Category Archives: Featured News

City of Ventura names Rachel Dimond as new Community Development Director

Dimond joined the City of Ventura in May 2023

Following an extensive recruitment process, Rachel Dimond has been appointed as the Community Development Director, effective February 17, 2024. Dimond has been serving in the interim director role since the end of 2023.

Ms. Dimond joined the City of Ventura in May 2023 as the Interim Assistant Community Development Director and has since demonstrated exceptional leadership, overseeing various planning projects including major hotel, mixed-use, and residential developments.

“Drawing from a diverse planning background that extends from the State of Colorado to Southern California, Rachel brings over 20 years of industry insight and a wealth of knowledge to the role,” stated Ventura City Manager Bill Ayub. “Her expertise in urban planning, addressing both long-term strategies and immediate objectives, will be instrumental in fulfilling the City’s developmental requirements for residents, businesses, and community collaborators.”

Prior to joining the City, Ms. Dimond held the position of Assistant City Manager for the City of Compton and played senior planning roles in the City of West Hollywood. Dimond holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from The George Washington University and a Master of Urban Planning degree from New York University.

Over the past three years, the Community Development Department has made significant contributions to several important City Council goals. This includes drafting the 2021-2029 Housing Element, updating the Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance, establishing an expanded Permit Services Division and Housing Services Division, supporting commercial cannabis applications, enhancing the historic preservation process, and initiating the General Plan Update process.

The Community Development Department is responsible for planning and zoning, building and safety, code enforcement, housing, and redevelopment for the City of Ventura. It ensures that new construction and additions to existing structures meet the policies and guidelines established for public safety, zoning, and development.

With 45 full-time employees and an annual operating budget of over $15.4 million, the department also works closely with various City commissions and committees that help guide and advise the City Council regarding development in Ventura.

For more information about the City’s Community Development Department, visit www.cityofventura.ca.gov/CD.

 

The Power of Love

Founders, the Friedlanders.

On Saturday, February 10th, over 150 guests both young and old were carried back-in-time to the decade of the boom box, the mix-tape, the Walkman, and totally awesome dance music at Kids & Families Together’s fifth annual fundraising event. This year’s theme, The Power of Love ~ an 80’s themed FUN-raising dance, truly captured the essence that is at the heart of K&FT as an organization and the critical work they provide to families in our communities. As the 1985 song by Huey Lewis & The News states, love truly is “the power that makes the world go ’round”.

Guests that gathered at Poinsettia Pavilion enjoyed a fantastic evening including a fun and nostalgic 80’s-themed menu prepared by Food Affairs by Stacey, live music and dancing, silent auction featuring 60 different items, a game zone showcasing some of the popular table and hand-held games of the 1980’s, along with two arcade machines that were part of the evening’s live auction. Prior to the opening of the event’s program, winners of the 80’s Trivia Game were included in a drawing for items such as a Walkman-style tape player and a boombox! Raffle tickets were also sold for the chance to win a diamond and rose gold bracelet valued at $2,000 which was generously donated by Fox Fine Jewelry.

Live music at the event was provided by We Are The 80’s Band. Steve Roth Founder/C.E.O. (Chief Entertainment Officer)/drummer stated “We were proud to support the fantastic work that K&FT provides to the families in Ventura County, and the critical services that they offer to foster and adopted children. It’s always a privilege for us to contribute our talents to a worthwhile cause.”

Founded in January 2000, Kids & Families Together serves foster, adoptive, kinship, and birth families throughout Ventura County. For over two decades has been the leader in providing critical services and support to children who have experienced trauma, abuse, neglect, loss, and multiple placements. K&FT is unique in that we provide education, support, and strategies to connect caregivers and parents to the children in their care. We wrap our arms around the entire family allowing them to use the strategies they have learned, along with “The Power of Love”, to raise healthy, nurtured children who thrive!

Kids & Families Together’s mission is to strengthen relationships by providing safe, supportive help that keeps family members emotionally connected to one another. K&FT’s programs help families by building relationships, strengthening families, and enhancing attachments.

