Category Archives: News and Notes

Rebecca Chandler is the new Assistant Superintendent of Business Services

Familiar face to serve as Assistant Superintendent of Business Services.

After a months-long competitive search, the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) Board of Education has voted, 5-0, to hire VUSD’s current Chief Innovations Officer, Rebecca Chandler, as its new Assistant Superintendent of Business Services. Ms. Chandler replaces Ms. Betsy George, who resigned from her position in June 2020. Ms. Chandler will begin as the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services on October 1, 2020. In this new role, she will oversee various departments, including Budget & Finance, Facilities, Food and Nutrition Services, Payroll, Risk Management, and Transportation. Ms. Donna Rose, who has been serving as the Interim Assistant Superintendent, will continue to work to ensure a smooth transition occurs.

Since joining the VUSD team in 2019, Ms. Chandler has been highly effective in her current position, working to upgrade systems and structures at the District office and bringing in more than $5 million in support of Career Technical Education in VUSD. Ms. Chandler has accomplished all this while cultivating strong working relationships with District and site staff and community, local businesses, and industry leaders.

“In addition to her strong skill set and experience, Ms. Chandler is an innovative leader with a deep knowledge of teaching and learning. It will be a luxury to have someone guiding the allocation of resources who understands the programs they are meant to support. This has already paid huge dividends as she worked to support our transition to distance learning through her leadership of our implementation of Canvas, the District’s learning management platform,” stated Superintendent Dr. Roger Rice.

Ms. Chandler previously served in Oxnard Union High School District, VC Innovates at the Ventura County Office of Education, Ventura Community College, Simi Valley Unified School District, and in the private sector. In her various roles, she was instrumental in developing countywide standards-based curriculum, served as a leading expert in the realm of Career Technical Education, implemented numerous software platforms to streamline processes, managed budgets that included state and federal funding and monitoring, oversaw several extensive facilities upgrades and new construction projects and mitigated risk with every project.

“Ms. Chandler brings a great deal of knowledge in fiscal and purchasing management, teaching, facilities, risk management, and technology. She is a strong leader with a passion for doing what is best for students. She will make an excellent addition to our Executive Cabinet,” stated Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Dr. Jeff Davis.



Ventura Friends of the Library reaches out to the community

Leslie Bellmore and Sandy Greenberg at Hill Road Library.

by Jill Forman

The Friends of the Library bookstore at Foster Library, and the sale shelves at Hill Road Library, have been closed down for months due to COVID. This has been a loss to the community in several ways. People loved coming in, browsing, and finding book bargains. The libraries benefited from all revenues, for programming, supplies, and book purchases. The bookstore volunteers, and the customers, enjoyed the social interaction and being able to chat about books with others who value them.

Now, thanks to innovative thinking and a lot of hard work, the Friends once again offers gently-used books at good prices. Board members Leslie Bellmore, Mary Olson, and Sandy Greenberg have set up an online store, easily accessible through the Friends website ( Booklovers can browse by genre or choose bags of books, order and pay securely, and pick up their selections locally. No waiting for packages, no shipping fees!

New selections are added daily, so customers are encouraged to check back often. Nothing is over $5; most children’s and youth books are $1. There are educational aids also. Holiday items will be added soon for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and so on.

For now, pickups are Tuesday from 1-3 and Saturday 10-12 at the Hill Road Library, 1070 South Hill Road (near the government center.) All county COVID protocols are strictly followed.

VIP Fellows were sworn in

These VIP Fellows are part of a cohort serving sites across 17 California counties.

by Eric Harrison, President & CEO United Way of Ventura County

Recently, three AmeriCorps VIP Fellows were sworn in to serve United Way and our partner sites. Partner sites for the upcoming year include the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging and Westminster Free Clinic, a brand-new site. These VIP Fellows are part of a cohort serving sites across 17 California counties. United Way of Ventura County has served as the Supervising Organization for the AmeriCorps Volunteer Infrastructure Project (VIP) in our county since 2016.

AmeriCorps VIP is a capacity building program created to grow volunteer engagement at local nonprofit partner sites. VIP Fellows work to increase the infrastructure, volunteer support, and resources that will empower the nonprofit to serve their constituents more effectively. Over the past five years, United Way of Ventura County has placed 22 VIP Fellows with 13 different nonprofit organizations.

