Bay News Year In Review

Bay News: 2015 Year In Review

Cayucos pier jumpJANUARY
Morro Bay’s lodging businesses will take part in a county-wide bid to form a Tourism Marketing District or TMD, imposing a fee on a night’s stay and pooling the money to do yet more marketing.

The City Council voted unanimously to allow the city’s businesses to take part in the County TMD, that would be run by “Visit San Luis Obispo County,” a private non-profit company that used to be called the County Visitor’s and Conference Bureau. It was the first of several changes to Morro Bay’s tourism marketing efforts that would play out over 2015 and continue into 2016.

The rockets would not glare red over Morro Bay on 4th of July 2015, after all the board members of the group that puts on the family picnic and fireworks show stepped down and the City eventually stepped up.

Morro Bay 4th, Inc., the non-profit all volunteer group that’d been putting on 4th of July at Tidelands Park for more than five years, announced that unless another group of citizens stepped up to take over the event, Morro Bay wouldn’t have a celebration.

“It’s just burnout really,” said Dan Podesto the president of MB4th. “The last few years there’s just been six people on the board and there’s no new blood.”

The City organized a daylong family picnic, bike parade and music show, but there were no fireworks.

Authorities in Nevada had no answers on the fate of a Los Osos woman whose body was found in the desert, however, they were sure she was not the victim of foul play.

The case began Sept. 25, 2015 when two men riding ATVs found human remains while riding out in the desert near Parumph, Nev. The body was badly decomposed but the Nye County Nevada Sheriff’s Office was able to identify the person as Margay Edwards, 27, a Los Osos native daughter.

After investigating the incident surrounding her death, the County Coroner’s Office could not determine an exact cause of death and the circumstances surrounding her demise remain undiscovered.


Former Morro Bay Mayor Rodger Anderson said it best more than a decade ago, paraphrasing — ‘Morro Bay doesn’t do change very well.’ And such was the case with the January installation of a “parklet” in the 800 block of Main St., an outdoor patio-seating area in the street, that took up parking spaces but made room for a motorcycle and some bicycles to park. The parklet was a 6-month “trial” and opposition began from the start with Coalesce Bookstore owners leading a petition drive to have it removed. By the end of the trial, in late summer, the City Council voted to remove the parklet, perhaps to be installed in another location. It has yet to be resurrected.

FEBRUARY
MB Crk Brdge GrndBrkThere was another shake-up at City Hall, as the Morro Bay City Manager, David Buckingham, moved one crew back under public works and combined two departments into a new autonomous division. “We are going to reorganize a bit,” reads an email message. Effective Feb. 1, the maintenance crew — streets, trees, facilities and parks — moved out of Parks & Recreation and into “Public Works,” which also got a name change from the Public Services Department.

The planning and building departments were re-organized into a “Community Development Department,” that Buckingham said was a “management-level division” reporting directly to him. The planning manager, Scot Graham, got a bump in pay.

Attendees at the 34th Annual Harbor Festival were in for a shock; as the festival board decided to completely reinvent the annual celebration of the working waterfront. Harbor Festival Board President, John Solu, said after a disappointing turnout and steep drop in revenues last year, the board “decided to change the whole venue.” The October celebration featured a closed off Embarcadero from Harbor to Marina Streets with local businesses setting up vendor booths and the staged in a parking lot. ABBA Fab, a tribute band to the disco-era ABBA headlined. The event was a success and likely will be repeated and perhaps expanded next year.


In a scene many people thought they’d never see, ground was officially broken on a small, senior citizen’s apartment complex in Downtown Morro Bay. Robert Laing, president and executive director of Pacific Southwest Community Development Corp., out of San Diego, explained that the Morro Del Mar Senior Apartments, 555 Main St., would have 20, one and two bedroom units plus a manager’s apartment (total of 21). Construction was completed by the end of December and all the apartments rented with move-in expected in January.
MARCH
It took nearly 7 years but the water purveyors in Los Osos, plus the County, produced an agreement to manage and sustain the groundwater basin in town. The so-called “Basin Plan” got started in 2008, after the Community Services District sued Golden State Water and S&T Mutual to bring them to the table to address over-pumping and saltwater intrusion. In December the plan’s oversight committee held its first organizational meeting and discussed moving forward, including asking taxpayers for rate increases to cover the expected $34 million in potential projects. Those included a treatment facility, new wells and more. Expect this issue to return in 2016.

