Category Archives: Featured News

Returning to the Classroom

9th grader Sierra Golden has enjoyed her time at home, but is ready for in person learning. Katie Gordon is a senior and plays softball for Foothill, posing here at a recent game in Thousand Oaks.

by Amy Brown
Part 1 of 2

When local schools closed down in March of 2020, it happened fast, and it was expected by most to last for a few weeks. Then VUSD announced that Fall 2020 would be 100% distance learning, with the hope to bring back students to the classroom in January 2021. Due in part to recent changes in social distancing guidelines from the CDC and health departments, the Board of Education met on March 28th, 2021 and voted in favor of a model that will allow students currently assigned to a hybrid learning model to return more fully to an in-person experience starting April 12. Students in grades 6-12 beginning on April 26th will return to a full time in-person five days a week schedule through the end of the school year, according to the district. Elementary schools, which have already been open to hybrid learning, will return to a full-time in-person model five days a week on April 12.

How do the students, with a year of not being in the classroom, feel about the news? Sierra Golden had been excited about being in high school much of her young life. “All my friends and I would talk about from kindergarten to 8th grade was looking forward to being in high school,” said the current freshman at Ventura High. Instead, her high school experience started in her bedroom, via computer. “Of course, all of us were excited because we thought we would get to go back quickly, but when reality hit, I was super bummed,” said Golden. “But I’m a homebody; I love being home. But then mental health started becoming a thing,” she said. Golden reports that she realized that some friends started changing–they were getting sad, and not wanting to get out of bed, and that’s when she realized how important it really was to socialize. She says she’s excited about in-person learning. “I haven’t had a chance to be a high schooler, and I’m excited about seeing friends, and I already love all of my teachers.”

Some students had issues keeping their grades up during the past year and can’t wait to get back in the classroom on a normal schedule. Avery Almora is an 8th grader at Balboa Middle School, and said that she struggles with ADD, and that the most difficult part of distance learning is staying focused. “My grades were always good until quarantine happened, and I’m really happy to get back in class and get back on track,” said Almora. “It’s going to be a little difficult, obviously it’s a big change; it’s been a long time since we’ve been in school.  A lot of people didn’t really learn anything, if they weren’t paying attention.” She has been doing a small group twice weekly study hall on campus at Balboa in the meantime that she said has really helped, too.

12th graders lost most of their junior year and all of their senior year so far. No Homecoming, no prom, no face to face with teachers. “I feel really bad for the teachers because it’s so much work on their part,” said Katie Gordon, a senior at Foothill “They’ve had it so rough! No one turns on their cameras, the teachers now have to do both online teaching and in person, but at least they won’t just be talking to blank screens.” Gordon plays center field for Foothill’s softball team, with a truncated season more restricted than other high schools, since they use Ventura College’s fields. That means very few spectators allowed. “It sucks that our parents can’t come to home games,” said Gordon, who plans to major in Political Science and possibly become a lawyer after college.  She says she looks forward to returning to in person learning for what’s left of her senior year. “I feel like if I miss this opportunity, I’d regret it.”

Visit Ventura welcomes new team member Briana Diamond

Briana is a happy person who has melded work with joy.

Visit Ventura welcomes their new, talented, light-up-the-room Digital Marketing Assistant, Briana Diamond to the Visit Ventura team. Yes, Diamond has a resume — but she isn’t confined by one. She graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography and Film with a bachelor’s in Visual Journalism in 2014. Which, not coincidentally, is the perfect pairing for a life of trail running, surfing, rock climbing, swimming, horseback riding, and, yes, photography.

“We are so thrilled to have a local photographer join the team,” said Marlyss Auster, Visit Ventura President & CEO. “We had worked with Briana on other projects, so we already knew that her outside-the-box creativity and passion for Ventura was a natural fit for the Visit Ventura team.”

As for Diamond, she is the happy person who has melded work with joy.

“My goal with photo and video is to capture the true beauty and connection nature brings us daily and to get outside,” she said. “I picked up my first camera when I was 7 years old and immediately knew this is what I want to do forever.”

Visit Ventura is a non-profit organization designed to increase visitor expenditures, tourism revenues, and local employment opportunities by promoting Ventura as a travel destination. During the pandemic they have turned their efforts toward doing the next right thing; including helping local businesses stay in business through various creative programs that emphasize supporting local.

