Category Archives: News and Notes

Volunteers Needed at 2nd Annual Ventura River to the Sea Coastal Cleanup, Nov. 17

A young volunteer uses a customized bucket and trash picker at last year’s Ventura River to the Sea Coastal Cleanup.

On Saturday, November 17 from 9 a.m. – 12 noon, Ventura Land Trust (VLT) and the Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation will team up to host the 2nd Annual Ventura River to the Sea Coastal Cleanup. Community volunteers are invited to participate in a large-scale trash clean up in the Ventura River estuary near the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

Check-in is at 9 a.m. at the bend in the Ventura-Ojai Bike Path near the end of Shoreline Dr. in Ventura. Look for the Ventura Land Trust and Surfrider Foundation pop-up canopies. Volunteers will be escorted into the estuary to clean and clear the area with the goal being to remove as much trash as possible before the rainy season begins and washes it onto nearby beaches and into the ocean.

All volunteers should wear long pants, long sleeves, close-toed shoes, a hat, sunscreen and bring a refillable water bottle. Tools, gloves and instruction will be provided. Volunteers younger than 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult.

To RSVP, go to and, for more information, call the VLT office: (805) 643-

Ventura Land Trust (formerly Ventura Hillsides Conservancy) is dedicated to permanently preserving and protecting the land, water, wildlife and scenic beauty of the Ventura region for current and future generations. Founded in 2003, the 501(C)(3) non-profit organization is supported by over 600 members, local businesses and government partners. The land trust manages 90 acres of land along the Ventura River and is negotiating the purchase of its first hillside property. Ventura Land Trust’s offices are located in the Poinsettia Pavilion, 3451 Foothill Rd, Ventura, CA 93003. For more information, visit

9th Annual Castro Family & Ventura Police Community Foundation Toy Drive

From the 5th Annual Castro Family Toy Drive and still going strong.

The Ventura Police Department announces the 9th Annual Castro Family & Ventura Police Community Foundation Toy Drive. The community is invited to donate unwrapped toys or gift cards for the patients and siblings of the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases at the Ventura County Medical Center. Donations, for ages infant to 18 years, will be accepted at the Ventura Police Department located at 1425 Dowell Drive Monday through Friday between the hours of 7:30 am and 5:30 pm from November 19 to December 14, 2018.

In 2008, Corey Castro was seven years old and was treated for Gorham’s Disease, a rare bone disease. As a patient, he was asked if he wanted to pick out a toy from the center’s toy box. Corey discovered the toy box needed more toys and asked his family if they could help fill the box for other children receiving treatment at the center. The Castro Family in partnership with the Ventura Police Community Foundation worked to make that dream a reality and has since provided toys and gifts to more than 1,500 patients and their siblings. The effort raises awareness about the only pediatric oncology and hematology center in Ventura County. Ventura Police Officers join the Castro Family in hosting a holiday party for the children and their families and help pass out gifts with Santa and Ventura Police K9s.

“Bringing joy to the brave junior crime fighters at VCMC is a humbling experience. Many of these children are fighting for their lives. We appreciate this opportunity to partner with the Castro Family and our community in providing a special evening for the children and their siblings during the holiday season,” said Commander Sam Arroyo.

Toy Drop Off Location: Ventura Police Department, 1425 Dowell Drive, Ventura, 93003

Date/Time Toy Drop Off: November 19 – December 14, Monday – Friday between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Grant Park remains closed for public safety and restoration

Grant Park, located above Downtown Ventura will remain closed from the impact of the Thomas Fire and will not reopen to the public until the area is safe. The closure is important to protect public safety and to permit the park to recover.

The Thomas Fire caused extensive damage by destroying plant material and plant roots that stabilize slopes throughout the park. Vegetation has been extremely slow to grow back, mostly due to the lack of winter rains. Until vegetation is reestablished, there is a reduction in soil strength and the stability of the slopes is hazardous to hikers and bikers. The City thanks the public for its patience while nature restores and rehabilitates itself.

Public safety is of utmost importance,” said Nancy O’Connor, Parks, Recreation & Community Partnerships Director.

