Category Archives: News and Notes

Selecting a new district superintendent

The Board of Education of the Ventura Unified School District will select a new district superintendent. Community input regarding the desired characteristics is needed to assist in the recruiting and selection of the new superintendent. The Board of Education is soliciting your feedback. You are invited to attend either of the two districtwide community forums:

Tuesday, May 16 Wednesday, May 17
Buena High School Cafeteria
Cabrillo Middle School Cafeteria
5670 Telegraph Road 1426 E. Santa Clara St. Ventura
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Spanish translator provided)

Mr. Ben Johnson and Mrs. Aida Buelna-Valenzuela of McPherson & Jacobson, LLC search firm, selected by the Board of Education, will oversee this important process. Individual input from members of the community, parents, students, employees and others interested in the Ventura Unified School district are welcomed.

Your participation may also be offered through an online survey available on the District’s website at and link will also be posted on every school website.

Mortgage rates drop to five-month low

Realty Watch: by Patricia Fasen, Realtor

U.S. mortgage rates dropped for a fifth week, sending home-loan costs down to their lowest point since the week after the presidential election.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.97 percent, down from 4.08 percent last week and the lowest since November, Freddie Mac said in a statement Thursday. The average 15-year rate decreased to 3.23 percent from 3.34 percent, the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage-finance company said.

Yields for the Treasuries that guide mortgage costs have dropped on investor expectations that an economy under President Donald Trump won’t be as robust as anticipated, according to Guy Cecala, publisher of the newsletter Inside Mortgage Finance.

“The real factor has been the stock market and investor perception of how the U.S. economy is doing,” he said. “After we saw health-care reform efforts fail, the stock market reacted and investors started rethinking what was doable under a Trump administration.”

The decrease in mortgage rates may encourage homeowners to refinance in the short term as buyers take advantage of lower borrowing costs. An improving job market is increasing demand for real estate as supply of homes for sale tightens. Listings of existing homes for sale are scarcer than they’ve ever been, and bidding wars are becoming more common again in hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area, Denver, Boston, and in our backyard, Ventura County.


Walk with NAMI Ventura County in the 13th Annual NAMI Ventura County Walk

Last year’s NAMI Walk was attended by hundreds of concerned folks.  

by Jennifer Tipton

NAMI Ventura will be holding their annual walk on May 6. The NAMI Walk raises awareness about mental health issues and it is also a fundraiser for NAMI Ventura County. The funds raised from the Walk are what makes it possible for NAMI to offer all their classes, programs, and services at no cost to anyone. Please join in at 9  am at the Ventura promenade!

The Walk is a tradition that provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the facts of mental illness, to erase the stigma associated with mental illness, and to raise funds so that NAMI Ventura County can continue to offer all of their programs and services at no cost to persons who can be helped by those services. It gives everyone a chance to show their support for all of the efforts put forth by NAMI Ventura County.

NAMI bases their mission on the principles of support, education, and advocacy for persons impacted by mental illness. They provide classes for family members, providers, and persons with a lived experience of mental illness. They also present in schools, hold support groups for family members, and provide outreach to persons who come to see persons who are in the inpatient psychiatric units in Ventura County. NAMI Ventura County also has a Peer to Peer class for persons in recovery and a Connections support group for persons in recovery as well.

David Deutsch is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked in the field of mental health for about 13 years, as the executive director at NAMI, David is also a certified addiction treatment counselor and he states that often substance abuse disorders and mental health disorders go hand in hand. David reports, “we are an organization that doesn’t charge anything to anyone, the walk is our biggest fundraiser, it’s what makes it possible for all of our programs and services to be free.” According to David there were 1,500 people last year with 84 teams and over 1,300 walkers.

The Walk in Ventura County is a fun family event with activities for children and opportunities to socialize. It also provides our community with a way for us all to come together to show our support for needed services for all persons impacted by mental illness.

