Category Archives: Featured News

CalRecycle is still accepting applications

Teams of bulldozers, excavators and other heavy equipment are working throughout the Thomas Fire burn areas as CalRecycle works to clear debris. Thirty-five teams are clearing properties with an expected completion date in April.

Property owners who have not signed up for the CalRecycle program, or the County’s local program, face the possibility of having their property abated by the County and the cost added to their property tax bill.

“This is a public safety issue,” said Environmental Health Director, Bill Stratton. “It is imperative to clean these properties so the recovery and rebuilding process can move forward.”

The CalRecycle program operates at no direct cost to homeowners. Under the program, properties are cleared down to clean soil and the debris is taken to a landfill. But homeowners must sign up for the program. Almost 700 properties have been approved for the CalRecycle program and approximately 50 properties have already been cleared.

Fire victims who have not yet filed applications for the program are strongly encouraged to do so as soon as possible. CalRecycle is still accepting applications, CalRecycle is still accepting applications for areas where the teams have not already completed their work.

The Right-of-Entry forms necessary for the program can be found on the Ventura County Recovers website, the Environmental Health Division at the County Government Center, Ventura City Hall, and the Debris Removal Operations Center (DROC). The DROC is located at 290 Maple Court, Suite 120, Ventura. The County Government Center is at 800 South Victoria Avenue
in Ventura.

“We really want people to take advantage of CalRecycle’s no-cost program,” said Stratton. “But the fact is, every one of these properties must be cleared one way or another.”


Free Erosion Control and Fire-Safe Landscaping Class at Ventura College Feb. 7

Ventura Residents Are Invited to the Erosion Control and Fire-Safe Landscaping Class, Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 7-9:00 pm at Ventura College’s Wright Event Center.

This FREE Class will help property owners make informed decisions about erosion and sediment control implementation as well as fire-safe landscape planning post-Thomas Fire. Learn about post-fire best management practices and important factors to consider when managing wildfire impacted landscapes.

Featured Speakers:

Rich Casale is a recently retired USDA NRCS employee who served as an NRCS natural resource conservationist for nearly 43 years in California. Rich is a Certified Professional Erosion and Sediment Control Specialist.

Sabrina L. Drill, Ph.D. is the natural resources advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

Businesses! Register for Corporate Games

Don’t have a soccer team, how about Texas Hold’em?

Join thousands of employees representing more than 80 companies in this six-week business-to-business team sports competition featuring over 25 different events. Games will be held March 24 to May 5, 2018, throughout Ventura County. Register your company team online at or call the Corporate Games hotline at 658-4738 before the February 9 deadline.

This year’s theme is “Where Work Meets Play!” With a proven track record of building camaraderie through teamwork and lasting relationships among company employees who participate, the games offer a wide variety of events so companies can tailor participation based on staff interests.

Companies may compete in a variety of sports and games including bowling, softball and Texas Hold’em. Employees pursue individual gold, silver and bronze medals and company teams complete for overall division trophies and team spirit awards.

Companies currently registered for the Corporate Games include AECOM, Aerotek, Amgen, Community Memorial Health System, County of Ventura, Jensen Design and Survey, LinkedIn, Mission Produce, Dow-Key Microwave, The Trade Desk, and Ventura College.

For more information on Corporate Games call 658-4738 or visit

The 2018 Music Festival is on its way

Nuvi gave a short violin recital prior to speaking about this year’s VMF.

On Tuesday, January 23 Nuvi Mehta, the VMF Janet & Mark L. Goldenson Artistic Director, introduced the large audience gathered at the Museum of Ventura County to the artists appearing at the 2018 Ventura Music Festival. He was assisted by Executive Director Susan Scott. Refreshments and entertainment were provided at the free event.

THE VMF reminds all that “The fires have left members of the Festival staff along with numerous friends and neighbors in need of basic resources like food, clothing and shelter. Many people and organizations are rallying to meet those needs and, in time, they will be met.”

“We are reminded that music is also an important healing tool after a disaster because of its ability to help people process emotions and because in many ways music is a community activity. Thus we look forward to presenting a special free “Concert for Ventura” to continue the healing through music, to thank first responders, to solace those who have lost so much and to celebrate the best in our community as we come together to listen and share the experience.”

