Category Archives: News and Notes

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.

Retired Ventura County Superior Court judge kills girlfriend and himself

Herbert Curtis was appointed to the Superior Court in 1998.

On Feb. 5, at 11PM, the Ventura Police Department Command Center received a call from a resident in the 5500 block of Dorsey St. reporting that her neighbors were involved in a very loud and contentious verbal domestic argument.

When officers arrived on the scene they attempted to make contact with the individuals inside the residence. When they heard multiple gunshots they moved to a safer location and set up a perimeter around the residence.

In the residence was former Ventura County Superior Court Judge Herbert Curtis III, 69, and Patricia Payne, 54. Herbert Curtis was the nephew of boxing promoter Don King and was Ventura County Superior Court’s first black judge.

Hostage negotiators made contact by phone with Curtis, who indicated he was armed with a gun, but he refused to surrender. Payne’s condition was not known at this time. Ventura SWAT officers were notified and arrived a short time later.

Negotiations continued for about two hours until the SWAT team deployed a listening device into the residence and heard Payne indicating she had been shot. When additional gunshots were heard, SWAT team members immediately entered the residence to try to rescue Payne.

As they made entry, Curtis shot and killed himself. Payne was brought to a waiting ambulance and was transported to VCMC for treatment of multiple gunshot wounds where she later died.

Ventura Police Commander Sam Arroyo said police had been called to the residence several times previously and that Payne had been arrested for misdemeanor public intoxication and other infractions. She was scheduled to be arraigned on March 17.

At the time of his death, Curtis was a partner at the Oxnard law firm of Gutierrez, Curtis and Gutierrez.


Ventura City firefighters respond to boat fire

On Jan.31, at 1:45am, Ventura City firefighters responded to a report of a boat fire in the Ventura Harbor. Upon arrival responding crews found a 50 foot commercial fishing boat 6 feet off the ground in dry-dock fully involved in. Fire suppression efforts initially concentrated on protecting an adjacent building and boat from the flames. The boat was a complete loss.

Three additional small fires were discovered in the same boat yard at varying intervals throughout the firefighting operations: A fire involving a propane tank of a fork lift, a debris fire in a workshop area and a smoldering rag on the stern of another boat in dry-dock.  An additional fire involving a vehicle occurred in the 1300 block of Spinnaker Dr. just prior to the aforementioned fires. All the fires are suspicious in nature and are suspected to be connected.

The cause of the fires remains under investigation by both Ventura Police and Fire Arson investigators.

Homicide suspect arrested in Texas

A memorial was set up on Alessandro to celebrate the life of Spencer Turner.

As previously reported on December 4 an on-duty California Highway Patrol sergeant was in the area of Seaward Ave. and Highway 101, when he heard multiple gunshots in the area.  The sergeant began checking the area and found a 27-year-old male suffering from gunshot wounds to his upper body, lying in the roadway on Alessandro off of   S. Seaward Ave.  He began rendering aid to the victim, but when Ventura City Fire personnel arrived on scene, he was pronounced deceased.  Another shooting victim was able to get to the hospital and survived the shooting.

The deceased has been identified as Spencer Turner, 27 of Ventura. The men were involved in some kind of confrontation at a local restaurant that led to the shooting. At the time it was suspected that all of those involved in the shootings knew each other.

Ventura Police Major Crimes’ detectives have identified Sadiki Shakur, 23 from Ventura as the suspect in the double shooting. They developed information that the suspect was in the area of Amarillo, Texas.  Detectives working with the local authorities there and the FBI were able to locate the suspect  and he was taken into custody by the local authorities  on December 15.

Four vehicle collision near Ventura College

On Dec.12 a four vehicle collision was reported just before 8am adjacent to Ventura College at the intersection of Telegraph and Day Road. A four wheel drive truck struck the passenger side of a large 4 door suburban, resulting in the entrapment of a young woman. Two additional vehicles collided resulting in a minor collision.

The suburban sustained heavy damage to the passenger side of the vehicle. Fire crews used the jaws-of-life to pry apart the wreckage and cut the doors away, freeing the patient in 9 minutes. She was transported to VCMC with moderate injuries. A total of 2 additional patients were assessed by fire paramedics but were not transported.

