News Briefs 10-19-2023

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

October 24, 2023

Cambria Fire Chief Terminated

The Cambria Community Services District ended its employment agreement with Fire Chief Justin Vincent effective Oct. 3.

“This decision comes after the General Manager’s comprehensive review and careful consideration,” said District General Manager Matthew McElhenie in a news release. “The separation results from a detailed examination and investigation of fire department operations while ensuring respect and confidentiality and following relevant laws and guidelines related to employee termination procedures and announcements.”

Vincent took over the top position in November of 2022.

The search for a new fire chief is set to start within the next six months. In the interim period, Captain Michael Burkey will assume the responsibilities “to ensure the seamless operation and readiness of our fire department,” said McElhenie. “This transition period will be challenging, but we are dedicated to maintaining transparency, open communications, and providing uninterrupted and exceptional fire protection services to the community throughout this process. We ask for the community’s support and cooperation as we move forward.”

Poly Real Time Occupancy Rates App

The Kennedy Library Transformation team launched the Waitz mobile app to help increase access to Cal Poly’s study areas and make it easier to track availability of on-campus spaces, during the university’s ongoing library renovation.

The Waitz app allows students and members of the campus community to check real-time occupancy of the study spaces so they can save time and know before they go. 

“This is a great tool that will make it easier for students to navigate campus and access the spaces that they need quickly,” said Mike McCormick, associate vice president of Facilities Management and Development. 

Waitz launched the week of Oct. 9 with limited study structures and will expand throughout the quarter to other existing temporary study locations. 

Using predictive analytics, the app relays the busiest times of day for specific study areas and forecasts how occupied the space will be by the week, day or even hour, letting users know if a study site is potentially busy.

The app has been successfully implemented at other universities across the nation, including: Boston College; Texas State University; University of Wisconsin, Madison; the State University of New York, Brockport; the University of Texas at Dallas; and the University of Central Florida. 

“All information collected by the app goes through a data anonymization process that removes personally identifiable information from data sets and complies with strict privacy regulations,” App providers said. “Occuspace, the parent company of Waitz, adheres to industry-leading best practices to ensure the protection and confidentiality of all information gathered. 

Waitz can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

 Addis’ Multilingual Learners Bill Signed

Assembly Bill 370, also known as the Biliteracy Advancement Act, creating parity in the standards required to obtain the State Seal of Biliteracy, was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom. The bill was authored by Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D- Morro Bay).

 “The State Seal of Biliteracy is an important way for California to recognize the high achievement of multi-lingual learners,” said Addis said. “Students of all language backgrounds who meet high levels of achievement in English and an additional language should have equitable opportunities to earn the State Seal of Biliteracy. I appreciate the Governor’s commitment to uplifting California’s multilingual learners by providing all student with expanded yet rigorous opportunities to achieve the Seal.

“Due to existing disparities in the State Seal of Biliteracy criteria, English language learners are placed at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to earning the Seal. The Biliteracy Advancement Act provides students with more options when testing for English proficiency, creating parity with the current second language testing alternatives and a fair path towards the State Seal of Biliteracy for all students.” The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2024. 

The State Seal of Biliteracy allows for students to showcase their proficiency in multiple languages to potential colleges and employers, as well as giving students a sense of pride in their primary language. AB 370 expands the existing options that students have to prove their proficiency, without sacrificing the rigor required to obtain the State Seal of Biliteracy.

SLO County Turkey Trot Returns

A county-wide favorite way to work up an appetite while helping people in need has returned. On Thanksgiving morning at 8:30 a.m., community members are invited to participate in the SLO County Turkey Trot, presented by the SLO Food Bank and Running Warehouse. 

The event offers two in-person locations: participants can stroll along the picturesque Avila Beach Promenade and Bob Jones Trail or savor the ocean view starting at the Pismo Beach pier. For those unable to attend in person, virtual participation is an option, whether through walking, running, or hiking at a location of their choice or by showing support in spirit.   

Participants will also receive a commemorative event t-shirt and the opportunity to fundraise to support holiday proteins for their neighbors in need.   

“I’m deeply moved to see our community unite annually, actively participating, fundraising, and spreading awareness out of genuine concern for our neighbors,” said CEO, Garret Olson. “The SLO County Turkey Trot exemplifies the power of collective compassion and community strength.” 

The SLO County Turkey Trot isn’t just about a fun morning; it’s about making a positive difference. It brings attention to food insecurity in our community and raises essential funds to provide nourishment and hope to individuals and families during the holiday season. This year, the SLO Food Bank will distribute more than 4,000 turkeys, turkey breasts, and hams, along with hundreds of thousands of pounds of the other nutritious foods needed to create a holiday meal. 

Register now at  

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