Category Archives: Featured News

Visit Ventura honored

Visit Ventura has been awarded gold and silver.

Visit Ventura is honored to receive gold and silver awards from Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) in the 61st annual Adrian Awards, the largest and most prestigious global travel marketing competition.

Visit Ventura has been awarded gold for their “Pit-Stop Serenades to Celebrate Awesome Moms” public relations campaign orchestrated in partnership with dude. be nice. The campaign celebrated three moms whose endless support illustrates the community spirit behind Ventura’s sunny disposition, starring a backdrop of three iconic Ventura locations. Families led unknowing moms to pre-staged locations where busloads of well-wishers unloaded in flash mob style to sing moms their favorite songs. With the help of generous partners, moms also received Ventura staycations, reiterating the message that Ventura is the perfect holiday destination. Watch the video here.

Visit Ventura is also honored to receive a silver award for their “Destination Storytelling Through Music” marketing campaign orchestrated in partnership with Sound Off Films and singer/songwriter Haley Grigaitis. Upon finding the song ‘Pierpont’, Visit Ventura sought to partner with the singer/songwriter and a local production team to create a shareable music video featuring Ventura landmarks and cameos of well-known locals. The goal was to add a musical element to Ventura’s brand identity that would resonate with new audiences and develop a stronger sense of identity for existing audiences. Watch the video here.

“Our team is honored to be among the top tourism industry organizations to receive Adrian Awards for travel marketing excellence and ever-grateful to have a board of directors and community partners that trust our vision to bring kooky ideas to life,” said Visit Ventura President & CEO Marlyss Auster.

Out of over 1,100 entries submitted this year, Visit Ventura’s work was judged to be exceptional by expert hospitality, travel, tourism, and media professionals. Judges were asked to evaluate each entry based on its own merit and success in achieving its objectives. At least three judges reviewed each entry.

Kellogg Park Grand Opening & Ribbon-Cutting

Explore the park and all of its new amenities.

Let’s play! The City of Ventura Parks, Recreation & Community Partnerships Department is proud to announce the official Grand Opening and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for Kellogg Park, located at the corner of Kellogg Street and Ventura Avenue, on Saturday, April 14 from 10 am-noon. Opening day festivities include live music, games of cornhole and chess, free snacks and giveaways (while supplies last). Explore the park and all of its new amenities including play and exercise equipment, a walking path, turf slide, public art, and an amphitheater.

Tours of the new Kellogg Park Community Garden will take place during the opening celebration from 10 am-noon. Garden plot rental fees will include raised planter boxes, water, and gardening equipment to grow healthy, organic fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

For more information about the park or grand opening, visit the Kellogg Park website.

To date 7 countries and 49 states responded by providing quilts

Volunteer Staci Brown and Kat Merrick proudly display one of the quilts available for those affected by recent tragedies.

On December 4, 2017 the Thomas Fire and mudslides devastated Ventura and Montecito. Watching this devastation unfold the Ventura Modern Quilt Guild(MQG)

and “superbuzzy” Fabrics & Craft Supplies Store decided to help by creating quilts for those affected. To date 7 countries and 49 states responded by helping in the quilting efforts and over 400 quilts were delivered to the Modern Quilting Guilds headquarters in Ventura.

Seeing the need for help in distributing the quilts to those affected they contacted Kat Merrick Founder of Totally Local VC’s Local Love Project for help.

On Thursday, March 8, the Modern Quilting Guild, Mission San Buena Ventura, The Jewish Federation of Ventura County and Totally Local VC’s Local Love Project hosted a Pop Up Shop to distribute quilts along with other donated houseware items. The event took place in the Parish Hall at the Mission.

Besides the handmade quilts the Jewish Federation donated sheet sets, Totally Local VC’s Local Love Project donated many items as did FOOD Share.

Scott Griffin, Ventura MQG VP and Kelly Stevens, Ventura MQG founding member and owner of superbuzzy, each began projects to bring comfort and loving warmth to the fire and slide victims. As the fire spread northwards, these efforts were coordinated to answer the quilt needs of victims in both Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

When founder Kat Merrick created Totally Local VC ( over 9 years ago she and her team made a solid commitment to our community. When she lost her home in the Thomas Fire her commitment to helping others became even stronger.

She stated “Our goal is to activate members of our community in the aftermath of a traumatic event within Ventura County and the 805 to provide relief and support to those affected by disaster or in a time of need. We work to solve immediate needs for those impacted by either a disaster in our community or those in need as well as provide the necessary items to help our neighbors as they work to restore their lives.”

