Construction on the safety barrier for the Cold Spring Canyon Bridge was recently completed. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the effort to get this lifesaving project underway and seen through to the end.

It’s a truly beautiful thing.

On May 31, Judge Thomas Anderle requested that steps be taken to make possible the resumption of construction on the barrier at the Cold Spring Arch Bridge. This is great news! Hopefully we will soon see the installation of this important safety measure resume unimpeded. I’ll be sure to let you know when the project gets back on track. Keep your fingers crossed!

You can read the ruling [the analysis at the end is the salient part] here.

Thursday, March 17 at 8:30am

Board of Supervisor’s Hearing Room
511 East Lakeside Parkway
Santa Maria, CA

The agenda for the meeting can be found here.

Construction on the bridge barrier was halted on July 13 of this year, less than one month after it began. The judge who delivered the decision to suspend construction stated that Caltrans needed to receive more community feedback about the environmental impact of the project before it could be permitted to move forward. On July 16, three days after construction was suspended, another man died after having jumped from the bridge. The barrier was due to be completed this past September.

There will be a public hearing on the environmental impact of the barrier in January, the details are as follows:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 from 5:30 to 7:30

San Marcos High School cafeteria
4750 Hollister Avenue
Santa Barbara, CA 93110

What you can do
To add your voice of support and to help move the construction of the barrier forward you can do the following things:

  • Review the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report which is currently available for download in pdf form on the Cold Spring Canyon Bridge project page on the Caltrans website.
  • Submit your comments on the report via email to Matt Fowler at matt_c_fowler@dot.ca.gov or via regular mail to the following address:
      50 Higuera Street
      San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
      Attn: Matt Fowler, Senior Environmental Planner

    Written comments must be submitted by January 24, 2011.

  • Attend the meeting on January 5. The public is encouraged to attend and Matt’s mother, Karen, will be there in support of construction of the barrier. Those of us who can’t be there in person will be there with her in spirit.

If you haven’t signed the petition in favor of the barrier, please do. And also be sure to visit my sister’s website stopthetragedy.org for updates on the Cold Spring Arch Bridge and information about safety barriers and suicide prevention.

Students and teachers at Cuesta College have designed and created an amazing garden in Matt’s memory on the Cuesta College campus. It’s a peaceful spot with views of the grassy landscape that abuts the college.

Many thanks to everyone who was involved with this project. It is a meaningful and poignant tribute to Matt. I know he would have loved it.

The Matthew Aydelott Endowment for Youth has been established as a scholarship fund through the Cuesta College Foundation. Anyone who would like to donate to this fund can do so both online and by mail. Instructions for doing so can be found on the Scholarship Endowment page of the Foundation for California Community Colleges website. To direct your donation to the fund, put “Cuesta College: Matthew Aydelott Endowment for Youth” as the designation on the mail-in form, and under “Gift Tribute” on the online form, select “Cuesta College” from the “Designate funds for a specific community college” drop-down menu, and type “For the Matthew Aydelott Endowment for Youth” in the “Further Information or comments for designating your gift” text box.

Thanks so much to anyone who makes a donation in Matt’s memory!

Hello Again

This site isn’t about me so I’m going to be as brief as I can possibly be about this. It’s been almost two years since I last posted something to the site and I want to ask for everyone’s forgiveness and understanding for this long lapse. My main worry is that anyone might think that my having pulled away from the site meant somehow that Matt wasn’t on my mind. On the contrary, I have thought about him every single day since the day that he died, and although in retrospect I am so glad that the site is here, in the months following his death, being responsible for the site made it impossible for me to have enough space to let my emotions rest. I always felt that I should be doing something here, or working on something that could be added soon, and I think that this made it difficult for me to properly mourn him. It quickly became too painful for me to continue to actively work on the site and I eventually decided that I needed to take some time off to give myself the ability to let my feelings chart their own course. It took far longer than I ever would have imagined for me to feel strong enough to come back and contribute more, but I finally feel like I’m ready. It’s still painful, I can’t imagine that it ever won’t be, but I finally feel that it’s at least manageable.

If anyone else has had similar pain over sharing their memories of Matt, please know that it’s never too late for you to contribute. There will always be this place where we can come to let each other know how we are dealing with his loss and talk about the experiences we had with him while he was still with us. And if you don’t feel that you can talk about your feelings publicly, you can always contact me directly. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, I will always welcome contact from anyone who knew Matt.

I remember, after my mother told me that Matt was gone, saying over and over again, “Mom, I want him back. I just want him back.” Over two years have passed, and I know at this point that there will never be a day that goes by when I won’t feel this way. The same is true for all of us who knew and loved him, we will all always want him back with us. He was the most precious, precious gem.

I would like to take this time to thank Cuesta College staff and faculty especially Toni Soomer, Matthew Green and Peppe Rose for all the support they have shown over the past few weeks.

I have been trying to sit down and put my thoughts together for days now…the only one thing that has been coming back to me is, Matt was my friend. Not writing this was my way of not defining my friend’s passing, that putting it down in black and white would make it real to me and then my friend would be gone, but I guess he will never leave me…he is now a part of me and part of who I am.

Eight years ago when I first started teaching here at Cuesta, I made a presentation to the CalWORKs staff about a class I was teaching. After the meeting, this very tall young man dressed in a suit came up to me and said, “Hey, I’m Matt Aydelott, we need to talk. I’m the CalWORKs Job Developer and I have an idea for a class”. Well, for the next year and a half we ran into each other at meetings and the opening day ceremony…he would always say, “I’ll call you and we’ll have a drink”… finally one day we met crossing campus and I nailed him down to a day and time. If you have never had to nail Matt down to a time or place to meet…a year and a half was about right in Matt time.

