Central Coast Journal • January 2022

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Something Worth Reading Publisher’s Letter

Round Town


Behind the Badge | SLO County Sheriff’s Office Mayor’s Corner | A Look Back & A Vision Forward for 2022 Paso Art Scene | Studios on the Park Writing Support Group | Why I Think You Can Write


14 15



On the Cover


Literature | Local Authors Release Y.A. Sci-Fi Novel Communication | Embracing Conversation in the Digital Age

FEATURES 18 Clark Guest | Living Proof That Addiction


Can Be Overcome Mount Whitney | Full Moon and Wildfires

SLOcally Sourced


Pasolivo | A Successful 2021 Olive Harvest




SLO County Office of Education | Education Opportunities & Challenges History | Honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Crossword




Last Word



Vultures | Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder Directory of Advertisers

Clark Guest at his home in Idaho. Photo by Megan Aufrichtig of Hayden Lake Photography 6 | centralcoastjournal.com

Something Worth Reading

FROM THE PUBLISHER Welcome 2022, and our second issue of Central Coast Journal. After navigating our way through the transition, we are starting to find our footing and ready to make 2022 the best year yet! Coming into a new year, we take time to stop and reflect, and although it was another challenging year, there is so much to be grateful for. We want to start by thanking our loyal and dedicated advertisers that have supported our publications as they all navigated the past year with us, keeping their businesses open and adapting to the continuous changes in circumstances throughout the pandemic. We salute you!

publisher, editor-in-chief owned and operated by hayley mattson nic & hayley mattson

layout design editor

michael a. michaud

assistant editor melissa guerra

assistant content editor

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camille devaul

jen rodman

ad consultants dana mcgraw jamie self

office administrator

cami martin office@13starsmedia.com

contributing writers betty hartig ed waage ian parkinson james brescia, ed.d. kathy mastako

In this month’s edition, Clark Guest honors us with his story of redemption and recovery, local authors release a novel, and the voices of our local elected officials speak to the heart of local issues. These are just a few stories that are among the other great local tales we get to share in this month’s issue. We appreciate the opportunity to serve the residents of San Luis Obispo County, so please feel free to get in touch.

neil farrell rick castillo sarah santana steve martin susan stewart

OUR NEXT ISSUE: health, fitness & wellness


We value your feedback and story ideas; if you know of someone who has an unsung story, please write us and let us know at 805-546-0609 or email editor@centralcoast journal.com.


We strongly believe that our community represents the quality that can continue to reflect a pursuit of the highest ideals in making San Luis Obispo County a wonderful place to live. Therefore, we will be sure that our magazine continues to deliver the quality content that makes it a valuable part of our community.

* Ad reservation deadline is the 10th of each month preceding the publication. For more information about advertising, upcoming issues and editorial themes, contact our advertising representatives at office@13starsmedia.com

We hope you enjoy this month’s issue of Central Coast Journal. Hayley & Nic


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Annual subscriptions are available for $25. Inquiries concerning subscriptions, advertising, etc. can be made by emailing Cami Martin at office@13starsmedia.com, or by calling (805) 466-2585. Central Coast Journal is a free monthly publication distributed to over 600 locations throughout the Central Coast and is also available at centralcoastjournal.com.

if thou wouldest win immortality of name, either do things worth the writing, or write things worth the reading. — Thomas Fuller, 1727

This month’s edition of Central Coast Journal is brought to you by all the local advertisers that fill our pages. Thanks to them, we are able to bring you your local Hometown Magazine. 8 | centralcoastjournal.com


Editorial submissions are welcome but are published at the discretion of the publisher. Submissions will be returned if accompanied by a stamped self addressed envelope. No material published in the magazine can be reproduced without written permission. Opinions expressed within are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect those of the Central Coast Journal. Our Local Business section spotlights select advertisers. All other stories are determined solely by our editors. designed & printed in california

Round Town

Law Enforcement


SLO County Sheriff’s Office by Ian Parkinson, SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY SHERIFF


efore I begin this column, I want to first wish everyone a very happy, safe, and prosperous 2022!

Bross was found murdered in his home on January 24, 2019. The suspect, David Krause of Grover Beach, was arrested on April 8, 2021. That homicide was one of six the Sheriff’s Office investigated in 2019. As I mentioned at the time, we typically don’t have six homicides in one year. But 2019 was a very unusual year. With the arrest of Krause, all six of the homicides investigated by the Sheriff’s Office in 2019 have been solved.

That’s how I began my column last year. That’s my usual greeting for the new year. But I have to qualify that statement by saying 2021 has been anything but usual. That’s because we are still dealing with the challenges of the pandemic. I think we were all hoping once we hit 2021, all of the problems and issues with COVID But it’s not just the big cases that make the would be over. However, it has mutated, and now headlines. It’s sometimes stories like neighbors several different variants have spread around the in North County reporting a person who dumped world. That’s made the challenge of dealing with this a load of trash at the entrance to the Los Padres Napandemic even more difficult. We’ve all been affected tional Forest. The suspect was caught and made to clean in some way or another. If not physically, then certainly up his mess. Or the story about how $10,000 in rare train emotionally or maybe financially. But it is my firm belief that there parts were stolen from Santa Margarita Ranch. But because of the will be a better tomorrow. And with that note of optimism, I present great work of our Deputies, the parts were recovered before they were to you my fourth annual State of the Sheriff’s Office. recycled, and the suspect was arrested. And one more story, one of my favorites of the year, when two of my Deputies, Nick Dreyfus and There probably was no bigger story this past year than we made Cliff Pacas, who were involved in a shootout in 2020 with a gunman an arrest in the almost 25-year-old case of missing Cal Poly student in Paso Robles, were honored for their heroism by the County Board Kristin Smart. I would like to talk to you more about this; however, of Supervisors. I am still bound by the court’s gag order in the case. All I can say at this point is that this case is now proceeding to trial. The trial is I’m extremely grateful to the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office expected to start in April. who, day in and day out, provide safety and security to all who live in San Luis Obispo County. And I am thankful to you, the community, Another homicide case, no less important than the Smart case but for making the place we call home a better place to live. not nearly as well-publicized, was solved last year. A suspect was arrested for the 2019 murder of Larry Bross in Oceano. The 90-year-old So, here’s to a new year. Be good. And be good to one another.. 