Harmon Canyon is Ventura’s newest hiking and mountain biking gem

With over 2,100 acres, the ever-evolving Harmon Canyon is Ventura’s newest hiking and mountain biking gem because of the selfless and diligent work of the Ventura Land Trust. The nonprofit organization acquired the land and maintains it. The hillside nature preserve is a pastoral heaven to be enjoyed. To visit and hike Harmon Canyon you can park at 7511 Foothill.

 

New leadership at Salvation Army

Captains Patricia and Juan Torres of the Salvation Army Ventura Corps in the facility’s food pantry.

by Amy Brown

When Captains Patricia and Juan Torres came to lead the Ventura Salvation Army Corp, the married couple had their work cut out for them. It was July of 2020, and the pandemic was in full swing, and like most things in this crisis, established programs and the development of any new ones required some new strategies. The Torres’s had been involved with Salvation Army for more than 15 years, having previously served in downtown Los Angeles working with the homeless and youth efforts, so they were no strangers to developing creative solutions for challenging issues. However, joining a new community during a pandemic did not make transitioning to the new roles easy. “We are very happy here, it’s such a wonderful community and we’ve been welcomed very lovingly, but it’s been very difficult to get to know the community in general, since a lot of meetings and groups that the Ventura Corp is part of is all now done by Zoom,” said Captain Patricia Torres. “That being said, it was an opportunity for us to think outside the box.”

Torres shared that during the holidays, the well-known donation kettles usually seen and heard outside local establishments had to be shifted to operating about 95% online. “It really took an army (no pun intended) to get that accomplished,” she said. “We can’t thank our advisory board and donors enough, they really stepped in at a time when we were new, and they got the online program going.” Since then, the Torres’s have being overseeing the food pantry, and facilitated opening that service two extra days a week to support the community in need; it is now available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They continue to provide rental assistance support and have launched a new utility program with Southern California Edison’s Energy Assistance Fund (EAF), offering support of $100, or $200 for all electric accounts, verified by Edison, with applicants eligible for assistance once every 12 months. There is also a program available for any household affected by Covid-19, with the option to apply for assistance up to $200, with EAF households eligible for up to $300.

Torres reports that the Ventura Salvation Army is now also receiving donations of new clothing for the community, which is a new offering. “We are in the works of trying to get a temporary building to have a clothes closet,” says Torres. “In the meantime, if someone needs clothing, men, women and children, we have many donations.”

Asked how local community members can best contribute and make a difference in the Salvation Army’s current efforts, Captain Juan Torres replied, “We will accept non-perishable food, and hygiene kits (toothbrush, toothpaste, trial-size soap, shampoo, condition, lotion). These items are so important and inexpensive. It can make a huge difference in the lives of those we serve.”

 

A message from Mike Powers

Dear Ventura County Community Members, 

We are grieving with the Asian American community and all of the victims of the horrific shootings in Atlanta Tuesday night that took eight lives, six of whom were women of Asian descent. This is the latest in a series of heinous attacks against Asian Americans across this nation, and sadly, these are not isolated events. Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen a disturbing rise in inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric, harassment, and violence against Asian American communities. 

We will continue to ensure that our county is a place where all people are welcome and our diversity is celebrated. We stand in solidarity with members of the Asian American community and those facing discrimination, hate incidents, fear, and intimidation. We must do everything in our power to make their safety a priority and to stand against all forms of injustice. 

There is never justification for such violence and there is no truth to any account that blames any particular group for COVID-19 or any of its variants. 

We must do our part by continuing to encourage ongoing discussions around topics of race, and the longstanding history of racism in our country, to break down the barriers that separate us, no matter how uncomfortable these topics may be. Engaging in dialogue about these topics does not create divisiveness. Divisiveness already exists in our society, but through dialogue, even when uncomfortable, healing and change can begin.

We ask all to stand in solidarity with members of our community who are experiencing this and other forms of racism and xenophobia. We must remain vigilant and continue working as a community to identify effective and actionable ways to address this and all forms of prejudice, stigmatization, and racism. 

Sincerely,

Mike Powers
County Executive Officer

Fire response dispatched to large trash truck on fire

On March 19, at 3:20pm, the Ventura County Fire Communication Center received a report
of a large vehicle fire in the 300 block of Tioga Dr. A fire response was dispatched to the area and the first fire resource on scene reported a large trash truck on fire. Fire resources initiated a quick and aggressive fire attack using hose lines and ground ladders, which kept the fire to the area of origin.

