SLO County Roundup

Grover Beach

Residents will see their water rates increase in two phases over the next eight months.

The City Council voted 3-2 to raise the rates 15 percent in August and an additional 15 percent in March. Council members Robert Mires and Debbie Peterson dissented in Tuesday night’s vote.

City officials say the increase is needed in large part to pay for the city’s share of $26 million in upgrades at the Lopez Lake reservoir.

The city, which receives 36 percent of its water supply from the lake east of Arroyo Grande, will pay the county $1.2 million this fiscal year for the upgrades.

Customers who have a 1-inch meter and use 22 units of water in a two-month period would see the bimonthly water portion of the bill increase to $83.06 from $65.30 or by $8.88 a month. When it last met, on June 21, the council had considered a 30 percent increase that would have taken effect this month, plus a 2 percent increase in July 2011. Under that proposal, the rates would have increased to $94, or by $14.35 a month.

But the city had received 71 written protests to the rate hikes. The council then told city staff to come back with a phased approach to the water rates.

The city must borrow about $380,000 from two separate funds to replenish the money in its water fund and meet its obligations.

— Cynthia Lambert

Morro Bay

A Morro Bay surf camp for kids with special needs didn’t win the $100,000 grant offered through a “Today” show special promotion. But it will wind up with an extra $50,000.

Viewers of the NBC morning show were asked to vote for one of four finalists in the What Do You Care About Today contest.

After the voting deadline Tuesday, it was announced that the Bay Area Food Bank, founded in Alabama, would receive the $100,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project. The food bank is providing food to places affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil leak.

Other finalists receiving money include the Gateway Greening program in St. Louis and the Urban Art Works in Seattle.

Project Surf Camp, founded by John Taylor in 2006, provides surf lessons to children with special needs. The camp strives to build confidence, self-esteem and social skills with one-on-one surf instruction in Morro Bay.

Taylor is a special education teacher and former area coordinator for the San Luis Obispo Special Olympics. The camp is in Morro Bay through mid-August.

— Pat Pemberton

San Luis Obispo

An informational meeting for San Luis Obispo voters interested in running for the City Council is set for 5:15 p.m. today.

The city clerk will discuss the election process, nomination process, campaign filing requirements and the city’s campaign regulations.

The meeting will be at City Hall in the council hearing room, 990 Palm St.

For information, call 781-7100 or visit www.slocity.org/cityclerk.

— AnnMarie Cornejo

Arroyo Grande

A 32-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of robbery Monday night after he reportedly pointed a serrated steak knife at two female employees of a Rite Aid store and emptied its cash registers, the Arroyo Grande Police Department announced Wednesday.

The robbery at the drug store at East Grand Avenue and Oak Park Boulevard was reported at 6:52 p.m., police said.

Garth Nogalez, a recent San Diego area resident, ran from the store before officers arrived, according to police.

Officer Shane Day and his police dog, Gregor, soon found Nogalez about a half mile away along Aspen Street, off Poplar Street near South Elm Street and East Grand.

He arrested Nogalez after a short foot chase and a struggle with the dog, police said.

— Cynthia Lambert