Santa Barbara-Goleta, Thursday, May 28, 2015

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Proposal for Four-Story Mixed-Use Project in Downtown Santa Barbara Raises Concern

By | Published on 05/27/2015


Members of the city Planning Commission question the housing density and its compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood

A proposed four-story mixed-use development project for a high-profile corner of downtown Santa Barbara has been met with wide disapproval by the members of the city's Planning Commission.

Architect Jan Hochhauser presented a conceptual plan at last Thursday's Planning Commission for the corner of Santa Barbara and De la Guerra streets. The proposal calls for the demolition of a 1,965-square-foot, one-story building and replace it with a 26,059-square-foot, four-story mixed-use building.

The project would include 1,500 square feet of commercial floor area, 26 residential units and 30 underground parking spaces.

"This is a great project, but it would be better in a different location," said Addison Thompson, chairman of the city's Planning Commission. "It has to be sensitive to the historical context that's immediately adjacent to the project."

The proposal at 800 Santa Barbara St. is near the El Presido de Santa Barbara Historic Park and near the Santa Barbara Unified School District administrative office. 

"You are in one of the most sensitive spots in the city next to the origins of the city, so we can't ignore that," Thompson said. 

The commissioners felt the project was too big for the site and not compatible with the surrounding area. Some commissioners were unhappy with the fourth story and the possibility that it would block mountain views.

Hochhauser did not present an architecture rendering of the project to the planning commission, nor were story poles erected since it was presented as a "concept review" only.

The proposal is located in the historic El Pueblo Viejo District. The property owner already has an approved project for the site, but it is smaller — a three-story building, with six condos, instead of the more dense rental housing project now proposed.

The city's Historic Landmarks Commission is the decision-maker on the project and will work with Hochhauser and the property owner on the new proposal.

Commissioner Deborah Schwartz said she appreciated the rental housing aspect of the new project, rather than the "luxury condos" already approved, but still has concerns.

"We have a dire need for rental housing, the question is in a city that is 90 percent built out where can we find that real estate and where can it be appropriately applied," Schwartz said. "I am hoping for something positive as it goes back to the HLC."

Hochhauser said at the end of the meeting that he didn't get clear enough feedback on what specifically to do to make the project more compatible.

"I had hoped we would have gotten a little bit more specific feedback on where to go," said Hochhauser, adding that he's looking forward to working with the HLC to improve the project.

Commissioner June Pujo said "more than a little bit of change" is required.

"There is too much massing and it is too bulky, and it doesn't respect El Pueblo Viejo to the extent that it needs to," Pujo said. "The bigger issue to me is the sense of place for this very key historic downtown area." 

Commissioner Michael Jordan said the project needs to have "spot-on" architecture that fits in with the historic properties in the area.

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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Pipeline Company Ordered to Continue Cleanup from Refugio Oil Spill

By | Published on 05/27/2015


Plains All American Pipeline has until June 6 to submit a formal plan to the Coast Guard and EPA

The pipeline company responsible for the oil spill near Refugio State Beach was formally ordered to continue clean-up work inland near the ruptured pipe, the shoreline and the ocean by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Coast Guard, which are co-leading the response effort on the Gaviota Coast.

The Clean Water Act order was issued to Plains All American Pipeline, which operates the ruptured pipeline in southern Santa Barbara County, and requires the company to continue extensive clean-up operations and make a work plan for future response.

It has penalties for noncompliance, but Plains has been cooperating with the response effort and complying with all demands, officials said Wednesday.

Specifically, Plains has to make a plan by June 6 for future response activities, including sampling and analyzing air, water, rocks and soil in the spill area; ensure no more oil is released into the environment; and clean up all remaining oil and contamination at the pipeline break site and oil-impacted areas, according to a statement by the Coast Guard and EPA.

Plains is also responsible for clean-up response costs and has an active claims line for damages at 866.753.3619.

This Clean Water Act order relates to the response effort, EPA federal on scene incident coordinator Michelle Rogow said, while a previous order from the company’s federal regulating agency makes the company shut down the pipe and get approval before repairing and restarting operations on the line.   

Plains was ordered Friday to shut down the pipeline, Line 901, by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which 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 recommencing operations again.

Line 901 carried oil from Las Flores Canyon to the company's Gaviota Pump Station, and the shutdown includes operations at ExxonMobil and Venoco Inc., which both use the pipeline to carry oil north from its offshore oil and gas production platforms. 

EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld noted that the Clean Water Act was written and the EPA was formed in 1970, the year after the devastating 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.

It’s “unbelievable” that the same area would be impacted by another crude oil spill, he said Wednesday.

Globs of oil have shown up in recent days on Leadbetter Beach, above, and other beaches in the Santa Barbara area. Officials are trying to determine their connection to the Refugio spill. (Addison Proctor photo)

PHMSA and the EPA are investigating the cause of the pipeline failure and are supervising the excavation and removal of the ruptured section of pipe.

Uncovering the pipe started Tuesday and once it’s done, the section of pipeline will be removed, wrapped, and sent to a PHMSA-approved lab for testing, Plains officials said Wednesday.

Plains operations director Rick McMichael confirmed the uncovered portion of pipe is the area of effected pipe that caused the release, but Plains officials said the investigation prohibits anyone from talking about what was seen once that section of 24-inch pipe was uncovered.

Federal, state and local agencies are responding to the oil spill, which was reported May 19 and has resulted in oiled shoreline, dead wildlife and closed beaches.

There are daily “overflights” of the area by helicopter so the unified command can plan its tactics for the day, in addition to shoreline assessment teams working on the ground.

In response to the spill, 24.6 miles of shoreline has been surveyed and 4.6 miles have been heavily impacted, Coast Guard Capt. Jennifer Williams said.

Six miles have been “moderately impacted,” another 8.9 miles have been lightly impacted, and another 4.1 miles have been very lightly impacted or not impacted by the spill at all, she said.

Nearly all the visible sheen is removed from the ocean surface in the area of the spill and teams are actively resurveying areas to look for pipeline oil that could be underground or underwater, McMichael said.

Dive teams are looking for oil in the kelp beds near Refugio State Beach and have found pea-sized blobs about 150 yards offshore, he said.

Refugio and El Capitan state beaches have been closed due to the oil spill, and the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has been involved in air and water quality monitoring to see if more beaches need to be closed.

As of Wednesday night, no more were closed, but clean-up crews have been deployed at beaches as far east as Goleta Beach County Park and Arroyo Burro Beach, near Santa Barbara.

Trained volunteers are being mobilized for some of these clean-ups. To register to get trained and help, visit the CalSpillWatch website or 1.800.228.4544. 

There have been protective booms placed at some beaches and waterways, including the Arroyo Burro Creek and Goleta Slough, to proactively prevent oil from getting into those sensitive areas, the Public Health Department said in a statement Wednesday.

“Any beach conditions indicating a significant public health risk will result in immediate beach closure,” they said.

Some beaches have “trace amounts” of oil and scattered tar balls — some people have reported seeing tar balls along the high tide long in Goleta and Santa Barbara-area beaches — and testing is being done to determine if that oil is related to the spill or natural seeps, the Public Health Department said.

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 in Goleta.

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

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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Four Designs Revealed as Winners for Lompoc’s First Creative Crosswalks Project

By | Published on 05/27/2015


The contest, funded by a grant from the Santa Barbara Foundation, will turn asphalt into artwork at the intersection of South H Street and Cypress Avenue in Old Town

The wine industry, California’s state flower, artist’s tools and a whimsical design based on native symbols soon will adorn asphalt in Old Town Lompoc.

Four designs from three women were revealed Wednesday night as the winners of Lompoc’s first creative crosswalks project.

More than 50 entries were submitted in the Lompoc Creative Crossings contest to turn plain crosswalks at the intersection of South H Street and Cypress Avenue into canvasses for artwork, under a program funded by a grant from the Santa Barbara Foundation.

“The Santa Barbara Foundation really does believe that a strong arts and culture sector is really essential to a strong economy and the vitality of a community,” said Sharyn Main, senior community investment officer for the foundation. “Lompoc, of course, is known as the City of Arts and Flowers and this project certainly does exemplify that. ... As I look at these pieces today, I can’t help but feel the pride of this community.”

During an intense two hours, a panel of seven judges picked the winners featuring familiar and whimsical designs, according to Ashley Costa, executive director of the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization.

Along with bragging rights, the winners, all from Lompoc, received $500 for each design. 

Marlee Bedford, 25, actually had two entries in the final four. One features wine glasses, bottles and grapes while the other shows artist’s utensils lying side by side.

Dionne Lugue, 17, submitted an entry that incorporates California’s state flower — the golden poppy.

Creative Crossings
City Administrator Patrick Wiemiller talks about the addition of creative crosswalks in Old Town Lompoc. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Devyn Adams, 22, won for her graphic design depicting the variety of historic native symbols and is meant to engage children who use the crosswalks.

The artwork will be added to the asphalt Aug. 21 during the final night of this summer’s Olde Town Market, according to Costa.

With winning designs selected, stencils now will be created so creative crosswalks can be painted.

The idea for creative crosswalks stemmed from an article, “75 Seriously Fun Ways to Make Your Town More Playful,” shared by the California Park & Recreation Society, JoAnne Plummer, Lompoc’s recreation manager.

Costa said she filed the idea away and remembered it after looking at grant opportunities on the Santa Barbara Foundation website which included “Creative Communities.” 