Our most recent class of fellows, who graduated in July, did remarkable work during the pandemic to mobilize COVID-19 volunteers for nonprofits in our community. Lauren Zika, our fellow here at United Way, helped us in countless ways–even serving as a 211 operator during the height of pandemic related calls in early March.

Nonprofits interested in participating as a partner site for 2021 should contact

Anacapa Island dock planned for replacement

Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Ethan McKinley has announced the beginning of the design planning process to replace the existing deteriorating dock at Anacapa Island to improve visitor access and safety.

To improve safety, the new dock will have a vertical lifting platform that will allow visitors and park staff to easily move from vessels to the landing dock. This new lift system requires widening the dock footprint by approximately six feet.

The new dock, designed to last 50 years, will be about two feet higher than the existing landing with the ability to later be raised an additional three feet in the event of sea level rise.

The dock replacement project will also enhance visitor experience, improve passenger and cargo operations, preserve cultural landscape characteristics, increase sustainability, and ensure the protection of marine and terrestrial environments.

To ensure the safety of park visitors, Anacapa Island will be temporarily closed to the public while construction takes place. Construction is estimated to occur in fall 2021. Updates on the project schedule will be posted on the park website at

The public is invited to attend a virtual meeting to learn about the dock project on Wednesday, September 23 at 3:00 pm.

To join visit and use access code 133 653 5468 and password SRyJgdVr254. Join by phone via 1-404-397-1516 US Toll or

1-877-309-3457 US Toll Free.

The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking your input to help inform the planning process for the Anacapa Island Dock Replacement project. To submit comments during the open comment period of September 9 through October 9, 2020, visit the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment project page at

Dignity Health St. John’s Regional Medical Center to open first all-private-room NICU in Ventura County

Dignity Health St. John’s Regional Medical Center is pleased to share that its new all private room Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) welcomed its first patient on Tuesday, September 8. The Level III NICU features 20 all private rooms, allowing parents to stay close to their newborns receiving intensive care. The NICU is the first of its kind in Ventura County.

The new family-centered unit, located adjacent to Labor and Delivery and the Mother Infant Unit, creates a healing atmosphere for baby with the added comfort of privacy for parents to breastfeed and practice skin-to-skin bonding. Private rooms allow one of the parents to stay overnight with their newborn, while creating a more collaborative relationship between parents and care team.

“A parent never expects that their baby will need to spend time in a NICU. However, those who do will tell you that the most difficult part of the experience is leaving their baby at the hospital at the end of the day,” says Darren Lee, President and CEO of St. John’s Regional Medical Center and St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital. “Our new family-centered NICU provides parents with the space and privacy to bond with their baby while the baby receives excellent specialized care.”

The 12,492-square-foot unit exceeds the size of the hospital’s previous NICU, which included two open layout rooms that grouped patients into eight-bed pods. The new space includes two isolation rooms and rooms that adjoin can be used to accommodate twins. In addition, the unit includes a family lounge with a kitchenette and shower to ensure the comfort of the parents.

“A family-centered approach to care has proven to improve the growth and outcome of our NICU babies,” said Annie Nguyen, interim Medical Director of the NICU at St. John’s Regional Medical Center. “We are excited to offer our NICU babies and their parents with the space to grow and bond.”

The Maternity and Birthing Center at SJRMC offers a loving start for every baby and loving care for every mom. Our private labor and delivery, and recovery suites are equipped with advanced equipment to ensure the safety of the mother and baby.

SJRMC has obstetricians on-site 24/7, as well as highly trained labor, delivery, and pediatric nurses, to ensure that mothers and babies receive the highest level of care at all times. To learn more about the Maternity and Birthing Center at SJRMC and our expansion projects visit,

The 16-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. John’s provides family centered care for newborns requiring highly specialized attention. Learn more about other classes, events and support groups at

MADD asks you to join these virtual events and support their goal to end drunk and drugged driving

As a tribute to MADD’s 40th anniversary, the California State office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will host its signature fundraising Walk Like MADD ceremony virtually on Saturday, October 10 beginning at 12:00 noon on Facebook/Instagram/YouTube @MADDCalifornia. MADD asks you to join these meaningful virtual events and take a stand with #OneMADDCalifornia. Funds raised will support the continuation of MADD California to provide underage drinking programs and services at no cost to victims and families of drunk and drugged driving.

Remember: We walk for those who no longer can and alongside those who are learning to walk again.

Inspire: We walk empowered even when we feel powerless, as survivors when we have been victimized, and with purpose when we have lost our way.

