As the Nov. 4 general election approaches, residents looking to run for special district seats around Santa Barbara County rushed to get their candidate paperwork submitted before the 5:00 p.m. deadline Friday.

A number of candidates joined the ballot in the last week of the filing period, with the Cuyama area’s special district elections seeing activity for the first time since the filing period began July 14. Nicole Rodriguez, Troy Carpenter and incumbent Kim Eichert filed paperwork to campaign for spots on the Cuyama Valley Recreation District, and incumbent Maria Medina also submitted paperwork to run for one of the recreation district’s short-term seats.

The Santa Maria Public Airport District saw another familiar name join the race last week when incumbent Carl Engel Jr. filed his papers the day before Michael Spingler filed, bringing the total to four candidates who are now vying for two seats. 

The field of candidates sparring for two seats on the Vandenberg Village Community Services District also grew after incumbent Anthony Fox pulled his papers Aug. 7.

And days ago, J. Brett Marymee jumped into the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District Division No. 5 election, joining incumbent Jeffrey Newton on the ballot. Meanwhile, Lee Rosenberg and R. Brad Joos got into the race for the one at-large seat on Improvement District No. 1.

Incumbent Susan Gregg also pulled papers to campaign again for her place on the Los Alamos Community Services District.

For those races in which incumbents didn’t file their nomination documents by 5 p.m. Friday, any person other than the incumbent has until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13, to file.

The Nov. 4 ballot also will include the highly contentious Measure P, which would ban new high-intensity oil operations in the county’s unincorporated areas if passed by a majority of voters. Countywide voters will see Measure O on the ballot as well, which, if passed, would raise the hotel bed-tax in the county’s unincorporated areas from 10 percent to 12.5 percent.

The 24th District Congressional race and the 37th District State Assembly election also are set to be decided during the general election.

For more information on the upcoming ballot or the Nov. 4 general election, call 568-2200 or visit

August 8, 2014  Santa Maria Times Staff


SANTA MARIA, Aug. 23 and 24: The Santa Maria Museum of Flight brings “Thunder Over the Valley” Air Show to the Santa Maria Airport, entering on Foster Road, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. The Army’s Golden Knight Parachuting team will be make 3-4 jumps daily. Bill Cornich, the Grandfather of aerobatics, John Collier & War Dog and many other military planes for static review. Car show, Budweiser Beer garden, and many other vendors. Cost: $12 for adults, $3 for 7 to 12 yrs., $25 for family pack of four. Active Military is free! Info: or 922-8758.

A&E Calendar Santa Maria Times

August 8, 2014  Santa Maria Times

Army’s Parachuting Team Featured Attraction This Weekend

2014-08-18T00:00:00Z 2014-08-18T20:25:22Z Air show thunders back after hiatusJennifer Best Santa Maria Times

Thunder Over the Valley runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 23 and 24 at the Santa Maria Public Airport.  Admission is $12 for adults, $3 for children ages 7 to 12, or $25 for a family of four. Children 6 and younger and members of the military are admitted free of charge. For more information about the event or the Santa Maria Museum of Flight, visit

History, pride and aeronautical prowess will roar to life Saturday and Sunday when warbirds descend upon Santa Maria Public Airport for the Santa Maria Museum of Flight’s 26th Thunder Over the Valley Air Show. The air show returns with renewed vigor and excitement after a one-year hiatus.

“Our mission encompasses not only the historical side of aviation, but honoring our fallen and wounded warriors, and helping support current troops, our veterans and their families,” said Santa Maria Museum of Flight Chief Executive Officer Mike Geddry Sr.

The annual event attracts some 7,000 to 8,000 visitors, Geddry said. Last year’s sequestration and budgetary challenges brought dozens of air shows to a halt, he wrote in a letter last year, but renewed community support, a return of full service in the Federal Aviation Administration and affected military branches, and a rebounding economy have breathed new life into the show.

This year’s featured attraction is the Army’s Golden Knight Parachuting Team that will make three to four jumps daily.  “It took us 10 years to get ‘em,” said Geddry, a former airborne trooper who hooked team with a personal plea during the International Council of Air Shows convention.

