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Journal PLUS JANUARY 2012



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The People, Community, and Business of Our Beautiful Central Coast ADDRESS

654 Osos Street San Luis Obispo California 93401








ADVERTISING Jan Owens CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Susan Stewart, Natasha Dalton, Hilary Grant, Joseph Carotenuti, Dr. Julian Crocker, Sarah Hedger, Maggie Cox, Deborah Cash, Ruth Starr, Chuck Graham, Leslie Jones, Kathy Smith, Whitney Diaz, Bob Huttle, Gordon Fuglie, and Phyllis Benson Mail subscriptions are available at $20 per year. Back issues are $2 each. Inquires concerning advertising or other information made by writing to Steve Owens, JOURNAL PLUS MAGAZINE, 654 Osos Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401. You can call us at 546-0609, our fax line is 546-8827, and our e-mail is View the entire magazine on our website at JOURNAL PLUS MAGAZINE is distributed monthly free by mail to all single family households of San Luis Obispo and is available free at over 600 locations throughout the county. 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 in the byline articles are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the JOURNAL PLUS MAGAZINE. Cover photo by Tom Meinhold

PEOPLE 8 10 12 14 16


HOME & OUTDOOR 17 18 20 22 24


COMMUNITY 26 28 30 32 34 36 41 46






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From the publisher Family and Cosmetic Dentistry


ur cover story this month features Mary Mott Okimoto and her quest to bring a better childrens cancer care program to San Luis Obispo. Mary was born and raised in San Luis, was educated and worked in the Bay Area, and last month, with the help of Coastal Integrative Cancer Care, launched what she has been planning for, training for, and dreaming about for years: a pediatric oncology support service right here in our county.

“A smile happens in a flash, but its memory can last a lifetime.” We want to keep your smile memorable and bright this new year. Call our office today to set up your appointment.

The San Luis Obispo Symphony just announced this year’s honors recipient, Clifton Swanson. Swanson has been doing wonderful things in music for decades. He will be honored at the Symphony Ball on February 25th. You’ll enjoy his story inside. Achievement House recently opened a restaurant/grill at the Laguna Golf Course, called The 11th Hole Grill. There are six employees and two job coaches. The six employees have learned a variety of life skills such as cooking, running the register, serving food and keeping everything in good order. The job coaches oversee the grill. Ruth Starr writes about this new place to eat out. When you get a chance, stop by and enjoy a reasonably priced meal while supporting others. Finally, it’s that time again for New Year’s Resolutions. Bob Huttle talked with several of our readers and gives us the varied responses for 2012. All the best in 2012.

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We’ve gone green.

Now view our printed calendar of events entirely online. Visit our website today and find your way to the best seats in the house.

W W W . P A C S L O . O R G

UPCOM ING E V EN TS Friday, Jan. 6, 8 pm W. Terrence Spiller Piano Recital Cal Poly Music Department

Saturday, Jan. 7, 8 pm Transatlantic Landscapes

Cal Poly Music Department

Saturday, Jan. 21, 9:55am The MET Live in HD: The Enchanted Island

Jan. 27 & 28, 8 pm Jan. 29, 2 pm Immersion

Saturday, Jan. 21, 8 pm CP Early Music Ensemble - Bach in the Mission 2

Saturday, Jan. 28, 8 pm Joan Rivers LIVE

Opera SLO & CPA

CP Theatre & Dance & Orchesis Dance Co.


Cal Poly Music Dept.

Sunday, Jan. 8, 2 pm The MET Live in HD: Handel’s Rodelinda

Sunday, Jan. 22, 4 pm State Street Ballet: The Jungle Book

Sunday, Jan. 29, 3 pm Galumpha

Friday, Jan. 13, 8 pm Forbes Pipe Organ Recital: Jonathan Dimmock

Wed., Jan. 25, 7:30 pm Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific

Tuesday, Jan. 31, 7:30 pm The St. Olaf Band

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gifted, steadfast, and Rare...

clifton swanson Slo Symphony Honors recipient for 2011 By Susan Stewart “It is a rare conductor indeed who continues to play in the orchestra he once led!” said Patty Thayer, Communications Director for the San Luis Obispo Symphony. This and countless other accolades—from students, colleagues, and fellow musicians—resound as deeply and steadily as the double bass he plays, as Clifton Swanson becomes this year’s SLO Symphony Honors Recipient. Now in its fifth year, the prestigious award will be presented to Swanson at the Annual Symphony Ball to be held Saturday, February 25th at the Embassy Suites Grand Ballroom from 6:00 p.m. to midnight. “I’m pretty stunned,” said the typically humble Swanson in response to the announcement. “I’ve always seen myself not as a leader, but as someone willing to step in … I’m hoping that being the recipient of this honor doesn’t obscure the efforts of so many others.” Born on the East Coast to musical parents, Swanson began his musical life as a boy soprano, singing alongside his father in a church choir in New York. “My mother played piano and I remember her playing in the evenings as I went to sleep,” he said. Swanson played clarinet in high school, and took up the bass in college. At Pomona College, he was studying Pre-Med when a tough chemistry course dimmed his desire to become a physician. The turning point came when he began studying piano with Russell Sherman, who opened his eyes to what music is really all about. “The watershed moment came when I was playing in the Pomona College orchestra, with Mr. Sherman featured in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2. That did it for me.” He changed his major to Music in his junior year, and met his future wife, Jane, the following year. They married in 1964, honeymooned at the Music Academy of the West that summer, and by 1965, Swanson had earned his Master’s in Music from the University of Texas. Joining Cal Poly’s Music Department in 1967 at the age of 26, Swanson devoted nearly four decades to his students and colleagues before retiring in 2004. He served as chairman of the department for many years, and spearheaded the establishment of the university’s B.A. degree in Music. “Before Clif came to Cal Poly, there was just a glee club and a marching band,” said Roy Gersten, longtime friend, former managing director of Cal Poly’s Student Union, and unflagging supporter of the arts. “If it hadn’t been for Clif, I wouldn’t be here now.” In 1971, Swanson founded the San Luis Obispo Mo-

Swanson at Cuesta Auditorium in 1975 J A N U A R Y


Journal PLUS

Disney Hall with the Cal Poly Band, 2010

zart Festival with the help of Cal Poly faculty members Ron Ratcliffe and John Russell, and Los Angeles oboist John Ellis. Ellis brought together some of the best musicians in Los Angeles for a three-day event, and the ticket price for all three concerts was a mere $6.00. The first festival was wildly successful and with Swanson at the helm for 33 years, it grew into an internationally known two-week music festival with over 30 concerts and events. Now known as Festival Mozaic, the festival continues to thrive and has grown to include additional “WinterMezzo” concerts in October and February as well. That same year (1971), Swanson also accepted the invitation to become the nearly-out-of-business San Luis Obispo Symphony’s newest conductor. “It could be perceived as crazy to add to an already heavy teaching load,” Swanson admits, “the demanding plans for the festival, and our growing family at home … but it was a great opportunity to do significant repertoire year-round and work with the best local musicians.” Highly adaptable and fiscally conservative, Swanson made sure the Symphony would survive and flourish, retiring in 1984 as music director and joining the orchestra as principal bass player the following year. Said current SLO Symphony Executive Director, Jim Black, “When I first started attending Symphony concerts, I wondered who that tall man in the back row of the bass section was. Then when I became the Executive Director, I decided I must go meet this man and get any sage wisdom he might share. …

Clif and Jane at Karlstejn Castle, Czech Republic, 2004

bass teacher and mentor. He’s a great listener, has a terrific sense of humor, lots of life experience and interesting observations. He’s the most consistent person I know, very reliable and even tempered…. I can’t think of a more deserving honoree for this year’s Ball.” Swanson continues to be a tireless supporter, tour guide, and fundraiser for the Foundation, but he has plenty of outside interests as well. “I spend a lot of time on landscaping around our house, building retaining walls, gardens, and paths. I’m a new member of Master Gardeners … and have taught for Cal Poly’s London Study



Program a dozen times. I love to travel and do photography, especially architecture and ruins.” Last year’s Symphony Honors recipient, Sandy Dunn, said she felt honored to be among those asked to comment on the award about to be passed to her successor. “Clif is warmhearted, steady, and works successfully in a quiet way. Very simply, Clifton Swanson is a community treasure.” For tickets and information about this year’s gala Symphony Ball with its “Hello Bollywood!” theme, call 543-3533 or visit

Swanson in 1978

Swanson with his Bass at the Mission, 1990

Clif is a deeply knowledgeable, patient, steadfast contributor and educator who guides and stewards with great care and purpose.” A tenacious supporter of the Performing Arts Center from the start, Swanson served as President of the Foundation for the Performing Arts Center for three years, working tirelessly and persistently to ensure that the hall was acoustically excellent for live music. “Clif is very positive, very confident when he asks for something,” Roy Gersten explains. “He has this way of convincing people.” Clif and Jane Swanson have two children, Erika who lives in Estes Park, Colorado with her husband and six children; and Chris who lives in Torrance with his wife and brand new baby. Both are accomplished musicians; Erika on piano (she won the Monday Club competition in 1983, during her junior year of high school), and Chris on violin. Former student and now SLO Symphony’s co-principal bass player (a position she shares with co-principal bass Ken Hustad), Lara Lehmer, said, “Clif was the ultimate J A N U A R Y


Journal PLUS



Partnership, synergy and community meet family care network’s

Jim Roberts By Susan Stewart


atie A. never had a chance. According to publicly accessible court documents, at age four, Katie was removed from her home by the State of California “…on account of neglect; her mother was living on the street and her father was in prison.” During her 10 years in the Department of Children and Family Services system, Katie was subjected to 37 out-ofhome placements, including 4 group homes, 19 psychiatric hospital stays, a two-year stay at a State Hospital, and seven separate stays at the now-notorious MacLaren Children’s Center under “deplorable conditions.” In 2002, Katie became one of five plaintiffs in a class action suit, Katie A. v. Bonta, all of them innocent victims of a dangerously flawed child welfare system.

Just a few months ago, in September of 2011, the plaintiffs won their case. A decision known as “The Katie A. Settlement” made certain that California’s children who are at risk for being removed from their families, or who are already in the foster care system, would receive intensive home- and community-based mental health services in order that they might … “live successfully in a family and succeed in school and later life.” The hardwon decision had its steadfast and persistent child advocates dancing in the streets, including San Luis Obispo’s own Jim Roberts. For 25 years, Roberts has worked tirelessly to change the state’s foster care system to better meet the real needs of the children it is mandated to protect. As Founder and

CEO of Family Care Network, Jim Roberts believes that the practice of Therapeutic Foster Care—an idea that was born on the

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vices, the Probation and Health Departments. He has also won the support of many local businesses, companies, agencies, and organizations. With this synergistic network in place, Roberts has been able to establish a cadre of experienced and dedicated “professional” foster care parents who are a part of the overall effort to help children transition successfully from a troubled environment into a loving and stable home. “We compensate these couples well so that one of them can be a stayat-home parent,” said Roberts. “And thanks to the recent Katie A. decision, we can now provide critically important therapeutic services to every child who needs them.” Roberts says he’s more passionate about FCNI than he was even 25 years ago when it all began. How has he been able to sustain such a high level of enthusiasm for a job he’s been doing for a quarter century? East Coast—is a far better way to address the trauma and stress of children who are removed from their homes than the endless revolving doors and large impersonal group homes that have characterized foster care for so many years. “Foster care should never be considered a permanent or even longterm solution,” he said. “Rather, it’s an effective, short-term, interim placement only, on the way to family reunification or permanent adoption with a loving and stable family.” Serving foster and high needs children, youth, and families in San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara Counties, Family Care Network Inc. (FCNI) will celebrate its 25th birthday in August of this year. With its emphasis on strong partnerships with other helping agencies in the community, FCNI now serves as a state model for effective, comprehensive care that changes lives. Among its many services and programs are: Therapeutic Foster Care, Family Support Services, Transitional Housing Services, Prevention and Early Intervention Services, and Community-Linked Services. As a young community college student in Southern California, Roberts started out as a Commercial Art major. But a chance experience while taking an elective called “Social Problems” led to some volunteer work at a Boys Club where he was one of just two white men among a crowded sea of brown and black faces. “Those kids stole my heart,” he recalls, “and I changed my major to Sociology.”

