Girls scouts help collect many items for the needy every year

Girl Scout Troop donates socks to the homeless before the cold season.

As the weather begins to cool down, local girl scouts teamed up with Ventura’s Hypno Comics Store to donate socks to homeless in need.

Girl Scout Troop 61686 annually sets aside a portion of proceeds from their fall product sales of nuts, candy, and magazines to support a service project to help “make the world a better place,” to honor the Girl Scout Law.

After considering a few different options, troop members voted to support the Los Angeles Dumbledore’s Army’s 2nd Annual Dobby’s Sock Drive in support of the Midnight Mission.

The troop was able to make a donation of $100.00 worth of men’s, women’s and children’s socks which will be distributed to the homeless before the cold season. Several troop members showed up on delivery day to personally deliver the socks to Hypno Comic’s owner George Chase. Chase was pleased to see such a big contribution be made to his location’s collection box.

This is one of three collection drives supported by the comic book store; later in the year the store also helps to collect food and toys. The troop is happy to support these kind of collections, as in previous years the girls have helped collect many items of need including children’s books, pajamas and birthday supplies for hospitalized children.

Celebrating the Life of an Irish Pig

Gone but not forgotten. Photo by Michael Gordon

He’d grown a little frail in his old age. Still, when he finally went to hog heaven, he broke a lot of hearts.

And so it is that, eight months after his sad public demise along the 2017 County Ventura St. Patrick’s Day Parade route, the Great Inflatable Green Pig – everyone’s favorite parade entry for 26 years – will be remembered this month in a mass community wake along Main Street in historic downtown Ventura.

The final procession of our porcine pal will begin at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30, in the parking lot at the Museum of Ventura County, at 100 E. Main St.

A throng of public mourners will join city dignitaries, St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee members, pall bearers hoisting the casketed pig aloft and four bagpipers as they make their way down Main Street to celebrate the pig’s life and enjoy some libations along the way.

The Great Inflatable Green Pig – also lovingly known as Pig o’ My Heart and Shamhock – collapsed from exhaustion and passed on March 11, in view of the parade judges among many others, on the occasion of Ventura County’s 29th annual St. Patty’s Day Parade.

To properly honor his memory, the parade committee spent months planning this fitting Irish Wake and Memorial Procession on his behalf.

The public is invited to come out and help celebrate a pig’s life well lived and pay their respects to the end of a true legend.

For more information, email parade co-chair Nan Drake at, parade co-chair Jim Monahan at or parade committee member Tim O’Neil at

City Council to reduce qualified marijuana delivery services

by Burris DeBenning

To further restrict marijuana access in Ventura, City Council, at the meeting held on November 13, voted to limit the number of outside, approved medical marijuana delivery services from five to three to assure greater control of the delivery pipeline. Before November 13, staff had presented the limit to five delivery services that required both a delivery permit and business license to sell medical marijuana to City residents. According to some in Council, the original proposal of five services lacked clarity as to five being the precise number, or whether it would be possible to institute a tighter limit. After Council discussed the matter among themselves and questioned Jeff Lambert, City Community Development Director and the City Attorney, Greg Diaz, Council decided on a motion to set the limit to three allowable delivery services.

While state residents approved Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) in November 2016, Ventura City Council, with strong support from local law enforcement, adopted an Interim Urgency Ordinance that extended a citywide moratorium on commercial cultivation and sales until mid-November 2017. The state is not expected to develop or institute AUMA regulations until January 2018. AUMA also defers medical use and sales to local jurisdictions, so Ventura is not obligated, at any time, to allow commercial cultivation or dispensaries. Tonight’s vote centered on the latest staff recommendation for a cannabis restriction ordinance that would only allow vendors outside city limits to sell marijuana to residents medically authorized for use.

In earlier discussions of the ordinance, staff recommended that only five businesses be allowed to sell in the city. After staff presented the latest iteration of ordinance on November 13, Councilmember Mike Tracy asked if the number five was final. Other members were concerned as well about the clarity and “magic number” issue. Mr. Lambert responded that five was based on the Council’s direction to “go slow” and assess the true medical need among residents. The City Attorney and Police Chief Ken Corney agreed that five was not a mandate, but was a reasonable number of services that staff and law enforcement could monitor. Staff went on to say that the range of three to five was based on studies in other municipalities.

