Category Archives: News and Notes

Bark Out Loud to support our K9 officers with laughter and dinner

The Ventura Police Department has five K9 teams assigned to patrol.

The Ventura Police K9 Unit announces the 7th Annual Bark Out Loud Comedy Night. This adult only event will be held on Sept. 29, at 7pm at the historic Olivas Adobe located at 4200 Olivas Park Drive.

The fundraiser is expected to attract nearly 300 people and will feature several well-known standup comics, live music, dinner, a silent auction, raffle, demonstrations and K9s!

Tickets for the event are $65 and can be purchased at

The Ventura Police Department has five K9 teams assigned to patrol. The teams are available for deployment 7 days a week, providing protection to our community around the clock. The K9s help locate and track missing persons, find narcotics and drugs and capture violent and fleeing suspects.

The proceeds from the event support the K9s! The K9 Unit relies on the generous donations of local businesses and community members to help pay for the cost of the K9s, training, equipment, food and veterinary expenses. The donations help keep K9s Bolt, Miles, Yoschi, Jag and Rover on our streets serving and protecting Ventura.

Community Memorial Hospital moves into new hospital 

CEO Gary K. Wilde has received the keys to the new CMH.

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.

Until then, and during the next four months, CMHS will install the final pieces of technology and equipment, provide safety training and new process/procedure training to all staff, train physicians on the new technology, stock the building with supplies, and install over 500 pieces of original artwork from local and regional artists.

Features of the Ocean Tower include 250 private rooms and expanded space in all critical healthcare areas such as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Emergency Department (which will offer 37 private rooms compared to 17 curtained bays in the old CMH), and the Intensive Care/Coronary Care Unit.

The surgical capacity increases as the new facility will feature 10 operating suites, as well as five new heart catheterization laboratories.  And, for moms, babies and children, an entire floor will be devoted to their well-being.

The new eight-acre CMHS campus also includes a public community park; a Healing Garden for patients and their families; and a Respite Garden for staff and visitors. Other new features include an outside dining terrace and additional parking spaces in a new parking structure for the hospital and the public.

For more information on the new hospital please go to

Free eye exams (and glasses) brought to you by Rotary, Lions and The Salvation Army

Jim Deardorff OD, Rotary; Chris Brashears, Rotary, Salvation Army Advisory Board; Steve Shaw, President Downtown Lions Club; Laura Hernandez, Salvation Army; Hardeep Kataria, optometrist and Lieutenant Fabio Simoes, Salvation Army, Rotary at the eye clinic.

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). Any Salvation Army case manager can make a client appointment where the patient will receive an eye exam and a free pair of glasses. 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 clinic was finally launched on July 12 many months after it was planned because of the Thomas Fire. Retired optometrist Jim Deardorff donated his equipment and optometrist Hardeep Kataria volunteers her time to give the exams.

Rotarian Chris Brashears stated “I was looking for more to do helping people locally.  In our Rotary Club we have three optometrist so it occurred to me that if we had a space we could open up a clinic to provide free eye exams and glasses to those in need. I went to Fabio and asked him to help me find a space. Fabio and Silvia, our Salvation Army Lieutenants have a hard time saying no donated the space.”

“Another Rotarian Indy Batra and I were driving to Vegas for business one day when I told him of my need to find an optometrist. He suggested his daughter in-laws sister Hardeep. She was the missing piece and without her we would not be in business, she donates her time always with a big smile. The Lions Club told me that they wanted to be involved and to just let them know when and where.”

“We have been funded to date by the Ventura Rotary Club and by the Downtown Lions Club. We have enough funds for this year and are looking for a free source to make the lens (our only expense). We have a lot of donated frames.”

“To date we have served approximately 30 patients with free glasses. The enjoyment comes from seeing them with their new glasses and the smile it brings to their face to be able to see clearly again.”