“Because I’ve seen the successes, the absolutely stellar stories, the changed lives,” he explains. “The synergy we’ve created has had amazing outcomes.” Today, FCNI enjoys the whole-hearted support of State Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and Senator Sam Blakeslee; it has a fine roster of paid staff and dedicated volunteers; and it holds several special event fundraisers throughout the year. “We are lucky that the Central Coast is still a very generous community,” said Roberts. “But with recent state cuts, we are more dependent than ever on that community support.” Katie A. would now be 24 years old. Though her anonymity continues to be protected, one can only hope that her life was changed for the better by the landmark case that was named for her. Jim Roberts and all the staff at Family Care Network owe a debt of gratitude to Katie A., and to all the courageous children whose painful young lives helped change the law and give other children the chance they never had. Two winter holiday events, plus September’s Taste of the Central Coast and May’s Miracle Miles for Kids are examples of how the public can support FCNI. You are also encouraged to volunteer as a mentor, tutor, or foster parent. Internships and How to Donate can both be found by visiting the website. For more information about how you can get involved with Family Care Network, call 781-3535 or visit

Roberts earned his B.A. in Sociology in 1971 and eventually earned an M.A. in Business Administration as well. He went to work in Orange County’s Probation Department and did graduate studies in Counseling at Chapman College. In 1973, Roberts became a Deputy Probation Officer at Inyo County where he served one year as Chief in 1985-86. Armed with a decade’s worth of experience in the “system,” Roberts saw its flaws and weaknesses manifested in the wrecked lives and heart-rending stories he encountered every day. He was introduced to the concept of Therapeutic Foster Care and dedicated himself to bringing it to California. Along the way, he “fell in love” with the administrative, planning, and strategic development aspects of running an organization like Family Care Network. Today, FCNI has strong partnerships with County entities such as Child Protective Services, Mental Health, Social Ser-

Roberts participating in the Miracle Mile For Kids J A N U A R Y


Journal PLUS



Christine Zurbach: Former missionary now helps bring clean water to africa By Hilary Grant


t’s an old timely phrase that many might think is an overworked cliché… Home is where the heart is.

Those simple words, however, mean something much deeper to Christine Zurbach. Zurbach has chosen to not only talk, but walk, this sentence for much of her adult life. Blessed with grace and a strong desire to make a lasting imprint in the world, the 35-year-old Christian has devoted more than the past decade to living and working with the poorest of the poor, no matter where that may be. These days, the Cal Poly graduate is in San Luis Obispo, helping train volunteers for Lifewater International, the faith based non-profit that empowers communities, and fights poverty and disease, by providing clean water to more than 40 developing countries. (Learn more about Lifewater in the January 2011 issue of Journal Plus at But until a little more than a year ago, Zurbach called Ukraine – the former Soviet state which declared its independence in 1991 – her home. Zurbach lived there for more than eight years; in fact, she fell so in love with the people and its culture that she spent her Christmas vacation there last month. Zurbach first learned about the struggling country’s needs 14 years ago, when she was just 21 years old and a recent graduate with a degree in English Literature.

cine and clothing to orphans, as well as sharing how much God loved them, I had to go and see for myself what was going on.” Coming on a short visit to see if Ukraine was the right fit for her, Zurbach remembers attending a concert in the town square of Priluki, about 100 miles from Kiev, soon after her arrival. Organized by Sisemore and featuring a Christian Ukrainian band, Zurbach says that as a direct result of the event, a new church began that very day. “The next week, 100 people showed up in the square,” says Zurbach.

“A missionary named Paul Sisemore (currently lead pastor of At the Cross in Shell Beach) and his wife Teri, came to my church, Calvary SLO,” says Zurbach. “They were guest speakers, having already moved to Ukraine.

“It was pretty amazing to me, because I had never really seen so many people so interested to learn and hear about God. There were also tens of thousands of orphans living in dire circumstances – kids who didn’t believe that anyone loved them.”

“I’d always had an interest in the former Soviet Union, and knew there were great needs there, physically and spiritually,” continues Zurbach. “But when I heard Paul talking about providing food, medi-

Zurbach was already somewhat familiar with the challenging lives of some children: she had worked for the SLO County Parks and Recreation Department during college and there, had interfaced with

The early years – Christine, brother Matt and sister Kathy.



Christine’s first Orphanage Class in Ukraine, 2003

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After graduating from Santa Margarita Catholic School, near Mission Viejo in Orange County, Zurbach knew that Cal Poly was the college for her. “I wanted to be close to my aunt, uncle and cousins, who lived here,” she explains. “Today, my brother and sister both live in SLO with their families, so I guess we’ve all made the Central Coast our home! I’m sure my parents will make the final move to live up here soon.” Zurbach doesn’t differentiate when it comes to whether she prefers to be working overseas or in the United States. Winter in Priluki

town to the north that boasted several universities. Here, she was able to use English to get her message across. Christine and 5-year-old orphan, Jenya

high-risk youth. But before making a final decision about leaving her friends and family so far behind, Zurbach says, “I wanted to grow in maturity, and be trained by my church.” Eventually, Zurbach realized she was still too young to make a permanent move to Ukraine. So instead, Zurbach took a job as a behavior counselor for Family Care Network, a long established organization on the Central Coast that serves foster and high-needs children, youth and their families. In June of 2002, Zurbach did return to Ukraine – and this time, it was official. She was now a missionary based in Priluki, with Calvary SLO as her sponsor. “I moved there with the intent of staying as long as I felt that I had a purpose to be there, and that it was God’s plan for me to be there,” says Zurbach. Although dependent on the church as her sole financial support wasn’t easy – “one month, I received just $170 to live on” – Zurbach says that her faith kept her strong. Learning the language was also, at first, an ongoing struggle – “very few people spoke proper Ukrainian where I was located” – but Zurbach has better memories about the children. “I traveled to three different orphanages every week during my first few years there,” says Zurbach. “We sang songs about God, shared Bible stories, made crafts and played games.” Zurbach helped organize similar festivals, which took place on a regular basis, throughout the town. She also became the church music leader and headed its children’s ministry. After four years, Zurbach made the difficult decision to relocate to Chernihiv, a larger

“We had a weekly English club, and I had the chance to teach in schools and universities, using every opportunity to share the Bible with them,” says Zurbach. She adds that it was in this city that she finally learned the Russian language. Zurbach comes from a life of privilege. Born in Newport Beach and raised mostly in Orange County, dad Randy was a commercial banker and later, started a venture capital company. Mom Lynn, now retired, was a radiation therapist, but was able to quit work when her children (in addition to Christine, there’s older brother Matt and younger sister Kathy) were young.

“I believe that God makes us a certain way, with certain gifts and desires,” she says, “and where we end up is up to Him. The calling comes from God.” Where does Zurbach see herself five years from now? “I honestly don’t have that sort of time line,” she says. “I do hope that my life will continue to be lived for other people’s joy, and my joy would come from that. “I didn’t make myself who I am – I really believe that God made me this way, and if I use what He has given me for his glory, then that is all I can do.”

One memory – perhaps one that makes Zurbach so comfortable when it comes to living in unfamiliar circumstances – is the traveling that her entire family enjoyed while growing up. “We went to Lake Arrowhead for multiple Thanksgivings,” she says. “Just being in a cabin, with a big fire going, a lot of hot chocolate and a hot tub, plus the idea of it snowing, was always very exciting to me.” Then, when she was 15 years old, Zurbach took an adventure of a lifetime. “My grandfather took all of us kids, plus a cousin, for a month on safari, in Africa,” she remembers. “He was a big traveler, explorer and philanthropist, and he decided to do this for his grandkids instead of leaving us a bunch of money when he died. “And, I’m so thankful he did. It was my first cross-cultural experience and seeing rural Africa, the tribesman, and new cultures impacted me greatly.” J A N U A R Y


Journal PLUS



Lori and Tony harmon equine alliance youth foundation By Natasha Dalton “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” ---Winston Churchill Lori and Tony Harmon cannot imagine their lives without horses. They love these gentle, friendly animals and for years have been rescuing old, neglected and abused horses from being slaughtered. They take them to their ranch on the outskirts of Paso Robles, provide them with shelter and food, and most importantly, give them a lot of affection and care. The ranch also welcomes children, especially those who weren’t lucky enough to receive much care or affection in their own homes. It all began a decade ago when the Harmons took custody of a six-year-old girl diagnosed with a “failure to thrive syndrome, attachment disorder and aggressive behavior stemming from severe neglect and abuse.” “Child Protection Services recommended that the girl should be institutionalized, but that just didn’t set right in our hearts,” Lori Harmon remembers. Desperately wanting to improve the child’s mental state, the Harmons tried every trick in the book, including weekly counseling, but nothing seemed to work. Two years later, when the couple began to lose hope, the girl saw a horse named Tober – and the meeting transformed her.

Before finding a refuge at the Harmons’ Equine Alliance, this horse had been mistreated as well. “From their first introduction, the two formed an immediate bond and this was the breakthrough we had been praying for,” Lori remembers. The child and the horse “went on to enjoy many years of friendship, unconditional love and the healing of lifelong scars together. Because of one horse’s love, this child was saved and has grown into a wonderful compassionate young woman who has overcome many obstacles in her life.” This experience gave the Harmons the idea to form the Equine Alliance Youth Foundation, with the purpose of bringing together needy animals and kids, each looking for loyal companions. These days the Foundation is celebrating its fifth anniversary, and I asked its Executive Director Lori Harmon to give us an update on its work. Do you remember the first child who came to your ranch, after the Youth Foundation was formed? Yes, it was Brianna – a teen, who was referred by Social Services in SLO. Brianna wrote us a letter about her family and her life in a group home. ”I know what it is like to be abused and having no one that wants you,” she said in her letter. “When I was 7 years old I lived in a van with my mother and two younger sisters. My mom was doing drugs and every day I took care of my two younger sisters and would have to

Lori Harmon

find food for them. We were all taken from our mom and split up into different homes until my mom could get clean and get an apartment but that never happened. So far I have been in 17 different foster homes and it is really hard and lonely. I don’t know anything about horses but have always dreamed of having one of my own, and would love to have the chance to help out…” We were so touched by this letter that we invited Brianna out to the ranch the following weekend. Out of all the horses at the ranch, Brianna immediately bonded with a rescued, shy, previously neglected mare by the name Bella. Bella would never allow anyone to get close to her, but she had an immediate connection with Brianna. Since that first day the two were inseparable. For four years, Brianna came over every Sunday, rain or shine, and spent many hours working: training and rehabilitating many horses at the ranch. Brianna is eighteen years old now and a full-time college student. Brianna has touched many hearts and inspired each and every one who has had the pleasure of meeting her. How many kids have gone through your program since its start? How many horses? Over 200 horses and 2000 youth participants and their caregivers have benefited from our programs.

Tony Harmon J A N U A R Y


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How do horses help the kids, exactly? Let me give you a few examples. Brian, a non-verbal adult with Down syndrome, broke many years of silence when he came to the ranch. He started to give Peaty, the cart pony, the verbal commands to “walk on.” Michaela, age 9, with autism, learned to ride and lunge horses. The rhythmic motion of riding a horse causes autistic children to focus on the movement – which is slow, deliberate, and relaxing. The playful and goofy nature of Ali (a therapy horse) drew Michaela out of her shell and gave her confidence, independence and sense of accomplishment. For Jose, a seventeen-year-old troubled teen, the equine therapy provided an opportunity to work through a number of specific issues: aggression, self-injury, lack of trust, unprovoked outbursts… He quickly found out that horses do not respond positively to yelling, intimidation or temper tantrums. Two years into our program of training and rehabilitating abused and unwanted horses, Jose has learned to re-pattern his own behavior, feelings, and attitude. The once-troubled teen has abandoned his tough-guy persona, and what emerged was a proud, determined, trustworthy, kind, compassionate, considerate and loving young man. There is no doubt that Jose simply has a gift of rehabilitating rescued horses. In return, the horses have brought out the best in Jose.


that they can become our next generation of leaders, hard workers, effective parents and engaged citizens. The sad part is that, at present, at-risk youths are amongst the most underserved in our community, and, without intervention by caring adults, they navigate complex life situations and challenges on their own. It makes them vulnerable and prone to poor decisions that can undermine their future. Is there any way to change that? We believe that many of our former foster care youths could have used more help and time after emancipating at age eighteen. That would have given them a better chance to prepare for the challenges of adulthood. Each year, when over 20,000 foster and probation youth transition out of care, they find themselves burdened with the extraordinary task of finding affordable housing and adequate employment. Many struggle and become ensnared by the nets of chronic homelessness, unemployment and periods of incarceration. Our dream is to obtain a ranch property with living facilities that can shelter youths and provide them with a safe place for success. To empower youths, we want to integrate health and wellness, career development, higher education, financial literacy and life skills.


Calmenco! can be described as the ‘Riverdance’ of guitar. The group blends the musical genres of Classical, Spanish, and Latin Jazz with the rhythm of Latin percussion. This is the unique sound of Calmenco! Incendio is a band which comes from LA, and as you said, it’s well-known and much loved on the Central Coast. Incendio’s rock-style enthusiasm and energy match their tremendous technical and improvisational sophistication. Our “An Evening of Guitars” shows are very popular, and we hope that, as in years past, this performance will be sold out. Thank you, Lori. The sizzling Latin rhythms at a beautiful venue are a good way to spend a Saturday evening, and to help a local cause. For more information, go to: For tickets, call: 805-489-9444 or order online:

Lori, your husband Tony is a professional musician. This month his band Calmenco! is appearing with Incendio, another popular instrumental band, in a joint concert. How is this performance related to the aspirations of the Equine Alliance Youth Foundation?

