Columns

Re-cap Coats for Kids | Around About North County

It has been five very busy days so far this week. The hard-working Coats for Kids team and our wonderful volunteers served 262 families in Atascadero on Wednesday, after setting up coats and jackets for adults and children in the National Guard Armory on Monday and Tuesday. Tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 15) we will distribute more coats and jackets in Paso Robles, to 443 families, at the Paso Robles Event Center in the Frontier Building. The Armory is a huge space and we seem to fill every inch with not only Coats for Kids, but with the Kiwanis toy area, the Atascadero Loaves and Fishes food box area, and the Salvation Army voucher table.... more

Preparing for Coats for Kids distribution | Around About North County

When you read this, we will be packing up our enclosed trailer with donated coats, jackets, sweaters and sweatshirts for Coats for Kids. We will move our set-up equipment into the National Guard Armory in Atascadero this Monday, Dec. 10, starting at 8:30 a.m., if you want to volunteer. We still need more of those warm items, for children of our local families, for the distribution on Wednesday, Dec. 12. If you missed dropping your donation in one of our boxes, please bring your items to the Armory on Monday or Tuesday before 2 p.m. if possible. ... more

Update on holiday activity | Around About North County

As I write, I’m listening to the needed rain we are getting. My plants are so happy to have all of that moisture from the sky, and I am so happy that I don’t have to get the hose and water them myself! I was on KPRL’s Sound Off on Tuesday, with Jaime Umphenour. We talked about the Coats for Kids project and the 31 years I have been involved. It doesn’t seem possible that it was that long ago, but time passes very quickly these days.... more

Thanksgiving review and more | Around About North County

I hope you survived a joyful Thanksgiving and are now enjoying all the leftovers, which I think is one of the great benefits of that “fulfilling” meal! We traveled all the way to Paso Robles to share the day with our son David, his wife Shannon and their family. Shannon is a marvelous cook and she never lets us down. Due to family tradition, it is my responsibility to prepare a raw cranberry/Jell-O salad. The recipe was given to my mother by my father’s mother, my grandmother, Jenny Wofford, when my parents were first married in 1935, making the recipe over 80 years old.... more

Holiday activities and one dessert! | Around About North County

For those of you who read my recipe column, I just have to sneak in one more pumpkin recipe for the holidays. I ran out of room in my “Recipes from the Heart” this week, so I’m taking advantage of “Around About North County!” But of course, we “north-of-the-grade” folks love to cook and eat and I think you’ll love this dessert.... more

The Leadoff: Exploded faces and hurt feelings

Did you hear the news? The NBA is going to televise the All-Star draft for the All-Star game this season and it is the best news I have received since I learned that Panda Express has brought back their honey sesame chicken. My birthday was on Monday and I still was more excited when I woke up Wednesday and instantly blasted my eyes with my ESPN update I thought too good to be true.... more

Holiday events update | Around About North County

Looking at the calendar you can see what’s coming — lots of events, food, toy and jacket drives and distributions in December. Of course, we will celebrate Thanksgiving this month and be grateful that we live in this wonderful country where we can experience an election, and no matter the outcome, we move forward. We move forward and accept the outcome, or work on making changes.... more

ALSLOC Shopping Estravaganza | Around About North County

On Monday our Assistance League of San Luis Obispo County opened our Assistance League Thrift Store for a “Holiday Shopping Extravaganza”. The event opened at 11 a.m. and there were shoppers lined up at the door when we opened. Normally we are closed on Mondays so we can stock the shelves, hold our monthly meeting in the large back room area, and generally do “operational” activities. However, we decided to open on Monday, Oct. 29, to kick-off holiday shopping. We worked all day Sunday, transitioning the store. The store is beautiful all the time, but it is exceptionally beautiful now, filled with lovely holiday merchandise donated by generous supporters, along with fully decorated Christmas trees and wreaths fashioned by members who retired from careers as professional floral designers.... more

Autumn activities | Around About North County

Autumn produces falling leaves. Maybe that’s why we call this season “fall.” Well, I’ve been raking leaves around here and believe me we have plenty to spare. We live in what I call an oak forest and this is the time of year that the trees do a cleansing by shedding some leaves. When a huge oak sheds some leaves, it makes a real statement on the ground. I’ve been observing other trees in our area also making statements by the color changes of their leaves — gold, red, orange, and amber — exciting to see!... more