K&FT provides families with much needed mental health counseling, support, and education that brings direct and meaningful results right into the home. Here is what one kinship caregiver said about their experience working with K&FT.

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate working with Kids & Families Together. My therapist helped me explain the current situation more fully and thoughtfully to my 7-year old grandson. This has completely altered the dynamics within our home and my relationship with my grandson. Thank You!”

Charles, the K&FT therapy dog

Both sponsors and guests of this event were integral parts of K&FT’s annual celebration supporting Ventura County foster/resource, kinship and adoptive families. K&FT needs this support in order to continue to offer these types of one-on-one connections, supporting children and their families who often find themselves in crisis situations.

K&FT would like to express gratitude to event sponsors: Aqua~Flo Supply, Generous Anonymous Donor, Marianne Bloom, Sharon Watts Woolley, Controlled Elements, Community Memorial Health Care, US Bank, Robert & Jean Bonar, The Gene Haas Foundation, Ventura Pet Barn, Mary Galvin, Vivian Mullett, Damascus Gear, Anne Paul King, and Kyle & Crystal Cummings.

To learn more about K&FT visit … https://www.kidsandfamilies.org/

 

Join the parade, on March 16!

Surf Rodeo float riders waving to the crowd. Photo by Brendan Daly/WhizCom Marketing

If you’d like to roll down Main Street in the 2024 County Ventura St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the time to sign up is now. Entry deadline is Thursday, March 7.

Presented annually by Ventura Elks Lodge No. 1430, the parade will commence this year at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 16, along a three-quarter-mile route in the heart of Ventura. To enter, visit venturastpatricksdayparade.com. Entry fee is $50.

This year’s parade theme, “Shamrocks & Shenanigans,” gives entrants an invitation to embrace their inner leprechauns with whimsy and mischief in their creations.

One of the county’s most popular community events, the St. Patrick’s Day parade draws thousands each year to a route lined with happy families all dressed up in green. The 2024 parade will run the same midtown route it debuted in 2022, downhill along Main, from Lincoln Drive to Fir Street.

Parade entries are coming in strong this year and again include a solid musical contingent. Always a great entertainment, the parade last year drew more bands and other musicians than any previous year in the history of the decades-old event.

Parade entrants compete for awards presented by a panel of judges led by St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee member James Lockwood. Joining Lockwood on the panel will be Clint Garman from the office of Ventura County Supervisor Matt LaVere; Richard Rush, former president of California State University Channel Islands; Celina Zacarias, CSUCI’s director of community and government relations; and Elks Lodge representative Rhonda Catron.

Primary parade sponsors include California State University Channel Islands, Citizens Business Bank, E.J. Harrison & Sons, Rolls Scaffold, Runnin’ to Bunnin Chevrolet, and Union Bank. Major sponsors donating their time and services include CAPS Media, the Gaston Group, Ventura Rental Center, and WhizCom Marketing. Among the scores of others who contributed are a dozen media sponsors.

The parade grand marshal this year is the wonderful Elena Brokaw! Executive director of the Museum of Ventura County, Elena is a perennial Ventura County civic leader who before heading up the museum worked with the city of Ventura for 13 years, including as its community services director. In 2019, she was named Citizen of the Year, earning the top honor bestowed by the Ventura Chamber of Commerce in its annual prestigious Poinsettia Awards.

Elena grew up in Ventura County, the youngest of five. She lived in East Ventura till her family moved to an avocado ranch in Santa Paula when she was 8. Elena naturally gravitated toward arts and culture, spending her youth writing, singing and acting and going on to earn a degree in fine arts from Harvard. After short, post-college stints in Boulder, Colorado, and Los Angeles, Elena returned home to Ventura County for good.

She lives in Santa Paula with her husband, former Ventura Police Chief Pat Miller, and her son, Charlie – who turns 13 the day after St. Patrick’s Day!

The County Ventura St. Patrick’s Day Parade is co-chaired by an esteemed group of former Ventura mayors and councilmembers – former grand marshals Jim Monahan and Nan Drake; and longtime event coordinator Brian Brennan – working in cooperation with a hardworking committee including members from Ventura Elks Lodge No. 1430, which has presented the parade since its beginnings in the 1980s.