Signs have been installed to notify park goers that they should stay out of the closed areas. Unlawful entry into the closed areas could cause potential for accidental injuries.  Individuals violating the closure put themselves in danger and may be subject to criminal prosecution including fines. 

The good news is that the Ventura Botanical Gardens (VBG) re-opened its garden and trails on November 3, however all other areas of the park remain closed. See article in this issue.

Guests to the garden should enter and exit through the new welcome center above City Hall and must stay on the trails. Parking is available.

VBG is a public/private partnership with the City of Ventura, 107 of the 109 acres of parkland are leased by the nonprofit. For VBG hours visit

Serra Cross Park is open by reservation only at

The Honor Guard and Color Guard perform honorable farewells at military ceremonies and burials

Each member of the Honor/Color Guards were pinned with the American flag.

by Ana Baker

On October 26th the Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurses Association hosted a thank-you event at the Poinsettia Pavilion to honor the Marine Corps League – President Ronald Reagan Det#597/VFW Post 10049, Vietnam Veterans of Ventura County, and 1st Memorial Honors Detail who provide details Honor/Color Guards throughout the county.

The Honor Guard and Color Guard perform honorable farewells at military ceremonies and burials for their fellow veterans. They take time away from their jobs and daily lives to perform the veterans’ final farewell, rain or shine. The comfort and pride that these amazing volunteers give is priceless. The ceremony includes folding the flag, presenting the flag, carrying out gun salutes and playing taps. They have performed over 175 events this year alone. This was the first time the Honor Guards and the Color Guards have been publicly recognized for their efforts.

The Ventura County Veteran Services Office and Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association have been honoring veterans and thanking them for their service to our nation for the past four years. In attendance at Friday’s event were, Mike McManus, County of Ventura – Veteran Services Officer and a Senior Master Sergeant, USAF (ret), Nancy Frawley from Assembly woman Jacqui Irwin’s office, friends and family members of veterans. A special thank you to the Poinsettia Pavilion who donated the space for this great event.

Each member of the Honor/Color Guards were pinned with the American flag and presented certificates of recognition from Congresswoman Julia Brownley’s office as well as Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin’s office.

Diana “Dinah” J. Davis the business manager for Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association who organized the event said, “It is time to give back and say thank you to these great men and women who serve our community with the Honor Guard and the Color Guard”.

For more information about the military honor and color guards contact the County of Ventura Veteran Services Office at (805) 477-5155.

For more information about Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association’s “We honor Veterans” program, visit their website at

Legal victory secures protection for Santa Clara River Steelhead

Conservation groups have scored a key courtroom victory for endangered Southern California steelhead harmed by operation of the Vern Freeman Dam on the Santa Clara River.

In a 152-page decision issued by Honorable Judge David O. Carter, the court found United Water Conservation District violated the federal Endangered Species Act by clearly causing past, ongoing, and future harm to steelhead as a result of the dam’s barrier to fish movement and diversion of water. Finding that United “dragged its feet” on critical solutions, and that “United has proved itself unable and unwilling to tackle the two key problems repeatedly identified as perpetuating harm to steelhead,” Judge Carter ordered measures needed to prevent the harm from continuing and to allow for steelhead recovery.

The 1,200-foot-wide, 25-foot-high Freeman Dam’s ineffective fish ladder, combined with United’s diversion of the Santa Clara River’s flow at the dam, prevent steelhead from returning to their prime upstream spawning habitat in the river and migrating to the ocean.

Southern California steelhead are a federally protected, endangered anadromous fish that mature in the ocean but return inland to spawn in freshwater upstream. The Santa Clara River historically supported thousands of steelhead and is critical for the recovery of steelhead throughout their range.

The court’s ruling requires United to immediately ensure the river has sufficient flows for steelhead to swim the 10.5-mile stretch of river to and from the ocean. In addition, by January 2020, the court’s ruling requires United to fully design both a 400-foot wide notch and a hardened ramp solution to allow fish to migrate past the dam, and to construct the fish passage option acceptable to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Filed in federal court in June 2016, the lawsuit was decided after an 11-day trial with testimony from some of the most esteemed steelhead and fish passage experts.

