VC Health Agency lays off employees, downsizes work force

The Ventura County Health Care Agency has announced that 79 full-time employees and 98 temporary workers will be laid off as part of budget-cutting measures.

The move, effective July 1, also includes demoting 25 employees and transferring 69 others to different positions. The Ventura County Medical Center and Santa Paula Hospital will incur the biggest impact from the cuts.

“In today’s competitive health care environment, we must be as efficient as possible,” said Bill Foley, agency director. “The system enhancements, process improvements and staffing reductions we are implementing will enable us to provide more cost-effective care, and to keep patients in the county.”

Ventura County Chief Executive Officer Mike Powers says that while the county is in a “strong financial position,” the cuts are necessary.

“Director Foley and his team are evaluating every option,” said Powers. “Unfortunately, even after implementing other performance enhancements and cost-saving initiatives, these reductions in force are necessary.”

Filipino Independence Day celebrated in Oxnard

The Filipino American Council of Ventura County will hoist the flag of the Philippines on Wednesday, June 12, at Oxnard City Hall in celebration of the country’s Independence Day.

The flag-raising ceremony marks the 121st anniversary of independence from Spain. The ceremony will also include guest speaker Lyda Noel Sprinkles, founder of Camarillo’s Filipino-American Association, who will speak on the importance of the celebration.

The event will be held at noon at Oxnard City Hall, 305 W. Third St., in Oxnard. For more information, call 805-616-2525.

Oxnard to keep PACC open through December

The closure of Oxnard’s Performing Arts and Convention Center (PACC) has been delayed through the end of the year after public outcry.

Oxnard City Manager Alex Nguyen announced on Tuesday, May 28, that city staff will work directly with the PACC’s Board of Directors on a short-term plan that would honor commitments made by the center through the end of the calendar year. This came as the result of heavy turnout to community budget meetings.

The city has found itself with a $9.2 million budget shortfall and closing the PACC would save $1.1 million annually, said Nguyen, adding that subsidies that were given to the center are no longer affordable.

In April, Nguyen released details of the proposed budget during a series of community meetings. To close the budget gap, the city manager proposed closure of the PACC, the Carnegie Art Museum and the La Colonia Library, among many other cost-saving measures.

Nguyen says that over the summer months the city will work with PACC on “options for a viable, sustainable operating model.”

United Water releases torrent from Piru dam

Clear out the wagons and batten down the hatches, a legendary amount of water has been released from the Saint Felicia Dam in an effort to recharge the aquifer and dilute nitrates.

The United Water Conservation District released the water on Monday, June 3, from the dam, which is outside of Piru. Typically the water is released in the fall, says the District, but due to “saturated conditions” following recent rainfall in the Santa Clara River, a June release will “assure maximum benefits.”

“This historical release of water at our Santa Felicia Dam will ultimately result in the diversion of high-quality water at our Freeman Diversion facility, helping to recharge the area’s aquifer still recovering from drought and helping to offset the increasing nitrate levels of wells within the immediate vicinity of El Rio,” said Mauricio Guardado, general manager. “It will also help with sea water intrusion issues we continue seeing on the Oxnard Plain.”

On Friday, May 17, the State Water Resource Control Board asked the United Water Conservation District to assist with emergency water diversion to a neighborhood in El Rio after tests earlier in the week showed dangerous levels in nitrates in a water well that served the community.