“They really wanted folks to generate economic activity, create culture, support local young artists and I figured this was perfect,” Costa said. 

Costa assembled a team of partners from the Lompoc arts community, government agencies and business groups. 

“Our idea is we wanted to enhance the pedestrian experience, enhance the public art experience and enhance the economic impact to local businesses,” Costa said. “We think this project is all of that and more.”

The original grant application sought to complete seven crosswalks, but the foundation funded four.

Lompoc City Administrator Patrick Wiemiller, who has a background in public works, said anything that helps add to the pedestrian experience and community’s walkability is a good thing.

“I am looking forward to this intersection being done here, but I think it would really pay off if we could do this at multiple locations,” he said, as those in the audience applauded.

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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5 Officers Treated After Exposure to Suspect’s Blood

By | Published on 05/27/2015


Five Santa Barbara police officers were being treated for possible blood exposure on Wednesday after subduing a violent man they believed had injured himself while high on psychedelic mushrooms.

The incident began at about 12:20 p.m. in the 1800 block of Chino Street on the city's Westside, according to police Sgt. Riley Harwood.

Police received several calls regarding a man, who appeared to be under the influence of drugs, creating a disturbance, including one from a woman who said the subject was out of control on her front lawn, Harwood said.

The man slammed his hand through a window at a residence, suffering a deep laceration in the process, Harwood said, and was reported to be sitting in the middle of the street.

By the time officers arrived, the man — identified as Robert Alex Kamphaus, 22 — was gone, but he was located a short time later near Chino and Pedregosa Street, Harwood said.

Kamphaus, who was covered with blood from his injury, "was not very compliant, and tried to fight with officers," Harwood said.

It took five officers and use of a taser to subdue Kamphaus, who lives nearby in the 1900 block of Chino Street, Harwood said.

Kamphaus was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment of his injuries, then was transferred to the Santa Barbara County Jail.

He was booked on suspicion of resisting an officer with violence, a felony, as well as public intoxication and possession of psilocybin mushrooms, which were found in a search of Kamphaus's residence, Harwood said.

Bail was set at $50,000.

The officers who were exposed to Kamphaus's blood were taken to a medical clinic for evaluation and possible treatment. 

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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Venoco’s Ellwood Project Hearing Delayed Due to Refugio Oil Spill

By | Published on 05/27/2015


Venoco's proposed South Ellwood Oil Field project would expand the company's oil lease to the east and redrill six existing wells into that eastern portion. (State Lands Commission image)

The State Lands Commission delayed this week's planned meeting to discuss Venoco Inc.’s proposal to drill six wells into a new area of the South Ellwood Oil Field, saying the move was “to avoid any distraction from the efforts to address the recent oil spill response near Refugio Beach.”

The May 19 spill resulted from a ruptured Plains All American Pipeline line transporting crude oil from Venoco and ExxonMobil offshore platforms.

With the delay, there is a new deadline to submit comments about the scope of the environmental impact report documents reviewing the potential impacts and alternatives to Venoco’s proposed project.

Venoco wants to amend one of its state oil and gas leases to expand farther east and include 3,400 acres, in exchange for relinquishing 3,800 acres in northern and southern portions of its leases in the same area, according to the State Lands Commission.

Venoco has produced about 75 million barrels of oil from Platform Holly since 1969, and expects to get another 25 million barrels from existing wells. With the eastern boundary lease extension, Venoco believes it could get another 60 million barrels through Platform Holly, the application says.

Six existing wells on Platform Holly would be redrilled to extend into this new area, and the company would use existing pipelines and processing facilities, including the Ellwood Onshore Facility in Goleta.

The plan to redrill these wells would be to drill in 2017, 2018, 2019 and the other three wells between 2023 and 2030, according to the State Lands Commission. There are currently 30 well slots and not all of them are in production.

Venoco will not use hydraulic fracturing as part of this project, and is not proposing to extend the life of Platform Holly or the Ellwood Oil Field past 2055, according to the application.

Tuesday's meeting was rescheduled for June 24, with sessions at 3 and 6 p.m. at the Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave.

The deadline to submit comments about the scope of the environmental review has been extended to June 29.

Comments can be sent to Eric Gillies, assistant chief of the SLC division of environmental planning and management at: California State Lands Commission, 1000 Howe Ave., Suite 100, South Sacramento, CA 95825 or emailed to [email protected]

The City of Goleta sued the State Lands Commission over its approval of another Venoco project to restart its oil production facility at Haskell’s Beach.

The commission voted to re-certify the environmental documents in December and allow Venoco to resume oil production from that pier and process the oil at the Ellwood Onshore Facility in Goleta.

City Attorney Tim Giles has said the lawsuit, alleging violations of the California Environmental Quality Act, will put the project timeline on hold.

The lawsuit has a hearing scheduled for Dec. 15 in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, he said.

Goleta doesn’t have authority over project approval, but Venoco would need the city’s approval to do the processing at the pier and permits for the pipelines between the well and the EOF, which are within city jurisdiction.

Goleta’s City Council also adopted an ordinance that establishes non-conforming use termination procedures, which can put an expiration date on certain zoning uses. The Ellwood Oil Field is one of the city’s legal non-conforming uses, a property that is no longer in compliance with land-use or zoning rules.

The city hasn’t scheduled a termination hearing for the Ellwood Oil Field, Giles said Wednesday.

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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Historic Solvang Hotel Reopens with New Name, Look

By | Published on 05/27/2015


The Landsby, previously the Petersen Village Inn, has been renovated inside and out

A Santa Barbara property management company has revitalized an historic inn located in the heart of Solvang in the Santa Ynez Valley, renovating it inside and out.

The Landsby hotel at 1576 Mission Drive reopened under its new name in late April after closing for renovations in January.

Locals might better know the property built in 1984 as the Petersen Village Inn, owned for many years by the Petersen family.

SIMA Corporation bought the 41-room hotel from the longtime owners two years ago, but the privately held company based about 30 miles southwest of Solvang in Santa Barbara finally completed its vision this spring, according to Janice Lesin, the hotel’s executive manager.

The exterior was restored and whitewashed in the tradition of Scandinavian aesthetic while channeling the charm of the Danish village in clean, contemporary interior design.

“Our inspiration was really to add another high-end lodging in this area,” Lesin said. “We really felt there was a need to have a nice hotel if you’re in the valley. The hotel itself had really great bones.”

The Landsby isn’t SIMA Corporation’s first foray into the valley. The company already owns — and also revamped — the 20-room Santa Ynez Inn.

Lesin said The Landsby has seen a lot of locals so far, in large part because The Landsby opened its on-site restaurant up to the public. Previously, only guests could order food or drink.

The restaurant was renamed Mad + Vin, the translation of which means “food and wine” in Danish.

A new chef crafts comfort food using local ingredients and wine and beer lists.

The Landsby also has a new courtyard, a back patio, a full bar and a garden, along with walls filled with regional artwork.

Rooms in the space designed by Santa Monica-based Studio Collective start at $225 per night, located steps away from Solvang’s Danish bakeries, art galleries and more.

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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Santa Barbara District Approves School Leadership Changes

By | Published on 05/27/2015


There’s been a big shakeup in the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s administrative ranks, with several of Superintendent Dave Cash’s cabinet members swapping positions or moving to school sites, in addition to three new principals being appointed for next year.

The Board of Education approved four appointments this week, including a three-way swap of administrative positions among two assistant superintendents and an elementary school principal.

Former McKinley Elementary School Principal Emilio Handall will leave his administrative post as assistant superintendent of elementary education and head back to the school as a special-assignment principal, district spokeswoman Barbara Keyani said.

McKinley Principal Jacqueline Mora, who has held the post for one school year, will take over the district’s English language learner and parent engagement programs, which were created last year and have been overseen by Raul Ramirez.

Ramirez is moving into Handall’s position as assistant superintendent of elementary education.

"It was Emilio's request to return to McKinley, and so in order to grant that request, it required that both Jackie and Raul move their jobs," Cash said. "Both, I would say, are excited about the idea of their new jobs and the promotions they got. I'm certain both are also somewhat sad to leave the current positions they're in." 

Handall's request is what prompted the changes, Cash said.

"This is not some kind of district game-board shuffle," he said. 

Handall keeps the title of assistant superintendent for now, since it's in his contract, but the intention is for him to remain as principal at McKinley, Cash said. Cash was surprised with the request, but says it makes sense upon reflection. 

"This is a permanent assignment that I requested last month," Handall said in an email. "My desire has always been to work directly with students, staff, parents, and the community. This opportunity to return to McKinley affords me to do that once again."

Board of Education president Ed Heron said Handall was well-loved and has a good track record there, bringing the school out of program improvement by improving student test scores.

Ramirez has a “fantastic background” and good rapport with the principals, while Mora has a passion for family engagement, Heron said.

“It’s a whole series of moves that all made really good sense,” he said. “It’s good people moving to new positions, it’ll make a stronger team.”

Cash, who was appointed as superintendent in 2011, brought on Handall and Ben Drati as assistant superintendents of elementary and secondary education, respectively, in 2012.

He expanded his cabinet with the hire of human resources head Margaret Christensen, whom he previously worked with at Dos Pueblos High School, and later added the positions of assistant superintendent of English language learner and parent-engagement programs and chief educational technology officer.

