Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Triplett patrolling the streets of Ojai in 2001. Photo by Lenny Roberts
By Lenny Roberts
When deputies graduate from the Ventura County Sherrif’s Academy or are promoted in rank, they are assigned to one of the county’s two jails — a required and important part of law enforcement training. Few of them return as guests of the “greybar hotel.”
On Sunday, 15-year veteran Deputy Tom Triplett was booked into the main jail in Ventura, charged with repeated acts of sexual misconduct with a child under the age of 16. Triplett is accused of 12 felony charges of lewd acts upon a child, sexual intercourse and oral copulation.
Triplett, 40, gained the attention of Ojai motorists beginning in 2001 when grant funding helped provide a motorcycle and officer to the city of Ojai based on traffic law enforcement needs. As the number of tickets issued increased, the number of accidents decreased because of that enforcement, authorities said.
In March 2005, Triplett’s son, Tommy, survived a six-and-one-half-hour surgery to partially remove a brain tumor.
Led by fellow officer Scottie Baugher, a special bank fund was established to help with expenses, and station deputies and staff donated vacation time so Triplett, his wife and other children could stay in Los Angeles while his son recovered at Children’s Hospital.
When the motorcycle grant funding dried up later in 2005, Triplett, his wife and three children took up residency at the remote Sheriff’s Lockwood Valley substation until about three years ago when he was assigned to patrol out of the Sheriff’s Headquarters at the Government Center in Ventura.
Triplett is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 26, and remains in custody with bail set at $800,000.
With affordable housing at risk, developer wants 23 new condominiums on 3.58-acre parcel
By Mary Long
Tuesday’s City Council meeting was standing room only in anticipation of the public hearing on the much-debated Mallory Way development. On June 9, Planning Commission members reviewed Matilija Investment’s project at a public hearing and forwarded their recommendation for approval to the City Council. When this item came up for consideration at the council meeting, Sue Horgan recused herself from the meeting citing allegations of conflict of interest as being her reason. Although she denied the conflict, she felt that it was prudent that she not be included in the council vote.
Apolonia Paulusse, a current resident of Mallory Way, spoke, asking that the cottages be preserved as they provide affordable housing in a desirable neighborhood. She spoke of the cedar construction of the cottages which kept out bugs and spiders and also of the beautiful wooded environment in which she felt privileged to live.
Reports and maps were provided by the architect and the landscape designer, which showed that great lengths had been gone to in an attempt to preserve most of the mature trees and provide a development which was compatible with the terrain. The proposed tract map allows for the construction of 23 condominiums and the conversion of seven rental units to condominiums on the 3.58-acre property.
The problems that the City Council saw in the proposition were several. The development would remove 80 percent of the affordable housing on the property in a community that is already unable to provide adequate housing for its lower-income residents. By keeping the seven affordable units the developer has qualified for the “density bonus” which has allowed them to accommodate 30 units on the property. Betsy Clapp voiced her reluctance to permit the removal of several native oak trees and discouraged the use of duplexes instead of single standing bungalows. Paul Blatz commented that the design was beautiful, as did Steve Olsen, applauding the use of natural wood tone siding, greenish roof shingles and local stone. Blatz specifically complimented the architect on the use of Craftsman-style architecture instead of the Spanish Revival design which has recently dominated Ojai commercial construction. With Horgan absenting herself, the council defined their positions at opposite ends. The only council member to unequivocally deny the project was Carol Smith, who felt that the loss of affordable housing was completely unacceptable no matter how beautiful the project might be. She stood on the moral ground that the average income was lower in Ojai than the rest of the county and that the city can ill afford to impact the availability of low-income housing. Her adamant denial drew several rounds of applause from the audience. Olsen was on the opposite side of the playing field and was ready to approve the project immediately feeling that the applicant had done a beautiful job in designing the condominium village and that the development would be an asset to the community. Clapp and Blatz also complimented the design but felt that the use of duplexes was at odds with the Land Use Element of the General Plan which seeks to retain Ojai’s small-town flavor.
With the issue coming to a vote, the City Council came down 3-1 denying the tentative tract map, with Olsen being the assenting vote and Smith the dissenting vote. With the audience buzzing there was a brief time-out with Councilman Blatz conferring with Shari Herbruck. With council members consulting with city attorney Mone Widders the information was offered that to deny the tract map would require the applicant to either make major changes or wait a year before they would be allowed to resubmit their application. According to Blatz, “I began to think that this was not fair to the applicant. The project has already gone back to the Planning Commission for several designs, and this was the first time the council had seen it and had the opportunity to give feedback to the applicant.” At 11:30 p.m. the council reconvened. Blatz took the lead to make a motion for reconsideration which passed 3 to 1, Smith being the dissenting vote. Blatz then made a second motion to deny the project without prejudice, which would allow the applicant to make modifications, which passed 3 to 1. Smith again was the lone dissenting vote. These motions will allow the applicant to take into consideration the City Council’s recommendations and suggestions which will pitch the project back to the Planning Commission for their approval.
Submitted by Shanna Wasson Taylor
On Monday, Ojai teenager Yuritzi Rodriguez will have her most heartfelt wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation with the help of Oxnard dentist Page Hudson. Rodriguez suffers from Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer that can occur at anytime during childhood and young adulthood, but usually develops during puberty.
Her wish is for braces. This is the first “braces” wish granted by the local chapter. Hudson is donating 100 percent of his services for this special wish and his staff has worked tirelessly to make sure all the details are ready for the big day. Rodriguez will have clear braces so there will be no metal to interfere with the MRIs that are part of her treatment for the disease.
Hudson said he and his staff are excited to be a part of this and have already made this experience special for Rodriguez.
The volunteer wish granters, Karen Kerrigan and Liz Kleinfingher, have nicknamed Hudson’s office “the office of angels.” Every time they call the dentist office to confirm a detail, they hear of another thing the staff has come up with to make the day extra special.
When reflecting on this wish and the many others she has granted, Kleinfingher said, “You know what the second best part of this job is? It is that we get to see the best in people,” adding her favorite part is seeing the faces of the kids when they present their wish.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
With a staff of only five and the help of more than 100 volunteers, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties has granted more than 1,000 special wishes to children in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. If you want to refer a child to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, call (888) 899-9474. Donations may be sent to Make-A-Wish at 4222 Market Street, Suite D, Ventura, CA 93001. To donate your vehicle or your airline miles call 676-9974.
By Misty Volaski
Just because a program dies out doesn’t mean the need dies along with it.
That’s something Ojai Valley Library Friends and Foundation volunteers recently discovered with the defunct English as a Second Language program. While OVLFF tutors were working at the library with local kids in the SchooLinks after-school homework program, they noticed some parents would linger close by, trying to pick up on the lessons.
“Moms would come with their children to the homework center, and just sort of sit there till the kids were finished being tutored,” said program coordinator Linda Lambert. “Most of the moms didn’t speak English. So we thought, wouldn’t this be an ideal time to offer English classes to the moms?”
Lambert’s husband, OVLFF President Jon Lambert, agreed and decided to call the Laubach Literacy of Ventura County, which used to run the Ojai Library’s ESL program several years ago. Lambert was told to find volunteers, and the nonprofit organization would again provide tutor training, books and other teaching supplies to resurrect the Ojai program.
“Lots of people here want to learn, but don’t have the opportunity,” said Linda Lambert. There are other ESL programs offered in the area, but they are in a classroom setting, not the flexible, one-on-one student-based tutoring OVLFF and Laubach now offer Ojai valley residents.
“For adults, it’s harder to learn another language,” explained Lambert. “And some people are shy or embarrassed. But if we can get them to laugh, to diminish that anxiety, it’s just delightful. There’s no grades, it’s all just personal development.”
All aspects of the program are free — tutors will get free training with Laubach, and students will get free lessons. All books and supplies are also provided by Laubach at no charge.
Students and tutors also have the freedom to schedule lessons at times and locations that work for both. “They can say, ‘Here’s my work schedule this week,’ and they can meet at a different time or place every week” if they need to, said Lambert. The one-on-one lessons are based entirely on what the ESL student needs to or would like to learn. “Job-related terminology, how to fill out forms for school or jobs, or if they have to prepare for a citizenship exam, we can help with all that,” Lambert added.
