The Cambrian

InBrief: Hwy. 1 closed Sunday; Cambrians caught in volcano fallout; Leads needed in middle school thefts; Major trims made to tree-cutting plan

Hwy. 1 closed Sunday

Highway 1 through Big Sur will be closed to traffic Sunday morning for the Big Sur International Marathon. Nearly 13,000 runners are expected to take part in a range of events, including about 4,600 in the full 26.2-mile marathon.

The race begins at Big Sur Station, just south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and heads north to Carmel.

Northbound traffic will be stopped starting at 6:15 a.m. Sunday; southbound traffic will be stopped south of Carmel Highlands starting at 4 a.m.

The highway is scheduled to reopen at 1 p.m. —Bert Etling

Cambrians caught in volcano’s fallout

S everal Cambrians had travel plans blown sky-high by ash from an Icelandic volcano that canceled nearly all European flights Thursday through Monday, April 15 to 19.

On Thursday, April 15, Elaine Beckham of Cambria was on her way to attend a wedding in England on Sunday, but got no further than Chicago before finding out her overseas flight had been scrubbed.

She flew back to California the next day after it was clear she wouldn’t make it to the wedding. “We are all disappointed that I won’t be there,” she wrote in an email, “but that’s how it is.”

Bruce and Jane Howard and their son Tommy, 13, were supposed to leave Saturday afternoon from Los Angeles for Nigeria as part of a group of 30 Rotarians headed to Nigeria to give polio vaccinations. Since the flight was routed through Amsterdam, they, too, were out of luck.

Since they were packed and had the time off, they just headed for Baja California instead, Bruce Howard said in a phone call Monday to The Cambrian.

The Rotary International effort to help immunize 85 million children will go on without them, he added.

John O’Regan of San Simeon Travel said Monday that all of his agency’s travelers were, as yet, unaffected, though there’s some concern about trips scheduled for next week.

“We have an African Safari group of 18 scheduled to fly via Heathrow from the 27th of April,” he wrote in an email. ” They have all been updated as to the current situation. We are confident that all will fly as planned and we already have plan B in place should flight plans change once again. ”

—Bert Etling

Leads needed in middle school thefts

For most of this school year, some items have been disappearing from Mark Kniffen’s classroom at Santa Lucia Middle School, 2850 Schoolhouse Lane.

The thefts, which include two donation funds, were reported to Susy Corriea, Sheriff’s deputy and school resource officer, on April 14.

Among items stolen from approximately October through April were a laptop computer, Mario Kart game disk for a Wii console, a black iPod shuffle and about $400 in cash.

Of that, “$200 was money the kids had raised for the ‘Pennies for Patients’ project and about $190 they raised for victims of the Haitian earthquake,” Corriea said Tuesday, April 21.

She has interviewed students, teachers and others, and followed up on leads, but has no suspects at this time. “The kids are very upset. They feel like they've been victimized.”

Corriea said she’d welcome tips from the community. People can contact her at any of the Cambria schools or call the watch commander at 781-4553 or call the Crime Stoppers hotline anonymously at 549-STOP (7867). —Kathe Tanner

Major trims made to tree-cutting plan

Only 70, not 344, eucalyptus trees will be cut down on Fiscalini Ranch Preserve if the agency that’s paying for the work agrees to the change.

That’s what Ben Boer, resource manager for the Cambria Community Services District, was saying after an outcry over the plan to cut down the stately but non-native trees that some defend as being part of Cambria’s landscape, but others call toxic.

Boer told the Cambria Forest Committee April 14 that he and Meredith Hardy of the California Conservation Corps have submitted a smaller eucalyptus removal and native-species planting program to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration Fisheries Service (NOAA), which is using federal economic stimulus funds to pay for the work.

Richard Hawley, the committee’s vice chairman, said the reduced cutting plan “would be a really good demonstration project.” Cambria resident Catherine Ryan Hyde said, “It’s a huge step in the right direction.”

The modified plan would be to remove eucalyptus on about half an acre (400 feet by 50 feet) along a curve of Santa Rosa Creek west of Highway 1, and replant immediately with native species.

The Corps would administer the project and its crews will do much of the work, but likely will need to hire a contractor to remove the largest specimens.

Boer is expected to give a report on the updated plans at a meeting of the Cambria Community Services District board beginning at 12:30 p.m. today, April 22, at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.

