Temple spray painted with swastika. Incident being investigated as a hate crime.

On Jan.3, at approximately 10:30pm, a Nazi swastika was painted on both sides of the exterior sign at Temple Beth Torah located at 7620 Foothill Rd. The Ventura synagogue is the most recent local target of anti-Semitic vandalism.

Temple Rabbi Lisa Hochberg told the Breeze, “Over the front door of Temple Beth Torah is a banner, created in the wake of the Pittsburgh massacre, that reads “stronger than hate”. A swastika painted on our Temple sign was met with so much anger, sadness, and outcry from our non-Jewish Community as well as the Jewish community, that I know that “love over hate” prevails. Anti-Semitism is not new, but it is also not inevitable. Being quiet and complacent cannot educate others to the scourge of racism, intolerance and violent behavior that we are witnessing locally and nationally. Thank you to the many community members, local ministers, pastors and rabbis in Ventura who have reached out with love and support to Temple Beth Torah. We are not deterred from living in the world as Jews and continuing the work of *Tikkun Olam, making this world a place where people live with mutual respect. Sadly, racism may be at the top of the list of things we must fight, together with good people of all faiths, backgrounds and sensibilities.”

She continued, “Someone driving by Temple saw the swastika and called 911. Thank you for doing what we all must be reminded to do, to take action when we see unacceptable behavior. The graffiti has been removed and Temple continues to be an active vibrant place with doors open to all people of good heart. We are grateful to the Ventura Police Department for their support and assistance in this vandalism.”

Ventura resident Esther Cole stated, “That’s all it takes. One swastika led to the death of millions of people,

and World War II. Any one, and everyone, who is against any kind of discrimination, should be aware of this episode, and alert to any kind of behavior that discriminates against any religion or any ethnicity.”

Anybody with information or is a witness to this crime is asked to contact the Ventura Police Department at 339-4488 or 339-4416.

*Tikkun Olam is a concept in Judaism, interpreted in Orthodox Judaism as the prospect of overcoming all forms of idolatry, and by other Jewish denominations as an aspiration to behave and act constructively and beneficially. Documented use of the term dates back to the Mishnaic period.

Millions face cut in SNAP Food Assistance if government shutdown continues

by Dottie Rosenbaum

If the partial government shutdown that began in late December continues into February, there may not be sufficient appropriations for food assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to provide full benefits for that month. And if the shutdown continues into March, little or no benefits likely will be paid in that month. As a result, millions of low-income households — including millions of poor children, parents, elderly people, and people with disabilities — could have their basic food assistance cut back substantially in February and then virtually eliminated altogether starting in March if the shutdown continues. The President stated several days ago that the shutdown could go on for months or even years.

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) may rule, however, that the only appropriation available for SNAP after January is the program’s $3 billion “contingency reserve,” which was made available through the fiscal year 2018 appropriations act. But SNAP benefits currently amount to about $4.8 billion a month, so the $3 billion reserve cannot fully fund February benefits.

The guidance that USDA has issued so far during the shutdown makes clear that “[eligible households will still receive monthly . . . SNAP benefits for January.” But by mid-January, states typically would begin sending the necessary data regarding households’ February SNAP benefits to the electronic benefit transfer (EBT) contractors that they use. This information shows how much in SNAP benefits to load on to each eligible household’s EBT card, which households then swipe at the store to redeem their SNAP benefits.

SNAP provides food assistance averaging about $125 per person, and about $245 per household, per month to more than 38 million individuals in more than 19 million households. SNAP is heavily focused on the poor: 92 percent of benefits go to households with cash incomes at or below the poverty line, and 56 percent go to households at or below half of the poverty line (about $10,390 for a family of three in 2019). Families with the greatest need receive the largest benefits. Close to 70 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children; nearly a third are in households with seniors or people with disabilities.

Those USDA officials and others in the Administration who are able to work during the shutdown are apparently assessing their options and developing a plan for how to proceed. It isn’t clear when USDA will notify states and EBT contractors about the steps it is requiring them to take to reduce February benefits. For now, participants and others who may wish to apply should continue operating as though the shutdown were not in effect.

