By Logan Hall
1967 Nordhoff High School graduate Marcia Forsberg, who has been missing since February, is now believed by authorities to have been murdered by her husband, Richard Gustav Forsberg, 61, of Rancho Santa Margarita. Investigators are now searching for her body in the area of Lake Piru.According to Jim Armormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Coroner’s Office, friends and family of Forsberg — some of whom are from Ojai — had reported earlier this year, that she had not been seen since February. In initial interviews, when asked the whereabouts of Forsberg, her husband had indicated she was with friends in Arizona. On a second attempt by authorities to question Forsberg’s husband, he was nowhere to be found until the Sheriff’s Department received a tip from Palm Springs Hospital. “We got a call last night from medical staff that he was in the hospital in Palm Springs,” said Armormino. “He had been treated for attempted suicide. During the interrogation he made incriminating statements implicating himself in the murder of his wife. We have found no motive at this time. Homicide detectives are now following a lead at Lake Piru.”While authorities seem to be getting closer to a conclusion of the case, friends and family of Forsberg are beginning to get the answers to questions that have plagued them for months. “The entire story is just unfathomable,” said Forsberg’s brother Tony Litoff of Ventura. “Not having any knowledge of what happened made it feel like we were blowing in the wind. Knowing my sister and her husband’s personalities, this is a really big shock to everyone.”Litoff said that he is grateful to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for their efforts in the investigation. He also says that he appreciates the people who came forward with their concerns regarding Forsberg’s whereabouts. “My sister had a very tight-knit relationship with a handful of people that she graduated Nordhoff High with,” said Litoff. “I really want to praise her longtime friends that raised the questions that helped create the outcome.” Richard Forsberg is now in custody in the Orange County
By Logan Hall
By Bill Buchanan
Just when you think, “Well, that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard allegedly done in the name of religion,” someone comes along and trumps it.
I refer to the folks at the Dove World Outreach Center, a nondenominational church in Gainesville, Fla., who plan to host an “International Burn a Quran Day.” They say the event is to “remember 9/11 victims and take a stand against Islam,” which the minister of the congregation calls a religion “of the devil.”
What could be less Christian than that? Exactly how does burning a book that another religion recognizes as holy promote and advance your own religious views? How does burning the Quran (Koran) foster anything but separatism and intolerance? And what is the purpose? Are they trying to convert others? Do they think people will look at this act and say, “Wow, what a great idea, let’s go join up with this progressive group”?
I was also curious about how you would invite people to one of these things. Do you issue an invitation like it was a church social? Would you look down in the church bulletin one Sunday and see something like:
Event: Burning the Quran
Date: 9/11 (of course)
Time: 6 to 9 p.m.
Place: In the big fire pit out behind the church
Food/Drink: Fire and brimstone served from 6 to 7 p.m.
Dress: Flame-retardant casual
Special Note: Coffee mugs and T-shirts available in the foyer
Now I am not saying that the folks at Dove World Outreach don’t have the right to do this. Our Constitution provides the right for our citizens to do pretty much anything within reason to peacefully demonstrate for or against any cause — no matter how stupid it may make the participant look. In fact, the right to look ignorant and stupid is one of our most precious freedoms —- or at least, one of the most frequently used ones. My favorite example of this is the guy who has that church in Kansas who goes to soldiers’ funerals, and holds up signs saying that the death of this brave young man or woman is God’s punishment for people being gay. I’m afraid if I was at the funeral of a relative or friend who gave their life for this country and in the middle of the ceremony, I heard some idiot yelling and holding a sign saying this was somehow justified, I might have to take umbrage —- which might well take the form of getting a tire tool out of the trunk and wearing it out over his head.
Perhaps one of the problems with religious zealots is that they are so busy waving the Bible around they fail to pull it down and actually read what it says. In the 22nd Chapter of the Book of Matthew, Jesus is asked what is the greatest commandment? He replies, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. A second likewise is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The line above does not come with any caveats. Jesus does not say, “Love your neighbor as yourself — unless he is Jewish, or Muslim.” He doesn’t say, “Love your neighbor as yourself — unless he is black.” And he doesn’t say, “Love your neighbor as yourself — unless he is gay.”
It is simply, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And that is good advice for us all, no matter what you believe.—
By Mary M. Long
On July 22, the City Council voted unanimously to place city manager Jere Kersnar on paid administrative leave. On Tuesday, Aug. 24, the council met in closed session and made an announcement after the meeting that they will proceed into a separation agreement with Kersnar. The decision to hire John Baker as interim city manager was made by the City Council. According to Mayor Steve Olsen the council was unanimous in their approval of Baker. Baker’s rate of pay is $65 per hour with no benefits. It is expected that the arrangement with Baker will continue until a permanent city manager is hired. Baker served as interim manager in 2005 prior to the hiring of Jere Kersnar when the contract with Dan Singer was not renewed.
Project on schedule despite discovery of drainage channel
By Mary M. Long
Other topics that were discussed during the evening were the possibility of reviewing the Chain Store Ordinance. This was strongly opposed by city attorney Monte Widders and Carol Smith, who felt confident that the ordinance was doing its job and had been well thought out before it was implemented. Paul Blatz’s concept of a blighted building ordinance also came up for discussion, with positive reception and will be a subject of further study. At the close of the meeting Mayor Steve Olsen took a moment to remember the three tragedies that had occurred since their last meeting and asked that the gathering close in memory of Cody Doolittle, Jerry Myers, and Michael Ferrante.
Use of legal, illegal substances major concern to health officials
By Logan Hall
The phrase, “Just say no to drugs,” seems to be easier said than done for many people throughout the world. In the Ojai Valley, drug abuse is a constant issue. Over the years, Ojai has seen many of its residents — especially the valley’s youth — succumb to the pitfalls of drug abuse. Many times, the sacrifice has been death and the devastation that it leaves with family, friends, and the community as a whole. Friends and families of addicts can often feel helpless when trying to figure out the best way to approach the situation.
The Alcohol and Drug Program, part of Ventura County’s Behavioral Health Program, will hold a meeting in Ojai at Chaparral Auditorium on Wednesday at 6 p.m. to help educate the community about the ongoing issue of drug use involving the valley’s young citizens. According to the ADP, the meeting will be geared toward educating the community about drug abuse and the causes that lead to it. The focus will be directed toward parents and how they can help their kids find other ways to deal with the negative aspects of life.
“We are going to explore with parents and the community about the risks and realities of substance abuse,” said ADP’s division manager Patrick Zarate. “Studies indicate that parents are the primary source of direction and influence that kids receive. Our goal is to raise awareness and get information out there.”
Bruce Gladstone, Ph.D., has years of experience with the valley’s youth, and is no stranger to the issues that kids face every day. While Gladstone believes that town meetings are a good thing for communities, he believes that the issue requires much more. “The problem is systemic,” he said. “We have an epidemic of drug abuse and it’s not going away. The problem is, these people that attend the meetings will take in what they hear, but after awhile, they push the snooze button and go back to sleep.”
Gladstone, who plans on attending the meeting, believes schools need to be more involved in drug prevention and awareness. He agrees that people need to learn how to live life without turning to substance use, but parents shouldn’t be the only source of drug abuse education in a youth’s life. “The key is education on a larger scale,” he continued. “Town meetings are important, but unless it gets into the educational system, not much will change. We need to really teach these kids how to cope with the difficult parts of life without turning to substance abuse. It’s a struggle because a lot of parents don’t have the time, energy or desire to be involved. Some parents have problems with substance abuse themselves. The kids need to know the downfalls of drugs and they need to grow up with that knowledge, starting at an early age.”
The ADP will have experts speak at the meeting, including their prevention manager Dan Hicks, and they expect a broad turnout of people who will represent the Ojai Valley. Ojai Police Chief Chris Dunn will be on hand to represent the law enforcement community. “I want to show support for what they (ADP) are trying to do,” said Dunn. “I will be there to answer law enforcement questions and put out some statistics. I also want to let the community know that we can always be a contact to direct people to the right place if they need help.”
