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Capps retirement plans trigger election announcements

In the last week, several political players whose districts include Carpinteria have revealed their intentions for the next election. Congresswoman Lois Capps announced that she would not seek reelection in the fall of 2016, after 17 years serving the area in Washington D.C. On the heels of Capps’ news, First District County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, whose Santa Barbara County district includes Carpinteria, announced that he would join the growing numbers of contenders for Capps’ long-held Congressional seat. “I have a proven track record of working in a bipartisan way to get results on these issues in my service as County Supervisor and want to bring the same effective and collaborative approach to Congress,” Carbajal stated in a press release.

Then, after Carbajal’s news hit the media, Assemblyman Das Williams released a statement saying that he would seek Salud’s seat in the next election. Williams, who lives in Carpinteria, stated, “I've spent a lot of time being very thoughtful about how to best continue to serve this community after my Assembly term ends in 2016 and how to coordinate that with honoring my family, which is about to grow when my wife Jonnie and I welcome our first child in September.”

LinkedIn acquires lynda.com for $1.5 billion

Carpinteria-based lynda.com announced on April 9 that is was purchased by LinkedIn, an online professional network with 300 million members, for $1.5 billion. Lynda.com is an online learning company teaching business, technology and creative skills. The acquisition will offer new professional development opportunities for LinkedIn members, according to a press release from LinkedIn. The transaction is in a combination of 52 percent cash and 48 percent stock and is expected to close during the second quarter of 2015.

“The mission of LinkedIn and the mission of lynda.com are highly aligned. Both companies seek to help professionals be better at what they do,” said Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn in a press release. “lynda.com’s extensive library of premium video content helps empower people to develop the skills needed to accelerate their careers. When integrated with the hundreds of millions of members and millions of jobs on LinkedIn, lynda.com can change the way in which people connect to opportunity.”

“Following closing, most members of the lynda.com team are expected to join LinkedIn,” the press release stated. Details have yet to emerge on what the transaction will mean for the local work force at lynda.com, located on Via Real. 

City Council takes action on oil by rail issue

By Dale Myers
The Carpinteria City Council in its April 13 meeting voted unanimously in favor (with Councilman Brad Stein abstaining) of authorizing the mayor to sign and send a letter to the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission requesting it deny the proposed Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery Rail Spur Extension project. If approved, the project will allow approximately 1.3 miles of new track to the refinery and enable Phillips 66 to offload an 80-car oil train from the mainline Union Pacific track, thus paving the way for a dramatic increase in oil by rail transport of highly flammable crude, which would likely pass through Carpinteria—though rail routes have yet to be defined.

According to Carpinteria City Manager Dave Durflinger, a Draft Environmental Impact Report on the project identified 11 unavoidable significant impacts of oil by rail. The issue has become highly contentious in part due to catastrophic oil by rail accidents in recent years, most notably the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster that occurred in Quebec, Canada, in 2013 when an unattended 74-car freight train carrying crude oil derailed and resulted in an explosion and fire that killed 47 people and destroyed 30 buildings.

“The issue for Carpinterians is the potential for increased accidents on the mainline (that passes through Carpinteria),” said Durflinger. If the project gets green lighted, the refinery will be able to handle five train unloads a week, with each train carrying between 1.8 and 2.1 million gallons of crude oil.

Phillips 66 claims that it needs to import crude by rail to the Santa Maria Refinery to offset a drop in local and statewide oil production that is currently delivered by truck or pipeline, and that numerous jobs are at stake if production at the refinery is not maintained at or above current levels. A statement issued by Phillips 66 states, “We understand that there may be opposition to the rail project, and we look forward to San Luis Obispo County providing responses to new issues that are raised and addressing them in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.” The company also insists that the rail project “is designed with safety as the top priority and with safety measures embedded in the project.”

Local vice president of Venoco Ian Livett stated that oil by rail was an example of imported oil that is implicitly more dangerous than local production. “Every drop of oil we use in California is imported by rail, pipeline or sea. It seems to me we have four choices: produce oil locally, rationing, bring it by rail or import it from unstable, unfriendly countries,” said Livett. “I would ask Carpinterians which they prefer.”

Opposed to oil by rail was Carpinteria Vice-Mayor Fred Shaw, who said, “Once (the rail spur extension is) built, any possible input Carpinteria has to protect its citizens is out the window. The more vocal we are in opposing this, the better we can protect our citizens.”