The groups were represented at trial by lead counsel Christopher Sproul of Environmental Advocates; Jason Weiner, senior attorney and general counsel of Wishtoyo Foundation; Geneva EB Thompson, staff attorney for Wishtoyo Foundation; and Heather Kryczka of Environmental Advocates.

The Wishtoyo Foundation is a community-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit with over 700 members consisting of Ventura County residents, Chumash Native Americans, and the general public that enjoys, depends on, and visits Ventura County’s inland and coastal waterbodies to protect, preserve, and restore the ecological integrity and water quality of Ventura County’s inland waterbodies, coastal waters, and watersheds.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Give thanks for good health by giving blood or platelets

The American Red Cross urges people to share their good health this holiday season by donating blood or platelets for patients in need.

A decline in donations occurs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day when donors are busy with holiday activities and travel. However, medical treatments and emergencies that require blood don’t stop for the holidays. The Red Cross is thanking those who carve out time to give Nov. 21-24 with a long-sleeved T-shirt, while supplies last.

Patients like 6-year-old Ava King will continue to need transfusions critical to their care this holiday season. Ava has Diamond-Blackfan anemia, which impacts her body’s ability to produce enough red blood cells.

“We are so thankful for blood donors, because Ava relies on blood transfusions every month to stay alive and thrive,” said Ava’s mother, Tina King. “It’s truly a gift!”

By giving blood or platelets, donors may give patients more time – and more holidays – with loved ones. Make an appointment to donate blood or platelets by downloading the free American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Another way to help keep the blood supply strong this winter is to host a Red Cross blood drive in December, January or February. To learn more about hosting a blood drive and to sign up, visit

Upcoming blood donation opportunities Nov. 16-30



11/20/2018: 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Knights of Columbus, 36 S. Figueroa St.

11/26/2018: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Ventura College, 4667 Telegraph Road

How to donate blood

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at or use the Blood Donor App.

Another way to support the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross is to become a volunteer transportation specialist and deliver lifesaving blood products to local area hospitals. Volunteer transportation specialists play a very important role in ensuring an ample blood supply for patients in need by transporting blood and blood products. For more information and to apply for a volunteer transportation specialist position, visit

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or Twitter at @RedCross.

Sign grants available for nonprofits

Until November 30, any Ventura County 501(c)3 nonprofit can apply for a Fastsigns of Ventura sign grant worth over $1000 to help increase visibility for their cause. The sign grant package includes a full color custom table throw, retractable banner stand with graphic, bent easel table top sign, 250 decals and 500 postcards valued at over $1000. A second grant will be awarded which includes a full color custom table throw and 500 postcards.

Getting noticed with great signs and graphics can increase fundraising, membership, volunteer support and more,” said Saurabh Bajaj, Owner Fastsigns of Ventura. “Last year Straight Up Ventura County earned the grant for their commitment to youth advocacy, peer education and parent education as they clearly demonstrated a need for the sign grant and a plan for using the items.”

Ventura County 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations who engage in outreach efforts that require tabling, branded marketing & educational materials can apply online for a sign grant package, details at For questions, please with subject Sign Grant. Please no phone calls.

Seminar addresses new therapies for asthma

Asthma today afflicts one in 12 adults in the United States and every year is responsible for about 439,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths. The good news is that increasingly effective asthma treatments have been developed over the years as the medical field continues to explore new treatments.

People with asthma and their loved ones are invited to attend a free seminar in Ventura on Nov. 14, when Dr. Prashant Verma, a local expert in treating people with allergies and asthma, will share information about new therapies that provide relief for children and adults suffering from asthma.

Dr. Verma received his medical degree from Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University, completed internal medicine training at the UC San Diego Medical Center and received allergy-immunology training at UCLA Veterans Affairs Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. He is board certified in internal medicine and allergy-immunology. Dr. Verma is an active member of the Community Memorial Hospital medical staff.

The Nov. 14 seminar will begin at 6 p.m. in the eighth-floor Nichols Auditorium at Community Memorial Hospital, 147 N. Brent St. Registration is free but reservations are required. For reservations, visit or call Brown Paper Tickets at 800-838-3006.

