In Brief

In Brief


Ventura harbor entrance closed; Tall ships, Island Packers relocated
Though the promised torrential downpour has yet to begin in Ventura County, El Niño’s mark has been felt on a Ventura Harbor tradition: the visit of the tall ships.

Heavy swells generated by the storms in the Pacific Ocean have created hazardous conditions for the ships, forcing them to relocate to the Channel Islands Harbor for the remainder of their stay.

The tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain, whose stay in the Ventura Harbor was to run through Sunday, Feb. 7, will now complete their schedule at the Channel Islands Harbor with activities that include walk-on tours, battle sails and more.

Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, owner of the vessels, made the decision to relocate after consulting the harbormaster, who confirmed that the storms have created hazardous conditions at the harbor’s entrance.

Island Packers, which operates day excursions to the Channel Islands National Park, have also moved operations to Channel Islands Harbor.

Over the weekend, hazardous conditions closed the entrance to the harbor for vessels. On Sunday, a dory operated by an elderly couple capsized forcing a rescue by the Ventura Fire Department with assistance from the Ventura Port District and state lifeguards. The couple were taken to a local hospital for observation and reported that they had not heard of the entrance closure.

But the impact has been much greater on fishing and other vessels, as the harbor entrance — which usually spans 300 feet — has been reduced to a 30-foot exit, with water as shallow as 14 feet (typically 40 feet deep or more).

Harbor Master John Higgins says that operations are underway to get the harbor dredged of sand washed into the entrance and that a dredging was scheduled for Feb. 8. Higgins says that he hopes to have the dredging begin by Feb. 1.

“We’re just asking boaters to bear with us and be patient,” said Higgins, “allow us to prepare to get that dredge here as quick as possible; we’d love nothing better to get it open.”

Higgins says that boats are being led out of the harbor, through a U.S. Coast Guard safe zone, by request, but that return is impossible until the dredging is completed.

The Environmental Defense Center has notified California Resources Corporation of its intent to sue the oil exploration and development firm for violations of the Clean Water Act at its 5,757-acre South Mountain oil field outside of Santa Paula.

The EDC alleges that the corporation has allowed runoff from its operations to pollute the Santa Clara River and Calleguas Creek watershed over the last five years, claiming that “CRC is discharging total suspended solids and other pollutants orders of magnitude above water-quality benchmarks and guidelines” and failing to implement mandated treatment controls.

“The storm water pollution from the South Mountain oil field threatens water quality in two important Ventura County watersheds, both of which drain to area beaches,” stated Brian Segee, EDC senior attorney in a press release. “We hope that our notice will convince CRC to clean up its operations and meet Clean Water Act standards, but EDC is prepared to go to court if necessary.”

The Center says that by notifying the Corporation, it hopes that steps will be taken to fix the violations, preventing court intervention.

IRS Announces Appointment Service, AARP announces tax assistance
As if worrying about El Niño weren’t enough, here comes the tax man. Fear not, however; help is on the way.

The IRS has announced that appointments are now being taken at the Camarillo IRS Tax Assistance Center, where previously only walk-ins were allowed. The IRS says that doing so will help to alleviate long lines and to reduce frustration for both the taxpayer and the employees waiting to help them. The service is free to those who make less than $49,000 annually.

Taxpayers wishing to schedule an appointment may call 1-844-545-5640. The Camarillo IRS Tax Assistance Center is located at 751 Daily Drive in Camarillo.

The AARP is also opening its doors to seniors and low-income adults this tax season. The organization will assist in e-filing and tax preparation beginning on Monday, Feb. 1, through April 15.

There are many locations throughout Ventura County, with a few requiring an appointment. For more information and locations, visit

In Brief

In Brief


County seeks volunteers for Grand Jury
The Ventura County Civil Grand Jury is looking for new members to hear various items on the County’s agenda for the next session.

The all-volunteer watchdog group investigates complaints received from the public and, after investigation, issues a report with recommendations addressing the issue.

In the past year, the jury’s findings have shaped conversations in the county on topics ranging from jail overcrowding to the legality of panhandling, to name a few.

To qualify for a seat, a potential juror must be a citizen of the United States, at least 18 years of age, a resident of Ventura County for at least one year and have sufficient knowledge of English. For more information, visit

Input sought for Ojai’s Sarzotti Park update
The Ojai Parks and Recreation Commission will host a workshop on Monday, Jan. 25, wherein Ojai residents can share ideas and strategies to update Sarzotti Park. In August 2014, the Commission held its first workshop.

