Category Archives: Featured News

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.

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.

Ventura police officers carry the torch for the Special Olympics

Photos by Michael Gordon

Over 30 Ventura Police officers and staff participated in the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run on Tuesday, June 7, from 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. as the “Flame of Hope” made its way through Ventura. The run started at the steps of the Ventura City Hall.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest awareness and grassroots fundraiser for Special Olympics. In Southern California, it consists of nine different legs, ranging from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. Legs are completed in conjunction with Special Olympics athletes and various members of law enforcement agencies from throughout the region.

“This is one of my favorite events of the year,” said Corporal Ryan Reynosa, Special Olympics Liaison with the Ventura Police Department. “I run each year for inclusion, awareness, fundraising, and camaraderie. “It’s just icing on the cake when community members come out to cheer us on.”

Community members interested in supporting the cause can support financially by making a donation to “Team Ventura PD” at www.CityofVentura.ca.gov/LETR.