Commit: We walk with supporters who share our vision of No More Victims.

The timing for Walk Like MADD is significant because on August 11, an alleged drunk driver fatally struck a 35-week pregnant woman, Yesenia Aguilar, while taking an evening walk with her husband. Doctors were able to save and deliver the couple’s daughter, Adalyn Rose, by emergency C-section. According to DMV records, the drunk driver had prior DUI convictions. As a result of this crash, it heightens the need of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving to address the ripple effects of driving impaired.

Despite a nearly 50 % decline in drunk driving deaths since MADD was founded in 1980, more than 10,000 people are killed by drunk driving, and another 290,000 are injured in drunk driving crashes every year. In fact, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.

There are other ways to participate in Walk Like MADD. Registration is $20.00 for youth, and $25.00 for adults.

Donate – Give to a virtual participant or a team to help them reach their fundraising goals.

Sponsor – Consider becoming an official event partner. We have a variety of packages, and every dollar goes towards making our community safer.

Please visit your local area to register, donate, or get more information. You can complete your 5k by walking or running in your own neighborhood, community and parks anytime from October 3-October 10. Walkers and runners should post videos and pictures of their 5k and tag @MADDCalifornia on Facebook or Instagram.

Register at WLM Tri-Counties:

If you have any donation items for the online auction please contact Staci Brown at

The 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit or call 1-877-ASK-MADD for more information.

A message from Chief Schindler

“The Ventura Police Department is committed to the sanctity of life for all persons.”

Our Department has received questions from community members looking for information about the safety of our neighborhoods, our Department’s training procedures and protocols, and our response to the events taking place across our country.

“The Ventura Police Department is committed to the sanctity of life for all persons. Protecting life is also about standing for those whose voices have been silenced. Throughout history, protesting has helped advocate for change. The Ventura Police will ensure the safety of all, but we also ask that those who choose to protest, do so safely, peacefully, and in a lawful manner. Ventura Police Officers will be out over the next few days ensuring protests are safe while also protecting businesses, property, and residents from violence and those promoting destruction. The safety of our community is our top priority.”

Chief Darin Schindler is pleased to present the Ventura Police Department’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan. VPD is rooted in community policing with community partnerships and collaborative problem solving central to our efforts. Policing strategies that worked in the past are not always effective today. Innovation, technological advancements, and fostering a culture of open dialogue with our community is vital to our success moving forward.

“As your Police Chief, I am proud to lead and serve alongside our courageous and compassionate Ventura Police team,” said Chief Schindler. “Comprised of sworn officers, professional staff, and volunteers, there are more than 225 members of our team committed to serving you with the highest standards of performance, utilizing the best policing practices.

“The Ventura Police Department and its employees, professional staff and sworn alike, are committed to being responsive to community concerns, reducing crime, and maintaining safe neighborhoods for all residents,” said Chief Schindler. “I am grateful for the opportunity to continue developing relationships with our Ventura residents, business owners, and local students while working with our community to problem solve and enhance the quality of life in our city.”

Read our complete Strategic Plan in English and Spanish here:

If you’d like to reach out directly, please email As a community we are stronger when we stand together.

California Coastal Cleanup Day

Each year, California Coastal Cleanup Day welcomes more than 70,000 volunteers who pick up hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash and recyclables from beaches, lakes, and waterways. The 3rd Saturday of September has been California Coastal Cleanup Day since 1985! The event brings awareness to the marine litter problem and provides a way for community members to become directly involved in caring for their local environment and natural resources.

This marks the 35th annual event, however, due to health and safety orders, the state event organizers, the California Coastal Commission, and local organizers, the Ventura County Coalition for Coastal and Inland Waterways, have made some adjustments. Instead of a organizing a volunteer event, these groups are encouraging the Ventura County community to get out and clean up their local “happy places” every Saturday in September in celebration of the annual event.


This means beach cleanups start at our own front doors. Trash can travel through storm drains, creeks, and rivers to become beach pollution. Consider joining every Saturday in September to help clean the beach by cleaning up in our own neighborhoods and local natural areas. Follow the Ventura County Coalition for Coastal and Inland Waterways on social media for safety tips and ways to win prizes for photo contest submissions and more!

Learn more at Or follow on Facebook @Ventura County Annual Coastal Cleanup Day and Instagram @VCCoastCleanupDay.

Ready To Go Solar? Solarize is Back.

