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Students from VUSD presented proposals to reduce their schools’ environmental footprint

The event began with the 16 finalist teams presenting to a panel of judges.

On Thursday May 5th, forty-five 7th-12th-grade students from Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) presented their environmental business proposals to a panel of judges. Students chose their project from 4 categories: Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Waste Reduction at their school campuses, or to inform their communities about the benefits of removing the relic Matilija Dam from the Ventura River. The event took place at the Museum of Ventura County, in downtown Ventura, from 4 -7 pm. The keynote speaker for the event was Chipper Bro, Environmental Advocate, Professional Surfer, and 13-time Frisbee World Champion.

The event began with the 16 finalist teams presenting to a panel of judges who ranked the proposals based on merit and cost effectiveness. First place in the Energy Efficiency category was awarded to the “Electric Warriors” Team from Ventura High School, Ms. Miyata’s class. In the Water Conservation category, top prize went to “Project Motion Sensor” team from Ms. Mendez’s class at Anacapa Middle School. In the Waste Reduction category, the first-place prize went to “Recycling at Buena” team from Mr. Yorke’s class at Buena High School. In the last category, Matilija Dam removal, the top team was “Give a Dam” from Mr. Yorke’s class at Buena High School.

The EECCOA Challenge Awards Ceremony is the culmination of the 9 month-long Ventura Action Network (V-RAN) Program administered by VUSD in partnership with the MERITO Foundation. The following schools participated in the 2021-2022 V-RAN program: Buena High School, Anacapa Middle School, Ventura High School, Foothill High School; Balboa Middle School, Cabrillo Middle School; and Sunset K-8.

In addition to the EECCOA Challenge, the Ventura Action Network (V-RAN) Program provides professional development field training, webinars, science curriculum and stipends to science teachers, as well as, environmental monitoring experiences for their 600-750 middle and high school students each year at Ventura River watershed and the coast.

The MERITO Foundation is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization based in Ventura, CA, dedicated to protecting the ocean by facilitating education, conservation and scientific research opportunities to multicultural youth and their communities. The EECCOA Challenge empowers students to be environmental entrepreneurs by providing them with the tools to understand climate change, ocean acidification, drought and wildfires and address these issues with money saving project proposals for their school campuses. Students are also given the option to develop awareness campaigns that inform and involve their communities.

Housing Trust Fund Ventura County announces $2 million in lines of credit

The Westview II units are located in Ventura.

Housing Trust Fund Ventura County (Housing Trust Fund VC) announces two, $1 million lines of credit (LOC), one each from Community West Bank and Mission Bank. The funds will be used as part of Housing Trust Fund VC’s Everyone Deserves a Home revolving loan fund, a community impact note that provides flexible, below market interest rate loans for the development of affordable housing in Ventura County. Three upcoming developments that will receive funding are a new pre-development loan for Fillmore Terrace being developed by Peoples’ Self-Help Housing Corporation (PSHHC), a GAP loan for Mesa Ojai being purchased by Mesa, and a construction loan to the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura (HACSB) for Westview II.

The LOCs provided by Community West Bank and Mission Bank join a pool of funds from other public and private investors, sponsors, and donors to provide lending capital in support of Housing Trust Fund VC’s Community Promise of building safe and equitable homes in Ventura County. Brian Schwabecher, Chief Banking Officer of Community West Bank stated, “Community West Bank is proud to support Housing Trust Fund Ventura County with financing for their housing initiatives, and we’re also honored to help sponsor the Everyone Deserves a Home Compassion Campaign event on May 12.” The nonprofit’s annual fundraiser takes on a unique twist this year as a guest immersive experience shining light on housing equity as told through the lives of connected individuals.

Please visit: to learn more.

The construction loan for Westview II (which will provide 50 homes to low-income and homeless seniors), were pulled from a pool of investments from Bank of the Sierra, Mission Bank and Community West Bank, and were provided to the developers at below market interest rates and reduced fees to help the developments move to the next phase of development.

“We are excited to build on our Community Promise of funding affordable homes with the support of both Community West Bank’s and Mission Bank’s generous lines of credit, which allow us to continue funding impactful developments,” states Housing Trust Fund VC CEO Linda Braunschweiger.

As of April 1, 2022, Housing Trust Fund VC has invested over $22.3 million through its revolving loan fund, creating 870 affordable apartments and homes for very-low, low- and middle-income employees, transitional age foster youth, veterans, farm workers, and the homeless.


Happy 13th Anniversary to The Ladies Luncheon

by Laurie Ann Meyer

The Ladies Luncheon began as a women’s networking group in 2009. Over the past 13 years, it has transformed into an opportunity for women to experience connection, community, and support.

Together we have/continue to foster a safe space for achieving common goals and developing lifelong friendships.

