Santa Paula Times: And the Beat goes On

By Sheryl Hamlin

With every table filled with Santa Paulans enjoying a hosted bar and buffet provided by local merchants, the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce hosted a “Super Mixer” on February 7,2018 at the newly renovated Palazzio Event Center, created and owned by photographer Jose Luis Melgar.

The Crowd

The Buzz

The buzz in the air was “Who is the new owner?”. Many had theories and wishes but it was not until later in the evening that long-time resident and Santa Paula Times writer Peggy Kelly was announced as the new owner. Cheers erupted from the room.

Peggy Kelly reminded the audience that the Santa Paula Times is the “only paper that gives a damn about Santa Paula”. She also said that Don and Debbie had touched everyone’s lives.


Don and Debbie Johnson produced their first issue in January 1993.

First Issue

Don explained that the previous owner rarely visited the offices, but when he did, it was to announce the closing in several days hence. They had to do something quickly. Debbie said it was always Don’s “dream” to run the paper. They bought it with no money. A committed employee sold enough advertising to put out the first issue. In the picture above are Don and Debbie Johnson in 1993 on the cover of the first issue.

With Peggy Kelly as the new owner, Don’s dream will continue said Debbie to the audience.

Santa Paula 2018

Here is Debbie Johnson talking with Stuart Montieth and Dale King and in the second picture Don Johnson looking right at the camera with Kelly Long looking on.

Debbie Johnson 2018


Don Johnson 2018

Heard at the Scene

Dr Ricardo Araiza, principal Isbell Middle School, announced the Teacher of the Year, Jan-Erik Sand. Teacher Sand explained the robotics and 3-D CAD courses he teaches, which incidently, are filled 50-50 boys and girls. These high tech courses are district funded, he said, and are part of the regular curriculum. His wife, who graduated from Santa Paula High School, introduced him to the district when they were in college.

Chief Police McLean, receiving well-deserved high-fives and hugs for his new hires and promotions, told me that violent crime was down 70% in 5 years with many violent criminals behind bars. An article will be forthcoming. Great news.

Chamber CEO Pitluk announced the numerous raffle prizes as well as special awards for the Johnsons.

Not to be outdone, the vivacious team of Butch and Burma Bacelice of Red Hot Salsa provided everyone with a commemorative bottle of Don and Debbie BBQ Sauce, which said Butch, could also work on pasta! Spoken like a true entrepreneur!

Don and Debbie BBQ Sauce

And the Beat Goes On…in Santa Paula

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