Category Archives: This ‘n’ That

Kevin Costner to help support community at Thomas Fire Benefit Festival

Kevin’s love, care and concern for this town soon became evident. Photo and article by Pam Baumgardner

I admit, I was nervous to be speaking with three-time Golden Globe and Academy Award winning actor, producer, director and musician, Kevin Costner. I’ve been a long-time fan of his work and have seen him twice in concert with his band Modern West. But within a few moments, I was at ease as I found him as down-to-earth as the Iowan farmer, Ray, he portrayed in the movie Field of Dreams.

Kevin had hoped to be in town for one-on-one interviews to help promote the Thomas Fire Benefit Festival, but the tragic mudslides in Santa Barbara and Montecito had closed down the 101 keeping him homebound so we spoke over the phone and he gave me some background on how the benefit came about.

It was back in 2008 when Kevin reached out to his good friend Tim Hoctor to help produce his concert at Main and California in support of his latest film, “Swing Vote.” It was a huge undertaking, not an easy feat, so it wasn’t something Kevin thought Tim would want to do again, but he made the phone call to Tim who then reached out to Mark Hartley, and the proverbial ball was soon rolling.

Kevin’s love, care and concern for this town soon became evident. He told me it was just days after the start of the Thomas Fire that he knew he had to do something to help. He realizes one can’t know the true devastation of losing one’s home to a wildfire unless you personally have lost your home, but you can be there for people. You can stand with them. And that’s exactly what he wants to do for those who are suffering.

During our conversation Kevin also told me how he had personally taken a drive with a friend to Santa Paula to survey the damage and on their way back he stopped at the home where he grew up at here in Ventura for the first time in forty years. This was his history. The room where his brother left for Vietnam. The same TV room where he saw Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald when Kevin was only four years old, and where little did he know he’d star in a film on the same subject almost thirty years later (JFK).

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. To keep up-to-date and purchase tickets, go to

We all mourn with the families who lost their homes

by City Council Member Christy Weir

The sudden and fierce Thomas Fire has left a lasting impact on our community. We are proud of our residents and our fire and police departments for facilitating the evacuation of one-fourth of our city within two hectic hours, with no injuries. The fire destroyed over 500 homes in Ventura and we all mourn with the families who lost their possessions and homes. The quick and generous response of our community has been overwhelming, during and after the fire.

Through donations of time, money, household items, food and housing, Venturans have come together to inspire and support one another, moving forward to help those who were impacted. The City has partnered with CalRecycle to quickly clear debris from affected properties, and we are committed to helping each property owner through the permitting and construction process as they rebuild. Three well-loved parks also suffered heavy losses in the fire— Arroyo Verde, Ventura Botanical Gardens and Serra Cross Park. I look forward to collaborating with community volunteers to reconstruct and revitalize these parks as a lasting legacy to the resilience and strength of our beautiful city. We are VenturaStrong!

CAPS Media, Ventura Police and the community

Ventura Police Officer Judson Welfringer shares the latest crime statistics on VPDTV.

The Ventura Police Department is partnering with CAPS Media to produce the Ventura Police Department’s weekly crime and safety update. Tune in every week to TV Channels 6 & 15, on CAPS Radio at 104.1fm and on social media to get some helpful hints on how to stay safe and keep abreast of the latest property crime statistics.

After the holidays, the Pacific High School students returned to the CAPS Media Center for more production and storytelling. They are extremely enthusiastic and talented students. Along with the El Camino High School producers, the Pacific High students and a band of very talented Girl Scouts, the CAPS studio has been brewing with young talent.

CAPS Media broadcast several of the meetings held by the city of Ventura regarding post fire clean-up with strong attendance. Our coverage of these meetings and city council meetings help the public navigate the policies and regulations through this difficult time. There is also time to honor and support the community with announcements of the various city events to raise money for the victims of the Thomas Fire. The Ventura Unified School district is back in session with coverage board meetings, welcoming the district’s new superintendent, David Creswell, and addressing the intellectual, safety and wellbeing of the students in Ventura. Welcome back students.