Whether you own a business and want to network or you attend to be a part of a warm group, we always have fun, laugh a lot, and raffle great prizes!

I will share how/why I started The Ladies Luncheon in order to help ladies, and to meet at a convenient lunchtime hour. Please join us to celebrate 13 years of creating connections, community and empowering women in business. Thank you!

Come join us at on June 2nd, 2022, at The Greek Mediterranean Steak & Seafood Restaurant at the Ventura Harbor from 11:30am-1:00pm. Please go to: to register! See you all very soon!

Hey, You’ve Got MAIL! MAIL ART we mean.

Imagine sending in a piece of art through the mail, and then having it displayed in a museum, online, and in local venues. That’s happening in Ventura right now.

The ARTLIFE INC. Foundation is holding its annual MAIL ART Exhibit.

Hundreds of artists throughout the world have submitted over 200 pieces of art in a small 6” x 9“ format with all kinds of imagery and it must come through the mail!

We will show these works at the Museum of Ventura County on Saturday June 4 at 100 E. Main Street, Ventura, 2 to 5 pm. The Public is invited. Admission is free.

After that, various venues throughout Ventura County will display our frames of MAIL ART in their stores and businesses for about a month. ((NAMBA, Stephen’s Grill, House of Rio, and other places)

Check out our website to see the entries online :

Rubicon Season opens with “Twilight Los Angeles”

Opening night at the Rubicon included many local dignitaries.

by Richard Lieberman

The Rubicon Theatre Company of Ventura opened it’s 2022/2023 season with a play by Anna Deavere Smith “Twilight Los Angeles, 1992” a production that depicts the events of the 1992 L.A. riots. The production premiered on the 30th anniversary of the Rodney King verdict and the L.A. riots. April 29, 1992, the day the verdict in the Rodney King trial, triggered one of the most explosive events of the 20th century.

The one man play chronicles the events leading up to and during the tumultuous L.A. riots. Starring Chris Butler and written by Anna Deavere Smith. Based on interviews conducted by Anna Deavere Smith all words spoken were by the real people involved.

Butler portrayed over fifty people involved in some way with the events leading up to, during and after the riots. His energy and accuracy in describing the events is unappareled in a real-life production.

Opening night at the Rubicon included many local dignitaries and politicians including Steve Bennett California State Assembly member, Doug Halter City of Ventura Councilmember, Erik Nasarenko Ventura County District Attorney, former state senator Hannah Beth Jackson, Regina K. Crawford, President of NAACP Ventura County, Joe Spano award winning actor and many others.

Steve Bennett California State Assembly when asked about the season premiere and how the new season will unfold said “I am very optimistic because I think people are desperate to get back out to these types of things where you can be together with people and watch live theatre” he said. Bennett added “Live theatre just touches you in a way that no other medium does. I am very hopeful and optimistic about the Rubicon theatre.” He also added “I think it is good for us to be reminded and I think it is a real compliment to the Rubicon that they are the ones that get to have this opening here with such an incredible actor.”

Doug Halter City of Ventura Councilmember was instrumental in the creation of the theatre and had this to say about his role and the upcoming season, “In 1998 I heard that the Ventura Pentecostal Church was for sale. I was surprised and impressed, the church had some 10,000 square feet of space with three stories and a great ocean view. I recognized that the church would be a perfect building to house a community theatre in its ground floor sanctuary,”

I mentioned this to Karyl Lynn Burns, and she said “it has been my dream to create a local theatre here in Ventura” he added.

I am very optimistic and looking forward to the upcoming season, all the credit goes to the wonderful artists and volunteers that make the Rubicon successful and fill a need for the arts and theatre in Ventura,” he said.

Karyl Lynn Burns Producing Artistic Director stated “We have created an environment where commitment and risk are encouraged, and where artists are nurtured and respected, “she said. She added “As a result the company has gained a reputation for invigorating interpretations of the classics and for supporting the developments of new work. Rubicon presents at least one World Premiere each season, as well as readings of works-in-progress,”

The upcoming season will continue to honor the legacy and the traditions of our local community theatre” she added.

“Twilight Los Angeles” runs at the Rubicon until May 15.

Ventura Land Trust holds ribbon cutting ceremony at Harmon Canyon Preserve

Organizers of the event hope to raise an additional $1 million dollars.

by Richard Lieberman

In an effort to raise an additional $1 million for the Harmon Canyon Preserve the Ventura Land Trust held a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Harmon Canyon Preserve, located off Kimball and Foothill roads on Earth Day, April 22. The preserve covers an area of 2,100 acres of Ventura hillsides.

Recently the final phase of fundraising for the Harmon Canyon Preserve was conducted by the non-profit Ventura Land Trust. The trust held a kickoff for the campaign with the ribbon cutting ceremony featuring local officials.

Organizers of the event hope to raise an additional $1 million dollars. The funding will go toward maintaining plant life, establishment of new oak trees, and the creation and maintenance of new trails.