What will happen in coming weeks with respect to SNAP thus is cause for very substantial concern. If the shutdown continues and USDA determines it does not have the authority to extend SNAP in the absence of congressional action, many low-income households would be at risk of serious hunger and hardship. Emergency food assistance providers such as food banks and food pantries, as well as other local community service providers, would likely see dramatic increases in demand as families and individuals scrambled to fill the hole in their monthly food budgets. In addition, the more than 250,000 supermarkets, grocery stores, and other retailers that participate in SNAP would see a substantial drop in SNAP redemptions, which in many cases constitute a significant share of their sales.

Fire in the Arundell Barranca

On Jan.5, at 4pm, the Ventura County Fire Communication Center received multiple reports of a structure fire in the area of Whittier Ct. in the City of Ventura. Ventura City Fire Department resources were quickly dispatched and arrived to find a fire burning in heavy vegetation in the Arundell Barranca to the rear of the reported address.  The first arriving fire resources reported a well-established ¼ acre vegetation and tree fire burning in and around the Arundell Barranca adjacent to Camino Real Park. Early detection by alert residents and the quick actions of firefighters using multiple hand lines to contain, control and extinguish the fire eliminated the threat to residential exposures and property. The fire was contained to ¼ acre.

The quick and coordinated actions of firefighters eliminated the immediate impact to any residential structures or residential property. Fire resources were committed for approximately 2 hours and no civilian or fire personnel injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation and the incident was released to Ventura Parks Department for vegetation removal and fence line repairs.

Ventura College Foundation receives $2 million donation from Helen Yunker estate

Helen always remained glamorous.

The Ventura College Foundation has received a $2 million donation from the Helen Yunker estate.

Honoring Yunker’s request, the donation will establish endowments for the Ventura College Music Department and the Opera and Musical Theatre program. The gift will be split evenly between the two.

“Helen has been a fixture in Ventura since moving here in 1958,” says Dr. Damon Bell, president of Ventura College. “She was a generous volunteer, supporter and donor to many local organizations in the areas of education, medicine, youth, theater and the arts. We are very grateful to Helen for her contributions to our art, heritage and culture at the college and in the community.”

Yunker, who died in July at age 96, served on the Ventura College Foundation Board for 18 years. This past May, the Foundation Board of Directors honored her service and leadership by naming her as a Board Emeritus Member. Over the course of almost three decades, Yunker donated more than $945,000 to the Ventura College Foundation. She had taken a special interest in the Opera Workshop for many years and was known to do a little singing and dancing of her own.

The Ventura County Ballet, accompanied by the Ventura College Symphony Orchestra, paid tribute to Yunker at The Nutcracker performances held in December at Ventura College in the Helen Yunker Auditorium. For eight years and well into her 90s, Yunker had a cameo role as the maid at the beginning of the yearly production.

“Helen’s gift will enable students who share her passion for music and theatre to express themselves and thrive in a creative setting,” says Anne Paul King, executive director of the foundation. “It’s a wonderful legacy.”

Established in 1983, the Ventura College Foundation provides financial support to the students and the programs of Ventura College to facilitate student success and grow the impact and legacy of Ventura College as a vital community asset. The Foundation also hosts the Ventura College Foundation Marketplace; an outdoor shopping experience held every weekend on the Ventura College campus east parking lot. For more information, contact Anne Paul King at (805) 289-6461 or aking@vcccd.edu or visit www.VCgiving.org.

Ribbon cutting for first two homes rebuilt after the Thomas Fire

by Richard Lieberman

Ed and Sandy Fuller celebrated the completion of their home rebuild after the Thomas fire devastated their neighborhood and reduced their beloved home to ashes. A ribbon-cutting ceremony by Ventura city officials was held in front of the new home and another across the street at the newly completed residence of Michael and Sandra Gustafson who also lost their home to the Thomas Fire.

Newly appointed Mayor Matt LaVere spoke during the event, recalled watching the devastation and wondering how the city could ever recover from the catastrophic event that leveled over 500 homes in Ventura. LaVere said ”But we sat down that next week and we were talking about the idea of Ventura strong and the amazing strength and resiliency of this community. We said our number one priority in 2018 has to get homes rebuilt and back into their homes. And here we are one year later, celebrating the first two homeowners who have rebuilt and are moving back into their homes and I think that is a momentous occasion.”

