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CoastHills staff to build bikes for children

CoastHills Credit Union Chief Executive Officer Jeff York will join all 250 of the credit union’s employees to spend part of Columbus Day at Waller Park in Santa Maria building bicycles for foster and other children going through the legal processes.

Columbus Day is a federal holiday for employees of government agencies and financial institutions, but CoastHills has made a habit of turning Columbus holidays into Employee Engagement Days focused on community service projects, a credit union spokesman said.

This year, CoastHills employees have chosen to build 200 bicycles that will be donated to Court Appointed Special Advocates, which in turn will provide them to children the organization is assisting.

CASA volunteers help abused and neglected children by speaking for them in court proceedings and guiding them through the legal and foster care systems.

CoastHills employees also put together 200 bikes for CASA in 2014 and, prior to that, performed paint and landscaping makeovers at public schools in Orcutt and Lompoc.

Pest management smartphone app expanded

A strawberry pest management app created by a local UC Cooperative Extension advisor has been expanded to an additional operating system with advanced features.

The IPMinfo app was released last year for iOS systems by Surrendra K. Dara, a strawberry and vegetable crop and affiliated integrated pest management advisor at the UC Cooperative Extension office in San Luis Obispo.

Dara said the app, the first of its kind for UC Cooperative Extension, “has been well-received by the industry.”

Now a version with advanced features has been released for Android operating systems, and Dara said a new version for iOS systems will be released in the near future.

He is now working on vegetable content for the app.

Currently, IPMinfo has information about strawberry pests and diseases, but details on weeds, disorders and multiple crops will be added soon, he said.

English and Spanish options are available for pests, but only an English option is available for the time being, he said.

The app is free to download. For more information, visit on Google Play Store at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fission.ipminfo.

Remote pest control topic for SM TechBrew

“Pest Control by Remote Control” is the topic of the next Santa Maria TechBrew set for Monday, Oct. 24, by Softec, the Central Coast Technology Alliance.

The networking and technology information event will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. at Moxie Café, 1317 W. McCoy Lane.

Tom Kosta of Peak WiFi, a large-scale WiFi network serving most of southern San Luis Obispo County, will talk about a technology he invented to solve the problems of controlling pests over a wide area.

“It is a great engineering story about the evolution of a solution to a real pest of a problem,” a Softec spokesman said. “Tom’s solution might be a little over the top, but if you are a geek or maker, you will appreciate the process that got him there.”

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Admission is free, but those attending can help pay for the snacks by visiting www.eventbrite.com/e/santa-maria-tech-brew-tickets-27780372843#tickets.

Those who arrive before 6 p.m. can take advantage of happy hour pricing on drinks, the spokesman said, adding the café has free WiFi and cable internet connections, numerous USB charging stations and multiple monitors in the meeting room.

For more information, visit http://softec.org.

Solarize Santa Ynez program to end Oct. 15

Residents in Santa Ynez Valley and Los Alamos have only until Saturday, Oct. 15, to sign up for Community Environmental Council’s Solarize program aimed at making it easier and more affordable to “go solar.”

To date, 70 households in the Santa Ynez area have used the program to install solar systems on their homes, a Community Environmental Council spokesman said.

CEC Solarize programs in Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Ojai, Santa Ynez, Carpinteria, Kern County and all cities along Highway 126 have led to the generation of 2.5 megawatts of solar power.

That equates to cutting carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2,642 tons – the equivalent of taking 562 cars off the road, the spokesman said. It has also saved customers a total of $2.2 million on electricity bills,

The Solarize program partners with government and other nonprofit organizations to offer a streamlined process that includes access to vetted installers, discounted pricing through local solar companies and free educational community workshops.

To find out more about Solarize Santa Ynez Valley,homeowners in Buellton, Solvang, Santa Ynez, Los Olivos and Los Alamos can visit solarizesyv.org or call 963-0583, ext. 109.