More than 300 people turned out Sunday, March 1 for the official re-opening of the Morro Bay Public Library after a more than $500,000 interior facelift, so thorough and different it’s hard to believe it’s the same building that was erected in 1983. The square footage was not increased at all, but simply, the interior was gutted and rebuilt under the design of architect Shauna Reiss.

Senseless! That’s about all one can say in polite company after someone broke the snout off of the Los Osos Bridge Bear statue, located on South Bay Boulevard. Volunteers who take care of the statue, its lighting system and surrounding grounds discovered the vandalism. “The bear, which is composed of a solid cement-like substance has had about six inches of snout knocked off,” Mimi Kalland of Celebrate Los Osos, said in an email. But never fear, the bear didn’t stay snout-less for long. Within days of the vandalism two local men, Dave and Kyle Doust of Los Osos stepped forward with the expertise to fix the damage. Dave Doust is a cement sculptor and Kyle a special effects artist in the film industry. In a day or two they had the bear looking brand new. The vandal has not been caught.

The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County celebrated a successful conservation effort in Los Osos Valley, with the establishment of a conservation easement over the Vintage Organics Ranch east of Los Osos. The property features a variety of environmental types from cultivated crop fields, to grasslands and oak woodlands and while it won’t be open to the public; it will be preserved in its current state in perpetuity.
APRIL
A short-term agreement for the next few steps on the road to building a new sewer plant in Morro Bay turned into a tense discussion on the very core of the relationship between Morro Bay and the Cayucos Sanitary District, at a March joint powers meeting. On tap was a memorandum of understanding between the City and CSD, which have been partners in a sewer plant since the 1950s that would carry the two through seeking bids for a facilities master plan and picking a company for the environmental impact review, but it quickly turned into a discussion about redefining their business relationship with a new plant. And as the long, antagonistic history of these two agencies might have predicted, neither side was very happy once all the cards were laid on the table. The numerous objectionable items in Morro Bay’s proposal eventually led a few months later to the Sanitary District severing ties altogether with Morro Bay and choosing to pursue its own new plant.

An attempt by a non-profit marine education organization to take over and rebuild the Morro Bay Aquarium lease site didn’t appear to be heading anywhere after the Central Coast Aquarium sent a letter (in fall 2014) to the City saying it couldn’t put together a proposal by the City’s deadline. In April, the City Council didn’t give up on the Avila Beach-based CCA and told the city manager to work on a public-private partnership. By year’s end, the City and CCA were getting ready to unveil a new proposal for rebuilding an aquarium when the current lease expires near the end of 2018. Harbor Director Eric Endersby said last week that he expects the CCA’s full proposal go to the council at its Jan. 12 meeting (2016). He hadn’t seen it yet, but said it’s certain that a new aquarium will not include a marine mammal exhibit, as the public made “loud and clear” it’s opposition to having sea lions and harbor seals on display.

Morro Bay’s water and sewer rates were slated to rise dramatically, after proposed rate increases survived a protest vote from residents and property owners. With an official Prop. 218 protest vote held May 26, the rate increase was pushed through. The opposition to the rate hikes did produce an interesting alliance, as former Mayor Janice Peters and former Councilwoman Betty Winholtz teamed up to try and fight the rate hikes. The first of at least five annual increases took effect in July.

Morro Bay Fire Department’s new 75-foot ladder truck arrived, made possible by a generous donation by a former Morro Bay resident in her will. The ladder truck — officially No. 5341 — was built by Pierce Manufacturing of Appleton, Wis., and cost some $774,000. The truck was paid for using some $1.1 million bequeathed to the department from the late Bertha Shultz. Mrs. Shultz asked to have the truck named after her father, Henry B. Humboldt, and so the truck, expected to be in service through 2045, was officially christened “Hefty Henry.”
Morro Bay Police arrested a Los Osos man after they said he allegedly threw a sledgehammer through the front doors of the police station. On Thursday, April 15, just before 8 p.m. police said a man approached the front doors of the stationhouse on Morro Bay Boulevard and “aggressively threw a sledgehammer, which broke through the glass and wood frame of the right side lobby door, nearly striking two citizens standing in the front lobby of the police department,” reads a news release from the MBPD. Neither citizen, whom police declined to identify, was injured in the incident. The suspect fled the area but an officer saw the man on a nearby residential street and was able to take him into custody after a “short foot chase and brief struggle.”