Christensen is retiring June 30 and will be replaced by Mitch Torina, who has worked in the district in a number of different roles since 1998, and was appointed assistant superintendent of student services in 2013.

There’s been no announcement on who will take Torina’s current post, but Marlin Sumpter, who did the job before leaving for medical reasons, is back working with the district as a temporary Cleveland Elementary School principal.

Heron said the board did discuss replacements but has made no decision, including whether it will pursue an inside hire or look for an outside candidate.

Besides the district leadership shakeup, there will be three new principals in the coming year at Cleveland, Monroe and Roosevelt elementary schools.

Gabe Sandoval will take over Cleveland Elementary. Sandoval currently works as assistant principal at Santa Barbara High School, and has worked as a teacher at Santa Barbara Community Academy and Adams Elementary, Keyani said.

Brian Naughton, a principal at Santa Maria’s Family Partnership Charter School, will become principal of Monroe Elementary School as Principal Celeste Darga leaves to serve as a teacher on special assignment.

She requested the position to work with principals, “sort of like a teacher of teachers, a teacher of principals,” Heron said.

Naughton has previously worked at Santa Barbara Unified as an assistant principal. 

Roosevelt Elementary School's principal, Donna Ronzone, is leaving her 10-year post to become part of the district administration in the new position of director of visual and performing arts, and will be replaced this summer by Christy Mendivil, who previously headed OC Johnson Elementary School in Yuma, Arizona, according to the district.

Cash said he's "ecstatic" about the three new principals, and noted that the list of elementary principals went from having no men to three men for the coming year, the same make-up as the year he was appointed to lead the district. 

"We weren't looking for men, it just worked out that way," he said. 

He believed this year would be "quiet" in terms of turnover, with two new principals at Roosevelt and Cleveland, and then the requests from Handall and Varga led to more leadership changes, he said. 

"It's good that basically the same folks are leaders, just doing different jobs." 

Many of the elementary schools have had a lot of recent leadership turnover, some with three principals in as many years. 

Cash said it's "ironic" and not associated with him, but comes from the usual organizational changes of people retiring, moving to another job within the district or taking jobs in another district. 

Handall left McKinley for the district position in 2012, and was replaced by Washington Elementary teacher Tia Blickley, who then retired and was replaced by Jacqueline Mora in the 2014-15 school year. Next year, Handall will be back.

At Cleveland Elementary School, former teacher and district administrator Cynthia White took over for two years, after Michael Vail retired, and she left in March for medical reasons. Sandoval will start working as principal on July 1.

Harding University Partnership School had a hard time replacing former principal Sally Kingston, and the district hired Nuh Kimbwala, who was put on paid leave and then let go. The district replaced him with assistant principal Vanesha Davis, who resigned in 2014 after a year, and then hired current Principal Veronica Binkley.

Washington Elementary’s former principal, Demian Barnett, left for Peabody Charter School in 2012 and was replaced by Anne Hubbard, who led for two years and then left for a job in Cayucos. Current Principal Sierra Loughridge was hired in 2014.

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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Artists from United Boys & Girls Clubs to Paint Their Futures on SafeLaunch Airplane

By | Published on 05/27/2015


At 9:30 a.m. this Saturday, May 30, a team of artists from the ​United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County​ will paint an airplane beneath the control tower at the Santa Barbara Airport.

At 11:30, ​SafeLaunch​, a local nonprofit dedicated to stopping addiction before it starts, will recognize seven young people who died from addiction. With their names affixed beneath the wings of "DJ," the SafeLaunch airplane, their lives give lift to an important mission.

In the coming months, SafeLaunch will fly DJ to six air shows, where young people and their families will learn about the people whose lives were cut short by addiction, pledge to abstain from alcohol and other drugs until their brains are fully developed, and paint their great futures on the airplane.

“Helping youth soar to new heights through the arts and not the use of drugs is a program that fits within our mission,” Boys & Girls Clubs CEO Michael Baker said.

Janet Rowse, co-founder of SafeLaunch and wife of Santa Barbara City Councilman Randy Rowse, believes that "when we mix kids with art and aviation, we inspire them to reach their highest potential.”

SafeLaunch co-founder and pilot Ron Cuff explains that a safe, successful flight is a metaphor for a safe and successful life.

"Every successful flight requires a flight plan with alternatives if bad weather or mechanical problems crop up," he explains to the kids who participate in SafeLaunch programs. "Life is the same way. Young people without a plan are likely to miss their destination.”

The SafeLaunch message is clear. The adolescent brain is up to 600 percent more susceptible to addiction than its adult counterpart, and experimenting with drugs and alcohol is a risk that no children should ever take.

This event is sponsored by ​Santa Barbara Aviation​ and ​Above All Aviation​. For sponsorship information, contact [email protected]​.

— Janet Rowse is a co-founder of SafeLaunch.


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Laguna Blanca School to Celebrate 81st Commencement and Closing Ceremonies

By | Published on 05/27/2015


Laguna Blanca School is proud to announce the closing and commencement ceremonies for the 2014-15 academic year.

The Lower School Closing Ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday, June 4 and the Middle School Closing Ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, June 5.

The 81st Commencement Ceremony for the graduating Class of 2015 will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 10 at the Hope Ranch Campus in Ruston Amphitheatre.

Lower School Closing Ceremony

The Lower School Campus, located at 260 San Ysidro Road in Montecito, will recognize the fourth-graders' completion of the Lower School program and celebrate the year of learning for all students in each grade level.

The ceremony will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 4. Family and friends are welcome to attend this momentous occasion as the students advance to Middle School.

Middle School Closing Ceremony

Fifth- through seventh-graders will congratulate the eighth-grade students at the Middle School Closing Ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday, June 5 at the Hope Ranch campus’ Ruston Amphitheater, at 4125 Paloma Drive in Santa Barbara.

Many Upper School students will also attend to welcome the eighth-graders into high school.

81st Commencement Ceremony

Laguna Blanca School’s 81st Commencement Ceremony for the graduating Class of 2015 will be held Wednesday, June 10. The event will be held from 4 to 6 p.m., also in the Ruston Amphitheater on the Hope Ranch campus (4125 Paloma Drive in Santa Barbara).

Laguna Blanca’s new head of school, Rob Hereford, has been selected by the senior class to be the commencement speaker.

Laguna Blanca is proud to congratulate the Class on 2015 on a successful year and wishes each one of them the best of luck in all future endeavors. Congratulations!

Olivia Nicole Avery

Martin Pream Barnick

Chris Charles Benwitt

Ryan Walter Bickett

Justin Maxwell Bollag

Madison Amanda Bonser

Rebecca Rosemarie Brooks

Samuel Timothy Brown

Sarah Annabel Butler

Katherine Rose Carrillo-Castro

Mia Alicia Chavez

Ryan Fleming Chiment

MacKenna Donnelly Connor

Monica Mills Criley

Miles Fowler Crist

Cornelius Patrick Curran, V

Alexa Quinn Davenport

Carys Taylor Davies

Elia Marie Ida Doussineau

Connor Dean Elmore

John Hearst Espy

Robert Cooper Farrell

Morgan Diane Gainey

Talia Rose Giordano

Philip Michael Grandidiér

Mitchell Emory Gravelle

Libby Rose Hasse

Bryn Morgan Jewett

Jasmine Jimenez

Kela Sophia Johnson

Scott Michael Johnston

Christian Stewart Kahmann

Ethan Ram Katnic

Jack Francis Kinsler

John Henry Ligon

Stephen Robert McCaffery

Olivia Elizabeth McGovern

Sarah Laureen Moseley

Damian Nuñez

Juliana Martha Ozur

Parker William Wrigley Rusack

Thomas Joseph Sloan

Annabelle Rose Sorensen

Justin Thomas Stockwell

Cole Joseph Strachan

Carter William Thicke

Benjamin Mark Tolan

Conner Brindley Warren

Angus Dorr Watters-Grubstein

Hannah Alexandra White

Spenser Jordan Wyatt

Ashley Makepeace Zangrillo

Laguna Blanca School is an Early K-12 co-educational, college preparatory day school. It guides students to greater heights by building upon its 80-year tradition of academic excellence with new and innovative teaching methods and programs. With the thriving experiential learning, LEGO, STEM, and global studies programs, competitive Condor League athletics and state-of-the-art athletic facilities, the school continues to broaden and enrich its students’ educational experience. For more information, please visit

— Sydney Gardner is a publicist representing Laguna Blanca School.


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At UCSB, It’s All Hands on Deck to Protect Western Snowy Plover from Refugio Oil Spill

By | Published on 05/27/2015


The western snowy plover is a portly sort of bird, its barrel chest leaving its spindly legs in permanent shadow as it scampers breakneck across the sand in search of tasty bugs. There’s a regal intrigue to this stout, busy ornithoid — the person at the party you’d love to meet, if only you could catch up.

As for proper, official identifying characteristics of the plover, they go like this: A thin, dark bill; pale brown to gray upper parts; white or buff-colored belly; darker patches on the shoulder and head; white forehead and supercilium, or eyebrow line.

Lately though, in Santa Barbara County, there is concern about the emergence of oil as a new feature being found on the local shorebirds.

In the days since the recent spill near Refugio State Beach, some of the plovers populating UC Santa Barbara’s Coal Oil Point Reserve have been seen with oil on various parts of their bodies. University staff and scientists are working nearly nonstop to mitigate potential impacts to the Pacific Coast species designated in 1993 as threatened, in accordance with the federal Endangered Species Act.