If weather permits, Geddry said, the 19-member team representing the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions will perform a special jump Friday between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. The 45-minute jump will feature a practice succession with a tandem jump including either Santa Maria City Councilman Jack Boysen or County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino.

In Saturday’s opening jump, paratroopers will pass a baton among themselves before handing it over to a select member of local government upon landing.

Thunder Over the Valley Air Show is also honored to host special guest Bill Cornick, the grandfather of aerobatics, who will pilot a Pitts biplane for the show.  “Bill Cornick is a former U.S. Air Force pilot who, in his everyday life, helps military pilots learn fighter tactics and acrobatics,” Geddry said.

Static displays will feature 10 historic aircraft including a Lockheed Model 10 Electra like the one Amelia Earhart flew to infamy in 1937, one or two military aircraft on training missions, a car show, Budweiser beer garden and other vendors

“We’ll have an overabundance of food — we always do — including hot dogs, tri-tip barbecue, Boy Scouts cooking and doing root beer floats. There’s a ton of stuff going on,” Geddry said.

Proceeds from the air show support museum operation and special events including barbecues, military welcomes and others throughout the year in support of military, both active and retired.

“When you’re deployed, whether in combat or peacetime, there’s a certain amount of loneliness, homesickness, you get,” Geddry said. “We give them a piece of Santa Maria that sticks with them not just while they’re deployed, but their entire lives.

“They’re treated not as strangers, but as one of our own,” he added. “That goes a long way for the guys and girls in the military. It seems like it only takes a day here for them to realize this has become their second home, a place they can come, visit with people, be thanked for their service, be treated like they’re family.”

August 18, 2014  •  Santa Maria Times  Jennifer Best

After a year hiatus, Santa Maria Museum of Flight is bringing the Thunder Over the Valley Air Show back to the Santa Maria Public Airport on Aug. 23 and 24. A wide variety of military aircraft will be on view from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at the show designed to honor the military pilots and aircraft of the past and inspire pilots of the future. The featured attraction will be the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights parachute team, which will make three to four jumps daily, a museum spokesman said. Aerobatics demonstrations also will be presented by Bill Cornick, known as “the Grandfather of Aerobatics,” in his Pitts S-2C biplane dubbed Big Bad Green and John Collver in his 1944 AT-6/SNJ Texan advanced training aircraft nicknamed War Dog. A show-and-shine car show will include classics, customs, antiques and muscle cars, a variety of vendors will offer their wares and a Budweiser Beer Garden will be open. The show is held at the Santa Maria Airport entering on Foster Road. Admission is $3 for ages 7 to 12 and $12 for all others, although a $25 Family Pack will admit a family of four. Active military personnel are admitted free. Entry to the air show is off Foster Road. For more information, call 922-8758 or visit

August 16, 2014 Santa Maria Times

The list of potential candidates vying for special district seats in the Nov. 4 general election continued to grow this week, with the candidate filing period set to expire next Friday.

Santa Barbara County Elections staff saw multiple incumbents from local water conservation districts stop in throughout the sunny, dry week to begin the filing process.  Jeffrey Newton began his candidate paperwork last Monday, trying to work his way onto the ballot and possibly back into his seat on the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District.  Art Hibbits, Kevin Walsh and Jonathan Mundt previously filed papers to again run for their seats overseeing the water district’s efforts.

Incumbent Deborah Askew filed papers this week to begin her run at the Santa Maria Valley Water Conservation District’s 5th Division seat, with Casey Tuttle Conrad running for the 6th Division. Candidates have yet to file papers for the district’s 3rd and 4th Divisions.

Outside of the water districts, Roger McConnell pulled his papers early in the week to run for another stint on the Lompoc Valley Medical Center’s board, possibly joining Linual White Jr. and incumbent Mary Sharp on the ballot.

About 20 miles east, David Higgins and David Seymour have begun the paperwork to once again campaign for their seats on the Santa Ynez Community Services District, with Stephen Daugherty and Barry Marks pulling papers for short term seats at the service district. The short-term seats are good for two years, with the traditional terms stretching to four years.