Arroyo Verde Park reopened

The peaceful green landscape of the park for all to enjoy. Photos by Michael Gordon

Community members visited Arroyo Verde Park on Friday, February 16 to celebrate its partial reopening.

The park, located at Foothill and Day Roads, was closed for approximately 10-weeks to ensure safe conditions for park users and repair damage due to the Thomas Fire and January rain event.

“It is important to us that our community has the opportunity to utilize Arroyo Verde Park again, as quickly and as safely as possible. The reopening of the park is a significant milestone in the City’s recovery efforts and we look forward to restoring the remaining portions of the park over time,” said Tom Martin, Parks Manager. “As we reopen Arroyo Verde Park, please remember to adhere to the signage located throughout the park.”

City crews and contractors worked hard to restore and reopen this highly visited park for the community to enjoy. The work included removing burned debris, tree removal, trail repair and installing mitigation measures for rain events.

Breeze photographer Michael Gordon stated “This is a group of eagles on redwood trees I had not seen before. The fire burned up the trunks, but stopped at the Eagles. This group was hidden by brush until Thomas cleared the brush away.”

Certain areas of the park will be limited as City staff continue cleanup efforts in the fenced off sections: Interpretive Center, pump house, playground, and the burned slopes on both sides of the park.

The park is open daily from daybreak to 5:30pm until further notice; off leash dog park hours are from 6-9 am daily.

The Salvation Army focuses on long term recovery

Volunteers that came from our community to help receive and sort donations for the fire victims.(That’s Silvia all the way on the right end)

Although fully contained the Thomas Fire will have an effect on Ventura County for years to come. In addition to burning more than 300,000 acres, the blaze destroyed over 1,000 structures, including many homes. The Salvation Army has been serving the greatest needs of Ventura County residents affected by the fire since the initial evacuation, and the long term recovery continues today with assessments and financial assistance.

After the emergency shelters scaled down, The Salvation Army began initial recovery support operations in December through a Local Assistance Center. The Salvation Army distributed financial assistance with a total value of $128,490 to 513 households. Since January 8, The Salvation Army has shifted recovery efforts with an eye toward long-term support, including those in Santa Barbara County. As of February 13, eighty-four households have been given financial assistance valued at $68,342. These funds are the result of an assessment provided by The Salvation Army Ventura Corps and Santa Barbara Corps stationed at the Los Angeles County Disaster Recovery Center, set up at the Lake View Terrace Recreation Center.

In addition to this, The Salvation Army has supported clean-up service projects in Montecito, with more than 100 lunches served on February 10 and 11.

Salvation Army Lieutenant Silvia Simoes stated “It was a blessing to see the support from our community during such a difficult time. I had the opportunity to share love and care with so many people in so many ways and we continue to be able to provide help to individuals each day.”
The Salvation Army is asking the public for financial donations, which can be used to meet immediate challenges and specific needs. To donate, go to or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY and donate to fire relief today.


Valley Fever – more prevalent after Thomas Fires?

Dr. Brugman is a leading pulmonologist in Ventura.

by Jennifer Tipton

Native to the San Joaquin Valley (hence the name “Valley Fever”) this airborne fungal infection dates back as far as 1892 and may also be referred to as Desert Fever or Desert Rheumatism.

Valley Fever is due to the coccidioides fungus which enters the body through the respiratory tract when inhaled. The fungus is found in soil and is endemic or limited to certain regions such as Bakersfield or other desert areas along with the San Joaquin Valley.

I asked Dr. Brugman, a leading pulmonologist in Ventura, how the Thomas Fires contributed to the recent outbreaks of Valley Fever and he emphasized that the Santa Ana winds really perpetuated the problem but, “the fires were helpful in aerosolizing the fungus because the chaparral that burned had kept the dust on the ground”. He added, “the low humidity and the winds kicking up the dust are what really get it going”. He’s seen 15 cases of Valley Fever in the last few months where he usually sees 2-3 in a year. “A lot of people are coming in with pneumonia after inhaling the spores from the soil”, he reported.

Diagnostics may include a bronchoscopy where he can see the spores in the lungs and the treatment is most commonly an antifungal medication, some needed for up to 6 months.