“Our favorite resident bird, the western snowy plover, is nesting right now,” said reserve director Cristina Sandoval. “They nest around high tide, just a few feet above where oil has been deposited. We need to remove that oil because the plovers are getting tar on their wings and hair. Almost all of them have little black boots because their feet are black from oil. They’re getting oil in their beaks because they go peck to try to get the beach hoppers around the kelp and the kelp is tarred. We need to balance the cleaning up with not impacting the plovers too much while they nest.”

Extending several yards down the beach at Coal Oil Point is some light fencing, posts and rope meant to be a barrier between the upper beach, where the plovers are nesting, and the shoreline down below. An array of signage does the heavy lifting by warning beachgoers away: “Nests in Sand, Keep Out” and “Sensitive Wildlife Area, Do Not Enter.”

All these things — as well as the reserve docents in regular daylight rotation, posted on the sand to reiterate the signs’ directives and to answer all manner of inquiries — are standard operating procedure at Coal Oil Point, where protecting the plovers and educating the public are among the year-round priorities. Those efforts naturally ramp up during the birds’ nesting season, which runs mid-March to mid-September.

The introduction of oil during this crucial time for the species has taken protection of the reserve — one of six that UCSB administers within the larger, 37-site UC Natural Reserve System — to a new level.

“As soon as we heard the spill had occurred, we realized the wind and currents could bring oil to Coal Oil Point, so we’ve been working since day one to make sure we protect this reserve,” said Jim Caesar, the campus’s emergency manager. “We have been working with the unified command — the U.S. Coast Guard, the state, the responsible party and Santa Barbara County — to coordinate our response and bring resources to the beach to protect the plover. The cleaning crews are working under the supervision of our reserve personnel and making sure anything we’re doing is not interfering with the habitat of the snowy plover.”

UCSB’s broader efforts around the spill, according to Caesar, include activation of its sizable Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a program that trains individuals and community groups to perform a variety of emergency functions that may be needed after a disaster. Several students are on the UCSB CERT roster, Caesar said, and a small contingent, trained in proper cleanup technique and safety protocols, has been volunteering this week at Goleta Beach.

Back at Coal Oil Point, Sandoval is supervising professional cleanup crews and assorted agencies involved in the spill response, in an effort to minimize disturbance of the plovers and their nests.

From early morning through late afternoon, Sandoval said, she and a team of biologists are monitoring the birds and their nests as cleanup continues, moving workers away from plovers that are incubating their eggs and ensuring that clean kelp doesn’t get bagged up with the tarred. (The birds find much of their food, such as sand fleas and flies, in and around the kelp that washes ashore.)

In addition to serving in this advisory role, Sandoval and colleagues are counting other shorebirds on site and keeping watch for the migratory — and endangered — California least tern, which is due to arrive at the reserve any day. They are also monitoring, as a precaution, the animals that live on the adjacent dunes, including some rare beetles and spiders.

“The entire beach habitat is a very sensitive place,” Sandoval said. “When you think about the kind of habitat that beach is, there’s a really thin line between the aquatic habitat that is the ocean and the land. We don’t have that much beach to begin with and on top of that, most beaches have been degraded to the point that almost nothing is living in there. A place like Coal Oil Point, where the beach is still as pristine as it gets, with all the native species of plants and animals, is hard to find. So the impact of an oil spill is not just on the plovers, but on the entire beach ecosystem.

“The UC Natural Reserve System protects natural areas for research and education,” Sandoval continued. “Protecting is not simply putting a fence around — it requires a lot of stewardship. What we’re doing today is stewardship. Reserves like this, in an urban area, we receive impacts from everywhere — predators like skunks and raccoons that come from neighboring areas, pollution from downstream, and now an oil spill. Our job here is to try to keep the reserve as pristine as possible, to do everything we can to protect this beautiful place.”

— Shelly Leachman represents the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.


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Rae Largura: Is Your Child Ready for Next School Year? (Grades 1-6)

By | Published on 05/27/2015


No two children are alike. Especially in the elementary years, milestones vary greatly. Unless you see large discrepancies, there is no need to worry.

Here are some typical academic and social benchmarks for each grade level:


» Follow class rules.

» Separate from a parent or caregiver easily.

» Be able to take turns.

» Cut along a line with scissors.

» Pay attention for 15 to 20 minutes.

» Hold a crayon and pencil correctly.

» Know the eight basic colors: red, yellow, blue, green, orange,  black, white and pink.

» Write the letters of the alphabet in upper and lowercase forms.

» Spell his or her first and last name.

» Retell a story that has been read aloud.

» Read numbers up to 20.

» Know the basic shapes.

First Grade

» Work independently at his or her desk.

» Know his or her address and phone number.

» Complete homework and bring it back the next day.

» Work out minor difficulties with friendships and peers.

» Write and spell untaught words phonetically.

» Write sentences with correct capitalization and punctuation.

» Read aloud first-grade books with accuracy and understanding.

» Tell time to the hour and half-hour using analog and digital clocks.

» Answer addition and subtraction problems with number up to 20.

Second Grade

» Noticeable difference in focus and understanding information.

» Work well and show cooperation with a partner or a small group.

» Understand the difference between right and wrong.

» Read fluently and with expression.

» Able to use a dictionary.

» Add single and multi-digit numbers with regrouping.

» Tell time to the quarter-hour.

Third Grade

» Work cooperatively and productively with other children in small groups to complete projects.

» Understand how choices affect consequences.

» Read longer stories and chapter books.

» Use prefixes, suffixes, and root words and other strategies to identify unfamiliar words.

» Multiply and divide single and multi-digit numbers.

» Know the products of all one-digit numbers by memory.

» Be able to discuss a topic and present a report.

Fourth Grade

» Begin to make more decisions independently. 

» Increase the amount of detail in drawings.

» Write a complete structured paragraph.

» Use all punctuation appropriately in writing.

» Understand more complex cause-and-effect relationships.

» Add, subtract and compare decimals and fractions.

» Understand the concept of place value.

» Identify points, lines, rays and angles in two-dimensional figures.

Fifth Grade

» Improved problem-solving skills.

» Research a topic using a variety of sources.

» Write an organized, multi-paragraph composition in sequential order with a central idea.

» Use problem-solving strategies to solve real-world math problems.

» Use long division to divide large numbers by multi-digit numbers.

» Appreciate different forms of literature.

» Increased vocabulary through the use of synonyms, antonyms, homophones and analogies.

» Recognize relationships between fractions, decimals and percents.

» Determine the perimeter of polygons and the area of squares and rectangles.

» Understand basic United States history, geography, economics and government.

Sixth Grade

» Write, simplify and manipulate expressions and equations.

» Problem solving, including ratios, proportions, geometry, statistics and probability.

» Use all stages of the writing process (organizing, drafting, revising and editing).

» Set up and conduct simple scientific experiments.

Any subject, any grade: What is your question for a tutor? Email [email protected].

— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.


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Devereux’s ‘Evening in Italy’ Brings People of All Ages, Abilities Together to Socialize

By | Published on 05/27/2015


Last Thursday evening, 120 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their staff, friends and volunteers were singing “That’s Amore!” together and dancing to the awesome tunes of Sozo at the Goleta Valley Community Center.

Hosted by Devereux, the eighth annual free event, "Evening in Italy," provides a venue for individuals served by Devereux (and others such as Hillside House and People Creating Success) where they can enjoy an Italian dinner, socialize, and most of all, dance to their favorite tunes played by Sozo, a youth band created and coached by William Fiedtkou, music program director of the Santa Barbara Youth Music Academy.

Along with Devereux staff, community volunteers (Rochelle Lord, Vidal Chiprez, Lindsay Terrel, Shane Nazareth, Kaelyn Maehara and Lauren Harris from the Goleta Rotarak group), served the meal, then encouraged the more reticent guests to get out on the floor and boogie with them! Two very special guests from Philadelphia — CEO Bob Kreider and COO Carl Clark of the Devereux Foundation — attended as well.

This year was very special because the community really pitched in to help out. Numerous local restaurants and stores completely donated food for the event. Many, many thanks to Via Maetra #42, Petrini’s, Pascucci’s, Giovanni’s, Trader Joe’s and McDonalds for donating needed food and related items. Their generosity is invaluable to Devereux California.

Attendees were all smiles during the Devereux California event. (Devereux California photo)

We also sincerely thank Tino’s Italian Market and Woodstock Pizza for significantly discounting their products for our purposes. There are many good hearts and generous businesses in this great community, and we sincerely thank each one who participated in this event.

As one volunteer put it, "It's so good to see these folks who are supported by Devereux and other providers come together and have such a wonderful time. It’s a great opportunity to get to know others who have different abilities by sharing the joy of music and dancing. It’s truly life-changing to experience this party. What a diverse, happy group of people!”

Devereux California currently provides residential, day, supported living and independent living services to 80 people in Goleta, Santa Barbara and Lompoc areas.

Established by Special Education Pioneer Helena Devereux in Pennsylvania in 1912, Devereux is celebrating its 70th anniversary in California this year, and is the largest nonprofit provider of behavioral health care services in the country.

— Cassi Noel represents Devereux California.


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Annette Jorgensen Joins American Riviera Bank as Business Development Officer

By | Published on 05/27/2015


American Riviera Bank is pleased to announce that Annette Jorgensen has been appointed vice president and business development officer.

