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Art festival to support fire-flood victims Feb 17 at Bell Arts Factory

The Ventura Unified School District Office in West Ventura will be the site of the Thomas Arts Festival, an art auction and benefit also featuring music and performing arts created to assist those rebuilding their lives as a result of the Thomas fires and flood. The event will take place Saturday, February 17, 2018 from 12 noon – 5:00 p.m. The address of the Ventura Unified School District Office is 255 W. Stanley Avenue, Ventura, 93001. Admission and parking are free. Donations will be accepted.

“Our community is filled with artists expressing many art forms, yet hundreds of neighbors suffered tremendous loss due to the recent fires and flood. Many of these people do not fit in the constructs of society because they focus on creativity and helping others and therefore may not qualify for traditional assistance,” said Greg Gillis-Smith.

This event will showcase the creative work of local and surrounding artists, and introduce working artists to members of the community where relationships of mutual support for the arts in the community can form beyond this event.

Food trucks will be on-site to offer their cuisine to attendees. A family art space will be a place for parents, care givers and children to come together and create art. Live performances by musicians and other performing artists will occur throughout the afternoon.

The Ventura Unified School District Office location is easily accessible from the Stanley exit off highway 33, with plenty of free parking.

Admission is free, with donations accepted. Bell Arts Factory is at 432 N. Ventura Avenue.

Ventura County Fair announces Poster Contest for County Youth

Anna Sorensen, James Lockwood and Jorja Garcia at 2017 poster award presentation.

The Ventura County Fair has announced that the 9th annual Fair poster contest will be held for the 2018 Ventura County Fair. The contest is open to young artists in grades 5 – 12 who reside in Ventura County.

The theme of the 2018 Fair is “A Country Fair with Ocean Air” and will serve as the guideline to the imagery.

Artwork may be created in any medium but may not include the use of glitter, metallic paint, or 3 dimensional objects attached to the artwork.

Poster designs will be judged on Theme, Originality, Composition and Skill. Entries will be accepted until the entry deadline, Friday, April 6. Entries can be brought to the Fairgrounds administration office at 10 W. Harbor Blvd. in Ventura. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8AM until 5PM. (Closed from 12-1PM daily)

Rules, deadlines and other information can be found on the Fair website, For more information about the contest call 648-3376 or send an email to (Please put “Poster Contest” in the subject line)

Prizes will be awarded to the top three entries, First prize: $500, Second Prize: $250, Third Prize: $100.

The winning design will be used to advertise the Fair on Fair posters, souvenirs, advertisements and other applications. Second and third place winners will also be used in various applications. All contestants entries will be displayed in the Youth Expo at the Ventura County Fair.

The Ventura County Fair will begin its annual 12-day run Wednesday, August 1 and continue until Sunday, August 12.

For more information about the Fair, or the poster contest, please call the Ventura County Fairgrounds at 648-3376 or visit

Ventura residents urged to plan ahead and be prepared for natural disasters

Evacuation routes can be found at

The City of Ventura encourages residents to be prepared for possible natural disasters. Residents living in and around Thomas Fire burn areas or near flood-prone areas, need to prepare for possible storms in 2018. Police Chief Ken Corney and Fire Chief David Endaya provided a presentation about preparation efforts at the January 22, 2018 Ventura City Council meeting encouraging the community to stay informed and take action by reviewing the following points:

Sign up to receive VC Alert mobile messages by contacting the VC Alert Hotline at 648-9283 or visiting Subscribers will receive emergency notifications such as evacuation notices specific to their neighborhood.

Make sure extra supplies are on hand at home, including: a flashlight, water, food, personal medical supplies and filled prescriptions. Learn how to prepare an emergency kit at

Monitor or call the information hotline at 805-465-6650 during an emergency to stay informed on evacuations, road closures and important emergency information.

Review evacuation routes. The Ventura Police Department has created recommended evacuation routes to help with traffic flow during an emergency. The information will be provided at all Community Council meetings, door to door in impacted areas and online at

Get to know your neighbors! During an emergency public safety resources are limited. Residents are encouraged to help alert neighbors during an emergency and to stay connected to their neighborhood on Nextdoor is a private social network. Over 20,000 Ventura residents are using Nextdoor. It’s also a platform to receive alerts from the City of Ventura and crime and safety information from the Ventura Police Department.

Get connected! Residents are encouraged to attend monthly Community Council meetings. The City of Ventura has seven neighborhood Community Councils. Any resident, business owner or property owner can join their area group. The Ventura Police Department provides a monthly crime and safety update at each meeting and guest speakers provide information specific to the represented council. More information about meeting times and locations can be found at or by calling 339-4317.

