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.