From that first meeting – which he was late to – til our last meeting the Friday before his death – which he was late to – Matt and I became colleagues and friends. We had a staff meeting at a bar in town once a week or so… my wife called it networking…it was a standing joke with everyone that knows me that my boss and I would go to Blue once a week and discuss work. Yes, I would introduce Matt as my boss and every time I did it he would roll his eyes at me and tell people, “No, I am not his boss” and then he would go into several minutes of explaining what he did at Cuesta College, which he hated doing because he had to talk about himself and the program. He was more comfortable talking about music and his favorite band…for those of you who did not have the pleasure of hearing him go on and on about U2, well, there are those of us here today that had that experience and would be glad to share that with you, I am sure.

No, Matt was not my boss, he was my friend. And I will miss drinking with my friend…one of the most interesting, irreverent, funny, cool guys I have known.

Yes, Matt will always be my friend.

Toni Sommer, Dean of Workforce and Economic Development at Cuesta College, shared Matt’s self-evaluation of his Faculty position as the instructor of Introduction to Workplace Readiness, Fall 2005. The following content is the actual text from Matt’s self-evaluation.

  1. Professional growth in the classroom is important to me both as an instructor and the coordinator of the Introduction to Workplace Readiness Program. We have developed a number of new strategies and methods this semester, included but not limited to: classroom materials and activities, creative instructional techniques, additional guest speakers, a new text (California Career Planning Guide), and an overall effort to raise the level of our course curriculum. We have begun to use a variety of newer, more sophisticated career assessment tools, we are continually developing pre- and post-class academic assessments for our students, and we are implementing more web-based activities as available. Our student population can be a difficult group to engage, so a primary concern is developing innovative ways to teach our material. To this end, we continue to update the curriculum with interesting, creative activities.

    In my classroom, I am using the new text, I have scheduled unique guest speakers, and I have integrated a number of new career assessment tools. Unfortunately, San Luis Obispo High School does not have enough computer access to allow us a true web-based curriculum, but I have been able to translate many web activities into classroom and homework assignments.

  2. I feel that organization and preparedness are both strengths that relate directly to my job performance; the first piece of advice I received upon taking this position was to always be overly prepared for every class. In each class session, we certainly have more than enough to do. I also feel able to establish a good rapport with my students, and relatively adept at teaching our specific curriculum in an engaging manner. I want my students to think critically about the material; I feel that I am successful in this endeavor.

  3. Foremost, I’m concerned with continuing to grow the curriculum. I want each instructor – myself included – to keep raising the academic bar for the program. Again, new materials, activities and assignments are ongoing goals, and creative ideas for engaging our population is the basis for our staff meetings. I also feel that I’m just learning the craft of teaching, while I do feel comfortable (and engaging) in the classroom, much of my personal professional development relates to strategies for better ways to teach this class to our students.

  4. I have researched a great amount of published and web-based material to improve our curriculum, and we continue to implement the best of what we find. Our resources have increased exponentially every semester, and we plan to continue the trend. I’ve also (as noted earlier) spent time researching teaching strategies and techniques in an effort to improve my instructional aptitude.

  5. Introduction to Workplace Readiness itself provides a great service to outside community, and I handle most of the community outreach related to the program. I recruit the students, I am the liaison for the high schools and school districts partnered with the College for these classes, and I work with a variety of community agencies to facilitate our continued success. I am also the primary public relations liaison for our program. (This may be an answer for the evaluation of my “other job,” but I think it applies here.)

  6. Believe it or not, I feel that I have a great relationship with my colleagues. All of the instructors and classroom assistants in the program are outstanding, dedicated educators and my experience teaching has given me a newfound respect for their hard work and talent. I feel lucky to be part of a great team.

There are so many things I want to say and there are even more things I wish I could have said to Matt before he left us.

First and foremost, I want to say thank you. Thank you so much for everything. Thank you for your help, support, encouragement, advice, input and your crazy antics that left us all bewildered.

Thank you for sharing your time, your effort, your passion. Thank you for doing things you might not have even realized you had done. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. Thank you for listening. Thank you for helping us do the things we never imagined we were capable of, thank you for watching us accomplish those things with a smile on your face to let us know we totally owned it.

Another thing I would like to say is that we are going to miss you so much and I’m sad you had to leave us this way.

You had such an impact on so many people’s lives, and I hope you knew that you were an inspiration to me and probably many others, to go out there and do something, be something, be someone, be heard. You were always the one to throw a little joke after one of my presentations to let me know it went as well as I had hoped it would, and make me feel like I could do it again in a heartbeat.

You were one of those people that had a certain “something” about them, and no one knew what it was, it was just…there.

I loved when you would sit in on our meetings, because it was so comfortable. I didn’t have the feeling I was being scrutinized, watched from behind glass, being graded on everything I did. I knew you were really interested in hearing what we had to say and I felt like you were actually interested in participating and giving us your input and your feedback.

I can’t stress enough what a big impact you had on all of us and I hope you knew what a big role you played in all our lives.

You left us some big shoes to fill and for every presentation I do, every change I make, every person I impact, I will always remember you and I will always cherish the time you spent with us.

I really hope you knew how much you meant to all of us, and I hope you know wherever you are that you will always have a place in our hearts.

You can never be replaced but you will always be remembered.

Note: Julie also told a story about a how she would decorate Matt’s name cards at meetings with pink unicorns and how this escalated until, while at a conference together, Julie got hold of Matt’s conference pass and decorated it more elaborately than any of his other name tags. When Matt found his pass, he put it around his neck, put on a sweatshirt and zipped it up over the pass, undoubtedly while cracking a wry smile. Julie told this story to illustrate what a great sport Matt was, and when she was finished, she gave a small unicorn figurine that she had decorated for Matt to Matt’s mother Karen.