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Firefighters’ Ball honors and celebrates Ventura City Firefighters

Money raised will be used to support the Ventura Fire Foundation’s programming. Photos by Mary Thompson

The Ventura Fire Foundation, in partnership with the Ventura City Fire Department, celebrated the Ventura City Firefighters at the 2022 Firefighters’ Ball, presented by Flying Embers. The event was held on June 10, at the Olivas Adobe. Firefighters in their Class A uniforms, and their spouses attended an evening of recognition, camaraderie, and celebration.

The actions of five sworn personnel and one civilian employee were recognized by the Ventura Fire Department and the Ventura Fire Foundation. Additionally, thirty-six employees were promoted, and forty-seven Lifesaving Medals were distributed for excellent service to the City of Ventura.

“The City is blessed to have so many exemplary firefighters and staff who go above and beyond to serve our community. They provide all-hazards emergency response, perform life-saving actions each day, and often times provide care and compassion to people on their toughest day,” said Fire Chief David Endaya. “This year’s event was extra special as it was the first time we’ve gathered to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of our team.”

Engineer Eric Craddock received the Firefighter of the Year award for his dedication to fire and rescue training, leading the oversight at the Fire Training grounds, and embodying the highest standards of the fire service.

The Greg Andrews Safety Award, recognizing a continued commitment to ensuring a safer workplace for all, was presented to Firefighter-Paramedic James Kenney.

Kenney devoted hundreds of hours on developing maps for crew responses to several of Ventura’s large complexes. Without these critical maps and level of detail required to design them, lifesaving minutes navigating buildings would be lost.

The Nancy Merman Paramedic of the Year honor was awarded to Engineer Kyle Tong. “Kyle has worked tirelessly on grant opportunities for the department, including a grant where we were able to purchase LUCAS CPR devices for each apparatus,” said Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Heather Ellis. “He has trained every firefighter on this device. His is a true asset to our agency.”

Captain Mark Nielsen and Firefighter-Paramedic William Nackers were both honored for exceptional duty for their ingenuity in providing life-saving service, going above and beyond the call of duty, and upholding the department’s core values.

Finally, Danielle Motherspaw was recognized as the Fire Prevention Employee of the Year. Danielle provides exceptional service with a smile, can be called upon at any time to assist a coworker, and demonstrates pride in producing quality work.

Health and safety restrictions and a shift in priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the annual ceremonies honoring excellent service and the promotions of employees since 2019.

“We are incredibly excited to celebrate Ventura City firefighters, and join the City in honoring their achievements,” said Joe Booth, executive director of the Ventura Fire Foundation. “The past two years have been especially difficult for first responders and their families, so we are eager to have a night of fun.”

For more information about the Ventura Fire Department, visit

The project will provide a safe affordable place to call home

Ventura Springs will provide housing for homeless veterans. Photos by Patricia Schallert

Ventura Springs, located on 10 acres of land previously owned by the City of Ventura located at 10900 Telephone Rd. in Ventura will be a new community made up of 122 apartments for formerly homeless veterans as well as for low-income veterans and their families. The 11 buildings that make up Ventura Springs will be primarily two-story walk-ups with two three-story buildings, and will be surrounded by vibrant courtyards with a variety of uses and activities. The $62 million project will provide Ventura veterans safe, affordable place to call home and the resources and community needed to build stable futures.

California Secretary of Business, Consumer Services & Housing Lourdes Castro Ramirez, Ventura Mayor Sofia Rubalcava and other city council members and Supervisor Matt La Vere joined A Community of Friends (ACOF) and U.S.VETS to celebrate the groundbreaking of Ventura Springs.

As the first supportive housing development for veterans in the City of Ventura, Ventura Springs will provide residents with service-enriched housing, and comprehensive onsite supportive services including case management, mental health counseling, career development and life skills training. The project, built in a campus-like setting, will encourage healthy living, resident engagement and a sense of belonging through outdoor gathering spaces, recreational areas, community garden, fitness center, computer lab and more.

The goal of Ventura Springs is to create a community that will enrich the lives of local veterans and their families that may have a disability, and or experienced homelessness or economic challenges which have made it difficult to afford quality housing.