The next City Council meeting will take place on Monday, April 27, at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

International activism inspires at Girls Inc. luncheon

International activism inspires at Girls Inc. luncheon
From left are Girls Inc. of Carpinteria Executive Director Victoria Juarez and inspirational speaker Saran Kaba Jones, founder of FACE Africa.

By Lea Boyd
A farm-to-table style lunch filled the bellies of Women of Inspiration attendees while several powerful female speakers fed minds and hearts on April 13. The annual luncheon benefiting Girls Inc. of Carpinteria featured a moving talk by Saran Kaba Jones, founder of an African safe drinking water organization, and honored four Santa Barbara area women— Donna Jordan, Rendy Freedman, Jennifer Freed and Michelle Apodaca—for their closer-to-home accomplishments.

Jones was born in Liberia and enjoyed a happy, stable childhood until, at age 8, she and her family were forced to flee the country as it spiraled into civil unrest. “We were among the lucky ones that got away,” she said. What was expected to be a few months away from home, became a year, then five and then 10. It was 19 years before Jones returned to her native country, which by then had become one of the poorest in the world.

In an effort to help Liberians in need, Jones founded FACE Africa as a scholarship fund but soon discovered that inaccessible clean water presented a much bigger obstacle to raising the country’s living standards. Over 50 percent of Liberians lacked access to safe drinking water. In 2010 she quit her high paying job in private equity to pursue her passion, and last month, FACE finished its 50th clean water project benefiting rural African communities.

Jones told the Women of Inspiration crowd that everyone is born with at least one gift that should be used to benefit others. “It is how we choose to use those gifts that determines our impact on the planet,” she said. She encouraged attends to contribute within their communities, be it with time or money.

Women doing great things within the area were also lauded. Jordan, Carpinteria’s first female mayor and a four-term council member, was honored. The long-time teacher and tutor co-founded Carpinteria Beautiful as well as the city’s HOST Program. Other honorees were Apodaca, who is CEO of Deckers Brands and oversees the company’s philanthropic efforts, and Freed and Freedman, co-founders and co-directors of AHA!, an organization that provides character-building programs to area teens and families.

The event was hosted by two standout teen members of Girls Inc., Ana Delgado and Arianna Lopez, who have both attended Girls Inc. since early elementary school and are both recent recipients of the prestigious Girls Inc. National Scholarship. Each girl has overcome her own set of adversities, with the support of the local organization, and gone on to several impressive achievements. Delgado was selected by the JASON National Argonaut Program last summer from a global pool of participants for a four-week, hands-on marine research experience in the Bahamas.
Lopez was recognized for her community service efforts last year by Radio Disney with the Hero for Change award.

Swat team: Warrior softball cruises to 11-2 victory

Swat team: Warrior softball cruises to 11-2 victory
Warrior pitcher Amanda Blair held Santa Paula to two runs and blasted two doubles to help the Warriors to an 11-2 victory on April 14 (photo by Bill Swing)

Warrior freshman pitcher Amanda Blair kept Santa Paula High School in check, pitching a complete game, and the offense pounded 15 hits to give the home team an 11-2 victory to open Tri-Valley League play on April 14. Blair added two doubles, including one with bases loaded that teetered at the top of the netting of the home run fence before falling back into play in the sixth inning.

“We played well in all phases. We hit well. Played defense well and made no errors,” commented coach Henry Gonzales. “We put everything together to have every opportunity to win the ball game.”

Freshman Samantha Saenz also brought a big bat collecting four hits, and senior Teagan Singer had three hits. Sierra Diaz singled to right center in the first inning to drive in two runs, and she tripled in the fourth to drive in two more and put the Warriors ahead 6-0.

Blair allowed seven hits and struck out five, and at one point she retired eight straight hitters. The Warriors got into some trouble in the sixth inning after having built an 8-0 lead. Santa Paula struck with four hits and scored two runs in the inning. With the bases loaded Blair stopped the bleeding by recording the third out on a strike out. “She bore down, went after it and got the out that we needed. That’s a sign that she’s got what it takes to be a good pitcher,” Gonzales said.