10 | centralcoastjournal.com

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Round Town

San Luis Obispo County Mayors


Downtown Atascadero Upward Trajectory by HEATHER MORENO, MAYOR OF ATASCADERO


’m proud to say that while the economy-busting COVID-19 pandemic put a temporary pause on our progress, it couldn’t stop us. From added commercial development and customer-serving business to new public infrastructure and events, Atascadero is already moving forward again, stronger than ever. City Council and Staff continue to work hard to set policies and implement improvements that enhance economic development and stimulate economic growth, and we’ve seen the results of those efforts citywide, particularly in the downtown. Our primary objectives include providing increased public safety and enhancing economic vitality, together with the ability to host more special events in the downtown. One recent event was the three-day Atascadero Fall Festival held in November that attracted an estimated 15,000 residents and visitors to the downtown area. It was received with such enthusiasm that we plan to bring it back next year. The upward trajectory of downtown Atascadero is due largely to City investment combined with strong interest from private developers and local business owners. The new Italian Renaissance style, three-story La Plaza mixed-use project, now nearing completion and located in the heart of our downtown, is just one prime example. New restaurants, cafes, and breweries, in conjunction with a growing number of special events, offer more dining and entertainment options for residents and bring more visitors to Atascadero. In addition to 42 units of additional housing, La Plaza will provide a great mix of retail and restaurant spaces that will soon be home to wonderful new businesses, including Cielo, an upscale rooftop Italian restaurant and bar, along with LOL Yogurt, LouLou Cheese Shop, and a local barbershop. These are just the first of La Plaza’s tenants to open shortly, with others in the pipeline.

Photo by Rick Evans

that has long-served as pedestrian access to and from that area for many local students and residents. Downtown Atascadero is brimming with lots of new and soon-tobe-open small businesses, such as La Michoacana, a new Mexican Ice Cream shop that many can’t wait to try. Fun new businesses also opened in the Block Shops, located next door to Colony Market & Deli, including Negranti Creamery, Stellar + S.U.N. Hat Company, and Ancient Owl Beer & Bottle Shoppe. Other recent additions include the Bramble Pie Company, MEA Winery & Tasting Room, Poisoned Apple Cider & Craft Tavern, Colony Mash Brewing, and so many more. By the time this article is published, we’ll have wrapped up our always fun and exciting holiday events. But we’re already looking forward to an even more exhilarating 2022, which we’ll kick off with our Annual Atascadero Tamale Festival on Saturday, January 15. This event is always great fun for everyone and is a terrific opportunity to stock up on lots of tasty varieties of traditional, as well as non-traditional, tamales. (The dark chocolate tamale is one of my favorites!)

I am confident the New Year will bring wonderful new opportunities, continued growth, and renewed prosperity to Atascadero’s Synergistically located adjacent to La Plaza is a beautiful, new unique and vibrant downtown, and I invite everyone to come check pergola-covered and tree-lined outdoor public space that is expect- us out. ed to serve a variety of functions. In addition to providing another downtown open-air event space, this area greatly enhances a corridor I hope to see you soon in Atascadero!  12 | centralcoastjournal.com




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Round Town



Move On, Mr. Munch! Yours Isn’t the Only Scream On the Block! BY ARTIST HELLIE BLYTHE


oor Evard Munch never realized nor enjoyed the monetary These notable compelling subjects will be rendering in oils, with lucre accrued from the auction of his painting he named “The legendary, supportive props, as well as colorful, classic, complemenShriek,” which is now known as “The Scream.” tary backgrounds. Eventually, the paintings will be exhibited for sale a Studios on the Park before this artist becomes posthumous, after John Keats penned the oft-quoted my late History of Art professor which they may turn up at auctions here and there, now and then. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” My revered professor orated emphatically and often that for a work of art to tolerate the test of time, An added bonus, plus a small subjective stray from the above it should be measured and evaluated first for its intrinsic beauty, format, will include Landscape Paintings similar to the popularly then for the other qualities of praiseworthy, painterly expertise. I accepted backdrop in “The Scream”: sunsets and/or sunrises, which wonder if the present owner of Evard Munch’s painting still enjoys have become user-friendly territory (Terroir, en Français) for the avhis purchase and is moved by its beauty? erage viewer. Inevitably, this brings us to lucrative Disaster Paintings, which reminds us of the abundant possibilities in Still Life Paintings. This begs the question: does the prestige of ownership outweigh the emotional delight engendered by the beauty of the treasured Here, in the comparative silence of still life and landscape, we shall possession? Perhaps there IS beauty in the facial contortions of agony enjoy a limitless orgy of potential possibilities for making-monexpressed on that Munch’s face, posed before a backdrop of a bloody ey-plenty, as Ben Franklin might have said. The following subjects sunset! Have I mistakenly ignored that attraction? As a longtime are suitably eclectic for both Still and Land Scapes: painter of faces, I’m just now finding a need to cultivate accepting Bargain Baited Breath Try Buzz the possibility there might be some beauty to be found in others’ Dust in the Air Whistling A Still Small Voice Rasp of Berries unusually piquant or morbid portrait paintings. Ring of Truth Sour Grapes Systemic Backlog Donkey’s Year My self-imposed new painting scheme, as of tomorrow, shall nurGong Mustard Plaster Sustainable Renewable ture developing a taste for what I erstwhile and perhaps mistakenly considered grotesque, to make it all my own epiphany right now. I’ll Eclipse Exposure expand my taste in paintings and, in the spirit of True Artsman/Womenship, this titanic scheme will force my output, by heroic numbers, There is nothing more loudly compelling than auction prices to putting to shame Mr. Munch’s output of merely ONE Glorious Scream. succeed in goading an artist into competitive self-improvement.  The planned project will move forward with a series of portraits, landscapes, and still lifes while informing and disclosing my plan to the public for personal-back-out insurance, so the Art World may contemplate, enjoy, and aid me by offering gentle suggestions, useful advice, polite criticism, and generous donations. For starters, My Goal is to depict the following portraits in painterly details: The Yawn

The Twitch

The Shrug

The Itch

The Hiccough

The Sneeze

The Burp

The Guffaw

The Scorn

The Burn

The Stench

The Slurp

The Twist

The Sniff

The Twiddle

The Sting

The Tickle

The Bluster

The Snort

The Pinch

The Pain

The Spasm

The Twang

The Stench

The Taste

The Wind

The Giggle

The Flinch

The Blink

The Tweak

The Cough

The Gargle

The Shush

The Tingle

The Cramp

The Twinge

The Cringe

The Snub

The Draft

The Lie

The Lisp Laryngitis

The Small

The Plunk



Why I Think You Can Write by Patricia Alexander


think it’s fascinating to learn that fleas can actually be trained.