One of the things that attendees can expect is a chance to find out where the local contacts are who can help with drug abuse prevention and education. “The valley has a number of resources that people can access,” said Zarate, “including the Youth Foundation, Safe Coalition and Help of Ojai. We are really targeting parents who want to connect to resources.”
For more information on the ADP go to vchca.org/bh/adp.
Illness doesn’t stop local tyke from enjoying life
By Misty Volaski
But SMA makes the Marshalls earn each one of those little moments. A look at their daily to-do list shows a slurry of machines, procedures and medications that consume each day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The family has spent the last two Thanksgivings in the hospital, and with school starting this week for Joseph, that means the Marshalls must be extra careful about germs. “Micah’s immune system is fine,” Chelsea said, “but if a bug gets into his lungs, he can’t cough it out like most people,” which can be very dangerous for him.
Still, the family wants Micah to experience the world as much as possible. Not surprisingly, it takes the family about an hour just to get Micah and his equipment ready before leaving the house. “It takes a lot,” Marshall said. “We have his battery, his breathing machine, his medical-grade stroller, his suction, an oxygen tank. We have to make sure it’s not too hot or cold outside — the equipment has to stay cool. But we don’t want to keep him home because he’s sick. We want him to be part of everything we can.”
That includes trips to the park, to visit family, even camping.
“I have to thank everybody, especially from our family,” Chelsea said. “This is all just amazing, the love everyone has shown us. We could not have made it this far without everybody.”
For more information about the Marshalls and their fight, visit micahsmarchinfo.blogspot.com. For more information on SMA and to donate to GSF, visit GwendolynStrongFoundation.org.
By Logan Hall
A single-engine Cessna 182 registered to Ojai resident Bill Burr, crashed on the 12th hole at Soule Park Golf Course Monday at about 5:10 p.m. Pilot Mark King suffered minor cuts and scratches, and declined transport to the hospital. King said he was flying into Santa Paula Airport from Sacramento.Norm Van Wieren and Adrian Frape were on the 12th hole, playing golf when they saw the Cessna overhead. “We were on the tee box on 12 and we saw him above us at probably 1,000 feet,” said Van Wieren. “We heard the engine sputtering and thought he was training. After we hit our shots, we could hear him trying to start the engine back up.” It was then that the two golfers knew something was wrong.“When he was coming down, I thought he was going to land on hole 11 into the wind,” said Frape, “but he banked right and to try to make it to 12 when he clipped the tree.”“We got to the crash site within seconds,” continued Van Wieren. “I saw the door kick open and he crawled out alive. I asked him if he was OK and he said ‘Ya, I’m alright.’ We couldn’t believe he was OK.”Also golfing close by, was Justin Rhoades on the 13th tee box about to tee off when he saw the plane heading for the open areas of the course. “He started getting really low,” said Rhoades, who was golfing with a friend. “He was coming in too fast and started to turn when his wing clipped a tree and he just came down. I dropped my bag and we started running. When we came up to the plane, he (King) was just crawling out and he was looking for his glasses. We were asking him if he was alright, but he couldn’t really hear us at first.”
King was walking around and making cell phone calls when emergency crews arrived on scene. “I remember it hitting the tree and coming down,” said King. “I’m just glad I’m here talking about it.”
Witnesses said that the plane was gliding without engine power as it came down. There was a general consensus on the ground of disbelief that he walked away from the crash. “When we saw him comming down, we thought the worst,” said Mike Bryant, who was playing a round of golf with friends. “I’m just stoked to see the guy walk away.”
Van Wieren and Frape were also glad to see that King survived relatively unharmed. “I’m happy he made it out alive,” said Frape. “When we got there, it did not look good. The guy was lucky. Really, really lucky.”
The Ventura County Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department responded quickly and cordoned off the scene.
The crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
By Logan Hall
Firefighters from stations all over the Ojai Valley came to aid in a house fire on Pepper Tree Lane. At 5:51pm the call was dispatched and firefighters from Oak View Station 23 quickly responded to the scene. There were no injuries in the blaze that consumed the garage and large portions of the house.
“At this point we are still trying to determine the cause of the fire,” said Battalion Chief Mike Milkovich, “but we haven’t found anything suspicious.”
Glenda Strosnider and Gerry Bradberry from the American Red Cross were on scene to help those affected, but friends of the home’s occupants had already offered accommodations and assistance.
By Lenny Roberts
Ojai’s Los Padres Bank was one of 14 branches closed Friday by the Office of Thrift Supervision, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as receiver.
According to a press release issued Friday, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Pacific Western Bank, San Diego, to assume all of the deposits of Los Padres Bank based in Solvang to protect the depositors.
Tom Farmer, vice president of business development, said it’s business as usual, and the bank’s five full- and part-time employees will remain.
“We don’t anticipate any staff changes at all,” Farmer said Tuesday afternoon. “Pacific Western is a strong bank. It’s the 14th largest commercial bank in the state, and we’re very optimistic. I’m excited about this.”
All 14 branches of Los Padres Bank reopened Monday as branches of Pacific Western Bank. Depositors of Los Padres Bank will automatically become depositors of Pacific Western Bank, and will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage. Customers of Los Padres Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Pacific Western Bank that it has completed systems changes to allow other Pacific Western Bank branches to process their accounts as well.
Depositors of Los Padres Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards, and checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.
As of June 30, 2010, Los Padres Bank had approximately $870.4 million in total assets and $770.7 million in total deposits. Pacific Western Bank will pay the FDIC a premium of 0.45 percent to assume all of the deposits of Los Padres Bank. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Pacific Western Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.
The FDIC and Pacific Western Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on $579.8 million of Los Padres Bank’s assets. Pacific Western Bank will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers.
The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund will be $8.7 million. Compared to other alternatives, Pacific Western Bank’s acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC’s DIF. Los Padres Bank is the 117th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the eighth in California. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Butte Community Bank, Chico, which also closed Friday.
OJAI POLICE DEPARTMENT
Nature of Incident: Possession of Stolen Property and Fraudulent Use of an Access Card
Location: Ojai Valley Area (Ventura County)
Date & Time: 8/10/2010 to 8/17/2010
Units Responsible: Ojai Valley Sheriff’s Station Patrol
Williams, David, 26
Transient in the Ojai Valley
Bridget Campbell, 21
Transient in the Ojai Valley
During the past two weeks the Ojai Valley has been plagued with several vehicle burglaries and thefts from vehicles. It was reported that a small red Toyota sedan was possibly involved in the thefts. Residents of the Ojai Valley assisted in helping the Ojai Valley deputies identify the suspects in the thefts by calling law enforcement for suspicious activity.
On 08/17/2010, the Sheriff’s Department Dispatch received several calls that involved a red Toyota sedan occupied by a male and female subject in the vehicle. During the investigation deputies located the two subjects and they were arrested for possession of stolen property and using a stolen credit card at a local restaurant. Stolen property from the Ojai Valley and the City of Santa Barbara was found in the vehicle. Some of the stolen property has been identified by victims and returned to them.
Both suspects were booked at the Ventura County Jail. Bail was set at $10,000 and $30,000.
Officer Preparing Release: Detective Mark Burgess. Ojai Valley Substation-Investigations
OJAI POLICE DEPARTMENT
Nature of Incident: Increased Traffic Enforcement
Location: Areas around Ojai Valley Schools
Date & Time: Beginning August 24, 2010
Unit Responsible: Ojai Valley Station Traffic
With the new school year upon us, we wish for it to begin safely for the children as they find their way to and from their schools. The Ojai Police Department will be patrolling the areas around the schools and enforcing violations observed.
Many of the children will be finding their way to school on their bicycles. We wish to have the drivers make a conscious effort to be attentive to this fact. Parents of the children riding bicycles must make every effort to ensure their child’s safety as well.
It is required by law that all children under the age of 18 wear a safety helmet while riding. It is also required that bicycle riders ride with the direction of traffic, not against it. We have observed many bicyclists not stopping at intersections as required and riding on the sidewalks along Ojai Avenue where it is prohibited by Ojai city ordinance.
