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Local woman survives black bear attack close to home

Local woman survives black bear attack close to home

By Lea Boyd
A Carpinteria woman returning home from a hike up Rincon Canyon was attacked by a black bear at around 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 22. The bear scratched and bit Emily Miles, who ultimately fended off the 300-pound animal and ran to the safety of a nearby home.

“I’m very, very lucky, and I know that,” said Miles. “That bear could’ve eaten me alive in two minutes.”

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has set live traps in an attempt to capture the bear. Bear DNA collected from Miles will be used in the effort to identify the correct animal, which, if located, will then be euthanized. Fish and Wildlife representative Janice Mackey said that any bear that attacks a human unprovoked is “destroyed.” “It’s always a last resort,” she said, “but we just can’t have an unprovoked bear attack.”

Miles first glimpsed the bear as it chased her dog across a small creek on private property off Highway 150 at Stanley Park Road. When the bear stumbled upon the woman, it shifted its attention from the dog and began “batting” at Miles. She instinctively ran but was knocked to the ground when the animal bit into the back of her thigh. “He didn’t take a chunk out. He took a bite and then released,” she said.

Lying on her back and facing the standing bear, Miles kicked, screamed and flailed her arms as the animal loomed over her. “I wasn’t going go down without a fight,” she reported.

The bear stood about six-feet tall, and Miles described it as having a distinctive look. “He looked sad and tired,” she said. “There was just something about him that didn’t look good.”

About three minutes after she first encountered the bear, it turned away and lumbered off. Miles got to her feet and ran to Thompson’s house, yelling for help.

“I go out the door and there’s Emily hanging on my gate saying, ‘I don’t mean to disturb you, but I’ve been bit by a bear,’” said Thompson.

Miles, an avocado rancher who lives just up the road from the Thompson ranch, is an active outdoorswoman and has crossed paths with several bears in her life. She noted that before she saw the bear, fresh scat on her path alerted her to its nearby presence.

Wildlife experts advise against running from bears. Miles said she was familiar with the advice, but in the moment of the attack, she could not fight the urge to run.

In the emergency room of Cottage Hospital, doctors treated the four puncture wounds Miles sustained from the bite, as well as deep scratches to her back. She also reported lower back pain, soreness and a cracked rib. During her conversation with Coastal View News, less than 24 hours after the attack, Miles was in good humor and eager to fully recover in order to fulfill her duties as a boardmember of the California Avocado Festival.

Miles claimed responsibility for putting herself in jeopardy and said that she should have taken more precautions when hiking alone. “He probably thought we were competing for food,” she said, describing the likely cause of the bear’s attack.

Bear sightings become more common in late summer or early fall when food sources become scarcer, Mackey said. Whether the drought has increased the seasonal stress on bears is unknown, she added.

Thompson reported multiple stories of wildlife encroaching on local properties. Miles’ incident with the bear, Thompson said, should serve as a cautionary tale for local hikers and mountain bicyclists. “This is a wild place over here,” she said, “and Franklin Trail is a wild area too.”

Council opts out of regional hotel promotion

By Peter Dugré
When the Santa Barbara South Coast Tourism Improvement District conducts its hotel assessment and promotion operations between 2015 and 2020, Goleta and Santa Barbara hotels will pay into the system without Carpinteria on board. At the Sept. 22 Carpinteria City Council meeting, the council was unable to find a majority of votes to continue participation in the assessment district, which charges South Coast hotels between $.75 and $4 per room night for tourism promotion.

Kathy Janega-Dykes, President and CEO of Visit Santa Barbara, the organization through which most of the funds flow, touted the work of her company as being partially responsible in the uptick in hotel occupancy since 2010. Visit Santa Barbara operates a website and prints a 90-page magazine to promote Santa Barbara’s South Coast in addition to placing advertisements about the Santa Barbara area in target publications. Visit Santa Barbara expected to have an approximately $5 million annual operating budget, of which Carpinteria hotels and vacation rentals were to account for 5 percent starting in 2015.

City staff had recommended that the council vote to continue participating in the hotel assessment district, which it has been part of since its inception in 2010. City Manager Dave Durflinger said the city stands to benefit from a boost to tourism when the entire Santa Barbara region is promoted. “In general, we know a lot of promotion of the Santa Barbara region in part benefits Carpinteria. Just how much? It’s hard to know,” Durflinger said. He called it, “more art than science.”