Cuesta College Trustees approved the tax rate for their $275 million construction bond and property owners will start paying the assessments in January 2016. Trustees set the annual levy at $19.25 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Next year’s property tax bills were mailed out at the end of October with an added line item, “Cuesta CCD 2014 Bond.”

Los Osos Mem Day-05MAY
Just, sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…
Two men were arrested May 4 after they allegedly stole a sailboat intending to make a dash to the open sea, but were forced to run aground on the Sandspit, Morro Bay Police said in a news release. At about 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 4, Sgt. Rick Catlett said in a news release, MBPD responded to a marina in the 500 block of Embarcadero for a report of a stolen sailboat. “The victims reported they received a call that their sailboat was beached on the Sandspit,” Sgt. Catlett said, “and Morro Bay Harbor Patrol officers had recovered the vessel.”

Morro Bay City Council approved hiring a deputy city manager, after the city manager snatched up a leading candidate for a job in another local city. Sam Taylor was hired for the deputy job and put in charge of the recreation department, IT, the City’s Facebook Page and social media efforts, and PR duties and more. And with the current push to take the tourism promotion duties into City Hall, Taylor will also oversee the town’s marketing program and community development efforts. His initial contract was for $113,000 a year plus benefits. The down-side to the hiring was that Joe Woods, the former recreation director, was let go in April after more than 26 years with the City, stunning many in the community, a move that followed the city manager’s moving parks and maintenance out of Woods’ purview. Woods’ leaving left a hole in the budget for Taylor’s job, which had to be created, as the last deputy or assistant city manager was Andrea Lueker more than 9-years ago.

Morro Bay officials pushed on with a new sewer project, awarding a major contract, working on bid packages for two others and hiring consultants for several smaller tasks. This after the Cayucos Sanitary District officially pulled out of the joint sewer project with Morro Bay. In June the firm Black & Veatch was awarded the more than $700,000 facilities master plan contract. Outreach work has already begun by the new project managers, and a firm was picked to write an EIR. And, the City is still in negotiations to purchase property for the plant site.

Numerous California government workers were honored for heroism and valor, and one of just five law enforcement officers so honored, was a local, native son. California Fish & Wildlife Game Warden, Kyle Kroll, was among those honored April 23 in Sacramento, adding to a number of honors the Los Osos native and Morro Bay High grad had gotten since he left the local area for a career with the State. “He’s a good kid,” said Kyle’s dad, Jim Kroll, who spent his career with the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol and is himself a hero to many people. “He is always looking out for other people and he does a really good job.”

A pair of Morro Bay Pirates became Gauchos after signing national letters of intent to play sports and attend U.C. Santa Barbara. Sierra Emrick and Austin Lay signed their letters before a small celebration of fellow students, parents and school officials. Emrick, a standout pole vaulter, said, “The location is great. It’s still close to home and my major is there — marine biology.” Austin was a dual sport standout and one of the finest cross country runners in SLO County and a standout in the distance events in track — specifically, the 3000 and 3200 meters. “I’ve always wanted to go to UCSB,” he said. “And now I got my wish.”
JUNE
Efforts to establish a maritime museum in Morro Bay had been languishing for many years, at times appearing dead in the water, but with a new, revamped layout, and new energy, including some site improvements put in by the City, the push is on to establish a temporary museum and add to the static displays the historic tugboat Alma. The Harbor Festival donated $10,000 and the CCMMA is embarking on a quest to raise some $30,000 for a prefab BEST-03building and hopes to open sometime in 2016.

