Murder mystery in Old Town Goleta. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)
Murder mystery in Old Town Goleta. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

Noozhawk sports editor Diego Sandoval just learned that he’s got some journalism awards heading his way as a result of his senior project at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

That’s <em>award-winning</em> sports editor Diego Sandoval to you. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk file photo)
That’s award-winning sports editor Diego Sandoval to you. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk file photo)

Diego, who was sports editor of the Mustang News his senior year, and fellow Mustang News journalists Miles Berman and Derek Righetti earned the awards from the Associated Collegiate Press, an organization representing nearly 600 college and university publications.

Their feature, “The Person Behind the Player: How Caroline Walters Has Impacted Cal Poly Volleyball,” won fifth place in the ACP’s Multimedia Feature Story category and honorable mention in the Multimedia Sports Story category.

In the Best Social Media Reporting category, the trio picked up an honorable mention for their reporting on the Cal Poly wrestling team at the 2023 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Even though Diego has only been with Noozhawk — officially — since he graduated from Cal Poly in June, his skills have been evident to us and to our readers from his very first story.

We’re proud to have him on our team, and it’s exciting to see him recognized for his hard work as a collegian. I know it’s just a matter of time before he’s earning such honors as a professional.

While Diego was piling up hardware, Noozhawk was pulling in an audience of 133,042 readers this past week, according to our WordPress analytics.

What follows is my recap of the Top Five stories you were reading over the last seven days. What you are about to read is my opinion column, not a news story.

1. Sheriff’s Detectives Investigating Homicide in Old Town Goleta

A 57-year-old Goleta man was found murdered in Old Town just after daybreak Nov. 1, and Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies detained another man as a “person of interest.”

Although our Tom Bolton had far more questions than answers from the Sheriff’s Department to work with, he reported that the dead man — later identified as Efrain Alvarado Morales — was discovered around 6:40 a.m. on Carson Street, between Magnolia and Pine avenues near Yardi Systems headquarters.

“The cause and manner of death is not yet available for release to the public,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Raquel Zick said.

An abandoned bicycle was on the ground nearby but it was not known if there is a connection to the case.

A little over an hour later, deputies came across an injured man in the area, and Zick said he was detained as a “person of interest” in the killing.

The suspect was taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries, but that’s all the information Tom was able to get.

You’re not the only one reading my Best of Bill column, however. If past Sheriff’s Department patterns are any guide, an update will be announced soon after this column posts Nov. 3.

2. 2 Women Escape Injury When Vehicle Plunges Off San Marcos Road

Two women escaped injury Sunday night when their vehicle plunged off San Marcos Road in the mountains above Santa Barbara. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)
Waiting for a lift. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

Two women miraculously escaped injury the night of Oct. 29 when their car veered off San Marcos Road and plummeted down a steep mountainside above Santa Barbara.

As our Tom Bolton reported, Santa Barbara County firefighters, a Search and Rescue team and other emergency personnel arrived around 7:15 p.m. in the 2000 block of upper San Marcos Road, near the Trout Club neighborhood.

There, they found a car about 75 feet below the roadway, with two women trapped inside.

Crews quickly set up a rope system to reach the car and safely rescue the women, who were not injured in the incident.

The women’s identities were not disclosed.

3. Celebration of Life Set for 2 Santa Ynez Valley Women Killed in Crash

Heartbroken family and friends gathered Oct. 29 to celebrate the lives of Cassidy Falk and Alia Griffin, the two young Santa Ynez Valley women who were killed in a horrific Oct. 22 head-on collision near Buellton.

Cassidy Falk, left, and Alia Griffin, rest in peace.
Cassidy Falk, left, and Alia Griffin, rest in peace.

As our Janne Scully reported, the ceremony was held at Thundercloud Ranch, a horse training and boarding operation in Buellton, and a favorite haunt of the 23-year-old BFFs.

Numerous local businesses provided donations for the gathering, among them Alisal Guest Ranch, California Tacos & Taproom, Figueroa Mountain Brew Co., Lafond Winery & Vineyards and Vega Vineyard & Farm.

A second service was held for Griffin on Nov. 2 at The Ranch Church in Solvang.

As Noozhawk has reported previously, the California Highway Patrol said Falk and Griffin — of Solvang and Buellton, respectively — died when the Chevy pickup Falk was driving slammed head-on into another Chevy pickup in the 6000 block of Santa Rosa Road, approximately 4½ miles west of Highway 101.

Morgan Bouslaugh, on a long road to recovery.
Morgan Bouslaugh, on a long road to recovery.

The second driver, 22-year-old Morgan Bouslough of Buellton, suffered major injuries in the wreck, and was airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital by a Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit helicopter.