The anticipated funds will also be used to remove invasive species like the wild mustard that has invaded the habitat and is growing throughout the canyon. The funds will also be used to clear out downed branches.

The Ventura Land Trust’s goals are to keep the trails open, operating, and available to the public permanently.

“We recognize that is a big promise but it’s something we are committed to for the people of our community and the wildlife,” said Mellissa Baffa Ventura Land Trust executive director. She added “$10.6 million has been raised for the preserve so far. The money comes from a mix of government and foundation grants as well as private doners.”

Harmon Canyon Preserve was opened to the public in June 2020 said Leslie Velez, outreach director for the Ventura Land Trust. From the 1800’s through June 2020, the property had been privately owned, she said.

“The canyon preserve designated for habitat conservation and public access, has been attracting 65,000, people a year since its opening for biking, hiking, and recreation,” Baffa said. “It’s our hope and anticipation that some of those tens of thousands of people that have fallen in love with this space will join the campaign and help to support it”.

Harmon Canyon Preserve is a living laboratory, teaching participants how to identify plants and animals and facilitating hands-on fieldwork projects. Hundreds of volunteers work hand in hand with Ventura Land Trust in the stewardship of Harmon Canyon Preserve each year building trails, removing invasive plant species, and ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors.

The history of the canyon dates back to its original habitants, the Chumash. A Chumash speaker, elder Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, tribal chair of the Barbareno/Ventureno Band of Mission Indians said, “opening the space was important. We lost a lot through colonization of our people. So, we are coming back to that. We are reconnecting that relationship that Indigenous peoples have to this earth and to this land,” Tumamait-Stenslie said.

Ventura Mayor Sofia Rubalcava remarked” the preserve offers Spanish-language signs that help make it accessible and inviting for all communities.”

“I know that Harmon Canyon also offers Spanish language tours so that people who maybe never thought of themselves as hikers or mountain bikers or preservationists can have access to this place and see how beautiful it is and want to come back,” said Rubalcava.

Memorial Tree for Midge Stork

Joe Cahill, Chris Grant, Kevin McDermott, Barbara Brown and Christy Weir were all smiles as Chris Grant and Kevin McDermott planted the Coquito Palm.

The Ventura Tree Alliance, in partnership with the Ventura Botanical Gardens, planted a tree to honor founder Midge Stork — her philanthropic life and her profound contributions to our community and to the development of the Gardens. Midge Stork was one of the five founders and continued as a major force behind the creation, funding and initial development of the Gardens.

The tree chosen to plant in her honor is a Chilean Wine Palm, also known as the Coquito Palm for its small coconuts that first fruit when the tree is thirty to sixty years old. It is arguably one of the world’s most magnificent palms and is often depicted in Chilean historic paintings. The indigenous people of Chile also used its image as a pictograph for the word “huge”. The tree can grow to 80 feet in height and live to be 1500 years old.

This spectacular tree is considered a vulnerable, threatened species, due to the destruction of the tree in its native environment from over-harvesting of its palm honey for wine. Harvesting Chilean Wine Palms for the honey kills the tree. The Ventura Botanical Gardens is part of a global conservation program for this species.

The tree was planted on Earth Day, April 22, 2022. The Ventura Botanical Gardens and the Ventura Tree Alliance hope that visitors will stop by on their walks through the Gardens to pay homage to this tree as a remembrance of Midge Stork, an illustrious tour-de-force of Ventura.

The Ventura Tree Alliance works to enhance Ventura’s urban canopy, to beautify Ventura and contribute to counteracting climate change. The goals are to inspire, engage and support Venturans in planting and caring for trees through education, advocacy, volunteerism, and fundraising.

To find out more, visit or and join us on Facebook.

Westside Born Learning Trail gets revitalized on Earth Day

Born Learning Trails were developed to support language, literacy and social skills. Photos by Michael Gordon

by Amy Brown

Earth Day often includes collaborations of individual and community groups to celebrate the world in which we live, and learn to improve sustainability to preserve it. In that spirit, local community members, the city of Ventura, volunteers from the United Way and Aera Energy gathered recently to celebrate Earth Day and invest in early childhood development and education by renovating the interactive Born Learning Trail at Westpark Community Center. This colorful, educational trail features ten stations for kids and families to get out, get moving and have fun while learning in different languages and through unique activities.

The original trail was put in ten years ago, and it received a comprehensive upgrade at the event from approximately 30 volunteers, whose hands-on efforts included creating new signs, adding new paint, activities, decorations and structures.  “What happens in a child’s early years matters,” said Mitchel Sloan, interim president and CEO of United Way of Ventura County. “The Born Learning Trail is just an excellent way to really utilize our amazing parks, while helping generate conversations between parents, caregivers and child. It can have an amazing impact early childhood learning, really increasing the chance of a child entering school ready to learn.”