Many of the violations that have been observed / enforced are listed below:
- Speeding in the school area when students are present. The speed limit in a “SCHOOL ZONE” is 25 mph unless other wise posted.
- Passing school buses when red lights are flashing and stop signs are displayed. This is required for drivers on both sides of a roadway, unless there are more than one lane in each direction and a median separating the traffic lanes.
- Failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians within a crosswalk. It is also the responsibility of the pedestrians to remain in a location until it is safe to enter the crosswalk.
- Drivers parking / stopping in areas where it is prohibited by posted signs. This is a large problem on El Paseo, in the area of Matilija Junior High School and Ojai Valley School.
- Failing to stop for stop signs or red traffic signals and pedestrian control signals.
- Talking on the phone while driving. Adult drivers, 18 yrs and older, are required to use a hands free device. Drivers under the age of 18 cannot use any cellular phone devices. Texting while driving is also prohibited.
The members of the Ojai Police Department wish to make an effort to educate the community members of the various laws and violations that are frequently violated and place drivers and pedestrians at risk. Therefore, we will be out patrolling the areas around the schools and will be enforcing the laws and citing violators to maintain safety for everyone at this time of year.
Safety for the children is everyone’s responsibility. Don’t get caught up in the high-speed daily activities and fail to see the children on their way to school. We can all do our part to become part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. Drive and ride safely.
Officer Preparing Release: Senior Deputy Jim Popp
Approved By: Sergeant J.P.Ruby #1852
Rides will be stopped after Sept. 17
as budget cuts take yet another toll
By Misty Volaski
Valentine’s $2.3M donation makes vision possible
By Logan Hall
Imagine being abused and tormented, and being unable to reach out for help. Imagine if, in the time of your greatest need, you couldn’t communicate with anyone around you. This is the life that abused, neglected and sometimes tortured animals throughout the world have to endure every day.Thanks to organizations like the Humane Society of Ventura County, animals not only have a voice, they have genuine help from dedicated HSVC staff and volunteers. The HSVC Ojai Shelter has recently boosted its ability to aid animals in need by breaking ground on their new expansion project. Thanks to a $2.3 million donation from Harry Valentine who died before seeing his vision come to fruition, the project will update the aging facility that has served the Ojai Valley since 1982. The ground-breaking ceremony took place outside the shelter’s front entrance where the new Visitor’s Center will be built. After a prayer and blessing from Bishop Bill Downey from the Liberal Catholic Church, shelter president Cyndy Treutelaar thrust the shovel into the earth and marked the official start of construction.While including a new Visitor’s Center and renovations to the administration building and parking lot, the main focus of the project will be the expansion of the shelter’s existing spay and neuter clinic. According to the HSVC, there is currently an eight- to 10-week waiting period for people who need to bring their pets to the clinic. The expansion will help reduce that waiting period by increasing the number of surgeries veterinarians can perform from 17 a day to about 28.The ground-breaking ceremony, which took place on Wednesday, was a chance for Humane Society staff to officially move forward on the plan and express their gratitude to everyone involved with the project. “We have a lot of volunteers that help out our staff,” said Ojai Shelter President Cyndy Treutelaar as she addressed attendees of the ceremony. “Our staff and volunteers are absolutely the backbone of this shelter.”Also present at the ceremony was Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., who spoke to the crowd and praised the good work that the Ojai Shelter has accomplished. “My greatest pleasure is helping make these things happen,” said Gallegly, who is an outspoken animal rights activist. “There are lots of fine people in this community. This is an example of how Ojai is ahead of the curve.”The Ojai Shelter seems to be unique in that much of the staff has been with the shelter for many years. Shelter director Jolene Hoffman read a list of staff and volunteers and the time they’ve been with the shelter. Treutelaar has been with the shelter for about 20 years. Linda Allison has been on staff for 22 years, and Hoffman herself has been with the Ojai Shelter for 28 years. All hold a passion for their positions and the animals at the shelter.
Also present at the ground-breaking was project contractor John Johnston who was on hand to answer questions about the project design and show people where the construction will be taking place. Johnston, like the others who work for and with the Humane Society, thinks of the project as much more than just a job. “The Humane Society here is such a great group of people with great ideas,” he said. “The thing I found most compelling was how the people here need the animals as much as the animals need them. Everyone really cares.”
“He has spent many hours at the site,” said shelter executive director Sherry Brockus on Johnston’s involvement. “He has really done an excellent job.”
One point that was emphasized at the ceremony was the need for more donations from the public. While costs of the expansion and renovation are covered by funds from the late Valentine’s estate, things like food for the animals and maintenance of the facility are covered solely by donations. “We rely totally on our donations to keep the doors open,” said Brockus on the HSVC web site. “These funds (from Valentine) are designated and restricted. They must be used specifically for Mr. Valentine’s wishes.”
The project is scheduled to be completed mid-2011 and the shelter will remain operating as much as possible through the construction process. Log on to hsvc.org to donate to the Humane Society.
By Mary M. Long
The Ojai Planning Com-mission met Wednesday with interim city manager John Baker to discuss the following issues.The proposal to install a vault rest room at Sarzotti Park had been continued from the Aug. 4 meeting to study the cost effectiveness of putting a standard sewer line in instead of a self-contained rest room. The vault rest rooms are pumped out at a cost of $350 per clean-out. Bob Daddi pointed out that the capacity of the tank could be reached in one day during an event the size of Ojai Day. While the stumbling block was the price of upgrading the sewer line to handle the larger rest rooms, this turned out not to be an issue when the independent company, AM PM Rooter & Plumbing, inspected the existing line and found that was in good condition. Daddi, acting on behalf of Skate Ojai is looking into the possibility of a sewer hookup for the new Skate Park rest rooms and will be negotiating to reduce fees for the installation. The Hummingbird Inn was approved as a Best Western Motel, which created a bit of concern from both citizens and commissioners. The Planning Commission had thought that the approval would come to them as an agenda item, and seemed surprised that Baker had approved it. Baker made it clear that he, consulting with city attorney Monte Widders, was operating by the book and his decision was in keeping with the tenants of the Chain Store Ordinance. The Best Western motels do not qualify as chain stores according to the current Ojai Chain Store Ordinance. The property on the corner of North Montgomery and Franklin Street which was acquired by the city came up for discussion. The city is interested in possibly using it for the construction of affordable housing. While it is zoned R-2, it has been considered for as many as four units. Commissioners John Mirk and Cortus Koehler expressed their concerns about having that kind of density on that property. “I don’t want to put the city in the position of over-developing this property,” said Mirk. Koehler also handed out a list of citizen groups which he felt should receive the first consideration for affordable housing which included veterans, military families, city employees and seniors. He also feels that affordable housing should include the consideration of rehabilitating older houses, which will help preserve existing homes. Baker reminded them that the future of the property would probably be driven by the economy and that with less density than four units it would probably not be feasible to develop it for affordable housing. The subject of publicizing subcommittee meetings was the most debated topic of the evening. There are two new subcommittees. One is the subcommittee to study the state ordinance requiring cities to follow the state model for water-wise landscaping. Commissioner Kathy Nolan is the chair for that subcommittee and Commissioner Susan Weaver also sits on that committee. They are working to come up with an “Ojai compatible” ordinance which will then go before the Planning Commission and City Council to meet the state requirements on water conservation. The second subcommittee is the Complete Streets Committee which will study the suitability of streets for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists in compatibility with the Circulation Element. Since the subcommittees do not fall under the Brown Act they are not legally subject to noticing requirements. However it was the decision of the commission to exceed the requirements and the discussion was on how to notify the public. It was decided that the notices will be posted on the chamber door, the city website and will be published in the Ojai Valley News, as well as Channel 10. Baker also recommended mass e-mailing notices to interested parties. Those who wish to be placed on the e-mail list need to contact the Community Development Department at 646-5581.
By Bill Buchanan
I hated to miss the ground-breaking ceremony for the Ventura County Humane Society. My trip back to Ojai was delayed, and I didn’t get to attend the ceremony. But all pet lovers have to be excited about the proposed expansion, which will also allow more services to help the least fortunate animals in our community.
