Museum of Ventura County in the news

The Museum announces the return of its Wearable Art Fashion Show.

The Museum of Ventura County and CAPS Media are coordinating with the Ventura City fire and police departments, county fire and sheriff departments, other agencies and most importantly the Ventura County public to create an historical archive of the most devastating natural tragedy in county history. Throughout the next few months, the Museum and CAPS Media will be gathering stories and digital images as well as physical artifacts to assemble an historical record of the extraordinary sacrifices of fire fighters, law enforcement personnel and other first responders who tirelessly battled the devastating Thomas Fire, and the citizens of Ventura. Both organizations invite the public’s participation and encourage those with a story to tell or a tribute or thank you to share, to submit their stories and digital images to help document our common experience.

“Documentation of the extensive impacts of the Thomas Fire on Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties has taken immediate precedence over our regular museum programs and activities,” said Denise Sindelar, programs director, Museum of Ventura County.

CAPS Media will record interviews with Thomas Fire first responders, officials and the public impacted by the tragedy for inclusion in the documentary project and for broadcast and streaming on CAPS Television and Radio.

To submit a video, go to and follow the steps outlined to upload video content. To submit a personal story, a tribute or thank you and/or to share digital images, send an email to

“CAPS Media is excited to continue our creative collaborations with the Museum of Ventura County,” said Patrick Davidson, executive director, CAPS Media.

The Museum has announce that a $1 million gift has established the Barbara Barnard Smith Museum of Ventura County Executive Director Fund which will provide permanent and ongoing financial support for the museum’s executive director position.

Barbara Barnard Smith is the great-granddaughter of William Dewey Hobson, often called the Father of Ventura County. She established the Fred W. Smith Gallery, named for her father, and in the early 1990s led the creation of an endowment to support the George Stuart Historical Figures.

Barbara has established numerous philanthropic funds, and has received many honors, including the State of Hawai‘i Governor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement in Culture, Arts, and Humanities in 2008.

“We are excited and extremely grateful for this very generous philanthropic investment by Barbara Barnard Smith. We are so fortunate that she and our community value the museum as an important asset and resource,” said Elena Brokaw, the Barbara Barnard Smith Executive Director.

The Museum of Ventura County announces the return of its Wearable Art Fashion Show and has opened its call for entries, with an entry deadline of March 1. “Wearing Our Stories: Rising from the Ashes” focuses on stitching together the stories of courage amid destruction and mending the devastation left behind by the Thomas Fire. The challenge for artists, artisans and community members is to tell their stories through an article of clothing or accessories designed for this wearable art show.

There is a $15 entry fee or $20 for two entries. One to three photos of your design will be accepted with each entry. If your piece is not complete, a description and/or sketch of your design is acceptable, or a description and photo of your design in progress. Submissions can be sent by mail or email. Visit to download the submission form and/or prospectus. For more information, please email

The fashion show will take place March 30 at the Museum’s Smith Pavilion.

Thomas Fire by the numbers

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.

“We understood early on that there would be a tremendous need for fire recovery information, and that it would have to be a cooperative effort,” said Mike Powers, County Executive Officer. “The fire crossed many jurisdictional boundaries and our recovery process would have to do the same thing. The cities enthusiastically supported a unified approach and the result has been a streamlined, efficient and compassionate process.”

A Local Assistance Center was opened in Ventura on December 13. On December 26, the Board of Supervisors approved the County’s participation in the California Office of Emergency Services debris removal program. The Environmental Health Division of the County’s Resource Management Agency has processed 665 Right-of-Entry forms for the program and is still accepting applications.

The property damage caused by the Thomas Fire was unprecedented in Ventura County, and the need for information was critical. The website helped, but the County and the cities wanted to be sure the public knew their local governments were active and engaged. As a result, 13 community town hall meetings were held at locations around the county, primarily to address debris removal concerns and now, federal assistance programs.

As the recovery process goes on, the assistance numbers continue to grow.

The Treasurer-Tax collector’s office has waived 180 late fees for fire victims and first responders.

Emergency Medical Services has distributed 731,280 face masks.

Behavioral Health made 4,000 contacts during the fire response.

The County Clerk and Recorder’s office has provided assistance to 314 fire victims and provided copies of 694 public records at no cost.

