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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 7:33 pm | Fair 54º


Bill Macfadyen: Jim Drain’s Death Leaves a Hole, and Not Just in Carpinteria

Haggen lingering in NoozWeek’s Top 5, which closes book on Sojourner Café, wants to throw one at Genise Schu, and goes pug-eyed for a reunion

The lonely haul up to Highway 150 near Carpinteria.
The lonely haul up to Highway 150 near Carpinteria. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)


While the new Soviet Union continued to button up its reset of world affairs, 106,484 people were reading Noozhawk this past week. Here’s my take on your top stories:

1. Carpinteria Civic Leader Jim Drain Found Dead of Gunshot Wound After Crash Off Highway 150

Jim Drain was as gracious as he was laconic, a charming man with a can-do spirit, a bemused grin and a twinkle in his eye. He was an avid skiier and cyclist, and he thoroughly enjoyed living in Carpinteria, his home for nearly 25 years.

He also was my friend, and my heart sank when Noozhawk got confirmation that his body had been found in the wreckage of his minivan just after midday Sept. 29.

The late Jane and Jim Drain at a 2013 Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce awards banquet. Click to view larger
The late Jane and Jim Drain at a 2013 Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce awards banquet. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk file photo)

The vehicle was located by a Santa Barbara County search helicopter, about 50 feet down a cliff on a sharp curve along windy Highway 150 east of Carpinteria.

I was crushed when we later learned it appeared to be a gunshot wound that had killed him.

Drain, 77, had struggled with mobility issues for the last several years so he was considered to be an at-risk missing person when his family reported his disappearance the night before.

Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said investigators pinged his cell phone, which provided the general vicinity of where he was.

“It appears that he has a gunshot wound and at this point it’s under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department ...,” she told Noozhawk. “It does not appear that any foul play was involved.”

In addition to his physical limitations, Drain never seemed to be quite the same after his wife, Jane, died in 2013. They were college sweethearts at Montana State University in Bozeman, and had been married 54 years at the time of her death.

The couple had three children — Matt, Tim and Elizabeth — and seven grandchildren.

Drain was quite active in Carpinteria. He and son Matt owned 4J Drain Construction, and he was a past chairman of the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce and a former board member of the Carpinteria Valley Water District.

He also was a faithful parishioner at All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito, where he sang in the choir until the stairs made it too difficult to navigate.

It was at All Saints that we chatted almost every week. Church won’t be the same this Sunday, and I so wish I had one do-over.

Funeral services are pending. May God grant his family solace and peace.

Click here for free suicide prevention resources that are available 24 hours a day, or call 1.800.273.8255.

2. Haggen Grocery Chain Officially Leaving Santa Barbara County

If Haggen had gotten this kind of traffic in its stores, the Bellingham, Wash.-based grocery chain might have made a go of it in Santa Barbara County.

For the second straight week, the saga of the company’s spectacular collapse made our Top 5. Conclusion: Noozhawk apparently has more readers than Haggen has shoppers.

We encouraged Haggen to advertise with us, but officials wouldn’t listen. Now they’ve filed for bankruptcy protection and are shelving their “Pacific Southwest” experiment. Coincidence?


I’ve had my fill of this story and am moving on. I hear Paula Lopez is in the house.

Dining is out at the Sojourner Café. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Dining is out at the Sojourner Café. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

3. Sojourner Café Closes After Decades in Business​

In another nonsurprise, the Sojourner Café has closed for good after a rather remarkable 37-year run.

Noozhawk did its part to publicize its plight, but I think most of us have long known how this story would end.

4. Santa Barbara Woman Who Went to Prison for Sex with Minor Seeks $7,000-a-Month Spousal Support

Her past may be strewn with the wreckage of lives she damaged inside and outside of her own family, but give a Santa Barbara woman props for audacity. Genise Schu knows no boundaries.

Schu, who now goes by the last name of Gomez, was convicted in 2010 of seven felony counts of unlawful intercourse with a minor under 16 years of age, and three felony counts of oral copulation with a minor under 18 years of age.

She was sentenced to six years in prison, but was paroled after three.

The youth she victimized? A boy who was one of her children’s closest friends. He was 12 when she started abusing him.

But this story actually isn’t about him. It’s about her, and her ambitious request for more than $7,000 a month in alimony from her now-former husband, Don.

Not so fast, according to Don Schu’s attorney, Ralph Wegis, who noted that she already got a $1 million divorce settlement.

“(Gomez) has said, ‘I want the economic lifestyle I had during the time that I was committing these crimes against my own children and children in the community,’” Wegis told our Lara Cooper on Sept. 25, a few days before the trial was to begin.

Wegis filed a brief asserting that Gomez should not receive spousal support, pointing to her record as a serial abuser and warning that financial gain might well enable her to do it all over again.​

“She fostered this abuse by providing alcohol and pornography to her minor children and their friends,” the brief states. “In an effort to conceal and continue her child molesting, she engaged in domestic violence against her husband and children.”

The brief also details emotional abuse suffered by Gomez’s children.

Gomez’s attorney, Bruce Glesby of Griffith & Thornburgh LLP, declined to comment.

Meanwhile, although Gomez was required to register herself as a sex offender for six years, a Noozhawk search of the Megan’s Law website reveals no trace of her — by any name.

Like I said, no boundaries.

Lindsey Serna got the ending she wanted with the return of her pug, Doug. (Serna family photo)
Lindsey Serna got the ending she wanted with the return of her pug, Doug. (Serna family photo)

5. Orcutt Pug Owner Searching for Missing Dog, and Clues Surrounding His Mysterious Disappearance

An Orcutt woman was reunited with her runaway pug, Doug, three days after the 18-month-old dog escaped from her yard.

Lindsey Serna had been hanging posters all over the community ever since Doug and a companion, a Labrador retriever named Walker, got away Sept. 25.

Walker was found almost immediately, but what became of Doug was anyone’s guess. In fact, Serna says she has reason to believe he was handed off to strangers at least twice during his disappearance. Weird.

The afternoon of Sept. 28, she got a call that Doug had been found safe and was ready to come home. The hand-off took place in the Kmart parking lot at 2875 Santa Maria Way.

“The love, the prayers, the support is something I can never repay!” an overjoyed Serna exclaimed in a Facebook post. “The love I have for my dog and this community I call home will never be able to be measured.”

Doug was at least the second dog to vanish under unusual circumstances in the Orcutt area in the last several days.

A boxer that ran away after a rollover car crash on East Clark Avenue near Lake Marie Estates was reunited with its owner, Roberta Slosson of Garey, late on Sept. 26 after a 2½-day search.​

The “​twincidents” may have left the impression that our Janene Scully has added a dog beat to her repertoire of reporting, but I can assure you that’s not the case. She’s a cat person.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week, from my peripatetic tour of the World Wide Web: Iran Female Soccer Team Accused of Manning Up.

Yeah, we can trust Iran. They’​ve got nothing to hide.

                                                                 •        •        •

Natalie Tran goes undercover in some nature documentaries. Just pretend she’s not there.

(communitychannel video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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