Councilmember Christy Weir voiced concern about the regulation process itself, and that five delivery services seemed more unwieldy than a lower number. Staff and Council concurred that Council had full discretion to amend the ordinance by restricting the number of outside sellers to three. One citizen protested that local delivery services were being disadvantaged by the ordinance. The motion to amend carried 7-0.

Note: Burris DeBenning is a new contributing writer to the Ventura Breeze. He will be reporting on City Council news and other related stories.

Fabio and Sylvia Simoes a dedicated family

Sophia and Raphael enjoy the ministry with their parents.

“People need a friend…it is priceless to see the transformation, to see someone who is destroyed and without hope, able to live a normal life.” Silvia Simoes

by Jill Forman

The Simoes are a charismatic couple: gracious, attractive, and hospitable. Yours truly showed up for the interview with two small children in tow, unexpectedly; Silvia set them up with toys and coloring supplies, and said, “All are welcome here.”

In their native Brazil, Fabio trained as a dentist, Silvia as a physical therapist. They could have been enjoying an affluent existence, yet here they are in Ventura living a life of dedication and service. Instead of trendy clothes, they are wearing Salvation Army uniforms (which look like designer outfits on them.) Owning almost nothing, they live in a Salvation Army house. Instead of being titled “Doctor,” they are both proud to be called “Lieutenant.”

They are in charge of the Salvation Army services in Ventura, and loving it. “We never planned this, no background in social service; we just fell in love with the opportunities to serve people.”

Fabio, in addition to dentistry, studied music; he is a classical guitarist with 17 albums recorded. In 2002, he was invited by the Salvation Army to come to the United States on a religious visa, and he coordinated music schools with 200 students in Southern California for over 7 years.

Silvia came on a student visa to learn English; she lived in the Long Beach area, and was planning to take her boards to be a therapist in the United States. But, she says with a chuckle, “God intervened.”

They met at a Salvation Army Brazilian ministry in 2005 and were married in 2006; their children are Sophia, 8, and Raphael, 7. They worked in their respective fields, music and physical therapy, until 2012.

They were “challenged” to go to seminary and become officers in the Salvation Army. They decided that “People are more important than things…we are here to offer hope in all ways.” In the Salvation Army, both members of a married couple attend seminary. They started in 2012, at a campus in Rancho Palos Verdes, graduating in 2014. Ventura is their first assignment.

The first two years here were spent organizing, learning about the community and about the Salvation Army facilities here. They have several locations with a variety of services, which are frequently changing due to funding fluctuations and the needs of the local populace.

Their children enjoy the ministry which calls for the whole family to work together. Their kids encourage them, and they have been able to bring more families into their church. “When we started we had two children in our program – ours – and now we have more than 40.”

Their Ventura ministry includes the church and headquarters on Petit Street, the Hope Center downtown on Oak Street with outreach and case management among other services, spiritual care for the residents of a senior living facility on the Petit property, family units on Bell Way with housing specialists, an eye clinic in association with the Rotary, recuperative care for post-hospital patients in association with the Health Care Agency, and many other programs planned.

In 2008, Corey Castro was seven years old and was treated for Gorham’s Disease

Ventura Police Officers joined the Castro family in 2016.

The Ventura Police Department announces the 8th Annual Castro Family & Ventura Police Community Foundation Toy Drive. The community is invited to donate unwrapped toys or gift cards for the patients and siblings of the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases at the Ventura County Medical Center. Donations, for ages infant to 18 years, will be accepted at the Ventura Police Department located at 1425 Dowell Drive Monday through Friday between the hours of 7:30 am and 5:30 pm until December 15.

In 2008, Corey Castro was seven years old and was treated for Gorham’s Disease, a rare bone disease. As a patient, he was asked if he wanted to pick out a toy from the center’s toy box. Corey discovered the toy box needed more toys and asked his family if they could help fill the box for other children receiving treatment at the center. The Castro Family worked to make that dream a reality and has since provided toys and gifts to more than 1,500 patients and their siblings. The effort raises awareness about the only pediatric oncology and hematology center in Ventura County. The Castro Family expanded their effort by partnering with the Ventura Police Community Foundation. Ventura Police Officers join the Castro family in hosting a holiday party for the children and their families and help pass out gifts with Santa and Ventura Police K9s.

“Bringing joy to the brave junior crime fighters at VCMC is a humbling experience. Many of these children are fighting for their lives. We appreciate this opportunity to partner with the Castro Family and our community in providing a special evening for the children and their siblings during the holiday season,” said Commander Sam Arroyo.

