Category Archives: Featured News

Ventura County Fusion defeat Long Island Rough Riders to win USL League 2 National Final 

Spectacular second-half goals gave the Ventura County Fusion their victory.

Spectacular second-half goals by Nathaniel Opoku and Marley Edwards gave the Ventura County Fusion a 2-1 victory Saturday night over the Long Island Rough Riders in the USL League Two national championship game in front of a packed house at Ventura College Stadium. It was the Fusion’s second national championship, the other coming in 2009.

The Fusion entered the 32-team tournament as the 5th seed in the Western Conference, after finishing second in the Southwest Division with an 8-2-2 record. The team, however, entered the title game having won eight straight games dating back to July 1. In the playoffs, the Fusion took out some of the best teams in the country including the Flatirons Rush, Southern California Seahorses,  Ballard FC and Flint City Bucks.  The Rough Riders, featuring east coast college players, advanced to the title game after winning the Eastern Conference with a record of 15-1-2.

After a scoreless first half, the Rough Riders tallied the first goal of the game at the 54-minute mark in the second. After dispossessing Fusion midfielder Bastien Oberli just past midfield, Justin Weiss took a through ball from Roc Carles Puig and slammed it past Fusion goal Tetsuya Kadono to give the Roughriders a 1-0 lead.

The lead did not last long. Five minutes later 16-year-old Fusion academy product Sergio Villapando drove down the right side of the field to the touchline before dumping a pass to Opoku directly to the right of the goal.  Opoku, with his back to goal, controlled the pass and floated a deftly weighted bicycle kick over goalie Wessel Speel’s head and into the Roughrider goal.

Marley Edwards doubled the Fusion lead in the 83d minute, firing a screamer into the bottom corner of the net to give the Fusion the lead and ultimately the championship.

“This has been a great journey,” said Fusion head coach Mike Elias after the game. “We shared it with a great group of boys, and this is the ultimate. I said to them the first day that we were in the training room that I wanted to win everything this year. Guess what, we won everything this year.  It’s absolutely superb. They surprised me, they stepped up to the challenge and they are just a fantastic group of boys.”

More at the Fair than Rides and Food – Keeping things Hyper Local

San Buenaventura Women’s Club members Shirley Lorraine (wearing a Breeze visor of curse), Anita Hensley and Janet Flickinger at their fair booth. The Disabled American Veterans of Ventura County has a plethora of information available to help veterans.

by Shirley Lorraine

Many changes have taken place as Fair management copes with the losses incurred from no fair for the last two years. This year involvement is light and there seems to be fewer entries, vendors and familiar touches overall. Nonetheless, it is good to be back at the Country Fair with Ocean Air.

Along the Garden Street entry, there are a series of tents. These tents contain volunteers from non-profit groups eager to catch people’s interest and disseminate information about their objectives and offerings.

Edward and Laura Balderas were the
first in line to enter the Fair. Photo by
Patricia Schallert.

This year, fairgoers are enthusiastically greeted by volunteers in bright blue shirts from the San Buenaventura Women’s Club. Members provide information to educate and entice interest in the philanthropic and social club that raises funds to give back to the community annually. The club offers a variety of social activities, including an evening section for those who are unable to attend day meetings The club supports arts and music programs in the high schools, law enforcement canines, provides veterans support and serves other local needs such as advocacy for children, domestic violence awareness and much more, for over 90 years. Ventura County also has Federated Women’s Clubs in Ojai, Oak View, Somis, Moorpark and Simi Valley. Anyone over 18 can join.

Across the way, there is a booth distributing information on N.A. – Narcotics Anonymous. Valuable information is available without charge. This year, for the first time, materials are available in both English and Spanish. Additional information can be found at naventuraCounty.com, or 1-888-817-7425.

Disabled American Veterans of Ventura County, a volunteer run organization, has a plethora of information available to help veterans and their families navigate the quagmire of paperwork needed to explore and gain benefits. Their national website is DAV.org. Search for the Ventura County chapter for information about local resources. Volunteers will chat, answer questions and gladly show memorabilia.

Offering a safe, calm and spiritually renewing experience is the Calvary Chapel of Ojai. They are featuring Prayer at the Fair, opportunities to share prayers with those who need some help from above for themselves or others. Pastor Dan Nelson is the coordinator for the effort, inviting all of similar faith to participate. There is no charge. Periodic prayer circles are offered as well. More information can be located at www.calgaryojai.org.