Each year, the Ventura Music Festival fills venues across the city with top-tier music for two weekends of multi-genre music, dance performances and world-class culture. This summer, the festival is returning with a lineup that promises to be bigger and better than ever. In the hands of renowned conductor Nuvi Mehta, the 2018 musical lineup consists of:

American Gypsy Jazz featuring star guitarist John Jorgenson at the historic Olivas Adobe

Latin Grammy-winner and “fire breathing guitar hero” vocalist and composer Diego Garcia (“El Twanguero”) alongside his trio at the Ventura College Performing Arts Center

“Rollicking, multi-lingual, around-the-world musical adventure” and festival headliner Pink Martini at the Oxnard PACC

Dynamic classic music ensemble Trio Céleste at the Ventura College Performing Arts Center

Celebrated and imaginative Akropolis Reed Quintet at the Ventura College Performing Arts Center

Stunning singer-songwriter Perla Batalla will present her “Frida Kahlo song cycle”, inspired by the works of Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the Ventura College Performing Arts Center

Pas de deux series depicting the ups, downs and sideways of relationships – Malashock Dance at the Ventura College Performing Arts Center

Additionally, the festival will host a “Tea & Trumpets” at the Ventura Pierpont Inn

As well as a free public concert with electrifying mariachi-meets-American classics ensemble Jarabe Mexicano at Mission Park.

On Sunday, February 25th, 3:00 to 4:30 pm a feel good free Concert For Ventura will be presented.

The line-up includes jazz fusion all-stars Tom Scott & the LA Express, sublime singer-songwriter Perla Batalla, VMF’s Nuvi Mehta, and additional guest artists in process. Downtown venue to be confirmed.

Since 1994, the mission of the Ventura Music Festival has been to bring world-class music to the community, build audience-Festival and audience-artist relationships, and enhance the joy of music through diverse education offerings for all ages. For more information, please visit or call 648-3146. Tickets go on sale April 16.

Ventura Women’s March one year anniversary

Marchers came from all over the county. Article and photos by Richard Lieberman

Over 1,500 people gathered in downtown Ventura’s Plaza Park to participate in Ventura County Rising, the second annual Women’s March. A chilly Saturday morning in Ventura, marchers were bundled up in winter coats, scarves and hats. Marchers came from all over the county including seniors to toddlers. The Marchers gathered at Plaza Park before the event. Pink Hats worn by marchers symbolizing solidarity and empathy with marchers from around the country were plentiful and dotted the crowd. Entertainment provided by Johnny and the Lovehandles rocked the crowd with old time rock and roll and reggae songs. Over 30 local organizations had tables set up providing information about their various causes. Environmental groups from the Sierra Club, the American Civil Liberties Union and many others displayed information on how to get involved with the various groups.

Opening remarks were made by Kathleen Shore one of the organizers of the Ventura March. Shore opened the march giving a mission statement to the gathered participants “Last year, the naysayers said, “What good is a march? Shore said. “Well this year we are showing you what good is a march, it bring us together, it energizes us and it reminds us of all the good that we have done this year.”

After Shore’s opening remarks the Reverend Madfdie Sifantus of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Santa Paula gave a benediction to the gathered marchers. The vice mayor of Ventura Matt LaVere spoke about the resilience of the marchers comparing and connecting them to the recent Thomas Fire that ravaged the county.

“Being here this morning and seeing this energy and the enthusiasm really makes me realize that no natural disaster is going to take away our spirit to stand up and fight and rally for those rights that mean so much to us,” LaVere said.

Assemblywoman Monique Limon, Democrat Santa Barbara getting to Ventura via train due to the closure of the 101 addressed the crowd. Limon stated, “Thank goodness for public transportation”. “As a community and as a state, we have stood up for the values protecting women, immigrants, our LGBT community, the environment and many more issues,” Li mon added. “California continues to push back on your behalf. We don’t do this alone, we do this together,” she added.

Atmospheric Scientist and author Peter Kalmus who authored the book “Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution,” addressed the gathering about the impact of climate change on the local level and what can be done to stop it.

After the opening remarks the march began in earnest, with marchers traversing about a mile of downtown Ventura marching Westbound on Thompson Boulevard, then North on Oak, West on Santa Clara Street, then again North to Main Street. Passing cars honked horns favoring the march, and sometimes honked in protest of the march. Rampant chants echoed all along the march route. “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here.” Marchers shouted along the march route.

