Applicants’ qualifications and their compatibility with the community will determine which ones are offered the right to operate retail cannabis storefronts in Santa Barbara County if proposed code amendments are approved by the Board of Supervisors.

On Tuesday, supervisors gave their preferred selection process changes to staff, who will draw up proposed amendments that will be vetted by the County Counsel’s Office before returning to the board for consideration.

The proposed ordinance amendments are scheduled to return to the board in the first week of January and will include preventing retail cannabis storefronts from being located in three communities not part of any community plan area.

Under current regulations, a maximum of two cannabis retail shops could operate in Vandenberg Village, Casmalia and New Cuyama, with only one allowed per community.

A Santa Maria man charged with murder in the Oct. 6 shooting death of 33-year-old Jose Alberto Medina in front of 805 Tacos pleaded not guilty Wednesday at Superior Court in Santa Maria. 

Juan Carlos Hernandez, 25, briefly appeared with his attorney in Judge Gustavo Lavayen's court wearing an orange jail top with blue pants.

In addition to the murder charge, Hernandez denied all special allegations.  

Hernandez is facing one count of murder with five enhancements, including using a firearm to cause great bodily injury and using a firearm in commission of a felony. 

Following the shooting, Hernandez fled to Mexico where he reportedly turned himself into authorities in the city of Guadalajara on Oct. 19, according to Santa Maria Police Sgt. Alfredo Ruiz. 

From there, Hernandez was handed over to the U.S. Marshals Service, which brought him back to Los Angeles to be arrested and taken into custody by the Santa Maria Police Department. 

Hernandez is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing setting at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 18 in Department 8 at the Superior Court. 

Smoke seen rising Wednesday south of Orcutt came not from a wildfire but from a prescribed burn of approximately 80 acres of sage scrub and chaparral on the Righetti Ranch.

The burning between Highway 135 and Vandenberg Air Force Base began about 8 a.m. and was done by 6 p.m., said Lyz Hoffman, public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District.

Capt. Daniel Bertucelli, public information officer for Santa Barbara County Fire Department, said the burn was conducted by the Righetti Ranch for the purposes of range improvement.

However, it was also expected to reduce the danger of uncontrolled wildfire in the area, as prescribed fires typically burn less intensely while removing the fuel that feed wildfires, Hoffman said.

An estimated eight to 10 barrels of crude oil leaked Wednesday at a former Greka facility on Black Road, but no riparian or waterways were threatened by the spill, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

About 10:10 a.m., County Fire received information that an oil spill had taken place at HVI Cat Canyon near 5080 Black Road, said public information officer Capt. Daniel Bertucelli.

When the first County Fire inspector arrived, he found about eight to 10 barrels of crude oil had spilled from a half-inch pipeline that had been shut down, Bertucelli said.

All of the oil was stopped within the secondary containment area, he said, and HVI Cat Canyon was taking mitigation measures.

Bertucelli said all local, state and federal agencies were notified of the spill.

A local holiday tradition kicked back into full gear Wednesday as several supporters of the Lompoc Toys for Tots drive joined together to formally launch the 2019 campaign.

The kickoff event, held at the Lompoc Veterans Memorial Building, fell on the same day as registrations opened for the annual drive, which is sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and through which toys are collected in donation bins, then sorted and given to children from local families in need. Families interested in registering their children for toys were able to do so from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Vets Building, and will have another chance from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the same location.

Maria Douvia, a program manager for the Community Action Commission, which is coordinating the Toys for Tots campaign, said after the kickoff that organizers had a simple target for donations this year.

“Every family that needs a toy — that’s our goal,” she said.

There will be many opportunities over the coming weeks for community members to make sure that goal is met.

A fire in an east Lompoc home Tuesday afternoon left five people displaced.

The Lompoc Fire Department responded to the blaze in the 1100 block of Bell Avenue just after 2 p.m. Crews were able to knock down the fire and had entered the salvage and overhaul phase by 3:30 p.m., according to Lompoc Fire.

Red Cross representatives were reportedly en route to assist the displaced occupants, Lompoc Fire reported.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Murder charges have been filed against a Santa Barbara man accused of causing a three-vehicle crash that killed a mother and her two young children on Highway 154 in October.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced Wednesday that a felony complaint was filed against John Roderick Dungan, 28, charging him with three counts of murder.

The charges were filed in connection with the Oct. 25 collision just east of the Cold Spring Bridge that killed Rebecca Vanessa Goss Bley, 34, and her two children, 2-year-old Lucienne Bley Gleason and 4-month-old Desmond Bley Gleason.

Dungan is scheduled to appear for arraignment on the charges Friday before Judge Clifford Anderson in Department 8 of the Figueroa Division of Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Barbara.

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Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab will premiere its latest experiment — Doc’s Fine Chocolates — on Saturday, Nov. 16, at all three Central Coast parlors, where a limited stock will be available, a company spokeswoman said.

The gourmet chocolates are currently available in half-pound and one-pound variety boxes and create-your-own boxes while supplies last.

The original recipes arrived in 1915 from Great Britain, and Doc Burnstein’s partnered with seasoned candy maker Gerald Reed, former owner of Olde Tyme Chocolates in Arroyo Grande, who has 50-plus years of artisanal confectionary experience.

Handcrafted locally in small batches at Doc Burnstein’s own facility, the confections are poured and hand-dipped in milk chocolate, dark chocolate or a combination of the two by head chocolatier Cale Munro, the spokeswoman said.

In addition to using traditional recipes, the chocolates have innovative flavors with nods to Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab’s most loved “flavorites,” like Doc’s Java, Raspberry Merlot and Motor Oil.

Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab parlors are located at 725 E. Betteravia Road in Santa Maria, 114 W. Branch St. in Arroyo Grande and 860 Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo.

For other locations and more information, visit www.docburnsteins.com.

The Lompoc Elks Lodge, 905 E. Ocean Ave., will host its annual Veterans Day lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, and the public is invited to attend.

Veterans will be allowed free entry, while all guests and other community members will be asked to pay $5. In addition to meals with pulled pork sandwiches, there will be military displays and memorabilia available to view, and live music.

Attendees are asked to enter the lodge through the back catering entrance from the Walnut Avenue parking lot.

For more information, contact Bob Schrum at 805-736-8866 or email office@lompocelks.com.

Your imagination will spark ideas, promote new interests and help you plan for a better future. If you coordinate with someone who has helped you in the past, the results you get will lead to stability and a healthy lifestyle. An unusual offer will tempt you. Follow your heart.

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