I have witnessed many, many kids and horses healing each other through love, unwavering trust and a keen understanding of what the other has been through. It’s a miracle that I’ll never grow tired of. Seeing kids and horses ‘click’ must be the best part of your work. What are the difficulties? We provide the youths with the tools to achieve their full potential as adults so

This event, called “An Evening of Guitars,” is our annual benefit concert. It will take place at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande on Saturday, January 21. Tony and the other two guitarists, Ray Pannell and Nathan Towne, as well as their percussionist Johnny Sandoval, are internationally-recognized performers, whose credits include appearances at The White House, The Oscars and The Johnny Carson Show – just to name a few. Together they are Calmenco! J A N U A R Y


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PEOPLE Leah Forsythe today

Leah Forsythe

Dedicated retired nurse still inspires others By Whitney Diaz


hose who know Leah Forsythe say she’ll go on forever, that the ripe age of 88 is not a barrier for this French Hospital Medical Center ward clerk and former nurse proctor. She still works long shifts and loves every minute of it. “She doesn’t conduct herself any differently in her 80s than she did when she was in her 40s,” says Leah’s longtime co-worker and friend Dr. Ke-Ping Tsao. “There are not many professionals who can work at the same level as they did years ago, well into their 80s.” Leah’s experience as a nurse spans more than 40 years and she has built a reputation as an incredible and extraordinary woman, considered by many in the medical community to be a local celebrity. “She mentored so many nurses,” said Linda Riggle, vice president of patient care services at French Hospital Medical Center. “She was the nurse we all wanted to be; she was what many of the current nurse managers aspired to be, both clinically and professionally.” She was one of the first nurses in the area to be trained in the use and insertion of peripherally inserted central catheter (PIC) lines,

a minimally invasive yet superior technique used to deliver long-term medications and blood products. This technique is essential for managing patients with cancer, and Leah established the method in the local community, often traveling around the county to educate other health care professionals on how to correctly insert PIC lines. Leah’s daughter Carol Hall says that it’s in her mother’s nature to help people and that “she’s always taking care of somebody.” Leah turned 88 on October 19, but that hasn’t stopped her from continuing her very important work. She has served as a mentor to many local nursing graduates and is still without equal in IV starts. As a nurse proctor, she provided excellent care to patients ranging from infants to the elderly and mentored generations of nurses – a passion she continues today. Leah has been named Nurse of the Year twice and received a Champions in Health Award from the San Luis Obispo County Medical Society in 2004. “She’s very selfless, takes really good care of her patients and always gives so much of herself to her job,” Hall recently said of her mother. “People have come up to me in the streets, at the post office, wherever I am, to tell me how exceptional my mother is, how she gave them their careers, and what a difference she has made in their lives.”

schedule has changed slightly due to particularly painful back problems and a torn rotator cuff. “It is truly beyond me and many who know her, love her, work with her, how a woman of her age with her physical ailments can manage to drive to work, get her walker out of her car and get into the hospital to work six- to 12-hour shifts, all with a smile and no complaints,” Hall said. She began her nursing career in 1945 after graduating from Somerset Nursing School in New Jersey at the age of 23. She and Claude raised their two stepsons and had three more children and eight grandchildren. Leah still lives in San Luis Obispo, and you can often see her early in the morning driving down Highland Drive on her way to a long shift at French Hospital Medical Center.

Leah and her late-husband Claude moved to San Luis Obispo from New Jersey in 1974. She soon transferred her nursing license from New Jersey to California to begin her career as a resident nurse at French Hospital Medical Center. Leah quickly transitioned from a floor nurse to nursing house supervisor, working the difficult and infamous “three-to-eleven” evening shift. She continued in this role until she retired in 1996 to care for her then ailing husband. After Claude’s passing not too long following her retirement, she resumed her nursing career at French Hospital as an on-call nurse, and eventually became a part-time ward clerk/unit secretary. But, even as a ward clerk, she is still called upon regularly to help guide particularly difficult IV lines. Forsythe as a child J A N U A R Y


Until recently, her usual schedule was one 12-hour and one six-hour shift per week. Her

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Nurse Forsythe



Achievement house and the 11th hole grill By Ruth Starr


ecognizing a need—more than fifty years ago—parents of children with disabilities joined together in 1957 and formed what is now known as Achievement House. This vocational training program today also offers community living support for individuals who live in their own apartments or homes.

Achievement House also has an activity center where clients can learn more about the community as well as have things to do. Located in San Luis Obispo at 553 Higuera Street, clients can attend classes that help them learn computers, art, history, civics, and cooking. The staff also plans field trips to various places in the area.

Teaching their clients vocational skills allows these individuals to go out in the community and get employment that is beneficial to both the client and the employer.

To sustain these programs, Achievement House receives funding from the State of California through the Lanterman Act—a California law that mandates services and support to people with developmental disabilities and their families. Additional much-needed funds come from Achievement House’s four thrift stores, located in Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, Lompoc, and Santa Maria. These stores provide a convenient way for people to donate items as well as make purchases to help keep the programs viable.

Achievement House also provides community living services for adults. These programs allow clients to find their place in society, experience dignity, and be productive citizens in the community, it’s truly a ‘win-win’ situation. When clients in the program live independently, they are assisted with learning to manage their money, maintain their health and be aware of safety. Staff helps to get them to Doctor appointments and they are taught to use public transportation in order to be more independent and go places on their own.

Funding agencies (such as the Tri-Counties Regional Center) are based out of the Department of Developmental Services, a state entity that helps support vocational and day programs for developmentally disabled individuals. Most of the disabled clients also receive social security. In keeping with current times, Achievement House has developed an all-new e-waste program where people can dispose of items such as computers, phones, tvs, and printers. However, they do not take microwaves or washers and dryers. These e-waste items can be taken to any of the thrift shops or to 70 Prado Road in San Luis Obispo. The city of SLO recently put out a request for a proposal to add a snack bar at Laguna Lake Golf Course. Achievement House responded favorably to the proposal and began the work of setting up a classy snack bar. The 11th Hole Grill opened in April 2011 after a year of preparations and working with the Health and Planning Departments. There are six employees and two job coaches. The six employees have learned a variety of life skills such as cooking, running the register, serving food and keeping

everything in good order. The job coaches oversee the workers and help the restaurant run smoothly. The 11th Hole Grill is open seven days a week from 7:30am to 5pm. They serve hot dogs and hamburgers with specialty sauces (they say it is a secret sauce which they won’t reveal), chef ’s salads, coffee, beer, soft drinks and small snacks, in addition to a breakfast burrito. They will substitute ingredients cheerfully. It is the kind of place where you can ask for a hamburger in a lettuce wrap even if it is not on the menu. There is patio seating as well as tables indoors. Fresh veggies are available direct from the adjacent garden they planted. The SLO Morning Kiwanis recently donated five hundred dollars to Achievement House from a golf tournament they held at the Laguna Course with The 11th Hole Grill catering. They also cater breakfasts and lunches frequently for the Womens and Mens golf groups who play at Laguna. If the golfers would like their food waiting at the end of their game, they can now call from the 7th hole and it will be ready when they get to the The 11th Hole Grill. The grill not only provides good food to the community and out-of-town guests at reasonable prices, but equally important is providing people who work there with a meaningful occupation in life. Filling the gap to dignified, productive living for our disabled population, Achievement House is a blessing to the many people they have touched – directly or indirectly – as they head toward a century of service.



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Ode to carrizo plain By Chuck Graham


t the base of the Caliente Mountains, a herd of Tule Elk browsed across the sweeping grasslands of the Carrizo Plain National Monument. About 40 cows and calves enjoyed the lush swath of wildflowers in what is known as “California’s Serengeti.”

Every time I hang a left off Highway 166 onto Soda Lake Road, I’m swallowed up in the silence of this remote wilderness. The national monument turned 10 years old last April, the last of California’s historic grasslands clinging to the protection set forth by former President Bill Clinton, who deemed the region a national monument in 2001. Raven’s nest

“It’s a unique, beautiful area,” said Jonah Hurl, resource manager of the Carrizo Plain. “It’s a place where you can go without seeing or hearing anyone.”

Natural Wonders Every time I come out here, I see something I didn’t see the time before. Late last winter, my wife Lori and I saw two barn owls roosting inside an alcove of a sandstone cathedral. They flew over to the sunny side of the outcropping to ward off the morning chill. They landed on a slab of sandstone covered in a montage of crimson and auburn lichen the same shades as the owl’s wings. Another time, after heavy winter rains we were driving on Simmler Road on the eastern fringe of Soda Lake. We were moving slowly, careful not to get stuck in the mud, when Lori spotted a baby blacktailed jackrabbit. It was alone, separated from its mother and cold, huddling in a muddy rut. Its mottled fur was wet from the previous night’s rain and it was shivering. I pulled it out of the mud and held it close to my chest facing the morning sun. It was weeks from growing into its gangly feet and it needed a lot of luck to survive marauding coyotes and San Joaquin kit foxes. It was tough leaving it behind, but it was nature’s way. On several trips to the Carrizo Plain I’ve gone without seeing another soul, so it came as a surprise that the national monument sees anywhere between 40,000 and 60,000 visitors per year at a place where the next gas station or market is 50 miles away in any one direction.



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As I neared the summit at the top of the ridge, I spooked a majestic golden eagle roosting in an oak tree. It swooped over me and continued east out over the plain, vanishing against the stark landscape of the Elkhorn Plain. What would take me half a day’s ride, the raptor was already there.

Barn Owls

Soda Lake The flock of American avocets skimmed the surface of Soda Lake maybe a millimeter separating their wings from the shimmering shallows. They gathered inside a tiny cove, sharing it with a bevy of sandpipers and long-billed curlews. Soda Lake is the largest natural alkali lake in California and during wet winters attracts migrating sandhill cranes. During the dry season Soda Lake becomes a blinding white, 3,000-acre salt pan, the midday glare seen from miles away. But at sunset the edge of the lake is one of the more tranquil places across the Carrizo Plain. It’s a place to wander and reflect. It’s also a good time to see some of the 180 bird species that frequent the national monument.

“It’s totally dependent on wildflowers,” continued Hurl, who has worked on the Carrizo Plain for 17 years. “April is the busiest month; 2010 was a banner year for wildflowers.” It’s true. Soda Lake Road runs for 50 miles through the Carrizo Plain, and in 2010 the Temblor Mountains to the east and most of the grasslands were splashed in purple, yellow, pink and gold.

The best place to do this is along the boardwalk that meanders along the west shore of the alkali lake, a good place for setting up a spotting scope or scanning with binoculars. Shorebirds and geese fly in by the hundreds, Soda Lake being part of the Pacific Flyway, the lonely, wide open expanse a safe haven for flora and fauna alike. Being back on Highway 166 unfortunately signaled the end of another Carrizo Plain experience, leaving behind the grasslands, soothing silence and too many natural wonders to count. That is until once again I feel the tug inside to pack up my truck and climb Highway 33 to return once more to “California’s Serengeti.”

Golden Hour It was a lung-busting ascent at dawn, rising above the floor of the Carrizo Plain, achy legs churning my mountain bike to San Luis Obispo Counties’ highest summit at 5,106 feet. I left the sweeping grasslands and lost myself in the oak woodlands pedaling up Caliente Ridge for a different perspective of California as it appeared 200 years before. Aside from old cattle ranching roads and remnants of ranches dating back to the 1940s, the Carrizo Plain suffers from very little human impact. In fact, ravens and raptors have taken over those weather-beaten manmade structures, and made them into their own. Old windmills, water tanks and teetering barns are fair game for annual nest sites. My eyes were tearing up in the frigid 20-degree temperatures and my lungs burned with each deep breath. It was silent except for my huffing and puffing. Gratefully I pulled up to a natural overlook to catch my breath, shadows retreating across the plain. Tule Elk



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beginnings New year’s resolutions thru the generations By Bob Huttle

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” ---Rainer Maria Rilke The hectic holidays are over, the wind sweeping away dry Christmas trees. Blue recycling barrels, a week ago brim-full of elementary school fund-raiser wrapping paper, Christmas-candy bows and satin ribbons, sit empty and (hopefully) out of sight from the neighborhood trashcan police. The guests have left, to the relief of a majority of hosts. Floors have been washed, the rug is now cleaned of Uncle Billy’s red pomegranate martini stain from his overindulgence on New Year’s Eve. Piles of laundry have vanished and are stored until next year’s visits. I’ve noticed the chocolate-covered peppermint Jo Jos from Trader Joe’s no longer fill the shelves, much to my wife’s and my disappointment. How will we survive until next year without such decadence? Time to throw away the half-filled eggnog carton, cook up a batch of turkey or split-pea and ham soup, and hunker down for the new year that unfolds just ahead. Take a deep breath everybody, open your eyes, and anticipate “things that have never been.”

THE YOUNGER AMONG US (ages 8-18) 3rd grade: “I wish for a dog. I really want one so I can have a living best friend that’s not a stuffed animal.” (Grace)

4th grade: “I wish that all cancer will be cured in 2012.” (Maddie) “I hope we get a new mall for SLO.” (Lily) “I wish to be a millionaire.” (Ethan) “For the war to end.” (Jadon) “to invent a car that runs on fruit.” (Wyatt) “for the world to be a better place.” (Bella) “for my basketball team to be undefeated.” (Kyra) “for my family and friends to stay healthy...” (Emily) “ (Payton)

6th grade:

Some of us make a few new year’s resolutions which, oftentimes, don’t last very long. I made lots more when I was younger; now I figure I’ve learned my lesson and try to avoid disappointing myself when my best intentions fly out the window after only a day or two. What happened to resolve and risk? It seems I can’t be bothered paying too much attention to ill-thought resolutions for now. I have too much else to think about: children and grandchildren scattered near and far, elderly parents facing life-changing issues, Cal Poly teaching candidates who hope to travel the same honorable road I did and who look to me for mentorship. Scheduling my gym time is important to me, as is working my shifts at We Olive, tending the community garden (currently under a winter hiatus), planning travel adventures and winter-snuggling with my wife, and spending more quality time with family and close friends. And, of course, writing this column.