As one of the organizers of the march Kathleen Shore added, “Change happens at the local level,” “to me, the power of this event is signing up for those organizations that have been on the ground, have been doing this hard work day to day, showing up to city council meetings, showing up to their own meetings.” “It’s a lot of work to create social change, and these organizations here are the ones who have been doing it,” she added.

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner temporarily increases service to Santa Barbara County

The Amtrak® Pacific Surfliner® will temporarily increase train service to Santa Barbara County beginning Saturday, January 20, 2018, by adding one additional roundtrip between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara to help accommodate travel demand during the continued closure of Highway 101.

Since train tracks reopened on Thursday, January 11, 2018, following the devastating mudslides near Montecito, the Pacific Surfliner has served as the only viable ground transportation option for thousands of people between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. In response to the unprecedented demand for train travel in the area, 15 additional railcars were secured from throughout the state to add more than 2,000 seats to the 10 daily Pacific Surfliner trains serving Santa Barbara County.

Even with the additional railcars, which have been operating since Sunday, January 14, Pacific Surfliner trains remain extremely busy, with demand exceeding available seating capacity on many trains. The added roundtrip will supplement the existing Pacific Surfliner service by adding nearly 1,000 more seats and providing an additional travel option into Santa Barbara County until the reopening of Highway 101.

To book travel and receive service updates, visit and follow @PacSurfliners on Twitter. You can also call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245) or use the Amtrak app.

Kevin Costner to help support community at Thomas Fire Benefit Festival

Kevin’s love, care and concern for this town soon became evident. Photo and article by Pam Baumgardner

I admit, I was nervous to be speaking with three-time Golden Globe and Academy Award winning actor, producer, director and musician, Kevin Costner. I’ve been a long-time fan of his work and have seen him twice in concert with his band Modern West. But within a few moments, I was at ease as I found him as down-to-earth as the Iowan farmer, Ray, he portrayed in the movie Field of Dreams.

Kevin had hoped to be in town for one-on-one interviews to help promote the Thomas Fire Benefit Festival, but the tragic mudslides in Santa Barbara and Montecito had closed down the 101 keeping him homebound so we spoke over the phone and he gave me some background on how the benefit came about.

It was back in 2008 when Kevin reached out to his good friend Tim Hoctor to help produce his concert at Main and California in support of his latest film, “Swing Vote.” It was a huge undertaking, not an easy feat, so it wasn’t something Kevin thought Tim would want to do again, but he made the phone call to Tim who then reached out to Mark Hartley, and the proverbial ball was soon rolling.

Kevin’s love, care and concern for this town soon became evident. He told me it was just days after the start of the Thomas Fire that he knew he had to do something to help. He realizes one can’t know the true devastation of losing one’s home to a wildfire unless you personally have lost your home, but you can be there for people. You can stand with them. And that’s exactly what he wants to do for those who are suffering.

During our conversation Kevin also told me how he had personally taken a drive with a friend to Santa Paula to survey the damage and on their way back he stopped at the home where he grew up at here in Ventura for the first time in forty years. This was his history. The room where his brother left for Vietnam. The same TV room where he saw Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald when Kevin was only four years old, and where little did he know he’d star in a film on the same subject almost thirty years later (JFK).

The Thomas Fire Benefit Festival will be held at Plaza Park on Saturday, February 3, and will kick off with a VIP Chef Experience followed with live music featuring Kevin Costner and Modern West; Olivia Newton John (on her own recovery tour after second bout with breast cancer); three-time platinum hip hop and rap artist from Ventura, Super Duper Kyle; Grammy award winner, Colbie Caillat; Ventura’s own Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and as Mark Hartley teased, there may be a few more bands added. To keep up-to-date and purchase tickets, go to

A community coming together with Thomas Fire fundraisers

Even vehicles will need to be replaced.

The Thomas Fire Fund is a coalition of the United Way, the Red Cross and the Sheriff’s Department. 100% of the funds go directly to those affected by the Thomas Fire. For more information visit

January is National Mentoring Month, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County (BBSVC) is celebrating with some very special events and activities, with a message of volunteerism and thanking First Responders in Ventura County.

