Pictured: From left, Rosita Lopez, Paola Gonzalez and Bryan Navarette are the 2020 recipients of the Ellen Brokaw House Farm Workers scholarship. Photos submitted. 

by Kimberly Rivers


Ojai Valley Family Shelter retrofitting van for showers

The Ojai Valley Family Shelter has purchased a 25-foot-long ARBOC Bus that will be transformed into a mobile shower vehicle for homeless individuals in the Ojai Valley. During emergencies, like wildfires, it can be used by the entire community. 

OVFS is still raising all the funds needed to add two showers to the bus. The goal is to complete the project by Dec. 1 to be ready for the winter season, when the shelter resumes its main operations of coordinating with churches and a large team of volunteers to provide a hot meal, a warm, dry and safe place to sleep and a fun movie to watch each night during the winter months. 

In 2020 the shelter was able to extend its shelter hours as the pandemic caused additional strain on local resources. 

Major donors supporting the purchase of the new bus include Venco, Sespe Creek Collective, the city of Ojai, Ojai Presbyterian Church, Andrew Gustafson, Cheryl Townsend and many other individuals. 

To donate or for more information, visit www.ovfs.org.

Ventura County wins national tech award

The County of Ventura has been recognized by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties for instituting best practices in the use of technology to solve problems and improve operations. 

For counties of similar population size, Ventura County was lauded for making “network upgrades to support its COVID-19 response on short notice.” Partnerships supporting telemedicine, the county’s use of Lean Six Sigma for staff development and STEM programs for young women have been recognized as best practices in the county. 

The award seeks to commend counties that use technology “for social betterment,” including streamlining the delivery of government services, encouraging open data collaboration and enhancing cybersecurity and disaster response efforts. 

More information at www.govtech.com/cdg.

Ellen Brokaw House Farm Workers scholarship award recipients announced

Paola Gonzalez of Santa Paula, Bryan Navarette of Oxnard and Rosita Lopez, also of Oxnard, have each received a $3,000 scholarship named in memory of Ellen Brokaw, the founder of House Farm Workers. The scholarships are awarded each year to children of farm workers in Ventura County who are heading to or currently enrolled in college. 

Gonzalez graduated from Santa Paula High School and will be attending California State University, Channel Islands, seeking a bachelor’s degree in health science with a minor in Spanish. She plans to transfer to the nursing program at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Navarette is an alumni of Oxnard Union High School and is studying biology at California State University, Long Beach, with plans to attend medical school in the future in order to become a medical doctor. 

Lopez graduated from Channel Islands High School in 2018, has completed her second year at Oxnard College and is now heading to California State University, Monterey Bay, majoring in Spanish, with plans to come back to Oxnard to teach. 

More information about the scholarship program is online at www.housefarmworkers.org/donate.

State passes renter assistance bill

The California legislature has passed AB3088, called the Tenant, Homeowner and Small Landlord Relief and Stablization Act of 2020. 

The bill provides some protections for residential renters to prevent evictions through Jan. 31, 2021, if the renter has fallen behind in rent as a result of the pandemic. Certain landlords of smaller properties or a smaller number of properties are also provided some protections if they have fallen behind on mortgage payments as a result of the pandemic. 

Unpaid rent between March 1 and Aug. 31, 2020, can be shifted to consumer debt, meaning it cannot be used for evictions. 

Certain requirements apply and renters should learn more about the requirements. 

Renters in Ventura County can dial 211 to receive assistance and resources or visit 211ventura.org

Lance Orozco receives 6th national journalism award

Lance Orozco, news director at KCLU radio, has received his sixth Sigma Delta Chi Award for Best Radio Breaking News Reporting, recognizing excellence in journalism by the Society of Professional Journalists. 

His award is related to his on-scene coverage of the 2019 Easy and Maria fires in Ventura County. His reporting on the Maria Fire also garnered him the Edward R. Murrow Award for stations in small markets in California, Hawaii and Nevada. 

KCLU is the NPR station in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, which also received 12 regional awards. 

Earlier this year Orozco was recognized by the Associated Press Television and Radio Association for Best Spot News Coverage and Best Weather Reporting. 

KCLU is a community service of California Lutheran University and is at 88.3 FM in Ventura County and online at KCLU.org.

$1.6 million settlement for Hall Canyon oil spill

In July 2020, Gregory Totten, Ventura County District Attorney (VCDA), announced a settlement of $1.6 million with Crimson Pipeline LP and the contractor CD Lyon Construction for their role in the June 2016 oil spill in Hall Canyon in Ventura. When a valve on a pipeline at the top of the canyon was left open following repairs, the resulting spill caused 44,000 gallons of crude oil to travel down a dirt barranca past houses, causing damage to wildlife and requiring an extensive clean up. 

The settlement includes $1.3 million in civil penalties and damages, plus $300,000 in additional costs; $600,000 will be paid to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the VCDA. Crimson was found to have been negligent and in violation of the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act and the Business and Professions Code. 

“The public should know that when an oil spill happens in California, we will hold those responsible accountable and require a thorough and rapid cleanup and restoration,” said Thomas Cullen, administrator of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response.