County 11-6

Santa Barbara County Fire Chief John Scherrei, who is retiring early next year, was commended by the Board of Supervisors for his nine years of service in an emotional goodbye on 11/4. He passed the chief’s helmet to Deputy Chief Tom Franklin, who will serve in the interim while the county searches for a new fire chief. Scherrei, who led the county’s Fire Department through the Gap and Zaca fires, as well as 9/11, said, “We worked good under difficult situations.”

The U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing on 10/24 successfully launched a Boeing Delta II rocket carrying an Italian dual-use satellite. The Thales Alenia-Space COSMO-Skymed 3 satellite-used for both civilian and military applications-launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base as part of an end-to-end Earth observation system consisting of four satellites and several ground stations.

The end of the first quarter of the 2008-2009 fiscal year showed Santa Barbara County down almost $5 million. Seven departments had negative variances from anticipated spending, including the Fire Department, whose negative variance was due to the Gap Fire. The county is waiting to be reimbursed by the state and federal governments. Other departments also are waiting on reimbursements. The Planning and Development Department is down $1.1 million.

Santa Barbara County officials have begun plans to engage the public and see if potential tax measures could fund the construction of a North County jail. The state is slated to pay for roughly $66 million of the $80 million jail, but the county must fund the remainder. The county also must pay $13 million annually to run the jail. Sheriff Bill Brown asked supervisors to consider using revenue from a new oil drilling project to help fund jail needs.