The American Rescue Plan includes important provisions that will help older adults

“Thank you, is it okay if I give a little of the milk to the cat?”

by Howard Bedlin Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy at NCOA

The American Rescue Plan includes important provisions that will help older adults get the supports they need at home and boost their financial security.

The $1.9 trillion relief package also includes health care improvements that will make it easier for adults aged 55 to 65 to afford care.

NCOA has championed many key provisions in the bill to increase funding, including for nutrition programs and community services.

The American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Biden on March 11, includes critical relief to older adults in need as the nation continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 30 million Americans have contracted COVID-19, with the death toll now surpassing 532,000. Eight in 10 deaths reported are adults aged 65+.

The $1.9 trillion relief package is a step forward in ensuring resources are targeted to the most vulnerable. The law is expected to contribute to greater economic stability—potentially reducing the adult poverty rate by more than a quarter and the child poverty rate by half. Below you’ll find a summary of the final package, including several of NCOA’s priorities.

More than 11 million older adults and their caregivers rely on Older Americans Act (OAA) programs to stay independent. These include senior centers, healthy aging programs, nutrition, in-home services, transportation, caregiver support, and elder abuse protections. The law earmarks $1.43 billion for OAA programs, including:

Nutrition services such as home-delivered meals ($750 million)

Supportive services, including COVID-19 vaccination outreach and efforts to address social isolation ($460 million)

The National Family Caregiver Support Program, which provides caregiver counseling, support groups, training, and respite care ($145 million)

Evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention programs, including for falls prevention and chronic diseases ($44 million)

Nutrition and supportive services for Native American communities ($25 million)

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, which advocates on behalf of individuals living in nursing homes ($10 million)

Medicaid Home Care Services

The law invests $276 million per year in the Elder Justice Act over the next two years. This will support programs to combat elder abuse, promote elder justice research and innovation, enhance Adult Protective Services, and provide protections for residents of long-term care facilities.

Older adults are eligible for direct COVID relief under the act. Individuals earning $75,000 per year and couples earning $150,000 will receive the full $1,400 per person stimulus check. These amounts are gradually reduced and then phased out for individuals earning over $80,000 and couples earning over $160,000.

Roughly 5 million low-income adults aged 60+ rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to afford food. Many older adults need more than the average $121 per month SNAP benefit, especially as COVID restrictions make it harder to access food.

Ventura College Foundation’s Weekend Marketplace returns to East Parking Lot

The community has relied on the Marketplace for wonderful things to purchase.

Ventura College Foundation’s Weekend Marketplace, which temporarily moved to the West Parking Lot on the Ventura College campus while solar panels were installed at its home on the East Parking Lot, has returned to its permanent location. 

The East Parking Lot is able to accommodate more vendors and guests than the smaller West Parking Lot location. Prior to the COVID pandemic, the Marketplace drew about 2,000 shoppers each weekend with 300 to 400 vendors. However, because of current COVID pandemic restrictions, the attendance is capped at 25% of capacity, and the number of Marketplace vendors has been limited. 

“We want to thank all our vendors, patrons and neighbors to the Marketplace who have been supportive as we first closed, reopened, then moved and are now moving back,” says Anne Paul King, the foundation’s executive director. “It’s been a rollercoaster.” 

For more than three decades, the community has relied on the Marketplace for affordable fresh produce and other items.  Vendors’ families have been supported by weekend sales. Our foundation has relied on the vendor rental revenue to support Ventura College students. “When the Marketplace temporarily closed because of COVID, many people in Ventura County lost an important resource,” says King. “That’s why, despite all the ups and downs, it was important that we did all we could to keep the Marketplace open.”

COVID Marketplace hours are 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. COVID safety and spacing protocol remains in place for both vendors and visitors. All vendors and visitors must wear face coverings and practice proper social distancing.

Admission is free. For vendor information, contact Esmeralda Juarez, marketplace supervisor at 805-289-6062 or email, ejuarez@vcccd.eduFor general Marketplace information, go to www.venturacollegefoundation.org/weekend-marketplace.