Silvia Benetti Simoes, Lieutenant Ventura Corps Officer stated “It has been a privilege to be part of this great organization where we can provide services that are needed for the community. The eye clinic is a new opportunity to show what the Salvation Army is all about, giving back.”

Lion Steve Shaw went on to say “Lions have long been associated with blindness prevention and sight restoration. The American author and activist Helen Keller, who was both blind and deaf, personally challenged Lions to “hasten the day when there would be no preventable blindness”. In her 1925 address to the Lions Club Foundation Convention in Cedar Point Ohio she asked Lions to constitute to become “Knights of the Blind” in her crusade against darkness. Since then more then 10 million children have been screened for eye disease and vision problems, 7.6 million have regained their sight through cataract surgery and 400,000 people each year receive recycled eyeglasses because of the Lions.”

Free Eye Exams Salvation Army Eye Clinic
Salvation Army Hope Center, 155 S Oak St, Ventura.
7:30am-9:30am Thursday. or 805-648-4977 for more information.

To donate eye glasses visit for a list of donation sites


Capture water with rainwater harvesting and greywater systems

Communities all across America are looking for alternative solutions to capture, store and reuse water.

Sustainability Now News
by Maryann Ridini Spencer (@MaryannRidiniSpencer)

“Rainwater harvesting and greywater reuse are two excellent onsite non-potable water reuse options,” said Laura Maher, Certified Greywater Installer and Water Harvesting Design Practitioner at Ventura Water’s “Rainwater and Greywater 101” gardening class held August 18th at the City’s Sanjon Maintenance Yard. The city holds free gardening classes once a month on Saturday mornings to inform and educate residents about water wise practices.

“Even though we have a reliable municipal water service, it’s important to embrace integrated water resource management strategies for a more sustainable water culture,” added Maher.

Communities all across America are looking for alternative solutions to capture, store and reuse water. According to a 2014 Government Accountability Report, 40 out of 50 state water managers expect water shortages under average conditions in some portion of their states over the next decade.

“Rainwater harvesting is a simple, low-cost water reuse system that can increase your backyard harvest while reducing storm runoff. It also recharges the aquifers and can lower a homeowner’s water bill. Greywater, on the other hand, is water that is gently used from laundry machines to landscape (L2L) or from bathroom sinks, bathtubs, and showers.”

“Passive rainwater harvesting in the ground is the easiest method of ensuring extra water in your landscape,” continued Maher. “With the installation of a bioswale, a gently sloped contoured drainage course filled with vegetation or compost that will divert, slow, spread, and sink water into the landscape. Installing a bioswale can be done by a homeowner, or it can be crafted and engineered by a landscape professional. “

Installation of bioswales also helps decrease urban runoff, the number one source of ocean pollution, from lawns, gardens, streets, and hardscapes.

“For residents interested in learning more about how to install a bioswale, I recommend visiting and sign up for some free ocean friendly garden workshops where they’ll get some great information as well as hands-on experience.”

Other means to capture water on the landscape would be to install a rain barrel or depending upon a homeowner’s intended use, a cistern.

“A living roof, where the roof of a home is partially or completely covered with vegetation planted over a waterproof membrane, is a more, but somewhat costly option,” said Maher.

“A greywater, laundry to landscape system is also relatively easy to install but still more complicated than installing a bioswale or rain barrel,” said Maher. “The only type of a greywater system that can be installed without a permit in Ventura County; however, is the L2L or laundry to landscape.”

Installing a greywater system does come with a set of mandatory regulations — no pooling of water, no runoff, no human contact, and no daylight (systems are installed subsurface). Additionally, because of the sodium content in most soaps (and borax), homeowners are required to use only soaps without sodium.

“When installing a greywater system, its best to know the codes,” said Maher. “It’s important that the greywater doesn’t contaminate the groundwater. For example, using soaps with sodium aren’t good for the landscape. Plus, nutrient-rich greywater can cause unwanted algae blooms in our watershed. Homeowners should send greywater strait to the soil and into mulch basins. Never store untreated greywater for more than 24 hours because it will become anaerobic (and give off a nasty odor). It’s also illegal.”