For answers to parade entry questions, call Brennan at 805-746-5955 or committee member Aaron Gaston at 805-340-8217. For other parade info, call Monahan at 805-340-1356.

It’s the question we get asked almost daily: “Is the X Games coming back?”

X Games returning to Ventura.

Visit Ventura

Since X Games California 2023, we’ve been working tirelessly to have an answer to this question. We’ve had discussions with city, county, and state stakeholders, received feedback from partners and business owners, and imagined what 2024 could look like.

Needless to say, we’ve been asking ourselves “Is the X Games coming back” as much as you have.

After months of discussions, we’re excited to officially announce that the X Games is returning to Ventura this summer. X Games Ventura 2024 is coming this June.

Yep, you read that right. X Games Ventura 2024!

Looking back at last year’s X Games with over $58 million in media value, there’s a lot to be excited about. Namely, our city’s name next to an international brand. You don’t see that every day.

And there’s also a lot to learn from. We heard community members’ and local business owners’ feedback and valued each email and conversation. We are working with the X Games team to make X Games Ventura 2024 even better this year. As partners, we are excited to work closely with you to build on what we accomplished last year.

While we don’t have all the details yet (including fun partner activations that you can get involved in), we all get to roll up our sleeves with the XG team after the Winter Games.

We’re ready to make this year epic and we look forward to our continued collaboration and driving the economy of our Ventura together.

Stay tuned for a partner kick-off and more communication coming from our team!

We appreciate you — let’s do this!

With excitement,

Ventura County Fair asks the community to determine this year’s fair theme

The fair is celebrating 150 years of heritage, history, and community.

The Ventura County Fairgrounds is excited to announce the 2024 Ventura County Fair 150th Theme Contest .

The Ventura County Fair is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2024, including a series of events and contests leading up to the annual Ventura County Fair July 31 through August 11, 2024.

The first in these events is the 150th Theme Contest where the community is asked to submit
their theme ideas for this year’s Fair. A judging panel will decide the top three themes, with cash prizes for first, second, and third place of $1,000, $750, and $500 respectively. Theme ideas should reference the Fair’s 150th anniversary or birthday or the year the Fair began (1874) in some direct or indirect way. Theme submissions should be 8 words or less. The public can submit their ideas online at VenturaCountyFair.org. The entry period ends on Friday, February 23rd with winners announced late February.

“We’re celebrating 150 years of heritage, history, and community. There isn’t a better way to
kick-off the fair season than with a community contest,” said Ventura County Fairgrounds and
Event Center CEO Jen McGuire. “We’re excited to involve our community with some of the
planning and ideas for the 2024 Ventura County Fair.”

Following the 150th Theme Contest, the Ventura County Fair will hold its annual Youth Poster
Contest, now with no entry fee and expanded to include all grades K-12.

MVC Adds Three New Members to its Esteemed Board of Directors

The Museum of Ventura County is pleased to announce the appointment of three distinguished individuals to its Board of Directors, each bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to contribute to the cultural enrichment and growth of the Museum and our county.

Dr. Sevet Johnson

 

Dr. Sevet Johnson, the County Executive Officer of Ventura County, brings extensive leadership experience to the Museum’s Board. With a background in clinical psychology, Dr. Johnson has overseen various county agencies and departments, managing an operating budget of $2.7 billion and nearly 10,000 staff members. Committed to diversity, equity, and amplifying the voices of underserved populations, Dr. Johnson’s passion for community well-being aligns seamlessly with the Museum’s mission.

 

Sarah McCarthy-Garcia

 

Sarah McCarthy-Garcia is a Partner and Chief Creative Officer at McCarthy Companies, a leading Ventura-based residential real estate development and construction company. With over 16 years of industry experience, Sarah leads the company’s sales, marketing, and business development strategies. Recognized as one of the Top 50 Women in business by the Pacific Coast Business Times, she currently serves on the boards of the Ventura County Housing Trust Fund and the Ventura Chamber of Commerce. Sarah brings a unique blend of professional acumen and local perspective to the Museum’s Board.