Gearing up for Coats for Kids | Around About North County

It doesn’t seem possible that we are talking “Christmas” when we haven’t had Halloween or Thanksgiving yet! However, some of our projects require early preparations to be successful in December. One such project is Coats for Kids. Our team has been mentioning the distribution all year on “social media,” and I’ve mentioned it here in my column, but now we start our big push to get the word out, so here we go. We need new and gently used coats, jackets, sweaters and sweatshirts for children and adults for the Christmas distributions in Atascadero and Paso Robles. In Paso we partner with Toy Bank of Greater Paso Robles, Toys for Tots, and Salvation Army, who distribute toys and vouchers for food. In Atascadero we partner with Atascadero Loaves and Fishes, Kiwanis, Toys for Tots, and Salvation Army.... more

Signs of Autumn | Around About North County

For several years now, I have noticed my hearing loss coming on. Of course, for me age has everything to do with it. I struggled through hundreds of meetings, not really hearing everything that was said, but good friends always filled me in. Well, I finally got my hearing aids on Tuesday of this week and I am learning to hear all over again! It’s exciting. I’m hearing the ticking of our old antique clock and the striking of the hour, which seems so loud now, the rattling of the newspaper when I read it, the jingle of the bracelets on my arms, the running of water, and of course, the clanking of dishes and pots and pans in the kitchen! It will take some getting used to, but I’m up to the challenge.... more

Column: One of the best Colony Days | Around about North County

Despite the rain in the middle of the week, the Atascadero Colony Days celebration went off without a hitch. It was a beautiful weekend weather-wise and one of the best Colony Days events I’ve been involved in for some time. The Friday night concerts in Tent City, organized by Heather Young and her committee, offered great toe-tapping music. And sitting in the Sunken Gardens, with the historic City Hall as a backdrop, surrounded by tents representing the early days of Atascadero, was special. A cast of community actors in period costumes revealed what it was like in those days by bringing history to life. The historical enactment continued on Saturday after the parade. Congratulations to Dianne and Wally Greenaway and the Tent City team for a job well done.... more

Leave Le'Veon alone

There are certain things in sports that are weird and mostly irrational that drive me completely crazy. No, I’m not talking about how in football many times the game, that has been played by literal modern-day gladiators, is decided by a someone significantly smaller that no one would mistake for a gladiator kicking a ball through some arbitrary yellow poles when they really don't contribute to the rest of the game at all. ... more

Cruise Nite well attended | Around About North County

John and I had another commitment on the night of the Hot El Camino Cruise here in Atascadero last weekend, but we heard that it was well attended. With some 400 classic, antique and “hot” cars, it was a success according to all reports. I attended the Saturday night event, Dancing in the Streets, to help with the Printery Foundation booth. There were definitely more people enjoying the beautiful summer evening in the downtown Atascadero Colony District — more than last year I observed. With five bands, great food, and beer, wine, and cider tasting opportunities the event is growing and making for a fun weekend. Under the leadership of Terrie Banish, Deputy City Manager/Outreach, Promotions, Events, for the City of Atascadero, the organizers did a fantastic job. Congratulations to all!... more

Cruisin' today | Around About North County

Welcome to our big Cruisin’ Weekend here in Atascadero. Tonight, (Friday, Aug. 17) those beautiful, hot and classic cars from the past will be cruisin’ El Camino Real, so grab your family and friends and head on downtown. Don’t forget to take a lawn chair or two because the cars will cruise from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and you just might like to “sit a spell”. Tomorrow (Saturday, Aug. 18) you can take in one of the most popular car shows in SLO County, at the Mid State Cruizers Annual Car Show at Atascadero Lake Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then hop on downtown at 5 p.m. for the Summer Concert Blowout and Dance Party in the Downtown Colony District.... more

 