The Ojai Library program restarted in June, and already has seven tutors and more students. “They really want to learn,” said Lambert. “I have a 70-year-old man who has not missed a class since June! He spoke no English at all. Now he can count, say his address, phone number” and other basic information.
Another woman started coming herself, then asked if she could bring her sister-in-law. Then the sister asked if she could bring a friend. Soon, the one-on-one had become a three-on-one, and no one wants to go home when the lessons are through. “Her students would say, ‘No, let’s stay longer!’ They didn’t want it to end!” said Lambert. “This has turned out to be just an absolutely wonderful program.”
Laubach is hosting another tutor training session, held over two upcoming weekends, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, and noon to 3 p.m. on Oct. 16. Tutors won’t earn ESL credits or a certificate, but will become competent enough to assist the non-English speakers in their communities. “We match each tutor with a students. And we don’t assume all speak Spanish — we have a growing number of Farsi, Vietnamese, Chinese,” said Laubach secretary Bettie Hallett. Lambert concurred, saying she has a Russian student she meets with every week. “There is so much enthusiasm!” said Lambert.
Those interested in becoming tutors or students can call Lambert at 640-8507, or Laubach Literacy Ventura County at 385-9584.
Manning the U.S. Forest Service Wheeler Gorge Fire Station on Maricopa Highway are Mike Nickey, front, Jacob Tipton, left, Scott Thompson, Dante Fallati and Josh Volz. Photo by Logan Hall
By Logan Hall
The Kiwanis Club has recognized one of valley’s finest, Mike Nickey, U.S. Forest Service, as Ventura County’s Outstanding Firefighter of the Year. Awarded annually by the Kiwanis Club, firefighters from the Forest Service and the Ventura County Fire Department are recognized for exemplary service in their communities.
Beginning his career in the Monterey Ranger District, Nickey has been with the Forest Service for 20 years, six of which have been in the Ojai Valley. When he arrived six years ago, Nickey was assigned to Wheeler Gorge up Maricopa Highway. He was handed the task of converting an old Forest Service residence into a fully functional fire station.
“It’s taken us six years,” said Nickey, standing with arms folded, surveying the property, “but we’ve managed to make it work. There’s a big difference in how the station looked when we first got here and how it looks today.”
Located a few hundred yards from the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center, the station is in a prime location for the Forest Service to respond to emergencies up and down the highway. Aside from brushfires and traffic collisions on the highway, the Forest Service also handles recreational maintenance with trail grooming and fire fuel reduction, among other tasks.
“It’s a very busy station,” said Nickey. “We don’t get much down time. We’ve always got something to work on.”
Since his arrival, Nickey and his crew have completely transformed the look and functionality of the property. Except for Caltrans helping with grading and shaping of the driveway, almost all of the work was completed in-house with the Forest Service.
They’ve built an engine bay to house the new fire engine, Engine 55, that Nickey picked up from Boise, Idaho and drove back to Ojai. They’ve built retaining walls, rock borders that line the driveway and walkways, and have turned a three-bedroom house into a working fire station. They also managed to salvage the flag pole from the old Sheriff’s Department property in Rose Valley and are using it to fly Old Glory high above the station.
Nickey really seems to believe in the work that he has put into the station and he stresses the importance of being located in an area like Wheeler Gorge.
“People don’t realize how important it is for us to be here,” he said. “We respond to quite a few motorcycle accidents on the highway. We’ll be on top of any fires, traffic collisions or incidents requiring medical aid in the area.”
Nickey has gained the respect of his peers and his crew by working hard and practicing what he preaches. “He’s a good guy to work for. He looks out for his people,”
said Scott Thompson, senior firefighter at Wheeler Gorge. “Mike is always busy. He likes to get things done.”
Aside from the work that he has put into the Wheeler Gorge Fire Station, Nickey has been on many fires including the Day Fire that burned more than 162,700 acres in 2006. He plans on taking the position of captain at the Wheeler Station when Scott Morgan retires from the Forest Service.
By Bill Buchanan
A recent survey shows that women now make 83 cents for every dollar made by men. That is shameful. But if that was not bad enough, it turns out to be an improvement. As recently as 2000, women made only 76 cents for every dollar made by men. In 1979, that figure was only 62 cents —- a little more than half.
Women now outnumber men in both the workplace and college. For me, that brings to mind the question that if men are not in college and not at work, exactly where are they and what are they doing? I mean are they at the ball game — or what?
The survey added that while more and more women are breadwinners, in many households they are also expected to keep hearth and home. Unfortunately, I had firsthand experience with this situation. My daddy died of lung cancer in 1965, when I was 10 and my sister was 7. My mother immediately became the sole parent, as well as the sole breadwinner for our family.
My mother had always worked outside the home. That was unusual back in the ‘50s. It was even more unusual that she was employed in a field other that the traditional ones occupied by most women at that time — nursing or teaching. My mother worked for a rural electrical power company in the bookkeeping department, later moving up and eventually becoming the No. 2 person with the company. She was smart and personable. But her promotions were delayed by the fact that she was a woman working in an old boys’ network type of company. She trained two other men to take the position that she eventually acquired about 10 to 15 years after she would have had the job had she been a man.
Mother rarely complained about the situation, and was an extremely loyal employee, working with that company for almost 40 years. But it seems almost criminal that a loyal, dedicated and competent employee was held back so long simply because of her gender, perhaps even passed over with the justification that the men “had a family to support.” Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Add to that the sexual harassment that many women faced in those times (and in some cases, to this day), and you cannot help but have tremendous admiration for the courage and determination they displayed.
And now, in 2010, women are still not treated equally. A friend of mine once advised me, “If you want a position filled, hire a man. If you want work done, hire a woman.” Well, if we do hire a woman, let’s pay them equally. To do anything less is shameful.
At this time, I would like to express my appreciation to the outstanding group of women we have here at the OVN: Michelle Delema, Kathy Eicher, Linda Griffin, Jodie Miller, Nancy Sandstrom, and Misty Volaski all do a terrific job here at the newspaper. I also thank our freelance writers and photographers Mary M. Long, Amber Lennon and Holly Roberts, as well as our cartoonist Colleen McDougal and summer intern, Michelaina Smith, for their valuable contributions to the newspaper. They all make the rest of us look better than we really are.
By Logan Hall
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors met yesterday morning to discuss items throughout their jurisdictions. One item in particular, seems to have a major impact on the residents, businesses and infrastructure of the Ojai Valley.
The board voted 4 to 1 in support of the state changing the kingpin to rear axle length advisory KPRA into a mandatory restriction for trucks on Maricopa Highway.
Currently, the state has an advisory for Highway 33 that suggests a maximum KPRA length of 30 feet. According to the California Highway Patrol, the advisory cannot be regulated by law enforcement. If made mandatory by the state, the CHP or Sheriff’s Department could enforce KPRA lengths.
Bennett cites many reasons for supporting the restriction. “This is a safety issue,” said Bennett, addressing those attending while referring to a picture of an oversized truck attempting to make a turn on the highway. “That road is used by lots of recreational travelers. When the trucks come, you have some real issues.”
Several citizens spoke to the board to voice their opinions. Larry Mosler, who owns a gravel mine up the “33” near the North Fork of Matilija Creek, and is currently involved in a lawsuit with property owners near the mine, told the board that the restriction would be a big mistake. “These restrictions interfere with interstate commerce,” said Mosler, who was visibly irritated. “It’s another attempt to put people out of work. This will be fought vigorously.”
Mosler wasn’t the only one who questioned Bennett’s push for state legislation on the matter. Greg Webster, honorary mayor of Oak View and owner of Greg Rents, also addressed the board. “A lot of these trucks represent small business in the local economy,” said Webster. “I have noticed a lot of small businesses in Ventura County dropping like flies. I want to keep everyone safe as well, but at the same time, you can’t hurt the local economy.”
Other speakers, like valley residents Susan Draffan and Lisa Meeker, were in full support of the restriction. “I strongly urge you to pass this for the safety of everyone that drives this road,” said Draffan. “I have been run off the road several times by the trucks. It is not safe.”
“I would like to keep my husband and other cyclists alive,” added Meeker.
