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Open house held at the Grand Jury

Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko was among those at the open house. Photos by Patricia Schallert

The Ventura County Grand Jury invited the public to its annual Open House on Thursday, February 23, at the Grand Jury Chambers located at 646 County Square Dr.

The Grand Jury is a panel of 19 Ventura County citizens who conduct investigations into the operations of local governmental entities within the county. Investigations originate either from a public complaint or from within the Grand Jury.

Visitors were able to tour the Grand Jury Chambers and offices, meet current Grand Jurors, learn about Grand Jury functions and the application process. They also enjoyed the food table that we available.

The primary function of the Jury is civil oversight accomplished through on-site or protocol visits, interviews, briefings, investigations and research.

The Jury publishes reports on its conclusions from their investigations and may make recommendations.

Jurors are paid $25.00 per meeting plus mileage. Therefore, they serve as a service to the communities they serve in Ventura County.

Juror Lori Macdonald told the Breeze why she became a juror. 

Early in my retirement I felt the need to do something meaningful.  I already volunteered in a number of ways in our community but I wanted something that would be challenging for me and make a difference.   I read that the Ventura County Grand Jury was looking for jurors and decided to apply.  I strongly believe that the work that happens within the Grand Jury is important.  It is a way for the citizens to voice their concerns and feel heard.   It is the intrinsic rewards of knowing that what we do matters that make this experience valuable.”  

If you are interested in applying for the Grand Jury or want more information, please visit the Grand Jury website at:

For questions, please email [email protected]

Complaint forms are available at

Ventura gang invades Cuba

Ivor Davis with John Lennon

by Ivor Davis

Visiting Cuba has been on my bucket list for all my life and thanks to Ventura  College retired Professor Bill Hendricks—I finally—accompanied by a group of Ventura’s notable local yokels—we recently made it to that beleaguered Caribbean country.

Ventura resident Scott Williams

So let me keep it short and sweet:  Twas a  memorable, eye-opener visiting this country of absolute contradictions. And ineffable charm. Don’t forget Cuba is a mere hop skip and jump from America–90 miles from Key West!

Along for the journey were California Appeals court Justice Steven Perren, Long time locals Clark, Diane and Grey Hubbard, as well as Scott Williams, who packed a bagful of baseball balls to give-away to delighted kids on the street. Real estate broker Karen Hoffberg who merrily danced on the streets of Havana and assorted Ventura College students who somehow managed to spend eight days in Cuba without sleep! For them it was a “Hard Day’s Night!”

Apologies for not mentioning some of the other local dignitaries who cha-chaad their way through Cuba—but all that rum and the cigars and late night carousing has dimmed my memory.

But what remains vivid and memorable is this:

A visit to the John Lennon Park in Havana—where a bronze statue of the late Beatle sprawls for all to see.  I have had a passing acquaintance  with Mr. Lennon so I was happy to learn the story about John—told to me by Fidel’s personal photographer Roberto Chile–and why it was the Liverpool Lennon—and not the Leningrad Vladimir Lenin—who was such a tourist attraction in Cuba.

Ventura Appeals Court Justice Steven Perren

First John and the Beatles music was banned by Fidel as being part of the cliched “corrupt Western decadence.” Then when Lennon went to war with the Nixon regime during the peak of the anti-Vietnam War movement, Fidel suddenly recognized him as a fellow revolutionary.

And thus in December 2000,  a park was born with Fidel unveiling the bronze as,  “All You Need Is Love” blared over loudspeakers.

For me the highlights included the fabulous food, visiting Havana’s main synagogue which was generously unlocked for me, and where I noted that Steven Spielberg also got a personal tour a few years ago.

Biggest surprise: I went to the Cuban government cigar factory and shop—and much to my chagrin (would you believe)  they refused to take their own Cuban currency! Dollars, Si. But sorry no credit cards!

For a nation under duress, the Cubans were warm and welcoming.

Particularly after we all  unloaded suitcases laden with band-aids, clothes, toothpaste and children’s clothing at the local church. And baseballs–of course!

