Category Archives: Featured News

Rotary Club Of Ventura South holds First Annual Speech Contest for Ventura high schools

The senior winners are Jonathon Saldana, Alaina Hooks and Aspen Levitt.

The Rotary Club of Ventura South conducted its first annual speech contest for Ventura high school students with the finals held on Thursday, May 17, at the Tower Club in Oxnard. At the event, the Club awarded more than $4,000 in scholarships for first place, second place, and honorable mention to students from Buena, Foothill, and Ventura High Schools. First Bank in Ventura contributed $2,000 to the project.

Bob Davis, 2017-18 President of Rotary Ventura South, commented, “We’re excited to sponsor this first annual event as a means of supporting education in our community and encouraging students to develop their public speaking skills. We look forward to welcoming even more contestants in the coming years.”

Invitations to participate went out to all Ventura High Schools in March, and the initial round of competition was conducted on campus for students at the responding schools. The entrants were asked to prepare a four-minute speech on the American civil rights movement of the 1950s-60s.

The presentations were judged by panels of Rotary Ventura South club members using delivery, content, and their own discretion as criteria. They were John Weiss, Rosanna Colin, Bob Braitman, Mary Davis and Dante Honorico.

The winners are:

  • Kaitlyn Saldana – Freshman, Buena High School. First Place (Freshmen) – $1,500.
  • Angela Tang – Freshman, Buena High School. Second Place (Freshmen) – $750.
  • Joshua Cenzano – Sophomore, Buena High School. First Place (Sophomores) – $1,500.
  • Alaina Hooks – Senior, Foothill Technology High School. First Place (Seniors) – $1,500.
  • Aspen Levitt – Senior, Ventura High School. Second Place (Seniors) – $750.
  • Jonathon Saldana – Senior, Buena High School. Third Place (Seniors) – $300.

The Rotary Club of Ventura South is one of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs with 1.2 million members around the world. The clubs work together to promote peace; fight disease; provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; save mothers and children; support education; and grow local economies. Rotary Ventura South meets at noon every Monday at the Tower Club in Oxnard. Visitors are always welcome. For more information, visit

The Ventura Police Department, partnering with allied agencies, conducted enhanced patrols

As part of the City of Ventura’s ongoing efforts to respond to concerns from the community as well as business merchants regarding illegal behaviors in the parks and surrounding areas of the downtown corridor, 4000 block of E. Main St, and the Victoria corridor, the Ventura Police Department, partnering with allied agencies, conducted enhanced patrols in the those areas on May 9. The officers involved included Ventura PD Motor Unit, Ventura PD Patrol Task Force, VCSO Mounted Enforcement Unit, Ventura County Probation and Ventura County Behavioral Health

The goal of the City of Ventura’s Safe and Clean Initiative is to ensure safe and clean public places for the entire community to enjoy. One of the core elements of this effort is to direct and leverage limited resources to better address illegal activity and quality of life behaviors in public spaces.

As a result of this effort a total of 13 arrests were made in the focus areas:

  • 4 arrests for being under the influence of a controlled substance (misdemeanor)
  • 1 arrest for possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia (misdemeanor)
  • 1 arrests for possession of a controlled substance and possession of a dangerous weapon (Felony)
  • 6 arrests for violation of probation
  • 1 arrest for a possession of a stolen vehicle warrant (Felony)

The locations of these arrests included:

  • 1 at Plaza Park, 600 E. Santa Clara St.
  • 2 at Mission Park, 190 E. Main St.
  • 4 at Promenade Park, 398 Figueroa St.
  • 6 at various other locations in the downtown corridor

The City of Ventura is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for the community by making a concerted effort to support the Safe and Clean Initiative.

2018 Amgen Tour of California

On Monday morning, May 14, thousands waited anxiously for the start of Stage 2 of the 2018 Amgen Tour of California at the Ventura Pier. According to Amgen, 117 riders representing 30 countries are competing in the race. The field includes seven world champions and two current national champions. The athletes will have gone 645 miles before finishing Saturday in Sacramento. Local elected officials spoke briefly, including Ventura City Council members Matt LaVere and Christy Weir and Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett

Summertime is Ventura County Fair time

The Ventura County Fair is Ventura County’s original Social Network, come out and connect with your neighbors, friends and families as we gather for a celebration of our great County. The Fair runs from August 1 through 12 and will feature unique exhibits, exciting contests, and entertainment, free with Fair admission.

