Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations

On Monday, Jan. 16, celebrations will take place countywide in honor and celebration of the life of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.

In Ojai, the 17th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration will feature a cornucopia of talent and entertainers, including headliner baritone Michael Paul Smith and singer-songwriter Jade Hendrix. The theme of this year’s celebration: “The Amazing Power of Unity and Courage.” The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Libbey Park, 307 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai. For more information, call 630-5117.

Oxnard’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration will include a “freedom march” at 8 a.m. followed by a presentation by Ron Hasson, president of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP. Tickets are $7 for the latter, which includes refreshments and vendor exhibits. The march begins at Plaza Park in downtown Oxnard and to the Oxnard Performing Arts Center at 800 Hobson Way, where the speeches will be delivered. For more information, visit

Leadership change at Bell Arts in Ventura

Jim Rice resigned on Jan. 1 from his post as president and executive director of the Bell Arts Factory. Executive assistant Kristin Duncan has taken over as interim director. “He’s opening Peirano’s Market,” Duncan said of Rice, “and it was time for him to devote more time to that.”

Since joining Bell Arts in 2012, Rice had helped encourage greater community involvement and outreach.

“What I did was enable people. I gave people a chance to do good things,” he said. “We provided a vehicle for people to take on projects that matter.”

Duncan praised Rice’s recent One Block at a Time initiative, which began in 2016 at the 500 block of Ventura Avenue, to revamp and revitalize rundown businesses and buildings on Ventura’s Westside.

Rice notes that he’s leaving Bell Arts “in good hands.”

 “The board’s in good shape,” he says. “Kristin’s ready to take the helm.”

It’s unclear at this time if Duncan will remain in her current capacity, or if a new director will be sought. “As far as I know, there’s no search — but these things have to be done through board decisions,” she says. “I sure hope I’m part of Bell Arts’ future.”