Category Archives: Featured News

Ventura Rebuilds

The City streamlined the rebuilding process.

by City staff

Signs of rebuilding are popping up in the neighborhoods impacted by the Thomas Fire. As of September 4th, 32 Thomas Fire building permits have been issued with another wave coming as 131 homes are currently in plan check review awaiting approval.

In addition to the building permits, 311 repair permits have been issued as well as 199 temporary water permits. “We are spending quality time with residents and architects to quickly work through issues and ensure that their homes are approved with no extra time or costs,” said Community Development Director Jeffrey Lambert.

Individual meetings are vital to promoting clear communication between the City, the resident and the architect. In fact, the Planning Division has held more than 250 appointments with Thomas Fire rebuild applicants and continues to provide personalized assistance throughout the process.

Given the large-scale devastation created by the Thomas Fire, the City streamlined the rebuilding process by adopting an ordinance intended to facilitate expedited redesign, repair, and replacement of structures within the proposed Thomas Fire Rebuild Overlay Zone that were damaged or demolished by the Thomas Fire.

In February, the Ventura City Council adopted an Emergency Ordinance to expedite the review and first plan check of Thomas Fire building permit applications within fourteen business days (the turn-around time is currently taking ten business days). The City Council also approved more than $1M in contract services to retain architects, civil engineers and other professionals to provide this important service.

Helping those affected with the rebuilding process is a top priority for the City of Ventura. The Community Development Department is working diligently with parcel owners to build as safely, and quickly as possible. Property owners, with their design team, are encouraged to call (805) 677-3901 to make a Plan Check Submittal Pre-screen appointment with officials in the Building and Safety Division. For more information visit

Bark Out Loud to support our K9 officers with laughter and dinner

The Ventura Police Department has five K9 teams assigned to patrol.

The Ventura Police K9 Unit announces the 7th Annual Bark Out Loud Comedy Night. This adult only event will be held on Sept. 29, at 7pm at the historic Olivas Adobe located at 4200 Olivas Park Drive.

The fundraiser is expected to attract nearly 300 people and will feature several well-known standup comics, live music, dinner, a silent auction, raffle, demonstrations and K9s!

Tickets for the event are $65 and can be purchased at

The Ventura Police Department has five K9 teams assigned to patrol. The teams are available for deployment 7 days a week, providing protection to our community around the clock. The K9s help locate and track missing persons, find narcotics and drugs and capture violent and fleeing suspects.

The proceeds from the event support the K9s! The K9 Unit relies on the generous donations of local businesses and community members to help pay for the cost of the K9s, training, equipment, food and veterinary expenses. The donations help keep K9s Bolt, Miles, Yoschi, Jag and Rover on our streets serving and protecting Ventura.

Community Memorial Hospital moves into new hospital 

CEO Gary K. Wilde has received the keys to the new CMH.

Community Memorial Health System (CMHS) moved a significant step closer on Wednesday, Aug. 29, to opening the new Community Memorial Hospital when President and CEO Gary K. Wilde received the keys to the new Ocean Tower at Loma Vista Road and Brent Street.

Now that CMHS has taken official possession of the newly constructed six-story building, CMHS can now begin the move-in process. It’s anticipated that the new Ocean Tower will open to patients and the public in about four months.

Until then, and during the next four months, CMHS will install the final pieces of technology and equipment, provide safety training and new process/procedure training to all staff, train physicians on the new technology, stock the building with supplies, and install over 500 pieces of original artwork from local and regional artists.

Features of the Ocean Tower include 250 private rooms and expanded space in all critical healthcare areas such as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Emergency Department (which will offer 37 private rooms compared to 17 curtained bays in the old CMH), and the Intensive Care/Coronary Care Unit.

The surgical capacity increases as the new facility will feature 10 operating suites, as well as five new heart catheterization laboratories.  And, for moms, babies and children, an entire floor will be devoted to their well-being.

The new eight-acre CMHS campus also includes a public community park; a Healing Garden for patients and their families; and a Respite Garden for staff and visitors. Other new features include an outside dining terrace and additional parking spaces in a new parking structure for the hospital and the public.

For more information on the new hospital please go to

Free eye exams (and glasses) brought to you by Rotary, Lions and The Salvation Army

Jim Deardorff OD, Rotary; Chris Brashears, Rotary, Salvation Army Advisory Board; Steve Shaw, President Downtown Lions Club; Laura Hernandez, Salvation Army; Hardeep Kataria, optometrist and Lieutenant Fabio Simoes, Salvation Army, Rotary at the eye clinic.