More than 50,000 veterans are estimated to live in Ventura County. From 2018 to 2019, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in Ventura County increased by 68 percent, with more than 90 percent over the age of 45, and more than 50 percent reporting a chronic health condition, a physical disability or both.

Financing for Ventura Springs was provided by Bank of America, California Department of Housing and Community Development, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, City of Ventura, Community Housing Capital, Home Depot Foundation, Housing Authority of the City of Ventura, Housing Trust Fund Ventura County, LISC, Nonprofit Finance Fund and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In December, the Ventura City Council unanimously voted to give the project $74,100 from the city’s Successor Housing Agency Fund to get the project going. In May 2021, the council approved another $545,000. In total the city will give $3.2 million using funds and deferred fees. The project should be completed by the end of 2023 with a grand opening in early 2024.

A Community of Friends has been the leading nonprofit permanent supportive housing developer in Southern California since 1988. U.S. VETS is the largest nonprofit organization with boots on the ground to combat America’s veteran crisis head-on.

Arroyo Verde Park’s inclusive playground receives Project of the Year Award

Arroyo Verde Park’s main play structure was destroyed in the Thomas Fire.

The recently completed first-ever inclusive playground in Ventura at Arroyo Verde Park received the 2021 Project of the Year Award from the Ventura County Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) in the structures category for its safety performance, effective construction management, environmental considerations, and community outreach.

During the City Council meeting on May 9, APWA Ventura County director at large Andrew Grubb shared that, “this project stood out for its inclusive play area with unique considerations to children with sensory and cognitive needs along with the community support and donations received for the playground’s replacement after the Thomas Fire.”

The APWA Project of the Year Award distinguishes the project’s efficient and effective construction management techniques, schedule mitigation amid COVID-19 supply chain challenges, construction management, control techniques, jobsite safety practices, and a demonstrated commitment to sustainability.

The 10,750 square foot play area at Arroyo Verde Park features a colorful play surface, new landscaping, gathering areas, swings, hammocks, balance beams, a sensory garden, a motion-inclusive carousel, embankment climbers, and music play areas. It also features a sensory wall with recognition tiles dedicated to those who donated to the project.

In December 2017, Arroyo Verde Park’s main play structure was destroyed in the Thomas Fire. Rather than rebuilding the same structure, the City of Ventura decided to re-imagine the space and create the first fully inclusive play area in Ventura; a space where the community could have fun together without barriers.

The Parks and Recreation Department engaged with the community to understand which features they would most like included in the rebuild. Families, community members, medical professionals, and playground manufacturers were included in the playground design conversations. Extensive renderings and options were presented at neighborhood council meetings, and community feedback was gathered to capture the heart and soul of the project.

To learn more about this project, visit

Ventura Girls Fastpitch 10u Silver Western C District Champions

Top row coaches Larry Molina, Malissa Thompson, Jim Thompson, John Higgins, Shaun Jacobs, and Manager Justin Welch. Players are Taylor Bellitski, Addison Dutter, Adeline Luttenberger, Gianna Speer, Delanie Thompson, Kennedy Welch, Ivy Higgins, Kaylin Jacobs, Valentina Garcia, Mailie Norris and Andrea Molina. 

Congratulations to the Ventura Girls Fastpitch 10U Silver team for becoming the 2022 USA Softball of Southern California Western C District 10U All-Star Tournament Champions in Newbury Park Father’s Day weekend.

The team started the tournament Friday night defeating La Canada Spartans (Gold) 12-0. They continued their winning streak Saturday defeating Moorpark Gold All-Stars 6-2 and Camarillo Silver All-Stars 13-5. Sunday morning, they garnered another win against the undefeated Newbury Park Gold All-Stars 3-2, giving them an undefeated record and automatically advancing them to the championship game.

In this 2-game elimination tournament Ventura Silver headed to the Championship Game Sunday afternoon with no prior losses. After waiting 4 hours to find out who their opponent would be in the Championship game, Ventura Silver once again played Newbury Park Gold and lost 11-0 the first game, forcing them to play a second championship game to determine the ultimate winner.

