Category Archives: Person to Person

Vol. 11, No. 13 – Mar 28 – Apr 10, 2018 – Person to Person

by Jennifer Tipton

I asked 6 Ventura teachers and administrators:
“Do you think teachers should be armed in the classroom?”

David C. Creswell
Superintendent Ventura Unified School District
“I am in favor of more security personnel for schools, but I don’t believe that arming teachers is the solution. Would we arm the sales people at the mall, or the ushers at the theater, or the greeters at church? This is not the answer.”


Dr. Jeff Davis
Assistant Superintendent Ventura Unified School District
“I think there’s better options to keep our schools safe, there’s a lot of research-based programs and policies throughout the nation that will prove more effective in the long run. Teachers do not go into the profession with the idea that they’ll be armed in the classroom, they go into the profession to educate our youth.”

Clinton Cody
Music teacher at Balboa Middle School
“It’s a slippery slope, the type of people you’re going to attract to the profession if we choose to arm our educators. I went into the profession because I had a desire to educate young people and be of service to the community. I do think it’s important to make sure our children on campus are safe but with professionals that do that type of job.”

Cheryl Wheeler
Retired teacher
“Creating a nurturing environment is paramount to student success in a classroom.  It requires tremendous focus and energy for a teacher to create that throughout the day every day.  A gun in the classroom would be counter to that end.  Also, a gun would most likely be of little use against an intruder with an assault weapon.  Another concern would be the possibility of students accidentally getting the gun and someone getting hurt or killed.  More guns in an educational setting does not equate to greater safety.”

Kim Johnson
Retired Administrative Assistant at Buena High School
“It is a bit frightening to offer my thoughts, some of which are not shared by most teachers.  That said, I think it is important to voice a differing opinion during this time when many people will not speak out as they are frequently vilified when not siding with “popular opinion”. Arming teachers and other school personnel should be an option to protect our schools. Those individuals would most likely already have a background with weapons and would have to go through an extensive vetting process to be able to volunteer for this scenario. For the last 20 years we have inadvertently invited “lost souls” to attack our schools by labeling them “gun free zones”, making them a perfect place to attack.  Why have we accepted armed protection at our airports, banks, malls and jewelry stores while allowing our most precious resource, our students and children, to become the targets that they are now?  At this point, we don’t have the luxury to wait for the lengthy bureaucratic process to protect them. We need to have the courage to seek new solutions now to take the target off the backs of our schools and students. Unfortunately, the sad truth is the next school shooter is out there and already has a weapon.”

Dawn Maloney
High School Teacher
“Arming teachers is a pretty absurd idea, generally.  Teachers should be trained in ways to defend students in a way that puts the focus on the safety of the students at large, not the elimination of an active threat. There are many ways to develop this culture.  First, being much more proactive: learning how to identify developing threats and reporting them to appropriate personnel such as counselors, administration, and/or student resource officers (policemen assigned to the school).  Next, using interactive drills/scenarios so that all involved can devote some thought as to how they could respond (don’t most of us have a “fire escape plan” at home with our families?). Too many variables involved with an “armed teacher” can go awry.”


Vol. 11, No. 11 – Feb 28 – Mar 13, 2018 – Person to Person

by Jennifer Tipton

What have the Thomas Fires taught us? Do you have an evacuation plan and what would be the top 3 items you’d grab?

Barbara Bean
age 88
retired teacher
“Oh yes, I have an evacuation plan and a little bag packed because I was evacuated at 2:30 that night and was I prepared at the time? … no!”
What would be the top 3 items you’d grab?
“I would grab shoes, a change of clothes and my purse, because a woman has everything in her purse!”

Greg Jordan
age 40
school counselor
with daughter Tohpia age 4 (turns 5 in March – Happy Birthday Tohpia!)
“It’s definitely showed us the necessity to be prepared. In school, we actually did a presentation discussing preparedness a couple of months before the fires and then lo and behold! Our family did evacuate but were we prepared? … no! I grabbed some legal stuff, the computer and Tohpia grabbed her little treasure box filled with family heirlooms, there’s a locket with her great gramma’s picture in it.” “And my vitamins!”, Tohpia added.