The Ventura Rotary Club, Ventura Downtown Lions Club and the Salvation Army of Ventura have partnered to bring the community a free Eye Clinic. Their goal and vision is to provide free eye glasses for those in need (no questions asked). Any Salvation Army case manager can make a client appointment where the patient will receive an eye exam and a free pair of glasses. Patients are seen each Thursday from 7:30- 9:30 except holidays. Walk-Ins are welcomed as well, just arrive early and ring the bell!

The clinic was finally launched on July 12 many months after it was planned because of the Thomas Fire. Retired optometrist Jim Deardorff donated his equipment and optometrist Hardeep Kataria volunteers her time to give the exams.

Rotarian Chris Brashears stated “I was looking for more to do helping people locally.  In our Rotary Club we have three optometrist so it occurred to me that if we had a space we could open up a clinic to provide free eye exams and glasses to those in need. I went to Fabio and asked him to help me find a space. Fabio and Silvia, our Salvation Army Lieutenants have a hard time saying no donated the space.”

“Another Rotarian Indy Batra and I were driving to Vegas for business one day when I told him of my need to find an optometrist. He suggested his daughter in-laws sister Hardeep. She was the missing piece and without her we would not be in business, she donates her time always with a big smile. The Lions Club told me that they wanted to be involved and to just let them know when and where.”

“We have been funded to date by the Ventura Rotary Club and by the Downtown Lions Club. We have enough funds for this year and are looking for a free source to make the lens (our only expense). We have a lot of donated frames.”

“To date we have served approximately 30 patients with free glasses. The enjoyment comes from seeing them with their new glasses and the smile it brings to their face to be able to see clearly again.”

Silvia Benetti Simoes, Lieutenant Ventura Corps Officer stated “It has been a privilege to be part of this great organization where we can provide services that are needed for the community. The eye clinic is a new opportunity to show what the Salvation Army is all about, giving back.”

Lion Steve Shaw went on to say “Lions have long been associated with blindness prevention and sight restoration. The American author and activist Helen Keller, who was both blind and deaf, personally challenged Lions to “hasten the day when there would be no preventable blindness”. In her 1925 address to the Lions Club Foundation Convention in Cedar Point Ohio she asked Lions to constitute to become “Knights of the Blind” in her crusade against darkness. Since then more then 10 million children have been screened for eye disease and vision problems, 7.6 million have regained their sight through cataract surgery and 400,000 people each year receive recycled eyeglasses because of the Lions.”

Free Eye Exams Salvation Army Eye Clinic
Salvation Army Hope Center, 155 S Oak St, Ventura.
7:30am-9:30am Thursday. or 805-648-4977 for more information.

To donate eye glasses visit for a list of donation sites


Ventura’s first unique elections

What, no Jim Monahan?

Why is this election different than the last 40-years? After over 4 decades Jim Monahan will not be seeking another term in the November 15 elections. Fifteen candidates will appear on the ballot to fill four city council seats plus candidates for the Ventura Unified School District board in Ventura’s first district elections.

The council and school board will have a new look with several new members guaranteed.

This election will be the first since Ventura moved to district-based elections. Ventura now has seven council districts. Each represents a different part of Ventura and replaces the at-large system of voting where voting was for every elected official.

City council candidates:

District 1: Irene Henry, Marcos Cuevas, Kevin Clerici and Sofía Rubalcava.

District 4: Incumbant Erik Nasarenko, Spencer Noren, Ed Alamillo, Mike Marostica, Alec Gasca and Wayne Morgan

Disrict 5: Marie Lakin, Jim Friedman and Jack Selby.

District 6: Charles Kistner Jr. and Lorrie Brown. This was Monahan’s area.

Leaving the council will be council member Mike Tracy and Mayor Neal Andrews. Both lose their seats because they are in Districts 2 and 3, neither of which is on the ballot this year. Should they decide to run in the future they can in 2020.

Ventura Unified school board candidates:

Seven candidates have qualified to run for three Ventura Unified School District board seats. The school district has five areas, 2 less than the council.

Area 1, 4 and 5 each has a seat up for election.

Area 1: Velma Lomax is the incumbent and is seeking another term. Tomas Luna and Anthony Krzywicki.

Area 4: Incumbent John Walker will not be seeking another term. Jerry Dannenberg, Deborah Meyer-Morris and Madhu Bajaj.

Area 5: Has no incumbent and only one person has qualified Matthew Almaraz.

To find out what district you are in go to and type in your address.

Ventura Unified School District announces new brand

District develops brand promising rich and varied academic programs.