Our Thomas Fire Stories project is moving forward in collaboration with the Museum of Ventura County, the San Buenaventura Conservancy, ECTV, other agencies and most importantly the public. Everyone in the community is encouraged to join us by sharing their personal stories at the CAPS Media Center utilizing our professional expertise, equipment, studio facilities with distribution on television, radio and the internet. Learn to share your own story by joining the Thomas Fire Story Project. There are hundreds of individual and extraordinary Thomas Fire Stories to share, remember and celebrate. We invite everyone to help us remember and document our common experience.

CAPS Media has set up an easy process for the public to share Thomas Fire Stories and media for the historic project. Simply go to the CAPS Media website homepage at Find the Thomas Fires Stories image, click on the Read More arrow in the lower right corner. The page presents more details on the project and step-by-step instructions on how to contribute photos, video and other media.

If you have a story to tell or a tribute or thank you to share, send an email to or call the CAPS Media Center at 805.658.0500.

CAPS Media’s mission is to create an engaged and informed community through participation in electronic media. Come to orientation on the first Thursday of every month to learn how to become an engaged and informed member of CAPS. Member classes include HD videography/camera class held on the 2nd Thursday, Final Cut postproduction editing class on the 3rd Thursday, and CAPS Radio (KPPQ, FM 104.1) two-part classes on the 4th week. In every training session Member/Producers receive hands-on instruction in videography, video editing, radio production and more. All classes begin at 6pm at the CAPS Media Center, 65 Day Road. Once trained, member/producers may check out CAPS Media’s video cameras, tripods, audio gear and other production equipment to record their story and then book postproduction editing suites to craft the story they want to tell. Go to for information or call 805-658-0500.

Monster firestorm

The fireplace was all that remained.

by James Francis Gray

One tentacle of the Thomas fire started in the Koenstein Road neighborhood in upper Ojai with a blown transformer just after 6:30 p.m. Monday, December 4th, 2017. Gusts of fifty mile-an-hour winds whipped the sparks across the landscape destroying many homes, outbuildings and cars. Only a few homes could be saved.

I witnessed the destruction at Beatrix (Trixi) Scantlin’s property three weeks later. Trixi had shared the main house, built over forty years ago, with her son, Mark Scantlin and his wife, Debbie. Trixi’s younger sister, Erika Lohrenz lived in a Mobile home on the property near their horse corral.

When they spotted the orange glow of the rapidly-approaching fire, they decided to take immediate action and evacuate. They moved their two horses to the top of the hill. In wind so strong it was a struggle to stay on their feet, they got the three cats and a dog to the relative safety of their vehicles. Using flashlights, loaded essentials into two cars, Mark and Debbie’s truck and travel-trailer, then began the terrifying journey down the mountain, caravanning to Highway 150. At Summit School they stopped and watched the fire move closer. At 9:00 p.m. they drove to the Humane Society in Ojai, where they left the cats in safekeeping, then stayed the night in the parking lot.

In the morning the family found themselves in heavy traffic for hours as they made their way to the Port Hueneme Naval Base RV Park where they took up residence in Mark and Debbie’s travel-trailer and a rental travel-trailer.

Mark Scantlin is a fire captain for Federal Fire, stationed on San Nicholas Island.

Bad news arrived in the morning. Everything on the property had burned to the ground. Thankfully, the horses and George, aka Lonesome George, their emu, survived, but sadly, the chickens and peacock did not.

The next several days were chaos, but with strong determination the Scantlins and Erika began the arduous task of putting their lives back together.

They established a camping site named Camp Phoenix higher up on their property. Two travel-trailers, a large wooden table between the two, and a decorated Christmas tree now adorn their new living space. The next order of business was to get the utilities hooked up. After Mark got the power from a generator, he primed their well, over a quarter of a mile away down the steep hillside, and laid new piping up to the campsite.

Trixi said, “When we got back home, the first thing we did was have Mark replace our flag.”