Fonzi: How a candidate sees the world matters

My last article suggested asking local candidates about their “Vision” for Atascadero and specific types of questions you might ask them. A candidate’s worldview is equally important since how a person sees the world influences how they govern. One need look no farther than Santa Barbara to see bad government at work albeit for the best of intentions. A ban on plastic straws was passed, ostensibly to prevent marine life from ingesting micro-plastic pollutants and being injured. Who could be against that?... more

Mid-State Fair excitement | Around About North County

On Tuesday, John and I woke up early, quickly got ready, and hurried to the fairgrounds in Paso Robles to join other family members in watching our granddaughter, Jenny Butz, show her Duroc hog during the FFA judging. We have been following her participation in 4-H and FFA for years and the only difference this year is that this is her last year to be part of this wonderful program. She graduated from Templeton High School in June and will be attending Cuesta College. She is the last of our 12 grandchildren to graduate from high school — it’s unbelievable how the years have flown by. Jenny and her friends at Templeton High School have always done well with their animals at the Fair. This year her Duroc placed third which was not bad considering all of the competition.... more

The Leadoff: Cheaters prospered

Is it just me? Or does it feel like the World Cup Final that was on Sunday happened a decade ago? Maybe it was because I spent last week laid up in sunny San Diego sippin’ Sazerac and now have jumped straight back into the craziness that is fair week, but regardless summer is flying by, I mean, there are only 49 more days until NFL begins. ... more

The Leadoff: NBA free agency update

At 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, July 1 on the East Coast, NBA free agency began and things have been absolutely crazy so far. I know what you’re thinking, Kentavious Caldwell Pope went where?? OK maybe that isn’t exactly the move you were interested in but I am going to list all, or at least most, of the free agency moves along with my comments (sometimes about basketball, sometimes not) about my favorites. ... more

The Leadoff: Who wants free beer?

I ran a poll on Facebook asking our audience if they are watching the World Cup two weeks ago and the numbers came back in overwhelming fashion, you aren’t. So I should probably talk about something other than soccer, but if you think I am going to do that then you obviously don’t know me very well, Momma ain't raise no quitter. ... more

The Leadoff: No U.S.A., no problem

It is finally here, the world’s biggest and most watched sporting event. Not the Super Bowl, not the NBA finals, not the Indy 500, not the World Series, no, no, no. It’s the World Cup. When it comes to the beautiful game, America is full of uncultured swine. Americans are about as obnoxious and arrogant as they come — especially when it surrounds the world of sports. ... more

Strawberries and wine | Around About North County

You know summer officially begins this month on June 21, but it will have to warm up to make me believe it. Actually we have had some warm days and nights, but this last week was a little cooler. Well, so much for the weather. I know we will soon complain about the heat. Until then we should enjoy the outdoors and carry along a jacket!... more

Memorial Day and Summer

It was a week that started with the beautiful Memorial Day Ceremony at the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial here in Atascadero. Master of Ceremonies Dick Mason introduced the program starting with a Military Flyover by Estrella Warbirds. One of the pilots included our own Bob Kelley, a former Mayor of Atascadero. Cal Poly ROTC Cadets did the Presentation of Colors accompanied by Central Coast Pipes & Drums followed by the National Anthem sung by Marlon Varin, US Navy PO2 1979-85.... more

Tip-A-Cop dinner

John and I joined the staff of our Atascadero Chamber of Commerce at the Tip-A-Cop Dinner this week. It was held at the Paso Robles Event Center which was filled to capacity with happy, hungry guests anxious to be served by law enforcement personnel. The event is always fun and the food is delicious. They served a choice of chicken, pork ribs, tri-tip, all barbequed to perfection, or a vegetarian dish. Along with the meat we were served salad, beans, bread, a beverage and dessert. The meals were graciously prepared by Kiwanis.... more

The Leadoff: What the (bleep) is going on with the Sixers

Oh boy, what a week to make my return to the Leadoff. As the sports seasons wind down I generally like to fill the space my column typically occupies with an extra local sports story. However, as of Tuesday, high school sports in this area are over and did you guys hear about what is going on with the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers and Twitter?... more

Another day in the office: Reporter's Notebook

The time I visited the digital media arts middle schoolers at AMS (who were starting their own publication), they were shocked when I passed around that inky square thing once known as a “newspaper.”... more

