Since Noozhawk was hatched four years ago, we’ve provided a professional and objective alternative for readers hungry for local news in Santa Barbara and Goleta. In addition to our nearly continuous reporting, we’ve challenged our journalists to stretch beyond their comfort levels to take on ambitious enterprise projects that benefit our community in important, innovative and collaborative ways.
Among recent examples:
» Our Prescription for Abuse series in partnership with USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, San Francisco State University’s Renaissance Journalism Center, the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Mosher Foundation, Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, KEYT, Santa Barbara Teen News Network and Zona Seca.
» Our Santa Barbara Challenge public-engagement project in partnership with the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy in Malibu, American Riviera Bank, RightScale, the Santa Barbara Foundation and Terrain Consulting.
» Our sponsorship of and mentorships with The Charger Account, Dos Pueblos High School’s student-run news site.
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On Nov. 15, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Brian Hill dismissed a widely publicized misdemeanor driving-under-the-influence case against a 63-year-old Santa Barbara man. Before his trial started, the defendant, a freelance writer, launched his defense in the pages of a local newspaper with dramatic counter-allegations against the Santa Barbara Police Department. Hill, however, ruled that police didn’t have enough evidence to make the traffic stop in the first place and he tossed the case.
Moving on …
Also on Nov. 15, the District Attorney’s Office announced it would prosecute another motorist on DUI and other charges related to an Oct. 21 traffic stop in the parking lot of Gelson’s Market in Loreto Plaza.
What added notoriety to this case were the allegations from multiple eyewitnesses that Santa Barbara police officers repeatedly punched and Tasered the suspect, 50-year-old Tony DeNunzio of Santa Barbara. The witnesses say DeNunzio did not obey one officer’s initial command to get back in his vehicle but was not resisting arrest when he was subjected to what they claim was “excessive force” by police. Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli reported that the District Attorney’s Office is continuing its investigation into those complaints.
Noozhawk intern Alexa Shapiro had the most forwarded story of the week with her report on the apparent link between barometric pressures and the onset of migraine headaches. Dr. David Agnew, a Santa Barbara neurologist and pain medicine specialist, explained the negative effect that low pressure and cold weather appear to have on those prone to the debilitating — and excruciating — condition.
Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik stopped in at the newly opened Handlebar Coffee Roasters, 128 E. Canon Perdido, and discovered the ambience of a European café in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. Handlebar owners Kim Anderson and Aaron Olson formerly rode on the professional cycling circuit but have traded their road-tested bikes for garage-roasted coffee. So far, Alex reports, they’re a tour de force — if not France.
Just in time for forced family fun over the holidays, Barbara Lanz-Mateo, communications director for the Alzheimer’s Association-Central Coast Chapter, delivered a Top 10 list of warning signs that families need to be on the lookout for when they interact with aging loved ones.
While many of you probably exhibit one or two such symptoms — and I think I have nearly all of them — Barbara helpfully provided context and explanations of the difference between momentary lapses and more serious indicators. Of course, if you don’t have an aging family member handy, you can always test your observation skills on co-workers.
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For the last three years, Noozhawk has been privileged to host a Santa Barbara Middle School student intern during the school’s annual Career Studies Week. It’s always a lot of fun for our staff to work with these young people, who are very well-prepared by program coordinator Whitney Ingersoll, my friend and neighbor. We think the kids have a good time with us, as well.
This year, we’re honored to have seventh-grader Mason Dochterman, who will have at least two stories published next week. So far, Mason has been on a major sales call with account executive Chris Donahue and me, he’s covered a community forum on pedestrian safety with staff writer Lara Cooper, and he attended an important meeting of the Santa Barbara Fire and Police Commission with our Giana Magnoli.
This actually is not Mason’s first appearance in Noozhawk, however. When he was a fifth-grader at Washington School, we wrote about his victory in the 2010 South Coast Math Superbowl. Math remains Mason’s first love, but trust me when I say he’s got some journalism talent, too.