Ed Fuller is an avid singer and was at a rehearsal for his barbershop quartet in Camarillo when news of the spreading Thomas Fire reached him. Fuller raced back to his Ventura home, but like 500 other Ventura families, his home would be destroyed.

On the morning of the ribbon cutting ceremony, Ed and his barbershop quartet performed for the gathered guests and city officials. Views of the Channel Islands and the hillsides visible from the rebuilt home added to the jubilant mood. A little over a year ago there was nothing but a scorched and debris filled lot. Today they would be finally moving into their rebuilt home.

Sandy Fuller was excited, “All I can say is I am so excited,” She said as she hugged each guest entering the home to tour the newly built structure. “Last year was so sad,” she added.

Jeff Lambert, Community Development Director for the city in remarks to the gathered crowd said: “It’s been a long year since the biggest fire in modern history hit the city.”

The numbers tell part of the rebuilding story:

  • 165 building permits issued, meaning construction can start.
  • 410 Permits issued for repairs
  • 106 plans in a review, which usually means a building permit isn’t far behind
  • 289 Zoning clearances issued
  • 483 appointments with property owners and architects

“It’s pretty exciting to see this much activity,” Lambert added, “The Clearpoint neighborhood has the beginnings of several other homes, poles up, foundations set, fences erected around lots.” He said.

Lambert added “In recent weeks, in addition to helping homeowners rebuild he has also been giving information to other cities now going through a similar process. The Hill and Woolsey fires in East Ventura County, and Los Angeles County destroyed more than 1,000 homes,”

Lambert said “Ventura learned from Santa Rosa,” and now he and others are passing along what they have learned to Calabasas, Thousand Oaks and Malibu.

Across the street from the Fullers Michael and Sandra Gustafson also held a ribbon cutting where the same crowd of well-wishers and city officials assembled.

“It feels so good,” Sandra said. “It’s good to have Sandy and Ed as neighbors because I think we were trying to keep up with them,” she added.

“I feel elated it has been a long year a rough road,” said Michael Gustafson just after cutting the red ribbon to his newly rebuilt home. “You know it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” added Gustafson. “The city was excellent, they really helped out the city did what they told us they would do,”

“We poured the foundation on the second of July, so it’s been five or six months and were done,” he said. “Our insurance was excellent we didn’t have any problems at all, they were just excellent,” added Gustavson.

The first two homes in Ventura have been completed and ready to move into. A true milestone has been reached in the efforts of Venturan’s to recover from the devastation, sadness and human tragedy that was the Thomas fire.

Re-printed from the Ventura Breeze issues 2018

After more than 20 years as an active businessman and community volunteer in Ventura, Neal Andrews was encouraged by many citizens of Ventura to run for City Council. He was elected on his first attempt in 2001. Now 16-years later he has been selected to be Ventura’s mayor by the City Council. Council member Matt LaVere, who was elected in 2016, became deputy mayor on a 7-0 vote.

He had been the longest-serving council member to never hold the post of mayor. His colleagues voted 7-0 for him to be mayor. He succeeded Nasarenko at the conclusion of his two-year term.

When elected little did he know that his first concern would be the devastating fires that have over -whelmed Ventura.

The City Council members voted 7-0 to adopt an electoral district map for the 2018 and 2020 election cycles, which brings the arduous work to change from an “at large” election process to a district election process almost to a close. The re-districting project spans nearly four years, begun in 2014, and involved dozens of council meetings, public notices, thousands of hours of community involvement, staff dedication and input from a professional election consultant.

In the final evaluation, valid maps had to meet key requirements of the Federal Voting Rights Act (FVRA) and California Voting Rights Act (CVRA).