Continue the healing through music

At a time when the fires have left so many in need, we are reminded that music is also an important healing tool after a disaster because of its ability to help people process emotions and because in many ways music is a community activity.

In an effort to continue the healing through music, to thank first responders, to give solace those who have lost so much and to celebrate the best in our community, the Ventura Music Festival will present a special free preview concert on Tuesday, January 23 from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. in the Museum of Ventura County Pavilion.

This free event is open to the public and will provide an artist’s preview, entertainment and refreshments. For more information visit

The Alliance has raised the bar

by John Hankins

Nobody does theater like Ventura County, thanks to the six theaters which are part of the Four-Star Theater Alliance, including Ojai ACT … and the thousands of patrons who benefit from a wide diversity of live and lively theater every year.

The Alliance has raised the bar in quality, variety, camaraderie and cooperation since it started during the 2008 season, culminating in a uniquely judged award ceremony complete with scenes and a photo montage. This year’s event honoring the 2017 season was on Jan. 14 at the High Street Theater in Moorpark.

For starters, the Most Outstanding Productions of each of the six theaters are: “Dogfight” (Camarillo Skyway Playhouse), “Young Frankenstein” (Conejo Players Theatre), “Steel Magnolias” (Elite Theatre Company), “My Fair Lady” (High Street Arts Center), “Peter and the Starcatcher” (Ojai Art Center Theater) and “Becky’s New Car” (Santa Paula Theater Center).

“The 2017 winners represent a totally unique, truly memorable array of work produced throughout the area over the last 12 months,” said Courtney Potter, the Alliance’s social media coordinator.

The theaters promote support and respect and share resources, like props, costumes, tech people and actors. They also brainstorm problems and publish a county-wide brochure of all their productions – 31 main stage productions in 2017 alone, ranging from “Agnes of God” to “When We Were Young and Afraid.”

As for the 2018 season, Umali says, “theater has always had many roles to fill in a community: to entertain, to challenge, to educate, to bring audiences together in the sharing of stories.” The upcoming season will do all that and more.

“Shows from the newest, most thought-provoking works of modern playwrights and composers will go up alongside many familiar and beloved favorites. It’s an opportunity to participate in a selection of exceptional theatre as wide and diverse as the community itself,” Umali said.

Help an adult to improve their reading and writing skills

Ventura County Library’s READ Adult Literacy Program is looking for adult volunteers who would like to help other adults improve their reading and writing skills. Tutoring sites are located throughout Ventura County. No teaching experience is required and the training is free.

The READ program trains adult volunteers to provide free one-to-one tutoring for English speaking adults in need of basic literacy skills. Ventura County Library is encouraging residents to take this opportunity to volunteer as a tutor or encourage someone you know to take advantage of the free program.

The tutor training is a six week program that culminates with literacy training certification. Once certified, the tutors will visit their adult learners at locations in or near their neighborhoods.

Illiteracy is an issue that can be debilitating in so many ways for adults who never received the proper instruction. Adults who are unable to read have a much more difficult time with many daily activities that others may take for granted, along with a clear disadvantage in today’s competitive job market.

Tutors will receive free professional development services throughout this program. Successful tutors are also eligible for letters of support or recommendation for jobs, scholarships, educational opportunities, and more. The next tutor training series will be starting soon.

For more information about how you can support literacy and make a difference in someone’s life, visit the library’s website: or call the READ office at 677-7160.

Local security company donates safety solution to neighborhood theatre

Boyd & Associates (a.k.a. “Draganchuk” or “Boyd”), a Ventura-based security services company, recently donated an extensive alarm system and other security solutions to the Rubicon Theatre Company.

Recently, Rubicon has had increased issues with vagrants and vandalism . Rubicon Board President Diane Goldenring turned to Dan Boyd, President of Boyd & Associates who immediately presented the needed electronic solutions.

“Our neighbors at Rubicon Theatre Company were experiencing some security challenges and we knew we had a solution that could help solve the problem,” said Boyd. “Our company policy is to give back to the community we serve, particularly as we approach the New Year.”