A pair of giant cranes lowered the new Morro Creek Bridge into place May 28, connecting the two dead ends of the Embarcadero, at least for bicyclists and pedestrians. A grand opening was held July 4 in conjunction with the City’s Bike Parade for 4th of July. The bridge is some 130-feet long, made of steel and came with a rusty patina. It was manufactured by CONTEC Engineered Solutions, LLC, headquartered in West Chester, Ohio, and the contractor for the $1.1 million project was Cal Portland (overall construction cost is $1.2M).

Sheriff’s deputies detained a man they found running naked down Los Osos Valley Road covered in blood, the department announced. On May 21, the Sheriff’s department received several 9-1-1 calls starting about 5:40 p.m. “reporting a naked man with blood on him, running down Bush Drive and then along Los Osos Valley Road in Los Osos,” said Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla. Deputies detained the 19-year old from Cambria, and he was transported to the hospital in an ambulance. Cipolla said, “it appears the man experienced a narcotics overdose and then ran through a plate glass window at a home on Bush Drive where he sustained injuries to his face and body.” Cipolla did not say whether they had arrested the bloody fellow.

America-04The City of Morro Bay adopted a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16, with monies being shifted from one account to another and changes made to various policies, including growing the general fund reserves past what the City’s fiscal policies call for. Indeed, change has come to the way the City looks at the future, as this budget starts looking at the projected revenues and then budgeting accordingly so-called “cash based” budgeting. City Manager David Buckingham’s first budget was in many areas based on goals and objectives established by the city council back in January. The general fund now tops $12 million in projected revenues. Add in $4.5M for water revenues, $5.7M for sewer; and $1.9M for harbor, plus various other sources of money, and the overall budget tops $34.8M.

Morro Bay’s Visitor’s Center faced an uncertain future, as City funding of the facility was cut dramatically, even as the City was taking bids seeking a contractor to operate it. For the past three years, the Morro Bay Tourism Bureau (an arm of the Tourism Business Improvement District) had a contract with the City to run the visitor’s center. The City had been allocating some $100,000 a year to it but the 2015-16 budget allocated zero for the visitor’s center. Under criticism from the moteliers and business community, the council allocated $50,000 and set out to take bids to run it. The intent was to move the visitor’s center to the City-owned building at Harbor and Piney Way. And the Chamber of Commerce was picked out of three proposals for a 19-month contract to run the center starting in October and continuing through July 1, 2017. The Chamber’s bid was exactly $50,000 a year and the City pro-rated the first year because it didn’t move the center until October, when the Tourism Bureau’s lease ran out at its former site, Morro Bay Blvd., and Morro Avenue.
JULY
Folks from the Historical Society of Morro Bay and the 50th Celebration Committee gathered at City Park in Morro Bay to bury an official time capsule capping off the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Morro Bay’s becoming a city. Historical Society members thanked the community for the numerous items that were donated for the capsule, 50th Committee chairwoman Joan Solu recapped the events that were held in 2014, and Mayor Jamie Irons Cay 4th july Prde2commemorated the event on behalf of the City.

Artist, activist, prolific essayist and former Bay News columnist, Ann Calhoun, lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on July 9, 2015. She was 72. Ann was born in Sacramento on April 6, 1943, to Marvin and Mary Hughes. Eventually Ann tired of living in Los Angeles, left the art scene and moved to Los Osos. Switching careers, she became a writer. She helped to start a local newspaper called Bear Facts in 1985, as a writer and editor. A few years later, Ann began writing a column, “Calhoun’s Can(n)ons,” which was first published by the (now defunct) Morro Bay Sun Bulletin weekly. After 1992, the column continued in the various resurrections of the Los Osos Bay News, Bay Breeze, Bay News (again), and Bay News-Tolosa Press. In 2005, the Can(n)on was added to the Central Coast News Mission blog site. The address is calhounscannon.blogspot.com. Ann’s final entry was posted on June 17.
AUGUST
Another of Morro Bay’s Living Treasures died, leaving behind a musical and artistic legacy to the town he called home for some 58 years. Wachtang “Botso” Korisheli died Monday, July 27 at his home of an apparent heart attack. He was 93. A locally celebrated music LuLu at Avo Festteacher, classical pianist, sculptor, and friend to several generations of students, Botso was a beloved member of the community and was once named a Chamber of Commerce Living Treasure. He was also honored in 2014, as grand marshal of the town’s 50th Anniversary Founder’s Parade. Among his many accomplishments was the founding of the SLO County Youth Symphony, which was the starting place for numerous young people who went on to great careers with orchestras and symphonies around the world.