The Thomas Fire Benefit Festival will be held at Plaza Park on Saturday, February 3, and will kick off with a VIP Chef Experience followed with live music featuring Kevin Costner and Modern West; Olivia Newton John (on her own recovery tour after second bout with breast cancer); three-time platinum hip hop and rap artist from Ventura, Super Duper Kyle; Grammy award winner, Colbie Caillat; Ventura’s own Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and as Mark Hartley teased, there may be a few more bands added.

On Tuesday, January 23 Nuvi Mehta, the VMF Janet & Mark L. Goldenson Artistic Director, introduced the large audience gathered at the Museum of Ventura County to the artists appearing at the 2018 Ventura Music Festival. He was assisted by Executive Director Susan Scott. Refreshments and entertainment were provided at the free event.

THE VMF reminds all that “The fires have left members of the Festival staff along with numerous friends and neighbors in need of basic resources like food, clothing and shelter. Many people and organizations are rallying to meet those needs and, in time, they will be met.”

Teams of bulldozers, excavators and other heavy equipment are working throughout the Thomas Fire burn areas as CalRecycle works to clear debris. Thirty-five teams are clearing properties with an expected completion date in April. Property owners who have not signed up for the CalRecycle program, or the County’s local program, face the possibility of having their property abated by the County and the cost added to their property tax bill.

The CalRecycle program operates at no direct cost to homeowners. Under the program, properties are cleared down to clean soil and the debris is taken to a landfill. But homeowners must sign up for the program. Almost 700 properties have been approved for the CalRecycle program and approximately 50 properties have already been cleared.

CFROG (Citizens for responsible oil and gas) held a protest march in Ventura. The environmental group is working to stop the federal government’s plan to open the coastline to more oil and gas drilling. Since the 1980’s offshore oil and gas leases have virtually been put on hold. This past January the Department of the Interior released a proposal to sell oil and gas leases in federal U.S. waters, including off the coast of California.

As the largest wildfire in the state’s history, the Thomas Fire generated some staggering statistics. It burned 281,893 acres (440 square miles). At its most devastating, it was being fought by an army of firefighters more than 8,000 strong. More than 1,000 structures were destroyed. And the fire’s most-sobering statistic is the 23 fatalities – including one firefighter – which resulted from the fire and its associated debris flow.

The County of Ventura, in cooperation with the cities of Ventura, Santa Paula, Ojai and Fillmore, initiated a fire recovery process weeks before the fire was even declared contained. The Ventura County Recovers website was launched on December 10, 2017, six days after the fire started. Since then it has had more than 45,000 unique visitors and about 200,000 page views.

Community members visited Arroyo Verde Park on Friday, February 16 to celebrate its partial reopening. The park, located at Foothill and Day Roads, was closed for approximately 10-weeks to ensure safe conditions for park users and repair damage due to the Thomas Fire and January rain event.

City crews and contractors worked hard to restore and reopen this highly visited park for the community to enjoy. The work included removing burned debris, tree removal, trail repair and installing mitigation measures for rain events.

Let’s play! The City of Ventura Parks, Recreation & Community Partnerships Department is proud to announce the official Grand Opening and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for Kellogg Park, located at the corner of Kellogg Street and Ventura Avenue, on Saturday, April 14 from 10 am-noon. Opening day festivities include live music, games of cornhole and chess, free snacks and giveaways (while supplies last). Explore the park and all of its new amenities including play and exercise equipment, a walking path, turf slide, public art, and an amphitheater.

Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation will conduct a groundbreaking ceremony for its newest affordable housing development, Phase II of Snapdragon Place Apartments, at 10 a.m., Thursday, April 5, at Snapdragon Place Apartments, 11094 Snapdragon Street, Ventura.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. with a reception in the Community Room at Snapdragon Place Apartments. The program will include a welcome address from Cabrillo and its project partners. Following the program, attendees will walk to the building site for the groundbreaking ceremony and photos.

March 14th marked the one-month anniversary since seventeen lives were senselessly taken by a shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14th.

Declared “National Walkout Day”, students from 2,800 schools across the U.S. showed solidarity for the victims in Florida.

Here in Ventura, students at Ventura High School took part as well, marching and carrying signs that read, “Students Take Action!”, “Enough! Keep Us Safe!” and my favorite, “Fear Has No Place in Our Schools!”. As they marched, the students chanted, “end the violence! no more silence!” and in one of the videos taken, you can hear a student say, “this is way more organized than I thought it would be!”.