Gayane Sarkissyan
age 41
personal banker
“For me honestly, what it taught us is not to complain about the little things in life, knowing that so many people lost everything. Do I have an evacuation plan? I do not, I should though!
I would grab my purse and my daughter, but my boyfriend’s a big guy so he’s just too much to carry … that’s really it, everything else is replaceable.”

Marc Thompson
age 51
systems administrator
“Most definitely, I think far too many people were unprepared for it. Do we have an evacuation plan? We do! Because of the fires we were under voluntary evacuation and we grabbed the kid, the dogs, a suitcase each and some pictures. You can always go to a bank outside of town and find shelter somewhere else, but without your family, you’re pretty much lost!”

Angie Henry
age 41
“I want to say yes, I’m hoping people will start doing more for themselves and their families as far as emergency preparedness. We had earthquake supply kits in place before the fires and I think that would’ve helped us, now our family does have an evacuation plan and we’ve discussed a meeting place with our kids. The top 3 things I’d grab? … photos, cats and clothes.”

Al Villegas
age 81
retired from Vons with his wife Anita age 76
“I’ve heard so many stories, I heard when the fire broke out there wasn’t enough water on the hill, a plumber friend told me if the neighborhood was old, the city didn’t want to cause any problems by putting in a higher-pressure system, so it really isn’t the city’s fault.”
Do you have an evacuation plan? “No, not really, but we did think about it.”
Anita adds, “we do have a lot of stuff in the garage, like water etc., but in an emergency, how are you going to get in the garage?”
What are the top 3 items you’d grab? They thought together… “our cell phones so we can call our kids, maybe some important papers and each other.”

Vol. 11, No. 10 – Feb 14 – Feb 27, 2018 – Person to Person

Person to (Little) Person

by Jennifer Tipton

I asked 6 of our younger Venturans ages 6-9, “What do you like about Valentine’s Day? (and are there any secret crushes we should know about?)

Jayson Rivera
age 7
“I really do like to play with my toys and make Valentines, well I really actually buy the Valentines at the store”.
Any secret crushes? “Well … I like Joanna”. (Mom adds “that changes every week”)


Marcia Castor
age 9
“I’m 9 ½, but you can consider me 9, I guess. I like to pass out treats like stickers and gummies to my class”.
No secret crushes. Any special Valentine? “My dog Rocky, he’s a black lab, no boyfriends yet”.
(Mom said she can’t have one until she graduates college and hopes she’ll stick to the contract.)

Brice Peters
age 8
“I like sharing Valentines with candy in them cause I’m pretty sure it’s about sharing and caring.”
Any secret crushes? “No…not really.”
Any special Valentines? “My parents.” (You gotta love this kid!)


Bianca Davis
age 6 ½
“Well, I especially love getting secret admirers! I don’t have any yet … but I wish I had one.”
Any secret crushes? “Are you asking for the truth? Cause then I have to whisper, cause no one wants to hear the truth.”
And she did. (Bianca – your secret is safe with me.)

Tegan Farnsworth
age 9
“I like getting the cards and sometimes they have candy in them, especially the ones with chocolate, those are my favorite!”
No secret crushes. Any special Valentine? “My cat Rascal is my favorite Valentine, I love her!”


Issac Dunlap
age 7
“I make cards for my friends and family with paper, tape and staples. I made one today for my brother. Sometimes I put candy in them like … chocolate chips.”
No secret crushes but Issac tells me his special Valentine is a boy in his class, “my friend Ira, but he already knows”.

Vol. 11, No. 9 – Jan 31 – Feb 13, 2018 – Person to Person

by Jennifer Tipton

I asked 6 Ventura business owners –
“How did the Thomas Fires affect your business?”

Michelle Rein
owner of passion flowers 920 East Main Street
“December was cancelled, everything cancelled, there was no December business. We were without power on this section of Main for four days; for some businesses, food was lost, but we’re just flowers so we were ok. We re-opened December 8th, but there was no business, people just wanted to come in to share their stories, talk and hug. And then with the closing of the 101, some brides couldn’t get here, most of my business was people sending thankyou flowers. As I clean up the ash, I try to be respectful – this ash was somebody’s home.”