The good news, most of the population have been exposed and aren’t even aware of it, while many others may have mild symptoms that usually go away on their own in a week or two. The bad news, the symptoms can progress to pneumonia or worse, disseminated cocci.
According to the C.D.C (Center for Disease Control), Valley Fever causes 15% to nearly 30% of community acquired pneumonias and time from contact until symptoms start is usually 1 to 3 weeks.
Symptoms such as fatigue, fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, sore throat, cough, and even weight loss or chest pain may occur.

If a case of Valley Fever becomes as serious as disseminated cocci, Dr. Brugman refers his patients to the dynamic infectious disease specialist, Dr. Gail Simpson.

Dr.Simpson tells me the organism that causes Valley Fever “is a dimorphic fungus and the spores can live in the soil for years and years until something stirs up the dust and puts it in the air”. She remembers a huge outbreak after the Moorpark fires when “even young, healthy people were in the I.C.U. (Intensive Care Unit) because the smoke causes stuff to sit in the air longer”.

Dr. Simpson reports she has seen a lot of cases since the Northridge earthquake in January 1994, “cocci just wasn’t that common before the earthquake, what happened is a lot of dirt from the cocci belt got redistributed all over the place”.

Valley Fever is not contagious and there is no medication to prevent it. Dr. Brugman’s advice for prevention, “if it’s dusty out, wear a mask, but it can’t be the cheap painter’s mask, it needs to be an N95 to filter out the dirt and particulate”. Good advice for anyone digging through the dirt and ash left by the Thomas Fires!

Museum of Ventura County in the news

The Museum announces the return of its Wearable Art Fashion Show.

The Museum of Ventura County and CAPS Media are coordinating with the Ventura City fire and police departments, county fire and sheriff departments, other agencies and most importantly the Ventura County public to create an historical archive of the most devastating natural tragedy in county history. Throughout the next few months, the Museum and CAPS Media will be gathering stories and digital images as well as physical artifacts to assemble an historical record of the extraordinary sacrifices of fire fighters, law enforcement personnel and other first responders who tirelessly battled the devastating Thomas Fire, and the citizens of Ventura. Both organizations invite the public’s participation and encourage those with a story to tell or a tribute or thank you to share, to submit their stories and digital images to help document our common experience.

“Documentation of the extensive impacts of the Thomas Fire on Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties has taken immediate precedence over our regular museum programs and activities,” said Denise Sindelar, programs director, Museum of Ventura County.

CAPS Media will record interviews with Thomas Fire first responders, officials and the public impacted by the tragedy for inclusion in the documentary project and for broadcast and streaming on CAPS Television and Radio.

To submit a video, go to and follow the steps outlined to upload video content. To submit a personal story, a tribute or thank you and/or to share digital images, send an email to

“CAPS Media is excited to continue our creative collaborations with the Museum of Ventura County,” said Patrick Davidson, executive director, CAPS Media.

The Museum has announce that a $1 million gift has established the Barbara Barnard Smith Museum of Ventura County Executive Director Fund which will provide permanent and ongoing financial support for the museum’s executive director position.

Barbara Barnard Smith is the great-granddaughter of William Dewey Hobson, often called the Father of Ventura County. She established the Fred W. Smith Gallery, named for her father, and in the early 1990s led the creation of an endowment to support the George Stuart Historical Figures.

Barbara has established numerous philanthropic funds, and has received many honors, including the State of Hawai‘i Governor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement in Culture, Arts, and Humanities in 2008.

“We are excited and extremely grateful for this very generous philanthropic investment by Barbara Barnard Smith. We are so fortunate that she and our community value the museum as an important asset and resource,” said Elena Brokaw, the Barbara Barnard Smith Executive Director.

The Museum of Ventura County announces the return of its Wearable Art Fashion Show and has opened its call for entries, with an entry deadline of March 1. “Wearing Our Stories: Rising from the Ashes” focuses on stitching together the stories of courage amid destruction and mending the devastation left behind by the Thomas Fire. The challenge for artists, artisans and community members is to tell their stories through an article of clothing or accessories designed for this wearable art show.

There is a $15 entry fee or $20 for two entries. One to three photos of your design will be accepted with each entry. If your piece is not complete, a description and/or sketch of your design is acceptable, or a description and photo of your design in progress. Submissions can be sent by mail or email. Visit to download the submission form and/or prospectus. For more information, please email

The fashion show will take place March 30 at the Museum’s Smith Pavilion.