During an emergency listen to the directions provided by public safety officials. Mandatory Evacuation orders are initiated when danger is imminent. Voluntary Evacuations orders are initiated when residents should begin preparing for a potential mandatory evacuation order to be issued. The threat to lives is not yet imminent during a voluntary evacuation. A Shelter-in-Place Order is initiated when conditions exist that may endanger the lives of those in a defined area. Access to the area under a shelter in place order may by restricted by road closures.

Preparing and staying informed can help save lives and property. For questions or more information please contact Ventura Police Department Civic Engagement Specialist Ashley Bautista at 805-339-4317 or by email at

A writing contest inspired by art

Cheryl Heitmann honored, and introduced writing contest winners at a previous Art Tales.

The City of Ventura is please to sponsor the 10th Annual Art Tales Creative Writing Contest. Open to writers worldwide, Art Tales invites imaginative writers of all ages to compose a short story or poem (500 words maximum) inspired by one of three Municipal Art Collection works currently on display at Ventura City Hall. “This year’s Art Tales theme ‘Music Inspires the Spirit’ invites you to share how art and its melody reach the invisible moving pieces inside your heart and soul,” states Tobie Roach, Public Art Project Manager.

The public is encouraged to visit historic Ventura City Hall, located at 501 Poli St., and enjoy two floors of eclectic artwork created by local Ventura County artists. A self-guided Municipal Art Collection brochure is available in room 226 and provides background information on the art and artist housed in the collection. The three pieces chosen for this year’s Art Tales contest can be found on the 2nd floor with a musical note symbol adjacent to each artwork. Creative writers are encouraged to select one of the three chosen artworks to inspire your writing. Writers unable to visit City Hall, may view the images, learn more about the art and artists and view a lesson plan for teachers on the Art Tales website at Entries are due no later than April 4.

A committee of professionals, educators, and City of Ventura staff will judge entries on creativity, presentation, and correspondence to a specific artwork. Judges will select their top three choices for poetry and short fiction categories in three age divisions:

• Youth (12 years or younger)

• Teen (13-17 years)

• Adult (18 years and up)

For more information on how to enter and contest rules, view the Art Tales website,

A Seaside Delight – Tall Ships sail into Ventura Harbor

Tours of the Tall Ships are a chance to meet the ship’s crew.

Tall Ships, Hawaiian Chieftain and Lady Washington, commence their annual voyage along the California coast and sail into Ventura Harbor on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at noon until Monday, March 5, 2018. The historical vessels will dock in front of the Ventura Harbor Village Promenade.

Catch the mystical sight of the Tall Ships Grand Arrival in full parade-style entrance, as the crew “manning the yards” at noon on Tuesday, February 13, 2018. A photographer’s delight, the ships depart for Battle Sails throughout February and March, 2018 out of the Ventura Harbor.

The visiting Tall Ships are rich in history and seaside lure. Hawaiian Chieftain was built in Hawaii in 1988 and originally designed for cargo trade among the Hawaiian Islands. Launched in 1989, Lady Washington is a full-scale reproduction of the original Lady Washington, which was built in 1750s and was one of the first U.S. flagged ships to explore the west coast of North America.

Open to the public, the Dockside Tours (Vessel Tours) offer a living history experience. The tours focus on an authentic 18thCentury sailor’s view of traveling by Tall Ship, as well as a chance to meet the ship’s crew and learn what it took to adventure to new lands.

Looking for more adventure? Three-Hour Battle Sails or Two-Hour Adventure Sails, complete with firing cannons and hoisting of the main sails are just the ticket! Battle Sails are available every weekend day from 2 p.m. -5 p.m. and feature a recreation of a naval skirmish with close quarter maneuvers.

For Battle and Adventure Sail ticket reservations call 800-200-5239 or visit Tickets are on sale now.

In addition, live entertainment and roaming pirates can be enjoyed throughout Ventura Harbor Village on select days, and visitors can also send a Tall Ships postcard for free, join in a Tall Ship Scavenger Hunt.

Added to the Ventura Harbor visit, a special Valentine’s Day Tall Ship Sail on Wednesday, February 14 from 4 to 6 p.m. This special sail is reserved for adults only, and will highlight festive sea shanties and desserts for ticketed guests. Tickets are $55 per person, but couples can save $10 by purchasing tickets in pairs for a flat $100! Tickets are available by calling 800-200-5239 or visit for more details.

The Hawaiian Chieftain and Lady Washington travel down the West Coast stopping in ports and harbors for historical and educational visits. These ships host over 8,000 school children a year. Educators should contact the Historical Seaport education office, 1-800-200-5239 to arrange dockside, or on-the-water programming while here in Ventura Harbor February 13- March 5, 2018.

Tall Ship schedule can change due to weather and unforeseen circumstances, please check for the most up to date information.

Share your Tall Ships photos @VenturaHarbor on Instagram! For more Tall Ship information visit or Facebook Ventura Harbor. Admission and parking free daily at Ventura Harbor Village. For a complete schedule: or call 800-200-5239.

