Bouquets and Brickbats: Community rallies for Zoo to You

We’re gathering big bouquets of tiger lilies and horse tails for Zoo to You, as well as for the many generous donors and volunteers who helped the nonprofit recover following last year’s devastating fire.

That accidental fire, which started when a piece of electrical equipment overheated, killed several animals and destroyed the group’s main building near Paso Robles.

Since then, nearly $40,000 in donations helped cover replacement of animal enclosures, supplies and equipment.

Also, plans are in the works to build a new, more energy-efficient center to replace the destroyed building, and to add 10 solar huts for animals.

Zoo to You carries out an important mission; it provides a home for rescued animals, and it teaches children about wildlife by conducting presentations in the schools. We’re delighted — but not surprised — that the community rallied to help Zoo to You recover.

SLOCEA’s new hire has some baggage

SLOCEA’s decision to hire Gail Wilcox as a consultant is interesting, to say the least, but will it be worth it in the long run?

Kimm Daniels, SLOCEA general manager, won’t say how much Wilcox is being paid, but she brags that it was a “steal of a deal.” Judging by the vehement objections we’ve heard from some SLOCEA members, however, we wonder if this “steal” was really such a bargain.

Wilcox’s ability to do the job isn’t in doubt, and she certainly knows the inner workings of county government. And while she won’t be involved in contract negotiations, we’re wondering whether her inside knowledge might not give SLOCEA a bit of an advantage at the bargaining table.

But given the heavy baggage Wilcox is carrying around, SLOCEA would have been better off looking at a few more applicants, or even better, doing the work in house. For this questionable hire, SLOCEA leadership gets a brickbat on its resume.

Three strikes and you’re out

Paso Robles police report that 26-year-old Mitchell Aaron Layne of Templeton allegedly broke into the La Mexicana restaurant on 13th Street not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions. On his third trip, Layne was allegedly caught on tape by a video surveillance camera.

Layne — who reportedly admitted to the crimes — earns himself a generous helping of piping-hot brickbats. On second thought, make that three helpings — and a case of indigestion.

County’s sensible move on energy

The county’s decision to hire an energy program coordinator makes sense, especially since the cost for the first two years will be covered by a grant. Also, the county plans to hire for the position internally, meaning this is essentially a reassignment that won’t result in a net increase in staff.

Local communities are facing new mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that’s going to require expertise in this technical area. The county earns a solar-powered, green-built bouquet for finding a way to achieve that at minimal cost.