Julie Tumamait

 

Julie Tumamait, deeply rooted in her Chumash heritage, serves as a cultural resource consultant and is renowned for her cultural education programs throughout Ventura County. With ancestral ties to at least 11 Chumash villages, Julie is a respected board member of the Ojai Valley Museum and actively contributes to MVC’s accessions committee. Living in Ojai for most of her life, Julie, along with her husband and three children, is committed to preserving and sharing her cultural heritage. Her invaluable insights will play a crucial role in the Museum’s efforts to promote inclusivity and cultural diversity.

 

The Museum of Ventura County is thrilled to welcome Dr. Sevet Johnson, Sarah McCarthy-Garcia, and Julie Tumamait to its esteemed Board of Directors. Their diverse backgrounds and dedication to the community will undoubtedly enhance the Museum’s role as a cultural hub in Ventura County.

The Museum of Ventura County celebrates, preserves and interprets the art, history and culture of Ventura County, the California Channel Islands and the surrounding region through its collections, exhibitions, events, educational programs, publications and its research library, and serves as a gathering place for the community. The Museum has two locations – the main museum is located at 100 East Main Street, Ventura, California (805-653-0323). The Agriculture Museum is located at 926 Railroad Avenue, Santa Paula.

Youth Activity League packs punch for locals

“I love doing it; I really do,” says Flores.

by Tracy Marcynzsyn

Every weeknight from 5-7 p.m., a committed group of local youth gathers at Westpark Community Center in Ventura to work out and learn to box with Sal Flores, a Ventura businessperson and lifelong resident who works with the city Parks & Recreation Department to mentor at-risk kids, ages 6-18.

“It’s a really nice place to distract yourself instead of being at home; it’s good for you!” says participant Breana Hernandez, 13.

Many of the youth, like ninth grader Rafael Juarez, who started in third grade, look forward to boxing year after year.

“It gives me an outlet and helps me work out,” says Juarez. “It’s helped me build a lot of stamina and make friends; everybody has been like a family.”

Building relationships and connecting with the kids, as well as teaching them boxing skills and promoting physical fitness, drives Flores to dedicate his time to mentoring youth.

“I love doing it; I really do,” says Flores, now in his 12th year as a youth mentor. “I was one of these kids. I live by the code ‘kids don’t know how much you know until they know how much you care.’” Flores recalls spending time as a kid in the same community center where he now teaches.

As a troubled teenager with a tough family life, Flores struggled in his younger years, getting arrested and landing in jail before turning his life around with the help and encouragement of a local mentor in the police force.

“Use the bad experiences for good,” Flores advises. “I used to break into cars, now I own a locksmith company; I used to destroy things, and now I own Ideal Upholstery, where I fix and make things nice again,” says Flores, who founded a local Youth Activity League (YAL; formerly structured as a Police Activity League with the Ventura Police Foundation) to support, mentor and inspire at-risk youth.

Working with local school districts, Flores visits schools twice a week, every other Monday during lunch, to encourage and connect with kids through the Youth Activity League. Bringing lunch (Subway sandwiches this week) and guest speakers, such as probation officer Mark Varela and former WBC Welterweight boxer Victor Ortiz, Flores aims to inspire youth.

“We really try to guide these kids; we bring them lunch, talk about what matters,” says Flores. “We try to show we really care for them and that we’ve been in their shoes. We were stuck and thought we couldn’t be successful. Whatever these kids need, we guide them to resources. We want to teach the value of life lessons.”

Guest speaker Ortiz recently shared his story to encourage teens to overcome challenges. Referring to a broken jaw that impacted his boxing career as a “blessing in disguise,” Ortiz noted that “often adversity brings us blessings or change.”

“I came from a messed-up background,” shared Ortiz, who also participated in a PAL as a kid in Kansas. “I was just hanging on … then as a successful boxer, I learned money wasn’t where it was at. Hollywood wasn’t either. It’s what brings joy that counts. Now I have two boys—they’re what matters. I want to give the youth hope.”

“It’s the experience you give to others. When you have a story kids can relate to, and they see we’re so passionate about sharing our story, it matters,” says Flores, who also serves as a pastor at Redemption Church in Ojai.

