It’s rocket science. (SpaceX photo)
It’s rocket science. (SpaceX photo)

The Los Angeles Chokers, all-everything until it counts.

Like everyone else in Dodger Nation, I thought the last postseason was the most embarrassing, epic collapse imaginable. But that was before the 2023 Dodgers came along to say, “Hold my beer.”

I’m pulling for the Arizona Diamondbacks to win the World Series. They attack, they have a killer instinct, they’re prepared, they’re fun to watch and, most important, they want it — the exact opposite of the Dodo-gers.

But enough about losing. Let’s talk about winning. Starting with Noozhawk, which marks its 16th anniversary on Oct. 16.

According to our WordPress analytics, Noozhawk had an audience of 155,752 readers this past week.

What follows is my own take on the Top Five stories you were reading over the last seven days. Just remember that this is my opinion column. It has some news, but it’s not a news story.

1. SpaceX Rocket Loudly Departs Vandenberg Space Force Base

A Falcon 9 rocket roared away from Vandenberg Space Force Base in the early morning hours of Oct. 9, carrying SpaceX’s latest batch of Starlink satellites.

As our Janene Scully reported, an hour after the 12:43 a.m. launch, the payload of 21 satellites was deployed in low-earth orbit to provide internet service for digitally deprived regions around the globe.

After getting its cargo to space, the rocket’s first-stage booster successfully reversed itself and landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship waiting for it out in the Pacific Ocean.

Another 21 Starlink launches are planned for Vandenberg this year.

2. Allan Hancock, Cuesta Community Colleges Unveil Plan to Offer Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Cuesta College President Jill Stearns and Allan Hancock College President Kevin Walthers unite for the announcement of the efforts to offer a bachelor's degree at the two community colleges.
Presidents Jill Stearns of Cuesta College and Kevin Walthers of Allan Hancock College have an idea for a greater degree of opportunity for students at their community colleges. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

In an intriguing development, the presidents of Santa Maria’s Allan Hancock College and Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo have announced plans to pursue bachelor’s degrees.

Not for themselves, mind you. Both hold Ph.D.s and have no need to go back to school.

As our Janene Scully reported, what Kevin Walthers of Hancock and Jill Stearns of Cuesta have in mind is something far more groundbreaking for their students — and for Central Coast employers.

The pair unveiled their UnitED Central Coast campaign to try to earn state approval for their community colleges to offer bachelor’s degree programs, providing an affordable and accessible higher education option for locals.

“When you look at our community, we’re in a higher-education desert,” Walthers said, noting that both Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and UC Santa Barbara — as well as Westmont College in Montecito — face capacity constraints.

To address this gap, Stearns and Walthers plan to request permission from the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to offer a Bachelor of Arts in Education at Cuesta and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Professional Studies at Hancock.

Stearns noted that elementary, junior and senior high schools need more than 100 new teachers each year due to attrition.

“Cuesta College is proposing a bachelor’s degree that would help to close this massive workforce gap and really meet the needs of our local K-12 districts,” she said.

To complete bachelor’s degrees, students at community colleges first must earn associate’s degrees or certificates before transferring to a University of California, California State University or private university.

The Hancock-Cuesta initiative follows the success of a 2014 pilot program that allows state community colleges to offer four-year degrees.

The data from these programs have shown impressive completion rates and significantly reduced student debt, making the expansion a promising opportunity.

Hancock and Cuesta are shooting for a 2025 start with an initial cohort of around 50 students for each degree track.

3. Police Investigating Armed Robbery at Macy’s at La Cumbre Plaza

A trio of juveniles — one of them armed with a hunting knife — allegedly robbed Macy’s in Santa Barbara the afternoon of Oct. 9 before making their getaway on skateboards.

As our Tom Bolton reported, Santa Barbara police Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale said the youngsters were confronted by security after they were observed taking undisclosed items at the La Cumbre Plaza department store at 3805 State St.

According to Ragsdale, one brandished a fixed-blade hunting knife before the three fled out the door.

They then hopped on skateboards with their loot and rolled east on Upper State Street.