Jorgensen has more than 26 years of banking experience with an emphasis on Small Business Administration lending. At American Riviera Bank, she will deliver business, real estate and construction financing as well as depository solutions to new clients in the greater Santa Barbara area.

In addition, Jorgensen’s expertise will soon allow American Riviera Bank to originate SBA 504 loans. The SBA 504 program provides growing businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for major fixed assets, such as land and buildings.

“We are very excited to have Annette join our team," said Jeff DeVine, president and chief executive officer stated. "Her outgoing personality and considerable experience will enhance our ability to serve the community’s banking needs. We look forward to offering the SBA 504 loan program in the near future.”

American Riviera Bank will celebrate its ninth anniversary this July. The bank provides service with a personal touch and state-of-the-art technology to deliver responsive and flexible banking solutions. American Riviera Bank had $230 million in total assets and maintained a strong capital position with a Tier 1 Leverage Ratio of 12 percent as of March 31, well above the regulatory guideline of 5 percent for well-capitalized institutions.

Jorgensen will be working out of the bank’s branch at 1033 Anacapa St. in downtown Santa Barbara. Her direct line is 805.979.3846 and her email is [email protected].

— Michelle Martinich is the chief financial officer for American Riviera Bank.


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Two UCSB Professors Receive Early Career Research Awards from Department of Energy

By | Published on 05/27/2015


Two members of UC Santa Barbara’s faculty have been named recipients of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program awards.

Assistant professors Nathaniel Craig in the Department of Physics and Matthew Helgeson in the Department of Engineering are among 44 young scientists and engineers from across the nation selected to receive this year’s awards.

“We are very pleased that UCSB is one of only two universities with two assistant professors receiving these prestigious early career awards,” said Michael Witherell, vice-chancellor for research at UCSB. “We continue to attract some of the top scientists and engineers in the country, doing forefront research on a wide range of problems, from the Higgs boson to polymeric fluids.”

Awardees were selected from a large pool of university- and national laboratory-based applicants. Selection was based on peer review by outside scientific experts. Under the program, university-based researchers will receive at least $150,000 per year to cover summer salary and research expenses.

Physics Beyond the Higgs Boson

“It’s incredibly gratifying to receive this support from the Department of Energy, which will facilitate the research of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers studying physics beyond the Standard Model,” said Craig, whose research investigates physics beyond the Higgs boson.

The discovery of the elusive Higgs boson in 2012 culminated a half-century of searching by thousands of scientists all over the world and marks the completion of the Standard Model of fundamental particle physics. But for Nathaniel Craig, a new search has just begun.

“What I’ve really been drawn to are the set of questions where there is interesting theory, but we also have the data, and we can conduct experiments and test our hypotheses in a progressive way,” said Craig, who will be using the Higgs to dig deeper to uncover the framework of the universe.

If anything, discovery of the rare and peculiar boson has led to more questions: How could it be so light when quantum effects predict it to be much heavier? Is there more than one Higgs boson and could the particle’s generation or decay provide clues to the existence of other as-yet unknown particles?

By leveraging current knowledge of the Higgs gained at the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, as well as data from upcoming collisions planned at the LHC it may be possible to answer those questions.

Because the Higgs interacts with particles it encounters, imbuing them with mass, according Craig, it can provide a very sensitive probe for searching for new physics — particularly new fundamental particles that have yet to be found and placed into the framework of the Standard Model. These interactions may also point to some explanation of how the Higgs has resisted becoming the heavy particle that quantum effects predict.

“Quantum mechanical effects want to pull the mass of the Higgs up to be equal to the heaviest masses of the particles it talks to,” said Craig. “So there’s this mystery: Why is there such a huge difference?”

One answer might lie in an extension of the Standard Model called supersymmetry that introduces new particles that cancel the quantum effects that contribute to the Higgs mass. And, one can’t discount the possibility that there may be several Higgs bosons, in the same way there are multiples of the other particles, noted Craig. Now that they know what to look for, it’s a matter of having a systematic program for conducting the search.

“If we really just study the Higgs, that’s really the most promising way to understand the underlying structure of the universe,” he said.

Probing the Secrets of Complex Fluids

“I am honored to receive this generous award from the Department of Energy, and appreciate the long-term commitment to basic science that it reflects. I would also like to thank the support of neutron scattering programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Institute of Standards and Technology that provide the facilities that make this research possible,” said Matt Helgeson.

Complex fluids are at the heart of Helgeson’s research. These are materials that exist between two phases and so respond to stress differently than do regular solids, liquids and gases. Common examples include quicksand and shaving gel; these types of fluids are also used in new and high tech processes such as 3D printing.

According to Helgeson, the award will help his group to better understand how complex fluids behave on the nanoscale.

“This award will enable us to develop neutron scattering methods that give unparalleled measurement of the structure and dynamics of complex fluids in situ under flow,” he said. Previous methods of making these measurements take into account steady flows, he added, but real-life use of these complex fluids in industry typically involves different rates of flow and, thus, different behaviors. The group is developing a device that will allow researchers to emulate these complex flows and measure the fluids’ properties and behaviors.

The research also goes toward understanding how these processing flows could be designed to control the formation of materials used in energy production and conversion, such as solar cells and other semiconductor devices.

“These studies may lead to new routes to refined structures that give rise to superior performance in these materials, or perhaps the discovery of entirely novel flow-induced structures with unique or enhanced properties,” Helgeson said.

“This prestigious Department of Energy award recognizes Professor Helgeson’s achievements and his tremendous potential,” commented Rod Alferness, dean of UCSB’s College of Engineering. “I convey the sentiments of the entire College of Engineering community when I say we look forward to the research and student mentoring that will result from this award.”

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


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iCAN Invites Community to ‘Go to the Movies’ Student Concert on Friday

By | Published on 05/27/2015


iCAN (The Incredible Children's Art Network) invites the community to a special end-of-year performance.

The “iCAN Go to the Movies Concert!” will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. this Friday, May 29, at the Westside Neighborhood Center, 423 W. Victoria St.

Students from the iCAN Music Program will perform pieces from feature films, highlighting a variety of musical instrument families. The children will also be playing American fiddle tunes, pop tunes and new music compositions.

The concert is free and all are welcome.

“I am excited for the concert on May 29 because it is very exciting for students and their families to see how much they have learned in nine months. Their progress is beyond phenomenal, and I am blown away by their progress,” said Xóchitl Tafoya, iCAN’s director of music programs. “All of our iCAN students have worked hard with our wonderful teaching artist team to learn their instruments and work together as a family. The concert is sure to be an exciting event to see our future leaders create beautiful music together and sharing it with the community.”

iCAN music is offered at no cost to families at two sites. The program at Franklin Elementary School, in Santa Barbara’s Eastside, serves nearly 100 second- through sixth-grade students. Located at the Westside Neighborhood Center, the pilot stage music program serves nearly 30 students in grades three through six. Students come to this common community setting from several elementary schools to receive intensive high-quality musical instruction, five days a week, two to three hours a day. Students play string, woodwinds and brass instruments and use choir as a method of instruction.

Click here for more information about iCAN.

— Yvonne Leal is the network relations director for iCAN.


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Santa Barbara County Fire Department to Conduct Defensible Space Inspections

By | Published on 05/27/2015


The Santa Barbara County Fire Department will be conducting defensible space inspections beginning Monday, June 1.

A minimum of 100 feet of defensible space is required around your home in Santa Barbara County.

Engine companies will perform inspections and provide homeowners with an inspection form and educational material on how to comply.

With the year- round threat of wildfire in Southern California, the defensible space requirement is enforced at all times in Santa Barbara County. Noncompliant homeowners are subject to be cited.

This year, 13,000 homeowners in the Counties State Responsibly Area (SRA) will receive by mail a wildfire safety brochure, containing valuable tips to help your home withstand wildfire. This brochure is being sent to residents that live within the high fire hazard areas of the county. The Santa Barbara County Fire Department hopes that the information found in the brochure will help homeowners prepare ahead of time before wildfire strikes.

Click here for more information on wildfire preparedness.

— Capt. Dave Zaniboni is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.


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Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara Awarding Record $8.7 Million to County Students

By | Published on 05/27/2015


The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara will award a record $8.7 million to nearly 3,000 Santa Barbara County students at two annual awards ceremonies this week — Wednesday in Santa Barbara and on Thursday in Santa Maria.

Proud parents, students and local philanthropic leaders will gather at the Sunken Garden of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse to honor students from the southern part of the county on Wednesday and at First Christian Church in Santa Maria to honor students from the northern part of the county on Thursday.

The annual awards ceremonies will be hosted by the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara in conjunction with its largest partner, the Santa Barbara Foundation. Both events are free and are open to the public.

This year, the Scholarship Foundation received 3,481 applications for financial support. While 2,948 of those students will receive critical student aid, over 500 deserving students were turned away due to lack of funds.

“The Board of Directors of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara is extremely grateful to our many contributors who have made it possible for the foundation to award a record $8.7 million in aid this year. This is the largest amount awarded by any community scholarship provider in the nation," said Janet Garufis, president of the Board of Directors of the Scholarship Foundation. "However, as proud as we are of this achievement, we never stop thinking about the many worthy young people that we had to turn away. It is heartbreaking to deny aid to any deserving student who wishes to pursue a higher education degree or credential.”