“Whether it was classes, dances, youth sports or adult sports leagues, Sarzotti was the epicenter of all activity in the valley when I was growing up,” said Adam Dutter, chair of the City’s Parks and Recreation Commission in a statement. “I’m excited for that possibility again.”

The Community Work Design Group, a consulting firm hired by the city, will lead the conversation. Previously conceived concepts for the park will be presented alongside the current concept (which can be seen by visiting

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Ojai City Hall, 401 S, Ventura St., Ojai. For more information, call 646-5581, ext. 390.

“Latinos and Baseball” exhibit co-created by CSUCI professor
California State University, Channel Islands, Professor Jose Alamillo, Ph.D., is one of several scholars who helped shape a Smithsonian exhibit on Latino baseball players.

In October 2015, the scholars met with Smithsonian representatives to discuss the exhibit; and beginning this year, the Smithsonian announced a multiyear effort to collect artifacts and items that represent Latino culture in the game.

“We wanted to highlight the positive contributions Latinos have made to American society,” Alamillo said. “What better way to do that than with baseball, America’s pastime?”

Alamillo was contacted by representatives of the Smithsonian National Museum after garnering attention for his exhibit in CSU, Channel Island’s John Spoor Broome Library, “A League of Their Own: Mexican American Women in Baseball and Softball and their Struggle for Gender Equality,” which featured regional memorabilia from players from the 1940s and 1950s.

On July 17, the Smithsonian in will host a collection event to gather memorabilia at the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes near Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles as part of a baseball-themed family day called “Peloteros in Paradise: A Los Angeles Béisbol Story.”

In Brief

In Brief


Local student will participate in worldwide American football league
A Buena High School athlete will be the only representative from Ventura County — and only one of two from the state — to be a part of an American football team that will participate in an exhibition match in Italy this coming March.

Anthony Tennison, 18, was selected by American Football Worldwide Elite staff via a process in which coaches watched recruiting videos and reviewed information from the National Collegiate Scouting Association.

The 31-man Elite team, made up of high-school-aged athletes from 20 states across the nation, will tour Italy and learn of the Italian culture and history before taking on the Italian U19 team.

“Anthony is a dynamic, explosive runner with a uniquely powerful and speedy running style. We are convinced he will leave quite an impression on the Italian national U19 team,” stated Jim Barnes, head coach for the AFW Elite team.
This will be the fourth time the AFW Elite has faced off against European teams, having won all previous matchups.

Tennison’s family has created a GoFundMe site to raise money for his trip. To donate, visit For more information on the league, visit

Meeting will provide info for prospective foster families
If you’ve ever had questions about what it takes to become a foster family, now’s the chance to learn.

On Saturday, Jan. 23, Foster VC Kids, a division of the Ventura County Children and Family Services, will host a town hall meeting to discuss the ins and outs of becoming a foster family to one or more of the over 1,000 children awaiting a family in Ventura County.

Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett, Dist. 1, who has advocated for families to provide foster care, will be in attendance.

“One of the great drawbacks to this process has been the lack of awareness and information available to educate potential parents on why they should consider this inspirational avocation — helping children in need,” said Bennett. “This is your chance to find out how meaningful it is to open your life to a child and family.”

The event will be held at the Ventura County Human Services Agency, 855 Partridge Drive, Ventura, from 9 to 11 a.m. For more information, visit

Tips on surviving a bike ride in the midst of El Niño
After a quick preview of the rainy season to come lambasted Ventura County last week, cyclists may be wondering how to prevent their transport — and themselves — from becoming victims of El Niño.

“What most novice riders don’t realize is that with a little preparation it is possible to bike safely and comfortably in nearly any climate,” said Sara Villalobos of My City Bikes, a campaign aimed at getting beginner cyclists on the road safely. “Routing a commute along bike paths instead of bike lanes when it’s raining can keep riders from getting ‘road splash’ from cars, and minimize interactions with road paint, which can be almost like black ice to a bike tire.”

Villalobos says that consistency is key to keeping up a fitness routine and, in light of the New Year when many make health-centric resolutions, the weather doesn’t have to be a factor.

“Riders who are prepared for all kinds of weather (which in southern California pretty much equals dry, wet and/or windy) will be able to keep up with their fitness all the time no matter what Mother Nature doles out,” said Villalobos.

For more information on My City Bikes, visit

Local students create “Farm to Table” education facility
Elementary school children will soon have the opportunity to learn where their favorite treats, such as sugar beets, figs and avocados, are born, thanks to the addition of a new Farm to Table education venue in Saticoy.

Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG) will launch its Farm Lab at Petty Ranch in Saticoy, where students will learn the elements of a successful farm, such as a bee colony, pollination farm and more, as they “follow the life cycle of the fruit from tree to harvest.”

When SEEAG approached Petty Ranch co-owner Chris Sayer about the collaboration, he says, he was excited at the opportunity.

“Many people today lack the direct connection to agriculture that they had in years past,” said Sayer in a statement. “We believe farm education is an important tool for re-engaging the public with their food. SEEAG has a great record, and we’re proud to be its partner in the Farm Lab project.”

Other aspects of the facility will be used to introduce students to the soil eco-system, nutritional qualities of fruits and vegetables, and beneficial insects.

SEEAG is seeking donations and will host a Kids to Farm event on Saturday, April 17 at the Camarillo Ranch. For more information on SEEAG, visit

In Brief

In Brief


Knights of Columbus honor area clergy
Oxnard’s Knights of Columbus, Council 750, will come together once again next Tuesday, Jan. 12, to celebrate the clergy of Ventura County who have contributed to the Catholic Church in 2015.

Clergy in attendance will be fed and celebrated for their devotion to the church, as many of them have dedicated their lives to living a consecrated life, which means that they have professed to live a life dictated by the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Knights of Columbus Grand Master Bill Harris says that clergy refers to the priests, nuns and deacons who fill the various roles in the church.

“Priests participate in all the Masses, sisters are the Sisters, Servants of Mary who take care of the sick during hospice, plus all the other sisters who work in different capacities, whether through hospital or the school, and the deacons are the ones who help the priests during the Mass, perform marriages and the like,” said Harris.

Guest speaker Bishop Joseph Madera, M.Sp.S., formerly a priest serving at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Oxnard during the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s, will address the clergy and guests. Madera also served in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Diocese of Fresno and oversaw 24 labor camps in Ventura County and lectured at the Camarillo Seminary before his retirement.

Past Knights of Columbus Grand Master Ed Castillo says that saying thank you is the least they can do for the clergy men and women of the Church.

“It’s a very challenging and a very demanding area of our church,” said Castillo. “This is our opportunity to open our doors to provide a free dinner program to them to let them know personally that we thank them for their service to our Church and our Lord.”

The annual Clergy Night will take place on Tuesday, Jan 12, at 5 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 632 S. D St., Oxnard. The cost is $20 for dinner; there is no charge for clergy. For more information, call 436-9883.

Local Big Brothers Big Sisters celebrate Mentoring Month
This month marks Big Brothers Big Sisters National Mentoring Month, and the Ventura County branch is celebrating by handing the reins over to the little ones.

For the month of January, kids will have an opportunity to write the newsletters, social media and blog posts and produce video content that goes out to the members of the Big Brothers Big Sisters community.

On Tuesday, Jan. 19, the chapter will host its Bigs Night Out event in Oxnard, where current mentors and those interested in becoming mentors will be celebrated. For those interested in learning more, an orientation on Thursday, Jan. 28, will introduce potential big brothers and big sisters to the program.

“This month is just to celebrate our mentors and the big impact they have on the children that we serve,” said BBSVC Executive Assistant Jaimee Hanna. “We’re hoping that with the celebration, we can invite other people to get excited and maybe be inspired to be big brothers or big sisters themselves.

“Bigs,” as they are referred to, are the volunteer mentors, while “littles” are the kids in need of support. BBSVC connects over 1,500 “bigs” and “littles” annually in the county, fostering a one-to-one mentoring opportunity of underprivileged children.

Hanna says that though there are many volunteers in the county, there is a wait list 167-children long for kids waiting to be paired up.

For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County, visit

Group advocates for “Dry January” at free event
If on Friday, Jan 1, you sat up in bed and immediately regretted it, this event may be for you.

Dry January, a growing movement to abstain from consuming alcoholic beverages during the month of January, will be the focus of a meeting hosted by Aspira Counseling of Ventura on Monday, Jan. 18, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

The focus of the movement is, according to the event organizers, to promote simply a month of abstinence and “not on permanent sobriety,” but rather to “promote a short-term lifestyle change and social movement to improve health outcomes.”

The “Dry January” movement has gained traction in England, where Dec. 19 is known annually as the “Black Friday of Booze,” when Christmas revelers take to the pub, and is promoted by government-funded health organizations.

Registration is required, as space is limited. For more information, call 305-0068 or visit








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