Contact Maher at

Find out more about rainwater and greywater, visit:

Find out more about upcoming free gardening classes, visit: and navigate to the gardening class icon.


Ventura College presents “Dreamers Set Your Course” events

Ventura College will host Dreamers Set Your Course, a series of free and safe events for the community to learn about resources available for undocumented students. Topics to be discussed include the Ventura College admissions process, financial aid information, support services for students, and community resources available for undocumented students. The events are free and open to the public.

Ventura College continues to stand with the Chancellor’s Office in aiming to reassure students that our campuses will remain safe, welcoming places for students of all backgrounds to learn and we are happy to provide this forum educating Dreamers on Ventura College resources.

The events will be hosted at local high schools to encourage students from K-12 to attend college. It is important to remind the community that higher education is possible and of the valuable resources available to make the dream of higher education a reality.

Thursday, September 13, 2018 – Santa Paula High School Cafeteria – 6:00—8:00pm

Thursday, September 20, 2018 – Ventura High School Cafeteria – 6:30—8:30pm

Wednesday, September 26, 2018 – Fillmore High School Library – 6:00—8:00pm

For more information please visit: or if you have any questions, please contact Wendolyne Lopez, Financial Aid Specialist/ AB540 Liaison at or (805) 289-6574 or Joseph Cordero, Student Outreach Specialist at or 805 289-6584.

Working together to keep our students safe

“Yes mother I’m always safe crossing the street. How many times do I need to tell you?”

As our students start the new school year it’s a good time to review traffic safety! The Ventura Police Department would like to remind motorists, students and parents to practice traffic safety skills when traveling to school. The start of the new school year brings traffic congestion around schools as well as a rise in pedestrian and bicyclist traffic. We suggest car-pooling, using the school bus or using an alternate drop off and pick up site away from schools. This will help relieve traffic delays.

The following tips are provided to ensure the safety of students and to serve as a reminder to be vigilant while traveling in a school zone. Parents, please discuss traffic safety with your children whether they are walking, riding a bicycle or being driven to school.

When crossing the street, continue to scan both directions for approaching cars.
Pay attention to all traffic signals and crossing guards.
Use marked crosswalks and cross at controlled intersections when possible.
Wear reflective clothing or bright colors so drivers can see you.
Plan a safe walking route to and from the school or bus stop.
When waiting for the school bus, stay out of the street and avoid horseplay.

If riding a bike, always wear a helmet. They are required for all bicycle riders under the age of 18.
Ride on the right side, in the same direction as traffic.
Walk your bike when crossing the street.
Review bicycle laws.

Be watchful around schools and bus stops for children in the street. Do not double park.
Pay attention to crossing guards and remain stopped until they are off the roadway.
Watch your speed in school and residential zones (25MPH).

Leave early and give yourselves ample time to arrive at your destination.
Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road.
Do not use your cell phone while driving.
Enter and exit driveways slowly and carefully, be observant in all directions.
Do not allow your child to exit the vehicle into traffic lanes; safely drop them off at the curbside or where your school has directed you to drop off.

By adhering to these traffic related tips, the number of collisions in an around school zones can be reduced. Please drive safely.

The Ventura Police Department is committed to traffic safety through education and enforcement. From the first day of school and throughout the school year. Let’s work together to make it a safe school year for all!



VCCDC has created a disaster recovery assistance grant program.

VCCDC offers disaster recovery grants for Thomas Fire Victims.

Ventura County Community Development Corporation (VCCDC), a local non-profit community economic development organization, has created a disaster recovery assistance grant program for Ventura and Santa Barbara County residents who were affected by the Thomas Fire and/or Montecito Mudslides. The funds come from an $800,000 commitment made by Wells Fargo to assist with economic recovery for those affected by the Thomas Fire and Montecito Mudslide. The initial $300,000 in grant funds were awarded to five local non-profits, including VCCDC, Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV), Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF), Red Cross and Food Share, Inc. The remaining $500,000 will be distributed to nonprofits in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties over the course of the year, as plans and programs are developed to address current and emerging community needs.