Playground breaks ground | Around About North County

Exciting news! The City of Atascadero and Parents for Joy held the groundbreaking ceremony on May 1 at the Colony Park Community Center to initiate construction for the Joy Playground. The much-anticipated project has been made possible by the Parkland Facilities Impact Funds along with many donations from Kiwanis of Atascadero, the local Paso Robles Chapter of 100+ Women Who Care, the Atascadero Lakeside Wine Festival Committee, to a variety of local businesses, contractors and residents. It has been an ongoing fundraising effort on behalf of the Parents for Joy organization, which will be constructed on the grounds of Atascadero’ s Colony Park Community Center located on Traffic Way.... more

The Leadoff: North County domination

What an amazing week for sports it has been. I currently live in San Luis Obispo and because of that I find myself hanging around many former south county athletes (i.e. Mission Prep, SLO High, Righetti, you get the picture) and I have been letting them have it. The North County teams are blowing the doors off South County teams in the spring and it makes me very happy. Templeton’s softball team is still undefeated in the season (led by Ashley Daughtery, who may or may not have a rocket launcher attached to her right shoulder and also hits dingers), and the Eagles baseball team just took over sole possession of the Los Padres League after a big win on Thursday over Lompoc. ... more

The Leadoff: Drafting Josh Allen would be the most Browns thing to do

There is so much stuff going on right now that I don’t even know where to begin. Local sports in the area are beginning to heat up, the NBA playoffs just began and the NFL Draft is just a few days away. However, since my dad is a Cleveland Browns fan, I am contractually obligated to at least poke fun of this poor incompetent organization whenever I get the chance. They have won only one game in the past two years and I think they are about to do the most browniest Brown thing, I have ever seen (rhyme unintentional).... more

Spring cleaning | Around About North County

It’s amazing what a little cleaning-up around an old building can do for its presence. The Printery Building, in Atascadero, 6351 Olmeda Ave., next to the National Guard Armory, is coming alive again due to the efforts of dedicated volunteers. The historic Printery was the first building built in Atascadero and was the key to the survival of the Atascadero Colony as it provided jobs for many people who came to live in this area. The building suffered damage during the 2003 earthquake and many hours have been spent in securing and stabilizing the building. ... more

Back Porch Bakery | Around About North County

Wow! I just talked to Kate Auslen, event organizer of the Atascadero Citywide Yard Sale, sponsored by the City and Parents for Joy, and she said that there are over 100 residences signed up for the sale tomorrow (Saturday, April 14). You can pick up a map of the “sellers” at the Chamber today until 4 p.m. or at the Grocery Outlet today and tomorrow. The map will also be online at the Parents for Joy website and Facebook event page. This event benefits Joy Inclusive Playground, scheduled to begin construction this spring. If shoppers would like to contribute to the cause, donation jars will be available at several yard sale locations, or they can donate directly through the Joy Playground GoFundMe page.... more

Spring is finally here | Around About North County

Easter Sunday was a beautiful day in many ways and I hope you were able to spend it with friends and family. We shared a delicious breakfast with Dave and Shannon, our Paso Robles family. It is always nice to get caught-up with them and with their daughters Madison and Meredith, as the girls finish their college careers. Madison will graduate from Law School at the University of Alabama in June, while Meredith is enjoying her classes at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where she transferred this year.... more

CPRS Long Beach Awards | Around About North County

Last Friday John and I drove to Santa Barbara, picked up his sister Bev, and continued on to Long Beach to attend the California Parks and Recreation Society Awards Recognition Banquet which closed the CPRS Conference. We met Jennifer Fanning, Colony Park Community Center Director & Recreation Supervisor at the City of Atascadero, and Larisse Lopez, Recreation Coordinator at Colony Park Community Center, who had been attending the Conference held at the Long Beach Convention Center. CPRS celebrated with the theme “70 Years of Inspiring Excellence.” ... more

Are you ready for Spring? | Around About North County

Are you ready for Spring? I noticed on my calendar that Spring begins on March 20 and I am ready and so are my plants. I hope we have more “April showers” this year since we really need that rain. I hope you are watching the Daffodils around town---they are beginning to give us a show. Some have already bloomed and some are slowly opening up. We lost some bulbs around our property due to the drought, but the survivors are beautiful! ... more