All of the board members except Supervisor Peter Foy seemed to support the mandatory KPRA restriction. Foy voiced concern for local businesses that might rely on the road. “I can’t support this at all,” said Foy. “We don’t want to restrict the business that these people have. We have to be careful here.”
espite the misgivings of Mosler, Webster and Foy, the board passed the motion to recommend to the state that the advisory restriction become mandatory.
Peter Bowen, left, and Shaun O’Bryan, right, chat with Malcolm McDowell during the “Easy A” pre-premiere after party at the Primavera Gallery. McDowell plays Ojai North High School’s Principal Gibbons in the film. Photo by Logan Hall
By Logan Hall
The familiar sights and even some familiar faces of Ojai towered above locals on the big screen at the Ojai Playhouse. The blockbuster movie “Easy A,” filmed entirely in Ojai, debuted at the playhouse with the first showing last Friday being geared toward the teens of the community, many of whom were extras in the film itself. The playhouse sold out all 220 seats and many hopeful viewers had to be turned away at the door.
The second showing took place last night. Although fewer people turned out, the audience cheered as the first scene of the movie displayed Ojai in all of its glory. Flashing from Nordhoff High School to the Arcade and everywhere in between, the movie evoked whoops and hollers from the people that seemed to be almost entirely locals. The film stars up and coming actress Emma Stone as Olive Penderghast, who takes viewers on a journey through the trials and tribulations of going to a small school in a small town.
The film’s director and Ojai resident Will Gluck decided to have the movie preview in Ojai before the national release today. All proceeds from ticket sales were donated to the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation.
“I chose Ojai because I wanted the town to be one of my ‘characters’ in the script,” said Gluck in a letter addressed to the people of Ojai. “Ojai was the perfect place to capture this. It’s also the most beautiful town in the world, and I tried to make it look as good as we all know it to be.”
Gluck made it clear that he cares about his town and the youth that live in the community. “All of the proceeds of these two pre-premiere screenings will go directly to support the teens of Ojai,” he continued. “I was pleased to choose the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation as the recipient of the funds from these screenings.”
Many scenes were filmed at Nordhoff and familiar classrooms and hallways played across the screen as the viewers laughed and cheered. Other scenes showed panoramic views of the valley shot from Shelf Road. Libbey Park, St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Carrows Restaurant (aka, “The Lobster Shack”) all were co-stars in the movie.
After the showing, viewers were invited to an after party hosted by Khaled Al-Awar and the Primavera Gallery. Longtime Ojai resident Malcolm McDowell, who plays principal Gibbonsof Ojai North High School in the film, was on hand and graciously met with the people who attended.
“I’ve been in Ojai since 1982,” said McDowell, “That was one of the selling points for me. My manager came to me and said, ‘I found you a movie that films in Ojai.’ I said, I don’t care what it is. I’ll do it. I got lucky and worked with an amazing cast and crew. Emma Stone is going to be a big star. This movie will be a hit.”
1st District supervisor wants change in
state’s Highway 33 mining truck advisory
By Logan Hall
The County of Ventura’s Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday at the Ventura County Government Center to recommend support of new state legislation that would put a mandatory restriction on the length of mining trucks using Maricopa Highway. Supervisor Steve Bennett is urging board members to recommend that the state adopt the legislation.According to Bennett, Highway 33 is designated as having an advisory kingpin to rear axle length (KPRA) of 30 feet. The key word seems to be “advisory” as the KPRA for the highway is not mandatory. Trucks that traverse Highway 33 are often longer than the current advised length. Bennett said in a press release that many of the trucks have a KPRA of 40 feet, which is 25 percent longer than the state’s advisory.“The Maricopa Highway is a narrow, high-mountain road built in 1933 to accommodate vehicles of that era,” he said. “Shoulders are often non-existent, bridges and tunnels are very narrow, curve radiuses are very short, and visibility is often limited around the many switchback turns.”Bennett cites the recent accident where a mining truck experienced brake failure and crashed on Highway 154 in Santa Barbara as one of the reasons why the trucks can be so dangerous. He says that aside from the fact that many of the trucks don’t fit on the narrow highway, they can also be carrying full loads weighing many tons. Often the trucks have to travel in severe weather and on icy road surfaces.Bennett says that, “In order to assure the safety of highway users and occupants of adjoining properties, the recommended action is to support new state legislation to make mandatory the existing advisory KPRA length of 30 feet.”Bennett and the county aren’t the only ones with grievances about the trucking operations in the mountains above Ojai. A lawsuit was filed in December in Ventura County Superior Court by Coleman and Donna Epstein, who own property where the mining operations are being undertaken. The lawsuit lists the defendants as Larry E. Mosler and Gralar, LLC, and cites several alleged violations of the rights of the property owners. The Epsteins claim that mining operations on and near their property are damaging the property and diminishing the quality of life in the area. According to the plaintiffs, grading of the hillside above the property is causing silt runoff into the North Fork of Matilija Creek. The Epsteins also allege that this activity affects the water quality for the property and makes the hillsides more susceptible to erosion and eventual landslides. The lawsuit further alleges the amount of mining trucks that use part of the property for hauling exceeds the legal limit for the mining companies. The Epsteins claim that the trucks make excessive noise, which again affects the quality of life on the property. An amount for the suit will be determined when the case goes to trial. A mandatory settlement conference is scheduled for Nov. 19. If no settlement is reached, a jury trial could begin Dec. 6.The county meeting on Tuesday will be open to the public and Bennett encourages members of the community to attend. Individuals will have the option to speak to the board. The agenda item is scheduled to be heard at 10:30 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room of the County Government Center, 800 S. Victoria Ave. in Ventura.
By Misty Volaski
The Ojai schools have had a “fabulous opening,” said Ojai Unified School District superintendent Hank Bangser. “Huge credit goes to the staff —- teachers, sports staff, principals, and the parents. And the students themselves.” The smooth opening was especially poignant, he added, “following the unfortunate budget cuts from this spring. Everyone’s attitudes have been tremendously professional.”While today marks the last day that Nordhoff High School students and OUSD kindergartners will have the option of bus transportation from school to their homes, Bangser said he was impressed with the way parents have stepped up to help each get their kids home. “Parent networks have emerged to help each other get the kids home,” said Bangser. “That extra month (extension of bus service) was really helpful.”NHS principal Dan Musick sent out one last phone message this week to remind parents that today would be the last day.At Tuesday’s OUSD meeting, the board invited the Parent-Teacher Organization presidents to Tuesday’s meeting to formally thank them for the many things they do behind the scenes — usually without thanks or recognition. The board also welcomed a new assistant principal for Matilija Junior High School, Javier Ramirez. Ramirez joins principal Emily Mostovoy on the staff. Ramirez has been a math teacher at Nordhoff for several years, and was recently named the Ojai Education Foundation’s Person of the Year. Adding to the excitement was the fact that Ramirez and Mostovoy both not only attended Matilija and Nordhoff — they attended at the same time.“We’re very excited about this. (Ramirez) is a wildly popular guy on campus,” said Bangser. “I know he will The board also passed a resolution verifying they have sufficient textbooks for all students. Board member Rikki Horne inquired as to whether the resolution included desks and chairs. It did not, but Bangser assured the board there were enough for everyone. “We had enough, we just had to do a little swapping from class to class.”
The board also accepted a presentation of the final 2009-2010 school year revenues and expenditures. Dannielle Pusatere, assistant superintendent of business and administrative services, announced that she’d found an additional $119,000 in unappropriated funds that were unused from last year’s general fund, meaning it could be applied to the 2010-2011 school year budget. That’s a good thing for a small school district that has had to cut $3.5 million from the budget over the last few years. Bangser explained these funds would go to increase the state-mandated reserve fund, which is for unexpected expenses and currently sits at just 1 percent of the total OUSD budget for 2010-2011 (the state usually requires a 3 percent reserve, but does make exceptions). That would put the reserve up .5 percent, to 1.5 percent, or about $345,000.
“We’re still right on the financial edge, but this is good news,” said Bangser. “It was a result of belt tightening in the spring of last year and planned under expenditures.”
The OUSD is “sure hoping for,” but not counting on, funds from the Federal Education Jobs Bill 2010, which gives money to the cash-strapped states to keep education jobs. California will get $1.2 billion, and the OUSD’s share will be $500,000. However, as the passing of the state budget might not happen before the November elections, the state may find a way to take some of that money.