After Santa Paula trimmed the lead to six at 8-2, the Warriors got three runs back to pad their advantage in the bottom of the sixth. Saenz doubled and two batters walked to load the bases. Blair then sent a shot down the left field line that was nearly a grand slam but sprung off the fence to fall in for a double.

The Warriors head to Nordhoff High School on April 16 to continue the TVL schedule. Gonzales said that the league is ultra competitive and any team can win on any day.

Water-lite garden earns Looking Good Award

Water-lite garden earns Looking Good Award

Each spring, Carpinteria Beautiful recognizes a local homeowner for creating curb appeal that is clean, green and beautiful. This year’s award goes to Judy Mulford for her drought tolerant garden that uses little water but still boasts incredible beauty.

The year 2000 found Judy and Danny Mulford moving to a condo at the beach end of Ash Avenue. As the front garden hedge began to die out, Judy started planting drought tolerant plants in the sandy beach soil along the fence and in the yard. Over the years, Judy, who is a prolific artist, has continued to replace old withering plants with drought tolerant ones. The garden is now completely drought tolerant; she hand waters only once a week. Her yard has become a living art piece.

The garden is the gateway to the beach and is marveled at by hundreds of people who walk past it each year. During the day, besides the many hummingbirds and bees feed on the echiums, which only bloom in March and April. At night, hummingbird moths pay their visits to the blooms.

Judy’s garden includes the following plants: banana, bird of paradise, palm, gazannias, three varieties of echiums, three varieties of protea, talangia, agave, aloe, Mexican sage, lavender daisies, tree mallow, rock rose, dusty miller, geraniums, poppies, Jerusalem sage, Romneya coulteria, blue hibiscus, false petunia, grasses and many other California natives.

Local dancer twirls into Spirit of Fiesta auditions

Local dancer twirls into Spirit of Fiesta auditions
Alexia Olivares has worked long and hard to earn her moment in the spotlight at the 2015 Spirit of Fiesta audition. (photo by Fritz Olenberger)

Carpinteria High School junior Alexia Olivares hopes to dance her way into Santa Barbara history this weekend. Armed with 14 years of training, the local 16-year-old will take the stage on Saturday to compete for the 2015 Spirit of Fiesta title.

Olivares pre-auditioned last August to qualify for one of the 11 spots in this weekend’s contest. She is the only Carpinterian in the lineup. Since September, the Spirit hopeful has committed her evenings and weekends to perfecting her Spanish dance skills.

The love of dance bloomed early in Olivares. At just 2 years old, she began taking lessons at Curtis Studio of Dance, where, over the years, she sampled a diversity of styles: ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop and acrobatics and traveled with the studio’s Competition Corps. When she took a flamenco class at age 11, she realized she had found her passion.

She enrolled in Zermeno Dance Academy, where her potential was quickly recognized and she was placed under the direction of Daniela Zermeno. The Spirit title has been in her sights ever since. To that end, she has paired hard work in the studio with critical performance practice. She performs annually at Old Spanish Days events, including Fiesta Pequeña at the Santa Barbara Mission and Noches De Ronda at the Santa Barbara Courthouse.

The Fiesta tradition runs deep in Olivares’ family. Her great-grandmother entered a float in the parade every year, and the family continued the tradition years after her death. For Olivares, the Spirit auditions mean more than just a dance contest. “I know her family and lost loved ones will be gleaming with pride on her special day,” said Leah Hernandez, Olivares’ mother.

The auditions are on Saturday, April 18, at noon in the La Cumbre Junior High School Auditorium, 2255 Modoc Road. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at HYPERLINK "http://sbfiesta.org/"sbfiesta.org or at the Old Spanish Days Fiesta office at the Carriage Museum. Ticket holders will have access to El Paseo Restaurant after the auditions for a reception with live music, a buffet and cash bar.
- Lea Boyd

Film puts water woes in focus

Film puts water woes in focus
In his cinematographic water journey, filmmaker Steve Nicolaides captures footage of the Dismal River in Nebraska.

By Lea Boyd
After producing blockbuster films in Hollywood for years, Steve Nicolaides decided in 2013 to point a camera at his emerging passion: water in the west, or its lack thereof. He captured conversations with people closely connected to water resources and stitched them together to create “Eyes on the Sky,” a documentary designed to both inform viewers and provoke further dialogue about the disappearing resource. Carpinterians will be treated to a screening of the film during the Water Security Symposium on Sunday, April 19 at 3 p.m. at Plaza Playhouse Theater, 4916 Carpinteria Ave.

