PICTURED: Ventura County Transportation Commission Public Transit Director Claire Grasty. Photo submitted

 Emergency drought regulations in Ventura

Ventura residents are being asked to reduce water use by 20% in response to emergency drought regulations adopted by state officials.

Mandatory outdoor watering restrictions that have recently gone into effect in other cities including Oxnard and Camarillo are not yet being imposed in Ventura, but Ventura city officials said it could become necessary if voluntary efforts don’t save enough water.

Officials said the city is doing its part by turning off irrigation for non-functional turf at all facilities and reducing watering times at parks.    

Ventura does not have a way to tap into the state water system, although that connection is being developed, and relies on local water supplies from Lake Casitas, the Ventura River and local groundwater basins.


CLU gets $3.6M Upward Bound grant

Low income and potential first-generation college students are getting a helping hand from California Lutheran University thanks to a $3.6 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The TRIO Traditional Upward Bound Program will serve 89 high school students from Oxnard and another 60 from Hawthorne and Lawndale.

The program includes tutoring, college tours and parent workshops to help prepare students for the college application process. Participants also take part in a six-week residential program on the university’s Thousand Oaks campus, where they take rigorous classes in subjects including math, literature, foreign language and music, campus officials said.

The program has been serving local students since 1980 and the award this year was the largest the university has ever received. 

University officials say 98% of participating students have gone on to college in recent years with 93% completing the classes needed to qualify for the University of California.


July 9 emergency preparedness talk in T.O. 

The city of Thousand Oaks is hosting a free emergency preparedness event on Saturday, July 9, to help residents prepare for local emergencies including wildfires and earthquakes, and also to cope with impacts of the ongoing drought. Discussions will address the challenges posed by drought restrictions on watering plants and options for installing drought-tolerant and fire-resistant plants around homes.

“The historic drought conditions we are facing require that each one of us take action to safeguard our properties and reduce our water consumption,” said co-host Jacqui Irwin, who represents Thousand Oaks in the California State Assembly. “This event will feature experts and professionals who will provide information that will allow us to do just that.”

 The “911 Emergencies in the 805” event will be held at the park of the Bank of America Performing Arts Center, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Grasty named public transit director

The Ventura County Transportation Commission has a new public transit director.

Claire Grasty is a Ventura County native with more than 12 years of public transit experience at the VCTC and previously Gold Coast Transit District in Oxnard. 

“I am very humbled by this opportunity,” Grasty said. “I’m excited for the future of public transit in Ventura County and to help improve mobility for our community, especially for those who need it most.”

Since joining VCTC as a program manager in 2017, Grasty helped develop the county’s first Transportation Emergency Preparedness plan in the wake of the devastating Thomas Fire and Montecito debris flow. Grasty also helped start Saturday Metrolink train service from Ventura County to Downtown Los Angeles and a program offering free bus rides for college students, according to a VCTC news release.


Firefighters honored

The Ventura Fire Department and Ventura Fire Foundation recognized over 60 firefighters and other employees at an awards and promotion ceremony held on Friday, June 10. 

Engineer Eric Craddock oversees the fire department’s training grounds and was named Firefighter of the Year.

Firefighter-Paramedic James Kenney won the Greg Andrews Safety Award for his work developing plans to respond to emergencies at large commercial complexes.

The Nancy Merman Paramedic of the Year honor was presented to Engineer Kyle Tong. Honors for exceptional duty in life saving service were given to Captain Mark Nielsen and Firefighter-Paramedic William Nackers.

And a civilian employee, Danielle Motherspaw, was recognized as the Fire Prevention Employee of the Year for “exceptional service with a smile.”

Fire Chief David Endaya said he’s proud of all the honorees.

“The city is blessed to have so many exemplary firefighters and staff who go above and beyond to serve our community. They provide all-hazards emergency response, perform life-saving actions each day, and oftentimes provide care and compassion to people on their toughest day.” 

— Alex Wilson