place is acceptable for an oil spill," she said.

Transitioning to sustainable energy was the common theme of every speech as well as many of the signs. The Chumash elders especially reminded us of the importance of planning many generations ahead. The transition will have to happen.

Sign holder Danielle explained that the cost of not transitioning is far more expensive: foreign wars, environmental destruction, global warming and oil industry subsidies.

After the event I rode my bike out to Coal Oil Point State Reserve and out several miles to remember what is at stake locally. As I paused a flock of pelicans flew over. The wind was blowing directly from Refugio toward Coal Oil Point.

Robert Bernstein is a local photographer and frequent Noozhawk contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Former Fugitive Sentenced to 41 Years in State Prison for Molestation of Five Girls

By | Published on 05/21/2015

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A Santa Maria man called a child predator, a monster and a coward by his victims and their families was sentenced Thursday to 41 years in state prison for molesting five girls.

Clive Badi Decomarmond
Clive Badi Decomarmond

Clive Badi Decomarmond, 42, of Santa Maria heard his sentence in Santa Barbara County Superior Court following more than 90 minutes of statements from some of his victims, their mothers and a sister.

Sentencing came after months of delays as Decomarmond fled the state on the eve of his first trial, accepted a plea before his second trial could start, fired his attorney, tried to withdraw from the plea and, most recently, sought to remove the judge.

After the sentencing as Decomarmond was led from the courtroom, the victims’ families and supporters, including members of Bikers Against Child Abuse, applauded.

In the first of several victims' impact statements, the mom of Jane Doe No. 5, recalled hearing the defendant had raped and sodomized her niece for several years. She asked her own daughter whether Decomarmond did anything to her.

“She didn’t answer right away,” the mom said. “She didn’t have to. I could see it all over her face.”

It took months before the girl admitted that she, too, was a victim, even as her grades dropped, she suffered nightmares and became mean while hiding the dark secret, the mom said, adding that the acts completely devastated their lives.

“He had shown no signs of remorse at all,” she said. “He has acted like a coward.”

She noted the delays in the case further abused the victims.

“He just kept tormenting the girls even more,” she said. 

Jane Doe No. 5 noted the man acted like a father figure, buying her clothes and a dog before taking advantage of her. 

“Forty-one years in prison is not close to what this cowardly piece of crap deserves,” the girl said, adding she hopes he dies a painful death in prison. 

Another mom spoke saying she knows at least one of her daughters is a victim of Decomarmond and suspects others might be also.

A longtime friend, Decomarmond took advantage by using information about the girl’s previous abuse as a foster child. The girl’s grades fell, she began cutting and attempted suicide.

“I cannot believe the pain Clive has caused not only to my family but to everyone,” the second mom said.

Once close families have been torn apart.

“Best friends are not longer best friends,” she added.

And several of the victims’ impact statements referred to the inability to trust people anymore.

“The trust has been lost and broken,” the mom said.

Another mom of a victim listened to the court proceedings via telephone since she lives in Mississippi as a relative read her letter.

“He stole my daughter’s innocence,” she said.

Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jebens said it would be impossible to top the impact of the victims’ statements, but noted Decomarmond’s ongoing selfish manipulative behavior in addition to the devastation he caused five families. 

Due to a technicality involving Decomarmond’s plea agreement, the original 42-year sentence he agreed to actually was shortened by a year, Jebens said.

As the judge started to hand down the sentence, Decomarmond’s attorney, Steve Rice, said the defendant wanted to speak.

After talking to both attorneys and calling for a break, Judge John McGregor agreed to allow Decomarmond to speak but warned he needed to remain facing the front of the courtroom and would be limited in the scope of his comments.

“I’ve been called a lot of things in this court today,” Decomarmond said. “Mr. Jebens, I’m no coward. I requested to go to trial on the matters I’m accused.”

McGregor interrupted the defendant and told him to address the comments to the judge. 

“I know that I have done wrong in certain ways,” Decomarmond said, adding that whether he is or isn’t remorseful will be left to a higher power. 

The most recent delay in the case stemmed from Decomarmond’s motion to dismiss the judge and withdraw his plea. The defendant claimed McGregor had a conflict since as a private attorney years ago he represented Decomarmond’s former wife. 

Another judge ruled no conflict existed, McGregor said Thursday.

On the eve of his first trial, Decomarmond, who was out on bail, drove to Texas and boarded a boat he intended to use to flee to Mexico, the prosecutor said. He manipulated his court-ordered GPS-tracking equipment to avoid alerting Santa Maria authorities he had fled.

However, he became stranded on an island and was picked up by fishermen. His refusal to give his name made them suspicious so law enforcement was waiting when they returned to shore. 

Authorities suspected the defendant would attempt to flee the country since he immigrated from the Seychelles Islands, located in the Indian Ocean.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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