With the video being captured by a drone, the students at Cabrillo Middle School sent out a message of love by standing together on their field and forming a heart.

On Wednesday, Mar. 28, ground was broken on the Rancho Verde Apartments, the first USDA Section 514 rental housing property to be developed by the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura (HACSB). It will be the first net zero energy multifamily residential property in the City of Ventura.

In this new development, 24 USDA Rural Housing units will be constructed as a multi-family site for farmworker households. Rancho Verde Ventura LP, a limited partnership affiliated with the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura, is the owner and the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura will be property manager. It is located at S. Saticoy Avenue and Blackburn Rd.

The Ventura County Fairgrounds receives no tax dollars or any other State funding. The Fair and maintenance of the Fairgrounds is made possible by self-generating funds.

To best serve the public in all of these capacities the Fairgrounds is making some hard decisions on how to responsibly use the funds generated through the year. Properly maintaining the Fairgrounds is most important to ensure its safety and readiness in good times and in times of crisis. To that end the Fairgrounds has regretfully announced it will reduce spending by eliminating the Fair Parade and reducing the number of Fireworks shows.

A fire that broke out on March 27, at about 2:30 pm on Santa Cruz Island is now fully contained. The fire, driven by moderately strong winds, grew from just 20 to 100 acres in the first three hours.

The fire escaped from a prescribed small burn pile fire that had been set earlier this week. It started near the main ranch on The Nature Conservancy property.

The Ventura Breeze is holding an “un-official” Name The Green Pig Contest for the new pig that was in the St. Pats Parade to replace the one that died last year. Send you suggestions to editor@venturabreeze.com. They will be submitted to the pig committee for their consideration.

On April 18th at 6:23pm, a 911 call reported that a homeless man was at the Ventura Promenade yelling and “being disruptive,” according to a statement issued by Ventura Police. Because all patrol cars were on other calls, the command center staff watched the pier’s security camera for twenty minutes and determined that a man matching the caller’s description was not threatening or disturbing.

At about 6:30pm, a homeless man, Jamal Jackson (49) entered the Aloha Steakhouse patio and stabbed patron Anthony Mele (35) in the neck. Mele was eating dinner with his family and had no connection to Jackson. Aloha employees quickly responded with first aid using towels to stop Mele’s bleeding. They took Mele’s family to a back room to comfort them. Mele’s wife appeared to be in shock. His daughter was given ice-cream. Mele was taken to the hospital and later died. The tragedy marks the city’s first homicide this year.

The City of Ventura and The Trust for Public Land held the long-awaited and highly anticipated Grand Opening of Kellogg Park on Saturday, April 14, from 10 am to noon. Nestled between rolling green hills, on the corner of Kellogg and Ventura Avenue, the park features state of the art amenities including: two playgrounds (for ages 2-5 and 5-12), nature play areas, permanent cornhole stations, chess and checker tables, outdoor fitness equipment stations, an amphitheater, and ¼ mile walking path.

Five new Ventura Police Officers graduated from the Ventura County Criminal Justice Training Center’s Academy this month and are now in their next phase of field training!

Congratulations to Officer Rolls for being presented with the “Outstanding Personal Traits Award” and Officer Allen for being presented with the “Outstanding Academic Achievement & Scenario Performance Award”.

The 49 recruits, representing agencies throughout Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties completed 24 weeks of instruction provided through the combined efforts of local law enforcement agencies and other criminal justice entities.

The final results of the Breeze VERY UNOFFICIAL naming of the green pig are in. The long list of funny names sent to us by readers were submitted to a panel of Breeze staffers for review and selection. Of the names submitted over 15 received at least one vote. The winning name is HAMLET. Other names that were right behind HAMLET were PIGASSO, HAM SOLO and ALBERT EINSWINE.

And who knows, at next year’s St. Pats Parade the pig might still be named BACON. But let’s get serious, the name of an inflatable green pig is really not very important, but we had fun.