The Ventura Unified School District has announced its new brand and a district promise to maintain excellent schools and learning environments where all children can explore, grow, and thrive as students in a modern world and be well prepared for the future ahead of them.

“’For the future of every student’ is our promise emphasizing our belief that every child has a brilliant future ahead of them,” said Superintendent David Creswell. “Our role is to help them find it, explore it, and prepare for it in safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments across the district. It also signifies a culture that embraces every child, meeting them where they are at, and promotes their growth academically, social-emotionally, and as citizens of the world.”

At the direction of the board, VUSD hired Zeste, a company with extensive experience working on school district brands, to conduct dozens of deep interviews with VUSD stakeholders about what defines the district.

“It was time for the district to re-examine who we are, what our mission is, and who our customers were. Public education is not the only education option for parents today. We want to be the preferred option, not by default but by choice. Branding is part of getting that message out,” said John Walker, president of VUSD Board of Trustees.

The pillars of the promise of the new brand are:

A safe, healthy, and positive learning environment in every school

Rigorous and relevant academics that challenge each student

Engaging settings that stimulate curiosity and empower students to have a voice in their learning

Real world experiences and connections in and out of the classroom to cultivate creativity, critical thinking, and an appreciation for the world in which we live

Consistent, enthusiastic and unwavering encouragement of each and every child—so they can discover who they want to become and be academically, personally, and socially

“When it comes to delivering an education that prepares students for a future in the world today, a one-size-fits-all approach no longer suffices. Students must be able to think critically, approach problem-solving with agility and creativity, be open to exploration, and adapt to new ideas and pathways they will invariably encounter throughout their lives,” said Creswell.

As part of the brand process, the district developed a new logo, the open wave, that was inspired by VUSD’s connection to the California coast and the possibilities that lie ahead for our students. The ocean, and all that it represents, is a fitting metaphor for the optimism and energy embodied by our people, schools, and district. The logo unifies our schools and programs with a bold, abstract signature that connotes an open, cresting wave. The clean lines that comprise the open wave signify the opportunities students are offered by our district through its variety of programs and schools. The color blue leads our bold and varied color palette since it stands for confidence, wisdom, and intelligence.

“This is so much more than a logo,” said Creswell. “It is a symbol of the new direction we are taking. We are grateful to the board for the freedom to create this direction and now it is up to our administration, our teachers, our staff and our students to live up to the promise.”

Thousands beat the heat at the Annual Ventura County Fair

Fireworks was limited to weekends this year. Some liked it some didn’t.

The Ventura County Fair is proud and happy to report another successful Fair. Celebrating the diverse traditions of Ventura County, the 143rd edition, “A Country Fair with Ocean Air” closed with thousands having come out to enjoy the 12-day event, many returning for the first time since making the Fairgrounds their home during the December Thomas Fire evacuations.

The Ventura County Fair’s mission is to preserve, promote, and showcase agriculture and the traditions of Ventura County, this was accomplished with competitive livestock and horse shows, agricultural exhibits and baking contests.

Fairgoers were greeted with an abundance of attractions, which included Fido 500 Dog Races, Star Child Stilt Circus, who delighted young and old as they strolled high above the Fair, and Gus Flamingo, the hilarious magician in the Youth Expo. Tasty new food offerings like Cajun Catfish and Lobster Mac & Cheese pleased the taste for new summer treats while the mini donuts and turkey legs satisfied the traditional cravings of Fairgoers.

Despite extremely hot and humid weather, attendance was strong at 299,011.  By the virtues of comfort, variety, safety, cleanliness and value the Fair was a success.

“We are always working on ways to make the Fair a better experience for our visitors.” said Fair CEO Barbara Quaid, who once again shared the Fair’s winning formula: “For us the focus is not about the numbers of people coming through the gates, but about the quality of the experience our guests have at the Fair. We measure our success by the number of smiles on the faces of the Fairgoers.  The Fair is committed to offering a clean, safe and fun experience that visitors will remember forever.”

A new carnival layout welcomed thrill seekers lending a sense of rediscovery to the already exciting midway. The Star Tower was a new addition that took riders up 100 feet to swing high above the lights in the ocean air.

Nearly 16,000 County residents entered art, crafts, projects and other curiosities in the competitive exhibits, winning prizes and sharing their talents with Fair visitors.

Free entertainment was one of the features that drew so many to the Fair, not only the top name Concerts including Sublime with Rome, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and Hunter Hayes but local bands were a huge favorite. Crowds came out to enjoy and lend their support for local entertainers including KNS Rockstar, 99 Mondays, Crooked Eye Tommy, Aaron Pax Taylor, Hard Six, The Rockin’ Henrys, Dezmo’s Blues, Revelry Country, Doc Rogers Band, and many others.