A portion of the assessment money paid into the district was allotted to the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce and earmarked for placing advertising specifically promoting Carpinteria rather than the region as a whole. The chamber had received $25,000 annually and was expected to receive $43,000 when the district was renewed at the start of 2015 following an increase in the assessment rate.

Assessments to the business district are separated from hotel bed taxes, which are paid to the City of Carpinteria. Hotels are responsible to pay the assessment and did not necessarily have to assess hotel guests on their bills, although many did pass the cost directly to hotel guests.

Council members Fred Shaw and Wade Nomura appeared ready to allow the assessment district to continue operating in Carpinteria, but Vice Mayor Gregg Carty and Councilmember Al Clark were against participating beyond 2015. Mayor Brad Stein recused himself from the topic due to a conflict of interest.

Carty was concerned that there had been a lack of input from Holiday Inn Express and Best Western in Carpinteria, hotels he considered more “destination” hotels than other lodging properties in the area. Holiday Inn had written a letter against participating in the assessment district prior to its initial formation in 2010. Only 50 percent plus one of regional hotels must vote to participate in order for all hotels to have to participate in the regional district. However, the City of Carpinteria must also vote to allow the operation of the district within the city, which its actions on Sept. 22 precluded.

Nomura motioned to continue a vote until the next city council meeting in order to give time for representatives of area hotels to provide input to council, but Clark and Carty voted against continuing the issue. No council member motioned to approve operation of the district within Carpinteria city limits, so the issue was tabled, and Carpinteria hotels will not pay into the assessment district beyond 2015.

Clark and Carty had both supported the initial formation of the district. But regarding its continuation, Clark asked, “How much tourism is too much tourism?” He said he believed Carpinteria is “on the map,” as evidenced by people knowing about it wherever he traveled. “We’ve been well promoted, and we’re well known,” he said.

Janega-Dykes advised, “I want to make it clear that if this is not supported, Visit Santa Barbara would not be able to include the City of Carpinteria in any of our marketing materials.”

The city council will meet again Oct. 13 when it will consider whether to officially take stances on ballot Measures P and U. “It’s going to be the measures meeting,” commented Stein. Measure P asks voters to ban certain oil extraction techniques for new drilling projects in unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County, and Measure U is a $90 million bond measure for Carpinteria Unified School District school upgrades. 

School board seeks Summerland representative

By Lea Boyd
Summerlanders will have very little to say about the future of the Carpinteria Unified School District unless someone steps up in the next month to fill the Summerland-specific seat on the five-member board of education. Sally Hinton, who represents the area now, has not sought another term, and no one else threw a hat in the ring for the November election. At its Sept. 23 meeting, the school board opted to open a four-week application window to find an individual to take on the task.

The board decided on a longer application window and a shorter term than administrators recommended. The timeline to appoint a new board member for a full four-year term would have allowed for just a two-week period for applicants to pickup, fill-out and return paperwork to be considered. Boardmember Alison Livett’s suggestion for a two-year term—followed by a 2016 election for another two-year term—gained traction with the rest of the board. She noted that a shorter term leading to an election would allow for more influence from the electorate. Boardmembers also agreed that giving candidates more time to submit paperwork could increase the pool of applicants.

The terms of boardmembers Grace Donnelly and Andy Sheaffer will also come to a close this year. Sheaffer’s name will appear on the ballot alongside that of candidates Michelle Robertson and John Stineman. Donnelly chose to complete her term without seeking re-election.

Applicants for the uncontested seat must reside in the Summerland area, which extends from Ortega Ridge to the west side of Toro Canyon Road. The board plans to interview and appoint a new boardmember in November. The appointed Summerland representative would then be seated on Dec. 9, when the two other elected board members take their seats.


 

Carpinteria's Avo-palooza: The Upbeat among popular acts for AvoFest

Carpinteria's Avo-palooza: The Upbeat among popular acts for AvoFest

By Mark Brickley
Mike Lazaro knows how to throw a party! He’s the California Avocado Festival’s Operations and Entertainment Director. Mike makes his living running food and beverage operations for major events from Dallas to Detroit. For the last 25 years, Lazaro has returned home to quarterback Carpinteria’s annual street fair. This year’s celebration will take place on Linden Avenue from Friday, Oct. 3 through Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. Lazaro says the celebration will be even tighter and mightier. “It’s going to be meaner and greener than ever,” he mused.