The sudden appearance on Wednesday, Aug. 5 of the County Sheriff’s SWAT Team, weapons drawn, on a Downtown Morro Bay side street, was stunning in itself. But when County Sheriff Ian Parkinson revealed what it was all about, it came as at least a big of a shock. Sheriff Parkinson, at an Aug. 11 news conference at the County Jail, said that first search warrant in the 700 block of Napa Ave., was the first of five raids — Aug. 6 in the 1900 block 10th St., Los Osos; and on Aug. 7 in the 4900 block Rosario Ave., Atascadero, the 1000 block Chestnut St., and 100 block of 12th St., in Paso Robles — executed after a 10-month investigation into a cocaine distribution ring, with ties to “a Mexican drug cartel,” operating in SLO County. When the dust settled, eight men were in jail, including three from Morro Bay, and a ninth, a Cayucos resident, was at-large but was later arrested. A total of more then 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of suspected cocaine worth more than $200,000 on the street, was seized in the raids, along with several hunting and assault rifles — including two AK-47s — and a .357 magnum revolver, plus numerous clips and ammunition.
IntFest-03SEPTEMBER
Grocery store chain Haggen’s explosive, supernova growth spurt shrank back like a dwarf star, as the company announced the closure of 27 stores across four states. The company released a list of initial store closures that included 16 in California, five in Arizona, five in Oregon and one in Seattle, Wash., it will close just one of six in SLO County that it bought in the Albertsons, LLC-Safeway sale of 146 stores. Back in early April, Haggen (pronounced — hay-gun) also bought two Albertsons in SLO, and one each in Atascadero and Arroyo Grande, plus Vons Markets in Los Osos and Paso Robles. And while the official list of closing stores from the company reads, “Los Osos — Los Osos Valley Rd., Santa Barbara,” the erecting of “STORE CLOSING!” and “EVERYTHING MUST GO!” banners across the façade of the Los Osos building on Wednesday morning (Aug. 26) tells a different story.

Morro Strand State Beach was closed after a shark took a bite out of a Los Osos woman’s surfboard. At about 10:15 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, Elinor Dempsey, 54 of Los Osos hit the waves off the Morro Strand Campground on A-beach, when she reportedly saw a large, dark shape swimming under her board, which she was sitting on at the time. According to news reports, Dempsey at first thought it was a dolphin, though acting strangely for a dolphin. Then the animal, estimated to be from 6-8 feet long, rushed up and bit her red, foam board, taking a sizable chunk out of it.  She swam to shore as fast as possible towing her board by the leash with help from fellow surfers. She was not injured in the incident, which was reported by news outlets across the U.S.

Morro Bay City Council was asked by one of its member to grant a leave of absence, as he fought a crippling eye infection. Councilman Matt Makowetski, who was elected to a 4-year term in 2014, wrote a letter to the Council and Mayor Jamie Irons explaining his situation and asked to be relieved of council duties for up to 90 days while he sought treatment. The leave was granted and Makowetski was healed up and back on the job in November.

Big changes were in the works for Morro Bay’s tourism marketing efforts. The City of Morro Bay for several months, discussed re-taking over tourism promotion responsibilities; reducing the governing board of a tourism assessment district to a simple advisory body and taking over all budgeting and spending; and eliminating the business arm of the district and hiring City employees to promote Morro Bay to the world. While no decision had been officially made as of the end of the year, it appears to be a done deal for the change, despite continued opposition from the industry.

Volunteers at Pacific Wildlife Care struggled with a most uncommon problem — more than 200 common murres — found stranded and starving on beaches. That’s uncommon because these birds don’t normally live anywhere near the shoreline. “Common murres live way out in the ocean,” Meg Crockett, PWC’s president said while showing some of the handsome little birds recuperating in a large flight cage at PWC’s rehab center in Morro Bay. They’d gotten in more than 170 of the little penguin-like birds, plucked off beaches from Nipomo to San Simeon, the Monterey Bay area, and even in Oregon, with more coming in daily. Many died. “We try to fatten them up but we really don’t know what’s going on. This is not a bird that is found locally.”

