Noozhawk marked its 16th anniversary on Oct. 16 and, as its founder and publisher, it’s both humbling and exhilarating to reflect on how far we’ve come.

What started out as a modest Santa Barbara- and Goleta-focused news source back in 2007 has grown into a trusted, comprehensive platform covering all of Santa Barbara County.

Fan mail for our 16th anniversary. You know who you are, and thank you. (Bill Macfadyen / Noozhawk photo)
Fan mail for our 16th anniversary. You know who you are, and thank you. (Bill Macfadyen / Noozhawk photo)

Sixteen years ago, we set out with a vision to provide our community with professional, locally sourced, compelling journalism.

Today, I’m proud to say that our mission remains just as focused and vital: local people, local topics and local advertisers. Local is our core principle.

But none of this would have been possible without you — our readers, our Hawks Club members and our advertisers.

Your trust in us is what fuels our pursuit for journalistic excellence. Your feedback guides our story coverage. Your support empowers our reporters to dig deeper and reach further.

Every click, every share and every subscription matters.

To our Hawks Club members, thank you for being the backbone of our mission. Your financial contributions enable us to expand our coverage, continue to innovate as pioneers in online local news, and uphold our journalistic standards that are unrivaled in Santa Barbara County.

If you’re as passionate about local journalism as we are and haven’t yet joined our Hawks Club, I invite you to become a member today.

Will you help us celebrate by making a financial donation today?

Locally and nationally, the news landscape has changed significantly since we started, but Noozhawk’s commitment to you has never wavered.

I want to assure you that we will be continuing our mission: prioritizing the local perspective and maintaining the highest levels of editorial integrity.

On behalf of the entire Noozhawk team, thank you for making us your go-to source for news in Santa Barbara County. We look forward to many more years of serving our community.

According to our WordPress analytics, Noozhawk had an audience of 132,224 readers this past week.

Just to be clear, this is my opinion column, not a news story, and I’m Noozhawk’s publisher, not a reporter. Although I did write a quick news story on an Oct. 15 earthquake.

1. 4 People Injured in Wrong-Way Crash on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara

An alleged wrong-way driver was blamed for a three-vehicle wreck on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara the night of Oct. 13.

Four people were injured in the collision, including one critically.

As our Tom Bolton reported, the California Highway Patrol said the crash occurred about 9:35 p.m. on the southbound side of the freeway near Las Positas Road.

It was not immediately known where the apparent wrong-way driver entered the freeway, but Santa Barbara fire Battalion Chief Robert Mercado told Tom that four people were injured in the subsequent crash.

He said one individual was taken by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with major injuries.

A woman and her two children in a second vehicle had minor injuries, Mercado said.

No identities were disclosed.

The CHP is investigating the circumstances of the wreck.

2. BizHawk: Santa Barbara Fish Market Opens Goleta Location on Saturday

Brian Colgate, Laszlo Nemeth and Paul Osborne of Santa Barbara Fish Market.
From left, Santa Barbara Fish Marketeers Brian Colgate, Laszlo Nemeth and Paul Osborne. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Just as our Josh Molina reported a few months ago, the Santa Barbara Fish Market has established a beachhead in Goleta.

The market — at 7127 Hollister Ave., Suite 18, in The Plaza shopping center, just west of Camino Real Marketplace — opened Oct. 14. An official grand opening is coming in November.

Owner Brian Colgate told Josh the market will offer Santa Barbara sea urchins, Hope Ranch mussels, rock crab claws, halibut, white sea bass, fresh poke, Mexican white shrimp, salmon, rockfish and chips, calamari and many other seafood products — much of it local.

There’s also a restaurant and a grab-and-go area overseen by executive chef Paul Osborne, who is well-known around local kitchens.

The market is a sister operation to the original Santa Barbara Fish Market, which opened more than two decades ago at 117 Harbor Way, Suite A, in the heart of the Santa Barbara Harbor.

3. Erin Graffy: Before Santa Barbara Zoo’s Animal Magnetism, Its Location Attracted a Different Kind of Crowd

The beautiful Beale Estate in Santa Barbara on the knoll that eventually would become the home of the Santa Barbara Zoo.
The humble Beale “residence” — long before it became the Santa Barbara Zoo with giraffes grazing the grounds overlooking the Santa Barbara waterfront.

Long before the Santa Barbara Zoo graced a bucolic knoll overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the site was home to a lavish estate that rivaled the most storied properties in America.

In the first of a three-part series, our Erin Graffy traces the origins of Vegamar/the Beale Estate/the Child’s Estate, its grand parties and international soirees, and the fascinating lineage of the landmark that has graced the Santa Barbara waterfront since the late 1800s.

