Conflicting claims from both sides of the health care debate can produce side effects of confusion and  irritability. On the one hand, we are told that the pending health care  bill will be “deficit neutral.” On the other, we hear that over time it would add billions of dollars to America’s …

Weekends are for kicking back and relaxing, but for millions of Americans — including many of our neighbors here on the Central Coast — this is a good day to scour the Record’s classified pages and the Internet, searching for a job.

A proposed expansion of the McDonald’s at 835 North H Street was approved by the Lompoc Planning Commission this week, but the $105,000 in fees the city is asking for final approval may slow, or even kill, the fast-food restaurant giant’s project.

With the number of deaths attributed to the H1N1 virus in Santa Barbara County climbing to six this week, the Public Health Department has scheduled two vaccination clinics open to all residents.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Jerry Lulejian speaks about the Jesusita Fire charges at a press conference Friday morning in Santa Barbara. At right is Acting District Attorney Joshua Lynn. //Lara Cooper/Contributor

Officials remained tight-lipped Friday about what led them to file misdemeanor charges against two men whose brush-clearing efforts are suspected of causing the devastating Jesusita Fire earlier this year.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced Friday that it has inked an agreement with the U.S. Air Force to study the feasibility of a wave-energy project off the coast of Vandenberg Air Force Base.

National Weather Service forecasters have no doubt that there will be rain tonight on the Central Coast, but the showers shouldn’t last past the weekend.

There’s always a risk of wildfires, but local agencies have announced that danger is significantly less with winter settling in.

Lighted decorations, including a trumpeting angel, made the house at 511 W. Locust Ave. Lompoc’s Sweepstakes winner in the city’s annual Holiday Decoration Contest. //Len Wood/Staff

Arroyo Grande's Rachel Ventura try's for basket over Cabrillo's Alyssa Sharp and Taylor Wagonseller during the girls basketball game of the Moriarty Enterprises Holiday Classic at Morro Bay High School on Friday.//Phil Klein

Arroyo Grande's Rachel Ventura try's for basket over Cabrillo's Alyssa Sharp and Taylor Wagonseller during the girls basketball game of the Moriarty Enterprises Holiday Classic at Morro Bay High School on Friday.//Phil Klein

On day three of the Moriarty Enterprises Holiday Classic at Morro Bay High, the basketball tournament’s elite have revealed themselves.

Cabrillo High School’s Miguel Gomez (10) battles for the ball against Nordhoff High School during Friday’s boys soccer match in the Central Coast Classic at Cabrillo High School. Gomez scored Cabrillo’s only goal in the 1-1 tie. //Bryan Walton/Staff

School administrators were running around under big umbrellas — some in an open and very wet golf cart — trying to ge]t a campus full of students safely from buses, vans and cars bringing soccer players.

The Hmong community of Lompoc celebrated the coming New Year on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Clarence Ruth Elementary School with festivities beginning in the morning with songs and speeches, followed by a free lunch prepared by the Hmong women.

Many individuals have great ideas for businesses but can never get their business off the ground. The reason? No business plan.

Saturday’s showers caused storm-related troubles across Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Mother Nature was able to hold the rain to a drizzle just long enough for the 48th annual Orcutt Christmas Parade to go marching by Saturday afternoon.

Gloria Willis, left, and event Chairwoman Gloria Montague stand with a poster of Martin Luther King Jr. inside the Lompoc Valley Youth Center building last year. The 25th annual Carousel of Cultures will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18 at the LHS gymnasium. //Staff file

Rev. Robert Kee, the pastor at Riverview Church of God, has helped force the issue of what type of language, and content Lompoc City Council will accept during their traditional meeting invocation prayers. //Len Wood/Staff

A three-letter word has revealed what one local pastor says is a contradiction in the meeting policies of the Lompoc City Council — that word being “God.”

When the Lady Conquistadores’ leading scorer Tati Dunlap fouled out with just under seven minutes remaining against the SLO Tigers, no one in Tiger Gym knew who on the team would step-up.

Lompoc and Cabrillo soccer players shake hands after their game at the Central Coast Classic Soccer Tournament finale at Huyck Stadium. //Ian Gonzaga/Staff

It may not mean as much as a regular season game played at Huyck Stadium, but when the Cabrillo and Lompoc boys soccer teams get together, the game is always big.

A Delta 2 rocket carrying NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explore satellite lifts off at 6:09 a.m. from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Len Wood/Staff

After waiting out a series of storms last week and overcoming a technical snafu, a Delta 2 rocket blasted off early today from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Representatives of the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) will be available for free Medicare Prescription Drug Plan counseling from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, at the Anderson Recreation Center, 125 West Walnut Ave.

Last month, on what otherwise would have been a quiet Monday afternoon, Santa Maria police officers attempted to make what probably seemed to be a routine traffic stop. Routine quickly turned dangerous, however, as the suspect vehicle sped off, resulting in a high-speed chase through the city.