Picture the little critters in a jar with a lid on it. At first, the fleas will jump up and down, bopping their heads on the lid. Ouch! Eventually, an interesting thing happens: They figure out they can avoid the pain if they just shorten their jump. Now the lid can be taken off because they’ll never try to leap so high again. Sometimes we humans are just like those fleas. Many people think they can’t write because of some comment that made them feel criticized; usually, something said when they were young by a teacher, parent, sibling, or peer. That moment acts like that jar lid and causes pain. They decide they’re not writers and never will be – and they’ll never try again. Having been a writer for over 45 years, I have been dismayed to learn that there are more people than we realize who have this poor self-esteem about their ability to write. All it takes is being criticized or teased, being a bad speller or somewhat dyslexic, knowing someone else who is obviously gifted, or just not having the patience to rewrite first drafts.

us when we start. Rather, it is accepting that humans are creative by nature. Just like seeds, we all house a divine spark that can blossom in surprising ways if nurtured - and not crushed by self-judgment. In the long run, it’s as Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Besides being sensitive to comments, we are also affected by anothCan you talk? Writing is the same as talking. Writing is simply er dynamic. We are receiving a subtle but constant message from our words sculpted to a specific purpose and personality. It’s a process culture that talent is innate and obvious and thus cannot be nurtured you learn and improve upon over time. However, that’s only if you into blossoming. After all, aren’t we the society of instant everything? can embrace of the excitement of learning and allowing that leads to growth. Even children have accepted this false premise that we must be instantly good at something to pursue it. As a child, my brother was We have all accepted lids in our lives. But when was the last time clearly gifted as an artist, so I was teased about anything I tried to you checked to see if that lid was actually there? After all, we’re smartdraw. I stopped drawing. Later in life, just out of curiosity, I got some er than fleas. Aren’t we?  instruction. I was delighted to learn I wasn’t bad, just slow. Patricia Alexander has led limited-attendance Writing Support Now think about seeds. Even smaller seeds can grow into a vibrant Groups for decades. A local writer, editor, columnist. Patricia follows plant, given sunlight and water, an accomplishment we accept as the her passion to encourage and guide other writers. She welcomes your seed’s nature. I maintain that it’s not the size of the seed of talent in comments to PatriciaEmilyAlexander@gmail.com.

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People Spotlight



Young Adult Sci-Fi Novel by Patrick Patton


on McConnell graduated from Atascadero High School in 2000, and Dayna McConnell graduated from Morro Bay High School in 2005. Each ended up working at Mervyn’s Department Store, Dayna in the shoe department, and John in the men’s department. Little did they know that they would be married with two kids less than a decade later, and both published authors of a YA scifi novel. “We were just friends at first,” Dayna said, “truly just really good friends,” Dayna said that their friendship lasted for about 2-3 years before it became something more special. They are now in their sixth year of marriage with two young children and both teachers living in Orcutt. Dayna teaches 3rd grade, and Jon teaches high school.

“There’s a bit of an ‘opposites’ thing hapThe idea for The Time Trials was something pening,” said Dayna. “He’s just a more fun that the couple had talked about and slowly person than I am! Jon is really good with the developed over the years. plot and the world-building, and I tend to be better with the more poignant aspects and “The spark that started it was the idea of character development.” competitive teams that travel back in time and accomplish certain tasks,” Jon shared. As far as the actual process goes, Dayna shared that she would write the more emoJon described writing until he came to a tional scenes while Jon would write more of point where he felt stuck, at which point Day- the action scenes, but when it came to the na sat down and decided to give it a shot. scenes with the actual time trials, the couple spent hours upon hours researching and de“It happened kind of naturally,” Jon ex- veloping those chapters together. plained. Jon and Dayna described the book as a PG“The experience of having a co-author was 13 YA sci-fi novel intended for teens, though really valuable for me,” Dayna shared. many adults would probably enjoy it. It is chock full of nineties throwbacks, heavy on “Yeah, it could have been a disaster,” said teen angst, and has a YA relationship aspect. Jon, “but it worked out really well.” “It’s not hard sci-fi,” Dayna said, “so it’s Jon explained that there were some really meant for teens and those who have never great benefits to writing with your partner, read sci-fi before.” including how fun it is to bounce ideas off of someone else who knows the story. For The story revolves around protagonist Finn most writers, crafting a novel is a notoriously Mallory, a boy who arrives to the Time Trials on scholarship. He’s dealing with the trauma solitary and isolating process. of losing his parents and ends up at this high“You also have someone to write for,” Jon end school, feeling like an outsider in a world said. “Instead of trying to write for an au- of elites, clinging to the image of his parents, dience, I found myself thinking, ‘oh, Dayna’s who were musicians and deeply involved in the 90’s grunge scene. really gonna like this.” 16 | centralcoastjournal.com

“Finn is a bit stuck in the past,” Jon said, “which is one of the major themes of the story.” “The major themes we deal with are redemption, classism, and found family,” Dayna added. The two are already finished with the second installment of the series, which is due out in July 2022. They expect there will be four books in this series. Make sure to pick up your copy of The Time Trials by Jon McConnell and Dayna McConnell, released in September.  For more information on the authors and their work, visit mcconnellwriting.com.



In the Digital Age by Carolie Coffey, M.A. SOCIOLOGIST


onversation has always been a taken-for-granted feast of enjoyment for me. When I was a youngster, I used to love listening to family conversations around the dinner table. When adult company would come to our home for an evening of visiting, I would sit at the top of the stairwell and listen to all their talk. I especially enjoyed hearing my father tell true and often funny stories about his life. I never seemed to tire of listening to the same stories over and over again. Language is undoubtedly the most significant and unique aspect of being a human being. As such, it makes sense that language used in the context of face-to-face conversation, whereby people are talking with one another, is the other most significant and unique characteristic of being human. When conversation takes place among people who are in physical proximity of one another, each person engaged in that conversation has access to seeing the non-verbal facial and other physical expressions that reinforce the full meanings, both intellectual and emotional, that frequently accompany verbal conversation.

a point where the face-to-face conversation has significantly diminished. Human forms of communication are rapidly changing from interpersonal conversational strategies to impersonal ways of quickly imparting information. Lacking is the warmth of seeing a human face and hearing a human voice. According to these scientists, diminishing conversation has negatively impacted several very important processes that have, to date, filled our lives with profound, yet often unacknowledged, meaning.

Last but not least, according to MIT Professor of Sociology and Psychology Sherry Turkle, many people who have grown up in the digital age report having feelings of vulnerability when engaging in conversation. They may feel they have less control over the way they want to “present” themselves to others. Research indicates that people today seem to feel less vulnerable when their interactions are mediated through the electronics of the computer and smartphone, along with social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Messenger, These processes include phenomena such and text messages. In short, people seem to as empathy, intimacy, identity, and commu- prefer digital communication at the expense nity building, all of which require face-to- of face-to-face contact and conversation. face conversation in order to become fully actualized. If, in fact, people today feel vulnerable when interacting and conversing with each Empathy occurs when one person can other face-to-face, individuals might strive imagine how another person may feel in a to overcome these feelings of vulnerability given situation. Empathy is learned through through the process of self-empowerment. the process of conversations whereby the This is likely to occur as individuals become words we are speaking and the non-verbal more willing to reveal their authentic selves. ways we are expressing ourselves reveal what we might be feeling at a given time. Authenticity requires of us a willingness Sociologists and psychologists are telling us to be open, transparent, and real about who that their research shows that empathy is we are. People may become increasingly aumeasurably declining as members of soci- thentic if we have developed a strong sense ety engage less and less in conversation. It is of personal integrity. This would include conversation that can ultimately bring about honesty, trustworthiness, keeping one’s our sense of empathy and compassion for agreements with others, and a willingness one another. The same may be said about to take personal responsibility for what one intimacy. does and who one is.