However, the girls did not let the loss bring their spirits down. Instead, they used the defeat to pump themselves up for the second game. After three innings Ventura failed to score any runs and gave up 2 to Newbury Park. During the 4th inning Ventura scored 5 runs taking the lead and holding it. During the 5th and final inning Ventura Scored 4 more runs. For a final score of 9-7 to clinch 1st place and became the 2022 USA Softball of Southern California Western C District 10U All-Star Tournament Champions!

With an overall All-Star season record of 14-5-1 these girls have worked hard, practicing 3 times a week with multiple games on the weekends.

Next stop the 2022 Southern California C State Championship in Lancaster.

The team is sponsored by Kirby Auto Group, Paradise Chevrolet, Sushi Yusho, Theis Construction, Higgins Financial and Insurance Services, and their families.

Free Concerts at the Country Fair with Ocean Air

All this fun and free concerts. Photo by Richard Lieberman

The VC Fair has announced the 2022 Grandstand Entertainment Series. Fair visitors can see favorite musical acts and rodeos free with paid admission to the fair.

Good vibrations and great live music will be the standard for the 2022 Grandstand Entertainment series, sponsored by Chumash Casino and Resort. The VC Fair Grandstand Arena, presented by Firestone 805, will present 8 free concerts covering a range of music from Country to Pop, Rock R&B and Funk.

This year’s list of Fair entertainers will satisfy Ventura County music lovers with every unique performance:

All Grandstand Concerts and Rodeos are free with Fair admission!

  • Martina McBride; Wednesday, August 3 at 7:30PM
  • KC & The Sunshine Band; Thursday, August 4 at 7:30PM
  • The All-American Rejects; Friday, August 5 at 7:30PM
  • Blue Oyster Cult; Saturday, August 6 at 7:30PM
  • Día De La Familia Concert; Sunday, August 7 at 3PM
  • (performers will be announced at a later date)
  • The Beach Boys; Monday, August 8 at 7:30PM
  • Clay Walker; Tuesday, August 9 at 7:30PM
  • Cheap Trick ; Wednesday, August 10 at 7:30PM
  • PRCA Rodeo: Friday, Aug. 12 at 7:00 PM; Saturday, Aug. 13 & Sunday, Aug. 14 at 2 and 7PM

The 147th Ventura County Fair, “A Country Air with Ocean Air”, begins Wednesday, August 3 and runs through to Sunday August 14. For more information please call (805) 648 -3376 or visit

Successful ending of the Ventura River Action Network (V-RAN) Program with awards for students

Finalists at the Awards Ceremony at the Museum of Ventura County.

After six months of involving 750 students from Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) in the monitoring and restoration of the Ventura River and its tributaries in support of the work of many environmental organizations, the last three months of the V-RAN program focused on students conducting energy, water, or waste audits of their school campuses, or researching the issues around the removal of the Matilija Dam, then crafting and submitting project proposals to reduce the environmental footprint of their schools or advocating for the removal of the dam.

Students submitted 78 projects which were reviewed by a judging panel for the first phase. The top 16 finalists moved on to present their proposals in person for the second and final phase to an expert panel of judges at the 7th Energy Efficiency to Mitigate Climate Change and Ocean Acidification (EECCOA) Challenge Award Ceremony on May 5th, 2022 held at the Museum of Ventura County.

The young authors of the top environmental business proposals in each category were awarded cash or in-kind prizes by the Ventura Unified School District. Cash prizes ranged from $500-$200, and in-kind prizes included tickets to the Channel Islands.

The MERITO Foundation would like to thank V-RAN program partners and sponsors that including UC Davis Center for Community and Citizen Science, and Ventura Water for their support, and all the event sponsors that helped with our culminating event. We are ready for the launch of the 2022-2023 V-RAN program!

During the very early stage of Alzheimer’s, toxic changes are taking place in the brain

Alzheimer’s disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer.

In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. Her symptoms included memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After she died, he examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles).

These plaques and tangles in the brain are still considered some of the main features of Alzheimer’s disease. Another feature is the loss of connections between neurons in the brain. Neurons transmit messages between different parts of the brain, and from the brain to muscles and organs in the body.

During the very early stage of Alzheimer’s, toxic changes are taking place in the brain, including abnormal buildups of proteins that form amyloid plaques and tau tangles. Previously healthy neurons stop functioning, lose connections with other neurons, and die. Many other complex brain changes are thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s as well.