In awe of a conductor who chose Atascadero as home

Truth be told, I find it really amazing that such an accomplished conductor chose Atascadero as a place to live. I had to ask him why.... more

A penny for your thoughts

If you have been watching the NCAA tournament this past week (honestly, I don’t blame you either way. I’m not the hugest fan of college basketball but buzzer beaters are more addictive than heroin and once I get a taste, I’m stuck), you may have noticed a familiar face on the most exciting team’s bench, the Nevada Wildcats. Former Greyhound Elijah Cooks has been on my TV about 20 times. They cut to him a bunch, after big shots and once the Wildcats completed EITHER of their huge comebacks.... more

The Leadoff: Tiger's on the prowl

As the beams of sunlight began splitting the cracks in the white wood shutters that shade my room from the morning light and the darkness was forced to scurry to the corners like a frightened mouse, I awoke. It was not a normal day, it was the Sabbath, but that is only part of what made it special. As I peeled back the down comforter, it is revealed that I am already wearing a shirt, a polo shirt. Not just any polo, a red polo. This isn’t just any Sunday, you see, on this Sunday, Tiger is back. Alright, I didn't really sleep in a red polo shirt (but I would be lying if I said I didn't think about it) but if you turned on the TV this weekend to any sports channel you undoubtedly heard the phrase “Tiger is in contention.” ... more

The war on drugs is the war on our children: Reporter's Notebook

How many parents and teachers have ever thought, ‘oh my God, this kid is going to be the next school shooter.’ Yet Everyone’s too busy to fix the problem child. They blame guns. ... more

The Leadoff: The NFL has a personality problem

They say there are only two seasons in America — Football season and waiting for football season. Seeing as the NFL literally ended this month and the combine is still dominating Sportscenter and media coverage, I think it has been proven true. So if football is unquestionably America’s No. 1 sport — which it is — then why aren’t its players more popular? According to “TV by the Numbers,” in 2017, football games accounted for five of the top ten watched programs (all of the top ten were sporting events of some sort except the Oscars) with the Superbowl more than doubling the second most-watched program (another football game).... more

The Leadoff: Baseball needs more drama

It happens every year right around this time. Football is over and done with and we’ve all been forced to endure a Sunday without our fix. Basketball is temporarily suspended while in the middle of the All-Star break and without the Olympics this past week we would have been essentially sports-less. ... more

Which sports star would you choose to save your life?

The question is simple: If you found yourself in a dangerous situation and had to choose one person from the world of sports to save your life, who would you choose? Maybe LeBron James? JJ Watt? Conor McGregor? All great choices, but who is the best? The best part of this game is that it is subjective. Every answer is technically right. Then again, every answer is technically wrong. In order to be an arbiter of this conversation, I knew I needed to perform an extensive amount of research on the top prospects, and that is exactly what I spent my week doing. I combed the internet for any tidbit or morsel of information that I could find that might lead me to the answer.... more

The Leadoff: Multi sport athletes

As I was laying on my couch with my feet elevated onto a pedestal of pillows, halfway through my sixth episode of Ozark for the day, I received an invitation to a couple meetings about the beginning of the spring sports season. ... more

Moms hold the key for young artists: Reporter's Notebook

I have noticed an interesting pattern in the “successful artists” I have been interviewing… especially, most recently, Pixar animator Mike Venturini, a Paso native and father of three [P.8, this issue]. I know it sounds too easy, but practically every artist and creative I’ve interviewed — and I’ve chewed the fat with hundreds in my career — revealed to me the secret pat on their bottoms out the door and into the real world — the thing that got them moving — was encouragement from their mothers. ... more

LaVar and the G-League

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year you know the name LaVar Ball. If that name doesn’t quite jog your memory, he is the father of the Lakers’ first-round draft pick, Lonzo Ball. Instead of signing a contract with one of the normal shoe companies like Adidas or Nike, the family started an apparel company called Big Baller Brand. LaVar has three sons, Lonzo being the oldest. The middle son is Liangelo and the youngest is Lamello. ... more

What makes a sport a sport?