Erin drops plenty of names on her trip down memory lane, many of them the elitist of elite society back at the turn of the last century.

She’s a far better storyteller than I am a story summarizer, so I’ll leave it to her to do the heavy writing. And look for her Part II to be posted on Oct. 22.

A pedestrian suffered critical injuries the night of Oct. 13 when he was hit by a vehicle as he walked on North La Cumbre Road in Santa Barbara.

As our Tom Bolton reported, Santa Barbara police Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale said the collision occurred around 9:40 p.m. near the State Street intersection.

Santa Barbara fire Battalion Chief Robert Mercado told Tom the male victim was transported by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The man’s identity was not disclosed and his medical condition was not known.

Ragsdale said alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the collision, which remains under investigation.

5. Jury Hears About Dismemberment Murder as Santa Maria Trial Starts

The trial of a Santa Maria woman charged in a gruesome 2018 murder got underway in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Oct. 17.

Kimberly Machleit and Benjamin Mersai
Roommates from hell: Kimberly Machleit and Benjamin Mersai. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photos)

Our Janene Scully was on hand as prosecutors began making their case against 38-year-old Kimberly Machleit, who is accused in the Dec. 3, 2018, killing and dismemberment of 53-year-old Joseph Govey.

As Janene reported, jurors heard dramatic testimony from 36-year-old Benjamin Mersai of Grover Beach, who aided in disposing of Govey’s mutilated body in a pond at Blacklake Golf Resort in Nipomo.

Authorities discovered Govey’s skeletal remains three years ago.

Mersai, who previously had reached a plea deal over a voluntary manslaughter charge in the case, described the tumultuous circumstances inside Machleit’s townhouse in the 2200 block of Professional Parkway, a couple of blocks west of South Broadway and a block north of West McCoy Lane.

He said he, Govey, Machleit and Machleit’s boyfriend, Donald “Drew” Anderson, all four of them roommates at the townhouse, had been up all night on a methamphetamine bender when a confrontation escalated.

Govey was killed, Mersai testified, after allegedly making threats.

“She said she couldn’t handle it anymore,” he said of Machleit. “She said she had enough.”

Machleit is charged with the murder, as well as special allegations or sentencing enhancements for the killing.

She allegedly blasted Govey in the face with a sawed-off shotgun, and a reciprocating saw was used to remove his legs.

Judge John McGregor is presiding over the trial, which is expected to continue into November.

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Good Reads

These half-dozen stories are also well worth your time:

» Historic 1880 Union Hotel in Los Alamos for Sale for $5.5 Million — Staff writer Serena Guentz checks in on the sale of the 1880 Union Hotel. I’m afraid the Los Alamos landmark is out of my price range, but the place has tremendous sentimental value to my family.

» As State OKs County Housing Element, Supervisor Bob Nelson Proposes Changing Affordability Assumptions — As he usually does, Santa Barbara County Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson puts in a plug for common sense that the State of California — as it usually does — likely will ignore. Managing editor Giana Magnoli has the details.

» Judge Finds Santa Barbara Man Accused of Killing His Children in Mexico Incompetent to Stand Trial — Giana has an update on the murder case against Santa Barbara surfing instructor Matt Coleman, who is accused of taking his two young children to Mexico and killing them with a spearfishing gun.

» ‘Keep Happy’: Dorothy Iverson of Santa Barbara Turns 100, Shares Words of Wisdom — Staff writer Rebecca Caraway pays a visit to a centenarian with a wonderful outlook on life. HT to my friend, Julie Lauritsen, for the tip.

» Candlelight Vigil in Santa Barbara Honors Jews Killed in Hamas Surprise Attacks in Israel — Staff writer Josh Molina attends a powerful vigil for the victims and survivors of the horrific Hamas slaughter in Israel.

» Santa Barbara High Flag Football Earns Gritty 14-12 Victory Over Dos Pueblos for City Championship — Sports editor Diego Sandoval paces the sideline at the city’s football championship. But this one has a twist. And is a first.

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Major Injuries Reported in Highway 101 Crash in Western Goleta.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Rewriting history makes a smart move: AI Reveals Colorful First Word of Ancient Scroll Torched by Mount Vesuvius.

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Best of Bill’s Instagram

My Instagram feed returns to #nicotime, along with a puzzling art project with sticks and a stone.

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Watch It

Who put this guy in charge of the grill at the backyard bear-becue? HT to Best of Bill reader Kirk Newhall.

YouTube video
(Daily Mail video)

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.