The damage initially appears to take place in the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex, which are parts of the brain that are essential in forming memories. As more neurons die, additional parts of the brain are affected and begin to shrink. By the final stage of Alzheimer’s, damage is widespread and brain tissue has shrunk significantly.

Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer’s. Some people with memory problems have a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). With MCI, people have more memory problems than normal for their age, but their symptoms do not interfere with their everyday lives. Movement difficulties and problems with the sense of smell have also been linked to MCI. Older people with MCI are at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s, but not all of them do so. Some may even revert to normal cognition.

The first symptoms of Alzheimer’s vary from person to person. For many, decline in nonmemory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment may signal the very early stages of the disease. Researchers are studying biomarkers (biological signs of disease found in brain images, cerebrospinal fluid, and blood) to detect early changes in the brains of people with MCI and in cognitively normal people who may be at greater risk for Alzheimer’s. More research is needed before these techniques can be used broadly and routinely to diagnose Alzheimer’s in a health care provider’s office.

As Alzheimer’s worsens, people experience greater memory loss and other cognitive difficulties. Problems can include wandering and getting lost, trouble handling money and paying bills, repeating questions, taking longer to complete normal daily tasks, and personality and behavior changes. People are often diagnosed in this stage.

In recent years, scientists have made tremendous progress in better understanding Alzheimer’s and the momentum continues to grow. Still, scientists don’t yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease in most people. In people with early-onset Alzheimer’s, a genetic mutation may be the cause. Late-onset Alzheimer’s arises from a complex series of brain changes that may occur over decades. The causes probably include a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. The importance of any one of these factors in increasing or decreasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s may differ from person to person.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease
NIA Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center
The NIA ADEAR Center offers information and free print publications about Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
Explore the portal for information and resources on Alzheimer’s and related dementias from across the federal government.

Alzheimer’s Association
866-403-3073 (TTY)

Eldercare Locator

This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.

Retirement as David sees it!

Like many people, he just didn’t know what to expect when he retired.

by Patricia Schallert

David is a 78 year young, retired gentleman, born in Anchorage, Alaska where he grew up in the dark and cold. He left Alaska at the age of 18, after one year at the University of Alaska, and went to the University of Colorado where they had an Architectural Design Department and beautiful mountains for skiing, which he loved.

After graduation he emigrated to Australia and began his career as an Architect. Returning to Colorado a few years later he started his own firm, David Barber Architects.

After fifty years of designing stunning custom homes and office buildings, he found himself becoming more frustrated with the ever-expanding bureaucracy associated with his work, and decided it was time to retire. He loved the creativity involved in his work and would look for other ways to satisfy his artistic life, without the stress of being a busy Architect.

Like many people, he just didn’t know what to expect when he retired. What would he do? How would he fill his time? Once retired, at the youthful age of 74, he decided to hit the road in a small motorhome, visiting most of the National Parks in the West. He eventually settled in Ventura, near the harbor, with his dogs, Ruby and Doodles. He liked the weather, which suited his outdoor activities year-round.

He wakes early and walks his dogs as the morning light peaks through the fog and low clouds. He is grateful for his good health, which allows him to hike, bike and play golf (even though he says he “never plays very well.”) But “Golf is not a game of perfect”, David says, and he continues to play as often as he can. He walks the golf course and carries his golf bag, getting a good walk and a good workout as he plays.

He is also excited about his oil painting hobby which satisfies his creative need. He loves to paint scenes of the many National Parks he has visited and the mountains of the West. He often dreams about painting, he says, and cannot wait to get up and get to his easel.

Motivated by anything that involves learning, David is currently studying Italian for his up and coming trip to Italy with his son’s family. He would really like to order a cup of Cappuccino in Italian and be able to say ‘Grazie!’ with flair.

David never feels lost or unhappy and cherishes the memories of his successful architectural career. His transition to retirement was not without its own challenges, however. He had to find activities that were interesting and which included learning and creativity to keep him busy and mentally engaged. As part of his day, he does the New York Times Crossword Puzzle.

He learned through meditation and painting to be and stay positive and is happiest when he is walking his dogs, bike riding, having stimulating discussions with friends and “learning something new every day”, which he says is his key to happiness. That, and the thought of hitting a ‘Hole in One!