My wife and I have always been supporters of the Humane Society. All of our dogs (and cats, when we had them) have been strays. Some have come from animal shelters, some from friends who knew about a dog who needs a home, and several were animals Ava just picked up off the highway. I think they make the best pets. They seem to understand what a good deal they have now, and show their appreciation every day.
One of the great things about Ojai is that everyone seems to have a dog — or two. Dogs on leashes are everywhere, which I absolutely love. Being allowed to pet others people’s dogs makes me miss my own a little less.
So, for all the dog lovers here in town, I wanted to let you take the following test to see if you merely own a dog, or if you have a special animal. Simply select the answer below that best reflects how your dog is treated.
• You have just bought new living room furniture.
A. Your dog is not allowed on the furniture under any condition.
B. Your dog is allowed on the furniture occasionally but only if there is a blanket or towel underneath him.
C. Your dog has his own special chair.
• At Christmas, your dog:
A. Is treated no differently than he is during the rest of the year.
B. Receives some type of special holiday treat.
C. Has his own stocking with the dog’s name on it, which is hung up with the rest of the stockings and stuffed with goodies on Christmas Day.
• When you go to a fast-food restaurant for a hamburger or ice cream cone, your dog:
A. Is not allowed to come along.
B. Is allowed to come along and receives a small bite of whatever you are eating.
C. Gets his own hamburger or ice cream cone, which you feed by hand to the dog while getting mustard, ketchup, ice cream and/or dog slobber all over you.
• Whenever you are eating something and your dog begs for some of it:
A. The dog is told to hush, and lie down.
B. You simply ignore him until he stops whining and begging.
C. Your spouse scolds you unmercifully until you share with the dog.
• When you go on a trip:
A. The dog is always left with friends or is boarded in a kennel.
B. The dog is taken along on some trips, but only if convenient.
C. The dog is pretty much always taken along and, if necessary, is sneaked into the elevator where you are staying, and then into your hotel room.
• When you go on a trip where you simply cannot take the dog and it must be boarded, you:
A. Take the dog to the vet, drop him off.
B. Take the dog to the vet, send a toy along.
C. Take the dog to the vet; go into hysterics about leaving him; take his favorite toy as well as a back-up toy; take his blanket; take his favorite food and some snacks; give the vet a two-page list of dos and don’ts; break down again out in the car; continue to cry, or at least sniff intermittently all the way to the airport.
Let’s grade the results:
If you chose “A” to most or all questions, then you are lord and master over your dog, and you recognize it for what it is — an animal.
If you chose “B” to most or all questions, you allow your dog a few liberties, but you maintain a healthy superiority over him, and both you and your dog recognize and respect the established hierarchy.
If you chose “C” to most or all questions, then you are a hopeless dog lover and are the proud owner of a “special animal.” In fact, because of your love and devotion to your dog, every animal you ever have will be a special animal. Love and enjoy them.
Badham to field questions at outdoor screening at Ojai Valley Inn Saturday
By Mary M. Long
As the haunting melody of Elmer Bernstein’s one-fingered piano underscores the opening credits of the timeless movie, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” so the sun will sink slowly in the western skies of the Ojai Valley and the gibbous waxing full moon will rise slowly over the fading “Pink Moment” of the Topa Topa Mountains. Nobody who has ever read the book, or seen the movie, is left untouched by its nostalgic tale of civil rights, morality and dignified courage, and few more than those who were involved in the filming. Fifty years after Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book was published and 48 years after it was released on screen, the Academy Award-winning movie, starring Gregory Peck and Mary Badham, is being presented by the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in concert with Diablo Magazine’s Peter Crooks as part of their Outdoor Classic Film Series.
The movie is told through the eyes of 6-year-old tomboy Scout, played by Badham, who was the youngest actress ever to win an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Badham now resides in rural Virginia with her husband of 36 years, and takes time away from home to travel with “Mockingbird” to share its message, and her passion for literacy with another generation. Just as Peck’s character, Atticus Finch, is remembered as one of film’s greatest heroes, Scout has a special place in the hearts of American readers with children still named after the plucky tomboy many years after the film’s release. The story revolves around an incident which was set in the 1930s involving the alleged rape and beating of a white Southern girl by a wrongly accused black man. In the famous courthouse scene, the prosecutor asks, “What were you doing the night of Aug. 21?” Ironically, the Ojai Valley Inn booked the screening of “Mockingbird” Saturday, Aug. 21.
Although the date of the booking was entirely coincidental, one might ask if anything in Ojai happens by accident, or does this echo the very substance of the book in its complexity of life’s random circumstances.
Badham will be hosting a question-and-answer session before the screening, giving classic film buffs a rare opportunity to meet one of film’s most enigmatic personalities, for as she refers to Gregory Peck as Atticus, so entwined is she in the character of Scout, it’s impossible to tell if Badham defined the character or the character defined Badham.
Badham responded to the following questions in a phone interview from her home in Virginia:
OVN: How did you get the part of Scout?
Badham: They had a big cattle call in Birmingham, Ala. They probably had interviewed 4,000 kids before they even got to Birmingham. They interviewed kids all throughout the South. They wanted Southern children … they wanted real Southern accents.
OVN: Did they explain the story line to you? Were you aware of the racial message?
Badham: No, they didn’t explain it, I am not even sure we got full scripts. I don’t think I saw the full story until later.
OVN: I understand that your mom was an actress, and took you to the interview.
Badham: My mother had been the leading lady for years at the local theater where I tried out. She was the real thespian in the family, she and my brother, John. John wanted in the business in the worst kind of way. At the time he was at studying drama and philosophy at Yale and he got this phone call, “Guess what, your baby sister is going to be in a movie!”
OVN: Did your mom dress you up or cut your hair to look the part of Scout for the audition?
Badham: No, that haircut was the haircut that I had. I would rather have been mucking stalls, than dressing up and going to a party.
OVN: Do you ride horses?
Badham: Oh yes, that’s all I wanted to do. My goal in life was to be large animal veterinarian.
Facebook helping Oak View family cope with illness
By Amber Lennon
If you log on to “Nathan’s Journey” on Facebook, you’ll see a caption beneath the picture of 2-year-old Nathan Knupp that reads: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” It’s this kind of community attitude that organized Sunday’s barbecue benefit in Oak View. With more than 600 attendees, the Knupp family will take home $30,000 to put toward Nathan’s medical expenses.
Nathan was diagnosed with a glioma brain tumor in April of 2009, and since then the Knupp family has struggled to keep up with the cost of treatment. When Nathan’s mother, Marisa, decided to organize a fund-raising event, the response from the community was overwhelming. Volunteers and donations abounded, and all throughout the Ojai Valley, signs and fliers for “Nathan’s Journey” advertised the event.
“It was amazing,” says Ashley Meier, longtime friend of the Knupps, who also helped organize the event. “We had to use our back-up tickets because we ran out of the 400 bracelets we had.”
With the far-reaching capabilities of Facebook, even the greater Los Angeles area became aware of Nathan’s story when it was profiled on KCAL-9, adding to the extensive coverage of local media and radio.
The leverage of pre-event efforts was matched by the variety of activities and displays at the Oak View Park and Resource Center. Above rows of polished semi-trucks, vintage cars and old tractors parked on the grassy lawn, the long arms of crane trucks towered and seemed a candid symbol of the strength gathered to support Nathan and his family.
Marisa and her husband, Jestin, could be found embraced by friends and strangers, while Nathan played in the kids’ zone. Marisa said that the crowds and the heat were hard on Nathan, who was unaccustomed to so much activity. A motor home was parked on the premises, where the Knupps could retreat before emerging again to mingle.
Among the many faces Marisa saw that day was a 6-year-old boy named Aaron Easley, who has been living with a brain tumor since 18 months of age. Marisa was especially drawn to Easley and his grandmother when fate found them in the same hospital lobby while Marisa awaited her son’s diagnosis in 2009. Easley’s grandmother proved to be a well of information and support along this tough road.
“For her to be there was so awesome,” said Marisa. “She drove from Hemet with a special needs kid that just finished six weeks of radiation treatment.” Along with her donation, Grandma Easley wrote a note for Marisa that read, “We will fight.”