And incumbent Chuck Damiano, a pilot and aerospace engineer, filed his candidate papers Friday to run for a spot at the Santa Maria Public Airport District.

Interested residents have until 5 p.m. Aug. 8 to file their candidate paperwork.  The races in which incumbents do not file on or before Aug. 8 will remain open until 5 p.m. Aug. 13.  Candidates can file their paperwork at the Santa Barbara Elections Office, 4440-A Calle Real in Santa Barbara, or at the Santa Maria Elections Office, 511 E. Lakeside Parkway. The Lompoc Branch Office is not collecting candidate materials. 

Voters will also see Measure O, which could raise the county’s Transient Occupancy Tax rate, on the Nov. 4 ballot as well as Measure P, which could ban new high-intensity oil operations in the county’s unincorporated areas.

For more information on the upcoming election or filing candidate paperwork, visit or call 568-2200.

 August 1, 2014  •  Erin Lennon

While few new candidates secured their place on the Nov. 4 general election ballot this week, Santa Barbara County Elections staff expects more competitors to join races as the Aug. 8 filing deadline approaches.

“Usually the first day or two is busy then it slows down, and as we get closer to the end, people come in to finish up,” said Elections Supervisor Suzanne Jackson.

Approximately 37 people have filed at least some of the necessary paperwork to run in the 81 contests heading to voters in November. More than 30 of these contests are for special district offices, and a few of these city districts saw some new names this week.

Retired Fire Chief Linual White Jr. pulled papers to run for one of three open seats at the Lompoc Valley Medical Center, and retired aerospace engineer Hugh Rafferty filed paperwork for his run at one of two seats at the Santa Maria Public Airport District. William Bumpass also pulled papers for the Vandenberg Village Community Services District. Incumbents had yet to file papers in these races as of Friday.

If incumbents don’t file by Aug. 8, the filing period for individual contests extends to Aug. 13.

A few incumbents did pull papers this week, however. Jonathan Mundt submitted paperwork to get himself back on the ballot and possibly back on the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District Division No. 1. He’s currently unopposed, and no candidates had filed for the district’s fourth or fifth divisions as of Friday. James Mackenzie was another incumbent who filed papers this week, seeking another term on the Mission Hills Community Services District.

The Los Alamos Community Services District, Santa Maria Valley Water Conservation District, Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District-Improvement District No. 1 as well as other offices farther south also have seats up for election this November.

While county elections staff does not work with candidates running for city offices, they do have information available, and Jackson reminded residents that there is no filing fee to run as a school or special district candidate.

Representative Lois Capps, whose office oversees Santa Barbara County and other regions of the 24th District, will square off with Republican candidate Chris Mitchum on Nov. 4 in the election’s lone federal race along with a number of state contests.

For more information on the upcoming election, offices or the filing period, visit or call 568-2200.

July 19, 2014   Erin Lennon

B-29 Superfortress Flew Missions in Japan and Korea

Come see the plane

FIFI the B-29 Superfortress and other visiting vintage airplanes will be available for tours and rides today from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission, which includes a tour of the B-29 cockpit, is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 10-17 and free for children younger than 10. The price of rides in the planes ranges from $75 to $1,795. To book a ride, go to

The only flying B-29 Superfortress airplane — a World War II model — will be available for tours and rides today at the Santa Maria Public Airport along with other vintage military aircraft.

The B-29, on display from the Commemorative Air Force, is named FIFI and flew missions above Japan during WWII and Korea during the conflict on that peninsula, according to a press release from the organization. The fleet of planes landed Tuesday.

FIFI’s missions helped end war in the Pacific theatre, according to the press release. It was first flown in 1942 after the B-29 line was produced to replace the older B-17s and B-24s. The B-29 introduced longer ranges and greater bomb loads to the U.S. military presence than the older planes and continued in use in the Air Force until the late 1950s.

A P-51 Mustang, C-45 Expeditor, T-6 and Fairchild PT-19 will join the B-29 on display at the airport behind the Raddison Hotel. The P-51 line entered service in Europe in 1944 as a long-range escort fighter and destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft, more than any other type of plane according to the release.