During the last couple of City Council meetings there has been a plea by council members for public input. But do elected officials really want to hear from us?

Jake Morehart was a standout for the Lompoc Braves during the recently completed high school football season. Morehart, a senior, had an outstanding year as a receiver on offense and as a linebacker on defense.

Cabrillo’s Tyler Chard scores on a backhanded throw in this file photo. Chard was recently named the Los Padres League water polo MVP.//Bryan Walton/Staff

“I am the Athletic Director that allowed that soccer tournament to take place last weekend,” said Cabrillo athletic director Bob Lawrence about the Cabrillo Central Coast Classic, while speaking Monday at the Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Roundtable luncheon at Giavanni’s Pizza in O…

Two inmates who apparently decided it was time for a night out walked away from the minimum-security camp at the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex, and haven’t been seen since.

The following arrests, incidents and information are from reports by law enforcement and other public safety agencies from 4 p.m. Friday to Saturday.

A Santa Maria man died and another was hospitalized in serious condition after they were stabbed late Saturday night in what police are calling a gang-related altercation in northwestern Santa Maria.

Museum docent Clarice Carnahan stands outside the Artesia School, which adjoins El Camino Middle School.//Staff file

Rebeckah Villa-Lopez holds a stack of presents she and Valley Haven workers including, in back, Mayela Rubio, Araceli Pena and Connie Alfaro collected and packaged for elderly shut-ins this holiday season.//Len Wood/Staff

For homebound seniors, many struggling to survive on fixed incomes, some suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, Christmas can be the loneliest time of the year.

A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite launches Monday morning from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. This was ULA’s 16th successful and final launch of 2009 and 37th launch in 36 months of operation. WISE …

After days of delays, a Delta 2 rocket blasted off early Monday on a mission to deliver a space telescope that astronomers hope will provide exciting new views of the universe.

Lompoc police announced this morning that they will hold a press conference this afternoon to release new information in the gang-related shooting death of 14-year-old Danny Rodriguez in January in the 700 block of North E Street.

Keith Sullivan, left, and Ricardo Reyes have been arrested in connection with the January murder on Daniel Rodriguez, 14, in Lompoc. Contributed

If celebrity couple Randy and Evi Quaid are spotted, they could have a lot more to worry about than camera flashes.

Students from Arellanes Junior High in Santa Maria, along with staff and friends, donated some of their hair to the Locks of Love program. //Len Wood/Staff

Looking at Raquel Quintanar’s long black hair, there was no way to tell she just had nearly a foot of it expertly trimmed away.

The father of the 26-year-old man convicted of murdering former Lompoc police Officer Richard May testified Tuesday that he feels responsible for his son’s problems because he spent a decade away from his family in prison and on the streets battling drug and alcohol addictions.

A difficult financial future lies ahead for the Lompoc Unified School District, but despite the dreary outlook, the district can expect to pay its bills through 2011, according to a state-mandated “first interim report” presented Tuesday night.

Olga Rodriguez, sister of Daniel Rodriguez, 14, who was shot to death in January, is comforted by her husband, Cesar Corona, on Tuesday after a press conference announcing arrests were made in the case. Two alleged gang members are suspected of killing Rodriguez. //Len Wood/Staff

An 11-month investigation has led to two gang members being charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of a Lompoc teenager early this year, Lompoc police announced Tuesday.

Veterans Day and counting. More pieces of the puzzle of the American psyche have fallen in place. As a Korean War veteran, I was referred to the book “The Coldest Winter, America and the Korean War,” by the noted historian/author David Halberstam who accounts in detail the political scene wh…

Of the images forever seared into the national consciousness, several stand out — airliners crashing into the World Trade Center, the anguished faces of American citizens stranded at the New Orleans Superdome, begging their government for water, help, anything in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

L-R Laurel Schroeder, Peggy Faulk and Cathie Riordon, Vandenberg Middle School counselors who were nationally recognized this week for their school's counseling programs. //Contributed

Pioneer Valley High School Band Director, Jeff Helms, plays the herald trumpet Dec. 4 along with the PVHS Jazz Ensemble in Santa Maria. Helms is one of eight musicians to be chosen to lead off the 121st Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. //Ian Gonzaga/Staff

Michael Lopez, a Cabrillo High School senior, is organizing the Elks Lodge 2010 Hoop Shoot fundraiser as part of his senior project. The fundraiser will be held Sunday, Jan. 17, at Lompoc High School. //Len Wood/Staff

Roger E. Heroux, a longtime community organizer and retired county public health director who worked to end homelessness, died Monday at his home.

Vandenberg Middle School (VMS) has received a national award for the school’s counseling programs. The American School Counselor Association announced this week that VMS would be one of only four schools in the state to receive the Recognized ASCA Model