The board finalized its modifications to the OUSD’s governing board policies as well. Among those changes: weapons of any kind will no longer be allowed on OUSD campuses, even for educational purposes (such as a presentation of Civil War-era rifles in a history class). It also included a strict ban of cyber-bullying (such as on Facebook). Like most school districts across the country, the OUSD has had problems with this new type of bullying.
“Any superintendent would tell you ‘yes,’ they have problems,” said Bangser. “As proficiency and availability of technological means to comment on your fellow students grows,” so does cyber-bullying, he said. “The ease of using that technology to bully and speak negatively has become enormous.”
OUSD kids are allowed to have cell phones at school, but are not allowed to use them — not even during break periods — until after school. “The penalties (of cyber-bullying) are made clear,” Bangser added, and are just as severe as punishments for all other forms of bullying.
Among the other items the board accepted Tuesday: a $3,750 donation from the Rotary Club of Ojai for guitars at San Antonio Elementary; a report from the Danza Azteca Mayahuel, on their activities and accomplishments; and a report from Nordhoff athletic director Dave Monson, on the successes of the 2009-2010 NHS sports teams and student-athletes.
The OUSD’s next meeting, set for Oct. 12, will have a spot of bright news, as they will have a presentation of the API test scores from the spring of 2010. Of all the school districts in Ventura County, OUSD had the second highest test scores, and jumped 10 points from last year’s scores. “That’s an extraordinarily large increase,” said Bangser.
By Bill Buchanan
I got back to Alabama just in time to miss a concert by one of my favorite old bands, Kansas. They were performing along with a symphony group comprised of university students. I saw a photo of some of the band members in the newspaper. Whew, they looked like death eating a cracker. But a friend who went to the concert told me that while the band had not weathered the aging storm too well physically, their musical talents had not diminished at all, and were perhaps even better than in the ‘70s when we listened to great old songs like “Can I Tell You,” “Dust in the Wind” and “Bringing It Back.”
I love music as much as I love football. Maybe more. I have more than 5,000 songs on my iPod. It is a pretty sure bet I haven’t seen 5,000 football games, although my wife might beg to differ.
I like a wide range of music, encompassing many genres. I tend to favor blues, Motown, and rock — both easy listening and what is today referred to as “classic” rock — which is a boomer euphemism for “old.” Those of us who are in the middle-to-late end of the boomer generation are deathly afraid of the word “old” and will do any dance we can to get around it. So we call things that we like that are no longer in fashion (and haven’t been for about 30 years) “classic” or “retro.” Note: If you are advanced enough in years to get discounted meals or free checking, then you are not “classic” or “retro,” you are just getting old.
At any rate, I was sorry I missed the concert. I am fascinated by those with musical talent. My wife has a terrific voice. Logan and Misty here at the OVN play the guitar. I love music, but have zero musical talent. I cannot play any instrument and cannot sing. I have been told I have an amazing voice, but they didn’t mean it was the good kind of amazing. I have only sung in public twice, and one of those performances emptied out a bar.
I do not blame myself for lack of musical ability. I blame Mr. Thompson, our junior high-high school band director. When I was in sixth grade, everyone was given a musical “aptitude” test to determine each student’s prowess in distinguishing notes, pitches, etc. Although I had never been musically inclined, when the results were in, I had scored in the “superior” range. This would be much more impressive if it were not for the fact that the tests were given by the company that sold musical instruments to the school. What a coincidence, right? In fact, I think the lowest anyone ever scored was “excellent.”
So, bolstered by my impressive score and newfound musical ability, I decided to join the junior high band. I had my heart set on the drums. Keep in mind that this was the ‘60s, and because of The Beatles, everyone had a garage band. If you could play “Wipe Out” on the drums, the girls fell at your feet. So there were only about 30 other guys who wanted to play the drums, too. Mr. Thompson steered me toward another instrument — the first step in my musical undoing.
I was disappointed at first, but I went to “Instrument Night” at the school to pick out something to play. I spied a gleaming silver trumpet, and I forgot all about the drums. I went to work on my mother, reminding her of my “superior” rating, and trying to “guilt” her into buying me that beautiful trumpet — which she finally agreed to do. She put a down payment on the trumpet, which was priced about like a good used car back then, and we took it home. I was ecstatic. Little did I suspect that this was the pinnacle of my musical career.
My first day at band practice, Mr. Thompson, a very jovial man and talented musician, showed us the proper form for playing each instrument. We all blew and banged our instruments with great gusto. And while the noise we made probably sounded like someone shaving 10,000 cats, this was going to be great fun. Then Mr. Thompson dropped the bomb. We were expected to practice — 45 minutes to an hour every night! The newness quickly rubbed off my horn as I sat there torturing my poor family each night trying to play scales and simple songs. I looked longingly at my football and my baseball and glove as they sat in the corner. I thought I could detect actual decay on them from lack of use.
Pretty soon, all this got to be a lot of work. And our band director didn’t put up with much either. Talking or making noise during band practice was rewarded with having a blackboard eraser fired at your head by Mr. Thompson. He was a big guy with an arm like Nolan Ryan. You knew it when you got hit. So did everyone else as the eraser left a chalk mark on you that stayed there all day like a sign that said, “I acted like an idiot during band practice today.”
I lasted one year. My musical career came to a screeching halt, and the world was deprived of what would surely have been a legendary talent. The only thing that kept my mother from killing me was that she was able to sell my trumpet for about the same amount she had paid for it to my cousin, Vickie. It seems that during a recent musical aptitude test, Vickie had scored “superior,” and wouldn’t it be a shame not to encourage such a promising musical career?
And the beat goes on.
In native tradition, Aliso Street
bear killed last year remembered
By Logan Hall
On a cool, starlit, Ojai summer night, flames from the large bon-fire licked at the crisp air as a screech owl swooped overhead. The grounds of Casa De La Luna and the throngs of people present were prepared for the Chumash Bear Dance ceremony to honor Elliot, the Ojai bear that was killed last year.“It is time to call out the bears,” exclaimed Redstar, the group’s ceremonial leader. “Chi ciayo, chi ciayo, chi ciayo.” Just a few minutes earlier, Redstar, who donned traditional Chumash regalia for the ceremony, had been wearing plain clothes while addressing those attending, preparing them for what they were about to witness. “These are traditions we want to share with you,” he said to the people while shadows cast by the growing fire danced across the surrounding oaks, “… the way we live, the way we act, it’s who we are. Never be ashamed of who you are.”Redstar spoke of the Chumash tradition and described the reasons for their rituals. “We’ve had elders come and go. We’ve had teachers and children come and go … We pray and sing songs for all of them. We build the fire to honor them. We sing songs for each other because we care.”After speaking to the gathered mass of more than 200 people, Redstar called out the bears. Four tribesmen wearing bear skins and other traditional garments appeared and entered the ceremonial circle where they were prepared with sage by the spiritual leaders. Drums began to beat in a driving rhythm that set the pace for the bears as the other members of the tribe started singing traditional songs passed down from their ancestors. Moving clockwise, they began to stomp and dance in rhythm with the drums.
After several songs, Redstar thanked Margaret Elliott, owner of Casa De La Luna, for hosting the ceremony. Redstar was quick to point out that Elliott, aside from donating time and her property, coincidentally shares the same name as the Ojai bear.
After thanking and welcoming Redstar and the rest of the tribe, Elliott was invited into the circle to dance with the bears. “It was a magical evening to be with so many people in a circle, under the stars,” she said. “The energy was amazing … I couldn’t keep the smile off of my face.”
Redstar also made a point to thank Chumash Ojai resident Julie Tumamait for her family’s help in bringing the Bear Dancers back to Ojai.
A few songs later, Redstar invited the audience to participate in the dance. Within minutes, an expanding line had formed, as an estimated 90 percent of those attending were prepared with sage to enter the circle. As the people came through the entrance to the sacred area, they were formed into a line that spiraled from the center by the fire, out toward the few people still in lawn chairs surrounding the circle.
The drums started up and the singing resumed as the people danced in the circle with the bears weaving in and out of the spiral. After dancing with the bears, everyone remaining had the opportunity to experience a traditional Chumash healing with one of the spiritual leaders. Using feathers and a whistle that when blown, could be mistaken for the cry of an eagle, the spiritual leader made his way around the circle, thoroughly and methodically healing each person.