To register as an individual walker or to form a team and/or to find information about sponsorships please visit

12th Annual Summerfest full of healthy family fun

Friendly, low-key runs encourage youth to start the day with a little physical activity. Photo by Jessica Miranda Photography


Mark your calendar to attend Summerfest on Saturday, June 3. You won’t want to miss this 12th annual free family fun celebration of healthy living. Presented by Ventura Education Partnership (VEP) and the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) in alliance with the City of Ventura, Summerfest will be held at Ventura Unified School District’s Education Service Center, 255 West Stanley Avenue from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

The day kicks off with a 3,000 Meter race and 1-Mile run/walk. These friendly, low-key runs encourage elementary and middle school youth and their parents to start the day with a little physical activity. Details and registration forms will be available soon at

All activities at this day long, family-friendly event focus on encouraging attendees to have a fit, active and healthy lifestyle. Among the experiences offered at the many community and health-related booths are sports clinics, a Fun Zone, hands-on craft activities, a rock climbing wall, healthy food, garden tastings and so much more! Summerfest is also bringing back its popular Star Athlete’s Selfie Station and is pleased to announce that former Buena High School student and Indianapolis Colts NFL linebacker Freddy Keiaho and pro-surfer Mary Osborne have both confirmed their attendance to sign autographs, pose for pictures and answer questions from our local youth athletes.

Our committee works very hard to bring this healthy living event to the community each year,” stated Ann Marie Bidlingmaier, Summerfest event chair and coordinator of health and prevention programs for VUSD. “We are able to keep Summerfest free due to the generous ongoing support of our sponsors, especially Clif Bar Mountains2Beach Marathon, which has once again committed a minimum of $20,000 to Ventura Education Partnership for the continued promotion of health and wellness in our local schools.” To become a sponsor or secure a booth for Summerfest 2017, which draws 3,500+ attendees, contact Kay Giles or Ivone Quintero-Cagnacci at

The mission of the Ventura Education Partnership (VEP), a community-based, non-profit, non-political association, is to support and enrich education in the Ventura Unified School District through community partnerships. This all-volunteer group fosters community recognition of the work of district teachers and staff and enlists the participation of parents, businesses and community members in the education of our District’s children.

Ventura City Fire responds to structure fire on Main in Downtown

On April 17, at 10am, Ventura City Fire personnel and units responded to multiple reports of a structure fire in the 500 block of Main St. in Downtown. The first arriving unit reported smoke coming from the second story of the two story residential-over-commercial structure. An aggressive, coordinated interior attack allowed knockdown of the main body of the fire within 16 minutes. The size of the fire, combined with the construction type of the building, required extensive overhaul and checking for extension into both the concealed spaces and all adjoining occupancies. Businesses below that were not involved with fire were impacted by water runoff.

Heroes amongst us

Emily Benson, MD (VCMC), Hoc Nguyen Van, MD (Vietnam Duc Hospital), Serge Kaska, MD (San Diego), Aubree Goodman (premed student), Ngo Van Toan, MD (Vietnam Duc Hospital), Petros Frousiakis ,MD (CMH ortho resident), Damayea Hargett ,MD (VCMC) and Mary Ragsdale,MD (VCMC).

by Jennifer Tipton

For one week, this past March five orthopedic surgeons voluntarily traveled to Hanoi, the capitol of Vietnam to assist the Vietnamese surgeons there.

Damayea Hargett MD and Emily Benson MD specializing in trauma along with Mary Ragsdale MD specializing in joint replacement surgeries such as hips and knees are all orthopedic surgeons at VCMC.  Emily went last year to accompany Dr. Serge Kaska another orthopedic surgeon based in San Diego who has contacts in Hanoi. These big-hearted doctors not only paid their own way but also sponsored Petros Frousiakis an orthopedic surgical resident at CMH knowing it would be a great experience for him as well.

The docs landed at the largest surgical center in Vietnam performing an average of 5 surgeries a day along with seeing clinic patients lined up to evaluate and determine if they were even a candidate for surgery, some returning from the previous year after having already been turned away.

Vietnam with a population of about 92,700,00 has mopeds and motorbikes as the primary form of transportation with very few speed limits and stop signs; this would certainly explain why there are so many traumatic injuries. Our docs walked 1 ½ miles each way to the surgical center and “D” (Damayea) tells me this was the scariest part of the trip because the drivers don’t yield to anyone or anything!

