Chili Peppers Mexican Restaurant and Seafood has opened and is under new ownership at 4421 Las Posas Road, #E, in Camarillo. The restaurant serves fresh seafood dishes and other traditional Mexican favorites in a cozy ambience. … Smashburger opened at 660 E. Ventura Blvd. in Camarillo. The restaurant offers handcrafted burgers, chicken, salad, signature sides, handspun shakes and dishes with regional flavors and tastes such as the SoCal Smashburger. … Ventura Lipo-Light expanded and reopened at 1623 Goodyear Ave., suite B, in Ventura. The new space includes an additional 700 square feet, allowing for individual rooms to give patients more privacy. Opened by Dr. Eric Prestin, D.C., the facility offers specialized services for weight loss and noninvasive body contouring/sculpting. … Ojai Alisal Tasting Room opened at Azu Mediterranean Restaurant & Tapas Bar located at 457 E. Ojai Ave. in Ojai. Tasting flights are available daily and on weekends can be enjoyed with specialty tapas prepared by executive chef Damien Halderman. … The Collection at RiverPark in Oxnard announced the opening of Active Ride Shop, which offers emerging brands from the latest trends in the Action Sports Industry, Kriza Aveda Salon, which is an industry leader in hair care, skin care, makeup, perfume and styling for both women and men, and M. Fredric, a women, men and kids boutique. … Valley Care IPA opened an office at 1700 N. Rose Ave., suite 350 (St. John’s Hospital), in Oxnard. The facility offers access to an extensive network of independent physicians and facilities. … Yoga by Gel opened at Legacy Martial Arts located at 2101 S. Rose Ave., suite F, in Oxnard. Led by Gel Paula Yambao, Yoga by Gel offers hatha yoga classes for all levels of experience, emphasizing stress relief/relaxation and breathing, allowing participants to challenge themselves mentally and physically. … The Boatyard Cafe will open at 1583 Spinnaker Drive, suite 109 (Ventura Harbor), in Ventura. The restaurant will offer breakfast and lunch, a cozy bar and two outside patios. … Psychologist Dr. Douglas Honeyman opened a practice offering psychotherapy, counseling, coaching and consultation. For more information, go to

And the award goes to …
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Ventura County recently honored 195 volunteers at an Appreciation Luncheon held at Cal Lutheran University (CLU). They were recognized for their years of service; CASAs donate over 18,000 hours each year to Ventura County’s foster youth. … Gold Coast Transit District received the Transit Agency of the Year award last month from the California Transit Association (CTA). The award recognized a CTA small operator that has demonstrated excellence in the performance of its system; it was presented at CTA’s 49th Annual Fall Conference and Expo. … The Resource Conservation District of Ventura County and FOOD Share held the fifth annual Ventura County Excellence in Agricultural Stewardship and Sustainability awards and honored Emily Ayala, Dave Borchard, Bill Camarillo, Tom and Scott Deardorff. Casey Houweling (founder of Houweling’s Tomatoes) won the 2014 Excellence in Agricultural Stewardship and Sustainability award; and Ellen Brokaw (founder of Brokaw Nursery) won the Award for Excellence in Leadership. … Ferguson Case Orr Paterson LLP attorney David L. Shain was recognized by the Ventura County Bar Association with the Ben E. Nordman Public Service award. Shain was honored for his outstanding contributions to the community through public service.

Moving up

Eric Harrison.

Eric Harrison was named the new president and CEO of United Way of Ventura County following the retirement of David M. Smith. Since 2002, he has worked with four United Way branches and was most recently the executive director of Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing in Hollywood. … Alondra Gaytan joined Economic Development Collaborative — Ventura County’s Small Business Development Center of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties (SBDC) as a program specialist. Gaytan’s duties will include coordinating with small business owners and innovators as well as distributing information to the SBDC’s advisers, who provide free consulting to businesses.

Dennis LaRochelle.