“I hope for total DOMINATION in everything!!!!! (Ethan)

Having said this, I know people often look to the new year with hopes and good wishes that their next 365 days be an improvement over the previous ones. In planning this month’s column I thought it might be illuminating to find out the hopes and wishes of people of varying ages. Would a seven-year-old hope for something similar to a ninety-year-old? I sent an email to teacher friends, soliciting their students’ help, and to other friends and family members, asking them all the same question: “What do you hope or wish for in the new year ahead?” Here’s what some said:

“...[for my family] to be full of joy rather than arguing.”

“I hope to get on pointe.” (Lexi) “for me to be more responsible and for my god brother to be healed and well.” (Andy) “to see my dad more.” (anonymous) “for a guinea pig.” (David) “for a hampster.” (Carson) “to go to Chicago when it’s snowing.” (Erik)

middle schoolers/high schoolers (HS), most are anonymous: “ grow 5 inches.” (Brody, 8th grade) “Intelligent presidential debates and that the Mayans were wrong.” (hs) “that my friends and family will start to be thankful for what they have because recently I realized how good we have it, so yeah.” (hs) “a full lake in the summer.” (hs) “that the economy gets better so many families can pick themselves up. I want the ‘norms’ of society to change and I want to make a difference in the world.” (hs) “To function.” (hs)



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“More time and fabric to sew.” (hs)

“...for the election of a new president...” (Dan, 60+)

“the beginning of a new life.” (hs)

“to get in shape and to continue trips to Bass Lake...” (Ed, 60+)

“a new medical breakthrough that will help those who deserve it.” (hs)

“to continue to enjoy our kids and grandkids.” (Mund, 60-something)

“I hope I realize what I want to do with my life.” (hs)

“for jobs and fair wages for the unemployed and underemployed.” (Will, 60+)

“a new start.” (hs)

YOUNG ADULTS, THE UP-AND-COMERS (ages 21-40): “I hope my baby continues to grow and be a healthy, happy child.” (Aimee, (30+) “to get some kind of ability to stay ahead of my 6- and 8-year-old daughters; they are aging me way too quickly.” (Danya, 30+)

THE FORTY-AND-FIFTY SOMETHINGS (ages 41-59) “to wake up as my 21-year-old self and know what I know now.” (Denise, (50) “be 105 lbs by August [to fit] into a pair of Miss Me Jeans.” (Erica 40+) “I hope to continue ‘The Old Farts Club’ on Wednesdays.” (Dave, 57) “ treat others with more respect and kindness. If everyone committed to this, wouldn’t our lives be full of more joy and less stress?” (Judi, 50+) “a Superbowl victory for the 49ers (Barbara, 50+)


“I HOPE (my middle name) not to lose any friends or family in 2012.” (Kathy, 60+)

THE WISE ELDERS (80+): “...[an] end to poverty and suffering and for everyone to be kind to one another (yes, I am an optimist but realize I will not live long enough to see this...happen”). (Lou, 88) “world peace and a very healthy year ahead for my family.” (Kay, 87) “an improvement of the USA’s place in the world, its unemployment to lessen, and the USA’s political climate to improve.” (Frank, 89) “I wish for a cure... to be found to eliminate cancer...” (Edna, 88) So there you have it, a dipstick into the thoughts of our friends and neighbors as we head into the new year. As for me, I have one overriding hope for 2012: to never experience another colonoscopy (no offense, Dr. Colbert; you and your staff did good!). Happy New Year to one and all. Bob Huttle can be reached at He looks forward to hearing from you if you resolve to contact him.



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uring the cooler months many Americans struggle to keep their homes warm and cozy while keeping energy costs down. Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to save money this winter.

“People would be surprised how much energy, and ultimately money, they can save by making minor adjustments in their homes,” says Leonard Kady, Principal of Leonard Kady Architecture, Interiors & Planning and member of the American Institute of Architects. “It’s really a matter of determining where the house is leaking to prevent good air – warm and cold– from escaping.” To help get you started, Kady offers some useful advice. Insulation is Key Windows are the primary source of heat loss in houses, says Kady. While newer windows are better insulated than older ones, steps can be taken to improve all windows from losing heat. Whether new or old, start by caulking around windows, door frames and other trim, and use weather-stripping to seal drafty doors. Expanding foam sealants in spray form, which are inexpensive and can be found at most home repair stores, can also be used to seal and insulate wall cavities, gaps along the top of foundation walls in attics and spaces with obvious holes around pipes. Insulating these spaces will keep heat from escaping during winter months and cold air inside during the summer. Strategic Landscaping Money may not grow on trees, but trees can help you save on energy bills. “Trees and bushes do an excellent job of blocking cold winter winds,” says Kady. “The difference between having trees and not having trees is truly significant,” Kady said. Basic Home Maintenance Some additional tricks: • Make sure the damper of your fireplace is closed when not in use. “Leaving it open is akin to leaving a window open,” says Kady. • Fix all leaky faucets. Even slight leaks increase energy consumption and can cause drain on water supplies – and your bank account.

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• Use power strips to aggregate rechargeable transformers to conserve energy. Even when not in use, anything plugged into a wall draws a lot of power. So switch power strips to “off” to shut off a number of electronics at the same time. • If you’re in the market for new appliances, be a smart shopper. Energy Star models use less energy when in sleep mode than traditional appliances. Homeowners may also consider using an architect or mechanical engineer to check for pockets of energy inefficiency. An infrared photography test will check for hot and cold energy loss zones, and a blower test will help determine a home’s airtightness. This information can help homeowners better insulate and green their homes. To find an architect in your area, visit By making a few key improvements and behavior changes, you can comfortably save money on energy this winter.

A proud tradition of serving our community for over 26 years

SAN LUIS OBISPO – Historic Stanton House. Beautiful Victorian with original curved corner windows, beautiful woodwork, wood floors & two fireplaces. The home was recently restored with impeccable taste including new kitchen and baths in keeping with the period style. New 2 car detached garage. New solar installed on garage roof. Approved for Mills Act which provides for low property taxes. Owner is willing to carry first at reasonable interest rate for qualified buyer. $1,599,000 #2773

Custom Designed & Built SAN LUIS OBISPO – This fantastic Stoneridge

home takes advantage of its unique location with breathtaking views. Illuminated with an abundance of natural light from gorgeous woodcased windows and doors in the main living areas, a rich comfortable ambiance is created with the delectable treatments found throughout – from stunning travertine tile flooring, custom cabinetry, bamboo flooring & more – to the luscious outdoor garden areas. Enjoy entertaining guests in your entry level living room with fireplace, or step out onto the private view deck and enjoy the fabulous weather, or perhaps stroll through multiple secret garden settings and lush landscaping surrounding the home. This is a must-see, musthave opportunity. #2935 $849,000

SAN LUIS OBISPO – Lot 9 in Edna Hills Estates privately situated at end of cul-de-sac in beautiful location. Views of Edna Hills. Private well, cased and capped. Telephone, cable, electricity, and gas underground to site. #2834 $399,000

SAN LUIS OBISPO – Excellent Income Property! Well maintained and updated. Charming house with indoor laundry, handicap bath installed, access ramps at front and back entrance of home. Front porch and back deck are Trex, large fenced yard. Apartment complex features newer appliances, flooring and common laundry room. Property is completely fenced and landscaped with site lighting on timer. Close to Cal Poly, downtown and Railroad Square. Perfect owner occupy/income opportunity! #2924 $775,000

ARROYO GRANDE – Mediterranean style single level home in a gated community. Complete kitchen remodel. 2+ acres of land to enjoy. Great views of Arroyo Grande hills and surrounding area. $674,000 #2886

Old Country Club Neighborhood SAN LUIS OBISPO – Cost of construction was

$2500 per square foot and now we have it listed for $675 per square foot! Completed in 2009 coveted neighborhood, minutes to downtown and very private and completely over the top. For a complete list of amenities and extensive slide show visit $1,250,000 #2736

SAN LUIS OBISPO – Well maintained 3 bedroom, 2 bath home on large lot in desirable neighborhood with detached 1 bedroom, 1 bath guest suite. Marble tile entry, hardwood floors, bright and airy kitchen and two-sided fireplace between living room and family room. Beautiful landscaping, spa located outside master bedroom and detached unit with 3/4 bath perfect as a guest suite or office. Located near Los Ranchos elementary school, golf and Country Club. #2936 $669,000

CAYUCOS – Steps to the beach and pier! Rare Oceanfront mixed use investment property located in the heart of Downtown Cayucos. Built in 2005, this exceptional property consists of a beautiful ocean view residence with 400 sf rooftop deck, prime Ocean Avenue retail space, 3 private offices and a 1300+sf garage. A must see! #2864 $1,695,000

For more information on these and other Real Estate Group of SLO listings call us at


962 Mill Street • San Luis Obispo, California 93401 •



at the market

creamy farro soup with potatoes and kale By Sarah Hedger


appy Happy New Year! January is always an exciting time as it is as great a time as any to be looking forward with anticipation to a new year and any new beginnings we would like

to take part in. Sometimes it is as simple as taking better care of ourselves, be it eating better, getting outside and working out more, growing more of our own produce, or supporting our own local producers

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more. The resolutions or affirmations run the gamut and it is always a pleasure to hear those inspired to be better people or make better choices, all with January being the month of ignition. If you are one of the newly inspired people looking to improve your health or support local businesses more, our local Farmers markets, family owned grocery stores, and co-op stores are a great place to begin. They do an inspiring job of supporting each other, thus there are both seasonal and local influences at work in one location. While January can sometimes feel like the “dead of Winter” it still offers an abundance of produce for us to enjoy. Hearty vegetables such as potatoes, winter squash and parsnips are readily found, as well as beautiful dark greens including the many different varieties of kale, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. All these hearty vegetables are complemented with the blessing of the citrus family, supplementing our diet with much needed Vitamin C with endless varieties of grapefruit, oranges, mandarins, and tangelos. There is no question we are fortunate to have such variety of produce to choose from this time of year and this month’s recipe, Creamy Farro Soup with Potatoes and Kale, is a hearty meal in itself that hits it out of the park in the nutritious (and delicious) categories. It is a vegan soup, which simply means there is no meat or dairy in the recipe, making it a nourishing, warming soup that, for the majority, is easily digested. Farro is an ancient grain and is documented to have been the dominating food of sustenance for the Romans. It declined as well when its crops were replaced with higher yielding wheat varieties. Fortunately, there has been a recent resurgence of Farro because of its wonderful characteristics, meaning it holds up well in soups and stews without getting mushy and a wonderful flavor that’s not too earthy. To me, ancient grains such as Farro are one of the few foods that have not been adulterated by humans. While this soup has a great

collection of ingredients, the Farro really does stand out as the star. Farro has a great nutty flavor without distracting from the other ingredients…All while being light and chewy. It also has all the wonderful nutrients man has bleached, de-branned, hulled from the innocent wheat grain. What did wheat ever do to us? Farro is not gluten free for Celiacs, but for those of us that can eat a little wheat here and there, this grain is a great option and does not have the same effects as does the modern day white wheat flour. This soup is hearty and warming while being creamy without cream. To me, that is modern day brilliance at its best. Nourishing the soul and stomach all the way. Enjoy!

creamy farro, potato & kale soup For the Soup: 200 grams (about 1 cup) Farro, soaked in cold water for 2 hours, then rinsed and drained 4 tablespoons olive oil 1 large onion, thinly sliced in quarter moons 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 tablespoon sea salt 1/2 tsp ground white pepper 1/2 tsp dried thyme 1/2 tsp dried oregano 1/2 tsp dried chili pepper 12 cups water, preferably off the boil but not mandatory 2-3 waxy potatoes, thinly chopped into 1/4 inch pieces 1 bunch cavalo nero kale, trimmed and coarsely torn * Optional: 1-2 ounces pecorino romano, grated (leave out to keep vegan) Drizzle of olive oil and good quality flaked sea salt In large (preferably heavy duty) soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. When hot, add olive oil, onion, garlic, and cook for 3-5 minutes or until onions become translucent. Add salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and chili pepper and give a good stir. Add water and Farro and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low/medium and simmer for 45 minutes. Add potato and cook for another 20 minutes. Add kale and stir to cook for a few more minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed (may need a pinch more salt as potatoes and farro soak up a bit of it). Remove from heat and serve immediately. Sprinkle with Pecorino romano and a little olive oil. Enjoy! Serves 6. *Feel free to email me at if you have any food-related questions and find this recipe (as well as other versions) at