VCCDC plans to use the funds it was awarded through this grant to provide individual grants of up to $1,000 for households affected by the disasters. Applicants must be residents of Ventura or Santa Barbara County and must demonstrate a financial loss due to the fire and/or mudslides. The funds will be given directly to the applicant to be used for existing needs ranging anywhere from housing to living expense needs caused by loss of wages or business losses caused by disasters. There are no income or household size limits. One grant per eligible household or business will be awarded. Additional criteria and requirements apply.

“Although eight months have passed since the Thomas Fire began its destructive path in Ventura County and attention has shifted, the need for financial assistance for those affected is still very much present. We are grateful to our community partner, Wells Fargo, for stepping up to show their support for our community during the recovery period. Our hope is that through these small individual grants we can lessen the financial burden that the affected families are still feeling,” says VCCDC Executive Director, Bertha Garcia.

Full application, document requirements, eligibility criteria, and submission details can be found at starting on Monday, August 27th at 10am. Applications will be accepted until all qualified recipients have been identified.

Since it was founded in 2001 as a local non-profit organization, VCCDC has worked to increase homeownership and economic stability in underserved communities of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. VCCDC is dedicated to ensuring that homebuyers are prepared for homeownership with the support of certified professionals who provide education and guidance, assisting with planning and problem solving. All VCCDC staff is bilingual, proudly serving the community. VCCDC accomplishes its work in partnership with other community organizations, and is financially supported by private and public funds. Visit at and

For questions please contact Keily Victoria, Administration Support Manager for VCCDC, at 805-273-7800 or

Ventura Police honor 40th anniversary of officer’s death

Officers, staff, friends and family honored officer Dowell.

On Monday, August 7, 1978, Sergeant Darlon “Dee” Dowell became the only Ventura Police Officer killed in the line of duty.

On August 6, four men tried to rob a businessman making a night deposit at the Bank of America on Victoria Avenue. The robbery was interrupted, and the four suspects fled; two were apprehended immediately but two men, 20 and 22-years-old, escaped.

The next day a team of seven Ventura police officers served arrest and search warrants on the two outstanding suspects. Sergeant Dowell, Detective Don Bales, Detective Carl Handy, and Officer Gary McCaskill approached the front door of the suspects’ house on Olive while Sergeant Art “A. J.” Farrar, Detective John Leach, and Officer Don Arth set up a perimeter around the residence. Officers entered the home and were detaining a suspect in the living room when a 22-year-old man fired a shotgun from a darkened hallway, fatally wounding Sergeant Dowell. The shooter then ran through the house, crashed through a rear window, and was shot and killed by pursuing officers.

At the time of his death, Sergeant Dowell, 32, was a nine-year veteran of the Ventura Police Department. He is remembered as a dedicated police officer, devoted husband, and loving father to his two young children.

The City of San Buenaventura 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.

Former Ventura Chief of Police and current Councilmember Mike Tracy told the large gathering “today we take time to remember Ventura police sergeant Darlon Dowell. Dee was my first sergeant afterI graduated from the academy. He was a new sergeant, loved being a cop and was truly dedicated to the Ventura Police Department. He was good to work with and for—respected for his work ethic and sense of fairness. “

“When I walk into city hall I always glance at the photo of Dee that hangs on the wall near the human resources department—a tribute to his service and sacrifice. And every time I’m reminded how young he was—32. He had his whole life and career in front of him.”

“For his wife Miki and their family the tragedy of august 7, 1978, changed their lives forever. That day also significantly impacted those who were with Sergeant Dowell, and all who worked to investigate the crime and deal with the aftermath.”