Also on scene is a booth for S.T.E.S.A., which stands for Service, Therapy & Emotional Support Animals. This organization provides advocacy and resources within Ventura County for those who need such animals. Founded by Pastor Nelson, this chapter is free to join while at the Fair, and free to renew annually. Services are currently within Ventura County only. This organization works closely with county and state level partners to maintain up to date resources and information. Their website, STESA.org, is currently being updated to include interactive capabilities.

The Garden Street entrance is across the way from Floriculture, and just before the livestock area. Come and visit.

Ventura Police and Fire Departments hosting community block party

Ventura residents are invited to join the Ventura Police and Fire Departments for a free, community block party from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 20, 2022. This family-friendly event will be hosted at the Police and Fire Headquarters, located at 1425 Dowell Drive in Ventura.

Activities at the public safety event will feature multiple K9 demonstrations, a Jaws of Life vehicle extrication demo, fire extinguisher game, a hands-on CSI experience, a kid’s firefighter challenge course, child fingerprinting, station tours, coloring contests, trivia, and more.

“We are opening our doors and exteriors gates and welcoming our community into our headquarters,” said Police Chief Darin Schindler. “This is an opportunity to engage in relationship building with local police officers, firefighters, dispatchers, and elected officials and have fun learning about crime prevention and fire safety.”

Residents and children will have the opportunity to see patrol cars, motorcycles, fire engines, the SWAT rescue vehicle, a police helicopter, K9s, and various emergency response vehicles. Participants will also learn about a wide variety of safety topics and experience interactive games and demonstrations.

Snacks will be provided. Food trucks will also be on site with meals for purchase.

“Community engagement is more critical than ever,” said Fire Chief David Endaya. “We want to connect with our residents and businesses to continue strengthening local relationships so residents know our team and so we can better communicate fire prevention and safety information.”

To learn more about the public safety block party, visit www.CityofVentura.ca.gov/BlockParty.

This event is funded by the Ventura Police Community Foundation. Learn more about the local nonprofit at www.VenturaPoliceFoundation.org.

Reception held at the Rubicon’s Sandra and Jordan Laby Hall

The visual arts to play a new and substantive role at the Rubicon. Photos by Patricia Schallert

On July 21, the Rubicon Theatre Company, Ventura’s non-profit professional theatre company held an opening reception for the transformation of the Sandra and Jordan Laby Hall. As part of the re-envisioning, the downstairs hall has been fitted out with an industry-standard gallery hanging system, offering an opportunity for visual arts to play a new and substantive role at the Rubicon along with their wonderful performances. Piano music, wine, and light snacks were provided to fill out the wonderful evening.

It is to be called “The Rose Room” in honor of Ojai residents Amanda McBroom (Golden Globe Award-winning creator of the song “The Rose”) and George Ball. The two have been an integral part of Rubicon’s artistic history.

McBroom and Ball shared a statement, “The pre-christening of the Rose Room at the Rubicon and the unveiling of that glorious mural by Michael O’Kelly was an astounding moment for both of us. We were amazed by the beauty of the mural. And by the reality of such a splendid and intimate new space for art and music. We both love the Rubicon and our friends Karyl Lynn Burns, Jim O’Neil, and Bev and Kirby Ward.

The staff and Board selected internationally renowned local artist Michael O’Kelly to assist in the remodel. The result of the partnership is a showing of 24 pieces by O’Kelly (plus new murals by him featured on page 17). The show is entitled, “An Historical Eye” includes oil paintings, dye sublimations, and gold-leaf prints. O’Kelly was on hand to greet visitors and discuss his art (all of which is for sale).

This collaboration between one of the largest arts organizations in Ventura and a local artist is an example of how the 24-year-old Ventura institution reimagines its place in the community in the wake of the pandemic. O’Kelly has a long and storied history in the art world. A prodigy, Michael sold his first work of art at the age of nine.

Karyl Lynn Burns, Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director at Rubicon, sums up the idea of the arts sector coming together, “There is enormous undeveloped potential in Ventura. We must think big and find innovative ways to strengthen our creative economy. The status quo won’t do.”

At the event, Rubicon Director of Outreach Beverly Ward also unveiled the partially painted mural by Michael O’Kelly which, when complete, will become a focal point for the room and a further reason for local residents from visitors throughout the world to come to Rubicon. The mural is the largest ever conceived by O’Kelly, with McBroom and Ball at the center (see page 17 to find out how you can be added to the mural).