Ventura residents Clark and Diane Hubbard

The food was fabulous, the internet was non existent–and our tour guide Alex was top notch with a great sense of humor.

Bill Hendricks is planning another “cultural trip” to Cuba later this year.

Go if you can. It’s something you will never forget.  And maybe the Breeze will publish your adventures!!

Ventura Unified making news

DATA launches its second cohort of this STEAM-focused program.

When Casey Stoops, Head of Patagonia’s Global Information Security and Core Technology and Scott Reed, Senior Account Executive at ePlus reached out to DeAnza Academy of Technology & the Arts’ (DATA) Principal Carlos Cohen to see if he wanted to launch a GRIT pilot program, he enthusiastically said, “Yes!”. GRIT, Girls RE-Imagining Tomorrow, was founded in 2017 by ePlus Technology in partnership with Cisco and a small group of girls on the East Coast in response to the increasing shortage of cybersecurity professionals worldwide, particularly women. GRIT was started to help girls understand what is available and what they can aspire to and to encourage them to consider careers in technology – girls can then re-imagine their tomorrow. The program has since grown to seven schools across the nation, including DATA. 

GRIT’s mission is to introduce diverse groups of middle school and high school girls to technology-focused career possibilities, inspiring curiosity and exploration in various areas of STEM. In addition, they seek to build confidence in these young women by providing mentorship and holistically approaching these young ladies in the areas of public speaking, online safety, and business etiquette.  

Last year’s DATA cohort, which began in January of 2022, participated in two visits to Patagonia’s office spaces in Ventura. One was to their corporate office, where students were able to see its IT/cybersecurity infrastructure, marketing, and work/lifestyle spaces, and the second trip was to their Research & Development “Forge,” where they saw the social and physical science that goes into making and selling a Patagonia product.

This year’s Cohort will try to get out into the community monthly with its next visit to Fathomwerx. Fathomwerx is a public-private laboratory, community, and resource for technological innovation that fuses small and non-traditional companies, academic institutions, and other Department of Defense stakeholders to work on the most challenging problems in the port and maritime domains. The students will be building a drone while they are there. 

This program has been such a hit with the middle school girls at DATA a long waitlist was created at the beginning of the year. Instead of turning down a group of girls interested in STEAM, the DATA team created a GRIT club. This club includes the students chosen to be a part of the Cohort and any other girls at DATA who want to participate. The club is bringing guest speakers to campus and coordinating field trips to other STEAM sites throughout the year. They are also working on opportunities for goal setting when it comes time to select their high school classes as freshmen.

The Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) has been awarded $1,000,000 in 2022-2023 K12 Strong Workforce Program (SWP) funds. VUSD is one of ten Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to be funded by the South Central Coast Regional Consortium (SCCRC) and will use the funds to create a new Public Safety/Emergency Response Career Technical Education (CTE) pathway at Buena High School. 

VUSD’s strong partnership with Ventura College, Oxnard College, Ventura Police Department, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Ventura County Fire Department, Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, and other community partners will allow the District to design and implement a robust and relevant pathway for high school students to transition into high-wage high-demand careers in Public Safety and Emergency Response after graduation. This pathway will be available to all high school students in the District via multi-site agreements.


Food Share readies to meet “Hunger Cliff” demand

Food Share’s capacity to serve is dependent on volunteers.

Food Share, Ventura County’s food bank, is bracing for an expected wave of food insecure individuals as the end of COVID CalFresh benefits becomes reality on March 1. People already struggling with hunger will now have an additional worry – less CalFresh money for groceries.

CalFresh, a federally-funded program, provides monthly food benefits to low-income individuals and families. CalFresh benefits were extended during the pandemic but those extra payments are set to end this month, at a time when high inflation means that wages aren’t keeping pace with rising grocery prices.

According to data from the California Department of Social Services, as of December 2022, more than 41,889 households and 75,163 people currently receive CalFresh benefits in Ventura County, including 27,800 children under 18 and 10,800 adults aged 60 and over.

