Tuesday, October 23 , 2018, 2:48 pm | Fair 70º


Bill Macfadyen: Paralyzed Santa Barbara Teenager Now Being Treated at Denver Hospital

NoozWeek’s Top 5 fills up at a landmark gas station, has its fill of a property dispute, catches a wave at the Rincon Classic, then catches a catamaran fire at the Harbor

There were 85,296 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What’s my take on your top stories? I’m glad you asked.

1. Santa Barbara High Student Stricken by Paralysis

Over the span of just a few hours just before Christmas, 17-year-old Gracie Fisher went from numbness in her hands to near total paralysis.

As her condition rapidly worsened late on the afternoon of Dec. 21, Fisher’s mom rushed her to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. By the time she arrived, she could hardly move. By 10 p.m., she had been intubated because she could barely breathe.

Doctors have since diagnosed the Santa Barbara High School junior with acute flaccid myelitis, a neurologic children’s illness that exhibits polio-like symptoms such as focal limb weakness and breathing difficulty.

Since August 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded 107 such cases in 34 states. A possible cause remains a mystery.

While their daughter has been hospitalized, Debbie and Bill Fisher have been relying on their faith, family and friends, and all of the therapy techniques they employ at Via Real Physical Therapy, the practice they own in Carpinteria.

“I have to keep myself in a constant state of prayerfulness and mindfulness,” Debbie Fisher told our Lara Cooper.

On Jan. 28, Fisher was transferred to Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., which specializes in brain and spinal cord injuries.

“We really believe it’s the right place for Gracie to start her rehabilitation,” her mom said.

“I know your prayers will continue to support us, and I look forward to continuing to share Gracie’s progress,” Debbie Fisher wrote on posthope.org, the website she’s been using to provide updates on her daughter, as well as the family’s move — including Gracie’s 14-year-old sister, Emily — to temporary quarters in Colorado.

Back in Santa Barbara, the support system is hard at work. A benefit luncheon was held Jan. 25 at the family’s church, First United Methodist Church. Personal trainer Jenny Schatzle is hosting Bring a Donation for Grace Fisher workout on Jan. 31. And a Concert for Gracie fundraiser is planned for Feb. 15 at The Blind Tiger, 409 State St.

Meanwhile, friends of the Fishers have opened a bank account to help the family. Checks to the “Gracie Fisher Fund” can be mailed c/o Jennifer Oakley, 308 Paseo Del Descanso, Santa Barbara 93105.

The Barnsdall-Rio Grande gas station on the far west end of Hollister Avenue is a Goleta landmark. Tom Modugno wants it to be treated as such. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
The Barnsdall-Rio Grande gas station on the far west end of Hollister Avenue is a Goleta landmark. Tom Modugno wants it to be treated as such. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

2. Goleta Man Driving Campaign to Save Historic Gas Station on Hollister Avenue

For decades, the Barnsdall-Rio Grande gas station has sat as an empty, lonely sentry at the far west end of Hollister Avenue. If Tom Modugno has his way, it will be restored and given a new lease on life.

The Barnsdall-Rio Grande gas station in its full-service heyday. (GoletaHistory.com photo)
The Barnsdall-Rio Grande gas station in its full-service heyday. (GoletaHistory.com photo)

Modugno, owner of Santa Cruz Markets, grew up in the nearby Santa Barbara Shores neighborhood, and he remembers sneaking into the boarded-up building as a kid. There’s just something fascinating about its mosaic dome and detailed ornamentation. You don’t see that kind of artistry in gas stations these days.

“It’s basically the same as it was,” Modugno told our Lara Cooper as they stood outside the chain-link fencing around the property, which backs up to Sandpiper Golf Club at 7925 Hollister Ave.

Modugno wants to connect the gas station’s past with the present, and he’s launched an online petition calling for the restoration of the property.

“Everybody I’ve talked to loves this building,” he said. “The hard part is getting something done.”

Modugno — who also runs Goletasurfing.com and Goletahistory.com — says the gas station was built in 1929, and was one of the last of the legendary Pearl Chase’s beautification efforts on the South Coast. The station was abandoned by the 1950s, but it made an appearance in the 1981 remake of the movie, The Postman Always Rings Twice, starring Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson.

Santa Barbara County had designated the station a historical site, but that declaration lapsed when the City of Goleta incorporated. Although Goleta’s general plan lists the place as a historic resource, the city apparently would need to form a historical preservation committee and then implement an ordinance designating historical landmarks within city limits.