Community Memorial Health System is a not-for-profit health system, which is comprised of Community Memorial Hospital, Ojai Valley Community Hospital, the Centers for Family Health, and various outpatient centers serving communities located within Ventura County, California.

Hill Road Library wins two awards

The Ventura County Library has recently won two awards for the implementation of Open+ Express Hours at the Hill Road Library. Using innovative technology called Open+ by Bibliotheca, the Ventura County Library has expanded access to library services at the Hill Road Library during “Express Hours” by opening to the public before the library is officially staffed.

The two awards are from CA County Information Services Directors Association (CCISDA) and the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) and both recognize innovation in government.

CCISDA awarded Ventura County Library the 2018 Innovation Award for large counties: Business Process Re-Engineering Automation Category – Library Express Hours at the Hill Road Library.

CCISDA is the official organization of the county IT directors and CIO’s throughout the state of California. CCISDA represents all 58 California counties in the area of information technology and county government.

CSAC presented Ventura County Library with a Merit Award in their 2018 Challenge Awards, again for the “Library Express Hours” project at the Hill Road Library.

CSAC’s annual statewide program honors innovation and best practices in county government. Ventura County Library’s project was selected as one of 36 Merit awards out of 267 entries. An independent panel of judges with expertise in county programs selected the award recipients.

Hill Road Library is the newest of Ventura County Library’s branches, opening in December, 2017. It boasts being only the second library in the U.S. to use Open+ technology. The library is configured with self-service in mind, supplementing staffed services.

During Open+ Express Hours at Hill Road, customers can checkout laptops, use WIFI, meet and collaborate, checkout print and electronic collections, and use research materials.

Customers 18 and over in good standing may opt-in for “Express Service,” allowing access to self-services and the facility without staff assistance. To get started, they are given a short orientation from staff, reviewing entry points, services available, and the code of conduct.

With Hill Road’s morning Open+ Express Hours, the Library and the community enjoy a 30% increase in total hours of operation and services available at Hill Road Library.

“We are extremely happy to have been able to not only open a new library branch on the east side of Ventura, but to extend the hours of access to the community who values it so highly!  … Open+ is making a real difference in the community and the level of access we can provide to library services,” says Nancy Schram, Ventura County Library Director.


Jump in to help: Foster VC Kids

Foster VC Kids reminds interested community members there are many ways to help the 800 local foster youth. The need is now. Becoming a resource parent means helping a child or teen by fostering, mentoring or providing permanency.

There are more than 800 Ventura County children in foster care, from newborns to teens, who need nurturing resource families to help them thrive while separated from their families of origin. These youth come to Foster VC Kids when they have been exposed to neglect, domestic violence, parental illness such as mental health or drug/alcohol abuse that impacts the child’s safety.  Through no fault of their own, children and youth are then separated from their birth families, including siblings, and brought into foster care.  Learn more at

“Even though foster care is temporary, caregivers (resource parents) play a critical role in helping to heal a child’s trauma,” said Judy Webber, Deputy Director, Department of Children & Family Services, Ventura County Human Services Agency.  Webber added that “resource parents provide so much more than just a home, they help heal and strengthen families in our community through simple connections and understanding.”

Additional resource families are needed now in Ventura County, especially in the cities of Oxnard and Ventura.  In a recent radio interview supporting Foster VC Kids and encouraging community members to take action, Supervisor Steve Bennett said, “If you saw a youth drowning in a pool, you would immediately jump in to help. Foster youth are in that same kind of urgent need… Please jump in to help.”

Resource parents – whether fostering, mentoring or providing permanency – have the full support of the Foster VC Kids team, including social workers.  Extensive training and support services (including medical and dental care) are available to ensure caregivers have the tools to nurture, protect and care for local children and teens in need.  Visit to watch the informational video or call 805-654-3220 to learn more about helping a local youth today.

Foster VC Kids is a program of Ventura County’s Children and Family Services

Recognized as a best practices leader statewide in the family recruitment and support component of child welfare, Foster VC Kids provides resource families with ongoing support services, trauma-informed training, and mentorship to enhance the safety, permanency and well-being of Ventura County’s youth and families.  Learn how Foster VC Kids is making a difference throughout Ventura County,