SLO County Roundup

South County

About 40 people attended a meeting earlier this week to learn more about Caltrans’ plans to install a median barrier along Highway 101 between Nipomo and Arroyo Grande in an effort to prevent collisions.

Caltrans plans to construct a 4.6-mile barrier from Los Berros Road in Nipomo to the Traffic Way exit in Arroyo Grande. The $7 million project would be funded with money dedicated to highway safety improvements, said Jim Shivers, public information officer for Caltrans in San Luis Obispo. Construction is expected to start in 2012.

The agency studied the number of collisions along that stretch from January 2006 through December 2008 and recorded 185 total collisions, three of which involved fatal injuries. Shivers said 101 people were injured.

The barrier would prevent left turns at El Campo Road, the Laetitia Winery and three other cross-over locations.

In 1998, there were three collisions at the El Campo Road cross-over, Shivers said. In 2008, that number jumped to 10 collisions, including five with injuries. Last year, there were 11 collisions.

Some people raised concerns at the Tuesday meeting about losing access to El Campo Road, Shivers said. He said Caltrans will take the comments from the meeting into consideration as the agency works on the design phase.

The public may still submit written comments through April 30 to Caltrans, Attn. Matt Fowler, 50 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, 93401.

— Cynthia Lambert

SLO County

Brian Stark, executive director of the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County, announced Thursday that he is leaving the organization to take a job in Ojai.

He will be replaced by Bob Hill, the conservancy’s director of conservation. He will take over March 1. Stark will become the conservation director for the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy.

One prime consideration for taking the Ojai job is that his wife, Amy, lives in Thousand Oaks. They married in August. The move will allow him to live with his family there and avoid weekly commutes.

“I think I have the best job in the county,” Stark said. “This will be a hard job to walk away from.”

Stark has worked for the Land Conservancy for more than 15 years, with the last five and a half years as executive director.

— David Sneed

Cal Poly

Student Community Services will host the eighth-annual Change the Status Quo: A Student’s Role in Shaping Society conference Feb. 26 and 27.

The conference on campus is open to the public.

Change the Status Quo focuses on educating and connecting activists on a variety of issues and bringing social change.

This year’s keynote speech will feature representatives of Invisible Children Inc. (a Southern California-based nonprofit group that makes films about the effects of war on children in Africa), along with a former African child soldier named Jacob.

Cal Poly clubs, professors and students will present workshops highlighting societal inequalities and possible solutions. Topics include “World Hunger,” “SLO for Darfur,” “Child Exploitation in the Workforce,” “The Settlements and the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process,” “Plastic Pollution,” “Internet Media and Activism” and “Body Image and Gender Stereotypes.”

A free kick-off event will be held Feb. 26, and the Feb. 27 activities will cost $10 for students and $20 for nonstudents and will include a T-shirt and organic breakfast and lunch.

For more information, send an e-mail to changethestatusquo@gmail.com or visit http://studentlife.calpoly.edu/scs/quo.

— Nick Wilson