SLO county art scene Marti fast: a quick study By Gordon Fuglie


oung aspiring artists usually face the first serious discipline of their practice in a drawing class. Prior to sitting at an easel to draw what the instructor tells you to draw, artistically inclined kids have been comfortable with carefree doodling or making copies of images from popular culture. A good drawing instructor, however, is like a good drill sergeant. They deconstruct familiar patterns, enforce a disciplined regimen to change complacent habits, and help create a foundation from which further artistic efforts can be wrought. For beginning artists, one key to achieving mastery of the human body is gesture drawing. The most basic of practices, it is a rapid sketching of a model holding a series of poses in brief stretches, often for as little as 30 seconds. The primary purpose of gesture drawing is to gain experience in interpreting the human figure in motion via concentrated bursts observation. The intense focus on the dynamic body helps the artist better understand the exertions of muscles, the effects of twisting and stretching on the body, and the range of motion in the joints. Thus, gesture drawing makes the artist reckon with the basic lines of rhythm within the figure. For Arroyo Grande artist Marti Fast, gesture drawing is her primary mode, an end in itself. Eschewing more technically complex mediums like painting, Fast says, perhaps a bit too modestly, that she attributes her preference for this approach to her “short attention span.” In her hands gesture drawing allows her to capture a dynamic moment in time, a fleeting snapshot of human energy – a person living, moving and having being. Fast says the model is not just a subject, but also a muse. This dignifies and enhances the artistic act, giving the model a role in creation. In Fast’s case this is also about a growing relationship. For thirty years she and her students have engaged the same female model, a professional dancer whose body has been trained as an instrument of art. As Fast so eloquently puts it, the artistry of the model’s pose provokes the drawing practitioner to “meet the model halfway,” striving for an aesthetic statement reflecting the encounter. In early December, Fast showed me her recent work, bold black ink drawings with darting, speedy strokes that configure a momentary

Marti Fast and her father, Nat

bend, stretch, strut or recline. Sometimes she makes her drawings with the humblest of implements: sticks found in her garden that she dips in ink. Gesture drawing is akin to caricature in its quest to get at something essential in the image, and to that end, few tools are more basic than a jar of ink and a stick. Fast was raised in an artistic family. Her father is Nat Fast, formerly an art instructor at Allan Hancock College, Santa Maria. Father and daughter showed together at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art in summer, 2010, in the exhibition Like Father, Like Daughter. I was surprised to learn that Marti didn’t study art in high school, but rather made it at home under her father’s watchful eye. From him she learned calligraphy and silkscreen printmaking. Fast later attended San Jose State University, which in the 1960s had one of the largest collegiate art departments in California. There she acquired a greater skill set and the first bloom of a love for teaching art. Returning to the Central Coast in 1976, Fast obtained a teaching position at Hancock College where she has instructed students in life drawing, watercolor, design, silkscreen and lettering. Later, she became director of the campus art gallery, and has overseen it in various locations over the years, eventually designing the new Ann Foxworthy Gallery in the center of the Academic Resource Center (ARC) and Library complex, constructed in 2007. The art gallery, named for Superintendent/President Emeritus Ann Foxworthy, Ph.D., is one of the more interesting art spaces on the Central Coast. Fast conceived it as an octagon. The rear of the gallery looks out to a courtyard. Ever mindful of the need for efficiency because of limited staffing and budgets, Fast planned the Foxworthy so that one person could lay out, install and light the space. The gallery has lightweight moveable walls that are hinged on vertical poles, allowing for myriad configurations. Moreover, the circular octagon energizes the art experience with a sense of continuous movement. In this regard, the Foxworthy Gallery echoes the artistic quest. In addition to her work at Hancock College, Fast has served as co-chair of the Santa Maria Arts Council Grants in the Arts program and has been active in the Central Coast Watercolor Society. When not making art, she is an avid writer, kayaker, camper and birdwatcher. For further information:; Marti Fast can be reached at Allan Hancock College at 805922-6966 ext. 3465, and at

Marti Fast – Resting at the beach J A N U A R Y


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cover story

cancer center for children...

right here in slo county By Susan Stewart


e’ve all seen the Lifetime Movie of the Week. You know: the one where the leading lady sits in her doctor’s office and hears her cancer diagnosis for the first time. The camera close-up shows first shock, then disbelief, followed by fear, and finally, grief. We can identify with those feelings … we can imagine how hard it is to be faced with a condition that requires so many tough choices. But what if the diagnosis is leveled not at you, but at your child? What then? Thousands of families face that diagnosis for the first time every year in this country. According to the Children’s Oncology Group, every year, approximately 13,500 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer and more than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer. About 1 in 5 children diagnosed will die from the disease. Although this makes cancer the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children 1 to 14 years of age, cancer is still relatively rare in this age group. Perhaps. But if you are one of those families, the fact that your situation is rare provides little comfort. In San Luis Obispo County, that number is even smaller. Here, about 10 to 15 children each year are diagnosed with some form of cancer, with leukemia being the most prevalent. However, because leukemia requires years of treatment, those 10 to 15 new diagnoses are added to the previous year’s numbers, for a current total of approximately 20 to 30 children and adolescents living with cancer county-wide. Nevertheless, those numbers are too small to warrant a state-ofthe-art pediatric cancer center, complete with pediatric oncologists, pediatric surgeons, access to clinical trials, etc. Until very recently, these children have had to travel to large cities— mostly the Bay Area or Los Angeles—where the best centers are located. These frequent trips (with stays that might last from days to months) are costly – financially as well as emotionally. Everyone pays the price: parents, siblings, relatives, parents’ employers and co-workers, as all the attention is focused – justifiably – on the child with cancer. The Coastal Integrative Cancer Care Team: Mary Mott Okimoto (front), Dr. Deborah Villa, Tim Souchek, Dr. Tom Spillane and Dr. Jim Malone

Zack and his dad with Mary

Help is not just on the way; it’s here! Last month, help arrived in San Luis Obispo County as Mary Mott Okimoto, with the help of Coastal Integrative Cancer Care (“CICC”), launched what she has been planning for, training for, and dreaming about for years: a pediatric oncology support service right here in our county. Born and raised in San Luis Obispo, Okimoto earned her R.N. and B.S.N. twelve years ago at the University of San Francisco School of Nursing where she graduated summa cum laude and was class Valedictorian. “I fell in love with pediatric oncology,” she says. It’s a difficult and emotionally demanding field, but Okimoto said it was a chance to get to know these brave families intimately over months to years, to witness their struggles and help them get through the most vulnerable time of their lives. Mary went on to earn a Master of Science in Nursing and a Nurse Practitioner license at UCSF. She worked at several of the top cancer hospitals in the country, including UCSF, Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City, and Lucile Packard at Stanford. She also volunteered in Latin America, helping teach nurses how to care for pediatric cancer patients. When she returned to San Luis Obispo last year, Okimoto began meeting with local cancer care specialists and agencies such as Jack’s Helping Hand, the Hearst Cancer Resource Center, pediatricians like Dr. René Bravo, and of course, the parents of children with cancer. She wanted to help create a resource here that would provide a local community of hope and support for these families that would relieve them of the added burden of having to travel so frequently.



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A Retirement COMMUNITY Facil 29

primary oncologist. Without Mary, we couldn’t do this. She is a tremendous asset to this community.”

If you or someone you know has a child with Even though the prospect of moving m cancer, or if you have suggestions for adfuture, to yourself learn h ditionalyou waysowe to helpitthese children, youto can contact Mary Mott at 805.543.5577 carefree living in Okimoto your own home for man

or Or visit their “Our clinic will allow website at www.integrativecancercareofchildren with cancer to get You may also contact the awardmany of the more routine winning local foundation Jack’s Helping aspects of their treatment 805.547.1914 them at www. It’s a fact of life that asHand weatget older, and visitPristine is fully right here so that families day-to-day licensed and insu cansome focus on what matterstasks become too Help is not That just on the way; it’sAll here! most: their to child,” Oki- on our much handle own. of our worker moto said.

You Don’t Have to Move

doesn’t mean you have to move away are carefully scre from the comfort of your home. and pass a crimin • Personal • Pristine Home Services is aHousekeeping local background chec Care company that helps San Luis Obispo and drug test, giv • Yard Maintenance • Handyman County residents avoid the high cost when someone fr Servingof moving All oftoSan Luis Obispo County a retirement facility. in your home.

Mary with Saul and his mom

“Dr. Tom Spillane’s practice kept coming up as a well-respected oncology group in the community,” said Okimoto. “When I brought the idea to him and his colleagues, Dr. Jim Malone and Dr. Deborah Villa, they immediately agreed this was a service they wanted to offer to local families.” In October of 2011, the first medical resource for families facing pediatric cancer was established at Coastal Integrative Cancer Care in San Luis Obispo. “We work closely with the patient’s primary oncologist,” says Okimoto, “to implement their orders and serve as a local liaison should issues arise. … We can perform physical exams, administer outpatient chemotherapy, intravenous hydration and medications, assist with symptom management, and help with teaching.” With the help of Jack’s Helping Hand and the Hearst Cancer Resource Center, they would like to find other ways to help families as well, such as reviving a parent support group. Additionally, a group of Lucile Packard RN’s came to San Luis Obispo to teach a pediatric chemotherapy course, certifying several nurses as pediatric chemotherapy providers. “Our nurses already had a tremendous amount of experience with oncology and chemotherapy, so I knew taking care of these patients would come easily to them,” said Okimoto. Parents are understandably frightened by the sometimes invasive procedures and lengthy treatment plans their children need. But now, thanks to the determination of Mary Mott Okimoto and the CICC team, parents have a resource that offers real hope, real support, real relief. “Families who used to have to travel an 8-hour round trip multiple times each month for a simple blood draw can get these procedures done here,” said Dr. Spillane. “Having Mary on board allows us to take what we do to the next level, to serve as an adjunct to the child’s

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She should be cl daily, weekly, or on an as-needed basis. very reasonable From housekeeping You to handyman services and plumbing to preparingyou meals.need There is no task too large or pay for only the services dows!” R. Watso too small for Pristineand Homewe Services. All of our services can be provided daily, weekly, or on an as-needed provide those services at a price basis. You pay for only the services you need and we provide those services at a price you can“They afford. took the t you can afford. what I wanted. Pristine Home Services made it possible exactlyforwhat I a Convenient One-call us to stayService comfortable and independent reasonable. I wo in our home. When Mary was diagnosed Our personal care services include a friend. with cancer, is no longer ato threat, the ” C. shopping, daily errands, mealwhich preparapeople at Pristine became a very important tion, transportation part andofnon-medical Before you mak our team. They were trustworthy, care. Our housekeeping services keep reliable and always stood by ourcould side. Weaffect yo truly enjoy our relationship with their your kitchen and the rest of your home and staff. standard o -Don and Mary Smith spotless. We even do windows and to read these tw laundry. Our yard maintenance crews Before you make any decisions that could affect your future happiness and standard of living, take every s “What know how to take care of your favorite the time to read these two FREE reports: about living in rose bushes and keep the grass neatly “What every senior needs to know about living in a retirement facility.” mowed. Our handyman services are “Four critical “Four critical questions to ask a service provider...before you let anyone work in or near your home.” provided by specialists in plumbing, service provid We invite you to call Pristine rightwork, now so that we can sendrepairs you these two FREE reports by mail. electrical painting, and anyone work i safety rail installation. Call for rateS We invite you t now so that we two FREE repor

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bonding with the veteran brotherhood By Leslie Jones


t’s almost inconceivable to imagine not only what they face while away at war but what myriad challenges await our military and their families after returning home. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) are just a few of the many mental disabilities our veterans are venturing back home with. These numbers of trauma-exposed military personnel now coming home are rapidly increasing. With close to 25,000 veterans and their families residing in our county, it’s also home to multiple military training bases including Camp San Luis, Camp Roberts and Vandenberg Air Force Base. Do we know how best to reach out to them and their families when they need the assistance of community-based resources the most?

Transitions-Mental Health Association (TMHA), AmpSurf, the County of San Luis Obispo’s Behavior Health Department and Veterans Services Department and numerous other agencies are banding together, collectively forming a coalition that can offer that muchneeded assistance now and well into the future.