Ventura Police and Ventura Campus Police closed the roadway of traffic and investigated the accident. It is expected that the busy intersection will be fully open by 11am.

Betsy Blanchard Chess elected to board of directors

Betsy Chess has received a number of awards.

The Limoneira Company has announced that Betsy Blanchard Chess has been elected to the Company’s Board of Directors.

Chess is currently the Director of Development, Museum of Ventura County. Prior to this, she was the Editor and Publisher of Central Coast Farm and Ranch Magazine and the Executive Director of the New West Symphony.

She has received a number of awards including the 2014 Volunteer of the Year for Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the 2014 Ventura County Star 25 over 50, and an Art Star in Education award from the Ventura County Arts Council. She is a decedent of Nathan Blanchard, one of Limoneira’s founders.

She received her Master’s Degree in European History from The University of Southern California.

“We are honored to have Betsy join the Limoneira Board of Directors” said Gordon Kimball, Chairman. “She has strong core values and a real passion for Limoneira, its history and its culture. She brings a fresh new perspective to the board, and I am looking forward to working with her in the coming years.”

“This storied Company has become an agricultural powerhouse, and I’m thrilled to join the board” said Chess. “Limoneira has an exciting future, and I look forward to making a contribution”.

Limoneira Company, a 124-year-old international agribusiness headquartered in Santa Paula.

The Company is a leading producer of lemons, avocados, oranges, specialty citrus and other crops. For more about Limoneira Company, visit

Media Contact: Limoneira Company John Chamberlain 805-525-5541 x1056 or
Investor Contact:
John Mills Partner

Mike Evans selected as new Facilities and Risk Manager for Channel Islands YMCA

stuff-ymcaChannel Islands YMCA Association has announced Mike Evans as their new Facilities and Risk Manager. Evans has been certified as a YMCA Team Leader, and was recognized as the Channel Islands YMCA Rookie Director of the Year in 2013.

In 2011, he joined the Channel Islands YMCA as the Director of Facilities at the Ventura Family YMCA.  Evans lives in Ventura with his wife, Denise. Evans attended Ventura College, Oxnard College and Allan Hancock College and studied Fire Science. He is California Firefighter 1 Certified.


Suz Montgomery on breast cancer

Suz Montgomery demonstrates strength and determination in a Wonder Woman T-shirt given by her grandchildren.

by Lori Harasta, Community Relations Associate for Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association

“I’m grateful for the experience of having cancer.   It has given me a better quality of life by defining me and what I’m here on this earth to do.”

For the past two years, Suz Montgomery has been fighting her third recurrence of breast cancer.   Treatment included a double mastectomy, extensive chemotherapy and radiation.

She had a mammogram about six months prior to finding that a lump that was growing.  She insisted on having another mammogram, even though it meant paying for it out-of-pocket.  The results showed a mass. She requested an ultra sound and went into high gear to assemble her cancer team.  Within two weeks, she underwent surgery.

The radiation burned her skin and made her hair fall out.  Rather than hide her baldness with a wig or hat, she sported it proudly (I would say beautifully!) and used it as a teaching tool for the curious.  One was a young boy with his mother at the grocery store.  The Pre-K kid stared at her hairless crown as they wandered the aisles.  Finally, Suz crouched down and spoke softly to the boy, “This is what happens when you don’t eat your carrots.”  His mother chimed in, “Or your peas!”

Her hair has since grown back, but she’s had other complications.  It was the chemo that weakened her vertebrae, causing two of them to fracture.  She has neuropathy and severe back pain for which she continues to receive treatment.

“Chemo was the most rigorous challenge of my life.  It’s hard to get my energy back, even though I work out daily.”  She says going to the gym helps mitigate some of the pain.

Suz rises at 4 am to start her day.  “I’m determined to leave this earth better than I found it.  I need to pack as much as I can into every day.”  Her fitness and feistiness belie the fatigue and pain she feels constantly.  She looks about 20 years younger than her chronological age.  She’s got a strong and stubborn outlook on life and squeezes more into a day than most can imagine.