Commenting on the impact, Monica White, Food Share’s President & CEO, said “There’s no question that this is going to really hit people hard at a time when many are already struggling. We’re bracing for an influx of people. The biggest impact is likely to be to low-income seniors qualifying for the minimum benefit under standard income guidelines. We’re seeing estimates that their monthly CalFresh benefits could drop from $281 to only $23. These cuts really couldn’t have hit at a worse time.”

Inflationary costs are also hitting food banks like Food Share, placing them under increasing pressure to raise more money to meet the increased demand for food that’s now considerably higher in price than it was 18 months ago. The cost of purchasing a case of canned mixed vegetables rose 30% in 2021 vs. 2020, while the cost of purchasing a crate of canned mixed fruit has risen 39% over the same period.

Food Share continues to serve hundreds of thousands of Ventura County residents each year through its network of 190 food pantries, plus multiple weekly emergency food box distributions, which the organization started running at the beginning of the pandemic. “We’ve just surpassed 900 emergency distributions,” commented Monica White. “We started out thinking there’d be a need for just a few months, which turned into three years. Now we’re running them in response to inflationary price hikes and the reduction in CalFresh benefits. It doesn’t appear there’s an end in sight.”

For all the latest information on where to find food, how to volunteer, and how you can support Food Share with a monetary donation visit:

Follow Food Share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube and tag posts #WeFeedVC

The Auxiliary volunteers work in most areas of the hospital

CMHS Auxiliary installed new officers and presented awards at luncheon.

Members of the Community Memorial Healthcare System Auxiliary recently attended a luncheon and installation of incoming Executive Board members. In addition awards were presented for those attaining milestones in number of hours and number of years of volunteer service.

Board President for the next year is Linda Petit, and she is also in charge of Data Base Management. 1st Vice President is Cynthia Broaddus, and 2nd Vice President is Mary Wdowicki. Recording Secretary will be Bobbie Mendez and Corresponding Secretary is Linda Wilson. Cheryl Volden is Treasurer, Marilyn Beal is the Junior Coordinator, Judy Miller is Parliamentarian, and Edie Marshall is Past President. John Crandall and Lynn Ridout will serve as Directors.

Awards for volunteering 100 hours were presented to Tomas Guillen, Debbie Kost, Cheryl Lewis, JoAnn O’Beirne, Brenda Ogden, Ani Toran, Roberta Vollmert, and Trisha Williamson. Those attaining 500 hours of service were Cynthia Broaddus, Argie Mandakas, Jan O’Donnell, Cheryl Volden, and Linda Wilson. John Crandall and Mike Patton both contributed 1000 hours, and Marilyn Beal, Ellen Bugaj, and Stephanie Coray volunteered 2000 hours, while Maria Kapp had 3000 hours of service. Trudy Cook and David Howard served 7000 hours and Mary Wdowicki, 8000. Both Sandra Frandsen and Linda Petit contributed 10,000 hours, and Frank Cavallero served 13,000. Judy Miller was honored for volunteering 24,000 hours! Both Connie Ferritto and Marjo Gardner were recognized for 25 years of service.

CMHS Auxiliary treasurer Cheryl Volden presenting a big check to CEO Mick Zdeblick.

Community Memorial Healthcare System Auxiliary treasurer Cheryl Volden presented a check for $50, 000 to CMHS CEO Mick Zdeblick at the luncheon. The funds are from donations, bequests, and fund raising by the Auxiliary. In addition to monetary contributions, the Auxiliary contributes many hours of volunteer service to the hospital each year. The assistance of these volunteers saves the healthcare system thousands of dollars and is a welcome contribution.

The Auxiliary volunteers work in most areas of the hospital, from the front desk to the gift shop to assisting the nurses and other staff in most departments. Information about joining this group may be found at the front desk of the hospital. In addition, you may call 805-948-4299 to leave a message and an auxiliary member will contact you.

Award winners were recognized at an in-person event in Los Angeles on February 23

Visit Ventura Director of Business Development Michele Gilmour, Visit Ventura President & CEO Marlyss Auster, and Wanderlust Content Studios Co-Founder Nicole Bordges accepting the Adrian Award.

