SLO County Roundup

Central Coast

It’s official: Republican Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee finished first in the June 22 special primary election held to pick a successor to Abel Maldonado’s vacated state Senate seat. But Blakeslee did not take more than 50 percent of the vote, which means another election will occur Aug. 17.

These results have been known for a few days, and the candidates have been negotiating a time and place for debates. But the Secretary of State’s office did not certify the results until Wednesday.

With all precincts reporting, Blakeslee took 72,248 votes, or 49.40 percent. Democrat John Laird had 61,150 votes, or 41.81 percent. Jim Fitzgerald of Nipomo, who does not belong to a political party, took 8,620 votes, or 5.89 percent. And Libertarian Mark Hinkle of Morgan Hill took 4,241 votes, or 2.90 percent.

All four will be on the Aug. 17 ballot.

The 15th District spans five counties: San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey.

Blakeslee, who won by nearly 11,000 votes district-wide, won by almost 19,000 votes in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, which he represents in the Assembly. Laird, who hails from Santa Cruz, failed to catch up in his home counties of Santa Cruz and Monterey.

The state Senate seat became vacant when Maldonado resigned in May, halfway through his term, to accept his appointment as lieutenant governor by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

— Bob Cuddy

Morro Bay

Environmental group Defenders of Wildlife is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who fatally shot a threatened southern sea otter.

The sea otter was found north of the Morro Strand Campground on June 24. Wildlife authorities investigating the crime believe the otter was either shot at sea or along the shoreline.

Information regarding the illegal killing of sea otters can be directed to special agent Mona Iannelli with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She can be reached by phone at 310-328-1516 ext. 229 or e-mail at mona_iannelli@fws.gov.

Funding for the Defenders of Wildlife’s reward comes from their Endangered Species Reward Fund established in 1998 to bring poachers to justice.

— David Sneed

Big Sur

Limekiln State Park in Big Sur will officially reopen today, State Parks announced.

The park has been allowing people in for about a week. Campsites and day-use parking are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The park features views of the rugged Big Sur coast, redwoods and opportunities to learn the history of the park’s namesake limekilns.

The monthlong Chalk wildland fire marred the park in 2008, damaging its electrical system and destroying much of the vegetation there.

The Limekiln and Hare trails are open for hiking. Campsites located in the redwood area of the campground are available for tent campers and recreational vehicles 24 feet or shorter.

Beach campsites are currently closed during the week because Caltrans will be working on the bridge above them, but people will be allowed on the beach once the equipment is gone and tides are down.

Limekiln State Park is off Highway 1 about 46 miles north of Cambria and 2 miles south of Lucia.

For details, go to www.parks.ca.gov or call 831-667-2403.

— Kathe Tanner

Morro Bay

Dynegy Inc., the Houston-based company that owns the Morro Bay Power Plant, has donated $12,000 to two wildlife rescue organizations based at the plant.

The Marine Mammal Center received $8,000 and Pacific Wildlife Care gets $4,000. The two organizations have wildlife triage centers on the power plant’s property.

The Marine Mammal Center rescues and treats seals and sea lions before sending them to the organization’s veterinary hospital in Sausalito. Pacific Wildlife Care treats oiled and sick seabirds at the facility.

— David Sneed