The Ventura County Fair carries out the tradition of great values. Special admission days offer these opportunities to enter the Fair free or at low prices:

  • Wednesday, August 1: Dollar Day, $1 admission until 3PM.
  • Thursday, August 2: “Feed the Need” Food Drive. Bring 5 cans of food to donate to FOOD Share to receive a free return ticket to the fair, valid August 6-9.
  • Friday, August 3: Youth Day, children under 12 are admitted free all day.
  • Tuesday, August 7: Seniors and Persons with Disabilities Day, Seniors (62+) and Persons with Disabilities are admitted free all day.
  • Wednesday, August 8: “$3 Before 3” Day is; admission is $3 until 3PM.
  • Thursday, August 9: Military Appreciation Day, all military personnel holding a current, valid military ID will be admitted free. Thank you for your service!

If you are a kid or a kid at heart, Carnival Wristband Days are back again this year. On August 2, 6, 7, and 9, purchase a $30 wristband, good for unlimited carnival rides until 7:00 pm.

Grandstand concerts are a Fair favorite, visitors can see their favorite musicals acts and rodeos free with paid admission to the Fair.The Grandstand Entertainment begins on August 1 with Motor Sports, a great way to get revved up for 12 days of amazing fun. (Motor Sports requires a $5 admission in addition to paid fair admission.)

Rodeo Days at the fair are Saturday, August 11 and Sunday August 12.

Everywhere you look at the Fair you will see performers singing, dancing, playing music, making magic and more. This year’s grounds entertainment features Fair favorites like the All Alaskan Pig Races, Sweet Caribbean Steel Drums, Hypnotist Tina Marie and some new treats including Fido 500 Dog Show, Dezmo’s Blues Band and masking tape sculpture from Tapigami.

The Ventura County Fair makes transportation easy with free shuttle rides to and from the Fair. Convenient and comfortable, the shuttles begin ½ hour before the fair opens and bring visitors to the Fair’s front gate. No traffic hassles, no parking problems, free parking and free shuttle bus service to the Fair is available from 10:30 am until 11:00 pm Wheelchair capable busing is available from all sites.

Follow the Fair on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For hours, admission, schedules, and more information, please visit or call 648-3376.​

Families must feel safe in their neighborhoods

by City Council Member Christy Weir

The recent killing of Anthony Mele was a tragic event that has left many of us struggling to find ways to more effectively prevent acts of violence. We have heard ideas from residents by email, social media and at City Council meetings. Our community has expressed their sadness and anger through marches, radio and online, and shown support for the Mele family with fundraisers and heartfelt expressions of sympathy.

Ventura is a community that cares, and comes together to problem-solve. Our Police Department works hard every day to make our City safe and is committed to stepping up patrols and enforcement to diminish vagrancy-related crimes. Additional Police officers have been hired and more will soon be joining the force. Our downtown Ambassador program will be expanding to include other impacted areas. There are many contributing factors that we need to be examining— two methadone clinics, ineffective treatment for mental illness, inmates being released from jail in Ventura, state laws that have negatively impacted criminal sentencing, huge encampments in our river bottoms and panhandling.

The public can help us in several ways: volunteer for clean-up and other community improvement projects, report suspicious or threatening behavior and do not give money to panhandlers. A leader of a local non-profit once told us that each dollar given to a panhandler is like another nail in their coffin. That sounds dramatic, but he explained that when people are receiving cash to feed their harmful habits, they are less motivated to accept help for their addictions. That cash can also be a contributor to drug-related crimes. Please donate to service agencies that can provide lasting care that saves lives.

Families must feel safe in their neighborhoods and in our parks and beachfront areas. Crime and threatening behavior in our public spaces cannot be tolerated. I look forward to partnering with our residents, businesses, service organizations and City and County government to ensure a safe and clean Ventura.

Fox Fine Jewelry presents check to United Way

George and Debbie Fox presenting “big” check to Eric Harrison.

by Jennifer Tipton

Thursday May 3rd, George and Debbie Fox presented United Way of Ventura County a check for $60,900.

When asked how this project came about, Debbie Fox explained, “the Thomas Fires occurred on Monday and by Thursday we decided we had to do something!”.

George and Debbie Fox, owners of Fox Fine Jewelry located at 560 East Main did just that. At first, when they decided to give necklaces to the fire victims, they thought it would be about 150 and “that’s not so many”, George said. But that number quickly jumped to 400 and to date they have given away 601 necklaces! Following the original “Ventura” design, they added an “805” design and then another for Ojai, but when disaster hit Montecito it seemed somehow “inappropriate”, because of the loss of life however, “people asked for them” and they were created too.

