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Spencer David Cole

Investigative Reporter

Pismo Beach

Spencer David Cole

New Times Media Group | Environment | Government | Business |

Featured

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DB Western CEO has left trail of toxic waste allegations

It’s no secret that Dennis Carter Beetham, the Rome, N.Y. -born CEO and founder of DB Western Texas (DBWT), wants a hand in shaping the future of Coos Bay’s wastewater treatment plans. The millionaire chemical tycoon has spoken at length, in person and through intermediaries, about his desire to take over ownership of both of the city's wastewater treatment plants.
The World Link to Story
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Deer(ly) departed: Five years of drought and decades of habitat loss could be impacting deer and their predators

Bill Decker, 69, drops his truck into the lowest gear and punches the gas. The Toyota Tundra whines as its all-terrain tires climb the series of broken concrete slabs that used to be called a road. "This is all public land," Decker says, surveying the surrounding chaparral, tall grass, and rolling foothills that stretch for miles.
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Growing pains: From cut flowers to cannabis, Lompoc grapples with its past while eyeing economic opportunity

Dan Vordale’s boots crunch loose dirt and crumpled dead grass as he stomps through a neat row of waist-high flowers. “Ever since we came into this valley, the one flower we’ve grown is called stock,” he says. “It’s a big part of our company’s sales.”. Vordale is a vice president for Ocean View Flowers, a locally owned growing operation just a few miles outside of Lompoc.
The Santa Maria Sun Link to Story
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U.S. Forest Service wraps up winter controlled burns

Riprap clatters and clangs against U.S. Forest Service Battalion Chief Chip Laugharn’s government-issued pickup truck. The sun beams down and blankets the landscape with washed-out midday light. The air is rich with the smell of pine and woodsmoke. “It’s a killer view,” Laugharn says, pointing to the wall of mountains dominating the horizon.
The Santa Maria Sun Link to Story
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Following footprints: State scientists aim to map mountain lion numbers and species health

You probably should've died," the husky, walrus-mustached U.S. Forest Service worker told me that balmy July evening. It was 2015, the height of the last so-called drought that never really ended on California's Central Coast. And the animals, myself included, were restless. One long summer after another, interrupted by brief winters that brought only sputters of rain and drizzle for the state's mountains, valleys, rivers, and reservoirs, had cooked us in that kiln known as the Central Valley.
The Santa Maria Sun Link to Story
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ICEing the system

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers are arresting undocumented immigrant witnesses and victims of crimes at courthouses across the country, effectively throwing a wrench in the criminal justice system and its ability to prosecute criminals. This is according to state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who told New Times on Aug. 24 that stricter ICE enforcement since President Donald Trump's inauguration has resulted in fewer undocumented immigrants coming forward to report crimes or give witness testimony.
New Times Link to Story
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Failure to communicate: With the city's financial future in question, the Lompoc City Council struggles to find common ground

It’s Tuesday night, Sept. 5, and the Lompoc City Council is in session. After a long and arduous meeting, the city’s 2017-19 budget has finally passed, albeit contentiously, at a 3-2 vote. The boogie man of a budget—now four months late and the source of countless hours of bickering, bemoaning, and battling for a say in Lompoc’s future—is finally defeated, at least for now.
The Santa Maria Sun Link to Story
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Jordan Cove Donates Big To Squash Measure Opposing Liquid Natural Gas Terminal

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Oregon's jolly green giant

Since recreational marijuana became officially legal in Oregon in July 2015, the state has raked in millions of dollars in revenue. Oregon began taxing recreational marijuana in January 2016 at a temporary rate of 25 percent. Exactly one year later, the state had collected more than $60 million, according to the Oregon Department of Revenue.
The World Link to Story
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Tall Shipwreck

The bevy of complaints against last weekend’s Festival of Sail continue to pile up and are beginning to shed light on the problems that derailed the four-day event, an endeavor that local governments gave some $40,000 to help facilitate. The criticism has ranged from poor organization, lofty promises and in North Bend’s and Coos Bay’s case, a lack of written contracts.
The World Link to Story
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(If) a pipeline runs through it

Wind whips through Larry Mangan’s tuft of white hair as he angles his all-terrain vehicle down the dirt road of his ranch near the edge of Haynes Inlet. The scents of saltwater, mud, blooming wildflowers and the nearby grazing cattle blend together, creating an aroma that hints at the Spring to come.
The World Link to Story
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South Coast seaweed entrepreneurs receive sizable investment

The salty seaweed known as dulse, made waves across the internet when Oregon State University announced they had patented a variety of the protein-packed, fast-growing plant that allegedly tastes like bacon when fried. “It’s actually crunchy,” says Foley’s employee, James Weimar, who admits to snacking on the “superfood" algae while he works on the tanks.
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Spencer David Cole