The donated burglar alarm system will help prevent unwanted entries to the main entrance of the theatre and in the administrative area and downstairs conservatory.

“We are grateful to Boyd & Associates for helping our theatre,” said Karyl Lynn Burns, Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director. She added, “The protection of our employees, staff, patrons and students is our highest priority. We feel a sense of relief and know that Boyd’s generosity will bolster confidence and create a great experience for our customers.”

Ventura College Foundation announces two new staff members

The Ventura College Foundation recently announced it has expanded its team with two new staff members. Gerardo Pantoja has joined as director of major and planned giving, and Julie Harvey has joined as development manager. Together, Pantoja and Harvey will help the Foundation manage its fundraising program, expand its donor base to support student scholarships, academic program enhancements and equipment, and continue to cultivate and steward donors of major and planned gifts in support of the Foundation’s mission.

“Gerardo and Julie each has extensive experience helping nonprofits reach the goals fundamental to their stability and longevity by engaging donors on a deeper level,” said Anne King, executive director of the Foundation.

Gerardo Pantoja

A Southern California native, Pantoja earned his associate’s degree from Antelope Valley College before transferring to Pepperdine University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration. Immediately after graduating, Pantoja moved to Washington, D.C. where he spent eight years successfully fundraising for the Hudson Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In 2016, he relocated back to Los Angeles to fundraise for the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture before making the move to the Ventura College Foundation He currently lives in Camarillo.

Julie Harvey

A nonprofit specialist, Harvey has more than 22 years of diverse experience working as a youth director/specialist in various churches and the nonprofit sector, along with extensive administrative and organizational experience. In 2008 she was awarded Woman of the Year Congressional Recognition, with twelve Southern California women, by U.S. Congresswoman Grace Napolitano for her pro bono work with the Southern California non-profit Braswell Rehabilitation Institute for Development of Growth and Educational Services, Inc. (B.R.I.D.G.E.S., Inc.), in Pomona. She holds a bachelor’s degree from National University and a master’s degree in Christian education from Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas.

The Foundation’s flagship programs include Textbook Lending, where students can borrow up to three textbooks to use for the entire semester; Ventura Promise Grant program that allows students to attend their first two semesters at Ventura College tuition-free; and the Phoenix Scholarship program for re-entry students.

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 King at 289-6160 or Or visit

Nurse Debra Lawry Daisy Award winner

Every day Debra holds the hands of patients who have just been diagnosed with cancer.

Community Memorial Health System is proud to announce that Registered Nurse Debra Lawry is the health system’s most recent DAISY Award winner.

Created in 1999, the DAISY Award is a special recognition that honors extraordinary nurses internationally who demonstrate clinical expertise, provide skillful, compassionate care, and go above and beyond for patients and family members. The DAISY Foundation was established by the family of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at the age of 33 from complications of an autoimmune disease. During his eight-week hospitalization, Barnes’ family was awestruck by the care and compassion his nurses provided to Barnes and his family. The family created a foundation in Barnes’ memory to recognize extraordinary nurses everywhere who make a difference. Today, over 2,700 healthcare facilities in all 50 states and 18 countries give DAISY awards.

Every day, Debra Lawry holds the hands (literally and figuratively) of patients who have just been diagnosed with cancer. In her role as Cancer Patient Nurse Navigator at the Community Memorial Health System Cancer Resource Center, she guides patients through the diagnosis, treatment and cancer recovery processes, serving as a vital source of education, support and friendship along the way. Lawry goes above and beyond for her patients, often attending appointments with them and spending extra time ensuring they feel truly supported on their cancer treatment journey.

Many patients have called Lawry their “angel,” and have said they aren’t sure how they would have gotten through treatment without her. Lawry is always willing to provide her co-workers with education or moral support as well, and she works hard to broaden her knowledge so she can provide the latest and most accurate information to patients and coworkers.

To nominate an extraordinary nurse from Community Memorial Health System for a DAISY Award, go to Learn more at