Male student of the year

Stephanie Caldwell, Chamber President & CEO, Kiernan Rickard, Nan Drake, Citizen of the Year and David Creswell, VUSD Superintendent celebrating Kiernan’s award. Photo by Richard Lieberman.

by Amber Hansen

The 20th Annual Poinsettia Awards Luncheon, presented by the Ventura Chamber of Commerce, was held on January 19th of this year at the Ventura Beach Marriott. Kiernan Rickard was this year’s recipient of the Ventura Unified School District’s Male Student of the Year award. Kiernan is a senior at Ventura High School with a history of academic dedication and an impressive repertoire of achievements. His packed schedule includes running for Ventura High’s cross-country team and acting as a senior officer in the music department.

Having discovered an aptitude for computer programming at a young age, Kiernan is a leader on the Ventura High robotics team- an accomplishment that earned his nomination for the first Robotics Dean’s List. He plans on pursuing a career in computer programming and hopes to enroll in Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science.

When asked how he felt about receiving the award, Kiernan said he was surprised because he’s surrounded by intelligent peers. He expressed immense gratitude and acknowledged that he could not have done it without the support he’s had from family and teachers.

Free income tax assistance from AARP Tax Aide

“After reading the 1,700 pages of the new tax code we may still need to call Trump.”

AARP Tax Aide, in conjunction with the IRS, will provide free income tax preparation assistance and e-filing for seniors and low-to-moderate income adults of any age from February 5 through April 12, 2018. AARP membership is not required. Assistance will be available at the following Ventura and Ojai locations:

In Ventura, the service is at the Ventura Avenue Adult Center, 550 North Ventura Ave, on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and at the Area Agency on Aging, 646 County Square Drive, on Mondays and Wednesdays from noon to 3 p.m. Appointments are not required at either site.

In Ojai, tax assistance is available starting February 1 by appointment only at Little House of Ojai, 111 West Santa Ana Street, on Thursdays from noon to 3:15 p.m. Call (805) 646-5122.

Taxpayers must bring Social Security cards for themselves, spouses and any dependents, picture ID, copy of 2016 tax return, and 2017 documents showing income from all sources, including wages, Social Security, interest, dividends, investments, self-employment, and pensions. If the taxpayer itemizes deductions, they should bring total figures for each category of deduction, including medical, charitable contributions, property tax, mortgage interest, etc. Please also bring ACA (Obamacare) year-end statements as well.

(Some) Fundraisers Raising Eyebrows

Be on the lookout for fraud.
by Jennifer Tipton

There has been an overwhelming response to raise funds for the Thomas Fire Victims. Organizations and individuals alike have come forward to help Ventura recover and although most have good intent, they are not the same. Much about these fundraisers is unclear … where do the proceeds go? and how are they distributed?

Here’s what you need to know, for a fundraiser to offer a tax deduction for your tickets or that big fat check you wrote, they must be a legitimate nonprofit organization with a 501c3 letter from the IRS.

“You’re not legally allowed to say you’re a nonprofit unless you have the paperwork in hand and this takes at least a year”, Kat Merrick tells me. Kat of course, has her very own “Totally Local VC”, a nonprofit organization established before the Thomas Fires and although she lost her beloved Wicked Wire Ranch to the heartless flames, her heart remains focused on helping others with her now “Local Love Project”. This is dedicated to those victims of the Thomas Fires that need the most help, they can email their information to to be added to the list and from there, clothing and items requested are donated specifically for them and gift cards are given based on the size of the family; Kat and her volunteers do the distribution themselves.

Once a nonprofit has been established, the individual or organization can choose where the money will go from their event. Kat did a “Cheers for Charity “event on January 19th and she chose FOOD Share, The Totally Local VC Local Love Project and Catholic Charities to disburse the funds.

Here’s what a lot of potential recipients don’t seem to know – these charities don’t know who you are, you need to sign up with each individual charity to be included!

There are also those that do not have a nonprofit in place but may partner with one to put together a fundraiser, and although they appear to have good intent, accountability for money brought in can be questionable.

Mark Hartley, along with Downtown Ventura, the California Beer Festival, Surf Rodeo (many pulled together for this one) have coordinated the Thomas Fire Benefit Festival to take place on February 3rd at Plaza Park. Mark tells me a group helping to plan this event spent a tremendous amount of time determining where the money would go and that 100% of the ticket revenue will be spread out to include, the Ventura Unified School District to replace student’s textbooks and musical instruments that were lost in the fires and to help several low-income families that are still seeking permanent shelter. Money will also go to our neighboring Ojai and to the World Central Kitchen.