Many of us are spending more time at home lately, so it’s no surprise that home improvement projects are booming. If you’ve considered adding home solar or battery systems in the past, now may be the perfect time to take the leap.

CEC’s Solarize Ventura County is a program that makes it easier and more affordable for local homeowners to go solar. We use a group purchasing model and pass the savings on so that homeowners can install solar electricity and battery storage systems at a discounted price through a streamlined and hassle-free process. Previous Solarize Ventura County programs have already helped 225 homeowners go solar.

Please join CEC and Ventura County Regional Energy Alliance in celebrating Clean Air Day at our Solarize Webinar on October 7th to learn more.

A day cooling off at the Ventura beach 1906 style.

New census deadline

The City of Ventura is encouraging community members to take the 2020 Census by the new self-reporting deadline of September 30, 2020. To date, more than 72% of Ventura residents have participated in the 2020 Census.

In August and September, Census workers will knock on doors to follow up with houses in lower-response areas and may return multiple times to uncounted homes. Census workers will wear official Census Bureau badges, face coverings, and follow all public health guidelines when visiting homes.

“Now more than ever, we need to ensure that our community is accurately counted in the Census,” said Ventura City Manager, Alex D. McIntyre. “The results of this once-a-decade count determine the amount of funding and resources Ventura will receive for the next 10 years. It’s important that every household and business is counted so we can secure critical resources for public and social services like education, healthcare, and infrastructure projects.”

The Census is a 9-question survey that takes less than 10 minutes to complete. All responses are confidential. Households and businesses are encouraged to respond by mail, or take the 2020 Census online or by phone. The Census is available in 13 languages.

To learn more, visit www.census.ventura.orgor call (844) 330-2020.

Countywide suicide prevention initiative to spread awareness and to save lives

by Carol Leish

During September’s National Suicide Prevention Month, Vista del Mar Hospital is presenting a countywide initiative to provide awareness and to ultimately save lives.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state. In California 4,491 died by suicide in 2018, including 94 people in Ventura County alone. This reflects a total of 84,137 years of potential life lost before age 65. On a national level, suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24.

“The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic have been far-reaching and fatal. In addition to the physical health concerns, there are emotional, mental, and behavioral health stains,” according to, Jenifer Nyhuis, Vista del Mar’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are constantly reminded of these challenges, such as: job loss; increased depression related to isolation; increased anxiety due to uncertainty and fear; economic challenges; food insecurity; child care needs; and, social challenges. We are also aware of the decrease in common coping outlets for social gatherings (gyms; churches; temples; spas; and, parks).” She continued by saying, “I am confident that nearly every person’s mental health has been brought into question, if only momentarily. The pandemic has only further exacerbated the suicide crisis. Thus, this is a time to come together to collaborate as a community in order to create lasting change.”

Therefore, Vista del Mar Hospital is collaborating with the Jason Foundation and community partners to provide free suicide prevention training online via Zoom. The one-hour training includes facts and figures about this silent epidemic, compelling survey results, warning signs such as out-of-character behavior, risk factors for suicidal ideation, resources, and the social media campaign: #1WONTBESILENT. Community partners include: The City of Ventura; Coalition for Family Harmony; NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness), Ventura County; Mission FISH; Genesis Programs, Inc.; News Talk 1590 KVTA; QPR For Suicide Prevention; Ventura Downtown Lion’s Club; Ventura County Behavioral Health; Ventura County CIT; and, Women of the Moose. Vista del Mar has three scheduled trainings open to the public, as well as trainings by appointment.

“During this unprecedented time of uncertainty, suicide prevention is more important than ever,” according to, Kiran Sahot, Sr. Behavioral Health Manager with Ventura County Behavior Health. “We encourage the community to become trained in asking the difficult questions surrounding thoughts of suicide, and being able to recognize the signs of anxiety and depression.”

Resources on a list that is provided by Vista del Mar include resources in the areas of: crisis stabilization; outpatient services; chemical dependence; veteran services; LGBTQ+ services and support; and, other education and support. With help/support, situations can and will improve.

If in a dire situation, please call either: the Ventura County Crisis Intervention Unit at: 856-998-223; or, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 800-273-8255.

To find more available resources and/or information from Vista del Mar, go to their website at: “Realize that you’re not alone,” according to, Maya Lazos, community liaison at Vista del Mar. “There is help and there are free resources out there.” For questions or to schedule a training by appointment, contact Lazos at: (805) 794-1009; or,