Community members wishing to show their support are invited to attend Wednesday's awards ceremony at 3:30 p.m. and Thursday's awards ceremony at 3:30 p.m.

— Raissa Smorol is the development director for the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.


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Adams Students Dive Into Free Swim, Water Safety Classes at Santa Barbara YMCA

By | Published on 05/27/2015


Sixth-graders from Adams Elementary School — 63 students in all — are enjoying free swim lessons and water safety education at the Santa Barbara Family YMCA on Hitchcock Way through June, just in time for summer vacation.

Adams physical education director Julie Churchman is assisting YMCA aquatics director Vanessa Tooch, whose expertise working with children in aquatics allows her to see the students go from “never being in a swimming pool and afraid of the water to being excited about coming here to learn how to swim.”

The Santa Barbara Family YMCA provides two certified lifeguards in addition to certified swimming instructors.

The Channel Islands YMCA is a charitable organization providing programs based upon Christian principles to men, women and children of all ages, races, religious beliefs and economic status to develop and enrich the spirit, mind and body.

The Santa Barbara branch is located at 36 Hitchcock Way in Santa Barbara. Visit the YMCA online by clicking here.

— Jennifer Goddard Combs is a publicist representing the Santa Barbara Family YMCA.


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City of Santa Barbara to Begin Construction of Stormwater Infiltration Projects

By | Published on 05/27/2015


The City of Santa Barbara will begin construction of a stormwater infiltration project at Plaza de Vera Cruz beginning on Monday, June 1.

The asphalt service road through the park between East Cota Street and East Haley Street will be replaced with permeable pavers in order to allow stormwater (rain) and urban runoff to infiltrate into the ground.

This design demonstrates a retrofit that complies with the city’s Stormwater Management Program by detaining and treating the volume of water generated by a one inch storm event. The water is allowed to soak into the ground below the pavers, naturally treating pollutants and recharging groundwater.

Later this summer, permeable pavers will also be installed in the sidewalks surrounding Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens, and in summer 2016 the street and sidewalks in the 700 and 800 blocks of North Quarantina Street will be replaced with permeable pavers.

Funding for this project has been provided primarily through a grant agreement with the State Water Resources Control Board, and by the City of Santa Barbara Creeks Division through Measure B.

— Cameron Benson is the creek restoration/clean water manager for the City of Santa Barbara.


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

By | Published on 05/26/2015


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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City of Solvang Receives Award of Merit for Santa Ynez River Bank Restoration Project

By | Published on 05/26/2015


Solvang project
An alternative vegetative system as part of the Santa Ynez River Bank Restoration Project consists of heavily native vegetation reinforced with a system of piles and cables. (City of Solvang photo)

During the fall of 2013, the City of Solvang completed the Santa Ynez River Bank Restoration Project adjacent to the Solvang Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Past erosion of the river bank near the WWTP was increasingly putting critical facilities at risk. Instead of armoring the existing banks, the project included an alternative vegetative system that encourages natural sedimentation and rebuilding of the banks of the river closer to its historic flow path.

Specifically, the system consists of heavily planted native vegetation reinforced with a system of piles and cables that collect debris during flow periods and slow the water down.

Due to the slowing of the water, sediment settles out and gradually builds up the eroded bank.  Riparian vegetation is therefore less likely to be scoured out and reestablishes more quickly after large storms.

After several years, the result will be a permanent, mature stand of native vegetation adjacent to the eroded bank that prevents further erosion and gradually rebuilds the natural river bank.

Engineering and design services were provided by Stantec Consulting (formerly Penfield & Smith) of Santa Barbara. Construction was completed by Cushman Contracting of Goleta. The total project cost including design, permitting, and construction was approximately $732,000.

The project recently received an award of merit from the California Chapter of the American Planning Association. The specific award received was the Innovation in Green Community Planning Award.

— Mary Ellen Rio represents the City of Solvang.


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Jackson’s Equal Pay Bill Passes Unanimously Off Senate Floor

By | Published on 05/26/2015


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


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


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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Michael Barone: How the World Has Changed Since World War I

By | Published on 05/26/2015


Over the past year, I've been reading books inspired by the centenary of World War I, a war with horrific casualties painful to contemplate. What helps in comprehending the scale of the slaughter is a book by one of Bill Gates' favorite authors, Canadian academic Vaclav Smil, Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact.

Smil leads the reader through the invention and development of electricity, oil production and distribution, the automobile, steelmaking, the telephone, the airplane and the production of synthetic ammonia — to his mind the most important because without it agriculture couldn't feed the world's 6 billion people.

All these developments were in place and widespread when the world went to war in August 1914.

The three American Progressive Era presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson, all born in the late 1850s, were old enough to have memories of the end of the Civil War — and of an America in which all of these technologies were unknown.

The same technologies, considerably redesigned and more universally available, were in place in everyday life in the mid-20th-century nation in which today's older Americans grew up. New appliances, adapting technology available in 1914, were introduced after World War I — the refrigerator and the disposal, automatic washers and driers, radio and television, and air conditioning.

Americans today are inclined to think that information technology has transformed people's lives, and in some ways it has. Typewriters have become antique and laptops nearly universal; an array of entertainment is available in homes; air conditioning, uncommon in houses and cars back in midcentury America, is regarded as a necessity today.

But surely, there was more change in the work and home lives of the Progressive Era presidents and their contemporaries than there has been in the corresponding years a century later. The experience of driving a car or riding in a jet airplane is not much different in 2015 than in 1965. Tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel was on to something when he said, "We were promised flying cars, and instead what we got was 140 characters."

One thing that has changed, however, is warfare. World War I was an industrial era conflict in which the efficiency with modern weapons could slaughter soldiers in trench warfare and wreck cities through artillery and air bombardment. Armies were huge and casualties high. Historian Niall Ferguson pegs combat deaths at 9 million and wounded at 15 million — estimates, to be sure, but roughly the right magnitude.

On the first day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916, 19,000 British soldiers died. In the 10 months of the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, 42,000 British, Australian and New Zealand troops died, plus 14,000 of their French allies, in a campaign that was an utter failure. The victorious Turks lost 86,000 men.

Deaths and casualties were even greater in World War II, in which aerial bombing vastly increased the number of civilian deaths. And America's development of the atomic bomb made weaponry even more deadly. Something like 200,000 people were killed by single bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union had the capacity and developed elaborate plans to kill hundreds of millions.

Against this background, information age warfare has proved to be, so far at least, much less deadly. About 6,800 U.S. soldiers died in a decade of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan — about the same as the average number of soldiers dying every day between August 1914 and November 1918 in World War I.

The small bombing campaigns of World War I and the intensive bombing of World War II produced far more collateral damage than destruction of intended targets. Today, drones almost invariably destroy only the intended targets. The media treat very occasional collateral deaths as some kind of scandal. In historic perspective it's exceedingly minor.

We are told that the American people after Iraq and Afghanistan are war-weary and casualty-averse. But in historic perspective, deaths are relatively low, military medicine saves many who would have died in previous conflicts and prosthetics technology enables many wounded to live far better than those wounded a century ago.

Memorial Day is a time to remember and thank the fallen — and to be grateful that there are so many fewer of them than there were 100 years ago.

Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. Click here to contact him, follow him on Twitter: @MichaelBarone, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.


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

By | Published on 05/26/2015


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


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


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

By | Published on 05/26/2015


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


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.

Chef Derek Simcik of Outpost at The Goodland Hotel.

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


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


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


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


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.

Chris Funk

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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Helene Schneider Announces Additional Endorsements for Congressional Campaign

By | Published on 05/26/2015


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


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Natural Gas Leak Reported at UCSB Faculty Housing

By | Published on 05/26/2015


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


"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


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 this 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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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, 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


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

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.

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


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,, 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


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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Steven Crandell: Laura Spelman Rockefeller Could Always ‘Paddle Her Own Canoe’

By | Published on 05/25/2015


“Surely whatever others may think, it is our opinion that women, even as man, ‘can paddle her own canoe.’”

Those were the words of Laura Spelman at her high school graduation in Cleveland in 1855. The daughter of an Underground Railroad operator, an outspoken opponent of slavery and eventually an independent-minded teacher, she went on to become the wife of a philanthropic pioneer and industrial titan, John D. Rockefeller.

She helped him with his business as well as his philanthropy.

“Her judgment was always better than mine,” said her husband, who built Standard Oil into the first modern industrial corporation.

“Without her keen advice, I would be a poor man.”

Her deep religious faith drove her charitable activity, and her efforts to provide educational opportunity and training to newly emancipated African Americans were reflected in the strong support the Rockefellers gave to Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college for women in Atlanta that was named in her honor.

Click here for more information about women philanthropists, in a free guide, Women and Giving, that I wrote with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

— Author and writer Steven Crandell helps integrate story and strategy for organizations, with nonprofit foundations a particular focus. “Thinking Philanthropy” aims to provide practical, thought-provoking ideas about giving. This article was cross-posted on Tumblr. Steven can be contacted at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter: @stevencrandell. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.


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Larry Kudlow: Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s Back-to-the-‘50s Interest Rates

By | Published on 05/25/2015


Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen told us recently that the target for the federal funds rate will be raised slightly later this year. But after that, future rate hikes will be small and gradual over the next several years. In fact, we may never have true normalization (4 percent). In my view, Yellen is offering a back-to-the-'50s approach to interest rates. And she's right, though for many wrong reasons.