St patrick’s day parade years gone by

Happy St. Patrick’s Day Ventura! This year everyone’s favorite St. Patrick’s Day Parade is sadly, yet understandably cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. However the clever CAPS Crews and the Ventura Elks Elves have conjured up something special to fill the Saturday morning celebration. Ventura County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Years Gone By is a fun-filled, festive trip down memory lane (in place of Main Street). The hour long program will feature great moments from past and recent St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Ventura County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Years Gone By will premiere on Saturday, March 13 at 10AM on CAPS Channel 6 and repeat multiple times throughout the month. The program will also stream on the CAPS Media website – capsmedia.org. and air on CAPS Radio – KPPQ 104.1 FM. We hope everyone settles in with a bag of popcorn and a set of streamers to enjoy the show.

All of the CAPS Media board of directors, staff and members are excited to welcome Ventura’s newest Councilmember, Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios as the District 4 representative. We look forward to working with Ms. Sanchez-Palacios on all the city projects and initiatives, and especially on those that are of greatest interest to her.

Speaking of City Council collaborations, recently CAPS had the pleasure of collaborating with City Councilmember Lorrie Brown on an historic initiative to have the Ventura City Council proclaim February as Black History Month in Ventura.

Working in coordination with Ms. Brown and city staff, CAPS produced a special video in support of the city proclamation. The video premiered at a recent City Council meeting and has been featured on the city website and in social media and has been shown on all CAPS Media platforms including Channel 6, Channel 15, KPPQ 104.1 FM, and streaming online and on social media.

March/April is the time of year for annual staff recognitions and CAPS Media is working with numerous governmental agencies to pay tribute to their dedicated employees. CAPS is producing video profiles for the Ventura County Fire Department’s annual awards program honoring inspiring firefighters and support staff as well as outstanding citizen volunteers. CAPS is also working with the City of Ventura directors to create a series of profiles recognizing the city’s outstanding Employees and Supervisors of the Year. And since March 30th is National Doctor’s Day, CAPS is collaborating with the creative folks at VCMC to produce a special Thank You, shout-out to the compassionate and passionate doctors.

Due to the COVID-19 emergency the CAPS Media Center remains closed to Members and the public until further notice. CAPS Member/Producers can submit programming via the online portal at capsmedia.org for broadcast and streaming on CAPS public access television Channel 6 and on CAPS Radio KPPQ 104.1FM.

Every week CAPS Crews record and broadcast the County COVID updates at the County government center and locations throughout the community. These reports provide the public with the latest, accurate information on the crisis and the relentless efforts by government and health officials to keep us safe and help all of us through the pandemic.

All of us at CAPS Media hope everyone stays Safe, Strong, Distant and Healthy during these very challenging times.

Mission Basilica San Buenaventura installs new lighting and sound systems

The lighting project was envisioned five years ago.

by Fr. Tom Elewaut

With gratitude to our parishioners who continue to support our Called to Renew capital campaign, the Basilica lighting is now a reality! As Lent began, an extensive new lighting upgrade that highlights the sacred art and liturgical appointments for parishioners, pilgrims, and tourists is completed. The state-of-the-art lighting system replaces a 1980s era system with LED energy efficient theatrical enhancements that create a spirituality uplifting appreciation of the sacred paintings, statues, and tapestry, some of which predate the completion of the 1809 church. Each appointment is separately illuminated with sufficient congregational lighting.

A new sound system was installed as well. The new speakers offer clearer fidelity for both proclamation of the Word, and the liturgy of the Eucharist and the uplifting voices of the cantors and musicians. This project was gifted by Bill Simon, Jr. and parishioner donations to our building fund.

The lighting project was envisioned five years ago and is the second major project funded by the capital campaign by parishioners. The first campaign project remodeled restrooms in the garden utilized by parishioners and guests visiting the historic downtown Mission. Additionally, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles funded the exterior painting of the rectory, the Gift Shop building, wood flooring refinished in the rectory and a new roof on the Gift Shop building.

In June 2020 Pope Francis elevated Mission San Buenaventura to a minor basilica in the Catholic church, becoming the seventh Minor Basilica in California. The new lighting is befitting a basilica and now highlights the oil paintings of the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) painted in New Spain approximately forty years prior to the completion of the present church. Statues of patron San Buenaventura, St. Mary, and St. Joseph behind the main altar are strikingly visible as is the tabernacle, altar, and ambo (pulpit) among several other statues and a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Many of the eighteenth-century statues have been restored in the past decade by the South Coast Fine Arts Conservancy funded by the California Missions Foundation and the Nicholas and Margaret Carlozzi Charitable Foundation and private donors.

The seven-week lighting installation project was engineered by John Maloney, P.E., designed by Mar-Vista Lighting and Chauvet Professional, and installed by Taft Electric.