The County Public Works Agency has stockpiled and begun distribution of 45,000 sandbags and coordinated another 20,000 for the city of Ventura.

987 properties have been cleared of hazardous debris with only a handful of properties remaining.

665 properties have been registered for the state’s CalRecycle burn debris removal program.

The County is working 181 active cases for fire victims needing housing. Thirty-three families have received assistance to date and eighteen have been permanently housed.

The Assessor’s office has surveyed more than 2,000 fire-damaged properties.

The statistics are endless and growing daily.

Offshore drilling opponents march from City Hall to Ventura Pier

The group is vehemently opposed to the proposed continuation of offshore drilling. Photo by Bernie Goldstein

by Richard Lieberman

CFROG (Citizens for responsible oil and gas) held a protest march in Ventura. The environmental group is working to stop the federal governments 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.

The rally dubbed ‘Walk to the beach, Hands Across the Sand” started at noon on February 3, 2018 at Ventura City Hall. Speakers heralded the immense dangers to our coastline and the marine life that depends on the sea and shore to survive.

Kimberly Rivers Executive Director of CFROG said “This march is to compel our Federal Government to protect our coast from this crazy plan.” CFROG a five-year-old organization was created by a group of residents who saw local oil and gas projects in their areas and, participated in the Ventura County conditional use permit process and, they didn’t like what they terms of the county planning process that they believed the city councils involved were “advocating for the oil and gas companies” said Rivers.

About 70-100 people participated in the march and Director Rivers said, “she was pleased with the turnout.” “The fact is that Ventura County oil and gas is an integral part of the county economy, but in fact other sectors contribute as much.” She added. “We are like a watchdog, watching the regulatory and oversight agencies,” said Rivers.

The group is vehemently opposed to the proposed continuation of offshore drilling. The current administrations plan that the federal government has put forward, potentially opening the entire coast to more leasing and drilling fly’s in the face of public sentiment said Rivers.

As the march progressed horns from supporters and some from detractors honked their messages to the demonstrators. The march progressed to the coast near the Ventura Pier where demonstrators formed a line across the sand in protest.

The CFROG organization plans to continue monitoring the regulatory and oversight agencies and will attempt to stop the federal governments plan to open our coastline to more oil and gas drilling. “The risks are just to great.” Said Rivers.

CalRecycle is still accepting applications

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.

“This is a public safety issue,” said Environmental Health Director, Bill Stratton. “It is imperative to clean these properties so the recovery and rebuilding process can move forward.”

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.

Fire victims who have not yet filed applications for the program are strongly encouraged to do so as soon as possible. CalRecycle is still accepting applications, CalRecycle is still accepting applications for areas where the teams have not already completed their work.

The Right-of-Entry forms necessary for the program can be found on the Ventura County Recovers website, the Environmental Health Division at the County Government Center, Ventura City Hall, and the Debris Removal Operations Center (DROC). The DROC is located at 290 Maple Court, Suite 120, Ventura. The County Government Center is at 800 South Victoria Avenue
in Ventura.

“We really want people to take advantage of CalRecycle’s no-cost program,” said Stratton. “But the fact is, every one of these properties must be cleared one way or another.”


Art festival to support fire-flood victims Feb 17 at Bell Arts Factory

The Ventura Unified School District Office in West Ventura will be the site of the Thomas Arts Festival, an art auction and benefit also featuring music and performing arts created to assist those rebuilding their lives as a result of the Thomas fires and flood. The event will take place Saturday, February 17, 2018 from 12 noon – 5:00 p.m. The address of the Ventura Unified School District Office is 255 W. Stanley Avenue, Ventura, 93001. Admission and parking are free. Donations will be accepted.

“Our community is filled with artists expressing many art forms, yet hundreds of neighbors suffered tremendous loss due to the recent fires and flood. Many of these people do not fit in the constructs of society because they focus on creativity and helping others and therefore may not qualify for traditional assistance,” said Greg Gillis-Smith.

This event will showcase the creative work of local and surrounding artists, and introduce working artists to members of the community where relationships of mutual support for the arts in the community can form beyond this event.

Food trucks will be on-site to offer their cuisine to attendees. A family art space will be a place for parents, care givers and children to come together and create art. Live performances by musicians and other performing artists will occur throughout the afternoon.