In addition to the fact that we human beings acquire language and conversational skills from birth on, we must also develop our listening skills for conversations to become meaningfully complete. Language, conversation, and listening skills are all things that we human beings have taken for granted for most all of the thousands of years we have Intimacy is fostered through face-to-face lived on our planet. interaction and conversation. In fact, these two things are virtually a requirement for It is perhaps only within the past twenty true intimacy. years or so that face-to-face conversations and even phone conversations have begun Identity is established, maintained, to disappear. Digital technology has given changed over time as the consequence of us faster ways to communicate...ways such face-to-face interaction and conversation as text messages, e-mail, and all the other with significant others. We are largely dedigital modalities with which to impart a fined by the words, gestures, and responses message quickly, without having to hear a of these others. The absence of face-to-face human voice, or see the human emotions interaction and conversation over time and that people might naturally express as their throughout our lives threatens to leave a void reactions to the impersonal, digital message. as to who we see ourselves to be.

These three traits—authenticity, personal integrity, and a willingness to take personal responsibility—are all interrelated. If an individual strives to acquire these three personal characteristics, it is more likely that engaging with others in face-to-face conversation will not leave that person feeling vulnerable. Instead, it is likely that the person will experience joy in sharing the exchange of conversation with others. Perhaps the most important part of human living is the gift of genuine friendship and love of fellow human beings … accompanied by one’s own kindness and compassion to all creatures, human and otherwise. FaceSocial scientists are currently engaged in Community building quite obviously takes to-face interaction and conversation are reresearch as to the social impact of digital place as a consequence of people interacting quired in order to manifest one’s true and technology. This technology has developed to and having conversations with one another. full humanity.  JANUARY 2022 | Central Coast Journal

centralcoastjournal.com | 17

On the Cover


Living Proof Addiction Can Be Overcome by Camille DeVaul


or years, Clark Guest struggled with substance abuse. His battle started while in junior college, playing basketball in Fullerton in the early 80s, and didn’t stop until he was thrown into jail for the last time in 1999. Clark attributes becoming sober to something much bigger than himself, “When I was in jail at that moment, I was able to get on my knees and accept Jesus Christ in my life. On December 1, I have been saved for 22 years, and for 22 years, I have been clean and sober.” Soon, Clark found his way and was able to put his life back together. For over 18 years, he dedicated his life to helping people manage their substance abuse. Specifically, he worked as the coordinator of the San Luis Obispo County Drug and Alcohol Services Adult Drug Court Program—a treatment program for nonviolent defendants that allows a second chance rather than incarceration. In November 2021, Clark retired from San Luis Obispo County (SLO) after 15 years and moved to Idaho. The move was something Clark Guest with his wife Debbie in Haydon Springs, Idaho. Photos by Megan Aufrichtig Hayden Lake Photography he and his wife Debbie had been planning for years. Originally, he planned to move after 20 years with He continues, “I’m really enjoying it now. The people are wonderful, San Luis Obispo County and retire in Idaho, but earlier this year, they the clinics are wonderful. I’ve hit the ball rolling.” decided why wait. In his new position, Clark works on mental health, and substance Although Clark has retired from his position in SLO County, he isn’t abuse treatment programs in adults and adolescents, including a done helping people recover. He is currently working as a clinical Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program for the Post Falls supervisor for the Lake City Counseling Center based in Hayden, clinic. Working closely with youth is new for Clark, but he says he’s Idaho, and overseas programs in Hayden and Post Falls. learning quickly. It hasn’t taken Clark much time to adjust to his new life, “I’ve got my sights on being able to develop a juvenile drug court program up here. I’ve already identified some gaps, and my new boss Jennifer is amazing, and her husband, Ben. I’m sort of off and running. Doing many of the same things I was doing down there.”

18 | centralcoastjournal.com

While in SLO County, Clark was known for his ability to understand the real struggles of substance abuse and develop effective programs, “When I became supervisor, I was able to develop programs because I definitely had a knowledge of what works for the people that are suffering.”

Clark’s road to recovery is a well-known one, and for a good reason. He isn’t afraid to share his journey, and he is living proof that addiction can be overcome. For nearly two decades, Clark lived two lives. Half of him was a star athlete with a full-ride scholarship to Cal Poly and then a firefighter for Vandenburg Air Force Base (VAFB) with top-secret clearance. The other half was committing petty theft crimes to keep up with his drug habits. His addiction took a turn for the worse after a spring break trip in Mexico. After a night of heavy drinking, Clark’s friend died after falling off a steep cliff. Mexican authorities threw Clark and his friends in jail on murder charges. Thanks to a friend’s family member, Clark was let go and sent back to SLO. Later, Clark dropped out of school and then discovered meth while working at VAFB. Clark didn’t decide to work on his addiction until he was arrested in 1996 for forging a check at a bank in Arroyo Grande. Stolen property was then discovered on his property. He faced felony charges and up to 30 years behind bars—he pleaded guilty and served six months in jail before finding treatment through the Adult Drug Court. “The struggle for mental illness and substance abuse is real. Be the light in somebody’s darkness—If I went to prison, I would be dead by now,” says Clark. When asked which clients stood out to Clark through his years, he says it was “The ones that were severely institutionalized and able to step away and don’t go back to prison or jail and are able to have families. In turn, they get involved with the recovery community and end up helping people that are still struggling.”