OCTOBER
A split Morro Bay City Council voted 3-1 not to support a proposed marine sanctuary off the Central Coast, deciding in the end that they Halloween2didn’t have sufficient information, questions answered nor concerns addressed to change the City’s long-time opposition. The vote let stand a previous Resolution in opposition and passed in 2012 (Res. 18-12) as the official City position. But to also invite someone from the sanctuary program, which is under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to come to Morro Bay and lead an educational workshop. A public meeting is set for 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6 at the Vet’s Hall, 209 Surf St., with representatives from NOAA to learn about national marine sanctuaries on the West Coast.

Morro Bay’s drinking water garnered complaints about smell and taste, as a bloom of blue-green algae once again affected the City’s drinking water. But don’t worry, the City said the water was safe to drink. “The City is aware of complaints related to an odd smell and taste to the drinking water supply,” reads a notice the City posted on its website. “The water is perfectly safe to drink. Staff is providing information on the cause and tips to combat the smell and taste.” State Water Project, which supplies drinking water to some 25 million people and sources the water out of the Sacrament-San Joaquin Delta, is the source of the problem. The project had this same problem last year. “Drought and high temperatures are creating good conditions for blue-green algae blooms in the delta,” Halloween1according to the City. “That algae is where that smell and taste are from. The water is being treated for drinking, but the odor and flavor remains.”

County Supervisors approved a contract to begin an environmental impact report for a new general plan for Los Osos. The County chose John F. Richenbach Consulting of Atascadero, out of two bidders for the EIR contract. The total project amount was listed at $346,000 but under the contract, Richenbach will get $251,000 to produce a draft and then final EIR.
The County has a 10-percent contingency fund and various extra duties like holding four public meetings ($7,200); developing findings ($5,400); $3,160 for mitigation monitoring program; and $38,500 for “optional elements” could be added to the contract, for a total of $314,700 potentially.
Richenbach should be familiar to Bay News readers as the firm that was hired to help the City of Morro Bay pick a new site for its proposed new sewer treatment plant.

The City of Morro Bay signed an agreement with a professional cycling race, anticipating that the resultant good publicity and worldwide exposure to the cycling world will pay big benefits in its efforts to promote tourism and economic development. The City agreed to host the start of one leg of the Amgen Tour of California, slated to run from San Diego to Sacramento next May.

Reducing fire danger in Cambria will be the goal for a nearly $500,000 grant awarded to the San Luis Obispo County Fire Safe Council by Cal Fire and the State Air Resources Board’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction grant program, the Council announced. According to a news release, “The 6,400 residents of Cambria are at extreme risk from a devastating wildland, urban interface fire due to the massive die-off of native Monterey pines. More than 50% of the mature trees are dead across the 3,200 acre forest.” The pines, stressed by the drought have been killed off by an infestation of bark beetles, tiny insects taking advantage of the weakened state of the trees. Cambria’s pine forest is one of just a few natural stands of Monterey pines in Coastal California.

The Los Osos Community Services District has had a tough past couple of weeks. A recent audit showed distressing entries were made in reconciling the books in 2013-14; a County official criticized the District and its leadership; and the general manager is being investigated over those accounting issues.
As tough as the past couples of weeks has been for the LOCSD, there was one bit of good news — the end to a long-running lawsuit that should begin a concerted effort to manage the town’s drinking water basin among it’s water purveyors. It all began in late August, when an audit conducted by the Santa Maria firm of Moss, Levy & Hartzheim, LLP, was released and came to the somewhat troubling conclusion that a slew of late changes in the books made it difficult to conduct the audit and indicated to them “weak internal controls.” By the end of the year, the CSD had hired a private investigator to look into allegations against General Manager, Kathy Kivley, who was placed on paid administrative leave.
NOVEMBER
A local transient man was hospitalized and under arrest after he allegedly tried to burglarize a Morro Bay thrift store, then got into a violent confrontation with police and was shot by an officer.
According to police, at 6:43 a.m. Friday, Oct. 30, 9-1-1 dispatch got a report of an attempted break-in at The Good Flea Thrift Store, 335 Quintana Rd., which was reported by a nearby business owner. That person, who spoke exclusively to The Bay News on condition of anonymity, said he was at work when he heard glass breaking and looked but didn’t see anything amiss. After a bizarre encounter with the suspected burglar/vandal, the witness followed him as he rode towards Morro Rock on a bicycle, all the while on the phone with police. Two squad cars overtook the suspect on Coleman Drive and a violent encounter ensued with the suspect allegedly swinging a stick and hitting Sr. Ofc. Dale Cullum, who shot the suspect in the leg. It was the first MBPD officer-involved shooting in decades in Morro Bay. Sr. Ofc.  Cullum was treated for a minor head wound and the suspect who survived his wound, was ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation before going to trial.

