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For Hancock College coach Kris Dutra and his players, it feels like an eternity since they last stepped on the football field to square off against an actual opponent in an actual game.

That feeling is justified.

It was November of 2018 when Hancock played last and that was when the Bulldogs won the American Championship Bowl to cap a 10-1 season.

As a Lompoc resident who has provided substance abuse counseling in the city for more than a decade, Chuck Madson has had an up-close view of some of the root problems that have negatively impacted the community in recent years.

“Everybody knows the issues that Lompoc continues to struggle with: homelessness, gangs, violence, the economic struggles,” Madson said Tuesday, two days after the city experienced its sixth homicide of the year.

“The problems aren’t getting any better,” he later added. “These issues are continuing to grow.”

After firefighting efforts continued overnight, the McMurray fire near Buellton reached 40% containment Tuesday afternoon after scorching over 200 acres. 

Around 3:15 p.m. Monday, firefighters first responded to a report of a vegetation fire burning along Highway 101 near Buellton.

After arriving, firefighters determined that there were at least three separate vegetation fires in the area, and crews asked for a second alarm to be sounded.

The fires, which expanded from 5 to 200 acres over Monday afternoon, were stretched along the east side of Highway 101 between McMurray Road in Buellton and the Highway 154 interchange near Los Olivos and later dubbed the McMurray fire. 

On Monday afternoon, mandatory evacuations orders were issued for the areas northeast of Buellton, and onramps to northbound Highway 101 from Highway 246 and Damassa Road in Buellton were closed, temporarily stopping northbound traffic in the area.

The evacuation orders were lifted Monday night.

Northbound Highway 101, which was reduced to one open lane, was fully opened by 6 p.m Tuesday.

County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said 200 firefighters were on the fire lines Tuesday morning.

Ken and Allie Andersen, of Nielsen Building Materials, have been chosen as this year's Solvang Danish Days grand marshals by the Solvang Danish Days Foundation for their dedication to the community — and Nielsen Building Materials' years of support for the Solvang Danish Days infrastructure, set-up and clean-up.

The duo will preside over the 83rd annual family-fun weekend, slated for Friday, Sept. 20 through Sunday, Sept. 22, along with this year's Danish Days maid Gillian Nielsen.

“It is an honor to be recognized for participating in an event that has been a family tradition my entire life,” said Ken Andersen, alongside his wife Allie.

Special Olympics of Northern Santa Barbara County on Tuesday unveiled a 30,000-pound fighter jet that will be used for the first “plane pull” at next month’s Central Coast AirFest.

The plane pull brings participants together to see which team can pull an airplane 12 feet the fastest.

Team members and donors take pledges to take part, with the funds going to support several hundred local Special Olympics athletes.

With an ever-growing selection of sports being offered to special needs athletes around the globe, the North County division of the Special Olympics Santa Barbara Region (SOSBR) has raised the bar, adding the game of golf to their athletic program.

"I get really emotional when I talk about it. You just can't imagine the people that have been involved ... it's just unbelievable," said Bob Kotowski, a PGA professional and longtime golf instructor at Zaca Creek Golf Course in Buellton. "They just pick themselves up despite their challenges. It's inspiring."

Heading up the program, free of cost, is Kotowski, a once Bostonian hockey player turned California professional golfer.

A mountain lion was reportedly spotted at the Hancock College Lompoc Valley Center on Tuesday morning, prompting students, faculty and staff to be encouraged to stay indoors.

The school received a report of a confirmed mountain lion sighting around 11:30 a.m. The animal was reportedly spotted on the northwest side of the campus, near the adjacent hiking trails between the school and Highway 1. The mountain lion was last seen traveling northbound and away from campus, according to Hancock public affairs, which noted that a shelter-in-place was not enacted.

“The Lompoc Police Department and the Santa Barbara [County] Sheriff’s Office were notified and are working in partnership with the Allan Hancock College District Police Department,” read a portion of a statement from Hancock College. “As a precaution, the college has also placed warning signs on the LVC campus. Information on what to do in the event of a mountain lion sighting was also distributed to staff, faculty and students via email.”

