News Briefs 12-16-2021

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.

December 16, 2021

Sheriff Warns of  New Scam

The County Sheriff’s Office is warning citizens about a phone scam making the rounds and using the name of the Sheriff’s Department.

“Residents,” said a news release, “have reported being contacted by someone claiming to be a Sergeant with the Sheriff’s Office. The caller indicates the resident can clear their case by purchasing gift cards and providing the gift card numbers to the caller.”

For obvious reasons, the calls are bogus. “We want to caution residents that this is a scam,” the release goes on. “The Sheriff’s Office reminds you that it is not our practice to contact residents by phone regarding these matters. Deputy Sheriff’s will never request money or gift cards in lieu of bail.”

If readers get one of these scam calls, they are encouraged to report it to your local police or call the Sheriff’s Office at 805-781-4550. “We encourage you to please inform your family and friends about this scam so they can be prepared in the event they receive a call like this.”

MB Soars in Christmas Bird Count 

Morro Bay ranked in the top of the Audubon Society’s stat collectors for the 121st Christmas Bird Count period. 

Counts with more than 100 participants include Morro Bay, San Diego, Palo Alto, Rancho Santa Fe, Western Sonoma County, and San Francisco, topped off by Santa Barbara’s 253 participants.  For numbers of species, counts with 200 or more include Morro Bay Rancho, Sante Fe with San Diego the leader with 219. Overall numbers of species were average for most counts.

The state saw 97 counts completed with a total of 358 species recorded (including documented rare species) plus four only seen during count week. Thirty-six counts were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. 

For a detailed listing of birds counted throughout the California, go to

Crossing Safely Improvement in Cayucos

A project to increase safety for the traveling public and pedestrians is underway 

The County of San Luis Obispo Department of Public Works has started work on new flashing crosswalk lights, also known as beacon systems, on crosswalks in Avila Beach, Cayucos, and Nipomo.

Cayucos will see construction at the North Ocean Avenue at the mid-block crosswalk between Cayucos Drive and D Street. It includes new concrete bulb-outs with curb ramps.

Temporary traffic control measures including closed shoulders, lane shifts and one-way controlled traffic with flagging may be required between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Motorists are advised to adjust their travel plans and consider alternative routes. Please refer to the attached maps for the project locations.

Souza Construction of San Luis Obispo, CA was awarded the contract for $281,087 via funding through the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Safety Improvement Program, and County Road Fund.

In Avila the crosswalk will be installed on Ontario Road at Bob Jones Bike Trail Crossing and in Nipomo at Tefft Street at Dana Elementary.

Depending on weather conditions, all work is expected to conclude by April 2022.

For more information, contact Jimmy Tomac at (805) 781-4476.

Protect Against Virus Over Winter

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been identified in California, and local health officials encourage San Luis Obispo County residents to strengthen their protection against a potential winter surge.  

“It’s a matter of time before Omicron reaches our community and while this is not cause for panic, it is cause for action,” said County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein in a news release. “There’s much we don’t yet know about it but we do know how to protect ourselves. While breakthrough cases are possible, it’s very likely that vaccines will provide protection against this variant. While it’s natural to feel frustrated and concerned at the news of a new variant at this unstable time, I want to remind our community that we are not powerless. With Delta, we are already facing a variant that spreads more quickly than the virus that filled our hospitals last winter. We have tools we didn’t have then: life-saving vaccines and the hard-earned knowledge and tools to make this winter different.” 

With any strain of COVID-19, winter brings the potential for a surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths as colder weather drives more activities indoors, holidays inspire more gatherings, and other viruses like flu put pressure on the healthcare system.  

Vaccines remain the most effective tool against COVID-19 and simple precautions like frequent handwashing and staying home when sick are also key, officials say. Masking continues to offer a strong layer of protection and is still required in indoor public places in SLO County. 

Vaccines—both boosters and primary series—are available at no cost at pharmacies, doctors’ offices, Public Health Department clinics, and mobile clinics countywide. To schedule an appointment, visit or, or call (833) 422-4255.  

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