The future? “We’re still gonna be here, we’ll make it through, we’re Ventura Strong!”

Sharon Palmer
owner of Main Street Meats Ventura 3049 East Main Street
“December is generally a month where families are planning their gatherings, people are coming into town, there are family dinners, company dinners, holiday parties. We start taking orders the first week in December, which is of course when the fires hit. The first 2 weeks of December, I basically manned the store by myself, there was no business. Ventura was like a ghost town, anybody who was here, wasn’t outside. And then you go into the loss, the devastating feeling of loss – there was no holiday spirit even into the first week of January. There is an overwhelming feeling of loss and displacement, it trickles down to a loss of economy. All the people who aren’t able to do their customary jobs – these are the customers. Our business had dropped about 50% in December and is continuing on that path. There are 50-75 regular customers that we haven’t seen and 30 Christmas orders that were canceled or not picked up.”

Writer’s note: Despite this, in addition to local donations, Sharon prepared a tri tip dinner to feed the Montecito Fire Crew.

Lynn Mikelatos
owner of The Greek and Margarita Villa 1583 Spinnaker Drive / 1567 Spinnaker Drive
“On Tuesday (December 5th) we closed because so many of our employees had to evacuate and everybody needed to just take care of their families. The first weekend we were hit the hardest, and in the first 10 days to 2 weeks we had a lot of cancellations, although, some parties rescheduled for January. It really impacted people going out in general; it was a big deal emotionally for the entire city. The Parade of Lights was scheduled for the second weekend after the fire (December 15 & 16) and there was some talk as to whether it should be canceled, but it’s such a part of the culture of Ventura and to the economy of the harbor! It’s all been pretty quiet down here, we just don’t see the foot traffic and overall, it put a shadow over the business. I think it goes to the heart of every Venturan, Firefighters would come in and customers would buy their food! I’m proud to be a Venturan and we’re not going to let this get us down!”

Writer’s note: The Parade of Lights did go on and Lynn reports it was a successful event!

Simone Covault
owner of Simones Coffee & Tea 7818 Telegraph Road
“We were evacuated so we came here and stayed a couple nights, the first night we didn’t sleep at all, then we slept on the floor. The power was out, and the Kimball center was filling up with people sleeping in their cars. When the power came on, people came in to use the restroom, seek reprieve and just to have a sense of community. We were bombarded! We never closed! There were no baked goods but as soon as the machines warmed up, I steamed coffee all day. On Tuesday, December 5th, I had people say I was the only coffee shop open and people began meeting here, we were super busy from the start. The first week, no merchandise sold, but after a couple weeks, people started purchasing some Christmas items. People were so grateful that we were open, one woman, a retired teacher came in with a child that she mentors to bring me a candle and say thank you for being a beacon of light during the fires!”

Writer’s note: Although Simone and her family remained evacuated and displaced for 2 ½ weeks, she never closed her doors. Their home did have some damage from the fires, but it wasn’t extensive.

John Reynolds
owner of JLR Studio 20 North Fir Street Suite A
“We were closed for 3 days and at the top of our street, we lost two houses. The following week, people were just not out and about, there was so much ash in the air. I had 2 ½ to 3 inches of ash in the corners of the building. We did lose appointments and we couldn’t reopen because there was no electricity. I think the New Year has been on the up rise, one of my stations was recently rented by a tanning artist and that should help generate more business.”

(John has been at this location for 32 years!)

Ashley Pope
owner of SpiceTopia 576 East Main Street
“We did okay in December, we got a lot of community support even though downtown took a hit. So many people came downtown determined to help local businesses, they wore masks and we’re so grateful for them. I worry about the longevity of the process, hopefully, we don’t see businesses close. If they’re still open a month out, that’s not an indication that they’re doing well; we won’t see the true impact on business until a little bit further. How’s it gonna look after year 1 or year 2? We stay strong going forward, I feel positive and have so much faith in Ventura to push through this! We want to continue to put the word out there that every dollar spent here locally, is a dollar put toward recovery! Where are the contractors and attorneys (etc.…) coming from? We need to be conscientious of that!”