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife was notified about the sighting and determined that the incident was a natural occurrence in the animal’s natural domain, the school reported.

The college is urging the community to remain vigilant when outdoors, and asks that any mountain lion sightings on or near Hancock campuses be reported immediately to the Hancock College District Police Department at 805-922-6966, ext. 3911, for the Santa Maria campus, or 805-735-3366, ext. 5911, at the Lompoc Valley Center.

A City Council decision to accept the resignation of Solvang city manager David Gassaway after five months on the job Monday night was made during a special closed session meeting.

Solvang Mayor Ryan Toussaint wouldn't comment on the decision Tuesday without talking to the city attorney, saying he didn't want his remarks to be misconstrued. But in a city statement issued Monday night, Toussaint said Gassaway’s resignation involved the vision for the city.

“Mr. Gassaway brings a lot of talent to the table with his knowledge and work ethic. The City Council has a different direction for the community and we mutually agreed that a separation would allow the City Council to achieve its desired outcomes. We wish David well and thank him for his time in Solvang,” Toussaint said in the statement released Monday night.

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An elderly man and woman from Woodland Hills were injured Tuesday afternoon when their car crashed and caught fire on Highway 154 near San Marcos Pass, closing one lane for about 30 minutes, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A 2017 Ford Focus driven by Felipe Durban, 79, was eastbound on the highway east of San Marcos Road about 1:25 p.m. when it veered right, struck a drainage culvert and became disabled on the dirt shoulder, said Jonathan Gutierrez, public information officer for the Santa Barbara Area Office of the CHP.

Following the crash, the engine compartment burst into flames, which were smothered with fire extinguishers wielded by witnesses, who also helped the couple out of the vehicle, Gutierrez said.

Durban suffered minor injuries to his back and face, while passenger Teresita Durban also suffered minor injuries and complained of pain to her chest.

Both were transported by AMR ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment.

The eastbound lane of Highway 154 was closed for about half an hour, with vehicle traffic alternating use of the westbound lane while the couple were examined and transported and the wreckage could be removed.

In addition to the CHP and AMR, Santa Barbara County Fire Department and U.S. Forest Service units responded to the incident.

Gutierrez said the circumstances of the crash are under investigation by the CHP, but neither drugs nor alcohol are suspected as contributing factors.

The Pioneer Valley Panthers completed a remarkable comeback Tuesday night, defeating the Santa Ynez Pirates 3-2 in a non-league girls volleyball match at PVHS.

Despite dropping the first two sets, Pioneer Valley junior Rachel Ramos launched a kill shot in the fifth set to give the Panthers a come-from-behind 25-27, 16-25, 25-19, 25-20, 15-7 victory.

“That shot, it was amazing,” said Ramos. “To know that you can come back from being down so far is awesome. We really had to push ourselves and we did it.”

Unexpected challenges will inspire big changes. Expand your interests and make personal alterations that will encourage you to live life your way. Satisfying your curiosity and elaborating on what you already know will lead to new beginnings. Take steps to improve your diet, fitness and overall health.

Go online to see a full horoscope for your sign.

Today

Sunny with gusty winds developing this afternoon. High 72F. Winds NW at 25 to 35 mph. Higher wind gusts possible.

Tonight

Mainly clear. Low 53F. NNW winds at 10 to 20 mph, decreasing to less than 5 mph.

Tomorrow

Sunny skies. High 77F. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph.

Today

Partly cloudy skies. Low 53F. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph.

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies. Low 53F. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph.

Tomorrow

Abundant sunshine. High 73F. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph.

Today

Wind increasing. A mix of clouds and sun. High 78F. WNW winds at 5 to 10 mph, increasing to 20 to 30 mph. Higher wind gusts possible.

Tonight

Clear skies. Low near 50F. NW winds at 10 to 20 mph, decreasing to less than 5 mph.

Tomorrow

Mainly sunny. High 82F. SSE winds shifting to W at 10 to 20 mph.

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