Boer said they expect NOAA’s decision on the reduced plan within a few weeks.

—Kathe Tanner

Three sentenced in sculpture thefts

Three Cambria residents pleaded guilty April 13 to 16 separate charges, including grand theft and possession of stolen property, according to Sheriff’s Cmdr. Ben Hall.

The charges stemmed from thefts in February and March of more than $40,000 worth of bronze and brass sculptures, mostly from yards and gardens of Cambrians.

Hall said James Armstrong was sentenced to serve four years in state prison. Shelly Renee Davis and Gustavo de Jesus Urbina were sentenced to serve a year in county jail and to pay restitution to victims.

The thieves had dismantled the statues, valued from $250 to $9,000 each, and redeemed them for scrap-metal value. —Kathe Tanner

Paving could start next week — maybe

Electronic road-work signs in Cambria’s West Village have had more dates on them than a perpetual calendar.

The $266,000 county Public Works project to repave Main Street in West Village now is tentatively scheduled to start on Monday, April 26, or Tuesday, April 27, but if more rain is predicted, the work may be delayed yet again.

Intermittent rainstorms and busy tourist seasons repeatedly have delayed the project’s start date, starting last summer.

The work is expected to produce some traffic delays and detours.

The job requires two days of grinding on the present road surface from Cornwall Street to the Windsor Boulevard/Charing Lane intersection.

Three days of repaving would follow, with work done from approximately 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Finish work is estimated to take two additional weeks.

—Kathe Tanner

Polenta meal aids historic restoration

For about six hours on Sunday, May 2, history and socializing will be on the menu alongside traditional polenta and stew during the Old Santa Rosa Chapel and Cemetery Committee’s annual fundraiser dinner, to be served from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Santa Rosa Parish Hall, 1174 Main St.

The Rev. Mark Stetz will say a special mass in the chapel, 2353 Main St., at 11 a.m.

The tiny, white 1871 chapel, high on the hill at 2353 Main St., was Cambria’s first church. It seats 80 people. People can rent it for weddings, memorials, baptisms, funerals and other events.

Adults pay $15; children eat for $5. Buy tickets at the Cambria Chamber of Commerce, 767 Main St., or at the door.

The meal includes beef or chicken stew, salad and a classic Swiss bread pudding called torta. Adults choose from coffee or wine; youngsters drink raspberry lemonade.

For details, call the chapel at 927-1175 or e-mail

This year’s fundraiser will help restore a damaged “Our Blessed Mother Mary” statue (adjacent to the chapel’s altar) and will help pay off a $32,000 reroofing bill.

Donation checks made out to Old Santa Rosa Chapel can be sent to P.O. Box 316, Cambria CA 93428.

—Kathe Tanner

May Day fest set at Historical Museum

North Coast residents and visitors are to gather together outside the Cambria Historical Museum from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 1, honoring festivities of times gone by and celebrating the arrival of spring and its flowers.

The Spring Festival may evoke memories of annual May Day activities originally hosted in the 1930s by the Cambria Women’s Athletic Club, as well as garden parties put on by various horticultural clubs.

Activities at the modern-day festival of spring are expected to include a flower show, Hearst Castle garden display and a garden party with food and entertainment. The museum will be open.

Lindy Pedotti is to teach children of all ages how to make hats bedecked with ribbons and artificial flowers, nests, fruits, vegetables and even birds.

More than 100 rosebushes propagated from Hearst Castle heritage roses will be available for purchase, along with other plants raised from historic stock.

Tea-party foods to buy will include tiny tea sandwiches, scones, cupcakes, cookies, berries, lemonade and iced tea.

A mini-market will include produce and goods from some area farmers and other vendors, including Hearst Beef, along with jewelry, gourds, flowers, photos and more.

“Mary McDonald of the Castle grounds-keeping department will bringing heritage plants, flowers and some old tools from William Randolph Hearst’s Day,” said organizer Susan McDonald, “along with photos of the gardens way back then.”

Money raised at the Spring Festival will help fund museum operations. For details, call 927-2871. —Kathe Tanner

Sherick celebration set for May 1

A celebration of life party for John and Margaret Sherick will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 1, the Sherick family has announced.

Margaret Sherick, 81, died April 3. John Sherick, 87, died April 21, 2008.

The family would like all of John and Margaret Sherick’s friends to come to their home at 526 Lancaster St. on Park Hill. Food will be furnished.

—Bert Etling