The Ventura Unified School District Office location is easily accessible from the Stanley exit off highway 33, with plenty of free parking.

Admission is free, with donations accepted. Bell Arts Factory is at 432 N. Ventura Avenue.

“Our Ventura TV”

Hosts, George Alger and Sandra Siepak, Michelle Hoover, Petrina Sharp and Bill O’Connor will make you a star. Photo by Our Ventura TV/George Alger

TV viewers in Ventura County are invited to tune into “Our Ventura TV” the weekly talk-show television series airing on Ventura CAPS TV Channel 6. The insightful program spotlights local newsworthy guests discussing timely topics in and around Ventura County that are both appealing and informative to local audiences.

“Our Ventura TV,” features many of the non-profit organizations, community advocates, and leaders, as well as artists that make up the culture and diversity of Ventura County,” stated George Alger of Skyworks Marketing who is the Creator, Host, and Producer of the program.

Directed by Petrina Sharp, along with Assistant Director Bill O’Connor and Michelle Hoover in Production the show delivers inspiring feature segments and engaging conversational interviews worth watching.

The program also features artists and performances by musical guests. Regular “Our Ventura TV” Hosts include; Sandra Siepak, Bob Taylor and Ed Wehan.

“Our Ventura TV,” focuses on the people and organizations in Ventura County who enrich the lives of others,” commented show Host Sandra Siepak. She recently interviewed Mayor Erik Nasarenko and also Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin of the 44th District highlighting their successful efforts here in Ventura County as well as reps from the Ventura Port District, Many Mansions and the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

She added, “One of the most important elements is featuring interview guests dedicated to making a significant difference to the lives of others. Hopefully our talk show encourages viewers to become more involved and ultimately contribute back to the community.”

“Our Ventura” is broadcast on CAPS Ventura TV Channel 6 five times a week and online. Check local listings for times and dates. There are many new shows planned for 2018. If you would like to be a featured guest on the program or for more information go to

Ventura County Fair announces Poster Contest for County Youth

Anna Sorensen, James Lockwood and Jorja Garcia at 2017 poster award presentation.

The Ventura County Fair has announced that the 9th annual Fair poster contest will be held for the 2018 Ventura County Fair. The contest is open to young artists in grades 5 – 12 who reside in Ventura County.

The theme of the 2018 Fair is “A Country Fair with Ocean Air” and will serve as the guideline to the imagery.

Artwork may be created in any medium but may not include the use of glitter, metallic paint, or 3 dimensional objects attached to the artwork.

Poster designs will be judged on Theme, Originality, Composition and Skill. Entries will be accepted until the entry deadline, Friday, April 6. Entries can be brought to the Fairgrounds administration office at 10 W. Harbor Blvd. in Ventura. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8AM until 5PM. (Closed from 12-1PM daily)

Rules, deadlines and other information can be found on the Fair website, For more information about the contest call 648-3376 or send an email to (Please put “Poster Contest” in the subject line)

Prizes will be awarded to the top three entries, First prize: $500, Second Prize: $250, Third Prize: $100.

The winning design will be used to advertise the Fair on Fair posters, souvenirs, advertisements and other applications. Second and third place winners will also be used in various applications. All contestants entries will be displayed in the Youth Expo at the Ventura County Fair.

The Ventura County Fair will begin its annual 12-day run Wednesday, August 1 and continue until Sunday, August 12.

For more information about the Fair, or the poster contest, please call the Ventura County Fairgrounds at 648-3376 or visit

Scammers at the door

Senior News Line
by Matilda Charles

The guy who showed up today came to the wrong door: mine. I pegged him for a scammer before he even said a word. And I was right. The only thing I didn’t know was what kind of scam it was.

Turned out it was utilities. The guy claimed he was at the door at the request of my electric company to update my records. Then he said he only needed to scan my previous utility bill.

Wrong. I’d read about these guys.

First, I knew that my electric company didn’t send him. Second, if I’d showed him my bill, he would have had my name and account number and would know what rate I pay.

The scam works like this: With all that information, they would offer me a ridiculously low rate. If I signed up, before I knew it, my electric bill would have gone up 400 percent. I’d be locked into a contract and would have to pay a lot of money to get out of it. If I didn’t pay, they would send the bill to a collection agency, and it would show up on my credit report. So I shut the door in his face.