AvoFest is renowned for its four free stages of continuous live music. Love to dance? The Main Stage has a wooden floor to wiggle your toes. The Seal Fountain Stage features artists playing genres from alt-folk to power rock and electric blues. Want to escape the rays? Grab a beverage and slip into the tented Guac and Grotto Stage. There you’ll hear Americana, folk-rock and country sets played by great singer/songwriters. There’s even music in the kids area. The Little Pits Stage will have a new look and feature daily singalongs and magical offerings.

This year’s musical acts have a familiar ring with several new twists. It’s impossible to sit still when The Upbeat performs. The local ska band often draws the festival’s biggest crowds. Hear them on Saturday afternoon on the Main Stage. The Flashbacks are coming back. This legendary Carpinteria band will take you down memory lane with Latin classics like “Hot-Hot-Hot.”

If you like to line-dance, head over to the Grotto Stage on Saturday to hear the Dusty Jugz. Local bassman Roger Gilbert and rhythm guitarist Curtis Lopez anchor this talented local country act. Blues guitarist Rick Reeves bends guitar strings like B.B. King. His band includes Canned Heat member Fito de la Parra, who played at Woodstock in ’69. Reeve’s All-Stars invades the Main Stage Saturday night.

Lazaro said culling the festival acts was a challenge this year. “We had over 300 artists who requested festival sets. That’s a logistical impossibility.” He’s big on Rainrider, which features members of national touring acts Los Lobos, Counting Crows and Crazy Horse.

Local singer/songwriter Justin Sinclair’s new modern folk trio is called The Portion. They recently released their first EP. “They have a Mumford and Sons vibe, and their songs have such a positive message,” Lazaro said. The Portion will play Saturday on the Grotto Stage.

Both bands Pacific Haze and Afishnsea the Moon both got their starts at past AvoFests. Afishnsea will return to play on Friday evening and Haze on Saturday night. Carpinteria songwriter Jamey Geston will play a primetime set on Saturday evening on the Main Stage. This talented teen recently opened for folk legend Judy Collins at The Canyon Club.

First year Avofest artists include the quirky Ojai act, Hatter’s Tea, who will perform early Friday afternoon.

MacMurrays named Avofest honorary chairs

MacMurrays named Avofest honorary chairs

Tim MacMurray has an empty space on the wall of his office just waiting to be filled on the first weekend in October. The 2014 California Avocado Festival poster that ultimately adorns the wall will mark the year that Tim and wife Wendy served as the festival’s honorary chairs and joined an elite list of Carpinterians who have helped to define the valley’s avocado industry.

“I was thrilled,” said Tim of being selected as this year’s co-chair. Tim grew up in New York and didn’t meet his first avocado until he moved to California in 1970.

Wendy, on the other hand, is essentially avocado royalty. She is the daughter of the late George Bliss, a longtime Carpinterian who left an indelible mark on the avo industry and Carpinteria as a whole. Tim and Wendy were set up on a blind date in the 1970s, and eventually, Tim laughs, “I married into avocados.”

Bliss founded Carpinteria Motor Transport, an agricultural trucking businesses, which Tim and Wendy now operate as CMT. These days, they haul avocados exclusively. CMT trucks pick up avos from ranches between Cayucos and San Diego, and handle at least 75 percent of the fruit produced in Carpinteria, according to Tim. Most of the avocados are then delivered to the Calavo packinghouse in Santa Paula. In one day, CMT can move 700,000 avocados from ranch to packinghouse.

The couple’s Casitas Pass Road home, in which Wendy’s father was raised, is surrounded by 50 acres of avocados that remain in the Bliss/MacMurray family. “We eat avocados daily,” said Wendy. Like many, Wendy’s favorite avocado dish is guacamole. Tim enjoys slicing an avocado in half, taking out the pit, filling the cavity with Italian dressing and scooping out the meat.

The MacMurrays are proud to represent a festival that promotes the avocado industry, educates consumers and brings tourist dollars to Carpinteria. In their lives, the avocado has played a critical role. Wendy said, “The avocado put our kids through school and food on the table.”
- Lea Boyd

CHS and Cate split Carpinteria Valley Invitational

CHS and Cate split Carpinteria Valley Invitational

Carpinteria High School had faster boys, and Cate School’s girls were faster at the Carpinteria Valley Invitational cross country meet at Viola Field on Sept. 17. Boys winner Francisco Arroyo, of CHS, covered the scenic 3-mile course in 18:36.1. Cate’s Charlotte Monke set the girls pace at 21:30.3. Warrior boys won as a team, 26-29, and Cate’s girls won 27-28.

