In Brief

by Chris O’Neal and Michael Sullivan
Jim Mangis, who died at at 62, was a former CEO of Food Share.

Jim Mangis, who died at at 62, was a former CEO of Food Share.

FOOD Share former-CEO Jim Mangis dies

 Jim Mangis, former CEO of FOOD Share and manager of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, has died at the age of 62. In only 18 months, Mangis doubled the amount of food donations to the Ventura County arm of Food Forward as well. Contributions may be made in his memory to Food Forward or the Ventura City Corps. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Feb. 27, at 10 a.m. at the Poinsettia Pavilion, 3451 Foothill Road, Ventura.

United Water may be sued under Endangered Species Act

It’s an old saga, one that has seen many challenges and questions regarding usage of the Santa Clara River. Now, an Endangered Species Act lawsuit could potentially take the battle to court.

The Wishtoyo Foundation, its Ventura Coastkeeper Program, and Center for Biological Diversity have issued a notice to the United Water Conservation District of an intent to sue if change doesn’t come to the Vern Freeman Diversion Dam, which, according to the conservation groups, “prevents virtually any steelhead from returning to prime habitat and degrades habitat downstream.”

Steelhead Trout

Steelhead Trout

Jason Weiner, general counsel for the Wishtoyo Foundation, says that UWCD has had many opportunities to address the issues but hasn’t made any progress on proposals for more environmentally friendly diversions introduced in 2010.

“Not only is steelhead, vireo, flycatcher and cuckoo restoration possible, but it can be accomplished while providing enough water to maintain agricultural and municipal land uses in the Oxnard Plain,” said Weiner. “Restoring these species to the Santa Clara River is vital to providing nearby residents and the river’s marginalized communities with their right to enjoy and benefit from healthy, functioning ecosystems.”

Addressing the issues would prevent the lawsuit from going to court, says Weiner, adding, “We have almost no faith that United could make those commitments.”

Back to basics with the Sierra Club

The local Sierra Club’s annual Wilderness Basics Course runs Feb. 24 to May 4 this year, designed to help you learn how to be prepared, overcome fears and enjoy our backcountry trails.

Now in its seventh year, WBC students range from teens to seniors, are single or part of a couple or a family, and their experience levels range from novice to day-hiker and expert.

The scope is all-embracing as local professionals demonstrate gear, navigation, first aid and so much more. What is learned in the classroom is practiced with day hikes, overnight car camp and backpacking.

For details, go to


In Brief

In Brief


Local students focus of anti-tobacco event in Camarillo
A whistleblower who shed light on the tobacco industry’s illegal practice of marketing to children will be the guest speaker at the 18th Annual Teens Kick Ash Youth Tobacco-Free Advocacy Conference on Monday, Feb. 22 and Tuesday, Feb. 23.

La Tanisha C. Wright, an anti-smoking advocate, is a former marketing executive who worked for Brown & Williamson Tobacco. When she became aware that the company was violating marketing regulations against advertising to youths, she alerted the authorities and was fired, which resulted in a $1.5 million settlement.

Teens Kick Ash is a program developed by the Ventura County Office of Education’s Comprehensive Health and Prevention Programs Department designed to prevent children and teenagers from smoking. The annual conference hosts workshops on how to develop and produce anti-tobacco campaigns for schools and communities.

The conference will be held between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., with a middle-school-oriented session on Monday, Feb. 22, and a high-school-oriented session on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the VCOE Conference and Educational Services Center, 5100 Adolfo Road, Camarillo. For more information, visit

Ventura Harbor receives $11.6 million for dredging
El Niño has struck a nerve in Ventura County. Though promised rains have yet to uplift us from the pit of severe drought, strong storms raging off the coast generated by “the boy” have caused record amounts of sand to block entrance in and out of the Ventura Harbor, forcing its closure.

Now, the dredging equipment has arrived and none too soon, as the harbor entrance has been closed since late January, and Congresswoman Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, has announced a total of $11.6 million to assist in the task this year and next.

The funds were provided as part of President Obama’s 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which includes $7.3 million — $2.5 million more than President Obama’s original request — to fund the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ project to dredge the channel.

Originally slated to arrive around this time anyway, harbor officials asked the contractor in charge of the equipment to arrive earlier if possible due to the sudden onset of sand at the harbor’s entrance, and though the contractor left earlier than anticipated, equipment didn’t arrive until Saturday, Feb. 6, due to weather and sea conditions.

The 2016-2017 budget request includes $4.3 million for dredging as well.

Pat Hummer, senior patrol officer with the Harbor Patrol, says that strong swells and mechanical issues delayed the dredging. Hummer says that issues like the ones plaguing the Harbor entrance this year are very rare.

“We’ve seen on real big surf days the harbor entrance will close, but something like this hasn’t happened in the last 30 years,” said Hummer. “Some older guys can remember back in the 1970s when this happened, but it hasn’t happened since then; it’s just been a perfect storm.”

Harbor Master John Higgins says that he’s stopped using words like “hopeful” and “optimistic” when asked for an estimate of completion, but adds that weather this week has been very accommodating.