… Attorney Dennis LaRochelle was recently appointed as the new president of the American Board of Trial Advocates’ California chapter (CAL-ABOTA). LaRochelle is the first president from Ventura County and he will serve for one year. He is currently a partner at Oxnard law firm Arnold LaRochelle Mathews VanConas Zirbel LLP (A to Z Law). … Omar Zapata was promoted to director of program services by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme (BGCOP). He previously served as the director of school-based programs and will now be responsible for maintaining and enhancing all BGCOP departments. … Attorney Enrique Schaerer joined Ferguson Case Orr Paterson LLP where he will work within the firm’s business, appellate and employment law practices. Schaerer previously practiced law at Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles, where he focused on complex civil litigation, class actions and criminal investigations. … Dan Paranick was named as the new assistant city manager for the City of Ventura. Paranick has held the same position in the cities of Camarillo and Simi Valley andhas over 21 years of public service experience. … Elaine Crandall will serve as Ventura County’s behavioral health director after a joint appointment by the Board of Supervisors and the Ventura County Health Care Agency. Most recently, Crandall was the deputy executive officer for the county.

Jilll Friedman.

… Attorney Jill Friedman was elected to serve as membership chair on the executive board for the California Coast Chapter (CCC) of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Friedman is the third woman hold a position of leadership in the CCC, which includes Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties; she practices law at Myers, Widders, Gibson, Jones & Feingold LLP in Ventura. … Bill Nash was appointed by the County of Ventura to the newly created position of communications manager/public information officer. He will be responsible for developing a countywide communications strategy and managing communications with the media, the public, county employees and other agencies within the county and state.   

Moving on
After three years, Nancy Conk recently left her position as CEO of the nonprofit Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (CEDC). Margarita de Escontrias, CEDC’s director of business planning and administration, is serving as the interim CEO until the board of directors finds Conk’s replacement. … Trudy Tuttle Arriaga will retire in 2015 after 14 years as the first female superintendent for the Ventura Unified School District. Arriaga will join CLU’s Graduate School of Education as a Distinguished Educator, teaching classes in the master’s and doctoral programs.

In the name of charity
California United Bank recently invested $500,000 in the EDC-VC’s Loan Fund to prompt additional job creation in Ventura County. EDC-VC’s available loan pool is now $5 million for startup and existing small- and medium-sized businesses throughout the region. … The Gene Haas Foundation awarded more funds ($500,000) to Ventura County organizations, bringing the 2014 total to more than $1 million.  The nonprofits are: FOOD Share, Ventura County Rescue Mission, Ventura College Foundation, CASA Pacifica, RAIN Transitional Living Center, Ventura County Rescue Mission (Lighthouse Recovery Program), CAREGIVERS, St. John’s Healthcare Foundation and Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Santa to the Sea will host its first-ever two-day Finish Line Festival on Dec 13-14 at the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. The proceeds from the event (9,000 attendees expected) will help fund Oxnard College scholarships. … FOOD Share received an $18,000 grant from Hunger Is to aid in fighting childhood hunger. The funds will help provide sufficient and healthy meals to local children and support FOOD Share’s Kids Farmers Market program. … The Ventura College Foundation (VCF) will award an estimated $150,000 to students for spring 2015, which raises the total to $345,000 when the fall 2014 grant is included. The VCF’s Ventura College Promise program was designed to eliminate economic barriers to higher education for graduating Ventura County high school seniors and GED recipients; more than 1,100 students will attend their first year of VC free of charge.

Law enforcement
The Ventura Police Department (VPD) was awarded $95,000 by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for special traffic enforcement and crash prevention. The VPD will use the funds for various activities, including educational presentations, DUI checkpoints, warrant service enforcement and more.

New on the ’Net
The Ventura County Behavioral Health and the Ventura County Public Health launched How High?, a new teen-health educational initiative in the form of a Web platform to teach parents and adult residents about the long-term damage marijuana can cause to the still-developing teenage brain. The site includes the What’s Your HighQ? quiz, educational video series, Weedology 101 and many more resources; 1 in 4 Ventura County juniors has smoked marijuana in the last month. For more information,

The California Transportation Commission awarded $3.3 million to Ventura County to support active transportation. The county will use the funds to provide new facilities and programs that will make it safer and easier to walk and bike.