Editor: If you are a senior (over 70 please) or know of one who would like to share their retirement or job let us know at

Long Term Care Ombudsman in Ventura County make a difference

Taylor-Stein has been executive director since 1999 of Long-Term Care Services.

by Carol Leish, MA

As advocates, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman make a difference for residents in order to improve conditions. Sylvia Taylor-Stein, Executive Director of the Long-Term Care Services of Ventura County Ombudsman Program said, “Through advocating, the main services provided by the Long-Term Care Ombudsman include: 1) Facility Monitoring & Complaints Resolutions;2) Investigating and resolving complaints of neglect and abuse that may include physical, financial, psychological and/or verbal abuse. Another main service is: 3) Advanced Health Care Directives, which is a mandated duty that ensures an Ombudsman will witness all directives that are executed by residents in nursing facilities. Also, 4) Pre-placement Counseling, which informs, supports, and educates those who may be considering the placement of themselves or a loved one in a long-term care facility.”

Taylor-Stein has been executive director since 1999. She and her husband have five adult children, and live in Ventura County. She said, “My greatest inspiration in my life was my grandmother who died at age 92 after suffering with Alzheimer’s disease for 10 years. It was the love and deep respect for my grandmother that influenced my desire to become involved with the elderly and the exceptional work with the Ombudsman program. My grandmother was blessed to live and die at home with loving people around her. This is not the case for most of our elderly in long-term care. My goal is to help to build a strong ombudsman program her in Ventura County that can provide the effective advocacy, care and support that those living in long-term care facilities need and deserve.”

Taylor-Stein emphasized that, “No other organization is federally mandated and authorized, like we are, to go into long-term care facilities unscheduled and unannounced, and to advocate for the persons living there. Th Ombudsman is guaranteed access by federal and sate law to long-term care facilities and its residents. No other agency exists for this purpose or is guaranteed access to enter the facility, move unescorted and unhindered throughout the facility and to advocate for those who live there.”

The State of California has named the Ventura Ombudsman Program as a model program for its excellence and high standards-including weekly and monthly visitations to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. It is cited by the California Department of Aging as Best Practices in Volunteer Recruitments, Training and Retention. Also, the Ventura Ombudsman Program has been recognized for best practices in family and caregiver support and best practices in systems advocacy.

Taylor-Stein said, “There is always a need for more volunteers to be able to help out in such a meaningful way to ensure the best living situation for those at long-term care facilities. By visiting unscheduled and unannounced and meeting with residents and investigating their complaints/concerns, situations can/will improve. Volunteers also attend Resident Council meetings where residents in groups voice their issues and concerns. We also attend Care Plan meetings with residents in order to get firsthand knowledge of their care needs and how the facility will address their needs.”

“Main services provided by volunteers are: 1) Ombudsman Training/Certification/Re-certification, which is a mandated function of the program. This includes 25 classroom training hours plus 15 hours of field training to new volunteer recruits to ensure that they are prepared to take on facility assignments. Every year thereafter volunteers complete 18 hours per year in continuing education in order to qualify for annual rec-certification.”

Go to or call: (805) 656-1986 for those interested in becoming volunteers. “It’s rewarding and important work,” according to, Taylor-Stein. “You can download the application form on our website. After filling it out, you will be contacted to do a phone interview, followed by an in-person interview. Thank you for making an important difference for those living in long-term care facilities.”

VCAAA seeking new contracted vendors

The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging (VCAAA) is inviting qualified individuals, public and private nonprofit services, and private for-profit organizations to apply as new contracted vendors for VCAAA programs that serve older adults, people with disabilities, and caregivers.

Providers with bilingual Spanish, Tagalog, Farsi and Chinese Mandarin staff are encouraged to apply. Prior to a vendor being granted a contract, they must complete a vendor application packet and supply proof of all required licensing and insurance.

A vendor application packet may be obtained at the VCAAA offices located at 646 County Square Drive in Ventura, or by calling 805-477-7300. Those interested may also obtain an application online by visiting This application process is ongoing. Preference will be given to vendors that provide service throughout the county. For more information concerning the vendor application process, contact Brian Murphy, at (805) 477-7300.