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Bill Macfadyen: Allen Parsons’ Projects Included a Pair of Grateful Ex-Newspaper Editors

Best of Noozhawk 04.13.12 also follows teacher retirements, a shot in the dark, a spurned doctor, a soon-to-close grocery store and some wild weather

The newspaper industry is losing one of its true stars and classiest acts at the end of the month when Allen Parsons retires as publisher of the Ocala (Fla.) Star-Banner.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton and I had the privilege of working for Parsons at The New York Times-owned Santa Barbara News-Press back when it was at the top of its game. In the early 1990s, he was brought in from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune by our new publisher, Steve Ainsley, and would serve as executive editor for nearly 10 years. After Ainsley was promoted to corporate and his replacement, Ken Svanum, was airlifted out on the final evacuation helicopter, Parsons led us as publisher until his abrupt and unceremonious departure in the first few hours of the new regime in 2000.

Allen Parsons
Allen Parsons (Ocala Star-Banner photo)

Allen’s deputies learned a lot about leadership from him and one of the most enduring takeaways was his unfailing — if sometimes misplaced — confidence in his managers and staff. He believed in hiring talented people, pointing them in the right direction and getting out of the way. Yes, we made mistakes, but our determination to be worthy of his trust and approval inspired us to raise our standards and our game. He had a knack for convincing us that the right course was our idea, and I always suspected he took great satisfaction watching us figure out something on our own, on deadline, even though it would have been easier to just give us the answer we were trying to find.

Thank you, Allen, for making me the journalist and manager that I am today. It was an honor to work for you and the memories are some of my fondest. You’re still dead wrong about that “modified Chicago-style” layout, though.

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What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. 57 School Employees to Retire Early Under Santa Barbara District’s Incentive Program

Facing a nearly $6 million deficit for the next school year, the Santa Barbara Unified School District implemented an incentive program to entice senior employees to take early retirement at roughly the equivalent to 75 percent of final base pay. In all, 57 teachers, counselors, administrators and other school staff took the district up on its offer, which is expected to save SBUSD $600,000 over the next five years.

At the April 10 school board meeting, Superintendent Dave Cash and trustees mourned the loss of so much knowledge and experience from the local school scene.

“I see some of the greatest educators this community has ever seen,” Cash said.

Click here for the list of departing employees.

In addition, layoff and reduction-in-force notices have been delivered to 124 full-time and temporary employees, and the district expects most of those departures to become permanent.

2. Santa Barbara Homeowner Shoots Intruder; Suspect in Custody at Hospital

A prowler allegedly attempting to force his way into a house on Santa Barbara’s Westside was thwarted by the homeowner, who shot him in the leg as he broke through the back door.

At 4:15 a.m. April 11, police received 9-1-1 calls from two homes in the 900 block of West Pedregosa Street. Officers arrived to find the suspected prowler with a serious gunshot wound to the leg. William Blair, 33, of Santa Barbara, was arrested on suspicion of burglary, vandalism and prowling. He was patched up at the scene by paramedics and taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment.

3. Doctor Loses Antitrust Case Against Cottage Health System, Surgeons

Alleging a conspiracy to exclude him from an on-call surgery list, spinal surgeon Alan Moelleken filed a multimillion-dollar antitrust lawsuit against Cottage Health System and Drs. Richard Chung, Scott Conner, Thomas Jones and Alois Zauner of Neurosurgical Associates of Santa Barbara. A jury was not convinced after a seven-week civil trial in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, and sent him packing with a verdict exonerating the defendants and denying him any damages at all. Moelleken’s attorney says his client may file an appeal.

4. Scolari’s in Santa Barbara Among Four Central Coast Stores Slated to Close

Citing the stubborn economic downturn, Scolari’s market is closing its grocery store at 222 N. Milpas St. on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside. The store is one of four Central Coast locations to be closed by the family-owned company, co-owner Joey Scolari said in an April 12 announcement. NKT Commercial, a San Luis Obispo-based development company, says it has acquired the property and is in discussions with several retailers and grocers as potential tenants.

A block away, meanwhile, a new, 12,000-square-foot Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is on track to open May 1 at 336 N. Milpas St.

5. Thunder, Lightning, Hail Put on Morning Show

April showers may soon bring May flowers but they’re also part of some tumultuous weather conditions that have made their presence known in Santa Barbara County this past week. After a glorious Easter weekend, we’ve seen — and heard — pretty much everything: gusty winds, heavy rain, lightning, thunder and hail. A strong series of thunderstorms rolled low and slow across the South Coast on Friday morning, bringing crackling lighting and house-shuddering thunder. In the wake of this storm, the weekend should be mostly sunny, but with breezy conditions.

Click here for the complete National Weather Service forecast.

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