All month long, Bigs and Littles will be creating handmade thank-you cards for Ventura County’s First Responders. Bigs and Littles will have the opportunity to present these cards to our local heroes at a special First Responders Lunch on Sunday, January 21st, at the Vagabond Coffee Shop on Thompson. And they will pull free raffle prizes for those First Responders in attendance, which include gifts like tickets to Disneyland!

Thomas Fire Benefit Concert at Discovery Ventura, Friday January 19.

The Concert features The Delgado Brothers, Teresa James and The Rhythm Tramps, The Guy Martin Band and Ray Jaurique and The Uptown Brothers, hosted by Lillian Schwartz, and Ventura’s own, Ashford Gordon and one of Southern California’s favorite comediennes, Denise Carter.

100 % of the net box office funds raised will go to Ventura County FOOD Share food bank as well as the United Way Thomas Fire Fund and the Red Cross Thomas Fire Fund who have partnered with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services. Doors will open at 6 PM with Ray Jaurique and The Uptown Brothers scheduled to open at 7 PM.

A free diamond necklace to anyone who lost their home due to the Thomas Fire. To claim they only need to show their ID at Fox Fine Jewelry. There are three necklaces to select from. All necklaces were designed by Fox Fine Jewelry. See ad in this issue for more information.

Ventura Harbor Comedy Club is offering Comic Relief in the form of free admission to victims of the Thomas fire, firefighters and their families and first responders. This offer will last until the end of March, and will be good for all show except for “Special Events. This offer will be on the honor system. Just mention the offer over the phone, or at the box office, and identify yourself as someone affected by the fire, or a firefighter, or first responder, or a family member of a firefighter or first responder, and you will be admitted with no cover charge no questions asked.

Reservation line is 644-1500.

Long beloved for its sense of community and ‘give back’ spirit, Spencer Makenzie’s is planning an ongoing fundraiser for the family of firefighter Cory Iverson, 32, who tragically lost his life fighting the Thomas Fire. The San Diego resident is survived by his wife, Ashley, who is expecting a second child in the spring, as well as a two year old daughter.

Spencer Makenzie’s will donate fifty cents of every bottle sold of their most popular hot sauce, Sweet Chili Fire, into a fund that will be turned over to the family after December 31, 2018. Interested parties can find the hot sauce at Spencer Makenzie’s as well as online.

Thomas Fire Benefit Festival on Saturday, February 3 in Plaza Park with outstanding entertainers and more. See the ad and article in this issue for more information.

Sign up for no-cost CalRecycle fire debris removal program

The deadline is approaching for residents affected by the Thomas Fire to sign up by filing Right-of-Entry forms for no-cost debris removal services from CalRecycle for severely damaged or destroyed property. Through this program, all the work is undertaken by CalRecycle contractors and there is no direct cost to the property owner; however, where applicable, insurance proceeds for debris removal shall be dedicated to offset costs.

“This is an extraordinary benefit for property owners who have suffered devastating losses,” said Mike Powers, County Executive Officer. The program is funded through a combination of federal, state, city and county funds.

The CalRecycle program includes the removal of all burnt debris, foundations, dangerous trees, and contaminated soil. The program also includes soil testing before and after the debris removal to ensure the site is clean and safe for building. In addition, air samples are taken during the debris removal process to protect neighboring properties from hazardous dust and air contaminants.

Fire victims are strongly encouraged to complete and submit a Right-of-Entry form before the January 22, 2018 deadline. Forms are available at, the County Government Center, Ventura City Hall, and the Debris Removal Operations Center (DROC). The DROC is located at 290 Maple Court, Suite 120. The County Government Center is located at 800 South Victoria Avenue.

The County Environmental Health Division has a special counter at the County Government Center to assist property owners and accept completed Right-of-Entry forms. Property owners unable to go to the Government Center can submit their Right-of-Entry forms and other paperwork by email at Email submittals may take longer to process.

Todd Thalhamer, CalRecycle senior solid waste engineer said, “Our goal is to assist the county in its efforts to clean up the damaged properties and return their communities back to their residents as soon as possible. The sooner residents enroll in the program, the sooner I can bring in additional crews to accomplish that.”

Both the County Government Center and the DROC are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The DROC is also open on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. if residents have questions.