Sunday, October 22 , 2017, 7:49 pm | Fair 63º


Local News

Bill Macfadyen: In Death, Carmen Alexander’s Life Is Celebrated as a ‘Brilliant Presence’

Best of Noozhawk 02.24.12 includes another chapter in the SBCC saga, density in the eastern Goleta Valley, the Funk Zone and panga boats

1. Open Alternative School Stunned By Sudden Death of Teacher Carmen Alexander

Teachers are often described as beloved for the outsized impact they have on their students. For Carmen Alexander, the adjective seems wholly inadequate — especially considering the outpouring of heartfelt tributes that followed her unexpected death Feb. 20.

Alexander taught at Open Alternative School on the campus of La Colina Junior High School. Fellow teachers and grateful parents say she had a love for teaching and an artistic nature.

“Carmen has the biggest heart in the world,” OAS Principal Alejandra Tashma told Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik. “She was such a brilliant presence in all of our lives.”

Alexander, an athletic 43-year-old single mother, was admitted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital on Feb. 19 with symptoms that resembled pneumonia. She died less than 24 hours later from a mysterious flesh-eating bacteria.

The tight-knit Open Alternative School was shaken by her death, but the circumstances certainly caught the attention of the community, where the Santa Barbara native was equally well-known. Noozhawk readers have made Alexander’s story the most heavily read so far in 2012.

Alexander is survived by her three children: Sofia, a freshman at Santa Barbara High School; Sasha, an OAS sixth-grader; and Pablo, who is in third grade.

2. How SBCC Trustees Proceed After Investigation’s Scathing Report Is an Open Question

Staff writer Lara Cooper had a follow-up to her previous scoop in the SBCC Board of Trustees controversy. Thanks to a leak, Lara had the exclusive story on the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges’ preliminary report of its investigation of the trustees.

The board has been accused of violating its own rules of governance, among other things. The commission’s report bluntly addressed the allegations, which school officials and representatives insist are misleading and without context. The board has 30 days to respond.

Lara’s Feb. 19 story added comments from Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley and First Amendment lawyer Terry Francke, as well as some responses from Noozhawk readers.

3. County Supervisors to Consider Studying Higher Densities in Eastern Goleta Valley

The word “density” has long been a flashpoint on the South Coast and staff writer Lara Cooper sparked a run of reads with her advance on the Board of Supervisors’ plan to consider more of it in the eastern Goleta Valley.

At issue is a proposed update of the Goleta Valley Community Plan that would include an environmental review for the area between the city of Santa Barbara’s northwestern edge and the city of Goleta’s eastern boundary. The update would provide guidelines for possible future development in the area, including on two existing agricultural properties — one on South Patterson Avenue and the other at San Marcos Growers, 125 S. San Marcos Road.

On Feb. 20, the five supervisors voted to take a deep breath and wade into the controversy, giving the draft plan a green light.

4. Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone Signals Revival for Commercial Real Estate Market

After a years-long lull, local real estate experts say they’re seeing continued interest and activity in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, a mixed-use neighborhood around Lower State Street near the beach. The former industrial area now sports an urban wine trail, restaurants and art galleries. New condominium projects are giving the gritty neighborhood a distinct air of gentrification.

“I’m not sure how this big metamorphosis toward residential fits into the Funk Zone,” Mark Mattingly, executive vice president of Pacifica Commercial Realty, told business writer Alex Kacik, but he said it’s moving in a positive direction.

Noozhawk business columnist Craig Allen took readers on his own tour of the Funk Zone with his Feb. 19 column touting the area’s apparent growing potential as an investment opportunity.

5. Abandoned Panga Boat Found Near Refugio Beach

Yet another panga boat was found Feb. 22, this one abandoned east of Refugio State Beach. Authorities — again — are asking for the public’s help in catching the suspected smugglers who are most likely transporting illegal drugs and/or illegal immigrants.

I keep seeing breezy law enforcement descriptions of the boats as “commonly used by fishermen in developing countries,” and loosely implying that a lone desperado is somehow motoring up here all the way from Mexico. Despite The Old Man and the Sea imagery, I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s more likely that there’s a mother ship offloading cargo on the other side of the Channel Islands with instructions to head toward the lights on the distant shore. Outboard motors don’t get that great of mileage when they’re pulling water-skiers, so I can’t imagine things are any better when the boat is fully loaded.

Assuming the smuggling operation is far more sophisticated than authorities have been telling us, how long will it be before the South Coast gets to experience the deadly hell that southern Arizona ranching families and residents have been enduring over the last several years? Oh, joy. I can’t wait.

                                                                  •        •        •

Noozhawk extends its condolences to the family of Susan Deacon, president of the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s Board of Trustees. Deacon’s father, Dr. Carl Christol, died Feb. 22 at age 98. Want to talk about a life well-lived? Click here to read his obituary.

                                                                  •        •        •

We need your help. Just as you might subscribe — or formerly subscribed — to a favorite newspaper to keep up with your community news, please consider becoming a voluntary paying subscriber to Noozhawk, for as little as $5 a month, or becoming a member of our Hawks Club.

Click here to make a donation online, or mail your check to Noozhawk, P.O. Box 101, Santa Barbara 93102. Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to set up recurring credit-card transactions through our PCI-compliant payment gateway. Personal contributions to Noozhawk are not deductible as charitable donations.

Thank you for your support.

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

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >