Category Archives: News and Notes

Ventura County Fairgrounds Names Deputy Manager

Ortiz has an extensive history with the Fairgrounds.

The Ventura County Fairgrounds and Event Center is excited to name Heidi Ortiz to the position of Deputy Manager. Ortiz has an extensive history with the Fairgrounds, having worked as an Executive Assistant to the CEO for 14 years. She also served as a Junior Fair Board advisor for five years.

“I enjoy working with the team, my Fair family, to put on events for the community’s enjoyment,” said Ortiz. “I love seeing the excitement, joy, and smiles on everyone’s face, making the hard work worth it!”

Ortiz has played a pivotal role in her work and in the community, having forged important relationships between the Fairgrounds, local businesses, organizations, and fairgoers. As Deputy Manager, Ortiz will continue to strengthen the bond between the community and the Fairgrounds, while also taking on an extended leadership role, overseeing staff and projects.

“Heidi is often referred to as the glue that keeps us all together,” said Ventura County Fairgrounds CEO Jen McGuire. “We are all so proud to have her as our Deputy Manager. Heidi has put her heart and soul into our Fairgrounds and it shows. Her continued commitment to excellence serves as an inspiration to us all.”

Ortiz is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she earned her Bachelors in Animal Science. She excelled in academics and athletics, having played four years of collegiate soccer; a two-year team captain. When she’s not at the Fairgrounds, Heidi enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.

The Ventura County Fair is celebrating 150 years in 2024! The fun starts now, with monthly events and contests leading up to the annual Fair this July 31 through August 11, 2024. This year’s Ventura County Fair will include new celebrations and pay homage to past traditions.

Ventura Charter School hosts 13th annual EcoFest

In 2023 more than 2500 attendees enjoyed the Earth Day festivities.

Join us for good green fun celebrating Earth Day Ventura Charter School is excited to once again present Ventura EcoFest, an Earth Day celebration of our planet for the community of Ventura. This family-friendly free event welcomes the community to enjoy good green fun in the form of live performances, a silent auction, a raffle, local vendors and nonprofits, food trucks, eco arts and crafts and educational games on Sunday, April 28th, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Ventura Charter School campus, 2060 Cameron Street, Ventura.

In 2023 more than 2500 attendees enjoyed the Earth Day festivities, with more expected for this year’s event. In support of Earth-friendly practices Ventura Charter School’s EcoFest welcomes the community to head to the campus utilizing a variety of transportation options. Bicycle to event and receive bike valet services sponsored by Bike Ventura County. Through Gold Coast Transit District’s Youth Ride Free Program, students and children 18 and under ride free with no identification required. There will be a variety of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy, including a kid zone, an EV car exhibit, live music and dance and plenty more. Guests can bid in a silent auction, benefiting Ventura Charter School’s many diverse and inclusive academic programs. Among the items available for in-person bidding are outdoor gear, tickets for local entertainment, yoga class passes, whale watching passes, local restaurant gift cards and much more.

In addition to the silent auction, the event will feature a raffle. Pre-sale raffle tickets can be purchased from families of Ventura Charter School students or at the event. All tickets are $1. The grand prize is $1,000 in Disney Cash. The raffle will be pulled each hour, with the grand prize drawing at 4:00 p.m. Winners need not be present. Sponsors include Kirby Auto Group of Ventura, UNPaste, Bamieh & De Smeth, Amigos Party Rental, Brooklyn Charm, Bodhi Salt Yoga, Bella Luna Gardens, Edible Ojai and Ventura County, and Mission Bank.

“We are excited to continue this important annual tradition for our community, and our students,” said Lisa Hildebrand, Executive Director of Ventura Charter School, “Our students look forward to this event for the fun but it’s also an important reminder for them and for us that we are stewards for our planet and change starts with our own choices.” Proceeds from this event benefit Ventura Charter School, a tuition-free nonprofit school that serves 450 students from kindergarten to eighth grade. During school hours, Ventura EcoFest encourages students to take a closer look at their personal habits to see how they affect the planet and make changes, such as a student-led campaign to reduce disposable utensils on campus.

Along with the EcoFest celebration, students experience an involved project-based curriculum centered upon empowerment through critical thinking, empathy, research, and action to benefit the spaces they occupy throughout their lives with inclusion and equity. To learn more about Ventura EcoFest or enrollment at Ventura Charter School, please visit, Ventura Charter School – Starting as Open Classroom in the 1970’s, Ventura Charter School of Global Arts & Education launched in 2006 as a tuition-free public charter school within the Ventura County Office of Education.

The school currently serves over 400 K-8 th grade students on its campus located within the larger DATA middle school property. Ventura Charter School is an expeditionary learning school in partnership with EL Education. It is guided by 10 founding principles and its mission to, “engage every student in meaningful and supportive learning experiences to grow resilient, educated, and socially intelligent human beings.”

Ventura Harbor celebrates $8.4M in dredging

Dredging of Ventura Harbor. Photos by Patrcia Schallert

The Ventura Port District proudly announces the commencement of the annual dredging for Ventura Harbor’s entrance channel, an annual program that is critical to the harbor community and made possible through the dedicated efforts of Congressman Salud Carbajal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and their contractor, Manson Construction.

This significant undertaking underscores the recognition of Ventura Harbor’s importance as California’s largest commercial fishing harbor most years. The annual dredging of the federal navigation channel is an essential action that ensures the harbor remains navigable, safe, and prosperous for the industries and boaters that rely on our harbor’s working waterfront.

“The annual dredging project not only facilitates safer maritime navigation in the Ventura Harbor but is essential to maintain the economic vitality of commercial fishing, recreational boating, tourism, and all of our waterfront business partners,” shares Brian Pendleton, Ventura Port District General Manager.

Congressman Carbajal‘s efforts on the Fiscal Year 2024 budget have secured $8,471,000 for the Corps to perform Ventura Harbor’s dredging program which will commence in the next few weeks. Further, his advocacy has seen the President’s Budget request include $8,796,000 for Ventura Harbor in Fiscal Year 2025, which puts Ventura in a very strong position for next year’s dredging as well.

“The Central Coast’s harbors and ports are central to our community’s livelihood and lifestyle. Whether it’s the family enjoying a Saturday sail or a fisherman collecting their daily catch, having safe and operational channels and waterfronts are crucial to our region,” said Rep. Carbajal. “I’m proud to have secured these important funds for the Central Coast in the negotiations over this year’s budget agreement, and I will continue to work with our local officials to ensure their needs are met as we face more extreme weather patterns and other abnormal threats to the Central Coast’s harbors and ports.”

Michael Blumenberg, Chair of the Ventura Port District’s Board of Port Commissioners, said “Congressman Salud Carbajal continues to play a vital role in securing the federal funding necessary for our Harbor dredging project each year. His efforts have been crucial in ensuring federal recognition and support for the harbor’s economic and public benefit to the region”.

The collaboration, between the Ventura Port District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and their contractor, Manson Construction, continues to demonstrate the best in federal and local partnerships. Along with keeping the harbor navigable, the dredge efforts provide high-quality sand used to nourish the public beaches in the Ventura Harbor for beach goers.

“As we recognize the importance of this dredging project, we extend our deepest gratitude to Congressman Salud Carbajal for his unwavering support and dedication. His advocacy continues to contribute to the success and dependability of our working waterfront,” Blumenberg said.

The Ventura Port District invites the community to come and see the renourished beaches at the conclusion of the project. In the meantime, the public is asked to be mindful of the construction activities in the water and on the beach and to respect the presence of protected species including the Western Snowy Plover, Least Terns, and California Grunion and their essential habitat, which benefits from the responsibly managed sand placement of this project.

For any questions regarding the project, please contact Ventura Harbor Harbormaster John Higgins at [email protected] (navigation), Sr. Business Operations Manager Todd Mitchell at [email protected] (dredging), or for emergencies, contact Harbor Patrol through 9-1-1 dispatch services or on marine radio channel 16. For information on Ventura Harbor and Ventura Port District programs, beaches, and boater amenities visit

Local Partnering Organizations Launch Free Mobile Vision Clinic

The Ventura Chamber held a Ribbon Cutting on March 20. Photo by Rich Ramos

In a groundbreaking initiative aimed at expanding access to vision care for local underserved populations, leading community organizations Rotary International, Lions Clubs International, SEE International, Westminster Free Clinic, and The Salvation Army, announced the launch of a mobile vision clinic.

This innovative service made its debut with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 20, 2024, at 11:30 AM, located at 650 S Petit Ave, Ventura, where lunch was served to attendees. The event featured keynote speaker Matt Levere, County Supervisor, as well as words from different organizational representatives, such as Sandra Adelante, Optician Technician and Sabriana Marrufo, from the Spirit of Santa Paula along with some patient testimonies. Local KVTA radio personality Tom Spence was The Master of Ceremonies.

The need for mobile services became apparent following the organizations’ opening of three free vision clinics across the community. After opening the first clinic in Ventura in 2018, services were expanded through two more clinics, one opening in Oxnard in 2021, and another in Thousand Oaks in 2023. Despite these expansions, it was clear that transportation issues and other barriers prevented many community members from accessing the much-needed vision care services offered at these clinics. This led to the idea of a mobile clinic, capable of reaching patients directly in their areas.

Thanks to many generous donations and the support of the partnering organizations, a van was purchased and converted to accommodate medical equipment.

Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, the mobile clinic began operations.

The mobile unit will replace the traditional brick-and-mortar setup at the Ventura walk-in and will be stationed outside the Salvation Army every Tuesday. It will also periodically offer services at the Swap Meet Justice in Oxnard, the Santa Paula Westminster Free Clinic, and many other local events throughout the Central Coast.

Together in partnership, Rotary International, Lions Clubs International, SEE International, Westminster Free Clinic, and The Salvation Army, are committed to providing vision care to underserved communities throughout the Central Coast. To make DONATIONS and/or to learn more about the mobile clinic, please visit

Hypercat Cycleworks Launches Bicycle Tube and Tire Recycling Program

by Shirley Lorraine

In an effort to promote environmental sustainability and support the local cycling community, Hypercat Cycleworks, located at 4160 Market Street, STE 13, proudly announces the launch of its bicycle tube and tire recycling program.

As fervent believers in the preservation of our planet, Hypercat Cycleworks has partnered with Tannus, a leading bicycle tube and tire recycling manufacturer, to initiate this eco-friendly endeavor. Now, members of the bicycling riding public in Ventura are warmly welcomed to bring their bicycle tires and tubes (butyl only) for recycling. This initiative aims to address the staggering number of tubes dumped into landfills annually, an amount sufficient to tower over the Eiffel Tower at least seven times over!

To facilitate this green initiative, Hypercat Cycleworks has convenient collection boxes at the store. When these boxes reach capacity, they are promptly shipped back to Tannus for recycling, ensuring that every tube and tire contributes towards a cleaner, greener future.

“Our commitment to environmental sustainability is deeply ingrained in our ethos,” says Rachel Sears Casanta, C0-owner of Hypercat Cycleworks. “By offering this recycling program, we hope to encourage our customers to join us in our efforts to reduce waste and protect our planet.”

Hypercat Cycleworks takes pride in being a certified California Green business, a testament to its dedication towards eco-friendly practices. In addition to providing renowned bike fitting services, custom builds, upgrades and repairs, the shop actively seeks ways to minimize its environmental footprint.

Customers eager to participate in this initiative can drop off their used tubes and tires during Hypercat Cycleworks’ regular retail business hours, from Tuesday to Friday, 12-5, and Saturdays from 12-4. To sustain the program and cover materials and shipping costs, a nominal fee will be applied for the items recycled.

Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or just starting out, Hypercat Cycleworks welcomes you to be part of this movement towards sustainability. Together, let’s pedal towards a greener Ventura, one tube and tire at a time!

For more information about Hypercat Cycleworks and its bicycle tube and tire recycling program, visit the shop at 4160 Market Street, STE 13, Ventura, CA, online at or call at 805-477-0353.


Ventura High grad kisses her first Lombardi Trophy only five years after high school graduation

Candice Dominguez has achieved remarkable success in her professional career.

Candice Dominguez, a 2014 graduate of Ventura High School, who participated in track and field and was a cheerleader, has achieved remarkable success in her professional career. Now in her sixth season with the Kansas City Chiefs as the Player Engagement Coordinator, Candice has had the opportunity to celebrate three Super Bowl victories with the team, including kissing the Lombardi Trophy, a moment she cherishes.

After graduating from Ventura High School, Candice pursued higher education, earning her Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Sacramento and her Master of Arts form the University of Nebraska where she also competed on the Track and Field teams, earning two conference championships in the High Jump. She was a Graduate Assistant in Equipment in Olympic Sport at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln before joining the Chiefs. In her current role, she focuses on player’s personal and professional development, financial education, and continuing education.

Reflecting on her time with the Kansas City Chiefs, Candice shared a memorable experience from her early days as an intern. Hosting Coach Reid’s guests during Training Camp, she had the honor of meeting Bill Snyder, legendary Kansas State Football coach, who came in with his son and grandson to practice one day. A few weeks later, she received a piece of mail. “It was a handwritten thank you note from Coach Snyder in iconic K-State purple marker. This Hall of Fame Coach, one of the greatest to do it, took time out of his day to send a brand-new intern a proper thank you. It is almost five years later and I still cherish that note and the impact it made on me,” stated Candice.

Candice is also appreciative of all of her Ventura Unified teachers that helped ensure she was prepared for future success. “It’s hard to pick a favorite teacher, I was fortunate to have such wonderful educators, but a few were very influential throughout the years including Ms. Garmon and Ms. Tygell (Saticoy Elementary), Ms. Taylor (Anacapa Middle School) and Mr. Anderson and Ms. Bergfeld (Ventura High School).”

Offering advice to students facing challenges with attendance, finding purpose in school and overcoming mental health issues, Candice encourages them to find their space at school and pursue their passions, emphasizing that they have the opportunity to shape their future selves. “It can be a club, a sport, a teacher, the right group of friends, yearbook, metal shop, or something else entirely. Just having something to look forward to and be passionate about helps. The best part about it all, though, is that you have still have the opportunity to be whoever you want to be in ‘the real world.’ Take advantage of that and make educated decisions now to help your future self,” suggested Candice.

Addressing all students, Candice had this advice, “Take advantage of your ‘student card’ for as long as you have it. People will often share their stories, successes, and lessons with students to help guide them. Set up informational interviews with people in positions you want or who work at organizations you want to work for. Learn from their stories and use that to help carve your unique path.”

As for Candice’s future, she loves her current role. “It is a unique space these young men are in managing both high-performance sports and life outside. I plan to further my career in the athlete development space whether that be for professional or collegiate athletes. That can always change though as there are often new and unique roles in sports as the space is everchanging.”

We look forward to seeing what lies ahead for Candice and all of our other VUSD alumni as they continue to seek out new opportunities for success.

Ventura’s Earth Day Festival returns to Park Plaza

Earth Day Festival will return to downtown Ventura on Saturday, April 20, 2024, from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm at Park Plaza on East Thomson Street. This year, hosted by the MERITO Foundation in collaboration with the City of Ventura Sustainability Division and over 40 environmentally minded not-for-profit organizations, governmental agencies, transportation and utilities industries, outdoor recreation businesses, and sustainable food and goods vendors. The Ventura Earth Day Festival 2024 theme is “A celebration of our Blue Planet, Earth!”

Some event highlights include a blessing by Chumash Elder Alan Salazar, followed by opening remarks by our City of Ventura Mayor, Mr. Joe Schroeder. Then, a series of live performances by Inlakech Art Center’s Mariachi Band & Ballet Folkrórico; local singer and writer Olivia Willhite’s Ukulele Surf Pop; Jazz by Cabrillo Middle School Jazz Band “A” & Ventura High School Jazz Combo, with ending performance by ‘Strange,’ an outstanding local Youth Rock Band. In addition, the most current Electric Vehicles (EV) will be displayed; Patagonia’s Child Development Center will lead the Kid’s Zone activities; Bike Valet Parking will be available, and all are encouraged to participate in interactive games, the Earthly costume contest, and trivia to win prizes.

In addition, governmental and non-governmental environmental organizations will share information and opportunities with the community, such as events, rebates, programs, and supplies that benefit the planet, regional economies, and human health. We highly encourage all attendees to carpool, use public transportation, or bike to Park Plaza on April 20th. A public parking lot is ½ block from Park Plaza on Santa Clara St.

The Ventura Earth Day Festival 2024 is made possible thanks to the sponsorship of The Port of Hueneme, Toyota Ventura, an Outdoor Equity Grant created through AB 209 and administered by California State Parks, Office of Grants and Local Services, and by in-kind contributions of notable people, businesses such as Open Water, and some of the best artists in the region. Thanks to all, the Ventura Earth Day Festival 2024 will be the most diverse and vibrant ever!

Ventura Earth Day 2024 is the first of a series of events the MERITO Foundation will host in 2024 to commemorate our 10th anniversary. The MERITO Foundation is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization based in Ventura dedicated to protecting the ocean by facilitating transformative experiences to 3,500-4,000 4th-12th grade students per year and their communities through science education, outdoor recreation, hands-on scientific research, advocacy, and green entrepreneurship at no cost to the students or their families. For more information for participants, environmental groups, and vendors about the Ventura Earth Festival, visit More details about the MERITO Foundation at or email [email protected]

Visit Ventura Honored with Visit California Poppy Award

Visit Ventura staff is proud of their award.

Visit Ventura is extremely proud to announce that it was selected as the winner in the Best Strategic Partnership category at the Visit California Poppy Awards Gala, one of the most prestigious award ceremonies in the California travel and tourism industry.

At their biennial Poppy Awards, held March 12 in Greater Palm Springs, Visit California honored tourism destinations and attractions across California for excellence, creativity, and effectiveness in tourism marketing and destination stewardship.

Among hundreds of submissions, a panel of industry marketing experts selected Visit Ventura as the destination winner for the Best Strategic Partnership category, recognizing the organization’s leadership in bringing together a first-of-its-kind city, county, and state partnership to bring the X Games to Ventura last summer.

“Receiving a Poppy Award is a dream come true! It’s a win not only for our small but mighty Visit Ventura team but also for the entire community,” said Marlyss Auster, president and CEO of Visit Ventura. “We brought together local business owners, our local transportation partners, city and state officials, leaders from the Chumash tribe, and so many more to make the summer of 2023 a summer no one will forget. I am so proud of our community for dreaming big and collaborating to make it all happen!”

A phone call in 2019 that began the journey of a partnership between the X Games and Visit Ventura blossomed into a partnership that brought together partners from all corners of the industry to put on a larger-than-life event to drive visitation and worldwide recognition to Ventura.

A transportation partnership with Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, Ventura County Transportation Commission, and a local bike and skate shop resulted in a successful holistic transportation plan with 2,000 cars off the roads and 2,000 bikes and skateboards utilizing the free skateboard and bike valet. Collaboration between Ventura Fire and Police Departments created a safe event for families of all ages. A partnership with local Chumash tribe leaders made the X Games’ first land acknowledgment possible in front of the media and athletes. And as you walked through the streets of Ventura, you saw the strategic partnership in action on nearly every corner as local businesses embraced the X with special X Games offerings.

Visit Ventura helped facilitate all these conversations, making space for ideas and collaboration to make the summer 2023 X Games an event the Ventura community could be proud of.

“The past two years have seen tremendous growth, resilience and innovation from California’s travel industry,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “This year’s Poppy Award-winning campaigns inspired visitors from around the world to rediscover California, highlighting our state’s welcoming spirit and abundance of world-class experiences.”

Beteta, alongside Visit California’s board officers, presented the 2024 Poppy Awards during the 16th annual Visit California Outlook Forum, held March 11-12 at the Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa. This year’s Outlook Forum celebrated record attendance, welcoming more than 800 attendees.

XG California 2023 changed the landscape of Ventura’s business community and city at large, now and for years to come. Most of all, our community is proud of what took place on a sunny summer weekend in their hometown. And that’s what it’s all about.

A Home For Education gathers community leaders

Symposium held at the CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) campus.

Housing Trust Fund Ventura County (Housing Trust Fund VC) welcomed community leaders to its Annual Meeting and “A Home for Education” symposium February 29th at the CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) campus. The symposium was presented in collaboration with the County of Ventura, CSUCI, Ventura County Office of Education, Ventura County P-20 Council, and Housing Trust Fund VC to an audience of key decision makers in education, government, land use planning, and affordable housing development.

The Annual Meeting highlighted accomplishments by Housing Trust Fund VC, including $27.5 million in funded or committed loans since 2013 and $40 million raised, resulting in 1,177 affordable apartments and homes committed, funded, and produced throughout Ventura County. The meeting also provided an opportunity for community members to provide comment about Housing Trust Fund VC’s products and service.

The symposium was held to inform attendees of current issues surrounding the development of affordable housing on educational properties, providing an opportunity for discussion and questions. The event began with keynote presentations from Abraham Galvan Sanchez of Best, Best, and Kreiger LLP, and Al Grazioli of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The keynotes were followed by a panel moderated by Linda Braunschweiger, CEO of Housing Trust Fund VC and Housing Land Trust VC, and included Sanchez and Grazioli as panelists with Scott Kolwitz, City of Thousand Oaks, Ken Triguerio, People’s Self-Help Housing and Chelsee Russell, Office of Ventura County. The event continued with local affordable housing case studies presented by Dr. Kimberly Hoffmans of Ventura College, Sabrena Rodriguez of the Ventura Unified School District, and Laurie Nichols from CSUCI.

An event highlight was a guided tour of two developments adjacent to the campus, University Glen and the currently under construction Anacapa Canyon. Both developments were built on educational properties owned by CSUCI [lc1] and will be home to nearly 2,000 residents including CSUCI employees, educational allies, alumni, seniors, and the public[lc2] . “These developments remind us that discussions like today have the potential of becoming homes tomorrow. Today we took an important step towards ensuring more homes for all as a community.” said Linda Braunschweiger, CEO Housing Trust Fund VC and Housing Land Trust VC.

For those interested in developing solutions and adding their support for affordable housing in Ventura County, the next step is to attend Unlocking Affordable Housing – Reshaping Housing Solutions,” presented by Housing Trust Fund VC on Thursday, May 9, 2024, at Walnut Grove at Tierra Rejada Farms in Moorpark. Purchase tickets here.

Fire units respond to structure fire with people and pets

On March 16, fire units were dispatched to a reported structure fire with people and pets still inside the structure in the 200 block of Carol Dr. Firefighters arrived within 4 minutes of dispatch and found a detached garage with heavy smoke conditions. Firefighters searched the garage and adjacent home.

Uninjured civilians and pets were found inside the home and evacuated. Due to an aggressive attack, firefighters were able to limit the fire to the garage. The fire was knocked down within 10 minutes of arrival. Ventura City Fire units were assisted by Oxnard Fire Department, AMR and Ventura Police Department.