Some participants seemed to be overcome with emotion, or just the sheer intensity of the ritual and were brought into the circle while sobbing and falling to their knees. The bears surrounded the affected person while Redstar instructed to let go of whatever they were holding on to and give it to the fire.
“Even though there were less people attending than last year,” said Tumamait, “seeing 90 percent of them participate was amazing.”
After more singing and dancing, the bears exited the circle and Redstar thanked everyone, declaring the ceremony finished. Though the circle had grown quiet and the dust settled, the flames from the fire flickered until the mass of wood was reduced to a pile of ash.
The next morning, Redstar and the rest of his people gathered around the still-smoldering ashes of the fire to close out the circle. Passing a sage smudge-stick around, each person in the circle had a chance to share their thoughts and experiences from the night before. As the group began to sing a song to help in the close-out, a hawk flew in overhead and proceeded to soar in circles over the fire pit. The singing continued while the tribesmen shook feathers and shakers in the air to honor the bird.
The Bear Dancers bring their ceremony to all parts of California, and seem to take pride in educating people about their culture.
“The problem with the world today,” said Redstar the morning after the ceremony, “is that tradition is slowly being pushed aside. We want people to learn that everything is a process of spiritual growth.”
Visit casadelaluna.org for information on future events and updates on next year’s Bear Dance.
NDSDF founder Wilma Melville does her part in the ceremonial groundbreaking Saturday at the site of the $11M National Training Center on Santa Paula-Ojai Road, which is slated to open 9/11/11. Photo by Mary M. Long
By Mary M. Long
The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation held a ceremonial ground breaking on Saturday to herald the construction their much-anticipated National Training Center in Wheeler Canyon, Santa Paula. Opening the site on the ninth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center has a special significance to the staff and dog handlers of the foundation; 78 search teams were deployed to 9/11 and many were among the first responders. Disaster search dogs are trained to find people while they are still alive and alert their handlers of their presence so that the victims can be reached by rescuers. According to handler Capt. Rick Lee, who was deployed to 9/11 with his canine partner, Ana, the responsibility and the respect these dogs receive from rescue personnel is awe inspiring. “Every day we had to walk past the wall of photos of the missing people on the way to the site to search for victims,” he said, knowing that their survival might depend on their dogs. With rescue, every minute counts for the survival of the person who might be trapped inside a mound of rubble. The dogs are so accurate in their assessment of a site, that rescuers do not waste time looking in an area when the dogs tell them it is clear. What can make more apparent the need for a National Disaster Dog Training Center, than a foreign attack on American soil?
Every cause needs a champion, and in this case it is Wilma Melville. A veteran dog handler herself, she decided after working the Oklahoma City bombing that “it could be done better,” and returned home to found the center for disaster dogs in her hometown of Ojai. Unique to this program is their method of finding their search dog candidates. A good search dog must have a nose for scent, the will to work, agility to traverse unstable locations, the uncanny ability to internalize the importance of the rescue and yet be balanced enough to be safe among other dogs and humans when in extraordinary circumstances. Where do they find these paragons of canine virtue? Most often they have been abandoned at rescue organizations or animal shelters. The qualities that make a good search dog are often the ones the make them undesirable as a backyard pets.
According to handler Dave Stoddard, his partner Rowdy is “an awesome search dog” but was found virtually on death row by an NDSDF worker and rescued. Another of the search dogs was entertaining himself at the ceremonies by leaping up and down giving kisses to his handler Jim Boggeri. “Oh he’s like that 24-7,” laughed Boggeri, claiming that Nino’s boundless enthusiasm is part of why he has the “over-the-top drive” to make him a superlative search dog as well as “a licking machine.”
More than 20 search teams joined in the ceremonies, coming from all over the United States to support Melville’s historic enterprise. This 125-acre site will be the only facility in the United States devoted exclusively to the training of canine disaster
The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation held a ceremonial ground breaking on Saturday to herald the construction their much-anticipated National Training Center in Wheeler Canyon, Santa Paula. Opening the site on the ninth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center has a special significance to the staff and dog handlers of the foundation; 78 search teams were deployed to 9/11 and many were among the first responders. Disaster search dogs are trained to find people while they are still alive and alert their handlers of their presence so that the victims can be reached by rescuers. According to handler Capt. Rick Lee, who was deployed to 9/11 with his canine partner, Ana, the responsibility and the respect these dogs receive from rescue personnel is awe inspiring. “Every day we had to walk past the wall of photos of the missing people on the way to the site to search for victims,” he said, knowing that their survival might depend on their dogs. With rescue, every minute counts for the survival of the person who might be trapped inside a mound of rubble. The dogs are so accurate in their assessment of a site, that rescuers do not waste time looking in an area when the dogs tell them it is clear. What can make more apparent the need for a National Disaster Dog Training Center, than a foreign attack on American soil? Every cause needs a champion, and in this case it is Wilma Melville. A veteran dog handler herself, she decided after working the Oklahoma City bombing that “it could be done better,” and returned home to found the center for disaster dogs in her hometown of Ojai. Unique to this program is their method of finding their search dog candidates. A good search dog must have a nose for scent, the will to work, agility to traverse unstable locations, the uncanny ability to internalize the importance of the rescue and yet be balanced enough to be safe among other dogs and humans when in extraordinary circumstances. Where do they find these paragons of canine virtue? Most often they have been abandoned at rescue organizations or animal shelters. The qualities that make a good search dog are often the ones the make them undesirable as a backyard pets.According to handler Dave Stoddard, his partner Rowdy is “an awesome search dog” but was found virtually on death row by an NDSDF worker and rescued. Another of the search dogs was entertaining himself at the ceremonies by leaping up and down giving kisses to his handler Jim Boggeri. “Oh he’s like that 24-7,” laughed Boggeri, claiming that Nino’s boundless enthusiasm is part of why he has the “over-the-top drive” to make him a superlative search dog as well as “a licking machine.”More than 20 search teams joined in the ceremonies, coming from all over the United States to support Melville’s historic enterprise. This 125-acre site will be the only facility in the United States devoted exclusively to the training of canine disaster search teams. With more than $4.1 million raised to date for the construction of the site, another $7 million is left to be raised by December just to meet the interim goals. As Melville says, “It’s a marathon, but we are out of the starting gate,” with much more fund raising ahead of them. The project is a public-private partnership between NDSDF and the nation’s fire departments at no cost to American taxpayers.
Melville hopes to have the grand opening of the National Training Center on Sept. 11, 2011, the 10-year anniversary of the day when the very foundations of our nation’s security were shaken to their core. True to her pioneer spirit, she plans to fly her single engine RV10 aircraft over the grand opening and tip her wing to remember the 3,000 victims lost in the September attack, and to honor the sacrifices of rescue personnel, firefighters and search dog teams that responded to the nation’s disaster.
For Melville, the project is a lifetime dream coming true, and with typical optimism she says,”Happiness is here, but the joy of success will come with the grand opening of this facility next year.”
Shown are some of the thousands of batteries that have been dropped off at the OVN office for recycling.
By Logan Hall
Last month, the County of Ventura decided to no longer waive their battery disposal fee for the city of Ojai. The Ojai Valley News, having been a used battery collection center for the community in partnership with the Green Coalition, would not be able to sustain the collections without the city of Ojai’s help. Valley residents who have relied on the OVN for their battery disposal for years were going to have to seek other means of discarding their used batteries. “The problem was that we were getting too many battery loads from the Green Coalition and the OVN,” said Don Sheppard, environmental resource analyst for the county’s Integrated Waste Management Division. “It started to become such a volume that I couldn’t keep doing it without contacting the city of Ojai. They decided to start doing the collections themselves.”According to batteryuniversity.com, the global battery market is about $50 billion with about $14 billion of that market coming from the United States. After many of these batteries are used, most people don’t think twice before throwing them in the garbage. The other alternative is recycling. battery university.com states that battery recycling in the United States costs about $1,000 to $2,000 a ton.Andrea Boggs, Ojai Public Works administrative analyst, says the city has started a collection process of their own for recycling used batteries. Using what’s known as the Big Green Box, citizens from the community could drop off batteries that would subsequently be brought to the county’s recycling facility. The process seems simple enough, and perhaps some of the many people who utilized the OVN’s free service would take their batteries to City Hall.
