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Bill Macfadyen: Lesbians, ‘Illegals’ and The Oddest Daily Newspaper in Southern California

NoozWeek’s Top 5 also tracks a fatal Highway 101 crash, the arrest of 2 Hancock College basketball players on murder charges, a residential rollover, and a bad batch of smoked salmon

There were 86,206 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What’s my take on your top stories? I’m glad you asked.

1. Santa Barbara News-Press’ Use of ‘Illegals’ in Headline Sparks Downtown Protest

“Illegals.” “Lesbian Priest.” After 14 years, is anyone truly surprised by the headlines in that “news” paper?

You may think of it as an embarrassment. To me, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

That is all.

A Caltrans crew conducts guardrail duty at the scene of a fatal crash on Highway 101 along the Nojoqui Grade. (Claire Anderson / KEYT News photo)
A Caltrans crew conducts guardrail duty at the scene of a fatal crash on Highway 101 along the Nojoqui Grade. (Claire Anderson / KEYT News photo)

2. Santa Barbara Man Killed in Highway 101 Crash North of Gaviota

Mark Medina, 30, of Santa Barbara, was identified as the motorist killed in a single-vehicle crash on Highway 101 north of Gaviota on Jan. 13, the California Highway Patrol confirmed for Noozhawk.

CHP Officer John Ortega said Medina was driving north at about 7:45 a.m. when, for unknown reasons, his Ford F-450 box truck slammed head-on into the end of a metal guardrail in the center divider near the top of the Nojoqui Grade.

Medina was declared dead at the scene.

Ortega said the cause of the crash remains under investigation, but alcohol and/or drugs do not appear to be factors.

Funeral services will be held Jan. 16 for Medina, a 2003 graduate of Santa Barbara High School.

In an eerie coincidence, Medina’s last entry on his Facebook page is a Jan. 7 photo of Highway 101 that appears to have be taken from the driver’s side of a truck cab.

All three of Noozhawk’s articles on the incident drew five-figure traffic in less than an hour.

Facing a full-court press from the media, Allan Hancock College basketball coach Tyson Aye and athletic director Kim Ensing expressed disbelief at the arrest of two players on murder charges, extended condolences to the victim’s family and described the Bulldogs’ due diligence on recruiting and developing student-athletes. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
Facing a full-court press from the media, Allan Hancock College basketball coach Tyson Aye and athletic director Kim Ensing expressed disbelief at the arrest of two players on murder charges, extended condolences to the victim’s family and described the Bulldogs’ due diligence on recruiting and developing student-athletes. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

3. 2 Hancock College Basketball Players Arrested in Murder Investigation

Two Allan Hancock College basketball players have been charged with murder and attempted robbery in the Dec. 30 death of a Santa Maria man — a development that left teammates and coaches stunned.

Ali Mohammed
Ali Mohammed
Lavell White
Lavell White

Lavell White, 22, and Ali Mohammed, 19, were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, with bail set at $1 million each. They are to be arraigned in Superior Court on Jan. 16.

The two men were taken into custody as suspects in the killing of Terence Richardson, Santa Maria police confirmed to our Janene Scully a few hours after their Jan. 10 arrest.

As Noozhawk first reported at the time, Richardson, 23, of Santa Maria, apparently was shot in the 1000 block of East Jones Street near the Hancock College campus. He was taken to Marian Regional Medical Center, where he died of his wounds.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Mohammed and White have been charged with murder and attempted robbery.

Mohammed also was charged with an enhancement for the personal and intentional discharge of a firearm causing the death of Richardson. White, too, was charged with a firearm enhancement.

White, a 6-foot-6 sophomore guard, was a leading scorer for the Bulldogs. In fact, the day before the murder, he led the team with 24 points and 10 rebounds in a 75-61 loss to San Jose City College in Hancock’s Holiday Classic tournament.

White transferred to Hancock over the summer from Polk State College in Winter Haven, Fla. He attended Rainier Beach High School in Seattle.

Mohammed, a 6-foot-6 freshman from Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, played power forward for the Bulldogs.

The players are no longer with the program.

At a Jan. 12 news conference, Hancock coach Tyson Aye expressed “shock, surprise, sadness” at the bewildering series of events.

“It just wasn’t something that was expected,” he said. “... It still hasn’t completely set in for any of us.”

Aye offered “our deepest condolences to the Richardson family.” Richardson was a former Hancock student.

Athletics Department officials say the school does as much research as possible on prospective players, contacting coaches, family members and others. And Athletic Director Kim Ensing said Hancock is one of the few community colleges in California to voluntarily conduct drug testing of student-athletes on a random basis.

“In a situation like this it causes everybody to pause and pay great attention to detail,” said Ensing, who is also an associate dean. “Our coaches do a good job when it comes to establishing a relationship with a student-athlete before they even show up here.

“Our coaches and our programs have been real successful sending student-athletes from Hancock to many universities all over America.”

Perhaps the most successful is Cameron Artis-Payne, a Hancock running back in 2011-2012, who went on to star for Auburn University. One of the top rushers in the country in 2014, he led the Southeastern Conference with 1,482 yards in his senior season with the No. 22 Tigers. Oh, and he graduated in December. 

A middle-of-the-night rollover wreck. How original. (Urban Hikers photo)
A middle-of-the-night rollover wreck. How original. (Urban Hikers photo)

4. Woman Hurt in Rollover Crash in Santa Barbara

A young woman escaped serious injury early on Jan. 12 when she was ejected from her car during a rollover crash in Santa Barbara.

Authorities say the wreck occurred around 4:45 a.m. in the 2100 block of Castillo Street, just three blocks from the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital emergency room.

Santa Barbara Fire Battalion Chief Robert Mercado said emergency personnel arrived to find the victim unresponsive and in an “altered state.” She was rushed to the hospital but, in spite of the harrowing circumstances, her injuries were just minor to moderate.

Santa Barbara police are investigating the crash. No other details were immediately available. 

Factory settings will be overhauled at Santa Barbara Smokehouse, 312 N. Nopal St., after the discovery of bacterial contamination that may have affected some of the company’s cold-smoked salmon products. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)
Factory settings will be overhauled at Santa Barbara Smokehouse, 312 N. Nopal St., after the discovery of bacterial contamination that may have affected some of the company’s cold-smoked salmon products. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

5. Listeria Contamination Prompts Shutdown of Santa Barbara Smokehouse

Cold-smoked salmon products from Santa Barbara Smokehouse have been recalled voluntarily after bacterial contamination was discovered at the company’s processing plant on the Lower Eastside.

State public health officials warned last week that certain Santa Barbara Smokehouse products may be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes bacteria, which can cause a type of food poisoning called listeriosis.

Company CEO Tim Brown told our Janene Scully that he’s temporarily suspended production to retool the plant, at 312 N. Nopal St.

“Food safety to me is No. 1,” he said. “This is the right thing to do.”

Santa Barbara Smokehouse’s recalled cold-smoked salmon was packed under the Cambridge House, Channel Island Smokehouse, Coastal Harbor, Harbor Point and Santa Barbara Smokehouse brand names, and has pack dates of 8-22-14, 9-17-14 through 9-19-14, and 12-17-14 through 12-24-14.

                                                                 •        •        •

Believe in Good.

(thailifechannel 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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