Nicolaides’ T-shirt and shorts style and down-to-earth manner belie his big screen credentials. Before turning his attention to water, he amassed a film resume that includes the likes of “When Harry Met Sally,” “A Few Good Men” and “Misery.” He and his wife, Caroline Thompson, who wrote the screenplays for “Edward Scissorhands” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” lived on a 90-acre horse ranch in Ojai when they started to realize that their lifestyle was out of sync with their beliefs about resource consumption.

The couple moved to Carpinteria around the time that Nicolaides began filming his documentary. They remodeled their new home with an aim to curtail water use.

When Nicolaides began his “Eyes on the Sky” project, he felt compelled to use his craft to raise awareness and generate discussion among the regular Joes who turn on and off their taps every day without pausing long to consider where water comes from and where it goes. In the war that is being fought for water, Nicolaides recognized, these people make up the strongest army. “We need to find a different way to live in the west,” he said.

One big issue is simply overpopulation of an arid environment. When the Hoover Dam was built in 1935, there were 7 million people in Nevada, Arizona and California. The same three states now house 47 million. But, as Nicolaides said, the curse of population could also be its savior. If everyone used half as much water, the savings would be tremendous.

Another issue is water intensive agriculture. Thirsty crops rely on water inputs that the natural environment cannot begin to provide. “Water brings gold,” Nicolaides said, “and gold doesn’t care about the environment.”

“Eyes on the Sky” has screened in a few venues, and Nicolaides said that this month’s water symposium is precisely the kind of community event that he envisioned for it. The filmmaker hopes that the audience will walk out of the theater with a new sense of urgency. “This is very serious,” he said. “I have two granddaughters living in the west, and I want them to have the fighting chance at the good life that I’ve had here.”

Donna Jordan, a member of Carpinteria Beautiful and one of the water symposium’s organizers, said that she watched the movie twice already for her own edification. “(Nicolaides) has a way of putting his interview subjects at ease and extracting interesting information that might otherwise be held back,” she said. “The film doesn't pretend to have all the answers, but it surely raises awareness and questions about our long term water problem, and it motivates people to ask how they can be part of the long term solution.”

Kinderkirk preps for chili cookoff

Kinderkirk preps for chili cookoff
The 2014 Carpinteria Chili Cookoff champion, LJ Washington, will defend her title at this year’s event on April 18.

Kinderkirk Preschool and Daycare has long been simmering the ingredients for early childhood success, and this year it challenges cooks in the community to stir up their best batch of chili. The second annual Carpinteria Chili Cookoff is scheduled for Saturday, April 18, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Carpinteria Woman’s Club, 1059 Vallecito Road, and pits Southwestern stew makers from home cooks to seasoned chefs against one another to see who has the most palate-pleasing batch. The event, which will feature silent and live auctions, including a weeklong stay in Nicaragua, to benefit one of Carpinteria’s oldest preschools, will have a Mardi Gras theme for adult revelers to enjoy in support of the next crop of tykes. To sign up for the cookoff, call Peter at 684-4428. Tickets for the event are $20 and can be purchased by calling Kinderkirk at 684-4070. 

Sea Glass Festival springs up in Carpinteria

Sea Glass Festival springs up in Carpinteria

The first ever Carpinteria Sea Glass Festival is in the works for this summer. Coordinated in partnership with the Carpinteria Arts Center, the festival will bring together hundreds of sea glass lovers to celebrate the treasures of the sea on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 29 and 30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 700 Linden Ave. Dozens of sea glass artisans and experts will offer their original ocean inspired artwork, from sea glass jewelry, home décor, art, accessories and rare sea glass collections, including Krista Hammond’s prize specimen cases for the public to view.

The festival, which also will include music and local food vendors, will benefit the Junior Carpinterian of the Year Scholarship Fund and the Carpinteria Arts Center. Sea glass vendors interested in displaying and selling their works at the festival should visit carpinteriaseaglassfestival.com/vendor-info and submit an application by May 31, 2015. Admission to the Sea Glass Festival is $5, and on Saturday, Aug. 29, a special preview will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. for $15. For more information, visit carpinteriaseaglassfestival.com.

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