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Of his time in SLO County, Clark says, “When I was working directly with clients, all the different lives that I was honored to be in touch with and help guide people onto the right track and help step away from the destructive nature of addictions—I was able to leave a legacy behind me with the County, which is really cool.” Clark fully attributes his recovery to being saved by Christ and looks forward to hopefully sharing that light with others in Idaho, “It [recovery] was hard work but not as hard work as keeping my addiction going, keeping the two different lifestyles going. And that’s one of the first things we tied in up here was finding a good church. We’ve been looking to make this move for a while, and everything just fell into place.”  JANUARY 2022 | Central Coast Journal

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Special Feature



Full Moon and Wildfires by Chuck Graham


ed by a beaming full moon, the gritty granite walls were lit up With two other climbers, Forrest Van Stein and Solomon Nalike an ancient coliseum as we ascended the Mountaineering hooikaika, we left the trailhead at 11 p.m., taking advantage of the Route on Mount Whitney in the Eastern Sierra. Harvest Moon; the scent of fall was in the alpine air. Mostly, we didn’t need our headlamps as we ascended the sheer granite walls Days earlier, I had my doubts on whether or not we would be of the gorge until we reached Lower Boy Scout Lake. Also, in the allowed to ascend Mount Whitney. All the National Forests through- moonlight, it was clearly visible that water levels were lower than out California were off-limits to recreation up to September 17, I’ve ever seen them in the creeks and alpine lakes in the Eastern year-round wildfire weather wreaking havoc on the Golden State. Sierra. I had a climbing permit to access the Mountaineers Route on the tallest peak in the Lower 48 at 14,505 feet. By September 16, the call It was warm along the creeks and the first two lakes as we ashad been made to reopen the Inyo National Forest, but other forests cended above the tree line, then weaved a path through a maze of were to remain closed in Southern California for another week. willows where streams of water spilled off massive slabs of granite. The first section of loose scree forced us to concentrate on our Nevertheless, as I cruised up Highway 395, smoke from three steps as we attempted to find the paths of least resistance toward fires burning on the west slope of the Sierra were wafting eastward Iceberg Lake at approximately 12,500 feet. We found a fun, quick throughout the Eastern Sierra and settling in the barren Owens scrambling section that allowed us to bypass some of the loose Valley, with the Inyo Mountains to the east. However, when I picked scree sections. Before we knew it, we were at Iceberg Lake. There up my permit at the visitor’s center, I was told the mountains were were no climbers at the frigid tarn. We were the only climbers on completely cloaked in smoke and not visible the day before. At least the entire route. I could see those majestic peaks, although they were smothered in a smoky haze. Still, it was forcing me to pause and rethink whether However, the temperature had dropped noticeably once we I wanted to inhale all that smoke while working hard at elevation. reached Iceberg Lake. I had to walk in place to keep warm as the boys fetched more water and rested in the moonlight. Mount RusI drove up to the Whitney Portal, where I rested until 11 p.m. sel, another 14,000-foot peak just to the north of Mount Whitney, Fortunately, it continued to clear. The moon shined brightly through was lit up so brightly it almost appeared as if it were daytime, but it the pine forest, mule deer tiptoed nearby, and a few hikers/climbers was 3:30 a.m. Once we began the monotonous trek and scrambled milled about the portal and trailhead, readying for their ascents. up the exposed chute, the crux of the Mountaineers Route, we

20 | centralcoastjournal.com

Central Coast Journal | JANUARY 2022

were out of the moonlight as the moon sank behind Mount Whitney and the towering spires due south/ southwest. As we trekked upward, it took 90 minutes to ascend the chute and the small plateau known as “The Notch.” The first light of dawn crept above the Inyo Mountains to the east, brightening the long, narrow granite route. The last 375 feet was a fun scramble to the summit. Lots of handholds and ledges allow for easy route finding on the western face of Mount Whitney. It was the first time I had never seen ice on this section of the route, a place that doesn’t receive a lot of sunlight throughout the day. It was a disturbing sign of impending drought-like conditions looming over California once again. Despite the doom and gloom of wildfires and drought, sunrise on the summit of Mount Whitney was as always breathtaking. There were just two others enjoying the warm glow, resting on those granite slabs as a long wisp of smoke drifted from the Western Sierra toward Lake Tahoe. It’s still Mount Whitney. The summit that day is the one before the next, one granite slab after another.  22 | centralcoastjournal.com

Central Coast Journal | JANUARY 2022



Sees a Successful 2021 Olive Harvest by Camille DeVaul


n the heart of Paso Robles, wine country sits another hidden gem, Pasolivo Ranch. This 140-acre ranch grows 12 varieties of olives which are then transformed into an award-winning olive oil. Ancient Greek author, Homer, is said to have coined the term “liquid gold” to describe olive oil thousands of years ago. Scholars argue over the natural origin of olive trees and the creator of olive oil. Some will argue olive cultivation originated in Ancient Egypt around 2,000 BC. However, the earliest surviving olive oil amphorae (Ancient Greek or Roman jar) dates back to 3,500 BC, and its assumed production of olive oil began before 4,000 BC. One legend says when the city of Athens was founded, the goddess Athena created the olive tree so that they would choose her as their patron, rather than the god Poseidon. Olive trees and oil have deep roots in Greek mythology and are cemented in Mediterannean cultures and diets--and for a good reason too. These trees produced a delicious bounty of fruit each year, which could be used for eating, lighting lamps, cosmetics, medicine, and more. The health benefits of olive oil have deemed it a “superfood,” known for lowering inflammation and antiaging properties. We often think of Southern Italy and Sicily when we think of olive oil. And while they are the largest distributor of olive oil, Spain accounts for almost half of global olive oil production.

Marisa explains, “All 12 of Pasolivo’s olive varietals are tended and harvested using organic farming processes on the 140-acre property (Pasolivo has more than 7,000 trees!), and every olive is hand-picked, so there is less damage and stress to the trees. Pasolivo uses the leftover olive paste as fertilizer for the orchard. Pasolivo stores excess water that is extracted from the oil in an onsite tank, which is then applied to the land and reused. After production, Pasolivo opts for glass bottles as a more sustainable and Lucky for us, we don’t need to travel all the reusable vehicle for its olive oils, kinds of way to Spain or Sicily for some high-quality, vinegar, spice blends, and more.” extra-virgin olive oil. We just need to go to Pasolivo Ranch. The 2021 harvest began on November 15 of 2021, and was completed in late November. General manager and Level Two Olive Oil To ensure the freshest and highest quality Sommelier at Pasolivo, Marisa Bloch Gay- olive oil, olives are processed within 24 hours tan, tells us, “Pasolivo is a family-owned and of harvest. operated business, and its small-batch, treeto-table process produces the highest quality Marisa described the 2021 harvest as a extra virgin olive oil available. Based in the bumper crop year, “[Last] year’s harvest was heart of California’s wine country, Pasolivo is a huge success. We were fortunate to have a a premium olive oil producer with over 100 large harvest, and I appreciate how our entire awards and counting.” team worked extremely hard to make everything run smoothly.” Marisa joined Pasolivo in 2012 is responsible for creating the ranch’s award-winning After harvesting the olives comes the best olive oil blends. She holds an MBA from part—the consumption of the olive oil. Brandman University, specializing in Organizational Leadership, and a Bachelor of SciPasolivo has created numerous flavors of ence degree in Journalism from Cal Poly San olive oils that are certified extra virgin olLuis Obispo. Plus, she knows everything you ive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is made from could possibly want to know about olive oil. pure cold-pressed olives, making it the least processed form of olive oil and retaining its Pasolivo grows 12 different varieties of natural benefits. Tuscan, Spanish, and French olive trees--all hand-picked when it comes to harvest. All of Pasolivo’s flavored oils are fused with ingredients rather than infused to create the most robust and pure taste. Flavors like garlic lemon, tangerine, rosemary, red jalapeno, and more can be found at the Pasolivo Tasting room off vineyard drive. Next time you are wine tasting, add a Pasolivo olive oil tasting to your agenda, and for added convenience, visit their Downtown Paso Robles storefront whenever you need a Pasolivo pick me up!  For more information on Pasolivo, visit pasolivo.com