Rubicon Theatre Company – Sandra and Jordan Laby Hall
1006 E. Main St. Ventura
Admission is free

Son of Ventura Councilwoman Lorrie Brown dies in carjacking and homicide

The 22-year-old son of Ventura Councilwoman Lorrie Brown died on Thursday, July 22, in Florida. Jeremiah Emmanuel Jordan Brown died of an apparent carjacking and homicide. The exact facts of his murder are still being investigated as Osceola County detectives continue to work on the case.

Jeremiah Brown was born and raised in Ventura and went to Montalvo Elementary, Anacapa Middle and Buena High schools. He was on vacation with his family, staying in an Airbnb in Davenport, Florida. They were celebrating an important time in his girlfriend’s nursing program.

His death was reported to Lorrie by Ventura police officers that evening.
who had been contacted by detectives from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

Lorrie Brown was elected to the Ventura City Council in November, 2018.

Vehicle collides into tree on Harbor Blvd

On July 22,at 7:16am, the Ventura Police Department Command Center received a call of a vehicle into a tree on Harbor Blvd. near the intersection of Schooner Drive. The driver and sole occupant was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Ventura Fire Department.

At this time, traffic collision investigators believe the vehicle was driving at a high rate of speed and swerved to avoid colliding with the vehicle in front of it. The vehicle lost control and collided with a tree, fatally injuring the driver.

This investigation is ongoing and there was nothing at the scene that would indicate the driver was impaired. The name of the driver is being withheld pending next of kin notification by the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Any witnesses to the collision are asked to contact Traffic Collision Investigator Mercado at 805-3394306.

VUSD appoints new superintendent

Dr. Castro brings 25 years of educational service to his new office.

Following an internal search and selection process, the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) Board of Education has appointed Dr. Antonio Castro as the new VUSD Superintendent. Dr. Castro will begin his new role on August 1, 2022, as Dr. Roger Rice transitions into his previously announced retirement.

“We are so fortunate that Dr. Castro will be leading the VUSD team. His unique, well-rounded perspective provides him with the ability to see everyone and truly understand what it takes to make our District a success. He is not one to take anything for granted, especially not the people who make up our community,” stated Sabrena Rodriguez, Board President. “We are thrilled to have such a special leader who we believe will inspire our students, support our team, and work collaboratively with our families and community.”

A dedicated public servant, Dr. Castro brings 25 years of educational service with him to his new office. Dr. Castro has served in many roles throughout his career. Those roles include a general and special education teacher, assistant principal, principal, director of special education and student support services, associate superintendent of educational services at the Ventura County Office of Education, and most recently has been serving as the VUSD Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services since April of 2021.

During his tenure with VUSD, Dr. Castro has contributed significantly, including being responsible for implementing the Local Control Accountability Plan.

“As we progress through this next COVID stage, it is essential that we reestablish a sense of belonging. I am dedicated to cultivating and investing in practices that promote trusting relationships throughout the District. It is my goal that through a shared vision for students, families, and staff, we will become a stronger community. I am humbled by the opportunity to lead this incredible District in its next phase of success,” stated Dr. Castro.

Dr. Castro leads a purpose-driven life in every aspect of his personal and professional identity. Beyond his work in education, Dr. Castro has given back extensively to the Ventura County community serving organizations such as AYSO, Moorpark City Council, Moorpark College Foundation, Ventura County United Way, and as a mentor to many inside and outside of education. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Arizona State University and his Master’s and Doctorate from California Lutheran University.

“I am honored to be a part of the Ventura Unified School District and look forward to leading the VUSD’s dynamic staff with the support of our extended community. Ventura is a beautiful area with a rich history, and these deep roots serve as a strong foundation for our future growth,” stated Dr. Castro.

The Board of Trustees would like to thank District staff, students, parents/guardians, and community members for providing valuable input through surveys and interview panels that provided us with a clear understanding of the leadership characteristics and skills desired in the next Superintendent. In addition to the Board reviewing applications and conducting extensive interviews, the VUSD Board made its decision based on the input gathered from all key stakeholder groups.

Ventura’s annual 4th of July Street Fair and Pushem-Pullem Parade

Photos by Yana Khiyod, Michael Gordon and Jackie Ringhof

Ventura’s annual 4th of July Street Fair and Pushem-Pullem Parade returned to the Downtown District on Monday, July 4.

This year’s event theme “2022: Red, White & Blue!” The Pushem-Pullem Parade is presented by the Rotary Club of East Ventura.

Bikes, scooters, strollers, and wagons participated in the parade.

The street fair featured arts and crafts booths, live entertainment, a car exhibit, and family-friendly activities.

The Downtown Ventura Partners Organization presented live entertainment stages with local bands and community group performances.

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 www.VenturaCityFire.com.