Kevin Clerici, the executive director of Downtown Ventura Partners and a voluntary staff member for the Downtown Ventura Organization (DVO) a 501c3, tells me the DVO is the fiscal sponsor for this event and fire victims can REGISTER for a one-time monetary gift at, registrations must occur online by February 17th. According to Kevin, Pacific Western Bank has generously agreed to waive the cost to produce cashier’s checks for those who register, this means even more money will go directly to the victims.

If there are concerns with where your contributions are going, and you want to ensure they stay local, be sure to check out who you’re giving to.

CAPS Media, Ventura Police and the community

Ventura Police Officer Judson Welfringer shares the latest crime statistics on VPDTV.

The Ventura Police Department is partnering with CAPS Media to produce the Ventura Police Department’s weekly crime and safety update. Tune in every week to TV Channels 6 & 15, on CAPS Radio at 104.1fm and on social media to get some helpful hints on how to stay safe and keep abreast of the latest property crime statistics.

After the holidays, the Pacific High School students returned to the CAPS Media Center for more production and storytelling. They are extremely enthusiastic and talented students. Along with the El Camino High School producers, the Pacific High students and a band of very talented Girl Scouts, the CAPS studio has been brewing with young talent.

CAPS Media broadcast several of the meetings held by the city of Ventura regarding post fire clean-up with strong attendance. Our coverage of these meetings and city council meetings help the public navigate the policies and regulations through this difficult time. There is also time to honor and support the community with announcements of the various city events to raise money for the victims of the Thomas Fire. The Ventura Unified School district is back in session with coverage board meetings, welcoming the district’s new superintendent, David Creswell, and addressing the intellectual, safety and wellbeing of the students in Ventura. Welcome back students.

Our Thomas Fire Stories project is moving forward in collaboration with the Museum of Ventura County, the San Buenaventura Conservancy, ECTV, other agencies and most importantly the public. Everyone in the community is encouraged to join us by sharing their personal stories at the CAPS Media Center utilizing our professional expertise, equipment, studio facilities with distribution on television, radio and the internet. Learn to share your own story by joining the Thomas Fire Story Project. There are hundreds of individual and extraordinary Thomas Fire Stories to share, remember and celebrate. We invite everyone to help us remember and document our common experience.

CAPS Media has set up an easy process for the public to share Thomas Fire Stories and media for the historic project. Simply go to the CAPS Media website homepage at Find the Thomas Fires Stories image, click on the Read More arrow in the lower right corner. The page presents more details on the project and step-by-step instructions on how to contribute photos, video and other media.

If you have a story to tell or a tribute or thank you to share, send an email to or call the CAPS Media Center at 805.658.0500.

CAPS Media’s mission is to create an engaged and informed community through participation in electronic media. Come to orientation on the first Thursday of every month to learn how to become an engaged and informed member of CAPS. Member classes include HD videography/camera class held on the 2nd Thursday, Final Cut postproduction editing class on the 3rd Thursday, and CAPS Radio (KPPQ, FM 104.1) two-part classes on the 4th week. In every training session Member/Producers receive hands-on instruction in videography, video editing, radio production and more. All classes begin at 6pm at the CAPS Media Center, 65 Day Road. Once trained, member/producers may check out CAPS Media’s video cameras, tripods, audio gear and other production equipment to record their story and then book postproduction editing suites to craft the story they want to tell. Go to for information or call 805-658-0500.

Nurse Debra Lawry Daisy Award winner

Every day Debra holds the hands of patients who have just been diagnosed with cancer.

Community Memorial Health System is proud to announce that Registered Nurse Debra Lawry is the health system’s most recent DAISY Award winner.

Created in 1999, the DAISY Award is a special recognition that honors extraordinary nurses internationally who demonstrate clinical expertise, provide skillful, compassionate care, and go above and beyond for patients and family members. The DAISY Foundation was established by the family of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at the age of 33 from complications of an autoimmune disease. During his eight-week hospitalization, Barnes’ family was awestruck by the care and compassion his nurses provided to Barnes and his family. The family created a foundation in Barnes’ memory to recognize extraordinary nurses everywhere who make a difference. Today, over 2,700 healthcare facilities in all 50 states and 18 countries give DAISY awards.

Every day, Debra Lawry holds the hands (literally and figuratively) of patients who have just been diagnosed with cancer. In her role as Cancer Patient Nurse Navigator at the Community Memorial Health System Cancer Resource Center, she guides patients through the diagnosis, treatment and cancer recovery processes, serving as a vital source of education, support and friendship along the way. Lawry goes above and beyond for her patients, often attending appointments with them and spending extra time ensuring they feel truly supported on their cancer treatment journey.

Many patients have called Lawry their “angel,” and have said they aren’t sure how they would have gotten through treatment without her. Lawry is always willing to provide her co-workers with education or moral support as well, and she works hard to broaden her knowledge so she can provide the latest and most accurate information to patients and coworkers.

To nominate an extraordinary nurse from Community Memorial Health System for a DAISY Award, go to Learn more at