Thursday May 3rd, George and Debbie Fox presented United Way of Ventura County a check for $60,900. When asked how this project came about, Debbie Fox explained, “the Thomas Fires occurred on Monday and by Thursday we decided we had to do something!”.

Before becoming Ventura Water’s new General Manager, Kevin Brown, now a retired Navy Captain, worked in the Pentagon as chairman of the Strategic Laydown Assessment for the Chief of Naval Operations, a nine-billion-dollar annual program.

With an annual revenue of around $94 miilion, Ventura Water brought in Brown specifically for his strategic planning experience for infrastructure. He had been on the job only 2 short months when the Thomas Fires erupted.

The City of Ventura has issued the first full-home Thomas Fire rebuild permits to property owners who lost their homes in the fire last December. The City of Ventura Community Development Department worked closely with the homeowners and architects to issue building permits.

The Ventura City Council took several steps early on to help residents rebuild homes on fire-damaged properties by instituting a streamlined and expedited approach. After the Thomas Fire, policy changes were made to accelerate the recovery process such as a allowing homeowners to maintain their legal nonconforming status and instituting a 14-business day turnaround for permit plan check(normally at least 6-weeks). To help review rebuilding permits, the City contracted with outside firms to support the workload and ensure Thomas Fire rebuilding applications are given priority.

The Ventura City Council adopted a Fireworks Social Host Ordinance during its regular meeting on June 18, 2018. Under the new ordinance, any homeowner, renter, or person in charge of a residence or other private property who knows or should know of the sale, use, and/or possession of any fireworks on private property are subject to a civil penalty levied by the City of Ventura.

Ventura Police Officers are investing in local youth as Detective Marchetti, Officer Rodriguez, Officer Lopez, Detective Quiorz and Detective Henderson took 20 local youth to the Dodger game on June 15. The effort, funded by the Ventura Police Community Foundation, is part of the Ventura Police Department’s efforts at crime prevention through mentorship of at risk youth.

The City Council voted on July 9 to approve moving ahead with plans to open a year-round homeless shelter. The council voted 7-0 in favor of moving ahead with city and county officials in drafting terms of the proposal. The shelter will be located at 2323 Knoll Drive, a 4-story property owned by the county. The county would lease the space to the city for a possible $1.00 per year.

Twelve years ago, Turning Point Foundation took a group of people living along in the river bottom in tents and started them on the path to hope and the promise of better things to come: A new beginning at River Haven where they have been living in cleverly-designed Geodesic domes that have surpassed their lifespan of five years by many years.

On July 27, a ribbon cutting was held to celebrate the new small houses made by Tuff Sheds as a replacement for the domes. Tuff Sheds have a 30-year guarantee.

ParkMobile, the leading provider of smart parking and mobility solutions in the US, is partnering with the City of Ventura to allow drivers to pay for metered on-street parking spaces Downtown using their mobile devices. Beginning July 17, customers can register for free through the app for iPhone, Android or online at Parkmobile.IO.

The ParkMobile app allows motorists to park, pay for parking via their mobile device, and not be required to stop or wait in line at a pay station to pay for or add time.

On Monday, August 7, 1978, Sergeant Darlon “Dee” Dowell became the only Ventura Police Officer killed in the line of duty. The City named Dowell Drive, the location of police headquarters, in Sergeant Dowell’s honor in 1979.

On August 7, 2018 Sergeant Dowell’s Family, retired Ventura Police Personnel, Ventura Police Officers and Civilian Staff held a ceremony at Ivy Lawn in honor of Sergeant Dowell’s life.

A scholarship set up in honor of Sergeant Dowell by the Ventura Police Officers Association has awarded over $100,000 to local students.

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

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.

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.

Community Memorial Health System has once again been awarded the American Heart/American Stroke Association’s “Gold Plus Achievement Award” as well as the association’s “Target Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus Achievement Award” which highlights the health system’s dedication to the highest standards in stroke care. Both recognitions will be featured in US News & World Report.

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.

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). 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 Ventura City Council announced today that it has selected Alex McIntyre as the new City Manager of Ventura. McIntyre is scheduled to begin with the City in mid-November. He replaces Mark Watkins who left in December 2017 after five years in the City Manager position.