As is the case every year, overall success would not be possible without the tremendous support of the sponsors and the community. While the gates have closed on the 2018 Ventura County Fair, planning is already underway for the 2019 Fair.

The Ventura County Fair entertained thousands of guests and participants. It employs up to 700 seasonal staff during the annual 12-day event. With annual attendance of approximately 300,000 visitors to the Fair, the communities throughout Ventura County share in the economic vitality derived from the Ventura County Fair. The Fair brings economic, social, educational, and cultural resources and provides lasting impressions on Fairgoers. While agriculture is the heart of the Fair, it’s the diverse entertainment that typically draws Fairgoers through the gates. Known for free top name concerts, the Fair takes pride in the overall dynamics and diversity of the entertainment, the esthetics and cleanliness of the grounds, as well as the vast educational and innovative exhibits that are showcased throughout the Fair each year.

Reflecting on the Fair Breeze contributing writer Jennifer Tipton stated.

“When I think about our Fair here in Ventura, I can almost feel the crisp ocean breeze and smell the corn dogs and cotton candy wafting alongside the scents of hay and livestock. I love the animals, from the 4h kids proudly showing the pig or lamb they’ve raised themselves and then bravely saying goodbye, to Uncle Leo’s Little Red Barn with those baby pigs! Other favorite attractions are the agriculture and photography buildings, its fun to get landscaping ideas and to see our local artistic talent. And always a challenge is to time it just right, to be on top of the Ferris wheel when the fireworks start – best seat in the house! “

Working together to keep our students safe

“Yes mother I’m always safe crossing the street. How many times do I need to tell you?”

As our students start the new school year it’s a good time to review traffic safety! The Ventura Police Department would like to remind motorists, students and parents to practice traffic safety skills when traveling to school. The start of the new school year brings traffic congestion around schools as well as a rise in pedestrian and bicyclist traffic. We suggest car-pooling, using the school bus or using an alternate drop off and pick up site away from schools. This will help relieve traffic delays.

The following tips are provided to ensure the safety of students and to serve as a reminder to be vigilant while traveling in a school zone. Parents, please discuss traffic safety with your children whether they are walking, riding a bicycle or being driven to school.

When crossing the street, continue to scan both directions for approaching cars.
Pay attention to all traffic signals and crossing guards.
Use marked crosswalks and cross at controlled intersections when possible.
Wear reflective clothing or bright colors so drivers can see you.
Plan a safe walking route to and from the school or bus stop.
When waiting for the school bus, stay out of the street and avoid horseplay.

If riding a bike, always wear a helmet. They are required for all bicycle riders under the age of 18.
Ride on the right side, in the same direction as traffic.
Walk your bike when crossing the street.
Review bicycle laws.

Be watchful around schools and bus stops for children in the street. Do not double park.
Pay attention to crossing guards and remain stopped until they are off the roadway.
Watch your speed in school and residential zones (25MPH).

Leave early and give yourselves ample time to arrive at your destination.
Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road.
Do not use your cell phone while driving.
Enter and exit driveways slowly and carefully, be observant in all directions.
Do not allow your child to exit the vehicle into traffic lanes; safely drop them off at the curbside or where your school has directed you to drop off.

By adhering to these traffic related tips, the number of collisions in an around school zones can be reduced. Please drive safely.

The Ventura Police Department is committed to traffic safety through education and enforcement. From the first day of school and throughout the school year. Let’s work together to make it a safe school year for all!



Sad passing of local icon, Helen Yunker

Always a lady of class and distinction.

Helen had a simple philosophy: “In helping and sharing with others, you multiply your own blessings many times.” Her blessings were multiplied over and over again.

One of Ventura’s premier philanthropists, arts supporters and political activists, Helen died at age 97 peacefully on July 28.

Born in Chicago in 1921, Helen came to California in 1948 at the age of 27. After 10 years in direct sales, Helen fulfilled her dream of living at the seashore when she moved to Ventura’s Pierpont Bay area in 1958. A realtor since 1971, she ultimately founded Helen Yunker Realty which still bears her name.

Her almost 60 years in Ventura is a virtual history of ongoing community engagement. She has been recognized over the years for her many contributions, by numerous service organizations in the areas of educational, medical, civic, youth, theater, arts, property rights and senior concerns. Ventura would not be the same without her enormous contributions.

Love of music played a major role in Helen’s life. She sang in the Our Lady of Assumption church choir until the very end. She has entertained solo and with singing groups throughout her life at hospitals, jails, churches, ballets, etc. Her cameo appearances in the Nutcracker, by just walking on stage brought the house down.