Building trust and showing youth that people care can divert kids from turning to gangs when seeking to connect and belong, says Flores.

“They are a part of something,” he explains, pointing out several kids who show up to work out in the boxing program each night, year after year, on their own accord. “Some kids have been here for 5 years,” notes Flores.

Aldahir Benitez began boxing with Flores at Westpark at age 16 to “meet new friends and be with my cousins.” Today, Benitez is employed with the city Parks and Recreation afterschool program and volunteers in the boxing class after his shift.

“I like boxing and interacting with the kids,” says Benitez, noting that “Sal is a great person; he helps everyone that he can, whenever he can.”

Flores beamed watching the young boxers eagerly unwrap and try out a shipment of new boxing gloves recently donated by the city, noting the YAL is currently seeking donations for t-shirts.

“We want all of them to walk with pride,” says Flores. “They show up, committed; most of them have a tough family life.”

With some 58 kids participating in the weeknight boxing program and another 50 teens in the school lunch YAL, Flores is making an impact.

“It’s something we love to do,” says Flores, noting the YAL’s goal is to obtain a dedicated facility to expand programming and reach more kids. “We want to inspire youth.”

For more information, including how to donate to the Youth Activity League, contact Sal Flores at 805.651.8647.

Olivas Adobe Historical Interpreters held their annual celebration

DA Erik Nasarenko installed the new officers.

On January 20, the Olivas Adobe Historical Interpreters held their annual celebration and installation of officers dinner at the Ventura Marina Park Clubhouse. Appetizers, drinks and dinner prepared by the docents was served.

Prior to the installation A Steal That Gift Game and an auction for fine art and gift bags was held. The hundreds attending heard County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko install the new officers. They are Bob Sandler President, Mary Thompson Vice President, Marsha Brumana Secretary and Glenda Jackson Treasurer.

“It was an honor to swear in the newly elected Olivas Adobe board members,” said Erik Nasarenko.  “The Olivas Adobe is a cultural and civic touchstone, which connects people from all over the world to California’s only remaining Monterey style adobe from the Rancho era.  The board members will serve as historic interpreters for the Olivas Adobe, ensuring that the past is protected and the site’s many special events are accompanied by these wonderful docents.   Congratulations, and thank you for volunteering your time, talent and passion to the Adobe and the public it serves!”

Vice President Mary Thompson thanked Erik “A big thank you to Erik Nasarenko for officially swearing us in. We are looking forward to serving our community in 2024.  Our agenda is jam packed with family fun events to keep the history of the Olivas Adobe alive.”

A new sign was erected at the entrance to the Skyline Community

Barbara Brown and Doug Halter pose in front of the newly erected sign. Photos by Richard Lieberman

by Richard Lieberman

The wall at the entrance of the Skyline Community before the painting.

Barbara Brown, a neighbor in the Skyline community and Chair of the College Area Community Council led the effort to replace a sign at the entrance of the Skyline community. A prior attempt started in 2020 but was unable to complete the replacement of the sign. Renewing the project and involving the non-profit College Area Community College group was key in being able to bring the project to completion. “We got all the neighbors to pitch in and help fund raise for it and then all the neighbors pitched in to paint,” said Brown. In choosing the design and the font for the sign they kept in mind the age of the development. They also had security in mind when they chose the letters to be one single piece rather than single separate letters.

The community is located just off Foothill, near Arroyo Verde Park. Attending the event were attendees that included Ventura’s District two Councilmember Doug Halter, College Area Community Council (CACC) and the neighbors of Skyline.

Barbara Brown, Doug Halter and a crowd of volunteers and neighbors gather for the completion of a new sign.

The original sign was removed around 1990 and never replaced. The removal left the entrance bare and over the years the city’s maintenance crews covering up graffiti painted over the entrance with varying shades of beige. Neighbors and the local community funded the grassroots project. “Lots of volunteers helped paint the wall, and the project took about four months to complete,” added Brown.

Doug Halter councilmember commented “I think this sign is important because it defines the neighborhood,” he said. “So just seeing this makes it feel like the neighborhood is coming back together again,” he added.