JANUARY 2022 | Central Coast Journal

centralcoastjournal.com | 23

Slocally Sourced



Opportunities & Challenges by James J. Brescia, Ed.D., COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS


orbes magazine reported that 2021 and beyond would present challenges and opportunities for businesses. A quote from the magazine says, “We can learn a lot from the last year. New opportunities will present themselves that either didn’t exist before the pandemic or are the result of an accelerated trend created by the pandemic.” Another quote from Albert Einstein says, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

district superintendent, college instructor, and county superintendent, I observed firsthand the opportunities and challenges of boosting school spirit under varying circumstances. I learned the importance of planning for both the present and the future. This article highlights a few strategies to help our community leverage opportunities and meet challenges in building positive school culture.

Schools can take a page from these insights to begin a new year. School leaders, educators, students, and communities desire classrooms that are safe, welcoming, and inspire success. The pandemic presented us with the daunting challenge of providing academic support and facilitating school spirit under conditions made necessary by safety precautions. However, this new year offers opportunities to start anew as we continue to scale up in-person learning opportunities while perfecting hybrid offerings made possible through technology. School communities must also balance the well-being of students with academic assessments.

When building the culture of any organization, it is vital to engage everyone in the process and listen to all views. We must rally the team together in full support of goals and objectives. We can ask ourselves several questions. Are the students, families, teachers, support staff, and community informed, involved, and engaged in school success? How frequently do we facilitate feedback about making school a place where students are invested? We need to listen, respond, and modify offerings appropriately while openly stating limitations if we solicit feedback. The entire community deserves to know what is possible and what is not possible.

with increased in-person services, including large-scale meetings, sports events, drama productions, music performances, and other activities? The enthusiasm and anxiety accompanying expanded in-person events and activities offer opportunities and challenges. Do we promote a fuller engagement or more engagement? Regular review and reflection of equity and access present additional opportunities and challenges for schools. The pandemic highlighted economic and academic disparities that exist in every community. What do we observe as we walk the school hallways and review online environments? We should notice the pictures on the walls, trophies in the cases, art displays, sports banners, materials available, and facilities. Are the opportunities accessible to all students? How do we address the challenges? Are multiple cultures represented in our materials, activities, and displays? Child and adolescent development experts profess the goal of belonging no matter the interests, abilities, family origin, economic level, or ethnic background as a tool in building positive community environments. Law enforcement experts have

OAST FAMILY In my career spanning many Are we prepared to address roles as parent, teacher, principal, the avoidance issues associated

identified belonging as a significant deterrent in school violence and disruptive behaviors. As we contemplate what it means to be part of a school community, we should regularly review a school’s core values. What does it mean to be an Eagle, Triton, or Banana Slug? When the entire community provides input on an institution’s guiding principles, we leverage opportunities and better address challenges. Research indicates that higher student and community support levels emerge when schools highlight community-generated pillars such as self-advocacy, perseverance, integrity, engagement, responsibility, and citizenship. With the genuine involvement of community members, our schools can thrive and better meet the needs of our changing society. Finally, we must acknowledge the work of key members of our school communities. Bus drivers, cafeteria workers, office staff, yard duty personnel, business office teams, administrators, coaches, assistants, and teachers are dedicated individuals providing service to students and the community. Most people enter public service to make a difference for the good of society. Covid-19 forced these public service employees to rapidly change how services were delivered to keep operations moving forward. There were mistakes made and lessons learned during the pandemic. As we continue to move forward, our public service employees will serve the community.

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Central Coast Journal | JANUARY 2022



Honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Hayley Mattson


say to you today, my friends, so even The last best hope for true racial progress, King though we face the difficulties of today realized, was solidarity: For people to see and and tomorrow, I still have a dream. treat one another as equals, they had to feel the tugs of a bond far stronger than either race or It is a dream deeply rooted in the American politics, and for King, that bond was America. dream. After all, there are two words in the phrase I have a dream that one day this nation will “civil rights,” and King grasped that both are rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, crucial. Civil rights are about the fair and equal ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all participation of all citizens in the American men are created equal.’ community. For those rights to have any power, the bonds of that community must be close-knit I have a dream that one day on the red hills and resilient. of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down “I criticize America because I love her,” King together at the table of brotherhood. said in a speech about the Vietnam War, “and because I want to see her to stand as the moral I have a dream that one day even the state of example of the world.” Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, All American’s alike can learn from King’s exwill be transformed into an oasis of freedom ample. “In the United States of America, every and justice. citizen should have the opportunity to build a better and brighter future. United as one AmerI have a dream that my four little children ican family, we will not rest, and we will never will one day live in a nation where they will not be satisfied until the promise of this great nabe judged by the color of their skin but by the tion is accessible to each American in each new content of their character. generation.” I have a dream today!” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech to a crowd of thousands at the March on Washington, August 28, 1963. King’s most important work applied America’s Founding ideals to the cause of civil rights.

33, he was pressing the case of civil rights with President John F. Kennedy. At 34, King galvanized the nation with his “I Have a Dream” speech. At 35, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Then at the young age of 39, he was assassinated. King left a legacy of hope and inspiration that continues on today.

Monday, January 17, will mark America’s 37th celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., life. Honoring King with the sacred status of a federal holiday, of which there are only ten, none other named for a 20th-century figure, is a testament The premise and promise of King’s dream is to the unifying power of his legacy. that we don’t need to replace or transform our nation’s shared ideals to make our country a “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so better place. tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace We simply need to live up to them. and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional Martin Luther King Jr. lived an extraordinary love will have the final word.” Martin Luther life and left the nation yearning to do better. At King, Jr. 

