Exiting the Main Gate to Vandenberg AFB, I again saw protestors with banners, waving slogans that told passing motorists, local news and our military men and women that “weapons don’t bring peace.”

I loved all the holiday events happening in town this past weekend — the parade, Master Chorale concert, Lompoc Pops concert, and the Creche Community Concert at the LDS church.

Ten more days until the solar cycle renews and the sun starts its return to the northern hemisphere; winter solstice is the darkest day for us up here north of the equator.  We hardly think of it in today’s world of eternal electric light, but ancient people held this day in holy reverence. …

The ashes of Santa Barbara County Fire Heavy Equipment Operator Dean Moore are brought down from a tractor during the procession at his funeral Thursday in Solvang. Moore died Nov. 29 after a two-year battle with lung cancer. //Ian Gonzaga/Staff

The gray rain clouds mirrored the somber emotions Thursday as the final alarm was rung for Dean Moore, a heavy-equipment operator with Santa Barbara County Fire Department, who died Nov. 29 after a two-year battle with lung cancer.

The lifeguard at the girls water polo match Thursday between Lompoc and Righetti high schools in Orcutt sits in the cold and rainy weather. //Bryan Walton/Staff

A faulty steering system on a Delta 2 rocket engine prompted a three-day delay for a mission to launch a NASA satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base, officials said Thursday.

Two men whose brush-clearing efforts along a local trail allegedly sparked the devastating Jesusita Fire in May have been charged with misdemeanor violations of county codes, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

Red Kettle Campaign Chairman Cozetta Blow greets customers as she rings a bell at the Vons in Lompoc. At left, Maurita Jaurequi of the Salvation Army rings a bell for donations in Santa Maria. //Ian Gonzaga/Staff

They’re not jingle bells or silver bells, but the ding-a-ling chime from Salvation Army bell ringers heralds the coming of Christmas just as effectively.

Nipomo’s Cami Castillo try’s to take the ball from Cabrillo’s Taylor Wagonseller during the Moriarty Enterprises Holiday Classic Thursday. //Photo by Phil Klein

In the closing minutes of the Cabrillo/Nipomo girls basketball game, Cabrillo head coach Mark Tasch was yelling, “Anybody but her! Anybody but her!” from his side of the gymnasium.

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.

Special Features

Shoppers walk through the rain at Vons on North H Street in Lompoc Monday morning.//Len Wood/Staff 12/7/09 photo

Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum at today’s annual holiday party. //Contributed