Nine new Ventura Police Officers graduated from the Ventura County Criminal Justice Training Center’s Academy on October 12, 2018. The recruits completed 25 weeks of instruction provided through the combined efforts of local law enforcement agencies and other criminal justice entities. The intense training and education prepare these recruits for the responsibilities of serving the community as peace officers.

 

“Pay Tribute to This Wonderful Man” that is how Kathy Powell, the chair of Lift up Your Voice, worded a reminder for a celebration of the career of Neal Andrews. Andrews has served on the Ventura City Council since 2001, and is currently mayor. This is his last term.

Community members came together on Tuesday evening October 30 to honor Andrews for his tireless activism in the area of homeless services and celebrate what he has meant to those who often felt they were alone in their mission to help the less fortunate.

On Nov. 25, a ribbon cutting was held at the Turning Point Foundation Our Place Safe Haven located at 536 E. Thompson. Safe Haven is the first stop on the road to recovery for mental health issues and homelessness. This 10 bed shelter provides a safe place to live where basic needs are met and the most vulnerable receive mental health treatment, assistance establishing a stable source of income, and help obtaining transitional housing with the goal of permanent housing.  Drop in services include hot meals, showers, laundry facilities, phone messages and mail delivery and case management.

The Ventura Botanical Gardens (VBG) held its grand reopening on Saturday, November 3. The Gardens have been closed nearly one year since the Thomas Fire. The fire swept through the entire 109 acres of the park; very few plants were spared.

Now many of the original plants are showing signs of recovery, and many new specimens have been planted. Fire-damaged walkways were repaired or rebuilt. A new hand-hewn rock staircase is now in place and the long-awaited Merewether Welcome Center is open.

On Monday, December 3, the City of Ventura held a ceremony in observance of the one-year anniversary of the Thomas Fire. The ceremony was held on the front steps of Ventura City Hall proceeding the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

Comments were made by Deputy Mayor Matt LaVere and Fire Chief David Endaya, followed by a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives. Traditional bagpipe music was played by the Ventura City Firefighters Pipes & Drums Corps. Handheld battery candles were held to show support and reflect the strength of our community.

On a beautiful Sunday, Dec.2 a dedication was held at Serra Cross Park located in Grant Park to celebrate the repairs made after the Thomas Fire destroyed the area. Fr. Tom Elewaut from the Mission San Buenaventura gave a blessing to the Park. New landscaping, and grass made the area look as good as it did prior to the Thomas Fire. Even though the area is now usable Grant Park remains closed, but, by reservation Serra Cross is available for private events.

At the last most recent city council meeting, a large crowd gathered to honor three outgoing members whose service spanned nearly seventy years. Attendees also saw Ventura history in the making as the new council members were seated.

Outgoing members Jim Monahan and Mike Tracy and Mayor Neal Andrews presided over the council for the last time as elected officials.

The evening was the first-time council members representing Ventura districts were seated. Members Sofia Rubalcava representing District one, Eric Nasarenko in District four, Jim Friedman in District five and Lorrie Brown in District 6.

After taking their places, the board’s first act was to unanimously choose Matt LaVere to be Mayor. The second vote was to choose Rubalcava as Deputy Mayor. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Ventura are picked by the council rather than a public vote.

Surprising many, Ventura Unified School District Superintendent David Creswell has announced that he will resign after serving as Superintendent for only 16-months.

The announcement came after several weeks of controversy surrounding a sermon that came to light that he delivered while an elder at Redeemer Baptist Church in Riverside in 2016. Creswell worked for the Fontana Unified School District at the time of the sermon. Only School Board Trustee Mary Haffner called for his resignation.

Creswell will continue to be on district payroll until Aug. 22, 2019, the end of his contract. Creswell will be available to the district during that time to provide assistance to district management as requested.

The Vagabond Coffee Shop will close January 1st after 52 years of continuous operations. The announcement of the closing was made by Jolene McBee 74, owner of the coffee shop in early December.