To drop batteries off with the city, however, each individual battery needs to be sealed in a plastic bag before being dropped.
The task of individually wrapping each battery could be enough to discourage some from recycling the batteries. For others, it brought about a catch-22. While the batteries would be recycled and kept from harming the environment, the potential use of thousands of plastic bags seemed to negate the process of battery recycling.
Neither the county nor the city appeared to want to take the blame for the decision. After pointing fingers at each other and having conversations with the OVN, the two local governments reconsidered their position and recanted their decision of denying free battery disposal for the OVN.
“Don and I have decided that the OVN can continue their battery collection,” said Boggs. “Everything can go on as it has, but if the volume gets to be too great, we may need to rethink this.”
For now, citizens of the community can still bring in their used batteries to the OVN office at 408-A Bryant Circle for proper, environmentally friendly disposal.
Desert Storm veteran Gil Vondriska pilots a Robinson R-44 Raven helicopter over familiar landmarks like the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, and Nordhoff High School. The flight allowed the OVN to get an unusual perspective of the sights that the valley has to offer. Photo by Logan Hall
By Logan Hall
The morning marine layer begins to break up over the Topa Topas as the helicopter gains altitude and swoops in toward Ojai. Piloted by Desert Storm veteran and Ojai resident Gil Vondriska, the dark gray, piston-engine Robinson R-44 Raven cruises over the contours of the valley floor at 130 mph. Rented from Orbic Helicopters at the Camarillo airport, the half-million-dollar machine, dubbed by Orbic instructors as “the ultimate off-road vehicle,” speeds through the air toward the familiar landmarks of Ojai.
From 700 feet above the deck, the sights of the valley begin coming into view long before Vondriska flies the Raven over downtown. Seconds later, the Ojai Post Office Tower, Nordhoff High School, and then Lake Casitas are zipping by underneath the Raven’s sleek underbelly.
Vondriska is a seasoned helicopter and fixed-wing pilot with more than 20 years of combat, rescue and commercial flight experience. Having flown large, four-engine C-5 Galaxy cargo planes in Iraq during the first Gulf War and the HH-60G Pav Hawk helicopter with Combat Search and Rescue in Portland, Ore., he is now retired from the military and works as a flight instructor for Fed-Ex. Teaching pilots to fly fully loaded MD-11 cargo planes, he spends much of his time overseas.
When at home in the states, he takes every chance he can get to fly the small, quick helicopters that are such a stark contrast to the bulky fixed-wing cargo planes that he flies for a living. “The R-44 is a lot of fun to fly,” said Vondriska as he swung the Raven out over Chismahoo Mountain, west of Lake Casitas. “I try to get up in the helicopter at least once a month.”
The flight wasn’t all fun and games, however. Vondriska, who is a firm supporter of the Ojai Valley Defense Fund was eager to point out to the OVN some of the past threats that the citizens of Ojai have faced through the years. Flying by Lake Casitas, he points to a spot close to the lake and says, “That’s where the uranium mine was going to be excavated.”
According to the OVDF, in the 1970s, an open-pit uranium mine was proposed by Homestake Mining Co., and permits for exploratory excavation near White Ledge and Superior Ridge were issued. A group of concerned citizens formed the organization, Stop Uranium Now, and convinced Congress to stop the project in its tracks.
It’s because of the existence of threats like the uranium mine and the infamous Weldon Canyon Dump proposal that the OVFD was formed. “This valley is just so unique,” said OVDF President John Broesamle. “The point of the Defense Fund is to send a message that we will fight to protect our valley.”
After touring various sites of past threats to the valley, Vondriska flew the Raven toward Ventura and out along Solimar and Emma Wood beaches before following the 101 freeway, ending back at the Orbic Helicopters landing pad.
After spending an afternoon flying with Vondriska in the Raven, it isn’t hard to see why he is so passionate about what he does. “Flying is the best way to see Ojai,” he said, grinning from ear to ear after setting the Raven down with smooth, precise control movements. “You really get a bird’s-eye view of how amazing the valley is.”
Dwayne Bower with his 1929, straight-eight Packard. Photo by Mary M. Long
Vintage vehicle spent nearly
half-century under wraps
By Mary M. Long
When Columbia studios call, people tend to listen. So it was when Dwayne Bower of Ojai Vintage Vehicles heard that a movie was under production that would be set in the 1930s and the studio would be looking for historically accurate cars for the filming. For 49 years the big black 1929 Packard had lain sleeping under her dust cover, but with Hollywood calling, Bower thought the time was finally right to dust off the four-door beauty and bring her back to life. When fathers buy toys for their sons, they usually come with instructions, but not so with the Packard. Purchased by the Bowers in 1961 for the sum of $100, Bud Bower had thought the Packard would be a good project for his 18-year-old son, Dwayne. He had already purchased Pop Soper’s ‘29 Packard and thought that a two Packard family seemed like a good idea. Projects have a way of getting shelved, though, when life and family take priority. Dwayne Bower married, had children, who gave him grandchildren, and in 2008 his father, Bud Bower passed away, and still the Packard stood unrestored. Before the key could be turned, on a motor that had stood still for so many years, there was much work to be done in preparation. The fuel system and the carburetor had to be cleaned out, and all of the valves which were stuck open had to be lubed and loosened up. “You have to make sure the engine is free before you start it,” explained Bower. “If you’re not careful, the starter is so powerful it can bend things all up inside.” The Packard hood can open from either side or be removed completely to access the straight-eight engine. 1929 was the first year that Packard offered this smaller eight engine, the fenders are black.” New chrome was a must-have for the trim, bumpers and for the hood ornament of the Packard, the figure of Adonis who rides feet first into the wind. When Aug. 21 arrived for the Mentor Madness car show, she was “running really well,” said Bower, smiling. He and his wife, Marilyn, stepped up on board, taking the freshly washed Packard down Ojai Avenue for the very first time. Although the Packard didn’t win the show, she arrived on time, and took her place among the other vintage cars. “She’s not really finished yet,” explained Bower, so after the show she went back on the hoist for more restoration. One of the last big projects for the car is new upholstery, which will be as close as possible to the original brown-and-tan checkerboard mohair that she wore when she was driven off the lot at Kelly Motors of Pasadena in 1929. Purchased right before the stock market crash of October ‘29, in a time when cars were sold to cash buyers only, Bower surmises that the original owner may have ended up with a brand-new car and not much else. Despite her years, she is looking more beautiful than ever, and next time the phone rings and the studio is on the line, the shiny mustard-and-tan Packard will be ready for action. She doesn’t have to wait in the wings any longer.
By Bill Buchanan
Earlier this week, OVN reporter Logan Hall and I were fortunate to take a helicopter flight around the Ojai Valley with local pilot Gil Vondriska. We flew over the town, Lake Casitas, the mountains and along the coast. Wow. Simply wow. I had flown once before in a helicopter, many years ago when an old girlfriend and I took a helicopter tour of St. Louis. But that flight could not compare with the beauty of the one Tuesday. The only thing better about the St. Louis flight was that my girlfriend was much cuter than either Logan or Gil.
In fact, Logan and I had such a good time Gil just about had to drag us out of the helicopter. A story about our flight and more about Gil can be found elsewhere in today’s edition. Thanks, Gil. It was a wonderful time.
The flight made me recall other flying experiences I have had, especially those in small planes. The company I used to work for owned two small aircraft — well, aircraft is probably not the right term as it implies something of considerable size. These were flying phone booths. But those years provided some wonderful and interesting flights. On a trip in northwest Arkansas, a rapidly moving weather system came up on us much faster than anticipated. We hurried to the airport to take off ahead of the system. Once aloft, you could see the system forming, strengthening and moving. Ahead of us was blue sky, but behind us was a weather system right out of “The Ten Commandments.” At any moment, you expected to see Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea down below. The weather system was beautiful and awe-inspiring. It was also something you didn’t mind being ahead of.