Conservancy adds members to Board of Trustees

The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy (VHC) recently added four new members to the nonprofit land trust’s board of trustees. They are: Dennis Kulzer, Susan LeFevre, Scott Weiss and Don Wood, bringing total board membership to 11. Each of them bring a diverse and professional background that adds expertise and personal qualities that fit well with VHC’s mission to permanently protect the scenic beauty of our region.

Kulzer is an avid outdoorsman who was born and raised in Southern California and enjoys hiking, backpacking, running and bicycling. He retired in 2013 after serving as the City of Ventura’s fleet services supervisor for 10 years. He has also coordinated international rescue efforts for 400,000 refugees at Rwandan refugee camps in Western Tanzania. In addition to serving on the VHC board, Kulzer volunteers with Channel Islands Restoration, local homeless programs, and the Ventura Botanical Gardens.

LeFevre is an adjunct professor at California State University Channel Islands and an independent education consultant. She has previously served as the Program Manager for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy/STEM Initiative, Executive Director of the Ventura County Leadership Academy, and Curator of Education for the Carnegie Art Museum. She has a long history of involvement with non-profit institutions and currently serves on the Oxnard College Foundation Board. Susan enjoys hiking in the mountains of California.

Weiss, a Certified Public Accountant, has lived in Ventura for more than 50 years. He is the managing partner of the CPA firm Weiss, Bowens, and Magson LLP, a licensed real estate broker and serves as an arbitrator for the Ventura County Bar Assoc. A semi-professional trumpet player and musical conductor, he is passionate about music, passing on that enthusiasm as the founder and Executive Director of Music 4 Kids.. When not making music, Weiss enjoys hiking, biking and traveling.

Wood was born in western Pennsylvania, grew up in California and spent his youth hiking and biking in the countryside of Ventura County. A graduate of Occidental College, he recently completed a 34-year career in the telecommunications industry. Wood has been actively engaged in Ventura community service for nearly 30 years serving as a member and past president of the Ventura Education Partnership.

Ventura Police supports the local community

The Foundation supports opportunities for Ventura Police Officers to provide mentoring opportunities for local youth.

The Ventura Police Community Foundation (VPCF) Board of Directors invites the community to a Fall Night Out at Barrelhouse 101 , 545 E. Thompson Blvd. on November 9 from 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The VPCF mission is to foster and support programs and initiatives that strengthen a safe community and enhance the quality of life in Ventura. Programs supported by the foundation include after school programs for 510 students at school sites throughout our community, programs for 80 students at Westpark Community Center, community partnerships that enhance the relationship between the community and the police department and public safety initiatives that address specific public safety needs that improve police effectiveness and officer safety through the use of specialized equipment.

“The crime fighting team of the Ventura Police Department is fortunate to have the confidence and support of the community we serve. The VPCF is a 501(c)3 and was established to provide the opportunity for community and business members to support programs and initiatives that will improve the quality of life and safety in our community,” said Police Chief Ken Corney.

In addition to afterschool programs and specialized equipment the Ventura Police Community Foundation supports opportunities for Ventura Police Officers to provide mentoring opportunities for local youth. Special outings to sporting events and entertainment venues allow an opportunity for at-risk youth to enjoy time with officers and develop impactful relationships. The support of the foundation goes directly back to the community and the police department. Join us at Barrelhouse 101 on November 9 to learn about our efforts and join us in making Ventura a better and safer community for all!

This is a no host event. Guests are encouraged to mention VPCF at point of sale. 20% of proceeds will be donated to the VPCF. Questions? Please contact 339-4317 or

The Ventura Police Department will be hosting Coffee with a Cop at Art’s Corner Café , 1907 E. Thompson Blvd. on Thursday, November 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. The community is invited to come together in a friendly, informal environment to discuss community issues, build relationships and enjoy a good cup of coffee.

Most contacts police officers have with the public happen during emergencies or emotional situations. Those situations are not always the most effective times for relationship building and some community members may feel that officers are unapproachable on the street or during the course of their duties. Coffee with a Cop breaks down barriers and allows time for relaxed one-on-one interaction.

Engaging the community in public safety efforts is a top priority of the Ventura Police Department. They offer monthly opportunities at Community Council meetings to learn about crime trends and crime prevention. They also provide regular community meetings and neighborhood meetings upon request. Coffee with a Cop is an additional opportunity for residents to get to know the officers that serve Ventura.

Similar events are being held across the country as police departments strive to make lasting connections with the communities they serve.