A passionate lover of life who seeks justice for the downtrodden and underserved, one of Suz’ current causes is to ensure the growing elderly population of Ventura has adequate services and resources to live their final chapters comfortably.

She is the Resource Coordinator of ENCORE at Ventura Continuing Adult Education, Chair of the Ventura Council for Seniors, Vice-Chair of the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging, Ventura County District Liaison for AARP, Ventura County representative of State Senator Hannah Beth Jackson’s Senior Legislative Board and many more commissions and committees.

Even though she’s in pain 24/7, Suz says she and cancer are friends.  “Because of cancer, I’m grateful for every day I’m alive, and for the love and support of wonderful friends, family and the Ventura community (which I consider my family). Because of cancer, I’m even more determined and fearless. I know I have a mission and that God is not done with me yet.”

If you had the chance to circumnavigate the globe in a hand-built plane, would you?

Ryan Shields  meeting an employee of S7 Airlines when he stopped for fuel in Novosibirsk, Russia .

by Jenny Guy

With the start of 2016, Ventura resident Ryan Shields was faced with this question. And, while the business owner and father of four had reservations about departing from all that he knew to be part of a journey that covered two oceans, three continents, nine countries and 21 cities, his wife simply said, “You’d be stupid not to.”

Shields first began flying in his twenties in Mammoth Lakes, California. He studied at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and joined the Peace Corps after graduating, where he was stationed in El Salvador. During this time, he developed a love of travel –– venturing through much of Central and South America. Returning stateside, almost two decades ago, Shields married and founded a telecommunications company, placing its headquarters in Ventura, California.

When his business expanded, opening offices in Los Angeles and other locations in the Western United States, Shields decided an airplane was a logical solution to his frequent travel between corporate divisions. He chose the six-seater Epic LT, “a Tesla of the skies,” for its carbon-fiber technology and high-performance handling.

As an experienced pilot and dedicated customer, Shields was offered the opportunity to test the full capabilities of his state-of-the-art aircraft as a participant of the Epic Odyssey World Tour. This inaugural trip was hosted by Oregon-based aviation company Epic Aircraft, which specializes in the design and manufacture of all composite, single-engine turboprop airplanes, like Shields’ Epic LT.

With his family’s encouragement and all lights glowing green, Shields embarked on the first-of-its-kind Epic journey in July 2016. The trip consisted of six Epic aircraft and their owners, including Epic CEO Doug King –– accompanied by professional pilots, staff members and a documentary film crew. Epic and its team of international aviation partners scheduled the logistics of this world tour, and sponsors of the journey included Pratt & Whitney Canada, Garmin, Hartzell, Jeppesen, Spidertracks, Globalstar, and GoPro.

The itinerary spanned 21 days, beginning in Wisconsin and traveling to Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, England, Italy, the Czech Republic and Russia. Coordinating prior commitments to go on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, Shields joined the 26-person travel party on the ninth day of the expedition in Prague. The trip ended with a finale in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where participants celebrated their victory at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) conference, AirVenture 2016.

“The longest flight leg spanned from Magadan, Siberia, to Nome, Alaska, totaling more than 1,200 nautical miles,” said Shields. “It really is a testament to Epic’s craftsmanship that all six aircrafts made the entire length of the trip without any major mechanical issues.”

The complete Epic Odyssey World Tour covered 16,405 nautical miles, lasting 51.5 flight hours and achieving an average ground speed of 318.5 knots. Shields, who houses his Epic at Oxnard Airport, explained that he came back from the trip with a new respect for the United States’ airspace and a better understanding of the broader world.

“I found myself in Moscow’s Red Square, and I couldn’t help but think of my time in Washington, D.C., with my family several months earlier at the Blossom Kite Festival,” said Shields. “There are significant similarities between all cultures, and this trip really helped to dispel a lot of geopolitical myths.”

With all 26 voices shouting “success” at the journey’s completion, Epic is currently planning its next world adventure. For more information, please visit

Jenny Guy is the director of communications for Mustang Marketing and a resident of the City of Ventura.