On a trip to South Dakota, we finished our business early, and had some time to kill. Since we were only 35 miles from Mount Rushmore, we called ahead and got permission to do a fly-by. When I lived in South Dakota I visited Rushmore 10 times or so. But it was really special to fly over the Black Hills and pass by the four presidents from the air, looking them almost right in the eye as we went by.
The gentlemen who owned the newspaper group I worked for a was great guy and a real character. Ben had logged thousands of hours as a pilot. One day we flew to Iowa for meeting. We finished our work, and were headed back home. It had been a very long day. We left early in the morning, and would be getting back late in the day We were both whipped. Shortly after we were airborne, Ben started unfolding maps and using them to cover up the windshield. He didn’t stop until his side was completely covered up, and left only a small “window” about the size of a rear view mirror on my side. I said, “Isn’t it a good idea to be able to see out of the windshield?” He replied offhandedly, “I’m tired, and I don’t want the sun in my eyes while I try to get some sleep.” He continued, “See this gauge? Turn this knob so this dial follows that gauge.” I looked at him in total disbelief. I had never flown a plane in my life. But he wasn’t kidding. Until that point, I had been tired, too, but I got a huge surge of energy (fear will often do that) and was suddenly saucer-eyed and wide awake. Ben put the plane on auto-pilot, then leaned back to get comfortable before offering his final piece of sage aviation advice, “Don’t hit anything.”
While we encountered some weather that bounced us around sometimes, we were always careful to avoid lines of thunderstorms. We did not take stupid chances where the weather was concerned. Our unofficial motto was, “I’d rather be down here (on the ground) wishing I was up there, than up there wishing I was down here.”
But I did have two close calls in small planes, times where I thought, “Well, it looks like I am going to die now.” One situation was due to carelessness, the other to unexpected weather conditions.
The reckless incident occurred on a flight when we were fully loaded, and the pilot did not take the time to do a weight and balance. A weight and balance is where you arrange passengers and luggage to make sure that the cargo’s weight is distributed properly so the plane can take off and land upright — always a good goal to shoot for. Even though I was not a seasoned pilot, I sensed something was amiss shortly after takeoff —- probably because the stall buzzer was going off like a rock concert in my ear. I also noticed that we were not gaining altitude. This was particularly troubling as we had a ridge on one side of us, and mountain on the other. Instead of climbing, we were going up and down and up and down. I learned later that this maneuver is called “porpoising” and is not generally recommended unless you are actually a porpoise. The pilot dives down to pick up speed, then pulls up to avoid hitting the ground, then repeats the move until you (hopefully) gain enough speed to climb. After several tense moments, we finally climbed high enough to make it over the ridge. That was our last takeoff without doing a proper weight and balance.
My other close call occurred on an otherwise a routine flight with my friend Phillip at the controls. We were on final approach and suddenly a strong wind came up. The pilot dipped his wings into the wind as you are supposed to do, and we descended toward the runway. Just as suddenly, the wind shifted directions and almost flipped the plane over. Again, it didn’t take a seasoned pilot to assess the situation. As I looked out the windshield, I thought, “Aren’t the wheels supposed to hit the runway instead of the wing?” Phillip did a great job of turning the plane back the other direction to right us. We landed safely, but the cross wind was so strong it almost blew us off the runway.
Phillip somehow managed to keep the plane on the runway, and brake us to a stop. We sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity. Phillip was the first to speak. He slapped my thigh, and said, “Whew, I don’t know about you, but I think I could use a drink!” I sat mute. Phillip looked over at me and asked, “Are you OK?”
I replied, “Yeah, but I may have to get this seat cushion surgically removed.”
OJAI POLICE DEPARTMENT
VICTIMS: Sean Hendrick, 25 Ojai Female Juvenile, 17, Ojai
On Thursday, 9/2/10, at approximately 1825 hrs., Sheriff’s Deputies from the Ojai Police Station were dispatched to a traffic collision involving two pedestrians and a Toyota sedan. The collision occurred in the area of El Paseo Road and West Ojai Avenue. Sheriff’s Deputies and Ventura County Fire personnel from Station 21 found the two pedestrians lying in the roadway on El Paseo Road, west of Canada Street with injuries. Fire Personnel and medical personnel from Life Line Ambulance treated the two pedestrians at the scene before they were transported to Ojai Hospital for additional examination and treatment. The driver of the Toyota sedan, Lavonne Vail, was wearing her seatbelt and was not injured in the traffic collision. Ms. Vail stated the late afternoon sun made it difficult for her to see the pedestrians in the roadway. The Sheriff’s Department would like to remind pedestrians and drivers to take an extra moment and ensure the roadway is clear before crossing. The positioning of the early morning and late afternoon sun can create vision issues for both drivers and pedestrians. The Sheriff’s Department investigation is continuing to determine the cause of this collision. Hendrick was admitted to Ojai Hospital for observations due to a head injury. The 17-yr. old female was treated and released to her parents.
Officer Preparing Release: Senior Deputy Jim Popp
OVN photos by Mary M. Long
By Logan Hall
The Ojai Valley Pageant crowned a new Miss Ojai on Saturday night in the Matilija Auditorium. Crystal Zelenka took the honors not only for the title of Miss Ojai, but also Miss Congeniality for her division. “I’m kind of shocked,” said Zelenka, who was born and raised in Ojai and is now a soldier in the U.S. Marine Corps. “This is a different part of the spectrum for me. I’m used to crawling through the mud and hanging’ with a bunch of marines.”
Also taking titles this year were Little Miss Ojai, Elizabeth McCollock; Miss Preteen Ojai, Karley Jones; Miss Teen Ojai, Amanda Rhodes; Mrs. Ojai, Angela Clerou; and Male Ojai, T.J. Morrison.
The pageant was sponsored by the Ojai American Legion Auxilary.
The winners in the Ojai Valley Pageant are as follows: Little Miss Ojai, Elizabeth McCollock;
The Ojai Valley Pageant crowned a new Miss Ojai on Saturday night in the Matilija Auditorium. Crystal Zelenka took the honors not only for the title of Miss Ojai, but also Miss Congeniality for her division. “I’m kind of shocked,” said Zelenka, who was born and raised in Ojai and is now a soldier in the U.S. Marine Corps. “This is a different part of the spectrum for me. I’m used to crawling through the mud and hanging’ with a bunch of marines.”Also taking titles this year were Little Miss Ojai, Elizabeth McCollock; Miss Preteen Ojai, Karley Jones; Miss Teen Ojai, Amanda Rhodes; Mrs. Ojai, Angela Clerou; and Male Ojai, T.J. Morrison.The pageant was sponsored by the Ojai American Legion Auxilary. The winners in the Ojai Valley Pageant are as follows: Little Miss Ojai, Elizabeth McCollock;Miss Preteen Ojai, Karley Jones; Miss Teen Ojai, Amanda Rhodes; Miss Ojai, Crystal Zelenka; Mrs. Ojai, Angela Clerou; Male Ojai, T.J. Morrison; Little Miss Congeniality, Breanna Nicols; Preteen Congeniality, Lilly Lamon; Teen Congeniality, Amanda Rhodes; Miss Congeniality, Crystal Zelenka; Mrs. Personality, Christa Waydo; Male Personality, T.J. Morrison; Mrs. First Runner-up, Tara Ransom; Most Likely to Succeed, Jarrett Morrison; Most Shy, Gwen Morrison; Most Daring, Jarrett Morrison; Biggest Flirt, Steve Vega; Most Likely to Be Seen on ESPN, T.J. Morrison; Grade Point Average 3.8 and Above, Kaitlin McComas; Community Service, Mahalia Woodall; Best Legs, Joe Thomas. A new award this year for Stud Muffin went to Steve Vega.
Ojai parents, officials gather
for substance abuse discussion
By Logan Hall
The Ojai Valley has seen its share of funerals for the young people of the community. The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office statistics show that since the year 2000, there have been 21 drug overdose deaths in the 93023 and 93022 zip codes.
To try to help combat the never-ending trail of drug abuse that winds through the valley, a town meeting was held Wednesday evening for Ojai’s citizens. More than 70 people attended the public meeting, about 10 appeared to be teenagers, and had the opportunity to obtain information from experts in the field of substance abuse.
Led by the Ventura County Alcohol and Drug Program (ADP) as part of the county’s Behavioral Health Program, the meeting’s focus was geared around educating parents about their community, and the severity of drugs in the valley.