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Chris Cusick and friends in Iraq

This past September the Veterans Health and Wellness Forum here in San Luis Obispo offered the opportunity for service providers and the public alike to learn more about veterans in our community and the ongoing challenges they face. Additionally, it further initiated this collaborative effort taking place here within San Luis Obispo County and promoted the many resources available locally. Keynote Speaker Dana Cummings served two tours as a marine in Iraq. As a co-founder of AmpSurf, this non-profit organization is made up of amputees, veterans, friends and family members of the disabled. Their mission statement says it all…we want to promote, inspire, educate and rehabilitate people with disabilities, especially our veteran heroes through adaptive surfing and fun, safe outdoor activities all can participate in. Dana recently took on a new role as the Veterans Service Officer at the County of San Luis Obispo. Staffed by four employees, they provide assistance to the men and women who have served in the Armed Forces of America, their dependents and survivors in obtaining benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, along with other federal, state and local programs. It’s evident that this is his passion and that he takes this sense of responsibility seriously. Located in offices below the San Luis Obispo Veterans Hall, the phone never stops ringing and his boundless enthusiasm permeates throughout the office. Next door lies the Central Coast Veterans Memorial Museum now open to the public. “The goal here is to get all vets working

Dana Cummings, recently named Veterans Service Officer at the County of SLO


together as a single unit…not categorizing themselves by war,” explains Dana. “It’s important to connect in a way that they already communicate with speaking engagements and events for some and social media for the younger crowd,” he adds. “A line around the building will be a very good day…that will mean that our outreach methods are working. The challenge will be the funding to make it all work out. There are so many that are and will continue to be in need of resources,” he adds. “Sometimes getting a vet to recognize that he’s a vet is difficult…combat vs. non combat. If you served, you’re a vet and that includes guards at the borders, those bringing in supplies, medics, etc.” Chris Cusick is a Personal Services Specialist in SLO and South County for the Full Service Partnership (FSP) Adult Programs with Transitions-Mental Health Association. He’s also a veteran who was in Iraq for over a year and a certified water assist instructor with AmpSurf. A large part of his own recovery has been getting involved with helping other veterans throughout his journey. “The resources are there but there’s a stigma attached,” Chris explains. “If you survive a war, you can survive anything is a common mentality. Sometimes there is a belief that asking for help means that you are coming from a place of weakness,” he adds. “I threw myself a welcome home party that lasted for 6 months… I went through a self-debriefing phase first in Germany, then Seattle, Las Vegas and finally back to the Central Coast. When the party ended I had to finally deal with myself as an individual. I faced shell shock at first…and was prepared for a negative reception which fortunately turned out to be mostly positive,” he adds. “The best therapy is peer to peer while sharing recovery resources. There is a brotherhood of shared experiences that only those who have been through it can fully understand. Community resources are more important than ever for those who wish to come forward without the fear of negative repercussions,” he explains. Components of this community-based collaboration are largely possible due to the SLO County Innovation Work Plan, an affiliation of


the Mental Health Service Act funding. “The goal here is to reach out to the entire family…AmpSurf is one of those ways that already works. It’s important to reach out to them in an environment in which they feel comfortable,” explains Frank Warren, Mental Health Services Act Division Manager with the County’s Behavior Health Department. “How can we become immersed into their culture and learn for the future how best to understand and address stigmas still attached to being in the military,” he adds. This two-year testing model will be equipped with a licensed therapist on site and it offers the opportunity for the county as a whole to think outside of the box. By adding a treatment component to activities that are already drawing veterans and their families in, it can offer increased access to and improved outcomes for this population. “It’s so important to also engage the families while their loved ones are deployed so that they are better equipped for their return. Reconnecting with spouses, children, employers and peers is often a source of great frustration, depression and anxiety,” Frank explains. Whether it’s a community forum hosted by Transitions and the County, AmpSurf activities or veterans being recognized at our local farmers market and other community events, discovering ways to continuously offer outreach, education and the availability of resources is more important than ever.


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Trouble in Alta

Part 2

By Joseph A. Carotenuti

All but hope was lost. The grand expedition to California in 1769 faced incalculable difficulties. Three vessels left Mexico: the San Jose – carrying essential food and supplies – simply disappeared, the San Antonio suffered heavy casualties, and the San Carlos lost almost all its sailors to scurvy. The two land expeditions fared better but the difficult trail through Baja was exhaustive. Those fortunate to survive on the shores of the port of San Diego in July spent much time burying the dead and searching for food. Compounding an already desperate situation, a six-month trek north to establish a base at Monterey proved fruitless as did the founding of the first mission in San Diego. Yet, the Spaniards not only survived their first year in Alta California, but eventually would prevail. The story continues. While disastrous, the initial attempt to settle Alta California was well planned. Rarely noted as a prime force behind the settlement to the north, Joseph Galvez, King Carlos III of Spain’s personal representative in New Spain, issued hundreds of orders as to what the expedition was to need and to accomplish. He depended on records of Sebastian Vizcaino…some 160 years old! Loss of supplies and men, the scourge of scurvy, hunger and finally a native attack on the small compound made every day an encounter with the barely possible. The new year was anything but promising. While hostilities abated and deaths declined, the lack of food was compounded by uncertainties and anxieties. Portola tried to fulfill his orders from Galvez, but Serra seemed powerless to fulfill his duties to a higher power. Time slowly extinguished any hope that the San Jose would finally arrive or the San Antonio return soon from the south with desperately needed supplies. Finally, Portola, a soldier of the Crown, made the almost unthinkable decision to return to Mexico. Padres Junipero Serra and Juan Crespi declared their intention to remain – almost assuredly facing martyrs’ deaths. A date to decamp was set and the religious declared a novena – nine days of intense prayer – beseeching God to save the expedition. On the novena’s ninth day, March 19, the long gone San Antonio was espied off the coast. This was also the feast day of the expedition’s patron Saint Joseph. For those on shore, this was much more than coincidence. Indeed, if the San Antonio had not lost its anchor, it was scheduled to sail past San Diego and go directly to Monterey. The battered remnants of the Monterey Expedition now were able to continue. With reinforcements of men and supplies, Portola once again went north with the intrepid Crespi as the chaplain/chronicler. Serra, fervent in purpose, wrote: “we are not dead yet” and – this time – sailed north enduring a “somewhat tedious” six week’s journey at the mercy of the tides and wind. While concern that the “viejo” (old) padre would slow any land trip, Portola arrived a week earlier. Finally, J A N U A R Y


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Leon Trousset’s 1877 famous painting of Father Serra’s Mission San Carlos Borromeo dedication.

Monterey, the “object of so many controversies,” was recognized. It had not simply disappeared since Vizcaino’s trip. Writing from the floor of his cabin, Serra expressed his anticipation to not only establish a mission in Monterey but also a third in San Buenaventura with Crespi in charge. Serra found the thought of being left alone “to be hard.” His sadness was just not lack of companionship but also the fear of dying without absolution. His fears were not realized as the latter became a long scenario of delays and was Serra’s last mission founded in 1782. Ever optimistic, he requested more friars for future missions…including one named San Luis Obispo. In a “little chapel and altar…under the same live-oak, close to the beach, where, it is said, Mass was celebrated…” by the Vizcaino explorers, Serra intonated the founding rituals and Mass for the second mission. Leon Trousset’s 1877 famous painting presents an idealized rendition of the occasion. It certainly does not capture the suffering and exhaustion felt by all present. The spiritual celebration preceded the formal possession of the country in the name of the “two majesties” King Carlos and God. On June 3, 1770, on a “pretty plain about a rifle shot from the beach,” Mission San Carlos Borromeo was dedicated along with the second Alta Presidio. A year later, the Mission was transferred to its current location in Carmel. Today, the Royal Presidio Chapel in Monterey is the oldest church in California. Yet, it was an accomplishment borne on the back of innumerable sacrifices. The padre-presidente even warned that it would be “childish to pretend what I have had to put up with, and what I now endure, is any mere trifle.” Indeed, he spoke for all the pioneers. For the spiritual leader, it was the realization that he had yet to perform a baptism. He remembered the rest of his life an infant about to undergo the rite in San Diego when the parents snatched the child from his arms and ran off. Some comfort may have been realized that Padres Crespi and Gomez – on the initial trip north – first administered baptism for two infant girls on the doorstep of death. A year from his arrival in Alta, Serra assured Galvez “we are now content” with his plans and needs to spread Christianity. How was he to know the dreadful conditions to survive continued until he was able to make his first trip to San Luis Obispo in late summer 1772 and then a near fatal trip to Mexico City? In a lesson not lost in time, for him and all the stouthearted men of California’s first year, if you were alive, you were always obligated to move forward. Contact:



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Hospice corner Center for grief, education and healing – giving comfort, support and information By Claire Aagaard, CG-C Director, Center for Grief, Education and Healing Give sorrow words, the grief that does not speak… Whispers the o’er fraught heart and bids it break…Shakespeare The death of a loved one can be an emotionally devastating event evoking feelings of anger, guilt, relief, helplessness and anxiety. While everyone grieves differently, many people find the journey easier when they have comfort, support and information along the way. In 2009 Hospice Partners opened its Center for Grief, Education and Healing, located across the parking lot from our main San

Luis Obispo office. The focus of the Center is to provide bereavement education, support, training and resources to individuals, families and professionals in our community. Its very existence is outside the norm for most hospice agencies, for understandable reasons. Licensed, certified hospice programs are mandated by Medicare to provide 13 months of bereavement follow up to our families but they provide no reimbursement for those services. Many agencies choose to do the minimum to meet this requirement which may involve making a condolence call and sending a few mailings. Since its formation in 1998, Hospice Partners has always sup-

ported delivering a full and comprehensive bereavement program and we now have the ability to expand those services. The Center is beautiful and welcoming, decorated in warm and soothing colors. Every piece of art and furniture was chosen specifically to create a comforting environment conducive to supporting those seeking a safe place to receive help with their loss. All of the staff are highly trained professionals in the field of grief counseling and are committed to the compassionate companioning of adults and children who are enduring a difficult and painful time in their lives. All of our hospice families are offered one on one counseling after the death of their family member. In addition, we provide that level of support to those who may have suffered a sudden unexpected loss unrelated to hospice care. We have considerable experience dealing with very tragic and complicated situations including the death of a child or suicide of a loved one. Our bereavement program for children and adolescents offers anticipatory support and individual grief counseling using expressive art, sand tray and therapeutic play. Our Children’s Room offers a safe and comforting environment where children are companioned during their sessions in a playful atmosphere while addressing their healing process. For our grieving children and adolescents who are seen on a continuing basis we offer our popular “Camp Wishing Star,” an entire day of fun activities and projects. The goal of our program is to build trust and provide a safe place for children to process the loss of someone who held a significant place in their lives. In keeping with our focus, the Center provides educational presentations to schools, universities, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. We have books and materials available and welcome the opportunity to be a resource to the community. To help those



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grieving the loss of a loved during the holiday season, we offer informational and supportive workshops throughout the county.



All of us, as staff of the Center for Grief, Education and Healing, feel privileged to work with our bereaved and to be asked to walk with them at such a tender time. We are in awe of their courage and grateful for all they teach us about life and love. The strength and resiliency of the human spirit is remarkable and we are witness to tremendous healing as people reconcile their losses and find meaning and purpose in their lives again. Our work with those who are grieving is humbling, fulfilling and deeply inspiring. We are all honored to be afforded this opportunity. This monthly Hospice Corner is sponsored by Hospice Partners of the Central Coast. Claire Aagaard is the Director for the Center for Grief, Education and Healing at Hospice Partners. For more information call (805) 269-0141.

STATEPOINT CROSSWORD THEME: AT THE GYM ACROSS 1. Can cause mass destruction 6. *Part of a strength training set 9. Ball of yarn 13. Fear-inspiring 14. Husk of corn 15. It has two doors 16. “Boy _____ World” 17. “He ___ and drank the precious Words...” 18. Packers QB 19. *Lookout man 21. ____ the Great, king of Persia 23. Rolled grass 24. Colored 25. Socialist, abbr. 28. ____ E. Coyote 30. Silver in a cloud? 35. Often done cold turkey 37. Harsh, as in remark 39. Oil tanker

40. “Do ____ others as you would have them do...” 41. _____ like a dark cloud 43. Bog down 44. Sour in taste 46. Feed storage 47. Don’t forget to hit this button when done 48. Ennui 50. *Done to a sparring partner 52. Bear’s winter hangout 53. Conservative talkshow host 55. File a suit 57. Red light, green light 60. *Dumbbells and plates 64. Narrow water-filled gorge 65. And not 67. Greek bazaar 68. Raja’s wife 69. *Sometimes follows injury 70. Himalayan country 71. *____ gym, accessible to everyone 72. Kicked in yard game 73. Proficient

DOWN 1. Tailor’s actions 2. Sound from rival of #28 Across 3. Black and white treat 4. Catcher’s gear, pl. 5. Bequeath 6. Back seat 7. Jack Sprat couldn’t do this to fat 8. College president 9. Sweet talk 10. Used in angling 11. “”Iliad,” e.g. 12. Skin cyst 15. *Exercise of the heart 20. Piaf or Wharton 22. Unagi 24. Ascetic Muslim monk 25. *Glute exercise 26. 1/16th of a pound 27. Recognized 29. Vietnam’s neighbor 31. Jodie Foster’s “____ Island” (2008) 32. It describes the siege of

Troy 33. Courage to go on 34. Light signal 36. Reality TV actress Spelling 38. “Wilhelm ____” by Friedrich von Schiller 42. Agitate 45. *Often done in four counts 49. Police ___ shot 51. Region of northeastern South America 54. Type of boom 56. Pelted, as with eggs 57. *Congratulatory gesture 58. *Listen to one on headphones while exercising 59. Bad luck predictor 60. Kind of bird 61. It springs eternal? 62. Try not to fall into this 63. Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of this 64. “To and ___” 66. South American tuber



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Palm street perspective Looking back and looking forward By SLO City Councilwoman, Kathy Smith


ntering a new year, for us “big picture” people, means taking stock of the last 12 months and envisioning possible directions for the next dozen. For this Council member, it also means staying in touch with residents to capture the ebb and flow of their visions and expectations. How does the citizen see it? It’s been quite an adventure . . . assessing the first year back in public office. And, as a reminder, my previous public service was back in the nineties – 1994-98. In Council goal setting for 2011-13, the primary goals include: Economic Development aimed at generating Head of Household jobs;