The silent auction boasted an array of items from local merchants ranging from tattoos to a pendant necklace, along with raffle items to accommodate a wide range of needs and wants, such as haircuts, tires and electronics. Nate Minkel, who donated a plasma television and his dirt bike, said, “One of the great things about living in a small town is seeing everyone come together with big hearts to give back to the community.” He added, “A bike is replaceable, a life is not.”
While people perused auction and raffle items in the shade, the smoke of La Salle’s BBQ signaled that lunch soon would be served. In the meantime, kids could be found cavorting in the Jolly Jump, getting their faces painted or twirling in front of the live entertainment. Tunes from Vaughn Montgomery on Wurlitzer piano were followed by singer-songwriter Ted Lennon, whose song, ‘Face Up,’ seemed to speak of the event with his appeal, “People, oh people, come on and do what you can!”
To cap it all off, the band Caught Red Handed spiced up the afternoon with classic rock covers as people meandered between big trucks, the beer garden and the food line for La Salle’s roasted meats.
Many attendees agreed that the community’s reward for doing their part along Nathan’s journey was when he made cameo appearances with his endearing smile. Said Meier, “He’s just such a happy little guy.”
By Bill Buchanan
For those who are planning to attend the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa’s Aug. 21 screening of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” you are in for a treat. I do not mean just the movie itself, which, of course, is a terrific film — a classic that was far ahead of its time. You are in for a treat seeing one of the movie’s stars —Mary Badham, who will do a Q&A for the movie prior to its showing. Ms. Badham, who was age 10 when she made the movie, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the youngest actress ever nominated in the category at that time.
I developed an instant crush on “Scout,” the lively young daughter of Atticus Finch. I don’t remember exactly when I saw the film for the first time — I was probably around 8 or 10. But I remember three things that struck me immediately — I didn’t understand why the girl was named Scout; I could not believe that she got away with calling her daddy by his first name; and Scout was tomboyish but very, very cute.
I had the good fortune a few years ago to meet Ms. Badham in person. I was active with Theatre Tuscaloosa, which sponsored the Alabama Stage and Screen Hall of Fame. Ms. Badham was a guest at two events, one in 2000, and again in 2001. You would have thought we were her guests rather than the other way around. She was friendly, charming and absolutely delightful. And still very cute.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” was a rare “double” — both the book and the movie were outstanding. They are both classics. So many times a great book is made into an average or even disappointing movie. In my opinion, there are very few cases where the movie is as good as the book, and almost none that are actually better. For me, four exceptions come to mind.
The first is “The Shawshank Redemption,” from the Stephen King novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.” I don’t know that it is entirely fair to say the movie was better than the book. The book was a novella, very readable, but pretty short. The movie, while being true to the book, goes into much more detail and really fleshes out the characters. The narrator, “Red,” is given particular attention. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that “Red” is played by Morgan Freeman, one of my favorite actors. I would listen raptly to Morgan Freeman reading the phone book for three hours. I thought he was just incredible in this role. The movie also does an outstanding job of providing many memorable minor characters that enhance the richness of the film without diluting the main characters or story.
Next on the list would be “The Godfather.” I read the book long before I saw the movie, which came out a few years later. I thought the book was pretty good, but some of this had to do with my being in high school when I read it. When I reread the book as an adult I tended to agree with the reviewer who said something to the effect that Mario Puzo wrote the first 100 pages of the book, but typed the rest of it. “The Godfather” also has the distinction of being one of the few movies where the sequel was as good (some would say better) than the original. I loved them both.
Then there is “Terms of Endearment.” In this case, I saw the movie first. I enjoyed it initially, saw it a few more times, and liked it even better. I had seen the movie probably four or five times before I finally read the book. What a disappointment — and I, like Larry McMurtry, felt the movie was so much better. James L. Brooks was not only the director, but was also credited with the screenplay. He did a fine job with both. Another big reason for the movie outshining the book was the strength of the cast. What talent with Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Debra Winger, Jeff Daniels, and John Lithgow. Even I could probably make a good movie with that cast. But in my mind, Shirley MacLaine’s performance really stands out. Her character drives the movie, and lifts it up several notches. She certainly deserved the Academy Award she received for Best Actress.
Finally, there is “Forrest Gump.” I will never write a novel, much less one that will become a major motion picture. But if I ever do, I want the guy who adapted Winston Groom’s novel to adapt mine to the silver screen. That guy is a genius. When I saw the movie, I thought it was wonderful — touching, humorous and just plain fun.
Then I read the book, which I thought was meandering, and often silly with several cartoon-like characters. To me, the book and movie are two different animals, and the movie is much better. In preparing to write this column, I looked at a couple of reviews of the book which touted it as “a superb novel,” stated that it was “unfortunate that most people are more familiar with the movie,” and added, “it is not by any stretch a substitute for the book.”
Maybe that guy read a different book than I did. OK, readers, do you have others for the list? Let us hear from you about what movies you think are as good as the book — or perhaps even better. Leave a comment here.
By Misty Volaski
Ojai Valley foodies will simmer in a jealousy reduction when they hear what Lisa Snider got to do at the Ventura County Fair this year.
The free-lance food and wine writer (and host of Radio Ojai) was asked to be a judge for the fair’s second annual “Bounty of the County” competition.
Snider, along with fellow judges Jane Handel (of Edible Ojai), Lisa McKinnon (of the Ventura County Star), Dianne Linderman (of Ventura County Fair) and Nancy Raibaldi (an audience member), judged two teams of local chefs, wine and beer makers and farmers on a three-course meal. The foods and wines were required to be grown and made locally, hence the name of the competition.
“The (fair representatives) called me!” she explained on being chosen for judge. “This is (a judging panel) I would’ve begged to be on! I had already helped them with the wine judging, so they knew me. I got lucky and got a spot on panel. These are gourmet meals!”
One team was from Ventura’s SideCar Restaurant, which teamed with Ojai’s Rio Gozo Farm and Oak View’s Old Creek Winery. The second consisted of Ventura’s Zoey’s Cafe, Camarillo’s McGrath Family Farms, and Santa Barbara’s Telegraph Brewery.
The judges began with Zoey’s Cafe and crew, which presented a first course of a goat cheese, beet and dandelion green salad (from McGrath Family Farms), complemented with reserve wheat ale from Telegraph Brewing Company. Watkins Cattle Company of Piru contributed the main dish, a steak filet with a turnip puree, three types of beans and succotash of corn (all from McGrath’s). Telegraph Brewing paired that with its California ale. Dessert was Trufflehounds’ pots de creme, McGrath’s fresh berries and Telegraph’s stock porter.
Snider said she was quite impressed, especially with the brave pairing of food and beer over the more traditional food and wine. “Zoey’s isn’t necessarily known for the food, but, oh my gosh, they will be now!” Snider said. “You can see a lot of up-and-coming musicians there, but they recently moved and got a bigger kitchen, so are offering more food. I’m definitely going to have to have dinner there soon. They did an excellent job.”
Team SideCar offered a first course of an heirloom tomato, cucumber and Vidalia onion salad from Rio Gozo Farm, on which was drizzled a vinaigrette featuring Petty Ranch’s Meyer lemons. They paired it with Old Creek Winery’s 2009 Loureiro (grown in Santa Ynez). Short ribs from Watkins Cattle Co. were served with Rio Gozo’s Yukon mashed potatoes, creamed swiss chard and roasted garlic, which was paired with an Old Creek Ranch carignane for the main course. Dessert was a blackberry shortcake and an albarino ice wine, all of which also came from Old Creek.
“I hadn’t even heard of two of their three wines!” Snider said. “(John and Carmel Whitman) are doing a lot with Mediterranean-influenced grapes. The Loureiro was a very light, floral wine. The carignane was beautiful, smoky and smooth and paired wonderfully with the dish. It was neat to try new things, it wasn’t just the same old cabernet or chardonnay, it was totally different.”
Snider was pleased with both entries. Team SideCar’s creamed swiss chard “… was so so good! It was such a rich, decadent dish.”