Two representatives from the ADP, prevention manager Dan Hicks, and clinical administrator Richard LaPerriere, as well as Ojai’s Chief of Police Chris Dunn spoke to attendees about different aspects of substance abuse, and helped make them aware of the resources that are available to help with potential drug issues.
The meeting began with Hicks thanking everyone for attending before diving into the topic of substance abuse. “Tonight we will focus on important things that every person should know,” he began. “Research is clear that parents play the critically important role in shaping expectations and supporting young people in an ongoing dialogue about health and safety.”
Dunn also believes that parents are integral in keeping their children on the right path. “Parenting is knowing where your kids are and who they are with,” he said.
Hicks first brought everyone’s attention to alcohol, minors and the subtle ways that alcoholic beverage producers target young people. Called “alcopops” many of these beverages appear very similar to popular energy drinks that fly off store shelves every day.
Hicks believes that this camouflage is a big reason why young people are drawn to drinking. “The average age for a child’s first drink is 13 years old,” he said as he held up two colorful, flashy containers. “Many times it’s a malt beverage like Mike’s Hard Lemonade or Smirnoff Raspberry Burst. It is very difficult for parents to tell the difference between
The Ojai Valley has seen its share of funerals for the young people of the community. The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office statistics show that since the year 2000, there have been 21 drug overdose deaths in the 93023 and 93022 area codes. To try to help combat the never-ending trail of drug abuse that winds through the valley, a town meeting was held Wednesday evening for Ojai’s citizens. More than 70 people attended the public meeting, about 10 appeared to be teenagers, and had the opportunity to obtain information from experts in the field of substance abuse. Led by the Ventura County Alcohol and Drug Program (ADP) as part of the county’s Behavioral Health Program, the meeting’s focus was geared around educating parents about their community, and the severity of drugs in the valley.Two representatives from the ADP, prevention manager Dan Hicks, and clinical administrator Richard LaPerriere, as well as Ojai’s Chief of Police Chris Dunn spoke to attendees about different aspects of substance abuse, and helped make them aware of the resources that are available to help with potential drug issues.The meeting began with Hicks thanking everyone for attending before diving into the topic of substance abuse. “Tonight we will focus on important things that every person should know,” he began. “Research is clear that parents play the critically important role in shaping expectations and supporting young people in an ongoing dialogue about health and safety.”Dunn also believes that parents are integral in keeping their children on the right path. “Parenting is knowing where your kids are and who they are with,” he said.Hicks first brought everyone’s attention to alcohol, minors and the subtle ways that alcoholic beverage producers target young people. Called “alcopops” many of these beverages appear very similar to popular energy drinks that fly off store shelves every day.Hicks believes that this camouflage is a big reason why young people are drawn to drinking. “The average age for a child’s first drink is 13 years old,” he said as he held up two colorful, flashy containers. “Many times it’s a malt beverage like Mike’s Hard Lemonade or Smirnoff Raspberry Burst. It is very difficult for parents to tell the difference between‘alcopops’ and energy drinks.”
Another topic that was high on the county’s list of dangerous substances running rampant through the valley was heroin and the ways that the drug is consumed. “Avenues for ingestion of heroin are extremely dangerous and will lead to overdose,” said Dunn. “My hope is that everyone in this room takes this to heart.”
Maureen Murphy McGrath attended the meeting just one day before the sixth anniversary of the death of her son, Cody Murphy, who according to McGrath, had taken just one methadone pill, which is a synthetic opioid substance, and suffered a blood clot in his heart. “We have seen too many of our children’s funerals,” said McGrath as she searched through her purse, trying to find her son’s obituary that she keeps with her. “Between me and another mom, we’ve collected at least 10 obituaries for kids that have overdosed. Here I am carrying around obituaries instead of baby pictures.”
The final speaker of the night was Richard LaPerriere, M.A., ADP’s clinic administrator. LaPerriere discussed the county’s treatment program for drug abuse, and the hardships that addicts and their families have to endure. “This is a heavy subject and I don’t plan on lightening it,” he began as he described the county’s treatment program. “When your children come to treatment, a whole lot of stuff has gone on. It is never a happy time when they come to us. What surprises me is that you (parents) are surprised when it happens.”
All of the speakers also agreed that marijuana is a serious problem in the valley as well. “A common misconception is that marijuana is innocuous,” said Hicks who then described weed as a gateway drug to other more harmful substances.
“I believe that marijuana is the drug that we see the most involved with our youth,” added Dunn.
All of the speakers stressed the importance of education and the resources in the community that can help people in a time of great need. Hicks referred to the S.A.F.E. Coalition, Help of Ojai and other organizations that can, at the very least, help point people in the right direction. Dunn reminded everyone that the Sheriff’s Department has an open door policy and anyone with concerns is welcome to come to the Ojai substation to speak with department personnel.
Other notable figures in attendance were Nordhoff High School principal Dan Musick, NHS assistant principal Susana Arce, Matilija Junior High School principal Emily Mostovoy, NHS health teacher Todd Dickey, Bruce Gladstone, Ph.D., and Cindy Cantle from County Supervisor Steve Bennett’s office. Bennett could not attend due to traveling conflicts.
“This is an issue that we are all really concerned about,” said Arce. “Trying to find treatment for the kids is very difficult. It’s a serious problem that we have with the state.”
The meeting adjourned after about an hour and a half, although people stayed and chatted long after the last words of the speakers. For more information on the county’s Alcohol and Drug Program, log on to vchca.org/bh/adp.
Citing protection of the public, county wants
dog owners to meet licensing requirements
By Logan Hall
The Ventura County Animal Regulation Department is stepping up a campaign to enforce their dog licensing program. Animal regulation workers are going door to door in the Ojai Valley to gather information, issue notices, and hand out citations to violators. Although most citizens of Ventura County seem to be unaware of the current dog license law, the county is actively pursuing people who own dogs and have not licensed them.County Code Section 4411 states: “Every person who owns, harbors, or keeps any dog over the age of four months for 30 days or longer shall obtain a current license …”If a dog is found without a current license tag, the dog could be taken away from their owners and the owners themselves could land in the hot seat. County Code Section 4411 says: “A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor. Any dog found without a current license tag may be taken up and impounded.”According to Bryan Bray, supervisor of the Ventura County Animal Services License Ambassador Team, the dog license code has been a law in Ventura County since the 1960s and is enforced on a regular basis. Although some perceive that the dog license push by the county is an attempt to gain revenue, others believe that it is necessary, and there are very good reasons for it. “You are required by law to have a license for your dog,” said Jolene Hoffman, the Ventura County Humane Society Ojai Shelter director, “and what it really comes down to is protection of the public.”Hoffman says that rabies outbreaks are of major concern to the county, and are a big reason to enforce the license law. “This is to make sure that dogs in the county have their rabies vaccinations,” continued Hoffman. “The main thing is that we don’t want a rabies outbreak, and this is how we can stop it from happening.”Often when issuing notices or citations, the county places the name of the animal on the notice itself. For some people, this raises the question of how their pet’s name was obtained. David Van Pelt from the Animal Clinic of Oak View says that the information is not obtained from their records. “We absolutely do not give out any personal information,” he said. Bray says the county has a database of all animals that were previously licensed in their system and they refer to that to gain the needed information. “We don’t obtain information from any of the neighbors,” he said. “Most of the time, the information comes from complaints or previous encounters.”There have been allegations from some dog owners that county workers, when conducting door-to-door inquiries, will question neighbors, look into back yards and have even been spotted looking through binoculars to check check animals for current license tags. Other times, residents of the valley have reported that notices are handed out by workers, driving county vehicles, that have no uniform or identification. “I’m well aware of what their uniforms look like,” said one Fierro Drive resident who had encountered the “ambassadors” and preferred to remain unnamed. “This guy didn’t look official to me.”
Despite this evidence, Bray again states that these reports are inaccurate. “All of our license ambassadors are county employees that wear a uniform and carry identification. If the person cannot provide proof of who they are, call local law enforcement immediately.”
The current fee for a Ventura County dog license is $20 for a spayed or neutered dog, and $75 for an unaltered dog. In order to obtain a current dog license, proof of a valid rabies vaccination must be submitted along with any fees that are due.