The CAF has a fleet of more than 150 vintage airplanes which it takes on tour throughout the country. Before coming to Santa Maria, the planes now sitting at the airport visited Bakersfield, Lancaster and Prescott, Ariz. After the All-America City, they will go on to Salinas, Modesto, Sacramento and four other stops.

CAF took possession of FIFI in the early 1970s after discovering that the craft was being used as a missile target at the U.S. Navy Proving Ground at China Lake in eastern Kern County. The plane flew for another 30 years until it was grounded in 2006. The plane then went through a four-year restoration process in which all four engines were replaced with custom engines. It began flying again in 2010.


May 28, 2014  Santa Maria Times

Probably nowhere on the Central Coast are America’s military personnel more recognized than in the Santa Maria Valley.

A number of monuments and facilities exist to show our appreciation to those who have served, who do serve and who will serve in the future. In the Santa Maria area alone we have the following:

The Veteran’s Memorial Center — This facility is currently managed and maintained by Santa Maria Parks and Recreation, and is a registered Historical Landmark. It was built to honor veterans of the Santa Maria Valley who served in world wars.

During its almost 80-year history, Marshal N. Braden Post 56 has continuously occupied the building. The members of the post were the original organizers to get the building built. It was constructed using CCC and WPA funds and labor.

Over the years, besides the American Legion, the following veterans organizations have called the Vets Hall home — Disabled American Veterans, Marine Corps League, VFW, Fleet Reserve, WWI Association, American Veterans United and Amvets.

The Freedom Monument — The Freedom Monument was dedicated in 2001 to remember those Santa Maria Valley veterans who have given their lives during times of war, but also to honor all veterans and military members still serving on active duty.

The Freedom Monument features six marble monoliths, each holding a plaque representing various branches of the service. It also includes a fountain and tile mural of a bald eagle. Each year, on or about Dec. 7, a different plaque or other tribute is dedicated. Past plaques have honored veterans who have died in the Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II. Recent additions have included plaques honoring women in the armed forces, Vandenberg AFB, and others.

Since its inception, the Freedom Monument has placed the names of over 100 Santa Maria Valley service men and women who have given their lives defending their country.

The Santa Maria Valley Military Wall of Honor — This latest tribute was officially dedicated on Nov. 8, 2013. While doing a tour of the airport terminal with Santa Maria Airport District General Manager Chris Hastert, I asked if an area of the terminal could be made available to create a tribute to all past, present and future military personnel. With this approval in hand, I solicited the help of Airport District Manager, Chamber of Commerce President Bob Hatch, and Chairman of the EDC David Cross. Bob and David were the driving force behind the Freedom Monument, which stands in front of the Abel Maldonado Youth Center in Santa Maria.

But it’s not just about memorials and monuments. Throughout the Santa Maria area, individuals and groups are making an effort every day to bring support to our active duty and veteran military. For example, the Elks has a monthly reminder in their newsletter to remember our veterans, the Marine Corps League runs the Toys for Tots campaign on behalf of the Marine Corps Reserve, the American Legion, Amvets, VFW and other organizations afford a place for veterans to connect with others who have served. Then there’s groups like the Welcome Home Veterans who gather at local airports to welcome military personnel returning from deployment; AmpSerf, a group which works with disabled vets by teaching them to surf; the Tin Can Sailors, comprised of personnel who have served on naval destroyers; and the American Legion Riders, who accompany our fallen warriors to their final resting place.

And so, we in the Santa Maria Valley say to our military “we care!”

Hugh Rafferty is the Chairman of Committee INC and a member of Coastal Valleys Detachment 1340 Marine Corps League.

May 22, 2014   Hugh Rafferty/Improving North County

The aircraft arrived last week because the drought and recent hot, dry and windy conditions have increased the risk of wildfires along the Central Coast and beyond.  In fact, fire and state emergency managers who gathered Monday to kick off Wildfire Awareness Week, May 5 through 11, said the foothills of Southern California are as dry now as they usually are in July or August, the height of the wildfire season.

A spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service said the planes were brought into Santa Maria early because of recent red flag warnings for extreme fire danger in Southern California.  The planes are usually stationed on the Central Coast through November.