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(Solutions on page 28)

ACROSS 1 Examined by touching 9 Smart -- (know-it-all) 14 Alphas’ opposites 20 All across the region 21 Indian city on the Yamuna River 22 “Gil Blas” novelist Alain-Rene -23 Blemish-resistant bar seat? 25 Male flower part 26 Earth lighter 27 Autumn chill 28 Sentry allowing nobody to nap? 30 Monet, say 34 Interstices 36 -- roll (hot) 37 Shoulder-hugging, horn-honking driver? 42 Thin and supple 47 Duck cousin 48 Actress Messing 49 More plucky 50 Lt.’s inferior 53 “I see mice!” 56 Ear-related 58 Indian city on the Yamuna River 59 Vehicle in a chase scene 63 Decorative pins worn by jockeys? 67 Yellow-and-black bird 68 16-Down, to Jacob 69 Flagged auto 70 Mao -- -tung 71 Bit of pasta that’s really hard to find? 77 Bodily pouch 79 Spanish for “that” 80 Big pet food brand 81 “Infinite” rapper 84 Have pain from bending forward too sharply? 89 Tire type 90 Tolkien terrorizers 91 Up -- (stymied)

92 -- Lanka 94 Butter holder 95 More hideous 97 -- liver (meat product) 100 Harvestable 104 Work layoff, slangily 105 Dive to attack with perfect form? 111 Texter’s “I think ...” 113 Neeson of “Darkman” 114 GMC pickup 115 Decide on Domino’s? 122 Taylor of “Cleopatra,” for short 124 Los Angeles’ Playa -- Rey 125 Regular practices 126 Botching an April 1 prank? 131 Crops up 132 Ickily sticky 133 Enlarge 134 Quick 135 In any way 136 Power-supplying socket DOWN 1 Volkswagen model 2 Maestro Toscanini 3 Simple shed 4 -- gow (casino option) 5 Grain beard 6 Up to, informally 7 Paradise 8 Blueprint 9 TV spots 10 “Show me” 11 College town in North Carolina 12 Toy train, when doubled 13 Quantity in a narc’s bust 14 Former NFLer Merlin 15 Annual ritzy NYC fundraising event 16 Biblical birthright seller 17 Explorer Vasco da -18 Antiquing aid 19 Ship off, say

26 | centralcoastjournal.com

© 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.

“Brooding Season”

24 Petty quarrel 29 Saldana of the screen 31 “-- so you!” 32 Hem, e.g. 33 Lilted syllable 35 Prof’s deg. 38 United 39 Israel’s Abba 40 Opiate, e.g. 41 Raiment 43 Apple option 44 Close, as a community 45 “-- to you!” 46 Rub out 49 Person rubbing it in 50 Prefix with warrior 51 And not 52 Final washer phase 54 Noted Deco master 55 Furry fruit 57 Rocket paths 60 Pigeon noise 61 Balm plants 62 Betelgeuse or Antares

64 Clangor 65 How balloons float 66 Trump replaced him 72 Thief’s bagful 73 “Bali --” 74 Autos such as Gremlins and Pacers 75 Belgian river 76 Spain’s El -77 Teapot part 78 “I’m so frustrated!” 82 Water, to Gigi 83 Rangers’ and Rays’ gp. 85 Brunei locale 86 Mean whale 87 High point 88 One-named sports legend 93 Lyric penner Gershwin 96 Lived 98 Ball of mashed chickpeas 99 -- -fi movie 101 Electees, say

102 Greek letter 103 She baas 105 Swab 106 Film score composer Schifrin 107 Iago’s wife 108 Hard trial 109 Bully’s threat ender 110 Warehouse platform 112 Hardly tidy 115 Cartoonist Addams 116 Celestial instrument 117 Off-Broadway prize 118 French river or department 119 TV actress Swenson 120 -- suit (1940s duds) 121 Reverse alphabetical order 123 Bronze metal 127 Olive of “Popeye” 128 Lt.’s inferior 129 “Despicable Me” villain 130 Dewy, e.g.

Central Coast Journal | JANUARY 2022

Calendar of

Stay up on all the events and happenings in San Luis Obispo County!



SUBMIT UPCOMING EVENTS TO: office@13starsmedia.com



JAN. 1

JAN. 7







TIME: 11:00 a - 5:00 p DETAILS: Come share this great experience with your whole family, this exhibit allows for touching and looking at the artists taste on a mother’s physical sensitivity to their child’s consistent touch.

TIME: 12:00 p Dip | 11:30 a Pictures DETAILS: 10th Annual dip into freezing waters of Avila Beach. Join in the fun of fitness, nature, and a new year!

TIME: 3:30 p DETAILS: FREE! Architecture art with Tissue Bleeding. Limited art kits available 2 weeks before the Zoom class.

JAN. 8

JAN. 9 - 30

JAN. 14 - 17







TIME: 11:00 a - 1:00 p DETAILS: Open to the public and completely free, SLOMA’s second Saturday program allows for fun artmaking activities. 1010 Broad Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

INFO: SLOJFF.COM DETAILS: Virtual with some Live events in-person. Twenty films, twenty days, twenty ways to experience Cultural Diversity on the Central Coast. Stream the 2022 SLO Jewish Film Festival! Visit SLOJFF.COM for the line-up and tickets.

INFO: morrobaybirdfestival.org DETAILS: Hundreds of birds visit the Morro Bay area every yea. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the festival. Over 200 different species of birds are usually spotted during the weekend throught Morro Bay and adjacent communities. Visit morrobaybirdfestival.org for more details.

JAN. 15

JAN. 19

JAN. 23








TIME: 11:00 a - 7:00 p DETAILS: FREE! Over 25 Tamale Vendors will be on site, as well as, a variety of entertainment for all ages!

TIME: 3:30 - 4:30 p DETAILS: Learn how to create a fused glass art object with artist Sheri Klein. For ages 10-17. Register online at slolibrary.org

TIME: 2:00 -4:00 p DETAILS: Hungarian-American violinist Abigel Kralik performs live! Visit festivalmozaic.org for tickets.

TIME: 6:00 - 7:00 p DETAILS: Create January’s cross-stick robin in a winter garden. Register before Jan. 13. Call (805) 237-3870 to register.

SLO County Farmer’s Markets TUESDAYS







TIME: 9:00 - 11:30 a

TIME: 2:00 - 4:30 p

TIME: 4:00 - 8:00 p

TIME: 3:00 - 6:00 p

TIME: 6:00 P - 8:30 p



ARROYO TEMPLETON GRANDE 6TH & CROCKER SAT. = A.G. VILLAGE TIME: 9:00 a - 12:30 p WED. = SMART & FINAL TIME: 12:00 - 2:00 p (Sat.) TIM: 8:30 - 11:00 a (Wed.)

JANUARY 2022 | Central Coast Journal

centralcoastjournal.com | 27




All meetings below meet at the County Government Center, Board of Supervisors Chambers, 1055 Monterey St, Room D170, San Luis Obispo.

Subdivision Review Board • 1st Monday, 9 a.m. Board of Supervisors • 1st & 3rd Tuesday, 9 a.m. Parks & Recreation Commission • 4th Tuesday, 6 p.m. Airport Land Use Commission • 3rd Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. Air Pollution and Control Board • 4th Wednesday of every odd numbered month, with some exceptions. 9 a.m. Local Agency Formation Commission • 3rd Thursday, 9 a.m.