This particular scammer has a long history in other states, and there are class- action suits and investigations. They’ve targeted seniors, saying the local utility company had changed names and new information is needed, falsified signatures to sign up, come to the door again and again, misrepresented who they worked for, lied about rates and much, much more.

If someone shows up at your door with a clipboard and a photo ID hanging from their neck, it’s probably a scammer. If they ask for any information, it’s probably a scammer. Just shut the door.

Tai Chi Balance Classes seeking volunteers to train to teach seniors

Improve Balance, Increase Strength, Help Others

RSVP will offer volunteer instructor training in February for a senior Tai Chi program, providing active retirees a way to serve their community through teaching classes while also improving their own balance and staying fit.

The two-day training with the Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance Master Trainer is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, February 16 and 17, in Ventura. Several follow-up practices with other trained volunteers will be scheduled before volunteers lead a class. Most volunteers will practice over 30 hours before being certified to teach. Attendance at quarterly in-services will also be required. No experience is necessary, but volunteers must be age 55 or older and make a six-month commitment to teach three hours per week.

For more information on the instructor training or to register to be trained as an instructor, please call 385-8023. The free classes will be held in the four west county cities served by the Oxnard RSVP.

A federal grant received by the City of Oxnard and its RSVP program funds the free exercise classes, which are being offered in partnership with the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging.

Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance follows curriculum developed at the Oregon Research Institute (in Oregon) where studies showed improved strength and balance, increased mobility and reduced incidence of falls among seniors who participated in the classes.

The 12-week evidence-based program consists of a core eight-form routine of Yang-style Tai Chi with built-in exercise variations. It teaches participants balance skills and good body alignment by using coordinated and flowing movements. The classes are intended for adults age 60 and older who can walk easily with or without assistive devices.

RSVP is currently recruiting volunteers to lead the classes in Oxnard, Ventura, Camarillo and Port Hueneme; bilingual volunteers are particularly needed. Volunteers team teach to allow for vacation and sick time. All RSVP volunteers must be age 55 or better.

One in three Americans over the age of 65 fall every year and falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs, according to the National Council on Aging.

Falling, however, is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, participation in evidence-based falls prevention programs, such as Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance, and other interventions, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.

Those interested in taking the 12-week class, but not being an instructor, should call the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging’s fall prevention program at 477-7347 to have their name put on the waiting list.

RSVP is a volunteer recruitment and placement program, helping people 55 and older find volunteer positions that match their interests, talent and available time. The Oxnard RSVP has almost 575 members and is sponsored by the City of Oxnard. To learn more about being an RSVP member or to discuss other volunteer opportunities, call 385-8023.

Local business resources offer recovery workshops

Representatives from the Small Business Development Center for Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties (SBDC), Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will be presenting free workshops on resources available for small businesses affected by the Thomas fire and mudslides. The workshops will present information to help businesses that have suffered physical damage and/or financial losses connect with free consulting, business courses, emergency loans and long-term low-interest loans.

“We want business owners who have been impacted by the fire, floods and mudslides to know there is help available,” said Clare Briglio, Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County’s special services coordinator. “The SBDC and WEV are co-sponsoring these workshops to provide local businesses with accurate information and assistance to access the help they need to recover quickly.”

Workshops are available :

  • Thursdays, February 15 and 22
  • English workshop – 6:30 p.m.
  • Spanish workshop – 7:15 p.m.

WEV Office, 290 Maple Court, Suite 256 Ventura

For more information, call 965-6073 or email

The SBDC is funded by the SBA and provides professional business assistance at no cost to businesses. Participating businesses are required to follow a well-defined scope of work and report their economic successes. These SBA milestones are defined as job creation, increase in sales, capital investment, jobs retained and businesses started.

EDC-VC is a private, nonprofit organization that serves as a business-to-government liaison to assist businesses in Ventura County by offering programs that enhance the economic vitality of the region. For more information about the Small Business Development Center, loan programs, manufacturing outreach and international trade program, or other services available to small businesses through EDC-VC, contact Bruce Stenslie at 384-1800 ext. 24 or Or visit