The Cambrian

In Brief: Highway 1 to Big Sur closed nights; NCAC rewords representation; Pewter Plough faces sprinkler mandate

LaVerne Fisher with a ‘Carrier Watch’ label.
LaVerne Fisher with a ‘Carrier Watch’ label. CAMBRIAN PHOTO BY BERT ETLING

Hwy. 1 closed every night until fix done

H ighway 1 will remain open during the day at the south end of Big Sur, Caltrans announced Monday, Jan. 25. After a series of storms last week, Caltrans had said the road would be completely closed for two to three weeks.

The highway will close daily at 5 p.m. and reopen at 8 a.m. about 9 miles north of Ragged Point Inn and 3 miles south of Gorda.

Flaggers will control one-way traffic from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as crews work to fix a section of fill washed out by heavy surf. Cambria’s Winsor Construction is the contractor on the emergency job.

Work on a drain under the highway was already underway; that work is expected to be finished sometime in February.

Caltrans suggests that, before driving the coast, motorists call a new hotline to check traffic information on Big Sur from Cambria to Carmel. The toll-free number is (888) 836-0866.

Road information is also available online at gov/dist05/road_infor mation. htm.

—Kathe Tanner and Bert Etling

NCAC retooling reps, elections

A proposal to rework selection and representation on the North Coast Advisory Council is scheduled for discussion today, Jan. 28, in Cambria after an earlier meeting was cancelled due to a power outage.

The council currently has slots for 24 members — eight geographical district and four interest groups (Latino, environmental, business and agriculture), plus alternate representatives for every seat.

At times, the council has found it dif ficult to fill slots, so a proposal has been made to reduce the number of positions to nine regular members and three alternates, for a total of 12 positions.

“ We’re not trying to limit representation, we’re trying to broaden representation,” said council Chairman Amanda Rice. “The idea is to allow people who would like to volunteer a better opportunity to do so.”

In the last election, she said, there were five candidates running in one district and only one in another. The proposal would only retain three districts: Cambria (with up to seven representatives), San Simeon and one for the rural area outside the communities.

The proposal also tries to make it easier for voters to participate, as votes cast in recent elections have been few.

No permanent modifications would be made before the council’s Feb. 17 meeting.

The council has no decision- making authority. According to its Web site,,it provides a forum for citizen education, involvement, and discussion on issues that pertain to the North Coast area. It offers recommendations to county staff and 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Rabobank, 1070 Main St., Cambria. —Kathe Tanner and Bert Etling

Signups underway for ‘Carrier Watch’

Organizers of a new alert system in Cambria say it could save some seniors’ lives. “Carrier Watch” is designed to serve as a safety net in case someone who lives alone may have become incapacitated and is unable to call for help.

With the cooperation of Cambria’s Anonymous Neighbors, the Cambria Post Office and local emergency responders, stickers are now available to let postal carriers know residents are taking part in the free program.

The small magnetic labels are placed inside freestanding mailboxes. If the mail accumulates, the postal carrier will alert Cambria’s Anonymous Neighbor member LaVerne Fisher, who will follow up to be sure the resident is O.K.

“There are a couple people in Cambria in the last year,” Fisher said, “ who possibly could have been saved.”

For more information or to enroll in the program, call Fisher at 927-5646. —Bert Etling

Without sprinklers, it’s curtains for Plough

A popular local theater can finish the run of its current play, but must install a $32,000 fire-sprinkler system before staging another, fire safety officials have declared.

Fire Chief Mark Miller notified Pewter Plough Playhouse management Monday, Jan. 25, by letter that he cannot extend the deadline

past Feb. 28. Miller said that Art Trinidade, the county’s chief code-enforcement officer, and Francis “Sonny” Solich, California’s deputy state fire marshal, agree with the decision.

Work has been underway since 2006 to bring the playhouse at 824 Main St. up to code. But the sprinkler system has been on hold because it’s expensive.