Planning Department Hearing Criminal Branch 1050 Monterey Street Rm 220 • 1st & 3rd Friday, 9 a.m. (805) 706-3600 County Phone Directory: Matters Served: (805) 781-5000 Criminal Traffic Juvenile Visit slocounty.ca.gov for virtual Mon. - Fri. 8:00 a - 4:00 p & up to date meeting info. Locations & Contact Info. Clerk-Recorder San Luis Obispo Office

1055 Monterey Street Suite D120 San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

Mon. -Fri. 8:00 a - 5:00 p (805) 781-5080

Civil & Family Law Branch 1050 Monterey Street, Rm. 385 (805) 706-3600

Juror Status Message (805) 706-3610 Mon. - Fri 8:00 a - 5:00 p CAMBRIA COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT

Our physical address is: 1316 Tamsen Street, Suite 201 Cambria, CA 93428 Our mailing address is: P.O. Box 65, Cambria CA 93428


214 South 16th Street Grover Beach, CA 93433 (805) 706-3600

Matters Served: Traffic

Office closed to public, until further notice. (805) 927-6223

Juvenile Services Center 1065 Kansas Avenue San Luis Obispo, CA 93408 (805) 706-3600

THE CITY OF MORRO BAY 595 Harbor Street Morro Bay, CA 93442

Matters Served: Civil Family Law

Juvenile Justice (Delinquency) Mon.-Tues., Thurs. 8:00 a - 4:30 p (805) 772-6200 morro-bay.ca.us Thursday: 8:00 am-4:30 pm

Mon. - Fri. 8:30 a -4:00 p

Veteran’s Memorial Branch

1035 Palm St., Rm. 385, San Luis Obispo, CA 93408



801 Grand Ave. San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

Mailing address is: PO Box 309, Avila Beach CA 93424 Physical address: 100 San Luis Street Avila Beach, CA 93424

Matters Served: Traffic Jury Service

1050 Monterey Street, Room 224 San Luis Obispo, CA, 93408

(805) 595-2664 avilabeachcsd.org

SUBMIT UPCOMING EVENTS TO: office@13starsmedia.com

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PHOTO OF THE MONTH To submit your Photo of the Month, send a high resolution (300 dpi) jpeg photo by email to editor@centralcoastjournal.com, along with where in SLO County the photo was taken and the photographer’s name.

December 2021 | Central Coast Journal

centralcoastjournal.com | 29

Last Word

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder by BETTY HARTIG


hile hiking or traveling, you have probably seen large black birds with considerable wingspans soaring above in the sky many times. Circling around and around, these gliders are proficient at catching rising thermals. What you see are turkey vultures raising their wings in a V while making wobbly circles as they ride the updrafts. The average wingspan of a turkey vulture is about 6 feet. Despite this large size, vultures only weigh between 2-4 pounds, which allows them to fly through the atmosphere using very little energy, rarely needing to flap their wings. The vulture’s red hairless head resembles a wild turkey’s head. Hence, it was given its common name, turkey vulture. Vultures are far from being an attractive bird and are probably one of the most misunderstood amongst our feathered friends. Hollywood, folk tales, and even cartoons have influenced how we react to vultures. These avian are often portrayed in a negative light, but

they are an integral part of our ecological community. Equipped with a small red bald head, predominately dark feathers, and hunched-looking posture give them a somewhat haunting appearance; however, these birds play an extremely

important part in the food chain and ecosystem. Turkey vultures are beneficial to people because they remove animal decay from our environment. They are the cleanup crew. A keen sense of smell along with excellent eyesight leads them to a fresh carcass. Extraordinary sniffing abilities allow them to pick up deceased animal odors from over a mile away, which is a most unusual feature for a bird. Vultures are nature’s scavengers. The carrion-eating bird cleans up the roads and countryside free of charge. Without vultures, the insect population would increase, and bacteria and diseases would spread. Turkey vultures help keep habitats healthy. Preventing the contamination of water sources, particularly in the wild, is an overlooked benefit of vultures. Turkey vultures seek a dead animal carcass by flying over open or wooded land, carefully scoping the ground, and watching the actions of other wildlife hunters. Flying low allows them to detect gasses produced by the decaying process. Vultures feed almost exclusively on dead animals. This raptor, however, does prefer fresh carrion. Occasionally eating decomposing vegetable matter, live insects, and inanimate fish in drying ponds. Do you wonder how turkey vultures can digest deteriorating creatures? A vulture’s stomach is very smartly supplied with strong enzymes that kill dangerous microorganisms and toxins. A sharp, powerful hooked bill allows them to cut into prey. Unlike an eagle or hawk, their feet are useless; they are not equipped to catch, kill, or rip into game. However, vulture’s beaks can tear through tough hide. Bald heads and necks are designed to stay clean while feeding inside a body cavity. Carrion will not adhere to the bare skin as it would adorn with feathers. This allows the turkey vulture to eat without messing up their head piece or creating a bacterium-forming condition. It is quite common to spot turkey vultures assembled in large community clusters,

usually only breaking away to forage independently. Groups of perched vultures often roosting on leafless trees and manmade structures are called a wake. Perhaps while walking the Bob Jones Pathway during early morning hours, you may have seen several vultures in a tree standing in a spreadwinged stance as if sunbathing, which is called a heraldic pose. It is believed that there are several reasons vultures do this stance, such as increasing body temperature after the cool night, drying out wings, and baking off bacteria. It is interesting to note that turkey vultures lower their nighttime body temperature by about 6 degrees. Seldom will you hear a sound from a turkey vulture. That is because they lack a syrinx, which is the vocal organ of birds. The only vocalization vultures are capable of are low hisses or grunts. Normally, those calls are only done when feeding or nesting. Nesting preparation is minimal. Little or no nest is built, eggs are simply laid on debris or on a flat bottom of the nest site. Two eggs are commonly laid, but sometimes only one, very rarely three. Nests are often located in sheltered areas, such as under rocks, crevices in cliffs, caves, hollow trees, or in old buildings. Both parents responsibly share incubation duties, and one parent will remain with the young after hatching. Feeding the young by regurgitation is done by mom and dad on an equal basis. The next time you see a turkey vulture think about the crucial role they play in the balance of nature. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. We are fortunate to have a substantial vulture population in our area. Possessing few natural predators, vultures can live up to 24 years. It is pretty much a guarantee that you will catch a glimpse of a turkey vulture while on the Bob Jones Pathway or, for that matter, anywhere outdoors in Avila. Simply look up into the daytime sky. Nature amazingly provides wonderful birds and animals that are our wildlife pals. Turkey vultures serve a purpose. Let us work at taking good care of each other. 

Photo courtesy of Victoria Morrow

DIRECTORY TO OUR ADVERTISERS CENTRAL COAST JOURNAL IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY Alan’s Draperies...............................................15 Carpet One.........................................................4 City of Atascadero..............................................7 Ekmanian Tax & Accounting............................15

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Central Coast Journal | December 2021

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