According to Debbie, “it was never meant as a fundraiser, but then people wanted to BUY them, and we really weren’t prepared for that!”. She described how difficult the first week was and emphasized that ALL the staff at Fox were part of the project, each working hard on the necklace production and distribution but most of all Debbie said, “we were like grief counselors”, hearing so many heartbreaking stories from those whose lives were changed forever by the fires and floods.

250 necklaces had to be wrapped and ready before Christmas resulting in an assembly line for the Fox family and staff. All three of George and Debbie’s daughters: Niki, Charlotte and Karen joined in and somehow, in all the rush one of the girls confessed she thought she may have wrapped an empty box, the same brave gal offered to stay and unwrap the sea of packages until she found the empty one! It took two full nights to complete, but the operation was a success and many more necklaces followed.

Along with the very generous “gift of compassion”, as Debbie calls the diamond necklaces, the check for $60,900 was received by Eric Harrison, C.E.O. and President for the United Way of Ventura County along with Vicki Raven, the Vice President for Resource Development and Marketing.

The check presentation took place at Fox Fine Jewelry and Eric from United Way stated, “today’s a celebration”. CAPS Media filmed the event and the Fox’s provided large trays of sandwiches from Jimmy’s Slice along with cookies for their guests.

Coincidentally, May 4th was the 26th wedding anniversary for George and Debbie Fox!

Local teacher explores homelessness through poetry

Many people think they know the reasons for homelessness.

by Jill Forman

Mental illness. Drugs. Laziness. High rents. Underemployment. Many people think they know the reasons for homelessness. And others know the solutions: treatment, jail, more jobs, subsidized housing, more services, fewer services.

But as local teacher Brian Galetto knows, it is “Not So Simple.” A multifaceted situation with multiple root causes and no easy answers calls for careful thought and a big dose of empathy.

How to accomplish this? “Everybody loves a story,” he says. Poetry is “…telling a story with rhythm.” He was teaching poetry and liked its conciseness, “…a way to get people to listen.”

His sign screamed


I had pizza for later

But later for me

Was present for him.

So he started writing “Not So Simple” in 2015, and it was published in February of this year. He has two themes: just trying to get by, and it’s never simple. “I’m trying to show what it means to be a community.”

Brian came to California with his degrees in English and a desire to make the world better as a teacher. Villanova was revamping their speech program and he had a chance to design a communications curriculum that teaches, along with grammar, writing and speaking skills, Brian’s core values: empathy, compassion, gratitude.

Living in downtown Ventura, he sees the homeless daily; “…I was curious…” and started to talk to them and find out about their lives. For a while he was giving out food and “care packages” in the parks, until the city put a stop to that. At Villanova he initiated their version of “Socktober,” collecting clothes and toiletries; he works with HELP of Ojai, local churches, and Project Understanding.

To increase his community involvement, and get other perspectives on the problems, he goes to community council meetings. He even went to the rally at City Hall even though “I was scared…it felt like a mob mentality…I understand why people are angry, but we need to channel that energy into solutions.”

His students learn about the subject starting with conversation, then seeing videos and learning stories. “It breaks down preconceived notions that they didn’t even know they had.” They go on to do service-based projects, not only on homelessness but others that expand the concepts they have learned in his class.

Not So Simple” has been well-received so far. He has had four public readings, at libraries and bookstores in addition to his book release party at a local restaurant. It has sold 500 copies, more than he expected; he goes back to his refrain of “…at the end of the day, we all love stories.” With these stories, he hopes to “…change how others think about some things.”

The streets can do that to a man

The mentality it must take to survive,

Convince your body not to give in

To hunger

To demons

To death

How would you keep your soul alive outside?

All proceeds from sales of the book go to Project Understanding. They are available at Bookends Bookstore, Palermo Coffee Shop, and Bank of Books. Brian’s email is

Reaching future Ventura Breeze readers

Ventura Police Commander Rick Murray reading to kids at the Take 5 event at police headquarters. Photo by Michael Gordon

Take 5 and Read to Kids! is an annual effort by First 5 Ventura County to raise awareness about the importance of early childhood literacy.

On Friday, May 4, more than 55 celebrity readers read to young children throughout Ventura County to kick off the Take 5 and Read to Kids campaign! This year the Ventura Police Department hosted the effort at Police/Fire Headquarters. Police Officers and Firefighters took time to read and share important safety tips with local families.