Ragsdale said the three suspects are still at large, and the case remains under investigation. No descriptions were provided.

Local government agencies are in talks with Los Angeles-based Metrolink to introduce commuter rail service through Ventura County to Santa Barbara and Goleta, starting as soon as April.

As our Josh Molina reported, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, the Ventura County Transportation Commission and the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency (LOSSAN) are exploring a collaboration with Metrolink to provide morning commuter service along the Union Pacific railroad tracks.

The return journey in the evening would be aboard a Pacific Surfliner train.

According to SBCAG executive director Marjie Kirn, the potential for Metrolink service offers not just a more convenient option for commuters but would alleviate congestion along the heavily traveled Highway 101 corridor north from Ventura.

While those discussions are ongoing, the plan was presented to the public during SBCAG’s Oct. 11 South Coast Subregional Planning Committee meeting.

5. Bill Macfadyen: Fatal Cliff Fall at Arroyo Burro Beach Leads Off a Dark Week

There is one new development in the story of Micki Tara Hegewald, the 57-year-old Santa Barbara woman who fell to her death from a bluff at the Douglas Family Preserve east of Arroyo Burro Beach the evening of Oct. 3.

There’s been no official information on the circumstances of her death, but Hegewald’s brother wrote a heartfelt social media post stating that it was intentional and that his sister had suffered from mental health issues for years.

“It’s like there were 2 Mickis,” Michael Hegewald said in his post. “One was the AWESOME UPLIFTER (80% of the time) & the other was Lost In Despair and Super Low Self Esteem (mostly during the nights, alone) …

“I did my VERY BEST to be with her: virtually by FaceTime many times a day … & to see her almost every day … but ultimately it was all … not enough.”

Click here for suicide prevention resources that are available 24/7.

Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness Access Line counselors can be reached at 888.868.1649, and the national 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is always available by calling 9-8-8.

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Good Reads

Check out these six stories before you go:

» Santa Barbara Foundation Unveils Housing Report Focusing on Philanthropic Solutions — Staff writer Rebecca Caraway reads up on a Santa Barbara Foundation report on affordable housing and an innovative initiative.

» Santa Barbara Public Works Removing Ice Plants as Part of East Beach Dunes Restoration Project — If you’ve been along the Santa Barbara waterfront lately, you’ve seen the lovely plastic tarps covering what used to be ice plant. Staff writer Serena Guentz digs into the reasoning.

» Cheating Allegations Lead to Lawsuit Against Santa Barbara County Fair Board, Others — North County editor Janene Scully roots around in a Santa Barbara County Fair Junior Livestock Auction controversy.

» Public Safety Power Shutoff Avoided for Santa Barbara, Montecito Neighborhoods — Santa Barbara and Montecito kept the lights on through this week’s high winds. Managing editor Giana Magnoli has the update.

» Body Found Last Week Near Highway 101 Was Santa Barbara Woman — Executive editor Tom Bolton follows up on the sad discovery of a dead body found along a Santa Barbara freeway entrance ramp.

» Mark Patton: Deacon Hill Takes His ‘Cali-Cool’ to Cornfields of Iowa — It’s always cool to read about local sports stars following their dreams, giving their hearts to the game and getting their breaks. Sports columnist Mark Patton catches up with one of the most deserving: Deacon Hill, now the starting quarterback of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Sheriff’s Detectives Searching for Suspect in Homicide Near Santa Ynez High School.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Normal human beings are shocked, horrified and repulsed by the barbaric slaughter and desecration of more than 1,300 men, women and children simply for being Jews — with the evil perpetrators proudly posting videos of their atrocities all over social media. Here’s how you can help in the aftermath: Where You Can Donate to Israel’s Hospitals, Troops, Survivors and More.

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Best of Bill’s Instagram

A big move to Brazil and a @montecitomerrag wind warning outreach were part of a light week for my Instagram feed this time. I’ll step up my game, I promise.

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Watch It

HT to Best of Bill reader Claire Cahill, who vows not to fall for mums’ high-maintenance histrionics this year.

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