The CHP is investigating the circumstances of the collision, which also killed at least one dog.

A memorial fund established for Griffin on the Ever Loved platform had raised nearly $4,00o as of Nov. 3. Click here to make an online donation.

A GoFundMe account established to assist Bouslaugh with his medical and recovery expenses had raised more than $21,000 as of Nov. 3. Click here to make an online donation.

We have no information on fundraising for Falk, but you can email me at if you know of any campaigns.

4. BizHawk: Fuel Depot Gas Station, Car Wash En Route to Western Goleta

No fuelin’, yet. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
No fuelin’, yet. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Construction has begun on a new gas station, car wash and market near Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta.

The new Fuel Depot, owned by developer John Price at 370 Storke Road, will include an eight-pump gas station, a new four-stall car wash and a market.

As our Josh Molina reported, demolition crews made quick work of an existing car wash at the site. In the new configuration, the market will be facing the street with the gas pumps in the middle of the property and the car wash in back.

Jordan Dohogne, vice president of Price Management, told Josh that the project aims to provide high-quality gas at competitive prices.

He said Fuel Depot keeps costs down by purchasing excess fuel from major refineries.

For such a high-traffic area, there’s a dearth of convenient gas stations in the vicinity, with just a Chevron and a Mobil nearby and no stations at all in Isla Vista.

The construction timeline is expected to be six to eight months. Dohogne said a tenant for the market has not yet been determined.

5. Fire Causes Damage to Garage, Home in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara city firefighters responded Monday to a vehicle fire inside a garage at a residence on the 2800 block of Panorama Place in the San Roque area. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)
What a mess. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

A garage fire in Santa Barbara’s San Roque neighborhood caused significant damage just before noon Oct. 30 but was quickly extinguished before it spread too far.

There were no injuries.

As our Tom Bolton reported, Santa Barbara firefighters were dispatched at 11:45 a.m. to the 2800 block of Panorama Place, a cul-de-sac three blocks east of East Alamar Avenue.

They arrived to find heavy flames and smoke coming from the garage attached to the single-story house.

Fire Battalion Chief Robert Mercado said that while one engine team began attacking the flames, a ladder truck crew cut ventilation holes in the roof.

The fire was out within 15 minutes, he added.

Mercado said the flames caused significant damage to the garage, including destroying a vehicle parked inside. There also was water and smoke damage to the residence.

Damages were estimated at around $100,000.

No injuries were reported, but firefighters escorted a woman to safety from inside the house.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

A buddy of mine who was in the neighborhood at the time, rushed to the street after seeing the thick gray smoke. He grabbed a garden hose to help until firefighters arrived a couple of minutes later.

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Good Reads

Don’t miss these six stories before you go:

» Breakdown in Negotiations Spurs Decision to Remove Debris Nets from Montecito Canyons — In a Noozhawk exclusive, executive editor Tom Bolton digs into the standoff over the six temporary debris nets helping to protect Montecito. Unfortunately, they’ll be coming out — just in time for El Niño-fueled winter rains. Brilliant.

» Goleta Council Rejects Construction Bids, Will Negotiate Adding Old Town Striping Plan to Project Connect — Staff writer Serena Guentz lays out the Goleta City Council’s genius plan to bundle more public works projects and pay less. I’m not sure that’s how signed contracts work but good luck with that.

» Santa Barbara City Council Agrees to Spend $55,000 for Bike Lanes Along State Street — Staff writer Josh Molina rides along after the Santa Barbara City Council’s latest half-baked idea to “improve” State Street. How about we just implement Cass Ensberg’s free proposal and be done with it?

» Fire-Ravaged Outdoor School at Rancho Alegre Nearly Ready to Welcome Back Students — Six years after the catastrophic Whittier Fire in the Santa Ynez Valley, Serena has some good news to report about the Outdoor School at Rancho Alegre.

» Community Supporting Poet, Activist Sojourner Kincaid Rolle, Recently Placed in Hospice — Serena shares some disappointing news about former Santa Barbara poet laureate Sojourner Kincaid Rolle. Prayers to her and her family.

» Marcia Heller: The Thrill of ‘Thriller’ — Copy editor Marcia Heller writes about the thrill factor of her zombie dance moves.

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Natural Café on State Street to Shut Down Over Homeless, Parklets and Rats.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

All’s whale that ends whale: Danish Company Abruptly Abandons Whale-Killing Wind Energy Projects Off New Jersey Shore.

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Best of Bill’s Instagram

Not only is it #nicotime, it was his 1st birthday in my Instagram feed this past week. You welcome.

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Watch It

There’s no telling what you’ll find roaming the Mojave Desert. HT to desert rat and Best of Bill reader Cameron Collins.

YouTube video
(Southwestern Wanderer 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.