Modugno, a frequent contributor to Noozhawk’s Photo of the Day feature, would like to see the building restored to its former glory and opened to the public, perhaps as a “mini-museum” with photos and an exhibit explaining some of the area’s history.

Click here to sign the petition.

Want to know the status of this proposed house on Brosian Way in Santa Barbara? Read on and we’ll fill you in. (Cearnal Andrulaitis Architects rendering)
Want to know the status of this proposed house on Brosian Way in Santa Barbara? Read on and we’ll fill you in. (Cearnal Andrulaitis Architects rendering)

3. Brain Surgeon Cleared to Build Ocean-View House in Santa Barbara

A brain surgeon — otherwise known as an “applicant” — has won the right to build his family’s dream home overlooking the Santa Barbara Channel after the Santa Barbara City Council rejected an appeal from a handful of opponents.

Dr. John Park and his wife, Dr. Grace Park, want to build a home for their multigenerational extended family on 2.2 acres of vacant land they own in the 500 block of Brosian Way, above Cliff Drive west of Las Positas Road. To get an ocean view, however, architect Brian Cearnal designed a 5,900-square-foot, two-story residence built on about 3,500 cubic yards of imported fill dirt.

Although most of the Parks’ immediate neighbors support the project, a few residents several blocks away protested, saying the fill dirt situation sets a bad precedent. They wanted the house lowered by about five feet.

The project has been grinding its way through Santa Barbara’s notoriously glacial approval process, often winning unanimous votes at every step. On Jan. 27, the City Council gave its unanimous consent, voting 7-0 to turn down an appeal of the latest approval.

For reasons that escape me, Cearnal made an issue of Park’s profession — he’s a neurosurgeon with the Santa Barbara Neuroscience Institute at Cottage Hospital — which definitely has been a topic of conversation in Noozhawk’s comments section.

Park and his wife, herself a physician at Sansum Clinic, are building the house for their extended family, which includes their three children, Grace Park’s parents and John Park’s mother.

With spectacular conditions, scores of surfers were on board at the 2015 Rincon Classic. (Mike Eliason / Noozhawk photo)
With spectacular conditions, scores of surfers were on board at the 2015 Rincon Classic. (Mike Eliason / Noozhawk photo)

4. Surf Set Finally Takes to the Waves at 2015 Rincon Classic​

After a couple of weeks of delays while waiting for just the right swell, hundreds of surfers and spectators packed Rincon Beach the weekend of Jan. 23-25 for the 2015 Rincon Classic. When it was all said and surfed, Montecito’s Conner Coffin had all the right moves to take the title.

Coffin outsurfed ​Cory Arrambide of Ventura, Tarik Khashoggi of Santa Barbara and Mike McCabe of Ventura to win the Rincon Brewery Pro Final.

Other weekend winners:

» Jeff Knell, Men’s

» Demi Boelsterli of Santa Barbara, Women’s

» Eric Ronning of Ventura, Juniors

» Tommy McKeown, Boys

» Jabe Swierkocki of Ventura, Gremlins

» Adam Virs of Ventura, Masters

» Tony DeGroot of Summerland, Grandmasters

» Steve Hanson, Legends

» Abby Brown of Santa Barbara, Wahine

» ​Evan Trantvein, Longboard

Click here for the complete standings from the 2015 Rincon Classic. Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.

(Noozhawk video)

5. Fire Engulfs Catamaran at Santa Barbara Harbor

A catamaran caught fire in the Santa Barbara Harbor the night of Jan. 27, and the flames and commotion could be seen and heard from the Riviera.

Santa Barbara firefighters were dispatched at 9:30 p.m. to Marina 2, where the 36-foot Wizard of Bristol was ablaze at its mooring.

Battalion Chief Jim McCoy said SBFD crews, assisted by the Harbor Patrol, were able to put out the fire fairly quickly — while keeping it from spreading to nearby boats in the dock’s tight quarters.

Five fire engines, a truck and two Harbor Patrol boats responded to the scene, along with an American Medical Response ambulance.

McCoy said it wasn’t clear if the vessel was occupied when the fire broke out. He said there were no injuries.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

                                                                 •        •        •

With sensible products like this, how in the world could SkyMall file for bankruptcy? HT to my friend, Mick Guinn, at Mick’s Macs. BTW, I’m pretty sure he has one in his kitchen.

(SkyMall 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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