Maintaining an ongoing streak, Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau (VVCB) was recently honored for travel marketing excellence by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) at the 66th annual Adrian Awards Celebration, the world’s largest global travel marketing competition. The award ceremony took place at the JW Marriott LA Live on Thursday, February 23, 2023. Visit Ventura accepted the award in partnership with Wanderlust Content Studios, the inspiration guide’s publisher.

Visit Ventura received a Bronze Adrian Award for its winning entry in the Print Advertising category for the 2022 Inspiration Guide. This is the fifth Adrian Award VVCB has been awarded in the last five years.

The goal of Ventura’s 2022 Inspiration Guide was to set Ventura apart from its competitors at first glance while diving deeper to capture Ventura’s community. Ventura’s people, places, and partners tell their stories with page after page of engaging content that marries both advertising and editorial in cohesive themes. The result: There are no competing fonts, calls to action, or loud logos. Instead, native content blends organically with editorial. “Ads” are placed within corresponding editorial sections. This gives readers a fuller understanding of all that Ventura has to offer.

And at the forefront of Ventura’s Inspiration Guide? The people of Ventura. Readers will not find paid models posing in photos featured in the guide. People photographed are true local Venturans, who go to the same grocery store and eat at the same restaurants as any other community member in Ventura. The incorporation of local Venturans and local artists alike is at the heart of the inspiration guide, resulting in an authentic and genuine guide that readers recognize from the first page.

“Ventura is a true gem of a City that offers outdoor adventure, historic and cultural attractions, one-of-a-kind retail, and a blossoming culinary scene,” said Ventura Interim City Manager Akbar Alikhan. “Visit Ventura’s annual Inspiration Guide is a stunning magazine that thoughtfully captures the local feel and flavor that makes our community unlike any other!”

VVCB’s work was judged to be exceptional by expert hospitality, travel, tourism, and media professionals. Judges were asked to evaluate each entry based on its own merit and success in achieving its objectives. Past winners of this coveted award include such industry giants as Choice Hotels International, Visit California, Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International, and Royal Caribbean International. VVCB’s wins are a “little engine that could” fairytale come to life.

Coffee with a Cop

Photos by Michael Gordon

Despite the rain Coffee with a Cop (and dog) was well attended at Cafe Ficelle at 390 S. Mills Rd.  Police officers (and chief) shared coffee, stories and conversations with Venturan’s in this informal gathering.



Art of Olivas Adobe

Heavy rains were predicted for the night before the annual candlelight tours, at the Olivas Adobe last December but a small gathering of artists came prepared with umbrellas, raincoats, gloves, and scarves for an evening of Nocturne painting.

Anette Power

Anette Power set up her easel next to the adobe, under the eaves for a lovely view of the lanterns and costumed docents who pull you back in time with stories and traditions from the early 19th century.

Laura Jespersen and Lisa Mahony set up in front of the Adobe for a view of the large poinsettia illuminated by the holiday lights and candles shining through the windows of the historic rancho home.

Lisa Mahony

Artist Lisa Mahony was asked why painting at night ~ her reply :

“I like painting at night because it captures a side of the world that few people paint. It makes for a magical evening!”

For more information about events, exhibits, and tours at the Olivas Adobe go to

Vol. 16, No. 12 – Mar 8 – Mar 21, 2023 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

The Moors – Delightful, Daring, Deceitful and Dramatic

The Elite Theatre Company in Channel Islands has a treat in store for audiences. Now on the South Stage through March 25, the Elite presents The Moors, a quirky period piece filled with surprises. Written by Jen Silverman (The Roommate and others), The Moors delivers a theatrical experience unlike any other recently seen.

The staging is a comedy, a drama, a thriller, a farce, a satire and a SNL long-form skit all rolled into one and tied with a big red bow. Set in “the bleak moors…of England?” somewhere in the mid 1840’s, the plot echoes the works of Bronte, Dickens and the classic board game Clue as seemingly endless layers of plotline are revealed.