For average folks, what might this policy mean? I'll take a guess: No boom and no bust. No inflation and no recession. All the post-World War II recessions have been preceded by an inverted Treasury yield curve, in which short rates are higher than long rates. That won't happen for many years. Plus, we're now in a downward energy price cycle, and oil price spikes lead to recessions.

What's the back-to-the-'50s part? Well, during the Eisenhower administration, short rates averaged between 1 and 2 percent; inflation was roughly 1.5 percent; the dollar was tied to gold; long-term Treasury bonds ranged from 2 to 3 percent; and real growth was only 2.5 percent. And despite Ike's three recessions, the stock market roughly doubled (from very low levels) on his watch.

So that was then, and this is now. Things are different. But the ultra-low interest rates are quite similar, along with low inflation and virtually stagnant real growth.

As for fiscal policy in the 1950s, the top personal tax rate was 91 percent (effectively about 70 percent), and the top corporate tax rate was over 50 percent. And the economy was heavily regulated. Sound a bit similar? It wasn't until the '60s that John F. Kennedy slashed tax rates and launched a huge economic and stock market boom. But that's another story.

Meanwhile, why might Yellen get it right today for the wrong reasons? Well, for one, she wants higher inflation, which is a mistake. We used to think that lower inflation promoted faster economic growth. And we should be watching the value of the dollar as indicated by commodity indexes, including gold. Fortunately, the dollar is trending higher and commodities lower.

So let me say this: A sound dollar and price stability should be the Fed's only task. But Yellen is a Phillips-curver who sees a trade-off between inflation and growth. She obsesses about the jobs market as a Fed-tightening indicator. Wrong target. Having more people working does not cause inflation. Bad money does.

But Yellen is right in pointing out employment problems. We have a 5.4 percent U-3 unemployment rate, the commonly watched measure. But in this cycle, the broader U-6 measure may be closer to the truth at 10.8 percent. U-6 includes part-time people who want full-time work, discouraged people who are sometimes looking for work and people who have left the labor force.

And when you add up U-6 and U-3, you get something like 16 million people out of work. And then the government's welfare assistance programs (including disability insurance, food stamps and Obamacare) pay people not to work, which is a key reason the labor force participation rate is rock bottom, at 62.8 percent, and the employment-to-population ratio is only 59.3 percent. This will not be fixed by the Fed. It's a fiscal issue of tax, regulatory and welfare reform.

So Yellen is right about an incomplete jobs recovery. She is also right about the lack of capital investment by businesses; more capital would boost productivity. But that's not the Fed's job. The most important pro-growth policy today would be major corporate tax reform — slashing tax rates and moving to a territorial system that would bring home roughly $2 trillion stashed overseas for mostly tax reasons. Think how much better the jobs picture would be if that money came home.

Putting that aside, the Fed is right to go slowly with rate hikes. Back in the '50s, we had ultra-low interest rates for long periods of time, and it was not a bad thing. The trick is to avoid Ike's mistakes of overtaxing and overregulating the economy.

And that brings us back to the future — namely, the 2016 presidential election.

Larry Kudlow is economics editor at National Review Online, host of CNBC’s The Kudlow Report, and author of the daily web blog Kudlow’s Money Politic$. Click here to contact him, follow him on Twitter: @larry_kudlow, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.


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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


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


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


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


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


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


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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Refugio Oil Spill Inspires Hands-On Learning Project for Ellwood Students

By | Published on 05/25/2015


As our community deals with the aftermath of the oil spill, many of us are wondering what we can learn from such a tragic event.

As a first-year teacher at Ellwood Elementary School, only a few miles from Refugio State Beach, my first thought was how I could get my students to learn about the impact of such an event, stimulate the conversation within our families and our community, and raise the awareness levels right here in our own backyard.

Of course, with young children, a hands-on activity is usually a great idea, so I thought back to what I learned in UCSB's Teacher Education Program last year. I remembered the lively and memorable oil-spill cleanup simulation we learned about and the hands-on approach we did in our lab. Perfect!

Let the experiment begin. We used tubs of water topped with dyed vegetable oil to mimic the oil in the ocean.

The simulation started with a conversation about where oil comes from, what we use oil for, the many pros and cons related to the oil industry, and of course how it affects us and the animal population.

Ellwood oil
Teacher Lisa Gil used tubs of water with dyed vegetable oil to mimic the oil in the ocean. (Lisa Gil courtesy photo)

My students this year love animals, especially marine life, so I knew once we got down to how much oil spills hurt some of their favorite animals, they would be hooked — and they were! We then talked about the cleanup effort that comes with an oil spill and the importance of doing it quickly and efficiently to prevent it from spreading and to contain the harm to our sweet, Mother Nature.

Finally, with random items such as cotton balls, popsicle sticks, rope, tape, spoons, Ziploc bags, straws and much more, the students were sent off to invent their own oil-spill cleanup apparatus that would pick up more oil than water and that would get the job done most efficiently.

There were many different strategies used and tools made. Some worked well and others did not, but regardless, what the students observed still led to some insightful thoughts and ideas. Some mentioned how sticky and slimy oil is, which made them sad for the marine life whose wings and fins are stuck together because of oil spills. Others noticed how hard it is to get every single drop of oil out of the water without taking too much water with them. Most of all, the students made many remarks about how the oil spreads very quickly with almost any small or sudden movement in the water.

Overall, it was an educational experiment but quite a lesson learned from something very real and impactful — right here in our very own backyard.

— Lisa Gil is a third-grade, first-year teacher at Ellwood Elementary School. She is a Santa Barbara native.


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

By | Published on 05/25/2015


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


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

By | Published on 05/25/2015


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


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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Judy Foreman: Middle College Charts a Different Course for Some High School Students

By | Published on 05/24/2015


Santa Barbara High seniors Caitlyn Morton, Haley Powell reflect on inspiration, ‘educational savior’ of alternative program

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The hustle and bustle at Jeannine’s Restaurant & Bakery in Montecito faded into the background for me while I shared a recent late-morning coffee with Santa Barbara High School seniors Haley Powell and Caitlyn Morton.

We chatted about the next stage of their lives, as the soon-to-be SBHS alums have been accepted to their first-choice colleges — Powell at UCLA and Morton at New York University.

But I also sat transfixed as they described their high school experience at Middle College, a lesser-known community asset on the campus of Santa Barbara City College that profoundly changed their lives.

While “senioritis” affects most high school students at this time of year, both young women say they’re sorry to be saying goodbye to their teachers and social life at SBCC. Powell attended her junior and senior years of high school and Morton her senior year.

Both say Middle College was their “educational savior” for boredom and plain burned-out feelings with the day-after-day regimen at SBHS.

They say they had longed for a schedule that would accommodate work and study, while fueling their interests as they prepared themselves for the rigors of college.

“We had a transformative educational experience when we transferred to Middle College,” they agreed.

They say they gained a range of skills through a 1-to-1 teacher ratio and motivation for their personal, academic and social growth — something they felt “was missing as we entered our later years in high school.”

That was exactly the point of Middle College when it was founded in 1996 as a collaboration between SBCC and Alta Vista Alternative High School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

Diane Thomas, then a teacher at La Cuesta Continuation High School, noticed a need in the district for students who were performing at high academic levels or who had high academic potential, but who did not like traditional high school. They were struggling as a result.

While La Cuesta was successfully working with students who had academic challenges, there was nothing at the other end of the spectrum. From that premise, Middle College was born.

As Middle College expanded, and SBUSD’s independent study program grew, it only made sense under the California Education Code for the program to become its own school. Under then-SBUSD Superintendent Brian Sarvis and principal Kathy Abney, Alta Vista High School was created and later accredited by the Western Association of Secondary Schools.

“I’m proud that SBCC is a partner with SBUSD to provide Middle College,” SBCC President Lori Gaskin said. “I’ve always maintained that high school is not a one-size-fits-all experience.

“As with our dual enrollment program, Middle College fuels option and choice. Providing a different learning environment and academic structure maximizes student potential. SBCC remains committed to fostering these opportunities.”

After Thomas retired in 2005, Regina Freking became the director and counselor, while continuing to teach.

“While Middle College has existed for nearly 20 years, it is still a niche program that relies on word of mouth from student ambassadors like Haley and Caitlyn, rather than large-scale promotion,” she told Noozhawk.

Middle College has been designed to help bridge the gap between high school and college. The program targets students in 11th and 12th grades who have completed the majority of their math, science and P.E. requirements.

Potential students are those seeking methods other than those offered at traditional high schools for achieving a high school diploma, and who have an interest in pursuing high academic endeavors or career exploration.

Freking said the rigorous program integrates a curriculum based on current events that are discussed weekly at student-teacher meetings. The one-on-one relationship benefits students by providing guidance and support, as well as challenging them to delve into the course in a deeper way.

The flexible course selection enables students to build an individualized schedule that suits their interests and helps them attain their academic goals — especially those who are independent learners, she said.

“Santa Barbara is full of wonderfully unique individuals who may not thrive best in a traditional high school setting,” Freking said. “We are excited to offer this alternative opportunity for students and want to make sure that prospective candidates and families hear about Middle College and understand how it might better suit and support their goals!”

All students — regardless of whether they’re headed to top-tier universities — should know that Middle College would be good for them, she added.

Freking says she and her colleagues — Dominic Freking, her husband, and Nancy Stevens — feel fortunate to be teaching in an environment with an opportunity to get to know their students so well.