The nonprofit playhouse’s board is launching a major fundraising campaign to pay for the equipment and other costs. Members hope to find a way to keep the theater open during the installation.

During the remaining performances of “Finishing Touches,” the playhouse must pay $90 a night for a firefighter with a radio to be posted inside the hall.

For tickets or details about the theater, go to

—Kathe Tanner

AARP offering free tax filing assistance

The nation’s largest, all volunteer tax-preparation service has upgraded its ability to prepare free income- tax returns for North Coast seniors. The AARP Tax Aide program, which has prepared senior- citizens’ returns in Cambria for at least two decades, also has new phone numbers for making appointments.

Starting Feb. 10 in Cambria, AARP will have two volunteers preparing returns on Wednesdays at Rabobank, 1070 Main St. One is a former CPA, and the other has prepared tax returns for more than 30 years, according to Jerry Winkenbach, local AARP Tax Aide representative.

Other volunteers will be on call to help during peak periods. Appointments are required, but increased staffing should help eliminate long waits, Winkenbach said.

To reserve time, call 354-1157 or 704-2031 (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.). The free service ends in Cambria on April 7.

The program provides the service for seniors 60 and older with uncomplicated financial portfolios and, as time permits, for others with an annual income of $49,000 or less.

There is no income limit for senior clients. Some seniors still should consult a tax professional, including those with income from rental property, businesses, partnerships,

trusts or farming; those with high income or unusually complex tax situations; and those needing tax and estate-planning advice.

For details, go to —Kathe Tanner

Coast senior heads to Washington, D.C.

Danielle Miller, a Coast Union High School senior, soon will head to Washington, D.C., and a leadership conference that will put her in touch with national policy makers.

Miller, who wants to be a doctor or nurse, qualified to go by being an “outstanding student and future leader in her school and community,” according to the confirmation letter from the National Young Leaders Conference. She’s been bussing tables at the Old Stone Station restaurant in Cambria to pay the $1,700 tuition and other costs.

Friends are seeking donations to help the Associated Student Body’s executive president live her dream March 23 through 28.

“I’m so excited,” she told The Cambrian, and anxious to “meet new people who enjoy doing the same things I do … learning more about Congress, meeting important people and educating myself about the political world.”

Conference participants role play, problem solve, go to a formal ball and meet with Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, lobbyists, journalists and academicians.

Donations to help support Miller’s trip may be made at any branch of Bank of America to the savings account of

Danielle Miller. According to conference organizers, air miles can also be donated.

For details on the conference, go to

—Kathe Tanner

Little League signups set for this Saturday

Central Coast Little League is holding registration signups and assessments for the 2010 baseball season from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 30, Coast Union High School, 2950 Santa Rosa Creek Road.

The registration fee is $90. Boys and girls, ages 7 through 14, are welcome to come and participate. Registrants should bring a parent or

guardian, birth certificate, proof of residency, medical insurance information — and a glove.

Also, umpires are needed for the upcoming little league and youth softball season. Call Chris at 927-4387 for details.

The season runs from mid-March to mid-June. There are some weekday games, but most games are on Saturdays.

— Staff

Cambria meeting to rate Obama

The Democratic Club of Cambria and The North Coast will hold its next meeting at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, in the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St., Cambria.

Cambrian Steve Figler will moderate a discussion of President Obama’s first year in office. Those attending are encouraged to bring reliable information to the meeting which will focus on President Obama’s State of the Union address and information gathered from the news media and any other sources those present deem worthy of bringing to the evening's discussion about what the President has accomplished during this first year, what needs to be more dilligently worked on and what has or has not been successful.

The club looks forward to welcoming everyone interested. For details, call Valerie Bentz at 924-1232.

— Staff

CUHS seniors, parents to meet

Coast Union High School seniors and their parents are encouraged to attend an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1, at the school’s library. The meeting’s topic is requirements and expectations during the next few months and for graduation.

Seniors are asked to bring a baby picture for the ceremony’s slide show, if they haven’t already provided one.

—Kathe Tanner