Not much has changed in the last 52 years of operations. The food, the ambiance and the welcoming nature of the wait staff have stayed the same. The diner, located at 756 E. Thompson Blvd. until now has been untouched by time.

The new Ocean Tower at Community Memorial Hospital opened to patients on Sunday, Dec. 16, when all the patients were transferred from their rooms in the old Mountain Tower to their new ones in the Ocean Tower. The transfer of CMH patients to the new building took the bulk of the day on Sunday and was completed without incident. Overall 130 patients were moved.

Keith Barnard joins Ventura College Foundation Board of Directors

VC Foundation welcomes Keith Barnard.

Keith Barnard, vice-president of sourcing at Mission Produce, has joined the board of directors of the Ventura College Foundation.

“The VC Foundation Board of Directors is excited to welcome Keith to the board,” says Rob van Nieuwburg, foundation board chair. “Keith brings an agriculture industry voice to the table. We are looking forward to partnering with Mission Produce and the local farming industry to expand programs for Ventura College students in agriculture.”

Barnard was born and raised in Ventura County. He attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where he obtained his BS in Agriculture Business. After graduating, he joined his father’s company, Mission Produce. As vice-president of sourcing, he focuses on securing avocados for input primarily from countries in North, Central and South America. Barnard’s family has been in agriculture for four generations.

“We are happy that together we can help to Charlie Sheen HIV positive diagnose to fight against it”

“Agriculture is one of the top employers in Ventura County,” says Barnard. “I would like to help introduce more programs at Ventura College that get young people excited about potential careers in the industry.”

DUI checkpoint nets 3 arrests

The Ventura Police Department Traffic Unit conducted a DUI/Driver’s License Checkpoint on Dec.28, The checkpoint was established at 9:23pm and screened approximately 862 vehicles traveling eastbound on Main Street from Callens Road. 3 drivers were arrested for DUI during the checkpoint.

One driver was arrested for 23152(a) and (b) CVC, 2800.1(a) CVC with a blood alcohol level of .20 BAC, one arrested for 23152(a) CVC and elected to provide a blood sample, and one arrested for 1203.2(a) PC and 23154(a) CVC with a blood alcohol level of .05 BAC.

The following is a list of additional enforcement activities during the Checkpoint:

  • 460 Vehicles screened
  • 12 Standard Field Sobriety Tests
  • 1 Driver cited for being suspended (14601.1(a) CVC)
  • 3 Driver cited for being unlicensed (12500 (a) CVC)
  • 3 Miscellaneous citations issued
  • 2 vehicles impounded

The deterrent effect of High Visibility Enforcement using both DUI checkpoints and DUI Saturation Patrols has proven to lower the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol or drug impaired crashes. Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized proactive DUI operations are conducted routinely.

DUI Checkpoints like this one are placed in locations based on collision statistics and frequency of DUI arrests, affording the greatest opportunity for achieving drunk and drugged driving deterrence. Locations are chosen with safety considerations for the officers and the public.

During the 2017 Christmas (Dec. 22-25) and New Year’s (Dec. 30-Jan. 2) holiday periods, 25 people were killed and 643 injured on California roads, according to data from the California Highway Patrol Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System.

Studies of California drivers have shown that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol.

Funding for this checkpoint is provided to the Ventura Police Department by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

New report spotlights education in Ventura County

For the first time, Ventura County’s major educational institutions have combined their resources to create a report that encompasses educational programs and achievements from elementary school to graduate school. The 2018 Ventura County Education Report to the Community is now available to view and download.

California Lutheran University, CSU Channel Islands, the Ventura Community College District and the Ventura County Office of Education jointly produced the 20-page publication. The report highlights the innovative ways Ventura County’s K-12 schools, community colleges and universities are expanding educational opportunity and achievement. The report also takes a look at the growing effort by educators to prepare students for the working world by providing the knowledge and skills sought after by local employers.

The report is being released by the Ventura County P-20 Council, which is a group of local education, business, government and nonprofit leaders who collaborate on educational issues.

The report is available to view as a digital magazine or download as a PDF document at www.vcp20.org/report. Printed copies are available at the Ventura County Office of education at 5100 Adolfo Rd. in Camarillo.