Dr. Damayea Hargett is examining a young patient.

Perhaps due to all the trauma, it is a cultural expectation that if you get hurt you may have some disability, they saw more pathology in one  week than what they see at VCMC in an entire year.

Vietnam has socialized medicine so funding for treatment is limited however, they also do elective cases if you have the cash to pay for it.

The ortho ward was equipped for 50 but had an average of 80 patients, summertime being the worst with literally two  patients in each bed. Along with the trauma were the nonunion surgeries (fractures that did not heal), the congenital deformities that had never been corrected and those that had but never healed correctly. Many of the patients they saw were children, lots of children…

Instrumentation was minimal as well as orthopedic hardware such as a simple clamp or plate, and the closed procedures our docs perform at home with the assistance of radiology were a luxury not afforded. And yet another challenge was that often the surgical technicians assisting them did not speak any English. With these challenges our docs found themselves out of their comfort zone and stayed up many nights doing research to strengthen their skills. Damayea stated, “Unfortunately, we had to turn a lot away, it was heartbreaking.”

The surgeons there so appreciated our docs coming, working together with them and the many discussions that prompted learning on both sides so in addition to plans to return next year and annually, our docs are currently in the process of sponsoring 2 of the surgeons that hosted them to come here and spend a week at VCMC to continue the sharing of knowledge.

If you are interested in sponsoring future trips or a physician that might like to join them, email:





“Spring Bloom” Photo Contest

Cacti can also bloom. Photo by Bernie Goldstein

Ventura Botanical Gardens (VBG) is now accepting entries for its first-ever “Spring Bloom” photo competition. Photographers of all ages and levels are invited to submit their best images of the Gardens (taken this year) for a chance to win. The deadline for submitting photos is Friday, April 28.

“This contest is an opportunity to engage the entire community in the beauty of the Gardens,” said Barbara Brown, Board President. “With this year’s rains, we’re hoping that there are lots of flowers to shoot, but even if there isn’t, there are always the spectacular vistas of the coastline and agriculture.”

“Planners Nancy Kettner and Terri Strober have done a wonderful job pulling this together,” says Joe Cahill, Executive Director, “we hope this will become a community tradition.”

Participants must send a Facebook message to the VBG Facebook page (2 entries max) with their photos using the hashtag #VBGinBloom. There are two ways to win–the first category is People’s Choice. Winners in that category will win by getting the most “likes” on Facebook. The Ventura Botanical Gardens will showcase the images on their Facebook page during the “Like” voting period between May 1- May 5.

Additionally, a panel of visual art professionals will judge the photos and award the Judges’ Choice. Winning photos will be announced on the Facebook page and published on the VBG website and in the summer newsletter. For more information, please visit

This public benefit nonprofit organization is dedicated to creating a world-class botanical garden for the preservation, education, cultural contribution and enhancement of the community. The gardens, when complete, will celebrate the five Mediterranean climate regions. The locale boasts spectacular 180-degree views of the California coast and the Channel Islands. The Ventura Botanical Gardens is located at 398 Ferro Drive in Ventura, California.

The first trail is a popular hiking destination. While still in its rustic state, the seedlings of the Chilean Gardens are beginning to thrive. VBG planning includes outdoor opportunities like community gathering spaces, training and research opportunities, and educational programs ranging from horticulture and botany to sustainability. To find out more, visit and join us on Facebook.

Community Crime Alert – Tool Thefts

During the last several weeks the Ventura Police Department has responded to over 27 crimes involving the theft of tools from tool boxes affixed to vehicles or from storage containers of businesses. The majority of the crimes have occurred in the industrial area south of the 101 Freeway between Arundell Ave. and Knoll Drive. These crimes are occurring during late night or early morning hours. The suspects are using pry tools or cutting tools to gain entry into the locations.

The Ventura Police Department has increased patrols in this area and we are asking the public to report suspicious activity to our Command Center by calling 650-8010 or 911 in the event of an emergency.