Vol. 11, No. 7 – Jan 3 – Jan 16, 2018 – Person to Person

by Jennifer Tipton

What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

Sara Omanovic
age 25
Owner of Ema’s Herbs
“Usually I try to focus on specific traits, 2017 was courage so I think 2018 should be resilience, resilience to overcome difficulties.”


Alton Gebhart
age 61
Crew Member at Trader Joes
“I made a resolution to do more photography gigs this year; we lost our studio in the fire, but that’s ok cause nobody rebounds like me, I’m a Cajun!”


Cathy Burke with daughter Renee
age 45
Cafeteria Manager
“I haven’t made any resolutions and I never have because I don’t like breaking them. It’s like when I say I’m gonna start dieting every other Friday!”


Cole Roop
age 19
works the front desk at Maverick’s
“I want to start flossing more…no really, do more cardio, get in heart healthy shape and shed a few pounds.” (writer’s note – Cole did not appear to have any pounds to shed)


Josh Grava
age 44
Vice President for a hydrographic survey equipment company
“I haven’t made any resolutions yet, we’re displaced from the fire. We didn’t lose our home, but we can’t go back yet. It’s been a challenging month and holiday season. It makes you realize the importance of family and friends to get through conflict. I guess a good resolution would be – to be more patient with my family, cause right now we’re all being tested with respect to tolerance and adaptation.”

Barbara Harvey
age 67
History Teacher at Buena High School
“My personal New Year’s resolution is to not get so stressed out, so how that translates to my own kids and my students, I’m not sure.”
I asked Barbara, “are you good at keeping your resolutions?” and she replied, “I am! I’m pretty focused – that’s how I get so stressed out!”

Vol. 10, No. 4 – Nov 22 – Dec 5, 2017 – Person to Person

by Jennifer Tipton

Thanksgiving 2017! What are you thankful for?

Kelsey Burkan
age 70
Owner of Kelsey’s Vegan Bakery & Fudge
“I’m thankful that we’re all still here on earth and to have the opportunity to do the best we can, to be kind and loving to everyone.” She adds, “and always thankful for friends and family.”


Lorne and Aaron Marchant
ages 49 & 47 (brothers)
with Harvest Gathering Farm
Without hesitation, Aaron says “family! (but take my brother out of the equation).” Lorne responds, “yeah, he probably loves my kids more than me! Lorne adds that he is thankful “for personal growth and a knowledge of self”.


Wendi Mitchell
age 50
Co-Owner of Blue Ridge Honey and Member of Ventura Chamber
“I’m thankful for Wayne Scott, the researcher at Channel Islands University for all the hard work he’s doing to stabilize the health of Ventura County’s honey bees.”


Taylor Cooper
age 25
works at Ace Hardware
“I’m thankful for my family, they’re always there for me- 24/7 and 365! They are actually my friends because when you’re going through hard times, they are the ones there for you!”


Peter Nicholas
age 74
Retired Sales & Marketing Director
“I’m thankful that my wife and I came here from Wales 25 years ago.” Pete has had many health issues and was told 16 years ago that he had only one year to live! He attributes this to the health care he has received here and says, “I play golf, just took up bowling and I’m the champion shuttle board player at O’Leary”s!”

Susannah Kegler
age 26
Ventura College Nursing Student Currently working on her C.N.A. and applying to the Nursing Program in February
“I’m just thankful to be out of school and get to spend some time with my daughters!”

Vol. 10, No. 2 – Oct 25 – Nov 7, 2017 – Person to Person

by Jennifer Tipton

I asked six influential members of our community:
“Do you feel Ventura should elect our mayor rather than having one selected from an existing council member by the city council?”

Suz Montgomery
Senior Advocate

Yes, we do need to elect a Mayor, but with the caveat that we also have a strong City Manager who will work in tandem with the Mayor. Four eyes and four ears are better than two. (BTW, aren’t we the only city out of ten in the County who doesn’t?) Ventura is a Charter City, not General Law City, again, the only one in the County. Thanks for asking and frankly this issue needs more discussion too.