Sisters Agatha (Brook Masters) and Huldey (Kim Pendergast) live in a very old mansion in an isolated location. Agatha is stern and sinister, while Huldey is flighty, clueless and existing in a world of her own making. They are assisted by a parlor maid and a scullery maid, both played with droll delight by Rosie Gordon by merely the change of a hat and a name. The fun is amplified by the fact that her character is fully aware that she fills both roles in the household and plays into it thoroughly. The characters flux and wane in their relationships as they all attempt to maintain some sanity while clearly only hanging on by rapidly fraying threads.

A new governess, Emilie (Erin Hollander) is engaged to serve a non-existent child through what turns out to be a carefully planned ruse. She enters the picture with confusion as to the real reason she has been summoned, later gaining control somewhat to her advantage.

The sisters have a dog, a large mastiff, played to the hilt by Scott Blanchard (in what must surely be his most unusual role yet) who displays a soul-searching character in a deep and poetic manner. He falls in love with a moorhen (gloriously played by Anna Maria Strickland) although their relationship is doomed from the start by the very nature of it. Both are a delight to watch as they dance around their mutual attraction.

The costuming by Sheryl Jo Bedal, who also is credited with set design, is simply marvelous. Myriad details accent the game all the players are engaged in. Direction by Kathleen Bosworth shows depth as each character has many facets, all of them fascinating. What fun she and the actors must have had exploring presentation possibilities.

Laughter is frequent as each actor takes their character to the limits and beyond. Each maintains total control of their absurdities and teases the audience with them. All the actors are outstanding. This production offers an unexpectedly light-hearted look at the intricacies of deceit, desire and loneliness. I thoroughly enjoyed the word play, the commitment and the uniqueness of this staging. 805-483-5118 Reservations recommended. Masks optional.

Vol. 16, No. 12 – Mar 8 – Mar 21, 2023 – Ojai News & Events

Wooden sculptures, charcoal portraits and fine ceramics are just a few of the treasures featured March 11 as part of the Ojai Studio Artists’ Second Saturday tour, which this month offers access to the private studios of artists across the East End of the Ojai Valley.

The second in a series of monthly events that runs through August, this East End tour offers neighbors, collectors and the merely curious a rare opportunity to experience world-class artwork in a casual and intimate setting unlike the busier, bigger October tour. 

The East End Tour includes OSA founder Gayel Childress, an Ojai original whose colorful canvases depict otherworldly landscapes and exuberant emotions, a family art compound containing work by famed glass artist Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend and world-renowned abstract painter Richard Amend, and the backyard studio of botanical artist Elizabeth White, whose close-up pastels are a favorite of local collectors.

This tour will be followed in April by a Downtown group, the Arbolada in May, Mira Monte in June, the West End in July and Meiners Oaks in August. Check the OSA website for a full list of participating artists. 

Ojai Studio Artists supports community education that promotes art awareness, preparing the next generation of artists, and celebrating the importance of the arts within the region. To date, OSA has given more than $200,000 in art scholarships. It also purchases art books for local libraries, partners with schools in teaching classes and mentoring students, and supports public art projects and other community programs.

For more information and a full list of artists, see the OSA website:

Book Publishing 1-2-3. Grab a pen and join us for this lively 90-minute workshop, sprinkled with ideas and stories to inspire and empower writers of all types. We’ll start by checking out today’s book business (both traditional and indie publishing), then share valuable resources to help aspiring authors connect with literary agents and editors.

We’ll offer ideas you can employ to add pizazz to your prose, including a gem courtesy of a gutsy comedy star. Thursday, March 23, 1 to 2:30 pm

Oak Park Community Center & Gardens, 1000 N. Kanan Road, Oak Park 91377

Cost $20 – cash or check only

Registration Requested. Call the presenter to reserve your seat at (858) 635-1233 or email her at [email protected]

Presenter Laurie Gibson is a professional editor with decades of experience serving hundreds of individual writers, as well as publishers.

Ten percent of every admission will be donated to a local conservation group for habitat restoration in Ventura County, kicking off the presenter’s “Let’s Endow a Forest!” campaign.