Thomas Fire by the numbers

As the largest wildfire in the state’s history, the Thomas Fire generated some staggering statistics. It burned 281,893 acres (440 square miles). At its most devastating, it was being fought by an army of firefighters more than 8,000 strong. More than 1,000 structures were destroyed. And the fire’s most-sobering statistic is the 23 fatalities – including one firefighter – which resulted from the fire and its associated debris flow.

The County of Ventura, in cooperation with the cities of Ventura, Santa Paula, Ojai and Fillmore, initiated a fire recovery process weeks before the fire was even declared contained. The Ventura County Recovers website was launched on December 10, 2017, six days after the fire started. Since then it has had more than 45,000 unique visitors and about 200,000 page views.

“We understood early on that there would be a tremendous need for fire recovery information, and that it would have to be a cooperative effort,” said Mike Powers, County Executive Officer. “The fire crossed many jurisdictional boundaries and our recovery process would have to do the same thing. The cities enthusiastically supported a unified approach and the result has been a streamlined, efficient and compassionate process.”

A Local Assistance Center was opened in Ventura on December 13. On December 26, the Board of Supervisors approved the County’s participation in the California Office of Emergency Services debris removal program. The Environmental Health Division of the County’s Resource Management Agency has processed 665 Right-of-Entry forms for the program and is still accepting applications.

The property damage caused by the Thomas Fire was unprecedented in Ventura County, and the need for information was critical. The website helped, but the County and the cities wanted to be sure the public knew their local governments were active and engaged. As a result, 13 community town hall meetings were held at locations around the county, primarily to address debris removal concerns and now, federal assistance programs.

As the recovery process goes on, the assistance numbers continue to grow.

The Treasurer-Tax collector’s office has waived 180 late fees for fire victims and first responders.

Emergency Medical Services has distributed 731,280 face masks.

Behavioral Health made 4,000 contacts during the fire response.

The County Clerk and Recorder’s office has provided assistance to 314 fire victims and provided copies of 694 public records at no cost.

The County Public Works Agency has stockpiled and begun distribution of 45,000 sandbags and coordinated another 20,000 for the city of Ventura.

987 properties have been cleared of hazardous debris with only a handful of properties remaining.

665 properties have been registered for the state’s CalRecycle burn debris removal program.

The County is working 181 active cases for fire victims needing housing. Thirty-three families have received assistance to date and eighteen have been permanently housed.

The Assessor’s office has surveyed more than 2,000 fire-damaged properties.

The statistics are endless and growing daily.

Offshore drilling opponents march from City Hall to Ventura Pier

The group is vehemently opposed to the proposed continuation of offshore drilling. Photo by Bernie Goldstein

by Richard Lieberman

CFROG (Citizens for responsible oil and gas) held a protest march in Ventura. The environmental group is working to stop the federal governments plan to open the coastline to more oil and gas drilling. Since the 1980’s offshore oil and gas leases have virtually been put on hold. This past January the Department of the Interior released a proposal to sell oil and gas leases in federal U.S. waters, including off the coast of California.

The rally dubbed ‘Walk to the beach, Hands Across the Sand” started at noon on February 3, 2018 at Ventura City Hall. Speakers heralded the immense dangers to our coastline and the marine life that depends on the sea and shore to survive.

Kimberly Rivers Executive Director of CFROG said “This march is to compel our Federal Government to protect our coast from this crazy plan.” CFROG a five-year-old organization was created by a group of residents who saw local oil and gas projects in their areas and, participated in the Ventura County conditional use permit process and, they didn’t like what they terms of the county planning process that they believed the city councils involved were “advocating for the oil and gas companies” said Rivers.

About 70-100 people participated in the march and Director Rivers said, “she was pleased with the turnout.” “The fact is that Ventura County oil and gas is an integral part of the county economy, but in fact other sectors contribute as much.” She added. “We are like a watchdog, watching the regulatory and oversight agencies,” said Rivers.

The group is vehemently opposed to the proposed continuation of offshore drilling. The current administrations plan that the federal government has put forward, potentially opening the entire coast to more leasing and drilling fly’s in the face of public sentiment said Rivers.

As the march progressed horns from supporters and some from detractors honked their messages to the demonstrators. The march progressed to the coast near the Ventura Pier where demonstrators formed a line across the sand in protest.

The CFROG organization plans to continue monitoring the regulatory and oversight agencies and will attempt to stop the federal governments plan to open our coastline to more oil and gas drilling. “The risks are just to great.” Said Rivers.