Judging a three-course meal in front of an audience was an interesting experience, she said. “Here I am chomping on my food, trying to articulate what I think about it without talking with my mouth full!” she laughed. “I ate six plates of food, six beverages, and before I went (to judge), I had deep-fried Oreos and pan bread. I didn’t even eat the next day!”
With full tummies, the judges gave SideCar the edge, but by just two points out of 100.
The weekend before, however, was a little more “interesting,” as Snider judged the wine competition with a group of five others. Last year’s event, which Snider also helped judge, offered both commercial and noncommercial wines; this year, commercial wine judging was moved to the Mid-State Fair.
While homemade, the 2010 entries did offer some bright stars, like Shadetree Winery, whose petit sirah-petit verdot blend not only placed first in its class, but also received the highly desired Best in Show ribbon.
“We didn’t have to pick a Best in Show if the entries didn’t merit one,” Snider said, “but this was a standout wine, it was that good.”
Many of the 36 entries, however, were less than fantastic, Snider confessed. “Some were just awful. Rosemary should never be made into wine. You know that show ‘The Best Thing I Ever Ate?’ That was the worst thing I ever drank!”
Still, it was an adventure. Snider tasted 20 wines this year; reds, whites, and all the in-betweens. Part of wine judging is strategizing to preserve your palate for the duration of the tasting process. She and her fellow judges opted to taste the heavier wines last, because “after a while your palate is just killed.”
Judges didn’t get to see the names or labels of the wines they tasted until afterward, when they gave each label a score to add to each entry’s total.
“Some of them don’t have labels, just masking tape with a marker,” Snider said. “But some had fancy labels, and got points for that.”
Snider hastened to explain that the term “competition” is a little deceiving. “We weren’t comparing the wines against each other,” she said. “We’re not necessarily saying, ‘Yeah, that one was way better than the last one.’ They all stand on their own merit.”
Snider offered praise to the fair organizers. “They do such a great job! Everyone who works there is so nice; they love what they’re doing. They have plenty of water, crackers, bread and cheese available, and a sandwich buffet afterwards.” Good thing, she laughed, because “some of us were a little tipsy after!”
Speculation ends as Francina does not pull
papers for November City Council election
By Mary M. Long
The papers are filed and the race is on. Wednesday at 5 p.m. was the filing deadline for the upcoming Ojai City Council race, which will be on the Nov. 2 General Election ballot.
The deadline was extended from Friday when incumbent Mayor Steve Olsen decided not to run for re-election. There could be a major shake-up at City Hall because seats currently held by Carol Smith and Paul Blatz are also up for grabs.
Candidate Lenny Klaif, who was defeated by Blatz in a June special election for the seat vacated by longtime Councilman Joe DeVito, will again enter the race, along with Blatz, Smith and challengers Carlon Strobel, Dennis Leary and Demitri Corbin. Speculation that Suza Francina might be a challenger ended with the filing deadline.
Strobel is stepping down from her position as records manager and city clerk to make a run for City Council, with veteran Cynthia Burrell taking the position as city clerk in Strobel’s absence.
Strobel leaves her salaried position of $87,669 to be a newcomer in the City Council race for a position that pays $5,700 annually. She describes her decision as sort of an epiphany. “One day I was telling a citizen who was complaining, ‘If you don’t like the way the city is being managed then step up to the plate and do something.’ Then I thought, why don’t you take your own advice? I was absolutely certain, and I’ve been certain ever since,” Strobel said.
The position of records manager is mandated to be objective, and Strobel felt that the voice of the citizens of Ojai was just not being heard. One of her complaints was the lack of transparency in the city manager’s office. She said the Skate Park and Libbey Bowl projects were taking too long to be completed, and the city and the public were not interacting in a way to move things forward. “When the public asks for documents or information, our priority as servants is to get that information to them immediately,” she said. “I felt like I was spending a lot of time dragging records out of people.” She made it clear that 98 percent of city records, including financial records, are public. “It’s almost as though we have forgotten that we are stewards, servants. We are not the owners of the city, the citizens are,” said Strobel.
She has a positive opinion of interim city manager John Baker, and had experience working with him when he filled the gap between outgoing Dan Singer and incoming Jerry Kersnar in 2005. She describes Baker as a bottom-line kind of guy who likes to get thing done, claiming, “We can have an hour’s conversation in 30 seconds. I think he is very skilled and has a tremendous amount of expertise,” she added.
Qualifying for the November ballot for the position of city clerk, which pays a stipend of just $350 a month plus benefits, are Cynthia Burrell and Shari Herbruck. Burrell is currently acting as interim city clerk for the outgoing Strobel, resuming a position that she held for 20 years. Burrell said, “Right now, people are not happy and it’s time to get it back,” naming the years between 1989 and 2001, under city manager Andy Belknap as years of teamwork. “I must love this city,” she said, citing her reasons for running for office and wanting to be part of the upcoming city government team she describes as “exciting.”
Herbruck will be retaining her present position of planning and building technician for the Community Development Department which has an annual salary of $48,470, and cites her reason for running for city clerk as a desire “to keep the city running smoothly while in transition.” The position of records manager vacated by Strobel, with compensation ranging from $72,126 to $87,669 annually, will be filled through a process of interviewing and processing applicants by the city manager’s office. Interim city manager Baker is currently out of the office, but is expecting to announce his appointment for the records manager position as early as next week.
In November, the wild card in the elections may just be the luck of the draw. Yesterday, the State of California was expected to draw for the order that the candidates will appear on the November ballot. Studies have shown that candidates whose names are listed first on the ballot have an advantage in the voting. The results of this drawing will be available on the California Secretary of State’s Election Division web site at sos.ca.gov.
To see the county’s filing list, click HERE
Quality food at affordable prices goal of Pastor Thomas
By Logan Hall
The Ojai Valley Wesleyan Church is hunting for treasure boxes. It’s not the kind you could locate with a map or find on a sunken pirate ship. The church has set out to get the Ojai Valley involved in The Treasure Box, a nonprofit subsidiary of the food distribution company, Good Source Solutions, that is dedicated to making quality food available to families at an affordable cost.
According to the company’s web site, a Treasure Box consists of 21 to 25 pounds of frozen foods ranging from beef and pork to fettuccini and chicken parmesan, enough to feed a family of four for about a week or an individual for almost a month. Families or individuals can purchase a box from their local host site for $30 and there are no qualifiers or restrictions. The contents of the boxes have a retail value of $65 to $100, and The Treasure Box has ties with more than 500 major food manufacturers, including Foster Farms, Nestle and Sara Lee, giving people access to grocery store-quality items.
“The main thing here is that the treasure boxes help people in all financial situations,” said Weselyan Church Pastor Lyn Thomas. “A member of our church had heard about it and it looked good so we said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
While the boxes seem like a great way for families to stock up on quality food at a decent price, it can also be a great way for people to donate to their community. A Treasure Box can be purchased and donated to a needy recipient. “People can purchase a box and designate the Help of Ojai’s Community Assistance Program as the recipient,” said Thomas. “C.A.P. can then distribute it to who they know.”
Everyone has a chance to fill their freezer with name-brand foods that won’t empty their bank accounts, and the company also seems to focus on including healthy items in the boxes. “The food is all really healthy and high quality,” said LaNette Donoghue, of the Wesleyan Church. “You don’t feel like you’re getting secondhand food at all.”
People interested in purchasing a Treasure Box will have until Aug. 15 to place their order to guarantee delivery in time for the month of September. Call the Ojai Valley Treasure Box at 640-5946 or log on to ojaivalleytreasurebox.org.
By Scott Wintermute
One Ojai family is displaced from their home today due to a Tuesday night fire that destroyed their garage, damaged their home and burned countless irreplaceable family heirlooms
Becky Monahan went out to check the laundry in the dryer shortly after her two girls headed to rent a movie, only to find smoke and flames billowing out from between the wall and machine.
“She started screaming, ‘Fire,’ so I grabbed the fire extinguisher.” said Tim Grant, the girls’ father who fought the blaze to little avail before it got into the walls and attic of their home and became too much for a garden hose to handle. Luckily, firefighters from Stations 21, 22 and 23 arrived at the scene and were able to contain the damage to the attached garage.