“They’re working diligently at the harbor entrance; we’re just anxiously awaiting them to push through,” said Higgins on Tuesday, Feb. 16. “Short of a mechanical breakdown, within the next 24 hours they should be through most of it and we’ll be seriously considering lifting the safety zone.”

In Brief

In Brief


Major solar power systems installed at Ojai school
The Thacher School, a 127-year-old boarding school in Ojai, is in the midst of receiving one of the largest solar power systems at a private school in California, thanks to a senior class gift.

San Diego-based Sullivan Solar Power will install the 676,139-watt system, which will offset 1.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually, a first step in achieving the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, also known as being a “green building.”

“We live in a place with so much sunshine, where it makes sense to think about solar,” said Ed Bennett, the director of facilities for the Thacher School. “We are looking at 81 percent electrical usage covered by our solar array, and more than a 35 percent greenhouse gas reduction.”

The system will be a part of Southern California Edison’s net energy metering program, earning the school credit for returning unused energy to the grid. Though the program is ending soon, the Thacher School will be allowed to take part for the next 20 years, having been grandfathered in.

American Pickers looking for local antique collectors
Hit History Channel program American Pickers announced that filming will take place in California this coming March, making a stop in Ventura County a possibility if you’ve got the right stuff.

Hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, expert antique “pickers,” scour the country for unique antiques forgotten by time to give them a new lease on life by repurposing them.

As with any reality show, the program is in search of leads on antiques as well as the interesting characters who own them. In a press release, the producers say that they are on the hunt for vintage bicycles, toys, movie memorabilia, folk art and “unusual radios.”

For consideration of your private collection, send your name, phone number, location and a description of the collection with photos to or call 855-old-rust.

Job opportunities at Oxnard company
An Oxnard communications business has expanded, adding 40 new members to its staff.

Frontier Communications, an Internet service provider specializing in broadband and security services, added 40 full-time consumer sales associate positions, all of whom began training on Feb. 8 at its Oxnard Collection Center. The new hires will be added to the growing customer service center and will assist customers with billing questions and issues.

The move comes as Frontier acquires Verizon’s wireline businesses in California, Texas and Florida, which will be complete by the end of the first quarter, 2016.

Ellen Amarosa, director of credit and collections for Frontier, says that the firm has plans to hire up to 60 more in the growing customer service center.

“These positions demonstrate Frontier’s commitment to our customers and to the communities we serve, providing job growth that will help sustain local economies throughout Ventura County,” said Melinda White, Frontier’s west region president, in a statement.

In Brief

In Brief


Herb Walks in Ojai celebrates 40 years
Were you aware of the multitude of salad greens that grow on hillsides in Ventura County?

If you’ve ever taken an Herb Walk with Lanny Kaufer, you’d know. Now in its 40th year, Herb Walks has introduced many VC natives to the native (and some not-so-native) herbs and other edibles growing in their own backyards.

Kaufer took an interest in native herbs after an unscheduled visit in 1967 to a Native American reserve where he was given a tea that, he says, cured his cold. In the early 1970s, Kaufer began studying with renowned herbalist William LeSassier and, in 1976, began leading herb walks using a phrase coined by LeSassier.

Kaufer says that all manner of edible plants can be found along hiking trails in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, but around this time of year, wild greens and thistles are prominent.

“This is the main and only time you can find fresh, juicy wild greens, like salad greens,” said Kaufer, noting that one of those would be a plant known as miner’s lettuce, which has been described as having a taste similar to spinach. Kaufer says that several varieties of thistles are sprouting at this time of year, too, such as the milk thistle and Italian thistle, of which the artichoke is a domesticated variety.

“People don’t think of eating a thistle, sounds hard on the tongue, but when they’re first sprouting and tender greens are coming up, they’re delicious.”

For the 40th year of the Herb Walks, Kaufer says that special guests will come along on certain hikes, and special walks through Santa Barbara and Ventura are scheduled. On 40 years of Herb Walks, Kaufer says he’s happy to still be leading the tours.

“I never imagined stopping doing it. I can’t believe it’s been 40 years, but I’ve never thought about not being interested in this,” said Kaufer. “The joy of sharing this information with people who are eager to learn about it is so rewarding that I just keep doing it.”

For more information and a schedule of upcoming walks, visit

Moorpark College’s lion celebrates birthday
Ira, a voracious soon-to-be-two-year-old Lion, will be celebrating his birthday in style this Saturday at America’s Teaching Zoo of Moorpark College.

Festivities for Ira’s Super Bowl-themed party will include a behind-the-scenes look at Ira receiving gifts made by student trainers, cake for all visitors and crowns for children to color as keepsakes of the event.

“Since celebrating Ira’s first birthday, he has transformed from lion cub to lion king. His mane is quite the attraction and his roar is near completion,” said Moorpark College President Luis Sanchez. “We celebrate Ira with pride, and we commend our student trainers whose lives are also being transformed through this program.”

If you’re curious, Ira does have an Amazon wish list, which can be found here:

The celebration will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6, at Moorpark College’s Teaching Zoo, 7075 Campus Road, Moorpark. For more information, visit




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