10+ LOCAL stories you need to read for Wednesday, October 9

  • 8 min to read

Wednesday is here, and so are our top headlines. Go through this collection of our stories to get ready for the day. Download our app and get breaking news and alerts of our latest stories sent straight to your phone.

Bike lanes and rent protections for mobile home parks were among the issues raised by residents during a Tuesday night town hall in northwest Santa Maria.

Held at Santa Maria Foursquare Church, the meeting drew around 30 residents from the city’s northwest quadrant.

The meeting began with remarks from Mayor Alice Patino, who spoke about the importance of a complete count in the 2020 census for federal funds, touted new business development and thanked residents for the passage of Measure U.

The removal of one of Lompoc’s downtown murals has sparked a dispute involving a landowner, a cannabis dispensary and the organization tasked with maintaining the city’s public art.

The large butterfly mural, titled “Monarch Magic,” that had been on display for the past 13 years on the side of a building in the 100 block of South H Street was taken down over the past week and its adjacent lot, which had become a small green space, also was cleared of all plants and debris.

The changes were directed by Daniel Hyun, who owns the lot and is in the process of trying to sell it. While Hyun defended the moves as being necessary in order to show the space to potential buyers, the transformation of the lot has not sat well with the management of Elevate Lompoc, the cannabis dispensary whose southern outer wall formerly displayed the mural, or the Lompoc Mural Society, whose volunteers reluctantly removed the large art piece.

Once the lights dim Wednesday inside the Marian Theatre, Hancock College dancers will be guided by a new leader who comes with a background in television and cheerleading in the NBA.

Dance instructor Sydney Sorenson will bring her choreography work to life during Dimensions in Dance, which not only marks her debut at Hancock but also is the program’s first performance of the fall 2019 semester.

The show, which runs Wednesday through Sunday, includes a cast of 60 students and student choreographers performing 12 original works in a variety of dance styles. The show is directed by program coordinator Jesus Solorio.

The submitted Arroyo Grande lineup was correct this time, and the Eagles cruised to an 8-1 win over St. Joseph in a Mountain League match at the Knights' courts Tuesday.

The Eagles had to forfeit a 7-2 win over the Knights at Arroyo Grande in the first round of league play because their submitted lineup was incorrect. An Eagles coach said Arroyo Grande's number five and six players were inadvertently transposed on the lineup sheet.

Tuesday's results left San Luis Obispo (7-1 Mountain League going into Tuesday), Arroyo Grande (7-2) and St. Joseph (12-2, 7-2) still in the hunt for at least a share of the league title.

One of the alleged MS-13 gang members arrested during the March 2016 Operation Matador sting received more than 19 years in prison after pleading no contest to multiple charges Monday in Santa Maria Superior Court.

Ezequiel Escalante-Rivera, 34, pleaded no contest to two counts of criminal gang conspiracy charges, which he received after his arrest in March 2016 following the major gang sweep in Santa Maria.

Additionally, Escalante-Rivera admitted to a special allegation of use of a firearm.

More than 70 vehicle stops were conducted between noon and 3 p.m. Tuesday along the Betteravia Road corridor by several Santa Maria Police Department officers as part of a traffic safety operation, a department spokesman said.

“Several citations” were issued and multiple warnings were delivered to drivers during the operation between South Broadway and Highway 101, said Sgt. M. McGehee.

The goal of the operation was not only enforcement of traffic laws but also to educate the public on the need for safe driving, McGehee said, adding the Police Department will continue to conduct such operations on a sporadic basis.

Arroyo Grande's Makenna Wolfe reached back over her head on a high set, smacked the ball and it landed untouched on the Righetti side.

Suddenly what had shaped up as a promising fourth set for the Warriors was over. So was the match. The first-place Eagles (22-4, 7-0) held off the Warriors (19-15, 4-4) for a 3-1 win in a Mountain League match at Righetti's Warrior Gym Tuesday night.

Set scores were 25-23, 25-17, 22-25, 26-24.

One of the alleged MS-13 gang members arrested during the March 2016 Operation Matador sting received more than 19 years in prison after pleading no contest to multiple charges Monday in Santa Maria Superior Court.

Ezequiel Escalante-Rivera, 34, pleaded no contest to two counts of criminal gang conspiracy charges, which he received after his arrest in March 2016 following the major gang sweep in Santa Maria.

Additionally, Escalante-Rivera admitted to a special allegation of use of a firearm.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors wants to hold off on developing regulations for commercial hemp to avoid some of the pitfalls the county encountered in regulating its potent cousin cannabis, supervisors said following a report on the crop Tuesday.

Meeting in Santa Maria, supervisors also approved a cost-of-living increase in their own compensation and heard a report on the staff’s plans to ensure all county residents are counted in Census 2020 coming up in April.

County Agriculture Commissioner Cathy Fisher gave a brief history of hemp, outlined federal and state laws affecting it, provided a rough timeline of when those and county regulations might become effective and reported the current and potential future hemp cultivation in the county.

The Santa Ynez Pirates got the best of a longtime foe Tuesday night, pulling out a 3-1 victory in a Channel League girls volleyball match at Cabrillo High School.

The teams are in their second season of Channel League play after squaring off for years in the old Los Padres League.

The Pirates dropped the first set 19-25 before coming back to win the next three 25-11, 25-16, 25-21.

Lompoc Unified School District, along with a pair of partnering agencies, was recently awarded more than $1 million in grant funds to be used for mental health resources.