“Once they got here, it didn’t take them long to get it 90 percent contained,” said Grant.
No one was harmed in the incident, which occured around 10 p.m. Tuesday, including beloved pets Frankie the dog and Squirt the cat, after Grant ushered them out of the house. “The firemen got the guinea pig out.” added Grant.
By Bill Buchanan
I was really looking forward to the Ventura County Fair, which continues through Aug. 15. I hurt my knee Sunday night, and will be going a little slower for the next few days until it either gets better or I get faster on crutches.
I hate to miss the fair, because when I was a kid few things caused more excitement at my house (well, for my sister and me at least) than the annual county fair. For one week each October everything else became secondary as the rides, exhibits, games of chance, sideshows and “fair food” took over our lives.
At night, you could hear the carnival organ music, and see the bright lights of the midway and the rides from my house. That meant sleep was pretty much out of the question for that week as my sister and I plotted our every move. In fact, I doubt the D-Day invasion of Normandy was as well planned as our visits to the fair. Each night my sister and I would go over what we were going to see, what rides we were going to ride and what food we were going to eat. We would tally the cost of each event, and then see if we could add something to the itinerary, or would be forced to take something off. We shook our piggy banks until they were a blur, making sure we got every last coin out to take and blow on games, rides and food.
And although I was fascinated by all of it, I guess the rides were my favorite thing about the fair. This was due in part to my total inability to win anything at any of the games of chance. Over the years, I probably spent $40,000 trying to win stuffed teddy bears for myself, and later on, the girls I had a crush on — including my wife. At least I was consistent — I was awful at all the games. I would put down dollar after dollar shooting basketballs, tossing rings, throwing darts, you name it, and then walk away with my hands as empty as my pockets. Then, as if on cue, some guy and his girlfriend would walk by weighted down with stuffed animals until their knees buckled —- to make sure that I felt even more incompetent.
In all those years at the fair, there was one particular ride that always held me spellbound —- the Rock-O-Planes. At night, the Rock-O-Planes looked like a neon octopus with long tentacles shooting out in all directions. At the end of the arms were little prison-like cages that housed anyone brave enough (or stupid enough) to climb aboard. The entire gizmo rotated in a clockwise motion, taking you from ground level to 30 feet or so in the air, then hurtled you back toward the earth. All the while, the cages rocked independently to insure that you never felt in control of your destiny.
I watched in awe for many years as boys and girls, men and women, went bravely into the cages to challenge the beast, often exiting the ride weak-kneed and disoriented, with someone’s corn dog from two hours ago all over their shirt. These images kept my curiosity and adventurous spirit at bay, until one fateful day, I was walking past the ride and a classmate corralled me into going on it with him. The boy who called out to me was Gary “Chunky” Paris.
Chunky saw me, pointed to the Rock-O-Planes, and yelled out, “Hey, Buck, let’s go ride it!” My first impulse was to run and hide in the photo booth. But since I was with a group of friends, peer pressure got the best of me. I couldn’t back down in front of my friends, so I climbed into the cage to ride the Rock-O-Planes with Chunky. He was one of those annoying people who were never bothered by anything. My theory, at least with him, was because he was just plain crazy. Truly crazy people don’t worry about injury, death or other trivial matters like the rest of us. And Chunky was certifiable. The story about him that stands out is that once when he was young, he was driving his motorcycle, and hit a house. It was never made quite clear what led him to hit a house on his bike, but that is beside the point. After the accident, he got up, shook himself off, got back on the bike, and drove himself the hospital to get treated.
Crazy. And I was on the Rock-O-Planes with him. I knew I was in real trouble when Chunky began to flip the cage over before the ride even started. Then things got worse. Each time we went up in the air, he would roll the cage so that we were almost parallel with the ground. Once we reached the top and began our descent, he would flip the cage forward so that you felt like you were going to hit the ground face first. We repeated that cycle over and over again until the Lord finally took pity upon me.
When my fervent prayers that the ride would stop were finally answered, I was thankful for three things — that I was out of that cage, that I was alive, and finally, that the engine and crowd noise had been loud enough to muffle my screams. I don’t know that I actually screamed out loud, but I was certainly screaming on the inside.
I didn’t know if Rock-O-Planes even still existed, so I “Googled” it just out of curiosity. I halfway expected to either get nothing at all, or maybe get a hit about a stoner garage band called “The Rock-O-Planes” playing at some obscure venue. But sure enough, the ride is still around. You can even see a YouTube video of some fool flipping over and over and over in the cage as he rides to glory.
I couldn’t tell for sure, but it just might have been Chunky Paris in there. Have fun at the fair.
Baker takes control of skate park construction after concerns arise
By Mary M. Long
The dream team arrived and started shooting the concrete for the Ojai Skate Park early Tuesday morning. This is the same team that built the skate facility for the X games and, most recently, the Maloof Money Cup, which is now under construction in Orange County.
Joe Ciaglio, owner of California Skate Parks, has donated pool coping for the rim of the 9.5-foot-deep skate bowl at the rear of the park. “This is no small thing,” said the foreman Sergio Acosta, smiling. This coping was developed by Ciaglio specifically for skateboarding and is the same surface they installed in famed skateboarder Tony Hawk’s home, state-of-the-art facility.
A snag in the project unraveled this week resulting in an urgent on-site meeting Wednesday morning between volunteer construction liaison Chet Hilgers, representing Skate Ojai with Bob Daddi and Chris Hilgers, city engineer, Glen Hawks, Public Works director Mike Culver, Earth Systems representatives Rick Beard and Todd Trandy, Parks and Recreation director Dale Sumersille, Councilwoman Betsy Clapp, former City Clerk Carlon Strobel and foreman Acosta. The Hilgers had been asking for an accounting of the Skate Park construction funds for some time, which allegedly had not been provided by the city under Kersnar’s management. As additional construction expenses had been submitted, there was some confusion as to what money was available and what the current accounting was. The change work order involved additional drainage components and permeable fill soil to ensure the integrity of the construction and the longevity of the park. Gravel has been added to the bottom of the skate bowl for additional drainage, as well as the Earth System’s engineer calling for a permeable soil mix to replace the hydrophobic native soil to backfill the retaining walls. This will protect the walls so they will not be exposed to the pressure of the contraction and expansion of clay soil.
“The purpose here is to build the best skate park possible,” said Chet Hilgers, who was adamant that the basic structure not be compromised from the foundation up.
Hilger’s query to city officials when they tried to economize on these necessary components was, “Where’s the money?” This meeting led to an urgent Thursday morning meeting at City Hall where Ojai Skate Park representatives Chet Hilgers and Bob Daddi met with the interim city manager John Baker in closed session to discuss the management of the park construction. According to Hilgers the meeting went extremely well and he was very happy with the new interim city manager. “He said he will be the Skate Park project manager from now on and will take responsibility for the project,” said Hilgers, happily. He went on to say that Baker reassured them that there were no issues regarding money for the Skate Park based on his preliminary review, and that an accounting will be released soon. He claimed that Baker wanted to make it really clear that the Skate Park would be completed and done on time. The official Ojai Skate Park opening and ribbon cutting has been confirmed for Ojai Day, Oct. 16.
Local artist will embark again on aid mission to Niger
By Logan Hall
When stepping into Nomad — The Leslie Clark Gallery in Ojai, one might feel like they have been transported to the plains of West Africa. With paintings from Clark depicting the scenes of life as an African nomad, and artifacts and jewelry made by tribesmen from the heart of the continent, the gallery focuses on a lifestyle that is incomprehensible to most of the western world.
Although Clark is well known for her command of a paint brush over a blank canvas, she isn’t just an artist who visually captures a land that is a stark contrast to a place like the Ojai Valley. After traveling to Ethiopia and Niger, she began to see the remote parts of the world as more than just a travel destination. She saw the opportunity to reach out and help those who struggle to survive every day of their lives. “I went to Morocco and South Africa in late ‘80s,” said Clark, “but the trip that really knocked my socks off was when I traveled cross country in West Africa in ‘92. Then I went to Niger and saw the poorest, least-developed place in the world.”
