SLO County Roundup

Paso Robles

The cause of death for the 20-year-old woman found dead in Sherwood Park early Sunday morning is not expected to be released for at least another two weeks.

A preliminary autopsy on Erica Lopez of Paso Robles was scheduled for Tuesday, authorities said, but the San Luis Obispo County coroner won’t release the results until the toxicology report comes in.

That could take at least two weeks, officials said.

The coroner won’t release preliminary results because they are not as accurate as releasing them with toxicology results, according to authorities.

There wasn’t any apparent trauma to the body, Paso Robles police Capt. Robert Burton said.

The Paso Robles Police Department is working in conjunction with the county District Attorney’s Office, coroner and crime lab to determine the circumstances of Lopez’s death.

Those with information regarding the incident are encouraged to contact the Paso Robles Police Department’s detective bureau at 237-6464.

— Tonya Strickland

SLO County

The county has named Jason Giffen, land use chief for San Diego County, as its new director of Planning and Building.

County Counsel Warren Jensen made the announcement Tuesday afternoon after an executive session.

Giffen was one of four finalists. The others were Kami Griffin, acting director; Chuck Stevenson, manager of the county’s Long Range Planning Division; and Greg Fuz, planning director for the city of Pleasant Hill in the Bay Area.

The job became vacant in June 2009 when Vic Holanda resigned.

Jensen said the county is negotiating a contract with Giffen, who could be onboard within 45 days.

The salary range is $125,500 to $152,500.

— Bob Cuddy

South County

Arroyo Grande police officials are looking for teens and young adults in the South County who are interested in learning more about police work through the department’s Explorer program.

Explorer Post 542 is allied with the Boy Scouts of America’s “Learning for Life” program. It is designed to give participants an opportunity to serve their community, build self-esteem and gain a better understanding of law enforcement.

The program currently has fewer than six active members, police Cmdr. John Hough said.

South County residents between the ages of 14 and 20 can submit an application and participate in an oral interview with current program advisers.

Candidates younger than 18 years of age must have parental permission to join the program. Successful candidates will undergo a brief background and criminal history check and have the option to attend a two-week academy at Righetti High School in Santa Maria, held annually in July.

Candidates must have at least a 2.0 grade-point average and no excessive absences at school to apply for and remain a member of the Explorer Post program.

Explorer members can participate in crowd and traffic control at community events, go on patrol ride-alongs, help out at the police department’s front desk, and provide help in emergency situations. Explorer Post 542 members also participate in the annual Central Coast Explorer Competition against more than 40 other Explorer posts from California, Arizona and Nevada.

Anyone interested in participating can call officer Jeremy Burns at 473-5100.

— Cynthia Lambert


The Tribune is seeking a volunteer weather watcher for the community of Templeton.

If you are currently keeping track of temperatures and rainfall for your area and wouldn’t mind sharing that information with The Tribune, please call Sharon Morem at 781-7937.

— Tribune staff report