According to Aera Energy—which has helped sponsor 12 such trails with the United Way throughout California, including in Oxnard—the trails are designed to spark a love of learning at an age that sets the foundation for lifelong learning, behavior and health.  “A parent is really a child’s first teacher, and this trail gives them activities to teach kids numbers, shapes, counting along with how to get themselves moving,” said Michele Newell, Corporate Community Relations representative for Aera.  “These trails fit in with our focus on education and trying to give families opportunities to learn things differently, all while getting them out and moving together.”

Born Learning Trails were developed to support language, literacy and social skills development throughout local communities, with displays offering engagement with numbers and shapes, while integrating information about exploring nature. John Thomas, a mechanic with Aera and with the company for 15 years, was among the volunteers jumping in to refurbish the trail. A father of two, and grandfather of a two-year-old, he recognized the value of these projects for young learners. “It was cool to participate in this, especially once you learned the reasoning behind it,” said Thomas. “Aera really puts effort into maintaining relationships with the community and being good stewards, and it’s a big reason why I decided to go out there.”

Sloan was enthusiastic about how the newly refurbished trail is already being received by the Westside community, where a rededication ribbon cutting ceremony was held with attendees including local families, the mayor, and representatives from First 5 Ventura County, the chamber of commerce, and the board of supervisors. “This collaboration was a true testament to the idea that it takes a village, with everyone coming together to bring this to fruition,” he said.

Up Close and Personal with Bob Eubanks

Bob Eubanks is best known for hosting the Newlywed Game.

Museum of Ventura County presents “Ivor Davis: Up Close and Personal with Bob Eubanks”

April 28, 2022, from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at 100 E Main Street in Ventura and via Zoom

Bob Eubanks is best known for hosting the explosively popular, “The Newlywed Game.” Guests are welcomed in-person at the Museum’s Ventura campus on 100 E Main St., and virtually through Zoom. For more information and registration, please visit:

Reporter Ivor Davis continues his interview series at the Museum, Ivor Davis: Up Close and Personal, with Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award recipient Bob Eubanks. Davis introduces guests to how Eubanks’ legendary career began by meeting The Beatles and then persuading a bank to secure a large loan against his home to bring the singing sensation to the Hollywood Bowl. This bold move ultimately changed the trajectory of Bob Eubanks’ career, becoming a legend in his own right.

“We are thrilled that Ivor Davis is once again bringing an exciting and distinguished guest to our community,” says The Barbara Barnard Smith Executive Director, Elena Brokaw, “Spending the evening with Bob Eubanks is sure to be a fascinating exploration into his life and career. I’m looking forward to his many stories.”

For guests attending in-person, proof of vaccination will be required on arrival and masks will be optional. Masks will be available upon request. This event is free for members, $10 for non-members in person, and $5 for nonmembers attending via Zoom. For more information, please visit:

Jenna Wolverton honored as Dispatcher of the Year

Jenna started with VPD in March of 2015 as a police cadet.

Each year during the second week of April, the Ventura Police Department (VPD) recognizes National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, bringing well deserved attention and recognition to the first responders who are a vital part of the public safety team.

“This year we recognize Jenna Wolverton as our Dispatcher of the Year! Jenna is the epitome of a team player, handles high priority calls with ease, and is a skilled Communications Training Officer (CTO) who demonstrates patience and a desire to effectively train and mentor,” said Communications Center Supervisor, Sergeant Tim Ferrill. “She is a true asset to our agency and is a worthy recipient of this award.”

Jenna started with VPD in March of 2015 as a police cadet and during her time as a cadet, explored various law enforcement career options. She was hired as a dispatch trainee in May 2016 and has faithfully served Ventura since.

“I am extremely proud of our team of dispatchers who play a key role in serving Ventura,” said Police Chief Darin Schindler. “They are highly trained professionals who provide life-saving instruction, calm callers in dangerous situations, multi-task under stressful conditions, and keep our officers apprised of vital information. Emergency response is truly a team effort that starts when a call is answered.”

VPD is the first answering point in the community for all emergency calls, including police, fire, and emergency medical services. In 2021, Ventura Police public safety dispatchers received 68,000 911 calls, which is about 240 calls for service each day. Additionally, VPD dispatchers generated 86,000 calls for service, and dispatched over 135,000-unit responses ranging from life-threatening priority calls to disturbance and investigative calls.

In the last year, VPD received grant funding to provide a new community service called “Text to 911,” which allows the community to send a text when they’re unable to make a phone call.

Currently, VPD has 17 public safety dispatchers who have completed a rigorous 6–12-month academy, with an additional two people in training.

In 2020, public safety dispatchers were reclassified as “first responders,” further recognizing their crucial work in providing emergency assistance to the community they serve.