Barbara Hinton
Creator of Chalk Art at the Harbor

It sounds as though things are going to change soon in terms of how the city council is elected, so if the citizenry wants to change how we elect our mayor, maybe now would be the time to do that. I believe it might make sense to have an elected mayor. Then the mayor would be accountable to the citizens for his or her decisions.

Barbara Brown
President Ventura Botanical Gardens

Currently, our mayor is chosen by council members to represent them at events and sign documents. Our mayor’s vote is equal to other council member votes. Elected mayors usually have political/veto power and serve as chief executive, often in lieu of a city manager. Electing a mayor will change our system of governance, requiring retooling. Right now, the city has decidedly important issues that require compliance—including new districting policies, water and waste. I believe that now is not the time for this consideration.

Erik Nazarenko
Mayor of Ventura

The fact that Ventura is moving to geographic districts for its city council rather than at-large elections makes it even more important to elect the mayor citywide. An at-large election process for mayor, similar to Santa Barbara and Oxnard, will allow voters to select an individual with a broad vision for the entire city. While electing rather than appointing the mayor will require voter approval at the ballot, I believe Venturans will welcome this change, especially given the fact that council members will soon be representing approximately 16,000 residents per district rather than all of the city’s 109,000 constituents. An elected mayor who can see and approach issues from the perspective of all residents will provide necessary balance to the election of other officials from narrower geographic areas.

Matt LaVere
Attorney and City Council Member

“If a majority of Venturans wanted a directly-elected Mayor, I would have no problem amending our Charter to achieve this. However, I think the current model works very well. Although all seven councilmembers have the same voting power, the council selects its own mayor. To become mayor, one must first earn the respect of all his or her colleagues. This is done through building bridges and working collaboratively towards a better Ventura. I believe the council has a strong track record in selecting its mayors.”

Jim Duran
Pastor and Creator of City Center

We have a government that gives the power to the City Manager. This means that an elected Mayor would not have any more power than one currently has. Let’s just keep it how it is and allow the Council to appoint the Mayor of Ventura. Also, if we elect a Mayor we may miss out on excellent candidates for our City Council. If one loses the Mayor seat, you may not serve on council yet, their qualifications may be above and beyond others that ran for council.

Vol. 10, No. 26 – Sept 27 – Oct 10, 2017 – Person to Person

by Jennifer Tipton

I asked 6 Ventura Unified School District grads and students about their favorite high school subject and future plans.

Andrew Bergum
age 19
works at Play It Again Sports
Andrew just graduated from Buena High School June 2017. His favorite high school subject was anatomy and physiology, “I loved it so much! It was really cool!” Now at Ventura College and taking some difficult courses such as anatomy, intro to psychology, intro to kinesiology and statistics and communication, Andrew plans to transfer to a 4-year state school and major in prosthetics. He wants to take his prosthetics to third world countries one day!

Garrett Weinell
age 18
also works at Play It Again Sports
Garrett is also a recent grad, he graduated from Ventura High School June 2017. Favorite high school subject? “Government, because I like history and I’m more government inclined.” Now at Ventura College, he’s taking E.M.T. courses. When asked what happened to government Garrett said, “I don’t like politics” and denied running for office one day…

Jacob Somer
age 13
freshman at Ventura High School
“For my favorite subject, I have to go with math because I really like the teacher, Mr. Spellman. He plays music while we’re doing work and he’s friendly!” When asked how he likes his first year in high school he said, “It’s really different than middle school, but I like it.” Jacob is thinking of pursuing college for graphic design.

Sara McGuire
age 20
plays water polo for the V.C. Pirates
Sara is a Buena High School grad and tells me her favorite high school subject was physics, “It was kinda tough, I was the only girl in the class so it was special to me because I had to show up the guys!” She is currently taking music classes at V.C. and plans to get her Ph.D. at a private music conservatory. Sara wants to continue to water polo and adds, “I also play the cello.”

Paige Treloar-Ballard
age 21
another V.C. water polo player
Paige was a Foothill Technology High School graduate and for her favorite high school subject she said, “I really enjoyed physiology!” She just graduated from V.C. and is now headed to U.C.S.B. where her major is geography. When asked what happened to physiology, Paige tells me, “I’m very squeamish with blood, so I decided to explore other options. I took the geography class and really enjoyed it and the professor, Mr. “C”.”