Because her highlights and accomplishments would fill an entire page, we’ve listed just a few of them:

She sat on the Board of Ventura County Ballet Company (VCBC) and on the Ventura College Foundation Board.

1966: She co-produced “The First 100 Years in Ventura”, a centennial magazine celebrating and documenting the city’s founding in 1866.

1968: The Ventura County Board of Supervisors awarded her for leadership, as President of the Pierpont Bay Association, for leading the adoption of the Pierpont Improvement District.

1970: Helen led the first grandfathering program in Ventura, for the Pierpont area. Adopted by the City in 1977.

2003: The Ventura County Board of Realtors awarded Helen a special Inspiration Award for her dedicated efforts to protect Individual property rights.

2007: The Girl Scouts named Helen “Woman of Distinction”.

2008: The Ventura County American Red Cross awarded Helen the Clara Barton Award for her work dating back to the 60’s when, she played an active part in support services for our troops.

2008: The National Assn. of Community Colleges awarded Helen the “Benefactor of the Year Award” in Washington, D.C for raising $600,000 to equip the new math/science building at Ventura Community College.

In 2010 The City of Ventura awarded Helen the Mayor’s Arts Patron Award.

The Rubicon Theater’s performance hall displays her name in recognition of her donations and support of the theater. As is the Ventura College auditorium.

On her 95th birthday, a celebration was held for her at the Museum of Ventura County. At the celebration, the Helen Yunker Lobby was dedicated to her.

At the celebration she stated, “An institution of this importance and magnitude needs financial giving from the entire community that it serves. I hope you will step up and join me and know you are helping to preserve our past and ensure the future of our museum.”

When her portrait was painted by Johanna Spinks as part of The Face of Ventura portrait series in the Ventura Breeze Helen stated, “Having grown up in Chicago, Ventura, with its 25,000 population in 1958, its climate, location and overall ambiance, was a true panacea and fertile ground for my life’s goals. Today, after 54 years of service, my greatest blessing is the thanks and recognition I receive, also fully aware of my intense struggles, as well as accomplishments. Where else, but in Ventura, can one be embraced like a family member, and be gifted a feeling of belonging?”

She appeared before the City Council over 100 times to “discuss” the problems with the slope erosion on city property next to her home, and always began by introducing herself. Eventually, the city paid to have the slope repaired.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on August 10 at Our Lady of the Assumption Church followed by interment at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park.

She’ll be missed.

VACE has 50-year celebration.

More than 400 attended the reunion.

On Saturday, August 11th, Ventura Adult and Continuing Education (VACE) celebrated its 50th Anniversary of providing Lifelong Learning to the community at the main campus on Valentine Road. In the past fifty years, VACE has offered adult education and training in over 150 locations throughout Ventura.

More than 400 attended the reunion, including past and present students, instructors, staff, VUSD administrators and School Board members, and honored guests.

“It is so wonderful to see our entire VACE Family together again,” exclaimed Director/Principal Carolyn Vang-Walker who welcomed the happy crowd. “Today, we are celebrating five decades of history together!”

Highlights of the special event included a chronological retrospective from 1968-2018 featuring numerous awards, archival photo albums, historical facts, course catalogs, and a very entertaining PowerPoint presentation of 2000+ Faces of VACE. Over the years, beloved VACE historian Barbara Dunmire had carefully compiled and archived thousands of artifacts that were on display. Attendees enjoyed reconnecting with former colleagues, teachers celebrated their students’ successes, and alumni reminisced about individuals who had made a positive impact on their lives. They posted favorite VACE memories on a Memory Wall.

Visitors strolled through the innovative 3D printer lab in the AutoCAD classroom, and then explored film projects currently in production at TDC Studios. Students enrolled in the Medical Assistant program were available during the day to conduct free blood pressure readings and health screenings. Attendees also toured through the career technical education (CTE) classrooms. An award-winning school, VACE boasts a 90% job placement rate for its graduates who have completed training and been awarded certification in the following career pathways: 3D Design and Drafting, Business Administration, Computerized Accounting, Front and Back Office Medical Assisting, Pharmacy Technician, Computer Network Support and Security, Graphics and Web Design, and Digital Multimedia/Studio Production.

Everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch of barbecued chicken and tri-tip catered by the new StoneFire Grill.

The next event scheduled to commemorate VACE’s 50th Anniversary will be a Fall Open House. If you are interested in learning more about VACE, or would like to schedule a tour, please call (805) 289-1744.