“It’s rewarding to see our students open their eyes to the world around them and explore their interests and passions as they begin to find their places and purpose,” she said.

“As a bridge to college and life, we want our students to graduate being strong communicators, independent thinkers, creative problem solvers and advocates for themselves and others.”

For their final senior project, “Something that Matters,” Morton and Powell created a page on the Alta Vista High School website where information and student/teacher testimonial videos can be found.

Middle College graduates also have the opportunity to choose to attend either the Alta Vista commencement ceremony at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden or commencement at their home high school. Morton and Powell say they’re looking forward to walking with the Class of 2015 and receiving their diplomas at storied Peabody Stadium on the Santa Barbara High campus.

Click here for more information about Middle College, or contact Freking at 805.897.3561 or [email protected].

— Noozhawk columnist Judy Foreman is a longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.


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

By | Published on 05/24/2015


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


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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Randy Alcorn: We Must Stop the Political Rot in America’s Infrastructure

By | Published on 05/24/2015


The ancient Romans understood that the cohesion of empire required more than military might. It required infrastructure that facilitated trade and improved people’s daily lives. Water and sanitation systems, ports, roads, public baths, forums and stadiums strengthened the empire and tangibly demonstrated its benefits.

The Roman Empire eventually fell not because people wanted to leave it, but because too many people wanted to come in — something immigration reformers might think about.

The infrastructure Rome built lasted for many centuries. America’s vital infrastructure may not endure a single century. Were the Romans better engineers or use better materials? Not necessarily, but they did assiduously maintain what they had built.

Over a land mass rivaling that of the Roman Empire, America built the greatest infrastructure ever seen, but unlike Rome, America hasn’t been so diligent about maintenance. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the nation has a $2.2 trillion backlog of repairs and upgrades to vital infrastructure.

With every passing year hundreds of more bridges are closer to collapsing, miles of highways crumble into gravel, corroded water pipes rupture, airports become more outdated, dams weaken, school buildings, public parks, utility and sanitation systems deteriorate across the country.

While the nation’s infrastructure rusts and rots away the House of Representatives cuts funding on transportation infrastructure by almost 93 percent in the 2015 budget.

After the recent deadly Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, peevishly dismissed questions about the lack of Amtrak funding and blamed the crash on excessive speed. Boehner’s blustering distracts from the fact that available safety systems would have prevented the train’s excessive speed had the money been there to install them.

When in 2011, President Barack Obama proposed a $60 billion program for building and repairing infrastructure, Senate Republicans blocked it. They unanimously opposed it because it would have been funded by a surcharge tax on the wealthy. They also objected that the amount was too high.

They countered with a smaller infrastructure repair plan of $40 billion funded by cuts to other domestic programs, and that would have required scuttling or inhibiting environmental regulations. Of course, the then-majority Democrats quashed that measure.

So, there we are.

Given a $2.2 trillion critical infrastructure repair backlog, $40 billion or $60 billion is just a thumb stuck in a leaky dike, but even that is too much for the perpetually bickering ideological stooges in Congress who would rather stick thumbs in each other’s eyes than provide for the nation’s general welfare.

Every year, Congress will spend hundreds of billions of dollars for various military misadventures and on policing the world. It will spend a trillion dollars, and counting, fighting the hundred-year war in the Mideast, including building and rebuilding infrastructure there, but it quibbles about spending nickels and dimes to maintain our own infrastructure.

The Highway Trust Fund that maintains our nation’s highways has been running on fumes for years and is just about out of gas again, but once again, Congress, rather than raise taxes or redirect funds from dubious programs or bloated defense, will only refuel the fund with loose change it finds under couch cushions.

Yet, Congress will bestow billions of dollars in subsidies to wealthy corporations. It will lower tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.

It will pay Halliburton and other contractors hundreds of billions of dollars to build and rebuild in the perpetually war-torn Middle East. It will ladle out billions for foreign aid and disaster relief around the world. It will give itself lavish compensation and retirement benefits. But, it won’t maintain our homeland.

President Dwight Eisenhower, the builder of America’s splendid interstate highway system, warned us about the military/industrial complex. Essentially, he was warning us about the insatiable greed that can rot any society great or small. Fueled by corporate greed and jingoistic patriotism, America spends more on defense than does the next seven highest-spending nations combined.

Nero allegedly fiddled while Rome burned. Thereafter, he was quickly deposed and his successor embarked on a massive rebuilding program that included the magnificent Colosseum. The fiddlers in Congress — those venal, ethically challenged lackeys of the highest bidders — must be deposed and America’s priorities realigned to put America and Americans first.

America cannot maintain its greatness by patrolling the world with its massive war machine while the homeland rots away from neglect. It’s time for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come home and rebuild our infrastructure. It’s time to spend our money on our country rather than wasting it interfering in chronic conflicts among peoples incurably addled by theology and savaging each other over their religious fantasies.

It’s time to take care of America and let the world take care of itself. Why do we give a rat’s pelt about Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria or, for that matter, Israel? They have nothing we want or need, and all they give us in exchange for our blood and treasure is more trouble.

Wouldn’t we rather repair our bridges, dams and roads than rebuild Baghdad or construct another military installation in some corner of the globe?

America’s rotting infrastructure is a manifestation of its political rot. Only we can fix that.

— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his 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


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


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


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


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

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

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


Continuing a 56-year tradition, contestants split hairs for best beard before 72nd annual rodeo rides into town Thursday

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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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Local Nonprofit Hears 6-Year-Old’s Plea, Rallies to Help Provide Him with ‘Big Ears’ of His Own

By | Published on 05/23/2015


Look At Us, which champions cause of correcting craniofacial abnormalities, to assist with boy’s surgery to correct congenital birth defect

Six-year-old Julian Veit loves to draw, go to kindergarten and play basketball in the driveway of his Santa Barbara home.

He’s a cheerful and content boy, but wants something most children take for granted.

“Big ears” are what he’s been looking forward to, and now his parents are working with a local nonprofit organization to get Julian the reconstructive surgery that would correct a birth defect that makes it impossible to hear without a hearing aid.

Julian was born with biltateral microtia and atresia, a congenital birth defect that means his external ears, ear canal and much of his inner ear never developed in utero. Small lobes of skin sit where his outer ear would be, and he now hears with the aid of a bone-anchored hearing aid, or BAHA, which is a set of sand-colored rectangular boxes that sit on each side of his head.

His parents, Lisa and Dan Veit, reached out to the Santa Barbara-based Look At Us Alliance, which helps families in need around the globe pay for the surgeries and medical care of those with craniofacial abnormalities.

According to the alliance, one of every 1,000 babies born in the United States will have some type of craniofacial disorder, and many children born with those types of medical conditions will have to undergo many reconstructive surgeries.

The plan to restore Julian’s hearing includes three surgeries, with about four to six months in between for him to recover.

The first surgery is set to take place July 8. The surgery will use a synthetic fabric called MEDPOR to create the structure of the ear, and a skin graft will be placed over it to create the outer ear.

The surgeries would cost the family $150,000 if paid out of pocket and are not covered by insurance companies, which have termed the condition cosmetic, said Rob Williams, who started Look At Us.

A “Cheers to Ears” event will be held May 31 as a fundraiser for Julian’s medical care. The event includes silent and live auctions and will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at Cabana Home, 111 Santa Barbara St. in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.

Along with Look At Us, the event is sponsored by The Lark Santa Barbara, Hilliard Bruce and Cabana Home StoresClick here for more information, or to make an online donation.

Right now there’s not a lot that holds Julian back, and one word his mom uses to describe him is “thriving.”

He began kindergarten last fall at Santa Barbara Charter School, and is popular in his class. Lisa Veit laughs that the kids are enamored with him, and even line up to test the batteries on his hearing aids.

Some things remain a challenge, and Julian’s life would be changed for the better after the surgeries, she said.

When the family goes to the beach, she noted, the sound of the waves is something her son can’t hear. Swimming has also been out of the question because of his hearing aids.

There’s also just the desire to be like other kids, she said.

When asked why he wants new ears, Julian responded without hesitation.

“I want to be like everybody else,” he said, while coloring on his piece of paper.

Williams knows all about the Veits’ challenges. He has lived with the reality of numerous facial surgeries to deal with Treacher Collins Syndrome, in his own life as well as the life of his teenage son.

Look At Us has been busy in its first six months of operation, and has been able to provide two dozen hearing aids to children in Mexico City, provide a young boy with jaw surgery so he could eat and sleep properly, and helped a 4-year-old girl hear for the first time without a hearing aid.

The organization has also been a source of comfort and information for families affected by craniofacial issues, like Treacher Collins Syndrome, and has given presentations around the world about the conditions and options for treatment.

Look At Us has been able to distribute BAHA devices like Julian’s to children around the world, which has helped them restore hearing.

“These children are normal, they just need a little help,” Williams said, adding that he considered Julian’s family and Look At Us “the perfect match.”

Lisa Veit said her family is excited to be involved and to help advocate for children and other families with Look At Us. She wants to continue to pay it forward after her son’s corrective surgery.

If all goes to plan, “Julian will have an enormous smile,” she said.

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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Santa Barbara County Firefighters Join Oil-Spill Cleanup — Again

By | Published on 05/23/2015


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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?


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


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


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3 UCSB Students Rescued in Ocean Off Goleta Beach

By | Published on 05/22/2015


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


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


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


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


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


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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