Wow, 2020 is almost here.  Get ready for all of the things that the new year could bring us by taking a look back at some of the top stories of 2019 right here. 

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De’Andre LeJames Valrie, who would have turned 26 years old on Saturday, was shot late Sunday night in the 600 block of North Fourth Street died hours later after receiving medical treatment. The Lompoc Police Department announced Monday that it had launched a murder investigation, and asked for help from members of the public who might have information. Also Monday, Valrie's family began a memorial for him near the scene of the crime, which was also near Valrie's childhood home.

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Several Lompoc residents and representatives of businesses and other agencies have reported a growing problem regarding people experiencing homelessness loitering or vandalizing private properties, including accusations of some people using yards, alleys and entryways as public restrooms. That has coincided with a citywide uptick this year in violent crimes, evidenced by five homicides and more than 30 reported shootings in the first seven months of 2019. While those issues are raising safety concerns for many in and around the Lompoc Valley, the city’s new police chief said his department was doing its best, but that a lack of funding and being short-staffed have severely limited what police can do.

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This year, Lompoc city leaders helped jump-start a conversation that not only could lead to the annual plover restrictions — and occasional closures — at Surf Beach becoming a thing of the past, but that could also lead to the construction of a new boardwalk, the reopening of the estuary at Ocean Park for various watersports and activities, and the return of recreational fishing at the beach.

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