LUSD joined with the Family Service Agency (FSA) and the Council of Alcohol and Drug Abuse (CADA) to apply for a pair of grants from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Mental health was identified by the district as an area of concern after district leaders reviewed data collected in the California Healthy Kids Survey, which found concerns about depression, as well as harassment, fighting and drug use, according to LUSD.

The grant money, according to the district, will be used to provide mental health counseling for students in fifth through eighth grades in schools with a high level of exposure to violence. The district reports that the funds also will be used to provide mental health consultation for teachers to support children’s social and emotional development and to address challenging behaviors in the classroom. In addition, the money will fund a program for families at middle schools in an effort to enhance child development and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.

A large fight involving multiple students that broke out Monday at Righetti High School is being investigated by officials from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office and school district, a sheriff's spokesman said.

The Sheriff’s Office received a call at 12:10 p.m. about a large fight on Righetti’s campus that had ended by the time officers arrived, sheriff's spokesman Lt. Erik Raney said.

A short video posted to social media showed about a dozen students punching and kicking each other in an outdoor portion of campus while several dozen more watched and video-recorded the fight.

“We are investigating and gathering details about the disturbance (fight) that happened at RHS yesterday,” Kenny Klein, spokesman for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, said in an emailed statement.

“The students involved have been disciplined by school administration. We do not notify parents of every fight on campus. There was no lockdown.”

Parents were notified of the fight on Tuesday, he said, adding that "some things get more attention on social media than others."

Raney said the Sheriff’s Office is working closely to identify those involved in the fight.

“We will investigate and file reports/criminal complaints as we identify those involved who may have committed criminal offenses during the fight,” Raney said.

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has announced a $100K matching grant to support the 45-year-old Solvang Theaterfest's renovation project.

The theater's $4.7 million capital campaign project, “Imagine! Building The Future," will address infrastructure and accessibility improvements, and upgrade the technical capacity of the 700-seat venue.

In front of a sold-out crowd to see country music legend Clint Black perform last Thursday evening, Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman, addressed patrons and theater staff.

Truck driver identified in fatal Hwy 1 crash

Highway 1 Collision

Celery is scattered around an overturned Volkwagen Jetta and a produce truck and trailer following a crash around noon Friday on Highway 1 that left the truck driver dead.

The California Highway Patrol identified the driver of a truck hauling celery who was killed in a three-car pile-up along Highway 1 in front of Rancho Maria Golf Club on Oct. 4.

Rene Menjivar, 52, of Guadalupe was killed as he swerved to avoid a gray Toyota sedan that pulled in front of him as he headed northbound on Highway 1, CHP Officer David Medina said.

Menjivar wasn't wearing his seat belt, according to CHP Officer Alex Ruiz.

The driver of the Toyota, which sustained minimal damage, is identified as 66-year-old Alan Bruce Durham of Arroyo Grande, who was uninjured.

Another car, a 2008 white Volkswagen, was headed southbound but unable to avoid the crash and overturned in a nearby ditch, according to Medina.

The driver of the Volkswagen was identified as 20-year-old Eric Pineda De Jesus, and his passenger was identified as 19-year-old Ricardo Zurita. Both are from Santa Maria.

Police Explorer team takes award at statewide competition

The Santa Maria Police Explorer team earned a fourth-place award at the fifth annual Riverside Police Explorer Competition held at Hillcrest High School in Riverside from Oct. 4 to 6.

The team — which included Yerlin Heredia, Narellah Carrasco, Raul Chavez and Randy Gonzalez — placed fourth in the Crime Scene Investigation category out of 25 teams from various law enforcement agencies across Northern and Southern California.

In addition, the Santa Maria Police Explorer team participated in several other law enforcement scenarios and physical fitness events.

The Santa Maria Police Explorer program is open to youths and students ages 14 to 21 who are interested in learning about a career in law enforcement.

The Cabrillo High School performing arts program will present its fall production of “Tom Jones,” a play by David Rogers based on a novel by Henry Fielding, beginning this weekend.

The show, which is billed as appropriate for all ages, will open with performances at 7:30 p.m. on both Friday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 12. It will continue with shows at the same time on Friday, Oct. 18, and Saturday, Oct. 19. All shows will be performed at the on-campus Little Theater, with doors slated to open at 7 p.m. for all performances.

“Tom Jones” is based on the 1749 novel “The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling.” The Cabrillo High performances will be produced by Cabrillo choir and theater teacher Jennifer Peterson, and the production will be directed by Rebecca Jones with technical direction by Lara Schmeiser.

Your daily look at late-breaking national and world news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today.

Consider what it will take to follow your heart and dreams. Refuse to let anyone or anything stand between you and what you want. Keeping the peace is only worthwhile if you get something out of it.


Areas of fog early, becoming sunny this afternoon. High 66F. Winds WNW at 15 to 25 mph.


Clear skies. Low 46F. W winds shifting to SE at 10 to 15 mph.


Sunny, along with a few afternoon clouds. High 76F. ENE winds shifting to WNW at 10 to 20 mph.


Gusty winds developing. Areas of fog early, then sunny this afternoon. High 66F. Winds WNW at 20 to 30 mph.


Generally clear. Low 44F. NW winds shifting to E at 10 to 15 mph.


Sunny along with a few clouds. High 76F. SSE winds shifting to W at 10 to 20 mph.


Some clouds this morning will give way to generally sunny skies for the afternoon. High 74F. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph.


A clear sky. Low 43F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph, becoming E and decreasing to less than 5 mph.


Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. High 79F. SE winds shifting to W at 10 to 20 mph.



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