Other top Warrior finishers were second-place boys Sam Truax (19:00.1) and fourth place Arturo Saldaña (19:43.9). In the girls race, top Warrior runner Mikela Keefer finished second in 22:13.6. She was followed by third-place Gaby Fantone (22:55.9) and fourth-place Alondra Campuzano (23:11).

In boys, Cate’s Rei Imada finished third (19:28.1) and Dylan Ell finished fifth (19:48.1). For Cate girls, Rainbow Wang finished fifth (23:21.8) and Jessica Liou finished sixth (23:28.7).

Ozone toast

 Ozone toast

Staff members at the Carpinteria Community Pool raise a glass to the new ozone water purification system at a celebration held on Sept. 17. The new system drastically reduces the amount of chemicals necessary to kill harmful viruses and bacteria in the local swimming pool at 5305 Carpinteria Ave.

Warriors take home opener, 45-24, over Oak Park

Warriors take home opener, 45-24, over Oak Park

By Alonzo Orozco
The Warrior Football faithful may have had reason to be concerned last week, as Carpinteria High School limped into its home opener against former Tri-Valley League nemesis Oak Park with a slew of injuries and having lost 48-6 at Nipomo the previous game. But with a revamped offense and a suddenly stingy defense, the home team won by a score of 45-24 on Sept. 19 in front of a delighted crowd at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium.
It was only the third victory over the now-Canyon League Eagles for the Warriors in the last 10 years. “We blocked a little bit better this week than we did last week,” explained Carpinteria coach Ben Hallock. “We were down to two running backs, but Rudy (Beltran) did a really nice job and Aaron (Vargas) picked up a lot of tough yards,” added Hallock of his two replacement backs filling in for Richie Gallardo and Oscar Garcia. Vargas ended up being the leading rusher on the night with 115 yards on 12 carries, while Beltran netted 106 yards on 15 carries, each tallying a touchdown apiece.
Beltran’s 2-yard TD run opened the scoring, capping a 74-yard drive at the 5:38 mark of the first quarter. Oak Park answered back on a couple of heaves from quarterback Jacob Lund, the second one ending up in the hands of Nick DeSpain for a 26-yard score to tie it at 7-7.
Carpinteria responded quickly when quarterback Jimmy Graves found a wide-open Omar Miranda, who sprinted 57 yards after the catch to put the Warriors back in front 14-7. However, the Eagles took to the air themselves, tying the score on Lund’s 75-yard bomb to wide receiver Lucas Flamer. Following a successful onside kick, Oak Park’s John Abate closed out the scoring in the first quarter, booting a 29-yard field goal to put the Eagles up 17-14.
Carpinteria wasted little time regaining the lead as Graves’ 10-yard TD jaunt put the Warriors back in front 21-17 with 9:46 until halftime. With the Oak Park offense going three-and-out, Carpinteria earned good field position. A questionable fumble call, accompanied by two Warrior sideline unsportsmanlike conduct penalties put the Eagles on the Warrior 10-yard line. Oak Park running back Cameron Fatemi would cash it in from there to put the visitors back in front 24-21 with 7:26 still left until halftime.
Warrior Jason Martinez’s 26-yard field goal knotted the game at 24 as the two teams volleyed back and forth. Then Miranda’s 61-yard touchdown catch off a deflection gave the Warriors the lead at the half, 31-24. Miranda had five receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns by halftime. Graves ended up completing 7-of-12 passes for 198 yards, along with 74 yards rushing.
Carpinteria tightened things up defensively in the second half. An interception and spectacular 80-yard TD return by Miranda from his safety position gave the Warriors a two touchdown lead with a little over five minutes to play in the third quarter at 38-24. He later thwarted another Oak Park drive with his second interception of the game. Vargas closed out the scoring with an 8-yard burst up the middle.
The Warriors remain at home to play South Torrance on Friday, Sept. 26. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

Golfers hit links for chamber scholarship fund

The 17th Annual Golf Classic hosted by Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce at Glen Annie Golf Club on Sept. 17 ended with a few big winners, including tournament and auction beneficiary, the Junior Carpinterian Scholarship Fund. More than 70 golfers, friends and business members of CVCC took to the links. Following the competition, golfers joined for a dinner, auction and awards ceremony. The DAC International team--Dave Stubbe, Stan Lay, Jim Marks and Ryan Kane--won the lowest net score prize. Lowest gross score went to Montecito Bank & Trust -- Joe Ballesteros, Danny Contreras, Anthony Castillo and Javier Quezada. And Patricia Alpert whacked the longest drive for women.

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