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Bill Macfadyen: Say What You Will about Syphilis, But It’s Powerful Link Bait on the Internet

NoozWeek’s Top 5 gets into the Summer Solstice spirit, nabs an alleged child molester, finds fault in a head-on collision with a fire truck, then crash lands at the airport

There were 65,932 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What were your top stories?

1. Syphilis Rates Soaring in Santa Barbara County

The name of a sexually transmitted disease blaring from a headline isn’t something many publishers want to see, but, hey, we don’t make the news, we just spread it.

On June 19, our Lara Cooper reported that syphilis has logged a dramatic increase in Santa Barbara County, to 22 cases from five between 2011 and 2013, among a general increase of all kinds of STDs.

Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons, an infectious disease physician and deputy health officer for the county Public Health Department, told Lara that 2014 is on track to record even higher rates.

Fitzgibbon attributed the rise to “probably many things.” For one thing, she said, “as fear of HIV decreases, so does condom use.”

For another? The proliferation of social media that allows those at higher risk to have more widespread access to multiple sexual partners. If that doesn’t scream “Silicon Valley venture capitalists, fund my startup!” I don’t know what does.

According to Fitzgibbon, those seeking treatment for syphilis — locally and nationally — are primarily homosexual men.

“This has everyone’s attention, and is an increasing health problem,” she said.

You would have to be half mad to dream up some of the characters at Santa Barbara’s Summer Solstice Celebration. (Mike Eliason / Noozhawk photo)
You would have to be half mad to dream up some of the characters at Santa Barbara’s Summer Solstice Celebration. (Mike Eliason / Noozhawk photo)

2. Solstice Welcomes Summer with Wacky Costumes, Parade Floats, Fun and Games

As it has for 40 years, Santa Barbara capped off its Summer Solstice Celebration with a zany parade of creative thought and clever costuming. As usual, though, the best sense of the Summer Solstice Parade can be found in the pictures. Click here for a 2014 Summer Solstice photo gallery from Noozhawk photographers and readers.

3. Former Christian Camp Director Arrested, Accused of Molesting Minor

A former director of a youth camp in the Santa Ynez Valley has been arrested in Hawaii on suspicion of molesting a minor at the camp back in 2005.

Recognize this guy?
Recognize this guy?

Ronald “Chad” Williams, 35, was arrested in Honolulu on a warrant from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, which was assisted in its investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau.

At the time of the incident, authorities say, Williams was camp director at San Marcos Christian Camp, at 5750 Stagecoach Road off Highway 154.

Sgt. Mark Williams, no relation, said the victim, who was 10 or 11 at the time, recently came forward and disclosed the allegations to deputies.

Authorities believe there may be additional victims, and anyone with information is encouraged to call the sheriff’s Detective Bureau at 805.681.4150 or the tip line at 805.681.4171.

Might does not always make right. (Zack Warburg photo)
Might does not always make right. (Zack Warburg photo)

4. Fire Truck Found at Fault in Goleta Crash

Admit it: You looked at the picture and you thought you knew exactly what happened. Looks can be deceiving.

A Santa Barbara County fire engine was en route to a June 1 Goleta structure fire when it collided head-on with a Mercedes-Benz coupe at the intersection of Calle Real and Valdez Avenue west of Fairview Avenue. In spite of what many assumed, a Sheriff’s Department investigation determined that the 20-ton fire truck was at fault.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover told Noozhawk that County Fire Engine 14 was headed to San Patricio Drive when the call-out was canceled. The truck had turned off its lights and siren just before the crash.

“The fire engine, which was traveling approximately 20 mph (eastbound), attempted to make a left turn onto Valdez Avenue and collided into a gray Mercedes-Benz sedan that was traveling westbound on Calle Real at an estimated speed of 25 mph,” she said.

The Mercedes driver, an 18-year-old Isla Vista resident, insisted she was unhurt but Hoover said she was taken to the hospital for a medical examination. The three firefighters in the truck were uninjured.

The impact crumpled the front of the car, while the fire truck had minor bumper damage.

This flying lesson got off into the weeds, but the plane can be used again so it’s all good. (Santa Barbara Fire Department photo)
This flying lesson got off into the weeds, but the plane can be used again so it’s all good. (Santa Barbara Fire Department photo)

5. Small Plane Crash Lands at Santa Barbara Airport

A single-engine plane crash-landed at the Santa Barbara Airport on June 24 after its throttle malfunctioned as the student pilot was attempting to touch down. No one was hurt but the plane’s landing gear was damaged.

Santa Barbara fire Capt. Gary Pitney said the Cirrus aircraft — with the student pilot and an instructor on board — was coming in for a landing on one of the north-south runways about 12:20 p.m. As the plane was descending, a throttle malfunction prevented the engine from slowing.

Pitney said the instructor took over the controls and made the decision to land on Runway 25, a much longer east-west strip. The pilot was able to stop the engine by cutting off the fuel supply, he said.

Firefighters from the airport’s Station 8 were waiting at the end of the runway if needed.

The identities of the aviators were not disclosed but airport marketing coordinator Lynn Houston said the plane was local. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board will review the incident, she added. 

                                                                        •        •

Few things interest me less than soccer. From what I can tell, players in shorts and T-shirts run pell-mell all over a ridiculously large field, a 0-0 tie is considered nail-biting drama, and everyone gets a participation trophy at the end. But the World Cup is playing loudly and incessantly on a big-screen TV across the walkway from my office, and — if I understood correctly — the U.S. team actually won by losing to Germany. What’s that about?! To find out, I turned to coach Ted Lasso, who has succinctly explained everything I need to know about this “sport.” Thanks, Coach.

(NBCSportsNetwork 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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