“I believe Dee would want us to take this moment to honor and respect the men and women of the VPD who today serve this community just as he did—out of a sincere desire to make a difference in the lives of other people.”

“So today we remember Dee Dowell—a husband, father, friend and fellow police officer—and remind all who serve and protect to be vigilant, safe, and prepared. “

Quote from a Ventura Police Officer’s Association t-shirt:

It’s the line between order and anarchy, normalcy and horror, life and death, that street cops cruise every day. Each time you enter a strange house or approach a suspicious vehicle or walk up to a potential suspect, you risk crossing over into a place where no one is paid enough to be.

To learn more about scholarship opportunities visit

Vietnam Memorial Hosted at Ventura County Government Center

Vietnam vet Bruce Lockhart points out names of 3 of his friends.

by Richard Lieberman

A half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. was setup next to the Ventura County Government Center at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Telephone Road in Ventura. The replica wall was illuminated at night and the wall was available to all visitors around the clock.

The replica wall has visited Ventura County seven times in the past 33 years. This past July marked the third time it has been hosted at the Ventura County Government Center.

Joseph Richardson, a founding member of the Vietnam Vets of Ventura County invited the public to “Come, Honor, Remember and Respect” he said. Richardson started his work with the replica monument in 1985 during its first visit to Ventura. “One of the things we really tried this year we took the Department of Defense listing of 111 casualties from Ventura, we created a brochure with their names on it, by city, alphabetical and by town, so there are 72 panels that have Ventura County casualties and their name and line number right there on the wall” added Richardson. Drafted into the Marine Corps in 1966 Richardson served 18 months in Vietnam.

VEP announces availability of $100,000 in grants for VUSD classrooms

Students learning at the farm.

Over the past 10 years, Ventura Education Partnership (VEP) has given over one million dollars to provide small grants to Ventura Unified School District teachers that make a big impact on learning. VEPGrants have touched every child in VUSD, and have a long-lasting impact on learning by incentivizing innovation in the classroom and incubating new programs district-wide.

Madhu Bajaj, President of the all-volunteer Ventura Education Partnership believes “VEPGrants is a powerful way for the community to support teachers and students because of the impact on increased student engagement and learning. Our teachers are amazingly resourceful. They bring innovation to their classroom on very limited budgets.”

“It is an honor and privilege for Ventura Education Partnership to serve the Ventura Unified School District community by offering VEPGrants. And, it’s exciting to share that this fall we will give over $100,000 in grants for the 2018/19 school year thanks to generous community members and businesses who support our youth, teachers and schools,” Bajaj said. Mountains 2 Beach Marathon, Aera Energy, Community Memorial Healthy System, MJP Technologies, Rotary Club of Ventura and many others make VEPGrants possible.

Recent Grant Recipient and VUSD Farm to School Operations Specialist, Chris Massa said of his grant, “The grant I received was literally the ‘seed’ money that allowed me to grow my program. It allowed me to buy tools, fruit trees, and seeds for my school farm.”

Cabrillo Middle School Principal, Lorelle Dawes shared that “my VEPGrant allowed me to work with our students and renowned artist M.B. Hanrahan to create a mural that will enhance our entire school. It’s been a beautiful process, and I am incredibly grateful to VEP for their support!”

Monica Lukins, Teacher at De Anza Middle School said “VEPGrants equipped me with necessary supplies that allow me to make history come alive in my classroom—from reenacting the Renaissance, traveling the trans-Saharan trade routes, and replicating Chinese inventions. ”

David Creswell, Superintendent, Ventura Unified School District said “Ventura Education Partnership (VEP) does so much to support education, encourage innovation and enrich the lives of literally all of our students. They are a catalyst for pulling us all together. VEP continues to make a huge impact on our schools and community, and I believe that this impact cannot be underestimated.”

For application information or to support VEPGrants with a donation visit or contact Madhu Bajaj (805) 754-9861.