Preservation of Essential Services & Fiscal Health with cost reductions and preserving essential services in line with residents’ priorities; Neighborhood Wellness emphasizing pro-active code enforcement; and Traffic Congestion Relief. A current “top of the line” assessment is what time of day Council Meetings should be held. The goal is to maximize encouragement of resident involvement. It’s your tax money we’re spending so, hopefully, you’ll show up at City Hall and share your thoughts. The Council is revising Policies and Procedures and has passed a motion to begin public meetings at 5 p.m. For the record . . . in my review of 12/4/10 – 11/15/11 I tracked Council Meetings (often beginning with Closed Sessions which are not public and can actually be held at any time). Thankfully our public service culture continues to value weaving Council lives around public needs (no Council Member missed a meeting) in the interest of connectivity and transparency. Some pertinent stats: 8:30 - 9 a.m. – two meetings; 1:30 - 3 p.m. – four; 4 - 5:30 p.m. – eleven; 6 - 6:30 p.m. – eleven; 7 p.m. – six. Attempting to walk in citizen shoes, it appears a 5 to 6 p.m. start works for Council and the public. Any thoughts? It’s on the agenda 1/3/12! Public Hearings during the 12 months touched on 28 different areas. The 2011-13 Financial Plan (a document containing 1,022 pages) and the Los Osos Valley Road/101 Interchange Project Updates support major goals with a smattering of head of household jobs provided via the Garden Street Terraces. A key item for public input was the change in parking fees and meters as well as Sunday regulations. Business Items on the agendas were 38 with traffic addressed via the Pismo-Buchon Neighborhood Traffic Calming, financial concerns impacted by the Measure A & B



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mailed ballot initiative and head of household jobs contained in the Orcutt Annexation. Nine Study Sessions included the Chevron/ Tank Farm Rd. development that has Economic Development potential. Some issues the community came out for – in numbers – were three over which Council has no actual governance: Smart Meters, Integrated Waste Management Board carryout bag regulations; and the Sunny Acres Children’s Home & Health Farm proposed on county property adjacent to Johnson Avenue. The Closed Session topics – numbering 41 – were focused accordingly: 54%, legal litigation; 24% labor negotiations; 17% property acquisitions; 5% personnel. Consent Agenda items presented (seen as non-controversial) were exactly 150 and included such concerns as: minutes; ordinance adoptions on second readings; assorted water/sewer replacements and reports; compensation modifications strategized in Closed Sessions. As many are aware, these items are presented as a package, some separated out for discussion, or approved as a group. A sum total of 266 areas of concern were addressed by five elected SLO public servants in those 12 months. 2012 will see three seats on the November ballot . . . Mayor and two Council Members. I encourage your consideration of being an active participant.



The Magazine of Downtown San Luis Obispo


W h a t ’s U p New Business News

January 2012

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elcome 2012! You may not have yet noticed evelopment it but the signs are there: slowly, like a We’ve endorsed no fewer than three major giant slumbering beast, the economy is showing projects in the Downtown in the past months. signs of stirring, even though perhaps only the Two are ready to roll; the third has passed all equivalent of the eyelids lifting halfway. What are approval hurdles. Look for a beautiful new the signs? Well, according to recent reports at the mixed use project, Marsh Street Commons, Economic Forecast Seminar, the recession has on the corner of Marsh and Nipomo (across receded. Of course, we in SLO are always the last from Foster Freeze) to turn dirt this year. Right to know, living in our bubble of happiness and behind will be the first phase of Chinatown only checking in from time to time about ‘trends’ Deborah Cash, CMSM, along Monterey Street (the Council approved Executive Director in the economy. It’s no secret we lag here; even it on December 13). Garden Street Terraces is though the world is so interconnected via the an incredible upgrade of the parking lot and internet, we physically remain somewhat remote and as a adjacent buildings bordered by Garden, Marsh and result, don’t often get the smoke signals or hear the drums. Broad streets and Garden Alley. All will bring beauty, vibrancy, residential/commercial/retail uses and PEOPLE! ut, sitting in my seat in the heart of Downtown, nvestment I feel the vibe and it’s energizing. Great news The City recently approved a three quarter million for a new year! Herewith my 10 observations dollar investment in the Downtown area to upgrade for why 2012 will be a bellwether for change sidewalks, lighting, trees and signage in the name of in SLO (a lot of it has to do with PEOPLE): maintenance and beautification. Kind of like when you own an old house and it needs some serious



On the Cover: Coming soon to Downtown! Proposed Development Project Marsh Street Commons. Stephen Peck of Mangano Homes, Project Manager, and Chris Richardson of Richardson Properties, Managing Partner Address: Corner of Marsh & Nipomo Description: Of exceptional architectural style and detail, Marsh Street Commons will create a “lifestyle” of live/work in Downtown featuring 8,250 sq ft of ground floor retail, 12 residential homes and lofts (eight single family detached homes with two-car garages and four single level lofts above the retail space). Rendering submitted by Steven Gaffney Architecture, Inc.

Thursday Night Promotions Farmers’ Market

Every Thursday All Year ‘Round — Still the Best Deal in Town! w w w. D o w n t o w nS L O . c o m

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attention. The spit-and-polish isn’t all just glamour, though, it’s about safety and letting PEOPLE (who live, work and visit here) know we care. ROI? Watch the sales tax reports for evidence that these things work.


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also love the shoppy loos and the eat-y loos and however the loos choose to spend their time and money here. To that end, we want to ensure our guests’ experience is well worth it. We believe our programs and PEOPLE work hard to give them every penny’s worth. Let’s be grateful for all we have to offer and for all those who come to enjoy it.

ntrepreneurship I love meeting the newly minted independent business owner. The glow, the enthusiasm, the desire… having owned my own business years ago, I know the rush and excitement of doing your own thing and being able to live your dream. While our economy may have been in the dumps, the good news is that some PEOPLE who may have otherwise been relegated to a robotic 9 – 5 have instead figured out how to be much happier “working” whatever 18 hours a day they choose.

aradigm Shifts Days of old are, well, old. Today, stores need to be open when people shop. As well, people are spending less on ‘stuff’ and more on ‘puff,’ you know, the ‘hi, how can I help you?,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘hope you’re enjoying our town,’ kind of thing. PEOPLE want to have a good time and be appreciated. Businesses are rethinking their strategies to accommodate the customer, about time!



p and Coming Talent A lot of these entrepreneurs, and many instore staffers, are young. Like, really young. Their ideas are wonderful, their lifestyles unique. Watch for these PEOPLE to become magnets for major industry wanting to mine our area as THE place to be for its own young workforce. Hep is as Hep does: energy breeds energy. And these kids have it.


ourism We love the looky loos, you know those who drive or fly in to see the Mission or the beach or wineries. We


ood, Drink, Music: Come together, right now PEOPLE are so tied to their electronic devices that they crave human contact in the times they’re not staring at a screen. Dining, dancing and social contact have been identified as top priorities for spending off-work hours. Thus, the proliferation of suitable such places.


ur natural advantage Do you ever feel even a little giddy that we ‘get’ to live here? Former Mayor and “father” Continued next page

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LO Marathon We’re a huge health nut hub about to get huge-r. Stay tuned for the first SLO Marathon (April 22) that will attract runners (aka PEOPLE) from far away realms wanting not only the magical experience of clicking off miles in paradise but with an eye on the race eventually being a qualifier for the Boston Marathon as well.

of SLO, Ken Schwartz, used to call it a ‘happy accident’ that SLO has so much to offer. Wow, he’s so right, just ask Oprah and her PEOPLE.


ood PEOPLE We’re all kinds, all shapes and sizes, all outlooks, all backgrounds. But, overall, SLO has decent, giving, talented and wonderful people who have a lot more in common than not and can agree to disagree if need be. This is a good thing.

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ere’s to a great 2012, for all my “PEEPS”…around Downtown.

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SloCo Pasty Co.

SloCo Pasty Co. is an affordable yet classy place to enjoy lunch and/ or dinner. Offering bar, patio and family style seating, SloCo Pasty Co. is one of few local eateries to use iPads as their point of sales.



Kurt and Gwynne Stump, owners 1032 Chorro Street San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 (805) 540-7278 ew to Downtown San Luis Obispo located on Chorro Street across from the Mission Plaza is SloCo Pasty Co. Specializing in what was once a popular style of cooking in 18th century England amongst tin and copper miners, owners Gwynne & Kurt Stump have created not only a restaurant/bar but a unique cultural experience that is one of a kind to the Central Coast.


pasty (pronounced pass-tee) is a traditional ovencooked dough filled with a variety of meats, cheeses and vegetables. Using only the freshest of ingredients, pasties are made from scratch daily. With immense detail not only in their menu but also in the hand built decor,

side from pasties, SloCo Pasty Co. offers other traditional English foods such as stews, soups, and salads. Also, many of the beers on tap are unique to SloCo Pasty Co.


ince opening, SloCo Pasty Co. has also added a booth at the Downtown Farmers' Market, while focusing their efforts on quality of food, drinks, and service. Hours of operation are Sunday - Thursday 11 AM - 9 PM and Friday - Saturday 11 AM - 10 PM so be sure to stop by and have a taste of history! By Ethan Pilch

Enchanté Body Care Center

ensure a pleasant experience.

Rachelle Storti, Independent contractor 560 Higuera Street Suite F 805-544-5486 Find them on Facebook: Enchanté Body Care Center


achelle is one of the latest additions to the knowledgeable and experienced staff. She received 1000 hours of training at Kaplan College in Vista, CA. While she considers deep tissue her specialty, her skill set includes spa treatments, Swedish, shiatsu, aromatherapy, hot nchanté” is a French term stone, reflexology, sports, and premeaning “enchanted” natal. The Enchanté “Massage Menu” or “it’s a pleasure,” typically is available online and lists the spoken the first time you meet someone. That services offered at the center. Rachelle explains, however, is exactly the way Enchanté Body Care Center “All available therapies are not listed on the menu, so clients feel after their massage—enchanted. guests are encouraged to inquire about any massage treatment they are curious about.” Rachelle also manages a nchanté Body Care Center is locally owned and operated blog for Enchanté, by Chandra Corley. The massage center consists of six massage therapists, independently contracted, working at nchanté Body Care Center is open from 11am – 9pm the Higuera Street location. Enchanté has been at the same seven days a week. Walk-ins are always welcome, address for over 20 years and continues to evolve with although appointments are encouraged. the city of San Luis Obispo. Unlike salons or esthetician centers, Enchanté is strictly massage. Each therapist has By Lauren Ballat their own specialty and will work with their clients to

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Our Schools: Which test is right? By Dr. Julian Crocker, County Superintendent of Schools


f you’re interested in knowing how our local public schools are performing, you may be a bit confused. In October, I reported on the most recent results of the state testing program (STAR) emphasizing student performance on the California Standards Tests (CST’s). These are assessments that all students in grades 2-11 take in the areas of EnglishLanguage Arts and Mathematics. These tests are closely aligned to the content standards in all subjects in all grades tested. I reported that about 60% of our students met the proficiency target deemed to be roughly equivalent to a letter grade of B+. Statewide, about 50% of students met the goal and there has been steady improvement over the years both locally and statewide. Generally, I considered these results to be positive. So far so good. In November, the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the so-called “Nation’s Report Card,” were released with a different picture of student academic performance for the state. The NAEP results do not show much improvement from 2009 in the areas of reading and mathematics. These results also indicate a lower percentage students achieving at the level desired when compared to performance on the state tests. Finally, these results show California students performing at lower levels than the average performance for students in other states. These results are not as positive as the state tests. Which test is right? Are our students making progress and performing as we wish or not? This difference in which story to believe is not new. The NAEP is administered every two years and with each release of the results for the past several years there has been this discrepancy. This has led to very mixed interpretation and communication from policy makers, reporters, parents and educators. It is reasonable to expect the same general results from two tests if both of the tests assess the same content and

assess the same students. I’ll briefly look at each of these to explain why the results appear so different.

WHICH CONTENT IS TESTED? It appears that although the general content tested is the same, there are certain obvious differences. The CST’s are very closely aligned to the state’s content standards and there are tests for almost every course offered in the areas of English-Language Arts and Mathematics. The NAEP tests are more general and sometimes include content from several courses in one test. For example, about half of the 8th grade students in California take Algebra I and half take General Math and there is a separate test for each course. The NAEP test has just one test for 8th grade math that includes portions of both courses. A student who had not been taking Algebra will probably not score well on the NAEP test. So the content is generally the same, but not as closely aligned as the comparisons may seem and account for some of the difference in student scores.