In my few months as a sports reporter at the Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press, I have been blessed to cover a variety of sports(?). Why is the question mark in parenthesis you ask? Well, I’m not sure everything I’ve covered can be considered a sport, and it made me start wondering, what exactly makes a sport… a sport?... more

The Leadoff: Basketball analytics semi-explained

Much like everyone else, I have spent the last two weeks or so wandering the Earth not knowing what day of the week it is, and at times, what year it is. The week between Christmas and New Years wreaks havoc on me. I’ll eat anything you put near me (and by anything, I mean anything that is either chocolate or salty or covered in sugar), I’ll watch anything on TV (by anything I mean anything that requires a ball), and, like many I presume, I spent most of that time contemplating on if I’m ever actually going to return that sweater my grandma bought me or if I should just tell her it looks great anyways before I’ve put it on. ... more

Experts say my Christmas lights are better (just kidding): Reporter's Notebook

We’d do a white elephant gift exchange from stuff we didn’t want in our house, purpose being no other than making us laugh. ... more

How do we fix the broken replay system in the NFL?

I want to make it clear that, first off, I'm here for all the tomfoolery going on in the NFL. I am pro-anarchy and chaos. I tend to find the humor in just about everything. I mean, I'm getting back surgery on Thursday and have been making paralysis jokes all week so you know I'm not overly serious about many things. However, I’ve had it with the NFL and the referees and the slow-motion replays.... more

The Leadoff: Thanksgiving is the Christmas of holidays

Thanksgiving is finally here and I think it's time we recognize the greatness of the holiday. Of all the holidays, Thanksgiving is treated the worst. It is the red-headed stepchild of the holidays. Thanksgiving is that cousin that comes to dinner at the holidays that is super cool but is constantly overshadowed by his older sister that is the golden child in the family because she won a spelling bee in fourth grade.... more

The Leadoff: Times are changing

Somehow, someway, I found myself bellying up to an empty Elk’s Lodge bar last Tuesday night from around 7 p.m. till about 8:30 p.m. If you’ve ever been in an Elk’s Lodge you can picture it. Two lonely, spider web-draped, televisions hung in the corners with one set to Fox News while the other was covering some midweek MACtion. ... more

Imagine this is your first time

I came home on Wednesday night around 7 p.m., maybe 7:30ish from watching my sister’s middle school volleyball game. Yes, even after I spent my entire day watching and reporting on sports I attended yet another sporting event. I have a problem, I know this, I am working on it (no I’m not). ... more

Now for the games that really matter

As the fall season starts to draw to a close, we finally start playing meaningful games. I'm talking league games. Games that decide who goes to the playoffs, games that decide bragging rights for the next 50 years, games against opposing players that kids grew up playing with as teammates on various club teams and want to decide once and for all who is more valuable. These games are so much more fun to watch and they have an added emphasis that you don't get everywhere else.... more

Calling all sports parents

Do high school kids care about being featured in the newspaper anymore? I think absolutism in anything is horrible (like you definitely shouldn't eat only OREOs, but you also shouldn't not eat OREOs) so I wont say no or yes, but that’s exactly what I’m doing actually, I’m saying no. I don’t know if it has to do with the fact that younger generations are reading less and less and aren't interested in anything that doesn't show up on their 2”x4” mini computer they have attached to their hand, or that fact that we all constantly receive our information instantaneously and don't necessarily need to wait until the morning, but one thing I do know is that moms, dads, grandpas, grandmas, aunts, uncles and that weird family friend that you refer to as your cousin (even though there is absolutely no relation) do still love seeing familiar faces in the newspaper.... more

Playing ball like a girl

I don't know if I have ever been more inspired than I have been in the past couple months. In just my few months a sports reporter here at the Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press, I have covered multiple stories of brave, beautiful, bold young women venturing out into typically male-dominated sports and have not just competed, but have outshined many of their male counterparts. That doesn't even take into account different things that I have heard throughout the community and even things happening on a national stage. It finally seems that women are getting their chances and they are absolutely killing it and I couldn't be happier.... more