About 350 people turned out Oct. 31 for the official reopening of the Cayucos Pier after being closed for more than two years and after more than a year of reconstruction. In July 2013, the decision was made by County Parks to close the pier to pedestrians and fix it. County Supervisor Bruce Gibson said that was a difficult decision to make, given the community’s love of the pier and its iconic presence in the town that time forgot. “I stand before you,” Gibson said to the crowd, “excited and relieved.”

Morro Bay High’s Cross Country runners finished their regular season in strong fashion with the Girls’ Team making CIF, including the first freshman league champion, and the Boys’ Team’s top runner challenging for a Los Padres League title. Freshman Audrey McClish finished first in the varsity girls’ race at the LPL Championships held at Cabrillo High Nov. 4. She led a team that last year finished second in the LPL and made it to CIF finals, but had to face the loss of six of its top seven runners — four to graduation and two to transfers. On the boys’ side, senior Andrew Stafford took second behind Johnny Jimenez, Santa Ynez High’s No. 1 runner.

Tempers flared when a local citizen arrived at City Hall demanding a meeting with the mayor, the city manager, and the public works director. That might not seem too out of the ordinary, as City Hall’s across the nation likely see this at least occasionally, but they probably don’t bring a police escort with them to “keep the peace.” Such was the scene, when Joseph Goodwin, who has the Chorro Creek Ranch, located on Chorro Creek Road south of town, arrived at City Hall, frustration threatening to boil over into anger. He said when the new city manager was hired more than a year ago, he tried to set up a meeting “just to get to know him.” But has never been able to get a meeting, despite repeated tries over the past year. “How can someone be busy for a whole year?” he asked.
DECEMBER
For a man of the sea, getting recognition for work done in board rooms and public meetings would seem a little out of place. Such is LO Xmas Prdethe case for Morro Bay commercial fisherman, Jeremiah O’Brien, who was honored with a “Highliner Award,” by National Fisherman Magazine, for his many years of advocacy for the fishing industry. It’s the highest award given for a troller, a gear set that trails long lines from outriggers with baited hooks.
“There have been so many things over the years,” Jeremiah said while standing on the back deck of his boat, the CFV Aguero, docked by the launch ramp in Morro Bay Harbor. “I can’t remember all this sh*t. There’s always something coming up.”

The County Fire department is going to be looking for a new chief after Chief Robert Lewin announced he was retiring effective Dec. 18, after some 37 years of service under his turnouts. Chief Lewin was the County Fire Chief for the past 5 years and will continue working as the Santa Barbara County emergency services manager. Deputy Chief Steve Reeder was named acting fire chief until a permanent appointment is made. On another note, Cal Fire Sta. 15 in Los Osos (South Bay Fire) had its battalion chief retire as well. B.C. Phil Veneris was replaced by B.C. Tom McEwen. The position is chief over all the North Coast stationhouses.

Small groups of homeless people lingered along The Embarcadero, mounds of possessions piled on the sidewalk. A man rode a bike down the Harborwalk bike lane, trailing a second bike with him. Another man toted black trash bags stuffed with presumably his possessions, balanced precariously as he pedals away from the work crews. Such was the scene on the approach to the City of Morro Bay’s Dec. 10-11 mass cleanup of homeless encampments in both the sand dunes along the Harborwalk, and along Morro Creek, a short distance away.