Officials say aircraft can make a critical difference in controlling a wildfire, especially if they are deployed as soon as a blaze is reported.  “Aircraft are more effective in initial attack, the early stages of a fire before it gets up and takes off and gets large, and they cool the fire off for ground resources, hand crews and engines to be able to work close and extinguish the fire,” said Mark Nunez of the U.S. Forest Service.

The DC-10, the largest of the firefighting aircraft currently stationed at the airport, can carry about 12,000 gallons of retardant, Nunez said.  That can be spread over a mile-long area or used on fires as small as five acres, he said.

Firefighting agencies say the Santa Maria Public Airport is one of the prime air attack bases on the West Coast.

In addition to the tanker facility, the airport has a long runway and is strategically located between the volatile mountains of Southern California, the rugged Sierra Nevada to the east and the coastal ranges to the north and south.

Officials who launched Wildfire Awareness Week at Cal Fire’s Aviation Management Unit, located at McClellan Air Force Base, said this wildfire season has the potential to be even more destructive than usual.  With California is facing its third dry year, the parched grasses, brush and trees have become prime fuel.  Officials hope Wildfire Awareness Week will raise people’s consciousness of wildfire danger and actions they can take to reduce the risk to their homes and communities.

“The historic drought that is upon us makes wildfire preparedness more critical than ever,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services.  “There’s a very high likelihood of well-above-normal (numbers of) fires and perhaps a chance of longer-lasting fires, which require more resources in order to fight them,” he said.

So far this year, California has already experienced more wildfires than normal, officials said.  As of April 26, more than 1,100 wilidfires have been reported in the state — more than double the average of the previous five years.

Even before this year’s deepening drought, forest officials were reporting longer fire seasons and more catastrophic megafires in California and other Western states.  More than half of California’s worst fires in recorded history have occurred since 2002, fire officials said.

As many as 90 percent of U.S. wildland fire are caused by humans — from campfires left unattended, burning debris, negligently discarded cigarettes and arson.

Residents, especially in rural areas, are advised to create a defensible space around their homes by clearing brush, thinning trees and removing combustible debris.

For more information, contact a local fire department, Cal Fire or Forest Service office.

May 6, 2014  •  Mike Hodgson /

Ornate Creations to be on Display at Free Town Center Gallery Exhibition

A vegetable harvest put to canvas, a slew of floral-patterned silk scarves, and a watercolor rendering of Central Coast cliffs: Each is a sampling of what visitors to the Town Center Gallery at the Radisson Hotel in Santa Maria will see Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Guests are welcome to the all-member exhibition of fine art, photography and three-dimensional crafts and sculpture, which will be held in the large meeting room adjacent to the main lobby of the hotel with an artist’s reception planned from 3 to 5 p.m. Participating crafters will include Hattie Stoddard, Beverly Johnson, Barbara Shepherd, Claudette Willard, Sharon Foster, Pat Stalter, John Card, Stephanie Palomarez, and Deborah L. Hildinger.

The principle purpose of the event is to bring art to the community through ongoing exhibits at the Santa Maria Airport and at the Radisson Hotel. The gallery also provides a scholarship each year for aspiring student artists and art-related workshops for children at the Santa Maria Public Library.

The exhibit bears especial significance to the community, according to Deborah Hildinger of Young Designs: Contemporary Fine Art.  “It provides a venue for the community to view and hopefully purchase the work of local artists in this area. It also provides a chance for the community to come and meet the artists,” she said.

Visitors can expect to peruse paintings on paper and canvas, watercolors, photography, painted silk scarves, prints, and crafts such as gourd vessels.

Hildinger wants the exhibit to become a recurring event.  “We are hoping that this will become another one of the gallery’s venues on a continuing basis that provides affordable arts and crafts to the community,” she said. “In addition, we want to bring to the public’s attention our vision to once again have a permanent gallery space.”

The success of exhibits like these, she said, depends on community support.  “ … We need community support from individuals, organizations, and companies to have this vision come to fruition.”

The Radisson Hotel is located at 3455 Airpark Drive beside the Santa Maria Public Airport.

For more information contact Hildinger at 805-264-5183 or email

 2/28/14  Santa Maria Times