WHICH STUDENTS ARE ASSESSED? In California, almost every student in grades 2 -11 take the CST’s. Scores are reported by individual, by school, by district, by county and by various sub-groupings of students. By contrast, the NAEP tests only a sampling of students, about 2%, of the total student population. This sample is selected to be a statistically valid picture of the total school population in the state. Also, students taking the NAEP tests do not take the entire test, but only certain sections are taken that are then combined to get a total score. There are also differences among states regarding which students are exempted from taking the test. For example, California requires all English Language Learners to be assessed in English after one year of enrollment. This is not the case in other states and some allow English Learners to be tested in their native language for several years. This is another area where there is not a direct match and can account for differences. To some degree this is an apples and oranges situation. It is not that one test is right, but rather that they offer different information in our task of improving the academic performance of our state’s students. NOTE: Much of the information for this article is found in: NAEP and the California Standards Tests. EdSource.

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local man accepts congressional gold medal of honor for grandfather

Santa Maria 805.922.7742

Templeton resident Jason Chang, Director of Business Development for Twin Cities Community Hospital and National Vice President for the Japanese American Citizens League, recently accepted the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor on behalf of his grandfather, John Kashiki, at the congressional celebration of Japanese Americans who served in World War II. Kashiki was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the highest civilian honor that can be given to a U.S. citizen (fewer than 180 of these medals have been awarded), for his service in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. One of the most decorated army battalions of all time for its size and length of service, the 442nd was made up of 3,000 Japanese American internment camp prisoners who volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army to prove that they were not American enemies. Battalion 442’s most notable feat was the rescue of “The Lost Battalion of WWII” (1st Battalion, 141st Infantry), which was surrounded by German forces in the Vosges Mountains on October 24, 1944. After two failed attempts by other US troops to rescue the battalion, the 442nd broke through German defenses and rescued about 230 men, suffering over 800 casualties in the process.

foster care and adoption outreach sessions

The SLO County Department of Social Services is sponsoring several Foster Care and adoption informational outreach sessions in 2012. The first session will be held on January 24th at the Coast Unified School District Office. The February, April, May and July sessions will be held in San Luis at the Dept. of Social Services office. The sessions are open to anyone interested in becoming a foster parent or in adoption. No RSVP is required. Just stop by and join in to learn more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent. Refreshments will be served. For more information contact Gina Cindrich at 781-1705.


John Kimball


109 South Street SLO, CA 93401

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All loans are subject to property approval. Certain conditions and fees apply. Mortgage financing provided by MetLife Home Loans, a division of MetLife Bank, N.A. Equal Housing Lender. © 2011 METLIFE, INC. Rev BGbca2.11-1019



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all-day genealogy seminar

The SLO County Genealogical Society is sponsoring an all-day seminar, “Genealogy Now! Growing Your Family Tree” on Saturday, February 4th. The event will be held at the SLO Veterans Hall, 801 Grand Avenue, from 8-4. It will feature nationally acclaimed genealogy author and speaker, Thomas Jones, as well as author, Ron Arons, and English research expert, Apryl Cox. Cost is $50 if pre-registration is received before January 30th: $60 thereafter. Go to to download registration form. More information on website (www. or call 805-489-5457. Free Senior Health Screening for seniors (50+) is available throughout San Luis Obispo County. Free services include: screening for high blood pressure, weight and pulse. Finger prick screening tests for: high cholesterol, anemia and diabetes. Take-home screening test kits for colo-rectal cancer available for $5. Nutritional counseling and referrals as needed. Please call 788-0827 for dates, times and locations.



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Reach thousands of potential customers by placing your ad in the Journal Plus. Frank slo rotary clubs build new classroom

After many hours of hard work, planning and dedication, three San Luis Obispo Rotary Clubs have finished a new outdoor classroom for Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School. The Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo, Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo Daybreak and Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa fully funded and built the outdoor classroom with the hopes that it would give elementary students a place to continue their “hands-on” education of the environment, regardless of the weather conditions. This project was completed as a part of the “Rotarians at Work Day,” which was created to encourage rotary club members to work on a project that would benefit their local community.


Call 546-0609 for Advertising Information

benefit piano recital at cal poly

Music Department Chair and pianist W. Terrence Spiller will give a benefit recital titled “Of Heroines and Heroes,” featuring works by Clara Schumann, Ludwig van Beethoven and Maurice Ravel at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6, in the Spanos Theatre at Cal Poly. Tickets to the recital are $6 for students and senior citizens and $10 for the public. They are on sale at the Performing Arts Ticket Office 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. To order by phone, call SLO-ARTS (805-756-2787). Proceeds from the recital will benefit the Cal Poly Music Department Scholarship Fund.

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Third book on history of slo buildings

805.783.4000 phone 805.235.0463 cell 805.783.4005 fax 711 Tank Farm Rd., Ste. 100 San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

252 Higuera Street San Luis Obispo (805) 541-TIRE

Guy Crabb recently published his third book on the history of downtown SLO. It’s called The Cross Streets – A Hundred Years of Downtown Businesses. The Cross Streets include Chorro, Osos, Garden, Broad, Morro, Nipomo and much more. Crabb writes the history of the current buildings on the streets, gives us a photo of the building and names the past tenants. Also included are some of the old ads, photos and artifacts that promoted the businesses. This book, as well as his other two books (Higuera Street and Monterey & Marsh Streets – 100 years of Downtown Businesses), are being sold in many of our hometown stores including: The History Center, Boo Boo Records, Crushed Grape and Barnes and Noble.

new cfo at sierra vista medical center

San Luis Obispo’s Best Kept Secret Power Carts Senior Discount (55) • 10 Play C ards • Tournaments Welcome • •

Tee Times on our website: or call 805-781-7309

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Rollie Pirkl has been named Chief Financial Officer at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. In that capacity he will oversee all financial, accounting, admitting, case management, information systems, health information systems and materials management functions at San Luis Obispo County’s largest hospital and second largest private employer. He began his duties December 1. “In Rollie Pirkl we have found an innovative financial executive with more than 30 years of experience in health care,” said Candace L. Markwith, Sierra Vista’s Chief Executive Officer. Most recently he served for three years as the Chief Financial Officer at JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio and the previous two years as CFO at Community Hospital in Los Gatos.

Become a volunteer irs certified tax preparer

Dressing Windows in San Luis Obispo for over 39 Years

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Are you looking to build up your resume, to start a new career in the tax preparation field, or just looking to volunteer for a good cause? If so, then consider becoming a volunteer tax preparer! The Community Action Partnership of SLO County and its partners, the United Ways of Santa Barbara and SLO Counties, Cal Poly, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), and the IRS, formed the new Central Coast Community Tax Coalition, and are seeking volunteers to become IRS certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) tax preparers for the upcoming season – from January to April 2012. The Coalition works together to provide low-to-moderate income individuals and families with no cost, income tax preparation services at offices located throughout the Central Coast. VITA and AARP services ensure that all families and individuals, including seniors, receive the special tax credits and deductions they may qualify for. No tax preparation experience is necessary! For more information on this special program, please contact Jessica Edwards, at the Community Action Partnership at (805)549-7684, or by e-mail,



eye on Business

Roxanne Carr: on the move By Maggie Cox, Barnett Cox & Associates


hink “mortgage” and the first name likely to pop into your head is Roxanne Carr, founder of The Mortgage House and arguably the First Lady of all matters mortgage in SLO County. After 30 years blazing an impressive trail, Roxanne has decided it’s time to chase new passions. She has retired as division president of the Mortgage House, but will remain a senior consultant at the firm she helped create 16 years ago. Seems the biz is in her blood. Roxanne first came to the Central Coast more than 30 years ago when she opened a branch office for the then-ARCS Mortgage, Inc. She pioneered mortgage banking in the area, establishing FHA and VA lending and offering the area’s first reverse mortgages. Within three years, her ARCS office was the #1 performer of the company’s 59 branches across the U.S. Roxanne eventually rose to Western Regional Vice President for ARCS, overseeing some 29 branches and more than 300 employees. Twenty years later, Roxanne and her former boss at ARCS, Ira Cohen, had both moved on to new challenges. Ira approached Roxanne with an idea to create a new mortgage banking firm that offered clients a different approach: intentionally small, with impeccable integrity and a focus on close personal service. Roxanne was a perfect fit. The partners launched The Mortgage House in 1995 and have never strayed from their core values. Roxanne is understandably proud that scandals and issues that rocked the industry never came close to The Mortgage House. Her company’s rock solid reputation (and top performance) is a testament to Roxanne’s leadership and vision. What her impressive business performance doesn’t tell you is about Roxanne the person. This is one serious dynamo who has a heart of gold. Roxanne believes in helping people achieve their dreams of home ownership. She works relentlessly to find the right fit for her clients and she takes her work quite personally. She made her way into business as a young single mom, pursued a college

education later in life and has never settled for “good enough.” She has drive and focus and boundless optimism. She has a special soft spot for women’s issues and has been a powerful public speaker on the topic. It’s fortunate she was born with an abundance of energy, because her volunteer and after hours activities alone would wear anyone else down. She was a founding board member for the UCSB Economic Forecast Project as well as Mission Community Bank. Past president of SLO Rotary; Board service with the Homebuilders Association of the Central Coast; advisor to the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition Board, actively involved with the SLO Chamber of Commerce, United Way, SLO County Housing Trust Fund, Cal Poly Executive Partners, and Prado Day Center. She currently serves on the board for the Cuesta College Foundation. And yep, this is a partial list. Rox is a creative thinker who is always brimming with ideas. Her wildly successful “Ask Roxanne” columns generate questions and comments from around the world. She is currently working on compiling the nearly 500 columns into an online resource. She’s learning how to create the website herself by attending a Cuesta College class. That’s Roxanne. Roxanne married well known local architect Rod Levin eighteen years ago while on

a bicycle trip in France with friends. She’s the stylista who made her own unique fashion statement in bike shorts and a wedding veil. The caption could read “Joie de Vivre.” Today Rod and Rox enjoy travelling, grandkids and beautiful sunsets at their Shell Beach home across the street from the ocean and overlooking a home designed by Rod. Roxanne has named Charlotte Storlie vice president / regional manager to replace her at The Mortgage House. Charlotte is herself a longtime employee who came up through the ranks and learned the business under Roxanne’s guidance – a next generation success story. And that success is the kind of measure that really counts with Roxanne. As for Roxanne, probably best to call her semi retired, because, as she says, “You are never too old to start something new; in fact the older you get, the more new things you need to start.”


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North County: Sandy Hexberg: 238-1529



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COMMUNITY philanthropist danny thomas said, “Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”


farmers almanac predicts gusty winds and heavy rains for Janu-

By Phyllis Benson

ary. Our meteorologist says savvy winter-watchers stay inside with hot soup and comforters while watching the storms on news cameras.

“It’s so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don’t say it.” ---Sam Levenson

January 1962: Ernie Kovacs, a television comedian, died at the age of 42 after crashing his Chevrolet Corvair into a telephone pole in Los Angeles during a rainstorm. January 18, 1969: Heavy rains began in Southern California.

the tournament of roses parade kicks off the New Year. Parade officials anticipate more than 700,000 spectators along the fivemile route of marching bands, prancing horses, and fanciful floats. girl scouts celebrate their 100th anniversary this year. Their Rose Parade float showcases history, adventure, and those famous cookies. scout leader joke: “There is no such thing as trash, only future

craft supplies.”

january is the coldest month in the northern hemisphere. Hiber-

Over the next nine days, over 50 inches of rain fell in some areas, causing floods and massive landslides killing nearly 100 people.

Oatmeal: National Oatmeal Month is here. Our barber says his grandkids ask for oatmeal gruel for breakfast, oatmeal bread for lunch, and oat cookies as snacks. He’s going to read them Charles Dickens and try to cut his oatmeal bill.

pie day is January 23. The most popular pie is apple. eating an apple a day is easy with sugar-coating, cinnamonsprinkling, and dough-wrapping.

nating animals sleep through the freezing weather. In Europe, Saxons called it Wolf Month due to the hungry wolves prowling around their villages seeking food.

1871: William Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company in Bridge-

native americans named January’s full moon as the Wolf Moon.

January 1957: Toymaker Wham-O rolled out the first plastic discs now known as Frisbees. More aerodynamic than pie pans, Frisbees sailed off store shelves. The California toy company sold over 100 million units of the flying saucers by 1977.

In the bright moonlight, the predatory animals stalked and howled around snow-bound tribal camps.

centennial: New Mexico, nicknamed the Land of Enchantment, became a state on January 6, 1912. The state bird is the Greater Roadrunner, the official flower is the yucca blossom, and the state gem is turquoise. The official state aircraft is the hot air balloon.

port, Connecticut. Kids and college student sailed his empty pie pans back and forth in games.

thanks: National Thank You month is here. Say thank you for courtesies and favors large and small.

Slogan: You may be from New Mexico if you think six tons of

crushed rock makes a beautiful front lawn.

the festival of sleep is here, an unofficial time to catch up on missed sleep. Snooze, nap, doze or snore. Skip the soap operas for a nap or go to bed a little earlier to deposit minutes in your sleep bank.

comedian danny thomas was born January 6, 1912. Hol-

california playwright Wilson Mizner said, “The amount of sleep

lywood legend says that Thomas was a struggling young actor and, when he later became a star, he gratefully founded the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital dedicated to St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes.

required by the average person is five minutes more.”

the dogs are snoozing, the cat is dozing, and we feel a nap attack coming on. Have a great new year.

Let our family take care of your family.

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Happy New Year!



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January 2012 Journal Plus  

January 2012 Journal Plus

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