Josie Thorp
age 17
student at Foothill Technology High School
Favorite class? “The sciences, especially life science because I like learning about life and I also get to work in the lab – that’s fun and interesting! I really like Mrs. Anderson for a teacher.” Josie currently works at the Ventura Aquatic Center as a life guard but plans to attend a 4-year college and do research someday in a lab, “that would be awesome!”

Vol. 10, No. 25 – Sept 13 – Sept 26, 2017 – Person to Person

by Jennifer Tipton

I asked 6 Ventura surfers “Where’s your favorite surf spot in Ventura?” … and it was unanimous because these are all the same spot!

Lilly Givner
age 26
works at Ventura Surf Shop
“The Cove – probably because I grew up surfing there, it’s my number 1 go to.” Lilly learned to surf at age 13 and goes out 2-3 times a week.


Luke Williams
age 20
also works at Ventura Surf Shop
“Ventura Point because it’s definitely the most consistent break in Ventura, it usually always has a wave!” Luke learned to surf at age 14 but says he didn’t get serious until 15 or 16 and he goes every other day.


John Siman
age 16 another
Ventura Surf Shop employee
“C street! It’s just really fun and the whole stretch is well rounded, it can get big and scary up on top but it’s more friendly down in the cove. My favorite is the cove.” John has been surfing since he was 11 or 12 and goes out “like every day or every other day.”


John DeSurro
age 46
General Contractor / Musician
“The Point because you can surf it at high tide or low tide and you can use a variety of boards. I’m reading a book right now that names Ventura as one of the best surfing spots, it was the choice spot in the 60’s when I lived off Pierpont.” John’s daughter, Rhea goes out with her dad and rides on the nose of his board.

Maddie Maple
age 29
Middle School Teacher
“C Street by and large! I mostly come here for the people, I used to surf another spot because it’s closer to me but the people weren’t quite as welcoming. I tell people I chase the welcome not the wave, it’s a lot more fun to be here!” Maddie started surfing “off and on” at age 15 but now comes out “usually every day, we’re here a lot.”

Nicole Tenorio
age 44
Single Mom of 3 – does everything!
“C Street! The break is the best, you can almost always catch a wave, even when it’s flat it usually picks up and it’s a long ride!” Nicole has been surfing for 20 years but only gets out a couple times a month. She’s trying to get her 6-year-old son out there with her…

Vol. 10, No. 24 – Aug 30 – Sept 12, 2017 – Person to Person

by Jennifer Tipton

I asked 6 Ventura residents familiar with the old Harbor Village entrance what they think of the new design …

Holly Hancock
age 61
retired manager at Target
“I don’t like it! I loved the stage and the grassy area, it was a good avenue to welcome people into the harbor. This just doesn’t “pop” – they were supposed to spray wash the ground with a blue resin. If you see the pictorial of how it was supposed to be, this doesn’t do it justice. At least plant King palms instead of these cheap ones!”

Havana Snyder
age 20
works at “Lost in Socks” in the harbor
“I think it’s really, really nice! It makes a big difference; all the improvements are bringing people in but it also helps that there’s no more construction!”


Chuck Russell
age 82
retired from television
“I think it looks really nice but I think they had to do it because of laws regarding the handicapped for entries and that type of thing. I think that’s why they did concrete work.”


Matthew Ficarelli
age 19
works at Copa Cubana in the harbor
“I think it brings more people in and makes it more accessible to the restaurants and shops. I like the decorations in the flooring, it’s more thematic for the area we’re in.”


David Wheat
age 65
retired handy man
“I’m disappointed because they played it off as some big beautification project and it’s fallen far short. Both my wife and I think it was a waste of money … and the amount of time it took!”


Cindy Cook
age 57
health program representative
“I really like the island layout but I miss the grass and the bandstand! It was welcoming to see people gathered around the live music on a beautiful afternoon. I do think this stuff (the kelp) will look much nicer with Christmas ornaments hung on it!”