The program aims to advance the practice of community policing through improving relationships between police officers and community members one cup of coffee at a time. Coffee with a Cop provides an opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about the department’s service. There is no formal agenda, just a casual opportunity to voice concerns and share ideas. This is a no host event.

City of Ventura invites residents to participate in district based elections map process

How would you divide Ventura into districts?

The City of Ventura encourages residents to participate in the district based elections map process with easy to use tools now available on the City’s website at Citizens can create their own maps by using the one-page map (available in English or Spanish), an online Excel file to map population units by district, or by using the interactive on-line drawing tool. The deadline to submit all draft maps is November 17, 2017. All draft maps meeting the rules set by the Federal Voting Rights Act and the California Voting Rights Act will be considered by the City’s demographer, National Demographics Corporation, and the Ventura City Council.

Community members can pick-up printed maps in the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, Room #204, 501 Poli Street, use their own map, sketch one on a piece of paper, or provide written comments/descriptions for the districts.

Draft maps can be submitted to National Demographics Corporation via fax to (818) 254-1221, email to, or mail to P.O. Box 5271, Glendale, CA, 91221. All draft maps meeting the requirements will be considered by the City Council and published on the City’s website one week before the meeting at which they will be discussed.

The Ventura City Council is slated to adopt an ordinance establishing the district boundaries by January 14, 2018, and will be effective for the 2018 Election. Residents are encouraged to attend the upcoming Public Hearings on district based elections December 4, and December 11, 2017, at City Hall. A certified interpreter will be on hand for the public hearings.

For a complete list of key dates, administrative reports and frequently asked questions, visit The City will be working to keep this webpage up-to-date as we progress through discussions on districts.

Couple honors Ventura Music Festival

“Mark and I are proud and happy to underwrite the artistic director position”

The Ventura Music Festival is pleased to announce that a distinguished philanthropic couple has agreed to “name” the position long held by Nuvi Mehta. Henceforth the director and the position will be known as: “Nuvi Mehta, the Janet and Mark L. Goldenson Artistic Director of the Ventura Music Festival.”

According to Mrs. Goldenson, “Mark and I are proud and happy to underwrite the artistic director position of a Festival that has long brought the joy of world-class music to the community along with wonderful education programs. Through the years we’ve grown to know Nuvi and there could not be a more deserving person for us to support.”

Commenting on the gift, Executive Director Susan Scott said “the Goldensons’ generous gift comes at a particularly exciting time for us. Planning is underway not only for a 2018 Festival that matches or exceeds this year’s wonderful success, but we’ve also started planning for a special year-long, community-wide celebration of our 25thanniversary in 2019. These next two years are a big deal, and Janet and Mark’s gift adds to the momentum beautifully.”

Founded in 1994, the Ventura Music Festival is one of Ventura County’s signature arts events, presenting a genre-spanning mix of world-class music in an annual July Festival, and an array of programs year-round, including a Student Jazz Competition in January and Rising Stars concert in May.

“Teaming Up Against Domestic Violence”

A powerful evening was held at the City Center’s domestic violence event.

It was an amazing night at The City Center’s 3rd Annual Domestic Violence event – “Teaming Up Against Domestic Violence” held in The River Community’s main auditorium.

The evening was filled with heartfelt music by Kris Simeon, Jermarie Dizon, Monse Casmiro, Charleen Morla and Unko Henry.

Words of support from dignitaries and local celebrities included Ventura City Councilmember Mike Tracy, Ventura County Assistant Sheriff William Ayub and KVTA radio celebrity Tom Spence.

There were powerful testimonies by domestic violence survivors and City Center residents Andrea Farfan, Trisha Willard, and Maria Lopez and Special Guest Erica King

Master of Ceremony’s Jim Duran and Jeanne Benitez thanked the event sponsors: Title Sponsor Oxnard Monday Club, Event Sponsors: Community Presbyterian Church, Jill Olivares Insurance, Aloha Steakhouse, Missy’s Cupcake Creations and The River Community Church

The City Center Mentor Coordinators Rick and Cheri Carney stated “Thank you to all of you that were able to attend the “Team Up Against Domestic Violence” event. It was a very powerful, moving evening with several of our residents speaking and sharing. It brought to light many of the horrors of domestic violence, but it also highlighted the courage, strength and hope that many of our residents possess. Just surviving and being able to move away from their abusers is a tremendous step in their recovery.”

The City Center Transitional Living
837 E. Thompson Blvd. 628-9035