Clark decided she had to help out in Niger, a country where ,according to United Nations statistics, the life expectancy is 52 years as apposed to the U.S. life expectancy of almost 80 years. Taking the reins, in 1997, she started the Nomad Foundation. “We started out to help preserve their cultural and artistic traditions, but it kind of transformed into helping them with economic development. We’re really working toward giving them the tools to survive as best they can with their existing skills, while teaching them new skills as well,” she said.
When dealing with the wide range of issues that plague Niger, Clark takes an “If you teach a man to fish” approach that she hopes will lead to more long-term stability for the nation’s nomadic population. To accomplish this, the Nomad Foundation is in the process of building the Tamesna Center for Nomadic Life located on the indigenous people’s annual migration route. “They pass by this region twice a year,” Clark said, “so we started by building a medical clinic last fall. Most of these people had never seen a doctor before.”
The Nomad Foundation has received a lot of support from the Ojai Valley, including funding from the Ojai Rotary clubs. Aside from contributing to the cause financially, Rotary Club members have also donated their time to help on-site in Niger.
Rotary member and retired physician Dr. Bob Skankey has been to Niger twice to make his medical expertise available to the people of the region. Simple things that people of the western world might take for granted, such as vitamins, are an exotic and lifesaving element in a Third World country like Niger. “When we got there, one of the most effective things was vitamins,” said Skankey. “We’ve had people with chronic illness come into the clinic looking like they were going to die. I gave them vitamins and ibuprofen, and two or three days later, they were up and about. These are wonderful, wonderful, loving people. We have truly made an impact on their quality of life. It really makes me feel good.”
Skankey has dealt with various illnesses when helping the locals with their medical issues. According to him, malaria is one of the more prevalent diseases, although respiratory problems were common due to the steady inhalation of the constantly shifting desert sands.
While Skankey helps with illness and disease within the population, Clark is busy with the logistics of helping bring the nomads what they need to adapt to a lifestyle that will help them through times of famine and drought. “We have a solar engineer coming in September to teach the local people how to fabricate solar panels to help power the water pumps, and next year we want to purchase a well drilling rig and have the rig crew come out to train them,” said Clark. “Right now, in order to get water, they either have to use buckets at a well, or they can pump it by hand. We want them to be able to have a business that will help expand their access to water and help boost their economy.”
Clark, Skankey and others who help the Nomad Foundation, face many challenges when trying to accomplish their goals. Aside from the dangers of working in such a harsh environment, there is a severe language barrier that is further complicated by a lack of reliable translating.
The main challenge that the foundation faces is the need for outside funding. “A big problem we’ve got is that we’re just to small for the big organizations to help out. Raising money is a big challenge,” said Skankey, who at the age of 79, vows to make the trip out to Niger twice a year.
In order to help raise money for her upcoming trip to Niger in September, Clark is holding her annual “African Marketplace” at the Nomad Gallery at 307 E. Ojai Ave., across the street from the Arcade on Aug. 15 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Live African music will help set the tone as artifacts and different works by the people of Niger will be set out on the patio and discounted 20 to 40 percent. Proceeds from the sale of items such as traditional African daggers, woven baskets, and masks will go toward funding the projects that could help these impoverished people lead longer, more fulfilling lives.
“Everything we are doing is very important because of the severe famine in Niger this year,” said Clark. “Millions of people are on the verge of starvation. We have been at it for a long time. It’s an ambitious project, but we’re really on the way now.”
To learn more about the Nomad Foundation, go to nomad foundation.org.
Torrance racks up ribbons, enters VC Fair again
By Mary M/ Long
“It’s still a thrill to walk into the fair and see a ribbon hanging on my picture,” said Ruth Torrance. Her walls are covered with the l watercolors she has painted and the ribbons they have won still hang on them. At 99 years old Torrance is proud of being “almost a century old.”
She got her start in painting when art classes were offered at her mobile home park in Ojai about 30 years ago. “I went to see what it was all about and I decided I liked it,” she said. Watercolors are her specialty, with landscapes, flowers and animals being her favorite subjects. She jokes that she might have to retire from painting as she has all of her children supplied with her artwork. With three children, 11 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and 8 great-great-grandchildren, this is one busy woman. When she is not painting, she is recycling greeting cards and crocheting afghans for veterans.
When someone told her she ought to be exhibiting her paintings in the fair she asked her art teacher Lois Powers for help. It’s been about three years now that she has been hanging her paintings at the Ventura Fair and she is looking forward to this year’s competition with three paintings entered. After the fair she is looking forward to visiting her grandson in Baja where she hopes to try her hand at painting a seascape. A few years ago she had tried living in an environment where she was “waited on” and she said, “I couldn’t take it.”
She proudly shows a photograph of her 99th birthday party where her family made a 99-candle display on a 13-foot plank. “My great-great-grandson Brandon drilled the holes and my great-great-granddaughter Tayler put the candles in them.” Next March they will have to drill another hole and add another candle.
By Mary M. Long
The Ventura County Fair kicked off its pre-fair party Monday with a hoot and holler in keeping with this year’s theme of “Western Nights and Carnival Lights.” Fair president and all-around Ojai cowboy, Michael Bradbury, set the tone, proudly claiming that the Ventura Fair is the crown jewel of all country fairs.
“Nowhere else do you have the ocean weather, and the expansive beautiful views that this Ventura Fair has,” he stated. Quelling any rumors that the fairgrounds would be sold, he said there was no way that willever happen. “The fair is in good hands,” he said, with the conviction of a man who knows what he is talking about and lives by his word. “My commitment when I joined the fair board,” said Bradbury, “was to retain this fair’s country atmosphere.” Not only is the fair keeping its country roots, but they are actually expanding, and will begin building a new, state-of-the-art livestock facility.
Excitement was in the air as the crowd rambled in and availed themselves of the hearty vittles served up by Marshall’s Bodacious Barbecue. With a good old-fashioned barbecue, plates were filling up with seconds and thirds of steak, chicken and beans. “Fantastic” was how Chet Hilgers described the feast, and his family agreed.
“The best-kept secret” and favorite country band of Mike and Heidi Bradbury, Caught Red Handed, took the stage to the knee-slapping, boot-scootin’ pleasure of the crowd. Playing country music and a lot of George Strait tunes, the band had the party up and dancing on the turf, with the Ventura palm trees as a scenic backdrop. Dusting it up were Fred and Margaret Menninger, who were really kicking it, country style. “They were the couple to watch,” said Hilgers, although a lot of the guests took a turn, trying their boots out on the dance area. “This is our shotgun start to the fair,” laughed CEO and general manager Barbara Quaid. Claiming to be “a country girl at heart,” she thanked the over 2,000 volunteers who made this fair possible. Board members and former board members stood for introduction with their contributions recognized and applauded. The air excitement as the party drew to a close and Troy Robinson, called out the last song of the evening as “one more for Heidi.”
“Mike and Heidi Bradbury are our biggest fans,” said Robinson, lead singer of the band. “I think we were all kids tonight,” said Bradbury, as guests and board members, children and adults tipped a hat to the opening of the 2010 Ventura County Fair. It was a first-class, cowboy-style hoedown.
For more information about the fair, see a video interview with public relations and marketing director James Lockwood at ojaivalleynews.com. Also access the Ventura County Fair’s web site at venturacountyfair.org.
Dear Students and Parents,
We are deeply saddened about a tragic loss to our school family. Cody Doolittle, a 2010 graduate, was killed in a traffic accident August 1.
Nordhoff has a Crisis Intervention Team made up of professionals trained to help with the needs of students, parents, and school personnel at difficult times such as this. We have counselors available for any student who may need or want help or any type of assistance surrounding this loss. We encourage you, as parents, to feel free to use our resources as well. We can be reached at 640-4343, ext. 1750.
Counselors will be available at Nordhoff High School starting at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, August 3. We encourage any student or family member to come to the office for assistance.
We will make every effort to help you and your child as you need.