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A crowd of over 40 people called for soccer fields and other amenities during a community meeting Thursday to gather public input on a proposed sports field complex in Santa Maria, just south of the cemetery.

Held at the Veterans’ Memorial Community Center, the meeting was held in advance of a planned application for a Proposition 68 grant, which provides money to create parks and protect forests and wetlands.

City officials submitted a pre-grant proposal for funds to build out the sports complex on a 12-acre site located north of Betteravia and west of College Drive, adjacent to the Santa Maria Cemetery District. The site is currently owned by the cemetery district and would be acquired by the city, should the project be funded.

Seventy PCPA students, resident artists and staff fanned out across Orcutt, Los Alamos and Santa Maria and popped into local classrooms for a memorable book reading event Thursday morning.

Developed as a literacy outreach program in 2017 by resident artist Kitty Balay, PCPA Reads gives local students a vibrant, up-close and personal experience with storybooks. Using their voice and speech training, the readers brought a fun and exciting experience to hundreds.

“My hope is that these dynamic, lively readings will open up the joy and excitement of stories and books to children," Balay said, explaining that reading is an important way to develop imagination, curiosity and empathy. "If PCPA Reads can spark an interest in reading in a child, then we will have made a valuable difference in our community.”

Even after he was sentenced Thursday to three years in state prison, Douglas Allen Lewis maintained that he never meant to strike the 41-year-old New Cuyama man he considered his friend — let alone kill him.

"I loved Travis and would never have done that," said Lewis, 38, moments before Santa Maria Superior Court bailiffs escorted him out of the courtroom for transfer to state prison. "I'm sorry to the family, I really am."

Regardless of his intent, Deputy District Attorney John DeChaine said Lewis left Travis John Studer to die on the side the road after he struck him with a truck on July 25, 2017.

A Morro Bay man suffered major injuries Thursday afternoon when his car was struck broadside by a catering truck on Highway 166 west of Black Road, the California Highway Patrol said.

Michael Fort, 73, was driving his 2002 Toyota Corolla westbound on Highway 166 west of Santa Maria at about 12:20 p.m. when for an unknown reason he turned his car to the left so it was facing south in the westbound lane, according to a CHP report.

A 1999 Chevrolet C3500 truck that was following the Corolla slammed into the driver’s door, shoving it into the car’s passenger compartment and causing severe injuries to Fort.

He was airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition, the CHP report said.

Catering truck driver Guillermo Rodriguez, 65, of Santa Maria, was apparently uninjured in the crash, which is under investigation by the CHP.

A tip from another law enforcement agency led to a warrant arrest in Orcutt that turned up possibly stolen property, according to a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.

The San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department advised Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies that a wanted man might be headed to a residence in the 1100 block of Via Alta in Orcutt, said spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

Santa Barbara County deputies from the Santa Maria Station patrolling the area about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday found the wanted man’s truck parked on the sidewalk and made contact with 37-year-old Matthew Jeffers, of Santa Maria, Hoover said.

A no-bail arrest warrant had been issued for Jeffers in San Luis Obispo, and he was taken into custody without incident.

During his arrest, deputies found several bicycles, a welder and a set of golf clubs that were booked into evidence because of questions about their ownership, Hoover said.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the items to contact the Santa Maria Station at 805-934-6150 or the nonemergency line at 805-683-2724.

Anonymous tips can be left by calling 805-681-4171 or visiting www.sbsheriff.org/home/anonymous-tip/.

Jeffers was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on the no-bail warrant for violating the terms of his post-release community supervision.

He was also booked on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance, possessing drug paraphernalia and appropriation of lost property, with bail set at $10,000, Hoover said.

The Santa Maria Police Department is asking for the public's help identifying a man suspected of using counterfeit $100 bills at a restaurant and business in the city. 

Just before 7:30 p.m. March 31, the unidentified male suspect allegedly used a counterfeit bill to purchase food at a restaurant in the 200 block of East Betteravia Road, according to police officials. On April 1, that same suspect allegedly used another counterfeit bill at a business in the 600 block of Betteravia Road. 

The suspect is described as a Hispanic or white male in his 40s with a bald head, dark eyebrows and eyes and medium build. He was wearing a dark T-shirt, jeans and a black wristwatch while reportedly passing the counterfeit note at the second business, and he was seen walking eastbound on Auto Plaza Drive. 

Anyone with information about the suspect is urged to contact Santa Maria Police at 805-928-3781, ext. 2277.

Two stores in Nipomo received their second citations and one in Oceano received its third for selling tobacco products to minors in a sting operation that started in October 2018 and ended April 9, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department.

Countywide, a total of nine businesses — 15.5% of the 58 that were checked — sold tobacco products to minors in the operation conducted by the County Health Agency’s Tobacco Control Program in coordination with the Sheriff’s Department.

That was an increase from the 14% noncompliance rate in the last series of checks, said sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla.

Since the checks started in 2012, the county’s highest rate of noncompliance was 25.93%, while the lowest was 5.17%, he said.

Three people under age 21 assisted in the sting by entering various businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county and attempting to purchase tobacco products.

In Nipomo, clerks at Von’s Gas at 550 W. Tefft St. and Kachi Smoke Shop at 538 W. Tefft St. sold tobacco to the minors, earning each store its second violation, Cipolla said.

Central Market at 2061 Cienega St. in Oceano picked up its third violation when a clerk there sold tobacco products to one of the minors, he said.

Other stores that sold tobacco to the decoys were in Creston, San Miguel, Paso Robles, San Simeon and Cambria, where a store racked up its fifth violation, Cipolla said.

The Santa Maria Public Library will host its free bike clinic, "Bike Kitchen," from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday in Lavagnino Plaza in front of the library.

The bike clinics will be held once a month through August. Community members can bring in their bicycles and a representative from Bici Centro Santa Maria will be on hand to assist them in learning how to repair the bicycle. Tools and consumables will be provided free of charge.

The event is supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

The library, located 421 S. McClelland St., is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and closed Sunday. 

For more information, call 805-925-0994, ext. 8562.

After its error-filled first set Thursday night, the St. Joseph boys volleyball team gathered itself well enough to stay in first place in the Ocean League.

The Knights saw underdog Santa Maria win the first set then took the next three for a 3-1 league win at the Saints' Wilson Gym. Set scores were 18-25, 25-14, 25-20, 25-18.

St. Joseph moved to 12-9, 9-1 and stayed ahead of second-place Nipomo, which is 8-2 in the Ocean League. The Knights and Titans split their two-match series.

The seniors took center stage Thursday at the Santa Ynez High School swimming pool.

The Pirates honored their seven senior swimmers during the mid-meet break in their Channel League match against the Lompoc High Braves.

Santa Ynez won both sides of their regular season finale — the boys 130-43 and the girls 124-54.

Morning fog, then mostly cloudy and windy this afternoon. High 67F. Winds WNW at 25 to 35 mph. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.

Tonight

Mostly clear and windy. Low 47F. NW winds at 20 to 30 mph, decreasing to 5 to 10 mph.

Tomorrow

Sunny. Becoming windy late. High 67F. Winds NW at 20 to 30 mph.

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