· Take 5 encourages parents and caregivers to talk, read, and sing with young children ages 1-5 to support their early language and literacy development.

· Reading aloud, telling stories, and even singing builds pathways in the brain that will later be used to learn letters, read, and to think critically.

· Being introduced to books in the home and reading to a child before they enter school has been shown to be the strongest predictor of school success, especially for students at the greatest risk of falling behind.

That’s what Take 5 is about – take 5 minutes today for a child’s future.

A tour of the facility was also given.

The impressive lineup of readers in Ventura County to promote the importance of reading early to young children included Congresswoman Julia Brownley, Assembly member Dante Acosta, Supervisor Kelly Long, County Executive Officer Mike Powers, Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen, Sheriff Geoff Dean, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools Stan Mantooth, CSUCI President Erika Beck and many more.

“For young children, early exposure to books – including being read aloud to each day – is critical for long-term academic success,” said First 5 Ventura County Executive Director Petra Puls. “And yet, in Ventura County, only 58% of children are read to daily.”

6th Annual Water Take 1 Film Festival

Craig Jones Management Analyst and Susan Rungren Resource Manager for Ventura Water enjoying the films.

by Jennifer Tipton

Originally scheduled for March 22nd, Water Take 1 was postponed to April 12th due to the forecasted rain, an amusing paradox if you ask me, but Ventura Water thoughtfully stated it was “in consideration of our community’s safety”.

Free to the public with RSVP, the event took place at the Ventura Beach Club with about 150 in attendance. Preceding the presentation, attendees lined up for a complementary taco bar catered by “famous taco bar”, while live acoustic music was provided by Jason Ho. Attendance was limited to adults only, each was given a ticket for an (adult) beverage and everyone was sent home with a souvenir Ventura Water glass.

Opposed to last year’s event where over 50 short films were submitted from around the globe, this year Ventura Water chose to honor water heroes from our own community. Water Resource Manager for the City of Ventura, Susan Rungren told me, “it’s totally different this year, more local”.

Deputy Mayor Matt LaVere announced the screening of the three short films Ventura Water put together to honor the recipients of this year’s awards. Each award winner was later presented with a plaque and a $500 gift card.

The first award went to Ventura’s Jim Ackerman, a retired firefighter who received the Community Member Award for his water conservation efforts. Jim uses Ventura Water’s Residential Recycled Water Mobile Reuse Program and it is estimated he has saved over 10,000 gallons of water! He generously chose to give his $500 to charity.

The second award went to the Wyland Foundation, receiving the National Foundation Award. The famous marine life artist, Wyland founded the nonprofit in 1993 and has done numerous paintings to honor ocean life including 100 murals that took 27 years to complete. The Wyland World Water Pledge was created in 2017 to inspire 7.5 billion people for sustainable use of global water resources.

The third award went to Ventura Land Trust receiving the Community Organization Award. Formerly known as Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, this community-based nonprofit was founded in 2003 with the goal of preserving and protecting the land, water, wildlife and scenic beauty of Ventura for us and future generations. This short film told us that volunteers for the Ventura Land Trust successfully replanted 1000 trees that were lost in the Thomas Fires – there was huge applause!

As Ventura Water’s General Manager, Kevin Brown stated, “it’s been an exciting six months since I’ve been on the job!”

And as Ventura Water had promised, at the end of the evening, City of Ventura Fire Chief David Endaya presented Vicki Raven (with United Way of Ventura County), a check from event sponsor contributions to support the Thomas Fire and Flood fund.

The sponsors for the 6th annual Water Take 1 were Corollo Engineers, Nossaman LLP, Hopkins Groundwater Consultants and Kennedy Jenks Consultants.

For more information:

Ventura welcomes new police officers

Ventura Police Chief Ken Corney, Officer Allen and Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnew.
DA Investigator Baray, Officer Rolls and Chief Corney.

Five new Ventura Police Officers graduated from the Ventura County Criminal Justice Training Center’s Academy this month and are now in their next phase of field training!

Congratulations to Officer Rolls for being presented with the “Outstanding Personal Traits Award” and Officer Allen for being presented with the “Outstanding Academic Achievement & Scenario Performance Award”.

The 49 recruits, representing agencies throughout Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties completed 24 weeks of instruction provided through the combined efforts of local law enforcement agencies and other criminal justice entities. The intense training and education prepares these recruits for the responsibility of serving as police officers. We wish the entire class well as they begin their next phase of training!